I have shared my story of being called to First National Bank, right after beginning my teaching in Bryan. Travis Bryan was the president and his presence in the lobby was impressive. Behind his desk were dozens of autographed pictures of famous and respected dignitaries from both the political and military world. I walked in and there he was separated from the bank lobby by a wooden railing. I was told to come through the gate and have a seat. He said, “Is your name really ‘Austin’?” I said it was. He pointed to a large seal of the State of Texas behind him and said, “If you claim to be a descendant of Stephen F. Austin, you must not say so. My family is a direct descendant and there can only be ONE of those here in Bryan. Do you understand?” I got the message and evaded any discussion of my name for my entire tenure. Some men simply are impressive just by being present. Travis B. Bryan was such a man. I am blessed to have been a personal friend of his son, Travis B. Bryan, Jr. “Trav Jr” was a jewel. He enjoyed life and football and was a scratch golfer. I have never met another like him. He had one interesting trait that was most unique. He would leave the key in the ignition of his personal car and must have held the record of ‘stolen vehicles’ in Bryan. He loved the Aggie and Bronco football teams. His bank was the main sponsor of both the Aggie and Bronco Coaches’ television programs. I became his friend when, after one of my public address work at a Bryan Bronco game, he came up and said, “Austin, I loved it when you called the penalty flag a “Fraction”, but when you described the last seconds on the scoreboard as, “The Clock is Dripping Zeros and the Broncos Win Again”, I love that and want you to do it every time. I did and we were buddies from then on. We team-directed the youth department at First Baptist Church, and each Sunday morning, after general assembly, we would walk across the street to St. Joseph hospital for coffee with Dr. Joe Cox. Those were most special times. I taught Dr. Cox daughter and she was special too. As an aside, the only time I bodily ejected students for my classroom was when “little” Trav and Randy Parrish got into a skuffle in my Lamar Junior High music class. I grabbed both by their collar, walked them to the door and threw them out into the gym. (I shall never forget the look of astonishment on the face of Harry Bond as he was there with his PE class). He had them sit on the bleachers for the remaining of the period. No further action was taken by either of us and Trav Jr. never mentioned it. “Little” Trav is now a District Judge in Brazos County and he has a big laugh about it. Those of you who have had special long-time friends like Travis B. Bryan, Jr and Jesse(Red)Burditt and Troy Dungan and Bob Huffaker and Billy Arhos and Charles Henry Meyer and Roland Bridges, then you have to know how blessed those cherished memories really are. GOD allowed us to pass that way and for those joyous years, we thank HIM and PRAISE HIS NAME. AMEN
Vincent Youmans wrote, “Without A Song” and I fear that we are just that today. Someone once said, “Music is the Soul’s Sincere Desire”. That says that GOD intended for every human to appreciate music. We attended a special presentation of “Shrek, the Musical” last Friday night. Concord First Assembly is a mega church that has a summer outreach that offers two weeks of ‘camp’ activity and participation is a well-staged musical. This year’s production featured 200 ‘campers’ participating in an extravaganza that was so cleverly and ‘professionally’ performed, I was enthralled by the whole production. Children from first grade to middle school did a marvelous job in front of a packed house of parents and friends. Our SaraBeth Raso had a bit part as “Little Boy Blue”. Of course, she was the most outstanding one among all the other outstanding ones. Last year, SaraBeth was a member of the ‘chorus’ and this year she got a ‘solo’ part. I confess a bit of prejudice, but she is one beautiful lady. As she was beginning rehearsal, she came home and asked if Little Boy Blue was really ‘Blue’? She didn’t seem to be excited to look like the ‘Blue Man Group’. Concord First Assembly provides a full 12-grade school and I believe all large churches should do the same. Quality Education must include Fine Arts and the faculty must impart Truth at its fullest, without drifting left or right of GOD’s WORD. Regardless of what ‘society’ says, only the heart of a true believer, following the WORD, can provide such a thing. “Without a Song, a day would never end; without a song, the road would never bend; without a song, a man ain’t got a friend, without a song.” This I believe is a most important, GOD given, nutrient of life. AMEN
Now that our Supreme Court, in its august wisdom, has legalized same sex marriage and as it gains in popularity and is accepted and practiced by more and more couples, the only “Being Fruitful and Multiplying” will be by brokerage firms. The more same sex marriages, the fewer multiplications. That’s what I get from my box of chocolates. It amazes me that so many folks studied a different anatomy than that taught in East Texas. Adam and Eve were created different and expected to bring forth children. That was GOD’s way to ‘people’ the earth. Someone pointed out that Adam and Eve weren’t ‘married’ since they didn’t have a ceremony. I believe their union was blessed by GOD and as such, perfectly legal. I also believe the ‘ceremony’ of marriage was simply GOD’s way to see that there was commitment between the parties. He isn’t surprised by the increasing number of ‘single-parent’ homes. Man’s sinful nature brings about temptation. In the book of James, he writes, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by GOD’, for GOD cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself temps no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” I suppose man’s determination to ‘do it his way’ is a perfect example of our desire luring us into sinful action. I have always been troubled by test tube pregnancy and artificial insemination, but that’s just me and when it comes to the ‘big picture’, my opinion is probably important to me, only, donchaknow. But, just on the off-chance that the BIBLE is truly the WORD of GOD, I shall do it HIS way in an attempt to be FRUITFUL. I am so glad that, when I was gainfully employed and entering my front door after a full day at the job – so glad that I didn’t say, “Harry, honey, I’m home”. donchaknow AMEN
The Christian life is not an easy one. To overcome the powerful influence of our sin nature is impossible unless we ‘let go and let GOD’. Conflicting thoughts and attempts by demons to block spiritual strength through our weaknesses, can bring about dismay, but we do not have to go there. “Flying by the seat of my pants” put me in some dangerous territories and even though it appeared that I had it under control, I now realize it wasn’t “I”, but “HE”. “Be Not Dismayed” are the first words of a great old hymn entitled, “God Will Take Care of You” and it is of comfort in times of distress and conflict. Here is the first verse and refrain:
“Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you! Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you!
