“FlICK YOUR BIC”

image courtesy of photobucket.com

image courtesy of photobucket.com

Back in the seventies and eighties, it was considered cool to “Flick your Bic” at rock and roll concerts. I never had need of a lighter nor was I willing to part with my scarce cash to get one just to take part in the fad of “Flicking my Bic”.

I will admit that it did look pretty cool. So cool, in fact, that more than a few album covers back in the days of vinyl, sported photos with thousands of little flames lighting the darkness of night in the massive venues.

Somewhere along the way things changed… and more than just me and my priorities. One of the few fads I was ahead of the curve on was cell phones, but purely for business purposes.

After more than three decades steamrolled by with my absence from the mega concert scene, I realized not that much had changed… except for the tradition of “Flick your Bic”.

The skinny kid on stage shouted something about “Get Your Shine On” and the roar of the younger crowd rattled my eardrums. I knew the song, what I didn’t know was the evolution of the “Flick your Bic”

In a matter of moments that amphitheater that fits close to twenty thousand folks was glowing with the soft light, just like they did when I was a kid. But this was a different light. This light wasn’t from a small flame. It was from the thousands of cell phones that accompanied the younger crowd.

I don’t guess it would have done me any good to have had my cell phone with me anyhow, I still don’t know how to find the flashlight on it…

I was mesmerized by the glowing amphitheater and startled by the evolution of “Flick your Bic”. I wondered if the kids knew or even gave a thought to how that tradition started. But that’s life. Change happens.

There was a time when I didn’t think I’d ever go to another concert, not even a country one. Much less one where the lead singer of the country group had long hair and a sleeveless t-shirt. Johnny Cash might be rolling over in his grave.

Music is powerful. People love music and can be drawn together and inspired by it… even at church. At church, there was always music. Always piano, sometimes an organ, but never drums. There was always a song of invitation to wrap up the service and sermon, what they called “an altar call” in those days.

Like the cell phone has replaced the Bic lighter at concerts, the church has changed too. The music sounds like a concert, drums and all, and the altar call is only on occasion.

While none of us have the exact taste in music, I think we would agree that music is a gift. We might not agree on the exact type of church service, but we agree Christ is indeed the cornerstone.

Those of us that call ourselves Christians know that Christ himself told us that the world would know us by the love we have for one another… not the name or style of where and how we worship.

If the Christmas service that traditionally wraps up with all of us holding up lit candles in the sanctuary switches to cell phones… I’ll try to keep my grumbling to myself… then look at the big picture.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year with this repost from 2012.

We can measure it, but can’t duplicate it. We cherish it but often disrespect it all the same. We talk about the uniqueness and grandness of it but tend to take it for granted. It doesn’t matter how much we get of it, we always seem to want more. We can’t touch it but it is as real as the air we breathe… And when we run out of breaths we run out of it too…

Time is fleeting. It’s “like a vapor” to quote God’s word. Another unit of measurement of how we measure time is coming to an end. How did we use our precious commodity of time this year? My guess is that most of us could have done a little better, although we probably did “light years” better than we used to.

I’ve had so many years now that the oldest ones are fading from my memory. The sound and smells that used to take me back to the early years are all but gone now. The senses fade with time… Maybe that’s by design? As I get older I learn to rely less on my senses. My flesh; it’s easily fooled.

I’d say there’s something to be said about wisdom. Probably more than all the books in this world could hold… Save One.

As I ponder this last year and look forward to another one, I’m overwhelmed with the thoughts of remembering God’s grace in all the years He grants us. Redeemed. That’s what we are. We get another chance to be the people we always had in heart and mind to be. In the end, it is who we are that speaks of our legacy whether we’re here or not. What we have won’t mean anything to future generations or to God now.

As the year winds down, the season of Christmas still lingers in my mind and heart. Our lights are still up. I dread taking them down, but more than that, I’ll miss the glow from the lights. That glow of the lights reminds me to shine my Light that lives within me. May we be mindful to shine our Lights this next year as we shape our legacies with not just our words, but more importantly, our actions.

