10 January 2011

New Blog

Hello Faithful Reader-

Thank you for hanging with me for the past couple of years, it's been a blast chronicling my experiences as a waiter and I have had a great time interacting with the likes of you.

I have decided to focus on the current landscape of Christianity and the future of the church under what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "religionless Christianity" at my new blog:


Thanks and don't be a stranger!

In Christ,


16 December 2010

Old Folks, Misery, and Joy

One of the funny privileges of working in a restaurant is seeing the regulars. Over the years, I have moved from waiting on exclusively strangers to once in a while waiting on people who have moved closer to the category of friend, even if our relationship will never make that jump.

I have found that most of my favorite regulars are over the age of 60. I think at some point in our lives we all decide whether or not we will be pleasant people. We decide if we respect others. We decide if we take ourselves seriously. We decide if we will fight every battle, every day. We can all hide our decision when we are young, whether it is social pressure, a desire to impress a woman, or inexperience in dealing fully with our emotions. Because we can tolerate a young man's cynicism for only so long and chock it up to fear but who can stand an old cynic? As the case may be, when we get old, we start to settle into who we have become over the years.

And a lot of people, if the truth be told, are really miserable. Maybe they have decided the technological revolution has been too slow to create a robot-waiter or they have not had their lust for control satisfied to the fullest extent but either way, an alarming amount of people are, at their basic make-up, miserable.

Who wants to grow old if that is how we will end?

But the older folks I waited on last night were different. This was probably the 5th or 6th time I have served them and it has always been a pleasure. The old women have hilariously quick wits along with genuinely sweet personalities. The old men may not ever recognize me but they are always polite and expect nothing from me but another drink when they are running dry.

In a world of whiners, back-biters, complainers, and critics, dealing with a happy, thankful people is a cold drink in the desert.

Come to think of it, maybe that's what Paul meant in Philippians when he told the people of God to stop whining and start thanking God for what he has given us. Is there any better place to see this than in the person of Jesus? He came among us and suffered, even died, without complaint. In fact, he did it because he knew that there was great joy to be gained in what he was doing.

The choice lies before us as to what people we will be today. Yesterday is passed and tomorrow is out of our hands.

Will you choose misery or joy?

08 December 2010

God, the Pro-Me

God is for you.

Let that sink in for a minute. God, the one who set the earth spinning and keeps it spinning so perfectly it would make a Globetrotter jealous, is for you. He is on your side.

How do we know this is true?

It is what we celebrate at this time every year. God has made himself man on our accounts. He has affirmed the fact that there is something in us that is well-worth holding on to. He has not given up on the sons of Adam who continually turn their backs on him. He has spoken in the midst of our chaos. His message is better than we could ever imagine.

How much would your life change if you believed that God was for you? Would you be so afraid of impending circumstances, whether it be a mountain of debt, an insatiable appetite for your own destruction, a wayward child, an awkward time in life, or even an ever-closer prison sentence?

In the midst of all our chaos, God speaks in Christ. He is for us.

What would happen to your life and the lives of those around you if you believed this?

06 December 2010

The return of the lobsterman

A year or so ago, I posted a story about a crazy guest I waited on. Well, he was back in to the restaurant today so I was feeling nostalgic. Here's a story that may pep you up on what is a freezing Monday here in Birmingham.


Lobster, Anybody?

05 December 2010

So Many Social Engagements, So Little Time...

I have to be honest, I cannot remember the last time I looked forward to a true social engagement, party, or "get together". I love to hang out with friends, agenda-less and free. I will almost always consent to seeing live music, assuming the headliner is not a whiny teenager/young adult/midlife-crisis survivor. Sporting event? Yes. Family time? Absolutely.

But anything that will include a bunch of people I have never met, to talk about who's who in the world of ballet or TMZ sounds as appealing as drinking tomato juice. The beauty of my current station in life is that invitations to such gatherings are few and far-between.

This morning I was reading an article in the newspaper about the grand-daughter of a certain man I believe I have written on before. To sum up her social position, this grand daughter, in her early 30's could buy and sell the city of Birmingham as easy as I could buy another cup of coffee. The term in the South is "Old money".

Well, apparently, as the article explained, the woman is now involved in tossing social gatherings, cocktail parties, and other events which make my soul cringe at the mere mention.

In the article, she was giving advice to people like me, who for one unfortunate reason or another have been conned into attending galas, receptions, what have you. How do you thrive in such a formal, awful setting?

One particular piece of advice caught my attention.

