Friday, March 31, 2006
After two years of thinking about the possibility--and eight months of planning--the Bob Nelson comedy show is tomorrow night. It's exciting to see plans come to fruit.
When originally setting the date, I couldn't resist the idea of having a comedy show on April Fools Day. This year, April 1st happens to fall on a Saturday--a perfect night for a show. And, it fits well into the community's school calendar. Major sports are over. People are looking for something to do.
Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine..." There'll be medicine a plenty on Saturday night.
That's no April Fools joke!
Thursday, March 30, 2006
My wife once stopped inside a restaurant in East Texas on her way home from a retreat. There, she saw a portrait of Jesus--laughing. She said, "It just took me by surprise. I'd never seen anything like it before."
At the end of his book, The Humor of Christ, Elton Trueblood lists 30 humorous sayings of Jesus. From that list, and in the spirit of David Letterman, here’s my top 10:
#10 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets..." (Matthew 6:2)
# 9 "How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3-4)
# 8 "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs." (Matthew 7:6)
# 7 "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." (Matthew 8:22)
# 6 "If I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? (Matthew 12:27)
# 5 "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24)
#4 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence." (Matthew 23:25)
# 3 "Jesus went on: 'Does anyone bring a lamp home and put it under a washtub or beneath the bed?'" (Mark 4:21)
# 2 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." (Matthew 23:27)
#1 "Blind guides! You strain your water so you won't accidentally swallow a gnat; then you swallow a camel!" (Matthew 23:24)
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
For our book that is 2,000 years and older, God’s story in the Bible still offers plenty of laughs for the modern reader.
Consider Elijah. His confrontation with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18 is the forerunner to Hollywood’s classic B&W country-western gun duels in the center of town.
I call it, “Showdown at the OK Carmel.”
The scene is this: God’s people Israel (the northern kingdom) has forsaken sole allegiance to YWHW and adopted into its religious life the worship of Baal, a neighboring alien god who was worshipped as the god of fire, rain, and fertility. So in order to reveal the true God who provides for earthly needs, YWHW appointed his prophet Elijah and had him declare that rain wouldn’t fall in the land of Israel. 3 ½ years later, it still hasn’t rained and Ahab—King of Israel—still has showed any signs of repenting for allowing Baal worship in the land.
Finally, Elijah declares to Ahab, “It’s time for a showdown!” Gather all the prophets of Baal and let’s have a face off on Baal’s home court—Mt. Carmel. At the mountain, Elijah challenges everyone: "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." The guilt of the people is revealed in the next sentence: “But the people said nothing” (20-21).
Elijah then lays down the rules of the duel: "You offer a sacrifice to Baal. I’ll offer a sacrifice to YHWH. Whichever God answers by fire, that is the true God."
What happens next at the OK Carmel battle is truly humorous:
450 priests represent Baal. 1 prophet represents God.
The priests of Baal cry out all day long. The prophet of God prays for only a minute or two.
The wailing, ranting, and cutting by the priest supposedly makes it easier for Baal to respond. Elijah makes it harder for YWHW to respond by soaking his altar with water—not once, but three times.
If you thought taunting in the sports world was a recent phenomenon, look at what Elijah says to the Baal priests in the middle of this duel: "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened" (27).
Most importantly, Baal doesn’t answer. But God does—with emphatic fire!
God is serious about us putting Him first in our life. But when God sees us putting other gods alongside Him or ahead of Him, He finds that funny—as in, “You’ve got to be kidding Me.”
Putting other things ahead of God is “funny” because it’s futile and failing. Like Wily Coyote trying to nab the Road Runner. We can try all we like, but it'll never really work.
It's a funny story that makes a serious point.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
This Saturday night, April Fools Day, is the Bob Nelson comedy show at the Little River high school gym. Free tickets are available by request at Congregational Church website.
God works in funny ways. How I became a pastor illustrates the point.
