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Archive for the category “Fast Food Christianity”

Looking Through The Windshield

“Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”  That saying for life was authored by Leroy “Satchel” Paige who was the greatest pitcher of the old negro baseball league.  I have wondered what that meant through the years but I think I know now after listening to a sermon recently.  An example was given about how we drive.  We look through the windshield when we drive.  We don’t concentrate on the rear view mirror.  Now there are times we glance at the rear view mirror to see what is behind us, but quickly we turn our attention to what is ahead of us.

Satchel Paige.jpg

I guess the part of Paige’s statement that I wondered about was “something might be gaining on you.”  I think about a runner who is competing in a race.  They may see another runner out of the corner of their eye but the good runners are just concentrating on going as fast as they can straight ahead.  If that runner turns their head to pick up someone behind them they lose speed.  Not only is speed lost but they have no control over the other person anyway.

The apostle Paul states in I Corinthians 15:24  “Don’t you realize that all runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.” The reason I am bringing up what seems to be such a basic thing is that in the race of life many of us aren’t focusing our thoughts to what is in front of us because our minds are on our rear view mirror.

Image result for close race photo

Dave Thomas was born in 1932.  When he was 6 weeks old he was adopted by a loving couple named Rex and Auleva Thomas.  When Dave was 5 his mother Auleva passed away.  As a child Dave was constantly moved from one place to another as his father traveled to find work.  A lot of his early childhood was spent with his grandmother, Minnie Sinclair near Kalamazoo Michigan.  She taught him the quality of treating people with respect and the importance of service.  Some of his favorite moments of his childhood was eating out with his father.  Dave and his father didn’t get to spend a lot of time together so those trips to a restaurant with him were very special.  When Dave was eight he had a dream of one day owning his own restaurant.  He studied  the restaurant business with dreams of pleasing his customers and having his employees happy with their jobs and him.

While Dave was in Knoxville Tennessee at the age of 12 he got a  job at the Regas Restaurant which was known as a fine dining establishment.   A dispute came up and Dave was fired.  It may have come to light that he wasn’t the minimum age to work there.   Dave vowed never to lose another job.  At the age of 15 his father found a job in another town.  Dave was working in Fort Wayne Indiana at Hobby House Restaurant owned by the Clauss family.  Dave made the decision that he was going to stay where he was.  He quit school to work at the restaurant full time.  It was a decision that Dave said was the biggest regret of his life.  Not that he went full time in the restaurant business but that he had to quit school.

At the age of 18 at the outbreak of the Korean War Dave enlisted in the US Army to have some choice in his assignment.  Since he had food production and service experience he requested assignment to the Food and Baker’s School in Fort Benning, Georgia.  After his stint there he was sent to Germany and was responsible for feeding 2,000 soldiers daily.  He rose in rank to a Staff Sergeant and in 1953 got his discharge  and headed back to Fort Wayne, Indiana and the Hobby House Restaurant.

In the mid 1950’s Colonel Harlan Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame came to Fort Wayne to meet and sell franchise ownership’s to qualified individuals.  At the time Dave was the Head Cook at the restaurant.  The Clauss family was not interested at first but Colonel Sanders persisted and eventually the Hobby House Restaurant became a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.  Through the years the Clauss family bought a few other franchise restaurants in the mid west.

Dave worked with Sanders giving him ideas for increasing brand recognition.  He suggested that the menu be reduced to emphasize their signature chicken dish. Dave also suggested among other things that Sanders appear in commercials himself which would help people associate with his brand.  Those successful ideas did not go unrecognized.  Dave was becoming somebody that people listened to.  When four other franchise stores in Columbus, Ohio that the Clauss family owned were failing Dave was sent to straighten out the problems.  Dave was so successful in their turnarounds that he ended up selling his part of the business back to the Colonel for 1.5 million dollars!

Meanwhile Dave was married and had a growing family of 3 daughters and a son.  He still carried that dream that he had at the age of eight and in 1969 he made the dream a reality by opening his first restaurant in Columbus Ohio!  One of his daughters was eight years old at the time and her name was Melinda Lou.  According to Dave her friends called her Wenda because they had a hard time pronouncing her name.  Dave decided to modify that nickname and named his new restaurant Wendy’s.