God will take care of you, trough every day o’er all the way; He will take care of you; God will take care of you!”
“15 The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.16 Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” This passage from KJV, Psalms 145, is the basis for the recording by the Stephen F. Austin A Cappella Choir at Texas’ UIL choral contest in 1965 on the campus of Baylor University. This contest was a special event. A very good friend with whom I had worked in Amarillo, was one of the judges. Jerry Jackson was also a very good choral director, himself. Our Sweepstakes Award was due Jerry’s knowledge of the selections we had chosen. Two of them had very low bass parts, both in register and volume. The judges were seated behind a library table in a warm balcony. There were floor fans for their comfort. Fans sound a ‘hum’ and Jerry knew that they would cover the quiet sections of the music we had chosen. He had the fans turned-off for us. If you listen to the recording, you will note that the choir’s sustained chords at the end were barely audible as it was. If the fans had been running, the judges would not have heard what we did. I purposely had the choir hold the final note, down to a pianissimo(very quiet) release. It impressed the judges and made Jerry smile. You know what it did for my group and their director. It was good to have an expert on board, donchaknow. FYI, I have located a very clean copy of this concert and will have it saved to CD audio for attachment to a later Blog.
Have you witnessed GOD answering prayer? Was there a mix of ‘praise’ and ‘surprise’? It is easy to feel inadequate and unworthy and there is justification of that, donchaknow. My immediate family has witnessed the disappearance of cancer. None at all for over seven years. The Rasos saw a miracle save their precious little daughter with digestive disorder. The answer resulted from a casual conversation that led to the one surgeon who had the solution. Even though it is difficult to take, I am convinced that GOD in HIS Mercy, takes a sufferer home rather than go through more pain. I believe in prayer and I know that GOD answers every one uttered or silent. That is HIS promise to HIS Children and each time the answer is in agreement with our prayers, we, along with thankful praise, are a bit surprised. I believe GOD understands and is not the least bit surprised. We continue to pray for various things, many of which may not come to pass, or do they? ‘Tis a Puzzlement.
