Saturday, June 18, 2011


Friends, tomorrow is Fathers Day, so I thought I would re-issue this article. it is a little long, but I hope interesting. You may especially enjoy the links (let me know). Perhaps it's educational.  God bless you all.

Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Ephesians 6:2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

                                   The Command and the Promise
Are any of us going to doubt Paul’s apostolic authority? If so, you may as well quit reading right here and go watch TV or something else. If we are willing to be taught by the Word of God, we have to admit that this man, who had been called Saul of Tarsus, a persecutor of the church, yes, even a persecutor of the living Christ (see Acts 9:3-7), was a transformed man. We have to admit that after the miracle of his conversion on the Damascus road, this chosen vessel of the Lord became an apostle with as much authority as Peter, James and John or the rest of the apostles.

When Judas was revealed as the son of perdition, the original remaining 11 disciples voted on who would take Judas’ place. They chose two men: Joseph Justus (called Barsabas), and Matthias. They prayed about it. Then to “elect” an apostle, they cast lots, and the lot fell on Matthias (see Acts 1:20-26). But God had His own election from the foundation of the world, and chose Saul, who was later to be the Apostle Paul (see Acts 9:15). Matthias and Joseph Justus may have been wonderful Christians, but you never hear of either again.

In Ephesians chapters five and six, Paul is laying out the relation of marriage to the church; of children to parents; of parents to children, etc. He is speaking with apostolic authority, and he who has told us in Galatians 3:11: “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith”, not only repeats one of the ten commandments, but emphasizes that there is a blessing for New Testament Christians who obey it. Why does he do this? Because even though: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us--” (Galatians 3:13), we still as Christians, led by the Holy Spirit, have commandments and teachings we are to follow with the help of the Spirit. Otherwise there would be no need of the any of the epistles of Paul, John, Jude, Peter, James etc… Remember 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

So, though we are not under the law as a covenant, we have law woven all through the New Testament. Every one of the Ten Commandments (the moral law of God), is repeated in the New Testament in some way. We are not under the law’s curse, if we are Christ’s, but we are not without commands, and instructions in righteousness. We are under the law to Christ (see 1 Corinthians 9:21). For the believer “His commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).The law on the tables of stone condemns lost people. It has been broken by them. They are lawless. They are condemned by the law. That is why they hate His commandments.

We who are Christ’s have the law written on our hearts. His law is our delight, much like the psalmist in Psalm 1:2. Mt. Sinai no longer holds terror for us. Our substitute (Christ) paid the price for our having broken God’s law. So, Old Covenant or New Covenant, we cannot get away from the Commandment to honor our fathers and mothers. As sinners we rebelled against this, but after we become Christians we submit with joy. Jesus said: “this is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

                                           Honor to Grandfathers

When I wrote about my grandmothers and my mother on Mother’s Day, I had a text that spoke of Timothy’s grandmother, Lois. (See 2 Timothy 1:5). The Bible does not have the word “grandfather” anywhere in its pages. But “fathers” can, in context, mean grandfathers, or other earlier ancestors. In the article, Mothers and Grandmothers (Word of Truth Vol. 6, Issue 11), I told you a little about my paternal grandmother, and my maternal grandmother. I knew them both pretty well when I was a young man. With this article, I have no such advantage with my paternal grandfather. My father didn’t even know him. He died when my dad was only two years old on October 27, 1910. You may remember in Issue #11, I told you grandmother was married May 8, 1906. My grandfather Charles B. Woodruff was only with her for four years, and then he died. I was named for him, but I know so little about him. What I do know is from the family Bible, and my own limited genealogy study.

