Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> EAGLES' REST: May 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

THE BEST ADVICE DAD EVER GAVE ME

I'm not sure I remember all the advice Dad ever shared with me, but this one was surely the most effective.

After a bit over a year in college, it became painfully clear that college wasn't going to work for me. It might be more correct to say I wasn't going to work for college, but either way, I decided college wasn't for me.

When I announced my intention to withdraw from Butler University, in Indianapolis, Dad asked me what I was going to do. I told him I guess I'd find a job. That's when he laid the line, shown above, on me.

That was late in 1957, and in a stunning display of my good timing, that was also a time of recession in our economy. I got a job working as an apprentice in a Body Shop, but the recession caught up with that. Then a short time working for another car dealer, and the recession struck again.

The following week, the first week in April, 1958, we'd been planning on going to Florida. When I told Dad on Friday night that Northside Chevrolet had shown me the door, he asked what I was going to, and I said I'd find another job when we got back from Florida. He said, then, something like this: "Wrong ... vacations are for people with jobs, which you don't have. We'll see you in a week."

Then he gave me the advice, the importance of which I couldn't have comprehended at that time:

"Be sure you get a job you can turn into a career."

I moped all weekend, and then on Monday morning, I watched the Today Show. One of the stories they did that morning related the fact that there were 50,000 jobs in New York City, which employers were unable to fill. There were lots of unemployed people, but the jobs didn't pay much more than Unemployment Insurance, and people didn't want to work for the difference. Trouble was, I hadn't worked long enough to be eligible to receive Unemployment. But the story did something for me that I didn't expect. I figured if there were 50,000 jobs in New York City, there must be 15 or 20 jobs in Indianapolis, and I decided by golly I was going to go find some.

And I did. Found five jobs in three days. Driving a fruit juice delivery truck, working in a Health Spa, jobs like that. But Dad's words rang in my ear, and nothing I found looked like an entry point for a career. So, having seen an ad in the Want Ads for "Mark Kelly's Job Mart", I called them and arranged to see them the next morning. It may also be noted I picked them because I was low on gas, and they were closest to my house.

When I visited in the office, the secretary .. a nice lady named Margaret Wright ..  asked me what sort of job I was looking for. I told her I didn't care, as long as it was something I could turn into a career. What I did not know, then, was that she was a good friend of a lady named Fannie Burch, who was Secretary of Wabash Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, a fairly new insurer in Indianapolis. And Fannie had just that day told Mrs. Wright to be on the lookout for a young man who might make a good mailboy ... Fannie had caught their mailboy washing his car on company time. 

That same afternoon, Mrs. Wright called and told me to report to Wabash and see a Mrs. Burch. And be sure and wear a coat and tie. I did that, and when Mrs. Burch asked me what pay I expected, I said "Whatever the job pays. I just want a job I can turn into a career". She said I was hired, and the pay would be $45 a week.

The details would be quite lengthy and probably boring to everyone else, but suffice it to say, I spent from April of 1958 to February of 2008 ... with a couple years in the middle in a other businesses ... in the insurance business. I still cannot believe all the things God put on my plate ... inventing a new kind of insurance coverage on two different occasions ...  flying all over country and speaking at insurance agency meetings ... going to London to work with Lloyds' for a week, several times ... speaking at various trade association meetings, ... all of which leave me wondering how on earth all that stuff happened to me. 

(Note: the answer is that it may have happened to me, but it all originated in Heaven.)

The picture above is from an Indianapolis Newspaper article about Wabash, as part of a series called "Where Indianapolis Works". That's me, sitting there in the dark jacket. The picture was taken mid-1958, and I can say with absolute certainty that I never, ever dreamed of going all the places I've been, and doing all the things I'd done, over the next half century in the Insurance Industry.

When I retired February 1, 2008, we had a "retirement dinner" for our family and a couple friends. There, Peg gave me a scrapbook covering my career, and this was the first picture in it.

Thanks, Peg, for the memories ... and I met her and married her at that first mailboys job ... and thanks, Dad, for the advice. And thanks, God, for making it all happen.

