Sunday, April 2, 2017
“Face it, Flounder! You ___’ed up! You trusted us!”
Otter to Flounder in Animal House
Maybe it was memorizing the BSA motto as a Tenderfoot – “Be Prepared!” – and getting a little blue NRA wallet certificate for rifle safety as required for the merit badge…or maybe it was that scene in Animal House…or maybe it was reading MLK, Jr.’s “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart” in Strength to Love after doing some exegesis on the “rod and staff” in Psalm 23 juxtaposed to Matthew 10 and John 10…or maybe it was that night about 30 years ago at McD’s on Troost in KCMO when I didn’t do anything when I could have stopped a stick-up by not playing pseudo-innocent bystander and continue to have nightmares about the faces of those children filled with fear and dread because no one stepped up to protect them from savages…or maybe it was…
Maybe it was Jimmy Carruthers. Jimmy was the toughest guy in Forty Fort High School. He was a senior and I was in 8th grade when he taught a lesson to me that remains a lot more valuable than those French classes with Miss Pettibone though she was a real…
Let me explain.
Everybody from 7th through 12th grades were in the same building back then before consolidating into Wyoming Valley West; and Jimmy kinda liked or endured me because I delivered the morning papers to his family.
Well, another senior, Don Houck, hated me for some reason. While you may some suggestions, I mean his family wasn’t even on my paper route. But he hated me; and one day as I just got on my bike to ride home, he straddled my front tire and said he was going to beat the ___ out of me.
Before he knew what hit him, Jimmy swept in, pulled him off my bike, and beat the ___ out of him.
Don Houck never bothered me after that.
Actually, he kinda ran away whenever he saw me.
Getting back to the knockout, I’ll never forget Jimmy saying to me after he didn’t play pseudo-innocent bystander, “I am going to teach you how to fight. So the next time, you’ll be able to take care of yourself; and just like I did for you, you will help someone someday who is getting picked on by some bigger ___.”
Jimmy didn’t use the word “bully” back then; but I think that is what he meant.
I think he was telling me that I needed to learn how to fight not only to protect myself but to protect the more vulnerable and weaker and afraid and naïve from bullies.
So while I don’t know what or who it was for sure – O.K., looking back and now and into the future, I think it was God – I’ve never liked bullies.
I’ve never liked predators.
As that thought to conviction to passion to practice has evolved, I’ve taken on the lion as my favorite symbol for caring for family, friends, and others. Coupling it with Psalm 23, Matthew 10, John 10, and everything that Jimmy Carruthers taught me back in 8th grade along with other influences along the way, I’ve taken that BSA motto and built upon it so I can not only pick up my rod and staff to guide and nurture gently but also to beat away and, if necessary, beat down bullies and predators.
It’s a calling.
It’s the calling that keeps America safe.
It’s the calling that keeps the innocents and non-combatants and naïve and non-Biblical pacifists and the oblivious-to-danger safe.
Most people can’t keep themselves safe.
They need somebody else to do it for them.
They need undershepherds to the Good Shepherd who are willing to
to pick up their rods and staffs to guide, nurture, beat away and, if necessary, beat down bullies and predators.
If you have that calling, this one’s for you.
It means you’ve heard His call to undershepherding.
It means you’ve followed His lead and made this decision: “I will give up my life voluntarily to save the sheep from wolves.”
If it’s not your calling and it’s so obviously not for most people who cower in the face of threat and wish it/them away and even recoil at those who pick up the sword and shield and rod and staff and…to protect them as if the undershepherds are as bad as the wolves, it’s important for you to know about that calling because it’s necessary to protect and beat away and, if necessary, beat down people who are so vulnerable to bullies and predators.
Even if you’re not called to take on the wolves in this world, you’ve got to acknowledge the need for undershepherds because, as Jesus warned as well as counseled, bullies and predators are always hiding and hovering around to pounce upon the sheep and “ravage” them.
I guess it’s true: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
I’m called to be an undershepherd; and I think that’s been confirmed by me doing it since ordained to it on May 8, 1977.
While I’ve made a lot of mistakes and sinned a lot along the way and have never hidden my humanity in need of His saving divinity, I’ve become more and more and more convinced that the old BSA motto is increasingly important in these days of increasing assaults by the wolves at their master’s command.
March 6 and 28, 2017 come to mind.
The Belvidere Starbucks was robbed at gunpoint on March 6 at 9:49 p.m.