Back in the late 80’s I lived in Athens, Ohio. I was a happy Christian, happy to serve the Lord. I worked as “salt” and “light” in a music store. I taught junior high Sunday School. A friend and me hosted a Christian rock show on a local radio station.
But apparently, God didn’t think that was enough.
One late summer, my church was holding its annual revival, which usually meant just going to extra church services. This particular year’s revival speaker was a man from South Carolina. He had a deep voice and an unmistakable southern accent.
On the revival’s last evening, Tuesday, the preacher stood up and gave the shortest sermon I’ve ever heard: “Tonight, I really don’t have much to say. But I do have two questions for you. Do you love Jesus? If so, will you do what he says?”
That was literally all he said. But that was enough.
If I ever heard the audible voice of THE LORD, it was that night. The message was clear. I was to go to seminary. I went to the front of the church, kneeled at the altar, and cried like a baby.
Went I got home, I called my Aunite Ann, a charismatic lady and the most outspoken believer in my extended family. I said to her, “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that God called me seminary.” Auntie said, “Praise the Lord! That’s wonderful! What’s the bad news?” I replied, “The bad news is I don’t want to go.”
What Auntie said next I’ve never forgotten: “But Ted, you know you don’t have a choice. You have to go.”
For the next year, I tried to convince God that He called the wrong guy. But stubborn God, He didn’t change his mind. On the outside, I continued with the same activities—work, Sunday School, and radio show. But on the inside, I was angry and bitter that God had ordered my world turned upside down.
During this time, my Sunday routine was this: I did my radio show from 3:00am-6:00am. At home, I’d sleep from 6:30-8:30am. I taught junior high Sunday School at 9:30am. Worshipped at 10:30 am. Opened the music store fro my employees at noon. Went home and slept till 4:30pm. Closed the store at 5:00pm. Went back home and slept. Woke up, ate, and watched the following three shows back-to-back: America’s Most Wanted, The Simpsons, and Charles Stanley’s “In Touch.”
On this particular night, Rev. Stanley talked about procrastination. If you’ve seen him, you know how he likes to wag his finger at the TV. He said, “Some of you are procrastinating and not doing what God has called you to do.”
I was cornered.
A few months later, I enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary. I was pretty mad at God for the next couple of years—pulling me out of a situation I enjoyed so much in Ohio. But meeting my wife had a way of changing my attitude.
The rest, they say, is history. But it’s funny how history gets made.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Ten years ago, a little incident planted a seed for what will take place Saturday evening. I was in a bookstore, searching the shelves, when I came across an old, brownish paperback book for a quarter. The title was, “The Humor of Christ,” by Elton Trueblood.
I’d never read anything about Jesus and humor, or humor and the Bible for that matter. The front cover of the Trueblood’s book says, “A bold challenge to the traditional stereotype of a somber, gloomy Christ.” On the back, it reads, “Throughout the Gospels, Christ employed humor for the sake of truth and many of his teachings, when seen in this light, become brilliantly clear…Irony, satire, paradox, even laughter itself help clarify Christ’s famous parables, his brief sayings, and important events in his life.”
This little book—which ironically is rather somber in tone—opened my eyes to look for humor in the Bible. Interestingly, it’s there. It’s not belly busting laughter, but you do see incidents and sayings that tickle the funny bone.
For example, consider the story of Exodus 3-4 where God calls Moses at the burning bush and appoints him to lead God’s people out of slavery. God tells Moses, “You’re the man for the job.” But Moses replies, “You’ve got the wrong guy!” Mumbling Moses even goes so far as to tell God, “I don’t speak well in front of others.” Here, God has an incredible job that needs done and who does He appoint to do it? A reluctant servant!
Humor is in the Bible. It’s also in your life. God put it there. You just have to look for it.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
When I first moved to Kansas ten years ago, one of the things I really wanted to see was a real, live tornado.
