“Manners” is a lost word…”

I walked into Home Depot today. There was a family in the store…they were all over the store. One kid was running down that aisle, another running down another. One child had a toilet plunger and was chasing his sister with it. Their parents, who, in all Christian love were complete idiots, just laughed and thought their children were cute…even when they ran into an elderly gentleman and knocked him down. The father approached the man on the floor chuckling…” heh heh heh…kid’s’ll be kids!” I would have applauded if the elderly man had said to the idiot father, “Lawsuits will be lawsuits!”

One of the children, the same one who ran down the old man came running right at me, and I shouted, “Stop!” The child looked at me with wide eyes. I said, “This is NOT a place where you run! I pointed at people walking by and said, “This is NOT a playground, stop running right now!” His parents stood off a short distance from me and when their child walked over sulking to them, the father said, “I’ll get you a milkshake on the way home to make you feel better!” My backside would have been as rare as roast beef if I had to be corrected by another adult. This parent just felt bad for the kid. I looked long and hard at the parents as they disappeared down an aisle. There was no more running. I’m the reason they say old people are cranky…

I began to think of the differences of growing up in the sixties and seventies and the current generation growing up in this new millennium plus 19. For one thing, (I’m going to sound like my parents here, so, watch out…”) If I had even left my parents side when I was in public…ESPECIALLY in a store where people were shopping, I would have been ordered to wait in the car and then sent to my room when I got home. My folks didn’t have any time for me inconveniencing other people. My mother used to tell me to “Go and open that door for that woman!”

My dad used to tell me, “stand up when your mother and sister come to the table…don’t you EVER stay seated when a woman comes into a room!” Usually, his Latin backhand would wave perilously close to my head when he was making his “suggestions” about public manners. I stand for women if I am seated in a room to this day. Women are the more civilized of our species…the ones who make society bearable…lovely.

That is just it, our parents taught us “manners”. “Yes Sir” “No Ma’am” “Please would you pass the butter?” “Thank you for your kind gift”. (then we wrote thank you cards to mail to anyone who gave us a gift.) My parents would impress upon us that our “elbows were never to rest on the dinner table, and that napkins sat in your lap. “If you wipe your mouth with your hand, get up, go to the bathroom, wash your hands and come back to the table!”

Now, when it came to how we treated our siblings…well, all bets were off! If I had placed my napkin on my lap when it was just my brothers Greg and Geoff in the room they would have hit me in the mouth. In public, we were gentlemen, in private, we were practically Neanderthals. But the die was cast…and it stuck like glue in our psyches that MANNERS WERE FOR OTHERS…

Manners were in a sense, a display of social generosity we bestowed on others so society would flow graciously. Manners were the lubrication that made the society to operate without friction. We preferred others, we closed our mouths when we chewed, girls crossed their ankles when they sat, young boys had combed hair and tried to keep clean until afternoon recess.

Manners weren’t for window dressing either. Sure, they were representative of who you were as a family, but they had a WEIGHT to them…they gave you a particular stature in your community. You could tell that the Harper family stressed homework and honesty by the way their boys acted in public. You would see that the Anderson family stressed courtesy when Billy would say, “yes ma’am Mrs. Green”, when answering a question and, not just one question, but EVERY question. “No ma’am Mrs. Fisher, I wasn’t talking Ma’am. “Thank you so very much, Father Minta, I’ll be sure to tell my father, sir!”

I would be impressed. In fact, I wasn’t only impressed, I imitated them. I liked how they behaved! They had that thing called…what’s the word? Class! Their example made me want to be better too. It’s why; as I grew older, I had the fear of God when it came to talking back to a teacher. Back in those days, parents backed up teachers. You knew when you got home something far worse awaited you than what you got at school.

I’ll write another blog about the extremes of the 1960’s disciplinarian approach to raising children, but I have to say, the negatives I can count on one hand, the positives I own forever in my character.

Manners are a social contract we write with one another, and their dearth is the breaking of those very bonds that once held us together with gossamer threads…almost invisible yet meaningful and powerful in the way they demonstrated respect for one another.

Manners are the best way to honor a stranger…opening the door, preferring another person over yourself. Manners and courtesy gave their owners a standing or, to use the word again, stature, that others recognized as the prerequisite to greatness because they demonstrated who a person WAS, not just what he did to impress others.

Manners were never meant to become perfunctory displays of “how good we were”. On the contrary, manners were the method by which we bowed our heads in deferment to another person and said without words, “You are more important than I”.
When a man opened a door for a woman properly, it was a demonstration of his respect for her. When a boy carried a girl’s books for her, it was a demonstration of his desire to honor her.

When we dressed well before we went into public places, it was our announcement that others were important enough for us to look our best. Even though the wine ordered at dinner was corked and a sample poured into the man’s glass, it was the custom; after his approval, that the woman got the first pouring…the wife of the guest at the table was served first, then the wife of the host and then others at the table.

Oh how I long for gentility and kindness again. It is not lost my friends. It is waiting for us to awaken it from its sleep. It is time to strengthen the muscles that have atrophied from lack of use. There is going to be a renaissance of courtesy and manners like we have never seen before. There is coming a time again when we will look others in the eye when they speak to us, when we will have respect for other people’s property and when throwing trash on the ground will be considered not only ill-mannered but legally enforced again. There will come a time when profanity in public will be fined and only those considered fools will do it.

There is going to return the practice of mentoring younger generations and will be something they would be willing to pay for because of the elevated spirit that manners and righteous courtesy bring to the atmosphere. There will be a hunger for adulthood again. I don’t recommend you discipline all the wild children in public. But I do think that as we grow in stature, that authority naturally issues from our lives. These will be our city mothers and fathers.

I do encourage you to raise the level of your game to excellence. Make it your goal that when you leave a room those who remain, will feel honored that you have been there.

I Decide…

I decide to return to where I first began.

Where simplicity of worship was heart felt and personal.

To the place where all I knew, all I did and all I wanted

was centered on who He is.

I decide to return alone, because that is how I started.

I return to long walks talking to my friend who would hear me and heal me in the same moment.

I return to The place where no group dynamic was more important Than the quiet interaction where only my friend and I spoke freely and understood completely.

I decide to return here, daily. It is a decision I make every single morning and one I make when I lay down at night; and he meets me here.

He still loves the way I walk, and talk and laugh, even though I am clumsy and awkward.

He finds me fascinating in ways that no one else ever has.

He likes me, and I cannot take my eyes off of him. He believes I will make a fine man someday, because he once told me so.

I have missed this Place. I somehow forgot how to get here. He thinks my songs are brilliant…even though poorly sung.

He says my writing is magical…and gives me ideas for future writing. No one else gets to see what I show him, or hear what I tell him and he has promised to tell no one.

He likes my voice. This morning, I heard him… quietly calling me to comeback to the place…come back to the place where we are friends. He says nothing will hurt me.

I will continue to come back here,and I don’t want anyone but him to be here.

