KEYWORDS: people, things, thing, train, time, lot

Life's Railroad

David Berg

DO 24141/88

1. Who wants to quit? (Maria: Nobody!) Anyone want to give up? (Fam: No Sir!) PTL! TYL! I was thinking about all our problems & all the blockades & hindrances the Devil tries to throw in the way of what the Lord wants to do. Satan can't stop us as long as we don't stop, but he tries, & it's the Lord allowing us to be tested to see if we really want to go on!

2. And an old song came back to me that my Mother used to use as an illustration, an illustrated message. She had a big table built up behind the platform or behind the stage, a big slanted board as long as this room & about as wide! And she put a model train track on it, with a model train winding around. It got people to come hear what they needed to hear, it was an illustrated message! You had to persuade people to come out & hear what they needed to hear, like you usually do. They don't usually like what they need, they like you to give them what they don't need. Anyhow, they'd come for that & she'd keynote her sermon with that.

3. She was quite dramatic, a real actress, & just before she'd come on stage they'd turn out all the lights & just put the spotlights on this big model train track & they'd start the train moving. It would go around like that & they didn't know what was going to happen. Then she'd come out & say, "Now this is the way God wants things to run, He'd like to have things run nice & smoothly, & the way we'd like to have them run, no obstructions, no obstacles, no problems."

4. Then she'd say, "But this is what the Devil does"—& she'd put various obstacles & impediments on the track.—And she named them all kinds of vices & everything. They'd be big enough to have a nice big sign on them, "Selfishness," & this, that & the other, to try to obstruct the track. Then she'd say‚ "Well, this is what the Lord allows the Devil to do, to test you to see if you're determined to finish the journey!" She'd go one by one to each thing & preach a little sermonette on it, how to get rid of this vice & that vice & this thing & the other thing & take them off one by one until finally the train could go all the way around the track.

5. When they first turned down the lights & turned the lights on the little electric train running around the track, she'd have the choir sing this song. I don't know whether I can even still remember it or not, I was just trying to remember the words this morning. Maybe you remember it & you can help me out, Honey, you're an old-timer.

6. Amen, PTL! Hallelujah! TYJ! Help us, Lord! Thy Will be done, You know what's best. Lord have Thy way! We can't do anything‚ Lord. Without You we can do nothing & we can only follow You, Lord, & grow in Thy Vine, we're just the branches. Unless You do it‚ we can't do it, Lord. You've got to do it. It's your job. We're just Your tools & instruments, servants‚ just obeying Thy Will. (Sings:)

"Life is like a Mountain Railway

With an engineer that's brave.

We must make the run successful

From the cradle to the grave!

Watch the fills‚ the curves, the tunnels,

Never falter, never fail!

Keep your hand upon the throttle

And your eye upon the rail!

Precious Saviour, Thou shalt guide us

Till we reach that blissful shore

Where the Angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forever more!"

7. PTL! It's funny that whole thing came to me & the picture of that railroad. It's so like what the Devil tries to do. If one thing doesn't stop us, he tries to throw another trick, & if that doesn't stop us, he throws another obstacle, if that doesn't stop us, he throws some other nasty trick. If he can't get the World to stop us, he tries some of our own people that are supposed to be helping us, throwing division & all kinds of things in the way!

8. Wanna quit? (Family: No Sir!) You might have to stop temporarily while you move the obstruction out of the way, but if we keep moving & keep throwing the obstructions out of the way, even if we have to stop temporarily to get out & throw'm off, then we can start again & make some more progress. It kind of slows us down, but at the same time the Lord is testing us to see if we really want to go through with it—how much faith have we got, how much are we absolutely convinced that it's God's Will, how much do you really want to do it, how much do you really believe it has to be done, or at least you have to try.

9. "All things work together for good to them that love the Lord" & are trying to work for Him!—You just have to keep on pluggin'! God's Word not only calls the Devil the Accuser of the Saints (Rev.12:10)—a lot of time he uses that, & people call it self–incrimination, guilt complexes & all kind of things‚ but it's actually the Devil, he tries to accuse you to yourself.—But He also calls the Devil the Hinderer.—1Thes.2:18. To hinder means to cause it to be difficult, to slow down, to put obstacles in the way. But He never calls the Devil the stopper! He can't stop us if we keep going! Of course, once you're started, that's half the battle! Well begun is half done. There's a lot of truth in that.

10. So, we have started! After you're started, then it's very difficult to stop you, especially if you keep knocking those things off the track, & sometimes you've even got to knock people off the track because they won't get on the track & they just hinder & give you problems, so sometimes you just have to knock'm off & chug–chug-chug keep on going!


