Thursday, February 28, 2008

He's A Dandy!

My incredible grandfather used to have a saying about people he liked. In his Texan accent he would smile and say, “I like him. He’s a dandy.”

Sometimes I find myself repeating my Papa but didn’t know what I was actually saying until recently. A dandy, the dictionary says, is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and the cultivation of leisurely hobbies.
“Woop-T-Do” is another thing Papa would say. A dandy is an old school term for people living aristocratic lifestyles. When people refined themselves and hung out with the upper class they were known as a Dandy.

In our work to feed and reach out to the poor all over the world, I can’t say that I could call most people I am in contact with, a dandy. My travels have however landed me in places where I could at least breath the same air as super affluent people.

Several years ago my wife and I stayed on the club level at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco. A couple of friends had gotten together and purchased a get-a-way for the two of us for our tenth anniversary. It was fantabulous!

I wore out every amenity possible. I took 3-hour baths in the giant tub. I made friends with the whole staff. I choked down caviar and pretended I liked it. I even pretended like I was rich and walked amongst the privileged in the exclusive lounge on our floor. There I was, a yahoo from Johnson County, Texas in an ecliptic mix of hipsters, surgeons, jetsetters, lawyers and swanksters. I had finally arrived.

Now I couldn’t let people know I was a preacher. If you let people know that you are a Pastor while having a good time or among luxurious facilities they assume you stole the price of your room from a blue haired retirement fund. So the first time I was asked what I did for a living I perked, “I’m a writer.” But then they had to probe. “I’m a Christian writer of books and a newspaper column.”

“You’re a Christian writer and you stay at the Ritz?” He asked while emphasizing the word “Christian.” He had sniffed me out by his dandy detector. With impugning disdain he loaded his self-righteousness accusation of hypocrisy with a raised left eyebrow and waited for my timid response.

The Brewer is the wrong person to do that to. In a flash I fought back starting off my answer with, “Just out of curiosity, are your parents siblings?”

Instead I gained my composure and said “I wonder how many times Stephen King gets asked the same question? You are a Horror writer and you stay at the Ritz? I wonder if anybody has ever asked Larry McMurtry. You’re a Western writer and you stay at the Ritz.”
Trying to crawfish from my response, He retorted, “Well I guess it’s not about being a Christian, it’s about how you make your money.”
“That’s not what you said.” I corrected.

“You were implying I couldn’t be a writer that wrote about Christ and keep my Christianity while staying at the Ritz.”
He denied it and then tried to change the subject.
“I can see I’ve offended you.” He smirked, still accusing me of hypocrisy.
“No sir, you just expected me to be quiet while you talked long enough in hopes of saying something intelligent. It just didn’t work out for you.” I took a sip of my sparkling Perrier and said “Awkward”. With that he got up and left.

I was a lot bigger than him and so was my mouth. So the next day when someone different asked me how I made my living, I told them I was a mule for the Columbian drug cartel. They were fine with that.

I didn’t have a lot of money then, nor do I now but I would be lying if I said I don’t have hopes and dreams that require a lot of money.
So excuse me for being a Christian while hoping one of my books will sell or a song will hit or my column will be syndicated and bring in revenue streams. As sure as shooting, when I do have money, there will be critics. The Brewer is prepared to take the advice of the late Liberace and cry all the way to the bank.

I think some people are rich, others are blessed and some are richly blessed. The financial motto of every Christian ought to be “Blessed to be blessing.” If that had been the case with other rich Christians, we wouldn’t be raising so many eyebrows when we are not dirt poor.

3 John 1:2
”Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Favor Zone

In the early 1900s, a 16-year-old girl from Alabama gave birth to a baby girl and named her Julia Jean Mildred Frances Turner. As if all those names weren’t enough, she went by the nickname “Judy.”

Judy’s Daddy, John Turner, was a hard working and hard living miner from Tennessee that had a knack for gambling. Hard times eventually forced the family to relocate to San Francisco, but things weren’t any better on the West Coast. John and Mildred soon separated.

