That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

God’s Mysterious Ways Often Become Clear to Those who Wait

I was born in Florida and grew up in Memphis. I always took pride in the fact that I was born where my father was born, and while I am proud of the music heritage Memphis has, the town always left me disappointed in almost every other area. Racism is in the DNA, the politics and general mindset are archaic and mired in a ditch, and crime is stratospheric. Education is teetering over the abyss, and job opportunities are scarce.

There are thousands of world-class musicians and artists, but in order to be heard by the world one must leave.

As a child, my parents stressed education and diversity of interests. We had books on a wide array of subjects — geography, animals, trees, national parks — and we were given an appreciation of things like nature and solar systems and music and vocabulary and sports and writing and drawing. I wanted that for my progeny as well. The kids with whom I grew up had the most mundane desires and often ridiculed me for liking “white boy stuff” like books and chess and the like. And it was only because I had parents who were teachers and who values education and home-training that I could represent myself fairly well when speaking formally.

Once I got married and had kids, my wife and I always hoped to move to Nashville so that she could have better employment choices and so that the children would not have to go through what I went through. But I wasn’t going to move with no musical contacts and have to wind up getting a job in a factory or a call center somewhere. I wanted to be established first.

Before we moved here to Las Vegas, work was drying up like water in the Serengeti in June. I want to be this famous saxophone player and songwriter, and Memphis was showing itself to not be the place for ME. People just don’t call sax players first for jobs. We are non-essential extras. Kathy was on maternity leave and didn’t want to go back to that dead-end job, and finding a new one — even though she is a college graduate — was proving impossible. Bills were piling up with no prospects of being paid… Life was miserable. We were constantly knocking on God’s door begging for assistance with waning faith.

The best thing about Memphis for us was our church and our families.

My daughter and youngest son have eczema (it had taken a lot of Diana’s hair, and her skin was always breaking out), and my eldest son has problems with all the pollen and such in Memphis. We were also wondering about how they would develop when they started school. I’m a proud product of the public school system, but things are so different now… Homeschooling was not an option for many reasons. I wanted my kids to be broad-minded but proud of their heritage and culture, and Memphis is such a racially polarized town.

Fast forward to now:

Everyone is FLOURISHING!

I have worked in Vegas numerous times over the years, and I never was overly impressed — not being a gambler. The Strip is beautiful, but I thought once you got past that, there was nothing else to see. How wrong I was!

This is a wonderful place! Mountainous (which I always wanted) and picturesque. There is actually an attractive quality to the desert. And there are a thousand things within a few hours’ drive… The Grand Canyon, San Diego,  Hollywood, Hoover Dam, San Francisco, Yellowstone, Yosemite…

The area is incredibly diverse, so my kids won’t have to suffer life in a racist fishbowl to the degree that I did (although…). And they will have interests that extend beyond the usual — TV, video games, and a 9 to 5. They will see so many things that we wouldn’t have been able to afford to show them.

The area is spread out enough that a good neighborhood is not one block away from a bad one like back home. The architecture is interesting, and the weather is more to my liking because I HATE being cold!! And there are more work opportunities for me here if my current gig plays out. I make three times what I made back home, where saxophone players are considered “options” like heated seats in a car, or 50 inch plasma televisions, or shiny, spinning rims.

I feel exactly like a biblical figure saved by God from a famine, a flood, or a fire. He got us out of a place that — for us — was becoming desolate and depressing. He uprooted us and lined events up in so obvious a way that we had no doubt that God was orchestrating them. And then, He showed us what would have been. It is almost spooky, knowing that there is actually Someone else — who we cannot see — in the room doing stuff! God changed so much for us! We paid off our car early, got my son in a great school, got a second vehicle big enough for all of us, and we got a bigger, more comfortable home with nice amenities. Diana’s hair is thick and full, her skin is soft, and Max doesn’t have nearly the issues with allergies as back home. My kids are blossoming before our eyes like dogwoods. Kathy is exercising — even running — and is much, much happier with life than she was a year ago.  And we both have drastically changed our eating habits in order that we may be here for the kids. Little to no salt and sugar, smaller portions, no sherbet :-(, no candy, and no fatty foods.  We have both lost a lot of  lbs. in the past three months. I’m actually writing this between weightlifting sets…

All this came from my saxophone, which was another answered prayer.

But there is a problem… In order to achieve all this we had to move 1,600 miles away from every single person we love! It is incredibly difficult to juxtapose missing mothers, fathers, siblings, church members, and best friends with the advantages existent here. It is like our arms are running while our legs are walking leisurely.

We used to have Sunday dinners at my parents’ house weekly. They got to see the kids on a regular basis, something I never had with MY grandparents and always wanted for my children. Moving so far away meant that they would no longer be able to see the children grow up and develop. They would not be able to see them at the drop of a hat. That alone made this the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. While my folks are happy for us, I KNOW they’re heartbroken but won’t admit it. In order to function, I have to try to not dwell on it too much…

Before I got married, I saw my parents five or six times a week. I would come home from road gigs and go to their house in the middle of the night and sit at the foot of their bed in the dark and tell them stories about what happened and we would just laugh… Once I got married, though, I stopped all that in order to be true to the biblical mandate to “leave and cleave.” But we still had Sundays when we, my sisters, and my nephews would all get together after church. I had a weakness for Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream, and Mom knew that and kept a ready supply for me in her freezer. I treasured those days and never thought about them ending.

But I think about biblical times when, if a family moved away — as so many did — it could mean they would NEVER see their loved ones again! At least we have planes now. My parents moved away from their childhood homes — my father moved almost as far away as I did. That, in part, was why I wanted my kids to have relationships with their grandparents, since I never really did.

Weighing the pros and cons, though, tipped the scales in favor of the move. There were just TOO many signs, answered prayers, and obliterated obstacles! And I couldn’t show myself to be the true head of this family if I couldn’t bear the excruciating pain of leaving “Mama” to give them a better life. I’m not naive! I KNOW this is Vegas with all its attendant pitfalls and dangers. But you should know — as I now do — that Las Vegas is waaay more than The Strip!

I feel stressed sometimes, as the Disciples and the wandering children of Israel did even in the very presence of God, but He has shown Himself  gracious and faithful. My job is precarious in the sense that I have only EVER been fired by THIS particular organization, but God is bigger than all that, and if He brought us out here which He obviously did, He did not do so as some cruel trick knowing what all is at stake… Following Him is like riding out on the wing of an airplane; frightful but exhilarating, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

May 25, 2011 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Fear, God, God's Hand, Life, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenthood | 7 Comments

Writer’s Block…

I have been trying for MONTHS to think of some new stuff to write about… Libya? Japan? Charlie Sheen? Life here in Vegas? Missing my family back home? The grace of God through three babies and no health insurance at the moment?  Praise-a-Thon? Anti-Christ du jour?

All of the above?

Bear with me.

March 31, 2011 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Life, Work, Writing | 1 Comment

“UNCLE!!!” he cried.

World, you did not win me to your way. You only bullied me into inevitable “clandestiny”  and code-speak. (coined that myself…) A Pyrrhic victory, to be sure, for what you will inherit will be wretched and uninhabitable.

I remember when, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t GIVE a damn,” was shocking. Now, with each new television season, a new word I can’t say is blasted in 5.1 audio. You win.

I remember when people would cringe even at the hint of two guys feeling an attraction to each other. Now, if I suggest that it is natural to tell my son that boys kiss girls, I am preaching hate! You win.

There was a time when morality was the default position and anything else was in need of correction. Now, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is not only a local mantra but a universal code by which to live. I give. Uncle. You can have your world. For now. But whatever standard you hold, whatever boundary YOU set, will be moved next. Go ahead — “You kissed a girl, and you liked it.” Throw your marriage away. Get high with your kid. Preach weak and watered-down Gospel for profit. Say f*&< on TV.

The God in whom you feign belief is real. And coming.

 

December 29, 2010 Posted by | Christ, Christianity, False Prophets, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, Immorality | 4 Comments

…A few Quick Rants…

Living in Vegas now, I see the Sharron Angle/Harry Reid ads a lot. I don’t get how one rich person can constantly point the finger at the other rich person for being rich! That woman makes me itch in a place I can’t scratch!

 

And, why do we vote for millionaires who spend multiplied millions to get temp jobs that pay only a few thousand?!!? Yet they run on TRUSTWORTHINESS!!!

 

Atheism is the coolest — and only acceptable– worldview. If you think a God made ANYthing, you are written off as the very Neanderthal whose existence you deny!!

The talking heads who seem to care about “certain” human rights — poverty, racism, fair access, political integrity, etc. — laugh openly at practicing Christians who claim to be created by Someone who had THEM in mind! If you dare express a thought with which they disagree, you are labelled The Worst Person in the World.

 

The Tea Party (regardless of origin) is the shelter where all the racists ran when that thieving, lying Negro took America from them.

 

When I watch Glenn Beck, I feel cancerous cells forming inside my body from the bile that bubbles up! How dare we sit idly and let him and his insidious ilk co-opt and corrupt the Civil Rights Movement?!?

 

I want to make a significant mark in the world with my life.I want my work to be widely known.  But when I see “The Situation,” and K-Ci & JoJo Coming Clean, and Stupid Fish-Lipped Laid-up Housewives and Gold-diggers of Atlanta or the NBA or Beverly Hills, or

THIS DUDE:

I almost  want to quit the whole shebang! Being famous all of a sudden isn’t indicative of hard work and talent… (White folks reading this… This is not US!!!) Who left the Famous door open?!!?

 

What is comely about a world that claims freedom of speech and thought, but only if you speak and think what I tell you to? Gay people — whom I neither fear nor hate — were once considered sinners and outcasts. Just as others, they once knew their behavior to be wrong. Now that society has, in its inevitable way, relaxed the restrictions and shorn the shame associated with homosexuality, they have banded and forced those of us who disagree with them into the same closets they once occupied. It’s not okay to simply disagree with you, militant gay person, but it is perfectly fine for you to outright hate, and ridicule, and belittle, and oppress me??? Don’t you see the hypocrisy? The irony?

So, we are all forced –at job-point — to become enslaved to lies by nodding our heads in assent! The word, “HATE” is a hammer that makes us all flinch in terror. It’s like McCarthyism, or old Salem, or 1933 Berlin…

 

Sarah Palin. Really?!? Come on!! (Refer to my earlier statement on the inertness of famousness…)

 

I hate that I can laugh so hard at Bill Maher — he’s brilliant — yet become so frustrated at his unchallenged assaults on my Faith.

 

NBA Commissioner David Stern is a serious boil on my unmentionables!! Nobody else SEES this?!!? Classic Napoleon Syndrome!

 

What is up with all these guys cheating around and filming, texting, or voice-mailing the evidence? How can people smart and talented enough to become wealthy be so durn STUPID???

Preachers have enough material to work with these days, with poor and struggling people bursting through the cracks in the walls of this diseased world, without having time to do the sickening things they do in the name of “Thus sayeth the LORD.”

And the people who run to their defense are guilty of aiding and abetting! Pimps would have to get real jobs if the whores got hip to the game!!

 

As always, conservatives miss the mark woefully on love of fellow man, and liberals are wrong on just about everything else. We need rules. Or else, we’re just stray dogs roaming the streets biting people, raiding garbage, and spawning. That’s why the fact that God MADE us and made us with conscience and will matters! But we also need to realize the need for brotherhood and unity. Look at it like this… The stern God of the Old Testament, and the compassionate God of the New are one and the same Person. The unwavering Judge in the O.T. showed a lot of love, and Jesus, while sensitive and tangible, didn’t pull punches. Same God.

So, how can I, living in this paradox of a nation, be all one thing or completely the other??? Much more could be said… and has been, but is not worth recounting.

 

 

 

October 27, 2010 Posted by | Charlatans, Gay Rights, God, Liberals, Politicians, Politics, Racism, Rant, Republicans | 6 Comments

Vegas — Part Deux

The reason I haven’t been able to blog for months is that, as I said in the prior post, I was whisked away to Las Vegas to a two room apartment with no computer access.

The BB King’s club in Las Vegas has been open since the end of 2009, and they have had a number of bands, none of which fully satisfied the owner who is from Memphis. He wanted to stock the club with Memphis musicians in order to give the various locations the same sound the the original one has. Back in April, the house band there (of which I was a member) was informed that we would be flying to Vegas for a month to get that location on its feet.

We got right up to the point of leaving when circumstances beyond anyone’s control caused the job to fall through. I was highly upset, mostly because we had just had a baby (number three!), and Kathy was still on maternity leave, and I was the only one bringing money in. We lost a LOT of money when the gig fell out.

God was surely chuckling at our anxiety, knowing what He was about to bring to pass!

We were getting by on my pay from the house gig and from jobs that would pop up right when the last breath of air was running low. God was really training us on how to rely strictly on Him! By the end of the month of June, options were thin.

Prentice, the trombone player in the Memphis house band was picking up and moving to Vegas to join the band there. Actually, a few of my Memphis musician friends were going.

The lead singer — unbeknownst to me at the time — had signed on, the bass player from my church was to be the bandleader, and the drummer was a long time associate as well. I was at Prentice’s place to look at some of the furniture he was leaving and, having heard that the Vegas band was having some horn section issues, I decided to put in a bid for doing some work out there…

“How is the band out there?” I asked playing dumb.

“They’re okay, but the sax players are apparently not cutting it. They’re not playing the stuff the way we do it, and they are constantly subbing out,” he responded.

“Oh. Well, if you talk to Tommy (the owner), tell him I’d be willing to go out there for a month and get them on their feet. I’ve played with Larry (the front man) for nine years, and I know his arrangements, and made up a lot of the horn parts. Make sure you tell Tommy that!”

Prentice was surprised, “You would?!? You would really go?!? Man, that’d be great!! Yeah, I’ll tell him!” Prentice is a good guy, and he looks up to me, so I knew I had an advocate in him. Turns out, I had a LOT of advocates!!

By the time I got back home an hour later, my phone was ringing! It was Thursday. I was in Las Vegas Saturday afternoon!! Making four times what I made at home!

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Christianity, God, God's Hand, Music, Work | Leave a comment

“…Arise, take up thy bed (and thy entire LIFE) and go. TO VEGAS!”

So, I live in Las Vegas now. The last place on Earth — next to Mississippi — I expected to live.

I went –er, I mean, CAME — to train the horn section of the BB King’s Club in the Mirage casino for just a month. That was hard enough… I missed my oldest son’s fourth birthday, and my baby son was only five months old.

It was a trying ordeal that wound up being extended for an extra four weeks, but we needed the money with Kathy on maternity leave with no pay, and with financial options running out and Pharaoh’s army fast approaching…!

I will color in the details later, but the rough outline is this:

The front man is a good friend and former band mate whose arrangements I helped create, so, it was a prime opportunity for me. I put a word in on a Thursday, and I was in Vegas two days later. In an apartment with blue, pink, and orange walls with big daisies stuck to them, and an enormous ROUND bed in which to sleep! Vegas!

At the end of the first month, right when I was about to go home, the sax player quit, and they offered me the gig, which I previously vehemently refused to consider accepting. The money was too good to turn down, especially considering the bleakness of the landscape back in Memphis.

The entire story is heart wrenching and glorious, and I will be recounting it in the coming days and weeks. Suffice it to say for now that my wife and kids and all our worldly possessions are on this side of the country, and everyone we love is on the other! With NO prior warning…

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Christian Life, Family, Music, Music Business, Work | 5 Comments

Signs that Jesus is Putting His Socks On:

There are things happening in the country lately — some funny, some sad, some scary —  that make me SURE  that the LORD is about to crack the sky. We’re at the place now where Gomorrah was when God destroyed it.

1. Seminary student Omarosa’s reality show! “I have an insatiable sexual appetite,” she says as she proceeds to frolic in hot tubs and boudoirs with numerous men.

2. Disgraced preacher, Jamaal Harrison Bryant as moderator/mediator/meditator on said show.

3. People — in the news and in regular life — stealing peoples’ husbands and parading around proudly, pregnant.

4. People I know having “threesomes” and acting as though that is just another way to do life.

5. Snuggies

6. Relativism

7. Sandwiches with fried chicken buns — with CHEESE for meat!

8. Companies that make soy beans AND pesticides.

9. Thus, the FDA.

10. Insurance companies

11. Politicians.

12. Cell phones.

13. Cell phones in CARS.

14. Auto tune

15. Singers with “abs.” But no voices.

16. Gosselins.

17. Real Housewives of Atlanta, or of the NBA, or of the Jersey Shore, or…

18. Booty Pop underdraws.

19. The “Shake Weight.”

20. The NORMALIZATION of everything! Cursing, shacking up, same-sex, promiscuity, un-wed pregnancy…

21. The abolition of shame.

22. Pay RADIO!!! Air is next!

23. Hydrogenated oils.

24. Photo shop.

25. Tolerance.

26. 82 lb. four-year-olds.

