Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Good Old Days

Dear Friends,

One of my loved ones has been incessantly reminding me, and with considerable uncalled-for delight, that I have a birthday next week. She’s just too young to know that at some point in one’s life it’s best if birthdays, like certain personal medical procedures, are left unspoken about and politely ignored. So, I’d be too mortified to tell you how old I’ll be, but as I reminisce over my past 63 years, I can’t help but to remember with fondness, what us old-timers call the “Good Old Days.”

I am blessed to be a pastor who serves such a diverse church that to some of you, I’m young enough to be your son, and to others, I’m old enough to be your grandfather. That means to some of us, the good old days were in the 40's and 50's, and to others the good old days were in the 80's and 90's. (if you’re too young to remember when the first Star Wars came out just bear with me here...)

One of the neat things about summer was to be able to watch Sheriff John while eating your lunch.  For those of you who didn’t grow up in L.A. during the 50's, Sheriff John’s Lunch Brigade was a children’s television show that showed cartoons. He opened the show by leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance and he talked about respecting your parents, helping others, being courteous and the importance of good manners. Sheriff John had a glass of milk and a sandwich as he and all his viewers had lunch together. But first, he led us all in a prayer: “Heavenly Father, great and good. We thank Thee for our daily food. Bless us even as we pray. Guide us and keep us through this day.” (remember we’re talking about a secular tv show in the 50's!) Now think about the tv shows today.

When I was a boy, adults drank, had sex and did drugs. Not kids my age in elementary school. We knew about homosexuals but they stayed in their houses and we stayed in ours. We didn’t celebrate them in parades and honor them for their sexual practices as we do today. A recent study showed that children are being drawn to internet porn at age six and the majority of male teens are engaged in on-line sites where hate speech against women and minorities is pervasive. Frankie Avalon never sung a song glorifying the rape of a woman. It was different back then.

Even in urban L.A., five year old kids were able to go outside and play anywhere they wanted. Gangs, sexual assaults, kidnapping  shootings and pedophiles were almost non-existent in those days. We had no fear of our neighbors. We helped them. We were good kids and followed the rules.

John Fredricks gave me a Roy Roger’s coffee mug with Roy’s Rules: 

1) Be neat and clean. 
2) Be courteous and polite. 
3) Always obey your parents. 
4) Protect the weak and help them. 
5) Be brave and always be careful 
6) Study hard and learn all you can. 
7) Be kind to animals and take care of them. 
8) Eat all your food and never waste any. 
9) Love God and go to Sunday School. 
10) Always respect our flag and our country.

When I was a kid, no movie celebrities were looked up to and respected more than Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans (Pictured) .They had dedicated themselves to Jesus and lived their lives not like the Hollywood stars they were but like the committed Christians God called them to be.

Things were different back then because, like the apostle Paul, people were not ashamed of the Gospel. Men and women were bold and stood up for their Christian values and beliefs. Today, God still gives us opportunities to influence others that we deliberately ignore. Surveys show that most Christians pretend to not be “too religious” when around co-workers and neighbors to avoid “offending” people with their faith. 

But if there is going to be a change in our culture, it will start with the men and women of God – that means you and me. We are called to be unashamed of the Gospel and live it out with our speech and in our lifestyle. Just like in the Good Old Days. Amen?