Friday, January 25, 2008

A Two-Act Drama Worth Noting

The Gentleman on the right is Jim Dunaway, a local sportscaster. He's been around, broadcasting sports .. and for a while, news .. since he was in High School. I think we were aware that he was a believer, but that's pretty common even for media folks down here in the Buckle of the Bible Belt. Jim recently wrote a tribute to Rick Burgess and his family.

Rick is half the Rick and Bubba Radio twosome that is extremely popular, syndicated over many, many stations each weekday morning. They're professing believers, Baptists both (as I recall) and openly so even on their program. And they are absolutely hilarious.

This past weekend, as Rick was in Tennessee speaking to a youth group, his toddler son Bronner drowned in their backyard pool here at home. That touched most everybody who knew of them. I personally haven't met Rick, but I do know Bill "Bubba" Bussey, as I insure the truck that Rick and Bubba use to conduct their mobile broadcasts. Another customer and frequent commenter on this blog, Ken "Bones" Hearn does all of their driving of their Urban Assault Broadcast Vehicle. They refer to him frequently.

Jim Dunaway wrote a moving tribute to Rick's testimony at the funeral, and his personal interaction with the Burgess' after the service. Jim's tribute ... as emailed to me by our church ... follows.

AMAZING DAY

I have spent 22 years in broadcasting and 44 years on earth, and I saw the most amazing thing I have ever seen Tuesday.

Standing graveside at a private ceremony, my wife and I saw a family (Rick Burgess) bury their 2 year old son Bronner. A few hours later, we sat with friends in a special section as a sanctuary filled with hundreds of people. I saw a Church choir fill to capacity, every one of them having taken the day off from work. I sang, and I cried, I wrapped my arms around my wife as if someone was trying to steal her away. Then one of the most powerful Christian Rock groups walked on stage and continued to worship. All of this was powerful, but the amazing part was still to come.

I saw a man who I had watched bury his son at 11am, stand and deliver a message. It wasn't a message of sorrow. It wasn't filled with tears. It was a message of salvation. It wasn't just about the salvation of his son, but a message for all of us. People came to know our Lord Jesus Christ for the first time. Others, like my wife and I, recommitted our lives to Serving and walking with our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you listen to the show, you know I am a very emotional person.

When I heard the news of Bronner's drowning Saturday night, I cried. I cried off and on Sunday and Monday and up to that amazing moment Tuesday shortly after two. Then the tears went away. I had never been that close to the Face of God before. He was in that place like I have never witnessed.

I witnessed the power of God fill a man who was broken by the death of his baby. I saw that power fill his legs and lift him on stage and then fill his lungs and allow him to share a message that lasted 20 minutes but it seemed to be timeless. I promise you I could have listened forever. Again, I am sure it was God speaking through Rick Burgess' mouth. I was awestruck.


When my wife and I entered the private dinner after the memorial service, I just wanted to say goodbye and do the usual, "We'll be praying for you" message... but not on this day. Maggie and I walked up to Rick and Sherri, we hugged, we exchanged a few words, and then Rick and Sherri wrapped their arms around Maggie and me and we prayed specifically for our family and our salvation. Notice the wording there, Rick and Sherri wrapped their arms around us... that is not a misprint. 4 hours earlier, they had buried their son and they were wrapping their arms around us. God is Great.


It was an AMAZING DAY.


The testimony Rick Burgess gave can be seen in its entirety here, and I suggest you watch all of it.

Ironic, isn't it? In a world where small big men argue over doctrines and firings and theologies, REAL faith shows up courtesy of two professional media-types.

Indeed.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snow, Wood and Iron

CLOSE THE ROADS! PRE-EMPT NORMAL TV PROGRAMMING! CALL OFF THE WORLD!

WE'VE HAD A BLIZZARD!




You're lookin' at a HALF INCH of SNOW there, folks.

If you don't have any bread or milk, don't go looking for any in central Alabama; folks usually start buying it up en mass when the Weatherman utters the word "Snow". See, all the Interstates are elevated in downtown Birmingham, and they ice over when you get 1/4 inch of snow or so, and they close the city. Besides, nobody in Alabama that wasn't raised at least through age 25 in the frozen North, knows how to drive in snow or ice. Well, I don't guess I can blame them for THAT.

Personally, I like snowy roads here. There's never any traffic, and when there is, it's almost always sitting in the ditch waiting for a wrecker.

But something interesting happened when it started to snow, and, as I told Peg, she'd flung one on me when when she mentioned something to me. Here's what it was:

This is a picture of the little deck in front of our house that lets folks walk up from the driveway, to our front door.



