Marines.Together We Served

Sunday, April 23, 2017

One Nation, Under God

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
24 April 2017

One Nation, Under God

               This past Thursday Isaura and I attended the San Joaquin County 26th Annual Leadership Prayer Breakfast as guests of Susan Vander Schaaf. This event brings together the leadership of the entirety of San Joaquin County. Having attended a number of times in the past, I am always heartened by the emphasis on prayer for those in leadership across our great land, right down to local public officials and first responders.

          This gathering of concerned citizens brings in several hundred people on a Thursday at 6:00am where prayer is the primary focus. There is always a featured speaker, and this year was no different. Joshua Charles is a concert pianist, a best-selling author, an accomplished historian, and is earning his law degree at the Regent University School of Law. “In his book, The World’s Most Important Book, Joshua examines how the Bible has greatly impacted many areas of human life, from art, to music, to government, healthcare, and works of compassion. No book (referring to the Bible) has exerted greater influence.” (taken from the program pamphlet). He has authored a second book, entitled, Liberty’s Secrets: The Lost Wisdom of America’s Founders. I picked up a copy of this book, and am anxious to get started on it, especially because Joshua Charles has done a thorough job of researching his topic as evidenced by the talk he gave. And this man is only twenty-nine years old!

          Apart from the keynote speaker, there was a corporate prayer printed in our program, which was actually a responsorial prayer, led by Ron Van De Pol, president and CEO at Van De Pol Enterprises, Inc., (Stockton, CA), and is also the Vice President of Alliance Petroleum Corporation.

          Having been asked to lead in such prayers myself in the past, I was particularly taken by the opening section of the prayer which minces no words as to the condition of the human race and its not so glorious relationship with the Living God.

“We are flawed people, but know you love us unconditionally and your mercy endures forever. Within the span of a few decades, You have been removed from the schoolhouse, the courthouse, and the marketplace. On our watch, the mention of Your name and those who openly serve You are no longer welcomed in a nation that once revered your Holy Word (the Bible). We have forsaken You and ignored the wisdom and warnings of those You have sent to establish the only nation in world history founded on the principle that ‘God created all men equal,’ free, and with rights no man could take away.”

Those of us in the audience would then respond with, “LORD, hear our prayer.” Please understand, that at the end of this first reading I was uncomfortable joining in with others in asking the Lord to hear our prayer! Think about it! Is it not true that there is a wholesale attempt throughout our nation to eliminate God from the schoolhouse, the courthouse, and the marketplace? Christians and Jews in the United States of America are being harassed and attacked both verbally and physically. Love of God and Country has become taboo in the hallowed halls of academia, the very institutions where the expression of belief and thought should be encouraged and celebrated; not ridiculed, demonized, and besmirched.

The report of religious violations taken from an article in 2012, lists the following as some of the cases reported where Christians and Jews are having their faith criticized and stifled by those in authority.

·        A federal judge threatened “incarceration” to a high school valedictorian unless she removed references to Jesus from her graduation speech.

·        City officials prohibited senior citizens from praying over their meals, listening to religious messages, or singing gospel songs at a senior activities center.

·        A public school official physically lifted an elementary school student from his seat and reprimanded him in front of his classmates for praying over his lunch.

·        Following U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ policies, a federal government official sought to censor a pastor’s prayer, eliminating references to Jesus, during a Memorial Day ceremony honoring veterans at a national cemetery.

·        Public school officials prohibited students from handing out gifts because they contained religious messages.

·        A public school official prevented a student from handing out flyers inviting her classmates to an event at her church.

·        A public university’s law school banned a Christian organization because it required its officers to adhere to a statement of faith that the university disagreed with.

·        The U.S. Department of Justice argued before the Supreme Court that the federal government can tell churches and synagogues which pastors and rabbis it can hire and fire.

·        The State of Texas sought to approve and regulate what religious seminaries can teach.

