The first time you meet George and spend a few minutes with him,
you come away with conflicting impressions.
He’s brilliant. He’s almost got sincerity down pat.
He talks big money, but has scotch tape holding his glasses together,
and has to push his car to start it.
He knows a lot about everything.
He has some good sounding ideas.
He can create excitement and mistrust at the same time.
and the oddest part is this: You kinda like him.
His idea the day we met him was a chain of restaurants
called “Misty and Jack’s Family Picnic”.
The decor would have white trellises,
with artificial climbing vines, picket fences, flowers, etc..
We had the name value at that time,
and had been looking around for a way to exploit it.
Of course George had that all figured out ahead of time.
He knew what buttons to push.
He told us the seats should just be comfortable enough,
but not so comfortable that people would sit around all day
taking up tables.
He had invented a way to make pizza in a microwave
and have it come out just like oven baked.
Naturally I came up with my usual type of suggestions,
like a chicken place called “Chicken In A Casket”.
We could serve them on their backs
in black cardboard caskets with a red lining.
We could have plastic toothpicks
made in the shape of little white crosses,
and stick them in the top of the chicken for decoration.
Unlike most mental cases, George had a sense of humor.
He got the jokes.
He had us set up a dinner party at our house
to meet a potential investor who just by accident was a psychiatrist.
A high profile local shrink.
The psychiatrist was nuts, too.
All through dinner he psychoanalyzed me in front of everybody.
He told me everything he thought I did wrong in my life, and why.
He ruined the party, showing off his shrink ability at my expense.
I kept my cool for the sake of everybody else,
but as the guests were filing out the door,
I said to him, “I bet you don’t get invited back to many parties”.
He was shocked, and asked me why I would say something like that.
I told him how he had behaved and he said a real shrink thing to me.
He said: “You handle your hostilities well”.
I felt like pulling his lower lip up over his head.
George was one of those loud talkers.
He’d be sitting with us at a restaurant table,
conversing at a level that could reach everybody in the room.
He was an actor playing to the back row.
He used a lot of phrases like: “My people…” “My people are loyal…”
“We’ve leased the entire top floor for our offices, etc..”
His office was a twenty year old Chevy.
There was a recently divorced waitress working in our club,
who talked a lot about marrying a rich guy.
She was going to find one, you just watch.
Goldie was money hungry, a little more than most of us.
She could hear George talking about his people
and his big deals all the time.
A month later they were married
and moved into the most expensive penthouse in town.
The marriage lasted about a month,
until Goldie and the landlord realized
that the rent check was going to bounce.
George could discuss any subject like an expert.
I’m sure his IQ was off the chart, but his IQ wasn’t running the show.
I wanted brochures.
He knew the name of every fancy type font.
He sent what he called a rough contract to me in Nashville.
I took it to a friend, who was a law professor at Vanderbilt,
who said the contract was excellent legal work.
We didn’t see George for a few years
and then one night he was on the Channel 9 News.
They interviewed him as a scientist who had invented a coffee substitute.
I said to Misty, “Isn’t that Postum?”.
Another year or two, and there he was,
being interviewed on Channel 9 again.
He was wearing a white lab coat, and was introduced as a local scientist
who had discovered a particle smaller than an atom.
They asked him how he had done it when nobody else could,
and he said something so stupid
I thought a hook would come out and pull him off.
He said: “Nobody else was looking for anything that small.”
The reporter said, “That’s amazing!”
I ran into that psychiatrist a while later
and asked if he knew what George was up to lately,
and he said: “He’s a pathological liar”.
Yeah, but we liked the liar better than the doctor.
(From February 28th, 2015. A look back.)
It’s a cool gray rainy day here, a transitional day,
with the remnants of Winter and early signs of Spring.
Standing under the edge of our carport
I can see almost a mile of tan fields and lines of trees,
until the landscape gets lost in the mist.
The trees and Spanish moss are moving with the breeze,
as are the flags on our street.
These are mostly World War Two people
and that kind of patriotism doesn’t go away,
even though the nation has changed over their lifetime.
I didn’t like Florida for a long time after I landed here.
The palms annoyed me.
They were foreign and reminded me that I wasn’t home;
that this was all temporary and I didn’t belong here.
I could go to almost anywhere up north and not feel like an outsider,
but Florida felt unreal… like a movie.
As I stood just out of the rain today and took in the palms,
the giant oaks in rainy-day colors,
and the Spanish Moss like graceful fringe on a gown,
it occurred to me that I like it.
When did that happen?
