MY BIG BROTHER
This past Friday morning, we got the news that my big brother had passed away overnight, near where he lived, in Alabama. When our big sister broke the news to our nearly 95-year-old mother, the words of comfort I offered her included: “Thank you for giving me as good of a big brother as a guy could ask for and thank you for pointing all your kids to Jesus.” My comfort during this time lies in knowing that that’s where my brother is now … at home in Heaven with Jesus. As a result, more than I would ordinarily, I’ve found myself considering what things are like in Heaven.
Chester Richard (Dick) Wiram is my big brother. Of course, there’s a lot I could tell you about him. If you’d like to know some of his biography, I recommend starting with his obituary, that appeared in our hometown newspaper. What I’d really like to tell you about, though, is a bit about the kind of guy he was and how he impacted my life.
When he passed away, Dick was close to 70 years old. I’m nearing 67 so that means Dick got the first three years of his time here on Earth to himself, without the responsibility of being my big brother. If he was still here with us, I expect that he would refer to that time as “the good old days”.
Isn’t that the way it is with brothers? You can say and do things with each other that you couldn’t get away with if it was anyone else. But, you can do so with your brother because it’s usually done in jest and because of the love you share. Dick was great at that. I told my wife, Ruth; it seemed that Dick had done that by taking our Dad’s wry sense of humor and developing it to a whole new level. Continue reading
LIVE IN HARMONY
This past week, I got to spend a little time with a First Grade Teacher who is also one of my very favorite people. She was teaching our class to join her class in singing and signing a song called The World Is A Rainbow. This was in preparation for an assembly that, I assumed, was related to the upcoming Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although it would be an oversimplification (and somewhat outdated) for me to say that her purpose in this was to teach racial harmony, that was certainly a part of what she had in mind.
My first lesson in racial harmony came when I was First-Grade-aged or younger and it took place in church, not in school. Then, the song we sang was entitled Jesus Loves The Little Children. As I thought of these differences in experiences between the kids of today and the kids of my day, that led me to consider the ramifications.
ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD?! Continue reading
Filed under Christians, Church Issues, community, Culture, diversity, Education, faith, Family, God, Jesus, Love, race, religion, society
What comes to mind for you when you hear the name Dick Butkus? Immediately, I think along the lines of the caption on this Sports Illustrated cover … “Dick Butkus of the Bears – The most feared man in the game (NFL Football)”. No doubt, many others (especially those of my generation) share that same first thought. And, there’s ample justification for that line of thinking. The 6 ft 3 in, 245 lb Butkus, was known as one of the most feared and intimidating linebackers during his nine years as a player for the Chicago Bears.
Next, you may think of Dick Butkus as a celebrity endorser and actor. That’s my next thought too. And, here too, there’s plenty of good reason for thinking that way. The “most feared man in the game” persona of this Pro Football Hall of Fame member has been very effective in promoting brand names, from his Miller Lite commercials with Bubba Smith to his “I’m sorry, Dick Butkus” spots for FedEx. And, Butkus has had numerous roles on TV and in the movies. He was even the namesake for Rocky’s English Mastiff, in both the Rocky and Rocky II movies.
So, if you met him today, wouldn’t you expect to meet a somewhat older version of the Dick Butkus you’ve come to know about over the years? That is, an imposing figure who still lives in his hometown, Chicago, whose time is mostly spent enjoying the leisure activities of retirement, along with some dabbling in the worlds of sports and entertainment. That’s what I thought when my Wife, Ruth and I had the pleasure of meeting him recently at a MarriageTeam Tailgate Party & Auction. I will say that the qualities I expected to find in his makeup all seemed to be present and undiminished. However, I also got to start becoming acquainted with some dimensions of the man that were a pleasant surprise. One of these is a campaign he started, called Play Clean™. It’s a program that encourages teens to “train hard, eat well, and play with attitude”, instead of resorting to illegal steroids. His willingness to take this stand against steroids caused USA Today to comment that Butkus may have a greater impact on the game in his 60s (now 70s) than he did playing in his 20s. Continue reading
Filed under character, commitment, community, Culture, entertainment, faith, Family, ideals, Love, Making a Difference, Marriage, society, Sports, Substance Abuse, values
Ronald Ray Cox, a friend from the time of my birth, passed from life on Earth to life in eternity at about 8:32 a.m. (EST), October 19, 2013. Knowing that, it’s likely for you to think that I’m writing this to honor my friend and to tell you wonderful stories from a relationship that stretched out over nearly 70 years. Though I do want to honor my old friend, since there was a gap in our relationship from the time we finished college until about five months prior to Ron’s passing, when he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, I don’t have those nearly 70 years’ worth of stories to share. Thankfully, I do have the story to share of how I was blessed in reconnecting with Ron at the end of his life and getting to witness how he and his Wife, Kim, embraced God and each other through their final season together.
Filed under Bible, Christianity, Christians, church, faith, Family, Friends, God, Heaven, Jesus, Love, Marriage, religion, Salvation, Sin
What happens when a Christian passes from life on Earth to life in eternity? Surely, this is a question each of us considers, at some time, regardless of age or other life circumstances. I think it seems obvious, though, that as you recognize it’s likely you’re closer to the end than the beginning, you begin to give this more thought. I can’t pinpoint the moment this began with me but, some time after I had this realization, I began to consider a related hope that I defined as My Welcoming Committee.
First, let me state clearly that the hope I have in My Welcoming Committee is not supported by Scripture. By the same token, there’s nothing in the Bible that teaches against it. So, I continue to cling to that hope as something that God, quite possibly, may have in mind, as a reward.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jeremiah 29:11
My Welcoming Committee is, simply, this: A gathering of those who arrived in Heaven before me, who played a role in pointing me to God’s gracious gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. Although I see them as being there for me, to greet me as I arrive, the reward that I see God having in mind with this is for them. Their reward, for the role they played in leading me to salvation, is that they get to usher me into the presence of Jesus, to introduce us face-to-face.
Often, Baby Boomers, like me, are heard lamenting about things that aren’t “like they were when we were growing up.” These complaints can come off as one wishing to relive their childhood. In some instances, that, in fact, may be the case. In this instance, my grief is over losing a foundational quality to the greatness of American culture, a quality that drew our predecessors to this land in the first place. The following brief piece, presented by Bret Baier and Peter Boyer, of Fox News, is a good way to set the stage for what I want to address in this article: