While woman weep, as they do now, I'll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I'll fight, while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now. I'll fight while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight-I'll fight to the very end. (General William Booth, Salvation Army Founder)
Growing up as a Salvation Army Officer's(ministers) kid, was quite an experience. Yes, that makes me the proverbial "Preachers Kid" or "PK" for short. Well, you might think just being exposed to the Christian way of life, one would have it made. Not so, for we all must come by way of the Cross. Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God's glory. ( Romans 3:23 )
There's an old hymn we use to sing in which the chorus goes like this:
The way of the Cross leads home.
The way of the Cross leads home.
It is sweet to know, as I on ward go,
The way of the Cross leads home.
Well, from a human secular stand point, there were good points but also bad points growing up as a PK.
It was good, to be able to chow down to fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, at the invite of a member's wife on Sunday morning. But it was bad, when I got into trouble, for the slightest boyhood mischief. And, believe me, my Dad would hear about the most trivial occurrences. You see, a "PK" is guilty until proven innocent.
Like the time, during World War II, that one of our members said I set fire to her nylon vehicle tire. Of course, I paid the price, behind our old wood-shed alter, if you know what I mean. And by the way, the lady continued to drive on this tire for many a mile, or years.
Moving around the country was normal for me, growing up in the Salvation Army (ministry). By the time I was in the sixth grade, I had been to six different cities and six different schools. One school would hold me back, as I was not advanced, in the school curriculum. While, another school would move me ahead, due to being too advanced.
In Washington D.C., they had a "raining day schedule", whereby the school would dismiss at 1:00 pm when it rained. Don't ask me why, I just enjoyed the policy. In that same school, I will never forget one incident, in the third grade. The teacher sat our little chairs in a semi-circle, to read us a story, and while there she told us that down south they grew cotton and corn. I don't know why that was, or why I just remembered that occasion. But I just do.
Once, as a small child, I even told a group of my play mates I could control the weather simply by praying. I then showed them, by putting on an exhibition of a childhood prayer for rain. Obviously, it didn't rain. I ended the conversation, by telling my friends my faith was weak. Just a child's reflection of being under the pulpit too long, I guess
At one point, we had a bakery in our neighborhood that would give the S.A. leftover pastries, at day's end, to feed the less fortunate. I would catch myself praying the bakery would have a bad day, so we could get more pies. For you see, I helped pass out the pies and would occasionally sneak a sample. I later prayed, that God would understand and forgive my childhood selfishness.
We were lucky, to have a large group of young people, in our congregation, and as the "PK', I had my pick of "Puppy Loves". We would sit in church and silently send "Puppy Love" messages back and forth, by pointing to hymn titles, only to be called down from the pulpit by Dad's persuasive facial expressions.
One many a occasion, Dad would stop his message, walk down and pass the bulletin around, for us kids to deposit our chewing gum. Dad would then return never to miss a beat or sermon thought. Oh, for that simple life. Oh, for those "good-ole" times again.
Once, when I was helping my Dad count the money, donated through the S.A. Red Kettle Christmas Drive, I noticed a puzzled look on his face and ask what was wrong, Dad said he found that he was a penny short, when wrapping the pennies. I replied by simply asking," Why not just add a penny and move on"? Dad replied by saying, " No son, you don't understands, this is God's money, donated by a special person for God's business". A strong lesson was learned that day," Luke 15:8-9 ) And oh yes, the penny was found under the table.
Another profound memory, growing up, was the missionary programs. Sitting through those 125 count missionary slide presentations was quite impressive. However, I was profoundly amazed, as to what the missionaries went through, just giving the gospel throughout the world. They would all stress God's command, as stated in the "Great Commission, ( Acts 1:8 )They all seemed to have such strong faith in their mission.
Looking back, growing up as a "PK", the most important message I remember was that strong, but simple, evangelistic teaching For you see no one , not even a "PK" can ever be good enough on their own, to received God's forgiveness. Nor can anyone work their way or buy their way into God heaven. Not even your good Christian parents can help you get in. It's simply excepting God's free Grace, exercised by your Faith alone. ( Ephesians 2:8-9 )
Additionally, in support of the evangelistic message, was the old fashion church altar. Now, I know the physical make up of the alter was no different than any other construction. However, that old fashion alter was very special for me, for that old alter was where I was first introduced to the Living God.
I can still see that that old alter now, which was labeled " the mercy seat", being lined with individuals at the end of our services and Dad walking up and down, in front of the alter, singing those encouraging invitation hymns or choruses. The Spirit of God just seemed to balance off
Yes, I still believe in that "Old Time Religion". I can't help but ponder those old "brush-arbor" revival meetings where the "Amen's" and the "Hallelujah's" echoed, as the spirit led. Beloved, we need a new indwelling of God's Holy Spirit, in our church services today more than ever before. ( Ephesians 5:18 ) ( 1 Thess 5:19 )
In conclusion, I must mention, even a "PK" doesn't always obey the teachings of Christ. But, "Praise God", we serve an all knowing, all understanding God. And, His Grace is sufficient for all our needs and reaches to the uttermost. ( 1 John 1:9 )
What about you, beloved?
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name". (John 1:12):
Let us pray.
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