Saturday, December 26, 2009

The last word

In this week’s confession of a highly caffeinated Christian, I bring you the last sip from Fresh from the Brewer and I hope it’s good til the last drop. It’s the last column for the 9th year of our latest century and I think it’s important to always finish well.

The Fat Lady Sings

Being the self professed weirdo that 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 last things said in my Favorite movies and books.

A river runs through it, ends like this, "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!" Another Captain named James Tiberius Kirk of Star Trek Generations: "Well it was fun, …oh my." I bet some of you have some favorites too and you’re welcomed to send them to me.

That’s all folks

Then there are famous last words of real people; a very odd but delightful field of study in its very nature consists of nothing but conclusions. Despite the basic graveness, pardon the pun, of the situation people face at the moment of their death, there have been some who have decided to spring a joke in that final moment. 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 again. Then 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. "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 who, following the storming of the Bastille in 1789, became the acknowledged leader of the revolution. Eventually out-radicaled, by someone else, he was sentenced to death. When Danton was asked to place his neck in the guillotine, he gave his final instructions to the executioner. "Show my head to the people. It really is worth looking at.” Typically French I think.

The Curtains fall

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 at the very 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."

Many times the words that a Christian speaks as he faces eternity are a wonderful testimony.

Solomon foot, the senator and master of parliamentary law, died in his bed in 1866 with these last words. “What? Can this be death, has it come already? I see it, I see it! The gates are wide open it’s beautiful! It’s beautiful!"

William Tyndale, the famous reformer and martyr has an awesome testimony. The king of England hated him so much for daring to defy the church and print the bible in a common language for common people that he sent a scribe to write down Tyndale’s last words. It is said that the idea was to frame and hang up his enemy’s dying plea for mercy for all to read. Mere seconds before he died, Tyndale cried out with his last breath, "Lord, open the king of England’s eyes!" Hang that in your palace, king.

Robert Bruce, King of Scotland who lived from 1274 to 1329 said, "Now, God be with you, my dear children. I have breakfasted with you and shall sup with my Lord Jesus Christ."

Last call

There are a lot of different ways we could end the last word for this year. But let me do so the same way the bible ends. There are 31,175 verses in the old King James and the very last verse is a great word and my personal prayer for you and yours. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Revelation 22:21

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jesus, Wal-Mart and Hannah Montana

A modern Christmas miracle story

A little girl named Angel stepped up to the microphone in kid’s church last year just before Christmas. She was the cutest kid ever. I remember thinking of “Betty Lou Who” from The Grinch that stole Christmas as she stood biting the sleeve on her dress. She mustered up all the courage she had to stand in front of the much bigger kids. Angel wanted to pray.

Now little Angel was especially poor, and unknown to her, we had already determined to sponsor her whole family for Christmas that year. So when she made her Christmas prayer request, Leanna and I were really listening.

“Thank you Jesus.”, She said through her little mouth. “I like Christmas and I also like Hanna Montana.”

At that, some of the wild bunch as I call them, which we bus in from the projects in Ft Worth, busted out into rude laughter. “Hannah Montana is gay!” One of the mean boys shouted. Another said something about hand grenades.

Angel, undaunted because she has several big brothers her self, just stood there with her eyes closed and her hands out like she expected a Hannah Montana shirt to fall from the ceiling.

“Boys! You will be respectful of miss angle’s prayer time and we never make fun of other people’s prayers. There is nothing wrong with Hanna Montana and besides”, I said as I picked Angel up, “Jesus thinks Angel is awesome and I happen to know she is one of His very favorites.” She agreed and we went on to the mayhem that tends to be modern children’s church these days.

Now the plan was of course to make sure that when we got all of her family their Christmas toys, Angel was loaded up with Hanna Montana stuff. It turns out, God being God, had a much greater plan as He so often does.

