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Scotty’s Offering

It was another glorious morning about to give birth to another wonderful Sunday here in the almost heaven of Ballengee. I found myself in the usual spot that I occupy each early morn rocking back and forth in the old rocker. As the eastern sky begins to show its promise of a coming sunrise, I found myself musing over the events of the prior evening. Every now and then my thoughts would give pause to the interruption of the iron skillet ringing out the sound of its placement upon the old wood stove growing the anticipation of the flavor of frying bacon filling the early air of the day. Last evening Johnny Crawford came over to visit with his oldest boy Scotty. Scotty had just come home the day before from his adventures in Charlotte attending school there. Like so many of the young folk here in Ballengee he had left the country life to seek fame and fortune in the greater cities of opportunity. Scotty was studying artcutexture and had dreams of building great structures to the admiration of more civilized people than the simple country folk as he often said.

Johnny was so proud to show him off and I must say that Scotty was growing into a fine looking young man of the world from which he had been visiting. His whole demeanor was away from the simple ways of those who work their farms and spend the weekends amongst friends and family. Often we would find ourselves relaxing along the banks of the Greenbrier with a pole in the hand trying to catch an evening meal. The excitement of gathering on a large porch listening to the rhythms of a local bluegrass band singing of the country life and exploding into those great old gospel hymns. Then there are the quitter times of listening to the ladies chat and sit in a circle sewing a quilt or snapping pole beans while the men challenge themselves to a game of checkers. For a boy like Scotty Crawford that would not be complex enough to satisfy his desire to reach for higher goals. Johnny is proud of his son for reaching out for far loftier stations in life and when I ponder the fact I am also proud of Scotty as well.

As I now look off the east the sun is beginning to display the brilliance of God’s glory across the heavens. Just beyond the Greenbrier the sun has made its appearance of bright golden spender from behind the eastern mountains of the far country. The majesty of the bright gold creating images of reddish orange beneath the floating clouds is a picture of beauty that only a loving heavenly Father could grant to these old eyes of mine.

After breakfast the best half and I made our journey down the path in the meadow from our cabin to our usual residence of Sunday the Church on the Knoll. There are, as I have said before, five Churches in Ballengee and four of them have members of a hundred or more each Sunday. I, myself, prefer the smaller bunch at the Church on the Knoll as we are more than any other place I have worshiped an intimate Church family. I know other Churches are as well but people come and go thinking the grass is greener somewhere other than where they are. At the Church on the Knoll we are solid and everybody is there and if not there is a great concern as to why. Not that we are a nosey people but if a family member is missing we want to know that they are alright. Such a disappearance was found when I arrived at the Church.

The day prior Brother Simms called Brother John to tell him that he would be out of town this Sunday. I was a little hurt that I didn’t know of the occurrence but then how would I, as I do not have a phone. I just do not like the idea of having a party line where anyone could pick up their phone and listen in. Generally if I am talking behind someone’s back I like it to stay there. We all have our personal opinions and I know that most times that is where they should stay, personal. Then again I do not need the temptation to pick up the phone and hear all the stuff that goes on in the lives of other people. A phone may be a needful thing but most times it is just social media and nothing more than a tool for gossip. I like the idea better that if I want to talk to someone I should make the effort to go and speak face to face. We tend to speak more truthfully and the effort is more rewarding.

Brother Simms always delivers the word to us each Sunday and it would seem to me very inadequate without him there standing behind the pulpit. It is true that we have come to worship our Lord, still it is never the same when the regular deliverer is not there. Many Churches find that people do not come when the preacher is away and I know that is wrong but still that is the way that it is. I have said before that there is nothing dynamic in the way that Brother Simms delivers the word but no one can deliver more like a loving father to a child than Brother Simms. I knew that Brother John would deliver the word but still it is just not the same. I did quickly get over my selfishness and realize that it is God’s garden and I should rejoice and be glad within it.

After our Sunday school time we moved to the front of the Church and prepared for the morning worship service. Brother John opened with a prayer and then we sang a few hymns. Reba Maxwell was at her usual best on the piano and Sister Mary played her mandolin ever so filled with great acoustic sound. Rose Maxwell led us all in the vocals. Then Brother John prayed as we prepared our hearts to receive the word from the Almighty Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.

Brother John gave us the Scripture for his message, which was Mark 12:41-44. I quickly glanced over the verses and saw that it was the story of the Poor Window who gave her last mite into the treasury of the Temple. It made sense to me that this would be the path that Brother John would take this morning. Brother John is the one who takes care of the money in the Church so who better than he to give a message on stewardship. Brother Simms would never give such a message as he knows that each of us here are dependent completely on the welfare of the farms in the community. As it is we are folks of moderate means, yet we are satisfied and none of us are in want for our needs.

Brother John began his message and spoke of the observation of Jesus that the Poor Widow have given all that she had to the treasury. She gave in faith that she held nothing back for her prevision of the tomorrows that would follow. Then Brother John shifted the focus to the power of one mite. He told us how Jesus had prayed all through the night before choosing His disciples. How the twelve had went on after Jesus went home to the Father and today there are millions of Christians in the world. That the power of the mite is duplication. We are to go and make disciples in all the nations of the world. But he said that it began with prayer and that prayer is the foundation for all that God can do through us. Brother John closed with this thought that the gift we have the most of is our time. How much of our time do we give back to the Lord? He finished with this that we should pray for those who care not for the word of God, that their hearts would be opened to the gospel message that they too would find their way home through Jesus. As dissatisfied as I had approached the service without Brother Simms there I must admit that Brother John gave a stunning message.

Then Homer Massy and Fred Meaders came forward with the offering plates to collect the mornings offering. I came to the Church with four quarters in my pocket and gave one of them at Sunday school. I planned to give two more for the worship service. As I pulled the three out of my pocket I looked at them and remembered that we have planned to stop on the way home a get us each an ice cream cone. I decided that I would go ahead and put all three quarters into the plate. I don’t know if the Lord was pleased but it did make my conscience feel better.

Before Brother John could say the offering prayer from the back of the Church Scotty Crawford came forward and stood in front of Brother John. Scotty asked Brother John for one of the offering plates and Brother John handed him one. Scotty then took the plate and placed it on the floor and the sound of it echoed throughout the Church. We were all very curious as to what this boy was doing. Scotty then balanced himself on the rims of the plate. Once he steadied himself he looked up at Brother John and said, “Preacher I give myself as an offering to the Lord.”

I now find myself in my place of retirement swaying to and fro in the old rocker much as my thoughts travel to the fore and aft of my mind. I know that someday when we all reach the yonder that the books will be opened and each must give an account of the stewardship of our time, talent and treasure. For some it will be a day of great anxiety while for others in will be a day to rest. I know for myself I have fallen way short of the glory of God, yet there is breath of life within and there still is hope for me. I am amazed that the closing thoughts of my day are influenced by a young man who went off from home to conquer the world. He returned home to find his victory in Jesus to who he has given his all. So often many of us go off into the far country to win the war that has already been won. Yet many continue to try and achieve it for themselves. Then there are the fortunate sons who find themselves in the right place of their visitation from the King. They surrender and gain the victory from the Master who will surely lead them all the way home.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Durant Bible College

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