A Lesson from Driver’s Ed

I found out the other day that my old high school no longer offers Driver’s Ed. While this wasn’t devastating news, it was still quite surprising.

Driver’s Education was one of my favorite classes. There was the driving simulator where we pretended to be put in dangerous situations while we pretended to drive. There were the Chevy Corsicas and Chevy Luminas we took turn driving around the mean streets of Strawberry Plains. And there were the two driving instructors.

One of the instructors was high-strung guy who called me by my full first name, but instead of saying “Matthew” he said “Maffew.” The other one was so laid back he was almost comatose. I liked them both even though I did get yelled at a few times.

There was one thing that happened in that class, though, that made me really angry. It involved a police officer who came into our class to talk about drunk driving.

During the first part of his spiel he asked how many people had never tasted any alcoholic beverages. Several of us raised our hands. He seemed surprised by this.

He then asked how many people had never tasted any alcoholic beverages–including wine coolers. This time only me and another guy raised our hands. That is when he made me mad.

He looked right at us and said, “You’re lying.”

I remember the rest of the class laughing. I remember shaking my head. And I remember him replying, “Yes you are!”

The thing was, I wasn’t lying. Up until that point in my life I had never tasted any alcoholic beverage. And I still haven’t. It was an aggravating thing, but that incident made me realize something.

People expect people to act like other people.

If a lot of people do a particular thing or act a particular way, some expect everyone to do a particular thing or act a particular way.

People expect people to act like other people so much so that we begin to expect ourselves to act like other people. In other words, we tend to go along with the crowd.

This wouldn’t be a problem if the crowd generally went a good, God honoring way. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Which is why Christians aren’t called to go along with the crowd. We are called to go along with Christ.

People expect people to act like other people. But Jesus expects His people to act like Him.

Thankfully He doesn’t leave us to our own devices to do this.

He expects His people to act like Him and empowers us to do so by His presence and His strength.

And for this I say “Hallelujah!” And that’s no lie.

Do your high school have Driver’s Ed? If so–what was the best thing about it?

 

One Angry Cookie

One Angry Cookie

My wife has 3 Chihuahuas which, as it turns out, is the exact number too many. The oldest of the three is Cookie. Cookie is generally a sweet dog with a tolerant disposition.

But in the above picture she looks a little psychotic.

Why? Here are the possibilities–see if you can guess which one is true…

1. She just listened to “Weird” Al Yankovic’s new album Mandatory Fun. It’s good. Real good. I should know–I’m a big ‘ol nerd.

2. She knows it’s almost Shark Week and was working on her best shark impression. Wouldn’t a Chihuahua Shark be terrifying?

3. I asked her what she thought about mayonnaise. Even Chihuahuas know mayonnaise is not fit for human (or canine) consumption.

4. She has an audition for an upcoming Colgate commercial and was working on her smile. It needs more work. A LOT more work.

5. We have a Doberman puppy that she DOES NOT LIKE.

If you picked #5, you are correct. None of our Chihuahuas like poor Beulah. That’s right, I named our puppy Beulah; mostly so I could call her crate “Beulah Land.” If you don’t get that lame attempt at a joke it means you haven’t spent much time in a Baptist Church.

Anyway, the Chihuahuas don’t like our new puppy and make sure she is aware of this as much as possible. But all of their growling isn’t going to change things; Beulah is here to stay.

When what they growl about isn’t going to change, their growling is a waste of time.

And the same is true for us. There are some things that can and will change; there are some things that will never change. Growling and griping about what will never change will give us less time and energy to work on those things that can be changed.

Maybe Cookie will one day learn this; hopefully we will, too.

What are some other reasons Cookie might look this way? How are you doing at not growling at things that you have no control over?

 

If Jack Bauer were a Pastor

I didn’t watch 24 during it’s initial 8 season run. Thankfully I rectified this oversight a couple of years ago by watching all 8 seasons on my Amazon Kindle. It quickly became on of my all-time favorite shows mainly for one reason….

Jack Bauer.