Besides leading at Open Door Ministries I also have the privledge of running a food bank and sometimes we get calls from big distribution centers. Unsolicited, the good people at Wal-Mart donated a truck load of goodies but we wouldn’t know what we were receiving until it got to the warehouse. When Andy Daly opened up the back doors of that big truck, we all began to laugh our heads off. Angel had prayed in an eighteen wheeler of Hannah Montana clothes! Everything Hannah Montana you can imagine and all brand new. It was amazing.

Now I know that Christmas isn’t about getting toys so save your religious letters for a pharasee that has time to read it. But know for certain, that God uses giving to demonstrate his goodness towards us. In the Kingdom, giving is a ministry. For God so loved the world He gave, and I hope you know how to finish the rest of that sentence.

Last week we were able to host 100 local families in Christmas giving and emergency help. This week we are in Brownsville Texas and Matomoros Mexico giving away more than 3000 backpacks stuffed full of the best toys we’ve ever been able to give away. We do that to demonstrate God as the greatest giver of all.

2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

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Friday, December 11, 2009

The Hotel Upgrade

Being a bonafied world traveler, I have stayed in some amazing places. I have traveled much doing ministry, business, conferences, and vacations, so my motto of “Blessed are the Flexible” gets a lot of mileage when on the road.

I traveled throughout the USA in the late eighties with a band called Destiny and we stayed in every kind of motel you can imagine. We even slept in the back of our trucks at a state park near Nashville. Since then, I have slept in hammocks in southern Mexico. I battled spiders by candlelight in a hotel in Rwanda. Stayed in a room at a motel in East Africa where they guy behind the desk promised a room with a view. When I got there, I found it had no door-hence, the view. I have also stayed in grass huts in India and one time, my friends literally ran a cobra out of the room just before I got there.

Where Fashion sits…
Now before you go to thinking I am Indiana Jones, let me tell you I have also stayed in some truly swanky joints. I love nice hotels. Ten years ago Leanna and I spent four days at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco. We were even on the club level and had to have a James Bond key to get to the tenth floor.

Do you know they have a bath menu there? Sure -would you like rose pedals and oil in your water, M’am? As my Grandfather used to say, “well woop-te-doo”. He also said “la-te-da” but I don’t really know what that means.

I embarrassed poor Leanna on that same trip when a surgeon asked me what kind of business I was in. I told him I was a mule for the Columbian drug cartel and he left me alone after that.

I have also stayed at the Luxor in Vegas, the Sheridan in Jerusalem, and the Crown Plaza in New Deli. The Hilton in San Antonio was awesome with a view of the Alamo from my bed. The Horse Shoe or Herra Dura Hotel in San Jose ,Costa Rica, used to be a frequent stop for me because a friend of mine worked there and all we had to pay was taxes. It had a nice Jacuzzi in the room and I wore it out every chance I got.

A company I used to work for sent me to the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street and the PGA resort in Florida. I didn’t drink or golf so I toured New Orleans and went to the Jai-alai games. A super nice room and one which was probably bugged by the communists, was the Hotel Miramar in Havana Cuba. It overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and the Russian Embassy. Of course the commies at the Russian Embassy help overlook the good people of Cuba too.

The Austonian Hotel is going up in the states capital and I’v got plans to spend the night there some day. So suffice it to say, I love a good hotel.

Local Flavor
Today I stopped to eat at the Caddo Grill in downtown Cleburne. We had a nice lunch and when I stepped out, I saw the newly refurbished Liberty Hotel sharing the same parking lot. I know that Hotel because 12 years ago I hosted a food outreach right there when it was the parking lot of Piggly Wiggly. At that time, the historic Liberty had fallen to a decimated shooting gallery occupied with drug dealers, transients and prostitutes.

We went into that building taking groceries from door to door and inviting people outside to the things we were doing. I could not believe anything that bad was in Johnson County. It looked like something from Queens, New York.

The message I preached out there in that parking lot was that God makes all things brand new. There were more than a thousand people who came for help that day and about 80 of them were from the Liberty Hotel.

Twelve years later that message proved to be prophetic. That whole area has been reborn and the Liberty Hotel is one of the finest in the county. I took a tour of the rooms today and was blown away at what they have done with the place. The quality and attention to detail was just wonderful. It is really something to see and is not even recognizable from the mess it once was.

