Hot Tub Madness….

A panic call came in from Jan, she and her husband Ted lived in a prestigious antsneighborhood in the south hills of Eugene. They were new to the area; having purchased their house the summer before. It was now winter and they had ants, lots of ants in the kitchen. She wanted them gone and gone NOW!

What I was discovered was truly amazing, and even a bit bizarre….

I told her I would be there at 9:00am the next morning, she said no, please be here at 8:00am…not a problem arriving earlier.

It was cold outside; the kind of day that would chill you to the bone. No snow yet just plenty of ice, so much so the key would not go into the car door lock, it had a thick layer of ice covering it. At least that part was an easy fix; WD40 to rescue. It took several two second blasts to thaw the lock enough so I could insert the key.

Since there was a considerable amount of ice on the windows, I had to let the car warm up for almost 15 minutes before it was soft enough to scrape all the windows clean. The outside temperature was a chilling 10 degrees.

When I arrived at Ted and Jan’s home, I was warmly greeted and then escorted to the kitchen; sure enough, there was an abundance of ants on her kitchen counter, and they were headed toward her freshly baked Christmas cookies.

Why would anyone have an ant problem in the dead of winter you may wonder? What many fail to realize, while it is freezing cold outside it is springtime inside our homes…and so it was for my new customers Ted and Jan. This is the perfect environment for the ants to survive until spring.

Their intent was to take Jan’s cookies; all of them! However, I had the perfect solution to this particular problem that was safe and effective. As I talked to them, I explained the procedure and materials I would use to solve their pest problem. We talked about and I addressed their concerns about safety…then they asked if I would be treating the outside of the house as well. So I explained that ants have a waxy film on their bodies…with the temperature outside drops below 40 degrees the wax on their bodies would start to harden making it impossible for them to move. As a result, this time of year ants are only found inside where the environment is more spring like.

Within a short period of time, after my treatment the ants were gone, problem solved…but another one appeared that was unrelated and of an unexpected nature.

The kitchen was adjacent to the dining room; looking across the table and through the sliding glass doors I could see, among other things, their hot tub….now why that was important you will soon read. Their response to my question surprised and even amazed me…

First of all, you need to know that Ted and Jan proved to be awesome customers. He held the position of Senior Vice-President for one of the local multinational companies. He, as well as his job was very impressive. Jan too was well educated and very intelligent She was a regional manager of a major food outlet. They were both very kind hearted and very easy to talk to. They treated me with dignity and respect, which frankly was a bit unusual, most well educated individuals talked down to me; very few would actually talk to me. This was not a problem; it was simply how most well educated people viewed the pest control industry. Who could blame them, many of the technicians I knew had bad hygiene practices, and they looked bad and smelled worse; no wonder the pests died when they entered the house  …

Back to the story; knowing they both had very stressful jobs I mentioned how nice must be to come home after a hard day and relax in the hot tub….

To my surprise, Ted emphatically said NO! The water is too cold in the winter. He told mhot tub1be they only used the hot tub during the summer months when the sun would warm the water. Not sure, I understood correctly I asked him if the internal heater to the hot tub was broken….what heater he replied! To my amazement, neither Ted nor Jan had any idea that the water could be heated.

WOW! That was almost unbelievable that such intelligent people could lack basic common sense…a hot tub means HOT water in the tub. It would have been very insensitive of me to point out their stupidity; instead, I ask Ted if we could go out and check, the tub to be sure the heater was functioning…sure enough the power switch was turned off. With a flip of the switch, both the pump and heater suddenly, and rather loudly, came alive. The sound of the pump almost startled him. With a bit of fussing, and a little guidance, he set the thermostat to 100 degrees…now that should warm their chilled and stressed bones on a cold wintry evening.

Ted thanked me for the help as we walked to the front door. I noticed the doorknob was extremely loose. Ted mentioned that the handy man was coming out in a couple of days and was going to repair it for them. He seem pleased that it was only going to cost $40.00. As we talked I took out my Leatherman tool, opened the Phillips screwdriver, tighten the two screws that held the door knob plate in place…problem solved. Ted smiled and gave me the strangest look as I told him he could cancel the handyman, and with the money he saved he and Jan could enjoy an evening meal at a restaurant.

The following month I returned to their home to do a follow up treatment. Ted Untitled-5bimmediately greeted me and told me how much they have been enjoying their hot tub, they even invited the neighbors over several times to enjoy it with them.

As I looked through the sliding glass doors I could see it bubbling and steaming…it was 20 degrees outside and they did not have a cover for the tub. Probably cost them $300.00 for the wasted electricity by not covering it…decided I probably had already said enough so I did not mention the cover. I figured that they would eventually determine that it needed one…sure enough, the next month there was a brand new cover in place, amazing!

Make no mistake about, Ted was a very intelligent young man. I would not want to meet him in a boardroom in an adversarial position; he would chew me up and spit me out with his cunning and skill. However, common sense seemed to be his weakness. He was just ill equipped to work with his hands performing the simplest maintenance tasks…kept the handyman busy on a regular basis.

Sometimes an act of kindness simply means not making fun of someone’s faults, but rather helping them to work around them in a positive way that makes them feel good about themselves; rather than feeling stupid and embarrassed,….besides it is always nice to see a customer smile with what they perceive as a major discovery and victory.

Ted and Jan were great customers for a little more than a year. The company he worked hottub-6bfor, recognizing his skills, promoted him to a higher position within the corporation. Unfortunately, his new job required that they both move to Seattle, Washington. So ended another chapter in my book of life…and it ended with a smile.

I Present My Case…

attorney 2The attorney was running screaming; cursing in the most incoherent and obscene way. What led up to this and what was to follow was almost unbelievable…what

My morning went quickly, mostly consisting of routine calls; treating several homes for ants, one for spiders, another for flea’s… played with a dog or two; helped one student with a math problem; patiently listened to a mother’s story about a sick, and dying dear friend…just a routine day until…

My first service stop that afternoon was a wasp treatment.  Because of recent advances in technology these types of problems were generally quite easily taken care of with little or no risk to myself or the homeowner unless…

Arriving at Bill’s home, he greeted me as he walked from his open garage. He made a point of letting me know right off that he was an attorney. I knew right then this was going to be a problem call. He forewarned me that the wasp activity was near the front door; they were going in and out through the screen of a foundation vent. I could see the problem area, not difficult to solve at all. However that’s not exactly how it turned out….it would prove to be a disaster in the making.

I returned to my truck, gathered the necessary tools and materials; put my bee-suit on and approached the entrance to the nest from the side at a right angle to avoid being in their direct flight path. They have a very distinct pattern entering and exiting the nest. Several would fly in; two second of hesitation and several would fly out, this they continually repeated. It was during these two seconds of hesitation that I took my bulb duster and gave the entrance to the nest two quick and firm blasts, then moved quickly at a right angle away from the area. The dust agitated them; of course, about 50 came out to investigate. By that time, I was out of their range of detection. Within a few minutes they settled down, however the sentries of the nest circled close providing protection from any intruder.

I observed them for about 30 seconds, wanted to be sure the ones coming out were covered in the white dust…they were well dusted. I pointed this out to Bill because he seemed overly concerned about the effectiveness of the treatment. I explained to him; as they returned into the nest they would contaminate the core, and in less than 24 hours the entire nest would be dead. Problem solved….well not exactly!