27. A robotic, asexual-seeming, married ex-vice president under investigation for trying to forcibly hook up with a matronly, portly, middle-aged masseuse in a hotel room.

28. Raves in football stadiums.

29. Christmas shopping stampedes ending in deaths.

30. Militias.

31. “The Tea Party.” right. We all know what that is.

32. Sequels.

33. Kids not getting spanked — or sternly spoken to, even — because childless talk show hosts and doctors named SPOCK frown on it.

34. The resulting disembowelment of every aspect of society.

35. Celebrity rapists.

36. Cellphone video.

37. Gospel plays.

38.  Open marriages.

39. Lady Gaga

40. Oily oceans.

41. A $750,000,000 divorce settlement, amounting to 75% of a man’s net worth for a woman whose only experience with a golf club is when she swung it at her husband.

42. Guys with a BILLION dollars to lose hooking up with every loose broad, sister, skeez, dame, doll, tomata, heffer, chick, shorty, wench, chicken head, freak in captivity!! And leaving them voice mails with his name!! He might be a golf player, but he ain’t no player!!!

43. Twilight.

44. Blago.

45. John… Edwards AND Boehner.

46. Drunken college frat parties.

47. Tar Balls. Something entendre-ish about that… foreboding.

48. Botox.

49. Fifty-year-old women with unexpressive doll faces and fish lips.

50. $12 doggone movie tickets!!!

51. Something called, “Brangelina.”

52. People all over the place predicting the end of the world.

It is not necessarily one thing, but the accumulation of these — and so many others — that spell doom for this world. I’m not scared of it, though. I just want folk to straighten up and get right with God. He’s not gonna be happy when He gets back and sees what we did to the house!

July 1, 2010 Posted by | Apocalypse, Christianity, End Times, Eschatology, Faith, Humor, Marriage | 2 Comments

What can I get for two smashed flies?

The last two weeks have been very tough.

Three weeks ago, my wife went to a sort of family reunion that her folks have every year around Memorial Day. I wasn’t able to go because I had to play in an annual Marvin Gaye tribute the same day. (I wish I could post the audio. We had a six-piece horn section, with strings and four background singers! It was AWESOME!)

In attendance was an uncle (my mother-in-law’s brother), who  rarely visited, due to numerous factors — he lives in Denver, and he has been involved in self-destructive behavior. According to my wife, he was very bitter and angry. I say “was” because while at the reunion he demonstrated a dramatic change.

He was kind, joyful, and he went from person to person apologizing for years of hurt and damage. He had gotten saved and was part of — and resident of — a church mission in Denver where people struggling to get back on their feet came to live and worship. He was known to go out into the streets and preach the Gospel to drug addicts and alcoholics.

Kathy told me about it when she got home.

A week later he was dead.

Just like that. Kathy called me crying and saying that someone had shot him. MURDERED him. A man that he had mentioned, Leon, had been “bothering” him incessantly — taking his things and provoking him. He told his family about it at the reunion. This was corroborated by Uncle’s friends. Leon, who had a gash on his forehead, shot him twice in the stomach. In the kitchen of the church!!! The police arrested Leon.

And Kathy made another trip down to the country for a funeral of a murdered man ten days after he had been the source of so much joy and relief. A man not even sixty years old, and not sick, in a box built for someone — anyone — else. It was horrible! There was, through the anger and anguish, comfort and amazement at how God allowed Uncle to neatly organize and stack his affairs before calling him up.

Insult was added to injury, however, when Kathy got a phone call as she was walking into the funeral home for the wake. They let him go. They let Leon go, saying that it was SELF DEFENSE, substantiated by the cut on his head!!! So just as family members had steeled themselves to view the body, the Denver police unleashed the cruelest cut of all!

I am angry. We ALL are. It is said in the black community that black life is worth decidedly less than white life. I have seen schoolmates killed, neighbors killed, and the perpetrators received “11/29″. Less than a year, or no time at all for killing another black person. I have said and heard it said in fights and arguments that, “if I kill you, I’ll be out before they bury you!” and I saw it happen two weeks ago!

I think about Natalie Holloway, and The Runaway Bride, and countless other white men and women who go missing or are killed by their husbands, or are abducted. The world stops spinning. “Inside Edition,” and “Nightline” run them as lead stories, while all I see about my wife’s uncle are the racist comments left by so many online cowards: “Way to go, Leon! That’s TWO niggers off the streets!! Let ‘em all kill each other!” I had to make Kathy get off the computer. She was torturing herself.

It is amazing that a man can be shot in the belly in the kitchen of a church mission only to have the investigation wrapped up before the wake, with the killer released because he was defending his life!!! Against what? Why did he have a GUN?!!? What about unlawful possession and/or discharge of a firearm? Throwaway People, I guess.

Curiously, my wife’s own inquiries revealed that:

A. The “Pastor” of the mission got into an argument with Kathy’s uncle right before he left, the argument ending with Uncle’s declaration that he was leaving the ministry.

B. The “Pastor has been under investigation for shady practices.

C. Leon was heard more than once threatening to kill certain people at the mission, Uncle being one.

D. The “Pastor” has — get THIS — taken out life insurance policies on his congregants (homeless and down-and-out people with no one else to fight for them) with himself as the beneficiary!!!

Smoking guns indeed!

It is cold comfort to know that if I suffer the misfortune of being slain, I don’t have the intrinsic worth to get the necessary attention. Justice’s blindfold has a slit in it when it comes to me. And mine.

June 22, 2010 Posted by | Christianity, Death, Life, Life Lessons, Race, Racism | 1 Comment

Lest We Forget…

These last four or five months have been ROUGH! But happy.

Steve was born in the midst of a record cold snap, Kathy has been at home with us since December, and I’ve begun (and am almost halfway through) making my album. This past Sunday, my pastor, Bryan made a great suggestion: Write down the things God does when He does them in order that your kids will know when THEY go through — THROUGH — tough times.

Things have been all on my shoulders financially, and I welcome that, but it is hard to do on a hack musician’s pay! It is Kathy’s desire to take care of the kids and take Max to school in the mornings and be on point for all of his activities. That can’t be done in her current position.

She has what we call, only slightly facetiously, a “Slave Job.” It is decent employment if you need the money, but they treat their people like rented mules — there are a million ways to get fired, and taking off  to deal with child issues is one. They used to get bonuses and incentives before the company was bought out. There used to be programs to help ambitious employees move up. All gone. ALL the workers and lower-level management are black. Upper management — NOT black. Slave job.

 They have this unGodly points system that is blind to particular situations. My wife has come close to being terminated a number of times during rough bouts of morning sickness that had her throwing up for days on end.

They didn’t care. “Get to work!” Her Points Predicament had her going to workup until mere days before she was due.

Not too many black households are able to survive on one income. Ours is no exception. We are juggling bills so well around here that we both qualify for Barnum and Bailey status! But God is in the gaps introducing our ends to one another.

And on top of all this, we have the nerve to want to send our son to a five-figure private school!! Now, My parents are both public school teachers, and I am proud of my public education, and will stand no disparagement of it! But when we found out that Max will be learning Mandarin and violin and guitar and Spanish AND Christian principles and manhood — I was SOLD! (Or bought)

So, with cash being tight and all, this past week, I got a call for a gig on a day when I am normally off. Cool! The roof is leaking, and I can use THAT money to pay a man to patch it. I also had a session to do with a group led by a guy I work with a lot. He’s recording an album, and I am doing it for free. Or at least, for deferred fundage…

The session was at 1 o’clock, and the gig was at 4:30. I was doing only one song, so there should be no conflict. As I was getting dressed to do the session (I had  called the man with whom I was gigging to find out the dress code, but got no answer, so I figured I’d better dress up to be safe), he texted me his apologies and that the gig was cancelled!! As I was on my way out the doggone door! Thanks…

So, no money. Strangely, I wasn’t that angry. I got to the session and found that we would be doing FOUR tunes — not one!!! Seems that God knew what He was doing! Seems that He moved that gig out of the way so that I could show good faith to Scott and Marc who have done right by me.  I’m playing on CYNDI LAUPER’S FORTHCOMING CD!! Out june 22. Scott produced it, and Marc is playing on my project for not one nickel. Had I still had the gig, I would have had to break up the session.

So, we did the tunes, and I’m on my way out the door, and Scott says, “Hey, wait so I can pay you!”

WHAT?!!? Cool! I was cool doing it for nothing, but now maybe I would get enough to buy some oatmeal and bread and dishwashing detergent.

Scott paid me 2 1/2 times what I would have gotten on the cancelled gig! Jehovah suuure knows how to Jireh, don’t He?

See how God operates? He’s a show-off! That other guy could have – SHOULD have — called me days ago to let me know the job fell through. But just like in the Bible time and time again, God shows out: He Let Pharaoh and them get right up on Moses and the Israelites before He did His thing! He exposed the false prophets by having the stone altar DOUSED with water and burned rocks to ashes!

He often lets us get right to the edge of the cliff before a bridge just pops up out of nowhere, so that there will be no doubt who did it.

So, Max, Diana, Steve (and whoever may be next) fear not. God will catch you. And He’s cooler than ten James Bonds and a dozen Houdinis! Love Him like I do!

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, God | 2 Comments

Kid Slaps Mother. When is the Funeral?

Okay, by now, you’ve probably either seen or heard of this… This kid slaps his MOTHER!!!

The first thing I did when I saw this was blame the mother — that’s right, the mother — for creating an environment where her kid THOUGHT that he could slap Mommy and survive. I could rant on all night about this, but perhaps I won’t…

This is another problem with the Oprahfication of America. We have to tell ourselves that the best way to raise children (whose brains don’t even function fully properly until well past puberty) is to REASON with them!! Adults reason. And even then, not always successfully!

This mother is being all nice and calm while the offspring of her body is flying apart.

I’ll tell you what — if any of my children (or anybody else’s) swing at me on camera, I’ll erase them and start drawing new ones!

There’s an analogy I heard a long time ago that I apply in rearing my kids: A man was at the circus and noticed that the elephants  — full-grown behemoths — were chained to wooden stakes that were hammered into the dirt. They could have easily pulled them up, but the slightest tension made them give in and stay put.

The visitor asked their trainer how this was possible.

“Simple,” he replied. “When the elephants are babies, we chain them to stakes that are embedded in the ground too deep for them to pull up. By the time they are strong enough, their memory of not being able to pull them up supersedes their knowledge of their abilities.”

One day my sons will be bigger and stronger than I. So I have to be invincible in their eyes in order that they don’t try me. There has to be fear until there is respect.

I thought my father would literally beat me to death if I challenged him. I thought he was crazy. (he was.) When I grew up and mentioned that to him, he laughed and told me that that was exactly the objective. I had to think that if I exceeded his boundaries, the price to pay would be final. That kept me away from drugs, theft, cutting classes, sneaking the car keys, drinking, sex… All the egregious sins, until my sense of not wanting to disappoint my parents was all I needed to basically keep me in line.

They reasoned with me only to the point that I was able to understand. I was not allowed to ask them where they were going when they left the house, or why I had to eat certain detestable foods, or “why” anything else they chose to have me do. I was allowed to voice my concerns and speak my mind, though, within certain limits.

I could not interrupt them when in conversation, and I could not join in adult tete a’ tetes. But they engaged me and respected my personhood — within limits.

Kids have a place. That is a dead notion, I know, but it is alive in my household, and never will a child of mine even bring to mind the idea of hitting ME! And my WIFE is the crazy one!!

There are worse things in the world than a butt-whupping, and this kid is going to experience a lot of them.

Raise your kids, folks! They are not born grown, and you do a disservice to them to treat them as though they are. Would you fly in a plane piloted by a person who only watched instructional films to learn how? Why, then, do you let Oprah tell you how to bring up children?

You watched that video and got mad at the boy. Well, I submit that he is only a product of his environment, and is functioning as designed.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Discipline, Kids, Oprah, Oprah Winfrey, Parenthood, Parenting, Spanking | 7 Comments

In the words of the great prophet, Rodney King…

Sweet Jesus y’all, can’t we all just get along this eeenin’?!?

Whether you fall on the conservative side of the issue or the liberal, can we all agree to be at least HUMAN in expressing displeasure? Does it take spitting on people, calling people racist names, and carrying loaded guns and signs about watering trees with blood?

And when somebody gets killed, it’ll be, as we used to say, a lot folk throwing rocks and hiding their doggone hands!

There are arguments to be made on both sides of the health care issue. I for one don’t want to be forced to buy something if I can’t afford it. Car insurance is bad enough, but I understand that. But I can’t be entirely angry about people unable to be made healthy now getting a chance to walk and breathe without pain.

I have been in the position of needing to go to a doctor and not being able. As a Christian, I cannot just be all up in arms about it. And I have heard too many times that that is the Church’s job, not the government. Miss me with that!!! The Church can do a lot about a lot and still sits idly in many ways! That is just a passing of the buck.

The government had to make Americans let slaves go, and a hundred years later, let them be FREE! While many Christians fought those fights, the majority — as today —  elected to show shameful selfishness instead: “I worked hard and got what I needed! Let them do the same!” (Regardless of the innate systematic inequities.)

Now, it appears that the REAL truth is blooming like turnips. Peoples’ lives are being threatened, and epithets are being hurled in Birminghamian waves. And what worse thing can you do than to spit on a man?!!? Spit on ME and I won’t be able to take Communion! One reason will be because of the pending charges! And all this from the “Party of God.”

I haven’t read the thousands of pages in the bill, and neither have you. We listen to Rush (is he gone yet?), Beck, Olbermann, Maddow, Boehner, and Clyburn and we believe the way we are inclined to believe, and we run out and pass it along.

Forgive me if I take it a LITTLE personal when I see the black first lady compared to a chimp, and when I see the first black President called all manner of animal and devil spawn. All this talk of “Taking America back…” from whom? From WHOM?!? Who took it? You mean black folk? Surely not! I know that Evangelical, Christian, God-fearin’ folk would not resort to such thinly veiled rhetoric…

But here we are. And believe me, I live right in the middle of a nest of white American conservatism! Across the street from me lives a (purportedly traumatized) Vietnam vet who claims Christ.

When it looked like Obama was going to get elected, he came to me in a hushed voice and asked if I had enough ammo, guns and fresh water, because an economic collapse and anarchy were in his words, “a mathematical certainty” based on what he had been reading and hearing on conservative talk radio. He has hundreds of gallons of water stored in his back yard. He has been driving around town for a little over a year with a beg tin sign hanging from his back bumper all about Obama and how he is going to bring about Armageddon or something. And he put four huge hooks in his roof and put a sign up there bigger than a taxi cab ad, saying, “OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST” Now, HE is the one I’m watching! Not the liberals! I would not be surprised to see him coming out his front door with a duffel bag full of mayhem. And I got a wife and three babies to protect, so…

His next door neighbor is not much different. He’s a perpetually angry little fella with a hair-trigger temper! I see it all up and down my street.

What about God? Isn’t He our portion? Our strength and refuge?

How can those so supposedly at odds with the government so fearful at the “loss” of it? Who scares me more, my own NEIGHBORS, or a bunch of folk who want to send the poor and the sick to a DOCTOR?!!?

And don’t give me that “Isolated Incident” junk! EVERY incident is isolated unless you back up to the doggone moon to get some freekin context!! (I laughed when I wrote that…)

Words are more than just words. To educate you Word of Faithers out there who misuse the quote, THIS is what was meant when God said that “the power of life and DEATH are in the tongue”!

I yield the balance of my time…

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Christians, Conservatism, Conservatives, Democrats, Health Care, Politicians, Politics, Race, Rachel Maddow, Racism, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh | 2 Comments

“Yesterday”, Today, FOREVER!

I hope this is not a long post…

I just got through watching a Toni Braxton video, and one line of her song, “Yesterday” stuck with me: “I just don’t love you no more…”

It’s as simple as that nowadays. I just ain’t feelin’ you, so, I’m out! Just like that. You come home from work, and she”just don’t love you no more,” so get your stuff, put it in a bag, and go sleep on your boy’s couch while we divvy up all the assets.