I close this week’s Fresh from the Brewer by saying, I hope the same can be said of all of us. May each of us upgrade and be transformed from ruined wrecks into shining examples. May Jesus Christ change us and present us the way whoever paid the price for the Liberty Hotel did. He has a way of making that happen like nobody else.

Even the name Liberty speaks of Jesus I think. The bible says where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation 21:5

You can read more about the Brewer at He pastors Open Door Ministries church near Joshua.

The Legend of Scaredy Squirrel

I have been at war with the hated tree rat population for some time, you might call them squirrels. Often portrayed as cute and smart by Nazi propagandists, they are actually satanic hedonists who get in my attic and party like its 1999. They destroy my bird-feeders and run off my ---well every kind of bird you can imagine. They nearly caused me to burn my own house down about 15 years ago when I decided to fire off some firecrackers in the attic to run them out. Did you catch the word fire in fire cracker? Yes, I did too.

Anyway my passionate desire to eliminate the region of squirrels is just as fervent as my love for a book about a squirrel. Its an illustrated children’s book I like to read to the munchkins around here called Scaredy Squirrel.

Scaredy Squirrel is a squirrel who refuses to leave his own tree because he is phobic about spiders, germs, poison Ivy, sharks and killer bees. He spends his life atop a tree called familiar, on a place called safe. then one day a bee gets too close to comfort and Scaredy falls out. But before he hits the ground, Scaredy Squirrel discovers he is no ordinary tree rat, he is a flying squirrel!

Ain’t Skeered

Last week I was hunting deer on the famous Burk Ranch near Eagle Pass and I thought about Scaredy Squirrel. This trip was a dream for me and it could have been ruined by my ever present fear of heights. The cold front came through and not only was the blind some thirty feet straight up, the little ladder I had to ascend was covered in Ice. While I am sure there was nothing graceful about how I got up there and into the blind, it was powerful for me. I prayed harder than I have in a long time and about an hour later I blasted a trophy ten point and enough does to feed folks at my next outreach.

God wants you and me to conquer fear. If we are full of fear we are not full of passion. If we are not full of passion then we are not full of life. I think it breaks God’s heart when we stay in familiar, safe places bound by invisible chains of fear.

A long long time ago a prophet named Zephaniah promised Israel of a day of restoration would God would not only remove their fear, but put strength in their hands. We don’t use the term slack hand today, but we do use the term limp wrist. It’s associated with the idea of being a weakling or a pansy. When we let God take away our fear he also takes away the thing that keeps us from having zeal and passion for life.

Get out of your tree or into your stand which ever the case may be. None of us are going to be here for very much longer, and we just don’t have time to be bored.

Zephaniah 3:16 in that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.

The Brewer Pastors Open Door Ministries near Joshua and can be found at

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bad Press

Back in the day, I used to be a huge fan of Stephen King. The first book I read of his, The Stand, was then and still is to me his best book ever. I wasn't a huge fan of horror, I just loved how great his stories were. The way he wrote intrigued me and it was training for a young man that would soon be a Bible thumper and somewhat of a writer myself.

After 1986 I encountered The Lord and 86st Stephen King for the King of Kings. I suddenly began to notice Kings hateful agenda against Christians in general. The mom in Carrie is a Pentecostal nut who locks her daughter in the closet to pray. The murderous warden in Shawshank Redemption quotes scriptures and even the werewolf in Silver Bullet is a preacher. John Coffee in the green mile is an excellent character type of Jesus and even has the initials of JC, but of course he’s not very smart and unable to articulate really anything. The crazy lady in Misery hobbles the feet of a poor guy while wearing a giant crucifix.

So it makes me ask, what's your deal, pickle?