I cry and he watches,and hears, and holds and encourages.

He does not think I am stupid,Or broken, or fat, or lazy or crazy.

He actually likes me. (big smiles) Most times even the people I work with don’t even like me. But he does.

Even with all of my mistakes and ugliness and hidden shame… He thinks I am quite a masterpiece. I just can’t believe it. I am safe with him I have not been safe since I lost my way here, but I am safe here now.

I am telling you,the day is coming when I won’t leave here ever again. When I won’t go back and forth.

He told me, “Let’s do that today.” So, that’s what I’m doing…I’ve decided to return where I began and I am seeing it again…for the first time. This time, I’m staying. He said to tell you, He’s waiting for you too, and wants for you to find your way back…he said He misses your voice and loves your face.

“If You really love me…Wash the Dishes!”

I hear a lot of things while I’m out and about in the public square. I hear good things, like the sister saying to her brother at a pizza restaurant, “you play soccer better than anyone I’ve ever seen!” To which her brother gave her a hug…they were about 8 years old. I hear bad things too.

Walking past a window at an apartment complex and hearing a woman and man yelling at each other because he said she was spending too much time with her supervisor…she said, “at least he pays attention to me!” continued yelling, hurtful things said and then a door slamming.

I heard a man praying once. I was sitting in a Baskin Robbins, eating two dips of “Death by Chocolate” when I heard the guy at the next table. I thought he was talking on his phone, but …no phone in his hand! I try not to eavesdrop, but…you know, come on; I wanted to know what he was saying and to whom! When I finally DID hear what he was saying, I discovered he was praying for his mother…asking the Lord to give her a chance to know Jesus. I felt as if I had invaded the holiest time of all, and I repented for it. Curiosity; in my case, most certainly could get me in trouble if I am not careful!

Perhaps one of the most intriguing things I have heard hit me like a ton of bricks and I’ll explain why.

But first, you need to understand how the Lord made me…because without that, you will think I think I’m a “really nosy dude”! I used to not pay attention as I do now because I was ignoring how the Lord had made me. He actually gave me the ability to be aware of my surroundings in a “Hypersensitive” way. It is nothing I trained for or that I have learned…it was given to me…by a God who needs ears on the ground. All glory to God!

I’m convinced the Lord made me to be an ENFP, which is the Myers-Briggs definition for the type of personality I have. I see it is pretty much right on the mark.

“How ENFPs Think”

“Throughout their lives, ENFPs are always on the lookout for deeper hidden meaning. This personality type is absolutely certain that what we observe and experience only scratches the surface of reality. ENFPs don’t believe in coincidence because they know that we are all interconnected, and they know that everything we do has an impact on the world around us. It isn’t enough for ENFPs to just observe and collect data; they need to put it into the proper context, and they believe speculative, abstract thinking helps them to do so.
ENFPs make a great effort to keep their eyes open and their minds alert, and their strong observational abilities frequently combine with their active minds to bring on those “a-ha!” moments exactly when they are needed. ENFPs experience these leaps of understanding as creative bursts, and they are very enthusiastic about translating those bursts into real-life activity.”

I include this so you will understand that it is written onto my soul, to always be observing and listening to things going on around me. If it looks like I’m nosy…well, maybe I am…but I’m not trying to be rude, I’m trying to understand the STORY because the story is EVERYTHING! God is speaking in EVERY SINGLE THING around us.
So, back to the thing, I heard the other day. I was at Sonic, the highly health unconscious drive in of gastronomic delights…sipping on a 44oz Hwy 44 Frozen Limeade. I was listening to a message on my phone through my Bluetooth speakers in my truck. As I sat there listening to the message, the couple in the car right next to me were having a discussion. I put the phone message on “hold”.

The woman was saying something to her husband about their relationship. They could not see my window was down because of the gigantic menus the size of a drive-in movie screen that separate our cars, so they didn’t lower their voices. She began,

“You keep asking me if I’m happy in our marriage…and for the most part…if you want me to answer honestly, Yes, I am.” Her husband, probed deeper asking “for the most part?” (which; in my opinion, was sort of like leaning into a right hook…brave man or an idiot.) She sat quietly, then spoke up. “You always SAY, “I love you so much!” You’re a really great dad…and when you say those things, I believe you…but…” her voice trailed off, maybe wondering if she should really say what she felt and risk hurting the man she loved.

“But ?” the husband asked, ( I realized he knew he needed to draw her out…give her the permission to say what he needed to hear.) She cleared her throat. I could tell she was trying so hard not to say what she wanted to say in a hurtful way.

“Well, if you love me so much”…she paused, “Could you maybe just wash the dishes every once in a while?” She had said it, but it was kind of like taking her finger out of the dike…because what was in her heart came pouring out…

“Would YOU, every once in a while…” I heard her try to choke back a sob, “just do some laundry like you did when we were first married?” There was no stopping it now…
“Would it be possible, just every once in a while…not always but maybe once a month, just take the kids so I could have just an hour or two by myself?” she cried now.

Revealing the heart does that…it brings cleansing and she was doing a very good job trying to respect her husband but speak her mind at the same time. I was proud of her. I got teary-eyed too which; is no surprise, since I tear up at the home reveals on HGTV.

Her husband WISELY let her cry and didn’t SAY A WORD!!! (Good job buddy!) I was cheering for him…it’s hard to hear truth, hard to hear where you’ve fallen short. This guy was no chicken and was wise enough to let her finish without interruption! We need more men like him I think.

“I want to know,” his wife continued, “that your words MEAN something, and…I know they do, I mean, I KNOW you love me but…” her head was down in her hands and she was outright boohooing. She looked up and said, “If you love me so much, could you just wash the dishes?” Her voice was pleading.

This may seem like a real invasion of privacy to you. I was the proverbial “fly on the wall” and not necessarily in a room, I wanted to be in. Now, I’ve been discipled my friends, and I know when I should not remain in a room when two people have an issue to work out. But in this case, I had to hear what the resolution would be…I can’t tell you why…it’s like I was supposed to be here.

She fished into her purse for a tissue, and was becoming frustrated, when her husband, “Ah…the knight in shining armor!” handed her a handkerchief…a HANDKERCHIEF!!! And it was clean too! She looked at him and smiled and wiped her eyes and nose. That’s when I peeked a little lower (that dadgum menu was in my way!) and saw tears in his eyes. He reached over to his wife and held her hand. He didn’t speak, although she looked at him as he looked down at their hands and fingers intertwined.

“I’m so clueless!” he said to her raising his eyes. He continued. “Yes, of course…of COURSE I will do all of that and more!” He pulled her into his arms and said, “Sweetheart, can you ever forgive me?” “I’ve been too busy…just too busy!” They hugged and she sighed a sigh of relief. She had been heard, and in humility, he had seen his error.

Listen to me any person younger than 95 reading this…

You need to understand your significant other’s Love Language!

To this woman, her love language was “Acts of Service”. She didn’t need to HEAR he loved her, she needed to SEE he loved her by doing things for her.