Yes, I confess, the desire to be entertained by destruction is a bit gruesome. It’s like what Eliab told young David in 1 Samuel 17, when David came to the battlefield of Goliath and the Phillistines: “I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
I’ve yet to see a tornado. But 19 year-old Matt Suter of Missouri sure has seen one--up close and real personal. This from the Kansas City Star:
Every time a late-night freight train thunders past, Suter wakes up and remembers the vicious twister that pulled him from his home March 12 and landed him in a pasture — a quarter-mile away…
On the night of the tornado, Suter said, he was watching television news in only his boxer shorts when he heard a jetlike roar approaching the trailer he shared with his grandmother and uncle.
He was trying to shut a window in the living room, and his grandmother was in the kitchen, when the tornado struck, he said.
“The window busted, and the door got sucked out,” Suter said. “I looked at my grandmother, and the walls were like Jell-O. The trailer was rocking back and forth. I jumped between the coffee table and couch, and I remember the trailer tipping.”
His grandmother, Linda Kelley, said Suter had hollered at her in the trailer, and when she came into the kitchen “I turned around to look at where he was, and that whole end of the trailer was just gone.”
A large heavy glass lamp struck Suter on the top of his head, knocking him unconscious, he said.
When he came to, Suter found himself in a soft, grassy pasture. Last week a global positioning satellite device used by National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Gaede measured the distance at 1,307 feet from the trailer site.
After reading that, I'm rethinking my desire to see a tornado.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
The Reno County Sheriff's Office has found Jesus.
He wasn't found in a religious epiphany or any sort of divine revelation at the Law Enforcement Center.
Someone simply called the office and reported seeing an item glistening near the intersection of 69th and Pennington.
And there, in the middle of an empty field, lay baby Jesus - the plaster cast nativity centerpiece thieves snatched from Trinity United Methodist Church in mid-December.
Miraculously, the Christian icon was returned unharmed, aside from a little dust and dirt that easily can be washed away.
I don’t know about you, but there have been many moments in my life where Jesus disappeared. Sometimes, I’m praying, doing my best to walk in the Spirit, seeking His presence, but He’s no where to be found. Jesus is ominously silent.
Other times, Jesus disappears because I tell Him to scram. I’m too busy doing it Frank Sinatra’s way (“My Way”), too interested in sinning, or too upset that circumstances didn’t turn out as I hoped.
As a pastor, I’ve seen Jesus disappear from people’s lives for entire seasons. They forget Him through college. They separate themselves from Him when confronted with unexplainable tragedy. They get bitter at Him over something.
Just like that baby Jesus—God goes missing all winter long.
But then, like that phone call to the sheriff’s office, an unexpected series of events brings Jesus back into the picture. Spring arrives. Grace blooms. Beauty returns.
I’m always glad when Jesus comes back (again).
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The farmers here will still be happy. Moisture is moisture. But the kids will not be quite so pleased. No snowmen or sledding down the hill of the town’s silo.
However, the weather met my son’s full approval.
He walked the dog with me yesterday morning. His boots were drawn like a magnet to the puddles. Splish-splash-kick-jump!
Maybe Peter was all the more eager to walk on water toward his Savior because he enjoyed puddles as a kid.
Adults aren’t attracted to puddles. We don’t want to risk getting wet or dirtying clothes.
But kids don’t care. To them, it’s all about fun and adventure.
To experience the Savior, sometimes you just have to jump in the puddle.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Yesterday the farmers around here were smiling. Today’s weather forecast was a “100% chance of snow.” We’re looking at 8”-10”.
With the weatherman so certain of himself, I decided yesterday I better get ready.
I cleared out a space for my car in the section of the garage where all my kids’ bikes and toys usually sit. Picked up the hose in the yard that I’d been using to water trees. Got a few things from church so I could work at home if necessary.
It’s not as serious as having oil in your lamps ahead of time, but it’s not a bad exercise in preparation.
Sure enough. When I woke up this morning and looked out the window, the sleet and snow was already on the ground. Looks like the weatherman got it right. I’m glad I took care of those little chores.