I believe she and her husband are seperated, but that is not the main point of this post. The point is, if the only thing a marriage has holding it together is whether one spouse STILL LOVES  the other, it is doomed! I can’t sanely live as a married man from day to day, year to year, if I am depending solely on that girl in the other room back there to continue loving me with her own resources.

There has to be another driving force. I, likewise, cannot say with confidence that I will not leave her or cheat on her if I am relying on my own feelings to be the glue. Kathy knows, and I know that while — yes — we do have enourmous affection and tremendous passion, and all the other touchy-feely stuff for each other, it is the unwavering unmoving, unchanging hand of God that gives us the assurance of “till death…”

Feelings change. That’s why when I see shows like “Entertainment Tonight” talk about how much “in lovvvve” a particular couple seem, I get the stirrings of rage that make me want to take all of them by the collective collar and counsel them on the real aspects of true love. People who base marriage on how they feeeel today should put the lawyers on speed dial. Don’t marry someone because you have passion alone for them. Marry because you will be committed to loving them more than you love yourself until you die! “Love” being an act and not a feeling.

If you don’t think you can do that — don’t.

If you believe that God will sustain you when your feelings wane, jump in with both feet! It is not an absence of lust that will keep you — or her — from cheating.Muscle maintenance  will not keep her chasing you around the room. (an EX-girlfriend saw my arms in short sleeves once, and said threateningly, “don’t loooose it…” *She gone!*)

I could say a lot more, but it’s 2:25 AM, I’m tired, and the baby is crying. And I love him. GET it?

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Jesus, Love, Toni Braxton | 5 Comments

Steven Horace Williams. And the Tempest on which He Came

Now, thanks be to God, I have three children! TWO of them sons!

Steve — named for my lost cousin, and my father — came into this world Tuesday morning amidst a whirlwind of activity.

Usually, when I play gigs, all I have to do is show up and blow. However some church members recently asked the church band to play their wedding reception. And they asked if I would play the wedding, too. I wound up being the point man for the function, which meant I would have to meet with the couple, get their requests for material, negotiate the price, get the music out to the guys, and hire the sound man and players. (Most of the church guys had other gigs.) A lot of extra work.

Now, when I took the job, I didn’t put it together with the fact that it was happening FOUR DAYS AFTER MY BABY’S BIRTH, and that Kathy would be having her third c-section! I just looked at the fact that it was January, and as I had been jobbed out of my New Year’s Eve gig, the money would be cool.

We have experienced record cold temperatures the last two weeks or so. Weekends are tough for me. I usually don’t get to sleep Saturday nights until 5 AM, and I have to be at church at 7:30. We have two services, and I’m usually done at 12:30 or so. I then go home, help Kathy get the kids fed, and we usually go to my parents’ house for dinner. I try to get a nap in there somewhere, and we’re home by 8 to feed the kids again. But I don’t get to sleep until about 4 or 5.

Mondays used to be my recovery day, with the only work I had to do was raise the kids. But the club switched our night from TUESDAY and Thursday to MONDAY and Thursday.

So, with all that, I went to work Monday night, and got to bed after 5 since I was too nervous to sleep. We had to get to the hospital at 7:30 for the birth. I was dead tired, and it was 15 degrees outside! By 10 AM, Steven Horace was here! Another nine-pounder!

After a long day of visitors and everything that comes with having a child, late that night, I decided to brave the sub-twenty degree weather to go get something to eat.

There was no one on the road. The car was driving funny, and I thought it was because the engine was still cold… I pulled into the turning lane to get out and see if a nudging fear I had was legitimate, and I found a blown-out tire! I rode verrry slowly down the turn lane looking for a place with enough light to get my thoughts together, and found a church parking lot. Kneeling on the ground to get to work, the cold crept up into my bones and took residence!

I was done and back on the road in about twenty minutes. But now, the thought in my mind was that tires for this car cost almost $300! And we just had a third baby in three-and-a-half years! I was juggling figures in my mind. And a snowstorm was in the forecast, so I couldn’t be driving around with a donut on the front of a front wheel drive car.

I had a rehearsal the next night at 11:30 PM, so I would have to take the car home, turn the faucets on to keep the pipes from freezing, say hello to my kids (who were being kept by Kathy’s mother Tuesday and Wednesday), get my truck, and go to the rehearsal. As I arrived at the club, the “CHECK ENGINE” light popped on!! What next?!? This could be big, or it could be small. But with single-digit temperatures and possible snow, 2 AM wasn’t the time to gamble!

After — prayer– and practice, I headed home. I had to spend the night at home because Kathy’s mom had to work and couldn’t keep Max and Diana, so I had to get them up early, dressed, and fed, and take them to my folks’ house to stay until Saturday afternoon. Soooo tired. After I did all that, I went back to the hospital for a couple of hours with Kathy and Steve before I had to leave for my Thursday gig.

I drove the truck, so after work, I went back home to check on the house, turn on the faucets, and switch back to the car since I needed it to take Kathy and the baby home in the car seat.

Now, all during the week, I’m corresponding with the groom, the sound man (who thinks he might have pneumonia!!) and the guys in the band. I had to make CD’s with the tunes on them, and e-mail others out to guys with whom I couldn’t contact. I had put together a GREAT collection of players!

Friday was even busier than the other days… After getting Kathy and the baby home, I left right out to get a tire for the car. The wedding gig was far out, and I couldn’t trust the truck to make it. After I got the tire, I came home, got the directions to the venue and headed straight back out to the wedding rehearsal! I wasn’t even home ten minutes!

And it was about 8 degrees outside. On the way home from the rehearsal, I treated Kathy and myself with Papa John’s!

So, we’re sitting at home, chillin’, after a long week, eating pizza, and I get up to go wash my hands, and the doggone water won’t come on!!! The pipes are frozen!! It’s Friday, and my troubles are just starting. Kathy: “Oh, yeah… Mama told me something about the water wasn’t running…”  Would’ve been cool to know that a whole lot earlier in the day. (in fairness to Kathy, she turned the bathroom sink on, and when it worked, she thought everything was cool. But THAT sink never froze.)

I turn up heat, turn on blow-dryers, space heaters, and the ENTIRE STOVE to try to get the water running again. My friend, Tim, came over to help, and I wound up going to Wal-Mart to buy a replacement line for the kitchen sink — which, being next to an outer wall, was the biggest trouble spot.

More running around and less rest for me. And the next day, Saturday, was the busiest day. And the bride and groom and all their visiting family didn’t care about my problems! The show must go on.

I got up very early to go and pick my kids up from my parents’ house, and would head right out to a noon set-up and soundcheck. The wedding was at 6, and the reception was right after at 7. I wouldn’t be coming back home until about 11 PM when it was all over.

Kathy called me at about 2. I thought she was calling to tell me that the faucet was running again. She was at home with three children, 3 years old and under, four days after having a baby cut from her womb, and I had booked a gig at the wrong time!

“You need to come home! You need to come home RIGHT NOW!! There is water coming down through the cabinets and all over the kitchen!! Water is gushing all outside!!!” I could hear my kids laughing and oblivious in the background.

It took me twenty minutes to get home (at 100 miles an hour!), and I couldn’t get the water turned off at the street because the valve was faulty. By the time a plumber got there, another thirty minutes had passed!

When would it end?

The plumber gave me an INCREDIBLY low price and said he would NOT have to cut through the walls! Kathy stopped crying when I told her that.

Turns out, he had to tear the cabinets out and cut through the walls. Still incredible price though!

My wonderful parents came and got Kathy and all three kids, and I went back to the gig.

The drummer got pulled over for speeding and we had to stretch two tunes for twenty-five minutes until he got there.

The gig was cool. Everybody was happy, the band got cash, and the sound man didn’t fall out. And I had to turn around and get up for church with one hour of sleep, work Monday… I still haven’t rested. And Kathy is just as tired, plus major surgery.

The thing is, though, that with all the drama and running around, I had to do… I never got frustrated. I usually would crack a LITTLE bit, but not this time. It was like God opened the valve — pun intended — a little at a time so that by the time the BIG disaster happened, I had built up enough confidence in His work to know that He would come through.

So, my second son, Steve, rode in on a tidal wave of action and turmoil and amid it all, he is the epitome of peace. I can learn a lot from him.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Action, Birth, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Drama, Family, Gigging, God, Music, Stories, Work | 8 Comments

A 700 (lb.) Club in the Hands of a Pagan

Pat Robertson.

I don’t know if you read blogs. Or even the Bible, really, at this point. But if you DO read blogs — please shut up! You are once again, a stick in the eye of the body of Christ, and a stick in the hand of those who wish to beat Christianity into silent submission! At this very moment, those who may be on the fence about my Faith are, by you and your cold and uncaring ilk, shoved to the side of unbelievers. Shut up. Please.

The people of Haiti need aid. Resources. And Christian love. What they don’t need is dubious if not outright false pontification as to the origin of their current plight. You say that the Haitians made a deal with the Devil. That that is why the earthquake ravaged them.You wanna talk deals with the Devil?!? I don’t think you do.

There is no middle ground — as I’m sure you know — when it comes to which God to serve. Nations and empire are BUILT on such deals!! The fact that  black people populate Haiti is the bastard child, if you will, of such a deal. So is my country.

I always say that God blessed us not because of how we grew, but in spite of it. Perhaps Haiti is not a Christian nation as you and so many of your fundamentalist cohorts claim America to be. But, then, neither were the tax collectors, prostitutes, Roman soldiers, and various other miscreants and malcontents with whom Jesus spent His time. They, too, made deals with the Devil at one time. But He didn’t belittle them and pour salt on their scars. He healed them THEN said, “go and sin no more.” He preached to them after He met their physical needs.

The same type remarks were made about Jakarta. Jesus said, however, that calamities don’t necessarily befall a people simply because they are less holy.

And you, Robertson, have seen fit to interpret world events for the Lord a several times. see: Ariel Sharon, Dover, Pennsylvania… And don’t get me started on his eschatology.

Non-Christians use you, Mr. Robertson, to bash the genuine article at times like this. They will do that anyway, but why give them a false statement as a bat?

I’m a Christian. Not ashamed to say that. And hopefully my behavior doesn’t hide that fact. And my Christian views are pretty conservative. But when guys like Pat Robertson get rolling, I’m ashamed of HIM. Not for simply making controversial statements. Jesus did that. I’m ashamed for the cold, heartless — often inaccurate — things that spew forth right when calamities befall humanity. We are all human, if not all Christian, and the Christians among us should be above reproach when it comes to showing real compassion.

There is a time and a place for fire and brimstone. It is not when the gas is still flowing!

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Christ, Christianity, Earthquake, Haiti, Pat Robertson | 4 Comments

Paper Tiger

wow. So another known figure has to admit to “transgressions.” What is new?

A. Rod, Michael Jordan, Brad Pitt and his vampire, Ali., any politician, King DAVID and Bathsheba, every rock star, Meg Ryan, the wife from the Sopranos, Ted Haggard, Madonna, Jesse Jackson, O.J., Bill Cosby, Jamal Harrison-Bryant, Anne Heche, plus billions of other people.

It is a common occurrence, and while it doesn’t anymore surprise me, it still sickens me. I proclaim that I will never cheat on my wife, that there are too many steps involved — any one of which provides me the chance to stop and think…

So, what makes it so prevalent? Aside from the fact that the urge was designed to be as strong as it is in order that multiplied billions of us are reproduced? We are all sinners! Given time and opportunity, all of us have done what we shouldn’t have at one time or another. For me, absent an all-seeing God who taps me on the shoulder constantly, I would go, too.

The confidence I have is not that I am great — or even GOOD — but that God can’t die and won’t cast me over the side (a problem those who don’t believe in the perseverance of the saints must reconcile).

My lack of shock at Tiger’s confession does not mean that I am jaded and resigned to the plummet of morality. I happen to think that a God who can see the whole future KNEW that we would do what we do when He set down the Law millennia ago! And my disappointment is not that I thought him perfect. I’m just tired of seeing brilliant people be so doggone STOOPID! I’m tired of things like this giving man-haters seeming validation for their points of view.

Yes, men cheat. They cheat with women! Women cheat. People cheat. It’s not as though there is a lost continent somewhere where all the sluts are, and that that’s where rich guys go when they tell their wives that they have a conference in Toledo.

I’m sick of press gatherings and pubic apologies and beleaguered wives and feeding frenzies.

Maybe it’s because I was never a guy who had women chasing me around the room, but I can’t see how folk can be so monumentally dumb as to leave text message trails and voice mails on the cell phone of women with the moral depravity to have sex with somebody’s husband!!!

How can you be a genius on the golf course, and a buffoon in the battle of the sexes? Why did he get mixed up with hostesses and waitresses? I’m sure there were homewreckers out there with as much to lose as he who were willing to lay up and shut up!

I do have an occupation which provides me with ample opportunity to do what I want and get away with it. I see guys doing it all the time. (And I sometimes see them get caught!) I have a wife burdened down with children, so I don’t have to worry about her popping up on me unexpectedly. I get looks occasionally, and sometimes more than just looks. But aside from love and fidelity, fear would keep me in check. Fear of the whooping God would lay on me if I did that! And fear of not raising my kids, and of having my wife hate me. Fear of public shame and ridicule. Fear of having people throw this blog in my face and calling me a hypocrite. And fear of the ramifications of the damage to my Christian efforts.

A few years ago, a  married woman slashed the tires on my sister’s car. She worked with my sister and told her that her husband was a mechanic (a big, greezy dude). She saw the car in her driveway and lost it.  My parents wanted to meet with her and her husband, and I wanted to be there, too!

The woman apologized profusely, saying that it happened at the spur of the moment. When everybody else was through talking, I said what I had to. I told her husband that if ANYthing happened to my sister, since I would go to jail for beating up a woman, I would come to HIM, and that his best move was to make sure his wife acted rationally because his wife wasn’t the only one who could go crazy!

But my main point of attack was at her assertion that it was a spur of the moment act. I told her that that was not true. She had to look out the window, see the car, get angry, go into the drawer and get a knife, unlock the door and go outside, stab one tire, and walk allll the way around to the other side and stab another one!

At any point, I told her, she could have stopped herself. She could have realized that the car would be stuck in her driveway. And that she would have to pay for the tires, not being able to lie about who did it. And that she would still have to face my sister at work. AND THAT SHE WAS THE ONE WHO TOLD MY SISTER ABOUT HER HUSBAND BEING A MECHANIC IN THE FIRST PLACE!

she agreed.

I tell this story to emphasize the fact that there are many steps to adultery. There are countless chances to let the heat of lust die down and gather the senses — and the loins. You have to meet a person, have a conversation, get a number, DIAL the number, erase the number, drive to the meet-up, get the room, and do all the rest. An affair has even more steps. One has to really be unhitched from the conscience to do all that. And that is scary!

And simply getting caught — which is what always causes the confession — doesn’t automatically switch on what was shut off.

When I go to work at the nightclub, or most other gigs, I always take my palm pilot. I spend my breaks playing Scrabble. I know the guys think I’m this dull church boy, but I don’t care. That thing keeps my mind occupied. They don’t know me the way I know me! I see the women — can’t help it — but I don’t dwell on it.

My philosophy has always been to keep myself out of tough situations. It’s easier to get out of a puddle than a pool! When I was single, all I did was think about how fine this woman or that one was, and how I could break past the shyness to win one. But even then, I tried to keep myself from getting into debauchery. I know that was God, and while I usually listened to His voice, the times when I didn’t always led to pain.

To this day, I can’t see how guys do what they do out in the open, but I can’t go around moralizing. What I do do is take the opportunities presented to me to tell them about my methods and reasoning. It’s a lot more fun to not have to feel like Tiger feels now than to roll in the sack and lie about it and get caught and get cussed out by the wife and hire a lawyer and give half a billion dollars, the houses and cars and KIDS to her for some other dude to enjoy!

 But Tiger didn’t ask me.

It’s a lot more fun to win a Scrabble game than to feel like the stuff on the bottom of the oven on the inside because you messed up again.

It feels a lot better to envision a bright future than to spend your time wishing your arms were long enough to grab and change the past…

This is why I idolize God. I know I won’t ever have to worry about TMZ coming up with photos of Jesus and some random harlot drunk frolicking in the back of a Tahoe, or a voice mail of Him asking said harlot to erase her name from her phone. Jesus won’t ever have to “release a statement.” Only a Testament.