John’s lack of work didn’t keep him from playing cards, and on December 14, 1930, he won a bit of money from some traveling gamblers. “I’m gonna go buy my little girl a bicycle,” he said, holding up his wad of cash before stuffing it down into his left sock. As he left the table and hit the streets, the other gamblers took note of where he had stashed it

Several hours later, John Turner was found dead on the edge of the Mission District in San Francisco. His left sock was missing. The robbery and murder were never solved. Nine-year-old Judy was devastated. Mildred got sick and was advised by her doctor to move to a drier climate. So, one year later they moved to Los Angeles. That was 1931.

Do me a favor
Six years later, Judy was a 16-year-old sophomore at Hollywood High. She decided to skip a typing class and headed to a drug store, where she sat at the counter drinking a Coke. She didn’t know it, but her life was about to change drastically. She had just entered “the favor zone.”

A few minutes later she caught the eye of the publisher for the Hollywood Reporter who leaned over, introduced himself and said those famous words, “How’d you like to be in pictures?”

Several weeks latter she was connected with famous movie director Mervyn LeRoy, and he cast her in the first of many great films. It prophetically was titled A Star is Born. Melvyn changed Judy’s name to Lana Turner and …well; Paul Harvey says it better than I can.

Party favors
That ability to get noticed and promoted into really cool places is something we Christians call “favor.” Brother Webster, not the little guy that hangs out with Michael Jackson, but the dictionary, defines favor as “approving consideration or attention.” Another understanding of favor could be “good will, acceptance, and the benefits flowing from these.” The Brewer would define favor as the process of getting noticed and getting promoted.

This week’s confession from a highly caffeinated Christian comes flavored with favor.

You need favor. I need favor and more than ever before. Did you know at the time of Christ there were only two hundred million people on the entire planet? Today there are more than three hundred million in the United States alone. Over six billion people are walking around right now, and scientist’s say that’s more people than have ever lived in history before us.

It’s hard to get noticed and promoted when every day is like the busiest day at Disney World. Sip on this and savor the thought…God sees you.

A little bit of favor goes a long way and contrary to the gospel according to Brooks and Dunn, God is not too busy. Not only do I believe God sees you, but I also believe He would love to call you his favorite.

God’s favorite

We live in a very messed up world, but somehow God is perfectly right there in the midst. God’s presence is everywhere but his manifest presence is not. When you need Him to show up on your behalf, there’s a certain protocol for the King to arrive. It’s not about traditional religious ritual; it’s about the condition of your heart and how you position yourself.

You may have heard it said that God is no respecter of persons, but I promise you, He will favor certain people and things more than others. All you have to do to be God’s favorite is to walk in what God favors. May we find those places of favor in 2008 and go further than ever before. May we continually live in “the favor zone.”

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22 & 23

Monday, February 11, 2008

Seeing Things

When I was a kid, my parents bought a nice house with all the amenities that 1973 had to offer. Besides being in a pleasant neighborhood, it came complete with a real river stone fireplace. All the rocks that made this fireplace were round, smooth and beautiful except for one. Right in the very center, about six feet high, was a stone that had the spitting image of a sinister face on it.

My little brother and I referred to the face as “The Fireplace Man.” There was no doubt in our adolescent minds that it was evil and watched us as we ran past to get to the kitchen. I’m sure that the builder thought it would make for an interesting conversational piece, but it totally freaked all of us out.

Even my mom was not immune to the terror of the Fireplace Man. one night as she slept in blissful peace, a foreboding vision overtook her slumber. She dreamed the face began to move, and out of the fireplace came the terrible creature her children feared. When she awoke screaming, she also woke up my step dad, and that did it: he had had enough!

Within moments he trotted in from the garage, still clad in only his underwear but with a bucket of ready mix cement in his hands. Like Biblical David and the giant, John Jackson single handedly defeated the demonic creature, and to this day there is cement on the one rock in the center of that fireplace.

Face Off

You've seen a face in a rock here or there. You might have been the only person that thourhg it looked like a face, but you've seen it more than once.

The most famous rock face of all is New Hampshire’s state symbol, The Old Man of the Mountain popularized by Nathaniel Hawthorne in his short story, “The Great Stone Face.” It’s been reproduced on quarters, license plates, stamps, decorative china, and hundreds of postcards. Tragically, it collapsed on May 3, 2005 and is gone forever.

To me the most famous, life-like, stone face

belongs to Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

Almost human – it’s uncanny.