All winter it’s been warm, with no rain. Now on the first day of spring, it’s snowy and cold.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
All of this week’s postings focus on issues related to my denomination, the United Church of Christ (UCC) and my involvement with Faithful & Welcoming Churches (FWC)—a renewal movement within the UCC. Our church hosts a regional FWC meeting on March 15.
Before the Little River Congregational UCC called me to be their pastor ten years ago, I’d never set foot in Kansas. None of my relatives ever talked about Kansas, so it was safe to assume I had no prior roots here.
Every other summer my parents come out from Ohio for a visit. After taking them to tourist attractions like the Hutchinson Cosmosphere and Eisenhower Museum in Abilene, I was running out of ideas for entertainment. So when they came out in 1999, I asked them, “What do you want to do?” They said, “We want to go to Hudson.”
Those who live in Kansas know that some wonderful flour called Hudson Crème is milled there, but not my Ohio parents. So I asked, “Why do you want to go to Hudson?”
They said, “You remember your Aunt Cloe, don’t you?”
She’s not really my aunt, but she is a relative on my Dad’s side of the family.
“Of course,” I replied. “Those summer trips to her house in Michigan—and watching those huge freighters float down the Detroit River, I’ll never forget.”
My Dad said, “We believe that years ago, Cloe’s father started a church in Hudson. We’d like to see if its still there.”
The town of Hudson was familiar to me because I’d seen it listed in our UCC Kansas-Oklahoma Conference directory. I looked up the church in question, spoke to the pastor by phone, and made an appointment to visit.
The next day, we made the two-hour drive to Hudson, population 400, and to Hudson Trinity UCC. The pastor greeted us at the door, took us inside his office, opened a safe, and pulled an old book. We started looking for the name of Cloe’s father.
Sure enough, there it was—Rev. Herbert Pister.
That day, I discovered for the first time that I had family and spiritual roots in Kansas.
This past January, Hudson Trinity voted to leave the United Church of Christ.
Four other churches in Kansas have also left the denomination since General Synod 25 declared its support for Equal Marriage Rights for All, or same-sex marriage.
Faithful & Welcoming Churches, a UCC grassroots renewal movement of which I’m a board member, believes these churches—and dozens of others—have left because the UCC has forgotten its original vision of “united and uniting” to embrace a misguided social agenda—making that the center of its life.
Faithful & Welcoming Churches seeks to return the UCC to its original vision.
And give discontent UCC churches a reason to stay in the denomination—rather than get out.
All of this week’s postings focus on issues related to my denomination, the United Church of Christ (UCC) and my involvement with Faithful & Welcoming Churches (FWC)—a renewal movement within the UCC. Our church hosts a regional FWC meeting on March 15. In today’s post, I discuss the second concern raised by our Kansas-Oklahoma Conference minister—Rev. David Hansen—in his March 7th “Monday Musing.” The first concern is discussed in an earlier post below.
Rev. Hansen illustrates his second concern about FWC with an imaginary scenario of a controlling, manipulative husband who tells his wife that if she doesn’t meet his needs, he might have to look outside the marriage relationship. Rev. Hansen’s presumed point to FWC is that if a local UCC church is dissatisfied with the administrative process of the Parish Life and Leadership Ministry or—more importantly—dissatisfied with the clergy profiles received through that ministry, that local church should continue to remain “faithful” to the UCC’s established pathway of clergy search and call.
In particular, Rev. Hansen might have been concerned that FWC was providing a link on its website to clergy search resources of the Evangelical Association (EA) and thus encouraging local churches to search and call “unfaithfulness.”
FWC is committed to encouraging disaffected UCC churches to stay in the denomination and not leave. Providing a link to the EA—a group that includes churches that have left the UCC—raised a legitimate point about FWC’s commitment to the UCC. This explains why FWC President Rev. Bob Thompson—in response to Rev. Hansen’s observation—ordered the link removed.