December 2, 2009 Posted by | A. Rod, Adultery, Advice, Christ, Christian Life, Fidelity, Integrity, Tiger Woods | 9 Comments

Scuse me, Mr. Magoo, could you tell me if my socks match?

I was made aware of this atrocity by my friend, Erin. It is an example of how some people don’t know, others think they know, yet others don’t know they don’t know, and still others know they don’t know but don’t WANT to know!

And what you wind up with is — to appropriately mix metaphors — a bowl of alphabet soup with nothing but Q’s, X’s, and F’s… a cacophony of indistinguishable noises like a radio station out of range… crowd noise at an arena full of drunken revelers.

From the beginning, Joel Osteen — a nice guy, to be sure — comes out to raucous applause with his trademark pasted-on smile and answers the standard pat question  (“What would you, a messenger from God, have us to do in these turbulent times…?”) with an even more watered down version of his inconsistent Word of Faith message… “Think good thoughts and good things will come to you.”

Joy Behar — with whom I RARELY agree — rightly calls his message “materialism,” saying that Jesus preached against that and ‘Christian’ Sherri Shepard jumps right in to contradict Behar! Now, she may well BE a believer, but we learn that love of material things is a no-no in the first week of Disciple School.

Granted, Behar’s challenge of Osteen was ostensibly a challenge to ALL of what she believes is Christianity and organized religion, but I would expect Shepard and Hasselbeck to be able to navigate the kiddie pool of Theology. I guess this may sound harsh. I don’t mean it to be.

At a certain point, folk who claim Christ ought to be distinguishable from those who want nothing to do with Him.

Whoopi Goldberg asked THE LOADED QUESTION: What about gay people?

That is a touchy issue, since people of a certain leaning would like to believe that their bent is proper. But what the organized lobby does — with the help of people who think they are fighting a good fight — is force you to either Advocate for their position or SHUT UP AND ACT LIKE THEY LIKE IT!

There was NO way Osteen could have gone through to the other side of  that issue unscathed. But when faced with a dilemma, it is best not to sell God out with a touchy-feely, nebulous answer! We must be sensitive to all, but that does not necessitate that we shade the hardness of Biblical truth.

They all knew that Osteen’s answer would not be that is in God’s perfect will to live out a homosexual lifestyle. He knew it was a trap. ALL Christians get that stuff. Jesus had traps set for Him by Pharisees, and He told the truth in ingenious ways.

When Goldberg asked, “does God HAVE a ‘best’?” I was done! (The first video I posted here had his answer to that question, but it was removed…) What does that even mean?!? Of COURSE He does! Even though that was a milquetoast answer, the question was more appalling, and let it be known that the panel, for the most part, didn’t want to really hear Truth!

It is Osteen’s responsibility (as it is ALL Christians) to be able to answer these queries with soundness and aplomb. He didn’t.

His “message” is no more a Christian one than is an Oscar acceptance speech. And just as we don’t look to “The View” for our doctrine, we should not look to the Osteens, Dollars, Hinns, and Copelands (and Bishop Don Magic Juans) of the world, either!

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Charlatans, Christ, Christianity, Joel Osteen, Televangelists, The View, Whoopi Goldberg, Word of Faith | 5 Comments

Hang on!!

I haven’t quit the blog! I pull it up every day to check in and to have it on hand when inspiration hits me.

But I gotta verrry pregnant wife and two toddlers taxing my time and stamina!

There is a lot to write about — Jon and Kate and divorce, hatred in politics, people dying, people being deceived by “religious leaders,” drama on my job, seeing old friends (and quickly saying goodbye to them),  — and I want to get to it while it is still current, but I can’t get to the forest because all these trees are right in my face!

I want to write about friends of mine who have legitimate questions about my Faith and why there are so many Bible versions, and why Jesus IS the only Way, and why other friends run to other faiths because of how they see so-called “Christians” treat the less-than, and I want to talk about my wife and the relationship we have and cultivate in order to ensure that we make it till one of us croaks… I want to tell folk about the boss I have who is a volatile hothead — but, I’d better not, because I’ve gotten fired a couple of times for speaking my mind (read: RUNNIN’ MY MOUTH!) — and how having all these kids impacts the newfound reserve I exhibit.

I want to tell about the funny things my kids do, and how blessed I am to be called “Daddy” by them.

And I will. But right now, I have songs to learn for church and for next week’s gig and for my regular gig, and I have to wash the dishes, and take the gum from Diana that she got out of my garbage can, and explain to Max AGAIN how Jesus died — and why — and how His death is different (and the same) than ours…

So please hang in with me!

Thanks!

October 18, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Christ, Life, Writing | 3 Comments

Saying “I’m wrong,” is All Right

Until you admit you are wrong when you are wrong, everything you try to do is going to fail. You don’t get to admit error in an arrogant, falsely modest, condescending, passive-aggressive way — I’m just a peon, all of you are really better at this than I am — while still continuing  the same course of action that caused the division in the first place. Sugary words mean nothing when accompanied by harmful actions.

I am speaking of a person in particular, but the principle is universally applicable. I can’t stand to be around people who are never wrong. (And Jesus ain’t just “PEOPLE”)

The reason I can have a continuously harmonious relationship with my wife is that we choose not to play these games with each other. If I am wrong — and she convinces me of it (chuckle) — I have no problem admitting it. How is it respectful toward her to KNOW she is right, but deny it because I don’t want to lose the high ground? All this will do is embitter her.

She shows me the grace to do the same thing. There have been times when I have had an issue or another with her and thought, “Oh, Lord, help me in this! I know she’s gonna push back hard, and we’re gonna have to rassle!” But invariably she will sit there silent after I’ve laid out my case. I’m thinking, “Here we go! She’s HOT!” and she will say, “You know what? You’re right. I was wrong” Just like that.

And what that does for me is make me more secure in the relationship! I grow to love her more because I know that no one likes to be wrong in a sincerely held belief, and to change a thought process is a huge thing. That she does that for me means that she really does love me for the long run!

Friendship is the same way. We all miss the mark. We all are selfish at times. We all shade the truth from time to time. We all simply make mistakes. But YOU, Dude to Remain Nameless, are never wrong. To pretend perfection only frustrates fellowship. I have friends who USED to be that way, and I USED to be friends with people who ARE that way.

What ends up happening is that you alienate those who seek to build a relationship. The fact that it is always the next man’s fault makes the next man take a hike.

When YOU play a wrong note, or show up late, or cancel an engagement, or miss a practice unexcused, there is always a reason. When someone else does it, it is a dearth of dedication or a lack of reverence for you or your endeavor.

What your feigned infallibility says to me is that you think I am either intellectually inferior or not important enough, worthy enough, to warrant the truth. The fact that you can lie to my face about the contents of a conversation that only you and I had, says to me that you respect me less than you would a slug sliding on the ground! It says that you think of your associates as women to be manipulated and that you are a player a la Bill Bellamy, just playing mind games to show your superior smoothness. Men don’t like that. Stop doing it. Real life is not a game of cat and mouse. Or dog and cat… Don’t try to play me like I’m some woman you’re trying to hit up in a club somewhere.

It takes strength to admit wrong. The strength to swallow all that pride and just say, “My bad,” and shut up and keep moving. Not the phoney, self-aggrandizing, “my only sin is that I care too much” kind of stuff you shovel out.

Do you know how angry you make people when you do that? You have “Proverbs” smeared all over you.

And if you drag God’s name through it, you commit the sin of trying to make Him an accomplice to your crimes. Don’t say you are doing His work if you treat His people like the dirt on your shoes. That’s just another player move. “I can get more followers if I say I am doing the Father’s bidding.”

As I said, this stems from a conversation I already tried to have with a guy I know. But we all know folk like him. If you don’t — then, it is YOU!

We would all benefit by learning to admit wrong, and to forgive wrong. I think that a lot of the problem lies in the fact that we often think that if we are found to be wrong in some way, people will think less of us or love us less, or cast us aside.

So, logically, if our friends develop the confidence of knowing that they will be sincerely forgiven, harmony will result. Nameless Friend, however… In the words of Celie, “…till you do right by me…”

And, no, I’m not talking about Stephen A. Smith. Although…

September 22, 2009 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Common Sense, Food for Thought, Friendship, Marriage, Rant, Stephen A. Smith, Stuff I Hate | 2 Comments

As John Mayer said, “Keep me where the LIGHT is!”

So, let’s see… In a span of two weeks we have a congressman heckling the President in hallowed halls, Serena Williams gets all un-Jehovah’s Witness on a line judge, and Kanye interrupts a live broadcast to demand a recount.

And now everyone’s lamenting the loss of “civility.” As if it only JUST broke the surface! I was angry at Joe Wilson, ashamed at Serena, and ready to re-break Kanye’s jaw. But these latest incidents are not what we should be decrying. We lost our minds a lonnnnnng time ago! These people are just ratifying what this society has been lobbying for for years.

We wanted fewer restrictions on what was considered “normal” behavior. We wanted to be free to say whatever and hear whatever we wanted on the airwaves. (Remember when, “Frankly, my dear…” was controversial?) Now, you can see a naked butt and have it accurately described at 7 PM. No biggie. In fact, no sexual organ is off limits as to the basest description of it. I’ve heard pretty much all of them. Every few years another of those forbidden words — thirteen of them, I believe — is knocked off the list and available for my three-year-old to perfect. Yeah, I can turn the channel and turn the other cheek, but after a while there will be no channels left, and I’m out of cheeks! And I can’t disappear.

We wanted to be like France, Amsterdam, and other progressive European countries. We got it. We are in the process of being given over to our collective desires. They have legalized drug use and whorehouses set up like Macy’s (I’ve seen them). They have affairs like we have lunch in the afternoon. They have no sexual hang-ups. They have soap commercials with lathered up boobs floating on the water and no one gets uptight.

“If France jumped off a bridge, would YOU?!?”

We’re on our way, though! We have daycares in schools for all the students’ babies, we throw them baby showers rather than counsel kids on the seriousness of the problem they’ve created. Little girls dance like strippers, and every month another leader has to drag his haggard-looking wife in front of a phalanx of cameras to apologize for hooking up with a co-worker! 

 And rather than deal honestly with the growing issue, we laugh at Christians and call them sexually repressed. The deck is stacked.

 

When I was a kid, if we accidentally cursed in front of an adult somewhere, we could expect to get snatched up quicker than the Rapture! Now, kids cuss in front of me and anyone else with impunity. They know their little butts are made of gold. Thanks, Oprah! Your work here is done!

Marijuana and ordinary cigarettes have switched places. Weed is cool, but if you smoke nicotine, folk look at you like you’re fondling a kid!

You can’t tell a child in school his answer is wrong anymore. You can’t even frown at them. You surely can’t spank them! When I was a kid — we used to call them that. Kids — we didn’t have car seats. You put the baby up in the back window, the middle one in the front between Ma and Pa, and the other four or five were in the back somewhere. We could even ride in the back of pick-up trucks (I loved sitting on the hump or the toolbox!)! Now, if you have to get gas and you have more than two children and no debit card, be prepared to haul all those suckers into the Mapco! If Li’l Johnny’s nose starts to run, we rush him to the doctor. They can’t ride bikes in the street or play out of our line of sight.

My point is that we enact surface rules to seem as though we care so much more nowadays, but we poison their minds and make them weak and soft. We give them everything they think they MUST have, but we let them talk to us any way they see fit. (not MY kids!!)

We deify celebrities. They know they are unassailable. They can be on camera in a hot tub screwing around with the wife and the nanny, and it is all good! Cover of “People” magazine the next week! They can leave a heartbroken spouse, shack up with the co-star, adopt a couple of Cambodian babies and be labeled “Humanitarian Power Couple.” We are SO stupid!! They can get married and divorced like we change pants, and we rush to be just like them.

Things which used to be hands-down egregious wrongs, which were debatably errors recently, are now just fine — in fact — laudable! The only sin nowadays is to notice one. We’re eVOLving!

Don’t get me started on that! As if, just because a monkey has thumbs, we used to BE monkeys! Chairs have legs, too! Was my great-grandmama a Queen Anne?!?

The word “Stigma” has been stigmatized. We are ashamed of the word “Ashamed.” It’s wrong to say, “Wrong.” Saying “No” is a no-no.

But we want to have conferences and panel discussions because Serena cussed a heffa out in the heat of battle and denied saying what she said thirty seconds later!

Why should she edit herself (like I do!)? We gave her the license to do it. She re-invented the booty.

Why should we scold Kanye West for running up in an awards show choking a bottle of Hennessey like it was a lifeline and snatching a little girl’s moment away forever? He’s Kanye, fool! He makes the heads nod!

“Don’t judge me!” you all said. And NOW, you wanna judge what these folk did?!? On what basis do YOU judge? Your own  sense of right from wrong? Your own  standard? But don’t you remember, you’ve spent the last few decades stripping away  at that standard so you can say a$$ on teevee! Don’t start trying to make judgements now!!

These folk — and Joe, and Roger Federer,  and the town hall criers and the sexual lobbyists and the teenyboppers on stripper poles and the rest — are but acorns on a giant oak tree of iniquity that threatens to darken us all with its shadow.

Prince pushed the envelope back in the eighties, but now the IS no envelope. We got e-mail… And one heckuva virus!

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Celebrities, Celebrity, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Civility, Culture, Current Events, Glory, God, Joe Wilson, Kanye West, Rant, Serena Williams, VMA's | 3 Comments

BB King’s gig

This was an, overall, pretty decent night — mix notwithstanding… I’m on alto and tenor saxes. And some vocals.

Sorry about the fuzzy video quality. Wasn’t ME!

Check out Steve Bethany on rhythm guitar!!! Just about the best at it!

Come watch my SyncLive.com show at 8:30 PM on 9/3/2009

September 6, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment, Live Music, Music, Saxophone | Leave a comment

When God’s will and mine, serenely intertwine

I have three sisters. No brothers. ALWAYS wanted one.

My father, who was raised as an only child and found out at age 35 that he was adopted, had three sisters and no brothers. One of them had died when they were in high school.

That is a long, good story that Kathy insists I write down.

I have a cousin whom I first met back in the late eighties. He and his wife, Shelene, own a martial arts training studio in Pasadena, Ca. Were he alive now, he would be in his early sixties and would look maybe 38.

He made a profound impact on me from the first. When I did a series of  gigs out west back in ’92 (during L.A. riots), he came and got me and showed me the sights and introduced me to family who treated me like a visiting dignitary. I will NEVER forget that. A few years later, he did the same thing, taking me to Venice Beach, his studio, Rose Bowl stadium, and many other places. We almost hit Kareem Abdul Jabbar when he pulled out in front of us.

He was a multiple-degreed black belt martial artist in many different disciplines, and trained with Bruce Lee. He trained English Mastiffs and Rottweilers to respond to hand signals! Very impressive! And with all of this, he was the most mild-mannered, peaceful dude you’d ever seen!

He and Shelene met Kathy soon after we were married at a family reunion that I missed because I am known for not missing gigs. (I missed out on a lot of things because of that. I’m going to change.)

They swept her up and made her like one of their own! But Kathy has a personality that will do that to you…

A couple of years ago, they said he had cancer. But when I talked to him, he said everything was fine. Never thought I would never see him again.

His death hit me harder than anything I had ever felt. I have been blessed to have all my cousins, both parents, all but one uncle, and all of my aunts still here. My mother’s father died when I was a child. I was grown when my grandmothers died, but one was in her nineties and afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and the other… long, tough story.

I could not go to the funeral. It was in L.A., and I couldn’t afford a ticket, and I had to work. But really, I just couldn’t bear to see my cousin not alive when I still had so many things to learn from him. The funeral was broadcast online, and while Kathy watched it and said how beautiful it was, I couldn’t do it. I lay in the other room — in earshot — and cried so hard my head hurt. All day. Between bouts of vomiting because Max had gotten me sick when he threw up all over me three days earlier. (And I had to go to work.)

His name was Steve Hearring.

 

I don’t think anyone in this entire world loves my daddy as much as I do. And I know he’s flawed. Who isn’t? But, as with God, my cousin, and all my heroes, I admire strength and power. That’s why leopards, bulls and rhinos are my favorite animals. And my father epitomizes strength and power.

