Marines.Together We Served

Monday, January 25, 2016

What a Body!

Roots in Ripon
25 January 2016
Chuck Roots

What a Body!

You may be raising your eyebrows at this point, clearly wondering if I’ve gone over to the dark side. Rest assured, all is well with me.
The body I’m referring to is the congregation to which Isaura and I have been so much a part of the past 18 years, sixteen of which I was the pastor.
It was about three years ago when I was sensing God leading me to retirement from pastoral ministry. There were several contributing factors in making this decision. In no particular order or level of importance, these reasons primarily had to do with: my health; the need for a new pastor to take the reins; more time to invest in my grandkids; more opportunities to get away with Isaura on trips hither and yon; and the desire to get serious about writing several books. Then of course, there’s golf.
But never for a moment did we want to be away from our church family, also known as, the Body of Christ on earth; the Fellowship of the Saints; the Gathering; the Brethren; the Flock; the Laity; the Multitude; Parishioners; and so forth. Regardless of what name this group of Believers in Jesus goes by, they are a wonderful assemblage of people who have had an encounter with Jesus, and because of that their lives are forever changed.
I’m often amused when I hear someone tell me why they do not go to church (I suppose I should mention that the only time I ever ask a person where they attend church is if they have already informed me that they are a Christian). “The church is full of hypocrites!” is quite possibly my favorite. I love the expression on their faces when I tell them I absolutely agree with them. “All the church ever wants is my money!” is another favorite of mine. Once again, I agree with them. How else is this non-profit organization going to function if there’s no “buy-in” by people who have committed to walking with Jesus? “No one even said hello or shook my hand when I visited!” And the companion complaint, “After I attended church I never received a call or a card or anything!” The flip side of this complaint is, “These people never leave me alone! One visit and I’m on their mailing and calling list forever!” And again: guilty as charged. If I say hello, then I’m pushy. If I don’t say hello or shake your hand, I’m cold and uncaring. If I don’t let the people in the pews know of the financial obligations of the church then folks figure they don’t have to give anything in the offering plate. If I do share the financial needs of the church and its ministry, then we’re “sticking our hands into your wallet/purse.” And so on it goes.
But the people that make up the body of my church are just folks. You see, over the past two decades, my wife and I have gotten to know them, and they have gotten to know us. I remember one couple especially that we invited to our home for dinner along with several other couples shortly after arriving in Ripon. Isaura had planned a big dinner which she wonderfully prepares. It’s a gift with her. This couple had started attending church again after we came because he was a WWII veteran, and had heard I was also a veteran so he was coming to “check me out.” But they weren’t sure about going to the pastor’s home for dinner. They had never done that before. They even asked me how they should act. I said, “We’re just people like anyone else. Be yourselves.” They became precious friends.
I still enjoy attending the first service at 8:30 on Sunday, followed by the pastor’s Sunday school class at 10:00. I then stay for the first part of the 11:00 service so I can sing the hymns again (I love to sing!) and also meet and greet these folks I love.
The congregation I am a part of is made up of all sorts of disreputable people. Their backgrounds are often sordid and foul. Some were drunkards. Others sexually immoral. Still others crude and profane. Some cheated on their spouses. Or suffered with depression. Or were addicted to drugs. Some were living a lie. Some still are (the hypocrites mentioned earlier). Some have kicked the habit, fallen off, kicked it again, fallen off again, etc. Some are running from God while sitting in the pew every Sunday. Some harbor resentments and exhibit an unforgiving spirit. Shall I go on?
Here’s my point. The church is not a place for those who are perfect. Instead, it is a hospital for the spiritually sick. Remember: Jesus did not come to save perfect people, but sick, horribly flawed sinners. And we have all been affected (and infected) by sin. Jesus is the antidote. But you must come to him for the cure.
This is why I love the folks in my church so much. They have either come to Jesus and been healed of the sin sickness. Or they are wrestling with a commitment to surrender their lives to him. Or they are just not sure about anything, but they know they need something. My kind of people!
Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions, for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again to receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also . . . I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Where do you stand with Jesus? Accept him as your Savior. Then connect with his body. You’ll love it too!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Miss Manners