It had just started snowing and when I walked back into the kitchen, Peg said "The snow is everywhere EXCEPT over the nailheads!". She thought that was sort of spooky. But then it hit me: STEEL holds heat better than WOOD.

In the picture below, the black dots in the snow are the nailheads.



I have to ask myself what kind of Christian I am. Is my faith built on wood, hay & stubble, or am I more like Iron? Are the things of this world going to crush and splinter me, or will interaction with my peers sharpen me? I can get all sort of upset when the sparks fly, but when iron's sharpened, that's what happens, isn't it?

Try rubbing a board against a grinding wheel and see what it gets you.

And I have to ask myself what's going to happen to me when the chill of reality about this or that, or the cold shoulder of some other human being, throws a monkey wrench at my faith.

It's axiomatic that, when you settle for LESS than is yours, you will get LESS than you settled for! So if my faith is to be like those iron nails that will keep their heat through the snowstorm, then I'm not about to settle for faith that's less than that.

You know what God says about lukewarm.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sometimes It's Not So Plain

Every now and then I hear a sermon that really gets my attention, and I'll tell the preacher "That was a terrific sermon .. you actually interrupted my train of thought 5 times!" Well .. I had sort of one of those moments a few minutes ago.

I was sitting here at my computer, checking email, and the TODAY SHOW was playing on the TV over my head. A gang of the show's folks were discussing all the pregnancies among unmarried Stollywood Harlets .... uuuhhhh ... Hollywood Starlets. One of the geniuses in front of the camera made the following statement. It shocked me out of my electronic stupor and I wrote it down. And I DO quote:

"If you're raising your kid in a loving relationship, does a marriage certificate really matter?"

Wow. The attitude these days seems to be that having children out of wedlock should be a matter of whether it's convenient, timely, financially wise, does it get good publicity, etc. And they said stuff like that for about five minutes.

NOTHING unfavorable, that I can recall, if it fit the description above.

NOT ONE WORD ABOUT MORALITY.

I heard, while I was still in school, that there are several omens, which were early-warning signs of every society that had ever fallen from within. Along with the breakdown of law & order (specifically order, or the enforcement of law), and the loss of the importance of the family unit, is this:

The public acceptance of immorality.

If the Today show bit about (the prominent results of) fornication isn't an example of THAT, I don't know what is. To me, that's as plain as the nose on your face.

Apparently, it's not so plain to those outside the faith. And perhaps not to some, inside.

What can really elevate my blood (A) Pressure, and (B) Temperature, is Public Pundits assailing a god who'd send people to hell, and is mean enough to let babies be molested, portraying that as evil and indicative of god. Note that I won't capitalize god in that instance as they're not referring to the God of the universe. But they just don't know it.

Fair-weather Christianity simply cannot deal with the world as it is. Neither can the prosperity doctrine offer any hope to a world that's indifferent about God and focused on things of this earth. I'm afraid a lot of people are going to end up staring at the wrong gates after they die, and wonder why society wasn't good enough to tell God how things ought to be.

Like Hebrews 9:27 says, payday someday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Let Me Introduce Another Friend

Meet James Alexander, a member .. along with his wife Mary ... of my Sunday School Class. He's been a real inspiration to me. On a couple of fronts.

One is that he was a believer for only about a year when he started attending, something over a year ago. He and Mary have exhibited a hunger for the Word, and he's shown remarkable growth in that time. I appreciate all my class members, but none more than James.

Some months ago, he talked to me one day after class. He said he'd been estranged from his mother, for a variety of reasons, but he'd come to the realization that he needed to rectify that and take steps to reconcile. And he did just that. He reported that it's been most rewarding and fulfilling for him to do that.

I just love it when one of my class members adjusts their life to conform to the Word.

Then there's the uniform. He'd been a Military MP years ago, and finally decided some months ago that he really ought to get back into that. So he joined the reserves, a unit that was being assigned active duty in Iraq, and it's his intention to stay in when his assignment is up. And he went through a lot of physical training and and discipline to get into that unit, too.

He shipped out for Iraq the 11th.

I know what the Bible says about pride, but doggone it, I'm proud of James. Somehow I feel better knowing that he's one of the guys that's got my back, over in the middle east.

God bless you, James.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Speaking of Cruise Ships......


I spent a lot of time thinking on this cruise. We got to Roatan Island at 4 pm (3 hours late) and there wasn't anything we wanted to do there anyway. That, coupled with 5:30 Dinner Reservations in the Spirit's Italian Restaurant, and we didn't go ashore at all, there. There also wasn't anything we wanted to tour at Santo Tomas, so we just went to the visitor's center for an hour or two. So, all in all, we spent most of the time aboard.