Played by Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer has to be considered one of the greatest heroic characters ever on television. His devotion to his country and his take-no-prisoners approach to bringing down the bad guys caused 24 to be a consistently action-packed, twist-filled hour of television.

Because of this when I heard Jack was coming back I was pretty excited. And 24: Live Another Day did not disappoint. The season finale aired this past Monday and it was one of the best hours of television I ever remember seeing.

In honor of the finale I thought it would be interesting to think about what would happen if Jack Bauer were a pastor. You know, because I’m a nerd. So, without further adieu…

If Jack Bauer were a pastor his congregation would have to….

1. Listen very carefully to his sermons. Jack only said one phrase loudly and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t use it in a sermon. Most of the time he spoke in intense whispers. If it wasn’t for DVR I’m pretty sure I would have missed roughly all of his dialogue this season.

2. Deal with a huffy secretary. Yeah, I’m talking about Chloe, the sometimes great/sometimes annoying Robin to Jack Bauer’s Batman. Can you imagine having to ask her to put something in the bulletin. *eye roll–”Well, I guess if it has to be in there.”*

3. Expect the worst when called to the pastor’s office. On 24 Jack would often get people to talk by shooting them in the leg or otherwise physically maiming them. I can only imagine what he would do in a Deacon’s meeting.

4. Get used to having one of the most annoying pastor’s kids ever. While Jack Bauer may be the best character ever on television, his TV daughter, Kim Bauer, is in the running for the worst. Bless her heart.

5. Wonder when he goes to the bathroom. Once, just once, I wanted to see Jack look intensely at Chloe and whisper, “I gotta go pee.” It never happened.

6. Be ok with either getting killed, half-killed, or kidnapped. Those closest to Jack tend to get killed, half-killed, or kidnapped. That’s a small price to pay for getting to hang around someone so cool.

On second thought, maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea for Jack Bauer to be a pastor. He probably wouldn’t be a good one.

You know who could be a good pastor? The one you already have.

Whether you consider your pastor “good” or not, I am sure there are things he could improve about who he is or what he does. Why am I so sure of this? Because (as my Dad would say) I are one.

I’m not perfect; no pastor is. Some may say the best way to get a better pastor is to get a new one. I disagree.

The best way to get a better pastor is to pray for and support the one you already have.

I encourage you to do this.

And be thankful that you probably won’t get killed, half-killed, or kidnapped while doing so.

What else would “Pastor Jack Bauer’s” congregation have to do? What are some ways you can encourage your pastor?

 

I’m No Joey Chestnut

Last Friday, the 4th of July, I watched Nathan’s Best Hot Dog Eating Contest. Or whatever it’s called. The contest is one of stamina and stomach elasticity where contestants have 10 minutes to eat as many hot dogs as possible. It is both a sight to behold and to become nauseated by.

This year’s contest was won by Joey Chestnut who devoured 61 hot dogs. IN TEN MINUTES. It was Chestnut’s eighth win in a row. After winning his 8th straight title, his stomach reportedly went into hiding.

Thankfully, I ate my hot dogs before watching the contest. If I had eaten after the contest a couple of things could have possibly happened. It’s a possibility I would have tried to eat as many hot dogs as possible to see what my limit is. It would not have been pretty. Another possibility is that I would have gotten sick while eating my hot dogs as I thought about how gross it was seeing that many people eat that many hot dogs. This would not have been pretty either.

As it was, I ate 2 hot dogs. Just 2. I know–that’s nothing compared to Chestnut’s 61. It’s also nothing compared to how many I used to try to eat.

I’m no Joey Chestnut. Let me count the ways:

1. He ate 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes; I don’t want to eat 61 hot dogs in a year. Don’t get me wrong, I like hot dogs as much as the next overweight, American guy. But 61 hot dogs in a year is more than I want to eat. I mean, I eat 2 hot dogs every time I eat hot dogs. If I did that every two weeks, that would be 52 hot dogs. That’s about my limit. Don’t judge.

2. He’s far more romantic. Chestnut proposed to his long-time girlfriend before the contest; no word yet on how many wedding cakes they are planning on for the reception.

