Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Perhaps I am a hypocrite at times . . .

Found out yesterday that one of the blogs I used to write (but deleted several months back with the understanding that I had followed every step to ensure security) had been hijacked by a porn group.

Despite my Christian beliefs, values and preaching . . . I suddenly felt the urge to go find these people, and slowly choke them to death.

However, I chose instead to file the appropriate complaints with Blogger.com . . . and the fine folks there took care of the problem in a matter of hours. I appreciate their prompt and professional resolution of this conflict.

Funny, how we say that anger and other emotions cause us to do things.

Not true.

This situation of someone stealing my name and our church name, and misrepresenting it for their selfish promotion . . . yeah, I was very, very, very, veeeerrrrrryyyyy angry about this.

But . . . I chose to be angry. And in that anger, I chose to plan how I would seek my initial "revenge."

Then I decided I needed to calm down . . . so I did some of the things I do when I know I need to calm down. As a result of my choosing not to be angry, I instead chose to do what Blogger.com suggests one do about this type of situation (immediately report it!!!) . . . and as a result, it was all taken care of pretty quickly.

A lot quicker than if I had acted out in anger to solve the problem.

I may irreverent at times.

I may be loud at times.

I may be self-focused at times.

However, I do try avoiding the hypocrite path as much as I can. I am thankful for family and friends who help steer me off this path when I, for some reason, decide it is the path I should walk.

I appreciate you all!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Being who I am . . .

Since I am the Senior Associate Pastor, I am not the primary preacher here. And that is fine with me. Ken is an outstanding preacher, one of the few I actually enjoy listening to.

So, I get to play the guitar and sing . . . with the children in worship most every Sunday.

This past Sunday, I was approached by a couple in our church, who shared their appreciation for my "unique" approach to ministry. I asked them to define what "unique" meant. There reply was, "you seem to have balanced the irreverent and the holy."

You could have picked me up off the floor.

In last weeks edition of our Annual Conference newspaper (Central Link - UM Reporter) there was an article written by another guitar playing pastor, Will Deuel from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. You can find Will's blog here.

Man, the name of that Annual Conference would be a great band name . . . Illinois Great River.

It seems that Will often has the chance to entertain at various pastors meetings, etc., and does so in an irreverent and silly way . . . not often singing songs about God, Jesus or the Church . . . but singing funny songs like "Hot Rod Lincoln," "Don't Bury Me," and "One Legged Chicken."

Classics . . . one and all.

Will suggests that pastors are regular guys and gals . . . ordinary people . . . who are called to do extraordinary things.

I call it just being true to myself.

Am I irreverent? Everyone who knows me would laughingly say "Yes." And I agree . . . but as Will writes in his article . . . "But I approach God with reverence and awe, I embrace the holy moments humbly and passionately, and I am utterly convinced of God's Goodness and grace."
I would hope that all who know me would say that I do approach God in reverence, that I embrace the holy moments with a childlike curiosity and wide-eyed wonder.

If not, then I still have more to learn about myself, my beliefs and my values. Everyday I discover something new about me. If it is something good, then I celebrate. If it is something bad, then I start working to change it.

I guess that is why I am trying to approach my needing to get "healthy" from a more spiritual sense.

It's all a part of getting to know myself better . . . being the ordinary guy that God is calling to do an extraordinary thing . . . being true to myself.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Soft drink pledge

My pledge of not drinking "soft drinks that have sugar" is my effort to become a little more personally responsible about my health.

I'm not criticizing the soft drink industry in any way. Dr. Pepper, Coke and Root Beer are just not good for me . . . with the illness I have to manage day-to-day.

I will admit, and not ashamedly so, that I do, every 3 days or so, drink a diet Dr. Pepper (medium size). I have found out that the sugar substitute in the diet drinks affects my pancreas as much if not more than sugar does. So, I can't have diet drinks every day either.

My illness is called "Insulin Cell Resistance." It is not diabetes, at least not at this time. When I eat/drink too many carbs, it causes my pancreas to "dump" all the stored insulin it has ready all at one time. The issue is the damage it is doing to my arteries, and that I am probably a candidate for a stroke in the next 10 years if I don't finally commit myself to doing something about it.