Despite the rough time I had growing up (which is a positive story in light of the way things turned out between us) I always sought his approval and respect. I heard the stories about the things he did as a boy and as a man, and I wished I could be as tough and as calm. Indulge me one story…

Back when he was in his twenties, as a high school coach, he and his team had an Away game against a heated rival. My mother, known for her tactlessness in awkward situations, was — according to her — talking some trash in the stands.

Apparently, one of the guys behind her took offense. Someone pointed him out and whispered to my mom that he had a gun and ill intentions toward her. When the game ended (Home team won), my mother made her way to the locker room with the guy following her through the crowd. When she got to the locker room and walked in sheepishly, my pop, who was mad about the team losing and in no mood for foolishness, asked her what she was doing there. She NEVER went back there.

Out of fear for the OTHER guy(!) she refused to say. He made her tell him. Mom pointed the guy out still lurking outside the locker room.

Daddy acted out for me what he did next: Ma had an umbrella — the kind with the point on the end. He, unarmed otherwise, took it from her and went to find the dude.

The thug had his right hand in his pants pocket and Pops figured he was holding the gun. He went up to the guy, grabbed a handful of wrist and pants (He almost sprained mine acting this out. Adrenaline…) so he couldn’t get the gun out!, shoved the umbrella deep up into the soft meat under the guy’s chin and proceeded to threaten his very life with well-chosen words that I can’t repeat! He held the guy until the cops got him, and there was indeed a gun in his pocket!

It was all so unbelievably smart and strong! Even with his finger practically lifting me from the ground, I was smiling HARD! “That’s MY Daddy!” I thought! “Did I inherit any of those guts?” My daddy was like a cross between 007 and Jim Brown!

I’ve got a bunch of those stories — all true — and he won’t even tell me any more. He is so understated and modest about it all, saying that he was just crazy.

He was the biggest, the strongest, the toughest, the bravest, and the fastest, according to those who grew up with him. Yet he stressed reading and learning with my sisters and me. As did my mother. He took pride in figuring things out, he loves brain teasers and The Discovery Channel.  He got up every day and went to work, sometimes spending too much time working his players. They would have basketball practice at 5 AM before school AND after school. But he single-handedly turned them from chronic losers to winners.

He never called in sick, he taught me how to use wrenches and how to box. He taught me stuff that I don’t have the heart to do unless my life is threatened. He made me do push-ups, lift weights, run track, and fight when scared.

He hated, I’m sure, when I focused more on model cars and cartoons and being in the band than trying out for teams, but he loves it now. He was hard! Hard as steel.  Scared me to DEATH!! But he changed.

He learned and I learned. And from the first time I knew what it meant, I always said that I wanted to name my son not after ME, but after him! His name is Horace.

My wife had a very bad time as a child with her father. She says he wasn’t really one at all. From the moment she met my parents, she loved them to death. She raves about how great her in-laws are. But she loves my daddy to the point that I sometimes feel that I have not a wife, but a fourth sister as it relates to him. She sees him as HER father, and is not ashamed to tell it.

 

I love Diana more than my life. But when Kathy got pregnant this current time, I prayed hard for it to be a son. I never had that brother I longed for, and I wanted Max to have someone with whom to stand back-to-back in this sickening world. I wanted him to have that thing that brotherhood means.

I wanted Diana to have two boys to keep the fools at bay! I wanted to be a little bit like Jacob with all those sons.

And I wanted to give my father that legacy. I wanted his name to continue.  Since he was adopted, he was the only Williams. And until I got married and had Max, it was looking pretty bleak for the team! But God apparently said otherwise…

Now we can be sure that there will be more Williamses.

My sisters all named their kids after their maternal grandfather — which is cool! But what about my daddy?

And Kathy, having loved Steve so much for the same reasons I did, saw this as an opportunity to honor what she described as two honorable and strong men. She has already said that the new baby has the pressure of keeping that great name clean!

Two weeks ago, in a dark room, God granted our sweated prayers! We are having a boy. And it means so much more than just having somebody to throw to and wrestle with and teach about girls and smoothness and heartbreak and fidelity (although it is all of that, too!). It means that God actually DOES know me, and LIKE me, and that He does actually act in my life. He is faithful and true!

And if this minor thing is real, I shudder at the thought that He DID create the universe and that He meant — means — all that stuff in the Bible! He is not an illusion or a figment. He is my friend. In every profound way. I am undone.

With that, we await the healthy arrival of Steven Horace Williams!

I’ve got so much to tell him!

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Baby Names, Birth, Childhood, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Heroes, Jesus, Kids, Parenthood, Parents | 2 Comments

God… One Egg. Three Yolks.

The past few months saw God step into my life and circumstances in tangible ways which amazed and humbled me. I have written about some of it… my horn situation comes immediately to mind.

He has provided me with gigs just when I needed them, He worked me through that nasty KWEST (jazz band) thing, He has counseled me in marital situations (more people oughta try this!), and He gave me another SON(!!!!) — about which I will post separately.

All of that set the stage for what happened to my family and me Tuesday.

Generally speaking, everybody loves their kids. No need to go on about who I’d kill and what fast-moving vehicles I would jump in front of about mine.

Max has this thing about coughing and throwing up. He gets it from his mother. He has a hair-trigger uvula. Mopping up his meals has become routine for ME. Kathy won’t do it, or else the house’ll turn into the theater scene from “The Goonies!” But he does not have any asthma or any other diagnosed health problem. He just can’t overeat. And sinus drainage sets him off after time.

Monday night/Tuesday morning I couldn’t sleep. (God) I usually turn in at about 4 AM. I was awake to hear that familiar sound coming from Max’s room. I could tell he was in the launch sequence.

I went in to get him, and as soon as I got him to the bathroom, he let loose.

It tears me up to see him like that and be so helpless. I just pray.

I put him back in the bed and he was fine.

Later that day, Kathy — who didn’t go to work because SHE was sick from being pregnant — was sitting on the couch with him and noticed him wheezing. And the space at the bottom of his throat was sinking in with each breath. (I have two nephews with asthma, so I knew the signs)

She sent him to me to have a look, and what I feared was coming to pass.

Normally, Kathy would have been dozing, but since she was off, she was rested. Usually, Max would have been taking a nap, but for some reason (GOD) I put Diana down and left Max awake. We would never have known!

I would have been gone to work by the time he woke up, but God orchestrated it all so that we would see what was happening.

Let me tell you… when I saw my little boy… wheezing and still smiling… out of breath but playing… I was like cornbread with no eggs in it!! Kathy was tearing up as I made the arrangements for us to take him to a doctor. I had to lie to Max while I got him dressed and while Kathy got Diana together. My son. So little, and such an overwhelmingly big part of my whole world. My son. My SON. Understand?

I had to push all the horrible possibilities out of my mind. No luxury to marinate in what-could-be.

I just prayed. And I told Kathy what I wrote earlier — that all His tangible blessings in the past weeks put Faith in our accounts for withdrawal now. We had seen Him be so true to us, so hands-on, so REAL! And NOW, in the midst of terror, we had to tell Him — and ourselves — that He was the same Person. That He would not operate so clearly in the verses and disappear in the hook!

The end of it is that Max is fine. He has one more day of taking medicines to return his little bronchial tubes and lungs to normal.

MY_boy!

We suspect that he picked up something from a child at church (which irritates me to NO END!!! Don’t take your sick kids to church! They can miss a Sunday!), or else dust or some other allergen in the house set him off.

God is going to HAVE to drive this vehicle for us! As hard as we try to protect our little people from life, we simply can’t. And we cannot live every day in fear of what MIGHT happen to them.

He is faithful!

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Kids, Love, Parenthood, Parenting | 1 Comment

Yes, God is my Father, but He’s also my Big Brother

Back in May, I bought a new horn, remember? I posted a picture of it…

It came with some problems that I shoved to the back of my mind — not wanting to disappoint my wife, and not wanting to think that all the waiting was in vain.

It was made in Taiwan, which until recently had been known for making substandard quality saxophones. I did over a year of research on this particular brand and came to the conclusion that Taiwan was the new Japan in the sense that where they once had a bad reputation, they now were becoming leaders in the industry with brands such as P. Mauriat competing favorably with the big brands, Selmer, Keilwerth, Yamaha, and Yanagisawa — the BIG 4.

So, I contacted the “owner,” the guy who’s name is stamped on the bell of the horn, and placed an order. The main selling points were that these horns were of pro quality but two or three  thousand dollars less than what a comparable one would cost, and that I would have one-on-one contact and consultation with the main guy. You can’t expect that from Selmer!

The one I ordered was their newest model, a copper horn which was about a thousand dollars more than the ones I had been researching. It was way more than I had prepared to spend, but it was so unique… There was something about having something that no one else has.

I received an e-mail from the owner’s “partner” confirming my order. He told me that the demand for this new model was more than expected, and that I would have to wait at least a month. I ended up waiting almost four.

In May I finally got it! When I opened it, there were some problems… It had been damaged in shipping, and one of the key guards was bent. There was a lot of room for the horn to move inside the case, and it had obviously been bumped around.

I guess there was a look on my face, because as soon as I opened the box, Kathy asked me with anticipation, “So, you LIKE it?!?”

“Yeah,” I said, but there was something in the back of my mind…

The brace that holds the body of the horn to the bow was bent as well, and off track. I assumed this was all due to the shipping.

I got out my tuner to see if the horn played in tune, and it did from the lowest note until I got up to the palm keys (I realize that I am speaking in esoteric terms, but you’ll get the gist), where the Eb and E were waaaay sharp! This was disconcerting, but I attributed it to my not having a new tenor in eighteen years.

And there was a problem with the way the left-hand palm keys fit my hand. One key was too high, and another too low, making it hard for me to move with speed.

I got the horn set up by a technician who called it, “a beautiful lookin‘ little horn” disdainfully. I sneered at him and just wrote his opinion off to not recognizing the name. He fixed most of the damage and lightened up some of the springs, quickening the action a bit. But the ergonomics were basically unalterable.

Long story less long, I contacted the “owner” and his “partner” about the problems (and some others I haven’t mentioned here), and was told basically to keep them appraised. Not the first-hand customer service I expected, but I wasn’t eager to have to box up and ship the horn back and wait months more for it to return.

So I played the horn — which sounds a lot better than my well-run old Selmer — in good spirits ignoring that fading ringing in the back of my mind.

I had been steadily checking the internet for reviews of this horn by other players, when after work one night, I was reading and discovered that the two guys from whom I bought the horn had split!!! The owner was continuing to sell horns out of his home as usual, but under different names. The partner was now in the saxophone business on his own.

Not only that, but I found out that the split was over the very model horn I have!

It turns out that the horn was NOT made in Taiwan, but in CHINA! They are known industry-wide for making junk horns in pink and blue and red and orange that play way out of tune and are basically thrown together.

I did NOT spend all my money for a Chinese saxophone! Shoot, I had JUST grown accustomed to the idea of a Taiwanese one! All those nagging fears had been justified.

I e-mailed the owner in New York, and went to tell my wife what had happened. It was after 4 AM Wednesday.

The next morning, he called me. Now, this guy is not a shill. He has almost thirty years in the business making mouthpieces for well known heavyweights.

What he told me shocked me. He said that I did not buy the horn from HIM! That I bought it from the other guy, and that I should contact him if I wanted my money back, but good luck, “cause he still owes ME money!”

I was groggy from sleep, and did not say the things I would have said had I been fully coherent.

I e-mailed the other guy (I don’t really want to name names based on how this all played out) in Austin Texas(!) and asked what the process was for getting a refund since the horn was basically misrepresented.

HE responded that two months was too long for a refund, but that he would be willing to pay for any repairs. He vouched for the quality of the horn.

Now fully awake, I called New York and got into an only somewhat heated back-and-forth. I told him first how sorry I was that his reputation was being damaged and that this must be awful for him, but that to ME this was world-shaking because it was all the money I had, and that I make my living with my horn.

 He seemed to wash his hands of the matter, telling me repeatedly — as though ANYONE would see it — that I did NOT buy the horn from HIM, that I bought it from the other guy!! I threw every logical point at him: “YOUR name is on the horn! I ordered it from YOUR website with YOUR name on it! YOU advertised that these were YOUR products, and YOU stood behind them. I contacted YOU about buying a horn! He was YOUR partner (He was not my partner! He was just my distributor!) He worked on YOUR behalf…!”

He deflected every argument. “So, I’m basically screwed, hunh? I gave you guys my hard earned money for one thing, I got another, and I’m just screwed?”

“No, no, you’re not screwed. I’m gonna make it right for ya.” in his New York brogue. “All ya gotta do is contact the Attorney General of your state, blahblahblah, blast ‘im on the internet, blahblahblah and when I get proof that you’ve done everything you could, then I’ll see what I can do. Butcha didn’ buy the horn from ME, blahblah…”

I was a ball of stress! I felt awful. But through the whole thing, there was a calmness in me. As angry and stressed as I was, I said to God, “YOU gotta work this out for me, ‘cuz I can’t!” And I didn’t fly off the handle and start cussing folks out like many thought I should.

I had to play it cool withthese guys because they had my money and they were spread out all over the country. I had NO leverage. One wrong word from me, and they could just hang up the phone and act as though I never existed. I couldn’t make unreasonable threats and demands because I — as my father says — had my arm in a lion’s mouth!

I posted the bones of the case on a popular saxophone forum. Nothing slanderous and derogatory. By that night, I got a note from the ex-partner (the owner HAD publically called him that) suggesting that we try to come to a reasonable conclusion… maybe I could swap this horn with one of the ACTUAL Taiwanese models (which cost LESS money).

We talked on the phone, the ex-partner and I, for over twenty minutes the next day. He told me what he had in stock, the properties of the horn, and about all the controversy. He gave me a different perspective, of couse, from the one of the owner. Both of them were angry at each other, and I just happened to be the dude that bought th first horn in this new batch and got entangled on this mess.

He was extremely helpful, attentive, and apologetic. This was the kind of customer service I expected from the owner and NEVER got. It was Thursday.

By MONDAY I had the other horn. IMG_2089

It was GREAT! Undamaged, and in a cool case that allowed for no movement. And it played almost by itself! Big, booming sound, perfect ergonomics, and in tune all the way up. Just a great horn!

This was what I wanted all along.

All that was left was to work out the amount of money for the other horn. There was about a $700 difference in price, and the thought of that last pending battle gave me just the slightest anxiety. “God, work it out.”

Two days ago, I sent an e-mail to Texas, saying compactly, “I LOVE this horn! What is the next move from here?”

This was his reply:

I have been trying to think about what would be appropriate and fair to you regarding the situation you got caught up in.  

 I continue to believe the MAC 20 is also a great horn.  It is different but still a terrific horn.  I know you have had your MAC 20 adjusted and that you have it setup for you etc.

Derrick, I think in view of all you were put through that you should just keep both horns. The MAC 8 is my gift to you.  All I ask is that you be fair with your assessment with both horns on any reviews you may wish to write.  I am not asking that you say anything you don’t believe in your heart and if you really feel the MAC 20 is not a good horn you should simply state your reasons.  I respect whatever your opinion is good or bad.  

Blown away was I!! He went from “No refund,” to “just keep both horns!!!”

I never thought it would work out this well. At best , I thought I would have to make an even swap. At worst, I thought I would just have to come to love a horn I only liked. My wife would have felt forever that we got beat.

I can’t express the emotion that I felt as I read that e-mail. Not that I get to keep these two pretty things, these material items — but that through seemingly insurmountable circumstances, God pushed me out of my way and fought the unseen bully into submission.

He made me keep my cool, showed me the moves to make — the perfect balance of firmness and compassion — and he worked it all out.

Some may say that the guy in Texas only made a smart business move. I agree it was smart to treat a customer right.

Some may say that he only let me keep the horn because he wouldn’t be able to get rid of it. But I say that were that the case, why send me another one? The horn is in better shape now than when it was new, and he could have sold it as new, or taken a few dollars off it and gotten a LOT more than the difference in price between it and the one he sent me. But he let me have both.

GOD did this. And there is no remaining doubt in my mind that He really does fight for me. He really is concerned about the ins and outs of my daily life. He really does intercede.

I never had a brother. I had to fight my battles and learn all the hard knocks myself. But in God, I HAVE that Brother. In fact, He has ALWAYS been there… Like the time when that gang of boys surrounded me at the bus stop and had a three inch long pin a millimeter from my eyeball. I had to smooth talk my way out of that close call, and the LORD was in my ear telling me what to say.

