Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Drought of Twenty-Eleven

For the sixth week in a row the sun beat down upon us. We were tired and parched believers in a dry and thirsty land. Just as a flower will wither and die without the rains, so do Christians need the praise and worship – the fellowship of the brethren – the hearing of an anointed word from a Man of God, lest said Christians suffer that same fate. And now another Sunday morning had rolled around.

For reasons of no consequence to this story Stephanie and I found ourselves without a home church to attend. By now it had been six weeks since we had attended Sunday Service, but for us the drought had started many weeks before, and so we did thirst.

...what I do know is that it rained today!

When you love God and realize he has a plan for your life, sleeping in and sitting around on Sunday morning is not an option for very long. And it had been too long. So we made the decision to visit a church that was recently started in an elementary school in our neighborhood. And we’re so glad we did.

The church is called Faith Church and it meets on Sunday mornings at 10 o’clock in the Auditorium of James L Dennis Elementary School. My expectations of church size were confounded when I rounded the corner to a parking lot full of cars. I was expecting about half as many.

The awkwardness of walking for the first time into a group of strangers was quickly allayed by smiling greeters at the door, and again (and again) by friendly people pointing the way to the coffee, the restrooms and the sanctuary (as it were). I even ran into someone I knew a few years back.

Most everyone was standing around visiting with friends so Stephanie and I chose seats and settled in. Almost immediately a guy walked up and said, “Hi, I’m Josh!” From what little research I had done on Facebook and on the church’s website I recognized Josh as the Pastor. And I was impressed at the genuineness and humility with which he introduced himself.

And then church started. And brother – it was CHURCH; the praise and worship, the anointed word from a Man of God, the fellowship after service (with ice cream, no less)!

Stephanie and I were both blessed beyond measure. The picture conjured in my mind was that of a cowboy riding his pony over the brittle, rainless ground, praying for the promise of a cloud and constantly scanning the horizon for a stream or a river. And then one glorious day, there it is – that oasis of water. And then the cowboy stands, arms outstretched to God in thanks, and falls straight backward into the life giving pool. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, the refreshing!

I don’t know if Stephanie and I will pitch our tent at this watering hole, followed by the building of a cabin and dreams of a larger spread, or if this is just a stopover on the trail to our final destination. We’ll look to the leading of the Holy Spirit on that. But what I do know is that it rained today!

Thanks Pastors Josh & Tiffany and Faith Church for the rain!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Power of the Pyramid

Things I Hate #127 - Amway!

It's not the products – don’t use ‘em, have no idea how good they are. I may be wrong, but I’ve always assumed the name Amway is a hybrid of the words "American" and "Way". But I’m an American, and I get most of my stuff at Wal-Mart. I had an Amway salesman once tell me I could save the gas of driving to Wal-Mart. “That’s ok,” I told him. “I’m headed there anyway for a new set of tires, some shotgun shells and one of those roasted chickens they have in a case up by the register.”

Oh, it's not because they don't have ammo or roasted chicken. And it’s really not the company itself either. I don’t know that much about it. What I hate about Amway is their way of doing business. Rightly or wrongly, Amway has the reputation of being one of the first and the biggest to apply that business model commonly known as the “pyramid”.

The concept is – you sign up to sell the products. Then you start signing other people up to sell the products. And guess what – you get some money for signing them up, AND you get some money when they sell the products. I gather the Amway salesfolk use the products, but does anybody ever really sell the products? Or do they just make their money signing up other people?

But that pyramid thing is still not what I REALLY hate. What I REALLY hate is how, when somebody gets involved in a sales-oriented situation like that, their family and friends become their prospects! Some of them even teach you in their training manual that you have a ready-made base of prospects - your family and friends.

Here’s how it happens. First you start noticing slight changes in the routine that is your friendship - subtle hints that something’s different. You aren’t spending as much time doing the friend things you used to do. Your conversations aren’t as light-hearted as before.

And then you get that all-telling invitation, “We’d like you guys to come over for dinner. We have something we want to share with you!” Oh, you've had dinner there lots of times, but never have you received a formal invitation. That pain you are experiencing in the pit of your stomach right now is what it feels like to realize you’ve just morphed from friend into prospect!

I just hate it when a friend tells me he's signed up for the latest greatest new home-marketing product. See, I don't have that many friends to spare.

If this is the American Way I think I’ll sign up for EgypWay. EgypWay may not have roasted chicken either, but at least their pyramids are real!