Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My grandfather's passing: his work

My grandfather worked on the railroad. The railroad is more than a job, it's a way of life. Recently, he recorded an account of a day he spent on the railroad. So, here he is, in his own words...

My longest work day

June 2, 1939 I was working at the S&C Hoe factory when I got a call from the Santa Fe Railway asking if I would go to the Arizona Division and work. They needed experienced men. Of course I would! The railroad payed $5.75 a day and the Hoe factory, $2 dollars a day. I had to go to Needles a day. The next train for Needles was arriving at 10 AM and I went to the office to check in. Although I was there and available, they couldn't use me as a fireman because I had been off more than six months and had to write the Book of Rules before I could work. OK, and I started, but it takes me three days to write the Book, so I wrote until 5 PM when the office closed till Monday morning. It looked like it will be a long weekend for me.

I went to bed about 9 PM and at 1 AM Saturday morning, I got a call for an engine messenger job at 2 AM. Just time enough to get dressed, get something to eat, and get to the round house to get on the engine that will take the train. An engine messenger rides on a dead engine in a train so whenever the engineer sets the brakes on the train, the engine messenger can keep the brakes off the dead engine. The reason is that all engines have tires on the drivers and, if the tires get too hot, they will come off the wheels and derail the engine. Why a dead engine in the train? They had worked on it at Needles but found the job too big for a round house and needed to get to a shop. The nearest shop was at San Bernardino. All the side rods were off the drivers so the engine could not be moved faster than fifteen miles an hour. We were all coupled up and ready to go by 3 AM. At that time, all train crews were limited to sixteen hours a trip, so the crew out of Needles had to set the dead engine out of the train at Ludlow and make a dash for Barstow.

Engine messengers are not covered by the Book of Rules so are limited by the sixteen hour law and I had to stay with the dead engine until we got to Barstow. The next train going to Barstow picked up the dead engine and we arrived at 10:05 PM, twenty hours and five minutes on duty when I clocked in. and was told to goto the Depot. They were holding a train for me as I was needed in Needles. Since I had made a paid trip on the Santa Fe, I was on their roster and could be used in any service as a fireman. I got on the train and dead headed back to Needles where I was already cleared for a helper to Yampi, Arizona. I got back at 7:30 PM Sunday night, forty hours and thirty minutes on pay.

After a nights sleep I was at the office door at 8 AM to see what was next and I was handed my Book of Rules and told to get on the next freight train going to Bakersfield as I was needed in Bakersfield arriving at 8 PM. I handed in my Book and was assigned to a 11 PM switch job. After about six hours sleep I went to the office to find out when I could write my Book. They said 8 AM to 5 PM five days a week, but I also need to write the Southern Pacific Book of Rules as Santa Fe used some Southern Pacific tracks over Tahachapi Mountains. I wrote both Books and worked until June 25th when I was called back to Los Angeles.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

My grandfather's passing: an inheritance

My nephew has posted a great tribute to my grandfather (his great grandfather) expressing the spiritual inheritance that he received from him. You can read his post here.

David Robison

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

My grandfather's passing

Last Wednesday, February 13th, my grandfather passed away. He was 93 years old and had served the Lord for 84 years. A few years ago, my grandmother passed away (you can read my blog posts here). He is now in heaven with her and his Lord and is now receiving the reward for a life well lived. A few months ago, grandpa committed to paper a few stories from his life, one about how he came to know the Lord. I hope his story will be a blessing to my fellow readers. So, here is his story in his own words...

How I met the Lord

I think I should introduce you to my family so you can see my need of help. My parents were married in 1900. My dad was 35 and mom 25. My dad in his growing up years went to school through 4th Reader [what ever that means], and helped on the farm and supplied the wood stoves with plenty of copped wood. However, in his chopping, when he came to a knot in the wood he would chop it out and throw it into his wood pile. It seem that at some time he moved out of the house and was sleeping in a three sided building detached from the house with a fire pit at the open end. He could be inside and the smoke would go outside, and he could read and study by the light of the fire as he had a desire for more schooling and he took courses by mail. Between this time in his life and married life, he seemed to be a free spirit as I had a railroad rule book of his from Leadville Colorado.

My mom never went to school a day in her life and could not read or write when she got married. Dad taught her after they were married. Mom did not need to be educated. She would get married, have children, and keep house for some lucky man. She stayed home and chopped cotton.

My parents had seven children very well spaced, two to two and a half years apart. I'm number six, and am told, a slow child, not walking till I was almost three. I don't remember any books in the house but the Bible, a doctor's book, and two or three books against Catholicisms. Mom and dad read the Bible every day and on Sunday I was sent to the hotel [the only place open] to get the Sunday Examiner. They read the paper and I read the funnies and the "scandal" section. To my knowledge, I was never taught anything by my parents, they never went to church or talked church. One time my mother took me with her to a night Spirit meeting.

Enough family, how I met the Lord. A summer day during brake at school, I was lying on my back on the lawn at 984 Second Street in San Bernardino when a stairway formed in the sky. I could see figures moving up and down the stairway. I was nine years old and I wondered what it was all about. I knew enough about churches to know they dealt with a man who lived in the sky so I started checking them out. There was a church on H Street about two blocks from us that has Sunday School at 9 AM and church at 10 AM and I could come. It took a couple of weeks before I talked to mom about going and taking Oleva, my younger sister, with me. We liked it and went back for a year until we moved.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

The Word and the whole person: Dt 11:18-21

"You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth." (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)
Reading these verses, I began to wonder what was the difference between impressing God's word on our heart and on our soul? In several places through out the scripture, God speaks of various parts, or facets, of who we are. For example, listen to the scripture Jesus quoted in the Gospel of Mark. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30) Jesus' mention of the heart, soul, mind, and strength are consistent with this scripture from Deuteronomy when you consider the imagery of "a sign on your hand" (strength) and "as frontals on your forehead" (mind).

Many people have endeavored to categorize the various aspect of the human person and to assign them to divisions of who we are, typically: body, soul, and spirit. While such distinctions may be useful as aids to understand some scriptures and our relationship to them, I am becoming to believe that, from God's perspective, we are not divided people (body, soul, and spirit) but rather whole people who are both body, soul, and spirit. For example, I am a son, a father, and a brother. These are three distinct aspects of who I am. However, you cannot separate any one of them from the others. At all times, I am all three, yet I am one person.

I think care must be taken not to take such imagery from the scriptures and extend them to doctrines that embody distinctions not intended by the scriptures. For example, doctrines that would seek to assign emotions as operating in the realm of the soul, or perhapses to the flesh. Emotions are part of the whole person, they are part of who we are: body, soul, and spirit. I believe that these scriptures do not intend to provide distinct divisions in who we are but rather are meant to convey the totality by which we must love, server, and obey the Lord God.

In the mentioned scripture from Deuteronomy, I believe that what Moses is trying to convey is our total need for the word of God. The word of God must be appropriated and integrated into all of who we are. Every aspect of our lives should, and must, be affected and influenced by God's word. Jesus concurred when He quoted from Deuteronomy, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4) God's word should form the basis of all that we are and all that we do. It should be central to our lives and our relationships. It is the word of God that gives us life and separates us from the world and, lest we forget, it is the word of God that also saves us.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. And the Word became flesh , and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1-2, 14)
David Robison

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A new kind of land: Dt 11:10-12

"For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year." (Deuteronomy 11:10-12)
I believe that this verse prophetically foretold about the difference between a life lived under the law and living under grace. Moses was reminding the people that the land they were about to possess was not like the land they left some forty years earlier. Their former land only brought forth its provisions by the sweat of their brow. They had to work the land for all they were to receive. If they did not work, they did not eat. Day by day they labored to provide for their daily needs. The promised land, however, was a place where God labored for them. They were going to inherit houses, farms, and vineyards which they neither built nor planted. It was a land that God Himself cared for and tended. The blessings of the land were to be theirs, not based upon their own labors, but based upon the riches and grace of the Lord. They were about to receive an abundance for which they had not worked for.

The same contrast can be drawn between a life under the law and a life of grace. John tells us that Moses brought forth God's laws but Jesus His grace. "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) The law taught us that, if we would do all that was contained with in it, we would live by it. The blessings of the law were reserved for those who, by careful observance, faithfully kept all the law. Only by fulfilling the entire law could someone be reckoned righteous before God. Grace, however, reckons us righteous, not because of our own efforts or works, but because of Jesus' efforts and His death on a cross. Under grace, righteousness is given to those who do not work but rather believe. "Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work , but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness." (Romans 4:4-5)

When we become a Christian, we move from the kingdom of law to the kingdom of grace. Our righteousness cease to be based upon our own works and is now imputed to us by Christ, based upon His substitutionary death for our sins. We are received as sons, not because we have proved ourselves as worthy bur rather because He has declared us to be worthy. And we enter into a rest, a rest from our own labors, a rest purchased for us by God. "So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest , so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience." (Hebrews 4:9-11) Thanks be to God for His sabath rest.

David Robison