One of my favorite Christmas songs still lingers in my mind and heart too. I pray it stays in my heart and mind along with yours. It’s that one specific verse that rings in my head. It’s been there for as long as I can remember… That one memory that isn’t going away and I refuse to forget.

The song is The Little Drummer Boy, and not just because I own a set of old drums. The verse that rings in my mind and haunts my heart I long for, “Then He smiled at me Puh-rum-puh-pum-pum, me and my drum.”

May God smile on you and yours this next year as we bring Him and ourselves honor. Happy New Year, friends.

Puh-Rum-Puh-Pum-Pum…

DECK THE HALLS

Deck The Halls

Deck The Halls

“Deck the halls with poison ivy, fah-lah-lah-lah-lahhhh-lau-lau-lau-lau.” We’d snicker at our childish humor feeling pretty full of ourselves for no good reason. Even now and then, I struggle to grasp how a song, that sounds like someone used unintelligent ramblings to fill in a chorus temporarily and it just stuck, got to be so popular.

This season has a lot of those type of passed down traditions. The biggest, or at least the most popular tradition of this Christmas season is the one of gift giving. As a kid I didn’t think the grown ups were lying to us, I just didn’t believe everything they said. I mean, I knew Santa Claus wasn’t real and if that was a fairy tale then who’s to say that the old Bible verse wasn’t either?

After all, at face value, even for us grown ups now, it doesn’t make sense to our sensibility at first; “Tis better to give than to receive.” Huh? Better to give than to get? Really? We listened respectfully not really buying into the hoopla of selflessness and sacrifice. We just kept our mouths shut, for the most part, and did what we had to do to get our grubby little paws on some presents when the magical time came for it.

If “difficult” is a good word to describe what it was for my dad to get my siblings and me up for church on Sundays, then we were the polar opposite on that one day of the year on Christmas. We were up and at ’em while the sun was still hours away from rolling around to our side of the globe.

Unfortunately for the impatient kids there was still yet one more tradition in between us and heaven on earth in those finely wrapped packages under the dying Christmas tree; the reading of the Good Book.

It didn’t matter that we could almost recite Luke chapter two by heart. My dad would break out that little black and tattered King James Bible, flip over to the third Gospel and say a prayer of thanks before beginning to read, “And it came to pass in those days…”

It’s peculiar, I recall some pretty good presents. The best present and thee absolute most shocking surprise was the one Christmas my mom and dad got me a red stingray with a sissy bar that rivaled the Tower of Babel. They never got much from us or each other… but I recall pure joy from them.

The adults were right of course. It takes some time to put away the foolishness of being a kid, Paul even says so. I can recall some of the gifts, but nothing touches my heart like the love I now recall in hindsight.

They were right about the giving and getting thing too. I guess it’s a pretty safe bet to quote the Savior of our souls and count on it and His sacrifice for eternity. Although the kids are older now, I still can’t wait to see the look on their faces this year. They’re gonna be shocked.

Merry Christmas to you, my friends. I pray you find peace from God above this season as we celebrate His Gift. May we deck the halls of our hearts in honor of Him.

“Fah-lau-lau-lau-lauuuu-lau-lau-lau-lau”.

HAPPILY EVER AFTER

image courtesy of photobucket.com

image courtesy of photobucket.com

I believe in happily ever after. I recall as a kid being awestruck in the old theaters after devouring a movie mentally like it was a piece of fine chocolate. I remember walking back outside into reality, my mind paddling to catch up after being suspended in the warp when time stood still.

Even after the gut punches of the reality in this fallen world as kids, many of us still cling to some type of romantic notions. My guess is that it isn’t a precious few of us that got worn down along life’s journey. The rugged paths that beset all of us have a way of grinding us down, the jagged edges broken off and sanded smooth, thin like the perfect stone for skipping across the glassy pond into eternity.

Like Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, most of us have put our childish ways behind us. For some, those ways are so far removed that not even the slightest softer notions cross our minds anymore.