Wendy’s Restaurants expanded as Dave sold his franchises around the country.  Through it all Dave remained the humble man that he had always been.  When the business went into a slump Dave was summoned back to help with the commercials.  He appeared as a folksy character that was funny and likeable.  Dave’s face became recognized throughout the country but he always remained the same.  “I’m just a guy who cooks hamburgers” was what he said and believed.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/kOaO1a6IcJ4/hqdefault.jpg

Dave had many charities that were close to his heart that he supported.  One was helping the cause for adoption because it was so important in his life.  He also wanted to encourage kids to stay in school and not think that his success was based on dropping out.  Dave knew that he succeeded in spite of his lack of a formal education and not because of it.  In fact in 1993 at the age of 61, Dave was asked how he could tell people to go back to school when he was so successful as a dropout?  It inspired him to go back to school at Coconut Creek High School in Coconut Creek Florida.  “It wasn’t easy but I am very proud of it”, Dave stated after he earned his GED that year. He was so appreciative that he made a large donation to keep the program going!  Ironically his classmates voted him most likely to succeed.  They also voted him and his wife Prom King and Queen.  It was a full circle for Dave as he addressed a situation that he regretted for years but refused to let it stop him from reaching his dreams.  His is a story for all of us to follow.  I’ve found that the things that may be gaining on us are fear, doubt, and unbelief.  By keeping our eyes focused on the windshield and not concentrating on what’s behind us, like Dave’s story taught us, we too will find joy, peace, and purpose on the road to fulfilling God’s destiny for our lives!

 

Bless Me Lord

I have my membership card today
as I come to talk to you
The bless me club has benefits
so here’s my list for you

Lord give me of prosperity,
let troubles pass me by
so things run nice and smooth
until the day I die

I ask you Lord, bless my ideas,
my request here I will lay
so you will see my reasoning
and stamp it A-OK.

Bless also all my family
I know this is legit
It’s right here in this policy
that it’s a benefit

Now I’ll coast through the rest of life
then drive up to your gate,
having my card all ready
there shouldn’t be a wait

I discovered as the days went by
there were problems with my card,
for instead of being nice and smooth
my life was bouncing hard

I called up to the Lord real loud,
Lord, things aren’t getting through
Send someone down to make it right
so I am blessed by you

The Lord spoke to me gently,
In this life you have a choice
You can be in the bless me club
or listen to my voice

I want so badly to use you
but your thinking is in the way
Become an empty vessel
that I can use today

As you listen to my voice today
right here on bended knee
you’ll hear me pleading with you
take up your cross and follow me.

Then he said to them all: “If
anyone would come after me, he
must deny himself and take up
his cross daily and follow me.”

Luke 9:23

Swipe that Blessing!

Years ago when I was a senior in high school I got a job in a mens clothing department at a popular department store..  This was before they were doing the scanning like they do today.  The stock number of the item purchased was carefully put into the cash register.  The manager would get a long computer printout once a month.  He would let each employee know how many bad numbers they were responsible for.  The computer cash register at the time would take most of the numbers entered.  If the number was entered wrong it appeared on his end of the month list.  We also entered the customer’s credit cards on the computer cash register.  Sometimes the credit department number would show up on the screen after we entered their number.  At that point we called upstairs and a person actually talked to the customer.

In my corresponding high school class our teacher taught us the skill of counting back money.  The cash register would tell us how much to give the customer back, but we were trained to count the money back to them.  Suppose the amount was $6.65 and the customer gave me a twenty dollar bill.  I would say 6.65 out of 20.  They put their hand out and I counted back the change first.  $6.75 as I handed them a dime, $7.00 with a quarter.  Then the bills 8, 9, 10 as one by one I gave them dollar bills and finally and 20 as I finished the counting with a ten dollar bill.  The customer was always glad to have the money counted back.  It was a friendly service that took a little bit more time but made them feel like they were appreciated.  It also left a good feeling with them that they got back what they were supposed to.

