Sunday, April 15, 2012

About Words: Thank You Notes. Foul Words. Choose Words. Gossip. Less Is More. Who Really Killed Jesus? Jackie Robinson. Molly Brown.

For “Scripture Sunday”:

The Thank-You Note: Treasured Tradition or Fossil of a Bygone Era?

Smiling young girl making a cardIn our electronic, computerized age, are there still reasons to teach our children to write an old-fashioned, handwritten thank-you note?

In the past several years there’s been much lamenting about the passing of the handwritten thank-you note. Its position on the watch list of endangered traditions is accompanied by the demise of cursive writing and the closing of post offices in small communities.

In an environment in which email, texting, Facebook messages and everything Internet have become increasingly dominant, is there any hope that the handwritten, sent-through-the-mail-with-a-stamp thank-you note will survive?

Rare, but still spotted!

A survey of 6,000 mothers found that only 30.7 percent always made their children write thank-you notes for gifts. That might be smaller than many of the etiquette gurus would like; but thankfully, while rare, this traditional courtesy is not extinct yet!

I myself have been privileged to be on the receiving end of a number of thank-you notes from young children. I think, for example, of the daughter of two longtime friends. She’s 12 now, but I’ve received thank-you notes from her since she was a tiny tot. My gifts to her were small—frequently just a 50-cent yard-sale find that I couldn’t pass up—but always there was a thank you! I’m sure she didn’t think of them as such, but I found her notes heartwarming. (And I’m sure her grandparents treasure such notes as well!)

Photo of a child and his mom drawing and writingAt first, the notes were written by her mother with some child scribbles on the left side of the card. A year or so later, she would include drawings and coloring. And then there was the day when I found lines drawn across the card to guide her early printing efforts.  It’s obvious her parents are committed to teaching good manners!

Reasons for keeping the practice alive

Considering how busy even the best-intentioned parents can be, it’s not surprising that this small courtesy sometimes ends up at the bottom of the to-do list. But here are a few reasons why some busy parents, like those mentioned above, continue to teach their children this gracious art of expressing thanks:

  • Writing thank-you notes is a way of teaching your children the importance of being grateful and showing gratitude—a biblical principle. Jesus Christ taught that we should treat others the way we would want to be treated (Luke 6:31). Doesn’t everyone like to be appreciated?
  • Showing gratitude will help your children have better relationships with friends and family. Despite a culture that is increasingly coarse, good manners are still appreciated. Writing thank-you notes will give your children (and your family) a good reputation.
  • Somewhat like how smiling makes you happier, thinking about the things you’re grateful for actually increases your happiness. This is according to a 2008 study by University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons. He says, “Gratitude is the ‘forgotten factor’ in happiness research.”
  • Writing thank-you notes helps your children learn and appreciate the value of time and money. Someone thought of them and spent time and/or money on them. An appreciation of this adds value to even the lowliest of gifts.
  • Instilling the practice of thank-you notes in your child’s life can be beneficial when he or she becomes an adult. A thank-you note after a job interview is often forgotten but is still considered essential. Some employers have even been known to hire a person because of receiving a thank-you card!
  • A handwritten note offers the opportunity to practice penmanship and composition in the home environment. Your child’s progress in schoolwork can be enhanced by this extracurricular project.

Nurturing a neglected art

Writing thank-you notes need not be a burdensome task for parents or their children. Here are some ideas to make it enjoyable and fun:

  • Introduce the assignment with a positive, enthusiastic approach. Focus on the niceness of the gift or service your child has been given and how happy the giver will be to know that your child likes it.
  • Have a box with special art supplies (fun paper, crayons, markers, stickers, etc.) that are only used for making cards.
  • Let your children help shop for stationery or other supplies.
  • Work with your child on the project.
  • Create a pleasant atmosphere by playing music or serving a special drink or snack (that isn’t messy) to enjoy while you’re working.

Thank you card graphic with a cute dog wagging its tail.As well as keeping it fun, make sure your expectations are within your children’s skill levels and abilities. Etiquette guru Emily Post’s website suggests that 3- to 5-year-olds might scribble on the card, draw a picture of themselves with the gift or even sign their name, while 6- to 10-year-olds can contribute to the actual writing. Older children and teens can start taking more responsibility for the process, but you’ll still want to check to make sure it gets done.

Room for a hybrid?

What about using technology in the thank-you process? While a handwritten note of thanks is still the preferred vehicle, depending on the recipient, you might consider letting your child use computer software to create a printed card or a website to create an electronic card. If all else fails, send an email message.