Today was Commitment Sunday in our church. At four Sunday morning worship services, people came to the front to lay on the altar table their commit to serve God through their prayers, presences gifts and service. I think I commited my health to God today as well.

More reports and sharing to follow.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Drink" for thought . . .

Hmmmmmm . . .

Been off soft drinks with sugar for 5 days. I've lost 4 pounds.

That's math I can understand!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Cool weather is finally here . . .

Is it me, or has September and now most of October passed by in about 60 seconds????

Yesterday, October 22, 2007, we finally got our first real taste of fall here in the DFW area, waking up to temperatures in the 50's with rain. With the wind chill, it felt like the upper 30's and low 40's.

It was 93 here on Sunday!

Marvelous . . . simply marvelous.

Slight chance of rain today . . . but coooooollllll for a few more days.

Hello to my favorite lite flannel long sleeve shirts! It's been a long time!

Haven't heard my AC come on at all in 2 days. The electric meter is just barely turning.

Glory!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Monday, October 22, 2007

I was taught to never loose hope . . .

Last week, I officiated at the funeral of a young man in our community who died by an apparant hanging/suicde.

Also last week, two of our local high school students attempted suicide. One died, and the other, after being in a coma, will recover.

Could it be something in our water???

Perhaps it is a combination of my own life experiences, and perhaps I do not really have any clue what it is like to be a teenager or young adult in our current culture . . . but I was taught, and believe to this day, that suicide is not a rational option or choice in life.

Again, I am speaking from my perspective and experience. I know suicide is a tragic thing for all the surviving family and friends. I've officiated at three funerals in the past 4 years where suicide was the cause of death. They each were some of the largest attended funerals I have officiated. The body language of most in attendance, the pain in their faces, how close they were holding on to each other . . . the pain was very great.

At the service, I described the pain of a friend commiting suicide as a "hurricane that hits you all at once in your gut." I didn't know how else to describe it. It was what I saw in their eyes. It was also how I felt.

But God is able. He was able that day, and He is able today, and He is able tomorrow as well.

I grieve for these families, deeply so. But I have to ask a question which I would like an answer to in order to come to grips with all this for myself.

-Has suicide now moved from the "Do Not Ever Do No Matter How Bad Life Is" list to the "Possible Choices For Dealing With Life" list?

When did that happen?

I truly believe that we are created by a loving God to live and engage with other people. Life is not meant to be lived alone.

I also believe that our greatest efforts should not be in the acquiring of wealth, awards or status . . . but in the cultivating of rich relationships. Relationships where someone considering something as tragic as suicide knows they can come to you . . . because you will make yourself available in their hour of need.

Major decisions are not meant to be made alone. They are to be made after careful counsel and personal consideration of learned advice.

But again, I speak/write out of the perspective of a 50+ year old.

Perhaps as I sit in my upstairs church office, I find that I am a little more culturally naive than I thought. Perhaps I am too removed . . . too used to people coming to me . . . than my going to see them where they are.

Lord, help me do what I can, when I can, with whom I can!

Amen!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Thank you Seekers Class . . .

I had the honor of singing for the Seekers Sunday School Class gathering this past Saturday evening. Liz and I are "official members" of the class, having "been allowed" to join after my 5oth birthday. For the past two years, the Seekers have "bought me" at our annual gala and grand auction.

I officiated at a wedding earlier in the afternoon, and with my allergies . . . my only "somewhat" adequate voice got a little raspy.

Sigh!

My fellow Seekers were very appreicative, despite my more-nasal-than-normal voice. We had a great time . . . singing a variety of songs from the 60's and 70's: rock, country, folk, bluegrass, John Denver, Dan Fogleberg, and Elvis.

I learned a long time ago . . . when you sing for people who are older than you . . . you have to sing:

-One Gospel Song
-One Patriotic Song
-One Elvis Song

A good rule to live by!

