Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Last Word

In this week’s confession of a highly caffeinated Christian, I bring you the last sip from Fresh from the Brewer. It’s the last column for 2008. Being the self-professed weirdo I am, I tend to pay attention to otherwise strange things. About ten years ago I started collecting the last words of famous fictional characters and paying attention to the very end of my favorite movies and books. I like to break those out at this time of year.

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.


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.


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

Psalm 90:12

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Small Beginnings, Big Government and Dairy Queen

About as close as I get to getting in touch with my feminine side is to love on my bride as often as possible. After all these years we still hold hands, and send each other notes and cards. Believe it or not, we actually like being around each other. I still write her a song every now and then and she still sits there and smiles while I sing it to her. It’s a lot like Pepe Le Pew wooing an alley cat. Maybe ridiculous to others but to us it’s cool.

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?...
Zechariah 4:10a

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