Archive for January 2016

Mr. T and Gatorade

January 28, 2016

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

            Before Mr. T was a television star, and before Gatorade was the popular drink of choice among athletes, I experienced both.  Known to me as Mr. Turentine, this simple, kind old man loved kids.  When we talked about him, he was “Mr. Turpentine;” when we talked to him, he was Mr. T.

            A member of our large church when I was young, Mt. T was faithful in his attendance to services and church activities.  He enjoyed standing out in the foyer talking to people and sneaking candy from his pocket into the hands of young children.  His best suit was old and hung droopily on his medium build frame.

            He lived alone, owned no car, and was an eccentric individual.  He did not hold official positions in the church, though I recall him helping with custodial duties sometimes.  He was not one to be called upon for answers to faith or theology.  But he loved Jesus, and he loved children.

            Our church had a high school age baseball team in the summertime.  Most church leagues played softball, so our team was registered in a community recreational league.  Games were played at various locations across the city.  I loved baseball growing up and was good enough to be in the starting lineup during those elementary years.  But this was big-boy baseball.  I was a small 9th grader seeing my first ‘real’ curve ball, and one bop in the head proved my fear to be warranted!

            I did not get to play much, being among the younger boys, and being a ‘chicken.’  However, I did get on base a couple of times when the opposing pitcher could not hit my small strike zone. 

            We did have one faithful cheerleader who never missed a game.  His name was Mr. T.  No matter where we played, Mr. T found the bus route that would get him to our games, and he always brought a jug of Kool-Aid for us to drink.  At first I thought he used funny tasting water.  One of the older guys said that it was simply not sweetened.  He reasoned that Mr. T could not afford sugar, so he added salt instead!

            That was then.  We tried to be kind and not hurt his feelings, but it tasted awful, especially when we were expecting a sweet treat!

            Looking at it now, I don’t think Mr. T’s potion was a result of his eccentric ways or his lack of funds.  I genuinely believe he knew the effect sugar would have on athletes needing to replenish energy and lost fluids from perspiration.  I think he was providing us his own version of Gatorade, a sports drink that was not yet a staple across America in dugouts and on sidelines.

            In our large church Mr. T was well known and loved, but had no close circle of friends, no favorite people to sit with during fellowship meals, and was never an ‘up front’ person to be publicly noticed.  But he loved Jesus and he loved people, and he found a permanent place in my heart and memory. 

            By now he has long since reached his eternal home where he enjoys fellowship with Jesus forever.  I wonder if he ever knew what a blessing he was to others, and I wonder how long it took others like me to realize that fact, as well.

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Looking Back and Giving Thanks

January 7, 2016

By Dr. Steven J. Callis

Recently it was reported that at the end of the 19th century there was one car on the road for every 18,000 people in the United States. Contrastingly, today there are more than 250 million cars and trucks in the United States, or almost one per person.

That being true, most drivers have for their convenience a vision device that assists in safe driving. Having been on the highways quite a bit recently, I am not convinced that all drivers actually utilize this device, but that is another topic for another time.

Along with the large picture window that provides a panoramic-type view of what is ahead of the vehicle, there is a small “magical looking glass” that enables one to actually see what is behind the vehicle. It is called a “rear view mirror,” introduced to automobiles in 1908, then mounted on the dashboard.

Throughout my childhood years I believed those little mirrors were to assist parents in keeping an eye on their children in the backseat of the vehicle! At what age did you realize that parents do not actually have eyes in the backs of their heads? That crazy mirror got me into trouble more times than I care to remember!

Apparently, automobile makers continue to believe that seeing what is behind a vehicle is important. They also realize that the past is not the main focus. Hence, the picture window in the front is much larger than the small rear-looking apparatus. It is small enough that it does not obstruct the view of what is ahead, yet large enough to see at a glance what is behind.

We have ushered in a new year once again to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne,” for old time’s sake. It is an opportunity to glance in to life’s rear view mirror and reflect on the past as we project for the future. That which is left behind means something; in fact, the past is what brought us to the present. We must not let our memory obstruct our view of the present and future, but it can help us live better in the present and future if we allow it to do so.

Some drivers seem oblivious to what is behind them; and for some people, the beginning of a new year is simply another day on the calendar. I choose, however, to use this time as a check up: to examine my life and values, my blessings and shortfalls, my strengths and needs for improvement.

Living things are in constant development, and thus require continual observation in order to make necessary adjustments as conditions change. I will not set new goals too lofty to attain, or make resolutions that demand more than I can give. Whatever circumstances I face, however, I will determine to be the best that I can be for Christ, for my family, my church, and my community.