I still love Buffalo with it’s four seasons
and the energy in the air,
but it’s mostly the Buffalo in my memory.
The last time we visited there,
I enjoyed it, but I had a sense of being outside looking in.
The world has changed so much
that maybe we all feel a little like strangers at times,
but this subtropical place has sneaked up on me
and it’s started to look right.
Maybe I’m home…
or as close as I’ll ever get.
Saturday afternoon, through no fault of my own,
I found myself being patted on the butt by the Disney turnstile.
I had already been forced to memorize “Goofy 746-118B”
under threat of never seeing my car again.
I tried to get back out through the turnstile,
but Misty and our guest took me by the ears,
and dragged me, sobbing, into The Magic Kingdom.
The music of a 200 piece rock band
was being magically forced through a 3-inch loudspeaker.
At a lunch counter we stood in line for a while,
and we were abruptly awakened by a teenage counter girl.
She glared at us silently, waiting for our order.
They must have been out of Mouseburgers,
because all she gave us was a small cardboard box
containing three small cardboard hamburgers.
“The one on top is ‘without sauce'”, she said.
That was true. None of them had sauce.
I was startled to find she could talk.
At the first big show,
there were several hundred of us waiting in the theater lobby
We were jockeying for position.
A young hostess with the microphone had been waiting for this.
‘LAY-DEEZ AND GEN-TUL-MEN”,
she screamed into the P.A. system, which was set at number ten.
A lady in front of me rolled her eyes and collapsed to the floor.
To my left, a businessman clutched his chest
and flung himself over the railing.
A child’s voice cried, “I didn’t know the Lord was a lady!”
“YOU ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE WITHOUT ME,
so you might just as well stand there and listen to what I have to say!”
The meek dropped like flies all around us.
“When I see fit to open the doors you will quickly move into the theater
and hurry to the opposite end of the room,
dragging your dead and wounded!
There will be no eating, drinking, smoking…
no talking, no flash cameras, no holding hands, and no giggling!
All right! You may now march into the auditorium
in a quiet orderly manner.
We hope you enjoy our presentation.”
Inside, another starlet took over.
She was good, but she couldn’t top her ugly sister out front.
She sort of sang her speech:
“Immediately upon the conclusion of our presentation
you will exit swiftly to the left of the herd.
Do not touch or lean on the railings!
They were only constructed to maintain discipline…
blah blah blah oral hygiene and regular dental care.”
After the show I said:
“How ’bout a nice relaxing boat ride back to the parking lot?
Fun’s fun, but I’m worn out!”
The ferry captain waited till we were away from shore
to do his number on us.
He never once stopped mumbling over the mike,
which sounded like a giant toilet paper tube.
Not one word was in any known language.
It sounded like a Winston Churchill speech played backwards.
His volume was a couple of decibels above the point of pain,
and passengers were leaping ecstatically overboard.
At the main exit we were divided into squares,
and loaded onto people movers.
The conductress of the tram was armed with a microphone.
“IF THERE ARE MORE THAN FIVE OF YOU IN A SEAT,
WE ARE NOT GOING TO MOVE!’
A man behind me said:
“We just got here and they’re threatening us already!”
I said; “Yes. Isn’t it great?”
“IF THAT CHILD IS MORE THAN THREE YEARS OLD,
HE WILL HAVE TO GET OFF YOUR LAP!”
I got off Misty’s lap.
“If you drop a package, a baby, or if your hat blows off
we are NOT allowed to stop!”
The tram began to move.
“We will pass throught the Happy, Dopey, Grumpy,
and Freaky sections of the parking area!
We have twelve thousand cars parked here,
and if you miss your section we can NOT take you back!
So, Lots o’ luck. Ha ha.”
“This is our first stop.
Grumpy people exit quickly to the driver’s right!
Goofy people exit to the left!”
We exited to the right.
We were grumpy people.
THE BALLET EXPERIMENT.
Business was off at the ballet.
The theater manager was sharp enough to realize
that not everybody likes the ballet.
Some people like trombone playing.
He did an extensive talent search
and found a ballerina who could play the trombone.
He offered her big bucks if she could learn to do both at once.
The house was packed on opening night.
The ballerina danced “Swan Lake” brilliantly,
playing the trombone all the way until the last act,
which called for a pirouette
and a seventh position trombone lick at the same time.
She tripped over another swan,
blew her teeth to the audience,
and did an ad lib five minute pain dance.
I know this story is true because I was that ballerina.
When my Dawn Breakers vocal quartet,were recording for a Detroit label,
we stayed at an old hotel called The Barlum.