We live in a world of Rules and Regulations. We have the option to follow or pay the consequences. As Law-abiding citizens we strive to do the right thing at all times. No one is leading us around by the nose; forcing our compliance and we generally accept it to be our responsibility to do so – except when it comes to the will of GOD. Then we compromise to be more in line with the will of the world. As far as I am concerned, (1) there is no ‘legal’ marriage except between a man and a woman, (2) life begins at conception, (3) the right to bear arms is guaranteed for every citizen, (4) there is no justification for a ‘free ride’ for slackers, (5) English is the only ‘official’ language spoken in America, so if any person wants to converse outside their own home, Speak “IT!”, (6) there is no excuse for ‘violence’ in any disagreement, (7) government should be limited to the will of the people, period, and subject to the same rights, without exception, (8) every ‘Law of the Land’ should adhere to the ‘Law of the Lord’ ( the intent of our Constitution), which limits our Supreme Court to only enforce it and not rewrite what that document says and changes should be up to the people, (9) Charity should be available to the handicapped, widows and orphans and the responsibility of Churches only, care for elderly parents should be up to the children, (10) Racial difference is a fact of life, but it never should be reason for violence. GOD makes it very clear to “Love One Another”; that demands the utmost tolerance. And (11) I respect and will defend the right for you or anyone to make your own “Ten Rules”. As for me and my house, this is my pattern:
” 7 The law of the Lord is perfect,[a]
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules[b] of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
(Then in verse 14)
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. ( ESV Psalms 19: 7-10,14)”
The Fiftieth Reunion will be celebrated by SFA’s Class of ’65. My choir for that year had a dozen voices chosen for Regional and State honors. This choir was awarded a “State of Texas Superior Excellence Award” for outstanding performance. This Choir, my Emanon (all girl’s) choir and the Bronco Band, directed by Jack Briggs was recorded at the Texas High School Interschlastic League Contest. Both groups gained Superior “Sweepstakes”. Lou Ann Covington placed the album on UTube. (8th one down on SFAUSTIN CHOIR) The album has obviously been played (clicks are evidence of same), however I must admit the performance justifies a few minutes of your time. The A Cappella Choir is featured on the first three selections and the Girl’s Choir on the second three. The A Cappella choir of ’65 was a unique blend of excellent voices and even though we had great success each year, none other was awarded the honors of this group. What made it interesting and a bit of a challenge was the fact that many of the members’ families were close freinds with the Austins. I felt for those youngsters who had difficulty not calling me “Jim”. They very wisely chose not to do so, donchaknow. As all teachers know, it was not unusual for students to give each of us a ‘nickname’. I know I was “Jungle Jim” to some and “Nayatahn” to others. Many still call me “Mr. A”, even after all these years. I would have never thought of the love and warm regard that my students have laid on me. GOD has blessed my time in the classroom and that blesses my heart. As is always the case, “The Conductor is responsible for preparation, but the individual members are responsible for the performance. This UTube featurette is an example of the quality of ‘performers’ I was blessed to work with for 14-years in Bryan, Texas. “To GOD be the Glory!” AMEN
Back in time, record companies sent ‘demo’ recordings to DJ’s in hopes that they would play them and thus create interest. There were a few ‘Major’ labels that got most of the attention for years. RCA Victor, Columbia, Decca and Capitol were the powerhouses until ‘off-brands’ began to hit the market. Most of these were of the ‘MoTown’ label. There was Atlantic with Ray Charles and Mercury with many of the ‘BeeBop’ groups. Each of these ‘demos’ were good for a few plays but were of inferior quality. When a song made it to the top charts, like Billboard, the stations had to purchase copies so that they could meet the demand for plays for listeners. Having spent time listening to Gene Noble and his commercials for Randy’s Record Shop, when the first “Dot” label crossed my desk, it had to be played. Two things stood out, making a strong suggestion. First, Randy Wood had quality recording artists who recorded original material that was special. Second Dot Records were of ‘commercial quality’ and they had turntable life as well as audio that was ‘hot’. Music came off every Dot record that would bounce our audio meter all the way to the red. In those days our console/boards had attenuator knobs that ranged from off-air-cue to maximum volume. Randy’s records played at maximum volume when the knob was just at center mark. When you had that kind of audio quality, it was a delight to hear. Some of Randy’s first stars were Fats Domino, Gale Storm, Roy Clark, Pat Boone, Billy Vaughn, Louis Armstrong, The Andrews Sisters, The DelVikings, The Four Lads, Eddie Fisher, The Mills Brothers and The Fontane Sisters. (There is a long list for DOT records in Wikipedia). Today, there are few ‘recordings’ played, what with the digital media, and most of the ‘air-play’ is off music played elsewhere by satellite. It’s a shame that talented broadcasters are not in abundance. Most of us are long in the tooth, but the great hours of quality entertainment will never be taken away from those who did ‘on=air’. I praise GOD for that experience. AMEN
There’s a great old hymn we used to sing on this special Sunday. The Refrain had these lyrics: “Faith of our Fathers, Holy Faith, we will be true to you ’til death.” I know what ‘my’ Father’s Faith was. It pretty much was in line with what our Heavenly Father teaches. That degree of Faith “OF” lead to a total Faith “IN”. I knew my Father did everything within his power to hold with strong hands, to the TRUTH as gleaned from Scripture. Those hands were made strong from eight to ten hours of slinging a sixteen pound hammer, five or six days each week. Whatever it took, Sam Austin was there, doing it. I may not have been the son he deserved, but his faith in his example knew that someday I would be. I thank GOD for that example of due diligence. As we move further in time, I wonder what our young folks’ example of FAITH will be. Today, I can be thankful that a GOD-fearing, gentle man never lost FAITH. A life that set the example of doing the right thing, thus inspiring me to do the same. As a father, I see that same quality of life in my own children. I thank GOD that they did it much better – “Papaw” like. Today, I Praise my HEAVENLY FATHER for the man who said Grace at every meal and who walked upright in his Faith. Today, it would bless our Heavenly FATHER if we truly “would be True to THEE ’til Death”. Remember that “Obedience is better than sacrifice”. Amen?