“George Alto!” “What’s wrong with George Alto?” I winced as I stood facing mother in the front room of our house.
I figured I was in trouble because I was one and a half hours late getting home from school, but I didn’t think she would be this upset–but, when she met me at the door and I saw that fire in her eyes–I knew that I had crossed the line.
With one sweeping motion, that only mother could perform, she reached out and took hold of my arm, drawing me into the house as she fired a command to George, who was already retreating across the yard.
“Go home George!”
I thought for sure that I saw him jump and quicken his pace a little, as those words hit him. Something like the dog in your yard does when the rock you just threw zings by him.
“But Mother, I don’t understand, why you don’t like George Alto.”
By now it was a mixture of fear and anger as I stood in front of “Col. Viola”. I knew I would probably get a whipping for disobeying the rules, but how could she take my friend George away. It just didn’t make sense to me, after all George Alto was the coolest guy at Gulf Ave. Elementary.
I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. I was just now being accepted in school because “Cool George Alto” had decided to take me under his wing and chose me as a friend.
Everybody in school knew who he was. He was bigger than me (which wasn’t very hard to do) and had the neatest clothes of anyone I knew. and besides all of that, it really meant something when someone two grades higher than you became your friend.
Well I struggled for awhile against the current, but I knew it was a losing battle from the start. Mother said that my attitude had changed since I had met George and I had brought home some new words that were not acceptable to our household. And, she knew where I had picked them up from–George Alto!
Well, as you might know, that was the end of my relationship with old George. Oh, I saw him a few times in the school yard, and we talked a little, but I knew that the decision had been made for me and somehow, even at that young age, I would rather have peace at home than friends in the school yard.
You see, that little 4 foot 11 inch blonde Swede that I called Mother, knew something about the principles of God and life that I hadn’t learned yet, and that is that bad company will pervert good morals (I Cor. 15:33) and evil or wrong counsel will change the course of a life.
It was only from the perspective of an adult that I could really see just how much control that my mother and father did have over who spent time around me, and just who it was that would influence their young son.
Come to think of it, all the trouble that I ever got into in those years was when I went past the boundaries of their approved list of “known associates”.
For instance, like the time when I was seventeen and “cute Susie Q” calls the house for me.
What did mother do? Tell her not to call back, of course. How was I supposed to know that this girl was “bad news” and if let go, without any discipline and guidelines, that bad news would rub off on me and influence my life toward destruction.
A shocking thing to realize is that, if we don’t have strong principled parents or bold pastors, it may take half a life time for most of us to come to the understanding that the words we hear and the people that we fellowship with influence us far more than we influence them.
In the Old Testament, the greatest gift God could give a king was the security of seasoned men who gave wise counsel.
However, in the New Testament age, the church where we are living in now, the most important decisions that a person makes is choosing wisely the people that they place around them, those that will be the voices of counsel speaking back into their lives.
This is why the body of Christ, especially the local church body, the one you are committed to and are growing up with, is so important to the safety and well being of your future.
You just cannot afford, for your health and spiritual sake, to allow words of counsel that are motivated by fear, unbelief, rebellion or gloom, to enter and remain in your thinking.
After all, that is what Solomon means in Pro. 23:7 when he declares, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
Just imagine that dear friend, it’s not really what you are, that makes the difference in your success or failure but rather it is what you think you are, that affects your final outcome.
This is what is meant in Pro. 4:20 where the scripture says to “Give attention to my words, incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes.
Keep them in your heart
For they are life to all who find them.”
Perhaps the most active “spiritual rule of thumb” that I live by is this. The truth will set you free, and a lie (any form of truth being perverted or diluted) will bind you up.
Not one of us ever makes a decision in a vacuum, or in other words, without the influence of someone or something else. My plea with you today is that you allow God’s Spirit to make sure that those influences on you are ordained by Him.
There is a phenomenal story in II Sam 10:18, of young King Hanun from Ammon who had the misfortune of lousy counsel.
It seems that after his father, the former kind had died, that King David of the neighboring land of Israel, sent a delegation of men to King Hanun with gifts of kindness.
When the young inexperienced king ask his counselors what they thought of it, their advice was that it was a trick and the men were really spies.
They took them and cut off their beards, then cut off their clothing up to their hips, and sent them home in shame.
As a result of this stupid counsel, a war between the two nations developed and when David the “anointed killer” was through with them, 47,000 from the nation of Ammon lay dead.
Paul tells us that at the time of chastening or correction it seems hard, but at the end of correction there is peace. (Heb. 7:11)
There was no possible way as a child, standing there before my mother, that I could know the complete reasoning why she was cutting me off from “George Alto”, but somehow in my young mind I was able to “endure the chastening” because it was for my own profit.
Make sure the one next to your ear is plugged into the Lord.
School Yard Hero