March 17, 2019

Elisbeth Rooney

Elisbeth Rooney died on January 21st 2019; she was 63 years old.
Liz was a unique person, quite a character. When she first moved to Somerset, at the Beecher House, it is said everyone was afraid of her. When she first came to our fellowship, I could see why. Admittedly, she sometimes rolled in with a scowl on her face, and at times seemed like she really might roll over someone. When Bill wished her Merry Christmas, she gruffly replied, "happy Hanukkah". You know what I mean, many of you may have not thought much more about her but that tough scowl.
But, if you got to know her, as a few people did, you found she was, under that tough exterior, sweet and kind. Margie and Candice can attest to that. She, on several occasions, posted Facebook invitations to her house for coffee, for others needing encouragement. She was intelligent; a few years ago she started her own company, Prairie Dog Marketing for web advertising through "Traffic Exchange". She was witty. Maybe sometimes her wit and humor were a little “colorful”, but at least she was real. She was a believer, and openly confessed her faith in Christ.
You may know that she had a lot of health problems in the past few years, heart failure, diabetes, and chronic debilitating pain. She had cancer and chemotherapy back in 2012. So, you can begin to see, along with being confined to a wheelchair, how she might have a bit of an attitude.
What many do not know is how she ended up in that wheelchair. When she was 28, about 1983, she had three children and an abusive husband. One day the husband murdered her three children, in front of her, then pushed Liz down the stairs*. She was left with 3 dead children and a broken neck, from which she was unable to walk, and left with life-long pain. For 35 years she lived with that pain, went through depression at times, and at times was suicidal. She was stalked by that deranged husband for a number of years. And yes, maybe she developed an attitude. But, she did carry on, kept faith, and made many friends. She’s lived in Tennessee, California, Wisconsin, and Kentucky, that I know of. I've been in touch with 3 of those friends from California (she lived in Sacramento for some time). They had nothing but love and respect for Liz. When I talked to her friend Meegan, I recognized a true friendship, accomplished because Meegan would not stop at the tough exterior, but persisted, invited her to her church, and from there became a dear friend, enough so that we both shared a few tears just at the beauty of such a tortured life being able to have friendship and love.
Well, Liz died alone, and left no family. But, she died in Christ, and left many good friends. I had to get to know Liz by her Facebook page, Linkedin, Twitter, and her friends - after her death. We are now friends, but later than I would have liked. I went to her gravesite on Monday. She is buried in Science Hill Cemetery, in the far back, in the indigent section. Her life deserved more, but she does have so much more, now. I said a prayer over her grave, something like this: “God, thank you for taking Elisbeth to yourself. Some of us have been quick to judgement of her, and have neglected her. Thank your for picking up the slack for us. Keep her soul in eternal peace; maybe the first complete peace her soul has known. Help us to do better.
Her name was Elisbeth Rooney -E-l-i-s-b-e-t-h- I want you to know that to say this:
Every person has a name, God knows their name; try to learn names.
And every person has a story, many of incredible pain, as Liz, but many of lesser pain and more joy. Either way every person is worth knowing, and every story is worth hearing. And never let the appearance or the attitude of a person prevent you from hearing them and loving them. God loves them, and HE knows their name.

Downtown Fellowship 3-13-19

December 29, 2016

Gender Revolution?