Bill said NO…so once again, I explained to him that the dusted wasps and the ones flying in would also become dusted as well. They would carry this material throughout the nest; by morning, the nest would be completely dead. I went on to add that the treatment was 100% effective 100% of the time. I absolutely guaranteed the treatment would work.

I should have anticipated what was to take place next….

Once again Bill forcibly said NO, you must go under the house and destroy the nest! To be sure it is done, I will go with you! I think I just entered the Twilight Zone because his request was irrational, irresponsible and very dangerous.

It was a bad idea, a very very bad idea. It was a warm summer afternoon. Bill was dressed in shorts and a T-Shirt, this was going to be very problematic, I had on a bee-suit (the wasps could not hurt me).

Now if the crawl space had been a standard size of about 24 to 36 inches high I would simply have walked away from the job….however his crawl space was over 60 inches; this made it relatively easy to walk, slightly bent over, to the targeted nest.

The house was about 5000 square feet with a beautiful entry. The crawl space was located inside the closet near the living room, about 15 feet from the front door…The nest itself was located over 120 feet from the crawl space entrance.

Because my only option at that point was to break open the nest, I took my five-foot extension pole which expanded to almost 10 feet. Breaking it open would expose the most vulnerable interior parts where the larva were developing making the chemical treatment highly effective…it would also give the attorney a running start before the wasp swarmed him.

My back was to Bill when I began to work. As expected, they came swarming out…their intent was to do some serious damage to anyone close by. With a vengeance they came full force, dozen and dozens of them. I stood my ground and remained still, held my breath, (carbon dioxide coming from heavy breathing draws and agitates them).

They are highly attracted to infrared body heat of warm-blooded mammals. Since I had a protective bee suit on, my body heat profile was almost attorney 7non-existent compared to the attorney, his profile glowed like a red neon sign. Loudly declaring, “HERE I AM COME GET ME”.  The angry wasps immediately focused most of their attention and anger on him. As they flew by me, the sound was horrifically frightening (both that of the wasps and the terrified attorney)…I turned at the sound of a rapid succession of rather loud distinct thump..thump..thumps…as he was making his hasty retreat swinging his arms as he cursed, his head was hitting the crawl space subflooring while he ran….that had to be painful!

About 20 of the stragglers tried to attack me but my bee suit provided 100% protection.  I was safe; not so for the attorney! He moved faster than you can imagine, almost as if the Devil was after him…he was not far off!

After destroying the nest, I made my way back to the crawl space entrance. I took a path that was out of the flight pattern of the now furiously angry wasps. When I approached swatter 2the entrance, I could hear screaming and more cursing…only this time it was Bill’s wife…she was cursing him as she was beating him mercilessly with a fly swatter trying to get the wasps off him…perhaps trying to beat some sense into him as well…wonder

As I exited the crawl space, I still had some wasps trying to attack me. However, by the time I reached my truck they had flown away. Instinctively they flew back to where all the real action was taking place. They obviously were intent on returning to the open front door to join their sisters (all worker wasps are sterile females) in the attack on Bill, the now painfully humiliated attorney.

As I completed removing my bee-suit and finished putting my tools away, Bill the attorney approached me. He would not look me in the eyes; he handed me my check, turned around and silently walked away…his eyelids and lips were badly swollen (several times their normal size), in addition he had several large lumps on his forehead and cheeks, arms and legs. They were all a painfully looking rose color…I marveled that his wife did not call 911 for emergency help.

I actually felt bad for him…he just would not listen; maybe I should have been more emphatic and insisting that the treatment would absolutely work, I tried 3 times,…maybe I should have just walked away.

In the end his wasp problem was 100% solved…just perhaps he came away from the experience a little wiser… Just maybe he gained a greater respect for pest control technicians, their judgment and procedural skills. Had he listen, the problem would have been simply resolved; his decision was, unquestionably wrong. gavelThe result, he paid a horrifically painful price for his arrogance…the gavel hit the wooden base with a thunderous bang that echoed through the hall of time…case closed!

Something Fishy About Christians…


For 36 years, my wife and I owned and operated a pest control business. This provided for some interesting interactions with customers; sometimes the conversations took an unexpected turn…

I gathered up the necessary equipment and materials from my truck to resolve a serious ant infestation that was apparently taking over the kitchen and bathroom.

As I am walking up the driveway towards the front door, I notice something shiny and new on the trunk lid of the customer’s car… It was a magnetic symbol of a fish with Darwin inside. It made a rather bold statement to the whole neighborhood that the darwin fishowners of this car believed in the principles and theory of Evolution, the very beginning of life itself.

I was curious why they would use a symbol of a fish when it had a significant meaning to, and actually originated from the early Christian worldview. There it was in plain sight for all to see, their proclamation of their faith and trust; not in the God of Christianity but in an unproven philosophy that man developed and evolved from some slimy goo at the bottom of a stagnant pool.

Reaching the front door I rang the bell.  John greeted me with a warm and friendly smile. He said he was glad to see me because the ants were driving his wife crazy. Sure enough, as I approached the kitchen I could see them all over the counter. Thousands of ants were swarming all over her freshly baked Valentine’s Day cookies… she was not happy!

The problem itself was not difficult to correct. Using the right materials and equipment, the ants were permanently gone in about 5 minutes. We all sighed a sigh of relief; John and his wife smiled with satisfaction.

Now that I had taken care of their pest problem, I thought I would ask them about the mysterious symbol on their car…

John and his wife were both well educated; they both had a masters degree in education and were very articulate. They continually asked me technical questions about what I was doing and about the safety of the materials I was using. This was fine with me, I was always happy for customers to ask. I enjoyed the interaction of giving them the assurance that I would eliminate the pest problem while protecting John and his wife. Seems they had a very bad experience with the previous pest control company that they used; left them sick for several days. I understood and appreciated their concerns. I addressed them all in a direct and professional manner. They were satisfied and relieved with my answers.

Now it was my turn to ask them a question or two…why the new symbol on the back of your car? After a moment’s hesitation, John began to explain their strong viewpoint and belief that man evolved. He went on to explain, some mythical god did not create man but rather developed through the process of natural selection. I listened patiently, I had a point I wanted to make about the symbol they used to make their statement of belief.

I thanked him for the explanation and the insight…Then I asked John if he was familiar with the Christian symbol of a fish (which was a major part of the symbol on their car) and what it represents; and how it came about? He gave me the strangest blank look. Before embarrassment set in I began to explain the origin and significance of the fish symbol.

John, I said, each of the letters in the word “fish” is an acrostic, each letter represents a word. In Greek, where the fish symbol came from, the word fish is “icthus”. They represent the words: Iesous, Greek for “Jesus”; Christos, Greek for “anointed”; Theou, Greek for “God’s”; uios, Greek for “Son”; and sōtēr, Greek for “Savior”. Together, this spells ICTHUS or fish; translated we have: “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Savior.”

This symbol of a fish came from approximately the time of Emperor Nero. Historically according to the Roman historian Tacitus, Nero was referred to as the first persecutor of the Christians. After the Great Fire of Rome in A.D. 64, when rumors swirled that the emperor himself was responsible, Nero blamed the Christians instead, he had them covered in wild beast skins and tossed to starving dogs. Their deaths were hideous and horrific.