I wondered why Cruise Ships exist at all. Couldn't anybody get a little boat and go somewhere? Aren't there ways that people can eat at nice restaurants, sit in the sun and watch the ocean, visit several other countries in a week? Well, sure there are. But, if you want to visit 4 coastal cities in a week, have time in each one for shopping, tours, etc., eat in fine restaurants, and still have time to relax, the Cruise Ship is the best way I know to do that.

The first time we visited St. Maarten (the Dutch side of St. Martin/St. Maarten), the yacht "Octopus" was in port. That's Paul Allen's yacht ... he was co-founder of Microsoft ... and it was, at that time, the world's largest yacht. Paul Allen doesn't need 2,000 other people to do the same trip we'd do on a Cruise Ship. But we do.

The crew of the ship is there to serve the passengers. They have to treat the passengers the way the passengers would like to be treated .. within limits of course ... but what the crew doesn't get to do is simply make the passengers live with the crew's preferences.

The captain doesn't get to sail the ship where he wants to go, he has to sail to where the passengers want to go. Where they signed up to go. The captain doesn't get to tell the passengers what they want. What they should want.

The command for the evangelization and discipling of the world is to the church, not to the SBC, the IMB, or the NAMB. Those entities, along with the EC, Lifeway, the seminaries, etc. all exist solely to help the local churches fulfill the great commission.

When a local church says this member ought to be a missionary, and the IMB says they haven't been baptized quite right, or that they don't pray the way IMB "Lower-Ups" approve of, and thus aren't eligible, that's tantamount to the Cruise Ship's crew telling me I can't sail because I used to work for a competitor, or that I can't sail because they have a casino and I don't approve of gambling.

And the Klouda matter ... that's like the Captain throwing a passenger overboard mid-cruise because he just noticed she was born in Germany, and the Captain remembers World War Two. Or maybe the Captain simply figures he never did like a particular port so he decides not to sail there ... because nobody on board should like it, either.

And with reference to the more controversial issues recently in the spotlight, without any real evidence that problems arose that needed correction. Unless you deem anyone not agreeing with those "Lower-Ups" is a problem, a la' either the old Soviet Union, or 1984's Groupthink.

The great tragedy in all this, I think, is that nobody seems to care. The terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center did relatively simple things, in plain view, and nobody realized what was going on. Nobody objected, other than the heroes on United Flight 93. I wonder if the guys like Wade Burleson, Ben Cole, CB Scott, Tom Ascol, Boyd Luter and the other reformers aren't the SBC version of the folks on flight 93. Only in this case, it's the other passengers that are tying to keep the heroes from stopping the nosedive.

Or sinking the ship.

Come on, folks. The whole thing with PPL's and baptisms and Dr. Klouda and others not so famous is just as outrageous as it seems. In my mind, simply correcting the past mistakes of all the "Lower-Ups" we've been reading about ... that's the kindest thing that could be done. Tar and feathers seems more fitting, to me, but that doesn't seem very Christian.

Well, it doesn't make a lot of difference to me. My car turns left out of the subdivision as well as it turns right, and I've served God in plenty of other denominations. So, if and when it all exceeds critical mass, my lifeboat is equipped and ready for the day the SBC et al look like this, instead of the ship I boarded 25 years ago.

Monday, January 07, 2008

If You’re Looking For Us………… UPDATE SATURDAY

The Light of the Sun

Haven’t seen any pretty sunrises on the cruise. Oh, there may have been some, but if so, we slept through them all. At least, until this morning.

I woke up at whatever the nautical term is for 6 a.m., and sat on the balcony for a while. I took this picture there. What I noticed most was that the sun was too bright to look at directly, but it was beautiful when I looked at it hidden in something else.

Like the clouds.

But I also noticed it shone around the clouds, even though hidden from direct view, and also that the light reflected off the water was beautiful, too. Now, this morning was the calmest the sea’s been this week, but the beauty of the light wasn’t dependant on how calm the sea was. 4-8 foot waves didn’t hinder the beauty earlier in the week. It was still the same light.

The only thing that really stopped the beauty of the light from glistening off the water, was clouds so thick that they blanketed the sky and took away all the reflections of the sun.

Hmm …. Do you suppose there’s a parallel … the sun & the sea …. And the Son & the believer?

I think so.

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WATCH OUT!! They’re EVERYWHERE!!

.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Frederico. He’s a Mexican gent I met in Cozumel. Peg and I’d gone ashore and she went shopping for a little bit. So .. I resorted to one of my fave pastimes, sitting on a bench. The only open space in eyesight was next to Frederico, so I sat there.

He’s a native of the area and works for a Travel and Tour Operator in Playa del Carmen, just ashore from Cozumel. He’d brought a group of British ladies to Cozumel for a tour and there wasn’t room on the van for him, so he was sitting and People-Watching.

