Archive for category Life
A certain blogger asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit internet peace.?”
“Why do you call me good?” the teacher answered. “No one is good—except Arianna alone (at least for this week). You know the commandments: ” Post daily, reply to all comments, leave numerous comments on other blogs, link often and use lots of lists in your titles. “
“All these I have kept since….well, at least for a year or so, now” he said.
When the teacher heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Remove any links to Technorati and never check your rating again. Then come, follow me.”
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a blogger of great pride.
It’s been so cold lately- I’ve been worried about this lady. Wondering where she is and how she’s doing. Once, someone read about her on the Ooze and shared their experience with her. I wonder what other lives she may have touched in her travels.
It was Saturday afternoon, sunny, hot and breezy, so Bev and I thought we would take a drive into the Maryland mountains, maybe find an inexpensive hotel and then get a nice dinner somewhere. My car was having battery problems so we decided to take her big van. Since that car has these great big head rests (six of them) that tend to block my rear vision, I decided to lay all the seats flat.
We packed a cooler with cold drinks and ice (something we never think to do) and hit the road. We got a later start than we would’ve liked but that’s pretty much SOP with the Beyers. By the time we got to the scenic mountain area of west-central Maryland it was already after 3:00 pm. Bev said that we might have a hard time finding a hotel and she was right, everyone was booked up. The folly of our intent was apparent to us and, disappointed, we headed on home.
We still had about an hour’s drive ahead of us when, rounding down a steep hill, we were surprised by a lone figure walking along the side of the road. It looked to be an older woman and she was pushing a bicycle. She was carrying at least four bags what looked like a tattered shirt wrapped over the top of her ball cap, kind of like a scarf. Her appearance was everything one would expect of a homeless person and she looked out of place in the middle of farming country. As we drove by she began to jerk her thumb in the classic hitch-hiking style. Since she couldn’t let go of the handle bar we almost missed the gesture.
“She needs a lift.” Bev said. We continued on down the hill and I concentrated on keeping the big car on track through the S-curves.
“You’re kidding” I said.
“I think we should turn aroun?” said Bev
“Hmmm.” That’s all I said and we drove on. As it was, there were no turn-outs or side roads prestent. After a couple of miles I made a right onto a farm lane.
“We’re going back, then?” Bev asked.
I had been thinking of that scripture where Jesus said that when he was hungry someone fed him, when he was sick someone visited, when he was naked someone clothed him. I was imagining him saying to me; “When I was hitch hiking, pushing my bike and carrying a heavy load on a hot day, you didn’t stop to pick me up.”
“That was you, Jesus? I thought that was an old lady!”
When we got back to where we could see her trundling down the hill we pulled into a nearby drive and waited. There was no shoulder to the road. She must have recognized our car or figured out what we were doing because when she saw us she began jogging down the road, her over loaded bags swinging and her bike wobbling back and forth.
She was a skinny little thing, wearing too-big athletic clothes; sweat pants, sneakers, socks, sweat shirt and ball cap. The sweat shirt said “Messiah College”. Her sun glasses were as big as scuba goggles and her skin was sun browned and wrinkled, like and old life guards. In spite of the heat and her recent exertion she was as dry as a Methodist’s pantry.
As it turned out that she liked to be called Sherri and she had been riding her bike from Hagerstown, a good 20 miles behind us, when she got a flat tire. She’d been having a lot of flats lately and someone told her that there was a Wal-Mart 10 miles on up the road in Frederick, where she might get them to fix her bike (seeing as how she had bought it recently from another Wal-Mart). She said that she had been praying hard for someone to come and pick her up. She blessed and thanking us both for coming through.
We stowed her bike easily in the back of the van, where there was plenty of room with the seats already down. She said the bike was new but it looked a little beat up. It was the same brand as my first bike, a Roadmaster, except hers was the girl’s version. The rear wheel looked bent. We opened up one of the middle seats for her and she was surprised and grateful as we handed her an ice cold Diet Coke Plus (with vitamins!) from the cooler. We cranked up the A/C and headed off to find Wal-Mart.