He has always told me when to fight, and when to get out of the way and fight the bullies who were too big to engage.

Closer than a brother.

August 7, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Jesus, Music, Music Business, Near Misses, Saxophone, The Nature of God, Work, Writing | 2 Comments

Who’s God IS God? (or do they work by committee?)

A couple of days ago, on facebook (of all places), I became involved in a discussion on a hypothetical scenario:  If a Non-Christian saves 3 children from a burning building and dies…And a Christian saves 3 children from a burning building and dies…Who has the most favor from God the Christian or Non-Christian??

I was greatly distressed — but not surprised (is this possible?) — by the responses.

I don’t expect most people to be Christians. But it is sobering to see how unsaved so many of us are. And how unconcerned they seem to be at the fact.

These were black folk, and most of them seemed to filter their views through the screen of their race. That is, their pro-blackness seemed to take precedence over who God may or may not be.

The responses were relativistic and pluralistic. And, of course, the Christian POV was lambasted. We were called arrogant and short-sighted.

There were a couple who told the hard truth — No Jesus, no Heaven — but most of them put the emphasis on the goodness of the deed and judged that they BOTH should go to Heaven.

I said:

“I’m glad God is not like us, judging on personal merit, or else no matter HOW many good deeds I did, the stuff I did wrong would overwhelmingly condemn me!”
I naively thought that that was a debate-ending argument. I leaned back with pride and read and RE-read what I wrote. I usually try to formulate those kinds, but I constantly forget that most people don’t debate by the Marquis of Queensbury rules!
They went on, saying things like, “Who’s to say that Christians have a monopoly on what is the right way? I believe in Jesus, but who am I to be so arrogant to think that my belief is the only way to ‘The Creator’? Religion is what separates us and causes problems. I’m not bashing Christians– I grew up in the Baptist church — (So! If I grew up in a can would that make me sardines?!?), but who wrote that book? Was Jesus a Christian? There are people who have no religion at all who are more Christian that most Christians I know?”
 
I said: One thing I can’t STAND is arrogance! So that’s not me. But in matters like this, I try to say what GOD says, so when He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” I say, “Okay,” and get on board! If a dude can lay His life down and pick it up again, I tend to believe what He says.
God may not label us as WE label ourselves,
but He has this book called “The Lamb’s Book of Life” in which HIS are written. He sent His Son to save us, and if we reject Him, we get to spend eternity just as in life — separated from Him — according to our OWN will.
The end of it all for me is this: We all leave our fates in the hands of an Infinitely fair Judge! He will deal squarely with us all… even those in the remotest corners of the Earth (whom we seem to mention only during debates like these). I trust that He will judge us based on the degree of light and revelation we have through Him. All of us on FACEBOOK have heard the name “Jesus” and know what Salvation means.
 
I thought that was pretty good. But they just totally ignored what I said and continued with the idea that good deeds should be the measure of eternal life.
 
I guess I knew that that would be the way it would go, but I just wanted to leave no one with the idea that they had never heard the Gospel.
 
The guy who brought up the whole subject basically told me that I was narrow-minded and had my nose stuck in a book somebody wrote and corrupted, and that I pretty much bought whatever the preacher said on Sundays. He thanked me for being reasonable and told me that I needed to get out more and think more critically.
 
This was, to me, an hiLARious mischaracterization of who I am! No one scrutinizes what preachers say more than I! But as I told them:
Thanks, man! It is ALWAYS good to be reasonable! (I DO look at more than just what I hear on Sundays. Christianity is waaaay more than just a Sunday worldview! Plus, I have to try to understand where others are coming from and not be myopic. But at some point, a person has to reach a conclusion. Based on study and information. Nothing wrong with that.)
I don’t know… This kind of thing bothers me. It is the main reason why I write this blog. I hate to see people NOT GET IT!!! What seems so obvious to me is foolishness to those who are perishing, and I  just want them to see the logic and seamlessness of God’s methods as it relates to soteriology.
And I rail against racism largely because young, progressive black folk take the hypocrisy,evils, and mistreatment of our national history — and present — and cast Christianity out with the dirty bathwater. They assume — erroneously — that the White Man’s God (born in Africa!) must be bad because His messenger is bad.
We got work to do!

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Evangelism, Faith, God, Jesus, Race, Racism, Religion, Salvation | 6 Comments

This has always bothered me…

Why is it called “REVERSE RACISM” when white folk are injured?

It implies, or outright states, that the PROPER DIRECTION OF RACISM IS FROM WHITE TO OTHER!

I know what you mean, Sean and Rush! You’re supposed to be the ones discriminating.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Pet Peeves, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Rant, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity | 4 Comments

Low Commotion

My two- and one-year-olds running around the house tearing up stuff and making a bunch of noise.

Always into something!

Always into something!

July 9, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Childhood, Children, Family, Home Life, Humor, Kids, Parenthood, Parenting | 6 Comments

What Groom Would want His Bride Insecure?

I’ve been having a discussion with a friend who was wondering about how we can know God will not spurn us. Or HAS not.

It is a feeling I have struggled with before myself, and as I was praying, the thought came to me: What kind of God would establish marriage as an unbreakable covenant and yet be so quick — according to many Pentecostals and so many others — to throw us (His BRIDE) over if we transgress against Him?

Throughout my time as a Christian, I have heard and read that the Body is the Bride of Christ. The analogy is clear and unmistakable. And while there are so many legalistic (possibly well-meaning) Christians who claim to believe that divorce is a sin that God hates, they would characterize Him as being so capricious as to divorce Himself from those he has grafted into a marriage of sorts.

This is really irritating to me! I have heard it so often said by these people that if you commit (not exhibit a lifestyle of) a certain BIG sin, “you GOTS to go to Hell!!!”

I mean, God is the author of LOGIC, and that is what I am applying here, according to the things He has shown in His Word.

He even made a prophet go out and marry, and not divorce, a harlot — a whore — a FREAK, to use the current vernacular, to mirror His relationship with Abraham’s seed. Basically us. What He was saying was, in essence, “You will repeatedly cheat on me (sin), but I will not leave you because I will not have it said that I break promises!”

 And Salvation is a PROMISE that is effective at that MOMENT, not once you die! 

Now, a Christian will not live a life that is characterized by sin, simply because a real Christian is a fruit-bearing entity. But the fruit will, from time to time, be infested with worms. Real Christians are being tended — watered — by God, and will therefore grow.

And just as I will not leave my wife, God will not leave those He has saved.

I used to wonder if she really loved me. I wondered about the possibility of her birthing children with me and then eventually taking them. The thought made me shudder. I don’t anymore. But just because I have her trust and assurance doesn’t mean that I treat her shabbily, or cheat on her, or neglect to esteem and value her! No license to sin!

And God, so much more perfect at relationships than we, would not have His bride walking around the house scared and trembling at the possibility that He might come home one day and say, for WHATEVER reason, “It’s over.”

This I say with confidence.

July 7, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Eternal Security, Faith, False Doctrine, False Teachers, God, Good Works, Legalism, Marriage, Relationships, Religion | 5 Comments

More MAXims

The REALLY young don’t think they are.

This is to those who seek to hide their bad behavior behind youth, when what they actually do is reveal the cleverness it takes to make the excuse.

“I’m young. I’m only 23. I’m gonna make mistakes.”

If you have enough sense to say that, you have enough sense not to do what you did!

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Life, Life Lessons, Maxims, Proverbs, Sin, Words, Words of Wisdom, Youth | 2 Comments

MAXims

Those who can, do.

Those who CAN’T, criticize those who can.

Those who can’t yet, keep trying.

For the jazz snobs.

(“All he’s playing is a pentatonic scale…” “That’s not jazz. That’s just the blues scale.” “He’s just a scale player.” “Anybody can play that. It’s just a bunch of patterns.”)

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Jealousy, Life, Life Lessons, Maxims, Music | 1 Comment

Dignity and the Made-Up Name

My name is Derrick. My sisters, Cassandra, Karin, and Kim all have what you would call standard, regular American English names.

My son’s name is Max Ellis, and my daughter’s name is, Diana Elise. I wanted masculine, straight-to-the-point, famous-sounding names for the boys, and feminine, delicate names for the girls. And I wanted them to have jobs. Jobs where they didn’t have to wear visors or steel-toed boots. I– we– didn’t want to handcuff our kids to a crusade by short-sightedly giving them names which would easily allow bigots to exercise their prejudices.

We black folk — and you white folk too, admit it — talk from time to time about the “phenomenon” of the made-up name — the Shaniqua, the Montevion, and the Equarious (a strange mixture of geography and an adjective).

I’m not talking about ETHNIC names.

I will admit to being, at times, a little ashamed when watching a college basketball game and having to wince while the play-by-play man stumbles over the names. It is almost as though you can predict who was raised by two parents (Shane Battier, Blake Griffin, Grant Hill), and who wasn’t (DeVanta, Jumawl, LaQuon, “I’d like to thank my mama who raised me…”)

I know a guy, a nice kid, named “Rarecas.” His mom was obviously trying to spell, “Rodriguez,” but missed BADLY! I know Shatericas and Uniquas and Treyvions. They show up on the news and in classrooms all over the country. There are mainstream websites (with white faces on the homepages) where you can pick a nice name of your own for your newborn.

In practically every case, the economic heritage of those with the cute made-up name is that of “less-than.” Poor black folk.

I was just wondering about the whole thing, and came to this conclusion: Folk who name their kids, Lasswon and Bearcolt (REAL names!!!) do so because that is the only thing they can do that costs not a dime! It is the one thing they can give their children (in their minds) that will give them some sense of CLASS and elegance.

They don’t have inheritances and dowries and silver spoons and trust funds and birthday cars with red bows in circular driveways and summer vacations to give.

All they can give is a French-sounding name beginning in De-something, or one with a lot of “Q’s” in it. Everybody knows that if it’s French, it says, “Class.” And if the middle name is “Nicole” that is the coupe de maitre!

As we say around my way, “Black folk like nice stuff, too!” In a messed up kind of way, that is all that is going on.

So, how about exhibiting a little grace and understanding (not conservative traits, to be sure!) the next time you see a NutraGina, or an Alize, or Shardinnay other alcohol-monikered black person. Connor, Brad, and Chadwick would have a hard time in the ‘hood!

Besides, we don’t judge YOU because some celebrity named his child, Apple, Pilot Inspektor, Banjo, Dweezil, Moon Unit, Racer, or Tu Morrow.

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Baby Names, Ghetto Names, Hollywood, Humor, Names | 9 Comments

“Oh, How I Love Jesus…”

“…because He first loved me?”

Well, that’s how the song goes, but I was asking myself why I love Him, and I don’t think that that was why.

I’ve never seen Him face to face. I’ve never heard His voice.

Why do we love anyone? Because of how they look? For their personality? Are they cute or fine, strong or confident, vulnerable or expressive, smart or cool?

I think I loved my parents for the same reasons my kids love me: because I am there to provide them the attention and care and affection and provision and correction and comfort they need. I am there every day, unchanging, no matter what. My parents did the hard things without giving up, and would still readily die for me. Check one for Jesus!

I loved my wife because I saw her heart and her coolness, and I wanted to just be around her all the time. Check two.

I loved my children because they share my particular nature. Check three for the Lord.

I loved my uncles because they were so cool! They knew the right things to say at the right times. They were capable and competent and had muscles. Girls liked them. Check four! (Look at how many women there are in the church…)

I loved my friends — the REAL few — because they were down for me. No matter what I did, they would not abandon me. They put up with my immaturity and selfishness, and corrected it. Check five.

I became a Michael Jordan fan because he was flawless at what he did. He was singularly focused and mastered his occupation. Likewise, my admiration for certain musicians and public figures usually stems from the same root. Six.

I love my family because, to them, I am special. To them, I am who I think I am, that person the world ignores. They listen to me, they ask my advice, and they let me flourish. That’s a round, complete seven for Jesus.

Jesus is all of that and more.  I don’t care about how cute He is. He provides for me — even though I selfishly take the credit, He is never too busy to listen to me vent, and He died — DIED — for me!

Who cannot, upon seeing the heart of Jesus, come to love Him? He is selfless, giving, and attentive.

He was completely God, but completely man as well. He is in me, and I am in Him.

You can say what you want, but there is no Rat Packer, Bruce Lee, or Nat King Cole cooler than Jesus! Never rattled, quick-witted, and never at a loss for word or action. When His enemies tried to corner Him with sly words, He wriggled out with Truth. When they tried to stone Him, He simply slipped away. When Lazarus was dying, He did not panic or even skip a beat. And though He sweated, He didn’t let ‘em see it. I just want to hang around Him.

He is a true friend, telling us when we’re wrong, but telling us how to fix it. He doesn’t water down a Truth to spare our feelings, but He will go through a wall for us. He gives loyalty and expects it.

He came to Earth for a singular reason. He had the hardest job in existence and finished it with NO help from any of us! The whole plan was executed with more synchronicity than all the 007, Indiana Jones and Danny Ocean plots put together and exponentially multiplied. Every contingency was accounted for with not a single hitch! SMOOTH!

We are the crown jewel of God’s work, and are worth — to Him —  all the pain and torment of a task such as this, yet it was done without hesitation before we even came to be. And awaiting us on the other side of this vaporous life is an eternity in which we will blossom to full gloriousness forever.

Who cannot love someONE who embodies every positive attribute such as this?

THAT’S why I love Jesus.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Jesus, Love | 12 Comments

The Squeaky Wheel Gets FIRED! *edit

I still blog, but I’ve been busy. Partly, dealing with the following:

Unfair treatment is often a sign of Salvation.

I used to play in this Christian jazz band but the leader let me go in a shady, dishonorable way.

While I was extremely angry at first, it was not for being fired, but for the lies that clouded the firing.

I had many issues with his leadership, and told him so on a number of occasions.

And because I work on ONE of our TWO rehearsal nights — and thought I would have to quit because I suspected that he would not be willing to accommodate me — he made moves (unbeknownst to me) to replace me, rehearsing my replacement while I thought I still played the one time a month gig.

After many heated words and seething anger, I have let it go. I am much clearer of mind not having to deal with the stress of learning so many tunes to only play only once a month. And I don’t have to any longer be bothered with trying to deal with subpar leadership and untruths.

 I have learned great lessons, chiefly that all that glitters is not necessarily Christian, and that God works His wonders through our suffering.

I am further motivated to win — to let fulfillment of potential supplant righteous vengeance. To let achievement be the counter-punch to that slap in the face.

While my desire is to name names and point fingers and give details, God has allowed me — through the THIRD version of this post — to just state the silhouette and move along.

THAT’S what I’ve been doing.

Oh, and I got my new horn!

My Horn

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Advice, Christianity, Life, Life Lessons, Live Music, Music, Work | 7 Comments

Speak now, AND Forever Hold Your Peace!

I really don’t care about beauty pageants. I used to care about the swimsuit portion, but I’m somebody’s husband now. I know that they integral to the lives of many, but I don’t care about them any more than beauty pageant lovers care about the current NBA playoffs.

I DO, however, care about issues of religious freedom and theological accuracy.

And this past weekend crystallized the problem I have with the — existent — gay lobby. A judge in the Miss USA pageant, Perez Hilton, openly gay, asked the contestant from California a loaded political/religious question about her view of gay marriage, and she responded gingerly in the negative.

All involved say that her answer cost her the crown since she was in the lead at the time. Since that moment, she has been the pig at the luau. The judge — whom I never knew till now — went on-line and excoriated her, calling her a dumb bit&h, as well as, I’m sure, other spicy epithets.

How dare she?!? he exclaimed. This was a non-political show, and she should have just given a non-political answer! (Ignoring the fact that HE WAS THE ONE WHO ASKED THE DOGGONE QUESTION IN THE FIRST PLACE!!)

 I know that some who read this will write me off as hating gay people and being pervertedly concerned with what people do in their bedrooms (and in nightclub bathrooms and airport stalls and at rest-stops and in Overton Park here at home), but I insist that I cannot be a Christian and hate ANYbody!

I am concerned that my faith is being challenged and attacked in attempts to change it as people change. I am concerned that I am not forced to sell God out and endorse any behavior that He forbids. God invented marriage. HE invented the parameters, and regardless of the concrete fact that heterosexuals make a mockery of it, I — and Miss California — should not be forced to give approval to people like the militant Hilton.

