Thursday, February 23, 2012

W.J. Absher Chapter 4 , McDonald Mill Community, where he grew up.

This is a view of Dad's home place through the window of McDonald Mill United Methodist Church. I had the privilege of worshiping this morning(4/3/11) in the church where Dad accepted Christ about 80 years ago.

Before I went into the church I stood outside the door and looked up the road which I'm sure Daddy walked many times. Here is what my mind's eye saw: Off to the right I saw a house on the hill, the same one framed by the window from inside the church. There were stones arranged as stair steps snaking up the side of the hill from the creek to the yard gate. At the creek there was a bridge mad with two logs serving as the supports and boards with large cracks nailed to the slightly twisted logs. The twists made the floor of the bridge a bit wavy which warned the walker to slow down, beware, or be splashed into the creek.

There was enough space between the road and the bridge for a store building that was operated by the Absher family in the 1920s. William Avery had moved his family to the McDonald Mill community when William Jessie was less than a year old. The store building had unpainted weather board siding and a sloped roof which gave it a higher front than back. A small porch was the buffer between the road and door to the small room that was lined with shelves, had a small counter and another door that led to to the warehouse in which bagged goods such as animal feed, seed, flour, and other bulky items were kept. It was not necessary to keep a big inventory on hand since there was another store at the Mill,  Custer's Store , up in Roanoke County and another at Dry Run. The senior Absher moved to the county two buy a track of timber and the two houses and the store building were a part of the deal.

The second house was closer to my vantage point but not as easy to see as the house on the hill. This house was actually older that the one on the hill and was just immediately across from the store building. The house on the road was only as wide as the builders could make it as they eked out a flat piece by moving rocks up to where the mountain took a sharp jut upwards. The house had to go up rather than out so it just consisted of four rooms, two stacked on the other two. This was truly a "road house" and it had housed family and travelers for many years after the Indian fort at McDonald Mill became non-functional. (To be Continued)

Willie Jester's Valentine's Day 2012 @ Prayer Breakfast

Willie Jester became good friends with Mom and Dad and he enriched their final years. He was asked to speak at the BUMC prayer breakfast. Here are his notes ( with permission).

