Viewpoints are as varied as the people who hold them. Sometimes, we
tend to stereotype viewpoints, just like we do people. Breaking those
stereotypes with whit, humor and the occasional rant is what Dan Burrell
enjoys doing. A theological conservative, Dan is also an independent
thinker who can rile folks on both the right and the left of the
philosophical spectrum with his views on faith, family, philosophy and life
in general. Dan Burrell is an educator, author, father, husband and a regular
columnist with Evangelical Press News. You won’t always agree
with Dan’s “Whirled Views”, but hopefully, he’ll
make you think about things from a more Biblical perspective.
September 28, 2008 at 8:03 pm
· Filed under Listomania!
Do you any idiosyncrasies? I’m a veritable caldron of them.I actually prefer to think of them as interesting quirks in my character, but I’m guessing that they just make me seem outright weird to others who are so unfortunate to observe them.So for today’s “Listomania”, I’m going to list mine if you’ll list yours.
Going to a public restroom is a procedure for me that’s akin to a surgeon going into surgery.I assume the “hands up/elbows down” position as if I had just scrubbed my hands with a wire brush before heading to perform an appendectomy.I refuse to touch almost anything in a public restroom.I can karate kick a urinal flusher like Ralph Macchio in spite of my age and the 20-year absence of any meaningful exercise.I try to use the sink for handicapped people because It has those knob that you can move with the backs of your hands to turn the water off and on.(The next time you are going to touch a water faucet knob in the restroom, think about where those hands just were for the thousands of people who touched those knobs before you.)I have been known to walk out of restroom leaving the water running rather than to touch the nasty knobs with my hand immediately after washing them.And if I ever find the idiot who invited the hot air dryer, I will HURT him or better yet, make him open restroom doors for all of eternity.Are you honestly too cheap to buy a few paper towels???Speaking of restroom doors, who is the rocket surgeon that decided you should pull the door open instead of push the door open when you leave the restroom.That requires one with clean hands to touch a knob that has been touched by 10 billion guys who didn’t think anyone would notice if they just skipped the whole hand-washing procedure.I’ve been known to hook my foot through a door handle to pull it open or to use my $50 silk tie to protect my hands as I twist a door knob rather than to touch the nasty thing.
If I’m in a room and I see a crooked picture, it will drive me nuts until I manage to sidle on over to it and make it straight.I have a friend who knows I’m crazy about this and so they periodically move each picture anywhere near me off kilter by about ½ an inch just to make me work.This can be a bit awkward in the homes where you are a guest, public buildings and museums, I might add.
3.Back of the Buffet
When I go to a buffet, I always try to pick food from the very back of the chafing dish.I figure that it is less likely that someone has drooled in, sneezed upon or dropped their gum in the back half than the front half.
4.Hiding my Toothbrush in Hotels
In my heart, I suspect that the maids use our toothbrushes to freshen up the toilets and to remove the mildew from the shower edges when we are out of the room.For that reason, I not only take my toothbrush out of the restroom when I’m staying at a hotel, I actually hide it deeply in my suitcase somewhere.
When it comes to snakes, any unexpected exposure to these slithering reptiles will make me immediately respond like a six-year-old girl.I believe that the company that makes Depends should have a special advertising campaign directed at people like me.When I’m driving and a snake makes a run across the road in front of me, I instinctively raise my feet off the floorboard.Then I look in my rear-view mirror.If I don’t see it writhing in the road or at least slithering into the weeds, I worry that I’ve flicked the nasty thing up under my car where it awaits my exit later on and it will chomp me as soon as I drop my feet out of the car.I once danced a hole in our yard when I inadvertently stepped on an old bicycle tire inner tube.The dog, who observed my spastic flailing punctuated by shrill, breathless screams, never showed me any respect from that day forward.
Whenever possible, if I am speaking, I visit the platform early to make sure that the pulpit/lectern is exactly in the center.If it has a pulpit microphone, I want it to be straight and centered.I want the exact same number of flowers, chairs, tables or whatever on one side as the other.I have Presbyterian friends who go to churches where the pastor preaches from the side.I’d have to change denominations.It would drive me crazy.
When I cut my sandwich, I want it both symmetrical and diagonal.In my opinion, a sandwich which isn’t even and or is simply cut into two rectangles just doesn’t taste as good and you may well be at risk for food poisoning.
8.Rounded-Off Gas Pumping
This one is actually a two-parter.The first thing I like to do is try to make sure that I stop the gas pump were the last number is precisely “0” on the first click.When I do that, it gives me a sense that I just hit triple 7’s at a slot machine.Occasionally, I’ll hit the jackpot and stop it on the dollar with double zeros.I’m always disappointed that I don’t win a free gallon of gas or something for doing that.As gas prices increase, this has become harder – especially with digital meters.But – because about 99% of the time, I don’t make it stop on a zero on my first click, then I have to take it the next “0”.Often, I miss it and then have to buy another dime-to-a-dollar’s worth more as I try again and this little game continues until I get to “0” or there is gas splashing out all over my pants.This has cost me a lot of money over the years.
I’m not a picky eater (as you can well tell by looking at me.)However, I have two “rules” about eating.Number 1 – I don’t like my food to touch.The person who invented mixed vegetables was a sick, sick individual.It takes me 20 minutes just to separate the veggies so I can eat them!Secondly, I eat one thing at a time.I don’t want them mixed on my plate and I don’t want them mixed in my mouth.There’s something barbarian about just jumbling everything up into one pile and eating it. (Which is why I’d rather starve than eat one of the mixed up bowls of mashed potatoes, corn, chicken, tomatoes, etc… that KFC serves these days.)My ideal meal is one where I can put one item on my plate – eat it, get a second item – eat it, and so on.This of course, drives everyone else in my family nuts.They think I’m weird!Can you imagine?
