Emanuel AME Church Charleston, SC

In Memoriam

June 17, 2015

Emanuel AME Church

The Reverend Clementa Pinckney

Tywanza Sanders

Cynthia Hurd

The Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Myra Thompson

Ethel Lance

The Reverend Daniel Simmons

The Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor

Susie Jackson

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116:15)

Practical Advice: Part 2

Advice Sticky NoteMark Twain once said: “It is better to give than receive—especially advice!” I am following his advice today. Last week’s blog was entitled “Practical Advice: Part 1.”  Today I offer a sequel creatively entitled “Practical Advice: Part 2.” I make no claims of originality, only of practicality. Here we go again:

  • Use your phone to take a picture of your children or grandchildren before you go out for quick distribution if one becomes lost.
  • Use sunscreen liberally, and make sure your children do the same.
  • Run hot water in the kitchen sink before turning on the dish washer.
  • Place a wet paper towel in a “George Foreman” type grill after unplugging it. The steam makes cleanup MUCH easier.
  • “Burp” Tupperware for a better seal.
  • Citrus peels freshen up a garbage disposal with a clean fragrance.
  • Clothes pins make great “chip clips” along with sealing cereal, flour, and more.
  • Preheat a mug with hot water to keep coffee warm longer.
  • Baking soda and vinegar will dissolve most plumbing clogs. Follow with boiling water.
  • Tear dryer sheets into halves for separate dryer loads.
  • Fitted sheets can be folded by tucking the elastic corners under one another; but why waste time folding sheets?!?
  • Put pillows in a freezer for twenty-four hours to kill microscopic mites and other critters. (And, yes, your pillow has them).
  • Rubbing your hands on stainless steel (a sink works) will remove an onion’s odor.
  • Clean the lint trap in a dryer often. Built up lint is a real fire hazard. Boy scouts stuff it in toilet paper tubes and use it for fire starter. It works!
  • Kitty litter soaks up oil spills in garages.
  • Replace fire detector batteries when Daylight Saving Time begins and ends.
  • When winding up an electrical cord, plug the two ends together before looping the doubled line.
  • Wear earplugs while cutting the grass and operating noisy machinery.
  • Leaves of three, let them be.
  • Rub a stubborn key with pencil lead. The graphite serves as a dry lubricant.
  • NEVER mix bleach and ammonia. The resulting fumes are toxic. The mixture was used during World War I trench warfare as poison gas.
  • If something is in your eye, fill a bowl with water and immerse your face. Oftentimes the irritant will float out.
  • Never mess with electricity, natural gas, strange dogs, or snakes.
  • Don’t take a shower during a thunder storm. Lighting and water don’t mix.
  • Replace a toothbrush after recovering from a cold or the flu.
  • When it comes to perfume and cologne, less is more. A little is more than plenty.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, then it’s probably too good to be true.
  • Computer passwords should contain both numbers, letters, and symbols. Remember there are only 10 numbers but 26 letters in the English language.
  • Use an address book to keep up with passwords and PINs.
  • Dry a razor thoroughly after use—it will stay sharp longer.
  • Salt on a restaurant coaster prevents the bottom of a glass from sticking.
  • In public restrooms, use elbows or feet rather than hands for opening doors and flushing commodes.
  • Carry hand sanitizer in your car or purse.
  • Washing hands should take about the same amount of time as singing “Happy Birthday to You.”
  • Walk a minimum of 7,000 steps a day. If in doubt, wear a pedometer.
  • Drink more water and less soft drinks. Some colas contain more sugar than a candy bar.
  • Learn to touch type—regardless of age. Keyboards provide a portal into the electronic world. However, never forget that virtual reality is a poor excuse for reality.
  • Listen to other people’s advice, but make up your own mind.

Practical Advice: Part 1

Advice Help Support And Tips Signpost Showing Information And GuThe philosopher, Publilius Syrus, observed: “Many receive advice, few profit by it.” People love to give counsel but few enjoy receiving it; and those who need it most like it the least.

Despite the inherent danger of being ignored, today’s blog shares some practical advice that I have found handy. I hope you find it helpful.

