Wednesday, August 31, 2011

PULPITS REVEALED!


I was recently asked this VERY IMPORTANT question by a concerned Blember (blog-member) of this Blogregation (blog-congregation).  It reads:

Dear Brother Preacher, Hello.  How are you?  I am fine.  Hope you are too.  Do you have any hobbies?

Not the most EXCITING opening to a letter, I agree, and really not that great for a Blermon (blog-sermon) opener either, now that you mention it.  But believe me, it gets better.  Several inane pages later, it reads:

Anyhow, I wanted to see if you could answer a question for me.  Last Sunday our Preacher, stopped in the middle of his sermon and began to choke like something had gotten stuck in his throat.  Just as people were starting to get nervous, he reached down behind his pulpit and pulled out a can of diet soda and took a swig.  “He replaced the soda can, and then reached down again and pulled out a bag of throat lozenges.  My question is: do ALL Preachers have stuff stashed back there in their pulpits, and if so, what else is back there?  By the way, you are the best Bleacher in the world. Much better than Joel Olsteen. A Fan, Terri.”

It’s a vital question, with a short, vital answer.  Here it is: if your Preacher is the kind of poor slob who is forced to preach behind one of those fancy, new-fangled “see-thru” pulpits, or Heaven forbid a “music stand” he is doomed.  With any luck he will be dead in 18 months.  14 Preachers a year choke to death due to preaching behind one of these ridiculous, lame-o pulpits.  If you care anything at all about your Preacher you will remedy this immediately.

The good news is MOST Preachers still use REAL pulpits, which means YES they have all kinds of crap stashed back there.  What that crap consists of, depends on the Preacher.

Nearly all have a drink of some kind for choking emergencies as well as some lozenges.  There is often a spare tie, some socks, pen, ruler for measuring hair length on Snippy Deacons, and a water gun in case the baptistery springs a leak.

Personally, I also like to include some batteries, a little TV for big game days, a bag a Doritos, some flannel graph characters, and you never know when you might need a can of corn to hold up as an illustration of “Things Not Mentioned In The book of Mark”.

Bottom line: a pulpit is like your mother’s purse.  Never go in there - you just never know what you might find...and you don’t wanna know.

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I LOVE PREACHING


“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might...” Ecclesiastes 9:10

I love preaching.  No.  I mean I REALLY love preaching.

No.  Sorry.  You’re not getting it.  Preaching is my bag.  It’s my “thing”.  It’s what I wanna do more than anything else, including golf.  Which is a terrible example, because I hate golf.  

But I LOVE preaching.  I love it.  I dig it.  Or as the great Winston Churchill once said,

“Me diggy biggy.”

At least I think it was him who said that.  Might have been me.  What am I sayin’?  I think it was my brother-in-law.  Doesn’t matter.  Anyhow...

Naturally, when I say I love preaching, it’s not lost on me as to WHY I SHOULD love preaching.  You know the whole, getting folks saved thing.  And I DO love it for that reason.  After all, I DO get it, I know the over all purpose of preaching, the importance of it.  But I think I would be being less than honest if I sat here and told you that was the ONLY reason why I loved it.  Not even close.

Ever since I was a little kid, I have just loved pulpits. I love reading announcements.  I love welcoming visitors.  And there’s really nothing in this world more fun than waving a Bible around at people.  Don’t believe me?  Try it.  Makes you feel like...I don’t know what.  Like a guy waving a Bible at people, I guess.  Which, as it turns out, is pretty dang fun to do!

Which reminds me, there was an old Preacher I knew when I was a kid.  One time he was preaching and was just wavin’ his Bible around like crazy.  He was really gettin’ wound up when he said,  “If we’re not gonna follow this book, we might as well just throw it away!” And then he THREW it WAY out into the crowd!  Knocked Sister Mabel’s hat clean off her old head.    Talk about great.  Talk about fan-tas-tic.  I was hooked.  I HAD to be a preacher after seein’ that.

Besides, what other job besides preaching that let’s you scream at people, tell jokes, eat all he fried chicken you can choke down and occasionally dunk people in a river?

I love preaching.

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Monday, August 29, 2011

MY NAME IS PREACHER. BROTHER PREACHER.


There’s not a day goes by, I'm not asked by somebody what it’s like to be a Preacher.  

“How do you do it, Preacher?  The sermons, the puppet shows, the Pot Luck Dinner/ 3-Bean Salad organizing?”

You may not realize it, but people are simply fascinated by the life of Preachers.