Charles B. Woodruff was born on July 14, 1886 in Atlanta. He was a railroad switchman, following after his father, John Matthew Woodruff, and his grandfather, Joseph Pinckney Woodruff, born December 19, 1834, and died July 8, 1901. Joseph was an Atlanta pioneer, and a conductor. The railroads built Atlanta, and after the Civil War the railroads really prospered. John was born June 14, 1863, and died in a horrible train wreck in Atlanta on July 26, 1905 at age 42. The Atlanta Constitution article I retrieved from July 27, 1905 told of two other men who were killed, and two more that were wounded in the tragic wreck at Oakland Ave in Oakland City (an Atlanta suburb at the time). John’s wife (my great-grandmother Camy), was the sister of Atlanta pioneer George Washington (Wash) Collier’s wife. As I said, Charles died in 1910, five years later. Ironically, he also died in a train accident. The Atlanta Constitution for October 28, 1910 said my grandfather was 26 when he died, but his birth and death dates which I got from the family Bible and his tombstone prove him to be only 24 years old!

My grandmother, Lillian, was a good Christian woman. They attended the Baptist Tabernacle in Atlanta. She told me in her own words that she felt the reason Charley (her name for him), was dead was because he took the pledge before God to never drink alcohol again, and he broke that pledge. I do not know if she is correct. I know if God killed all of us who promised, or vowed something to Him, we might all be dead! I just know that it is a serious thing to make a vow to God. We take it too lightly! It is only by His grace that more of us are not already dead! It is a chilling thing to look at that actual signature, signed by Charley Woodruff in the family Bible, at the same time realizing that it is the only direct connection I have with my grandfather. I saw a photo of him once, but I don’t know what happened to it. Was he a saved man, one of God’s elect? God is the righteous judge; only He knows.
                                    Honor to a Good Step-Grandfather

Actually, William C. Seivers of Somerset, KY was the only paternal grandfather I knew. A career army man, he and my grandmother married just before World War One. He was a non-commissioned officer; a Master Sergeant. He retired in 1934 after serving 28 years. I have a memento, an engraved watch he received when he retired in Brooklyn, NY. I treasure it, as I do his memory. He took up time with me when we were able to visit Somerset, KY, his home town, where he retired. Several times he would give me good advice about living clean, and obeying my parents. I do remember, he, being an army man, liked to shoot a little pool.  We used to take walks to town together, about a mile from his home, and one day when I was about 11 years old, he and I dropped into the local pool hall and had a coke. I don’t think they even sold beer in that town around 1953. Anyway, he showed me how to shoot “eight-ball” and “rotation”. My grandmother, who could get riled sometimes, gave him a real scolding for “teaching Charles bad things.” A pool hall of all things.   (ctrl +click to view) (the pool hall is somewhere in the town circle). The drive-in theater (which I believe still exists), is about a quarter mile from my grandparents house at the time.

Grandfather Seivers had some serious health problems in his later years, and he died March 23, 1959. We had spoken about the Bible a few times. I remember he seemed to be a Christian man. The Somerset paper announcing his passing said: “Sgt. Seivers was a devoted Christian, and had been a devout member of the First Baptist Church since his return to Somerset. He was faithful in attendance as long as his health permitted.”     
                                                  Honor to Big Daddy          

As I told you previously, Big Daddy (my maternal grandfather), was a large man, especially his hands. They were big. The only person I have seen with hands as big was my late son, Chuck. Big Daddy was born Robert Henry Lee Smith on May 22, 1897 in old Milton County, GA. Some recollections say Cherokee County. They are adjacent counties, part of what was the Cherokee Nation until 1838 when the U.S. government removed most of them to Oklahoma in the infamous Trail of Tears. Big Mama was born in Cherokee County. Her father (my great-grandfather, Joseph Biddy), was a Cherokee. His wife was California Worley; so-called because she was born the day California became a state.

A number of Cherokees were able to get away from the forced march in 1838, and began to try to blend into the growing white society, and one such was Joseph Biddy. One reason for the mistreatment of such a civilized and peaceful tribe as the Cherokees was Andrew Jackson’s despising of all Indians. He treated the Creeks and Cowetas who once lived here in Coweta County the same way, if not worse. So my ancestry is English, Scotch-Irish, and Cherokee. Then Big Daddy always alluded to Black Dutch which can mean anything! Study it for yourself
The Smiths were English, but I gather from what Big Daddy said there was some Germanic ancestry also.  That is usually the true meaning of Black Dutch. Well, we are what we are. Big Daddy was a great influence on me in many ways. He loved his grandchildren, and there were 14 of us. They used to live in the Grant Park area of Atlanta when they came down from Cartersville. I mostly remember them living off Howell Mill Road in NW Atlanta on several acres that was still rather rural, with a creek running nearby, a big pasture for their horses, and one medium size house, and two smaller houses on the property. We used to walk and talk while Big Daddy fed the horses. He also had several old cars that didn’t run that he was going to fix “one day”. He called them “hacks”.

Remember, Big Mama was my miracle Grandmother. Big Daddy was my miracle Grandfather. He worked for Georgia Power Company. Sometime during World War Two, he was on a power pole connecting a line when he accidentally touched a live wire. A few thousand volts of electricity hit him, and he fell off the pole to the ground. He wasn’t breathing, and his heart was stopped according to those who found him. They tried to do what they could. I am told this went on for 15 minutes, and then he started breathing again! They took him to the hospital. He recovered, but his insides were burned pretty badly. After that there were a number of things he was not supposed to ingest. One thing especially was alcohol. Before that I understand he had been a heavy drinker, and a rather mean person. But, he did not drink alcohol any more!

I never saw him mean. He was always gentle and a lot of fun. He could be forceful if you didn’t obey, but not mean. In the 50’s and 60’s, he loved to watch old western movies on an old black and white TV. He called them “Shoot’em Ups” I remember seeing Lash LaRue, Bob Steele, John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Sunset Carson, Harry Carey, Don Barry, etc., etc.. He loved those old movies and western series like Have Gun Will Travel, and Gunsmoke. I guess that’s where I got some of my love for the western. The ones of that day were pretty clean and decent with moral standards that allowed you to know who the “good guy” was                           --    --
My grandparents always had a big portrait of FDR (you know who that is, don’t you?). The portrait was right over Big Daddy’s bed. They had lived through the great depression, and as far as Big Daddy was concerned, Franklin Roosevelt saved the country. He wouldn’t hear it any other way. Like most southerners at the time, they were die hard Democrats. In 1964 when I was first old enough to vote, I voted for Barry Goldwater, a Republican. I thought Big Daddy was going to disown me! He was mad at me for quite a while for voting for one of them  ##**** Republicans! After all, Herbert Hoover was “The Devil!” Nixon was “Old Nick!”

Well, times were changing on Big Daddy and Big Mama in ways they could never imagine. There was a huge city growing all around them, engulfing them. The old Atlanta was really “Gone with the Wind”. Now, it practically runs continuously from Macon to Chattanooga!  In the Early 70’s, as a bow to progress, mostly with his own labor, Big Daddy finally had an indoor bathroom. A “shack out back” had served for years!

This reminds me of later when I was doing courier deliveries. I stopped at Lost Mountain Store near Dallas, GA. There were some old guys there around a cracker barrel talking. I had stopped for directions to my residential delivery. I heard one of the old guys say, “I can’t stand cities. I need wide open spaces. Atlanta is getting too big. I am glad to be here in the country. The city will never get out this far.” Well, as it turned out my delivery was less than one mile away in a large subdivision. I was thinking to myself how it was already changing since the last time I was in the area. I really wondered how long the old guy had. That was about 1995. I don’t know if the old guy lived to see it, but that area is shopping centers, traffic congestion, subdivisions, all the evidence of city growth, and listen to this: the old Lost Mountain Store is still there! But, now it is a facade, as the entrance to a huge new bank that bought the property. It looks like you are entering an old country store, but you’re not. That is similar to the way things changed for my grandpa    (You can see the Lost Mountain Store as it was. When you get to the site, just scroll down. Other interesting paintings also).

Big Daddy and I talked about the gospel a number of times after I was saved. He said he was saved, and a Methodist. He used to kid me a little about baptism, and how we Baptists liked to dunk people. Big Mama would take my side. His eyes were bad then, and he couldn’t read much. So, I read to Big Mama loud enough for him to hear, and he would often join in Bible discussions with us. When time to go home he would always say “Y’all stay awhile”. “Come back to see us.” “What’s your hurry?”

I hope I will see him again. He died on March 8, 1978. I had the honor, along with my pastor at the time, Bob McCurry, of speaking at his funeral. I think it was the first one I ever helped conduct. I’ll always remember Big Daddy.

                           Honor to My Father on Father’s Day
My father, Theron Miles Woodruff, was born August 9, 1908 in Atlanta, GA. That’s a real English name, isn’t it?  As stated he was two years old when his father, Charles B. Woodruff died. So he was raised partly by his stepfather and his mother. Then, because Mr. Seivers was an Army man, when World War One came he was overseas part of the time. Grandmother lived in Europe some of the time, and generally it was difficult to raise two young children in those conditions, so his mother’s parents, Oscar and Sarah Taylor took care of the children plus four of their own. So, in 1923 at age 15 Dad wanted to leave home, and managed to get in the Navy by lying about his age. He spent eight years in the Navy, so he was 23 years old when he was discharged. He got to see Greece, Australia, New Zealand, and much of the world. For a while he was assigned to the President’s yacht in Washington. He learned many things in the Navy; one of the greatest was how to cook. Dad was a great cook; better than Mom. She would tell you that herself if she were here! After the Navy, he went to New York and worked for a time. He told me he met a girl there that he was going to marry, but she broke his heart. Working in the haberdasheries of New York City, he said finally he decided to come back south where the weather matched his clothes better!

He met mother sometime in late 1938. He was 30 years old, she was 16 years old! When he came to Big Daddy, and asked to begin dating my mother, Big Daddy was sitting on the porch of their home in Atlanta. He said” just a minute”, and went inside. He came back out with a gun in his hand! He pointed it at Dad, said some bad words, and Dad ran. Then Big Daddy laughed. It was a toy gun! Later, he agreed to let dad date Mom. They got married in July, 1939.  I was born a little over three years later. Dad was 34 years old, and Mom was 20 years old.

The age difference really showed up between Dad and me when I became a teenager. We didn’t do things together much anymore. When I was young he used to take me to Ponce de Leon Park to watch the Atlanta Crackers play baseball.  .Yes, this was before the Braves came to Atlanta. They were the AA farm team for the Milwaukee Braves. They also had more championships than any other minor league team. I think they still hold that title. There is a shopping plaza on Ponce de Leon Ave. in Atlanta where the park once was across from the Sears that once was. The Sears is now Atlanta City Hall East. The railroad that was one of the ball park boundaries is still there. When I pass by there on occasion, I can still see in my mind some of the fly balls hit out for home runs. The legend is the longest homer in history was hit there by outfielder Bob Montag. It landed in a railway car and rode all the way to Nashville and back!  

In 1966 the Braves came to Atlanta, Dad followed them regularly. He always rooted for them and during his life they only won one division title; in 1982, the first year they had division play in the major leagues. He never got to see them go to the World Series. I wish he had.

Dad liked to drink his beer, and sometimes really overdid it. He used to cook huge pots of Brunswick Stew or Chili for state officials, and even Governors. He worked for the FAA and sometimes they would have parties. He drank, but he provided for his family. He had a great work ethic. He was good with a budget, paid his bills first, and then would spend. Mom was just the opposite. Spend first, ask questions later! Sometimes I have felt a little schizophrenic; I seem to take after him a little and her a little! When I was young, even as a teen, he would take me with him to his favorite Barbecue joint, and we would stay for hours. I would play the jukebox, and drink a Coca-Cola for every Budweiser he drank! I guess that’s where I learned to love Coke.

After I was converted, I would come over and share the gospel with him. He claimed he knew Christ, but had gotten away from Him. I know he told me (as Grandmother Seivers was), he was a member of Atlanta’s Baptist Tabernacle. He was an usher, maybe even a deacon. Something happened there. When I would try to discuss it, he would clam up. That’s how he was about a lot of things, until I became a Christian. He began to open up just a little then. I did not think my talks and witnessing were getting anywhere, so for a time I quit talking about Christ with him. After 3-4 months he asked me one day, “Why don’t you come over and talk about the Bible anymore?” I was overjoyed to hear this. God must be convicting him. As I traveled in my ministry, I remembered where I did my first traveling to places like Savannah, Miami, Panama City, Pensacola, and Louisville, Kentucky. It was with him. I thought of him, and prayed for him as I traveled all over the nation, and the world.

So many things change in life. When I was a rebellious boy of 16-17 years old, one evening Dad asked me to say the blessing. He always had a blessing before meals, and always the same one. I had been influenced recently by a friend who said he was an agnostic (an “honest doubter”). So I thought in my cocky way that being an agnostic must be cool. So when he asked me to pray I said, “Why should I pray? There is no God!” I thought my Dad was going to floor me. He said “don’t you ever say that in this house again!” I argued with him, said he didn’t believe either because he didn’t live like it. Then I stomped out and stayed gone most of the night.

That night changed a few things. I must say, although I was wrong to ever disrespect my father that way, kids watch what their parents do. I saw hypocrisy in him. He was saying it, but not living it. Yet God brought to light a marvelous journey for both of us that night. A journey He had planned for us before the foundation of the world. As I was out walking on the streets of Atlanta that night, something took place. A beginning, really, of something wonderful. I was upset, so I had to ask myself some questions that I couldn’t answer. I wanted to know “was there really a God?” I asked Him, ignorantly, something like this. “God, if you really exist, give me some guidance. You know I used to go to Sunday School and church regularly. Friends have laughed at me for reading the Bible, and now I’ve left all that behind. Now, I have insulted my own father. I want to know, God, do You really exist?”  My answer came that night, as I looked up at the most beautiful starlit sky you could ever see in a city. It came to me, “Who made all those stars? Did they just evolve -- pop into being?” Suddenly I knew that could not be true, and I sensed a presence I had not felt in years, maybe never as strong. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

That night actually was four or five years before I was saved, but I never doubted there was a God again. I apologized to Dad the next day. He seemed surprised but accepted my apology. The next few years brought Dad’s retirement. He had his second “mild” heart attack, and some other physical problems. I got married in 1962 and started a family. Dad still didn’t want to be too close. That was really his way, however. He was not inclined to come visit any relative, or draw close. As I grew in the Lord after I was saved, I began to try to grow close to him. As I said I would witness. He seemed to dislike it, then after the question he asked about why I did not talk the Bible with him, I knew he was getting interested. I gave him a Bible. The last five years of his life, we got closer. He told me he had repented, but I wasn’t real sure. Then in the final year, when he was dying of liver cancer, he told my wife, Sandra, that he was ready to go. He knew that Jesus Christ was his savior. I rejoiced in that! The last days of his life, we were closer than we had ever been. He left this world on August 26, 1984. I thank God I have confidence I will see him again. I love you, Dad! This is for you!
In memory of William Seivers, R.H.L. Smith, and Theron Woodruff. You each taught me many good things. I trust I will see you all again!

By Charles Woodruff -June 18, 2006; revised June19, 2009, and slight revision June 11, 2011.



Marianne Lordi said...

What a great story teller you are, Charles. I felt like I was right there with you as you described growing up and Big Daddy! I never heard anyone up here in the Midwest call anyone Big Daddy or Big Mama. Must be a southern thing. I really enjoyed the story and I think you had a great family.

charles said...

Well, I am no Mark Twain or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but I do pretty good blabbing on family. Hey, down here we have them all; Maw Maw, Paw Paw, Nanny, Nannaw, Pops, Poppy, Pappy, Grandpa, Grandma. Then some Northern people that moved here brought Grammy, Gramps and I don't know what else. But I had a Big Daddy and Big Mama. Sho nuff! God bless you, and thanks!