3. He’s got a better nickname. His is “Jaws.” Mine is “Big Ugly.” And only 2 people have ever called me that, which means it isn’t really a nickname.

I’m sure there are a lot of other reasons, but you get the point. I’m no Joey Chestnut.

And Joey Chestnut is no me.

If I was supposed to be Joey Chestnut, I would be Joey Chestnut. If I was supposed to be someone who competes in international eating competitions, that is what I would do.

But that’s not what I’m supposed to do. I’ve got a different agenda; a different purpose; a different path.

There was once a time when I would daydream about being someone else. A better athlete; a better looking guy. Maybe someone who never spits when talking. That time, mercifully, is long over. I am what I am because of God’s grace.

And, with His grace, I will continue to seek the path He has for me above all others.

How many hot dogs could you eat in 10 minutes? Are you comfortable with the path God has for you right now?

 

The Most Interesting Pastor in the World – Part 3

There is over $100k in his church’s annual budget for paint because when people say he preaches the paint off the walls, they mean it.

He knows who wrote the book of Hebrews. But he’s not telling.

No statue was ever erected in honor of a committee–until he was on one.

David Platt thinks he’s too radical.

His church’s softball team has never lost a game. Or cussed an opponent.

Volunteers follow him around with a rolling pulpit–just in case.

At his church, the front row is never empty. And neither is the baptistery.

People are dying for him to preach their funerals.

When he gets pulled over for speeding, he is never given a ticket because he convinces the officer that he’s allowed to “drive by grace and not by law.”

His church voted to celebrate Pastor Appreciation Month. Every month.

Chuck Norris isn’t on his security team; Chuck Norris is his security team.

He doesn’t make phone calls to visitors, they call him. And send him a thank you note.

When people from Israel go on Holy Land tours they go to his hometown.

The ushers at his church don’t use offering plates. They use wheelbarrows.

Every Friday everybody in his church wears a shirt that says “I Love My Pastor!” Everybody who goes to a different church wears a shirt that says “I Love Their Pastor, Too!”

He is….The Most Interesting Pastor in the World.

“Drink of the Living Water and never be thirsty again, my friends.”

What other facts can you think of for the Most Interesting Pastor in the World?

To read parts 1 and 2 click here and here.

The Woo-ification of America

When did “woo” become an appropriate response to positive statements and questions? I don’t remember coming home from school with a good grade and hearing my parents say, “Woo!” They said things like “good job” or “I’m proud of you,” but never “Woo!”

Now, “woo” is everywhere.

Dude one: “Hey, dude–Wanna come over and watch the game?”
Dude two: “Woo!”

CEO: “Your bonus checks will be bigger than expected.”
Employees: “Woo!”

Me: “Kids, we’re having Hamburger Helper tonight.”
Kids: “Woo!” (They have low “woo” standards.)

The “woo” has become so ubiquitous it has infiltrated one of the best songs written: Rocky Top. Yes, there was once a time when there was no “woo” between “Good ‘Ol Rocky Top” and Rocky Top Tennessee.” Ah, the good old days.

Who is to blame for the woo-ification of America?

Rick Flair? You remember him, right? He was the professional wrestler who used to hold up four fingers and shout “Woo!” Could he be the cause of the increase in “woo?”

Probably not.

I think it has more to do with our desire to find different ways to express joy and excitement. I don’t really have any problem with the woo-ification of America.

I just hope we get most excited over things with eternal significance.

Or, as John Piper might say, don’t waste your “woos.”

How do you feel about “woo?” And remember, “Woo!” is an acceptable answer.

 

 

Stove Up Fingers

I have come to the conclusion that I broke several of my fingers several times when I was younger. My proof is anecdotal instead of medical.

My oldest daughter has had two broken fingers. Her fingers have been broken while doing normal things almost every other child has done. One broken finger occurred while playing basketball and the other one occurred when she fell down while running to the locker room to get ready to play basketball.

Before taking her to the ER to determine if her fingers were broken I did not think they were broken. I just thought they were “stove up.”

I have no idea what “stove up” means. It was just what I was told about my fingers whenever I hurt them as a kid. It was the terminology every adult I knew used.

Me: “My finger hurts!”

Them: “You’ll be alright; it’s just stove up.”

It wasn’t until I reached adult that I realized “stove up” is not a medical term. So, I’m pretty sure I broke a few of my fingers back in the day.

I never received any treatment for my “stove up”/broken fingers other than a little ice and, on certain occasions, over-the-counter pain relievers. As a result, my fingers are fine; I’ve never had any problems out of them at all. They still perform all of their functions as normal fingers should.

What healed my possibly broken fingers?

Time.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but it does heal some.

Whatever it is causing you pain may not heal quickly. However, if you have a “stove up” heart, time may be all you need to experience renewal.

Time.

Just time.

Have you every had “stove up” fingers?

These Dogs Must Be Stopped!

I saw a dog at the park the other day and you’ll never guess what it was doing? It was walking on all four legs! Yeah, that’s right. ALL FOUR LEGS! Can you believe it? I mean, come on! He saw all of us walkers at the park on two legs, but he insisted on staying on four. It was ridiculous. I yelled “HEY DOG! GET WITH THE PROGRAM AND WALK ON 2 LEGS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!” but he acted like he didn’t even hear me.

You know what else? He didn’t stay on the normal walking path like everyone else there. For some reason this stupid dog thought it was ok for him to walk anywhere he wanted, like the rules didn’t apply to him or something. It made me so mad seeing him traipsing all over the grass, running around like he owned the place. Someone should really do something. I’m sure everyone else there was as angry as I was.

Yeah–and that’s not the only thing. This dog, the one walking on four legs willy-nilly all over the place, was completely NAKED! You read that right–he was naked. No pants, no shirt, no shoes–NAKED! That our community would allow a dog to roam free with blatant disregard for proper decorum is appalling. What about the children seeing this vile display of nakedness! It’s an outrage!

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse another dog came running up through the grass on all four legs just as naked as the 1st one. And you know what they did? THEY SMELLED EACH OTHER’S BUTTS! That’s right, instead of shaking hands like normal people who meet each other they took turns sniffing each other’s hindquarters. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Oh, the degradation!

Now, if that hasn’t gotten you outraged enough this last piece of information should do it. But be aware, it is so vile, so putridly disgusting that I am hesitant to share it with you. Nevertheless–I must.

Right before I left the park in a fury over what I had seen, I looked back and saw both of these naked dogs run right to the middle of the park and they both (there is no genteel way to put it) POOPED! I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t saw it with my own two eyes. It was such a disgusting sight that I almost fainted. Oh–the humanity!

What am I going to do about this besides write this blog post? I tell you what I’m going to do. First, I am going to contact my town’s elected officials and if that doesn’t correct the problem I’ll contact my state’s elected officials and if that doesn’t correct the problem I’m going to contact the President and, so help me, if I have to I’ll notify the United Nations! These disgusting dogs must be stopped!

Second, I’m going to protest. I’m talking about a poster-waving, slogan-chanting, parade-type protest. These dogs and this community must come to the realization that us God-fearing, law-abiding citizens will not put up with this type of behavior.

Lastly, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my children and my children’s children can live in a world without having to see naked dogs walking around wherever they please sniffing each other’s butts and pooping in broad daylight.

These dogs must be stopped!

******************************************************************************************************

How crazy would it be if I really acted this way about dogs behaving like dogs?

About as crazy as it is to see Christians absolutely losing their minds when they see non-Christians behaving like non-Christians.

It’s hard to speak the truth in love while going completely insane over behavior we should be expecting.

 

What We Deserve

My son played in a baseball tournament this weekend for 9&10 year olds. Actually, As of the time I am writing this it is still going on even though it is no longer the weekend, but I figure if people can call Friday night part of the weekend I can call Monday and Tuesday night part of the weekend if I feel like it.

One thing I saw that I wasn’t expecting to see were a few kids on the other teams either crying or near tears after striking out. Striking out is not a good, of course, but in the grand scheme of things there are about as many more things to cry about in this world as there are people in China. And that’s like a billion or something.