A summary of the Five Love Languages from “gotquestions.org” gives a pretty good summary. I encourage you to purchase the book by Gary Chapman, “The Five Love Languages.”

The following is a brief explanation of each of the five love languages:

1. WORDS OF AFFIRMATION. Some people are more attuned than others to hear both positive and negative words from those whose opinions they cherish. While negative, critical words can tear them down, positive, encouraging words make them flourish. People who need verbal affirmation also tend to be freer with their own encouraging words. They assume that, because they so need verbal praise, the loved ones in their lives also need it.

2. ACTS OF SERVICE. “Why can’t you help me around here?” Lanna complained. “I’m starting to wonder if you really love me.” Lanna’s frustration with her husband’s lack of household help may be due to her love language. When acts of service is a person’s primary language, he or she interprets the help as a sign of someone’s love. When Tom pitches in with chores that may normally fall to Lanna, his efforts are interpreted by her as love, even though no actual words of love are spoken.

3. GIFTS. We all know someone, often a woman, who brings gifts everywhere she goes. She is always “picking up a little something” for the people in her life. She thrives on gift-giving, and, when she is given a gift, it fills her love tank. Sometimes people misunderstand her need to express love through gift-giving and interpret her constant offerings as bribes or the expectation of something in return. When gifts is a person’s primary love language, he or she places a great deal of weight on the quality of the gift and the effort that went into obtaining it.

4. QUALITY TIME. “I feel most loved by you when we’ve spent a long time talking about important things,” Dale told his wife. His need for soul connection is closely related to his way of receiving love. Quality time is usually linked to meaningful conversation for the people with this primary love language. Hours of deep conversation create an emotional connection for them. “If this person cares enough about me to spend all this time with me, then they really love me,” goes the reasoning.

5. PHYSICAL TOUCH. Physical touch is crucial for the health and well-being of every human being. Babies who do not receive enough loving touch in infancy do not thrive and can have lifelong difficulties. But for some people, the need for physical touch is greater than it is for others.

To end my story with a happy ending, the husband said he was going to put on his calendar every week to take the children and let his wife make plans. She told him, “Oh, I don’t need THAT much time alone…I want to spend it with YOU!” A big smile broke out on her face… “Maybe just a few hours a month to myself!” He promised and I saw him take out his phone, in front of her and put in a reminder.

She began to laugh, and at that moment, she gave him HIS love language…”I just knew you would hear me out…YOU ARE THE MOST WONDERFUL MAN…GOD HAS BLESSED ME SO MUCH WITH YOU!” (Words of Affirmation), now he wept as she held his head in her hands. “I always want to take care of you sweetheart,” he said, sobbing in her arms. His actions healed her heart, her words healed his soul and I have no doubt that other activities took their course later that day that I would have no business being privy to.

Talk to your spouse… Listen to each other. Learn their love language! You know, I ruined one marriage by not doing it…I will never make that mistake again. How about you?

1. https://www.truity.com/personality-type/ENFP

Hidden Treasures…

I drove this morning to an apartment complex where I was going to be de-odorizing a vacant apartment before some new tenants rented it. When I drove up, I did all of the usual things I do. Made an inventory of all of my equipment, checked my extension cords to be sure there were no frays or loose wires. I made sure I had my gas mask because the fumes; even though all natural, can damage your lungs. I also checked and calibrated my air/gas detector to make sure it was charged up.

The air/gas detector is a pretty important piece of equipment. In the business I’m in, the air is measured by “parts per million”. My equipment releases negatively charged ions into the air, unites with the hydrogen peroxide and creates a powerful agent that literally “scrubs” every surface. It is so strong it can pass through drywall, through the carpet, and into attic spaces. For this reason, I wear a full NIOSH face mask with a breather unit on it to protect my eyes, face, and lungs. I sound like Darth Vader when I wear it. “Luke…I’m your FATHER”… (Yes, I say it every time I put it on…)

I entered the apartment and began setting up the equipment, trying to be efficient with my time and making sure that AC filters were removed and installing vaporizers to spray hydrogen peroxide into the air to be circulated throughout the two bedroom apartment. When I opened the door where the furnace unit and water heater were located, I saw the cold air return directly beneath the door and headed back out to my truck to get my nut drivers and remove the cover and take out the air filter. Can’t leave an old air filter in a unit, or it just defeats the purpose of deodorizing.

As I walked out to get my toolbox, I had a kind of sad feeling and I couldn’t begin to tell you why at the time. But the closer I got to my truck, the sadder I became. This had been a good morning so far. It was Friday for crying out loud…who wouldn’t be happy today…right? I stopped and shot off one of my bullet prayers. “Lord, whatever this is, if I’m worried about my son Josiah, or whatever…please just give me a sense of peace and let joy return.” That was it, no angels appeared singing…just, my toolbox and a sip of my water.

As I entered the apartment again, the heaviness came over me so much that I sat down on the floor in the living room and leaned against the wall. “Lord, I feel so sad…so heavy, what is this?” I asked. No answer…no inkling of what was happening. I sighed heavily and started playing worship music on my phone… (right after Rocky Mountain High by John Denver…had to finish that song!)

I stood and walked over to the cold air intake and began removing the cover to remove the filter. As the last nut came off I lifted off the cover and it revealed an absolutely filthy filter, filled with dust and wrappers and hair and …yuck! I put work gloves on before I touched that nasty thing, but I noticed a folded half sheet of paper pressed against the dirty filter and I pulled it off and crumpled it in my hand as I removed the filter and took it outside. The heavy feeling had lifted all was well again.
I put it all down and finished my set up, being sure to set the temperature for 78 degrees and unplugging the smoke detector.

All the machines were humming and I put on my mask, checked the air quality in the room started the vaporizers and pulled the apartment door closed and locked it. I would have to return tonight around 10pm to reset my machines since they only have a ten-hour timer.

I had locked the door and forgotten to return the key to the maintenance office. I got a call on my cell from the manager explaining that the property had an electronic key monitor and it had gone off telling him a key had left the premises. I apologized and ran it back over from another client’s car lot where I was working.

When I returned the key, I had hastily picked up the sheet of paper I had removed from the filter along with the keys and happened to glance at it quickly before I threw it away.
There handwritten was a short note,

“Sorry I couldn’t run with you today, but my headaches were pretty bad. They seem to be taking me away from my favorite times with you AND your mother. I’ll get back out there in a few days. Love bein’ your runnin’ buddy!”

I told the guy, I had found an old, expired debit card a back scrub brush and this note. The maintenance manager took the card and threw it and the brush away and was about to toss the note when he read it. He said, “Hey, these people moved to 03-1331…would you just see if they want these? You pass right by it as you leave the property?” I’m sorry but I thought he was being lazy. I said yes but wasn’t really enthusiastic about it. He handed me back the expired card, the brush, and the note and I searched for the apartment and saw a lady just enter it and shut the door as I was driving up.