  • Don’t cut what can be untied.
  • Measure twice and cut once.
  • Seduction begins with flirtation, and the thought precedes the deed.
  • Actions really do speak louder than words.
  • Eat to live, don’t live to eat.
  • Taste food before adding salt.
  • Check your cars oil and air pressure regularly.
  • Don’t let the fuel gauge go below a quarter of a tank.
  • Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text message and drive. Don’t apply makeup and drive. In fact, just drive.
  • Touch the car before handling a gas pump. Static electricity can ignite petroleum fumes.
  • Look both ways after the light turns green for someone running a “yellow” light. Sooner or later this simple habit will save your life.
  • Where there’s a ball, there’s a boy. If a ball bounces into the street, hit the brakes immediately.
  • Don’t swerve off the road to avoid an animal. Ditches, trees, and power poles are unforgiving obstacles. Instead, brake quickly but safely.
  • When backing a trailer, put one hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. Whichever way your hand goes, the trailer will follow.
  • Have car keys in hand when approaching your vehicle in a parking lot. If accosted by a stranger who wants your car, toss the keys under a car.
  • Don’t spend more than you make.
  • If you can live without it today, then you can live without it.
  • Give 10%. Save 10%. Live on 80%.
  • “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” (John Wesley)
  • Even the baby Jesus only received three Christmas gifts. Sometimes we give our children too much.
  • Shred loan and credit applications.
  • Finances are a crock pot reality in a microwave world. (Dave Ramsey)
  • Use cash whenever possible. A study by bankrate.com discovered that consumers spend 30% MORE at restaurants when using credit rather than cash.
  • Credit cards should be a convenience and not a necessity. Don’t charge more than can be paid off at month’s end.
  • The power of compounding interest works for us with savings and against us with loans.
  • Insurance is a balancing act between benefit and cost. Insure the things you cannot afford to lose.
  • Consider higher deductibles on insurance policies for premium savings.
  • Make a current will—especially if you have children. Do NOT put it in a safety deposit box.
  • Add a working day to your week by eliminating an hour of television or the Internet each day.
  • Use words liberally like “Please,” “Thank you,” “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you.”
  • Say “I love you” to family and friends daily. Say it especially when you don’t feel like it.
  • Wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident. Actually, I advise wearing clean underwear on general principles.
  • Practice moderation in everything—including moderation.
  • Only one person in the history of the world was perfect, and neither of us is him. Be eager to forgive and seek forgiveness.

Finally, listen to other people’s advice, but make up your own mind!

Vacation Bible School Season

VBSVacation Bible School Season has arrived in the South. Although such a time is not marked on any liturgical calendar, the annual observance is sacred in the southern church year. A summer would not be complete without this Holy Week of bedlam and chaos in local congregations.

I grew up attending Vacation Bible School at my home church. The event was widely publicized in the congregation and community. In a wily church growth strategy, church leaders encouraged members to invite family and friends. I never could gauge the long-term effectiveness of the evangelistic approach. However, non-churched parents gladly agreed to send their children to a week of free daycare!

Each summer featured a different theme. A joyful Jesus with a broad smile on his face adorned all the materials. Maps, pictures, and posters decorated the cinderblock walls of the Sunday School rooms. Thirty-three rpm records of flimsy plastic accompanied the curriculum with the week’s featured songs.

Filmstrips were high tech way back then. The more elaborate presentations included a cassette recording that beeped when the slide should be advanced. The multi-media presentations consisted of felt boards and punch out figures. For years, I thought all the disciples were six inches tall with Velcro strips on their backs!

Recreation was the high point of the day. The older youth led the playtime. This meant the teenage boys flirted with their female counterparts while we ran wild. The more organized leaders would toss us a kick ball before standing aside.

Then we would break for snack time. Everyone knew that only nominal Christians volunteered to serve refreshments at Vacation Bible School. These parents felt guilty enough to participate but were not committed enough to teach! So they served the hungry hordes that periodically descended upon the snack room.

Refreshments customarily meant cool juice along with cream filled cookies. Whenever I read about Jesus feeding the five thousand with loaves and fishes, I always assumed the writers meant to say Kool-Aide and Oreos! I also thought that the Communion Service would benefit by switching from stale crackers to sugar iced cookies.

I do recall one year when the class took an imaginary plane trip to the Holy Land. The teachers served us unleavened bread, shriveled dates, and unsweetened grape juice. They assured us these “snacks” represented authentic food from the Holy Land. We assured them that the land flowing with milk and honey did not live up to its reputation!

We also enjoyed the arts and crafts time. Some congregations ordered expensive kits with their Vacation Bible School materials. We self-righteously rejected such Philistine ways. Markers, construction paper, glitter, balsa wood, and modeling clay were the art materials of true VBS veterans.

Oh, and the things we could do with a few Popsicle sticks and some paste glue! These building materials formed the building blocks for anything imaginable. No doubt Noah constructed the ark with only these supplies on hand. Given enough time and craft sticks, a Vacation Bible School class could construct a flight ready space shuttle.

We enjoyed singing, too. We enthusiastically sang the songs of faith. Our Top Ten List included “This is My Father’s World,” “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” and “The B-I-B-L-E.”  Our all time, number one, favorite was “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.”

Truth to tell, I remember the context of Vacation Bible School much more than any content. No single lesson sticks out in my mind. I do not recall one particular teacher. However, those summer weeks became grace-moments in my life. I learned that the Lord God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, loved and cherished ME! Such knowledge overwhelmed my heart with wonder and love.

I hope every child in our community has the opportunity to attend a Vacation Bible School or two this summer. The experience will transform their lives, and the memories will last a lifetime.

Give this generation a foundation of faith along with some juice, cookies, and Popsicle sticks, and they will change our world forever!