Preacher, I Have a Praise!

As a pastor, one of the things a church does weekly and weakly, is to take a moment during the church service to offer a moment of praise and prayer requests. Often this little segment resembles more an organ recital than a praise service; persons stand and say this organ hurts and that organ hurts.

It is quite exciting for me and I’m sure for God too to actually hear an honest to goodness praise report. This week my wife and I were spared a head on collision when a car passing us tried to pass me and four other cars on a hill. The oncoming car and I slammed on our brakes and the car scooted in in the nick of time. At church if I heard that true account, I would definitely classify that as a praise.

However this morning, an incident occurred in San Francisco that would have made me wait in line to get to church early just to hear the praise first hand. A worker with Century Window Cleaners had his harness break while washing windows 11 stories up. Usually such a mishap would have resulted in instant death. But not today, the worker’s guardian angel had to have been working the early shift.

What can only be described as miracle, the man crashed onto a moving Toyota Camry.  With a thunderous boom, he landed on the roof of the car behind the drivers seat and caved the back end of the car down to the seat shattering the rear window.

Can you imagine the thoughts running through his head as he plummeted to the ground? I can only assume his relationship with God improved far greater on his decent than his earlier morning ascent.

Police say he was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital and he was conscious. They say he suffered a fractured arm, among other serious injuries. The person in the car however managed to escape with minor injury.

I’m not sure when the accident victim will be able to attend church again but if he wants to come to my church and share his story during the praise and prayer request segment, I’ll give him all time he needs. In fact, I’ll give him the whole sermon time. Talk about being having the right form of thankfulness this coming week!

Regarding the man driving the car? His praise report is mixed. While he was spared serious injury, his auto insurance policy won’t cover the damages; something about an “act of God.” A typical response; God frequently gets the blame but not the credit. So what do you want to thank God for this holiday season?

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Dispelling Three Myths in Life

Here is a story from my Lighter Side newspaper column.

All my life, I have walked the fine line of mundane. I do three things daily not because of their importance, but rather because I’ve always done them a particular way. The worse part is I don’t know why!

For instance, how many of us, despite the power of our subconscious, fail to remove tickets attached to our pillows or mattresses? You know, the ones that say in big bold letters, “Under penalty of law cannot be removed? ” I know, it looks so ominous and official, so naturally we think we’ll get in trouble if we remove the annoying thing.

Myth #1: 3 am, Knock, Knock, Knock, “Open Up!” “Hurry Agnes, get the duct tape, it’s the Mattress Police. Where in the world did you place all those blasted tags?” “I don’t know, I think I took one to work the other day to show the office how tough I was!” “YOU WHAT?”

Reality: A mattress devoid of its tag looks like your 102-year old Aunt Edna with her blue tinged wig. Yes it looks silly, but hey you’re used to it.

Myth #2 Men are always told when marrying a woman they should look at the mother of the bride. The reasoning, one day the bride will look exactly like her mother.

Reality: Actually, this is not a myth! It’s just that you have to spend the remainder of your marital existence denying, while she gets ready in front of the mirror, that she is not morphing into her mother.

Myth #3 A daily change of underwear is paramount to success.

Have you ever asked your 30 year-old son if he’s changed his underwear? The reason you ask is because you’d be embarrassed if he got into an accident and the emergency room staff would see him. Which reminds me, how many nurses take time out to write someone’s mother?

” Dear Mrs. Jones, I thought you should know that your son embarrassed his family lineage today. He wore a pair of boxer shorts into our ER that looked they’d been used as a battle flag in the War of 1812. It also pains me to have to tell you that…egads… they were, well let’s just say that parts weren’t in their original color and design. Please move out of state, change your name, save yourself!”

Reality: Even if you wore a clean pair of underwear, wouldn’t a near miss with an oncoming cement truck initiate the need for a new pair?

So what have we learned today from the three myths of life? Go ahead, live dangerously! Rip the offending tags off our old mattresses and wear the same shorts for two days if you like. But whatever you do, don’t tell your wife she is looking like her mother. It’s okay to live life on the edge once and a while, but NOT recklessly.

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The Sting of Humiliation

Whoever said their high school years were the best years of their life is either lying or extremely forgetful. I remember the awkwardness of entering high school and trying to make a name for myself. I loved to travel, I had sung in a family trio at a very young age, so high school choir seemed to be the natural choice.

In order to hide my insecurities with my new classmates, I joked a lot. I quickly became known as the funny new freshman. Sure I liked to tell witty stories but not on command; I prefer spontaneous humor. It becomes a bit annoying when people even now introduce me to someone and as if I were their personal court jester and say, “Say something funny.” That places a lot of pressure on an individual.

Our choir had finished a concert in Connecticut and this trip found me a bit melancholy. It’s not often that I am, but when I do get this way I prefer to keep a low profile. One of the choir members parent’s lived on the route home so we stopped and refreshed. We ate some snacks and used their bathroom facilities. It’s not often you cram a modest suburban home with 30 high school kids and a high profile bus sits in the driveway.