I walked up to the door and here came that feeling again. I knocked and a woman in her late thirties or very early forties answered. I smiled. I told her my name and what I did for the apartment complex and that I had evidently been preparing her old apartment for rental again when I ran across these three items.

“The maintenance manager thought you might like to have these”. She looked at the card and chuckled and said, “thank goodness that’s expired!” and then bent it up and threw it away and told me to toss the brush in the dumpster. I said, “I thought that’s what you’d say, just didn’t want to do it without asking, some people lose valuable things sometimes and want them back!” I thanked her and turned to go as she looked quickly at the note. I was at the end of the sidewalk when I heard her say, “Sir? Could you come back for a moment?”

I walked back, thinking maybe I’d dropped something. She looked at me and asked, “Where did you find this?”
I explained the cold air return and how it looked like it had been sucked into it and had been there a while. She was quiet and placed her hand over her mouth while reading the note over and over to herself. I could tell it was an emotional thing for her…that note. I didn’t want to break the silence and so I just stood there. In my head, I heard the Lord say, “Just wait.” So I did.

She looked up at me after she had composed herself and said, “My husband, passed away three years ago. He and my son did EVERYTHING together, they played tennis, and swam and ran together. My husband died of a brain hemorrhage in his sleep the very next day 5/13/15.” “We had moved here from Texas and hadn’t even found a home to buy…this market is SO expensive!” She was strong because she did not tear up. She was very deliberate with her words and spoke slowly. “My son graduated and is at Auburn now as a freshman this year…he is a walk-on member of the track team.” “I’m going to move there for the fall semester…just renting here for another month or so!”

She smiled ear to ear. I smiled too and told her how proud her husband would have been. “Oh Yes! She beamed, “Jim was at every single game or meet for our son Drew, they were sports nuts…both of them!” Her eyes narrowed when she spoke next. ” I’m going to frame this and give it to my son…it’s kind of like his dad sent a letter from heaven!” I said, “Only he doesn’t have a headache now!” She laughed and said, ‘You’re right…he doesn’t!” and laughed. She shook my hand and said, “You’ve given the world to me today…thank you!” I told her about the feeling right before I found it. She shook her head and became serious after I said this.

She bowed her head, took my hands in hers and said, “Thank you father, for giving this man hearing ears…and thank you for your Son Jesus!” Well, I am NOT a strong woman…so of course tears flowed down my face…I’m such a baby!

I walked away after I had thanked her for her wonderful prayer. She asked if I was a Christian and I told her yes. She kind of shouted as I walked away…with a boldness she shouted,

“There are lots of us Doug, and there are more of us coming! God is going to fill this earth with us Doug!” I turned to her and shouted, “As the waters cover the sea!” She shouted “Hallelujah!” lifting her hands to the sky. All I could say was, “Hallelujah!”

What if no one knows your name?

I was discussing with some friends the other evening at dinner about the proofreading of my children’s book. I have been talking about releasing it for over two years, but it has been important to me to make sure it reads with the intention I wish for it to read and that it can be understood by children. So, I have trusted friends read it and make critiques.

Children are the true field of harvest…we can impress their hearts with truth and nothing will steal it from them, even decades after they have been touched by it. If you wish to change the world, reach children with the seeds of Gospel truth…any way you can!

They had kind comments for me… my dinner friends that is, and my heart was warmed by their encouragement. But around 3 in the morning I was awakened by…what I can only explain as the voice of the Lord. He asked,

“What if no one knows your name?” It was as though someone had shaken me to consciousness.

Blinking awake, He repeated the question, although it was unnecessary, because God is confident that when He speaks, we fully understand what has been said.

“What if no one knows your name?” The question broke me…it reduced me to tears and I convulsed as God revealed my heart to me. It wasn’t just a question, it was the Holy Spirit tearing open the veil of my soul to reveal to me what lay beneath the public persona of “humility” I had portrayed for too long. God is the only One I know of who; can tear asunder seemingly innocent motives, to show their maggot-filled interiors. My interior was exposed in all of its nakedness and I caught a glimpse of what it will be like standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ…exposed.

Like always, the Lord was gentle after wielding His sword. Quivering raw flesh was healed over and calm wrapped around me like a warm blanket. I was exhausted and yet, I received the energy (this is the only way to explain it), to sit up in bed as He asked me, “What if I am the only one to know what you have written?” “What if your books aren’t celebrated?” “Will you be disappointed leaving your legacy in My hands after you die?”

These questions were all about my MOTIVES. Why do I write…and turning this to you my dear reader, what will happen if no one knows YOUR name after you are gone? You and I are no better than those who have gone before us…are we? Some of the greatest people who have ever lived were only known after they died. I give you some examples to ponder God’s searching question…

”What if no one knows YOUR name?”

° Although the publication of his one book brought this American author, poet and philosopher modest success, his political writings had little impact during his lifetime. He earned his living by WORKING IN A PENCIL FACTORY, lecturing occasionally and by publishing essays in newspapers and journals.

He never made much money, which probably suited him fine. But nearly three decades after his death, Henry Stephens Salt wrote a biography of this man, earning him great posthumous fame.

His political writings went on to influence leaders like Mohandas Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, and Leo Tolstoy, as well as artists and authors including Edward Abbey, Willa Cather, Marcel Proust, William Butler Yeats, Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, E.B. White, Lewis Mumford, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alexander Posey and Gustav Stickley…

not to mention all of us who love to take a meandering meditative walk in the woods. The man’s name; Henry David Thoreau, and like many who reason deep into the night with only themselves to critique their work, his influence spoke loudly to future generations, proving it appears, that the gifts that God gives cannot be silenced.

° It would be misleading to say that the German-born composer died before he was famous since he was acclaimed for his talent as an organist. But he was not known as a composer, yet that is what he is most famous for now. Few of his works were published during his lifetime.

It wasn’t until 1829 when German composer Felix Mendelssohn reintroduced this composers “Passion According to St. Matthew” that he began to receive posthumous praise for the work of his musical compositions. Now he is generally regarded as one of the major composers of the Baroque period, if not one of the greatest composers of all time.

His name was Johann Sebastian Bach. It was left for others to discover his true genius, and he was never recognized for the very area he loved the most…composing music for God during his lifetime. But One sitting upon the Throne in Glory knew his name, and there is no doubt that a portion of the music of heaven will have been written by him when we arrive there after our deaths.

° Although the American-born writer from New York City had a flirtation with early success, his writing career took a nosedive after the publication of his second book. He continued writing, but after the age of 35, critical and financial success from writing remained elusive. By 1876, all of his books were out of print. All told, he earned a mere $10,000 from writing.
He eventually took a job as a CUSTOMS INSPECTOR on the New York docks, which finally brought him a secure income. He held the position for 19 years.

In the 1920s, a biography written by Raymond Weaver about him brought renewed attention to the writer and sparked the revival by which the man finally got his due. His opus, “Moby-Dick,” is now hailed as one of the world’s literary masterpieces.