Watching these responses to striking out got me thinking about disappointment.

A girl is disappointed after receiving a 2009 Toyota Camry for her 16th birthday instead of that new Volkswagen she’s been dreaming about. A guy is disappointed because his basketball coach doesn’t put him in for the last few minutes of a close basketball games.

That job you were seemingly in line to receive gets filled by someone with less education or experience than you. That relationship doesn’t work out. That health-scare turns out to be valid. That hope or dream or desire falls flat.

Some disappointments are worse than others, but I think most of them stem from the same root cause: a belief that we deserve something better.

We deserve to get that hit, that car, that job, that relationship. We deserve health and happiness and everything else good. We may not say this out loud, but deep down it seems to be that this is how we feel.

And we are wrong. We deserve the wrath of God.

This isn’t popular, of course. Telling people who like to think of God as all-loving (which He is) that they deserve his wrath (which we do) will never make me popular. But it will make me content with what I receive.

Because if I know I deserve Hell I will be far more content whenever I get anything other than Hell. Which will help me look at life differently. Which will me help fight against disappointment.  Which will lead to greater happiness especially since I will never have to face His wrath because I have repented of my sin and placed my faith in Jesus who took God’s wrath in my place.

So, since all I really deserve is the wrath of God I should not be disappointed when I do not get what I deserve. Instead, I should be thrilled when I get anything other than what I deserve.

What do you think? Agree or disagree?

 

Beer and Wine at Shoney’s–What Could Go Wrong?

Once a year Shoney’s has a free Hot Fudge Cake Day. This means once a year I put on my sweatpants and hit every Shoney’s restaurant within a 100 mile radius of my house. The previous sentence isn’t true, but I have thought about it.

I’m trying to lose weight (again) which means no more Hot Fudge Cakes for me; at least for now. In fact, it is a good idea for me to stay away from Shoney’s altogether just in case their breakfast bar is out. My self-control is pretty strong, but when I see that big, beautiful pan of bacon sitting there I have great difficulty containing my gluttonous urges. Mmmmmm….bacon.

Recently I read that Shoney’s is pushing for its restaurants to serve beer and wine in order to appeal to millenials. In fact, some Shoney’s locations will also feature a full bar. As if bacon isn’t enough for every demographic. Whatever.

I’ve heard rumors about this happening for several years now, but it seems this time it is true and is possibly coming to a Shoney’s near you.

How is this going to change Shoney’s? What can you expect if you go into a Shoney’s that serves alcoholic beverages? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few possibilities:

1. A big mess. Can you imagine inebriated people trying to dish out their own food at the buffet bar? Having a few macaroni noodles swimming around in the gravy will seem nice and tidy compared to the carnage a bunch of drunks with full access to the buffet will cause. It’ll be BUFFET-MAGEDDON.

2. More Christian tracts. I don’t know about where you live, but in my town the local Shoney’s restaurant seems to be the favorite spot for Christian tract-layer-downers to lay down their Christian tracts. They’re everywhere. On the tables, in the candy dispensers, in the bathroom, on the urinals. EVERYWHERE! And if beer and wine hit the menu I expect to see more tracts there than there are fleas on a homeless hound dog. Or something like that.

3. Drunks buying rounds of Hot Fudge Cakes. This one is not so bad.

4. Epic brawls. I’ve never witnessed a barroom brawl, but I have heard about a few. You probably have, too. Now picture what you heard with a buffet bar thrown in the mix. Fried chicken will be flying everywhere.

I’m really hoping the powers-that-be at Shoney’s will have a change of heart regarding serving beer and wine in their restaurants. Why? Partly because I want people to be wise.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Proverbs 20:1

You may not agree with that verse or like what it has to say. It doesn’t matter; the Bible will not change.

Plus–I bet you’ll change your mind if you’re sitting in a Shoney’s one day and the fried chicken hits the fan.

What are some other possible consequences of Shoney’s selling beer/wine? Do you like Hot Fudge Cakes? If not, what’s wrong with you?