10.A Gum-Free World
Someone told me that in Singapore, there is a law against selling gum and that chewing gum can be punished by flogging.I’m not sure that’s true, but it has really made me want to go there for vacation.I hate watching people chew gum.It’s like looking at a herd of cows masticating their cud.And if chawing on gum isn’t irritating enough, some have the gift of cracking gum.These are the people (often who have very large hairdo’s or who can chew things sideways) who capture just enough air in their gum with each bite wherein they can emit a small “pop”.It’s as if they think, “Hey, not only can I look like Bossy the Cow – I can also be as annoying as the little kid who sits behind you in the airplane and kicks your seat every 2 seconds.”I have been known to offer chronic gum poppers in my presence other options for chomping like — peanuts, m-n-m’s, filet mignon – anything that will get them to get rid of the gum.If they succumb to my temptation and put their gum on the edge of their napkin so that they can reclaim it later and reach for the treats-of-the-non-cracking kind, I will purposefully violate all pretense of sanitary caution and will pick it up with my bare fingers and flick it in the nearest trash receptacle post haste.Of course, this means that I have to go to the nearest restroom to scrub my hands for 20 minutes and it starts off my whole cycle of idiosyncratic behavior again.
Actually, I have many more I could share with you – but I’m afraid you’ll think me stranger than you already consider me.But now that I’ve offered you a startling view into my twisted little world, perhaps you’d be willing to give us a glimpse into yours.I’m sure you have a few worth sharing.
It is my privilege to currently be in Binghamton, NY on the campus of Davis College (formerly Practical Bible College) for the inauguration of Dr. Dino Pedrone to be the 9th President which took place last night. It was a tremendous evening of celebration with various dignitaries, college officials, alumni and guests. Below is a brief pictorial review of some of the festivities. Congratulations to Dr. Pedrone and to Davis College.
Dr. Pedrone and me right before the Investiture Service.
Dr. Pedrone standing outside of the Library as he tapes greetings to the congregations at New Testament Baptist Church in Miami.
From left-to-right: Dr. Jim Virtue (Superintendent of Dade Christian Schools); Dr. Larry Reesor (Board Member and President of Global Focus); Bobbi and Dr. Pedrone; Yours Truly.
I was able to spend some time with Dr. Elmer Towns, co-founder of Liberty University and one of America’s most prolific authors on church-growth and theology.
Dr. and Mrs. Pedrone as they greet guests and well-wishers following the Investiture.
OK…it’s late and I’m really tired, but I suspect that I won’t have time to do a lot of blogging this week. I’m heading to Binghamton, New York for the inauguration of my friend, pastor and employer, Dr. Dino Pedrone to be the new President of Davis College. I also am on the board of Davis College, so I’ll be staying over for the Board Meeting and then I’m preaching at both campuses of New Testament Baptist Church next Sunday — so it looks like it’s going to be rather busy week.
But, I was thinking today of people I’d like to have dinner with. For this list, I only put living people on it, I’m limiting it to one dozen and this isn’t in order of preference. Then you can add your own list in the comment section.
1. Bill Gates
I’d really like to know what is coming in the future of technology and I’d like to talk to him about his motivations and goals surrounding the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s an usual person and I’d like to learn about how he thinks.
2. Al Mohler
I find him fascinating and deep. I had dinner with Paige Patterson a few years and was so fascinated that I kind of would like to spend some time with the other side of that dynamic intellectual duo.
3. Billy Graham w/Franklin
When you are criticized and adored as fervently as these evangelists are, I’d like to use a conversation to get a “real” impression as to who they really are and what they really believe beyond the public personas.
4. Warren Buffett
One of the richest and simplest tychoons in America. If Sam Walton wasn’t dead, I’d pick him. But Buffett is alive and kicking and I’d like to spend a couple of hours picking his brains.
5. Chief Justice John Roberts
A few years ago, I spent an hour with Clarence Thomas in a private conversation and it was among the most fascinating I’ve ever had. But I’d really like to talk to Roberts (or I’d settle with Scalia) so discuss and learn where they are philosophically.
6. Jeff Myers
I might get to do this next year. This young Worldview expert drips with sound philosophy and creative applications. I’d love to take him to a good restaurant for about an hour of interviewing. If you haven’t hear of him — look him up and read his book, “Passing the Baton.”
7. Ted Kennedy
We couldn’t be further apart on almost everything, but I think he is the end of an era and a truly principled liberal. I would be very interested in hearing what he has to say as he prepares to enter the history books with his final chapter.
8. Vladimir Putin
In my opinion, Putin is one of the most interesting and potentially dangerous men in the world. He’s up to “something” and I’d find it fascinating to meet him. From what I’ve read, he is very intense, does not have much of a sense of humor and is very focused on his agenda.
9. Robert Bork
He was nominated to the Supreme Court by Reagan and was absolutely eviscerated by the liberals. His failure to gain a seat among the Supremes may go down in history as one of our greatest losses and it completely changed the tone of Supreme Court nomination hearings from that day to this. He is a brilliant intellectual and the “father” of originalism. Having read his books, I’m sure I’d find him fascinating.
10. My Mom
Anytime I can have dinner with my mom it is a treat. She’s one of the most amazing women I’ve ever known and today is her Birthday. She’s absolutely fascinating and wise and I wish I could take her out tonight on her special day.
So who is your list of dinner-date wannabees? Share them below!
It’s always amusing to me to hear liberals talk about “tolerance” and “diversity” and “acceptance.” In case you are brain dead, when they use those terms, what they really mean is “YOU have to accept THEIR twisted lifestyles, viewpoints and hate speech.”
When the liberal elite say “Hate Speech” what they mean is that they want to be as vile, disgusting, mean, degrading and offensive as they want to be, but when you disagree with their opinion, you should be censored.
The Liberal Elite are a GIFT to the Republican Party right now. Their response to McCain’s nomination of Sarah Palin is the best energizing force they could provide for red-blooded conservatives this side of arranging for the actual Resurrection of Ronald Reagan. They’ve certainly taken this bored-of-politics, disinterested and unlikely-to-vote withdrawn member of the “Cultural Conservatives” and revived him. I’ve even gone out and registered to vote in my new home state of Florida — something that wasn’t on my priority list just a few weeks ago.
If you wonder how DEEPLY, the Liberal Elites — and by them, I mean the Hollywood Hooligans, the Mainstream Media Big Namers and a smattering of entertainers, financial moguls and left-wing professors — then all you need to do is read the papers these days. The hate spewed from these lunatics is absolutely stunning.
