Spiritual Musings from an Educated Redneck

An inside look of the mind of Pirate Pops

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

SPIRITUAL FLIP-FLOPS

Yesterday evening my wife and I were at dinner with our 28 year old son and his beautiful wife when he told me a story I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t known him so well.  That afternoon he and his wife, who is almost 8 months pregnant, were going to a local water-park for her to paddle around and get some exercise.  They were driving down a four lane busy street in our community and were at a point where there is a major medical hospital and a small psychiatric hospital about one block apart.  As they approached the psychiatric hospital a car pulled up into its parking lot and a man got out of the back seat and took off running right across the street with cars whizzing by.  The driver got out and began to give chase.  Zack said he figured this wasn’t a good situation so he got out and entered the chase.  He quickly caught the driver, who was out of shape and couldn’t go any further.  He asked, “What’s happening?”  The driver replied, “I was transporting him from another city and he started screaming that his case worker wanted to kill him and then he took off!”  It was obvious this guy couldn’t continue the chase so Zack asked the driver if he wanted him to try to catch the poor man, who was obviously delusional.  He said, “Please, if you would.  I don’t know if he will hurt himself or not.”

By this time the escapee had gone down to the major hospital that had a walkway over the street from the hospital to the five story parking garage.  Zack caught up with him on the bridge.  By this time a woman from the psych hospital was up on the other end trying to block the man.  He easily pushed his way past her and continued to the garage.  Others from the hospital entered into the chase.  Everyone was running around on the first floor of the garage looking for the man. Zack surmised that if the man wanted to hurt himself he would probably go to the top floor.   So Zack ran all the way to the top floor and sure enough, there was the man straddling the ledge.  Zack stopped a distance away and began to talk softly to the man; afraid if he approached him he would jump.  Soon a woman from the hospital made it to the top and was able to gently talk him off the ledge.  The man fell on his knees crying and the woman placed her arm around him, patting him and speaking softly.  Suddenly, he cried out, “My case worker wants to kill me” and off he went again.  Zack again gave chase and caught him and was able to restrain him.  Zack said, “Dad he was big but soft so I was able to hold him.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t want to slam him to the concrete for fear of hurting him so I just held him.  When I loosened my grip he took off again.”  Again Zack gave chase.  By this time the first police officer showed up and together they cornered the man for a moment.  Suddenly, off he went again and now Zack and the officer are in pursuit.  Again, they get him cornered about the time a second officer showed up.  Together the two officers restrained him and carried him back to the hospital.

I said, “Son, I’m 59 years old and I’ve never had anything even near that wild happen to me!”  That’s incredible!

He said, “Dad, the worst of it was I was wearing my flip flops!  I never wear my flip-flops out during the day because I’ve always thought I might have to run from someone or run after someone!  The one day I wear my flip-flops (on the way to the water-park) it happens!  I had to chase this dude in my flip-flops!

Now beyond being proud of my son for being willing to put himself at risk to help an obviously distressed soul, I immediately began to make the spiritual application in my mind.  I thought about where the Word addresses the issue of preparedness at all times.

II Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.””

II Timothy 4:2 says “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season ; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”

Just as Zack found himself unprepared for a foot race with a delusional escapee, how often, when the opportunity of ministry presents itself, do we find ourselves unprepared?  In other words wearing “spiritual flip-flops.”  You never know when you will have the chance to share the faith.  Don’t be unprepared.  Don’t get caught in “flip-flops”. 

Rather, “…Shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15)

 

Two Glasses Shy

For many many years I have been on the front lines of the battle against the devastation alcohol has brought upon individuals, families, and our entire society.  The cavalier attitude so many Christians take toward the use of alcohol has distressed me to the core of my being.  Some I have known even see their alcohol use as a badge of honor as an expression of their freedom in Christ.  Scattered around them are the broken lives and the detritus left in its wake.  They don’t seem to notice.

Recently I read an article by Gordon Keith that appeared in the Dallas Morning News on July 11, 2013.  Its clarity and applicability struck me so much that I decided to repeat it here.  I wish that I had written these words.

“Last week, 20-year-old Kirstyn Blackwood fell off the back of a party boat in the approaching darkness on Lake Ray Hubbard and no one noticed.  Directionless and confused, the girl treaded water for two hours before a rescuer’s spotlight found her 200 yards from shore.

This weekend and every weekend after until the cold sobers us up, we’ll be out on our lakes with our plastic cups and leaking coolers chasing good times and navigating poor decisions.  For most of us, life without alcohol doesn’t seem like much of a life.  It’s what we do.  We pair it with everything.  A lake outing, a celebration, a defeat, a night out, a night in, a Christmas, a Memorial Day, a wedding, a Wednesday.

I got a promotion.  Let’s have a drink.

I didn’t get the promotion.  Let’s have a drink.

Alcohol is the prescription and the accepted response for all life’s experiences, even opposing ones.  Part of this is cultural.  But most of it’s human.