His name; Herman Melville. A writer of adventure whose greatest work awaited his death before it would make him famous.

° The Austrian-born lover of God, discovered the basic principles of heredity through experiments in his monastery garden, but both his Law of Segregation (dominant and recessive traits are passed on randomly from parents to offspring) and the Law of Independent Assortment (traits are passed on independently of other traits) were little promoted and mostly misunderstood by the contemporary scientific community.

In 1868, he became a school abbot and between his schoolwork and failing eyesight, he pretty much abandoned science. Upon his death, his work was largely unknown.

Yet during the ensuing years, other scientists began to refer to his early work; his system eventually proved to be one of the foundational principles of biology, and many consider him to be the father of modern genetics.

His name; Gregor Johann Mendel. Every student of science now reveres his name, but during his time on earth, he was ignored…even laughed at by the scientific community, but God had other plans.

° She is one of America’s national treasures, the poet had a mere 10 poems published while alive, and she may have been unaware of their publication. While she was extremely prolific as a poet and regularly shared her work with friends and family, she was not publicly recognized during her lifetime.

By the middle of her life, she lived in almost total physical isolation from the outside world, but no one is sure why she chose such a reclusive life. Upon her death, her sister Lavina discovered 40 hand-bound volumes of nearly 1,800 of her poems; although Lavinia had promised to burn all of her correspondence, fortunately for poetry lovers everywhere, no such instructions were given for her poems.

Her name was Emily Dickenson. You know her, but her contemporaries did not. The first volume of her work was published posthumously in 1890 and the last in 1955; she remains one of the most highly regarded of American poets.

° Born in New York City and raised in France, she moved to Chicago in 1956 where she spent most of her life as a nanny. But when not tending to her charges, the unassuming caretaker took to the streets, cataloging the people and sites with her handy Rolleiflex camera.

Eventually, she became somewhat destitute but was ultimately taken care of by three of the children she had cared for earlier in her life. No one who knew her was aware of her secret life as a street photographer, a documentary-type genre of photography that relies on candid shots of strangers in public. Taking snapshots well into the late 1990s, She would leave behind more than 100,000 negatives, in addition to other forms of media.

In 2007, a young man working on a historical book of Chicago bought a mystery box of 30,000 her prints and negatives from a thrift auction house that had acquired the media from a storage facility, where she had been delinquent with her fees. Following her death, the man figured out who she was through an obituary, and he began sharing her work. Since then, her photographs have been exhibited all over the world, have appeared in print in numerous countries, and there is now a book and movie about her and her work. Her name: Vivian Maier. The fact that you have to search for who she is in a search engine, tells you that greatness is not always rewarded with fame.

° He became embroiled in a dispute with his creditor, and the man sued and won control of his workshop and half the books printed. Thus, he was bankrupted and lived out the rest of his years in obscurity. He died poor in 1468 and was buried in a church cemetery which was later destroyed and the grave lost.

His name on earth, Johann Gutenberg…inventor of the printing press. Unknown to many in his generation but applauded by myriads of angels and His Lord upon his entrance to glory. The world had been turned upside down by this servant who took the Scriptures; denied to the common man by a cruel religious system and placed them within reach for others to hold in their own hands.

His printing press had turned on the light and ushered in the Renaissance, the “Re-birth” of Christian thought in the world. But today, we cannot even find where he is buried.

° Finally, there was 1920’s bluesman Blind Willie Johnson. His desire was to become a famous musician, even though his stepmother had blinded him when he was seven years old by throwing lye in his eyes after his father had beaten her for being with another man. He died penniless of pneumonia after sleeping bundled in wet newspapers in the ruins of his house that had burned down.

He died never knowing NASA in 1978 decided to include on the Golden Record carrying “sounds of the Planet Earth” on Voyager, Johnson’s song, “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground” along with an array of music including Gregorian chants and Chuck Berry. He was no one of note during his pain filled life, but his music left our solar system just 10 years ago. Such is the faithfulness of a God of Mercy and Justice.

After my literal “awakening” early this morning, what I realize now is that God is not only the giver of ideas, inventions, music, art, books, and breakthroughs, but also that He will not share His glory with another. He is the light giver, the one who saves the world. Our part in these endeavors is given by God as those privileged to share in His WORK, but NOT in His glory. I recognize that I write for an audience of One. While we hope for some small recognition while we live on this earth; regardless of the areas of our endeavors, it is God who will decide if our names will be known anywhere but in eternity.

If you write, sing, dance, paint, create or labor with intensity for seemingly no public acclaim, please know that who you are and what you do is NOT insignificant to God. Also, remember that true prophets are never recognized in their times.

He is the one who raises up the lowly, and to those obscured by injustice, He will sweep it away and show your work proudly to an eternity of the saints. If you labor in prayer in secret thereby bringing about a spiritual revolution, if you preach in a small church, with a tiny congregation that we will never read about, or if you quietly labor as a missionary to peoples great or small or unknown… YOUR reward is great in the Kingdom of God.

It does not matter how many books you sell, how many songs become hit records, how many paintings seem to be stuffed into your closet gathering dust. There is a “God Who Sees” Who is well able to make our meager offerings into masterpieces to feed the imaginations of the masses. He will make your work worthwhile…if you are brave enough not to care too much, whether or not you are famous during your lifetime.


Fighting Fire with…

I was driving in my truck, ( I like the way that sounds…”drivin’ in ma truck, with my arm out the winda…”) and it was a day like any other day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the sky was as bright blue as a cobalt crystal ball. As I was sitting at a stop light, of course, one of the the BEST songs in TOP FORTY MOTOWN history comes on my radio.

If you are like me and one of your favorite songs comes on the radio, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to not sing it out loud. You sing it out loud because that is the way God intended it to be! Of course, you crank it up, because if it is one of YOUR favorite songs, the world will want to hear it too…right?  On the radio I heard the song begin and up I cranked it.

L.A. Proved too much for the man;
(Too much for the man, he couldn’t make it)
So he’s leavin’ the life he’s come to know, ooh
(He said he’s goin’)
He said he’s goin’ back to find
(Goin’ back to find)
Ooh ooh ooh, what’s left of his world
The world he left behind
Not so long ago

He’s leavin’ (leavin’)
On that midnight train to Georgia
(Leavin’ on the midnight train)
Yeah, said he’s goin’ back
(Goin’ back to find)
To a simpler place in time
(Whenever he takes that ride) oh yes he is
(Guess who’s gonna be right by his side)

And I’ll be with him (I know you will)
On that midnight train to Georgia
(Leavin’ on the midnight train to Georgia)
I’d rather live in his world (live in his world)
Than live without him in mine
(Her world is his, his and hers alone)

Songwriters: James D. Weatherly

Midnight Train To Georgia lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

If you are a millennial; (and you know I love you!), you got cheated in the music department! I’m sorry, truly. It’s because…well, I’ll just say it out loud, the 60’s and 70’s were the halcyon days of musical diversity! Now, don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger. Of course, there are the rare exceptions of Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and , Radiohead, Coldplay and my 90’s pal, Jack Johnson, but even YOU GUYS, when the poll was taken still hold The Beatles as a top 20 favorite.