Take a look at this little diatribe from Jewish commedienne Sandra Bernhard regarding Sarah Palin:
Now you got Uncle Women, like Sarah Palin, who jumps on the s–t and points her fingers at other women. Turncoat b—h! Don’t you f–kin’ reference Old Testament, bitch! You stay with your new Goyish crappy shiksa funky bulls–t! Don’t you touch my Old Testament, you b—h! Because we have left it open for interpre-ta-tion! It is no longer taken literally! You whore in your f–kin’ cheap New Vision cheap-ass plastic glasses and your [sneering voice] hair up. A Tina Fey-Megan Mullally brokedown bulls–t moment.
In the same “show” she also warns Palin not to come into Manhattan lest she get gang-raped by some of Sandra’s big black brothers. No hate speech here, right? Can you imagine if Don Imus were to say something disparaging about liberal black folks what might happen? Oh wait — we’ve already seen that! Why the double standard? And in case you missed it, the “Goyish, crappy, shiksa….” she is speaking of is the NEW TESTAMENT. Of course, she’d never dare saying anything like that about the Koran, would she? Again, the REAL “sin” here is being conservative — or even worse, a conservative Christian. See the whole mess HERE.
The has-been comedian Chevy Chase called on Tina Fey to “Decimate” Sarah Palin in her future SNL appearances. Read about that HERE.
Hollywood’s newest little lesbian superstar, Lindsey Lohan spewed the following on her blog:
“Is our country so divided that the Republicans best hope is a narrow minded, media obsessed homophobe?”
I can (and will later on) give you pages of these diatribes. Sure, you can find some whacked out conservative who’ll say some awful things as well — but they are rarely mainstream and when they do say trash, they are roundly and soundly denounced by principled conservatives. You won’t hear that from the liberals — you’ll just get smirks, smiles of agreement and the secret hope that somehow their hateful opinions are the majority.
Conservatives should be concerned with this level of vitriol. Can you imagine what would happen if this country gives them the keys to the White House, Congress AND the Courts all at the same time? That, in and of itself, should give reasonable voters pause when they enter the voting booths in a few weeks.
I am going to link the hate-speech to this blog in the future — watch for it. Uninformed and under-educated voters are dangerous.
Late Entry: Here’s another particularly VILE one from Salon.com.
John McCain’s campaign is exploiting a bill that was supported by Barak Obama that contained a comprehensive sex education mandate that began with some sort of strategy for children as young as five years of age. We all see this for what it is… yet another opportunity to blow one facet of a situation out of proportion so that they use if for political gain. Blah, blah, blah…..that’s the name of the game until the election is over.
However, this particular issue DOES raise an important question. Exactly whose job IS IT to talk to your children about sex?
Several years ago, a national survey was released that found that most parents wanted their kids to learn more than just the “birds and the bees” basics of sex education. An astounding 80% of those parents surveyed said sexual oritnation, abortion and how to use condoms should be taught. Nearly that many said such controversial issues should be presented in a “balanced” way that presents different view of society. (That’s “code” for tolerant and non-judgemental.)
Of course, the real story may well have been the biased way in which the survey was taken. The survey consisted of fifteen hundred students and parents, plus one thousand sex education teachers and three hundred principals. (Remember that old saying about “liars figure and figures lie”? Well some time researchers manipulate the results by determine who gets to swim in their pool at question time.) It is safe to assume that all of the parents, students, sex education teachers and principals were taken from the public school system. Having over one-third of the respondents be sex edcuation would obviously skew the findings. So much for “sound research.” Of course, that mattered to liberal educators and others who were quick to use this pathetically unsound piece of empirical evidence to promote their argument that kids need more instruction in not just the mechanics and biology of sex, but techniques, values and alternatives.
The students made the claim that 90% of them learned about AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases in sex education classes rather than at home. But the fundamental question that needs to be asked is being missed. Whose job is it to teach our children about sex.
As one parent, let me state it clearly and succinctly — MINE.
It is amazing to me that parents sit idly by while the coorupt government school system, which is filled to the brim with liberal sociologists, educational relativists, moral ignorance and which, by statute, is completely void of Christian values, takes over this crucial component of a child’s development and education.
Why? Often because we’re just too uncomfortable talking about sex to have a few frank discussion with our kids as they mature? If that is the case, then we are in worse shape than we can imagine as a country. No wonder, liberal politicians and educators have rushed in to fill the void left by timid parents.
Parents should be indignant, if not outraged, at the thought that their children are being taught “more than the birds and the bees” in typical public school classrooms. In some instances, students are being taught how to properly use condoms utilizing pieces of fruit or anatomically-correct props. Any more and more school districts, children as young as kindergartners are being taught the basics of human reproduction — not simply, “good touch/bad touch”. In many districts, children are being subjected to “instruction” (or indoctrination) on every imaginable form of sexual union — normal and deviant — in a way that is considered “non-judgemental”. Homosexuality is just an alternative lifestyle. Adultery becomes a consequence of evolution and survival of the fittest. Premarital sex? Why, that isn’t even an issue….it’s assumed that “when the right time for you comes”, you’ll just hop right in bed. Just make sure you have “protection”.
So what’s a Christian parent to do?
Well, first of all, we have a responsibility to iknow what our children are being taught. Don’t be intimidated by elitist educators who think they know better than you do what you children need. (I have three degrees in education and I’m well equipped to warn you of the we-know-better-than-parents mentality that permeates the public education system.) If that means making an apointment with your child’s teacher or the administrator of the school and asking to review the material dealing with human sexuality, then do it! If you see that it is inconsistent with your values, too graphic, or premature, then request to have your child exempted from the class. (Once you see the material, it is highly likely that oyu are going to need to consider this option and yes, you are within your rights to keep your child from that class. Don’t be weak and don’t be intimidated. Remember, they are YOUR kids, not the government’s.)
But finally, we must do OUR jobs as parents. We must take the time to have frank conversations about sexuality with our kids. Yep, it will be awkward and uncomfortable. No parent enjoys talking to their kids about sex any more than the kids enjoys having their parent talking to them about it. Everyone simply needs to get over it.