I've subscribed to National Geographic for years, but cancelled it today. On many occasions I have disagreed with them on some issues, scientifically and culturally, but still valued it enough to continue. A special issue "Gender Revolution" just arrived, and it covers all the different "variations" on gender (eg. a person who is "tri-gender"). A television special is to follow. Our culture has attempted to overrule our biology, and NG has been happy to advance this evolution (it is NOT a revolution). Their thesis is not science, as they purport, but is the very definition of unnatural. It is the agenda of humanism.
There are biologic facts about humans that define two genders. Simply stated, and ignored in our culture: only females can reproduce, and they can do so only by males. Yes, we have artificial means of reproduction, but they do not change the natural requirement for a zygote derived from a female and a male. Neither can surgery change gender, though egotistical surgeons sell this lie. Do you really think the intricacies of human anatomy can be so drastically altered by surgery as to duplicate the natural? They cannot.
If each person, and by extension, culture, is to define - or redefine - gender identity and gender roles, then there is no end in sight to our madness. If NG accomplishes anything useful with this issue, it is to demonstrate the unending variations once the door is opened. There are surely people who have psychological variance from the natural; they are important, their dilemma can be real and even painful, but they do not change biology. The easy course is to redefine gender to meet our desires or world view, rather than deal with the very complicated issues. Biologists know that altering biologic systems can be disastrous, even if the effect takes years to realize. In all species, there is a pattern for reproduction and all students of biology know reproduction is part of the definition of living things. But, ironically, the only option not available in these discussions is that of maintaining the biologic imperative, because there can be no absolutes in the humanistic/atheistic view.
If you think this is only a magazine and maybe harmless, remember that our children, in our schools and media, have already been influenced by these ideas in other areas of sexuality. If we are biologic machines without meaning or purpose, the humanistic agenda is right, and literally “anything goes”. There is an alternate world view, and if we are designed with a purpose, our choices do matter.

August 01, 2015

George Harrison - a life that keeps giving

George Harrison 8-1-15 by Alvin Perkins

A few weeks ago I woke with George Harrison on my mind. He died in 1952, when I was 1, so we didn’t really know each other well. But, what little I do know of him, from word-of-mouth and from his family legacy, makes me proud that he was my grandfather. I knew I needed to share a little about him today; he has affected all of us. Whether you carry his DNA, or you have been grafted into the family, you can’t escape his influence. This year is the 120th anniversary of his life.
George was born in 1895; he died when only 57 years old. He was known to be intelligent and completely devoted to God. He was a hard worker, which was the only kind of work here in those days, hard work. He apparently worked all his life in the coal mines. In the late 1930’s, when work was non-existent due to the depression, he did get a soft job. The WPA built a small library at Meadow Creek and he was the librarian. My mom told of going there with him as a little girl; both she and he were fascinated with books and education. This affected her all her life; she was an avid reader and pursued further education while raising our family. In turn, her influence (and Grandpa George’s) affected some of us with a love of books, learning, and the Bible.
He was known to be very knowledgeable on the Bible. He was apparently a gifted teacher, as well. We can see this influence in Eugene, Harvey, Carl, and Jimmy, and others. Several years before he died, he suffered a stroke, and was left with paralysis on one side. You can imagine the difficulty to go on, but go on he did. He continued to work in the mines, and he was at every church service. Of course, they pretty much had to walk everywhere, but he did so, basically dragging his bad leg along with him. Even when it was raining and muddy on the dirt roads of Jacks Fork, he limped along, devoted to his family and his God. George was a Methodist, and Lillie a Baptist. He was welcomed to teach Sunday School at Jacks Fork Baptist Church, but could not be a member without their baptism. It seems this troubled him (or Lillie) little. He possibly understood better than most, what the words of Micah mean, to “walk humbly with your God.”
My dad knew George well and his love of God and his righteousness were noticed. When a young married man, my dad went to church with my mom (the daughters, especially, carried on the faith), but was not a believer. He came under conviction that he needed to come to the Lord, and struggled greatly, refusing to give in. God was pursuing him. One day that stopped. It wasn’t a good thing, though, when he stopped feeling the call of God, and felt he had no hope, having missed the opportunity. My dad then began pursuing God. It seemed hopeless; In his agony he would plead with God, and try to pray, but nothing. He was miserable. One day in 1954 when he was trying to pray, he suddenly and clearly saw the face of George Harrison (dead for 2 years), who was just smiling at him, didn’t say anything. In that moment, my dad yielded to God, and felt the wave of forgiveness and peace that many of us know. He was saved, and the vision of George brought him to the right place to receive Jesus.
I know our world’s great wisdom and progress make God seem irrelevant or non-existent. In our day, when, more and more, people find all hope and purpose in humans, what we can do, and how we can make ourselves happy, George Harrison will continue to be a witness in your heart and soul. We have become very intelligent, maybe, but he was very wise. His simple faith is still the right way, and I pray we all will find it. The simple truth is still the truth.