But when GLADYS KNIGHT comes on the radio, you… by God, turn it up and maybe even salute when she’s singing…you certainly DON’T hum a Gladys Knight song! So, setting the scene for my readers once again, I am at a stop light, in Franklin, Tennessee on that midnight train to Georgia with Gladys and lovin’ it!

As I sat listening to the song, both my front windows were open…oh yeah. The woman in the car on my right first moved her head just a whisper toward my truck. I saw her eyes begin to widen, then her head began to bob up and down and then…her window first cracks and then she opens it up all the way and looks over at me and yells, “Please tell me that’s on the radio!!!” I told her what station and she tuned to it and then SHE cranked it up!

We were both “driver seat dancin’” and this woman made me ashamed of myself…she was not just singin…she was SINGIN’!!!” This girl had some lungs… Her kids in the back seat said, “Mommy that’s loud!’, and like the fine woman she was, she shouted, “Hush up child…that’s Gladys KNIGHT!” Mother’s like that make me proud to be an American. Children, in terms of great R&B music, should be seen and not heard!!!

Thinkin’ this was a “feel good” block party and believing everyone felt the same as my motor neighbor on the right, I looked over at the car on my left. Sure enough, there in the passenger seat of her car, was a woman rockin’ Gladys along with the rest of us Red-Blooded American Gladys lovers! I smiled and began to laugh…she was singing and had rolled down her window. Then, my Happy Place came to a screeching halt.

As I was smiling, in her direction, her husband, (I later discovered it was her boyfriend) thought my joy was more interest in his girlfriend than in the music. And, of course, I get it…there is nothing more threatening to a 25 year old young man than a 61 year old, white, fat man singing a Gladys Knight song in a pick up truck…(it’s just sexy….I can’t help it! LOL!)

He see’s my smile and right there at the stop light he gets out of his car and walks over to my truck window. Now, it’s bumper to bumper and …ain’t nobody movin. He comes up to my window and asks,

“Whatchu smilin’ at Dad?” His top lip pursed tightly and his eyes scowling. His fists were clenched. My driver seat dancing came to a halt…and unfortunately, I had to turn down my radio. It had happened so quickly that I was not sure what was happening. I thought he was asking directions.

Cars behind us were rolling down their windows and, in my side rear view mirror, I see people sticking their heads out the window and one person getting their phone out to take pictures of the impending doom about to take place…pucker factor…10.

In circumstances like these, you don’t make any quick moves…keep the hands on the steering wheel. What came into my mind next was a God thing and as usual, it was right on time. I remembered a teaching I had received, years ago about fighting fires. A man by the name of David Alsobrook had come to my church in Owensboro, Kentucky back in the late 70s and taught on “Moving in the Opposite Spirit”.

He had used the Scriptures

“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 and

“A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
    but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18.

If you know me, I’m a real lover, and in my past I only got in fights because I was young and stupid. I was never a good fighter anyway…God made me a pretty gentle person but I was as dumb as a bag of hammers when it came to discernment back before I was saved….anyway, I digress.

The teaching was that God has designed His principles to be effective when we move in the exact opposite spirit as the one standing in front of us. If someone is fearful, we can move in faith and it will put a check on the fear. If a person is worried, we move in hope and dispel the worry and bring hope to the person. You don’t fight fire with….fire. You fight fire with water, and the scene in front of me on this bright, sunny day with an angry man at my window was FIRE.

His face was hard, mine softened. The nerves in his mouth were quivering with anger, my face gently smiled and I spoke.

“I’m so sorry I offended you son…it certainly wasn’t my intention.” He didn’t know what to do. Very slowly, I removed my right hand from the steering wheel, I introduced myself and extended my hand toward him to shake his hand. “My name is Doug, and I was just delighted you all were Gladys Knight fans.” My smile broadened…his hand unclenched and his face, looked relieved. He shook my hand. Then he spoke, “a…I thought you was sayin’ something bad to my girl…”

All this time, about 20 seconds had passed. I saw that his girlfriend was reaching out her window pulling at his shirt. “Stop it Randy…Stop!” (I’m thinkin’ Randy had an anger problem and that this was not his first rodeo…) I covered him. “He’s okay…he’s a Gladys Knight fan too!’ I said, He breathed deeply and then chuckled, “Yeah baby, I’m just thankin’ the man for his good taste!” She smiled. I looked at him and said, “No disrespect intended Randy.” He looked at me and said, “sorry man, my bad…my bad.”

This would be the end of the story except that when you fight fire with water, not only does the water put out the fire, but it quenches the REAL thirst that people have. Randy said, “a…thanks man…guess I need to cool out!” I grinned and said, “Gladys Knight makes me crazy too!” he laughed one of those, “Oh thank God I didn’t do something stupid” kind of laughs while shaking his head and getting back into his car. As he entered his car he said, “you cool man…you cool.” As he got into his car, I happened to hear the cars all around me playing “Midnight Train to Georgia” and was grateful I had been surrounded by Gladys and the Pips…as well as my guardian Angel.

After getting home and shampooing my driver’s seat from my encounter with Randy, I reflected on the fact that the outcome of our daily interaction with other people is largely dependent upon our willingness to let God direct our words and actions or whether we will take the wheel and end up in the emergency room of life. I don’t always do the right thing…far from it. But I am convinced that the reason God has given us one mouth and two ears is so we will listen twice as much as we speak.

I’m thinking from now on I’m going to listen to elevator music or maybe the Carpenters…. Ain’t nobody gotten into trouble listening to elevator music or the Carpenters.

Be interested in people…not results…

I’ve attended a lot of different church services in my lifetime and the spectrum of believers goes from Traditional to Pentecostal… from Catholic to Presbyterian.  From common everyday sensible including the Doxology all the way to wacky screaming and pew jumpin smack yo mamma wif a Bible in da head Holy rollers. In most cases and across the entire universe of Christian denominational spaghetti-intertwined doctrinal statements of faith…(say that five times quickly), I find only a few things really important for me to stand firmly behind. Of course; the Lordship of Jesus stands above all as well and the Lordship of His Word.

Which brings me to a conversation I had today with a  guy named Earl, (He goes by the name “Shark” because of the gorgeous tattoo of a shark on his right arm and, in his own words, “my male parental unit must have been effing crazy to have named me after himself!”) Shark was with his wife Tondra, (no not Tundra) and their child…Rocket, (and yes all three of these names are real and yes I’m not lying and please don’t ask me if those were really their names and if I’m lying!) so…back to the conversation.

Shark and I began our conversation over a graphic novel he was reading and that had caught my eye while walking by his table at Barnes and Noble… (be sure to check out their biographies this month…25 % off!). The graphic novel was; I discovered, the very FIRST of books to  be called graphic novels from all the way back to 1978 called, “A Contract with God” by author Will Eisner. Shark had purchased the book from a used book dealer in Nashville and was carefully leafing through it while his wife and child ate chocolate chip cookies and Tondra sipped a cappuccino.