11. They used to have recitals when I was a kid. There was no television, no radio, the only entertainment there was, really, was in church, unless you were a Worldling, & then you went to the theater, stage theatre, all kinds of crazy Vaudeville & foolish silliness. That was mostly just up in New York & the big cities, you couldn't afford it anyhow.

12. But we had a travelling road show that my Grandfather used to go with & they called it the Chautauqua. It was not a circus—they had those too, they had to travel around & take everything with them—but this Chautauqua was a travelling lecture series & they also had entertainment, music. My Mother & her brother used to play cornet duets together in between lectures to keep people happy. And they paid to see these things because there was nothing else—what else was there to do? Where else was there to go?

13. Church was one of the regular weekly entertainments that they could enjoy on Sundays, so they had to make that as palatable as possible with a lot of music‚ etc., especially during the offering. The offertory was sort of like the dentist's Novocain. The organ music & choir music during the offertory, that was the best of all, that was really good entertainment. That was the Novocain to ensure painless extraction. It wasn't exactly an offering, it was a collection! You didn't exactly so willingly offer it, they just went around & stuck the plate under your nose & you had to give or else!

14. So that was about the only kind of entertainment for so-called Christians & church people. Of course, to be a good Christian you had to have good works & to stay saved you had to keep saved by going to church & not doing this & not doing that & not doing the other thing, your religion consisted of the things you didn't do. So the only entertainment that dear poor Christians could get was in church, & they got more entertaining all the time!

15. At first it was good music & singing etc., & if they had a good entertaining joke-telling preacher he could entertain them a little longer, & the painless extraction‚ of course, just before the sermon etc., until finally you were well-assured that you were still a Christian & still saved & still going to Heaven & you could go out the door with self-confidence that you had earned your salvation for another week. So that was the entertainment.

16. There was no radio, no television! I can remember as a child when the first radios came out & we got our first radio. As I recall‚ it was a Philco. They even made it look like church, it was like a stained-glass window‚ sort of like an arched box with beautiful decorations & woodwork. It was a masterpiece of beauty with the speaker on top & the dial down below. We got one of the latest & simplest, where you only had to turn one knob to find your station.

17. The first radio I ever saw belonged to Brother Haas, he bought a Crosley‚ a long box about so long, about so high, about so thick, full of great big glass tubes about that big that looked like light bulbs. Those are the things that the new transistors have taken the place of, little bitty tiny things‚ & now tiny little chips!

18. So the radios have been reduced from this size....oh, the speaker wasn't even in it, the speaker sat on top of it & was a big horn with a bell about this big! It looked like a French horn, except it didn't go around quite so many times. It just went up, & out like this, & around like this‚ you've probably seen pictures of them. So it was quite a contraption, very big & heavy. And it had 3 big knobs on the front. Of course, you had another one for turning it on & for volume etc., but for tuning‚ to try to find a station, you had to operate 3 huge knobs. He'd tune this one a little bit, & this a little bit more, & this a little bit more, & oh, the racket it made, the squeals & the interference & the static!

19. It reminds me of some of the things we get out of some of our people we have to work with—especially right now, kings & queens & princesses & whatnot! They squeal & they squawk & they make a lot of static & a lot of racket, but we have to keep fine-tuning them & keep manipulating a little bit & try to adjust things a little until we finally get on a nice clean clear channel to the broadcasting station, so we can hear nice beautiful music!

20. That was the first thing, it was mostly music, then they began having a few clowns & comedians on the air. I remember one of the first ones was the Quaker Oats Man‚ they called him. He came on at breakfast time to encourage you to eat oatmeal! He was an old Texas singer, one of those very clever talented types who could make up a song just at a moment's notice. He had read the paper before he came to the studio & he sat there & practically composed it right on the air: (Sings:) "I see by the paper the flood is flooding again, rum-pum-pum, ba-da-da-da-da-dum, pa–rum–pum-pum-pum–pum!" Or, "There were mothers clinging to the treetops with their babies in their arms! There were others wading in the water‚ all sorts of alarms," etc.! (Maria: You could have done it!)—Ha!

21. It was really something! I'm remembering the actual songs, that's how much they impressed me as a kid! I'd sit there & they'd always turn the radio on for breakfast to hear the news, & he'd come along & sing the news first, & then the announcer would come along & give you the actual facts. But it's amazing how versatile he was & how ingenious he was to be able to do that!