Roots in Ripon
18 January 2016
Chuck Roots

I Miss Manners

          Civility is gradually disappearing from our culture. I lament its passing. Simply put, I miss manners.
          Even when our mother was a single parent and before she married our stepfather, my brother and I were expected to conduct ourselves properly. That is to say, we were to be “perfect little gentlemen.” I wasn’t quite sure what that phrase meant at first, but I knew it had to do with behaving in a way that was counter to a little boy’s rambunctious approach to living life!
          This all fell under the heading of “Good Manners.” Some of those expected behaviors we learned early on were: 1) Don’t interrupt adults when they are talking. 2) Speak clearly and distinctly. 3) When in the company of adults keep your voice down. 4) Address those older than you by saying, “Ma’am,” and “Sir.” 5) Tuck in your shirt. 6) Wash your hands before eating or preparing food. 7) Polish your shoes. 8) Stand up when a lady enters the room. 9) Do not wear a hat in the house (or generally indoors anywhere). 10) Seat ladies first at the dinner table. 11) When walking outside with a hat on and you encounter a lady, slightly raise your hat while nodding with a greeting. The list can go on and no doubt many of you could add many more examples.
          I’d like to focus on this matter of men wearing hats. True, we do not wear the hats of a hundred years ago when it was quite fashionable to be seen in public with a smart looking hat as you walked about your town. Women almost always wore a hat when venturing outside. These customs eventually petered out to the point that today hats are worn by women more for formal events, and men hardly wear them at all. The exception for men is the ubiquitous baseball cap. And the vast majority of golfers wear a cap of some sort. More and more women seem to be wearing baseball caps, too.
          I was curious about men and the practice of wearing a hat. Why, for instance, are men expected to remove their hats when entering a home or other building? Why do men remove their hats when speaking to a woman? Why does a woman not remove her hat in like manner when speaking to a man?
          You’re probably thinking that since I’ve retired I have too much time on my hands to be delving into such seemingly silly subjects. But, alas! Allow me to share my findings with you.
          In the days of chivalry with knights and damsels, such manners were forged into societies. We still have the remnants of these practices today. For instance, when two knights would greet each other, they would lift the right hand to raise the face shield of their helmet to make eye contact, and perhaps a smile of recognition. The right hand is also the hand used by most warriors in combat. So raising a weaponless right hand was a sign that the gesture was a friendly one. This greeting was carried over into “tipping the hat,” and in the military it became the salute.
          “When a gentleman ‘dons’ his hat to leave or ‘doffs’ his hat to a lady, his actions are being described by two British colloquialisms that come from contractions of the phrases ‘do on’ meaning ‘to do’, and the Middle English ‘doffen’, which became ‘don off’ meaning ‘to do off’! Hats are tipped, (or doffed) slightly lifting the hat off your forehead, when meeting a lady (remove your hat if you stop to talk), or to ‘say’ to anyone, male or female – thank you, excuse me, hello, goodbye, you’re welcome or how do you do.” (Hat Etiquette, by Andy Gilchrist,
          Tipping, or doffing your hat is a sign of politeness, a courtesy extended to others as a matter of respect. Today when two men make eye contact and do not personally know each other, it is common for both to make a slight nod of the head in the direction of the other.
          Women, on the other hand, do not engage in the donning and doffing of their hats because their head wear is usually much more complicated. The hat may be held in place by bobby pins, or hat pins, or hair combs. Further complicating the removal of the hat for the gentler sex is the whole business of the woman’s hair being disturbed in the removal process. So the woman is allowed to keep her hat in place.
          However, with the advent of the baseball cap, more women are finding it convenient to wear such headgear. But if you do so, ladies, remember this: When you are at an athletic event with a ball cap on and the time comes for the playing of the National Anthem, you are expected to remove your ball cap along with the men. Now there’s equality for you!
         I miss manners primarily because people behave better in public when they engage in such gestures of respect for others.

Think about it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Character Does Matter

Roots in Ripon
11 January 2016
Chuck Roots

Character Does Matter

          It’s hard to not be aware that we are in an election year. The main stream media (MSM) is covering the various assortment of candidates in the same manner as vultures circling the rotting carcasses of dead and dying buffalo on the open plain. “What juicy little morsel might we find on this one, eh?” The scrutiny, also known as vetting, is in full swing and everyone is fair game with one caveat – If the MSM likes you and you are in step with their philosophical and political points of view, then you are declared sacrosanct.

          Some time back, probably three or four years, I wrote an article on the importance of character in our elected officials. I would like to revisit this topic in this article.

          You might recall the brouhaha during the 1992 presidential race involving the sordid affairs of one Bill Clinton. As the news reporters uncovered one woman after another who claimed to have had a relationship with Clinton, or was otherwise seduced by him, such degeneracy filled our TV screens nightly. It got to the point where the Democrat Party had to do something to tone this story down because their candidate, Bill Clinton, was looking bad. Two things happened: First, there was a pre-arranged interview with Bill & Hillary Clinton in which Hillary famously said to the interviewer who was pressing the matter of Bill’s blatant infidelities, “If it doesn’t bother me, why should it bother you?” That question-cum-challenge shut the door on further questioning. Had I been the interviewer I would not have let that go. Regardless of what you may think the state of the Clinton’s marriage in, no woman ever wants to be shamed by her husband’s indiscretions with other women. And certainly not on the international world stage which the MSM plays on.

Second, all the sycophants of the Democrat Party drank the cool-aid, parroting the new philosophy that what a person does in private doesn’t really matter and has no direct effect on their ability to govern. The new catch phrase being spoken by the leaders of the Democrat Party, pundits, and even the MSM became a mantra intoned by all – “Character doesn’t matter.” That was a stunner.