As we drove she told us, in a genteel Southern draw, that she was originally from Richmond Virginia and had raised two daughters, both now in their thirties. She now had grandsons and granddaughters and they lived in different parts of the country. For the past eleven years she had been riding her bikes (she’s been through quite a few) across the country, from Florida to California and up into Canada, preaching God’s word. Raised a Methodist, she was now Pentecostal by choice and a speaker of tongues. Standing on street corners in small towns and big cities she preached a sermon of salvation from eternal damnation through the acceptance of Christ’s love.
She rarely slept indoors and tried to coordinate her travels with the seasons, going south in wintertime. She asked about Baltimore and Washington where she said (amazingly!) that she felt a lot of concern for all the homeless people that she heard lived there. Many of the homeless that she met on her travels seemed to be so hopeless and this saddened her.
She was very much interested in the two of us, our jobs, our family and our faith, but in a sensitive and genuine way. She never pried or preached. She said that she might visit the church we attend outside of DC and asked when we held services. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see her some day.
We parked at Wal-Mart and helped with her bags as she chained up the bike. I asked her if she was OK with money, if she even had enough for a new bicycle inner tube. She hemmed and hawed a bit so before she could answer I asked if it was alright if we could contribute to her ministry. I gave her some cash and she was obviously grateful. She then surprised me by asking suddenly if this was something that I would like for her to repay some day. Humbled, I told her no, that it was part of my tithe, since it was obvious that she took Jesus’ commission to heart.
As Bev and I drove on down the highway, we couldn’t help but chuckle. God sometimes has a very dry sense of humor. What a coincidence. that on the spur of the moment, we decided to take a day trip to western Maryland, in the big van (which we never take on road trips), with the seats down, spare cash in our pockets and a cooler of cold drinks in back. How unfortunate for us that there were no hotel vacancies in the area (most probably because of our own chronic tardiness) which resulted in our having to drive down that one particular road, so far from home. How gallant of us, to grudgingly turn around and help someone more ‘unfortunate’ than we were.
Somehow this older woman is able to travel across this huge land, cheerfully spreading the Good News, carrying everything she owns on her back. Eleven years of pedaling up mountains and through deserts, and she is as clean and bright as a new penny, sharp as a tack. It was obvious that God looks out for her and I bet she wasn’t the least bit surprised when we came back for her. We were just two more supporting actors stepping on to her God-directed stage.
I can imagine her praying as she rides or walks along our busy highways, “OK Lord, I wonder who you will be putting into my life next” – confident that she is safely in His hands.
And I can imagine God smiling down on her, “Hmm…Looks like Sherri is having a little trouble today. Who can I send…who can I send…..Oh! I know…the Beyers! I’ll bet they’re just wasting another Saturday. I’m sure they could benefit from a little time spent with one of my faithful servants.”
“Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
In her passion for God, and her love for others, neither does Sherri.
I Have an Article on the Ooze About Sherri
Some of you may remember the story about Sherri, one of God’s itinerant workers and how we met one day in Western Maryland. She’s the lady that has devoted her life to spreading the Gospel across this country on the back of a bike. TheOoze has decided to publish this story and it comes out today; “The Apostle Sherri: Bicycle Disciple”. Please check it out on: http://www.theooze.com/articles/article.cfm?id=1818
If you’ve never visited that web site I think you’ll be pleased with what you find there.
