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Texas Charm School Lesson 4

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Recently a nameless preacher referred to the land of my birth as bumpkinville.  The wife was a little put off.  I told her, “Bless his heart, he doesn’t know any better.”  Then, the other day, a different fella referred to rural folks as bumpkins.  The country gentleman to his right quickly corrected this uncouth behavior.

These instances have made me realize that a Texas Charm School Lesson is in order.

Texans sometimes use pejoratives as terms of endearment.  This often contributes to the confusion.  But in such cases, those pejoratives are in fact endearing.   But the use of these pejoratives in a demeaning manner can be insulting to people of rural backgrounds.  Therefore using terms like hayseed, bumpkin and redneck should be approached with the same scrutiny given to racial slurs and vulgarities.

Often the insulted individuals will be moved to educate the offender.  The manner of this education grows progressively less pleasant depending on the severity of the offense and the temper of the offended.

Now many offenders will be confused by the nature of the language I have used.  So, let me put this in terms that are easily understood by the pseudo-urbane.  Watch your mouth city boy, or one of us country bumpkins will be forced to teach you some manners.

Adios Hermanos

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Living in the big city is strange.  It seems my group of friends have a high turn over rate.  They move away.  Our circumstances change.  New folks come along.  It is all part of life in the big city.

About seven years ago, I became a part of a prayer group.  It was a small group of fellas from one class in one church who met one morning a week.  We discussed life, the Bible and lighter things over breakfast.  The people in that group changed.  Eventually I had to give it up because of the family schedule.  The remaining fellas all go to a different church than me as well.  I can’t wait for a change in schedule that gets me back in.

Brad was pretty much responsible for starting the group.  He seems to start them wherever he goes.  He and his family have blessed me and my family more than they will ever know.  He is moving away to a different town.  I hope God uses him there to help somebody that needs it.  Brad has a gift for that.

Some folks just have a gift for cheering folks up.  Biggs has a contagious sense of Humor and a knack for getting your mind off of your troubles.  He is one of these people that everybody seems to like.  He is also faithful to a fault.  If nobody else showed up to our meetings, Biggs would still be there.  That was okay by me too.  Breakfast with Biggs is a good way to spend my time.  Biggs is moving back to Houston where he grew up.  Houston will be a better place for it.

Let me say this to my brothers.  May God cross our paths often.  May He bless you and your families with lives worth living.   May we all have health, prosperity and purpose.  Goodbye for now.  I would watch you ride into the sunset, but you’re both going the wrong directions for that.

From unusual places.

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Most cops gravitate to Glock like teens gravitate to Nike. But this was not a Glock. The custom grip sort of stood out. The brushed finish stood out too. I wanted to get a look at it. So as we both filled our cups I asked, “Is that a tactical light or a laser sight?”

“Dude, its both! You gotta see this!” He popped off the strap and pulled it from the holster. Two other customers gasped as he brandished the pistol. I didn’t expect him to do anything until we left the building.

I know I sound like a real gun geek here. But, this was cool. I had never seen a police officer carry that nice of a pistol before. It was a custom job made in Grand Prairie. I know practical shooting competitors that own them but this was cool to see.

The officer informed me that he is a competitive shooter. So I asked why he would use the laser sight. He said, “When you have to use your weapon, everything is sideways. You do what you can under those circumstances. I like to be ready.”

So this made me think. I often have real trouble when things are sideways. Much of this trouble would be eliminated if I was prepared. I am ready to be ready. I want to prepare for when things go sideways.

I guess I can learn a lot from a cop. And I don’t even have to get arrested to learn it.

A Fantastic Message

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

I mentioned a moving sermon a couple of posts ago. Here is a link to the audio.

The speaker is Wade Hodges. He gets up to speak wearing stuff I might wear to the steak house. Then BOOM, his message hit me and most of the folks around me like an eight pound hammer. I doubt that he had the disabled in mind when he was saying these things. But I was.

Give it a listen if you want to.

Spurs that couldn’t Jingle to save their Life

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Let’s take a break from all the serious stuff for a while. Let us consider the plight of the romantically challenged. I submit this story of sad defeat.

I recently got out to lunch a little late. I did not bring my lunch so I had one choice, Whataburger. Now hitting the drive through at Whataburger on a Saturday morning at 2am has good and bad points. The bad part is the line. The good part is you get dinner and a show.

There was a line but it was a funny line. See all the night clubbers come by open drive throughs after the bars close. This night three nice looking young ladies decided they were not through dancing yet. They were all around their car with doors open and the music blasting. They were pretty enough to keep folks from complaining.

Then a car with three fellas parked and one of them got out. Let’s call him emo dude. He wore a faux-mo(hair brushed up to resemble a Mohawk) and girls jeans. He demonstrated the best example of what not to do when meeting girls that I have ever seen.