22. So church was just about all the entertainment you could get before that, & even when radio came along it was hard enough to get that. So to have this illustration with this board & train track & all was quite an attraction. This is a lot more fun than going to the average church. My Mother was clever about that. I think she got a lot of those ideas from Amiee Semple McPherson because she was one of the first to really dramatise sermons like that.

23. They didn't even have television yet, but they were talking about it, so she presented television! Amiee had a huge stage where she even staged operas that she wrote herself, beautiful operas, all kinds of Bible operas & Bible dramas. After all, she was in a dramatic city, Los Angeles. Actually she was out in Echo Park, which is part of Hollywood‚ & she was extremely dramatic. She was a huge woman with a voice like a foghorn, which they had to have in those days! They didn't have any amplifying systems or microphones or anything like that until later. They sort of came along after the radio. Once they found out they could pick up radio waves & amplify them, they found out they could use microphones to amplify the voice.

24. Theodore Bikel was my vocal teacher when I was in high school in Santa Ana. He must be quite an old man by now. He was just a young fellow only a few years older than I was then, I guess in his 20s, & I was a teenager. I suppose he's gone now, but some of the movies still carry his name as "musical arranger," etc. He used to sing with Jeanette MacDonald in some of these movie musicals that came—this is all much later, I'm jumping over—& he said if she hadn't had a microphone you couldn't have heard her at all, not even in the movie, she had such a little tiny voice. She was a little tiny woman‚ beautiful, delicate, refined type.

25. Up to that time all women singers as well as men had to be huge monstrous things with enormous voices. If you can imagine the Metropolitan Opera House, they had to fill that thing up with their voice without the benefit of any amplification whatsoever! This is one reason the British are so much better at dramatics & plays & much better in the movies than the Americans. We've gotten to where we can hardly even understand the Americans. They mumble & stutter & stammer‚ especially when speaking in modern American which is almost incomprehensible anyhow, especially with all their latest words & slang they've developed during the past 20 years, we don't even understand hardly half of what they're saying!

26. But thank God the English are proud of their language & they've kept it English, especially upper classes & actors etc. And they speak loudly & distinctly & you can understand & hear what they're saying. I'd much rather see an English or even a Canadian movie, they can still speak English & speak it plainly & clearly & distinctly. And imagine, they had all those years without any microphones or amplifiers or anything & they had to shout, they really had loud voices!


27. I remember the first stage play I ever saw that I snuck away to go to! Can you imagine how I could have gotten away with it? Of course, my Mother was a career woman, & she thought somebody was watching me, & they thought she was watching me & everything else! So I got on my little scooter, a little two-wheel affair where you put one foot on it & you push with the other foot, & I took off to see Indianapolis!

28. Mother was preaching there at the great Cadle Tabernacle, you may have heard of Cadle but probably not. He's long dead & gone by this time. But he had a great Tabernacle, & that was another great center of entertainment. After the churches these great evangelists began. They were great actors, really, great performers, I mean really showmen, including Amiee. She was a showman if there ever was one!

29. They could attract thousands & this great Tabernacle held 7,000 people, & my Mother packed it out! When the people got tired of hearing the preacher‚ the pastor, they kept inviting a string of other performers called evangelists, & they came. They came with this & they came with that, they came with music, they came with movies eventually, first slides, & all kinds of entertainment to bring in the thousands. And they were big business, just like the TV preachers are today who have audiences of millions.

30. Well, I took off on my little scooter one day, a nice bright sunny day, Summertime in Indianapolis, & I decided that I would like to go down & see the Tabernacle. I heard my Mother was down there, so I thought she would certainly be happy to see me, I was 7 years old, about Techi's size. How I got out of the house & they didn't see me, I don't know, but I did, & I got on my little scooter & I took off!

31. It was about six miles, I didn't know exactly, but I thought I remembered how we went, following this big main Boulevard, & I was about right. I had a tremendously keen sense of direction, I guess I was born with it, you can hardly ever get me lost. I can almost always tell you what direction things are. So I had a good sense of direction & I took off & I followed this big boulevard that I'd noticed we always came up & down to go back & forth every day or every night. I had practically memorised the route‚ so I figured I could find it, & I did!

32. The only problem was that on the way‚ when I got downtown there was this huge theatre, & I thought, "Well, my Mother won't mind if I sort of delay things a little bit, she doesn't know I'm coming anyhow, let's see what this thing is anyhow. It says it's the Bologna." The Bologna was the title on the big Marquee up there. I'd seen a few movies with my folks‚ so I thought it was a movie!

