Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rejected From The Celestial Lodge???

The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated . . .
The Lodge I joined twelve years ago has a long standing reputation of having a great deal of fun at our meetings and events--and there are times when practical jokes are a big part of that.  And sometimes those jokes can be a little obnoxious.  Like when I took a trip to Washington D.C. recently. 

I've probably not missed more than a half dozen meetings since I joined.  As the Secretary for the past seven years, I'm always there.  But the dates of my trip made it necessary for me to miss our February meeting.  Apparently, me missing a meeting is such a rare thing to occur, that the members of the Lodge assumed the worse had happened.  I was apparently declared dead, and my photo was draped!  I got word of my departure from the mortal world while I was in D.C.  I'd imagine I'm the only Mason in history to have their petition for the Celestial Lodge black balled---because I'm still breathing!

Yeah, that didn't happen either . . .
Of course I don't think anybody at my Lodge actually believed I was dead--they volunteered me for several committees and a few work details since I wasn't there to decline.  Of course I don't think they really believed that President Trump declared February 10th a "National Day of Mourning" in my memory either. 

Sometimes you just have to acknowledge it when somebody gets you good.  And that was a good one.  Nicely played . . . but we're not done here.  I know who masterminded this prank.  I can see your reflections in the glass! 

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Setting Time Aside Each Day For God's Word

One thing I do almost every day is to set a little time aside to read the Bible--usually the last thing I do in the evening before I turn out the light.  Fifteen minutes to a half an hour is average for me, although I'll admit sometimes it can run far longer--especially on the weekends.  Sometimes I read a chapter, or sometimes I just browse through it until I come across something that catches my attention.  I have a really good study Bible that I use, with lots of notes and good introductions into each chapter--it helps put what I'm reading into perspective.  I enjoy that time a great deal--it's my quiet time.

I think a lot of people are intimidated by the Bible.  They believe they have to read it like a novel from beginning to end.  Some people do, but I don't.  It's 66 separate books, and that's how I view it.  It's not that intimidating--it's a big volume with a lot of small pieces.  In fact, you could read the entire New Testament in about 12 hours--it's actually shorter than most modern novels.  Many of the 27 books in the New Testament you can read in less than thirty minutes.  There are only four long books in the New Testament--books that would take you more than an hour.  Those are Mathew, Luke, John and Acts.  Actually, five of those books are super short-- you can read in less than five minutes!

Here's about how long it would take to read each chapter (I found this list on a Church of Christ website). 

Matthew 1 hr. 30 min.
Ephesians 15 min.
Hebrews 30 min.
Mark 50 min.
Philippians 10 min.
James 10 min.
Luke 1 hr. 30 min.
Colossians 10 min.
1 Peter 10 min.
John 1 hr. 10 min.
1 Thessalonians 10 min.
2 Peter 10 min.
Acts 1 hour 30 min.
2 Thessalonians 5 min.
1 John 10 min.
Romans 30 min.
1 Timothy 10 min.
2 John 2 min.
1 Corinthians 30 min.
2 Timothy 10 min.
3 John 2 min.
2 Corinthians 30 min.
Titus 4 min. Jude 3 min.
Galatians 15 min.
Philemon 2 min.
Revelation 50 min.

Even after thirty-some years of being a Christian, I don't consider myself an expert.  I still find new truths in the text almost every night I read, but I've never been one that could cite chapter and verse.  At this point, I read through those verses a lot slower than I used to--I really take my time and try and understand each scripture completely.  I read all the notes and citations.  I read side articles if available and look at any applicable maps that may be in my study guide.  I also enjoy looking up the related and parallel passages--that's the trick to really understanding the Bible is getting a good study Bible.  Study Bibles aren't cheap, but they are worth the money--get a good one and you'll only ever need to buy one.  I use the Life Application Study Bible.  I've had a few study Bibles over the years, and the Life Application Study Bible is the one I've gotten the most out of.  You'll find it in any translation you may want--King James, NIV, etc.  But there are several out there.  Go to the bookstore and have a look at them, and find the one you like the best. 

One thing I have learned from the Holy Bible is that it contains everything you need to know about life--everything that matters anyway.  How we should live.  How we should interact with each other.  How we should conduct ourselves.  What is right and what is wrong and what we should value most.  There is no better rule and guide for how to live your life.

So don't let the size of the book intimidate you--once you become familiar with it, you'll understand it's actually organized in easily digestible pieces, and it's written to be understood.  And the more you read it, the more you'll gain from it. But remember-- a Bible is useless on your shelf. 

And one more piece of advice--if you're over forty, spring for the Large Text.  Believe me, you'll be glad you did.

~Todd E. Creason

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Behind Every Active Mason . . .

"My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me."