Face for sale

Right here in J-town two enterprising men have recently made national news. A rock with a really cool face on it was discovered in a local field, and these guys refer to it as “The Miracle Rock.” To me, the real miracle would be if anybody paid the asking price they have requested on E-Bay. Forty nine thousand dollars!!!!

As David Stewart tells the story, he and his buddies were working when it fell off of a trailer. "A piece of the rock sheared off and there was that face, it just stood out,” he said.

The sandstone is big, and Stewart thinks it might weigh about 200 pounds. For the most part, the stone is dark brown; however, the place where the rock sheared off left a lighter color, and now there appears to be the profile of a person’s face. The remaining dark part even looks like locks of hair.

It’s not crazy to see a face in it. I’ve seen it myself on the Internet and to me, it kind of looks like a female Bob Hope. It’s also not crazy to try and make a buck off of it. I mean these are the days where we pay ten dollars for a movie ticket and three bucks for a gallon of gas. There might just be somebody out there wanting this rock for forty nine thousand dollars.

You see what you want

In this week’s confession from a highly caffeinated Christian, I suggest to you that beauty, and ugly for that matter, really are in the eyes of the beholder. I think we see what we want to see. By the Spirit of God, I believe I see the Creator through the creation around me. By the same Spirit, I can find the author when reading the Bible.

I want to see hope and life and goodness and mercy and grace. I want to see love without any strings attached. I have a drive in me to want to know God and experience Him in great big things and even in little bitty things. That’s why I want to see Jesus. The more I want to see him, the more I do. The more I look for Him, the more He shows up.

Matthew 7:7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

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Monday, February 4, 2008

The King’s Heart Towards a Wookiee

When the phone rings at my house it can be anything. We have friends all over the world, orphanages we support on three different continents, a thriving congregation in Johnson County and four kids of which three are still teenagers. So when I say every phone call is a grab bag of feast, famine and the extraordinary, I know it’s going to be anything other than boring.

A few years ago, I got a call from the wife of Chewbacca The Wookiee. No really, I did. The performer that brought the famous Star Wars character to life is named Peter Mayhew. He’s the seven foot, three inch actor behind the mask, and he happens to be married to my cousin, Angelique. Both of them are wonderful people.

Now the phone call was for a specific prayer. I mean, doesn’t every pastor get phone calls from the planet Kashyyyk? Actually, Peter and Angelique live in Granbury when he’s not on the road, and even gentle hearted Wookiees need Jesus.

The situation was that George Lucas was filming the prequels to the original Star Wars trilogy. The problem being that up until then, Lucas had not written any parts for Chewbacca to reappear. It was important to Peter’s career, and to the devoted fans of Chewy, that he would have some part in the new generation trilogy.

Now, filming of Attack of the Clones had just been scheduled and huge disappointment set in. Peter had been left out once again. We only had one more chance, and nobody had any idea what Episode Three would bring. So we started praying.

Another cousin of mine and sister in law to Peter Mayhew, Melanie Guinn, suggested we unify in prayer proclaiming Proverbs 21:1. It’s one of those amazing vertical versus in the very horizontal book of Proverbs.

The King’s heart is in the hand of the Lord. As the rivers of water He turns it withersoever He will. Some translations say, The Lord controls the mind of a king as easily as He controls the course of a stream.

The idea being that just as the farmer might direct an irrigation ditch to bring water where he wants it, so God directs kings and other rulers to do what He wants done. The Brewer likes that.

So that’s what we did. We prayed that God would change the heart of George Lucas and direct him towards a favorable script on Peter’s behalf. It wasn’t long after, the phone rang with an invitation and a ticket to New Zealand. The Lord is faithful!

Not only was the script rewritten with Chewbacca in it, but Peter also shared the same frames with none other than Yoda himself! In a climactic memorable scene, Chewbacca was shown as second in command in a terrible war in defense of his home planet. Chewy was back on the silver screen and a bigger hero than ever!

Since that time, Peter has been extra busy touring the world and making a living. I tell you, God cares about stuff like that and is willing to get involved for people that are willing to ask Him. God loves Peter Mayhew and his well-being was important to Him. Same as you.

If somebody is holding you back from going into better things, I encourage you to not be intimidated by the decision of a king. Go above their head and seek the Lord. What you just might find, in a very tangible way, is that Jesus is the Savior of peasants and the King of kings.

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. Proverbs 21:1 NIV