Rudeness is So Unbecoming…..

One of my favorite movies (actually mini-series) was Lonesome Dove.  In one scene from Lonesome Dove, Newt (played by Ricky Shroder) was being physically whipped by a man in town as he and Captain Woodrow Call (played by Tommy Lee Jones) were purchasing supplies.  As Captain Call came out of the dry goods store, he observed what was taking place and sprang into action.  He summarily pick up something resembling a tire iron from the blacksmith and let’s just say he ended the whipping.   His parting words were, “I hate rude behavior in a man and I won’t tolerate it!”.  Well, I don’t have a lot of tolerance for rudeness in man or woman, but I won’t be taking up a tire iron – only expressing my thoughts on the matter.

You might be wondering what has my mind on the subject of rudeness.  It is something that happened as Kim and I had lunch at a restaurant as we were out one day this week.  As we sat enjoying our lunch, in walked a party of 10 ladies from a church group.  They had the same server as we did and by the way the young lady was an excellent server.  As they began to be seated, they started barking at the hostess that was showing them to their table about how the table’s seating arrangements would be, among other things.  Then as the young lady began to take their orders for what they would drink there was not a friendly face to be seen.  The young lady brought out their drinks and the rudeness began.  The apocalypse was upon us all!!  One lady asked for lemon with her water and did not receive the lemon.  Of course, she very abruptly let the server know about the missing lemon that may have threatened her very eternity (sarcasm).  Next as they raided the buffet it only got worse.  Here is where the real travesty would occur – more dark meat fried chicken than white meat and more drumsticks than breasts!!  One lady went so far as to make her way to the doorway of the kitchen and in a very demanding tone said, “WE NEED MORE WHITE MEAT ON THE BUFFET!!”.  As I sat there after witnessing this at the buffet, she almost gleefully announced to table, “I got them on the chicken!”  They continued to snipe at the server.  I know this is a rather lengthy explanation of my inspiration for writing this blog today, but I want to leave you with some thoughts to consider if you struggle with rudeness especially those of you that claim the name of Christ and desire to be a light for the gospel in this dark world.

#1.  Your rude behavior is not impressive to the general population around you. It does not make you important.

#2.  Remember who you represent!  Christ was characterized by humbleness, meekness and kindness. You are a not a good representation when you present rudeness to others.  When you announce to the hostess that you are with a church group (as these ladies did) be sure you represent Christ in way that pleases him – including leaving an above average tip (another subject for another blog).

#3.  Your age does not give you the right to be rude.  These ladies were part of a senior adult group.  You do not earn the right to be rude.  Actually as we grow older, if I understand God’s Word correctly, we should mature not become like immature children.

#4.  Not leave out the kiddo’s….It is not cute when you allow your kid to walk around to other people’s tables in a restaurant setting so long as they do not disturb your meal or act out in other rude behavior to the general public around you, if this describes your typical dining experience.  Education about rude behavior begins at home.  As a parent, do not accept rudeness from a child as “cute”.  “Yes sir”, “no sir”, “no ma’am”, “yes…ma’am”, “please” and thank you” are learned behaviors that parents would do well to instill in their children from a young age.  Proper behavior is learned and so is rudeness.

#5.  We are called to love our neighbors, be kind to each other and yes abide by the old Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”.  Rudeness does not fit into this equation for living peacefully with our fellow man (also a command of scripture).

Whether you are being rude to a server in a restaurant that is working hard for your benefit, the person taking your order at McDonalds or for that matter to anyone else you may come in contact with I have to believe that God’s opinion of rudeness in His children might reflect that of Captain Call from the comments at the beginning of this blog.  As I drove away from the restaurant, I could not help but ponder the question, “If that young lady serving that group of ladies from a local church group was searching for a church or maybe had an interest in learning of the Savior, how did these ladies impact her journey?”.  As you spend your weekend out and about this weekend maybe at a restaurant, hanging out with friends or as I will be all day Saturday watching Olivia play the game she loves (softball) please for the sake of the Kingdom of God and your own testimony, commit yourself to KINDNESS!  You may be the only Jesus the unknown person will see in that moment that you must choose kindness or rudeness.



Built to Belong: You Are Designed to Belong to Something

As this week draws to a close, we are in Ft Rucker, AL preparing to celebrate mine and Kim’s grandson’s first birthday.  The thrill that John Patton has brought into our lives is unexplainable.  During celebrations like this one, I am always reminded that God designed each of us to belong to various groups in our life.  For me personally, my family is the most basic and most important group in my life.  I often remind people of the fact that the family is the first institution that God designed when he created this world in which we live.  Family is more important than any corporate organization, sports teams and yes even the church.  Even as a pastor, I believe if the church intrudes through earthly demands on the family and it’s time then the church needs to make the adjustment and not the family.  Understand though that I am not saying the relationship of humans to other humans supersede our relationship to Christ.  We should reserve our deepest love and commitment to Christ and then our family (spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, etc) and then things such as church, teams and corporate entities.