Ultimately, expressing gratitude and acknowledging the thoughtfulness of the giver is the most important thing.”  From:


Foul Language: Can't We Live Without It?

“Ugly words, profanity, vulgar language. We hear it all the time, don't we? So should we talk that way?”


Morse Codes

“Many of the things we say have more than one meaning, and even if that is not intended, the one who listens can add another meaning to our words. For example if we say, "Are you going to a party?" versus "Are you going to a party again?" We can be putting a second meaning into the second phrase simply by adding the word "again." Tone of voice and choice of words can send a message of displeasure, mistrust or fear. We live in an age where every device for communication seems to be in our hands—yet we communicate so poorly. We do not pause to choose our words; we do not consider the position of the other person before we speak.

Being alert and sensitive to others takes practice, planning and experience. We will make mistakes, but as we develop this ability, the mistakes will be less and the control we have over various encounters with others will be better by far. The Bible says "a word fitly spoken" (Proverbs 25:11), but we need a good vocabulary of words that we can use and we need to develop a sense of sensitivity toward others and to the words, tone of voice and body language we use in our conversations. Learn from other good communicators and grow.”    From:


Gossip, Tool of the Devil.

“Be sober; be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
See All...).

Can someone in God’s Church ever become a pawn in the hands of the devil? Have you ever allowed Satan to influence your decisions? We are warned to be careful—Satan is extremely subtle and can influence people much easier than we might think. How does Satan devour? The dictionary describes the word devour as to “prey upon,” “destroy,” “consume,” “bedevil,” “dispose of,” “make short work of,” “get caught up in” and “watch or listen with eager persistence.”

If someone wanted to devour and destroy God’s Church, how might they do it?

If someone wanted to devour and destroy God’s Church, how might they do it? During the time of Rome, the devil’s method was cruel persecution. Today with freedom of religion in most of the world, the devil uses a different set of rules—a method we call divide and conquer.

The destructiveness of division is illustrated by what Jesus said in Luke 11:17-18 See All... any organization or effort that is divided will be so weakened that it will eventually fail.

The tool of gossip

One of the devil’s main tools, both outside the Church and especially inside the Church, is gossip. Any of us can so easily become guilty of gossip. Idle talk often degenerates into gossip. Furthermore, the information passed on does not have to be false to be gossip. Even truth, especially in a negative light, is gossip.

“Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story” seems to be the slogan for most tabloid publications, based on the premise that inquiring minds want to know. But those stories are often based on innuendo and half-truths. A tiny drop of poison in a glass of water makes it undrinkable. In the same way, a little distortion added to truth makes it poisonous gossip. Paul used the same analogy in his letter to the Corinthian church when he wrote, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump”    (1 Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? See All...).

Remember the childhood saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”? This simple children’s rhyme is untrue. Words can be more harmful. Physical bodies can heal, but wounds caused by gossip can last a lifetime. “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends”     (Proverbs 17:9 See All...). “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:28A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends. See All...).

God hates gossip. “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren”    (Proverbs 6:16-19 [16] These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:  [17] A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
[18] An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
[19] A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
See All...).

“Here is a description of worthless and wicked people. They are constant liars, signaling their true intentions to their friends by making signs with their eyes and feet and fingers. Their perverted hearts plot evil. They stir up trouble constantly”    (Proverbs 6:12-14 [12] A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. [13] He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; [14] Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. See All..., New Living Translation).

In many ways gossip is like a time bomb. It can cause an explosion scattering fragments, bits and pieces of truth, mixed with exaggeration and lies.

God’s interpretation of a fool is not someone who is harmless, as we often think today, but rather one who is dangerous. “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool”   (Proverbs 10:18 He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.See All...).    Gossiping lacks total discretion, and often involves meddling in someone else’s life “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips”   (Proverbs 20:19He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips. See All...).     An individual who continually gossips is someone who spends words like a fool spends time and money.

Hurt and division

Gossip causes contention, hurt and destruction of character, serving only self-interest. “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. The words of a talebearer [one who gossips] are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly”    (Proverbs 18:7-8 [7] A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. [8] The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. See All..., King James Version).

Gossip creates anger, causing strife and division. “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases”   (Proverbs 26:20Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. See All...).

In many ways gossip is like a time bomb. It can cause an explosion, scattering fragments, bits and pieces of truth, mixed with exaggeration and lies. It will often cut people who were once the best of friends so deep that the wounds, at least in this lifetime, may never fully heal.