When the Roman soldiers rounded up the Christians to martyr them, they chained them together into long lines. It was a time of great sadness and stress. On the way to their eminent death, when the line would pause briefly, one Christian would make a half symbol of the fish with his foot on the dirt, another individual next to him in line would finish the symbol making a fish; this way they knew they were brothers in Christ.

John and his wife seem to be interested until I added the following: Looking at the symbol on your car, it would appear that my Lord and Savior ate your Darwin. Furthermore, as your Darwin tries to walk away, whenever it travels it takes the evidence of the Savior along with it. His truth is ever present even though some chose to deny Him.

They now had a new perspective as to exactly what the fish represented…it is a symbol of the Christian faith in our living Savior Jesus Christ .. The next month I came to service their home; once again walking up the driveway, I notice they removed the symbol from the trunk lid of their car. I could not help but smile, not in arrogance but in knowing, they understood more about Jesus and the powerfulness of the fish symbol.

They remained faithful customers for the next 35 years….


The Fungus Among Us

ceader 5The committee consisted of well-recognized and accomplished scientist and arborists; they were on the campus to give us their final verdict, what they said was shocking and astounding.….

After the fish fertilizer incident, see “Big Stink On Campus” was over;  I was extremely pleased, as you can imagine to be free from that horrible, smelly and unproductive job.

I really suspect my boss knew something was fishy about the whole incident but he could never verify the truth about what I did.

A unique and serious problem developed on campus; the Deodar Cedar trees were dying. The campus had already lost 3 of these majestic giants that were at that time almost 80 years old and more than 40 feet tall. Several more showed sings of diminishing health; needles that were normally green were turning brown.

The investigation of what was causing the problem started by taking some soil samples in the affected areas and sending them to a specialty lab for analysis. In addition, the college’s chief arborist physically removed most of the infection in several trees by using some creative tree surgery, a job well done. The surgery revealed that it was Armillaria Root Rot fungus.

In short, this fungus destroys the Cambium layer between the bark and heartwood of the ceader 2tree. This is where nutrients flow from the roots to the outer most branches. Once destroyed, the tree is no longer able to move and absorb the necessary nutrients, so it slowly dies over a period of several years.

Experts that made it their life’s work studying the fungus came to the campus and confirmed not only the problem was real and scientist 1eminent, but they also confirmed our proposed approach, more about that shortly, was doomed to failure, as were the trees.

We just were not sure we were willing to accept their appraisal of “no workable solution”. Personally, I just wondered what would cause such a problem in the first place and how those circumstances could be reversed if possible. Intellectually I could not come close to their knowledge base, understanding and experience. However, I did have one thing in my favor, my mind was not cluttered with academic, and sometimes limiting knowledge.

The following is what we discovered and the course of action we put into place, which resulted in….getting a bit ahead of the story, so back to the sequence of events.

First upon close investigation, came the discovery that the needles of the tree had a very thick layer of oily substances, which turned out to be the residue from the smog. This layer of goo was preventing the trees from effectively processing carbon monoxide into oxygen. This alone was slowly suffocating the trees.

The first part of the program was to have the tree crew washed the trees down with a mildly organic soapy solution to dissolve the oil. They used a 300-gallon high-pressure truck mounted tank and pump, (the same one I used to spray the fish fertilizer…with a scientist 2newly repaired hose) this removed the goo from the needles; the trees responded with some new lush growth.

However, while the trees did breathe more efficiently, we simply removed the contaminants from the tree to the surrounding ground. It was not long before they began to revert to signs of returning to stunted growth. Our celebration of success was just a little premature. While we solved one problem, we inadvertently created another. The fungus seemed to thrive on the new source of food; the smog contaminants now in the soil.

I did some research and discovered an article about a group of scientists using bacteria to eat the oil from a spill that threatened a local ocean environment. The treatment was an interesting and practical success. A committee of intellectual giants cited it as being unorthodox. As it turned out, they represented another, more costly and less effective method to deal with the problem.

Upon further investigation, we discovered the soil bacteria in the affected areas were dying from the contaminants. Which when you stop and think about it, it was obvious that something like this would take place. Simply moving the contaminants from the trees to the soil actually in some respects made it worse. Now the question was what to do about this newest development.

It was obvious the trees needed a healthier flora within the soil. We faced a dilemma, was it possible to change and revitalize the soil considering the pollution dumped into its ecosystem?

All living things have one, among many, items in common; all need a balance of various elements and minerals to, not to just sustain life, but to develop a healthy living system. Soil tests showed that the minerals and other elements were abundantly there. However, the various chemicals found in the smog chemically changed the nutrients into an insoluble form, the trees simply could not access what they needed to thrive and heal themselves from the fungus.

Therefore, based on discovery I suggested to our team a very unorthodox solution.

Simply, we used a 500-gallon vat of water added 50 lbs of blood meal (excellent source of nitrogen), 25lbs of Sea Kelp (high concentrate of minerals and soluble trace elements). Everything was there that the trees needed, yet it was still in an unusable and locked up. How to break it down so the trees could absorb the nutrients was the big question. The answer was quite simple; we added about 5lbs of compost. Now compost is full of microbes and bacteria whose function was to break down these compounds and converted it into a usable form. They did their job well! It took about 10 days for the microbes to complete the conversion process. Now all the elements were readily available in a water-soluble form.

The process of the conversion started out with a ph of 3.0, very acidic and unusable as a quality source of food for the trees. However, once the ph rose to 7.2, which is just slightly above a neutral, we knew it was now in a state that the trees could use. An almost perfect  balance between acid and basic.

Within less than a week after the first application of our new concoction, new needles ceader 3began to form; within three months, the trees showed signs of moving towards full recovery. Soil testing showed that the fungus was slowly dying back. It was nothing short of a miracle! Successful at last!

Now the story does not end here…this is where it takes a rather strange and very bizarre turn…

The recovery of the Deodar Cedar trees drew the attention of the original group of scientist and arborists. They returned to the campus to see for themselves this strange and unexpected turn of events. They looked, they studied, they took soil samples, and rubbing their chins in unbelief, they took a sample of the new brew of the “wee-beasties” (as we liked to refer to them) for chemical analysis. Getting them to investigate further, even though they were bewildered was awesome…so far so good!

Their analysis took about six weeks. Shortly after it was completed, the college staff arranged for another meeting to discuss their findings. Very cool indeed…or was it?

The head scientist, after a brief and detailed presentation about the extensive processes they used and the results obtained came to this unexpected conclusion. He said the material the college used “wee-beasties” is a living organic material. Its very nature limited their ability for a successful analysis. He went on to explain that their attempt to analyze it had failed miserably. The living material was in a constant state of change, this change was due to the bacteria and microorganisms (wee-beasties) digesting the solution. As the material was digested, the chemical ingredients changed from day to day making it impossible for the lab to get an accurate and precise analysis. Therefore their conclusion was, (a direct quote that I remember as if it were yesterday) “Since we cannot adequately analyze the material, because it changes with each analysis; we therefore conclude that it cannot work”! Whatttt !, are you serious? The physical evidence was there for all to see, the trees were recovering, and more than that, they were thriving. Yet in spite of the physical evidence and the positive soil analysis, they denied the fact the trees were in a state of recovery.

Nonetheless, the program continued and the trees continually improved until…About a year later, Barbara and I decided to leave the college and move to Eugene, Oregon. The new program manager decided the program was too simple to work and discontinued the use of the “wee-beasties”. It was shortly after that the trees once again began to show signs of stress…unfortunately the college was closed and sold to a developer; most of the trees are no long there which is really quite sad. They sacrificed many the trees to build apartments.

Life on campus and sometimes off campus was just a weird as can be….rational often times was thrown out the window for intellectual opinion, speculation and conjecture.

Ambassador College was almost totally lacking in practical wisdom, knowledge and understanding. This resulted in their choosing a path to complete and utter destruction. Today the college is gone, the church is gone the only thing that remains is a small and shallow echo of the past. The church and college instead of bringing stability and hope brought chaos, confusion and despair.

In their intellectual pursuit they, because of their pride and ignorance left Jesus and abandoned the one true path that brings stability, hope, purpose and a most amazing future that is guaranteed and sealed by His life. Because of His life, we no longer need to be afraid or overwhelmed by the crazy world we live in. And that too is awesome!

Brother Bear Is That Gun Smoke I See?

(Continuing the story about Ambassador College and the Worldwide Church of God)

bear4It was mid September and traditionally every fall Ambassador College treated its small student body to a 2-day stay at Sequoia National Park.

This year was no different, well not exactly, as you will soon discover. It was not that the trip itself was any different from those of previous years but what happened during their stay was bizarre and dangerous.

The two college owned buses left shortly after breakfast and arrived at the park later that day. As they journeyed the students sang and laughed together as they shared humorous stories. It was a special and unique time where lifelong friendships began to form.

These yearly excursions were always an exciting time for the students. They all looked forward to several days’ filled with adventure and discovery. This was especially true for some of freshman students that had grown up in the inner city. For them it would be a fascinating quest into the unknown beauty found in a California national park.

During the day, their activities included hiking, picnicking and various avenues of exploration. As evening approached, they all gathered around a large campfire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. The celebration went well into the evening under the canopy of a star lit night. It was a perfect time for singing songs about faith and courage. Then there were of course the stories, scary stories of monsters and beasts the lurked in the nearby forest. It was a wonderful time to be young and free.

However, the park was not without its dangers. One of the biggest was occasionally a bear would wander into a camp. The Rangers would emphatically warn all new visitors not to feed the bears. All too often, their request was ignored. The results were that some campers faced a very dangerous situation. In one incident, a bear mauled a camper as he tried to feed it. This left permanent scars, and a reminder that there is a price to pay for foolish judgment.

The rangers kept busy educating and protecting the new visitors from dangerous encounters with the wildlife. This protection sometimes required that they hunt down any animal that presented a real and eminent threat to the parks guest. Whenever possible they would relocate the animal to a safer location. However occasionally it was necessary to use deadly force; this was always a last resort.

The fearless and all too often naïve students were really enjoying themselves. All was going along just fine, until one day late in the afternoon towards sunset…

It all started when a trained park wildlife observer alerted the rangers that, a bear had Untitled-5gone rouge, and it was several miles to the north. The observer additionally reported it was moving in the direction toward the campers…

Three coeds were out for a evening walk. The full moon provided plenty of light along their path. Then it happened, out of nowhere a bear appeared. Now standing on it hind legs as it moved towards them, dangerously close. The women ran for their lives as it chased them back to camp. They were scared and shaken beyond words, almost hysterical about their dangerous encounter.

The senior student in charge of the group immediately alerted the rangers to the near attack. It was now their fear that the rogue bear was in the vicinity and posed are serious danger to the campers.  This called for immediate action. So they quietly set up a plan to contain the situation before any serious damage to the campers took place. To avoid a panic, they very discreetly, advised the campers to stay close to camp and not to wander off until they neutralized the threat.

The hunting party consisted of a group of experienced trappers and hunters. These men were highly trained experts, and well equipped to handle any hostile encounter with the bear. Their plan called for tranquilizing the bear if possible; however, they did not rule out the use of lethal force.

This situation became more intense when a bear chased a second group of students. This created an atmosphere of serious concern and tension.

bear 1The last thing the rangers wanted was a student mauled or killed by the bear. Therefore, they quietly intensified their search.

It was towards late afternoon when one of the rangers discovered fresh tracks, but these tracks did not look right. There was something distinctly odd about their appearance. They thought that perhaps this was due to an unusual wound. After all, it was a rogue bear, and the wound might have caused its anger.

The fresh tracks were only 200 yards from where the students were going to gather later that evening for a sing-a-long around the campfire. The rangers concern became intensified; there was an air of urgency among the men. It was obvious that this problem with the bear needed to be resolved, and right now.

They quickly went into action, and began cautiously tracking, knowing all to well the potential danger they faced, they were putting their lives at risk to protect the campers. If they did not bring down the creature on the first shot, it would provoke a raging charge and vicious attack by the injured animal. Therefore, they proceeded with a great deal of caution. Then one of the men spotted it in a wooded area. He alerted the other men to close in.

Since it was so close to the where the campers were, the head ranger gave the order to use deadly force to neutralize the threat. In a systematic manner, they moved in for the kill. Knowing they would only have one shot to bring the beast down, they picked their best sharpshooter for the job. The other men would move in and provide a slight distraction while the shooter took position to take the bear down.

He had the bear in the crosshairs of his scope and was getting ready to fire the fatal shot. Then something strange caught his eye, the shooter hesitated, for a split second, he thought to himself, something is just not right here! He checked the bear over very carefully through his scope on the rifle…he felt an icy cold chill of horror come over him. He now knew why this bear and its tracks were differently odd. Almost in a panic, he desperately radioed the rangers to stand down!

He lowered his rifle and approached the bear from behind…was he being brave, foolishbear3 or just plain stupid? He caught the bear completely off guard and by surprise. Wrestling it to the ground he ripped its head off….Of all things, it turned out the rogue bear was nothing more than a foolish Ambassador College freshman dressed up in a realistic bear suit to scare his fellow students. His stupidity brought him within a heartbeat of a violent death!

He owed his life to the quick thinking and a moment of hesitation of the shooter. If he had not hesitated for that split second, that college student would be dead and this story would have a far different ending!

For the moment, the student was safe. However, the Rangers wanted to lynch him as an example of stupidity, not that they would have, but they sure wanted to! Who could blame them? They immediately took him into custody and placed him in detention until the local sheriff arrived. Without a doubt, this reckless and foolish student was going to cost the student some hefty fines and serious time in jail.

Fortunately for him the college officials from Pasadena intervened and after paying thousands in fines, the rangers released him into their custody.

For the student, his biggest experience in terror was yet ahead of him. When he returned to the campus the college’s security team met him as he disembarked from the college’s bus. They escorted him directly to the Dean’s office.

What happened to the student? Did he survive the wrath of the Dean?  Someone reported hearing loud yelling coming from his office…to be perfectly honest; I do not remember the rest of the story or what happened. You will just have to use your own imaginations. However, keep in mind that mercy and compassion were not among the virtues of either church or college administrators. Their judgments were often times harsh and ruthless.

Life on campus was full of thrills and chills. Sometimes the situations were downright frightening and extremely dangerous.

We all do foolish things but unlike that of the student, our lives are not in the hands or at the mercy of men.  The penalty that once hung over our heads was death with no hope of reprieve. The good news is that Jesus paid that debt for us. He died in our place so we could live. When He rose that third day from the tomb He gave us His life, eternal life. We are now free of all penalties, we are now possessors of the assurance that we will spend and enjoy eternity with Him. Now that is worth celebrating! This is His gift, are you willing to accept it? Are you ready to embark on the most wondrous journey of your life?

Midnight and My Fair Lady


(Continuing the stories of the Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador College)

midnight-studentspngIt was a warm spring Saturday evening, just perfect for young couples to go out and explore the wonders of Hollywood. My date and I, along with a freshman couple from Ambassador spent the evening dining and sightseeing. We were so enthralled with the sparkle and glitter, we completely lost track of the time. Before we realized it, we were approaching the bewitching hour of 12:00 midnight. This was the time set by the college’s administration as a curfew for all students. There were no exceptions. Students not conforming to this standard faced the threat of immediate expulsion from college.

To make sure the students followed this rule implicitly; each dorm had an official dorm monitor. It was their job to enforce the rules without compassion, understanding or mercy. Break any of the rules…then the nightmare would begin.

The students desperately needed to get back to their respective dorms before their time ran out and the monitor locked all the doors. After midnight, the only way in was to awaken the beast. To do so would incur some wrath as if the devil himself had been disturbed.

We all felt the urgency of getting back to the campus. So I pushed the peddle to the metal and away we went. I did not run any red lights, came close a couple of times. We made the 30 minute drive back to the campus in 15 minutes flat.

It was close; the time was 12:05 AM when we arrived at Mayfair, which is the women’s dorm. The big question at this point, was luck on our side? Unfortunately, just like clockwork, she locked all the doors at midnight. So there we all stood at the front door, perplexed about what we should do next.

The young male student was not concerned about the midnight curfew for himself since he knew how to get into his dorm and by-pass running into his monitor. As it turned out, his roommate always left the bedroom window slightly ajar. It would be easy for him to crawl through the window and quietly get into bed.

It was his date that all of us were concerned about. It seemed like an impossible task to get her safely inside without disturbing the monitor. As expected, she became frantic. midnight-monitor.Frankly, the mere thought of a confrontation scared this shy and insecure young woman almost to the point of tears.

Seemingly, her only choice was to ring the front door bell. That solution would have been disastrous!  Actually, some of the monitors relished these types of encounters. They would pounce on their helpless victim tearing them apart verbally for breaking curfew. Then with great and arrogant pride, turn the helpless student into the minister in charge, or worse, the dean of students.

Her date decided to walk around the dorm to see if by chance any of the lower windows were slightly ajar…no such luck!

She just did not know what she was going to do. Typical of a young miss in distress, her eyes became teary and she began to cry softly. Her gallant young date told her not to worry. He had the perfect solution to her dilemma. She was a little perplexed as to how he would be able to solve this seeming impossible situation.

As he walked around the dorm, he saw something that just might work and solve their problem. He asked if we would follow him to the south side, which we did. He then began his explanation of the solution to the problem. It turned out it was, well, far from perfect, in fact you might say it was utterly crazy. When students faced impossible obstacles that place them under unfair and unrealistic pressure, they become very creative. The results of which were often some very interesting and daring, if not outrageous plans. Such was his…..

He pointed to the tall tree growing on the south side of Mayfair. It had branches overhanging the second floor balcony. He noticed that the glass doors were slightly ajar, obviously to let fresh air in. It was the perfect setup and all that he needed for his plan to work. He told her, he would climb up the tree, ever so quietly, then go through the open glass doors; being very careful not to awaken any sleeping students. He would walk midnight-tree.down the hall, then down the stairs and unlock the front door for her.

The only problem, he would have to pass by the monitors room, this was perhaps the scariest and riskiest part. If he awakened her, he would face all the wrath of hell poured out upon him for no man in his right mind would walk through the sleeping quarters of a woman’s dorm. However, he had no choice but to risk it for the safety and peace of mind of his date. He knew the risk he was taking, and if caught the price he would have to pay.

It is an extremely tense situation; there was no margin for even the slightest error. Just one unforeseen mistake would result in his facing immediate dismissal from college. There was zero chance the dean would ever believe his honest intent was to help a damsel in distress. Nonetheless his confidence, if not arrogance gave him the fortitude and courage to forge ahead with his plan. Once past the monitor’s room the path to the front door would be clear. She began to cry softly, not out of fear but out of appreciation and hope.

All was going rather well as he started to climb up the tree. He was nearly to the balcony when he stepped on one of the branches; it suddenly broke with a loud POP! He nearly lost his balance and fell but was able to maintain his grip on one branch. He pulled midnight-2himself up and motioned to us that he was ok. He moved into the shadows just in case someone heard the commotion and came to the door to investigate. We also instinctively moved back into the shadows where we were out of sight. Fortunately no one was awakened, at least no one came to check on the noise…..He waited for several long moments, which seemed like an eternity, then moving back into the light he could see clearly into the hall way. It was all clear, not a soul was stirring. He gave us a thumbs up, we all sighed in relief.

He quietly and cautiously entered the hallway, and then made his way down the stairs to the lobby. AS he disappeared into the dorm, the three of us went to the front door to wait. Finally, at 12:45am, after what seemed like hours we could hear him slowly and carefully turn the dead bolt on the door.

WOW! What a relief! He did it! His date thanked him profusely for his chivalry and courage. She kissed him on the cheek. His eyes glazed over and his face flushed red, as he stood there motionless. Her act of appreciation dazed him and put him into never, never land. She gratefully thanked and smiled at us, then closed and locked the door behind her. He kept mumbling, she kissed me, she actually kissed me…

Much later, the next day she told us the dorm monitor was sound asleep and that her snoring at times was so loud it was surprising she did not wake up the whole house. She then related that she made it to her room just fine, got into bed without anyone suspecting what had just taken place.

That  morning at breakfast not a word was said by anyone in the dorm about what had happened the previous night…except one of the girls said she had the strangest dream about a man walking down the hall…everyone laughed, including the monitor; they all thought she was just being weird.

She said she simply smiled to herself a smile of satisfaction and relief knowing her secret was safe.midnight-hero

Some of the bravest men in the student body were silent heroes; never to be known and fortunately, never discovered. Life on campus could be very intense at time. But never was it boring…….

Know it or not, we all have a super hero, Jesus. He gave His all for us, including His life. Like a good and gracious friend, He is always looking out for our best interest. That does not mean life will be perfect. It does mean in the end we win and win big.

Eventually you will face a question, and that is, are you willing to listen to Him and allow Him to help? Will you let him guide you safely through the obstacles of life and on into eternity? The choice is yours, and only yours to make…choose wisely!

The Little Black Book Changed My Life

    phone-3(Continuing the story about Ambassador College and the Worldwide Church of God)

I gently set the phone down into its cradle, was getting ready to dial another number but hesitated. Art (my roommate) just walked in (he worked for the construction crew at phone-2Ambassador College). He seemed rather upset about an incident that happened at work. It proved to be a very difficult day for him. The frustration was building up and quickly turned into indignant anger.

What started out as a normal day turned into a disaster…Art and his supervisor had a work assignment that involved using the old and abused college dump truck. His supervisor and driver, failed to set the emergency hand brake when he parked it headed down a steep street. Not only did he forget the emergency brake but also did not turn the front wheels into the curb. The only thing keeping the truck in place, he left it in 2nd gear. The downhill weight of the truck on the old and nearly worn out transmission was too much. While they were at the back of the truck unloading some equipment, it popped out of gear allowing the truck to roll furiously down the steep hill.  It ran the stop sign at the bottom, crossed the intersection, and ended up crashing into some shrubs and a tree. It was a total mess but fortunately, no one was hurt.