PS: There's a p.s. of note. When I got to Wabash the first day, I found out the other mailboy ... one did the 7 a.m. incoming mail run and distribution, the other did the 5 p.m. outgoing mail run to the downtown Post Office ... was a guy named Bill, a good friend of mine from high school. After a few months there, he came in and gave his week's notice, saying he had gotten a job as a lathe operator at a local manufacturer. He mentioned they needed more people, and the pay was about double what we made as mailboys. I declined, again thinking of career. 

Jump ahead to June 1975 ... 17 years later. I had gone from the mail room to the accounting department, and then after another year had gone to Statesman Insurance Co. as a trainee. After becoming an Underwriter, I went to Indiana Insurance Co. for 18 months and then back to Statesman as a supervisor. Each of those jobs gave me more diversity and depth of experience. From there I spent 5 years working in a local insurance agency in Indy, and was then hired by Associated Insurance Managers to manage 3 agencies in Muncie, Eaton and Dunkirk, Indiana.  

Then in June 1975 I was hired by Ken Williams at MMI in Pelham, as VP of Agencies and Program Sponsors, which is what got me to traveling nationwide. 

On the last weekend before we moved to Birmingham, we went a function at the Indiana State Fair coliseum. We found a place in the crowded stands on one side, and when we got up there, I sat down right next to Bill. The one who'd left Wabash to be a lathe operator. He asked what I had been doing and I updated him on my career, including the job I was heading for 2 days later. I then asked what he was doing. He said he was still operating the same lathe.  

That's a fine job, I'm sure. He's probably got a gangbusters retirement. But in that moment, I went back to that day in 1958 when Dad gave me that little bit of advice. And thanked him again.

    

Saturday, May 25, 2013

AS MY FAVORITE PHILOSOPHER** SAID....

"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Us, as in you and me. Well, maybe not always you, and maybe not always me, but us.

As in the American people.

In the late fall of 1976, some of us folks from our little mission church, Providence Presbyterian, an RPCUS church plant ... not to be confused with RPCNA ... were having breakfast. We were discussing deeply Spiritual stuff like how in the world Jimmy Carter had been elected. One of my good friends, a great guy named Hack Lloyd ... remarked "Man, we don't deserve him for a President". I said, matter-of-factly, "Yes we do."

Hack looked at me like I'd just hit him in the face. He started to respond, but I quickly said "The American people always deserve the people we put in office. He thought for a minute and said "You know ... you're right". And then went on to say he'd never thought of that.

It's axiomatic, folks; write it down. The American people deserve, collectively, the people they elect.

On another Blog site, a bit ago, the Editor of the blog asked for hints from her readers. Hints to be passed along to a young lady who'd written them, who'd said her career ambition was to be a politician. Lots of folks had lots of nice things to pass along to her, and I suggested the following, which I just cut and pasted from their blog comment stream:

"One thing to remember: Don't pay a lot of attention to interviews with politicians, particularly not at election time. But around Election time, pay attention the "Man on the Street" interviews. By doing that, you will find out what's broken in politics. It's the public. I almost always hear people saying they will vote for the person who will help with their welfare check, with their Mortgage rate, the getting a job, help with Student Loan rates, help with taxes on their business, etc. Whichever candidate will help their interests, that's who gets the vote.

There  are a lot of cutesy sayings about this, even. "No raindrop thinks it's responsible for the flood". No snowflake thinks it caused the avalanche. "What's everybody's responsibility is nobody's responsibility". Etc etc etc...

Voters have collectively lost their sense of responsibility for what happens in politics. And we're the folks who put the politicians where they are". 

It's not like this should be a surprise to us or anything. Doesn't the Bible tells us that, in the last days, it'll be like it was in the days of Noah? And wasn't that a time when everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes?

You can interpret that as meaning there just aren't any absolutes out there, for too many of our fellow citizens. I recall a time in talking to my brother .. who was not a follower of Jesus .. that when you get onto the wrong airplane, say one bound for London, I don't care how strongly you believe it's going to Los Angeles, when you get off the plane after the flight, you're going to be in London. Not Los Angeles. My reference was, of course, to the object of our faith, and the fact that if it's not faith in Jesus, it's going to be in vain.

His response: "If I believe it's Los Angeles, then it'll be Los Angeles for me".