July 04, 2015

Two Flags

Two Flags … won’t be flying at my house today, July 4th, Independence Day in America.

Neither the Confederate flag nor the American flag will fly at my house today. The Confederate flag has useful good meaning to some people, but it is so offensive to many Americans that it should not be used, and I never do. The American flag is a proud symbol, I display it every year, but as a small protest against our government I just feel I shouldn’t display it this year. Actually, the symbolisms of the two have come to tension recently.
I am proud to be southern born. Southerners have values and a culture that make us proud. We drink hyper-sweet iced tea and we have found that if you add enough sugar, rhubarb (otherwise unpalatable) can be made into a tasty pie. Well sugar and butter can make many things right. But, there is that ugly chapter of slavery, and the many decades of racism that can never be made right. The persistence of the Confederate battle flag is emblematic of the persistence of resentment in many southerners over the war between the States (Civil War). This was not a war to end slavery, but to abrogate states’ rights, in this case to secede. States joined the Union willingly; they should have been allowed to leave the union. The failure to allow this, and to pursue force, was the beginning of the loss of States’ rights, which is fundamental in the Constitution. We continue to live with the consequences today: a federal government larger and more powerful than intended or allowed by the constitution.
In the course of the War, slaves were set free, and I am glad for that. Slavery was unjust and a tragedy, it had to go, but it was already on its way out, and it could have been defeated in other ways. I wonder if some of where we are today might be different – disproportionately more people of African descent in poverty and incarcerated, for example – if peaceful means would have been pursued. The end does not justify the means, which was an unconstitutional exercise of power by the President and the federal government. Would that there had been a Martin Luther King type to lead the country at the time. Many Southerners are passionate about States’ rights, and the scars of the unjust war haven’t healed as of this day. None of that makes violence or racism right. I do think it has a lot to do with why the flag has persisted, as a symbol of defiance, not against abolition, but against the infamous war and the extreme punishment of southern states after the war. However, please take down that flag. You have a right to fly it, but if you love people, you will respect the offense it has become, and how it empowers racists.
States’ rights and constitutional government were further degraded recently when the Supreme Court struck down decisions and actions by several states over the issue of same-sex marriage. I won’t even argue their reasoning on the topic – and obviously they and the country were pretty evenly split on that – but marriage, which is a cultural institution, not a constitutional one, is rightly left to the states whether and how it should be regulated. The day before, they admittedly ignored plain language in a written law (ACA) and presumed the intentions of Congress to uphold the law. Many actions by the Court have been characterized as “activist”, going beyond their constitutional role. This continues to degrade democracy and the Constitution. Then we have the autocratic divisive Presidency, which could do so much to heal racism and political divisions, but does the opposite. Our congress is no better. The ongoing failure to cooperate in the best interest of the country is despicable. This is caused by career politicians who are more interested in re-election than in justice. None of the above would be acceptable to our founders, and shouldn’t be acceptable to us. Unfortunately, this is may be beyond recovery. Our vast entitlements, which reach almost everyone, assure that we will continue on the road to socialism. Our system is dysfunctional and we must seek the collective will to return to constitutional government and seek needed reforms. I am just not very proud of our government right now, so no flag this year. No amount of sugar or butter will help.

July 01, 2015

Marriage, Redefined

Marriage- it’s just a word, I suppose. The Supreme Court ruling that states must recognize same-sex marriage redefined the word, in order to apply the Constitution. It was a stunning moment, really, centuries of history and cultural norms seemingly overturned by the stroke of a pen. Many celebrated and many grieved, but the word and the institution had already moved very far from the ideal we thought we practiced. The fifty percent failure (divorce) rate, re-marriages, cohabitation, and various sexual freedoms had already changed the meaning of the word for the culture at large. For a minority, it remained a traditional, meaningful, and even sacred institution. In the aftermath, we consider what the effects will be, beyond the obvious of gratifying half the country. Celebrations continued - even the President giddily lit up the White House - but the grief is destined to continue for a long time.