Looking back I’m sure my female classmate (whose home we were in) wanted to show off her new friends to her parents, but it was a bit overwhelming for me. She started asking me to entertain and my peers began demanding that I say something funny. I declined, they wouldn’t take no for an answer. I was emphatic that I wasn’t going to be manipulated into being put on the spot.

I exited the room and found the bathroom free. As I conducted business and reentered the room, the whole room immediately erupted into raucous laughter. Everyone was pointing at me as if I had told the funniest story in the world. I was confused, the very thing I declined to do, I did without saying a word. For prominently sticking through the zipper of my pants as if it were a transport flag on a load of lumber, was the flapping tail of my long white shirt. I had not tucked my shirt in properly and it was now sticking out my fly.

Embarrassed, my face burned as if I had traded my hair dryer for a blow torch. With my dignity in tatters, I held back my tears and exited the house to go outside and sit in the bus alone. It was my intuitive choir director Mr. Carl Wessman who followed me to the bus. Sitting beside me, he said, “Don’t take the mistakes of life too hard. Your sense of humor is a natural gift, use it even if it’s at your expense to make others smile. “

I have thought of those words often in my life. I still like to make people laugh, albeit not from an improperly tucked shirt. I have even suffered many other foibles and mishaps more embarrassing than the zippered incident. But the additional words of advice my teacher gave me that one night sticks with me today. “If we can’t laugh at our self, who can we laugh at?”

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A Stupid Virus Has Been Discovered

Comedian Bill Engvall is known for his comedy routine about people being stupid. He says some people are so brainless they actually need a stupid sign hanging around their necks. Imagine after all these years how excited I was to find British researchers announced over the weekend a cause for stupidness. They have discovered an algae like virus that causes cognitive degeneration in humans. In other words, they proved there is actually a virus that causes people to be stupid. The study was  published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Back in the 60′s comedian Flip Wilson used to say of his failings, “The devil made me do it.” Now, apparently, idiots can unite over algae as a liberating force. Have you noticed how much time and resources people spend making excuses for their own idiotic and foolish behavior? I’m not buying this study.  Stupidity isn’t a small virus, it’s pandemic.

How do I know? I remember some years ago as a food service director of a nursing home, the alternate sandwich one night was listed as peanut butter and jelly. My cook, who had a bachelors degree, called me that evening  and asked, “Tonight you have peanut butter and jelly on the menu, do you want that on bread?” I responded, “Do you usually eat peanut butter and jelly in a bowl with a spoon or on bread?”  There was a long pause and then she said almost in a question, “Bread?”

At another place of employment I had a young cook who was not gifted in the culinary department. The nursing home residents were not happy with her abilities and I got an earful. One day, I ordered a frozen gourmet soup and told her, “You don’t have to cook, just warm it up and serve.” I left contented knowing even she couldn’t mess this up. The next day, as I arrived to work, I asked her how the evening meal went and how the folks liked the new gourmet soup. To which she quickly replied, “I couldn’t use it.”  “Why not?” I asked.    She replied, “Because it was frozen!”

Don’t believe me on how widespread stupidity is? Consider these warning labels found on everyday products:

“Do not use in shower.” — On a hair dryer.
“This product not intended for use as a dental drill.” — On an electric rotary tool.
“Do not drive with sunshield in place.” — On a cardboard sunshield that keeps the sun off the dashboard.
“Not intended for highway use.” — On a 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow.
“Caution: Hot beverages are hot!” — On a coffee cup.
“Caution: Shoots rubber bands.” — On a product called “Rubber Band Shooter.”
“Do not use orally.” — On a toilet bowl cleaning brush.
“Please keep out of children.” — On a butcher knife made in China.                                      “Do not use as ear plugs.” — On a package of silly putty.
“Warning: knives are sharp!” — On the packaging of a sharpening stone.
“Warning: has been found to cause cancer in laboratory mice.” — On a box of rat poison.
“Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage.” — On a portable stroller.
“Do not iron clothes on body.” — On packaging for a Rowenta iron.
“Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.” — On a child sized Superman costume.
“Warning: do not use if you have prostate problems.” — On a box of Midol PMS relief tablets.
“May be harmful if swallowed.” — On a shipment of hammers.
“Do not attempt to stop the blade with your hand.” — In the manual for a Swedish chainsaw.
“Warning: May contain nuts.” — On a package of peanuts.
“Warning: May cause drowsiness.” — On a bottle of Nytol, a brand of sleeping pills.        “Do not use orally after using rectally.” — In the instructions for an electronic thermometer.
“Turn off motor before using this product.” — On the packaging for a chain saw file, used to sharpen the cutting teeth on the chain.
“Not to be used as a personal flotation device.” — On a 6×10 inch inflatable picture frame.

I could offer you further proof of stupidity, but haven’t we all had enough of politics for at least one week?




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