The world is constantly bombarding them with unbiblical messages about sexuality and we must make a counter offensive. That includes turning off the TV, being very aware of where your child is on the internet, being careful about their companions, screening their music and simply being an aware and connected parent. Above all, don’t turn over the privilege and responsibility of training your children in this important area to those whose values or agenda run contrary to that of Biblical worldview.
I estimate that in my 47 years of life, I’ve listened to (or listened to myself preaching) somewhere just over 12,000 sermons. That’s about 5 per week and considering all the revival services, conferences, school chapels, etc… I’ve sat through over the years in addition to the regular schedule of Sunday morning, Sunday school, Sunday night and Wednesday night services, I think I’m being very conservative in my count. Let’s just agree that I’m not being hyperbolic with my count.
In that dozen-to-the-power-of-a-thousand number, I’ve heard some powerful messages filled with depth, inspiration and spiritual meat. But, I’ve also heard some stunning clunkers, odd-and-I-mean-ODD stuff and a few out-n-out heretical junk.
So for this edition of “Listomania!” I thought I’d share my weirdest ones and then ask you for yours (which is why I am really writing this list.)
1. The Washcloth Sermon
When I was a kid, my pastor was once preaching on I-don’t-know-what, but he went off on a tangent about washclothes and sissy men and said that “Washclothes have a rough side and a smooth side and real men use the rough side to wash and only sissies use the smooth side.” This thoroughly traumatized me as not only had I not noticed the differences in sides (not exactly observant, was I?), but I highly suspected that I had been using the smooth side which made me a total Nancy Pants.
2. The WEIRDEST Internet Sermon EVER
This freakazoid has been making the rounds all over the internet and is a YouTube sensation. He preaches on a verse from the KJV that uses a coarse term for urinating in the most twisted way you could ever imagine. At first, I thought it was a parady, but I’ve heard from others that this guy is for real — and I use “real” in the broadest sense of the word I know. You’ll find it HERE.
3. Anti-Wire-Rim-Glasses Sermon
I once heard a guy preach against Wire-Rims because they were worn by hippies and hippies believed in revolution and free love and promiscuity. Sadly, this was during the 1980’s and he was about 25 years too late. Poor Benjamin Franklin, he never really had a chance.
4. The “Don’t Part-Your-Hair-Down-the-Middle” Sermon
According to this one, those who parted their hair down the middle were closet gays. If your hair was long and parted down the middle, well you might as well wear a tutu and wave a rainbow flag. Real Christian men wore their hair high and tight — like in the military. I always wondered what this guy said when a lot of gay guys started cutting their hair real short. (Interestingly, this guy was later revealed to be one of the most immoral guys to ever stand behind a pulpit.)
5. The Pink Shirt Sermon
During college, an entire chapel service was dedicated to the topic of guys who dared to wear lavender or pink shirts — a hot new fashion trend in the early 1980’s. To make the matter even more offensive, the preacher lambasted a simultaneous trend that was taking place — wearing a knit “sock” tie (I don’t know why they called them that) which one wore tucked into the top of the pants. Apparently, the tucking it in at the top of the pants was somehow suggestive. My friend snorted when he heard that and asked if they were going to outlaw the girls wearing necklaces next. Of course, guess what I was wearing that day? Yep…a pink shirt with a gray knit tie neatly tucked into the top of my pants. (Does anyone notice the preoccupation with sexual subthemes here?)
6. Satan Claus Sermon
I’ve actually heard multiple sermons about Satan vs. Santa — both cause people to lie, both wear red (Not sure about the theological basis of Satan wearing red), both have the same letters in their names, both from the “north”, etc…, etc… Variations have included preaching against the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Christmas Trees and Halloween. (I’m actually in agreement with some of the points raised about turning cultural icons and traditions into mini-idols, but just don’t know that the topic is worthy of an ENTIRE sermon.)
7. Date Setting of the Rapture
I’ve heard some real whacky prophecy preachers set some general dates for the rapture that have included the years 1976, 1981 (Planets were aligning), 1988, 1989, 1993, 2000, 2007 and so on. Some even used urban legends to bolster their claims like that the vultures in the Middle East were laying more eggs than usual in order to eat the leftover carcasses of those killed at Armeggedon. I’ve always been curious as to how cats dropped from ladders always land on their feet and how prophecy gurus who consistently misinterpret current events in light of eschatological Scripture passages still have any credibility at all, let alone maintain an audience.
8. Health Food Sermons
Our little church had a pastor that went through a health food kick and who insisted on preaching on the topic every sermon for MONTHS. It culminated in a bus load of “believers” going to the city to have some quack analyze their spit and map the blood vessels in their eyes. (I think they may have had to sacrifice a goat too…JUST KIDDING!) One of our old deacons who lived into his nineties muttered — “I’ve been eating a bowl of ice cream every night before I go to bed for the last 30 years and I’m not about to stop now.”
This was actually a rabbit trail on a larger sermon on the topic of romance. I heard a guy wax on about how you shouldn’t own a car with bucket seats and that real Godly wives always sat right next to their husbands while they were driving. (Shall we all pause to roll our eyes right now?)
10. Square-Dancing-is-of-the-Devil Sermon
Apparently, for some, wildly skipping in geometric patterns while boomeranging a partner with nearly enough force to cause a concusion while working up a sweat that would make an NFL running back in Miami during summer training look like he’s chillaxin’ can lead to wicked thoughts, fornication and possible evil concupiscence. I can’t help wondering, however, if I’d learned to square dance when I was younger if I might still be able to see my feet.
So what your favorite “sermons”, tangents and illustration that made for memorable moments during your pew-sitting experiences? Feel free to share them in the comment section and have a great Monday!
We are in the middle of a month-long emphasis on Biblical stewardship and finances at New Testament Baptist Church in Miami, where I serve as the Executive Pastor. Some people hate stewardship month — but I don’t. It doesn’t bother me one whit to talk about money, teach about money, learn about money or listen to someone preach about money. I’ve heard all the old jokes and criticisms about addressing financial issues in a church, but if it wasn’t so important to God, then maybe He wouldn’t have shared so much about it in the Bible. It’s JUST money, people. It doesn’t even belong to us. You aren’t taking it with you! It’s just a tool. Get over it!