You can do what you want to do, but you can’t make me like it. Any more than I can make YOU like the Christian faith practiced in full strength. Why do you even care if some Christian doesn’t think that you doing that stuff is proper? You will still do it, won’t you? I have friends who do drugs, and they know that I think drugs are stupid, but they don’t ask my opinion. I’ve got friends who have babies out of wedlock, who have one-night stands, who drink and drive, and who talk like women. They don’t ask my opinion or permission. So, don’t you, Hilton, Rosie, and the rest of you militants, ask me whether I think it is cool that you do what you do. Just do it!

I don’t look at a gay person any differently than I look at anyone else in terms of behavior. Sin is sin, and it is sin. You sin, I sin, all God’s chillun got sin!

But this is what they do… they call people “bigots” — a joke– and call them gay-bashers, and phobes for simply disagreeing, which is a basic. human. right.

If gays are so much more caring than other people, as a group, why is it that the gay powers that be move so swiftly to destroy those who disagree with them? Just let a straight actor or musician say that homosexuality is sin! Watch what happens! You’ll find their careers next to Amelia Earhart’s luggage!

Why are they who shout “tolerance”ironically so INtolerant? What they mean is, “approval!” What is that word for those who would force one to think the way THEY think…?

We Christians are expected to not waffle on tough matters. We should not be mean or harsh or disrespectful, but steady and firm. We can be caring and sensitive to those in alternative lifestyles of whatever type without okaying the behavior.

We have been — historically — burned, eaten, and relentlessly assaulted for taking strong positions, and God didn’t relax His Standard. Miss California did just that.

No, God doesn’t NEED me to defend Him, He EXPECTS me to!

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Culture, Current Events, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, In The News, Marriage, Miss USA, Perez Hilton | 9 Comments

… He’s in the band.

My favorite athlete of all — aside from my father —  is going into the hall of fame!

Michael Jordan is finally making that inevitable step into sports eternity. And he is apparently not too happy about it. He feels that it is the final indicator that he will never, absolutely NEVER dress up and play again. I am sad for him (there is, here, an Ecclesiastical lesson about the insufficiency of wealth and fame), and I understand. The only thing my knees will let me see of my favorite sport anymore is to stand still and shoot free throws.

I am reminded of a time  and an occasion that cemented my love for what I do…

My father was a football player, a basketball player, and a track athlete. And ALL his friends expected his first-born and only son to be the same.

He set me on the path to athletic accomplishment very early! There are home movies of me at the age of three doing heel raises and push-ups. I could do fifty push-ups at four. I lifted weights on a regular basis before I was ten. I ran track in the Junior Olympics every summer. I would, as a pre-teen, finish off a tough weightlifting session with a three mile run. I used to have to run up and down our forty-yard-long back yard carrying one of my sisters on my back. I HAD to do all of this. And I hated it! I was given no chance to express a desire or aptitude for this stuff. I just came into the world doing squats and “side straddle hops.”

My pop and I had a really tough time. But he was only doing what he knew to do. No hard feelings, finally.

Although I loved actually playing the games, and was pretty good at them  — basketball and football and racing and baseball — I hated the thought of all that rigorous practicing! I was ruined.

And I was a runt growing up! My pop was 6’1 1/2” and about 250. He benched 450 and squatted over 700. I’ve got pictures! I, on the other hand, was shorter than my 5′ 4″ mother until the ninth grade. And I was about 5′ 10″, 155 at sixteen.

My father would always look at me, shake his head, and say, “You’re gonna be small…” with all the sorrow of lost dreams.

By the time I entered the military at twenty — between college stints — I was 6′ 3″, 218. I was a typical late bloomer! But it was too late for me to try out for teams and stuff…

It was only after my first girlfriend dumped me and cheated on me (with a guy who recently requested to be my facebook friend(!!!!) ) that I began lifting weights in earnest. On my own. I’m still trying to catch Daddy.

All my extra-curricular activities were music related. I was in the band. In school, you have the athletes, the smart kids, the dope heads and slackers… and the band kids.

My pop LOVES music!! He would play a song he liked over and over throughout the house for whole afternoons! He was always singing and beating on tables and pumping the car brakes to the beat of some song on the radio. But what he didn’t think, apparently, was that being in the band was in any way related to the music on the eight-track tapes he used to be known for making for people.

And when one of his friends or co-workers would meet me and shake my hand and ask, “So, you playin’ football like ya daddy?” he would interject, “No,” shamefully. And my mother, defiantly, defensively, would quickly retort, “He’s in THE BAND!” Proudly. Every time. And I would always ask her not to do that, saying that it was okay, and that her defense of me only made me look even softer than they already thought I was. But she never stopped.

When I was about to be drummed out of the junior-high band for overcrowding, it was my mother who went into some level of debt and bought me a horn so I could stay in. I still have that beat up horn. I played my first pro gigs with it. Where would I be now…

So, the denouement came with a conversation with a friend at a coffee shop years later.

I played there at Precious Cargo coffee shop on a regular basis. It was the place where I first learned to sing, lead a band, and talk to an audience. It was there that I learned that I was not the Charlie Brown I thought I was. The girls LOVED me! And no one was more shocked than I to find that out! I was just doing my thing, and I looked up and found out that I had FANS!

And one night, sitting at the bar, one of the friends I had made playing there pulled up next to me and shared with me an item that I will never forget.

“Man, you know you can play that horn! I’m just sittin’ here watchin’. Y’all got a lot of people comin’ here to hear y’all play, and this place ain’t even been open that long.” His voice turned melancholy.

“I really admire what you doin’. When I was in school, I was this big time football player. I was cool, and I thought I was the man! I used to dog folks who played in the band, man. I gave ‘em a hard time. But now, I can’t do that no more. I can’t play football no more, but YOU can STILL do what you used to do.

I was absolutely undone! I had never looked at it like that. I can play my horn the rest of my life. On a high level. But Michael Jordan will never suit up again.

And my father is in competition with my mother to be my biggest fan…

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Current Events, Fathers and Sons, Hall of Fame, Life, Michael Jordan, Mortality, Sports | 5 Comments

“Love thy like-skinned neighbor.”

You know that look you have when somebody ticks you off? That look that says, “I can’t stand you! Please get out of my FACE!”

I get that look all the time. From my neighbors.

See, we’re the only black folk on the street. And they don’t like it. Two days ago, I was leaving home to go to a sound check for a gig that was really stressing me out. I had a lot on my mind, and I was praying that God would bring it all together because the people who hired me to play are people for whom I care deeply. The last thing I needed was what I got…

So, I’m trying to make a left at the stop sign at the end of my street, which lets out into a high-traffic thoroughfare, and one of my “neighbors” who lives three houses up, was waiting for cars to pass in order to turn. As she made HER left onto our street, we made eye contact, and I waved.

I knew what was about to happen because it happens so often.

She glared at me as she passed me and neglected to return the neighborly gesture. Her eyes said it all, “I can’t stand you! Get out of my neighborhood! Why do you want to live here? Go live with your own kind!” I’m absolutely SURE she thought, and said, worse.

Later that day, as I was on the way to the actual gig, the same thing happened, except this time it was Kendall’s wife, who lives next door to the house directly across the street. I’m waiting to make a left, she turns in, I wave, she glares. Happens all the time. Right here smack dab in the middle of this “post-racial society.”

And these people have NO call to be snooty! This is a three-bedroom, one-thousand-square-foot-house area. Kendall’s yard is a perpetual dust-bowl, they leave their dumpster out at the curb year-round, they park in the yard, and they’re just generally dirty. And rather than park his car in front of his own house or the one directly across from his, he routinely parks in front of mine. Once, he left his old, broken-down truck in front of my place for two weeks. Luckily, I didn’t have to cut the yard in that time.

My family and I are quiet, neat, and clean. You wouldn’t even know we’s heah, boss. My pop gave me Jerry Baker DVDs with tips on making grass green and such when we moved in almost four years ago, and we have what my two NICE neighbors called “the best yard on the street!” I take my dumpster to the curb Monday night, and bring it back Tuesday afternoon. Our visiting friends are not rowdy, and I — being a night owl — keep a look out all through the night for anything out of order. I am a great neighbor. I have a thing about peace where I live, and *durned* if I’m going to let selfishness ruin someone else’s quality of life!

Recently, my neighbor, Keith — a good guy, informed me that he was purchasing a house and moving. It turns out he was renting! I never would have known! He treated that house like a sick baby! He kept the yard up, and when I left town for gigs, he would look out for me.

As all conscientious people do, I wondered what kind of folk would replace him.

Well… Some more white folk moved in. A woman who appears to be a mechanic, with two sons who appear to be either high school age or just a bit older. These boys are shiftless with shiftless friends.

These things ALWAYS happen to me! As soon as these folks moved in, the place turned into a *durn* Jiffy Lube! A tow truck brought an old Delta 88 there within a week, and they have a Suburban that was parked — not running — in front of my house for almost a month. At any given time there are five vehicles all over the place in various stages of repair. They just woke up my wife and babies from a nap this past Saturday, gunning truck motors and blowing horns.

The boys and their friends smoke weed and feel up little school girls in the back yard among other suspicious activities on a regular basis — day and night. (I get in late from gigs, and I always see shadows outside under the carport at two and three in the morning.)  They are a mess! And summer hasn’t even gotten here yet!

I just find it “funny” that while the people who live on this street glare at us in disgust, mostly refusing to even nod the head, while they lamented our moving in, thinking we would destroy their peaceful, white way of life, these white folks moved in right next door to me and began to do all the stuff they say blacks do! How about THAT for a twist?!?

So why do they hate US? What did I, my wife, and my two little babies do to them? Did we rob them? Do we blare loud music? Did I threaten the women folk? Do I let weeds overrun the lawn?

Or do I just breathe the same air they do? Do I just exist?

And I say all this in light of the fact that this is not indicative of all white people. The man who hired me, and paid me well, to do his newlywed daughter’s party, Eddie, GAVE me his truck! Just gave it to me. Not because I’m destitute, but because I always complimented him on it. And it is a great blessing! Bill and Karen Wells, who read this blog all the time, are some of the best and most sincere people in the world. They offer to keep our kids because they know that I get no sleep. And they MEAN it. We just can’t bring ourselves to impose… A character flaw on our part, indeed. They, as well as Eddie and Becky, have had us in their home often. (As have Hamp and Nancy Holcumb, and Sydney and Paula Payne) These people are incredibly affluent, and have a lot more reason to be snobbish and stand-offish than the dull-minded cretins on MY street, yet you would never know it. They are as regular as old jeans. They have helped us and others when in need.

(There are guys like my friend and fellow musician, Marc, who is one of the real friends I have in life, guys I knew in the military, Kathy’s old boss, Kerry, and dozens of others who don’t look at life through a racial prism.)

 And they have shown me and my family enough love to salve all the hatred that we receive from our “neighbors.”

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Christian Life, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Rant | 6 Comments

New Adage

Life is just a bad neighborhood I have to go through to get home.

March 17, 2009 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Jesus, Wisdom, Words, Words of Wisdom | 9 Comments

A Band Aid for a Head Shot

I watched this the other night, and the main line that stood out to me was the one I’ve heard a lot in the last twelve or thirteen years: “We want the number of abortions to be ‘dramatically reduced.’ “

“Hardball’s” Chris Matthews used that line a lot when questioning Kenneth Blackwell, of the Family Research Council, “Can we reach common ground on the goal I think we all share of dramatically reducing the number of people who CHOOSE TO HAVE ABORTIONS?”

“I agree with you,” he says to Blackwell, “people are concerned about abortion, they don’t like the number of abortions…” that sounds like, “The whole thing is unseemly. Distasteful and discomforting. Let’s build a wall so we don’t have to see it.” Like some rich folk onMaahthah’s Vinyaahd discussing the plight of the diseased common masses.

“Is there a middle ground?” Matthews asked Blackwell, condescendingly glossing over Blackwell’s statement that a human being is being killed in the process, “Right, we got that. That’s what we’re talking about.”

When Blackwell stated — what is commonly known, and medically verified — that life BEGINS at conception, Matthews interjected twice, “That’s why you’d wanna reduce the number of abortions!” .”Reduce,” he says, which was his whole point in the discussion. He didn’t want to entertain the thought that abortions should be “reduced” to doggone zero. Just reduced. (So we can all feel better about ourselves!)

How about this: What do Matthews and other pro-choicers do when they hear about DNA freeing an innocent death-row inmate? How do they react when a convicted rapist is freed and proved innocent by the same method? Do they want the numbers of unjustly killed prisoners “reduced” to an acceptable number, or do they want unjust executions eliminated?!?

 A life is a life! It is in this way that the Left is as guilty of class-ism as is the Right! They artificially create separate classes of human beings based on viability and productivity. Kill a useless embryo to help Christopher Reeve or Michael J. Fox. But ALL have Personhood, and we don’t have the right to say who is more valuable than the other.

What did it sound like to Vernon Johns and Medgar Evers when scum-of-my-shoe-racists said to them, in the midst of their tribulation, “Let’s not try to outlaw stuff! Decent Christian white folk don’t respond well to that. Let’s try to see where we can find ‘middle ground’ on this here lynchin’ thang! How can we ‘reduce’ the number of lynchin’s, bombin’s, burnin’s, and shootin’-for-whisslin’-at-white-wimmin? How ,bout y’all jus’ git on tha bus an’ gwone back to maidin’ an’ janitorin’ an’ cottonpickin’ till we git tiss thang straightened out?”

“Right now, we have a law, the Supreme Court recognizes the right to choose an abortion in very late term…” Matthews says. But later, he says that “outlawing it’s not gonna work! You just keep threatening people with the LAW and you’re gettin’ nowhere! When you tell a person you don’t respect their decision, they’re not gonna respect your power!”

But aren’t pro-choicers expert at not respecting the decisions of mainly Christians to face scorn and derision to do what they have decided to do in following the God they serve?!? That statement is a sword, not a knife!

Very funny how the government is a stench in the nostrils of the Left as per abortion, but a sweet-smelling aroma in cases of gun control, the death penalty, and all matters financial.

All in all, abortion is — in at least ninety percent of all cases — the result of a moral failing. It is about the fact that sex doesn’t require a license or a permit, and it feels so good that no one is going to be told how to engage in it, and if somebody tries to say that some God limits its use, over the side with Him!!!

We want to do what WE want to do, and if the volume of the resultant screams and cries gets too loud, we’ll just plug our ears and press on.

March 9, 2009 Posted by | Abortion, Children, Chris Matthews, Christ, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, Current Events, Hardball, Kenneth Blackwell, Liberals, Morality, Sex | 5 Comments

S O S!

Michael Steele, do you need me to call 911 for you? Do you need to send a secret signal?

 The way you are apologizing in every known medium (for just telling the truth), and leaving your muddy footprints over your own statements, Limbaugh must have one of your loved ones captive. Dude is gangsta!

Like a fatter, more obnoxious Al Capone…

March 6, 2009 Posted by | Michael Steele, Politics, RNC, Rush Limbaugh | 4 Comments

Limbaugh — a Drug Dealer for Bigots.

Will somebody let me know in what way Rush Limbaugh is funny? (the NAME is funny…) I don’t get it. I don’t see the humor. “Barack the Magic Negro” was a piece of 1935, Amos an’ Andy, Steppin Fetchit, racist drivel. I don’t see where he is anything more than an opinionated “other hater.”

And how arrogant do you have to be to think that the President of the doggone United States should condescend to debate you?!? Take a pill and calm down! Oops! These types spent eight years roasting people for “wanting the President to fail,” and they turn around and do the exact same thing! Politics is a game, and we all are just pawns on the board.

He is powerful, though! I’ve not seen so much conservative obsequious genuflecting since the days of Walter Winchell, Hedda Hopper, and McCarthy! (I like old movies and stuff) Now THAT is funny!

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Obama, Politics, Rush Limbaugh | 13 Comments

I built it — where ARE they?

I haven’t stopped writing. I am just busy. And a little frustrated.

I’m raising two kids, trying to start a band — this blog got me (thankfully) fired from the other one — learning what it takes to master my horn (thanks, Kirk!), and trying to be fully worthy of the gifts I’ve been given. I’m playing in a jazz band that works once a month but takes a lot of my time, I just finished a demo, and I’m attempting to be worthy of the great wife I have who lets me do all I have to do to get what I need out of life.

