This Also Took Guts

I’m coming out of church last night. I’ve got Isabella on one arm and a diaper bag in the other.

A black Ford Explorer pulls up.

The old man driving it stops behind my car and rolls his window down.

“Sir, can you help me?”

I look at my daughter and then down at the diaper bag on my arm.

I should be asking him for help.

“Sure. Just a sec.”

I hand the kid off to her mother and make my way over to the passenger side of his car and our dialogue begins.

“I was laid off earlier this summer and I’ve lost everything. All I’ve got left is this car and I’m trying to get…”

I stopped listening when I looked down and saw a twenty dollar bill and a couple of ones sitting on his passenger seat.

Snapped back to reality by his question.

“…so do you think you could help me out with some gas money?”

“What about that money there in your passenger seat?” I ask.

“It’s not mine.”

“OK.”

Silence.

“Well do you think you could spare some gas money for me?”

I respond, “I don’t really carry cash and if I did, I’m not really in the habit of just giving it out to people I don’t know. I’ll tell you what though, if you’ll follow me to the 7-11 at the corner of May and Wilshire (about a mile and a half from our church building and on my way home), I’ll put gas in your car.”

More silence.

He asks, “Does their gas have Ethanol in it?”

“Uh… I’m not sure. Why?”

“Well I don’t put gas with Ethanol in it in my car. It’s not good for the engine. It’s like filling up with poison.” he tells me.

“Yeah… I hear that’s bad. I’m not sure if their gas has Ethanol in it or not.”

“Do you think you could just give me some cash so I can go somewhere they use 100% gas?”

Once again, silence.

I look him up and down, try to make eye contact (no luck), and wonder to myself how this is going to play out. Dumbfounded and a little bit taken aback by the audacity and boldness of his request, I finally respond.

“I’m actually headed to the 7-11 at Wilshire and May right now to put gas in my car. If you want to follow me there, I’ll put some in your car too. Otherwise, I can’t really help you.”

Another awkward silence.

“Hmmm… OK. Well… thanks anyway.”

He rolls up the window and drives off.

I get in my car, drive to the 7-11 where I proceed to start filling my trusty rubber-footed steed with 87 octane, all natural, from the goodness of the earth, corn enriched gasoline poison… $52 worth to be exact. I would have put just as much in his car too if he’d taken me up on my offer.

And so I’m left with two questions.

First, what is the world coming to when someone who’s hard up on their luck won’t accept my charity because it’s tainted with ethanol?

And second, why is the guy who just got laid off putting better petroleum products in his car than I am? What does that say about me and my pride of ownership?

Let’s just say that if the old rubber-footed steed knew what I was pumping into him, he would not be impressed.

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Daddy’s Girl?

I sometimes fancy myself the father of a daddy’s girl.

That is, until she bumps her head on our dresser or smacks her lip on the floor and starts crying hysterically… at which point her lovely and talented mother is the only person alive who can comfort her.

It is then that I know for sure that she is, in fact, still a mama’s girl.

Perhaps I should stop fancying things and get to work child-proofing our home.

Ministers Are People Too

Why don’t churches take better care of their ministers?

I know there are exceptions, but it seems like for the most part Christians expect very much from their ministers without giving them much in return.

I know a lot of gifted and Godly individuals who avoid or get out of paid ministry because they don’t want to have 150, 200, 300, or 2000 bosses always take take taking from them and their families without any regard for the fact that they, as ministers, are real people with real spiritual failings and real needs for encouragement, prayer, love, and support just like anyone else in a congregation.

Just because someone might give 10% of their income to the work of a church, doesn’t make them the boss of the people who have committed their lives to doing a job that often times undervalues them for their service.

I have a lot of thoughts on this that might warrant a more fully developed post in the future… in the mean time, TAKE CARE OF YOUR MINISTERS, THEY AND THEIR FAMILIES ARE NOT AND CAN NOT BE PERFECT, SO DO NOT EXPECT THEM TO BE.

In closing, just because you give a financial contribution to a church doesn’t give you the right to treat the minister, his wife, or his kids like your own personal spiritual servant.

P.S. This post was not motivated by any particular recent experience. In fact, I wrote it over 5 years ago on another blog. It’s just something that has always been (and continues to be) on my heart.

Looks Like It Worked Out

I was listening to some classic dc Talk yesterday at work and it got me reminiscing about my teenage years.

Fifteen years ago, at this very hour, there’s a good chance I was basking in the glory of an Oklahoma summer morning deep in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains (hills) at church camp with my peeps from the Meadowood Baptist Church Youth Group in Midwest City, OK.

Perhaps I wasn’t actually basking in the glory of the morning yet, because perhaps I wasn’t awake yet. Every night before bed all of the guys in our cabin would talk about getting up early the next morning to go hiking in the hills before breakfast. And every morning we’d sleep right up until the time the eggs were ready.

We spent a lot of time throughout our days at church camp praying, worshiping, and discussing our faith with each other and our group sponsors. And when weren’t doing that, we were swimming or playing volleyball in outrageous costumes against teams from other churches across the state.

In the evenings we’d get dressed up and go to the outdoor amphitheater for an amazing evening worship service with thousands of other kids from across the state. After evening worship, we’d take our bibles back to our cabin and head out in groups of three or four to go “socialize” with as many Godly young women from other congregations as we could find.

We’d strike up a conversation with a group of young ladies and then after a few minutes of socializing, when they least expected it, we’d commence with a routine that had clearly been rehearsed many times prior to the current encounter. One of us would start walking around the group with our flashlight while shining it on everyone’s feet like we were looking for something that was lost. Then we’d start asking the ladies if they’d seen what we were looking for?

“I can’t find it. Have you seen it?”

“No.”

“Maybe it’s over there… nope. Not there.”

“Is it over there?”

After a few more rounds of that, like a scene right of Top Gun, one of us would focus our attention on one of the young ladies and bust out singing, “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips. And there’s no tenderness like before in your fingertips. You’re trying hard not to show it…”

Then everyone would join in with great bravado, “Baby!!! But baby, baby I know it. You’ve lost that loving feeling!!! Oh, that loving feeling. You’ve lost that loving feeling… Now it’s gone, gone, gone… Whoa-oh!!!”

And the ladies would watch in wonder as we walked off as a group belting the lines to the chorus of that famous Righteous Brothers tune.

It was good, clean, old-fashioned church camp fun and it never got old. In fact, we’d learned it from the older guys in the youth group who’d gone before us and we probably taught it to the younger lads behind us, as well.

Clearly my interest in the fairer sex was superficial at best at that age. And yet, each night, as I’d lay in my awesome church camp bunk bed listening to my favorite dc Talk album, “Free at Last” on my trusty Sony Discman, I couldn’t help but ponder the lyrics to track # 2:

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain
A woman who fears the Lord, she ain’t playin’
Hear what I’m sayin’ ’cause I’m sayin’ it clearly
She’s the kind of girl I gots to have near me

Well I’m lookin’ into hookin’ with a lady
And not a girlie of the worl’y that’s shady
But the kind of girl you meet behind
the doors of the church

Different from the ones before
She’s the kind that loves the Lord
She’s that kind of girl

Could one of those young ladies who’d just been the victim of our little nightly prank possibly be, “that kind of girl?” Would I ever meet a girl who was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside?

Not at church camp.

A few years later, however, there was this girl in my eleventh grade English class… and we still haven’t lost that lovin’ feeling… whoa, that lovin’ feeling.

Yep. It looks like it all worked out.