Recently, I’ve been looking at my own personal financial goals to make sure that I am adequately planning for the future. My family is at, what is probably, the appex of financial needs in the timeline of our family. All four kids are still living at home. One is in college and another joins him next year. We do not own our house — the bank does. We have four drivers in the family. One of my kids is in braces and two more will soon join her. You know — it’s just life….and life take money. God has always been very generous to me as I’ve ministered for Him. I sometimes feel a little guilty with the blessings we’ve received over the years and the level of comfort we enjoy compared to many others in the ministry. Having received a family inheritance in my early thirties, being able to spin my public-speaking and writing into a channel for an extra income flow, having the privilege of serving as an adjunct professor and other similar blessings from the Lord has made all the difference in the world for our particular situation.
But as I look at my current financial condition and the chllanges that will stress my personal finances in the future, I”m extremely thankful for a principle that was taught to me by my grandfather and parents. It was the principle of “living below your means.”
As a pastor, I’ve often been called upon to offer counsel to families who are in tremendous crises personally, spiritual and financially because they have been guilty of living above their means. Much of the time it was due to silly spending, chasing foolish dreams or wanting too much too soon. All of the time, it was directly related with a budget that encouraged them to live at or above their income level. As a result, they rarely had a “buffer” for emergencies — something my mother refers to as her “rainy day fund” and more often, there was a gradual descent into a quagmire of personal and consumer debt that eventually overwhelmed them.
Why is it that so many of us try to live life at the margins? We overextend our time, our money and our commitments. We try to have it all and in the process we enjoy very little of what we have. In our wild-eyed pursuit of trinkets and toys, we leave ourselves no space for pleasure, emergency or error.
Living below your means provides incredible freedom. The concepts is that you don’t spend everything you have. My grandfather taught me to take 10% of everything I earn and put it away before I ever can get my hands on it. So I have always had a payroll deduction system that does just that. I always have, and I have, a next egg for emergencies and, hopefully, my eventual retirement without having to be a burden on others. My parents always taught me to give at least the first 10% of my income to the Lord’s work. Over the years, that 10% has at times risen to as much as 20% and is rarely just 10%. I’ve enjoyed supporting my local church, helping missionaries, taking part in projects and building campaigns and helping the hurting as I’ve applied this principle.
Living below my means has never really forced me to sacrifice, even when we had an extremely limited income with very high expenses. At times, it meant we sat on used furniture, lived in a smaller house and didn’t eat out very often. But debt didn’t enslave us and we were just as happy as if we’d been sitting on Ethan Allen chairs in a 20-room house dining on chateau briand and caviar every night….maybe happier.
Scripture tells us that a foolish man does not consider th e cost of his house before he builds it. We would all be wise to consider the principle of living below one’s means in order to learn from the discipline, to be free from materialism and debt and to prepare fo the future benefits of Biblical stewardship.
I hope that someday in the future, we will be in a position to give even more of our resources to the Lord’s work. Of course, I want to leave something for my children when my wife and I head for heaven, but I also want to continue making an investment in what I spent my early life doing even when I’m in heaven. Living below my means is essential to having the freedom to give today and the hope of taking advantage of the opportunities tomorrow.
For a great little read on this and other financial principles, read Randy Alcorn’s, “The Treasure Principle” which you can find HERE.
It’s been a couple of weeks without a “Listomania”, so I thought I’d lighten the mood with a fresh one.One of my favorite blogs in the whole blogosphere is “Stuff Christians Like” by Prodigal Jon.Maybe it’s just his way of writing or the fact that those of us who grew up evangelical/fundamentalist can relate to the things in which he finds humor, but the guy just cracks me up every time I read him.We pompous religious types sometimes take ourselves WAY too seriously and sometimes it would do us good to look at the caricatures we tend to become.
So, this edition of “Listomania” is “Fundy Traditions that Made Me What I Am Today”.With tongue firmly in cheek, I begin.
The New Year’s Eve “Watchnight Service”
The annual New Year’s Eve Watchnight Service was a fixture in most evangelical churches of my youth.It constituted of a service that started around 7:00 with lots of singing (see item #6), the “main” sermon by the pastor, if there was an associate he was able to speak too and then all the “preacher boys” were allowed to get up and rant and rave for about 15 minutes each.Then there would be refreshments in the basement consisting of vegetable trays and pimento cheese sandwiches washed down with instant tea.After that intermission, it was back to the auditorium for the “movie” (a rare treat because many of us were not allowed to attend the Cinema House).These movies were from one of three categories — Billy Graham, Bob Jones University Unusual Films (Sheffey, Flame in the Wind) or Independent (I could write a whole blog on Estes Pirkle’s – no I did NOT make up that name – “The Burning Hell” or that cult-classic “If Footmen Tire You What Will Horses Do?” which you have to youtube to believe.)Finally, at about 11:55, everyone would gather up front of the church and “Pray out the oldyear and pray in the new year”.There was always a sneaking suspicion that the rapture just might occur at the stroke of midnight – or at least it seemed that way to me.
The 8-Day Revival
Now this was a great tradition.Starting on one Sunday, the 8-Day Revival ran until the following Sunday night.It always involved a guest speaker – and if you were lucky – guest music as well.The evangelist was usually a firebrand from somewhere “down South”.Often they were of the “wind-sucker” variety which means, if you really got them wound up, they would suck the price tag off Minnie Pearl’s hat if she was sitting 12 pews back.Each night was a different theme to encourage you to bring guests.There was “pack-a-pew” night, family night, neighbor night, co-worker night, etc…If you brought the most guests all week, you might win the giant Family Bible.Sometimes the invitations for the 8-Day Revival would last longer than the sermons and to this day I know all the verses to “Just As I Am”, “Almost Persuaded” and “Softly and Tenderly.”At the end of the 8-Day Revival, we needed a family seminar because everyone was so grouchy from sleep deprivation that we were at each other’s throats.Traditionally, there was a spring and a fall revival.