An Update on Sherri
This couple read he article on the Ooze and sent this e-mail. What an amazing ‘coincidence’, eh? Since July 14th Sherri has traveled from Frederick, Maryland to Seneca, South Carolina, over 547 miles. Gott ist Gutt! (For those of you unfamiliar with the story of Sherri you may read the original story here; http://sharpiron.wordpress.com/2007/07/14/the-apostle-sherri/ )
I wanted to share an experience Ceph and I had over the weekend. We left on Sunday morning to see Ceph’s mom for her Birthday. It was a day trip and we always go the back way up 123 through Gainesville to Seneca and then Easley. On the way up outside Seneca, Ceph had to swerve the car to miss hitting an older lady that obviously homeless. She had long grey/blonde hair, baggy clothes and pushing a bicycle. She had everything she owned attached to the bicycle handlebars. We both commented on her appearance and the fact she was pushing the bicycle. We spent about 5 hours at his mom’s and left about 2:00pm to return home. We are heading towards Tacocca and were amazed to see the same lady pushing her bicycle again down the road. She had travelled about 25 miles in 5 hours. Both us said at the same time we should pick her up. There weren’t any turnarounds so Ceph parked in a driveway and waited on her to get close to the car.
I personally have never picked up a hitchhiker but something said pick her up. We had the minivan with the seats down and knew her bicycle would fit perfectly. (the parallel here is amazing – CB) If you know the area, there’s nothing for miles until you get to Gainesville. She didn’t give us her name but explained she got the calling from the Lord about 11 years ago and she traveled from place to place preaching the gospel. She didn’t have a destination and we explained we lived in Roswell and that was ok for her. She wanted to go to a 24 hour Walmart. Ceph said that the Roswell police weren’t too keen on varagrants and Cumming might be a better location. We talked the remainder of the trip about her children, her faith and travels. After we let her out in Cumming, I haven’t been able to get her off my mind. Ceph and I both said, God wants us to be thankful for the little things we have. I guess she was our angel that day. This morning I wokeup thinking about her again and did a google search on “homeless lady on bicycle”. I immediately got a response from another couple that had exactly the same experience. This article is from theooze.com.
Ceph and Elaine
(with a beard and found drinking Rogue Dead Guy Ale while talking theology on the second floor of a bar located in a renovated textile mill in central Maryland.)
You can see more of their pictures displayed along side of Ric Booth’s prize winning article on the first annual East Coast Blogger’s Convention
I have a night job where I work for tips, giving me a pretty decent work out and it’s lot of fun to boot. I’m unique in that I am the oldest guy on the crew – by at least 20 years! Which means that I am surrounded by lots of irreverent, profane, high energy and fairly cocky young folk. Pretty much all of them do a great job and can run rings around the Old Man but, hey, I’m an old man. What do you expect?
One thing that hasn’t changed with tipped employees over the years is a tendency towards a creeping cynicism for their customers. Like a bad car salesman, they continue to run through the same old drill of pre-qualifying their customers, gaging their take by scrutinizing their guests; demographics, dress, diction, manners, attitude, etc. Being a wise old fellow I will counsel my young friends as to the perils of doing this; just as Tiger Woods must visualize the ball dropping into the cup, so should we visualize the guest dropping a C-note onto our tip trays. Doesn’t usually happen but what the heck. If you visualize getting stiffed it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; your service will suffer and the average guest can sense the shift in your demeanor as well.
I even go so far as to never look at my tips until I’ve collected all the check presenters. I don’t want to know which person stiffed me or which one only left me only a couple of bucks. This way I can leave feeling good about all of my guests. After all, who knows what financial straights they may be in? I’ve been there myself. (Heck, I ain’t moonlighting entirely for fun.)
The other night was pretty typical; some nice tips, some average and a couple of small ones. One party left me nothing (but I don’t’ know which one). Something different happened that evening as well. Someone (probably short on cash) left me with a Home Depot gift card. I have to admit to being wryly amused. Sharing this with the crew most of them didn’t see anything too funny about it- probably only had a dollar or two on it. In fact most of the them thought it was tacky, indicative of someone too cheap to leave any cash. I figured, what the heck, at least I could pick up a new drill bit (maybe).
Boy was I surprised when the clerk at Home Depot told me that there was $66.63 on the card! I was able to get that new Black and Decker drill that I had been eying as well as a power screwdriver. Not too shabby. Thanks, mystery guest. I’ll remember you every time I put a hole into something with my new toy.
