Posted tagged ‘witness’

Mr. T and Gatorade

January 28, 2016

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

            Before Mr. T was a television star, and before Gatorade was the popular drink of choice among athletes, I experienced both.  Known to me as Mr. Turentine, this simple, kind old man loved kids.  When we talked about him, he was “Mr. Turpentine;” when we talked to him, he was Mr. T.

            A member of our large church when I was young, Mt. T was faithful in his attendance to services and church activities.  He enjoyed standing out in the foyer talking to people and sneaking candy from his pocket into the hands of young children.  His best suit was old and hung droopily on his medium build frame.

            He lived alone, owned no car, and was an eccentric individual.  He did not hold official positions in the church, though I recall him helping with custodial duties sometimes.  He was not one to be called upon for answers to faith or theology.  But he loved Jesus, and he loved children.

            Our church had a high school age baseball team in the summertime.  Most church leagues played softball, so our team was registered in a community recreational league.  Games were played at various locations across the city.  I loved baseball growing up and was good enough to be in the starting lineup during those elementary years.  But this was big-boy baseball.  I was a small 9th grader seeing my first ‘real’ curve ball, and one bop in the head proved my fear to be warranted!

            I did not get to play much, being among the younger boys, and being a ‘chicken.’  However, I did get on base a couple of times when the opposing pitcher could not hit my small strike zone. 

            We did have one faithful cheerleader who never missed a game.  His name was Mr. T.  No matter where we played, Mr. T found the bus route that would get him to our games, and he always brought a jug of Kool-Aid for us to drink.  At first I thought he used funny tasting water.  One of the older guys said that it was simply not sweetened.  He reasoned that Mr. T could not afford sugar, so he added salt instead!

            That was then.  We tried to be kind and not hurt his feelings, but it tasted awful, especially when we were expecting a sweet treat!

            Looking at it now, I don’t think Mr. T’s potion was a result of his eccentric ways or his lack of funds.  I genuinely believe he knew the effect sugar would have on athletes needing to replenish energy and lost fluids from perspiration.  I think he was providing us his own version of Gatorade, a sports drink that was not yet a staple across America in dugouts and on sidelines.

            In our large church Mr. T was well known and loved, but had no close circle of friends, no favorite people to sit with during fellowship meals, and was never an ‘up front’ person to be publicly noticed.  But he loved Jesus and he loved people, and he found a permanent place in my heart and memory. 

            By now he has long since reached his eternal home where he enjoys fellowship with Jesus forever.  I wonder if he ever knew what a blessing he was to others, and I wonder how long it took others like me to realize that fact, as well.

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The Stories We Tell

February 1, 2014

The Stories We Tell – By Steven J. Callis

We thought they were stories invented in the minds of our parents and grandparents, to help us realize how good life is today.  “Dad, I’m a senior in high school now, and I should not have to ride the bus to school.  Can I get a car?”  “Son, when I was your age I had to walk 2 miles to school in 3 feet of snow.”

In grandpa’s story, he made the same trek, but he was barefooted.  I did not know whether to believe those stories or not, but storytelling has been a gift handed down from generation to generation.  And 30 years from now the story will have changed somewhat, but it will be true:  “Son, back in 2014, I was stranded on the school bus overnight, in the middle of nowhere, in below freezing temperatures, and snow all over the ground!”

Our community is grateful especially to school teachers, administrators, school staff, and bus drivers who went above and beyond to keep our children safe.  Thank you!

I remember as a child asking my dad to tell me stories about when he was a boy.  Years later, my kids were asking me to tell them stories about when I was a boy.  Eventually, reruns were requested – –  “can you tell me the story about the time you…”

It is unlikely that a biography will be written about my life.  There will be no movie reels containing highlights and episodes of my glory days.  The sparse collection of awards and accolades will acknowledge a few accomplishments, but they will tell no stories.

However, the stories that were important enough to tell will live on in the hearts and minds of my children, along with the tales I related to them about my dad, and about my granddad.  Those stories would have little meaning to you, but they do matter to me; so they had to be told.

We all have stories to tell.  They may even be embellished a bit as we grow older and our memory of details fade.  But they are our stories, and they should be told.

In 1965, an epic film was released titled, “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” recounting the life of Jesus from birth to His Resurrection.  It is, indeed, a great story, but it becomes even greater (to me) when it includes the part about how He changed my life.  My children know the story, and now I have a granddaughter, and I can hardly wait to tell her my favorite story.

Aggression CAN Be Good

January 14, 2014

I conducted a quick, simple test a couple of days ago by entering the single word “aggressive” in my web browser.  With only two exceptions, the results pointed to something negative, such as how to handle an aggressive animal.  Many of the suggested articles either changed my search to “assertive” or compared the two terms.  I ran the same test for images, and without exception, the pictures were of mean or mad looking animals and people.  This certainly follows our society’s idea about aggression – assertion is okay, aggression is bad.

I have enjoyed watching the bowl games this year, and now we’re ready for the NFL playoffs.  I can just hear the coach before the game talking to his players, “Okay men, let’s go out there and be assertive!”  No, he wants his players to be aggressive on the football field; play to win.  And I believe Jesus has called us to an aggressive faith when He commanded us to go into all the world and make disciples.

The fisherman will have little success if he sits casually in his boat waiting for his trophy to leap into the bucket.  Instead, he uses many kinds of lures, fish finders, depth finders, rods and reels, time, and energy.  He is aggressive in his quest for a trophy catch.

Why not challenge ourselves to be aggressive in 2014.  Live an aggressive faith.  Practice aggressive outreach.  Be an aggressive witness for Christ.  It is not God’s will that anyone perish, but that all come to repentance; yet, how much longer will He wait?  Will we be desperate, deliberate, and aggressive for Christ?