33. In those days the admission was very cheap, especially for children, sometimes they let'm in free. Usually the price was 10 cents. So I had a little change in my pocket, I got 25 cents a week allowance, & I had saved a little. The only time I ever got really down & broke, I'll never forget, I just got desperate to see this movie & I'd run off‚ snuck off, & all I had left was the dime that Rockefeller had given me in his little church at Ormand, Florida. I finally sacrificed & gave up that dime to see that movie! I don't know whether it was worth it or not, I don't even remember what it was! But that wasn't this occasion, that was a movie in Miami.

34. But anyway, I saw this thing & I thought it was a movie. "Bologna, I never heard of that! What is Bologna?" Well, I think you know what that means, it's Italian for baloney! If I'd known what it meant, I probably wouldn't have even wanted to see the movie! It was a comedy & a lot of crazy Vaudeville stuff.

35. Anyhow, I went up to the ticket window & I can remember this distinctly: I was so small & so short I couldn't even see the top of the shelf. But I saw it was only ten cents for kids & I stuck my dime up there. And she looked down at me, they always looked down to make sure you weren't over 12‚ because by the time you got to be 12 you had to pay full price, 25 cents. So I stuck my dime up there & she looked a little bit surprised, here I was still pushing my scooter. She said, "Well, you'll have to park that over there‚ you can't take that inside." In those days you could park things anywhere.

36. —As Ruth Bryan Owen Rody said, the daughter of William Jennings Bryan, when she was asked why Socialism worked in Scandinavia & wouldn't work, it seemed, anywhere else: She said‚ "I'll tell you why! I can go park my bicycle downtown on the street anywhere, & I could come back in a week & it would still be there!" That's why Socialism works in Scandinavia, because the people are honest & they do what's expected of them & they do their share.

37. Anyway, I gave her my dime & she gave me a ticket. They didn't have a machine then that they came out of, they just tore a ticket off a big roll of tickets & gave it to me. And I parked my little scooter there & I went inside & sat down. And here were these people screaming & yelling on a big stage! I'd never seen anything like that except in church! I'll never forget this one woman particularly. They had a theme song: "It's the Bologna! It's the Bologna!" I'll never forget that!

38. In other words, it was a spoof, a sarcastic thing making fun of politicians & the government & the System etc. I don't know, maybe that's where it started! They sang, "They tell you this & that, it's the bologna! They tell you so–&-so, it's the bologna!"—In other words, it's a lot of baloney! I didn't know what she meant, I didn't know what it was all about, all I know is it was sure funny seeing these grown adults up there acting like little kids & yelling their heads off & singing these silly songs that I didn't even understand!

39. So I very soon got fed up with it & I wasn't really that interested. But I remember they had the loudest voices, they could really yell! They had to! It was a big theatre auditorium there, matinee, it was in the afternoon, not very many people, I'll bet there weren't more than 50 people there. I was sitting in the back, I was afraid to go any closer. I was kind of sneaking in & sat in the back, I knew I wasn't supposed to. Anyway, I soon got tired of that & I got up‚ & it's a good thing I did probably‚ because I would've been really late if I'd stayed for that thing. It was still a sunny afternoon, I got out & grabbed my little scooter & took off!

40. And I actually found Cadle Tabernacle! I was smart enough to stop & ask a few people. I didn't know exactly where it was, once you got downtown it was kind of complicated. I'd just say, "Where's Cadle Tabernacle?"—& they'd point the way for me & look at me kind of wondering, "What in the World is this little boy wanting to go to Cadle Tabernacle for at this time of day!" So I took off & I got there & I was quite proud of myself that I had gotten there, all the way, six miles! I didn't know it was six miles then‚ but they told me that later.

41. So I got off my scooter & I wheeled in & they had offices going full blast all day long‚ of course, a big work like that, secretaries & whatnot. I wheeled in & there was the receptionist & she looked at me in absolute amazement. She looked around & said, "Who are you with?" I said, "I'm by myself!" She said, "What are you doing down here?" I said, "I'm down here to see my Mother!" She said, "Well, I'll get her right away!" Ha!

42. I really didn't realise I was doing anything so wrong. The only thing I thought I did that was probably a little shady was going to that theater for awhile, & I never told her about that. In fact, I never told anybody that story until now! I don't think I ever told you that, did I, Mama?—About going to Cadle Tabernacle, yes, but about the theater‚ I don't recall ever telling you that. Well‚ I've had a long life. That's one thing about Grandfathers, they live so long they've got a lot of stories!


43. Anyhow, all that to say that that kind of entertainment like that little model train track was a great attraction, anything to attract people, & Mother really used it! Really vividly! I'll never forget! You remember 80% of what you see, & only about 40% of what you hear. Now you dear folks, of course, are accustomed to really listening & absorbing & concentrating‚ so I hope you'll remember more than 40% of what I have to tell you!

