Archive for the 'Character' Category

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.

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.

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.

Who is the Older Brother?

Monday, June 11th, 2007

As most of you know, Sunday morning sermons often get me writing. Sometimes they don’t even have to be good ones. If something sparks a thought that is typically more than enough. Other times, the sermons can be very thought provoking.

Yesterday morning we had the first of four guest preachers come in. The fella did not come empty handed. At first I thought he might. He started in telling us the prodigal son story was more about the older brother than a salvation story. Well, that is true. Go to Luke 15 and read the stories in the given context for yourself. The story is primarily about the older brother.

So, what is the kicker? I’m the older brother.

It is hard for a younger brother like me to identify with the older brother in the story. I’m the baby of the family. We can all identify with the prodigal son. He is the one who did wrong and needed forgiveness. And of course that is the character I want to see as me. But that won’t happen today. The character we should all strive to be like is the father. But today, I’m the older brother.

Instead of rejoicing that the one who was considered dead had returned to life, the older brother was all caught up in the fairness of things. That younger brother was a jerk and deserved to be left at the pig sty. But there he is getting more stuff. There he is getting love he doesn’t deserve. There he is the one that rejected us all and squandered away things he never worked to get.

So, you wonder how this relates to me. I’ll tell you. I have lost all patience and disowned a member of my family. She may not know it because she is still in the far land. But in my heart she has been dead for a while. If I told you what she has done, you would probably get indignant and tell me disowning her is just fine. It all seemed right to me. She went way too far. Yet that aint what the Spirit told me. It aint what Jesus told me. The preacher pointed it out well. I am the older brother.

When the sermon was over, the shepards walked through the flock. We were all singing but some of us were handling some tough stuff. One pastor stopped as the tears rolled off my face. He pulled my head close as my knees hit the floor. We prayed together for a while. I was sort of embarrassed so I moved out quick before anybody else could talk to me.

The truth is, I don’t feel much better. I don’t know when I will. I suppose it will happen when she finally comes her senses. There aint a guarantee that will happen either. But if it does, I will not ditch the party.

Tough Day, Fun Day

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

This evening my new church met at the park.  This was the first encounter they had with Tiger in a difficult social setting.

I had a great time, but it would be hard to convince folks of that.  To the untrained eye it looked like a miserable situation.  This was difficult for Tiger.  I had to deny much of what he wanted.  And this made for a few difficult moments.  I spent about two hours wrestling with the boy.

Many wonderful people went out of their way to show us a little love.  They were sympathetic to both of us.  They understood how doing these things is necessary to teach him about social situations.

I also saw a little misunderstanding.  See many folks told me, “I don’t know how you do it.”  They saw the difficulty we face and missed the blessings.  That is a shame.

Many good things are difficult.  That makes life more worthwhile.

Champions don’t look for easy match-ups.  They desperately want to fight the most difficult opponents.  They live for the struggle.  They train relentlessly.  They are not often down for the count.  They are always down for the struggle.

Tiger and I have some bouts of our own to fight.  I have high expectations of him.  He will be a truly excellent man.  He will achieve great things.  I can see that in his eyes.  He will not only figure out how to survive in a neuro-typical world, he will thrive in it.  And by that excellence he will help the cause of acceptance.

My family is not wimpy.  We train relentlessly.  We live for the struggle.  We look for the difficult bouts.  Today Tiger wrestled with a difficult situation.  I wrestled with him.  We had fun because we like to wrestle.  He is a little smarter.  I am  proud of him.