A lot of traveling show biz people stayed there.
I found it had a long closed penthouse nightclub with a white grand piano.
I was up there alone writing songs each night
and enjoying the view of the city lights.
Misty and I were just coming off being homeless,
when a couple of musicians who had always snubbed us
asked us to fill in on their gig
because they had something better to do for two nights.
It was in Hialeah near the race track
and a winner came in and tipped us $100.
We almost passed out!
That was like $1,000 then.
I wrote, arranged, and conducted the music
for a government documentary film about The Everglades,
called “Million Acre Playground”.
It was good experience watching the film
and getting the live band to synchronize with the scenes.
I went to the premier in Ft. Lauderdale and sat through
it just to see my name fly by in the credits.
Starting out, we couldn’t afford a Hammond B-3 organ,
so Misty got a Wurlitzer and tinkered with it.
She got the keys to pop like a Hammond by putting a switch halfway on.
The audiences liked to see the sparks fly in the back of the organ.
Over forty years ago
we were driving in heavy traffic down a six or eight lane highway
near the Pentagon.
There was a small injured dog trapped in the median.
When I could stop a few miles later I called the police
trying to get help for the dog.
The cop said. “We ain’t allowed to shoot ’em.”
Nothing I could do.
Now, four decades later, I still remember that little dog,
and the look on his face, and I still feel somehow guilty.
The teacher said, “What is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?”
I said, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
* * *
“Bewitch me, darling. Bewitch me.”
“I’ll bewitch you in a minute. I’m busy.”
* * *
A group of rabbits walking backwards is a receding hare line.
* * *
I don’t know why the doctor gave me an anti-depressant. ..
unless it’s because I had my hands around his throat.
* * *
I’m getting crows feet, but somehow my shoes still fit.
We were not recording stars,
and had no idea we would ever have hit records.
We were just three Florida musicians, Misty, me,
and our guitar player Doug Tarrant,
who somehow wound up in the north country in December.
Our booking was at the Black Bear Lounge in the Hotel Duluth.
Our dog, Brubeck, accompanied us on the tour.
He looked like a Jack Russell Terrier,
but he wasn’t anything you could pin down.
Brubeck would not eat dog food.
He would eat cat food
or a foul smelling liver and garlic concoction that Misty cooked for him.
He would also eat complete motel mattresses,
medium sized linoleum floors, and my better clothes.
We loved him!
Misty felt a need to dress Brubeck up like a rich lady’s poodle.
He would be led through the lobby wearing a leopard print dog coat,
a hat, and four yellow boots,
at least one of which was always turned around
with the toe facing grotesquely backwards.
He would be shaking a rear leg trying to get rid of it.
This gets worse.
The hotel had a classy restaurant which was below ground level.
The sidewalk and snow covered grass
were exactly at eye level with the lunch crowd inside.
The place was packed with business people enjoying their food,
when Misty’s legs appeared in the far right window,
then the leash,
and finally what looked like a dog in a pimp suit.
The pimp dog went right up to the restaurant window
and proceeded with a long overdue bowel movement.
Misty, totally embarrassed at being the focus of every eye in the crowd,
tried her best to look like she’d never seen this dog before in her life.
It didn’t work, and Brubeck went earnestly on and on.
Then she made it worse by trying to drag him away while he was still going.
A lot worse!
The lunch hour business dropped off abruptly after that.
Added blessing always brings added responsibility, so:
1) Stop complaining. Happiness doesn’t come from getting what you want; it comes from recognizing and enjoying what you have. So keep a positive attitude and be grateful every day. Rudyard Kipling said, ‘Don’t pay too much attention to fame, power, or money. Someday you’ll meet a person who cares for none of these, and then you’ll know how poor you are’.
2) Stop assuming. When you see your neighbors buying new furniture, taking expensive holidays, and driving the latest car, does something stir inside you to do the same? Be careful; just because someone appears to be in similar circumstances to yours doesn’t mean anything. They might earn twice as much. On the other hand, they may be in debt up to their ears or three-quarters of the way to bankruptcy or a divorce court. Stop making assumptions and trying to be like somebody else.
3) Stop withholding. Bruce Larson said, ‘Money is another pair of hands to heal, feed, and bless the desperate families of the earth. In other words, money is my other self’. But that’s only true if you’re willing to part with it. Money is like manure: If you let it pile up it stinks; if you spread it around it helps things grow. Money gives you options the less fortunate can only pray for. And one more very important thought: How you see your money – that it is all God’s -and how you use His resources that He entrusted you with- will be asked on the Judgement Day. “I was hungry, did you feed me …… Matthew 25:34-46
“THE FOOL says in his heart “There is no God.””This designation goes for those who doubt God’s sovereignty as well as those that deny him. Either he is sovereign, or He is not God. Therefore when we become so preoccupied with and dismayed by circumstances and certain people that we doubt God’s ability to Handel things in His own way, and in His own time, then we, too are fools.