We are born two drinks shy of happiness.  Two drinks gets you to what feels like the natural starting line of life.  It’s a warm restoration.  A velvet womb.  Easy, free and a transceiver of love.  But if you’re unlucky, it gets harder to hit that target of two-drink contentment.  Soon three is not enough and four is too many.  Then five is not enough and six is too many.  And so on.  Managing the alchemy can be exhausting and futile.

When you’re young, sailor drinking is expected.  In bikinis and frat houses, prodigious bouts of drinking result in proudly retold epics.  But when you’re not young, but just want to feel that way, prodigious bouts are retold by loved ones that hush when you enter the room.  You start off drinking out of the bottle and at some secret point it starts drinking out of you.  It’s not everyone, but it’s enough.

If he’s lucky the drinker will quickly figure out that his two-drink deficit can’t be slaked with actual drinking, or drugs, or adventure, or money, or sex, or the approval of strangers.  He’ll still envy people who can have one glass of wine a night, but not as much as he’ll envy those who can have five.  There are many who feel that as long as they are a functioning alcoholic, they’re not an alcoholic.  That’s the sad logic of the besotted mind.

Not all alcohol consumption is bad, but most of it remains unexamined.  How many bad decisions have been made under the fuzzy blanket of alcohol?  How many mornings have been salted with the detective work of piecing together the previous night?  How many afternoons have been christened with new drinks to swallow old shame?  It’s a carousel that some stay on because they think carousels are fun.  Maybe they are, but they don’t go anywhere.

It’s Friday, and once again the lure of the Party Coves of North Texas is calling.  To many, this past weekend’s toll is already a forgotten news story bearing someone else’s name, and the party will go on.  Most of the lake drinkers will be young and will survive the delicious pleasures of an unwise youth, but some will be those older drinkers carrying nervous kids with watchful eyes.

We still have a lot of summer left and a lot of beer.  I just hope we, I included, enjoy it with a splash of moderation.  It may be a kill-joy virtue but it’s also a certain salvation.  For our light drinkers, I feel gratitude and hope.  For my fellow heavy drinkers, I fear most of us will tread water a long time before we’re hit with the illumination that means rescue.”

Well, those are words spoken like someone who has been on the devastating end of the drug.  Unwilling to ask others to completely abstain lest they too feel the heavy hand of addiction, he pleads for moderation.  That’s fair.  I guess the problem is that none of us know in whom that biological switch dwells that the first drink flips.  Then its “Game on!”

Seems to me the better part of wisdom is to simply abstain.  Then that switch never has the chance to get flipped.

I don’t know, if you are two glasses short of happiness, you might want to begin looking for the reason rather than trying to achieve it by artificial and potentially devastating means.  I’m just saying….

Choot Em!

Recently a friend gave me a tee shirt with just two simple words written across the chest. “Choot em!”  That’s from a very popular reality TV show called Swamp People.  Its stars are some southern Louisiana Cajun folk who go out into the swamp and hunt gators!  When they get a big one next to the boat you are liable to hear someone shout out, “Choot em!  Choot em!” in that unique Cajun vernacular. 

Well, recently I read a “Choot em!” story that really caught my attention.  I’ll let her tell it in her own words.

“While walking along the edge of a bayou in southern Louisiana with my soon to be ex-husband, we were discussing property settlement and other divorce issues.  Suddenly, we were surprised by a huge 12-foot alligator lunging out from the murky water and charging us with its large jaws wide open.  The gator must have been protecting her nest because she was extremely aggressive.  If I had not had my little Beretta Jetfire .25 caliber pistol with me I would not be here today!  Just one shot to my estranged husbands kneecap was all it took.  The gator got him easily and I was able to escape by just walking away at a brisk pace.  It’s one of the best pistols in my collection!  Plus, the amount I saved in lawyer’s fees was more than worth the purchase price of the gun!”

Now I know that wasn’t exactly the ending to the story you were expecting.  When I read it I certainly wasn’t expecting it.  But it did ring a certain bell in me.  Not that estranged wives should shoot their husbands and leave them for the alligators, although some might like that part of the story.

What rung my bell is that so often that is exactly what we do to other people to protect ourselves!  We “Choot Em!”  We do something that we know is wrong and when we are in danger of getting caught we place the blame on someone else.  We “Choot Em” and walk away. 

You know how it goes.  Well it wasn’t my fault.  If they hadn’t….If he or she wasn’t so….On and on it goes.  Pass the buck.  Lay the blame.  Dodge the bullet.  It’s always something or someone else.  It’s never me!

The truth is the most probably when you are looking in the mirror you are looking at the problem.  Or you are at least looking at the only part of the problem you can do anything about.  You.

We have a question we ask someone whenever they come to us ragging on someone else for something the person said or did.  It goes like this.  “What’s your part?”  Usually that is responded to with a “Huh? What do you mean my part?”  Just what I said.  “What’s your part?”  When you identify that, then you can begin to get to the resolution.  As long as you are laying all the blame on the other person you will never identify your part and you will never grow. 

Jesus said it this way in Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

So the next time you get ready to “Choot Em” take a moment and look in the mirror.  See any logs?

 

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