I did break out the new Sheraton II, and led the Seekers in a rock-n-roll version of "Hokey Pokey," followed by my first ever attempt in public to do my rendition of Joe Walsh's "Walk Away." Made it through OK . . . but I did get a couple of strange looks . . . and they were deserved. Perhaps I am not really made out to be a 60's rocker after all!

My daughter, Maranda, joined me for our version of the song "Dead Armadillo," which was written by young Harvey Kullemberg, back in 1976 when I was the summer youth director at the United Methodist Church in Bastrop, TX. I only remember the first verse and the chorus . . . but the class got into it pretty good.

It was a dead armadillo ( HA! HA!)
It was a dead armadillo (HO! HO!)
It was a dead armadillo (HEE! HEE!)
It was a dead armadillo (MY! MY!)
It was a dead armadillo, baby it was smilin' at me.

You have to see the hand gestures you do with the song to understand it. Trust me.

Great people, great fellowship, great food . . . especially Carol Lee's cookies. Yum Yum!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's here . . .

It's here, an ebony Epiphone Sheraton II. It sounds even beter than it looks. Would sound even better if I were to finally break down and take some electric guitar lessons . . . and buy a better amp . . . and get better strings . . .

Funny, how something new always ends up costing more than the original price! Boys and their toys.

I joyfully say "thank you" to God and to Sean for finding it and steering it my way. I dedicate it for the purpose of making a joyful noise in ministry.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Friday, October 19, 2007

Praying after stepping off the scales . . .

Dear Gracious Lord,

I have just stepped off the scales.

I am both humiliated, and mad and angry at myself.

No more soft drinks.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Yep . . . you guessed it . . .

Yes, the people I like to be around . . . who I enjoy engaging life / faith with . . . are usually involved/ or participate in one or more of the following:

-Singing / music.
-Playing, building or repairing guitars.
-Fishing
-Attending worship and Bible study; and engaging in mission through a local church in the name of Jesus Christ.
-Believing that the Bible is a living document, and trying to live by its guidance despite the failure, at times, of individual human nature.
-Believing that family and relationships are what makes one truly rich.
-Appreciating the out-of-doors and our responsibility to be good stewards of it.
-Appreciating a good, old fashioned, honest and respectful debate on various topics of spititual, relational and social relevance.
-Spending time giving back to our communities through public service.

These are the various elements of my personal value system. Yes, it seems very clear that I am drawn to those who have values somewhat similar to those I have.

And that is not bad in and of itselft. This isn't really a bad list of things to be involved or participate in.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

It's a right good morning . . . and I'm feeling musical . . .

God knows that I love my music. . .
Ain't no one gonna change my tune. . .
Don't ya know that I love my music. . .
Ain't never gonna change my tune. . .

(Chorus to "My Music" by Loggins & Messina)

I'm just in a pretty good mood this morning! Then I rediscovered this picture from last year, when I was in my spiked hair and goatee period . . . right before I turned 50. If that helps explain why I had spiked hair and a goatee . . .

Wish I still had the guitar. Shoulda' kept it. But now I'm getting a black one!

Da do do do do do do do . . . Da do do do do do do do . . . .

I'm better than I deserve!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

We caught 8 fish . . .

A quick 2 hours or so of fishing. We caught 8. I caught one bass while trolling. Poor fish wasn't much bigger than my lure.

Thomas (bottom picture) and Jim (middle picture) caught 7 white bass, 3 of which were real pole benders.

In all the excitement, we forgot to take pictures of the big ones.

Nice cool evening . . .
Cathing fish . . .
Eating peanuts out of the shell . . .
Good friends . . .

The boat that pulled out after us had an ice chest FULL of good sized crappie. Somebody is going to have a fish fry this weekend!

Yes, I am better than I deserve! ><>





Thursday, October 11, 2007

I was paid a compliment today . . .

Twice in fact!

Felt good.

I was told I was appreciated and valued.

Was told that I am an "original," that there is no one else like me.

Thank God for that!

I'm doing better than I deserve! ><>

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The cost of going fishing . . .

Spent $28 on a fishing license, freshwater only. If I get to go fishing at the coast this next year, which I don't see happening right now . . . It will be an extra cost.

