Thursday, December 25, 2008
Here are some examples of a few you might recognize: A River Runs Through It, "I am haunted by waters." Tombstone, “Tom Mix wept.” John Wayne in True Grit, “Come and visit a fat old man sometime." Captain Ahab in Moby Dick, "Thus, I give up the spear!" Captain James Tiberius Kirk of Star Trek Generations, "Well it was fun, oh my."
Then there are famous last words of real people. Despite the basic graveness, pardon the pun, of the situation individuals face at that moment, there have been those that sprang a joke and some of them really good ones.
King Louis the 14th told his wife he regretted leaving her but at her age he expected to see her shortly. He died before she could slap him. William Palmer, a man convicted in 1920 of poisoning his friend, was silent when they put the noose around his neck. The hangman instructed him to step up onto the trap door and Palmer asked, "Are you sure it’s safe?"
James Rodgers, a convicted murderer executed in 1960 in Nevada, was asked by the rifle squad commander if he had any last request? Rodgers replied, "Why yes...a bullet proof vest, please!”
Oscar Wilde the famous writer, died November 30, 1900 saying, “Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.” W.C. Fields, after falling to the floor and in terrible pain, calmed down, looked at the person trying to help him and said, "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." Douglas Fairbanks died in 1939. When he fell down someone asked him if he was Ok. "I never felt better," he said with his last breath.
Georges Jacques Danton was a French radical became the leader of the 1789 revolution. Eventually out-radicaled by someone else, he was sentenced to death. As he placed his neck in the guillotine, he gave his final instructions to the executioner. "Show my head to the people. It really is worth seeing.”
One of my all time favorites are the last words of Wilson Mizner who died in 1933. Wilson Mizner was a U.S. writer, gambler and someone who put his trust in Jesus Christ towards the end of his life. On his deathbed, he briefly regained consciousness before dying and found a priest standing over him. Mizner waved the priest away saying, "Why should I talk to you? I've just been talking to your boss."
So here’s the last cup of Jehovah Java for 2008. It’s been a big year of change for all of us. From gas prices to the new president, we are all seeing things transition much more rapidly. It’s the year Michael Crichton, one of my favorite writers passed away. Two of my favorite guitarists, Bo Diddley and Jerry Reed also died as did three of my favorite voices, Don Lafontain, Tim Russert & Jim Mckay from Wide World of Sports. Oh the agony of defeat.
Four of my favorite actors met their maker this year. We lost Charlton Heston, Paul Newman, Bernie Mac and Heath Ledger. I’m going to miss them all.
I have personally seen several friends go this year I won’t see again until the great day. But I have also made friends that I think are lifetime hook-ups. I feel like I’ve progressed and was generally a good steward of this crazy life God is trusted me with.
We really are a blessed bunch aren’t we? I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these columns and meeting so many of you here and there that take the time to read it. Let’s do it again next year.
Let me close the same way the Bible does. There are 31,171 verses in the old King James and the very last verse is a great word and the Brewer’s prayer for you and yours,
“May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Revelation 22:21
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The Brewer celebrated his 42nd Birthday last week. That’s right, I’m half way to 84.
I am still a ways off from sinking my teeth into a steak and seeing them stay there but I am closer to sixty than twenty now. I know that the days are coming when an all-nighter means I didn’t go to the bathroom once but that’s not here yet, thank God.
What is here is the healthy realization that my days are numbered. At the same time I really feel I’ve got lots of life to live. I no longer feel bullet proof but do feel like I had better hurry up and do something cool. Forty-two is fun. Forty-two as a progressive Christian means I passionately believe in mortality and eternity at the same time. I think that’s a good thing.
THE NEW THIRTY
I have never been afraid of getting older. I really enjoyed my teenage years, but my twenties were much better. As a teenager my life was full of snuff cans, football, shenanigans, girl friends and small town life. My twenties were full of marriage, ministry, having babies and learning how to live life in the big city.
My thirties turned out to be way better than my twenties and now I am full blown into my forties. So why would I not be optimistic? Leanna and I are about to celebrate twenty years of an incredible marriage, my oldest daughter is in college and the other three are in high school. It’s a neat time, really. It’s a time of closure for some things and wild possibilities for others things.
A really healthy attitude and a bi-product of victorious Christian living is the willingness to embrace transition. I think a blessed life is one that is growing and transforming. I also know I would not only be cursed but would be a curse to everyone around me if I was still the same person at 42 as I was at 21.
THE NEXT LEVEL
So transition is not about getting older, it’s really about advancing. It’s living from faith to faith or from everlasting to everlasting. It’s learning how to hope for big things and remain confident through constantly having to deal with closure. It’s about bitter/sweet goodbyes and hopeful/expectant new beginnings. One thing I am convinced at the end of 2008 is constant change is here to stay.
I am not going to change someday, I already have and I will again and again. So why fear it? It’s a lot like the world we live in. We need not fear the world is going to change. It already has. You and I will live in a whole other world ten years from now, some for the better, a lot for the worse. So since we have no control over the direction of the world we might as well be determined to be better and better people. To be more and more hopeful, thankful and happier. I also want to be more and more useful to the Lord and more and valuable to those around me.
I love this life God has trusted me with. I don’t really think I own anything; I’m just a steward. Part of being a faithful steward of the life I live means an adventurous willingness to embrace transition in growing, advancing and seeing how far the rabbit hole goes. So I think I’ll keep the change.
