Stop Pushing Me To Agree With You

Lately I have been faced with lots of decisions. Here are some of them.

  1. To enter restaurants or not.
  2. To vote Republican/Trump or Democrat/Biden.
  3. To stay put during hurricane Laura or evacuate.
  4. To shake hands or not.
  5. To judge those who disagree with me or not.

There are other decisions, but they are smaller, and I am not thinking about them, maybe later.

As for the decisions I am thinking about, I’ll make the following comments.

RESTAURANTS

Honestly, I have frequented them more than I thought I would. An important aspect to my ministry is being available. Often, availability is defined by my fitting in to other people’s schedules. Their schedules are often restricted to breakfasts and lunches. Do I go or not go? It is a decision I have to make every day.

POLITICS

I was born here. As an American citizen, am I guaranteed the right to privacy? Does the Bill of Rights provide a right to privacy? I don’t believe it does. But who I vote for, or whether I vote at all, is no one’s business but my own. It is a decision I get to make. Please stop pushing me to agree with your decision, whatever it is.

HURRICANE LAURA

Last Tuesday morning the best information was that the storm would become a category 4 and track towards Houston. So, we evacuated. By Wednesday evening the storm did intensify but then tracked easterly instead of westerly. There was little rain or wind in Houston that night. I felt silly for having left. I guess it is better to be safe than sorry. It was a decision I had to make.

COVID-19

We were warned that to keep America safe we needed social distancing, no person to person contact. At first, we were told that face coverings were not a deterant. Now, it is the law. Some have rejected these warnings, suggesting that true beleivers trust God, and that the Lord will keep us safe if we trust him. What decsion have you made? Is shaking hands still a risk? How much science and/or media coverage is involved? To touch or not touch is a decision I make every day.

JUDGING

First of all, let me confess. I like judging others and I am good at it. How about you? My biggest judging challenge is how quick I am to judging others who are judgmental. It’s like saying, “I despise prejudiced people,” or “I hate those who hate,” or “I am so biased against those who discriminate.” Each day it is a decision I have to make. Someone once said this:

“Those who say that they can take it or leave it are usually taking it.”

As for judging, I’m usually “taking it,” meaning I’m doing the judging. It’s poor form, and it’s wrong.

AS FOR JESUS

He chose not to judge but instead to love. Jesus wasn’t political, but honored the Law of Moses and even taught his disciples to pay their taxes. When reminded that people in Jerusalem were going to hurt him he stayed where he was for a few days. When crowds got unruly he went into the mountains. Did he not trust his Father? As for touching others, yes, he touched the sick and the lepers. But he had something that I dont, he was the Son of God, and was never going to die from disease or leprosy. His appointment with death was already fixed, it was on a hill far away.

Jesus had to make decisions every day, and so do we. Let’s make good ones.

Agents 86 & 99–Kaos or Control?

Some of you will remember a sixties TV show called “Get Smart.” It starred Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, A.K.A. Agent 86, his partner Barbara Feldon known only as Agent 99, and Edward Platt who was always referred to as, “The Chief.”

It was a comedy spoof that ran from 1965-1970. I thought it was cool and funny. Max had secret-agent gizmos that he struggled to operate, but one that he used every week was his shoe phone. Yes, Agent Maxwell Smart had a phone in his shoe.

 

get-smart-tv-show
Secret Agent Stuff–The Amazing Shoe Phone. We All Wanted One!

 

Each episode was about a Washington agency named CONTROL doing battle with an evil empire known as KAOS. Agents 86 and 99 were sent to thwart whatever plan of tyranny KAOS had derived for the week. Of course, each mission was dangerous, and the intrepid agents would come close to falling or failing, but they never did.

Control and Kaos

Somebody once said that chaos and order aren’t enemies, only opposites. That they live side by side and are connected as if one couldn’t exist without the other.

Is there evil that results in chaos? Is there goodness that produces order?

By chaos and order, I’m not referring to organized versus unorganized. I’m referring to the conflicts and destructive impact of a life lived sinfully versus the peace and constructive value of a life lived in the Holy Spirit.

Unrighteousness leads to chaos while righteousness leads to divine order.

Jesus, our Messiah, said this:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness how great is that darkness?” 

Darkness and light or chaos and order. How are your eyes today? Have they allowed the light of Christ to shine within, or are they closed to keep your heart in darkness?

Are you living in the light of divine order or in the darkness of sinful chaos?

We live in a world that is referred to as fallen and broken. How did it fall? What broke it? Are we also fallen and broken? Is the darkness within us a great darkness?