The Hellbenders at Academy were .30 cents cheaper than Bass Pro Shops. Purchased two, and will go back to Bass Pro to get a refund for the two I bought there . . .

But then will have money in my hand . . . in one of the world's largest fishing stores . . .

Oh, how the vicious cycle continues . . . .

Floyd . . . stop laughing!!!!

My wife's words to me . . . "You better catch some fish!" "Some" was defined as a dozen or more!

I'm doomed.

I mean, I love to fish! In truth . . . I'm just not very good at it.

I catch people better than I do fish.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Going fishing tomorrow . . .


I will be going fishing Thursday evening with church members . . . trolling for white bass on Lake Grapevine.

I am excited!

Went to Bass Pro to purchase the "needed" lures that are hot right now. I got the stuff to put together two of the "Hell-Pet" combos (Pet #13 spoon tied to a large chrome Hellbender lure).

$23.00 . . . and I haven't bought my new fishing license yet. Let's just day the "sharp edge" of my excitement has been dulled a little.

Considering the last fish I caught ( a 7" bluegill perch - see picture) cost me around $300 . . .

I had better catch a bunch of fish . . . or I think I may sell all my fishing stuff . . . and buy that camera I've been wanting.

Adult "toys" just cost too much these days. I guess it's time to let something go.

Sigh!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Give peace a chance . . .

I'm back from attending a pastor's meeting to help prepare the pastors in our conference for General Conference next year.

The morning sessions were great, including a presentation by a pastor from Pennsylvia who does a wonderful and engaging John Wesley drama. Outstanding.

In the afternoon sessions, the focus was on several issues . . . how to come to the table with those who have different positions . . . dealing with the media . . . etc.

The underlying theme of the entire day . . . General Conference is coming, and that means conflicts and differences of opinion will occur, so let's work on how we will constructively deal with them.

There have been various conflicts and disagreements at every General Conference since they were first held.

It occurs to me . . . that life is a guarantee of conflict, especially if you engage other people. To be a Methodist in this day and age is to be in conflict. We were told today . . . "Where ever there are 2-3 Methodists gathered, you will have 5-6 different opinions!"

That's a good one.

Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble." To be a Christian serving God is to be in conflict with the world.

To not be in conflict, according to my understanding of natural law and philosophy, is another name for "death."

One of the definitions of "peace" is "stillness and quiet." But I'm not ready to be that still or that quiet.

Why then, do many, when speaking about dealing with differences, define "peace" as "the absence of conflict"?

Consider these two statements . . .

1) I may agree . . . I may disagree.

2) I may change my mind . . . and I might not change my mind.

Don't both just invite conflict, or at least a good argument?

Doesn't peace between people in dispute usually come out of an agreement, or treaty . . . which involves a combined effort by all parties to come together, to speak and to listen . . . without one party taking advantage over the other?

How are differences resolved constructively in any other manner, or agreements reached about living together in a constructive manner "despite" their differences?

Am I saying that some conflict . . . (healthy conflict / tension) . . . in life is good?

I think it is! Conflict lets us know that something is wrong. Something we should fix. Perhaps what needs to be fixed is selfishness . . . perhaps our focus should be on God's will for our church instead of our what "our" will for the church is.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

What's in a name . . .

Changed the name of the blog back to One Peculiar Christian.

It better reflects how I am feeling right now . . . and I'm feeling pretty well, actually.

We are called to be a "peculiar people." As we start gearing now toward Advent/Christmas, I feel the need to do my part by standing out a little more in witness to the advancement of God's Kingdom here on earth.

There are some opportunities to sing a little more than normal. And I'm doing a lot more counseling. I sense this is a time of spiritual growth for myself and a lot of people in our church family.

I remember the first time in my life that I was called "peculiar." I took it as a compliment then, and I still do now. After having some success in athletics as a sophomore and junior in high school, but I did not play any sport my senior year in order to sing and travel with a Christian band. It was my basketball coach who said, "That is one peculiar kid! Doesn't he know what he is giving up?"