A big Thank You goes out to everyone that plays such a key part in enriching my life, especially my 84-year-old Grandmother. After all these years, she is still a hottie and somehow still sees me as a very good boy. I love you, Nana. I am half way there to you in age, but a million years away in goodness of heart.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom
Contact the Brewer @ www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I love the whole romance thing. When we were kids I didn’t have enough money to take her to any place nice so I would say, “let’s me and you go to the Dairy Queen.” Several hours later we pulled into the Dairy Queen parking lot in Wichita Falls. This was back when gas was really cheap. She would say, “why would you drive me all the way out here?” and I would answer, “Because I want to spend the day with you”. Like the ice cream we were eating, I was smooth. Those were fun days for us.
After a while our Dairy Queen World Tour took us to further and further places. I promised her I would take her to see the world even if we had to start out eating DQ Dudes and Hunger Busters. It was fun and for a couple of very poor kids and in a funny kind of way, it was actually romantic. See, we both wanted to travel but I couldn’t afford to take her to London. So I was faithful to take her where I could. She loved it and God blessed it.
Twenty-two years latter we can officially be called world travelers. We have been to every state except for 12 and stomped all over the globe. Our missionary journeys have taken us to London more than twenty times now. We have orphanages and family in India, Uganda and in Mexico. Leanna goes to our orphanage in Uganda so much that sometimes she goes without me, if for nothing else but to love on the kids. While it’s hard work and a huge responsibility, its one of the greatest privileges of our lives.
It all started by traveling to Dairy Queens. I think you have to be faithful in little things before you graduate to bigger things. I know this concept is going to sound stupid to a lot of readers because most people think they have an infallible right to better things. When it comes to getting your upgrade, the Bible has lots to say about it and so does common sense. Kingdom promotion and advancement is all about the practical reality of how faithful you are with what little you have.
You want a Cadillac? Take care of your Volkswagen. You promise you’d manicure the lawn of your mansion? Clean up your trailer park first. You’ll do really good in college you say? Do really good in High School first.
The way to the throne room is through the servant’s quarters and it’s a principle that’s unknown to this generation. Instead of small beginnings we look to big government and say give me a loan for my mansion and a grant for my education. This kind of a mindset spins great nations off into terrible recessions.
I just want to encourage you in your small beginning. You’re not stupid for going the extra mile with what little you have. Continue in it and do it as unto the Lord because you believe he sees you and that how you get your promotion. You secretly serve him in being outwardly excellent.
If your house is little bitty, it’s really neat that you clean it and doll it up. If you only have a small front yard, it’s just awesome how you keep it mowed and make it look nice. If your job is to push carts at a big store, may the Lord bless you for being on time, well dressed and courteous to the rest of us. If you only have two or three friends in this world, its inspiring how you go out of your way to bless them and help them. It’s a big deal and the world needs more people that are faithful in the little things and less people who think they are owed bigger. Since God is more faithful than us, The Brewer believes your small beginning will soon turn into a better new beginning.
For who hath despised the day of small things?...
Contact the Brewer at www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com
Friday, November 28, 2008
So Thanksgiving has come again and found us abundantly blessed. Most of our abundance remains as an extra pant size or more junk in our trunk but I still buy into the abundance thing. I had some friends from east Africa staying with me and they found the whole Thanks-giving holiday a miraculous event. - That a nation would actually put together an official holiday where people give thanks. Amazing.
I of course explained that non-Christians are not obligated to be thankful to anyone in particular but have pretty much agreed to be generally thankful. It’s kind of like being generally married, I think. Weird I know but secular or sacred, I love Thanksgiving.
Anyway I would like to generally share some wide-ranging thoughts on thankfulness in general. Being thankful is not just a character trait but also an emotional and spiritual gold mine. These are points I consider worth sipping on in this weeks confession from a highly-caffeinated Christian.
(1) You can’t be thankful and miserable at the same time.
One of the neat things about an attitude of gratitude is a move towards thankfulness is a move away from misery. It’s a lot like trying to whistle and sing at the same time.
(2) The opposite of thankfulness is not being unthankful….it’s selfishness.
Being thankful turns your attention to how awesome God is and from what you don’t have to what you do have. It also launches you into a self-realization that none of us are self-made men or women. We are abundantly blessed.
(3) A huge key to being thankful is choosing to see the truth over the facts.
Jesus doesn’t say you shall know the facts and the facts will set you free. There’s a big difference and it takes intentional faith to choose the truth over the facts.
(4) Thanksgiving is the gateway to God’s manifest presence.
The Bible says over and over again that we enter into His courts and through his gates via thanksgiving. If that’s true, and I think it is, it is also true a sure fire pathway to the other direction is through griping and complaining. I can’t tell you how many times I have sent my thought life to hell by partnering with the enemy in refusing to be thankful.
(5) Learning to be thankful in all things, is knowing who is with you in all things.
When the disciples thought they were going to drown they woke up Jesus and asked why He didn’t care. He calmed the storm and asked them where their faith was. The point was not that he could calm the storm. The point was that if He was in the boat, the outcome was certain. If you can’t thank God for all things, we can at least thank Him in all things.
A word worth its weight in gold.
There once was a guy named Rudyard Kipling who lived from 1865 to 1936. He was English, yet born in Bombay, India. He eventually became a successful writer and is the author of books like Captain Courageous, How the Leopard Got His Spots, and The Jungle Books.
Kipling’s writings not only made him famous but also brought him a fortune. A newspaper reporter came up to him once and said, "Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over one hundred dollars a word.”
The reporter reached into his pocket and pulled out a one hundred-dollar bill and gave it to Kipling and said, “Here’s a one hundred dollar bill, Mr. Kipling. Now you give me one of your hundred dollar words.”