One of the most deadly weapons we can use is our tongue. The “tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. You love evil more than good, lying rather than speaking righteousness”     (Psalm 52:2-3 [2] Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. [3] Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah. See All...).

James issued this strong warning: “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell…But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”     (James 3:5-6 [5] Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  [6] And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. See All..., 8).

Gossip is one of the worst curses we have in this world; and if we let it, it can be a terrible curse for God’s Church. The problem is simple, but solving it is extremely difficult. We know what gossip is. We know we should not get involved, yet how often do we pay attention?

Notice this poignant instruction: “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few”     (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 [1] Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. [2] Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. [3] For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words. See All...).

Our Savior made it abundantly clear. The words we utter could eventually come back to haunt us. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”      (Matthew 12:35-37 [35] A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. [36] But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. [37] For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. See All...).

Before we repeat a story, let’s ask a few questions? Is it true? Do I really need to know this? Do other people need to know it? Is it fair? Is it necessary? “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”   (Matthew 12:37For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. See All...).

This is an important lesson, a lesson we can all work on, because the last thing any of us want to be is a tool of the devil.” Article by David Palmer,

“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.”


When Less Is More Reflecting on the Use of Words

According to Scripture, the quantity of words should not be the goal, but the quality.

“Turn on the news for two minutes and study politicians in action.

Listen to one of them deliver a speech, and then analyze it word by word. Often the politician's statements come out so muddled that one wonders what the substance was.

Compare this to word usage in daily life. It may seem good to always state an opinion. However, "free speech" does not mean that we're obliged to speak freely without thinking ahead. Words are not just empty constructions—they have meanings that affect people.

The Bible's advice on words

According to Scripture, the quantity of words should not be the goal, but the quality. It is so much better to say the right thing at the right time instead of saying what first comes to mind.

Words of encouragement and genuine admiration are often a real boost to others: "To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!" (Proverbs 15:23A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! See All..., English Standard Version throughout).

A fool's many words

I was fascinated by the following verse in Ecclesiastes, a book highly recommended for a young person to read through: "Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool"    (Ecclesiastes 10:3Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool. See All...).   For more insight, be sure to read "Ecclesiastes: The Thinking Young Adult's Guide to Life."

As applied to today, it could be someone's constant talk in the lunch room (or a never-ending call on the mobile phone on the bus) that makes other people seriously wonder if this person came with a built-in power switch.

Therefore, there are times when it is better to quietly refrain from giving an opinion on everything—no matter how well intended it is. Likewise, there are times when we cannot afford to remain silent but have to speak up. The first case is probably far more common though—some would say it happens on a daily basis.

Even if your opinion is perfectly sensible and right, is the other person prepared to consider your words or will what you say be rejected without receiving proper thought? "Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words" (Proverbs 23:9Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words. See All...).

If you do speak to a fool, he or she will produce plenty of words: "A fool multiplies words, though no man knows what is to be, and who can tell him what will be after him?" (Ecclesiastes 10:14A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him? See All..., emphasis added throughout).

Listen first, speak less

To actively listen to someone is not only courteous but can save us from making major mistakes further down the road. Often we may not be informed of all the facts or have understood properly how things are connected in a situation. After all, no one knows everything! We can learn from the experiences and instructions of others, like our parents—provided we hear them out first.

"If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth" (Proverbs 30:32If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. See All...).    In our age of blogs, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail, the admonition could just as well read "remove your hands from the keyboard."

Attempting to explain foolish behavior can make things worse. Usually a genuine "I'm sorry" can be all it takes to put a matter to rest.   With words, less is often more.”    A commentary by Vertical Thought Editor ,


On This Day:

Jackie Robinson breaks major league color barrier, Apr 15, 1947:

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American in the major leagues when he plays his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born into a family of sharecroppers on January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia. He attended UCLA, where he became the first athlete to letter in four varsity sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1944 and was honorably discharged after facing insubordination charges for refusing to move to the back of a segregated bus.

After leaving the military, Robinson played shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro League. In 1945, he was recruited by Dodgers president and general manager Branch Rickey, who was determined to end the unwritten segregation rule in the majors. In 1946, Robinson joined the Dodgers’ farm team, the Montreal Royals, and went on to lead the league in batting. On April 15, 1947, 28-year-old Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut with the Dodgers, against the Boston Braves, in front of more than 25,000 spectators at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York. Robinson played first base and went zero for three at the plate.