Either we exist in chaos by our separation from God or in order by a divine connection. Either in darkness by sinful disobedience or in the light by divine holiness.

TO CLOSE

CONTROL and KAOS were elements of a thirty-minute show in the sixties. The light of holiness and the dark of sinfulness are elements of life today, of divine order versus human chaos.

Perhaps we all need some kind of shoe phone—something heavenly to keep us connected with the divine. Actually, we do. It’s the Messiah, it’s Jesus, our Lord, and Savior.

Have a blessed day.

A Grandmother & Five Grandkids

This past Saturday, I was at an event that was full of love, compassion, and generosity. We partner with a nonprofit called Hope Active. They exist to serve those in need, and their goal is to alleviate some of the sufferings of despair and poverty in Jesus’ name.

Some events that we have partnered:

  • A basketball camp for autistic children with Houston Rocket’s players
  • An annual day to give backpacks and school supplies to families in need, typically serving over 700 children each year.
  • An Angel Tree, gift-wrapping event to bless families for Christmas
  • Three times in the last two years, we have hosted Hope Active events in our gym.
  • Many Southeast members volunteer for these events.
  • Janel Hopper, our Children and Family Minister, is on the Hope Active board.

What I found most gratifying was how they served in the name of Christ. Because of Covid, the people who came remained in their cars, and when they reached the gift station, volunteers gave them the backpacks and supplies. It was a drive-through event.

Janel, along with her family, were outside serving. She told me this story.

A car pulled up with a woman and her five grandchildren. As I greeted her, she became emotional and began to weep. She talked about losing two of her sons, one a few years ago to a gunshot wound and one to leukemia last year. She was the sole care-provider for her grandchildren, and money was tight, and life was hard. But she was thankful that her son passed before the pandemic because it would have been so much harder with him being in isolation. I offered to pray with her and she immediately said yes. I asked God to help with her grief and anxiety and for her grandchildren.

She left with five new backpacks with school supplies. But also having been touched by the blessing of someone who cared. Someone who cared enough to pray for her.

Jesus said that we will always have the poor with us, John 12:8. It’s a verse often misquoted, misapplied, and misunderstood. I have heard Christians reference the verse to justify not helping the poor, as if to say,

“Well, there’s no shortage of poor people, we can always help later.” 

Not at all sure that is what Jesus meant.

IN CLOSING

I wasn’t outside in the heat ministering to those in need. I was inside with air-conditioning doing data entry. It’s okay, it all has to be done. But I was one of four who were doing the data entry. The other three were women, African American women, and Hope Active is their primary ministry. They volunteer a lot, they want to help.

I spent a couple of hours with them and was blessed by their conviction. They genuinely desire to help the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters.

It was an event full of love, compassion, and generosity. I was blessed just to be there.

 

 

 

A Personal and Difficult Confession

Perhaps it’s time that I own up to the truth. Or maybe it’s not? Just the same, I feel compelled.

Most of you know me as a mild-mannered minister that has, for the past twelve years, served as Senior Minister of the Southeast Church in Friendswood, Texas. But there is another side to me.

Have you squirreled out my secret? If not, then I’m going to tell you. But please, don’t go berserk. Tell yourselves, “I will not stage a nutty.” As a good friend often tells me,

“It’s okay, it’s fine, everything is going to be fine.” 

Well, here it is.

For the past thirty-seven years, I have been the owner and CEO of the Fyffes Pineapple Company. Also known as Fyffes Gold or Super Sweet Gold. My product from Costa Rica and my global business center is located in Ireland:

Fyffes International

The Ramparts, Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland

I appear to be just another neighbor in a middle-class neighborhood, but actually, I’m far more, and I’m worth millions.

Anyway, since my product is now in major grocery chains across America, I figured it was just a matter of time until someone put it together.

 

Fyffe Pineapple-2
One of our finest. I have them delivered to the house. 

 

Fyffe Pineapple-1
Our company logo and icon.

 

The horizontal “5” on the right stands for something, but I don’t know what. Also, we call it Fyffes Gold, but as you know, pineapple is more yellowish. Not sure why we went down that golden avenue. As CEO, I should probably look into such things, but hey, who has the time?

Well, there you have it. The cat is out of the bag. I don’t know who put the cat in the bag, or why, but the hairy little fur-ball is out now.

To Close

Of course, none of the above is true except for my being the Minister of the Southeast Church of Christ.

Hey, you should visit us when we return to live on September 13. As always, we will offer two services for your convenience, 8:30 and 10:45. Consider it a personal invitation. Wasn’t that slick how I worked that in?

You’ll be glad you came, and that’s not one of Slick Rick’s stories. It’s the truth.

Shalom