Rudyard Kipling looked at the money, put it in his pocket and said, "Thanks!"
It is in that vein that the Brewer says a hearty Texas “Thank You” to those of you who look to the Fresh from the Brewer column each week for your sip from the Master’s cup.
Contact the Brewer at www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Revisiting a classic is always a little risky. I've lost count of the number of films that I was convinced would never date which seem kind of cheesy now. Not that the twist in the movie was cheesy, but the general coolness of the entire scenario. There are those that I enjoy just as much today as I did back then while hearing smaller minds scoff at them.
There are some classics that in the mist of tipping a few tacky meters -just have to be revisited and appreciated. How can you not love the jaw dropping wonder of a classic twist or ending? As a writer I do my best to avoid exclamation marks but there’s no way to properly express the following spoilers without animated written expletive.
Charlton Heston finds the Statue of Liberty and realizes he’s been on the earth the whole time. What?! Soylent Green is made out of people? You gotta be kidding me!!
Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s dad! How’s that work? Bruce Willis has been dead through the whole film and he doesn’t know it! Good-googly-moogly!!!
The Return of the Classic.
In 1985, Coke was starting to loose the cola war to Pepsi so they ditched the original for something a little more marketable. The outcry that followed was so incredible they halted production the same week they released it on the public. Twenty-three years later we can see a revival of classic things from movie remakes to the return of the American muscle car. Most of us love classic things.
The Brewer subscribes to Classic Christianity. You know the kind that says it’s not about your history but all about your destiny. A return of Spirit-breathed living that is focused around a real life, resurrected, everything changer. The hope for Heaven yes but the pursuit of abundant life like only the guy who has slapped death in the face can offer.
I think the original Classic Christianity is totally fixated on the intimate personal on-going encounter with the King of the Universe and the result is a never ending transformation into better and better and better. Oh how the Brewer loves to gulp on that! There’s another one of those exclamation marks I am not supposed to be printing.
Anyway, Classic Christianity says I have a problem and Christ is the solution. Classic Christianity also says through Him, I cease to be the problem and play a vital role in carrying out the solution. There are just so many things I love about this incredible journey of living life naturally supernatural.
Sadly, a lot of people think a return to classic Christianity would be a return to past methods and techniques. There are those among us that really believe living a Godly Christian life means to lock in on a lifestyle of a certain era of time. This kind of accepted wisdom spills over into the ideas of dress, language and the official size and conduct of a church service. The Brewer humbly submits such thinking, while well intentioned towards an attempt at holiness, comes from a demonic spirit called stupid. Something we have always struggled with.
It is the nature of an unredeemed mind to always be looking back. Jesus mentioned this when he spoke on ‘Lot’s wife’ and even He didn’t know her by name -that’s probably not good. I am not saying we should lock arms with the world, I am just saying that we should be free to go farther and dream a different dream than others before us.
Dave Crone from the Mission in Vacaville California says the Pharisees were the dream killers of Jesus’s day and he’s exactly right. If you see somebody today, thumping a Bible the same way we did a long time ago and doing everything within his power to put you in a religious box, know that he is the same kind of person who nailed Jesus to a board and hung him up naked. For your sake, run from him, for our sake run him over.
While I believe without apology that the church of Jesus Christ is the only boat afloat, I also believe a lot of us on board don’t understand the heart of the Captain. The Kingdom is progressive. Who knew? His kingdom is without end. There are no limitations and there is no place in the fullness of the world that doesn’t belong to him. Go figure.
As long as people make methods and function the priority of Christianity instead of relationship to God first and to other people 2nd, the greatest threat to a new move of God will always be the last one.
God help us and save us from the futile attempt of doing Christianity. Propel us instead to live the adventure and responsibility of actually being Christians.
Contact the Brewer @ www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Now, (just like the 1970 movie) instead of Sister Sarah we got two democrats headed to the Whitehouse.
God bless our new President and may he be a good one. I really didn’t want to write on politics today.
Jesus Held Hostage
Then I thought about writing on the cheesy statue of Jesus stolen from a Michigan house.
In an apparent case of "doo unto others" a neighborhood spat over dog droppings resulted in a statue of Jesus Christ being stolen from a yard, and a ransom note left in their mailbox.
The Nobel prize-worthy writers of the ransom note stated ,
“We are holding Jesus ransom until you clean up the poopie from your wieners and trust us, we see you take your wieners for long walks w/out picking up their poopie in our yards. This has upset us dearly so please clean up all the wiener poopie, if you want to see Jesus unharmed.”Only people from Michigan would talk like this. I can hear the writer’s nasally accent like those North Dakota people from the movie “Fargo” so let me translate into Texan.....
“We are all tired of your wieney dogs making our yards a biohazard and will be holding your yard art hostage until you clean up ours.”– or something like that I think.
Yes I was going to tie into how I think religion holds Jesus hostage. The Yankee verbiage in that ransom note was just too embarrassing to include in my quality column.
These are the confessions of a highly caffeinated Christian and I typically just spout off on what’s perking my front burner. But with so many things going on it’s been hard to lock in on one subject. So after careful review and study of my copious journaled notes, the big theme for the week in my life is Forgiveness. Ta-da! I finally landed on a subject and it only took me 409 words.
A-D-D is a beautiful thing.
Essential service of forgiveness
Unforgiveness is a destiny killer and a misery maker. We have to have forgiveness, not only for our sins and offenses but also in our own hearts for those around us. God is trying to disconnect us from our history while attaching us to our destiny. The Biblical term for this process is called reconciliation followed by restoration, both of which follow forgiveness.