This was troubling for many reasons, but the primary reason it left many of us unsettled had to do with national security. A president who was dishonoring his marriage vows was to be considered a reprobate. Further, if he could be enticed to enter into a sexual liaison, then he was subject to blackmail by our nation’s enemies. He compromises his position of authority which has been entrusted to him by “We the People.” Add to that the matter that the president has the obligation through his office to protect the American people, and we’ve got a major problem.

As I was growing up it was strongly impressed upon us as kids that character was everything. If you lacked character then you were not a person to be trusted. I remember my folks saying things like, “Don’t ever lie to me, because if you do, then I’ll never know if you are speaking the truth.” Or this one, “When you give someone your word, you are bound to it and must keep your word.” Teachers in school taught these same values. These values were even put in front of us through radio and television. But virtue and morality in the film industry all began to crumble with the advent of the Film Rating System in 1968.

The Bible has much to say about a person’s character. The most notorious person mentioned in the Bible would be the man who intentionally betrayed Jesus, willingly turning him over to the authorities to be crucified. His name, of course, is Judas. Judas Iscariot. His lack of true character set in motion the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. All for 30 pieces of silver! In today’s currency that’s about $500.00.

Unsavory characters are replete in the Bible. It is the result of the human condition known as a “sinful nature.” Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to offer you and me a new opportunity at life. A degraded or degenerate person can become a new person with an entirely new character once they’ve had a personal encounter with Jesus. Our sin nature is transformed by the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus.

Personally, I want elected officials and national leaders to be men and women of the highest character. We as Americans should accept nothing less. And for those in office (way too many, I fear) who have sacrificed their character on the altar of political correctness, and/or for the lust of power, then it’s time to send them packing!

 Might God grant us another stellar person of godly character like our founding father, George Washington? I would pray that it was so.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Love of Family

Roots in Ripon
4 January 2016
Chuck Roots

Love of Family

          Now that I’ve taken a couple of weeks off from writing Roots in Ripon, and with a New Year upon us, it’s time to get back to my weekly column. As you already know, or have surmised, my column, Roots in Ripon, is no longer being carried in the Ripon Record because the newspaper has closed shop.
          The timing was excellent since my reprise from writing came just before Christmas. It allowed me to focus on spending lots of time with family. It began with my brother, John, flying out to spend time with the West Coast Roots clan. He was here about ten days, so, with very cooperative weather, we managed to spend a lot of time on the golf course. Truth be told, we are both “golf junkies.” We played at my home course, Spring Creek, but we also were invited by our friend, Hank Harris, to play at his course in Turlock. We also got a round in at Ruby Hill which was recommended by the pro at Spring Creek. But the best round of the time John was here was the day he was flying home, leaving from San Jose. We made reservations at Wente Vineyards golf course in Livermore. Perfectly clear sunny day! The course was in terrific shape and we had a blast. We ended our time there by having dinner at the Wente Vineyards Restaurant.
          Golf aside, we enjoyed numerous gatherings with our girls and their families while John was here. We were all in a festive mood, having celebrated granddaughter Alyssa’s 8th birthday on Thanksgiving with all the family gathered in our home, followed by Isaura’s birthday on December 6, and then John’s 72nd birthday on December 13th.
          Alyssa has been taking piano lessons for the past couple of years from Barbara Mohler. So to our surprise, our precocious little pianist had the hutzpah to ask the pastor is she could play Silent Night in the Christmas Eve service. He readily agreed.
          The church was full that night for the Christmas Eve service. Our aspiring piano prodigy seemed quite relaxed during the evening’s service. I was wondering if she’d get too nervous and bail out. I glanced over at her several times, but I saw nothing to cause me concern. The service had her playing Silent Night as the last song of the service which included the congregation participating in a candlelight ceremony singing all three verses.
          Alyssa sat on the piano bench and waited as the pastor finished his remarks about lighting the candles. Then she began playing without missing a note with robust voices from the congregation accompanying her. The candles were being lit throughout and then everyone stood to sing the final verse, but Alyssa never missed a beat or a note. You have no doubt figured out that I’m very proud of her.
          The best part in all of this is a note I discovered hanging from our refrigerator last week after Christmas. It was written on a sheet of paper from those note pads folks keep in their kitchens by the phone. The handwriting was clearly Alyssa’s. This is what it said: “Hello! My name is Alyssa! I love my family.”
          Well now, I’m an admitted softy – a veritable sentimentalist, if you will. That’s just my temperament. I teared up right away when I read this note, which then causes my throat to swell so that speech is impossible. There is no gift under heaven that could even begin to match this note, especially at Christmas time.
          Once again I am learning what it means to be blessed. I am surrounded by people who mean the world to me, whom I love intensely, and who love me in return. Such love enables me to better understand God’s love for me as it was gloriously demonstrated through his Son, Jesus. And for that I am eternally grateful.

          Thank you, Lord. You have blessed me beyond measure.