"My Way"

by Tom Wacaster

The closing lines to Frank Sinatra’s hit record, “My Way,” sum up not only the essence of the song, but perhaps the life of the man himself:

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels,
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows,
And did it my way.
Yes, it was my way.

Mr. Sinatra was the very embodiment of America’s changing values from the 1950’s to the present age. Following WWII our nation began a love affair with the almighty dollar, and the wealth and affluence of this nation blossomed into a mighty oak of material success. Meanwhile, the sanctity of marriage took a back seat to the pursuit of pleasure, with Mr. Sinatra and other Hollywood stars leading the way with multiple partners throughout their careers. Sinatra himself went through four marriages, as well as multiple extra-marital affairs with such stars as Ava Gardner, Mia Farrow, Lauren Bacall, and Marilyn Monroe. Honesty, integrity, and moral uprightness were cast off during the 1960’s sexual revolution, and Sinatra’s well known connection to the mob did nothing to stem the tide of rebellion toward authority. His connections to such mob characters as  Lucky Luciano, Mafia boss Willie Moretti, Bugsy Siegel, Carlo Gambino, Sam Giancana, and Joseph Fishetti glorified the world of crime and gangsters. Yes, he did it his way! And following in his steps was a generation that forgot God, and sought instead to do it their way. Humanism, materialism, evolution and a host of other “isms” found fertile soil in which to grow, and it seems that in the efforts to do it our way, the nation cast God out of her schools, public discussion, and everyday life. And, as they say, the rest is history!

The Bible gives us an inspired record of men and women who sought to do it their way rather than God’s way, and not a single one of them are held up in high esteem by heaven’s holy hall of fame.  Saul, Nadab and Abihu, Ananias and Sapphira, Dathan, Korah, Balaam, the named but seldom remembered ten spies that brought an evil report to Joshua; Pharaoh, Cain, and hundreds and thousands of unnamed men and women who were determined to do it their way! I am presently engaged in a profitable study of the prophet Jeremiah. Judah was determined to do it their way, and the preaching and pleading of the prophet fell on deaf ears.

While in the minority, there are those faithful saints who go about seeking and serving the Lord in the midst of a world of corruption. They are sojourners and pilgrims, strangers in a land not their own. They seek for that city whose builder and maker is God. They feast upon the bread of life, drink from the fountains of living water, and refuse to be conformed to this world.  The mark of distinction that sets them apart from the world that seeks to do things their way is that these faithful saints of God seek to do it God’s way.

The album ‘My Way’ sold almost a million copies. Ironically Mr. Sinatra later came to hate the song because it was, in his words, “self-serving and self-indulgent.” Perhaps he came to realize, too late, that words do have meanings, and that the message of the song epitomized him and his generation more than he wanted to admit.

Now let me tell you of another song writer and lyricist. She is a faithful child of God, seeks to serve Him every day of her life. She has written a number of spiritual hymns, some of which have graced the pages of some of our song books. I have known her all my life; she is my mother. Here is a poem she recently wrote that focuses attention on doing things God’s way, for that is the only way that will lead to eternal life:

God’s Way

God says, “If you would walk with me and stand where I stand,
Then you must do it, under the touch of my hand.”
If you are a faithful servant, the Master must be able to say,
“Come, my good and faithful servant, for you did it my way.
Because I sent my Son to bless you and call you back to me,
He promised through your obedience that He would set you free.”
Then for the sake of righteousness, if you hunger and thirst,
You must walk by His pathway, and seek His kingdom first.
If you pass through toils and troubles, and win day by day,
You will seek His face in service, for you will do it His way.

Thank you mom for your wonderful words of encouragement!