See, for those of us that love the idea of justice, we have to deal with the paradox of forgiveness. God loves justice but justice doesn’t always have to be punishment. He wants justice to result in restoration. I think the relational side of justice is restoration and the un-relational side is punishment. One of the core values in my life is to prefer restoration over punishment. I got this from God.
So if I am going to love justice and would prefer restoration over punishment then I have to condition myself in the art of practicing forgiveness. That’s where the trouble starts. For a guy with a bumper sticker that reads, “Keep honking while I reload,” forgiveness has been a big challenge. However, my robust attempt to wrap my size 7-5/8 hatband around this subject has churned out a significant discovery or two.
For instance, forgiveness is not natural but is an intentional act of faith. It is not a feeling but a choice we make in surrendering to God’s goodness. Forgiveness does not excuse the wrong done to us but rather relinquishes the right for punishment and looks for reconciliation.
I have also noticed that when I judge people its always on their actions while I expect everybody to judge me according to my intentions or circumstances. I fear that anyone would define me by one mistake or even one season in my life while I so easily file human beings into a “bad” category by the same flimsy standard.
While I very much know the need for prisons and am glad for my families sake we have them, I hate prisons. I hate it when a person’s entire life, whether the victim or the perpetrator of the crime, is defined by one act or one season in one’s life. That’s what you see in prisons whether it is a State jail or an emotional trauma. There’s no hope in prison at all, just anger and shame. Enter forgiveness, and things start to change.
So there’s my cup of Jehovah Java for the week. One you probably shouldn’t sip carefully but rather drink deep and let it change your morning to a good one.
Contact the Brewer at www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com
Thursday, November 13, 2008
*Please note: The following article appeared in local newspapers as a prelude to this life-changing event and even though the date has come and gone, we add it here in the archives so you, our readers, can see the impact YOU are having by supporting this valuable ministry. Please make plans now to join us for next years "Monster Outreach" as we become like the Brewer likes to say, "Jesus with skin on!" Thank you for your continued support of Fresh From The Brewer." Blessings BIG TIME! Steve A.
Every year we gather as many friends as possible for an enormous demonstration of radical help to those that need it. It’s all fun, all free and all you have to do is come and get it. On a first come first serve basis, we will be giving away at least 75,000 pounds of good groceries this year. We have about 5,000 pounds of fresh produce, free professional haircuts, and a free garage sale with brand new and good used clothes.
Our servers will be serving free hot dog lunches while people wait to sign up. Live music and fun stuff for the kids will be everywhere.
Pastor Andy Dally has worked hard to gather as many good things as he could muster including several pallets of paper goods like name brand name bathroom tissue and household cleaning supplies. Everything in the parking lot goes.
You probably already know it, but Open Door serves as the food bank for Johnson County and this event is good ways to let people know there is ongoing help available.
Our 13th year in operation, we currently provide food and different kinds of help to around 300 families every month plus we supply nearly 40 other local ministries with their food and supplies for the community outreaches they do.
There is a whole other reason why we do this too. We want to influence people for Christ. We want to love on people. We want to hug people, encourage people and pray with people. We want to overcome evil with good. We want to demonstrate God’s love.
This kind of hands-on practical ministry shouldn’t just happen in the big cities and over seas. It can happen right here in our small towns if we set our hearts to do it. The impact it makes is not just measured in the tons of food we give away but in the hope and encouragement seen in the faces of the thousands that come for it.
If you know someone, say an elderly person or a hard working family in need who would be blessed by a carload of help, send them our way. If you want to come out and help us or see for yourself what all the commotion is about, you are more then welcome.
The Bible says in Psalms 41, there is a special blessing for those who consider the poor. I consider it a great privilege to get to be the guy that tells these stories and not just hears about them.
When you do something, whatever that something is, that demonstrates God’ goodness towards other people, you have your own story to tell.
Where: Joshua High School Parking lot, in front of the Library, on Highway 174.For more information you can call us at 817-297-6911 or visit us on the world-wide-waste-of time at WWW.OPENDOORMINISTRIES.ORG.
When: Event starts at high noon and will end at 3:00 pm
What do you have to do? Just come. In fact, you might think about coming early for sign-ups as all of this is on a first come, first serve basis.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
We had something exciting happen at the Brewer abode tonight. My fifteen-year-old son, Luke, came into the house just in time to see a thief bailing out the bathroom window. It scared him pretty bad because he was actually in the house alone with the trespasser for a number of minutes and must have walked right past him in the dark. He went to the bathroom when this man wearing all black actually ran past Luke’s bathroom and into another. Luke hurried to the bathroom and saw the bottom of his black Nikes as he bailed through the window.
Luke being wise, didn’t chase after the man, he chased after a gun, loaded it and called the law. Sometime later, a very professional and courteous Johnson County Sheriff’s deputy took the report. Though I am not happy about the incident I am so grateful my son is ok. I am also very grateful he didn’t really get a chance to shoot the intruder because I have taught him to do so and Luke would of done it.
Mercy and Truth
A visiting Pastor from Africa asked me one time what I would do if someone was breaking into my house. I said I would shoot him. He was surprised at my answer and said, “How can you call yourself a Christian if you say you would shoot the intruder?” I said, “Well of course I would pray for him while we waited for the ambulance.
Here’s what’s real. I don’t want to be known as the guy that shoots an intruder. I want to be known for feeding people and helping people. I want to be the Good News giver, the dream weaver, and the hope supplier.