But explaining what it’s like to be a Preacher is like explaining what it’s like to be James Bond.  Most people just aren’t gonna get it.  How do you explain the cool gadgets, the concordance collection, the constant outmaneuvering of evil enemies who want to take over the world, and the feeling you get when dropping out of an airplane from 3000 feet while in a shoot out with a Grumpy Elder?

Somethin’ like that.  I think I mixed up my James Bond stuff with my Preacher stuff.  The shoot out I had was from 4,000 feet; and it was 2 Grumpy Elders and a VERY snippy Deacon.  Anyhow.  You get it.

Now that I think if it, Preaching is more like being James Bond than many people might think. For example:

We both have cool letters in our names that we use for short: Brother Preacher (BP), James Bond (JB).  James Bond also goes by a number (007).  I pretty much just go by “Brother” - I’m kinda “low church” that way.  If I HAD to go by a number I’d go by 003 -- for the Trinity, of course.

James Bond drives a Aston Martin DBS V-12, I drive a Ford Focus.  Both have wheels and a fairly decent cup holder.  One is equipped with a machine gun and an ejector seat for protection, while the other has a stack of religious tracts that can leave a pretty nasty paper cut.

One has a bunch of cool spy gadgets he gets from a guy named “Q”; I get all my cool preaching gadgets from Gidget.  (By the way, check out her new website coming soon: Gadgets By Gidget -  “for the Preacher in your life”.  She makes some great baptismal waders that double as protective door knocking gear.)

James Bond saves the world in the just nick of time, usually by getting his tie stuck in something mechanical;  I pretty much do the same thing by stickin’ my tie in a Bible to mark the best  “get saved verses”.

JB comes home after a hard day to a bevy of bikini-clad beauties; I come home to Gidget.

Gidget.  Mmmm.

Eat your heart out, JB.

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Sunday, August 28, 2011

WHAT IF?


What if you found out that everything you were ever told about Heaven was wrong? 

What if instead of streets of gold, and big, white thrones and pearly crowns, you got up there and the place was covered in nothin’ but Christmas lights and pink flamingos and huge, orange, leather bean bag chairs, because (as it turned out) God happened to PREFER bean bag chairs to thrones?   

Would you still want to go?

And what if there were people up there, who you knew SHOULDN'T be there, but who WERE there somehow anyway; all scrubbed up and nice and clean and forgiven just like you?  Who instead of singin church songs all day, spent all eternity playing’ board games, and listenin’ to Polka music, and tellin’ knock-knock jokes, while passin' around a big 'ole bucket of Carmel Corn?

Would you feel cheated?  Would you want to complain?

And what if you met Jesus and instead of being that nice, tall, sexy, blond haired, blue eyed guy in the white robe and red sash, he looked more like the guy working at the 7-11 store; and was short, and fat, and had a receding hair line, and a hairy back, and dirty clothes, and smelled like a goat, and had bad teeth, and a slight lisp and stuttered?

Would you still tell people you loved him, and put his picture up in your church, and see his face in slices of burnt toast?

And what if you found out that the religious book you love so much wasn’t at all what they told you it was, and wasn’t written by who they said it was, and was NEVER ONCE intended to be used the way they said to use it, because it wasn't trying to say what you they told you it was trying to say?   

Would your life suddenly spin out of control, send you runnin’ naked through the streets, yellin’ like a maniac, burning down buildings and killing puppies? 

And what if you found out the world really WAS 4 billion years old, and Adam and Eve really DID evolve from a sea pig, and instead of being arbitrary punishments for arbitrary sin, hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes really WERE just naturally occurring weather patterns that happened every day on this planet, regardless of what evil anybody did or how hard anybody prayed? 

Would you freak out and suddenly become a different person?  Would you start treating people like stray dogs; breakin' into houses and stealin' their TVs; and callin' old ladies nasty names?


What if EVERYTHING you ever THOUGHT you knew about God and Heaven and the Bible and the Church and the Universe, and FRIED CHICKEN turned out to be wrong? 

Would you try to ignore the facts and keep on believin' the way you always had, livin' in your own safe, little, fantasy world, because (as it turned out) you happened to PREFER fantasy to truth?


Or would you for once - just once - try to leave your preconceived, life-long, never-challenged notions  about God and the Bible and the Church and the Universe behind, and take a fresh, hard, honest look at those things?

Whatever the cost, wherever the road led, would you try to look at those things as clearly as you could, as honestly as you could, as bravely as you could, and just open yourself up to whatever truth was really there, knowing that the truth really WILL set you free? 

Or do you not believe him when he says...