In this fast-paced world we live, we clutter our lives with business at the expense of our families.  We as a culture are working more hours.  Many employers, including the corporation that I’m employed by, seem to think the business comes before the family which is absolutely a terrible way to do business.  Our athletic programs can over-run our schedules especially in families where parents want there kids to be involved in everything extracurricular to the point they never get any down which will inevitably bring about burn-out and maybe even resentment.  Churches sometimes can even become guilty of intruding so much into our time with piling on program after program at the expense of families having time to be families.  I am convinced more than ever from a pastoral point of view that the church would likely do itself a favor and strengthen it’s very foundation if it did a few things well that was less taxing on the family than trying to be a buffet of programs to the world.

In closing, just a few things to remember.  First, even with everything I stated above concerning church, I do believe it is important to belong to a bible believing church and worship consistently.  For some that is Sunday morning only (that’s ok by the way and will not endanger your eternal soul) and for others it is the normal Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday.  Being part of something bigger than you is important.  If you are lonely, there are great opportunities for you find a place to belong – God designed you to belong.  If you have a great family that you are a part of then give God glory for the family is His grandest organizational creation.



The Eternal Hope of Grace

As I began teaching through the Gospel of Mark in our Wednesday evening Bible study this week at church, I was once again struck with how much God truly loves us.  Mark’s Gospel will complete our journey of studying the New Testament verse by verse and yet again the grace of God captures my heart.  It begins with the Son of God coming to the Jordan River to submit Himself to baptism by the forerunner John the Baptist and then submit Himself to 40 days of temptation in the wilderness by Satan.  As we weaved our way through the first chapter, I began to think that we should be overwhelmed by the grace of God.

As I ponder the other major religions of the world, they all are about man pursing their god, but the fact that Jehovah God had a plan before the foundations of the earth to pursue me is a bit overwhelming to say the least.  Think about it.  God spoke the very creation into existence.  He spoke everything we see into existence, yet in the midst of eternity past He had a plan to love mankind beyond our comprehension.  He not only had a plan to love mankind, but He gave up something that not one of us would give up for another person, His only Son.  Not only is this over-whelming, but then to think of what Jesus Christ subjected Himself to during His earthly ministry to make a way for our broken fellowship with God due to our sin is absolutely over the top on the amazing meter.

The current state of the culture that we live in today seems to be thumbing its nose at this amazing grace.  The culture takes every opportunity to displace any mention of Jesus from the public arena, while we are told to be tolerant and understanding of other religions.  Christians seem to face ridicule and now as we have found out in the Oregon potential death because of our faith in God.  Wait a minute, didn’t Christ actually say to expect these things?  Even more, Christ experienced all of this, even the cruelty of execution on a Roman cross simply  because of His unmerited love for mankind.   I write this to encourage you in a few areas.  First, understand that no matter what you’ve done or what your current state of life is at this moment, you are loved by God.  He will forgive you and accept as His own this very day if you will humble yourself, repent (be willing to turn your life around and forsake sin) and believe that Jesus died and rose again from the dead.  You don’t work for this.  Remember it’s grace alone not grace plus you performing good works to gain favor from God.  Secondly, if you are a believer and you have stumbled (by the way everyone one of us stumble – yes, even preachers), understand that the Bible says in I John 1:9 that we “…if we will confess (agree with God) our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us”.  The way back begins with grace.  Thirdly and finally, be willing to extend grace to others.  Be understanding because we are all fallen creatures.  We all have areas of our life with which we struggle.  As the old cliché’ goes, “But for the grace of God, there go I”.  Grace, it truly is amazing!



The Team: Defining Success As a Team

When I think about the measure of success as a team, there are many things that come to mind.  Of course, success is measured many times in wins versus losses.   Championships may be another way that some measure success.  However, success as a team runs much deeper than measuring wins, losses and championships.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to win!  I am a very, very competitive person that wants to win no matter if I am playing checkers or coaching a ball team.  In this entry though, I want to just share a few things that many times get lost in the shuffle of wins/loss records.  I want to take a moment and share a few things that I believe define real success.

I think one of the first things that defines success as a team is chemistry.  Team chemistry teaches young people so much about life.  Our young people who participate in team sports, band, scholars bowl or any other team, must learn the value of team chemistry in order to be successful.  The concept of team chemistry will teach valuable lessons that will carry them through life into their jobs, their churches and most important their families.  What is team chemistry?  I would define it as the ability to come together, setting aside the individual goals while working together for the greater good and success of the team or organization that you represent.   Without team chemistry you might have success for a short-term, but remember life is not a sprint – it is a marathon.  Long term success is and should be the desire of any team, organization and yes, most importantly the family.

Secondly, if you are part of the team you should strive to make yourself better, but also you should have a drive to make those around you successful.  Remember, a team is not about individuals, but it is about a group of individuals driving toward a common goal to continually improve and be successful.  You make others better through encouragement, picking your teammate up when they make a mistake and moving on, but also holding each other accountable to always give 100% no matter if it is a team sport or a debate team.

Thirdly and finally, success is always defined by effort and the desire to get better.  Whether you win or lose, you must ask yourself, “Did I give my best effort and did I improve in some area?”.  Again, these two things carry on through life.  No matter what “team or teams” you are a part of throughout life, you will often be defined by effort and the drive to always get better.  Martin Luther King, Jr had this to say about giving effort, “If a man is called to be a street sweep, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.  He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well’.  After all, the drive for us to give our best effort is actually a biblical concept as expressed by the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  

Make team chemistry a priority, push your teammates to always get better and cultivate a drive to always give your best effort in everything.  These things will make you a winner and more importantly a success!