After the police left, my whole family gathered together to thank God for protecting us and to pray for this knucklehead that came to rob us. That God would give him a heart to know Him. That whatever addiction he has in his life would be taken out. That a very real fear would come upon him and he would stop breaking into people’s homes. That God would visit him with a strong visitation and that he wouldn’t get away anymore with what he has gotten away with before. That God would bless him and help him and put good people in his life and a way to live a different life than what he is living now.
We discussed how messed up he must be to go into somebody else’s home to mess around. I would love to see God change this man’s life. What an awesome story that would be. “Let it be Lord,” we all said together.
So, would I shoot this poor soul if I caught him breaking into my house? In a heartbeat.
There are some situations I pray I don’t find myself in. I would much rather be known as the guy that helped and blessed this man than the Preacher who sent him to eternity.
Letter to the Thief
If you are the one that broke into my house and others around Caddo Peak in Joshua, let me tell you it is better to be on the receiving end of a prayer than of a shot gun. Please don’t do it again. What you are doing is wrong and has terrible consequences.
I am committed to pray for you every single day that the hound of heaven chases you down and changes your life from a curse to a blessing. I pray according to Job 33 that you start having dreams and visions that wake you up into reality.
You are so much better than this. You are born for greatness and destiny. Your life is important. You should start to live like it, do something with it. Things are going to change and your career as a house-breaking thief is over. Everything is changing for you now because I am praying for you and I am one of God’s favorites. One way or another it’s all coming to a very quick end so get ready. Poor guy, you had no idea it was a Jesus-Freak you was messing with.
If you are not in the habit of looting homes, I would ask you to join with me in praying for this guy. Let’s join together and see this life changed. Here’s a model for the kind of prayer we are all praying.
Get Him God. Bring him to a place of repentance where he never robs again or have him arrested where he never can rob again. Protect people from him and let none of his evil intentions come to pass. Get him good, God. Help him to seek you and to find you. Fix what’s messed up in his life. Cover him with your goodness. Bless him. Don’t let him get away with anything but still protect him and have mercy on him. Let your light shine into his darkness in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Contact the Brewer at www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Anyway he tells me really funny stories because like his old man, he talks to everybody and pays attention to things.
Not long ago several people were in line at the supermarket when he noticed the rather attractive lady behind some guy cautiously wanted to get his attention. The guy was a little surprised and his wife had just left to get something she had forgotten. So he looks around to see if his wife is coming back yet and says, “Hey, don’t we know each other, I think we’ve met, maybe?”
She replies, “I may be mistaken, but I thought you might be the father of one of my kids.”
Ben said the guy’s blood left his face and suddenly in a very hurried voice said, “Look, my wife is going to come back here in a minute and I don’t want to talk about this now. But you’ve got to know, when I got out of the police station I went back to the hotel room and you had gone, I swear.”
“No,” she replies with disgust, “I'm your son's English teacher”.
Nobody really gets away with anything. I mean we think we do but we really don’t. It’s always out there trying get back to us. That’s why we need redemption.
Did you see the movie with Harrison Ford called the Fugitive? A great movie where you really root for the guy because number one, you know he is innocent and number two, you want to see somebody get away. People can’t help but be attracted to a guy on the run. Remember OJ in the white Bronco with a hundred police cars behind him. All those dummies running out to the highway holding up signs, “RUN OJ RUN”
Though he isn’t the least bit Scottish, OJ got off Scott-free for the horrible murder of his wife and the other guy. It’s just the hand of the Lord that 13 years latter, to the day he was found guilty for another crime. No doubt ending his 13-year search for the real killer on golf courses everywhere. OJ got away, but he didn’t find redemption.
Still there is something intriguing about people escaping out of terrible places. Some year’s back a movie came out called The Shawshank Redemption where a man escaped from a terrible prison. People will pay big money to set through two hours of horrible prison scenes if they think that the last five minutes of the movie will show his escape. There is just something about a man escaping from bondage that you can’t help but like.
Redemption is all about escaping terrible bondage. Shawshank or not, I love redemption.
Redemption can also be a do-over. I think God is in the do over business and loves to give us third and fourth chances; or however many times we need to get things right. For instance, the Bible says a guy named Peter stood by a fire and because he was overwhelmed by terrible circumstances, said he didn’t know Jesus three different times in a row. Not long after, Jesus took that same guy to another fire and asked him three different times if he loved him. He reset the whole scenario for Peter’s success.
The only difference was that this time Peter was overwhelmed by the presences of God instead of by the circumstances.
So if you find yourself having to go through a do-over, it might be the Lord setting you up for success where you’ve always failed before. That’s how redemption works. This time I hope you can find yourself overwhelmed by God’s goodness instead of the junk you are having to deal with.
Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.
Contact the Brewer @ www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com
Thursday, October 16, 2008
His musical skills went through the roof so he traded those dreams for blasting off into the world and seeing different places. The applause might not have been thundering but at least it was gratifying. However, the road took its toll and with terrible choices came terrible relationships. The Siamese twins of indulgence and addiction took over and before long Taylor went into survival mode.
Dreams are murdered when survival exhausts us. As years went by he saw himself more in the mirror of failures and disappointments. The more he looked at it, the less he became until finally he and I sat across from each other at a local restaurant.
I used to know this person (who I’m calling Taylor) well and I remember when he thought his life was full of promise. I am calling him Taylor because he plays a Taylor guitar. He doesn’t actually have a guitar now. He has pawned or traded in every instrument and every good thing he has ever had. He’s lost it all including his family-several families in fact.