“If you look for me wholeheartedly,
you WILL find me.”
- Jeremiah 29:13

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Saturday, August 27, 2011

MY NEW MIRROR




I Corinthians 13:12:
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror...”

I put one of those funhouse mirrors in my bathroom the other day.

What was the matter with me?  I shoulda done this years ago. 

What was once a terrifying, semi-depressing daily ritual (lookin’ at myself in the mirror every morning) has suddenly become an exciting private pleasure I find myself wanting to repeat several times a day. I’m thinking of dropping a couple of hobbies just to make more time to look at myself in my funhouse mirror.  So long communion cup collecting.  Sorry, somethin’ had to go.

Depending on where I’m standing, my entire body image can change within seconds.  Sometimes I have a fat head, other times a fat body.  Other times, I’m suddenly skinny...all over.  Without dieting or exercise.  Really.  This almost NEVER happened in my other mirror.

It’s true, I don’t ever get what you could call a completely accurate reading on what I’ve got going on, but I DO get a pretty good idea.  And frankly, in my case, “pretty good” is good enough.

My funhouse mirror shows me if there’s renegade spinach anywhere it shouldn’t be.  It instantly tells me if I have neglected to put on pants, or my Hawaiian Hula skirt.  And no one as of yet, has been able to secretly put a sombrero on my head without me knowing about it. 

What else do you want from a mirror?

I will say that no matter what, a funhouse mirror beats the time Gidget and I lived in that House of Mirrors.  That was just plain annoying.  And dangerous.  It did FEEL like the biggest house I’ve ever lived in, though.

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Friday, August 26, 2011

NOW I PRAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP



I fell asleep during my bedtime prayers again last night.

I’m not proud of that fact.  I’m not saying I’m a wonderful example of devotional commitment that everybody should aspire to.  I’m just tellin’ what happened.

I don’t know why this happens.  I guess it could be because I say my bedtime prayers IN my bed instead of BESIDE my bed, on my knees, the way I used to do it when I was a kid.   You don’t fall asleep when you pray on your knees. 

But look, I CAN’T pray on my knees anymore.  I can’t even garden on my knees anymore.  Frankly, I don’t know how you Catholics do it every week.  I’d need more than that little bench with a cushion, I can tell you that.

For a while I tried praying in a chair but it felt too much like I was interviewing for a job.  I tried standing and praying but I always ended up preaching instead of praying.  Bathtub praying is just weird, and unlike SOME people I know, I have NEVER prayed while on the toilet.  For record, I don’t do any reading there either.  There places for reading.  They are called “libraries”.   "Let him who hath ears..."

So sometime ago, I started praying my bedtime prayers in bed.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I have to admit it, it has rarely worked.

I usually start off good, with a fair amount of praising and thanking.  But then I slide into the slurring, and the mind drifting and the incoherant babbling.  Occasionally I’ll start talkin’ in cartoon voices, lose my place, wake up and have to start over. 

What bothers me most is that I’m not sure if any of these prayers “take”.  I’m not sure if I ever get to the “In Jesus name I pray” part.  Does anybody know whether or not you HAVE to get to that part for it to count?  Scripture is, at best, sketchy on this topic.

There is nothing worse than struggling through a sleepy bedtime prayer in bed, fighting off the Slumber Monster only to realize in the morning that you fell asleep sometime between “Please bless my family” and “Which Hogan’s Heroes is YOUR favorite episode, Lord?”

Oh, don’t sit there like you’ve never done THAT before. 

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Thursday, August 25, 2011

DISAPPEARING DISFELLOWSHIPS



A while back I was having dinner with a few of friends of mine.

Naturally, because I was there, the conversation eventually turned to Bible-y, church-y stuff.   I have that influence on people.  They can’t help it.  I’m THAT powerful. Charismatic.  They can be talkin’ about Australian Rules Football one minute and before they know it, I’ve shifted the whole conversation to the Abomination of Desolation spoken of in the book of Daniel.  Which MAY explain why I don’t get invited to a lot of parties.  Anyhow...

Usually I’m pretty bored by people, especially when they’re sayin’ stuff.  But to my surprise, I was suddenly brought out of my nacho-induced stupor when one of my friends informed the group that she did not believe in people being disfellowshipped.  She said she didn’t think it existed.

As one who has been disfellowshipped countless times before, naturally this caught my attention. For the record, I’ve been disfellowshipped 9 times, black-balled 3 times, kicked out of 2 Christian colleges and 1 Brownie Troop.  I only wish I could have done more.

Ask me why I have been disfellowshipped (or kicked out of particular congregations) so many times, I’m not sure I could give you a satisfactory answer; primarily because I was never given a satisfactory answer by any of my Disfellowshippers. 

Suffice to say it was never for any Bible-y reason.  There was no immoral, greedy, idolatrous, swindling going on.  Usually it was because of a sermon I preached that somebody didn’t like, or an opinion I held that somebody disagreed with, or suit I wore that “offended” somebody.  You get it. The usual.

When you ask a Disfellowshipper to be specific as to why they think you should be disfellowshipped, they get sort of embarrassed and confused and very mumble-y.  Kinda takes the fun out of the whole thing when you have to actually start THNKIN’ stuff through.  I should know, I HATE thinkin’ stuff through.

The good news is, hardly anyone is ever kicked out of church anymore.  Not because they shouldn’t be, but because it just isn’t done anymore.  Churches need all the folks they can get these days, and to go around kickin’ out the few that are at least showin’ up once in a while just isn’t good for business.

Plus that, throwin’ people out of church just isn’t polite.  We don’t wanna “judge” anybody’s actions these days.  We don’t want to expect anything from them, let alone ourselves.  Most people and churches would rather be polite than right any day. 

So here we have a Biblical practice that was at one time employed fairly regularly yet often incorrectly and for the wrong reasons, that is now NEVER employed because it might hurt people’s feelings. 

Maybe my friend was right.  Maybe disfellowshipping doesn’t exist. 

If those are the choices, maybe it never should have.

(insert hilarious joke here)

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

GREETINGS!



Romans 16:16 says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

Well, now HERE is yet another example of one of those Bible things that never really took off: THE HOLY KISS.  It’s about as popular these days as the Sanctified Shoulder Rub and the Temple Tickle. 

In a way, I understand why it never really caught on.   And if you saw some of the old Farmers I grew up with you’d understand too.  Suddenly, the Holy Handshake makes a LOT of sense. 

Funny how that works though.  Some stuff we’re told to do in the Bible people just LOVE to do.  But other stuff, the weird stuff, the tough stuff, we just never quite get around to doin’. 

We just can’t wait to sing and pray and fellowship, and eat and....sing and...um...that’s about it, I guess.  But the rest of that Bible stuff can be downright annoying to deal with. 

All that giving, and sacrificing and lovin’ your enemy stuff can get on your ever last nerve.  Giving your cloak AND coat to WHOEVER ASKS can make for a very cold winter.  Spreading the word to ALL the world can REALLY cut into your golf and Internet time.  And let’s face it, there are just so many cheeks people wanna turn in a day.

But I always thought the Holy Kiss woulda been kind of an easy sell. Especially as a greeting.

“Hello, Brother Carl!”  SMACK!

“Good morning, Sister Suzie!”  SLOBBER!

It’s so intimate.  So personal.  Make it HOLY and I can see why the Bible said to do it.  It’s powerful.  Kinda makes the “Christian Side Hug” look kinda wimpy.

But if church people wanna ignore this part of the Bible because it "was cultural", or "not really intended for us", or "not REALLY what Paul meant", or "not REALLY what Jesus meant", or just not something we're "comfortable" with or "blah, blah, blah" - insert any excuse here -  I’d at least like to see a couple of frisky Wal-Mart Greeters give it a whirl.   

Can you imagine? 

Maybe not.

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

CHOICES OF MY FATHER



I was in one of those ice cream places the other day.

You know the kind.  It has 500 different kinds of ice cream, and 4,000 different combinations of toppings.  It also has yogurt and candy and Christmas presents.  Soon they’ll be offering a selection of small, foreign cars.  How handy.

The moment I walked in, I knew I was in trouble.  In line in front of me was a little kid, about 4 years old, and his mother.  She was leaning down next to him, slowly reading each of the 4,500 possible ice cream combinations from the huge sign behind the counter.

“So which ice cream do you think you want, Sweetie?  Black bean?  Black bean and cherry?  Black bean chocolate cherry bark chips?  Black bean cherry bark chipmunk chip choo choo train razzmatazz tootie fruitie?  Or...oh wait.  You hate black bean, don’t you?”

I was doomed, the mother was frazzled and the kid was on the edge of a mental breakdown.

He had no idea what this woman was talking about.  How could he?  None of us did.  She thought she was being nice, and a good mother, letting him make his own choices.  I get it.  But it was more than he could handle. 

I couldn’t help but remember how my Father used to deal with me in similar situations.  He too wanted to help me make my own choices, but instead of reading me an entire menu, and watching my little, fat head explode, my Father’s technique was slightly modified.  It went more like this:

DAD: “OK, son, do you want vanilla ice cream or nothin’?”

ME: “Ummm...vanilla!”

DAD: “Great.  Now, would you like a hamburger, or nothin’?”

ME” Um...hamburger!”

DAD: “Another fabulous choice, son.  Now, would you like milk or nothin’?”

ME: “I think I’ll take...nothin’!  No, wait!  Um...ah....Milk!”

It was a terribly effective system.  I got to make my own choices, my father got to not be driven crazy, and people in line behind us were able to continue on with their lives.

I’m convinced the LACK of choices my father often gave me was one of the reasons my life was so good. 

DAD: “Do you want a spankin’ or nothing?”

I didn’t figure THAT one out until I was 13.

Thanks Dad -

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Monday, August 22, 2011

WALK IT OFF


I walked to work today.

You want some attention?  Tell somebody you’re walkin’ to work. Or riding your bike to the store.  Or maybe jogging down to the Post Office.  Just try it once and you’ll see what I mean.  You’ll be nominated “Freak of the Week” within seconds.

Just say you’re WALKING somewhere.  Not running, not crawling, not hopping on one leg while blowin’ on a ram’s horn.  Just say you’re WALKING...anywhere.   They’ll look at you like you’re crazy.  Their face will screw up in disbelief. They’ll look hurt and guilty and a little angry all at the same time.

“You’re WALKING?” they’ll say, “To the store?! That’s a MILE away!  Why don’t you let me drive you?”

Never mind that you RUN 5 miles every morning already, or ride your bike for 45 minutes every other day, or just got back from that survival trip in the desert; just say you’re WALKING anywhere when you could DRIVE there instead and people will have you on the “Weirdo’s Of The World” list.

The thing is...I‘ve been on that list for about...40 years now.  I’m the President of that list.  I can show you where to park on that list and where to get a good sandwich.  Being on a “Weirdo List” doesn’t bother me.  Doesn’t SCARE me. 

What SCARES ME is WALKING TO WORK!  It’s true what they say, get out of your car and walk once in a while you WILL start really SEEING the world as it really is - all of it.  Whether you want to or not.

You’ll see pretty flowers and gorgeous puppies, dead grass, half-eaten, moldy apples stuck under the bus stop, and an incredible amount of cigarette butts. 

You’ll hear the birds singin’, the clicking sound of the front door of a bank unlocking, construction workers tellin’ dirty jokes as they sweep and motorcycles that REALLY need muffler work.  

You’ll smell fresh bread from the bakery, and fresh cut grass and fresh doggie dung, and you won’t know for sure which one got you sneezin’, but you WILL know which one you stepped in.

You’ll finally notice how great the leaf blower guy is when he stops to let you pass and smiles a “good morning”; as well what a jerk the guy in the red pick up is when he nearly runs you down crossing the street.

You’ll feel the hot sun on your neck, and the beginning of a dangerous sunburn on your neck.

No wonder they think you’re nuts.  You are.  And I love it.

I think I’m gonna call Gidget to pick me up.

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

RING THAT BELL!



I was walking to work one day when I saw a little boy, about 6 years old, across the street on the front porch of somebody’s house.  He was trying to ring the doorbell, but couldn’t quite reach it. 

Naturally I felt sorry for the little guy.  I assumed he was probably checking on a playmate or maybe selling something for school.  So I crossed the street to see if I could help out.

When I popped up onto the porch behind him, he was still hard at work, struggling to reach the doorbell. 

“Hey there, little buddy,” I smiled and said.  “Troubles?”

“I can’t reach the bell,” he said with a pout.  He really was a cute, sweet-lookin’, little guy.

“Well, here that’s no problem,” I said, “Lemme give you a hand.”

“I can do it myself,” he said; and then struggled some more.  He was determined to ring that bell.

“Oh now, come on,” I said, “I don’t mind.”  Then I reached up to the doorbell and gave it a good, long ring.

“There you go, buddy boy,” I said.  “No trouble at all.  But don't feel bad.  Listen, someday not long from now, when you’re a little bigger, you’ll have no trouble ringin' that bell either.  But I want you to know, I was impressed with the way you kept trying to ring it.”

“Thanks, Mister,” he said, a huge smile busting across his dirty face, “Thanks a LOT!”  It made me feel great.

“So now what do we do, little buddy?” I asked.

“Now,” he said with a giggle, “We RUN!”  And he tore off the porch and down the sidewalk like a maniac laughin’.

I coulda throttled that kid.   When the door flung open and I found myself face to face with ONE of the biggest, meanest, unemployed brick layers I'd ever seen,  that little punk was already half a block away. 

By the way, I have some VERY grumpy neighbors.  No wonder I’ve never talked ‘em.

I think the lesson is clear:  Kid’s are horrible.  They are a bunch of lyin’, little punks who should be in Sunday School 24 hours a day! 

And secondly...always ASK before you do any Good Samaritan work. If you don’t, you could get  punched in the nose by an unemployed brick layer.

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Friday, August 19, 2011

NO ARGUMENT HERE

I just wrapped up a fascinating and enlightening conversation with a two year old boy in a coffee shop.  I think he won.

As many of you know I routinely do a lot of my writing in coffee shops.  There's just something about trying to concentrate above the noise of a continuous cappuccino machine that I find helpful to creativity.   

Anyhow, as is my custom, I was sitting along the back wall  tip-typing away, feeling (and appearing) very productive and important to all around, when I sensed somebody very short, and slobbery staring at me.  I looked up and saw a shirt-less, 2 1/2 foot, tow-headed, 2 year-old boy in light blue overalls and sandals smiling at me and pointing at my computer.

"I Colby!" he announced.


"Hello, Colby," I said, "I working."

Then Colby screamed with delight at this hilarious joke.  It was then I realized just how intelligent he really was. Intelligent people always "get" my jokes. 

I then pretended to choke on my coffee which really brought the house down.  My coffee choke bit rarely fails.  I was on a roll with this kid. 

Of course, Colby's ever-present parents were nowhere to be found.  Apparently they were of the mind that having named their offspring after their favorite cheese, their work as care-takers was finished.

"Where's Mommy, Colby?"  I asked.

Colby looked at me like I had gone stupid.  Wasn't it obvious?  Then in all seriousness he said, "Blah wah, sping tater wah tah nah?"

I realized there was no need to call the police with this vital information.  They wouldn't have known what to do with it.  And my GPS would be no help either.  So I decided to excuse myself from the situation before being accused of a kidnapping cover up.

"OK, well you better go find her.  Go find Mommy, Colby.  Go find Mommy," I said, as if he had suddenly turned into a Pound Puppy.

"Go find Mommy, Colby" I said again.

Then Colby flung his scrawny, little body backwards, as he lifted himself up on his tip toes and screeched, "Wah goo soo dskfsdljflkdjf!!!!!" 

Then he laughed hysterically.

"OK, have it your way, Mouthy" I said.  "But you know you're supposed to have a shirt on in here.  This isn't like those other dumps you usually get your coffee from.  This is a NICE dump. Go find Mommy and your shirt."

To which Colby responded, "Sha sha sha shoe shee shoe?"

It was an excellent point.  One I had not considered before.  Then he shook the table where I was sitting and made a monster growl.

"I think I see your point," I said.  "I was just informing you on store policy.  If you wanna go all Maverick and shirtless, it's on you.  You do what you want, Tough Guy.  But if they kick you out, don't blame me."

Then he started walking around in circles hummin' a tune.  I knew it was time for a new approach.

I said, "Colby, sha shoe shee shing ting do dah do?"

His head snapped around and he looked in my direction, a huge smile on his face.  I knew what he was thinking: at last, a fellow native speaker.  The old man was one of the tribe.  We spoke the same language.  We understood each other.

"Sah bah blwa boo" said Colby.

"Bing a ding do dah shing," I said.

"Wah woo ding, ding, ding, ding," he countered.

The kid was right again.  He was unbeatable.  What a mind.  Then I heard a man's voice calling, "Zander?  Zander?"

Colby had gone back to walking in circles.  I had tried to go back to writing.  Then the man came up to Colby.  

"Zander!"

Then Colby/Zander looked at me and pointed.  I pointed back at him.  I wasn't fallin' for THAT old trick. I wasn't going to go ANYwhere with that strange man.

Then the man said, "Zander, come with Daddy, right now.  Mommy has hot chocolate ready."

Zander/Colby screeched and skipped to his dad who scooped him up.  Had I known there was hot chocolate I might have reconsidered.

"He wasn't any trouble," I said.

To which Daddy said, "Zander, stop sucking your fingers." 

I love parents.

"Bye Colby," I said.

Colby/Zander laughed and said, "Sho zing dah pah dah?"

"Shing zoo too," I said.  

Then Colby/Zander just looked at me and smiled.

He knew I was right.  Who could argue with that? 


As together we stand and sing.


BP


Thursday, August 18, 2011

THE GREAT SERMON SWIPE



Preachers are stealing my sermons.

To say nothing of my Blermons (blog-sermons). 

Not long ago, after completing another award winning, weeklong Tent Revival (yes, they still have them - don’t look so surprised), a friend turned to me and said, “Brother Preacher, do you write you own sermons?”

This question struck me as odd. 

“Of course I do, “I said, “Every amazing word.” 

I had no idea I had a choice.  Had I known there was a sermon writing computer program out there that allows you to type in a topic, press RETURN and then automatically have it throw together a joke, a poem, two scriptures and a dog story and spit it out the other end - sign...me...UP.

But that wasn’t what he was getting at.  Apparently there are preachers out there in the Preacherhood who have been stealing my sermons and using them as their own.  Outright.  Word for word.  Tragic.  Weird. 

I really can’t say that I blame ‘em.   I suppose if I didn’t have access to my own brilliant sermons, I might be tempted to swipe of few from time to time from somebody else.  Although I have to admit, I don’t know if I’d be able to pull off preaching another guy’s sermon.  Sermon titles often tell you more about the guy preaching it than the sermon itself.  It can get scary.

Here’s a quick list of just a few REAL sermon titles I found just now:

IT IS NEVER RIGHT TO DO WRONG IN ORDER TO GET A CHANCE TO DO RIGHT.

WHY TRIMMEST THOU THY WAY?

HE SAW ME IN A TREE

WHEN LEFTY STUCK IT TO HEFTY

TELEGRAPH, TELEPHONE, TELL A WOMAN

4 SKELETONS THAT PREACHED THE GOSPEL

THINGS I LEARNED FROM A TREE CLIMBING MIDGET

WHAT MADE THE JAILHOUSE ROCK?

KILL THE COW AND BURN THE PLOW

A NUDE DUDE IN A RUDE MOOD

A FAT SERVANT IS BETTER THAN A SKINNY CORPSE

HONEY, WE NEED TO SHRINK THE CAMEL

THE BUTS OF THE BELIEVER

SLIDING TO HELL ON YOUR BUTS

WAKE UP AND SELL THE COFFIN

THREE REASONS TO COMMIT FORNICATION.

SIN SUCKS

On second thought I might nab a couple of these.  “When Lefty Stuck It To Hefty” could be a whole series.

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

THE "NO PROBLEM" PROBLEM



I was watching one of those interview/news shows the other day on TV.

As the host was wrapping up the interview she said to the guest, “Thanks for being with us, Jim.”

Jim said, “Well, thanks for having me on the show.”

To which the host replied, “No problem!”

I thought “no problem”?  Really?  Well THAT’S a relief. 

I’d hate to think that the host of an interview show had been inconvenienced in any way by having guests ON the show to answer interview questions.  It’s ALWAYS easier to have an interview show WITHOUT all those bothersome guests on.  What good news it was to learn that it was “NO PROBLEM” to have Jim on the program!  Whew!

I’m not sure when “No problem” replaced other more traditional responses to the phrase “Thank you” - (phrases like, “My pleasure” or the increasingly unpopular and quaint, “You’re welcome”) - but it IS the “go-to” response of the day, and I suppose I should just get over it.  But no matter how I try, it still BUGS me in professional settings.

When a waiter brings me a hamburger and I say “Thank-you,” and then he says, “No problem,” I kinda get the feeling he shouldn’t be charging me for this honor. After all, it was NO problem.  We’re kinda buddies now. 

I get the feeling he may have personally overseen the preparing of my burger himself, making sure it was just the way I like it, with the perfect pickle on the side.  It was “no problem” for him to do this, and then bring it back out to me and to refill my water and bring another napkin, because I’m such an adorable, hilarious, great guy.  

"Terrific.  Make it free then, Sam!  See you tomorrow for more of the same!"

Well, guess what?  When I was a waiter, it WAS a problem and an inconvenience to do my job.  Because it WAS a job.  Same goes for whenever I hold open doors, write BlermonsTM, or donate vital organs.  Every time I donate kidneys, it is a HUGE problem.  It can really put a kink in my day. 

"You're welcome" let's BOTH parties in on this little secret.  It WAS a bother, but I am happy to do it because it's my job - now pay up.

Sadly, I think it’s too late to stop this alarming trend.  So I’ve decided to try another approach.  I’ve decided to MAKE it problem. 

