Friday, November 30, 2007

Enter The Dragon

The year was 1975 and the Brewer was a nine year old with a heavy Texas accent and a mind full of mush. My folks took me to the Seminary South movie theater in Ft. Worth to see a film that would have a profound effect on our culture, our generation and yes, even me.

JAWS is not a movie about deep human insight and it doesn’t have any kind of profound philosophical message, yet there probably is not another film that made a bigger impact on any one society.

Thirty-two years later, the impact is just as effective as it was back then. It doesn’t matter if you are in fresh or salt water, that famous John Williams sound track starts to play in your head. We no longer feel safe in the water.

While the fear may be very real, the threat is really not. There are over 10,000 miles of American coastline. Millions of people swim in those waters and every year there are fewer than twelve shark attacks. Most of those are provoked and usually only one or two are fatal. None of that matters though when you are the guy in the water and the JAWS music is bouncing between your ears.

The odds of you being eaten by a shark in American water are astronomical. I tell myself this every time I swim in the ocean, because I’m convinced I’m going to hit the shark lotto.

While all of us worry about sharks, we very seldom worry about things like lighting strikes. I think the threat is very real when it comes to lighting. In 1985 alone there were 600 people killed in America by lightning and over the past 100 years there have been over 24,000 people lit up and sent to eternity with a thunderclap. Those are just the people we know of.

Attacks by grizzly bears are relatively rare and sporadic. Yet I’m scared of a big ol’ bear getting me when I’m in a national park. A total of 162 bear-inflicted injuries were reported from 1900 through 1985 in Canadian and American national parks. The truth is there were only 19 human deaths from grizzly attacks documented in the national parks in North America and an additional 22 deaths in Alaska outside the parks.

In my mind, there must have been thousands killed by grizzlies over the past century but it’s just not true. In the history of the United States there have only been 20 reports of death by black bears and only 13 by mountain lions.

For each person killed by a mountain lion in the past 100 years, 300 people have died from bee stings. I’m not scared of bees, but when I’m in Big Bend National Park I am thinking about mountain lions. Yet the truth is that for each person killed by a mountain lion in the past 100 years, 750 people have died when their cars collided with a deer. That’s not something I fret over. For each person killed by a mountain lion in the past 100 years, 1,100 people have been killed in hunting accidents.

I could go on and on but the bottom line is that a lot of our fears are really not warranted at all. In fact a lot of the mental battles we fight are over things that are not even existent. We tend to exhaust ourselves on fantasized battlefields of endless “what if” rabbit trails.

So much of the strife in our very limited brain space is over things that are not even actually going on.

I call these imagined threats, “Dragons”. A lot of dragons I have fought have not been battles over what people actually thought about me, but were battles over what I thought people thought about me. I’ve exhausted myself on things not even real.

Biblically, the devil comes in the symbolic form of a serpent trying to deceive us, and a roaring lion bringing condemning accusations against us. By far though, the scariest form of the devil from hell is that of the dragon. The beast that is mentioned thirteen times in the New Testament shows up in our lives as an overwhelming threat that wants to chew us up and spit us out. The thing about dragons….they are not real.

Just like the John Williams score playing when you go swimming in the river. Just because fear and strife are real, does not mean the threat is real. Knowing the truth makes you a dragon slayer. I refuse to waste my time and energy on battles that don’t exist and in doing so I am better equipped to win the real thing.

John 8:32
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tis’ the Season to Gain Pant Sizes

The Brewer has always been a bit on the plump side. When I graduated High School back in 1985, I weighed 230 pounds. About 15 years later I weighed about 340. The height of my obese-related depression came when I spent big money for a digital scale and literally cracked the LCD when I stepped on it.

I have never really considered myself too fat until recently. I just figured I was about four feet too short. Stupid cigarettes stunted my growth before God delivered me from Marlboro Country.

It wasn’t until the bad dreams started that I really wanted to loose weight. There’s the one dream I got so fat they projected movies on the backside of my white pants. There’s the other where the Post Office gave me my own zip code. Oh, it was terrible.

I do a lot of public speaking outside of my usual pulpit for Christian and non-Christian events. Usually, it’s people who have read the column or one of my books. There is typically an awkward moment where the invitee tries to hide his or her look of disappointment over my face being made for radio. They all get over it.

The complete pinnacle of my fatness and what gives me my own wing in the fat peoples hall of shame, came last January. I sing and play guitar in a Christian southern rock band called Joshua Rising. ( Our manager came over from England to introduce us to a famous music mogul and organizer of the biggest Christian music venue west of the Mississippi.

We flew out to San Jose California and met him at a restaurant on Monterey Bay. The gentlemen did agree to set us up with the three biggest agencies in the United States but he added, “Your fat, and fat people are not marketable.” I began to choke on my scallop.

“You think so?” I asked sheepishly. “Do I really have to look like I am 16 and weigh 140 pounds?” He put his fork down, scanned my silhouette and said, “Frankly, if I paid money to see you, I would want my money back.”