During his first season in the majors, Robinson encountered racism from opposing teams and fans, as well as some of his own teammates. However, the abuse didn’t affect his performance on the baseball field. Robinson played in 151 games, hit .297, stole more bases than anyone else in the National League and was awarded the first-ever Rookie of the Year title. In 1949, Robinson, who had switched to playing second base, was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player. The next year he became the Dodgers’ highest paid player, earning a salary of $35,000. In 1955, Robinson helped the Dodgers defeat the New York Yankees to win the World Series. He retired from baseball after playing his last game on October 10, 1956, with a career batting average of .311, 1,518 hits and 137 home runs.

After leaving baseball, Robinson worked as a business executive and continued his involvement in civil rights causes. On October 24, 1972, he died at age 53 from heart problems and complications related to diabetes. Robinson became the first African-American inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year of eligibility. In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his historic first game in the majors, Robinson’s uniform number--42--was retired by Major League Baseball.”


Molly Brown avoids sinking with the Titanic, Apr 15, 1912:

“A 20th century version of the strong and resourceful women of the Wild West, Molly Brown wins lasting fame by surviving the sinking of the Titanic.

Molly Brown was an unlikely candidate for fame and fortune. Born Margaret Tobin in 1867 in Hannibal, Missouri, she was the daughter of an impoverished ditch-digger. When she was a teenager, she went west and joined her brother, who was working in the booming silver mining town of Leadville, Colorado. She caught the eye of James J. Brown, the manager of a local silver mine, and the couple married in 1886. 

Not long after the marriage, James J. Brown discovered a fabulously profitable deposit of gold. Almost overnight, the Browns became enormously rich. The couple moved to Denver, bought a beautiful mansion, and tried unsuccessfully to become a part of the exclusive high society of the city. A flamboyant woman with a forceful personality, Molly appears to have been too much for Denver's bluebloods to handle. Apparently, she was also more than her husband could handle, and the couple soon separated.

Supported by a sizeable income from her estranged husband, Brown abandoned the narrow social life of Denver to travel the world. Whereas the Denver elite had dismissed her as a coarse upstart, socially prominent eastern families like the Astors and Vanderbilts prized her frank western manners and her thrilling stories of frontier life.

Brown's rise to national fame began on this night in 1912, while she was aboard the Titanic, returning from a European trip. After the ship hit an iceberg and began to sink, Brown was tossed into a lifeboat. She took command of the little boat and helped rescue a drowning sailor and other victims. To keep spirits up, she regaled the anxious survivors with stories of her life in the Old West.

When newspapers later learned of Brown's courageous actions, they promptly dubbed her "the unsinkable Mrs. Brown" and she became an international heroine. Eventually, Brown's money ran out and she faded from the public view, dying in modest circumstances in New York City in 1932. However, the Broadway musical ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ revived her fame for a new generation in 1960.”


The program on WGN this morning: “Who Really Killed Jesus” .

“This question has been fervently debated for centuries. But why should it matter and what does it have to do with you?”

Transcript at:



Jay and I went to the church just outside of Conroe again.  Jay hadn’t been there when the young men played their guitars to the songs, so he enjoyed that.  This time there was also a gifted gentleman playing a keyboard.  All the younger people were at a church conference last week, so there were a lot more seats filled up this time. Also there was a prenuptial prayer for a couple who are getting married today, so a lot of their kith and kin from out of town came to the service.  A disabled older lady sang a song with an accomplished piano accompanist, but she was off key sometimes, bless her heart.  I wouldn’t have the nerve to sing in front of so many people. 

The sermon was about “Seizing The Opportunity”, with references to Napoléon Bonaparte’s bad decision at the Battle of Waterloo, and Joash and Elisha in 2 Kings:14-19.  We both enjoyed it all, and the pot luck lunch afterwards was delicious.  Jay hadn’t wanted to stay for that, but he was glad he did when we sat at a one of the big tables and he got the feeling of the fellowship of the congregation.  Jay was a lot more comfortable around these friendly people today, and talks about quitting his excessive drinking every time we leave there.  Maybe, one day, it will happen. 

Next Saturday evening, on the 21st. April, they are have a “Twenties Night”, complete with a Model A Ford.  Twenties food will be donated and served, prizes for best Twenties costume, and a special devotion time, “Heritage”.  Being a ‘flapper’ is really a little before my time….no comments about that, please.  But I will try to dress up like one on that day.

1 comment:

Dizzy-Dick said...

Glad you found a church that you you can learn, praise, and enjoy all at the same time.