UCC President John Thomas gives further support to Rev. Hansen’s concern about local churches going outside the denomination’s established process. In Rev. Thomas’ March 7th speech (see the post below on how to obtain a copy), he complains that the Biblical Witness Fellowship, “provides an alternative placement service for so-called ‘orthodox’ pastors and churches that refuse to use the denomination’s search and call process, thereby setting themselves outside the processes of oversight in the denomination.”
But in contrast to Rev. Hansen’s and Rev. Thomas’ stated opinions, our UCC Constitution—in Article V, paragraph 18—explicitly permits local churches the usage of any means in its search for a minister:
“Nothing in this Constitution and the Bylaws of the United Church of Christ shall destroy or limit the right of each Local Church…nor shall be construed as giving to the General Synod, or to any Conference or Association now, or at any future time, the power to abridge or impair the autonomy of any Local Church in the management of its own affairs, which affairs include, but are not limited to…call or dismiss its pastor or pastors by such procedure as it shall determine…”
FWC does not—despite the assertion of “Monday Musing”—have its own system of clergy call and placement. But in keeping with our UCC Constitution, it is well within the rights of any UCC local church to utilize the established UCC process or whatever resources it wishes in its search for ministers.
Fidelity is obviously important. Let’s all remember the rules of the covenant.
All of this week’s postings focus on issues related to my denomination, the United Church of Christ (UCC) and my involvement with Faithful & Welcoming Churches (FWC)—a renewal movement within the UCC. Our church hosted a regional FWC meeting on March 15.
In advance of the Little River Congregational Church hosting a meeting presented by Faithful & Welcoming Churches, our conference minister of the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference—Rev. David Hansen—made a two-fold critique of FWC in his March 7, 2006 “Monday Musing.” I’ll consider the first here and the second one in the above post.
The first concern was that FWC on its website had misnamed the UCC office that handles clergy search and call—calling the office by its old name (Office of Church Life and Leadership), instead of its new name (Parish Life and Leadership Ministry). The name change took place a few years ago when the UCC restructured itself.
Rev. Hansen asks, “Why would you call attention to an organization that no longer exists?” Other than mild embarrassment, FWC gains nothing with the mistaken name. FWC President Bob Thompson wrote Rev. Hansen and expressed appreciation for pointing out the obvious error. The FWC website has since been corrected.
Everyone makes unintentional mistakes. Hopefully, that is the kind of error made by UCC President John Thomas when—in a transcript of a March 7th speech delivered at Gettysburg College—he repeatedly refers to Faithful and Welcoming Churches as “Welcoming and Faithful.”
(Rev. John Thomas’ March 7th speech, “The IRS, the IRD, and the Red State/Blue State Religion,” is posted at www.ucctruths.com. Register as a member to get into their Yahoo! discussion board. The speech can be found under “Files”).
When children say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” what’s actually meant is that names—particularly the intentional misuse of names—can and do hurt.
How we use names is important. Let every party be careful.
And if a mistake is made, let’s offer each other grace and benefit of the doubt.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Instantly, before I could see what it was, I got worried. Last time that I found a little souvenir of the past in my clothes, it was one of my kids' fast-food chicken nuggets. A grease stain will forever remind me of what I forgot to take care of in the past.
When it comes to finding stuff in old pants pockets, you get a quick reminder of the past--a funeral program, a visa receipt, or a scribbled note. If you're lucky, you find money. Today, it was a tube of chap stick.
Life in the present has a way to unexpectedly remind us of life in the past.
So if you have to dig into the pockets of your past, I pray you discover an unexpected reminder of God's grace.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
I told them, "You should move to a more tropical climate--Kansas."
Not Florida. Kansas. Yes, you read this right.
The rock group REM croan in a tune called Pop Song 89, "Should we talk about the weather?" Well here in Kansas, we talk about the weather all the time. Weather talk is easy, non-threatening small talk, but here in Kansas, talking about the weather is big business.
