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Comments from the deacons bench - James C. Bell

I told you last week that I would share some old family stories that I heard as a boy growing up.

Actually, storytelling has been a method of teaching used by parents to instill moral values in their children, and to tell them about their family. Usually, in my family at least, they were tales of some member of our family doing some unbelievable thing or pulling a trick on some one just for fun.

My parents, and grandparents, told the stories and we-my brothers and sister, listened. My dad would tell us that being honest and trustworthy were two of the best things any one could do. He would illustrate his point by telling us a story or an experience either he, or his dad, or granddad, had during their life. He told us about his father being a doctor and going about the community treating sick folks.

My dad's job was to hitch up their horse to a buggy and go with his father to make a sick call. Back in the late 1800's there were few if any paved roads and travel was slow, particularly when it rained and the roads were so slick and muddy. He told us of going out on cold and rainy evenings and how hard he thought that was. His dad would treat the sick and tell them how to care for themselves.

Medicine, in those days, was between slim and none-not much was available and even if it were folks couldn't afford it. They used tried and true remedies like get plenty of rest in bed, keep warm and take herbs or tonics made from yellow root or sassafras root and drink plenty of water. I remember going to the woods with my dad and grandmother to look for sassafras roots. They made what they called sassafras tea and said it was a good spring tonic. I didn't like it and sure hated taking it. My grandmother thought chicken soup was the thing for a sick person to eat. She would go to a sick neighbor's home and stay for days, "taking care" of the sick folk.

My dad said it wasn't unusual at all for his 'doctor' dad to get paid in vegetables, or meat and eggs, or ham, and sometimes a promise of "I'll make this right when I get well".

These stories were of the teaching variety, but some were told strictly to make us laugh.

One of the wilder stories was about dad's older brother, Merab. Back in those days people worked hard on the farm all during the week and went to preaching on Sunday. It seems that Merab was especially mean and trouble just followed him around. One Sunday in Church he decided to sit on the side with the women and children. While the preacher was really getting into his sermon and the deacons were saying loud amen's from the deacons bench, uncle Merab saw a house cat coming close to him, purring and rubbing on peoples legs. As the cat came close to him, he took out his razor sharp knife and cut the cat's tail right off! The cat screamed so loud and ran thru the church bleeding all over people and it completely broke up the meeting! We would always laugh at this, but our mother told us to not ever do anything like this or we would get the beating of our life! I think they put uncle Merab in jail for that one!

When I think of old stories, I like the ones about Jesus best, how he came to save us and to provide a way our sins could be forgiven. It doesn't matter what we might have done, when we sincerely ask God to forgive us our sins in Jesus name, He will do it. Some folks think if they live good lives and try to treat others kindly then they will go to heaven when they die but the Bible plainly tells us we must believe in Jesus Christ and accept Him as our savior if we want to go to heaven. Read John 3:16 or Eph. 2:8, 9 to get this true message from the Book of truth, the Holy Bible. If you are not a Christian and you want to go to Heaven when you die, just ask God to forgive your sins in Jesus Name!