No absolutes.

By the greatest stroke of irony, between the time I started this post, and the time I'm finishing it ... now ... The Boy Scouts of America have decided they will now admit professing homosexuals as members. Despite their claims about morality.

And it's not that the church has been silent, or that we've somehow "stood by and let this happen". Sorry, preachers, if you've said that, you're simply wrong. The church is doing what it's always done, and show me one place in scriptures that says we'll "win the world". Didn't God tell us that few would find the way to life, and many would find the way to destruction?

The bad news? The USA (and probably the rest of the world, too) is getting what it deserves.

The good news? God's right on schedule.

I guess how we feel about all this depends on where we've placed our priorities, huh?

**Oh .. by the way .. the philosopher was Pogo.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Termites, Training, and The Enemy General

"The washer quit working, and we have termites".

That was quite a greeting, spoken through our screen door, by Peggy. I'd been away at a weekend retreat, had ridden with a friend, so didn't have my keys with me. I had to ring the bell, and when she opened the front door, those were her first words.

My response: "Praise God!!" Dave Van Veld, the friend with whom I'd ridden, was standing there, and we both laughed uproariously. Not at my response, but at Peg's expression. She apparently thought we'd both gone over some edge or other.

What she didn't know was that Doug Snyder, founder of Shamgar Discipleship, had told us about the enemy general in the last session of that, our final, weekend of training.

Our enemy's general ... satan ... observes the actions of God's army. He sees what we do. He watches us. And when he does, he sees 3 main types of soldiers, in the army against which he is waging war:

  1. Soldiers asleep in the barracks. What do you suppose he'd do about such a soldier? Doug suggested, and I agree, that you'd leave him asleep. He is no danger now ... so why wake him up?

    Those would, of course, be those who believe in Jesus, but simply do not take part in the ongoing battle, here, between evil (satan's side) and Jesus' side, His followers. And, to me, that seems that majority of God's army. Ones who pose no threat to satan.

    Sadly.

  2. Soldiers ready for battle. Armed to the teeth, well trained, and itchin' for a fight. Them, you'd leave alone. Pick a fight with one of those guys, and you might well lose. Or, at best, you'd conduct an indirect attack, like going after their kids, relatives, etc.

    I'm convinced as I can be, that this accounts for so many pastor's kids having real and substantial problems. And I have seen more than enough of that ... the preacher is able to wage war against the devil, but children generally aren't able.

  3. Soldiers who have awakened and are on their way to the training field. Now, them, you want to stop. If you don't, they'll be harder to stop tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

    So satan goes after them, now.
This is one big reason we don't want to tell "seekers" ... people looking for Spiritual peace, who are convicted, by the Holy Ghost, of their sin ... how wonderful the Christian life is. Certainly it is, but that's not likely to be the first life experience of a new believer (after the immediate relief of the forgiveness of sin). That's precisely the sort of person satan wants to stop in his tracks, before that person learns and develops enough to be a further threat to satan.

I cannot tell you the number of times I've seen this very thing play out in the lives of people around me who've taken steps to be more effective in the Kingdom work.

Shamgar Discipleship was a series of 4 weekend training sessions, and I attended the fifth session ever held. And the first held remotely ... not at the Shamgar home in Tyler, Texas. We went, those 4 weekends, to the Methodist Campground in Mitchell, Indiana, about 120 miles from Indianapolis. Those were, incidentally, February, March, April and May of 1970.

So it was Memorial Day Sunday I stood on the front porch and had Peg tell me the washer quit working and we had termites. 3 hours after Doug Snider told us we could expect an attack from satan.

And why we laughed.

P.S.: The washer, a few days later, decided to start working again, and did, clear through 1975, when we moved to Birmingham. And the termites? $16 down and $12 a month for a year, and they were history.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Understanding Not Required. Thankfully.

I've been glued to the TV .. and the live feed from Channel 4 in Oklahoma City, all afternoon. Just a few minutes ago, as I'm typing this, they announced a number of children had been removed from one of the schools, and that all had drowned. They further expect perhaps 20 to 30 more.

I don't understand why God would let that happen. Or, to take that thought further, since Jesus demonstrated authority over weather, it might even be that God was responsible for it.

