Holy Bug Zappers

My Grandmother use to say, “Where there’s light, there’s bugs.” By that she reminded me that if you start a good work, there would always be someone to criticize what you’re doing. So don’t get discouraged if people are complaining.

That’s great in theory but I’d also like to get a hold of the person who first said, “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but names will never hurt me.” He was wrong. Words wound.

My Grandfather, John D. McKeel

Let me tell you a story about my grandfather, “Papa.” Papa and Meemaw lived in Oklahoma City. They had a giant backyard (long but skinny) with a couple of great cherry trees to play in and lots of horned toads for grandsons to catch. We loved playing in the backyard but one-day Papa’s neighbor brought home a dozen beehives. He thought it would be great to raise them in his backyard. The bees might have been great for the cherry trees but they weren’t great for barbeques or little boys.

Papa went and talked nicely with his neighbor who could have cared less. He was a greasy-haired young man who always had a cigarette dangling from his mouth who only owned torn t-shirts. He laughed and slammed his door.

Papa checked with the city and yes, you couldn’t raise cattle in the backyard but there was no ordinance pertaining to bee keeping. As strange as it sounds Papa’s neighbor was fully within his rights to keep the hives back there.

Time stretched on and things only got worse. The gruff neighbor didn’t even share his honey! And then Papa got an idea. He went to the hardware store and bought several electric bug zappers and lined them up on the fence that divided their yards. I can still remember the little grin that use to cross Papa’s face every time we heard a “crack!” “Pop!” or “Sizzle.”

The church isn’t full of perfect people. In fact we have a few that call for more grace than you might expect. There aren’t any “Holy Bug Zappers” so that tells me God expects us to act otherwise. Here are a few rules I’ve found helpful when I’m called on to show a little extra patience with people.

When dealing with problem people, don’t become a problem yourself. (See the Golden Rule for a further explanation.)

  1. When you are being drawn into a conflict, draw closer to God!
  2. Even though that person may express himself in an annoying way, listen to what he has to say. He might just be right!
  3. The object is not to “squash the bug,” or run them away. The goal is always “transformation.” (See Romans 12:1, 2.)
  4. God doesn’t call on us to only love the nice people. We are to love people – stingers and all!

Changing Times

I can’t keep up with it all: MP3s, JPEGs, Memory sticks, G3 is now G4. (Were there ever G1s or G2s?) Do you remember vinyl records? You know those big, round things that look like black CDs? Oh that’s right CDs are now DVDs or are they Blue Ray? The conversation goes on: Beta, VHS, cassettes, and Eight Track. It seems the one constant is change!

The other day I was driving up the hill to Canyon View and I noticed Epiphras riding up Balboa on his donkey. Frankly, I thought he looked pretty good for a two-thousand-year-old man. He waved at me and I rolled down the window. “I’m looking for the Church,” he said.

“Well, you’re in luck,” I told him. With a sweeping gesture I pointed to the building up on the hill and said, “That’s the church over there.”

“But that’s a building,” he said.

“Oh, of course,” I blushed, “that’s the church BUILDING. It’s where the Church meets. Would you like to come in?”

“Yes, thank you. It’s been a long ride from Colossae.”

We walked in and I showed Epiphras our facility. “What are those?” he asked.

“That’s the pulpit and that’s where we sit during services. You know, when the communion trays are passed.”

“The what?”

“You know the communion trays.”

He looked at me with a blank stare so I changed the subject. “We’re pretty modern here. I’m sure there have been a lot of changes in the last two millennia. Why we even use PowerPoint slides for our song service!”

Another blank look.

“Perhaps you would like to walk over to my office and have a soda. I’ll just put your donkey in the courtyard.”

Poor Epiphras looked so bewildered until we sat down in my study. I took out a directory and we began to talk about the members. Epiphras revived. His face lit up as we shared stories about the people and how the Gospel changed their lives. That’s when we discovered some things never change! It’s always been and always will be about the people and God’s unchanging love.

Chaos

 

John’s solo flight at age 15

When I was fourteen I worked at a little uncontrolled airport in Issaquah, Washington. During the week it was a dairy farm and on weekends the cows were penned up so sailplanes and skydivers could use the pastures as a runway. My job was to clean up the gliders, hook up tow cables and run along side them balancing their wings until they could get up enough speed to take off. I was working in exchange for flying lessons.

I didn’t really understand what “uncontrolled” meant until one fateful day the cows got out. Bessie and her cohorts charged out onto the runway/pasture just as a glider was coming in for a landing. At the very same time, the tow plane was landing from the other direction and a poor parachutist, on his very first jump, was coming down in the middle of it all. It was a sight to see!

Fortunately the tow plane pilot saw what was happening and pulled up in time to fly over the glider. Someone jumped into an antique Jeep and roared down the “runway” parting the bovine sea ahead of the unfortunate sailplane. Red and white sailplane landing, blue and white power plane flying straight up, poor terrified skydiver coming straight down and a very silly looking stampede of black and white milk cows racing in all directions.

Unbelievably, no one was hurt (although it did take a while to revive the parachutist after we dug him out from under his billowing white drape). No one will ever forget the chaos of that afternoon.

Does life ever seem that chaotic to you? People coming and going – demands on time, energy and those few precious moments you were saving? The fourth of the Ten Commandments says, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” This commandment recognizes people need time to stop, think and put everything back into perspective. Why wait for the weekend though? It’s time for a pause right now.

Welcome

Welcome to CanyonView Church of Christ

If you’ve followed www.JohnMcKeel.com in the past, you’ll notice a huge change in the format. For nearly 10 years I’ve been posting articles and pictures and movies about my life and family. The site was mostly a way for friends and family to keep up with the adventures Jan and I were having. The webpage was mostly a “vanity site.” Now that Santa Teresa (our 40 foot wooden sailboat) has found a home in San Diego Bay, and I’ve settled down working with my childhood congregation, the Canyon View Church of Christ, it’s time to reformat our website and this is my blog.

Jan and I live in San Diego and celebrate the joy of life together. I am the pulpit preacher for the Canyon View Church of Christ (you can hear my sermons here) and we have four grown children, five grandchildren, two cats (Phoebe and Lucky) and one mess of a terrier-dachshund named “Charlie.”   Some people believe Christians are basically boring people but I haven’t found that to be true. I think life is to be an adventure and it should be spelled with a capital “L” but you’ll learn more about that as you follow my stories. I hope you have fun and are challenged as you read.

Cheers!