He’s a beautiful soul but a mere shadow of whom he is supposed to be. Our time together was sweet and sad. Inevitably our conversation turned to the Lord and he said, “You might not believe it Troy, but I really am a Christian.”
Without batting an eyelash I said, “If you say you are, then I do believe you.”
I guess it surprised him but he went on. “I keep messing everything up and God keeps on forgiving me. I know he loves me and I know his forgiveness is there for me.”
With that, I leaned across the table and said “Yeah, that’s cool that you’re forgiven but Taylor, forgiveness is not the same as promotion. Your going to stay in that septic if you don’t make a change, forgiven or not.”
Lots of Christians are forgiven and worthless at the same time. Yeah, you read that right and if you don’t know it, you haven’t been around many Christians. If I were an atheist, I would look at most who profess Christianity and jump on a different bus.
I can’t imagine living a forgiven but tragic life. Biblical Samson was a lot like that. While he was full of supernatural strength, he lacked the guts to be who God had called him to be. Consequently he only began to deliver Israel and David had to finish it hundreds of years later. He didn’t have the character to finish anything. The Bible says he did more damage to the enemy in his death than in his life. So basically it was better for everybody if Samson was dead. I don’t want that said about me.
Israel suffered for an extra 175 years because of Samson’s failed but forgiven life. There is great collateral damage when we refuse to steward our lives. Failure in my stewardship from God will cost me effectiveness for God and you can take that Shreveport.
I don’t think for a minute that forgiveness should be the primary objective for Christians. I think living a life that glorifies Him from a position of forgiveness is. That’s living life on the right side of the cross.
Christianity should be full of success stories. God doesn’t just change us for the heaven of it but a key part of God getting glory for changing us is we should become world changers. Not dependent, struggling, limp-wristed failures that constantly pull out our forgiveness cards. Who cares?
We ought to be full of vision, hope and accomplishment. Accomplishing vision is all about fulfilling Gods heart. We ought to be on a mission. Jesus Christ was born the Son of God and he wanted to be the fullest potential of whom God called him to be. You know why? So that he could reach the fullest potential of doing what God had called him to do.
I think its time for us to see ourselves as Gods family and actually live like royalty.
Taylor is seeking help for his addiction and I’m pulling for him. I am hoping both of us can be set free enough to actually be effective in the freedom business.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
Contact the Brewer @ www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com
Thursday, October 9, 2008
We only had one day in San Francisco and having my rent-a-car stolen was not what I had planned. When I turned to Leanna she smiled and said, “That’s what God invented insurance for,” and we both hugged each other. I had a real adventure on my hands to see how we would get back to Sacramento.
In another minute or two I remembered my journal and Bible were in that car. My smile changing as my big fat lip poked out in a pout.
“Our books,” I groaned.
Convinced my grandkids will read my journals; the loss began to sink in. Millions no doubt would some day have flocked to my own wing at the Smithsonian in hopes to glimpse the personal Bible of Troy Brewer. This theft was totally unacceptable.
Enter Homer. The 360-pound African American homeless brother with 5 layers of clothes, dreadlocks like the Predator and a sign around his neck that reads, “A cigarette would help.”
“You think your car been stolen? It was…by the city.” Homer started laughing and when he did he coughed up half a lung. His bright yellow teeth made me smile too because it was funny that he thought it was funny. So there we were, me laughing at him laughing at me. I saw the sign he pointed to with a worn out glove. It said no parking from 3-6. I had parked at the meter sometime around 2:30 and now it was 3:40. My car had been impounded.
We chatted with Homer for a while and had coffee together. He had squatted in Dallas, Austin and Ft worth for a time. He resides now near the piers.
After 2.3 miles and a $20 ride with Amin the Ethiopian, we enter the environmentally friendly office of impounded cars. Amin was a neat guy and if you think about it, pray for him. He’s here legally and trying his hardest to make things happen. 22 years old, full of promise and wanting to live the dream of an American. He said he had always wanted to see a rodeo.
I was seeing a side of San Francisco that’s most folks don’t. This was the park-in-a-no-parking-zone tour.
On the other side of bulletproof glass loaded with Obama stickers and something that said, “Send bread not bombs” sat Erica. Erica was the 5th daughter of Mexican immigrants. I learn things about people because my hillbilly accent triggers people to ask me where I’m from. She had family just south of San Antonio. Around us people screamed and protested but it was all blurry.
After a few minutes chit-chat she regretfully handed us a recycled piece of paper with a fine of $244.00 printed on it.
We began laughing again, the way men would laugh after they came out of Vietnam. I said, “C’mon Erica, help us. Were nice, your nice and nice people help each other.”
She wrote down an address and said if we hurried to the courthouse we could catch a judge before five. We might get it dismissed.
We thanked her and went looking for our rented Mazda 6. There it was, with another ticket on the windshield for an additional $70. What a wonderful racket this city has. I scanned the eco-friendly processed paper for any sign of mercy. With none there, we were driving around looking for the courthouse.
A few minutes later we ran up the courthouse steps past 2 men going through a mock gay marriage and looking for the right office because the judge leaves at five. The judge, who was Croatian, granted us the last hearing of the day. In a thick Eastern European accent he dismissed the $70 ticket but didn’t the other. He had however, once bought an authentic pair of Cowboy Boots at DFW airport.
Thirty minutes later, Leanna and I caught the last boat out for a sunset cruise on the bay.
The guy running the boat was named Paul and had been painting his pots for this months crab season. Paul had friends in Galveston that fish for shrimp. Paul was a neat guy.