I don't understand.

Reminding myself once again .. and we do need more often to be reminded, than informed .. that God is sovereign, does help. But perhaps there's a lesson in my non-understanding, for which I should be grateful.

God makes it clear that the just will live by faith. That faith pleases Him (which I'm guessing would also mean it blessed us). That His ways aren't ours.

So here's what's striking me today. My decision to believe in Him, to believe Him, and to trust Him, is absolute. Irrevocable. Completely divorced from my personal feelings, disappointments, and transcends my ability or inability to understand.

And transcends my agreement with what He does. As Job said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him". And slaying me would be something I really wouldn't understand. Or agree with. Yet, if the Bible is true in saying I am crucified with Christ, then God wouldn't really look to me for approval or understanding, anyway, would He?

Dead men don't opine or consent.

So, in the end, whether God allowed, caused, or whatever, today's meteorological occurrences, I am given to praise Him. For to limit my praise for Him to those things I can understand would be to trust myself, and my ability to to comprehend things.

I don't trust me nearly enough for that.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Watch What You Build Around....

Today was really the first morning when it was warm enough for Peg and me to have our breakfast on the back deck. Hence we did.

She'd gotten up a while before my own 8:25, so when I got my breakfast bar and coffee from the kitchen, I found her sitting out there, and joined her. It was a pleasant time.

But then I happened to glance at, and spend a little time contemplating, our hot tub. We've had it for 20+ years, since my mother bought it for Peg. Mom had heard Peg mention how much she and her sisters enjoyed time in the hot tub at sister Millie's Time-Share at Hilton Head, and wanted to get one for Peg to enjoy here.

Originally, the back deck was only 10' wide, and ended about the far-left post  you can see in the picture. The hot tub originally sat about where we were sitting, but took up half the whole deck, so we ended up doubling the size, and then adding another 7' for good measure. And, before I could stop myself, I'd roofed it over and screened it in.

Eventually, we moved the tub down where it is, now. The only trouble with it, now, is that it's quit working. That happened a couple times in the first dozen years we had it, and both times we had it repaired. The third time, I'd just had some surgery and didn't think it wise to submerge myself in scalding water right after that, and we were reluctant to spend more money on it. So, it's just sat over there for several years.

Now, that's not a big problem, since the deck is more than big enough for the two of us, but the obvious dilemma is .. what do we do with the tub? It's too big to remove! We'd have to cut it to pieces ... it's always touchy when you start sawing on fiberglass ... or tear out some of the screened-in area. So ... for the time being, we'll just hold on to the thought that it might be attractive to a buyer, if we ever decide to sell the house. Which, by the way, we don't plan on.

Then I got to thinking ... what is it we build our lives around? And is it possible that we can do that, and find something in our life that doesn't work any more, and is too big to get rid of?

I think it is. Let's say a guy gets hooked on pornography. That's all about lust, and when someone yields to that, it will produce some very bad habits in him. And then, when that guy gets old, the hormones subside and the lust wanes, but the guy is still left with the habits. And, even though no longer driven to do so, the habits are hard to break.

How about spending? Being used to having what you want when you want it? Unless you get really wealthy along the way, when you retire, you're going to have some well-established habits to break. Not to mention what's happened to lots & lots of folks, in light of the recent events in the economy.

Substitute anything else you want to build your life around ... imagine devoting yourself to that for dozens of years, and then remove it from the picture.

Not a pretty thought, is it?

That's one thing that's nice about being a follower of Jesus. If HE is the focus of your life, in every area, then any other peripheral focus of your life can be removed without the loss of your main reason for being.

Wish I'd learned that lesson long before I did. I wouldn't have had so many "hot tubs" to deal with.

Afterthought: Our nation was built on the sort of morality expressed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and exemplified in the lives of those people who sacrificed so, in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and in World Wars I and II. But somewhere along the way, after the Korean Conflict, Vietnam happened, and that seems to have been a turning point. Stand back and take a look at what our country's morphing into, today. Up to and including the news that the "Morning After" ... read "earliest possible abortion" .. pill be sold to 15-year old kids, over the counter. 

What are we building now?