Friday, October 30, 2009

Stolen Pumpkins

Someone swiped the pumpkins from our front porch.

There’s a pumpkin thief in the 66062 area.

Why would someone steal our pumpkins? They were not particularly large pumpkins. They were not the $8 big boys; I think they were the $5 specials. They were not unique and home grown (I have a little trouble growing pumpkins, although I’ve tried every year for the last 15 years to grow a single pumpkin. Karla recently told me I needed to water the seeds that I planted. Wow, I wish she would have told me that fifteen years ago.). The pumpkins on our porch were Wal-Mart’s “you and a million other people in mind” pumpkins. They were not carved in the likeness of anyone famous or painted with fancy designs. In fact, if memory serves (how quickly one forgets the distinguishing characteristics of their pumpkins once they are gone) one of our pumpkins had its stem broken off. Who steals a maimed, five dollar Wal-Mart pumpkin? I don’t know who done it… but my pumpkins are gone.

Karla had gotten some hedge apples (not to be confused with road apples) from the tree behind the church and was placing them in a bucket to go alongside the pumpkins on our front porch when she made the discovery—there were no pumpkins on our front porch! She did not call 9-1-1 upon this revelation. She was just a little sad. If you know Karla I am not sure if she was sadder that the pumpkins were gone or that the $10 dollars she spent on the pumpkins was now wasted. In either case, she was sad. Me too.

On our nightly walk through the neighborhood, I noticed some of our neighbors still had pumpkins on their front porches. Obviously, the pumpkins bandits didn’t steal everyone’s pumpkins—just ours. The policeman down the road had several pumpkins on his porch, driveway, and practically everywhere. The fact that he parks his patrol car in the driveway and has a big, mean police dog in his backyard that barks at the sound of a flea jumping from his tail onto the ground might help stave off any potential pumpkin crooks from his yard. Still even neighbors that do not presumably “pack heat” did not have their pumpkins stolen. Just ours. Bummer.

While disappointing, I guess in the whole scope of life--not having pumpkins on our front porch is not too big of a deal. I’ve known people who have allowed far worse thieves steal far more. So keep watch for these thieves:

Don’t let bitterness steal your joy.
Don’t let doubt steal your hope.
Don’t let anger steal your peace.
Don’t let the past steal your present.
Don’t let circumstances steal your contentment.
Don’t let negativity steal your optimism.
Don’t let injustice steal your passion.
Don’t let a bad report steal your trust.
Don’t let gossip steal your godly conversation.
Don’t let greed steal your generosity.
Don’t let judgmental attitudes steal your zeal.
Don’t let hypocrites steal your faithfulness.
Don’t let laziness steal your service.
Don’t let hatred steal your love.

Don’t let our enemy, the great thief, steal the abundant life that our Savior, the Great Hope Provider, has for you!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hanging Out at O'Hare

I am beginning to write these words from the Chicago O’Hare Airport. Airports are great for many things (besides air travel of course). They are great places to overpay for a hamburger (oops, don’t tell Karla that I had a Big Mac for lunch. I’m not sure those tasty little morsels are in the “Mrs. Prince’s Approved Diet Plan”). They are also great places to pay for Wi-Fi. Who pays for Wi-Fi? Not this cheap, internet-less pastor. Even worse than charging for Wi-Fi, airports are places that actually charge for electricity. I could not believe that in Kansas City’s Airport one has to pay two dollars—TWO DOLLARS!!!—to plug in a laptop computer to an electrical outlet by a seat in the gate area. Are you kidding me? The notion of charging for the use of an electrical outlet was so upsetting to me, I nearly became Amish. Thomas Edison cannot be happy right now!

In spite of all that, airports are great places to watch people. As I type these words, across from me is sitting a man who looks a lot like Uncle Joe on the old, old Petticoat Junction T.V. Show. (I know I am dating myself right now, but the dude seriously looks like Uncle Joe. You have to be over 50 to remember and appreciate Petticoat Junction but it was a great show with the famous line in its theme song: “and there’s Uncle Joe, he’s a movin’ kind of slow at the junction, Petticoat Junction.”). I think the sleepy, snoring man with Velcro sneakers is a dead ringer for Uncle Joe (Probably a poor word choice of “dead ringer” since Uncle Joe has long, long gone to his Great Reward). Across from him is a man reading today’s edition of USA Today, he looks a little like Cheech (or is it Chong? Again I’m dating myself.) I can never remember who is who. There is a family with a little girl and boy. The boy is acting like the seat next to him is Indy 500 race track for his toy car. I don’t think the man that is occupying that seat is amused.

In my G-7 gate waiting area, there are people dressed in designer clothes and those of us dressed in sweatshirts. There are black people, white people, Latinos and Asian people. There are old and young people. There’s an old guy with a pony tail and a young lady without much hair at all. Interesting. There is a grey haired man who is with a young lady that I initially thought was his daughter, she is probably much younger than his daughter if he had a daughter, but from the way they are now “carrying on,” I think it is safe to assume that they are definitely not daddy and daughter. And I am pretty sure that their behavior is not acceptable, even if we were in an airport in Sodom or Gomorrah. Yuck! There are more people in this area than there are seats. It’s crowded in here. Grandpa and his wife (girlfriend?) are sharing a seat.

So what’s the point? There are tons of people in this airport. From all over the world, from different walks of life, from different socio-economic backgrounds—and all of them, I mean every single solitary one of them is loved by God.

As I sit here typing, I am also praying. I am praying that God will send someone to talk to the sleeping young man with his iPod blaring who seems quite oblivious to the things of the world. I pray that he is not oblivious to the things of God. And I pray that the business man wearing a Rolex and a very expensive suit will have someone share with him the love of Christ too. I’m praying for that family with the two kids, the Uncle Joe, Cheech and Grandpa and his young lady. And I am praying that God will give me an opportunity (maybe to someone in this waiting area or on the airplane) to be able to share the love of God.

I want to be like the Apostle Paul who said, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6). I think that applies to airport waiting areas, travel mates on the airplane and any place where we find ourselves. Could it be that God has arranged a Divine appointment for someone and you and Him?

Oh my, the gate agent has just announced that my airplane is not leaving from gate G-7 after all but will be leaving from gate G-1. I’ve got to run like O.J. through this airport (like in the Avis commercial… before all of his troubles… OK if you were counting that’s three times I dated myself in this brief article. UGH! I’ve got to get on my airplane.).

(Interesting editorial note: I prayed that God would use me on the airplane—that God would set up a divine appointment. My Bible was ready. My courage was mustered. Once on the airplane, I walked to my 14-C seat and guess who was the only person on the entire airplane that did not have a fellow passenger in the next seat? Me! I’m serious. The airplane was totally booked minus one seat. A big guy sat next to me for about 15 seconds and then moved forward to sit next to his wife. Maybe God thought I needed a divine appointment with sleep instead.)