He has a wife and an 8-year-old daughter in Mexico City and he works in Playa del Carmen to support them. He’s also a Catholic, and he’s probably as saved as anyone I know. His mother, who died a few years ago, was devout Catholic but she always told him that it was what he believed that counted, and not what he belonged to … regardless of what church that was. He knows it’s all about Jesus, and told me he’d been reading my Witness Wear Shirt which said “Jesus Beat the Devil with a Big Ugly Stick”.

Frederico mentioned that he enjoyed visiting other Christian churches to worship, too, and said he always learned when he did.

He told me he thought I was right when I told him I perceived he had the Spiritual gift of encouragement. He seemed encouraged, himself, at hearing that.

All in all, we had a delightful visit. Strangely, the neat things on the cruise seem to have been the people.

Uhh … except for 450 horsepower of pure excitement.

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LIKE WILL SMITH SAID…… “I have GOT TO get me one of THESE!!!!!”




Specifically, an airboat. Or, as the guide told us, “450 horsepower of pure excitement!” He was right, but ANYTHING that you can fit in a snapshot taken from 30 feet, that has 450 hp (courtesy of a warm-sounding 454 Chevy bigblock), is exciting in the extreme. We rode this one through a mangrove swamp outside Belize City for about an hour.

Whoo…..WEE!!!!!!!!

When I get back, I’ll put up a 20 second video of it, when it doesn’t cost an arm and a firstborn to upload stuff. Simple pics are bad enough.

Mer .. .yes, Grama really DID ride this thing. It was her idea.

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Blast time, yet AGAIN!

Last night there was a quartet that did a whole show in one of the lounges here. It was all Everly Brothers stuff, from back in the dark ages. Such fun. But even that wasn't the outstanding blast of the day.

See, there was also this marimba band, a whole family, playing in the visitors’ center in Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala. We sat and listened for an hour, and bought a couple CD’s.

That took me back to my youth, when Mickey Meese and I visited Northminster Presbyterian Church one Sunday night; and an embarrassing episode involving Xavier Cugat’s marimba player, a youth group full of girls, and what was undoubtedly a high-fiber diet fed to Mick by his well-meaning mom. The details are best left unspecified, other than to state we never went back to THAT youth group again.

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And Yet ANOTHER Blast from the Past….

This little band played a 45 minute tribute performance to the Glenn Miller Band in the Galaxie Lounge, last night. Being a BIG Glenn Miller fan, in the 50’s I couldn’t miss that!

Seeing how Miller’s band used a clarinet lead, backed by a full sax section, and since these guys only had one sax/clarinet player, the sound was a bit removed from Miller’s. But it was still remarkable and the audience ate it up.

Can you spell O L D?

We went from there to the Stardust Theater and saw a Broadway Revue. Neat-o!

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Talk about a blast from the past!

I grew up in the 50’s, playing Big Band music from folks like Les Brown, Les & Larry Elgart, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and countless others.

Well … tonight, my sweetheart and I went to the Stardust Theater on the Spirit, and saw a young man from New Orleans named Chantz Powell. That’s him in the picture, and he’s an entertainer after the fashion of Sammy Davis Jr. He sings quite well, plays the trumpet, and is a super tap dancer. He put on a show that Sammy Davis might have done, and he was simply super. And, not only did he put on a terrific show, but he’s a really nice kid, too.

Oh yes he is a kid. He’s 20!

Remember him. One day, he’s apt to be headlining in Las Vegas.

What a great evening. If you happen see to a certain CD named “Stories of Me” up for bids on EBay with my name on the listing, that’ll be his. He autographed it for me.

Remember the name. Chantz Powell.


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ORIGINAL POST

Try looking here:



Somewhere off the coast of Mexico, 363 miles South of New Orleans. Right behind the little red dot (our balcony is there), which happens to be directly beneath the Internet Café.


We’re on the Norwegian Cruise Lines M/S Spirit, headed for Roatan, Santo Tomas de Castilla, Belize City, and Cozumel. We are on a cruise celebrating my upcoming retirement (stay tuned for details).


More later, in a feeble attempt to justify the $49.95 I blew buying 100 minutes Genuine High Speed Internet Access. I'll just stick stuff at the top so you won't have to wade through this junk again.


I do know this, already. Just driving into Noo Awluns on I-10, you’ll get to see enough remnants of Katrina to make you sick at your stomach. Particularly if you’re an insurance agent who knows what the dollar losses were, and informed enough to know that an awful lot of people had gotten themselves into a false sense of security and neglected flood insurance, and sometimes windstorm coverage too.


Unbelievable.