When the supervisor reported the accident, guess who he tried to blame for the disaster…you guessed it, Art. This accusation resulted in Art paying a visit to the Department Head’s office along with his immediate boss. There he engaged in a very a brief but heated discussion; after which he was absolved of all blame. Nonetheless, he was still very stressed and upset about the whole mess.

It was Friday and he was now home, with the weekend ahead of him, he began to calm down and relax. After a beer or two, we actually had a good laugh about so-called Christian ethics among some of the workforce.

As we talked, I began to tell him about my frustrating calls trying, unsuccessfully, to get a date for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner at my brother Brad’s house. I had simply exhausted all the resources in my “little black date book” with no success.

That was when he offered his book. That surprised me because these books were almost considered sacred. He was concerned and thought perhaps I could find a date from his lengthy list.

I had not planned on waiting to the last moment to get a date, but life is not always, what we want it to be. It was a most generous offer from Art. I thought for a moment, and then I threw my book on the floor and stomped on it. Taking his book with a sinister smile on my face, I scanned it. It had what appeared to be 100’s of random listings with comments after each one. Since the names were not in a particular order I flipped it open toward the middle and immediately pointed to a name and said, “I will call this one”…little did I know that this one act would forever change my life.

Now the name I chose was “Barbara” and right next to her name he wrote, “very nice and sweet”. I had absolutely no idea who she was. However, knowing Art and his likes in women I knew she would be a winner.

Even though Barbara and I never met, we had a couple of things in common. For one we both went to the same local church (along with about 400 or 500  others), and I worked for Ambassador college and she was a former student and employee. We were two among over 2000+ employed by the church and college. Considering the number, it was understandable that we had not met; that was all to change with just a phone call.

Art had recently returned from a horrific battle in Vietnam where he was one of three survivors from his company. He said he liked Barbara because she was very intelligent and was a good listener. She would always listen carefully to his concerns before answering. This made it easy to have a meaningful conversation with her. He obviously had a great deal of admiration and respect for her. This bit of insight made calling her a whole lot easier. For I greatly valued and respected his opinion. For Art was Art, there was no pretense or falseness about him; he was just an honorable young man. In every sense of the word, he was what a Christian should be. He had earned my trust and respect because he was one of those rare individuals that was not just a talker, he was a doer. If he told you he would do something for you, you could depend on the fact he would follow through.

When he said Barbara was very special and unique in that she had a kind and gentle spirit; without hesitation I picked up the phone and started to dial her number.  Art rolled his eyes and went into the kitchen to fix his evening

It was a fun conversation lasting several hours. When I finished the call and placed the phone back on the receiver, I had a smile of satisfaction and relief. I was excited that I now had a special date for that Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.

I picked up Barbara at her apartment at 11:00am. It was about an hours drive from Pasadena to Torrance, California. As we drove, we had a most interesting conversation, and before we knew it  had arrived at my brother’s house. This was the starting of our journey that eventually lead to.…getting a little ahead of myself, so back to the story.

Thanksgiving turned out to be a most enjoyable success for both Barbara and I, as well as for Brad’s family. The dinner was excellent, one that only Marge (my sister-in-law) could prepare, she was an amazing cook, no not a cook but a chef, a gourmet chef. It turned out to be a most magical time with great food and wonderful family fellowship and conversation.

After dinner when Brad and I walked outside to his patio area. I began to relate how Barbara and I met under some very unusual circumstances. I told him I thought she was one of the most interesting and sweetest women I had ever met. I went on to tell him that is was my intention to pursue a relationship with her. I   thought it could eventually lead to marriage. He gave me the strangest look. Again, I emphasized that I thought she was very special and I just knew we were meant to be with each other. He advised me not to be rash, but to give it time for the relationship to develop; which I did.

Dinner was over and our stay was now drawing to a close; it was time to leave and head back to our respective homes. However, I was not quite ready to end the date.  I asked Barbara if she would be interested, since the evening was still young, in driving out to the LA International Airport and have some additional desert and drinks at the restaurant overlooking the airport.

As we sat there, we talked and watched the airplanes arriving and departing as the airport 2restaurant rotated 360 degrees every 30 minutes. It was a very romantic and fun evening as we continued our conversation. Astonishingly the time just flew, no pun intended; it was 2:00 am when I finally dropped Barbara off at her apartment.

Our dating continued on a regular basis. Seven months later, I asked her to marry me so that we could continue life’s journey together.

Before the church would marry us we had to address two obstacles and a problem that we did not see coming. First of all the church required that we go through pre-marriage counseling…not a bad idea at all. However, my councilor was none other than Al (remember the green peas on his new brown suit in my previous blog) you guessed it, the same Al!

Why Al you ask? Surely, there were other ministers available? As it turns out, he was a dear friend of my then deceased mother. Out of respect for her I chose him because this was one of her last requests for me before she died.

While talking to Al from the heart he abruptly interrupted and stated, “I do NOT want you to marry Barbara!” As you can imagine, that really caught me off guard. What is going on here, what was I missing? Without a moment of hesitation I asked, “What was the problem?” Thinking there must be something seriously wrong that I did not know about; I persisted with “WHY?”He hemmed and hawed; I could see he was becoming agitated with my persistence. I did not back off or back down. My whole future was in his hands and I was not going to passively accept his words without a valid explanation. Finally, he said it is his personal opinion and preference that I was not ready for marriage (I was 23 at that time). Well, that cleared up the matter…his personal opinion was not a valid objection…so I told him I was truly sorry he felt that way but I was sure he would eventually get over it. Actually, that is exactly what I told him. This turned out to be a serious mistake, as you will see as you read on. Sometimes being fearless and direct to a man that demanded reverence and absolute obedience could be a problem. However, I was not afraid of him, nor could he intimidate me into doing his will.

Persistence paid off as the session was nearing the end he finally smiled and agreed to perform the ceremony at the time, date and place I specified. It appeared that our wedding plans were ready to move forward.

The other obstacle we had to solve was financial. The church required that we, or any couple getting married, must have at least $400.00 (more than a month’s wages) saved before the church would allow us to be married. That too was a wise requirement. They wanted to be sure every couple had enough saved to cover the expenses of setting up an apartment to start their new lives together. It took some doing, nothing short of a miracle, but we saved the necessary funds.

Wow! We were all set to rock and roll and to celebrate with family and friends one of the greatest events of our lives….then it happened, unexpectedly we were blindsided in a way we never anticipated, no one would have! Less than a week before the wedding, I was, by chance, talking to an acquaintance and it turned out he was getting married on the same day and at the same time as Barbara and I. I thought that was rather cool until he told me that Al, the same Al was going to perform their ceremony. That is right; this sinister minister was not going to show up to perform our ceremony. He was going to leave us there with family and friends; he was going to embarrass us and destroy our wedding day. Obviously, he did not intend to let us know he was not going to be there. I made multiple calls to his office, which he did not return. Had his plan worked our wedding would have been a total and complete disaster. I guess he did not get over my not submitting to his will, so much for minister Al’s honesty, integrity and living the life of Christ.