·        Through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the federal government is forcing religious organizations to provide insurance for birth control and abortion-inducing drugs in direct violation of their religious beliefs.

·        The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs banned the mention of God from veterans’ funerals, overriding the wishes of the deceased’s families.

·        A federal judge held that prayers before a state House of Representatives could be to Allah but not to Jesus.

       This is no cry of “Wolf!” where there is no wolf. This is a cry for sanity where secularists and progressives are destroying our nation. God, please forgive us, and help us return to being one nation, under God!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Pancakes, Please!

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
17 April 2017

Pancakes, Please!

               It has been a while since I wrote about my grandkids. They are growing like weeds and bring more joy and happiness to my wife and me every day. Having spent many years in the military moving from base to base around the world, we are very aware that many families do not enjoy the blessing of having grandchildren close by.

          For us, nine-year-old Alyssa lives three miles away, and nine-year-old Brooklyne and five-year-old Colson live twenty-five miles away. We couldn’t be happier being so close and so involved in their lives.

          Thursday Isaura was doing her weekly stint of taking care of Brook and Colson. She usually does this on Fridays, looking after Colson during the day (he begins school this fall), and then picking up his sister from school in the afternoon. As for Alyssa, either Isaura or I pick her up Monday-Thursday since she attends school less than two miles from our home.

          Since this was Easter weekend with no school on Friday, we had all three grandkids from Thursday afternoon through Saturday evening.

          As expected the kids were wound up pretty tight since they were spending the night at Meema and Granddaddy’s! Thursday evening, we watched a Veggie Tales DVD about Easter, then it was off to bed. They love to sleep in the loft (a.k.a., my Man Cave). The girls share the blow-up mattress, and Colson gets the hide-a-bed. As I often do, I read to them. I chose “Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims,” one of the Rush Revere Series written about American history by Rush Limbaugh. I read two chapters before they all finally drifted off to dreamland.

I’m up early on Fridays to join my golfing buddies for a round at Spring Creek, so when I came home later in the morning I found Meema elbow-deep in making Portuguese Sweet Bread with the kids. This is a custom she brought with her from the old country, and is passing it along to our progeny. If you haven’t tasted this bread, you’ve missed out. Part of the Easter tradition is to bake the bread by placing a whole egg (representing life) on top of the bread dough and then baking it in the oven. The kids were having great fun kneading the dough with flour and sticky dough all over the kitchen counter and floor. But the end result is certainly worth it.

On Friday evening, we went to the Good Friday service at the Ripon Free Methodist Church with the kids in tow. We visited with folks outside following the service, allowing the young ones to run around on the grass for a while before hauling everyone home. Once safely ensconced in our house, I made popcorn for everyone. I do it the old-fashioned way by popping the kernels on the stove. Then we settled down to watch the beginning of the movie series entitled, “Anne of Green Gables.” All three kids loved it and didn’t want it to end. As we put them to bed, I once again read to them from Rush Revere, and they were out cold before I finished one chapter!

Saturday morning, we roused the kids in time to make it to the Easter Egg Hunt in Escalon. It was fun watching the dozens of children racing around the playground looking for eggs in the grass. On the drive back home, I asked the kids which they wanted me to make for brunch: waffles or pancakes? In unison from the back seat came, “Pancakes, please!” Admittedly, I am a purist when it comes to baking, which means I cook from scratch, having learned to do so from my grandmother.

Now, normally the kids would help me make the batter for the pancakes along with cooking the bacon, but this day they were more interested in continuing to watch Anne of Green Gables. If you haven’t ever watched this series, I recommend it, especially for your grandkids. It is entertaining, plus it re-enforces values that have seemingly been lost in out American culture. The topic of forgiveness is a strong theme throughout, along with courtesy, manners, respect, friendship, perseverance, and many other virtues and values not emphasized in today’s Hollywood fare. And if it is portrayed, it is usually mocked.