My bride and me were on the back of the boat giggling about our whirlwind tour and about to go under the Golden Gate Bridge. We love this crazy journey. Paul picked up my Iphone and took a picture. The end of a perfect day.
You see, you can be mad over things gone wrong or you can have real justice in enjoying the ride anyway.
I think sometimes God gives us victory through slaying the giants in our lives. I love being a giant killer but I think other times we have victory when the giants don’t matter.
It turned out to be one of the most romantic and loving evenings of our twenty-year marriage. Perfect weather, the sun going down into the ocean, a miracle moment.
I learned a long time ago, a move of God delayed is not a move of God denied. Sometimes the miraculous follows the ridiculous.
Contact the Brewer @www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com
Friday, October 3, 2008
The days of an honorable scrap have gone the way of disco. The used to be common place, meet-me-after-school event, including a hand shake afterwards is as likely to happen as the Ayatollah embracing Israel.
Today if a fight breaks out you can count on a mob or a gun. Should a young man miraculously survive, he might be mandated to spend years in therapy chasing his inner child. If the mob involves girls like it so often does today, and if they put it on You Tube, the young man will certainly need therapy. The possibility of his grandchildren watching a bunch of she-males beat him up is a legacy most don’t want to pass down.
Should it happen at school, he’ll get hauled off to Git-Mo and never seen again.
In my day, a fight wasn’t that big of a deal.
My mind goes back to the terrible eight-grade bully. This kid was spending his third year in the eighth grade and was the intellectual equivalent of Girls Gone Wild. He was a foot taller than all the rest of us and to me seemed undefeatable. After several months of being his piñata, my History teacher and two coaches took me aside. They closed the door and announced this was a clandestine meeting. It was years before I learned the word meant secret.
They said they were tired of seeing me get beat up by this Neanderthal. I had to fight back. My coach said I should hit him in the nose and surprise him. That day after school the bully found me and sure enough coach was watching the whole thing. To the bullies surprise I hit him right in the nose. To my surprise, up until that moment he had only been playing with me. The beating that followed is a classic in the annals of Joshua Middle School.
Coach broke it up but not before he got his terrible point across to me over and over again. I would feel his point for days to come.
Soon another clandestine meeting but this one with slaps on my back and encouragement. Why did you stop? Why didn’t you keep hitting him? That was great! Troy you had him!
I wondered if they saw the same fight I had just been in. “You told me wrong!” I said through tears. One of the coaches looked at another and then my History teacher said, “Your right. Don’t hit him in the nose, next time run up and hit him in the back of the head with a stick or a pipe or something.”
That’s when I knew these guys were crazy. I also knew there would be meeting after meeting until I had defeated this brute. Things have changed since the late seventies.
I don’t want to go into details but the bottom line is by the end of the year I was holding my own and the middle school monster was finally thrown out. I didn’t just grow in stature; I grew in confidence through every terrible battle. No longer afraid of being beat up, the bully didn’t want to mess with me. My resistance discouraged him.
Eighth grade was a long time ago for me but I carry something with me today from that season of my life. It’s about being a warrior. Not that I am one. If I got in a fight today I would have to win in the first five seconds because around the 6th, I’m having an asthma attack.
I learned you don’t become a warrior through one victorious battle; sometimes you become a warrior through a long succession of defeats. It’s all about getting back up and going after victory again and again. If you do that, you discourage the enemy.
Victory grows with momentum. It’s expediential. The Bible calls that faithfulness and faithfulness is all about persistence.
Now as a Christian and 28 years later I don’t fight class bullies anymore. I’ve got a full time knock-down-drag-out going on between my own two ears. I battle darkness with light, lies with truth and overcome evil with God’s goodness. I’m not worried about going to Heaven since Christ fought that battle for me. Basically, I’m all about Heaven invading this earth. If God can do that in me then He can do that through me.
You might have a history of messy ugliness, but God offers progression though every battle until that enemy is finally off of your radar. I love being a Christian. God doesn’t measure success through every immediate implication but rather through the ultimate outcome.
I lost most of my battles to the middle school monster but ultimately won the war. Sometimes your greatest show of force is to remain in the fight. As a Christian I adopt the attitude of its ok to have lost certain battles in light of the ultimate outcome.
Your persistence and faithfulness to stay in the good fight of faith discourages the discourager. You’re not messed up; you are simply on your way to being a warrior.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Contact the Brewer @ www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com
Friday, September 26, 2008
For the rest of us it would mean seeing our roads destroyed by people who just got their CDL long enough to drive a water truck for a gas company. I could handle the terrible roads if I didn’t get behind one ever day driving 35 in a 50 that ought to be a 70 anyway.
I’m not a landowner. I have always wanted to be but just haven’t been able to put it together. My house is on half an acre and the church is on rented property so I wouldn’t be a good guy to play monopoly with. However I was blown away when a wealthy man asked me to come speak to him one day in his office. He sat me down across from him and explained how there would be wells soon on his property and that he wanted to give some of the profits to our ministry.
That got my attention. He is somebody that really has a heart for the poor and had always loved how we serve the community through the food bank warehouse. So in 2003, he took me out to the spot where they would one day dig the first of many wells and we called it blessed land. He had his lawyers draw up paperwork to give me a percentage of the gas money and make me a stockholder in his company should he sell the business and the land. For the next three years I made it my business to hope and pray for the day the well went up.
Every time a missionary would come from overseas I would take them out to the spot and tell them the amazing story of what this benevolent man was doing for us. The well finally came and after some months they hit gas and hit it big. I announced to the church that our well had hit gas and we all celebrated. The problem we would find out several months later was that they hadn’t dug the lines to the well and it would be another disappointing year before the gas was flowing.