Vacation Bible School
Vacation Bible School – also known as VBS – usually happened during the hottest week of the summer.It involved flannel graph – that unique precursor to Veggie Tales – wherein Bible lessons were taught using cut-out figures with flocking on the back of them that let them stick to backgrounds of flannel.Super Kewl.There was also arts and crafts time that used up a year’s supply of bleach bottles, pipe cleaners, cotton balls and if you were blessed – plaster-of-paris plaques!Finally, there was cookie break supplied by the kind ladies of the church who brought cookies the two Sunday’s before VBS.To wash down the cookies there was also “Bug Juice” aka Kool-Aid which only came in three flavors in those days – Red, Purple and Orange. Sometimes it was even cold.And yes, there was usually at least one gnat floating in the big giant bucket.Bug Juice lost a lot of its appeal to me when I accidentally burst into the kitchen one morning to find Sister Lucille (a rather large lady with an odd shaped mole on her forearm) leaned over the giant plastic vat with her sleeve rolled up (on the moley arm) mixing it with her bare hand.But her skin did have a nice smurfy look for the rest of the day.
Summer Youth Camp
Summer youth camp was the highlight of the summer after you outgrew VBS.It involved loading up a huge suitcase and all your friends onto a school bus that migrant workers would have refused to ride.You always added a few extra hours into the travel schedule for the inevitable breakdown or three.We’d pack our lunches to save time and we’d lustily sing 99-Bottles-of-Coke-on-the-Wall (cuz’ good Baptist kids didn’t sing “Beer” on the wall – except for a few really rebellious guys, but we didn’t do it real loud because many of the spiritual girls were pretty and they kind of frowned on us even joking about beer.)Our camp of choice was the Bill Rice Ranch in Murfreesboro, TN and it was the best camp ever.Urine-stained mattresses, cold showers, red Tennessee mud everywhere and mosquitoes the size of pterodactyls did not diminish the thrills of melon marches, frog races, swimming in a REAL swimming pool, camp skits and the Friday Night “Banquet” where we all picked a pretty girl to sit by.We all made “decisions” to be better teens on the last night and promised to cut our hair short, throw away our Carpenter’s albums and quit holding hands with our girlfriends in the back of the bus.(That last commitment didn’t last real long if we left for the drive home immediately after the service.)Then we’d trade addresses with our new best friends whom we never wrote to or saw ever again and sang camp songs all the way home.
Testimony service at an evangelical church can have all the drama and humor of open mic night at the local karaoke bar.You just never know what is going to pop out of someone’s mouth.Old-school testimony givers always start off thanking God for their salvation and sometimes give you the details.If you pay attention, you’ll eventually get to where you can give it as well as they do.Then there’s the awkward silence times when no one gets up forever and the preacher then says “If someone doesn’t get up soon I’m going to sing” followed by nervous giggling and then three people stand up all at once and it just gets even more awkward.Speaking of awkward, there’s always the chance that some maroon is going to stand up and give some sort of gut-wrenching confession that makes someone else in his family look bad as in “I just want to praise the Lord for His grace in my marriage and the fact that my wife has finally repented of her stubbornness and allowed me to move off the couch and back into our matrimonial bed.”My personal favorite is the testimony service right before Thanksgiving or around some other holiday when some total stranger who has never been in the church before and, if the truth be known is about three sheets in the wind (if you know what I mean) and just feels like he MUST stand and give some testimony that is incoherent or borderline heretical.Good times.
This is almost always reserved for an evening service and consisted of having the song leader urge the congregation to shout out their favorite hymn number or title and then we got to see if the piano player could play by note or by ear.These usually went quite well at first with three or four old favorites shouted out and then someone would get cocky and shout out some old English Anglican Hymn that was previously only sung in a cathedral on the Ides of March accapella by Gregorian monks. The song leader bravely would tackle it with tepid effort as the pianist leaned close to the page and hit chords on the old upright that sounds like a like she was playing with her toes.Oddly, the person who called it would be singing like they had the solo part for “Memories” at the Broadway Musical “Cats” obliviously to the caterwauling that was going on around them.After one verse, everyone giggled nervously and someone would shout out a super familiar song and the tension would be broken.The congregation sang with gusto and the relieved song leader would wave his arms like he was swatting flies and all was well again in the sing-your-favorite-hymn service.
I personally believe that there’s a high probability that the Marriage Supper of the Lamb might be potluck.If so, you can count on the fact that there will be sections for the various goodies.First will be the salads.I think this is the fake-out section.They try to get you to load your flimsy paperplate with salads so that you won’t take too much fried chicken later and the people at the end of the line won’t have to get surly.Following the salads, you will find pickles and raw veggie platters.Then there’s Casserole Row.There’s more ground up breadcrumbs and cornflakes hiding the-Lord-only-knows-what than you can shake a stick at.What isn’t covered with crumbs and flakes is smothered in some type of Campbell’s soup.Don’t ask; don’t tell.Then there’s the meat section.The hog farmers bring a ham – count on it.If you are in the Carolinas – there will be pulled pork BBQ – Eastern (vinegary) and Western (tomato based) – but all quite tasty.(You just can’t ruin BBQ.)Then it’s the staple of the Potluck — Fried Chicken.There are three types of fried chicken.There’s the store-bought chicken (for shame, for shame – except when it’s from the Colonel and I’ll take extra-crispy, please).That’s followed by the homemade done-from scratch chicken.(If you’re in the country and you look carefully, sometimes you can actually find pinfeathers on your piece.If you don’t know what pinfeathers are, again, I suggest – don’t ask; don’t tell.)Finally, there’s the people who got store-bought chicken and then put it in their own container to make people think that they actually made it themselves.Others will do the same trick with potato salad and slaw – like we can’t identify the KFC signature sides.Depending on the time of the year, you’ll also get preserves, deviled eggs, fresh tomatoes and TONS of zucchini bread.Of course, there’s a whole separate dessert section, but again – that’s for another blog article.