Well it’s a good thing I’m saved because I instantly had visions of throwing him to the seals.

I have had some temporary success in dieting and diet plans from time to time but not any real long-term solutions. I weigh about 290 today and am on the downward turn once again.

I say all of that to say this. If you struggle in your weight or really with any long-term issue, I recommend hope in the Lord. When you’re a Christian, it just makes sense to hope for better things in any part of your life. I would love to wake up tomorrow and be miraculously thin but odds are its probably going to require God-given discipline and character to walk in that kind of a miracle.

That’s the thing about true victorious living. Either your character gets you to the upgrade you are looking for, or it keeps you there once you’ve arrived. We are all looking for some kind of spiritual lottery to hit big for all of us but I believe God is looking for us not to loose what he wants to gives us.

So none of us get a “get-out-of-jail-free” card when it comes to having the character and discipline required for that next level. God help us all to get up from the table and drive past the red neon light at Krispy Kreme.

“What is the use (profit), my brethren, for anyone to profess to have faith if he has no [good] works [to show for it]? Can [such] faith save [his soul]?” James 2:14 (Amplified Bible)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hold Your Nose!

The smell of Coffee in the morning puts the Brewer in a good mood. I love the smell of coffee. I like the smell of lots of things. Leather, the Sunday pork roast, a brand new car.

Smell is a big deal. It’s the only sense you have that extends into your brain directly. It’s a key component to our moods, memory and appetite. Your nose is a truly remarkable structure. When a nose functions the right way, it can help us detect as many as 2,000 different scents. It also conditions the air we breathe. We inhale about 17,000 times a day, moving some 300 cubic feet of air through our nostrils every 24 hours.

That’s a lot of nose business. That snout of yours has to clean, humidify and in a fraction of a second, warm or cool the air you breathe to match your body temperature.

A scent, fragrance, or aroma also have a powerful effect on our emotions that help transform the way we feel. Specific smells suppress appetite, reduce stress, revitalize and energize, even promote physical attractiveness. I know I certainly become much better looking when I throw on some Old Spice.

The thing about smell is that it can do the opposite as well. A bad smell can put you in a bad mood or flat wear you out.

King James
You might know the name King James because of the famous English translation of the Bible. What you might not know is that he was a character that didn’t care to live a life reflecting the Bible he had commissioned. His very interesting life as King of England is something worth looking at. Though a promiscuous homosexual, he married Anne of Denmark and had seven children who survived beyond birth.

He himself survived the Guy Fawks gunpowder plot but none of those things are really what King James was famous for. King James suffered from a terrible fear called aquaphobia and he never took a single bath his entire life. Those around him suffered the smell of a King who refused to put water on his body. He was a presence to be reckoned with and when he came into a room every one knew it.

There’s nothing worse than somebody that reeks from a major malfunction of personal hygiene.

The Stink in Big Bend
Big Bend National Park is an amazing place and that area was the last frontier for the lower forty-eight.

When people in the rest of the United States were voting for Roosevelt and driving the Model T, Texans in the big bend were enduring Apache Indian raids on ranches and dealing with bandits robbing their banks.

Extremely eccentric places tend to attract eclectic characters. Bobcat Carter lived at the Permission Gap entrance to the National Park. He devoutly preached to all that, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness. A true gentleman should bathe at least once every seven years. I do!"

Bobcat Carter

People say you could smell him a mile away. He ate skunk stew, drank from a pregnant horses utter and poisoned prairie dog villages for a living. He would turn back flips along the road just to stop visitors for a chat.

After more than a hundred years old, he was taken to a hospital in Alpine. In terrible protest they removed his filthy rags and scrubbed his nasty body. “Don’t let them kill me!” He cried, as black water splashed across his elderly form.

Three days latter Bobcat Carter died, apparently the victim of pneumonia. The bath had actually killed him.

The Smell of Success
When you can’t see something or feel something, you can still identify it if you can smell it. The sense of smell is all about discernment. I think if there is anything Christianity needs today is a strong sense of spiritual discernment. A lot of things feel right and look right but you can just tell there not because of your spiritual “knower”. The ability to be able to identify what is God and what is not. What is life and what’s not something that brings life? Furthermore the people around us should be able to sense something different about Christians. We ought to be so full of life that people around us can smell it on us.

The Christian church is metaphorically called the body of Christ. This body is really attractive when we are properly joined with Christ the head. I think one of the reasons why Christianity is so unattractive to so many people is because too many of us are bodies that have become unattached to Christ as our head. After it’s all said and done, a headless body is good for nothing but lying around and stinking up the place.

Philippians 4:18b
"…the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God."

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Will To Live

Maxine’s Madness
Have you seen the cartoon character Maxine? She’s the Hallmark cartoon caricature of a cranky old lady that holds a coffee cup proclaiming, “I love my bad attitude.” She suffers hot flashes and lives on Crabby Lane in a little trailer with pink flamingos. She always wears bunny slippers, a bathrobe and a pair of sunglasses.

My grandmother collects Maxine paraphernalia. Like many of her peers, Nana believes Maxine to be her personal prophet and irritable voice of one crying out in the wilderness.