Sure I knew . . . but I had a calling . . . I knew in my heart . . . that singing, playing the guitar, and sharing my love for Jesus with other teens in central and south Texas was what I was supposed to do.

And, despite the label . . . I found joy!

If being peculiar is not following the crowd . . . or asking "why are we doing it this way?" . . . or simply stating to those who wish to draw us away from our called task, "I'm not interested in that" . . . or knowing in my heart I have to be the one who may have to say "no" . . . then I guess I'm peculiar.

If being peculiar is going against the grain . . . choosing to be happy . . . choosing to consider others . . . choosing to give my prayers, prayers, gifts and service . . . then I guess I'm peculiar.

If being peculiar is not wearing a suit and tie . . . if peculiar is having more guitar stuff in my office than will realistically fit . . . if peculiar is telling the people who I pastor, "I love you," . . . then I guess I am peculiar.

I guess John Mason said it best, "You were born an original, don't die a copy."

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Ha! I am nothing if not consistent . . .

Checked again! My blog is still worth $0.

Ummm Boy Yeah!

Since this blog hasn't cost me a dime . . . I'm still breaking even!

Mercy!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Monday, October 8, 2007

Discoverintg how much my blog is "worth" got me thinking . . .

And thinking, for me, is a dangerous thing to do. Get's me in too much trouble!

So, Floyd, Mark, Linda, Neal, Steve, John, and others who let me know they read this blog . . .

What is it that truly establishes how much anything is "worth?"

Now, I don't truly classify this blog as anything important. It is just an outlet for me to share my views and experiences . . . after all, a blog is a diary of sorts, right?

Here is where I am going with this . . .

A friend asked me the other day . . . if the the church caught on fire, what would you go back in to save? I believe I may have been asked this question when my blog was profiled on the Locusts and Honey blog last year.

I would think I would go back in to save people, especially children . . .

I would think I would go back in to save the important records of the church . . .

But I know what I would "for sure" (we actually do say that a lot here in Texas) go back in to save . . . my Martin DC-16GTE guitar.

That guitar is a gift from God through the help of a foundation grant, and gifts from my two dear very best friends, Joe and Floyd. As far as my possessions go . . . it probably right now is the most valuable single item I own. I just walked through my home . . . and no other possession, not even all my fishing stuff . . . comes even close.

In truth, it is not the most "expensive" possession I own. But it is the one thing that is "worth" more to me than anything else, at this time and place in my life.

Why is this? Why have I rated the "worth" of a guitar so highly over most any other possession I own? Because that beautiful guitar, which God is letting me be the steward of, reminds me of the importance of dearly and deeply cherished friendships. It also reminds me of my finally accepting the ministry God has called me to undertake . . . "to make a joyful noise wherever I am, or to cause one to be made."

People tell me that I "shine" when I play that guitar . . . like they know, that I know, I'm doing what I am supposed to be doing.

I wonder if many of things we possess, on which we place great "worth," is because it is related to a relationship, or some great sacrifice, or it is the fruit of a long journey of quest.

What truly establishes the "worth" of something you own?

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Well, as no surprise . . . it ain't worth much!

Went to the web site where you find out how much your blog can be worth.

My blog is worth $0. That's right . . . zilch, zero, nada, nothing!

I have, after much effort, finally achieved "pond scum" status in life!

Whew! It's been a long journey. I'm glad it's over!!!!!

HA HA HA HA HA.

Now, do I take this seriously, or go shoot myself?

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Women who grill . . . and the men who love them . . .

Seems I struck a nerve . . . not that guys would disagree with me . . . but that the women grillers out there are agreeing with me.

A woman agreeing with me??? About grilling??? I am at a loss for words!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Friday, October 5, 2007

Charcoal or Gas . . . I've made my decision . . .

Warning!

This particular blog entry is for guys. And be warned, some of them are not going to agree with me on this.

This blog is for all the guys out there . . . you know who you are . . . the ones who like to eat meat! Meat that you cook yourselves.

Don't worry, your secret is safe with me . . . in the kitchen, most of us are disasters waiting to happen . . . I wouldn't know a dry measuring cup from a wet measuring cup.