Ah yes, the missionary speaker.As a boy, we’d take bets on how long it would be before one of the following happened – a) the slide screen would collapse with a zip and a thud (it was always fun to watch the old lady with the hair net jump when that happened); b) a slide would jam or c) a slide would be upside down.Of course, occasionally you’d hit a trifecta and all three would happen.The narration always included a picture of some poor third-world family and the missionary would say, “This is the family of Pedro Gonzalez.Pray for Pedro’s mother.She’s Catholic.She’s almost ready to convert, but the priest is intimidating her.”Every single time.Then there would be Q and A time when people would ask travelogue-type questions.Then we’d hold our breath – hoping against hope that we’d be able to take an offering and go home.But did that ever happen?NOoooooo.THEN there was the missionary sermon when the poor missionary would do his best to have one of us surrender to go to the mission field.The invitation would continue until someone gave in and went forward to “pray about it” or express their willingness to go (which is short of actually saying I’m definitely going) and then we’d go home.
Wednesday Night Prayer Meetings
Prayer meetings were held after a Bible study.That’s why they often called them “Wednesday Night Prayer and Bible Study Meetings”.Eventually, people decided to shorten them and most churches now just have a Bible study and hand out a prayer sheet which people leave in the car the rest of the week.The Bible study was usually a study of a book of the Bible.Then came the Prayer Time.This began with prayer requests – the general requests (prayer for our leaders, our church, etc…), the sick (Aunt Bertha’s second cousin’s neighbor who has a leaky gall bladder and so on) and the unsaved (the regulars followed by a few new ones) and then the Pastor would ask “How many of you have an unspoken prayer request?”This was for those who had something going on they didn’t want to blurt out in front of everyone, so instead, one just furtively raises their hand and let’s people speculate about what it is.Then the pastor would generally call on 2-4 people to pray and he’d close.This was a time of high anxiety as a good pick meant that prayer time wouldn’t be long, but the wrong pick – well, I hope you packed a snack.There were different types of “pray-ers”.There was the “Voice of God” pray-er who had a booming voice and prayed to the God of Jereboam, Rehaboam and all the Boam Boys – Johasaphat and all the Phat Phellows, and so on.There was also the “Lordiac” pray-er.This was someone who couldn’t utter more than three consecutive words in their prayers without injecting the word “Lord” as in “Lord, we thank you, Lord, for the beautiful, Lord, day, Lord, that we enjoyed, Lord.”The record number of “Lords” in a Lordiac prayer that I can recall was 121.When I announced that I had counted the number of “Lords” in Bro. Kent’s prayer that night my dad was ready to rail on me for my impiety except my mom piped up and announced that she had counted 122 “Lords”.The rest of the ride home was rather quiet that night.
The “Right-Hand of Fellowship”
The “Right-Hand-of-Fellowship” ritual is a time when everyone shakes hands with their neighbors.Because good Baptists sit in the same exact spot like they built the pew themselves, that meant that you generally shook hands with the same six people every service.Except for us teen-age guys, who used the opportunity to find the cute girls and shake their hands long and slow.Also, if you were a visitor, you got your arm halfway shaken off.The other time you extended the RHF was at the end of the service when someone came forward at the end of the service for a “big” decision like joining the church, surrendering to the ministry, quitting smoking or something like that.Oddly, everyone in the church seemed to come down with colds at the exact same time every year.
The Church Business Meeting
Church business meetings were generally once a month and were rather perfunctory.They consisted of the reading of the minutes, someone reading the check register for the month and voting the new members in.Occasionally however, there would be an exciting meeting that I swear must have been held during the full moon.This was when normally placid, sweet-natured people who smelled of Old Spice and Este Lauder turned into snarling, snapping beasts that would sometimes threaten to “take it out to the parking lot”.You usually knew when a bad business meeting was a brewing because someone would ask, “When’s the next business meeting?”No one cared if there was a business meeting except when there was going to be a rumble.Sometimes there was an organized effort.You could tell when that was going to occur because attendance at Wednesday Night Prayer and Bible Study would suddenly spike with dozens of people that hadn’t been seen in church for months.Often the pastor would deliver his Bible study that night in a trembly voice and would constantly wipe his brow with a handkerchief.On those nights, he always called on the “Voice of God” pray-ers.
I heart sword drills.These were exercises when the game was to be the first person to find a verse of Scripture called out.The leader would say, “Draw Swords!” (That’s Christian code for raise your Bible – the swift, powerful and two-edged version – above your head)He’d then call out a Scripture reference – Psalm 1:9 (Sometimes they’d try to fool us by saying Hezekiah 3:16 and then all the newbies would search frantically while the rest of us “old evangelical kid pros would snicker piously).Then they’d say “Go!”.The first person to find the verse would stand and read the first few words and if it was correct, they’d get a point.The sign of a real Sword Drill champ was to have enough verses memorized that you could fake having found the verse and pretend to read it when you were actually just quoting it.
So that’s my list.It’s a long one, but once I got started, I couldn’t stop.Now for my sensitive brethren and sisterns that think I’m crossing some sort of sanctified line with my reminiscing, let me say without hesitation that I LOVED growing up an evangelical fundy kid.It was a GREAT way to grow up and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.My memories of those days in a little country church make for great family stories and they are reminders of the depth of my personal commitment to Christ and His Word today.
But, I’m guessing that some of you have your own “favorite” fundy traditions.So, share them here and let’s all laugh together!
As I type this, Cuba is being strafed by winds in excess of 100 mph right down the middle of this impoverish island nation as Hurricane Ike passes over. Yesterday, I received email from friends who were extremely frightened. Churches were mobilizing to find safe places to hide the children. Most homes are ill-equipped to handle a storm of this ferocity. My closest friend there was not even aware that a hurricane was barrelling down on them until late Saturday leaving them very little time to prepare.
I am limited about what I can share as to specific needs there, but the situation is dire and I am waiting until the storm passes over before we can make contact again. There was a lot of damage from Tropical Storm Fay just a few weeks ago and Gustav was even more devastating to the western edge of the island as well as a large individual island that lies off their coast. Ike will be the worst yet.
We were able to replace the roofs of the homes of several pastors just a couple of weeks ago, but the damage from this storm will make that damage seem insignificant. Several folks have written me asking what we could do for the believers there.
First, pray for the Cubans, the pastors and the churches.