On Books And Reading

by Tom Wacaster

I have been blessed to acquire a sizable library over the past three decades. I have read most of what is in my library at least one time [excepting of course reference books; I never could catch the “plot” to Webster’s dictionary so I gave up after the first page or two].  Though some think I read too much, I can assure you that my reading accomplishments pale in comparison to some others with whom I have been acquainted. While I was living in the Houston are in the early 90’s, I had the opportunity to visit the late Burton Coffman. On that occasion he told me that he had a self-appointed goal of reading a book a week, and the fact that he achieved that goal for more than 30 years is remarkable. That adds up to slightly more than 1500 books read in that 30 year span. The late brother Franklin Camp read extensively during his lifetime, completing anywhere from 6 to 8 books per month over his illustrious 50 plus years of preaching. That is a total of 3,600 books read in his lifetime. The late Winford Claiborne, likewise, read a great deal of material. He, of course, was an avid speed reader, which explains why he could read a book in one setting. He once told me that he tries to read from three to five books per week (depending upon the size of the book). Over forty years that totals just over 6,200 books. Guy N. Woods had a personal library of more than 8,000 books. He too was an avid reader, and his extensive knowledge on a great number of subjects manifested his reading habits. I have never kept a tally of the books which I read, nor how many I might read in a week’s time (certainly nothing equivalent to what these brethren read). Brother Woods once wrote:

Books are history’s priceless heritage, the storehouse of the wisdom of the ages. Were it not for them, but little - very little - of man’s thrilling past would be known and preserved for us and the struggle of mankind through the ages only imperfectly realized. To consort with those who lived in ages past, reliving their experiences and profiting by their mistakes and rejoicing in their triumphs is surely one of the noblest and grandest privileges vouchsafed to man. Blessed indeed is he who has made books his friends. They are ever present to stir his emotions, cheer his heart and edify his mind; and, when on occasion they are neglected, they exhibit no resentment, upbraid him not, but patiently wait his pleasure to flood his heart and mind again with their precious stock of rich resources. A collection of good books is a fairyland of delight, a storehouse of treasure, providing a haven from the world’s current distresses, putting all who choose in the company of the earth’s greatest philosophers, its most profound thinkers and its wisest minds. Nor does this select company erect barriers to exclude any. Here, indeed, is one of the few areas in which the affluent and the poor are not turned away. Into what other select company of distinguished people may one appear at a time and place of his own choosing and consort with them to his heart’s content? (Gospel Advocate, 11-1991, page 32).
Solomon wrote, “of making many books there is no end.......” (Ecc. 12:12). I have learned through the years that when you finish one book, there is another one waiting for you to engage. I usually have between 50 to 100 books stacked on my shelf, the floor, or the top of my desk awaiting my attention. And yet, when confronted with the opportunity to purchase yet another good book, my desire gives in and my newly acquired book is simply added to the stack of books waiting to be read. Authors and publishing companies are pumping out the books faster than any human being can possibly read them. It seems, therefore, that you and I should be very selective of what books we read with regard to time spent and subject matter entertained. Christians should go about building a good personal library. But most important of all, he should spend time in the Book of books. All else is inconsequential so far as the value and lasting effect any single book will have upon your life.

At the close of the aforementioned article by Guy N. Woods, our beloved brother concluded:

There is, I think, no work in which man engages in which there is such great obligation to be both efficient and proficient. Great though one’s natural talents are, no man approaches his potential who is indolent in mind, who does not enjoy and use good books. He who brings within reach of lost humanity life eternal, sows the seed of immortality, contributes to the well-being of those involved in a fashion not otherwise possible and while so doing faithfully serves his Creator. To achieve these goals, one must study....Great though a man’s native talents are and respectable his formal education, I have never known one to attain to his potential in life who is mentally lazy, intellectually indolent and has little or no regard for good books. 

Take the time to do some serious reading. I really think that the more one reads, the more he will want to read. After all, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers” (Charles W. Eliot).