Prayer Breakfast – 2/14/2012 – BUMC
Good morning! How appropriate – Valentine’s Day a day of love yet….
Did you know what we are doing this morning is illegal in 52 countries.
Actually, what we do on Sundays is too….and that is worship.
Have no doubt…each of us is not only incredibly blessed to be able to worship freely as we do, we are also here with a purpose. Luke 12:48"To whom much is given, of him much will be expected."
I met Bill Absher in church. I came in and happen to take the seat in front of he and Jean (Reggie had not started the sermon yet, so Jean was awake). During an early part in the service we stood and Bill’s bulletin, full of propaganda as Reggie has called it from time to time, filled my seat. It was 3-4 sheets. I turned around and said, golly day, I have only been in church 10 minutes and you are already throwing things at me!  Well, that started it, because that smile Bill had was something you can’t forget.
Now, this was, of course, during  the early service. And this speaks to God’s engineering of circumstances far better than my own wisdom. …you see….as a single guy you are suppose to go to the regular service to meet girls, but apparently God wanted me to go to the early service and see the light of Christ instead. ….once you met Bill Absher, I believe you saw the light of Christ in his eyes.
And now what…you can give that up……Let’s see…the Light of Christ or the regular service…I went with Bill.
You don’t “get” Bill without his wife Jean. Without Jean, you don’t get the angel Barbara, without Barbara you don’t get to Archie.
God’s engineering is amazing to say the least
Without Bill and Jean I don’t get to Janis Perdue….who has become my mom. You see I had lost my mom, and here God was…knowing what we need.  Pay no attention to the fact I affectionately call her the witch.   God’s engineering
….now Archie was in the class of ’52, my dad’s class here at VPI.  Go one step further, when I applied to tech, Cliff Cutchin was on the Board of Visitors for Tech, and he happened to live down the street from me. He wrote a recommendation letter for me….addressed to Archie.
God works in mysterious ways to say the least.
Well, I started getting out of God’s way… when you get out of God’s way… you realize God just might be on to something.
I started to see how they (Bill, Jean, Barbara, Archie, Janis) were letting Christ out. I came to understand that it is ironic how God, through His Prevenient Grace beats nudges, pushes, pulls, you to let Him into your heart and accept Him and the Holy Spirit… once we do….the Holy Spirit (conscience on steroids) spends all of His time nudging us, prodding us, pushing us to let Out!. To put Him in the game. Christ, the Holy Spirit wants out, via the expression of your life.
Well with Bill Absher, he let the Holy Spirit be in the game, as a matter of fact he not only let the Holy Spirit in the game, he turned over all the coaching to Him as well. You see…. I learned  it is not about your ability, it is about your availability that makes a difference. Bill made himself available.
I saw this in Bill, and the Lord opened my eyes to see it among you…the Body of Christ…..made me see it in others…. Janis, Janet and Mike Sims, Steve and Mary Ann Cass, Steve,  Denise Walker, Charlie and Ellen Coale, Joey and Tracey Altizer,  Stuart Mease, Mike Day, all the men in Bible Study, the Parks, Pam and Tindal with Fun 143, Mary Korb leading non-Christians in a bible study and more….
I came understand the Body of Christ.  Making self available.
The Body of Christ is the Church and the church is made up of you…the hands and feet of Christ. And each of us have purpose and make an impact on others every single day.  Oswald Chambers “However small the visible measure of our lives – out of us will flow rivers that bless the uttermost parts of the earth.”
I have learned Christ makes a difference, when you make yourself available.
When you make yourself available, you:
Exalt the Lord
Edify the saints
Equip people
Encourage people
Evangelize to the lost (Janis and tracts) – Janis makes herself available. Always!
When available you are:
Salt that can be tasted
Light that can be seen
Influence that can be felt
Testimony that can be heard – You make a difference
I have come to understand there is a choice you have to make between a cause and Christ. Christ didn’t have a cause other than to follow the will of His Father. John 4:34 – Jesus said “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me to finish His work.” Paul was devoted to a person (Christ), not a cause. Paul didn’t talk about the church’s he started nor the thousands he lead to Christ….Phil 3:10 – “that I may know Him”.
I have seen through Bill and you, the understanding of Acts 1:8 “ye shall witness unto me” – grasping what it means…. It is not to witness to what Jesus can do…but be a pure witness to the Love of Jesus Christ. Selfless.
Bill showed life is not one bit about himself.. He was instrumental in starting this prayer breakfast. Not only to lift others in prayer but demonstrating the fact that God does answer prayer.
Not what He does, but that He does it….. for us.
Oswald Chambers, “Everyone who is saved is called to testify to the fact…”
I have learned to take the focus from “accept Christ and have salvation”, although true, awesome and humbling in and of itself, there is something much more. As Jesus talks about Faith in Matthew 6:30  “will He not much more clothe you”, it is not faith in what He does, but that He will do it!
Oswald Chambers, “Abandoned to the love of Christ is the one thing that bears fruit in life.”   Bill Absher, Janis Perdue, all of you…you bear fruit.
Never forget the purpose you have and use the power you have by making yourself available to Him
Love wins…. because Jesus Lives!
I have also learned our Blessings came at an incredible price…God needs us like a hole in the head! HE created everything you see with a word. You don’t think He can snap His fingers and do it again?....... but He didn’t. He sent His Son, Selfless Servant to show His love…He died for us, then lived…for us.
When someone asks what is a Christian or what does a Christian believe, I can sum it up in two words…Jesus Lives. ….every monotheist religion recognizes Jesus Christ, but only we accept the fact that He lives…if he doesn’t live….there is no love. There is no light of Christ.
I saw light of Christ in Bill Absher. The light of Christ is in each of you….never doubt the purpose and influence you have….make yourself available.
We do not live in the minutes of our lives, but in the moments.
Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep”. What does that mean exactly? It is you “…being broken bread and poured out wine, that you have to be the nourishment of other souls until they learn to feed on God.”
Before I learned to feed God, I had to draw on it through others (my parents and family growing up then Bill, Jean, Barbara, Janis and you right here.
It evolves. . While your personal relationship grows with the Lord, you begin being poured out wine and broken bread of those around you. This epitomizes the church, BUMC, the Body of Christ.
Each time I see Cross, it is empty…. Gods’ Grace, Jesus Lives, and we have purpose, power and peace.
I pray
that we may use our purpose to be the broken bread and poured out wine for others,
that we use the power we have via the Holy Spirit to be strong in our witness, to exalt,  to encourage, to evangelize
and that we have joy through the Peace . Peace in the fact that we do have Purpose and Power to make a difference.
I have learned it is not about ability, but availability.
Thank you, God Bless you as you continue to be available…..and make a difference as the Body of Christ.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Special Valentine's Day

February 2007: I had been in Blacksburg with Mom and Dad, Jean and Bill Absher, for several days.  Dad was already confined mostly to his recliner and his movement restricted by Parkinson Disease.  Mother was confined as well since she gave up on driving after one lesson from Dad and an encounter with a fence in a pasture field.  That driving lesson preceded the 2007 Valentine's Day by more than 65 years- so the folks had lived through a lot in 68 years of marriage.
But Dad was aware of the day!  I was saying my good byes and he beckoned me to come closer.  He pointed to a  bouquet of roses in the Roanoke Times and whispered, " How about going and getting some for Jean."  My urgency to get back to my Valentine in Kentucky suddenly disappeared.  I hurriedly went to Krogers concerned that the roses would be sold out.  They weren't and I felt like I had discovered a gold mine, and maybe I had.   The love that was pure gold shone brightly that morning as Dad presented a dozen roses to his bride of almost 6 dozen years!
That is a Valentine's Day I'll never forget.