44. But it worked! I can see that yet, I'll bet I could draw you a picture of it! It was really vivid! And it was so good she left that whole setup up there for a couple of weeks so the people could see that every night. It had been a lot of work, they made it with hills & tunnels & buildings & it really looked pretty. You've seen these model train set-ups, they really are fascinating! They still have men who play with those things.

45. She used my model train that Mrs. Whitney had given me, the lady who owned the White Laundry & Dry Cleaning Establishment, the biggest one in Miami‚ a very rich woman, the one who financed my Mother & insisted she buy a tent for her after she saw the crowd coming & people getting healed etc., you've heard the story. She's the one who came down & said, "We've got to get you a tent that will hold a couple of thousand people! This is not going to do it!" So Mrs. Whitney bought the tent. I'll never forget riding in her swanky limousine when I was a little kid.

46. She took pity on me & decided to give me this electric train that her grandson had grown up & no longer needed. In those days the tracks were that wide, with a middle rail, & the cars were that wide, big ones like that, this long, that high! And the engine was a great big thing & heavy as lead. You ran the whole thing with electricity through a transformer, you had a switch that you could speed it up or slow it down. I had a great time with that thing for awhile in that old mansion on Bayshore Drive!

47. But like most kids, toys get old & you lose interest. That's why it's so ridiculous to spend very much money for toys. Little kids can almost get as much fun out of a stick & a tin can, or more out of a little cat‚ live playtoys, than almost anything. They buy all these expensive toys for Christmas, the kid will play with it probably all Christmas day‚ throw it aside & forget about it & that's it, the novelty wears off, especially if it's just a mechanical toy. The kind of toys the Lord makes & intended for kids to enjoy are like little kittens & real animals, they just love those! Our kids love their kittens & fish & chickens, etc.!

48. But that held people's interest for about a week or two, & she left it up there to remind them of all those things, & she'd often refer to them even during her Sunday morning message. These big illustrated sermons were usually Sunday night & they'd pack the place out with 5‚000 people at our Tabernacle in Miami. But what else was there for people to do?

49. Movies were just getting started & they were called the Flickers!—And you can understand why if you ever saw one‚ if you've seen one of these old Charlie Chaplin movies. I'm surprised that they've made'm work as well as they do now, they don't flicker like they used to. Of course, the reason everything moves so fast is because those were taken in the silent days, & when I was a grown young man this was still the policy, silent movies ran at 16 frames a second, sound movies ran at 24 frames a second. So when you showed a silent movie on a sound projector, if it couldn't be slowed down, it ran a lot faster. That's why the Keystone Cops & everybody's running around fast & everything, even in the Newsreels everybody's running around fast.

50. I'll never forget after World War 1, this is post-World War 1 era, I saw this news movie & it showed all these people in France, in Paris‚ running around real fast & cars running fast. Of course, amateur news movies were nearly all taken with silent cameras‚ black & white, & they showed this black-&-white silent movie of Paris, that showed these people all running around real fast & these little cars running around real fast, these little cars that Americans laughed at anyhow. And the guy said‚ "I guess the reason they're running around so busy, is they're trying to earn the money to pay us back all the money we loaned them!" Because after World War 1 Europe was deep in debt & the U.S. had to try to pull them out of the whole mess they were in & loan them a lot of money which eventually they never repaid, the same thing after World War 2.

51. You say, "So what, Dad? Time is short & we've got to hurry & you're talking about all these silly things!" Well, you'll remember the picture! Oh yes, there was this guy dressed like the Devil & people would knock things off the track. They had one pretty girl up there, she was supposed to be the engineer of the train, but actually she couldn't be in it, the cars were only so big, she was using my old train. But at least she was up there sort of like an angel. The train would stop & when my Mother gave the signal she'd remove the blockade, these hindrances. Then after she was gone the train would start up & go again. Then sometimes this guy dressed like the Devil would come up & put it back on again. The trains go round & around like this, so when it got back there, there it was again! (It'd make a good skit!)

52. Did you ever have that experience with some people?—Just when you think you've got it all solved & you've got them straightened out & they have repented & they promise not to do it any more‚ they say they'll ask you next time & they'll consult next time & they won't go ahead on their own next time. Then the first thing you know, it's just their habit, they have a habit of being their own bosses & doing as they please, so they don't even think about talking to you about it or having prayer with you about it! Thank God, sometimes they do. But it's those other times when they don't that they usually cause trouble!

(—DO YOU?)