How much of our ambition is for the glory of Jesus Christ, and how much is for our own glory !
And yes preachers and singers need to ask ourselves prayerfully that question at least as much as others should
Are we content to fade into obscurity if that best honor Jesus Christ. Here is the observation of John the Baptist on that issue, “He must increase, I must decrease.” These were unselfish spoken sincerely. Yet when John was thrown into prison (and later murdered) , he was so discouraged that he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he really was the Messiah or should they look for another!
Did Jesus use this opportunity to criticize John? No. He reminded John of the miracles he had done, and said the person who is not offended in him is blessed. Do we sincerely want to be blessed by God? Then we must seek glory for our selves. Does that mean we should not look for a spouse, a job, health, or better ways to serve God?
This is where the holy spirit should be invited into the situation, Because the Bible is not specific about any of these matters for me or you.
How much we should increase and how much we should push for our gifts and abilities to be valued should be on ongoing matter of prayer. Frankly , I try to “pray through” about such matters of great importance. This means to pray until we have the peace (or lack of peace). of God regarding a particular person or circumstance , and how and where we should proceed.
David in the Old Testament and Paul in the New Testament got that kind of guidance time after time. So have I and many Christians regarding a wife or about taking a particular pastorate or not, etc.
How good it is to get other sincere and Godly people to pray with us about matters that are very important to us, when possible. Then God will either give us the grace/favor from Him to endure the situation, or he will lead us into a more pleasant one. In my own life, as with John the Baptist and probably all followers of Jesus , I am sure that very difficult circumstantiates have caused me to draw closer to him and more dependent on him.
The Russian writer Solvents said he blessed his prison walls, for there he became a Christian. As we draw neat to Jesus for the first time or more deeply , our ambition will be that, our ambition will be that he may increase, whether we increase or not in the sight of others!
Special Message From Rhonnie Scheuerman: Bob and I have many in our family that live in Florida. As I was brought up in Florida, I also have a lots of friends there. My heart aches with them with the storms that will be there starting Saturday. We have been praying to Jesus, and thankful for many people who have contacted us by phones and sent e-mails to us, Rhon
Dear Friend, Texas is reeling from the effects of Hurricane Harvey, and now Hurricane Irma is bearing down on our nation’s southeastern coast. Billy Graham Rapid Response Team [Left] chaplains pray with a woman in South Texas who is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Chaplains deployed while the hurricane was still churning and will stay in Texas as long as they’re needed. They are also standing by to deploy as Hurricane Irma threatens the Caribbean and the U.S.
The devastation these massive hurricanes bring is hard to fathom, and my heart goes out to the millions of people who are enduring tragedy. We ask you to join us in praying for them.
We have over 350 crisis-trained chaplains already in Texas or ready to come as authorities allow us farther into disaster zones. They will continue bringing the compassion and healing love of Jesus Christ to shattered lives and communities for many weeks or even months.
Texas is the second-largest state in America, and I plan to spend much of October focused on going to seven cities across the state on what we are calling Decision Texas: The Lone Star Tour. Those plans were made long before the hurricane, and they are as vital as ever.
President & CEO
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The Bible says: ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’ (vv. 15-16). Dr. Tony Evans says that God’s grace is like an ambulance coming to treat you when you’ve a medical emergency. First, it dispenses immediate grace to your most serious symptoms. Then they slide you into the ambulance, which is equipped with more grace – more medical facilities to deal with your problem. Then the ambulance races to the hospital where even more grace awaits. And once you’re admitted, the hospital keeps dispensing grace until your need has been addressed and you can go home again. In the words of John Newton’s beloved hymn: ‘‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home’. One day Jesus heard our emergency call: ‘Lord, be merciful to me a sinner’. He came to earth, found us dying in sin, and reached down to save us. And as our High Priest, He transported us from where we were to a place that has all the grace we’ll ever need until we go home with Him. One day God will sit on a throne of judgement where there’ll be no more grace, but until that day He’s seated on a throne of grace. So anytime you fail or falter, you can ‘approach the throne of grace with confidence’ and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Prayer Heavenly Father,
thank You for your GRACE that sustains me every day.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen