Monday, April 25, 2016

Driven


At age 12 in 1952, I wanted a motorbike but Mother said no. Instead, I got a 1939 Chevrolet. I did not know how to drive, so Mother told Curtis, my old brother who was addicted to speed, to teach me to drive. You see, she needed me to transport her to work every morning and then convey myself and my tuba to school, so a car was her answer. Curtis took me to the backroads of Union County, taught me how to use the clutch and shift gears and said, “Drive, Danny, drive!”

If I was not going fast enough for him, which was often, he would reach over with his long leg and floor the accelerator. I managed to keep the old crate between the ditches, but cringed on the two-board bridges that abounded around there. After two afternoon sessions of “driving school” Curtis judged me ready, so Pop took me to the courthouse and told the man at the counter (turned out he was our back across-the-ditch neighbor) that I needed a driver’s license.

“Can he drive?” the man wanted to know. Pop said, “Yep, Curtis taught him.” So, the man wrote me a license. Mother wanted me to let her out about a block before we got to her place of employment. Maybe she was ashamed of the old vehicle or maybe she was concerned about the impression my driving would make on her co-workers. Anyway, she exited the auto before our destination every morning.

On the up side of the matter, as a car owner I was quite popular in junior high school. I made many new friends who wanted to eat their lunch with me sitting in the old crate. I got many suggestions as to what I should do to make it a hotrod. Eventually, I painted the bumpers red and immediately regretted it. One eccentricity the Chevy had was that the bracket was loose on the muffler and when you hit a bump, it would come loose and make a terrible racket. Curtis did not know about the problem, so, one day when we were going on about a 50-mile trip, he was driving. We crossed dippy bridge and the muffler fell, the car roared and Curtis panicked. I said, “Don’t worry, I can fix it.” I got out and slipped up under the car to make the accustomed adjustment. He was quite impressed. He was studying to be a mechanical engineer and here his little brother proved a bit more mechanical than he was.

I only had one fender-bender in that car. For some reason, on a boulevard in my town, the city had installed a series of vertical pipes around the median. I guess they were going to make a fence. I was paying attention to a couple of young ladies walking down the boulevard and mowed down two of the pipes, making quite an impression on the front fender and the two girls. As soon as I got home, I showed Mother and Pop the damage. To my relief, Pop said, “Well, it’s not too bad. That’s why we got an old one.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Church Jokes



I read about a man who had been hired to paint a church building. He wanted to make the water-based paint go a long way, so he thinned it more than he should have. After a rain, the paint job looked shoddy. It did not hold up. So, the minister called the painter in and said, “Man, you made a mess of that paint job and we expect you to make it right.”
“What can I do to make it right?” the man asked. Without missing a beat, the minister said, “Repaint and thin no more.”
That same minister had come to the part in the Sunday service for praise reports and prayer requests. Having glanced at a note left on the pulpit, he announced, “How wonderful! Mr. Jones of Main Street is 111 years old. We certainly want to wish him a happy birthday.” A lady in the congregation raised her hand and said, “I left that note. It says Mr. Jones of Main Street is ill. He needs our prayers.” Well, I guess “ill” looks like “111.”
That same congregation had bought a new carpet for the sanctuary on credit and they were raising money to pay off the loan. During the announcements, the minister said, “As you can see, we have a beautiful new carpet installed here in the church building. We are raising money to defray expenses involved in its procurement. If you wish to do something on the carpet, please come forward and get a piece of paper.”
There were two items in the bulletin that Sunday that amused some of the congregation. One was this: “The young adult Sunday school class will sponsor a bonfire next Saturday evening. Please bring your own hotdogs and guns and everyone will have a great and lively time.” The other one was this: “Next Sunday, being Easter Sunday, Mrs. Smith will lay an egg on the altar.”
I had a minister one time when I was a kid that had the reputation of the town’s worst driver. Most folks in our town got out of the way when they saw him coming. I noticed that he always drove a Dodge. I asked him why he drove a Dodge all the time. He replied, “Because a warning is printed right across the front of the car—Dodge—so no accident will be my fault. Traffic was warned of my approach.”
Finally, I heard that a new minister had just arrived in town and was told he was to officiate at a funeral that was taking place right away. He did not know where the cemetery was in this town and did not know who to ask, so he drove around until he saw some men digging solemnly. He got out of his car and performed the funeral service right there. As he drove away, one of the men who had been digging said, “I have been installing septic tanks for 30 years and I have never witnessed anything like that.” (Some of this material came from a book called Chicken Soup for the Soul and some from Internet sources).

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

That Leaves...



I have been asking myself some questions during this political cycle in our land. And, I have been trying to answer them.
Can a person with a Christian worldview be self-righteous? No, as redeemed people who rely on the righteousness of Christ, we know that we have no righteousness of our own. I heard a famous columnist and commentator respond to a question on a talk show. The interviewer asked her what if she was wrong about an issue. “Aren’t you a Christian? What will you say to your creator on judgment day if you are wrong?” Without flinching, she said, “I will say, I’m sorry, Lord, I had prayed and I thought I was right. Now I just have to depend on you and your righteousness to vindicate me.” I thought that was a great answer. She was not prideful, but confident in the substitutionary work of Jesus.
Can a person with a Christian worldview feel entitled to anything? No, Christians know only about unmerited favor. We deserve nothing but receive everything through grace. I knew a man who felt very entitled to a promotion. When he did not get it, he moved to another job and ultimately received a position similar to the one he had felt entitled to. He hated the job and figured out that it had been a good thing to be passed over. Feelings of entitlement often lead to vanity or disappointment. We have seen that in our own political arena, have we not?
Can a person with a Christian worldview be manipulative? No, we are not in charge, knowing that all things work together for the good of those who have received this worldview through faith in the Lord. The one entity in our culture that should not be manipulated is the media. However, that entity is the one most easily manipulated by candidates and lawmakers alike. Professional commentators can seem so savvy but actually be so dense sometimes, right?
Can a person with a Christian worldview be smug? By “smug” I mean so self-satisfied that no advisers are needed. Since we have no wisdom of our own, Christians need various forms of counsel—scriptures and Godly advice. I would think a president should surround him/herself with the greatest minds of the time.
Can a person with a Christian worldview be an egotist? By “egotist” I mean a person who demonstrates an inflated sense of his own importance or ability. No, it is as if ego dies when a person becomes a Christian. The old man is dead and the Christian becomes a new creature, exhibiting “fruits” of that newness (gentleness, kindness, love, joy, peace, etc.)
My final question is this: how is the Christian worldview being manifested in the political race we are witnessing this year? The establishment wants to remain established. The voters want change. Revolutionary voters would be wise to avoid those who are self-righteous, those who feel entitled, those who are manipulative, those who are smug and those who are egotistical. Let’s see. That leaves…

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Canard

I put my whole mind, such as it is, to playing an April fool’s joke on the wise old man. I called him on his cell and told him we had a New Madrid earthquake here and that his bicycle and other treasures stored with us were swallowed up in it. He caught on immediately and said, “We felt tremors of that canard out here in Atlanta.”
“What is a canard, sir?” I queried, having remembered the word itself but the meaning was lost somewhere in my grey matter.
“It is French for duck, Dan, but it has come to mean a false story. The most pitiful canard of history is the one the priests had the Romans put out about the tomb. You know, the one in which they spread the canard that the body had been stolen by the apostles. It was pitiful because over 500 people saw the resurrected Christ and there were many eyewitnesses still around even when the gospels were written.”
I agreed with him and asked a question that had been bugging me. “Sir, why does Mark mention Alexander and Rufus as the children of the guy that helped Jesus carry the cross? Those names do nothing to advance the story.”
“Dan, it was as if Mark was saying, ‘you can check with Alexander and Rufus about what their daddy did. They are very proud of him for that and they are still alive to tell about it’. You see, the gospels are oral histories from eyewitnesses of the words and deeds of Jesus told in great detail. Potential challengers to what they wrote were still alive and active in the churches, so they could not fictionalize. Falsehood of any kind could be debunked.”
“Sir, I have heard that Mark was an assistant to Peter himself. Why, then, does Peter come off so badly in Mark’s gospel?”
“Well, Dan, Peter himself must have been the source and he must have authorized the propagation of the story of his denial. He must have wanted the absolute truth told in the narrative, even at the expense of his reputation as the top man in the church. And, Dan, there are other indicators of the absolute truth and validity of the gospels. Considering the low status of women at the time, why make up a story in which women are the first witnesses of the resurrection. Their testimony would not even stand up in the courts of the day. And there are other details that show the writers were eyewitnesses and telling the truth in detail. I will mention the cushion Jesus slept on in the boat—why mention that? Also, the exact count of 153 fish caught or Jesus doodling in the sand in the report of the woman taken in adultery. These details assure the validity of the gospels.”
“Yes, sir, and I have read C. S. Lewis’ statement that the gospels are a unique kind of writing for the time, realistic narrative. That kind of literary technique did not come into existence until much later.”
“Dan, it is no canard that the tomb was empty and hundreds of witnesses saw him bodily raised. If it were a canard, we would have no Christianity.”