Do not bring up topics such as religion, politics, or money- nobody wants to talk about these. You should read the newspaper and bring up important things like headline news and celebrity gossip.

I wish I was making it up, but I am not. And apparently that's why I never get invited, thank God.

01 December 2010

The Comforting and Terrifying Truth

Yesterday, I had a couple of minutes at work to sit by myself and reflect on a few things. I have been praying through the psalms for the last year or so and I have been lingering in Psalm 119 for a couple of weeks. There is really so much there to think about, to be challenged with, and to be changed by in that poem.

What hit me yesterday as I looked out over a restaurant recovering from a busy lunch and becoming ready for an eventful night was the 105th verse, "Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path."

The beautiful thing about the psalms is that there seems to be a different angle to each and every word depending on where you are at in life. When we read thoughtfully and prayerfully, we see that there is so much more than information to be gained from reading our bibles. If we listen, we understand that God says something nuanced specifically toward our situation each day in the psalms.

We live in a world of seemingly endless possibilities. What career path will we choose? Who will we marry? When will we have kids? What will we do to support these kids? Where will we live? What 401k plan will we invest in? Where will we have Christmas dinner this year? Ham or Turkey? What restaurant will we eat at tonight? What tv show will we watch when we get home? What color socks will we wear?

The possibilities sometimes move from an exciting array of potentialities to a terrifying matrix of irreversible and endless decisions.

Here is where that simple verse in the psalm can give us great comfort. God has a path for our lives. There are specific steps to each of our daily grinds that he has set forth since he even set the earth on its axis. This path may well include hard times. This path will definitely include our missteps. This path will definitely include pain.

But the more we get to know God, the more comforting it is that he has set forth a path for us. We start to realize that his plans are good for us. We begin to see that he is in our corner, that he is on our side.

As terrifying as the steps may be, we can start to rest in the fact that a good God has called them into existence.

But we will walk in the darkness until we crack open the bible for more than just an information download. We need to hear from this Creator. We need a word from the one who calls all the shots. We need to learn how to express our frustration, anger, joy, contempt, thanksgiving and hard-won belief toward this God. This only comes when we start to really care about what he has to say to us on a day by day basis.

He has promised us that he will show us not possibilities but the realities about our lives. He himself will be the lamp that exposes our steps, bringing us from stumbling in the darkness to walking in freedom.

Is it a comforting thing that God orders your steps? Why or why not?

23 November 2010

Delia, the Loving Hound

When Delia was a puppy, I had to constantly scold her. "No, we do not chew on Casey's remote control." "No, we do not pee on Casey's carpet." "No, we do not jump up on Casey's bed." "No, we do not rip Casey's couch to shreds and make him throw it away in the dumpster." The first six or nine months I had her was characterized by a constant back-and-forth of encouragement and discipline.

I felt like I was constantly laying down the law, bringing the swift hand of justice over and over again.

If you have been around animals enough, you know that you can really read them if you look at their eyes. You can see the difference of ignorance and rebellion. She had so much ignorance in her eyes. Once, I scolded her for using my kitchen as her personal latrine and I could see that she was flat-out shocked that her course of action would upset me. The look of fear in her eyes, along with her shivering in shame convinced me that I had been a bit harsh in my discipline. She just did not know the right thing to do yet. Part of her problem was that she had no real understanding of how to live life yet. She was young and she was learning.

But another part, the part that was so frustrating, was that she would blatantly push the envelope. She was off the leash, looking back as I called her, and I could see her decide to disobey me. Delia had it in her little dog mind that my plans were not all they were cracked up to be. She doubted my goodness as a master. My plans could not be trusted and my commandments simply were not applicable to her life.

I could tell that even when she obeyed it was because she feared the consequences of disobedience.

But then something happened in her. She broke. After months of discipline, protection, provision, and care she decided that I was on her side. She moved past the place of dreading consequences or dismissing my words.

I could be wrong but I think she actually wants to obey me now simply because she knows she is mine. She obeys me naturally because she loves me and that is it. My plans are not up for scrutiny, for judgment, for evaluation. My plans are what she accepts as the best of all possible scenarios for her, whether that means she gets a treat, a walk, or a few hours of solitude while I am out waiting tables.

That does not mean she obeys me perfectly, because she certainly has her days. What it does mean is that she wants to listen to me. She loves me and that alone makes my word worth heeding.

But she had to be broke first.

Are you claiming ignorance? Do you just plain old want to fight God? Or are you broke? The answer just may lie in your motivation. Why do you care what God says about your life?