Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A June Reminiscence

Dear Friends,

For the past few weeks, a certain loved one has been incessantly reminding me, and with considerable uncalled-for delight, that my birthday is in this month. 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 am, but as I reminisce about the past 68 years of my life, I can’t help but to remember with fondness, what us old-timers call the “Good Old Days.” 

As a pastor with a church in a Senior Assisted Living Facility, I am blessed to be serving a congregation where, if I was living there, I’d be in the “youth group.” For our church today, the “good old days” were the 20's, 30's and 40's. They were all born before televisions were in homes and they are amazed that I use an app on my smart-phone to control the sound system that we use for the service. As the youngster in their midst, my “good old days” were the 50's and 60's. I’ll never forget the thrill of seeing the delivery van pull up to our house with our brand-new, state-of-the-art, black and white Zenith television set. In those days it was a hundred pound piece of furniture.

One of the neat things about summer was being 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 live television show for children that showed cartoons. Sheriff John 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, kids in elementary schools did not drink, have sex or do drugs. Things are different now. Elementary schools are where it starts and by High School, 30% of students binge drink at least monthly. We knew about homosexuals but 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 gaming and other on-line sites where hate speech against women and minorities is pervasive. Rap and Hip-Hop “music” promotes violence and sexual assaults. Music was different back then. Frankie Avalon never sang a song glorifying the rape of a woman.

In the 50's, 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 neighbors or strangers. We helped them. They helped us. Life was different back then.. 

I have 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 at top) 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. Roy and Dale would be blacklisted today. According to those in the entertainment industry, actors in Hollywood are now bashed and attacked if they publicly acknowledge their Christian faith. 

Things were different then because, like the apostle Paul, Romans 1:16 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 share our faith with others but many of us are too fearful to do so. 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. You and me. We are called to be unashamed of the Gospel and boldly live out our Christianity, not just in our words, but in our lifestyle. Just like in the Good Old Days!  Amen?

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