~Winston Churchill
Studholme Lodge No. 1591, England

When I petitioned my Lodge back in 2004, my wife was concerned about the amount of time I might be spending there.  I told her exactly what I'd been told--it's basically one meeting a month, and the occasional pancake breakfast.  Five years later I was Master of that Lodge and an award winning Masonic researcher and writer of two books by that time.  And don't forget the blog I'd started that was just taking root called The Midnight Freemason--I named it that because I used to stay up half the night writing up pieces for it.  Of course I've added a second Lodge to that to which I'm currently Master, Scottish Rite, York Rite, Shrine, Allied Masonic Degrees, etc. 

As I return from a five day trip to Washington D.C. for Masonic Week and realized today was Valentine's Day, I was reminded of just how much patience she's had over these last twelve years when it comes to the time I spend on the Craft.  And, by the way, that was my second "Masonic" trip this year--in June three of us from my Lodge drove to Washington D.C. with a memorable stop-over in Gettysburg, PA.

To say I've spent a lot more time being a Freemason than I thought I would in the beginning would be an understatement.  I didn't realize the impact my decision to join a "men's fraternity" would have on my life.  In fact, it has changed both of our lives . . . for the better!   I've become a better man, and my wife has wound up with a lot better husband than the one she married.  And she knows how important it is to me.  When I spend hours researching and writing, traveling, attending meetings, etc., she's been nothing but supportive.  And many times she's joined me on these trips, along with my youngest daughter.

So I hope all you Masons out there remember your wives today for Valentine's Day.  Remembered how much we owe them for allowing us the time to be involved with the Fraternity, and lavished them with gifts.  Without their support, we couldn't do all the things we do.  And we also have to be honest in admitting that Freemasonry is a lot more rewarding for us, than it is for them.

So think about that a little bit.  If you didn't do as good a job saying thank you on Valentine's Day, it's never too late to pick something up for her, or to take her out to a fine meal at her favorite restaurant.

I'll never forget what one of our member's wives told me not long after I joined.  She told me, "not all Masonic Widows have buried their husbands.  We just don't see them very much!"

~Todd E. Creason

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sometimes No Help Is The Best Help

I wrote this back in 2013, and it was originally published on The Midnight Freemasons.  I thought I'd repost it today because the topic comes up again and again.  This still seems to be one of the leading complaints of new members of our Fraternity.  So take it for what it's worth. 

When you first become a Master Mason, learning ritual is a very different experience. First of all, it's important to learn it word-for-word. Second, it's written in arcane language that hardly rolls off the tongue in the beginning. Third, it's important not only to memorize the words and to be able to recite them, but it's also important that you deliver the words in such a way as to make an impact.

It was a major effort for me to learn my first short speech. I learned the words, I worked on being able to say them clearly, and I worked very hard to make sure that I delivered them in a manner that would make an impact on those individuals receiving the degree.

And I almost never did it again after the first time.

I'd been over those few lines of ritual a hundred times that day, and was feeling very good about it. It was a short paragraph, maybe six or seven sentences. I knew I had it down, and I was pretty happy with my delivery. It was my first time, and I wanted to not only make a impact on the candidate, but on the other Masons in the degree my first time out.

It came my time, and I gave the first couple lines, just as I practiced them. After the second line, I paused, just as I practiced, to let the words sink in, and as I started to deliver the next line, three Masons in the degree jumped in with the next line in the ritual before I could say them. When I paused, they thought I was stuck--they didn't realize it was for dramatic effect. It threw me, and of course one of the three had offered the wrong next line. I got confused, and the next four sentences which I'd worked so hard to learn evaporated in my mind. I had three different Masons trying to prompt me clear to the end of my short piece of ritual, and I couldn't hear any of them because they were talking over each other. It turned into a trainwreck. I didn't think it would ever end.

It was embarrassing, and afterwards, one of the "helpers" came up to me smiling. "Good thing I was there, huh?" In his mind, he'd saved the day. It was all I could do not so say something.  To say I was ticked off would have been an understatement--I'd worked really hard on that short paragraph. 

I see it all the time. There's a lot of Masons that know the work, and they are always anxious to help out when somebody drops a line. They mean well, but it's not at all helpful when it turns into a free-for-all every time somebody giving ritual takes a breath. Not to mention the fact that it ruins the solemnity of the ritual.

I like what my lodge does, and it's a good policy to have. Any time we have degree work, the Master announces in the beginning who the prompter will be, and asks that nobody else in the lodge "help." And the prompter in my lodge (usually me) doesn't offer help unless the person delivering the ritual looks to him for a line. I've done it many, many times now, both in my Lodge and in the Scottish Rite. What I've learned over time, is that more often than not, if somebody gets stuck, if left alone, the line will come to them. If not, a quick glance towards me and they'll receive the aid they need. And it's very rare that I've ever had to prompt anyone.

So remember that. Always exercise restraint in offering aid. Very often, offering aid where none is asked causes more harm than good.

~Todd E. Creason
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