Maxine answers the phone by saying things like, “I’m busy right now. Can I ignore you later?” She lays on her worn out couch as she says, "If each day is a gift, I'd like to know where to return Mondays." She has a website for you to send complaints. Its

There’s no end to Maxine’s musings and complaints. She prides herself in telling it like it is and as she sees it. Just recently I got a funny e-mail that stated Maxine’s living will. A living will is the instructions you leave in the event you are totally incapacitated. Here’s what she said….

“I, MAXINE , being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive
indefinitely by artificial means. Under no circumstances should my fate be put
in the hands of pinhead politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if
their lives depended on it, or lawyers/ doctors interested in simply running up
the bills. If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least
one of the following:

A Glass of wine. Chocolate. Chicken fried
steak and cream gravy. Chocolate. Mexican food. French fries. Chocolate. Pizza.
Chocolate. Ice cream. A cup of tea or coffee. Chocolate. Sex, and finally

It should be presumed that I won't ever get better.
When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed person and
attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes, let the "fat lady
sing” . . .and call it a day!”

Life and the Pursuit Of
Lots of people have pulled the plug on their dreams and settled down into a life of apathy.
The will to live is not just about wanting to survive. There are people all around us in a healthy body who don’t have the will to live past where they are.

The Brewer herby encourages you to be a dreamer, so sip on this.

Some Christians know the story about Lots wife and how her look back got her killed. But what most people don’t realize is it is just as deadly to stay where you are as it is to look back. Life has something better to offer you. Get up and get after it.

God does not make the distinction between sacred and secular. He is the God of “better” and “all” things. In Mark 9:23 Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

So it is absolutely ok with God for you to dream big dreams that don’t have anything to do with traditional church. It makes God just as happy when you accomplish a goal for your family, like an awesome vacation for instance, as it does when a guy like me builds a food bank warehouse to feed the poor.

Dream a big dream and do something cool. Move off of Crabby Lane and refuse to pull the plug on hoping for better things.

Psalms 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Loosing Control

When you write a commentary column, it is only fair that you get commentary from some of the people that read it. A lot of it is good, some of it is really bad and all of it is interesting.

Last week I spouted off on some of my Texas heritage. Since then I’ve gotten cards, letters and e-mails from other people saying the same thing. One letter says they had an ancestor that fought along side my ancestor, Henry Brewer at the battle of San Jacinto. Another wanted me to know they had an ancestor Micajah Autry who traveled to the Alamo with none other than Crockett himself.

Letter Rip
I also got a letter from a professional doctrinalist stating that he didn’t understand why I wasted valuable print space writing about anything other than the bible or “spiritual issues.” Let me say to you sir, phooey on you. Those of us that choose to be sane, wonder why you waste your valuable life trying to cram God into such a narrow box of churchdom.

Instead of trying to get the world to fit into church we should be taking Jesus Christ to the world. Furthermore, we shouldn’t just be preaching a message. We should be the message in all of those environments.

I am learning more and more to not separate the sacred and the secular but to just point out Jesus. I am more Kingdom of God motivated than I am traditional and more about transformation and hope than I am about education and church conformity.

If you have a God-given eye to see, you know the things going on around you ARE spiritual issues or have you not read Romans 1:20?

The Real Deal
Make no mistake about it; the Brewer is a Jesus Freak. I am the Christian the devil warned you about. I am highly caffeinated and dangerously obsessively in my belief that Christ is the way, the truth, and the Life. I have an open agenda to influence as many people as I can towards the hope that only comes through the person of Jesus.

It is just sad to me that most times it is easier to find the love of God outside the church than actually in it. I believe that these are the last days and the Lord stated to the last day’s church of Laodicea, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)

How pathetic is it that Christ himself, by his own account, is standing outside of the church in these last days trying to get back in. Trying to sit down and eat with us like a family actually does. Trying to bring us all to the same table He sits at.

So that’s where I tend to see him and point him out. Outside, in the non-sacred world. Doing what He does, just like He did in his earthly ministry 2000 years ago.

A Piece of His Mind
A Kingdom mindset is one that says it is just as spiritually legitimate to be a Christian in the market place as it is to be on staff at a church. It is just as important to be a housewife or a bus driver, or work on an oil rig as it is to be a Pastor or an evangelist. Kingdom of God minded people know it is just as important to clean the toilet at the church, as it is to lead praise and worship. A Kingdom of God based lifestyle says its ok to be really good at something even if it has nothing to do with church whatsoever.

I am not against the pulpit or the church. I stand behind a pulpit in at least four church services every week to preach a message to good folks that want to advance and go forward in faith. But someone who is really seeking after God knows that some of the most powerful sermons preached to us may come from our situations in life and not from behind a pulpit. That’s why I “waste” valuable print space referring to secular mainstream and historical events. So people can learn to see God for themselves in their everyday lives.

Now that takes away control from those of us who are Pastors. But for those of us Pastors that don’t actually want to control anybody, its ok.