Unlike western Kansas, where farmers pump water out of underground aquifers to give their crops moisture, here in central Kansas and the Little River area, farmers are known as "dry land farmers." They depend on God to water their crops.
If it doesn't rain, crops don't grow, harvests are thin, and payouts are small. One horrible harvest can ruin a farmer.
This winter, we've barely had rain. In fact, this is the mildest Kansas winter I can recall in my ten years here.
On the same day that I was talking to my Ohio complainer, New York City and Washington DC were digging out of a snow blizzard. Meanwhile, it was 70 degrees in Kansas.
This week, I haven't worn a jacket. And more warm weather appears to be in Little River's future.
So if you're looking to move to a warmer climate--consider Kansas.
If not, pray that we get some rain.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I might as well said, "Racers, start your engines" and waved the green flag. In record time, my two elementary aged girls rattled off, "Now I lay me down to sleep..."
Hmm..."Let's say our prayers." This is a great way to train future high school debaters in the necessary art of speaking fast.
Hearing my kids' quick prayers took me back to my own childhood. I did the very same thing!
As an adult, I suspect that too often I speed through my prayers with God. Spell out the "grocery list" of needs to the Savior and move on to other urgent business.
I'm certain that God welcomes quick prayers--those urgent, in-the-middle-of-living moments when wisdom or protection is needed. When Peter started drowning after walking on the water toward Jesus, he didn't give a prolonged petition. He simply cried, "Lord, Save me."
I'm not drowning. What's the hurry?
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
What a blast! The extravaganza featured six bands (Krystal Meyers, Hawk Nelson, Zoegirl, Newsong, Toby Mac, and one of my personal favorites, Newsboys) a motorcycle stunt show, and evangelistic youth speaker David Nasser.
8 of our kids (1/3 of our group!) responded to David's invitation, making either a first time commitment to Christ or rededication.
Amidst the three hours--a never ending wall of sound and lights--there was one lull moment, an inconspicuous event that really touched me.
Before the evening's last set, the MC shouted, "Please welcome the Newsboys," and walked off stage. The crowd of 4,000 looked at the stage, but the band didn't come out.
Apparently, the MC announced his welcome a tad too early, because the sound and stage crew was still on stage, frantically setting things up. So the crowd temporarily turned their attention elsewhere.
When the Newsboys did come out, there was not another announcement. No fancy lights started up. No burst of music blared. The band just walked out. The crowd didn't really notice.
And in that few seconds of lull, lead singer Peter Furler (the bald headed guy) looked up toward the section where our group was sitting and waved.
My reaction to Peter's wave surprised me. My stomach roll over: HE LOOKED AT ME. HE SAID HELLO.
I know, it's crazy. I'm one of 4,000 people in this arena. I'm sitting in the nosebleed section, 8 rows from the roof. Peter Furler can't be looking at me. But it felt that way.
Later, after wondering why I so startled by Peter's wave, I got to thinking: How often do I recognize God's wave? Through Jesus? Through nature? Through the Word? Through worship? Through others? And when I do recognize God's wave, how do I respond?
I'll bet God is waving at us a lot.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Sunday night, I was weary. Getting ready for bed, I mentally reviewed the day.
"That was a lousy prayer you said."
"You handled that situation OK."
"But ___ was awful."
"That mess of papers. Are you ever going to clear your desk?"
Socrates says the unexamined life isn't worth living. True, but I don't recommend self-examination right before bed.
This morning, none of these problems seem quite so bad.
A good night sleep? It's a good, cheap psychologist.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Several of my church members are there, but occasionally I "adopt" one outside of my flock and visit them as often as I do my members.
Perry, 99, is one of my adoptees. I met him 4-5 years ago. He was yelling from his room, "Get me out of here." He had just arrived at the home a day or so earlier.
Usually, I'm very sympatheic to those grieving the fact they can't live at home any longer. But on this day, I told Perry, "Hey, this is where God has put you. You can get used to it, or you can be mad." Amazingly, he calmed down. From that time on, we've been good friends.