I am frustrated because most of the people who used to visit my little hole here in cyber-space have stopped coming by after the first week in November. Hmmm. But I have not changed… My moral stances are just as conservative as they always were. And my views on those with less-than are just as NOT conservative. I am just as biblically conservative as I ever have been, and my opinions on Christian fellowship among ALL Christians are just as liberal, if you will. Yet, for some reason, I don’t have the company I used to have.

I don’t have but two or three friends — despite what facebook says — and I don’t see them much. Life gets in the way. I am not a social butterfly like my wife. I don’t get asked to hang out a lot. So this blog, in addition to being a journal of sorts, and a way to hone writing skills, is a way for an extreme introvert like me to interact in a non-intimidating fashion with people of like and UNlike mind.

But after the abomination, I don’t get a lot of visitors. The weather must not be as fair as it was on the third of November.

I still have a lot to say, and I will say it. I love writing this blog!  However, I also have a lot of things to get done, and I want to do proper justice to them all. Thank you who do for continuing to share your valuable time here with me. Please continue to do so.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Conservatives, Elections, False Teachers, Frustration, God, Liberals, Life, Obama, Words, Writing | 13 Comments

I 40. The Serengeti of the South

“Derrick, you better slow down, the police got somebody pulled over up there.”

“Naw, I’m okay. They ain’t thinkin’ about me right now. You know when you see those shows on The Discovery Channel, and the lions are on the hunt?”

“Yeah.”

“When they go on the attack, all the zebras and wildebeest and gazelles run for their lives, but when they catch one, the other animals will stop right where they are an’ go back to grazing. Right there in sight of one of their own being eaten up! That’s how the cops are.

They’re like the lions, and they’re eatin’ right now, so ain’t no need for me to be all nervous an’ slammin’ on brakes an’ stuff!”

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Driving, Humor, Speeding, Traffic | Leave a comment

Shut Up!

Using a drug to increase your ability to compete and win is egregious. Period. You cheat, and you diminish other athletes’ ability to earn a fair living, you cause coaches to get fired, and you turn society into cynics. You have indiscernible character, if any at all. Read the rest of this with that fact noted.

Jim Rome — SHUT UP!

Stephen A. (for ARROGANT) Smith — SHUT UP!

Skip Baseless — I mean Bayless — SHUT UP!

Sports talk radio idiots — SHUT UP pleeeease!

Alex Rodriguez gave his interview, and immediately the self-appointed saints of the Church of Sport picked the apology to pieces. “Was he sincere?” “How much of the truth did he tell?” “Did he really quit using?” And on and on…

Smith even had the gall to demand that A. Rod should have used steroids at least long enough to bring the Yankees a world championship! Then, he would have been good for something, Smith suggested! I have family in NYC, but it is THAT attitude that makes me sick about that town! Do New Yorkers pass gas that smells like freekin’ honey buns?!?

The reason for this rant, though, is the ubiquitous assertions that the only reason Rodriguez apologized is that HE GOT CAUGHT.

As if that is not the reason ANY of us apologizes!!

I was reminded of the story of David — after God’s own heart — who was in the midst of adultery and murder and was going about his business until the prophet Nathan pointed his sins out to him.

David’s apologies are legendary. And so heart-rendingly sincere  that they are the model for all of us. Check this out… 

 He apologized when he got caught.

Jim Rome, when you speed in your car, or unfairly slam an athlete who does what you could never do, do you simply come on air and apologize unprompted?

Stephen A. (for ARROGANT) Smith, when you are chillin’ in “Souf  Beach” and so lustfully devour those barely-clad women in your mind, to whom do you apologize?

Skip, I know you are without sin.

And I’m sure all you talk radio idiots have never driven home drunk, or smoked weed, or cheated on your wives, or used your platforms to marginalize someone you don’t like… But if you did, did you just say “sorry” even though you got away with it? Since you are all of such high moral character and physical prowess…

A. Rod was (maybe is) stupid. Michael Phelps is, too. Stupid. And being 23 years old is the lamest excuse in the world! When my pops was 23, he was a husband and a father! Don’t give me that, “I was only 23, I was young,” mess! I never took drugs, but I’ve done some stupid stuff that I might not tell you until you find out. And being young was no part of the reason!

But as to whether his apology was sincere or not because he only did it because he got caught… That’s what we ALL do. Whether man catches us or not, our consciences convict us because God sees EVERYTHING we do. He has “caught” us even before we have don anything, so when we tell Him we’re sorry, it is because. we. got. caught. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have done it!

So all you guys just shut up and let me watch the doggone game!

February 12, 2009 Posted by | A. Rod, Alex Rodriguez, ESPN, Jim Rome, Michael Phelps, Skip Bayless, Sports, Sports Talk Radio, Stephen A. Smith | 1 Comment

I Need to Get the Baby Language Filter

“What you watchin’, Max?”

“Bunbah Beh-pan, Daddy!”

“What? ‘Bumbah Bed Pan?’ “

“Nooo! ‘Bunbah Beh-pan!!’ “

“Ohhh. “Sponge Bob Square Pants’!!”

“Yeah!” (can’t you speak English?!?)

I can speak English, but I’m still working on Baby.

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Baby Talk, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Life, Max, Parenthood | 4 Comments

“Thank you! I’ll be here all week!”

I heard recently that Hitler had only half the standard number of testicles.

Hmmm… So he wasn’t nuts after all. Just evil.

Juuust evil. Thank you… Tip your waitstaff!

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Humor, Jokes | 2 Comments

Max’s First Story

“Daddy brushed your teeth?” Kathy asked Max, 2 1/2.

“Yeah!” he answered quickly.
Derrick, did you brush his teeth yet?”

“Hunh?” I asked, perturbed at being disturbed from watching “PTI.”

“Did you brush Max’s teeth already?” she repeated.

“Naw.”

“Max,” she scolded him, “You told a story. You have to tell the truth, okay? No stories.”

“Daddy brushed dee teeth! The END!!”

True story.

My boy!  I’m still laughing.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Children, Fatherhood, Humor, Kids, Kids say the Darndest Things, Laughter, Life, Max, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting | 3 Comments

“Mythologetics”

Mythologetics (mi thol e jeh dixn.    The vigorous defense of indefensible theological positions:

God wants you rich, and if you are poor, you are out of His will. God wants you healthy, and if you are sick, your faith is lacking. Jesus didn’t come here as God. God is subject to the will of man.

Jesus is NOT God. The Holy Spirit is only God’s “active force.” There is no Hell, one just ceases to exist. Our bible only has necessary changes, they were not made to support our particular positions.

There is no “Trinity.” (that word is not even IN the Bible) Those who believe that believe in three gods.

God was once a man, and man will be a God. Jesus and Lucifer are brothers in the spirit.

God is whatever we believe him to be, male, female, tree, bird, river. He IS all, and is IN all. There are millions of paths to what we call “god.”

Jesus was a great man. No less, but no more. Another in a long line from Moses to Muhammad.

Mary was divine, and different saints should be prayed to for certain needs. Forgiveness of sin requires that we, in part, do atoning work.

There IS no God! Evolution is the engine of creation. No further questions need be asked. The Bible is a well-written work of fiction.

If our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds, we go to Heaven. It’s kind of like a cosmic football game. And God knows my heart. I’m basically a good person. Sin is only that of which I personally disapprove. There is no Truth other than what I personally believe.

Everybody goes to Heaven… racists, adulterers, thieves, fornicators, homosexuals, liars… everybody.

God only asks that we be “spiritual,” that we be “spiritually grounded.” Whatever way we are born to be is the way He made us, and to try to change would be violating His perfect will for our lives.

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Atheism, Benny Hinn, Carlton Pearson, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, Faith, False Prophets, False Teachers, Hell, Hermeneutics, Homosexuality, Jehovah's Witnesses, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Morality, Oprah Winfrey, Pantheism, Paula White, Religion, Satire, Semantics, Sin, T.D. Jakes, TBN, Truth, Word of Faith | Leave a comment

More Time, and Righteousness, Credited to My Account

I’m not supposed to be here.

I’m not supposed to be typing, and double-checking, and breathing right now.

Saturday night, Kathy went to the store to get us something to eat. The line being too long, she left without it. Sam’s Club has these really big oranges in this really big bag for a really low price, and I had to have some, so I jumped in the car to go get them.

I am a lead-footed driver, and I like D’angelo. I was indulging in both. The expressway is about a half mile from our house, and I was on it quickly and and moving swiftly, about eighty or ninety, weaving past those without 265 horsepower at their disposal. The music was blasting and I was feeling pretty good, having spent a whole week with my wife and my babies. Being a husband and a father with so much now to lose, I don’t drive like I used to, but this was such a short trip…

I was in and out of the store in ten minutes. The off ramp where I get off does not merge for those — like me — going left. There is a two-lane stop. As I approached, I saw that an suv, a Tahoe, as in the left lane, and that the right lane was empty. I took the right lane so that when the light turned green, I could jump out quickly and beat the Tahoe on my left. I was racing the whole world and winning.

The music enveloped me — “…she’s alwayyys in my hair, my haiiiiir!” — and I was focused on that red light like a drag racer, ready to launch!

The light turned green! Ready… Set…

For some reason now, I didn’t hit the gas. There was no voice that spoke.

I couldn’t see around the hulking Tahoe from my Maxima, but I noticed that the Tahoe didn’t move either. I’m talking about a span of about one second.

Whoooooosh!! From the left, an eighteen wheeler, carrying death and dismemberment, barrelled through the intersection doing about sixty miles an hour!

Everything changed right then. I sat there at that light in the night at the tail end of a short meaningless trip and shook my head soaking in all that that momentary hesitation meant.

I pulled off slowly, and made my left turn, loing to the Tahoe, and like the aftermath of throwing a giant stone into a pond, the water of my whole life flooded in on me and overwhelmed me.

I thought about Kathy, who waited confidently for me to get back home not ever thinking that I was a pureed mass being poured into a body bag a half mile — and an eternity — away. I thought of how torn to pieces she would be for who knows how long.

I thought about Max, who loves me so absolutely right now, who calls ME every day when he awakes, who yells for ME at night when he has a nightmare, who needs ME to teach him all this stuff I can’t wait to teach him.

I thought about Diana, who smiles so wide at me when the cobwebs clear from her eyes at three o’clock every AM when I feed her, making sure she gets that extra meal she slept through earlier. I though about how she stops crying when I pick her up. I thought about telling her about boys and God.

I thought about how many times I have fed them and changed them and comforted them and taught them and loved them and watched them love me back. And I thought about the fact that no matter how much they love me, one small push on the gas pedal a few SECONDS ago would mean that They would only see me through pictures.

Max would ask, “Where’s Daddy? When’s Daddy coming back?” for days, weeks, and maybe even months, but with each passing second he and his sister would forget me a little bit more until in a short while they would remember me no more. Not at all. All the lessons and laughs would go unfulfilled.

I thought about my parents. I am the oldest and the only son. Gone. With just the slightest release of the brake pedal. I know how much they have loved me.

I thought about my three sisters.

And my few close friends. My church family who would have to hear the news on Sunday morning. I thought about all my musician friends…

My life didn’t flash before me. An alternate future played before me like a dvd on 3x. I saw my body crushed amid broken glass, twisted steel and torn rubber on the street while everyone I loved went on obliviously until the phone rang. I thanked God so much and so many times in that half mile ride.

I am supposed to be dead right now. That is not an overstatement. I am supposed to be as dead as someone mauled by a bear, or crashed in a plane. Based on the way I was driving and jamming — I’ve done it many times before — I was supposed to press that pedal, and no one but God stopped me. I should be sloshing around in a bag in a drawer. But I am not.

I walked into the house, put the oranges down, sat in a chair in front of my family, and cried. Hard.

Tears of  joy and sorrow. Boiling water and ice cubes in the same glass.

Shortly after I began to process everything, I thought about the biggest point of all:

As graphic a picture as the Lord had stapled in my brain, as close a call as I had, as surely as He had saved my life, He did MUCH more than that on a hill, far away!

The picture of eternity in hell is infinitely more horrible than a broken body and crying loved ones. Yes, He surely saved me — and my whole network of family and friends — from an excruciating circumstance, but it all becomes translucent in the face of that from which He ultimately saved me.

And everything I do from here out should be in light of that fact. I have the picture. I have the time. What will I do with it?

January 19, 2009 Posted by | Advice, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Death, Driving, Irony, Near Misses, Salvation, Second Chances | 16 Comments

Ann Coulter: Darth Vader with a Pope Hat on

Ann Coulter is a worse representative of Christianity than the Grand Wizard! Will somebody pleeeze tell her to stop invoking God in her tomes? She is a poorer example of a Christian than Mick Jagger is of health and vitalicky! (Popeye) A clanging cymbal indeed! But is she an accurate portrait of a Conservative?

She could simply read from the Book of John, and would make Christianity wither like tomatoes on a vine in the desert. Regardless if she stumbles upon a valid point every now and then, the arsenic dripping from her tongue poisons any possibility of wooing anyone to her position. Those drawn to her point of view/methods are the same carrion-eaters who have subsisted on the flesh of the weak from the beginning.

Is SHE the true face of conservatism? Is her “cookie crumbs in the bed” personality the attitude of true evangelical thought? I hope not, but those like she and Hannity and Limbaugh and the rest of the talk radio consortium seem to be the arrowheads of the movement.

When I learned the definition of a harridan, her face shot up in my mind.

My CHRISTIAN views are pretty to-the-book conservative, but I part ways when it comes to how political conservatives often treat people different than they.

 

There go the rest of my readers, I guess…

January 16, 2009 Posted by | Ann Coulter, Bible, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Conservatism, Conservatives, Current Events, Evangelicals, FOX News, Humor, Liberals, Life | 6 Comments

How I Learned the Bible

“How you gone just sit there and let all them people in front of you? I got somewhere to be! D&%n Good Samaritan! If you ain’t gone drive it, park it!” exclaimed my father, stuck in traffic behind a courteous slow driver.

“Ohhh.” I thought, putting two and two together… “A ‘good Samaritan’ is someone who helps someone else for no apparent reason.” My parents used to use that one a lot.

“G@d! Je$us! Man, PASS the ball! Quit being so d&%n selfish!!” Shouted my father at Andrew Toney, who played for the Sixers back in the day.

“Ohhh!” I realized, “Jesus is God in the flesh, and He committed the most unselfish act of all. I get it now.”

“If I come in this house and these dishes ain’t washed, It’s gone be Armageddon up in here when I get back!” Said my mother upon reaching the end of the rope.

“Ohhh! Armageddon is the battle that occurs at the end of the world!” I discovered after a few times of failing to meet a deadline due to procrastination…

“I don’t know why you askin’ ME for no money! I’m poor as Job’s turkey!”

“Ohhh!” I gathered. “Job was a man, like Daddy, who had had a lot of kids, and was incredibly poor at some point. And if HE didn’t have nothing, you KNOW his turkey was broke! Sorry for asking, Dad.”

Great teachers I had.

(How I learned Civics) “Bring less than a ‘B’ in here if you want to! It’s gone take a act of Congress to pull me off you!!”

(How I learned what color rice was)“Boy! If you don’t turn off that TV and do your homework, I’mma be on you like white on rice!!”

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Bible, Childhood, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, God, Humor, Life, Life Lessons, Parenthood, Parenting | 2 Comments

Contra Diction

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who, almost arrogantly,  pronounces each and every letter of every syllable of every word she speaks, grates on my nerves sometimes.

We know you’re smart. We know you’re Ivy League educated. But do you have to go out of your way to elocute even the soft sounds at the ends of words? “…spiked(a) the punnncchh att my best(a) friend(a)s graduation(a) parttee.”  She sounds as if she is spitting out fish bones when she says words like, “terrorrisstss.” Gotta get that darn, tricky “ess”  in at the end! Wouldn’t want to appear ordinary.

If she just spoke like the rest of moderately educated humanity, she could save about fifteen seconds of dialogue per every minute of talking. She could winnow her show down to a half hour!

She sounds like a COGIC preacher.

It’s like listening to Niles Crane recite Shakespeare while gargling marbles. I feel like the next thing she is going to say to me is, “turn(a) lefffft in two pointt threee my-uls.”

Maybe it’s just me… I’ve been ill-tempered lately.

January 8, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Current Events, Entertainment, Humor, Language, MSNBC, Pet Peeves, Political Humor, Politics, Rachel Maddow, Rant, Television, TV, Words | 2 Comments

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