When a waiter brings me a hamburger today, instead of saying “thank-you” I’ll say something like, “Well it is about time!  Now go finish my taxes and wash my car!  And where’s that pony I ordered!  I HOPE I’m not being a PROBLEM!”

I still may not get a “Your welcome” out of ‘em, but I will consider a nice, stiff, “Get out of here,” a start.

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BIG WORDS



I love BIG WORDS.

It’s just one of my many IDIOSYNCRASIES. They just look so impressive on the page.  I don’t mean LARGE words - anybody can be a font freak.  I mean BIG, long, scary-lookin’ words.  I guess you could say I’m zestfully enthusiastic or EBULLIENT about BIG WORDS.

As many of you know, I don’t usually use BIG WORDS.  I’m PARSIMONIOUS about using them.  I’d hate to seem all braggy and GASCONADING about my big word usage in front of people.   So naturally, I try to show some EQUANIMITY about the whole thing. 

Besides, letters tend to hop around on me a little bit when I read ‘em - a CAT can easily end up being a TAC with me if I’m not careful. And as a public figure, there is nothing worse than MISPRONOUNCINATING a huge word in front of people.

Of course, misusing a BIG WORD can also get you in trouble.  After I lived in Los Angeles I went around claiming to be CALLIPYGIAN -which for the record, does NOT mean “used to live in California” but it could make you more popular on the beach.

Sometimes BIG WORDS can make not so nice things a little more pleasant.  For example, I’d much rather have a touch of HIRCISMUS than offensive armpit odor.  Who wouldn’t?  I’d rather be CORPULENT than really fat any day.  And I would gladly be a PENULTIMATE Preacher than coming in second to last behind Joel Olsteen.

One of the greatest things about BIG WORDS is that you can really set somebody straight without the danger of getting clobbered by ‘em later.  Big Bible words work great for this. 

One time a guy cut me off in traffic so I called him a stiff-necked, uncircumcised, whitewashed sepulcher of dead men’s bones.  He had NO IDEA what I was talkin’ about.  Of course, I didn’t either - but it felt great sayin’ it and I think it scared him a little bit. 

Of course if there ever comes a time for me call somebody a SCOLECOPHAGOUS, BATRACHOPHAGOUS, JUMENTOUS NINNYHAMMER I’ll be ready.  But I haven’t met a LOT of worm eating, frog eating, morons who smell like horse urine yet.  But when I do...look out.   

Well, I think I’m gonna go do a SABRAGE in the kitchen now...if I can find a bottle and my trusty saber.

As together we stand and sing.

BP

Monday, August 15, 2011

PUNY VICTORIES


It’s 6 AM.

You drag yourself out of bed, get dressed, stretch, then you head down to the basement where you pop a workout CD into the player and begin “Sweatin’ To The Moldies”.

After about 7 minutes you can’t breath anymore, your head is spinning, and you start praying that a mad gunman escapes from prison, and miraculously breaks in and puts you out of your misery. You just can’t take it anymore.

So, you get up and fast forward the CD ahead five minutes.  Then another 5.  Then another 10.  When you get to the 2-minute “Water Break” part of the work out you push play again and drink water along with the instructor on the CD. Then you skip ahead another 5 minutes, and WATCH the CD for next 10 minutes. 

When the instructor says, “OK, this is the last 5 minutes, let’s finish up strong,” you somehow work up the strength to squeeze out a final 5 measly minutes PLUS do the “Cool Down” period where you basically lay on the floor.  Then you turn off the player and head back up stairs for breakfast and a shower.

The next day you do the same thing.  And then the next day.  And then the next.  By the end of the week you have gained 6 pounds.

Not the FASTEST way to get in shape but with time...it can be hugely successful.  Behold the power of the Puny Victory.

The  power of the Puny Victory strings together puny, measly victories that impress no one until they start to show results. They are like termites.  Slow, steady progress.  String enough Puny Victories together and guess what happens?

By the NEXT week you stay at it for 15 minutes before you skip the CD forward.  Then 20.  Then 25.  Before long you are finishing the whole work out like a champ. 

The key is in the coming back, in just doing what you can that day and then coming back.  Always coming back.

Only did half the work out today?  OK.  That was better than yesterday’s NO workout.  So do half a work out today, and half of one tomorrow plus a minute more.  Make a better choice at lunch than you made at breakfast.  Paint another picture, write another poem, no matter what anybody said or didn’t say.  Let your goal be in the coming back, and back, and back.

And then come back tomorrow and do it again.

Because Puny Victories can get big.  REAL big.

I should be in shape by the time I’m 73.

As together we stand and sing.

BP