There are a couple different types of “Romantics”. One of them would lean toward terms like “gentle” and “tender”. The folks born in the generations closest to “The Greatest Generation” I think struggle to be described as gentle and tender. Passionate, strong, and disciplined yes, but usually they always seem best described as “tough as nails”.

I was raised in a blue-collar family with ties to a sharecropping-hand-cotton pickers clan. We grew up in a violent world set in the late sixties when it was all about survival of the fittest, long before any of us ever heard of the God forsaken theory.

It seemed like back then romantic happened in books and movies. Gentle and tender were reserved for newborn babies, puppies, and kittens, but that didn’t mean we didn’t have love.

I ponder these days of political correctness and question a “love” that can’t say no to kids. I wonder if we’re really doing the next generation any favors at all. Our generation didn’t see the tough love of our raisin’ as gentle or romantic.

Sometimes it takes several decades stacked like dominoes to get a glimpse over the wise side of this life’s spiritual fence.

In that tough love, we learned self-discipline through discipline. We were demanded to show respect… that’s how we learned self-respect. Character was insisted upon in our lives and sometimes reinforced with a belt.

We stumbled through childhood and adolescence and got to use those Biblical character traits in real life. We were tested, and although we failed more than we wanted to, by and large, we showed our loved ones and this world real love in action. True romance in these character scenarios bring God honor and stiffen the spines of the weaker among us.

The other definition of “romantic” is “an idealized view of reality”. While I fight to be gentle and tender, I think this meaning of romantic describes every Christian. We know this fallen world has a vast cast of antagonists, but we’re the gifted protagonists that know our roles and lives in these soul cages.

True Love keeps and sustains us and the ultimate Happily Ever After is waiting for us on the other side.

See there. Who said we’re not romantics?

THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART

image courtesy of photo bucket.com

image courtesy of photo bucket.com

The majority of the eyes scrolling across this screen or page, along with the hearts behind them, have a great deal in common with me and one another. Many of us have that innate desire to lasso the vivid pictures in our mind’s eye and bring them to life through our words. My guess is that the bottom of your heart is not so different than the bottom of my heart.

The odd part about this creative world of wordsmithing is that when a body of words is complete it doesn’t always resonate or connect with hearts the way we had hoped. Sometimes it feels like an empty theatre with only the sound of a lonely cricket singing… and yet we forge ahead.

It’s an odd dynamic to spend lonely time with a pen and paper or keypad in trying to hitch our hearts and souls up to other’s. When we fail to inspire and connect we still find gratification in the crazy process and calling.

What binds all of us together is our inborn need to connect, regardless of our widget or vocation. In that sense we’re all in this together.

I’m Supremely blessed too with a pretty consistent group of friends that always reach out to one another to encourage and be encouraged. It’s a gift that makes precious gems seem like costume jewelry.

Every once in a while we get an unexpected shot in the arm and heart. The kind of shots that I think are arranged by God to reinforce a sagging soul.

Chris caught my eye from across the gym and waved me over. I raised my chin as I approached him in an unspoken, “What’s up?” manner.

“I just wanted you to know how much that post you did a while back about your daughter touched me and my wife,” Chris said. He went on to explain how it made him remember things about his life and family. Chris shared how after he persuaded his wife to read it she finished with tears in her eyes. He told me that he did too.

My old gym buddy told me he felt like he’d stolen a piece of my world and used it to relate to his world to remind himself how blessed he was and how much he cherished his family. I assured him that no, he wasn’t guilty of swiping anything from me.

I told him that was the whole purpose of my words that often miss the mark or target like an arrow shot in a hurricane… but once in a while I think our words do find their target. I believe that now and then they get Divinely pointed in the direction of other hearts in need of encouragement, inspiration, and reflection.

There is a time when our words hit dead center of a heart and pierce it with wisdom that pours forth love and joy that overflows the shallow banks of our eyes.

As my words encouraged my friend’s heart, his did mine.

For all of you who spend your precious time and heart to encourage mine, I say thank you so much… from the bottom of my heart.