Two males in hoodies just came in, pointed their handguns at the cashier and left with cash mostly from the jar of tips.
I confess I loathe bullies and predators.
I’m like that Buddhist from that renowned religion of pacifism who said shortly after 9/11 that he’d have no problem pulling the trigger on somebody like Osama bin Laden.
I’m like Bonhoeffer, that gentle Lutheran pastor and professor who conspired to assassinate Hitler and hung for it, who said it’s not enough for Christians to bandage the wounds of those victimized by a madman who’s gotten behind the wheel of a motorcar but to do everything in their power to remove the madman from the wheel of the motorcar.
When my wife and I go shopping – rather when she goes shopping and I stay in the car – I often say I hope one of those demonic dirtbags who victimize old ladies and men in parking lots come to our car while I’m waiting for her; not because I’m looking for a fight but because I’d rather they take on me than someone who isn’t prepared or inclined or called to beat away and beat down wolves, bullies, and predators.
Indeed, undershepherds live to take on wolves.
Anyway, I was in that same Belvidere Starbucks on March 28.
I arrived about 8:00 p.m. because I had to pick up my wife at the airport around midnight and I knew I needed some caffeine to make it.
Two cops came in after me.
We waved then greeted each other because I’m one of their chaplains.
I sat where I always do – where I can see everybody coming in and going out and nobody can sneak in behind me.
The two cops sat in similar position in another part of the shop.
While it’s not PC to profile, everybody does it along with lawyers who often complain about it in lawsuits but do it shamelessly and intelligently and necessarily when assembling a jury.
Really, when was the last time that a Welsh Presbyterian committed a terrorist act while yelling Allie-Akbie-Walleye-Illie-Weebie-Chili-Beebie something?
So this guy comes in who fits every profile of a miscreant.
He walks around and cases the joint.
I timed him at just under 60 seconds.
He sees the cops.
He sees me and we lock eyes because I’m not afraid because I’m prepared and inclined and called.
Immediately, after walking around the whole place and seeing us, he asks one of the cashiers, “Where’s the washroom?”
Really, I mean there’s a gas station and WalMart just around the corner where it’s a lot easier to drop a load and move on.
Well, that guy who didn’t look or act anything like Taylor Swift or Beyonce or their gender counterparts must have the quickest metabolism in the world because he went into and out of the washroom in less that 10 seconds and left while looking at the cops and me.
The cops were alert and ready.
I think I was alert and ready.
Everybody else in the place was oblivious.
There are lots and lots and lots of sheep in the world…and wolves.
Fortunately, there are undershepherds who are willing to step up to the plate and bat away the wolves before they ravage the sheep.
Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, a movie based on a book about legendary Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle, includes one of the best expositions – frankly, I’ve never encountered anything better in any book or with any professor – of Psalm 23, Matthew 10, John 10 and related undershepherding texts; especially in the lesson/warning/counsel of Wayne Kyle to his sons: “There are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. Some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world…they…[don’t]…know how to protect themselves. Those are the sheep…Then you’ve got the predators who use violence to prey on the weak…wolves…and then there are those blessed…with an overpowering need to protect the flock…who live to confront the wolf…sheepdogs.”
About seven or eight years ago, I talked with a patriot in Sundance, Wyoming. We talked about those around the world and even in America who would destroy us. Then he said something to me that I will never forget about the need for undershepherds to be prepared and inclined to fulfill His call in their lives. While the actual figures can be debated, he was persuasive: “Always remember that only 3% of the Colonists were actively involved in the American Revolution.”
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who guides and protects the flock.
Jesus has called undershepherds to model their guiding and protecting after Him.
Undershepherds care more about the safety, health, and welfare of others than themselves.
They get it from Him: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will leave the sheep because they aren’t his and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he is merely hired and has no real concern for the sheep…[but]…I lay down my life for the sheep…I lay down my life voluntarily…I want to do it because my Father has given this command to me.”
I guess it all comes down to this.
Sheep aka most people are oblivious.
There are bullies and predators and wolves in the world.
Undershepherds intercede by the call of God to prevent the bad guys from bruising, beating, and butchering the good guys.
Thank God for those prepared, inclined, and called to be obedient because, without them, the wolves run wild.
The only way to insure safety and security for sheep is for those undershepherds to risk theirs.
“Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone and there’s a cross for me!”
It’s an old hymn with a saving reminder from the Master: “If anyone is going to follow Me, that person must deny self, pick up the cross, and, then, follow Me.”
Blessings and Love!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!