I don’t think for one second you go to hell for reading Stephen King or watching his movies, but because I’m a Christian, going to hell is never an issue for me anyway. I just can’t imagine how it is helpful or profitable to partner my head with a guy who doesn't partner with me in and what my life is all about. I know he is a great writer and an important part of our culture but I ask myself a question I already know the answer to. If you or I wrote 20 or 30 brilliant books, and year after year the hideous villain in all our novels was a homosexual or a Muslim, would we be praised as great writers and contributors to the culture? Stephen King lives in a world where He consistently gets away with what he accuses Christians of doing in all of his novels. He’s a zealot who portrays good people as bad guys because of his own self centered ideology. The Texan in me says “Rain on him.”

Foggy Identities

It’s not uncommon to have the tube glowing in the Brewer house and a few months back I stopped in the living room to see what my son was all balled up on the couch about.

“What ya watching?” I asked as he handed me the chips

“It’s a scary movie called The Mist, dad. These awesome giant bugs are eating people.”

I sat down on the couch and before I got to the bottom of my ruffles with ridges, I knew who had made it.

“This is a Stephen King Movie, isn't it?’’

“Yes sir, how’d you know?”

“Because the only monster worse than the bugs is the Christian who hates abortion.”

The Crazy Christian converts the locals into murderers and the good guys shoot themselves in the head just seconds before help from the army arrives. Now that’s entertainment. I haven't had so much fun since my visit to the doctor right after my 40th birthday.

I am a big movie fan like any red blooded American, but I get sick of how Hollywood’s hatred of people like me is constantly spilled out under the guise of art.

If you are a Christian, I want to encourage you to not limit yourself to any subculture. You and I are the counter culture and America needs us more than ever. These knuckleheads publicly mock us but privately call us when all hell brakes loose. These bullies collectively accuse us but individually need us to be the people that stand out these days.

Don’t worry about the bad press you get. It puts you in really good company. Don’t you back off for one second. Let your light shine! Make a difference in people’s lives. Hate injustice and what isn't right. Call it like it is and stand for Jesus while standing with the rest of us. Lets stand up together in spite of all the bad press. While there might be multidimensional bugs in their mist, Jesus Himself promises to be in our midst if we all stick together.

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of you. Matthew 18:20

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My Thanksgiving was really nice this year. My son came home from his internship at The Honor Academy and brought a half dozen young men home with him, so our house was a really fun mess. On top of that, I was hosting a missionary Pastor from Rwanda, East Africa and he still finds it hard to believe human beings can eat this much. My brother and sisters all made an appearance and I actually spanked all of them in our family’s annual Texas Hold‘em competition. Yes, the Brewer is a bible thumping, column writing, conference speaking, world traveling, guitar playing, card dealing shark. As Davy Crocket once said, “I’m a screamer”.

So here it is after Thanksgiving and the parade is over. You have survived the ball game and the spandex wearing mayhem at Walmart. Black Friday has come and gone and hopefully without a black eye -but don’t you dare let go of being thankful.

This week’s sip from the Master’s cup comes served with leftovers from our last holiday. For you and I, Thanksgiving is not just a day on the calendar but an actual lifestyle we get better and better at. The good book says in Colossians 2:7 that we are to “abound in thanksgiving”. It means we are supposed to overflow with thankfulness and actually upgrade in being thankful people.

That same pesky book which Paul wrote concerning those nasty gnostics, also says in chapter four, we as Christians should be devoted or sold out in commitment to, three different things. The first is prayer because God wants us with him more than anything else. The second is “being watchful” which means paying attention to spiritual things because we are all residents of heaven living in Texas. Finally the third thing we are supposed to be devoted to is indeed thanksgiving. Dedicated, devoted, purposely intentional about being more thankful today than we were yesterday. If you are thankful, it means you love your life.

People who are not devoted to being thankful tend to be committed to being critical. They live life identifying with the bitter beer face commercials and generally are very comfortable being unhappy. If that is you, let me say on behalf of everyone within your general proximity, you’re no fun to be around! Thankfulness doesn’t just come from good things happening to you. Thankfulness is something you practice. It is a skill which must be developed. It’s an intentional position of your heart and something we can all get better at.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: Ps 91:1

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