To appreciate the ability to learn and sing and pray and participate in worship, try getting by without it some time.
It must’ve been something to watch and hear The Baptizer preach. Mp3s hadn’t been invented. There was no such thing as mics and amps. Those old boys had lungs of leather and voices that could crack rock.
I was fortunate to have been around one of those throwbacks as a high school kid and into early manhood. At the time I stood looking at one in particular with quirked mouth, wondering what made him tick. Every time he was within a block, I could hear him coming. It isn’t that he was trying to be noticed; he just had a deep booming voice that echoed even when he tried to whisper. Sotto voce? Not him. I don’t remember his name, but I’d know that voice anywhere.
“What’s with him? Doesn’t he know there might be someone trying to sleep in the next county? I bet his car doesn’t need a horn, right? C’mon, what’s his major malfunction?” My inside voice was saying something else: “He ain’t got all his punkin seeds planted, if ya know what I mean.”
Finally somebody with a few more years on ’em and a little more wisdom than I had decided to clue me in. Turns out this craggy-faced, nurly-haired, raw-boned big old man who never went anywhere dressed other than in a black suit and tie and an old overcoat learned to preach the Gospel like The Baptizer had. No mics. No advance press. No church building. His pulpit was the roiling, people-clogged, diesel-choked, wine-soaked street corners of the city.
He must’ve been something to hear when he was younger because he was something to hear when he was an old man. Yeah. It was almost like The Baptizer had walked through the swinging doors and out onto the dusty, oil- and sin-soaked streets of now. The message was pretty much the same . . .
“Change your life. God’s kingdom is here!”
I write to a very diverse audience. There have only been two rules for those wanting to be 2nd Cuppers:
- Respect the views and opinions of others.
- Do your own thinking.
Some of us go back almost 50 years to high school. Some of you shake your head at much of what I write since I’m conservative in my thought and Christian in my beliefs. Yet you stay with me because you know I honor the two rules above. You know I love you, that I’m your friend and will back you when I believe you’re right.
Three times I was within a few halting breaths of dying. Twice I spent six weeks experiencing what it’s like to stand right on the brink of starving to death.
I still remember the day I was able to just sit in church Sunday morning, drinking in the sights and sounds – and sensing in my spirit – of a normal worship service. It wasn’t a special service to them, but it was a life-changer for me.
That was the day I heard Jesus at my left ear: “Do you want to be healed?”
I look at things and people differently than before.
Old John, The Baptizer? The bigger-than-life old evangelist all in black? Their message was simple and direct. God can change who and what you are from the inside-out if you’ll let Him. But it’s always on His terms. You’re not smart enough, rich enough, cute enough, connected enough to bring your agenda in with you.
Ego can convert anything to it’s own use, even spirituality. John saw it out there in the Judean Desert. My evangelist friend saw it on the hustling-bustling city streets.
There isn’t a philosophy that survives unchanged when its bearer receives a real application of the forgiving, cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.
It’s not a creed nor a list of 47 rules to daily be checked off.
It’s new life. Fresh, free, forever.
That’s why I show up to participate in worship.
I’m not interested in The Show. I want the real thing.
Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby. And your heart knows the difference.
© D. Dean Boone, January 2015