After consuming lots of pancakes, it was time to break out the packages of egg dye for the kids to have fun coloring the dozen or more eggs Meema had boiled for them. We had lots of giggles and laughs creating eggs of different colors, and adding glitter to some, and stickers to others. But what a mess! I still have glitter on my forearms!

All of this reminded me of what the Bible says about grandchildren. In Genesis 31:55, it says, “Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them.” Later on, Solomon would write this about grandchildren: “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” Ah! How true!

Isaura and I have been so very blessed by God with our two precious daughters, their stalwart husbands, and our delightful grandchildren.

Now, this all makes me wonder if at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Heaven, Jesus will also be serving pancakes!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
10 April 2017

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

               The year was 1988 when a song written by Bobby McFerrin hit the airwaves, entitled, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” This light-hearted, toe-tapping tune was an instant hit. T-shirts were worn with the song’s title and slogan emblazoned for all to see. Though the song was catchy, I never paid attention to the lyrics before.

          Worrying seems to be a part of the universal human condition. I have known far too many people, some in my own family, who firmly believe that the act of worry is their right. That they were born to worry. A wayward child, a lost job, needing a new car, a failing marriage, and so on creates an environment in the soul that is ripe for worry.

          The first verse in the song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” is profound in its understanding of our human dilemma. “In every life we have some trouble. When you worry you make it double.” That line sums up the problem of worry: when you worry about someone or something, you are unable to help that person, that problem, or yourself. All the fussing and hand-wringing in the world does not alter the problem one iota. Truth be told – worry makes things worse. As the song says, worry causes your trouble to double!

          As a pastor, I often found myself addressing this stumbling block in the lives of many people who profess to know and love Jesus. The compulsion to worry is a faith killer. What do I mean by that? Worry stabs at the heart of trust. Too often we chuckle at the person who always worries about something. There are even those who would create something to worry about, if necessary!

          This is not intended to have some sort of Pollyannaish approach to life. Instead, I have learned to turn every care, concern, trouble, and worry over to the One who can thoroughly handle that which plagues me.

          Let’s take a look at why worry is a faith killer. God created us to be in relationship with him. Any relationship we have demands a certain degree of trust. I trust that the clerk at the store is charging me the right prices when I buy my groceries. I trust that the gasoline I put in my car has been processed properly. I trust the elevator company in the high-rise will run as designed, safely transporting me to my desired floor. I trust the pilot to fly the plane safely to my desired destination. I even have to trust other drivers to obey the traffic laws.

          So, let me use an apologetic approach to this argument. Since I believe that God loves me, and that he sent his Son, Jesus, to die for my sins, then I am fully accepting that my life is completely in his hands. It then stands to reason that I should be able to fully trust God with my life and everything that takes place throughout my life. God has made it very clear in his word, the Bible, that I am to trust him implicitly in all things, and any act of worry on my part is a red flag announcing that I don’t really trust God to handle my problem.

          Lest you think this is overly simplistic, I would then challenge you to prove the Bible says it’s okay for you to worry. Since that is not possible, let me tell you what the Bible says about not worrying.

          In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6, Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

          The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi (Greece), these words about their many anxieties and worries. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

          Worry is an all-out attack on your heart and mind, make no mistake about it. When you find yourself falling into the worry-trap, turn it all over to Jesus. Worry is a burden you were never designed to carry. Jesus can handle any and all problems you have.

          And have a wonderful Easter week! Jesus is Risen! After all, he defeated sin and death. My troubles are puny by comparison. No more worries!

Monday, April 03, 2017

Shop Till You Drop

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
3 April 2017

Shop Till You Drop

               Yes, I know it’s a hackneyed expression, but it was certainly true on this day. As I have mentioned in previous articles, my youngest daughter, Jenny Roots Sousa, owns a store in Turlock by the name of Rustic Roots. She opened for business nearly four years ago and has been very busy ever since.

          Her particular expertise is painting used or antique furniture to give it the popular “vintage” look, or what is commonly called “shabby chic.” Admittedly, I was a reluctant convert to this style, coming from the old school that says you don’t paint wooden furniture: you sand it, stain it, then Verathane it. Bring out the beauty of the grain! That’s the ticket! Ah, but that is not what is “in” today, or so I’m told.

          Being retired now for three years, I have been working Jenny’s store on Mondays. I make the 25-mile-drive to Turlock and spend the day greeting customers, helping answer questions, and finalizing the sales. It’s loads of fun and keeps me entertained on a day when the golf course is closed. When I report for work each Monday, I see a different store because a number of the furniture pieces from the previous week are sold and gone, only to be replaced by recent additions.

          With a constant turn-over of merchandise, Jenny must make buying trips to large flea market type places where she can select the items she wants to “re-create” with her unique artistic flair. On the first Sunday of each month there is a huge display of dealers’ wares at the old Naval Station in Alameda. There are acres of ground covered with row upon row of various items that store owners and vendors, such as Jenny, can acquire the needed items for their store. Then on the second Sunday of the month, there is another huge sale up in Sacramento.

          So, this past Sunday Jenny picked me up at 7:00am for the drive to Alameda in her pick-up truck. In anticipation of a long day of browsing through innumerable displays of wares under what promised to be a warm, sunny day, we were well equipped with coffee and water. The hour-plus drive into the East Bay of San Francisco (i.e., Oakland and Alameda) was uneventful. However, not having driven through this area in several years, both Jenny and I were shocked at how rundown the area had become. Homeless folks were everywhere living in abject squalor that reminded me of the many trashy areas I had witnessed throughout many third world countries. Add to that the ruination of the infrastructure made us feel that no roads or bridges in the Bay Area were safe. I have lived in or near the San Francisco Bay since 1969, yet this is the first time I felt that major population areas of the Bay were deteriorating to the point of total ruin. The state has not done the job of maintenance and upkeep of our primary means of travel. Hey! Sacramento! Wake up!

          So, back to shopping at the flea market. We paid the required nominal fee to enter, then rented a couple of oversized grocery carts and began the up-and-down, and back-and-forth crisscrossing of the various merchants’ stalls. Slowly at first, we bought a few items, but then, as we warmed to our purpose for being there, Jenny began to grab quite a few items so that after five hours we figured we had enough items to fill both the back of the pick-up and the extended cab. With a number of large furniture items, along with complimentary pieces that give the store its own charm, we began the challenge of packing all of this into the truck. With a fistful of bungee straps and rubber stretch cords, we began securing all of the pieces for the 70-mile drive back to the Valley. We were both ready to call it a day!

          As we drove out of the parking area to head for the exit from the former naval base, I suggested that Jenny drive up the road that ran alongside the old aircraft hangers so I could point out the hanger of the squadron where I had served after returning from Vietnam. The squadron was VMA 133, made up of T-A4s, the “T” signifying “Training” aircraft. In fact, at the former main gate entrance is mounted for display purposes “Old 00” (referred to affectionately as “Double-Nuts”). Having been an aviation electrician, I served in Maintenance Control where all work done on any aircraft is assigned. Looking upon this now unkempt former military base, I sighed and thought, “You know you’re getting old when the airplanes you used to work on are now on static display!”

          Before driving off the island of Alameda, I asked Jenny if she’d like to see where I used to live. She readily said yes, so I pointed her toward the west side of the island and onto Central Avenue and the cottage I lived in for a year-and-a-half from January of ’73 to August of ’74. The rent on this cute little cottage was $85/month back then. And as a sergeant E5 I was bringing in $470/month which included BAQ (Basic Allowance for Quarters) and COMRATS (Commuted Rations).  Sadly, the housing in the area is rather run down, but it was fun to show Jenny where I lived two years before I met her mother.

          It was a fun day and a sheer delight to spend it with my daughter, sharing past memories and thoughts from a time that now seems so very long ago.

Yet I am blessed beyond measure and consider my life all joy, for the Lord has been so very good to me. To God be the glory!