We prayed against the terrible delay. We had several nighttime services at the very well site where we prayed and believed God for the day it would all finally happen. Having a steady income stream into an outreach church like ours would change everything. After an entire year the line came through and then after another six-month delay he finally got his first check.
Did you notice I said “he” and not “we?” Tragically for us, the very month we expected to see our first profit from the wells, he left the church and discontinued contact with any of us. I eventually got a certified letter from his lawyers telling me to forget about the last certified letter from the lawyers. I no longer would have any part in gas profits and to have a nice day. It was difficult advice to follow, that day. I couldn’t believe it.
So here I am, two years later, driving thirty-five miles an hour in a 50 mile an hour zone that should be a 70 in the first place. The inexperienced driver of the gas company water truck in front of me apparently got his license in a Cracker Jack box. What used to be a road is more like a lunar landscape, ruined beneath the weight of the profit from all those gas wells. It was difficult to get to my destination and do you want to know where I was going? Back to the gas well site. You wanna know why? To pray for it.
You see, me and the guys on my team never stopped praying for that gas money to reach that man. We still are committed to pray for his prosperity. He might of broke his promise to us but we never broke our promise to pray and believe God that those wells produce and produce and produce. The bottom line is that this man never owed us any of that money. What he promised was out of his generosity and certainly not out of obligation. He’s a good man and does a lot of good things for a lot of people. Just because he doesn’t help us doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy.
It was a terrible disappointment for me to be sure, but that’s all it was. Disappointment is not the same as betrayal. A real grown up attitude I wish a lot more of us Christians had is that disappointment does not give us the right to be any less committed as Christians.
As I slowly hit another huge hole in the torn up asphalt behind that water truck, I considered my own life. For me, any other way of thinking is a road I’m not interested in traveling down.
Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: Job 5:17
Contact the Brewer @ www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The Ryman Auditorium is the former home of the Grand Ole Opry and it’s still right in the middle of town. If you stick your head in the door you’re bound to hear a Howdy from Minnie Pearl. It doesn’t house the Opry any more but they still have concerts and shows out there.
My good friend John Ledbetter and I decided to take the road less traveled and see if we could get into the back door. To our dismay they had put up an iron fence to keep out bad people like us. Just looking up the staircase gave us a thrill. Legend has it that before Hank Williams got kicked out for hiding whiskey in his boot; he would sneak out that same back door and head across that same alley to a honky-tonk called Tootsies.
It was originally called Mom's but a lady named Tootsie Bess bought the bar in 1960. Many of her first customers were Willie Nelson, Mel Tillis, Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline, Roger Miller and Kris Kristopherson. In fact, (or at least I think its fact) Willie Nelson got his first songwriting job after singing at Tootsies.
According to a biography called Patsy Cline, Willie met Cline's husband, Charlie Dick, at that same bar one evening and pitched the song to him. Charlie took the track home and played it for his wife, who absolutely hated it at first because of how Willie sang. Patsy Cline's producer loved the song and arranged it as the ballad as she would record it. Still recovering from a recent car wreck that nearly took her life, Patsy had problems reaching the high notes of the song because of broken ribs, so she came back the next day to record, which she did in one take. The rest fades into history.
So there we were, in the alley between the Ryman and Tootsies on a Saturday night. Isn’t that what every preacher does? I love to be where things have happened.
Music and skid row
Last week I was in Nashville, Tennessee to visit a ministry called Provision International. Like my own ministry they champion the cause of hurting and hungry people. Their food outreach makes a tremendous difference and their church is situated in one of the worst parts of the entire city. But you wouldn’t necessarily know it if you visited because of the amazing transformation that has happened there.
Since 1991 Scott and Sarah McLeod have been working in the projects near Watkins Park and what has happened is nothing short of miraculous. They have been feeding people, helping people and praying for transformation in that area all this time. Clinton Street is known for a stronghold of prostitution drugs and violence. That is of course where they built their church and they call it The Fortress.
After what must have seemed like a lifetime they began to see God move in an awesome way. One day the building that everyone sold drugs out of just collapsed for no reason. On another day all the gang members that sat on the wall outside the park were arrested and herded off by federal agents. Then the city decided to just completely demolish the old projects there and build beautiful, colorful, landscaped neighborhoods. They planted trees everywhere and built community centers.
The transformation, they believe is a direct result of God’s people getting involved and crying out upon their behalf.
I have seen the same thing happen. Ten years ago we started doing outreaches in downtown Cleburne at the old Piggly Wiggly parking lot. The hotel next to us was a filthy nest of witchcraft, prostitution and drug abuse. We even had some guy come out and put a hex or something on us. We had local Pastors come out and tell us it was too dangerous. We called that terrible place holy ground and prosperous when there was nothing to show for it but a bunch of Jesus freaks out there feeding people.
Today it’s the nicest and one of the most prosperous parts of down town Cleburne. Situated exactly where we made our stand is the Caddo Street Steakhouse. It wasn’t very long ago that it was a mess. Now it’s just beautiful.
That’s what God wants to do with everything and that’s what happens when His people get off of their blessed assurance and do something within the community. He is a master at transformation. If He can do that with a neighborhood, imagine what He can do with you.
So the Lord will comfort Jerusalem; He will show mercy to those who live in her ruins.
He will change her deserts into a garden like Eden; He will make her empty lands like the garden of the Lord. People there will be very happy; they will give thanks and sing songs. Isaiah 51:3 (NCV)
Contact the Brewer @ www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com