This week wasn't one of Perry's better days. But still, we couldn't help but make each other laugh.
Perry: "Well, hello. How far did you come to get here?"
Me: "Oh, about a half a mile."
Perry: "Is that all?"
Me: "That's all."
Perry: "What do people call you?"
Me: "I get called a lot of things, but most people call me Pastor Ted Weis."
Perry: "Pasturd Fed White?"
Me: "Yep, Pastor Ted Weis."
Perry: "Pasturd Fed. I'm glad to meet you. Say, where's your church?"
Me: "It's here in town. It's the Congregational Church."
Perry: "Well, I'm converted. I just don't know which way."
Me: "You're a Methodist. I've tried to convert Methodists, but I've never had any luck."
Perry: "You haven't? I guess the air is going out from under your wings."
Me: "Maybe so. But I try to keep flapping anyways. See, I brought a Bible with me. Can I read you something?"
Perry: "Yes, I need it."
Even when Perry is forgetful, he remembers he needs the Lord. I hope I remember that when I get old.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
I don't exercise enough. I'm reminded of this anytime I watch sports, or more recently, heard about Vernon Davis, a tight end from Maryland. At the NFL combine, he's been described as a "freak" because of his amazing combination of speed and size.
Speaking of the NFL, someone once told me: "A football game is 22 people desperately in need of rest, being watched by 70,000 people desperately in need of exercise."
When I do exercise, I usually run. Living in rural America and central Kansas, I'm not limited to running like a hamster around an oval track. I can trek down a dirt road and enjoy the view.
What I like best about running is this. When I've started breaking a sweat and it's getting a little tough, my mind goes into a trance. The outside world disappears. All you hear is the rhythm of your breath and the hoof beats of your shoes.
But don't ask me the last time that happened. I can't remember. I did run sometime this year though.
Physical exercise, like spiritual exercise, is important. So the guilt does serve a good purpose. It reminds me of what's important.
If I don't exercise, I might end up like the elderly lady who once told me, "I'm falling apart and there are no spare parts available to put me back together."
This is the same lady who also told me, "When you're pushing 80, that's exercise enough!"
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
At the graveside, I asked the funeral director, "What time is it?" He said, "You don't have a watch?" I told him, "No."
Several years ago, my Bugs Bunny watch quit working. Because I never found a fashionably suitable replacement (how can Rolex replace Bugs?), I've haven't worn a watch since. Incidentally, a friend told me that younger kids aren't wearing watches. When they need to tell time, they look at their cell phone.
For some reason, the funeral director took off his own watch and said, "Here, take mine." Stunned, I tried to decline, but the director insisted.
Afterwards, back at church, I put the watch in my desk drawer. The watch was nice, but not a Rolex, and not a Bugs either.
It's a year later and the phone rings. The (now) 101 year old surviving widow has passed away. The same funeral home would drive again to Little River for a funeral service.
"The watch!" I thought. "I can put it on my wrist and really impress that funeral director."
Years ago, I did care taking for an elderly lady in a well to do part of Dallas. She told me that whenever she gets a gift she doesn't really like, she puts it away. But whenever she knows the giver of the gift is coming to her house, she gets the gift out of her closet, and puts it back on display.
It's so Seinfeld: The gift giver sees the gift they gave and proudly assumes their gift is treasured. Meanwhile, the recipient is glad to not look at that trash year round.
So I shuffle through my desk drawer and find the watch. But it isn't working.
I call my wife and tell her the story. She says, "Put it on anyway. The funeral director will be glad to know you still have it."
"But what if he asks me for the time?"
"He won't," replied my wife.
"But what if he does," I insisted. "Why would I wear a watch that doesn't tell time?"
Oddly enough, on service day, when I fetched the watch, it was working again.
And the funeral director who originally gave me his watch didn't show up.
But I still got to say, "You tell ___ that I still have his watch."