Traditional marriage was not defeated or abolished by this decision (though the Constitution suffered another defeat). The real losers are our children. They will be faced with a confusing array of relationships as never before. More and more, children will be deprived of the traditional family, where they are nurtured and normal roles are modeled. This, of course leads to more confusion about gender roles and relationships. The adults got what they want; the children are left with the ongoing consequences. And of course, there will undoubtedly be more infringement on the rights of Christians and Christian organizations. Religious liberty will be sacrificed. It isn’t a great surprise to Christians; it is part of the ongoing slide to secularism/humanism.

Christians support traditional marriage, and do so from a different perspective. Understand, Christians are those who believe in, have a relationship with, and try to follow God, through Jesus Christ. As such, our world view and our paradigm are at odds with the rest of the world: We believe we must yield to the commands of God, even to the denial of self. Yes, this is foolishness to many; it is foolishness, unless it is true. Of course, our culture has evolved to favor self. The person is in center and first place. All choices are of equal value, with fewer and fewer exceptions. This world view is godless, by definition unavailable to Christians. Christians would do well to recognize that we are in the minority in this country, perhaps one-third, being generous. This is not a Christian nation; we should be happy we can be Christians in this nation. But, over the marriage issue, we are fairly evenly split, so it is not just a Christian issue. When I see such an even split, I understand there is a genuine difference of opinion, and try to respect that. We are not homophobes; we do not fear you. We do fear what our collective morality can do to our society and nation.

We should acknowledge that we Christians (and the we includes me) have failed to model what we preach when it comes to marriage, and also, especially, when it comes to loving one another, which is our second-greatest command. We need to take notice. At this time, we should see the opportunity to be more Christ like in loving others and to specifically take Christian unions more seriously. Pastors and churches should examine their wedding practices. The church needs to be involved from engagement through to the end. If the words “marriage” and “wedding” have become devalued, we can perform Christian unions under some other name in meaningful ways. We can do better, and we will. This is just the most recent moral slide; it is not the end.
Even in the governmental arena, options remain, and are already being exercised. This is the time when states need to get out of the marriage business. It is unnecessary for states to issue marriage licenses and perform weddings. Under the new definition of marriage, individuals can and should be able to declare their relationships with whomever or whatever they wish in secular society. People already marry their pets; their marriages must be recognized in the same way. I believe the government should not interfere with polygamy (and how else would “bisexuals” fulfill their compulsion?). Governments should do away with marriage licensing and do away with special treatment for married individuals. It’s the law; we have to learn to live with it. Let them have the word; it's just a word.

April 04, 2009


Activists for homosexual marriage have attacked the Mormon Church for promoting the passage of California's law to ban homosexual marriage. Many who consider themselves enlightened have attacked all who believe in traditional marriage as the norm for society or a tenet of their religion. It is easy to say we should all be open-minded and permissive of others' beliefs and practices. It is actually harder to stand for traditional mores, and especially religious beliefs, in the face of accusations of hate mongering.
Several factors are ignored by the "enlightened":
1. Heterosexual marriage (never before requiring an adjective) has been considered normal and homosexual activity abnormal throughout time. That is, social norms have defined accepted behavior. This is a request, an insistence, to redefine mores.
2. There is biological validity to heterosexual marriage - it can produce offspring. And then there is the anatomical design of the sex organs. Does that have to be explained?
3. The assertion that homosexuality is an innate biological drive can not be proven. Even if it is considered to be, it can be compared to other sexual drives that may be just as "biological". Whatever our drives or compulsions, we still have a choice whether we act, heterosexuals included. In fact, this issue has little to do with marriage, other than to enforce acceptance of a life style.
Why must these arguments even be made? For millennia there has been no issue. If mores are to be redefined - normal redefined - there should be vigorous debate. What is permissible in private between adults is quite another thing from redefining marriage. On one side there is a strong political-social force to make homosexuality acceptable. If one disagrees, one is a homophobe or hatemonger. There is political activism to effect laws in favor, to elect politicians in favor, and to define in movies and television the normality of homosexuality. The perfectly good word "gay" has been absconded; who could be against being "gay" (i.e., happy)? The promotion of same-sex marriage is more about legally approving homosexuality than about union; otherwise, why not civil union instead. This involves not only adults, but families, as well as the whole of society. Then there is introduction of children into same-sex homes. Does society not have a stake in this?
Religious views have clearly informed social mores through the centuries. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are together in proscribing homosexuality, and are largely responsible for our values concerning marriage. Religious views can be seen as personal, but they cannot be separated from our social view. There has been a movement in Christian churches to validate homosexuality and same-sex marriage. However, it is very clear that Christian and Jewish teachings (holy scriptures) do not concur with this movement. The various attempts to explain away the clear language is driven by a desire to conform to a desired behavior, rather than being submitted to the will of God, which is the method of Christ-followers. Paul wrote to Timothy that “…people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” There is no indication that the new covenant, according to New Testament scripture, changed God’s definitions of sexual sin, quite the contrary. What was changed is the manner in which we are to deal with sin. Therefore, Christ told the woman caught in adultery: “neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more”.

December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

The baby born over two thousand years ago is cause for celebration.
Merry Christmas!!
His remarkable life has affected the course of history by what he was. He continues to affect us today by what he is. No one can look at what he did and said and remain the same. We number ourselves among those who believe he is what he claimed to be, Son of God, very God. Therefore, Merry Christmas, in the spiritual sense.
So much, in the traditional and the commercial, is erroneous; we know that. But the basics are true, so the traditions can be useful if remembered in that light. Merry Christmas, too, in the traditional sense.
Al, Mary, Christina December 2008

December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

Four days before Christmas I was “in the Christmas spirit” and had a few errands to do. This involved going to 3 businesses- none for Christmas shopping, just regular purchases. In the “spirit”, I wished each cashier a merry Christmas as I left. Now, a few years ago, and for as long as I can remember, one of the special things of the Christmas season, was the little extra happiness in just about everyone as they wished each other merry Christmas. Yes, a few of them said it with very little spirit, but, I really think almost all sparkled just a little with the message.
From the three people to whom I said merry Christmas, I got back nothing (one did say “the same to you”). So what is going on here? Of course, it has become politically incorrect to mention Christmas in the business world; supposedly it also has profit connotations or why would businesses be so concerned about it? I have to believe many or most businesses have prohibited workers from using the term.
This is a sad loss. Just as there is no Christmas without “Christ” (‘mas, anyone?), there is no Christmas spirit without “Christmas”. So, we have a loss of a long tradition which still retained it’s meaning for many of us. Gone, gone with the seasonal excitement, the city manger scene, and Christmas caroling (what would you sing?). Yes, some of these traditions still hang on in places, but in the mainstream, they are gone.
For years, many of us have lamented the perversion of Christmas by commercialism, profits, parties, and everything secular (including the pervasive Christmas movies). There is no season of Christmas; many of us start our Christmas shopping months before, and stores have started marketing Christmas earlier each year – some of them as early as September, now. The economics are so large that stores expect and get their balance sheet balanced by Christmas shopping.
Maybe, just maybe, this change is not all so bad for Christians. It is sad, indeed, but Christmas is no longer what it was, anyway. What it has become is not what it was about. For years I have said maybe Christians should just quietly slip away from it; now that “Christ” has been removed from it, that might be something we can do. While many of the concepts of Christmas are holy for believers, the truth is we believe because of the whole package: Christ born, Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ coming again. The true value to us is the whole package. Any one part is of limited value.
So, let the secular world have christmas - or ‘mas, or “the holidays” - whatever they want to call it. Let them spend their money, party, overeat, and maybe do a few good acts for the season. I think true believers can and should celebrate everyday, in the Spirit, not just the Christmas spirit. It is the Spirit of Christ we carry that will deliver the gospel message to those around us. It is the Spirit that will compel us to give everyday, give of ourselves: Visit the sick, elderly, lonely, and hungry, and love as Christ loved. (see Matt 25:21>; Isaiah 58:6>)

August 11, 2007


Many days, each of us face issues that cause us to doubt our course or our strength. Whether we face physical battles or spiritual battles, something is often "advising us" to give up, to take an easier path.
It has hit home with me especially today (more below), but really, daily. Our work in Guatemala and our efforts at an independent fellowship here in Somerset, have both involved many blessings, but many "failures". Satan is all too quick to point out the failures. If you don't think Satan does this, we should talk. My simple adage is: God is responsible for the good, and Satan is responsible for the bad. This is simplistic, but true on two levels. It is right, in an active sense, much of the time, when we try to live by the spirit; it is right all the time in the greater sense, in a believer's worldview.
God has repeatedly had to remind me that he is still in charge, because Satan makes it so convincing that HE is in charge. Why do I still listen to him (Satan)? Well, Satan is an expert at this; he has been doing it a long time from the Garden of Eden, to the Garden of Gethsemane and on, to the garden at Loma Linda Farm.
When we were returning from Colorado Springs a week ago, we ended up stalled and waiting in the Dallas airport for 11 hours. …not a thing we could do about it. Was it Satan's work? I don't know, but after a difficult day, God reminded me of His presence in THREE ways just as we were finally boarding the plane.
Walking down the hall to the boarding gate, I encountered my friend from Guatemala, on his way to Kentucky. I knew he was coming; I had no idea through which airport or when. He had waited about 7 hours and was getting ready to board. What a welcome sight. Both of us long delayed, but united by the mishap, what are the chances.
While waiting at the gate, I started watching the sunset. What I saw, I had never seen before, an "upside-down" sunset. See the photo. No, it wasn't a "miracle" of itself; it was a miracle of timing. (The photo is attached, but more dramatic moments before.)
I had struggled all day to read CS Lewis's The Problem of Pain. I had struggled because, number one, pain was what I was in, and number two, because I just can't read in a noisy airport. Well, I finished the book while standing in the boarding line, and that WAS a miracle. And God immediately put the "pain" issue in perspective by these three gifts, all miracles of timing.

Today? As we labor and pray on about our efforts for a fellowship group, doubts and frustrations continue to come up. In the past few days I have questioned the validity of this calling. This morning, I asked God for a significant sign of encouragement (and, yes, it is ok to ask …remember Gideon). About three hours later I received an email from my mother. She had spoken to my Aunt Sue on the phone. Now, my Aunt Sue lives in Dalton, Georgia; I seldom see her, but know she loves the Lord. She was reading a passage on this morning and thought of me: II Chronicles 15:7. So I looked it up (you must do the same); now, just tell me, is God good? All the time.
Copyright 2007

June 21, 2007

The Morning

In the morning O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
Ps 5:3

Most mornings, about 6am, Mary and I walk around the farm. I keep a path cut around the perimeter of the pastures; it takes about 40 minutes, and it is always a little adventure. This is especially so with 3 excited dogs. The two "herding" dogs enjoy chasing the cows, and make sure they stay a herd. They don't have as much luck with the horses. Their success was even less with the first skunk the pup encountered, but it is especially hard to herd skunks.
Well, the adventure is the main thing. Steve said it must be almost a spiritual walk; it IS a spiritual walk. We see many beautiful sunrises over the hills, with a beautiful fog in the valleys. Today, I munched on fresh blackberries on the way. The mockingbirds have been especially active this last week or so. If you haven't listened to a mockingbird, you need to. They can sit and imitate other birds, in rapid succession; I never tire of listening. Those who count such things have counted up to 200 imitations by a single bird, and I assume they are pretty good at their imitations. They will sometimes even imitate human-made sounds. As well as being beautiful, it intrigues me: why? Someone probably has a good theory, but I really feel that God created many things just for his (and our) enjoyment. I really enjoy mockingbirds. If I am right, God and I enjoy some of the same things.
We have observed how it is easy to miss all these little blessings if you are always looking down to watch your step. And you do have to watch your step on a farm! The only practical way to take in the blessings is to pause, take time, look around, and listen. When we do, we are blessed, and we have a truly spiritual worship of God. This is what He enjoys; we enjoy it, too.
After our walking worship, we pray, lay our requests before Him. I believe he then hears our voice. Then we wait.