Being intentionally nosy, I asked what a book entitled “A Contract with God” was about. Shark explained it was an anthology of four, non related stories about Jewish inhabitants of a tenement building which were largely made up of Eisner’s memories growing up. It seemed to be a very melancholy book and Shark sipped his demi tasse with an air of discernment as he looked at me curiously.

“What makes an obviously Protestant looking gentleman like yourself take interest in a graphic novel sitting furtively on my table?” adding to his comment quickly, “no offense intended.” I was so completely impressed by both his demeanor, his honesty AND his use of the word “furtively” while referring to a book, that, I smiled and answered I would tell him if he would let me buy him another espresso. Shark nodded appreciatively.

I returned to the table to find Tondra and Rocket sitting at the two-seat table. Rocket sat on Tondra’s lap. Shark reached out to take his coffee and asked me to pull up a seat. I introduced myself and explained what “BioSweep” meant monogrammed on my shirt. (Let the reader understand, BioSweep is the name of the company I work for…yes I’ve changed jobs again…no I won’t elaborate right now.) Shark pulled at his goatee and said, “Okay, so, why the question, why the coffee and why the interest at all?” Again; impressed with his honesty, I felt he deserved the absolute and complete truth to his question. So I told him.

“I wanted to know what the book was about, because I wanted to discuss views about God with you. That’s it…no other reason.” His eyes narrowed somewhat and he pushed his weight back on the back legs of his chair as he said, “Wow…you didn’t try to even hide it!” I laughed and said, “so you already knew the answer to your own question?” Shark looked at Tondra, “Tondy…an honest Christian!” smiling and gesturing toward me with his head. His wife looked at me and said, “Imagine that…” I decided to not ask what he meant…because I already knew.

We live in a time when people are skeptical of anything that sounds like traditional Christianity, especially if that Christianity has to do with a salt box church, being preached at every Sunday and the lack of results in society. Who can blame them? I don’t.  Millennials comment they have seen too much hypocrisy and want something “authentic”, which means; I suppose, a search for a  genuine lifestyle that lives what it purports to believe. Again, I can’t say I disagree with them. 

For too long, it has been my observation that Christianity is a “graying” religion without adventure. There seems to be a lot of activity and bigger and bigger “Mega” churches, with lots of programs and large attendance numbers. But when one gets right down to it, who wants to belong to an organization? Is that what happened in Acts chapter 2 when the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples in the upper room? Did the Holy Spirit create an 501c3 that held itself alloof from society, spent most of it’s money on itself and it’s buildings and whose understanding of friendship centered on trying to get your acquaintances to a point where they would convert to your flavor of Christianity and start doing the same thing?

Did Jesus intend the Christian to relate mostly to those within the Church’s walls and look with  judgment upon those on the outside? If you ask modern outsiders today, they say a  unanimous “yes.” The “Church” in their opinion, appears to be unwilling to develop friendships with non-Christians. There appears to be a “self-centeredness” that is not really interested in others except how they can get them into the church. They feel the church does not reach our culture because the church isn’t a part of our culture, it is “apart’ FROM our culture.  Of course there are wonderful exceptions to this rule, like Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, Ohio and others  starting to pop up across our country.

In an online blog called, Thom S. Rainer, “Growing Healthy Churches Together.” (thomrainer.com) he has nailed the problem exactly in his blog,
“What Do Non Christians Really Think About Us?” (https://thomrainer.com/2013/06/what-do-non-christians-really-think-of-us/). He writes:

“I consider myself a very blessed man in a number of ways. This blog has become one of my great blessings. One of the reasons I love this blog community is the variety of people who interact on it. There has been an increase in the number of people who aren’t Christians who comment on various posts. I want to share with you the perspective of one young woman on how she views Christians. These comments come directly from her comments on some of my posts. They have not been changed.

On Being Selfish, Not Really Interested in Others

I remember a rather outspoken evangelical Christian young woman I worked with – I’d just moved to town, and we went to a movie together. Each week she invited me to her church, and I didn’t want to offend her by saying “No thanks.” As it was, I had Buddhist activities one Sunday and I was mentoring a young girl two other Sundays, but that theoretically left a Sunday open. We only worked together for 3 months, and it never worked out. I went to a different job.

She showed up there one night, and jumped right to the church invite. No “Hey, how’ve you been? Haven’t seen you in a while!” Nope – just “Do you want to come to church with me this weekend?” Since I was on to her game, I decided to play. I said, “Sure, I’ll go to church with you, because I’m interested in seeing what you’re interested in. That’s what friends do, after all. And I’m sure you’ll want to come with me to a Buddhist meeting to see what I’m interested in, right?”

“Oh no!” she replied. “I just love the Lord so much!”

“Well,” I said, “then there’s no point in me going to your church because I’m not interested in either becoming a Christian or joining your church.” I never saw her again.

That’s how far Christian friendship extends – I’ve seen it over and over and over. Christians look at everyone else as if they’ve got targets painted on their foreheads. Nobody likes being hunted down or treated like someone else’s project. We don’t need to drop all our beliefs just to accept yours, and we don’t need to become more like you just to be acceptable people, worthy of being regarded as people instead of targets. Love does not seek to create clones of itself. Selfishness does.

On Being Self-centered and Judgmental

Keep your religious beliefs to yourself. If I have any interest in what you believe, I’ll ask you. And if I don’t ask you, then go right ahead and assume that your “witnessing” will be unwelcome. I’m sure that you like whatever you believe very much, and I’m very happy that you like it. However, just as your favorite flavor of ice cream is not necessarily going to be mine, I wish you would assume that I’m just as content with my own beliefs (or lack thereof) as you are with yours. Why not ask me first what *I* believe? Why not show an interest in what’s interesting to me instead of expecting me to always be interested in what YOU’RE interested in? Christians are so selfish and self-centered! Tell me – when was the last time an atheist rang your doorbell to tell you about his worldview? The reason the world hates Christians is because they behave badly, they’re rude, boorish, arrogant, conceited, full of themselves, ignorant, and judgmental. Go ahead – accuse me of being judgmental now. Doesn’t matter – I don’t claim to follow a belief system that has actual rules AGAINST being judgmental, so it’s *fine* for me to be!

On Being Unwilling to Develop True Friendships with Non-Christians

As a mother of young children in a homeschooling environment, we found ourselves surrounded by Christians. Of course, the kids would become friends and we moms would chat while they played. Without a single exception, this “acquaintanceship” only progressed to the point that I had to make it clear that no, I would not “acceptjesusasmypersonalsavior” (quotation marks, mine) and no, I would not be attending their church. Then the Christians never called again, and I was left to explain to my sad children why their new friends wouldn’t be playing with them any more.