With less than a week left before our wedding day we were, understandably in a near state of panic. There was no way we had time to reschedule. The invitations had already been sent out. The wedding site was reserved, flowers ordered and hundreds of other details were in place. We were all ready…what do we do now? We needed a miracle!

The rule of the game was counseling with the performing minister at least a month before a wedding; there were no exceptions. Now we had the task of not only finding a minister but also one that was willing to break the rules and put his job at risk. It was nothing short of a miracle when Elmer (a high-ranking church pastor with a prominent position with the church and college) agreed to see us. He and his wife were gracious and so very kind and caring; they took a great deal of time to talk with us and to listen to our story. They assured us that everything would work out just fine. They smiled a bit when I told them about my encounter and counseling with Al and that I was not willing to accept his appraisal. Moreover, that his personal views were irrelevant. They seemingly knew of Al’s reputation for being ruthless and vindictive so it came as no surprise when he planned to defraud us by not showing up.

The wedding went on as planned; Barb and I were married on September 29, 1968 at 10:00 am. The ceremony took place at The Lower Garden of the Ambassador College 1968campus. It was of course a beautiful and memorable occasion. (We were grateful for the Lord intervening and saving our wedding day).

Life on campus at times was dangerous become some ministers were ruthless and demanded absolute obedience.

In September, Barbara and I will be celebrating our 51st anniversary. Al was wrong, very wrong in his appraisal and evaluation of us! Interestingly enough several years later Herbert Armstrong fired Al and kicked him out of the church; His wife of 25+ years left him and filed for divorce. This is a very sad ending to a ruthless career.

In their sermons, they never talked about living the life of Christ. It was always about ruling with power and authority.

They missed one of the most important aspects of Christianity, and that is the privilege of allowing the Savior to live in and through us. Instead, they chose the way of legalistic fear and intimidation, the result; Ambassador College is gone. The Worldwide Church of God imploded and no longer exists. However, Jesus Christ is very much alive, eternally alive and He is moving forward in some of the most dynamic ways by changing the heart, lives and eternal destiny of those that allow Him to live His life in and through them. If you listen very carefully in the stillness of your thoughts, maybe just maybe you might hear the kind and loving Father drawing you to His Son and Savior.

Then There Was The Spokesmen Club….


We all do some very stupid things. I am no exception, my choice to join the churches Spokesmen Club, which was a very important part of life in the Worldwide Church of God, turned out disastrously. However, I am getting a little ahead of myself and I need to start at the beginning…

All men (18 years and older) were strongly encouraged (actually it was a demand that the church placed upon the men) to participate in a speech club called “Spokesmen Club”. The title sounds very cool; however, the reality was not as favorable. To begin with, the purpose was to develop the whole man into roles of leadership within the church. A very noble cause and purpose, unfortunately all too often these were not an example of leadership at all but one of rulership and being a taskmaster.

I did not escape being cajoled into joining, and against my better judgment, I might add, I joined.

It did not bother me that I had zero public speaking experience. However when the need arose I was able to stand my ground with the best of them. It is just that I thought having some practical, and formal speaking experience would help break me out of the shell of isolation, and provide some sense of direction. However, the direction it went was a bit sideways and twisted; not what I anticipated or expected…

After the first several meetings, it did not seem to be terribly difficult to participate, although it did seem somewhat risky. That was because the director of the club took great, and I might add sadistic pleasure in the verbal battles of mind and will that took place during the Table Topics Session where the men openly expressed their ideas while others would attack and tear them apart. It was almost like a school of Piranha Fish feeding on a helpless victim.

The last event of the evening was the directors final evaluation of each speech. He seemingly enjoyed destroying and tearing apart each one (this was the same minister that I wrote about earlier “They Broke Our Hearts”). As he explained, he was trying to develop character in each of the speakers. But how does finding fault and embarrassing the speakers develop them into confident and capable men that are well rounded and balanced?…my question was not appreciated.

Not intimidated by this minister I had a brilliant, at least it was to me, idea. During the business portion of the meeting, jumping right in the middle of it all, I suggested that the next meeting be impromptu. That meant everyone would draw a slip of paper from a bag and on it would be his designated assignment for the evening. Everything was up for grabs. Each member had to prepare to give a speech or an evaluation of a speech, to MC the table topics session, to be toastmaster for the evening, or be prepared to act as an officer, etc. It all depended on the assignment they drew. There were 17 designated opportunities for that evening. No one knew which one he might draw from the bag. The director seemed to like the idea since it placed all the men on notice to be prepared for anything and everything.

At the next meeting, 20 out of 25 men showed up. Not surprising, there was a great deal of tension and apprehension in the air. Everyone was on edge as to what was about to take place. The dictator, oops…director (Al) passed a bag around that contained seventeen assignments and 3 blank slips of paper. Each man drew one slip. Since there were more men than tasks, the lucky ones drew a blank piece of paper. You could always tell who they were by the expression on their faces. The look of panic turned to a demeanor of complete and total relief.

As a twist of fate would have it I drew the position of president, I guess it was poetic justice since it was my suggestion that started the whole mess. This position was rather cool! The distinguished honor of being dictator with the title of president of the club (for that brief moment in time, and it was brief….getting a little ahead of myself) meant I was in charge of the club for the entire evening. My word was law…rather cool! The thrill and surge of being in charge, was amazing. It did not matter what I did or said I could never be wrong (the power of the office)…well not exactly. As a bonus I even got to sit at the head table, right next to the director, the master Al himself. Wow! I was impressed, and to be honest, just a wee bit nervous, well actually considerably nervous.

To make matters more interesting, this club meeting was a dinner meeting. This supposedly was to add to the atmosphere of the club, learning proper dining etiquette. It was not the dinner that set the tone of the atmosphere, it was the unsettling arrangements of the assignments that added a certain amount heaviness to what normally would be a light hearted evening (except for the final evaluations by Al).

He sat directly to my right at the head table. Now Al was a hardcore and militant leader. He did not lead by example, he lead by force and by fear. So sitting next to him was not a very comforting situation.

Dinner was served and I tried to start a conversation with him. However, he completely ignored me. This resulted in my feeling a little awkward; after all, I was still new to the group. I guess perhaps I was a little too nervous because when he called my name, to start the meeting, I jumped slightly and I accidentally dropped a whole fork double stacked with over cooked, soft, green peas onto his new light brown suit (he bragged about his new suit). To make matters worse, in my embarrassment, nervousness and haste I tried to wipe those suckers up with my napkin (bad idea). It just smeared them. green peas 5Green smeared peas on a light brown suit looked rather disgusting. In desperation, I quickly tried to remedy the problem; I dipped my napkin in a glass of ice water to try to clean up the mess. The napkin got entangled with the glass and, you guessed it, I dumped the whole glass of ice water right in his lap. What happened next astonished everyone.

When the cold water hit his lap, within a blink of the eye he shot straight up and stood there before all the men. Of course, this got everyone’s attention and conversation ceased. All the men’s interest was drawn to the head table. They were expecting profound words of wisdom to flow from the golden and inspired lips of the director…

It was at that point it seemed like the spirit grabbed and took hold of him because the color of his face changed and he started to tremble. Even though I was right next to him I could not quite make out what he was saying, it appeared that he was trying his best to speak in tongues (actually I did understand, he was cursing me with ungodly profanity)….no one there could interpret what he was saying, actually no one dare to try. I wanted to tell him that it was unbiblical to talk in tongues without an interpretation but I felt it probably was not the wisest move to make.

The evening was not a total loss; I now held the record for the shortest club presidency in the history of Spokesmen Club. A record I might add that in over 50+ years was never to be broken. I was impeached and forever and I do mean forever, banned from the head table (at least as long as he was director).

For me, the club is now a memory of a collection of absurdities, humorous pranks, and meaningless conversations and speeches, and one very angry Al, which was the best part. It is also a memory of iron-fisted tactics used by the various directors to damage and destroy individuals for the sheer pleasure of seeing if the men could take the pressure, or would they crack.

Spokesmen Club, tomorrow’s church rulers, oops, leaders in the making!…It was a nice fantasy that they would develop into shepherds and watch over the flock; in reality they ruled mercilessly with a rod of iron. After all that was all they were taught to do by the leaders and overseers.

The only will and image we need, desperately need, to be conformed to is that of our Savior. He is kind and gentle. He always has our best interest at heart…however, if any individual acts like, and wants to be a child of the devil, He will not back down and He will treat that individual accordingly. He is kind, gentle but He is also fearless and just…He is the kind of leader we all need and should emulate.



Roses Are Red And So Was His Face

roses 5bIt was a beautiful summer day. The air was clear, no smog, which is very unusual for Pasadena during the month of May. Taking a casual walk across the campus to the landscape office, I was enjoying the clarity of the clean air and noticing the wonderful fragrance of the Jasmine shrubs in full bloom. It made the walk very pleasurable. It was just one of those rare, wondrous and special days where everything was just perfect. It felt good to be alive and working in such beautiful surroundings.

Coming into the Landscape office, Alma the secretary gave a warm friendly greeting, “Hi Bob”. She was a beautiful young woman, cheerful and bright in her late teens or early 20’s. She would always cheerfully greet everyone with such warmth that it made them feel special and welcome.

We chatted for a while. She looked at her watch, (it was nearly noon); she smiled and sectary 1mentioned she would like to run some errands and asked if I would be willing to watch the phone and office while she was gone. Having no real plans for the noon hour I found myself sitting at her desk as she walked to her car.

Alma’s desk faced south. Visible through the large office picture window was the beautiful rose garden. Thousands of roses, red, pink, yellow, white, orange and even some rare black ones and they were all in bloom, it was quite an impressive garden; it even won several prestigious national awards for the beautiful garden it was.

While admiring the garden the phone began to ring while I sat there finishing a report for the boss. There were several calls; none was of any real or special importance. However, when answering the last call one of the churches executive ministers walked minister 1into the office. He proceeded to bark orders, like some master sergeant yelling at a new recruit, while I was still on the phone. I held up a hand and motioned for him to wait. That was something no one dared to do, tell this self-important church executive to wait. Him wait…not a chance! So he became agitated, none-the-less he still had to wait until the call was finished.

Smiling I looked him square in the eyes and asked him if he needed assistance? The tone of his voice was quite hostel as he sternly informed that he wanted some roses from the adjacent garden and he wanted them now! The rose garden was one area on campus that was off-limits; no one could cut and take the roses. The only exception, of course, a minister of high rank (I always thought “rank” was a foul odor). Only they had the right (?) to take, at their discretion, any roses they wanted, for any purpose they deemed necessary. No staff worker was to ever question or interfere.

 I informed him the cutters were on the entry table in the office and that he was welcome to take whatever roses he wanted. I turned back to my report for it was nearly finished…he impatiently interrupted again. “No, he said! I want you to cut me some roses, and I want you to do it NOW!” I was surprised by his forceful request; no actually, it was more like a command than a request.

Explaining to him that normally I would be happy to cut him some roses; however, I volunteered to watch the office for the secretary while she ran some errands. It would not be possible to leave the office until she returned. Once again, pointing out where the cutters were and again stating that he was welcome to use them.

Well that did it; he became furious. How dare anyone challenge and ignore his authority! His face began to turn red with indignant anger. He said, “Don’t you know who I am? Get out there and cut me some roses!” Knowing who he was and that he held a powerful office, which presented a potentially serious problem. I reluctantly responded by telling him the title of his office, and that I was fully aware of who he was. So I simply said “yes and…”(Implied, that does not change anything). This just exasperated his anger and impatience; did not change anything. I could and would not leave the office even for him.

It was then his anger turned into what was almost uncontrolled rage and he threatened to have me fired and kicked out of the church. While this was a little unsettling, because he had the authority to do exactly what he said. His attempt at intimidation did not work. He next tried to bully his way, which did not work either. I stood my ground.

Next cane an apology for the delay (a business like courtesy) and for inconveniencing him. I explained that I would not leave the office and betray the secretaries’ trust; because I gave her my word that I would remain here until she returned. This reason proved ineffective. It made very little difference, if any in calming him down.

Before another word was spoken, Ellis the manager of the Landscape department returning from lunch walked in. After briefly explaining to him why the minister was so hot and raging, he immediately grabbed the cutters, (almost in a panic) and escorted him out to the garden where he cut him the best two dozen roses the garden had to offer, and made sure all the thorns were removed.

This minister made an arrogant point of walking past the office door with his roses and glaring with his most contemptuous look. OK, no problem; he is what he is. Felt very roses 1esorry for him, and especially those that had to work for him. Their nightmare continued on a daily basis. You might even say it was a living hell for them (Had a good friend that worked for this minister. The stories he would tell were both frightening and sad.).

When Ellis returned to the office, after defusing the situation, he wanted a more detailed explanation of what happened. While I was explaining to him the events, he gave me the strangest questioning look. It was as if he was silently asking, “How did Bob survive that without being fired?” No one survived standing up to this minister in the past. The outcome of the incident was a bit miraculous (I think my guardian angel was working overtime). Nonetheless, it felt like I did some serious battling with the devil himself, or at least one of his chief representatives.

You need to understand that, in this cultic church, the ministry was revered and almost treated as a God-like personage. I guess they never understood that Satan is the god of this world. He is the one that is demanding, self-centered, hot tempered and unforgiving. This was the very attitude and frame of mind this minister reflected, and not the heart and mind of the Savior.

Not judging the man’s heart, but his actions, and they were anything but Christ like; which in itself may be a reflection of his heart…only the Savior knows. Nobody pulls the wool over His eyes for He intensely sees into very core of a man’s heart and judges accordingly.

Only Jesus is worthy of our deepest honor, respect and worship. His true ministers will always reflect His heart and mind. They are the ones that the members should treat with respect for they are kind, patient, gentle and long suffering.

When you reflect on the ministry and leadership of your church, do you see the heart and mind of the Savior? If not, maybe it is time to consider what you are really missing by putting up with a counterfeit, and one that leads to discouragement and despair. Now might just be the time to search for the real and genuine article. That is His ministry, the ones that will treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve.

Alma finally returned and thanked me for watching the office. I smiled and we talked about the incoming calls and the follow-up she needed to do. Then I told her about the unholy guest…she simply rolled her eyes as she was all too familiar with his type. I told her it was a pleasure, and for the most part, it was, watching the office for her. As I was leaving the office, I once again noticed the fragrance of Jasmine that filled the air. The sense of euphoria returned. It was the kind of day it just felt good to be alive.

Life on campus was at times difficult and emotionally draining, but it was far from being dull.