So, what’s my point? It just doesn’t pay to allow yourself to judge others. Aside from the times we are wrong (oh, so many times that is) what is there to gain from it? Who needs the bad vibes? So I would recommend not only doing but actually seeing others as you would have them see you. It might actually happen.
One of the more challenging issues for theists in their ongoing debate with skeptical atheists has been the Problem of Evil. Often referred to as the P.O.E., it asks the very reasonable question; if God is good then why would he permit evil? The typical Christian response says that it was man who, by his rebellion against God, brought evil into being. This has met with varying degrees of acceptance but it’s the answer that makes the most sense to me.
It’s hard to find any evidence of ‘evil’ that has not been the result of the selfish actions of men and women. Even natural calamities and physical aberrations can be rationally explained as the result of the untold centuries that mankind has lived out of harmony with God’s nature. When pressed, most moral people will admit to finding at least something repugnant about any ‘evil’ act. From office gossip shared at the water cooler to the pimp who beats the teenage runaway, they are all overlaid with a patina of dirtiness, what you could expect from something done against God’s will.
But, all seriousness aside, there is another question that is not quite so “easily” explained as the POE. What about those human habits and functions that are utterly vile, repulsive and disgusting but are natural and normal processes of life? You may be too polite to bring this up yourselves but each and every one of you knows exactly what I am talking about. Why are human (and most animal) bodies so filthy? If God is good why did he make us so…GROSS? Even the most adorable baby early on in life becomes quite the foul little thing. (My wife claims that as soon as my children were weaned off of baby food I could never be found at diaper changing time. This is patently untrue. In fact there is a photo of me changing their diapers, wearing over my nose and mouth a red bandana that had been thoroughly doused with Old Spice.)
I believe this to be a very relevant theological question and was going to call it the P.O.P. – the Problem of Poo. But the POP has already been taken. So instead I will call this the POO – the Problem of Odor.
Of course when God walked (perhaps very carefully) with Adam and Eve in the Garden there were no diapers to be changed yet (or were there?)– But they were still eating of “every seed-bearing plant… and every tree that has fruit with seed in it” to be found in the Garden (and we all know what a diet of just fruits and vegetables is like, right?). Perhaps prior to the fall they were somehow physically ‘different’ in that their bodily wastes were not quite so offensive (like a rabbit that has no problem eating its food more than once). Maybe they were 100% efficient when it came to digestion, their only waste products being a little H2O, carbon dioxide and a few grams of ash. Or perhaps their waste was like ours but somehow ‘nicer’ – not yet tainted by the fall.
But if their physiology was just like ours, how was this handled in Paradise? I don’t know about you but my vision of Paradise doesn’t leave any room for Port-A-Potties. Of course they wouldn’t have access to facilities as modern as that – they were still primitives living off the land. Though the Bible doesn’t say so, the first invention may very well have been a crude entrenching tool. Alternatively, perhaps they were allowed to venture out of the Garden a couple of times each day to take care of business, leaving their nastiness in someone else’s backyard (something that most of us have continued to do for centuries).
But back to my point; couldn’t God have come up with a better way of packaging our bodily effluvia and excreta? I mean, it wouldn’t have to be too fetching – that probably would’ve been counterproductive. Still, maybe something more along the lines of Brussel Sprouts would’ve made the point with a lot less nausea. Maybe sauerkraut. Or Kimchi, even. That’s all I’m asking. And I’m asking it for all of you people who have wondered about this yourselves but didn’t have the cojones to bring it up.
SHARP IRON – “Where we aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions”
Just to the west of my old high school can be found the start and finish line for the cross country course. The three mile course was a notoriously grueling one, as it dropped nearly 300 feet to the river and then snaked its way back up the valley through a run of sharp switchbacks and steep grades. The finish line came at the end of a 100 yard sprint preceded by a very deceiving and energy sapping geological formation called the Grasshopper Hills. The Grasshopper Hills were four, steep-sided low hummocks spaced out over 200 yards of green pasture land and it was our teams coup de grace.