21st Century: Age Of Enlightenment?

by Tom Wacaster

An increasing number of diluted and self-proclaimed philosophers have bought into the lie that modern man has finally reached the point where he no longer needs religion. Man is the sum and substance of all there is, and humanism has clothed itself in new garb and calls it "self-awareness."  The "God is dead" craze of the 1970's seems to have found a new following among the millennials who have now declared this century, "the century of freedom and enlightenment." When we speak of "millennials" we are talking about those born between 1980 and the early 2000's. This would take in those between the ages of 18 and 34. This is the generation that was saturated with humanistic thinking throughout their formative years, on into high school, and finally confirmed and solidified in the institutions of higher learning. What the millennials mean by "freedom" is not what most of the post WWII "baby boomers" think when they hear the word. The "great generation" (those born in the early part of the last century) and the "baby boomers" take "freedom" to mean freedom from tyranny, suppression, and the domination of crazed dictators and the like. To a growing number of 'millennials' the word "freedom" means freedom "from" certain social norms and/or responsibility. This is precisely why so many millennial candidates running for political office on some kind of socialist platform are finding a wide following. The Royal Society of Arts has a new motto: "21st Century Enlightenment." Unfortunately, the 21st century concept of "enlightenment" is nothing more than a rehash of humanism dressed up in new garments with a splash of cologne to make it smell a little better. Political correctness is run amuck, and the rush to avoid "offending" even the worst in society has paved the way for an "enlightenment" that is more like the centuries of the dark ages that ushered in the age of enlightenment of the 15th-18th centuries.

Until this new generation learns that truth is absolute and attainable, they will continue their trek into political, social, and moral ruin. If ever the love affair with socialism takes hold on this country this new generation will learn, too late, that they have opened up a can of worms and the proverbial Pandora's Box that they will not be able to close; and where will Bernie Sanders be when the cat is out of the bag? What it all boils down to is this matter of truth.

Pilate asked, "What is truth?"  Perhaps some of our Senate investigations of the past have been tempted to ask the same question. Now the CEO's of corporate America are being called into question for their business ethics, and it seems as if they have been infected with a case of "I-do-not-recall-itis" [if I may be allowed to coin a new term]. Much of the dishonesty, lying and cover-up that has plagued our nation, especially in politics but not limited thereto, has put a damper on a desire to know the truth and/or the ability of some to tell the truth.  It is a fact, however, that truth is truth, and all the lying and cover-up will not change a lie into truth.  Political correctness, coupled with a "relativistic" approach to life's moral, ethical, and spiritual issues may be popular in this 21st century, but it has an eroding effect upon the love for truth and the pursuit of the same in the lives of the average man. Are we really surprised to find corporate CEO's who "cook the books" to make the company look good?   For eight years we were told that moral integrity has nothing to do with job performance, and the Chief CEO in the political halls of America manifested a complete lack of respect for others while seeking his own self-gratification at the expense of the people whom he had been elected to serve. When called into question for ethical misconduct, the most influential man in government circles lied under oath, and although reprimanded for perjury, was never punished.  The American people, fueled by the liberal media and political spin masters, were convinced that morals have no bearing upon job performance. So why should we be shocked when corporate America simply follows his example? Unfortunately this disrespect for the truth has been around since the creation of man.  But by the same token, when disrespect for the truth infiltrates the very fabric and foundation of a society, self-destruction is not far away.  It was noted by one historian that America's greatness was to be found in her churches.  While we in no way condone religious division, we recognize that the spiritual make up of our founding fathers played a large part in God's providential blessings in the establishment of this nation and its preservation through the years.  I wish I could say that only the political and business circles were infected with a large disregard for the truth, but such is not the case.  The religious scandals that have rocked "Christendom" in the last twenty five years have opened the door of secrecy so that we are now getting a glimpse into the religious corruption that comes as a result of a lack of love for the truth.  From Protestantism to Catholicism and the polluted "priesthood" of America's religious leaders, it is quite evident that truth has fallen on hard times.  Lies are told in the name of religion, the "people" are duped into believing a falsehood, and the truth, once again, suffers. Is it any wonder that some prominent theologians are declaring that truth is unattainable, and that even if attained, it is changing? The American people, due in part to gullibility and in part to ignorance, have bought this notion that truth is some mystic, far away, unreachable ideology, and have long since ceased the search for truth. We have left it up to the "preachers" to do the searching for us, and we act shocked when these "religious racketeers" take us to the cleaners. Dear reader, only the truth will make you free. Forget the dishonest political leaders, the hypocritical religious leaders, the unethical corporate leaders, and the failure of so many to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and get on with searching out the truth for yourself.  Therein is freedom. Therein is life.