When my son was just 6, the boys down the street told him he was not allowed to play with them because he wasn’t a Christian. I went down to see what was going on (because my 4-yr-old daughter was going to go down there and teach those boys a lesson!) and I confirmed that what my son had reported was indeed what they’d said. And the mother of one was right out in the front yard, 25 feet from me, pretending to be very focused on trimming some plants. She never said a word.

Finally, the 6-yr-old girl across the street told my kids, ages 7 and 9, that if they weren’t Christians, they would be going to hell. She certainly learned the “Good News”. And you Christians wonder why we non-Christians avoid you?? HINT: It’s not because we’re intimidated by your awesomeness and are just sitting here, pining for you, wishing you would like us. We already know you don’t.[1]

Stories like those sting…

I can tell you from personal experience that every story in that blog is true because I have personally seen countless examples from my own life where almost the same identical things happened…except I was the perpetrator! As I look back on what my idea of “witnessing” was, I recognize that instead of seeking out the lost and loving them unconditionally, I had been just another reason for a non-Christians to throw rocks at every church they passed by.

Well, I finally went through a time when, for numerous reasons, I took a break from church attendance. I had gone through a divorce, I had been told by many of my old friends in the church how “selfish and self centered” I was for divorcing, and from having a friendship where we spent fun evenings watching movies with each other and sharing meals at each others homes, I was shunned, and not only by them, but having felt it was their duty to inform the rest of the congregation; the rest of my old church friends rejected me as well.

I moved back to my old hometown and in a time of gut wrenching depression, I sought to rebuild my personal world. I began a business; a winery and renovated a 1930’s gas station into a dining room. I stayed away from church in all honesty due to the sting of the relationships that ended when they considered my Christianity “tainted”. I felt no desire to ever build that kind of shallow relationship again. There are many whom i still block on Facebook.

I met my wife, Mary Ann and we began facing the world and connecting with new friends and started our lives together. Along the way, the people who I had previously sought to “win to Jesus” were the only people I had relationships with. I worked with them, and laughed with them. I heard em cuss and they heard me cuss too. I discovered my “worldly” friends took a genuine interest in me. They were fellow travelers, and listening and being listened to were the dues we paid to become a part of the fraternity. And it WAS a fraternity!

I suppose if you want to know the truth, I shook off every vestige of Western Christianism, (notice I didn’t say Christianity), in other words I shook off “Churchianity” along with all of its false friendship and self righteous nose lifting and became an authentic person again. I stopped associating with those who, if I didn’t quake and shake like they did, they questioned whether I had been filled the Holy Spirit. Someone who was not afraid to rub shoulders with sinners, because I finally had recognized I was a sinner too! And something wonderful began to happen…

I began to discover my personality coming alive without the pressure to “invite people to church” and without the need to always mention how “Jesus had changed my life”. I began connecting individually with Jesus again and as I did that, I began to really connect with the people that I worked with and total strangers in the marketplace. I began to realize that I felt free, and I don’t mean free to sin, but I knew that the perfectionism of being a” perfect Christian” had been a hoax. It was a lie of the devil to convince me I would get infected by the world if I let my guard down and became friends with people in the world who didn’t attend church. The hoax was designed to keep me away from the very people Jesus wanted to to reach…with love.

You and I are fallen creations. Even with the Blood of Jesus, we are going to sin and mess up and hit our fingers with hammers and cuss and the Lord loves us and asks us to surrender again…and we do. But holding ourselves up to the world as some nice smelling, clean fingernailed dandy doesn’t do anything but tell them, “We don’t want you or your kids to infect our children!”. And when we do that, whether or not we realize we’re doing it, people will stay away from us in crowds. Our “Fallenness” is about all we have in common with the world and while Jesus said “Love not the world, or the things of the world”… He was not talking about withholding love from the people IN the world.

If all you needed to do in order to fulfill the Great Commission was to love people, engage them in conversation, help them fill their gas tanks with gas, take the initiative and smile and see each one as a unique creation of God without inviting them to church or inquiring whether or not they were saved…COULD YOU BE ALRIGHT WITH THAT? Could their prolonged exposure to that type of Christian behavior bring them to the point where they might want to know about the God you serve? Could that be making disciples?

I am convinced Paul’s message in I Corinthians 3:6 is 90 percent PLANTING and WATERING, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, as the Lord has assigned to each his role.  I planted the seed and Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.….”. I think the reason the church has turned off the world in some part is because everybody want to be the reaper…everybody ahs a warped idea about what their “Christian Duty” is. I have seen God do some very incredible things as I have just loved people and enjoyed relationship with them. I have stopped trying to be responsible for everyone’s salvation and I now leave that up to God.

I am titling my new book, “God Lives in the Unremarkable Moments” because all of us have prayed at one time or another “God, I want to do something great for you in this life”. If you haven’t prayed that, then you have prayed something close to it. The only problem with the prayer is, God doesn’t need you to do some great big thing…He needs you to do the daily, relationship thing in unremarkable moments throughout your life with people you meet every day. God lives in the quiet, unseen, unremarkable moments of our lives…and it is precisely in those moments, where; if you are in relationship with Jesus, God will use you and your humanity to touch people in supernatural ways. It has been a real joy to see people open up like flowers since I began this experiment, and God amazes me everyday with opportunities to show He cares about people. I ask you to read about some of those opportunities in my upcoming book.

By the way, I am back at church, and loving the freedom of worshiping Jesus because of who He is and my new understanding of what: in my opinion the Church was designed to be.  As John Jefferson Davis in his book, “Christ’s Victorious Kingdom” states:

“…any amelioration of social evils is not the result of immanent forces at work within history, nor primarily merely human effort, but essentially is the result of the supernatural influence of the ascended Christ through His Word and Spirit, working through His people. A spiritually revitalized church is understood to have an increasingly positive impact on the surrounding world and it’s structures through its PREACHING, SOCIAL MINISTRY AND THE EXAMPLE OF ITS OWN INNER LIFE.” [1]

I spoke for another 20 minutes to Shark and Tondra…without attempting to invite them to a church or trying to lead them in “the sinner’s prayer.” Before I left, I DID do something unashamedly Christian. I walked to the Christian inspiration section and pulled down a book about a Jewish holocaust survivor who became a Christian and consequently changed millions of lives with her story. Her name was Corrie Ten Boom and the book was, “The Hiding Place.

I dropped it on Shark’s table and asked him if he was an honest man. He shook my hand and said, “You won’t find a more honest man!” I asked him if he had ever heard of Corrie Ten Boom. He said no. I asked him, instead of buying me an espresso, if he would buy the book and read it. He walked up to the cashier and paid for it immediately.

On my way out, he shoulder bumped me…said I was “white cake personified” at which I laughed until tears came to my eyes. I told him his picture was by the word “Bohemian” in the dictionary and he smiled really big and said, “Mazel tov!” I invited he and Tondra to dinner and we waved goodbye. Peace my Jewish brother…May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bring you to a true knowledge of the Living God Yeshua…and may you trust only in Him!