You ask, “What does a married guy that is pushing 40 know about picking up girls?” True, I have been married for a while. True, I was no Casa Nova when I was single. All I really know is the basics. Emo dude did not have a grasp of those basics.

There were three girls. The blonde was short and cute and danced at the front of the car for everyone to notice. The black girl was driving and dancing outside of the drivers door. She was so good looking that she couldn’t help but get attention. Outside of the passenger side door was the unobtrusive tagalong brunette. She was joining in but deliberately trying to not stand out.

So it is after the clubs close and these girls are still with each other instead of running off with some romantic interest. Emo dude should have considered that but he didn’t. He headed straight for the blonde and tried to start up a conversation. She shut him down so he moved to the driver. She got back in the car. Then the other two did also. Emo dude slunk back to his buddies in defeat.

Now I wasn’t the most suave fella when I was single but even I could have given this loser a better strategy. If he would have zeroed in on the brunette and merely danced with her, he would have impressed all three of them. First, they were just out to dance and have fun not find a dude. The best he could hope for was to make an impression as a fun guy and learn some names and numbers. Second, starting with the girl who has been enjoying sending fellas away all night was no good strategy. Then he moves to the next girl who was sure to move him along. Finally, he completely ignored the quiet one. If he would have zeroed in on her, she would have been flattered that she was chosen over the other two. The other two would have been taken by surprise. They might have considered him to be thoughtful and observant at the least or gotten jealous at best. No matter what, he would have made quite the impression on all three young ladies.

But hey, what can you expect from a dude wearing women’s jeans?

In Place

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

It was a Sunday night in 1992.  I sat down with my friends.   Then they came in.  She was a disheveled mother.  He was seven years old and made horrible noises.  When we sang he screeched.  When we prayed he hollered.  During the sermon, he barked.

The young fella was a terrible distraction.  I was among the many that turned around and looked.  None of us expected this.  None of us understood.

My church was incapable of helping.  Not that she would have trusted us to help.  If she was to worship at all it would be from the foyer.   At least she could listen to the speaker.  I opened up the balcony for them.  It seemed like a good idea.  Too bad he liked to bang on the glass.

The mother desperately wanted to worship.  But nobody could watch the boy.  She tried to come in on Sunday nights.  After about three weeks, I never saw her again.  I pitied her.  She had to raise a boy with that rain man disease.  I saw a bleak and dismal future.

Recently God opened my eyes.  Now I know what to do.  I know how to gain trust and confidence.  I know from experience that singing in foyer is just not the same.  I know that each and every person has the right to worship in the sanctuary.  I know that God wants them there.

My time in foyer is over.  Good people work hard to get me in the sanctuary.  They work hard to eventually get Tiger in the sanctuary too.  The future is not bleak.  No, it is lucid.

When Jesus was crucified, the curtain ripped from top to bottom.  Before then only a few could ever enter the inner sanctuary.  Now all people can experience the very dwelling place of God.

God blessed me with an ability to fix things.  I am starting to see something He wants me to fix.  Some of God’s people have disabilities.  No man on this planet should ever stand between God and His people.  I think God wants me to open up worship for folks who are kept from it.    I just hear that Soft Still Voice saying, “Fix it.”

Today’s sermon was about bringing marginalized people into the sanctuary.    I will post an audio file of that sermon soon because it is very fresh and it will really encourage many of you.

With the right attitude, churches can enable disabled people to worship.  Those people in turn help the worship to be better, because their worship is sincere and easily appreciated by others.  When everybody gets to the table, everybody brings something to the table.  Everybody gets blessed.  Everybody is a blessing.

The Refrigerator

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

My wife did not care for living in a small town. It had her feeling trapped. She felt like she didn’t have any options. That was the start of the problem. The fact that we were broke and in need only made things worse.

The wood floors of that old house sounded like a drum when little feet would move across it. We didn’t have much in it to dampen the noise.

Family and friends would help a lot. That happens in small towns more than other places. Still we had a need. Our refrigerator was about to call it quits.

She was in tears. Folks from my part of the country call it, “eat up with despair.” I took a chance. I talked her into something. We kneeled down and asked for God to bring us a refrigerator. You may think that is silly or strange. I would agree. That is “would” agree but I don’t because it worked. God made it known that He cared in no uncertain terms.

The next day when the mail came there was a check from an old employer with $234.15 in back pay. We were not expecting this. It seemed to be enough to cover most or all of a refrigerator.

I made my way to Abilene and found a good fridge in the store. I bummed a favor and got my cousin to cart my new icebox home. The bottom line of the receipt read $234.15.

Now the no sea was parted for me. Water was not changed to wine that day. But this was up close and personal. This strengthened my faith a little and her faith a lot. I long for more of these upfront and personal encounters with His presence.

Lord, again I find myself in need. I need help with my present troubles, but I need You build me up even more than anything else. Show me Your Love, up close and personal. And open my eyes wide to see it.