I remember the very first time that I ran Grasshopper Hills in practice. Our team stood about 20 yards from the base of the first hill while Coach instructed us in the upcoming drill. “Now, I’m going to go on over to the second Grasshopper. When you hear my whistle I want you guys to run up the first hill and come on over to me on the second one. And I want a full sprint. Got that?”
There were numerous groans. Coach, an avid runner, had just led us on a brisk 3 mile run down to the river and back and we were looking forward to an easy warm-down and then off to the showers. It was early September and too damn hot for this to be much fun. Coach turned and jogged off carrying his ever present whistle and clipboard.
In a few moments we heard the shrill whistle and the 9 of us set on up the hill, running hard. Topping the rise we could see Coach on the other side of the little valley that lay between the first two hills. “To me!” he shouted. “Run to me!”
We rushed full tilt down the slope, rebounding at the bottom and surging on up the other side, each of us vying not to be last. As we crested the hill we were horrified to find that, while out of sight, Coach had sprinted ahead and was now standing on the third hill!
“To me!” he shouted again. “To me!”
Never slowing, we charged down the next slope, stuttering out muttered profanities with each shuddering stride. Up the next hill we charged, beginning to spread out now as we began to lose our wind. As usual, I was near the middle of the pack and was dismayed to hear the groans and curses from above as the front runners found that Coach had once again levitated over to the last and final hill.
“To me!” I heard his robotic cry. My legs felt like wet bags of cement and each breath was a wheezing gasp of sharp pain. “To me!” I hated him fiercely as I pushed on towards the summit of this last hill.
Of course Coach was not on the last Grasshopper hill either. We finally found him, smiling, at the bottom of that fourth and final hill. I cartwheeled on down past him, collapsing to the ground, arms splayed forward and face down in the hot dry grass, gasping for breath. Those of us not prone stood bent over, hands on knees, heads hanging down, spasmodically heaving in great gulps of precious oxygen. Our jerseys were soaked through and sweat poured off of us in streams.
“Good job, guys. Go ahead and stretch out and call it a day. See you all tomorrow morning.” And with that he trotted off towards the gym, clipboard firmly in hand, his nasty little whistle bouncing up and down on his back.
“Why that no good-“
“What a sonofa-“
“That’ll be the last time I ever-“
It wasn’t fair! Each time we thought we had finished, every time we felt we had completed our run, we found that we still had farther to go. Each time we felt we were close to him we found that he was still farther away. We continued to grumble our disapproval between gulping down great droughts of air. But slowly the realization dawned on us.
Sure, he had asked us to do more than we had expected, even more than we had agreed upon. And yeah, he was uncompromisingly ruthless in his methods. But we had done it. Every time we thought that we were spent, with nothing more to give, we saw him farther on up ahead and somehow found the reserves to keep on going.
But the most amazing thing was that everything that he pushed us to do, everything he commanded of us, he had done as well. Every time he called out for us to come to him, over each brutal hill and through each discouraging valley, he knew what he was asking of us, because he had just run the same course. He never asked us to suffer anything that he had not already endured.
Although we had just finished cursing him, we understood that the reason we did what we had just done (and would do again) was because of him. Because he had faith in us and knew that we were much more than we ever thought we could be. Because he knew what we could accomplish – things that we never thought possible. The reason we kept on running and didn’t quit was because of that insufferable man standing on ahead, calling to us, visible for all to see. It was the sight of him that we ran towards, each of us fully aware that he was also watching us and there was no way we were going to let him down.
(That year our cross country team won the county and district championships and placed fourth in the state tournament. The team won every home meet in over three seasons. Unfortunately, today Grasshopper Hills has been graded flat and now is the site of a housing development.)