Secondly, we are already making plans to get resources to them as soon as the storm subsides and travel can resume. I may make an emergency trip there as soon as I can secure permission. If you want to send a donation — please send it to:
P.O. Box 210716
Royal Palm Beach, FL 33421
Please mark it “Cuba Disaster Relief”. (Gifts are tax-deductible.) It will go directly to our team of pastors there and as always, we maintain HIGH accountability for how funds are used.
Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any specific questions and I’ll do my best to get back with as soon as possible.
This is an opportunity for the hope of the Gospel to be spread across the Carribean as American believers assist with the needs in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Turks/Cacaos Islands and now Cuba. The need is tremendous and any help you could provide would be a blessing.
Monday Night Update: We were able to make contact with our main contact in Cuba. The storm took an unanticipated job South and missed the majority of our pastors! Praise the Lord! We are concerned about three who are located in a main coastal city and one of their houses was in bad shape already, but hopefully, we’ll get help to them quickly. There was roof damage and water damage throughout the central provinces with no power and water for now, but not nearly as bad as it looked just a few hours ago. We still have several thousands of dollars in damage to take on, but not the total devastation we thought we’d have this morning. I’ll keep you posted as more information gets to us. Thank you for the prayers!
I can’t help myself! It’s like driving by a car wreck and trying not to slow down to look. I just keep being drawn to stare at it. I’m talking about politics, of course.
Now that I’m no longer the head hauncho of a church, perhaps I’m rationalizing my reborn interest in political matters. I guess I was never “not” interested as much as I just worked harder at keeping my mouth shut about it. And perhaps I’ve changed a bit as I’m not quite as doctrinaire as I once was (though some will snort at that), but I find myself mesmerized by the process.
So please indulge me with a quick rant which shall stay focused on the topic of politics now that the conventions are over…
I wouldn’t want to be President of the US for all the tea in China. But I would like to be dictator for a couple of weeks.
I think the Republicans have their ticket backwards. It should be Palin/McCain. Or Palin and just about any one else.
Part of Palin’s attraction is the animus that erupted so violently from some portions of the media and the radical left. It’s additionally amusing to watch them seem puzzled by accusations of bias — they really DON’T see it in themselves.
Part of Palin’s attraction is her husband — the “First Dude”. What a cool title. He seems totally confident in his role and supportive of his wife and kids at the same time.
I like how Palin breaks the stereotype that many have regarding evangelical women. Over the years, I’ve snickered at those in the media who seem to think that the wives of most evangelicals are a cross between wallflowers and Stepford wives. That’s usually an indication that they don’t really know many evangelical women. They certainly haven’t met MY evangelical woman!
Obama’s speechifying ability? Strong A. McCain’s? D+ at best. He’s just not a good speaker. I’d like to coach him for a few hours. Maybe he’s sharing Bush’s communication coach. Nah, on second thought….McCain’s not THAT bad.
Obama has turned “looking Presidential” into an art form. He’s the most carefully choreographed Presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan.
Deep in my gut, I still think Obama’s going to pull it off. Not that I’m happy about that.
Why do the media always assume that all women are pro-abortion? There’s a lot of research that indicates that women are about as divided on the topic as is the rest of the country.
Did you happen to catch the little Palin girl lick her hand and then slick her brother’s hair down? THAT was an endearing moment that will come close to matching little John Kennedy’s salute or the Kennedy kids playing under their dad’s desk.
I’m glad that the older Palin girl did not chose to abort her baby. That doesn’t make me wish that she hadn’t had premarital sex any less though. It’s wrong because it’s unbiblical — I don’t care if every teen in the country does it (which they aren’t), it’s still wrong.
The media have insinuated that Sarah Palin will neglect her five children by having an outside career. However, her oldest is in the military. Her second oldest is apparently about to get married. So shouldn’t they be narrowing that number down to three? I don’t think her son who’s getting ready to kill terrorists in the Middle East needs his mom at home still.
That said, leaving the kids at home so mom can have a career is not a choice we made and I’m glad for it.
Did I mention that the title “First Dude” is kewl? Well, I thought I’d mention that again.
Why did the RNC put all those BORING speakers in front of McCain’s speech on Thursday night? Good grief….Lindsey Graham could put a hyperactive hamster into a coma. Tom Ridge made Graham look positively scintillating. Of course, I suspect that they did that so McCain would look better by comparison. It worked.
I think the American public is getting a little put-off by the whole “Messianic” sub-theme the Obama campaign is putting on. His post-speech music sounded like it was introducing 2001 - A Space Odyssey. The set was so over-the-top it was ridiculous.
My darling wife observed that it looked like the Republicans and Democrats have flipped on each other. The convention of the Democrats — who used to be known as the populist party of unions and disenfranchised subgroupings of every sort — looked positively elitist and more than a little pompous. The convention of the Republicans — which used to be caricaturized as the party of the Rockefeller set and the Titans of Big Biz — seemed extremely blue collar and populist. What’s up with that???
The Republicans really need to give Ronald Reagan a rest. This year’s tribute to him was lame and today’s Republican party is so little like his Republican party that it seems disingenuous to try and connect those dots.
Why is it that Republicans don’t run to the Democratic Convention and break windows and need pepper spray and try to rush the stage during the acceptance speech of the opposition candidate, but the Democrats try to do all of the above and more at the Republican conventions?
I found the Republican convention to be distressingly white.
If I can even see Keith Olbermann in the background of something I’m watching on an entirely different network, I’ll change the channel.
I’d hate to have to follow Tim Russert, but the Todd fellow who is the political director now at NBC is growing on me even though I suspect he’s way left of me. I still miss Tim Russert who I KNOW was way left of me, but wasn’t a jerk about it.
Foxnews makes me tired sometimes. I really get tired of the Hannity/O’Reilly shrillness and that Alan Colmes fellow — well, he’s just the most pathetic effort at trying to appear “fair and balanced” they could have possibly come up with. I suspect in his former life he was a librarian or maybe a postal clerk. He takes inanity to an all new level.
If I were Hillary Clinton, I’d be REALLY worried about the potential for a head-to-head Presidential race in 2012 with a little Alaskan gal. I think she’d get her socks knocked off in such a face-off.
Oh……and I still don’t trust John McCain. Even a little. But instead of simply voting against Obama now, I might find myself voting “for” Sarah Palin.