But let us go out on the back porch with our grills . . . May God bless us all! Some of us even have custom grilling aprons! Wish I could find a cute one my size!

Made the move recently to become more of a grilling "purist." I gave my big old stainless steel gas grill to our former youth ministry director. He is a full time "starving artist" singer and guitar player. Actually, he is going to do great things . . . but I've always wanted to call someone I know a "starving artist."

It's a long story . . . don't ask.

My Texas A&M Aggie son-in-law is very happy with my decision. He says his "prodigal" father-in-law has come home. Time for a party . . . and at my house that means grilling something good to eat.

Pork ribs and pork chops . . . mmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Good eating! My son-in-law did the male grilling world proud that day.

Tasted real good!

The grill I purchased to replace my gas grill is a Weber "One Touch" Gold charcoal grill. And suddenly, grilling is a lot easier . . . and more fun . . . and less to clean up . . . and easier to take care of . . .

And . . . tastier! No propane smell in the food.

Yes, I made the switch because of taste. Yes, it does take 10-20 minutes for the charcoal to ash over . . . but you can put wood chips on the coals for new flavors, and because the grill is round, you can do indirect heat better . . . and grill whole chickens, ham, and whatever I can find on sale at the market.

Also . . . no more propane bottles to carry around to exchange or fill.

I will use any charcoal I can get . . . as long as it is Kingsford.

Don't need lighter fluid if you use a charcoal chimney. The expensive kind at Lowe's, Bass Pro, Cabela's and outdoor stores are all just fine . . . but the simple black one from Academy is less than $10.

Weber has a great web site, with tons of free grilling recipes when you sign up.

The grilling horizon is looking a little brighter now.

I'm better than I deserve ><>

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Oh, Oh Ohhhhhh! Listen to the music . . .

On the 1st and 3rd Thursday evenings of the month, a bunch of guys here at the church meet for what we call "1st Church Guitars." Starting at 6:30 PM, the guys start arriving one-by-one, and begin to plug in amps and tune up guitars. Sometimes we also have a bass guitar player, or banjo, or mandolin.

Are we good?

Well, that depends on what you mean by "good."

We play a lot of stuff . . . some of it sounds good, and some of it needs a lot of work.

We all bring music with words and chords, and we play what is brought, then play some old fovorites. Copies of our old favorites now fill three individual 3-inch wide three ring binders.

In two years, meeting twice a month, September through May . . . that's a lot of music!

But tonight . . . we became more than a group, we became a family. One of our guys testified to answered prayer in his life, saying he wanted to tell the world about what God had done for him, but since the world wasn't there, he wanted to tell us.

He said we were important to him.

We offered prayer after he shared. Then, we all tried to linger for a while, but it was time to go back home to our families. So, one by one, we bid each other good night and God's blessings . . . but somehow it meant far more than it every has before.

I'm doing better than I deserve ><>

Oh, Oh Ohhhhhh . . . Listen to the music,
Oh, Oh Ohhhhhh . . . Listen to the music,
Oh, Oh Ohhhhhh . . . Listen to the music,
All the time!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Joe is home . . .

Spoke to Joe yesteday afternoon. He is home, resting from the chemo, and seems to be in very good spirits, actually feeling pretty good.

Again, Joe appreciates any "industrial strength" prayers anyone would care to offer on his and Riva's behalf.

I'm better than I deserve because Joe is my friend.

Rick ><>

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Update on my friend, Joe . . .

I've spoken to Joe several times this past weekend. He is at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, finishing up a 4-day chemo treatment. In a month, they will do chemo again, and harvest the needed stem cells from his blood. Don't ask me how all this works because I have no idea. However, it does sound like a plan!

His most recent scan was pretty much a "pet-negative." In other words, the doctors believe they have killed the cancer, but want to continue with chemo and stem cell treatment. Things are looking good.

Joe has asked for prayers from any and all who would be willing to offer some "industrial strength" prayers. After 4 years of treatments, things are looking better; however, the stem cell treatment is pretty nasty in and of itself.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>