Customer service is a lost art today.  Your change is normally slammed back to you.  “Your change is $13.62 and clump you have all of it change and everything.  Sometimes a machine will kick out your coin change while the cashier is hands you a pile of bills.  I guess it’s right. Her cash register said so.  Off you go with your purchases and a quite impersonal transaction.  I went to an auto parts store last week.  I was looking for one particular item.  I walked up and down most of the aisles and not a soul was there to help me.   The day before Easter I called the bank.  I just wanted to see if they were open and for how long?  Instead of a person who could answer my question in a second I got the dreaded machine.  The first thing it wanted to know was my account number.  When I didn’t comply it tried to get other information.  I thought I would just not say anything and maybe the machine would switch me to a real person.  Not so, the machine actually hung up on me.  This is a sample of high tech customer service we receive today.

Many companies confuse customer service with high tech service today.  As credit and debit cards abound these days it is so much easier to leave the cash behind.  Swiping a card is so much easier and convenient.  It’s also less painful.  There is something about giving that money away even if you are receiving things.  You think about how much you are spending.  With a credit card you just swipe and presto.  It is like in the casinos when you buy chips.  You start spending chips and forget that those chips are actually money.

Credit cards offer convenience, simplicity, and speed.  Other cards that we carry may help us with our memberships, health care, and discounts.  I received a discount offer from a national convenience store that sells gas.  If I didn’t use my card to pay for gas and paid cash I would get 5 cents per gallon off.  I had to decline the offer because the bank was paying me 3% in rewards to use my credit card.  At $4.00 per gallon that comes to 12 cents.  Convenience and savings, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Years ago I wrote a poem called Bless Me Lord.  It symbolizes the card swipe attitude we have in our world today.  Now the symbolic card is used in our relationship with God.  It is impersonal, speedy, and convenient.  Somehow we are surprised when our card doesn’t work.

Bless Me Lord

by Lewis Hamilton

from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

I have my membership card today
as I come to talk to you
The bless me club has benefits
so here’s my list for you

Lord give me of prosperity,
let troubles pass me by
so things run nice and smooth
until the day I die

I ask you Lord, bless my ideas,
my request here I will lay
so you will see my reasoning
and stamp it A-OK.

Bless also all my family
I know this is legit
It’s right here in this policy
that it’s a benefit

Now I’ll coast through the rest of life
then drive up to your gate,
having my card all ready
there shouldn’t be a wait

I discovered as the days went by
there were problems with my card,
for instead of being nice and smooth
my life was bouncing hard

I called up to the Lord real loud,
Lord, things aren’t getting through
Send someone down to make it right
so I am blessed by you

The Lord spoke to me gently,
In this life you have a choice
You can be in the bless me club
or listen to my voice

I want so badly to use you
but your thinking is in the way
Become an empty vessel
that I can use today

As you listen to my voice today
right here on bended knee
you’ll hear me pleading with you
take up your cross and follow me.

Then he said to them all: “If
anyone would come after me, he
must deny himself and take up
his cross daily and follow me.”

Luke 9:23

There Is Nothing Wrong With Me

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

The little red car ran down the road
with a loud and might roar,
missing cylinders, coughing some
with a muffler that was torn

Smoke pouring out of its engine
for everyone to see
but it kept saying to itself,
There is nothing wrong with me

The mechanic is a kind, just man
who liked to fix old cars
Come in for some good, quick repairs
Your journey won’t be far

Oh no, the little red car said,
As anyone can see,
I’m just as healthy as a horse
There is nothing wrong with me

The mechanic pleaded with him
but he just drove away
Maybe if I can hardly run
I’ll go to him someday

For now I run better than most
of the cars I see
Though I might miss and cough a lot
there is not much wrong with me

Well time went by, the car did try
to start another day
It coughed and smoke poured out of it
It caught on fire they say

The mechanic loves to fix all cars
Repairs are always free
If only that little car didn’t say
There is nothing wrong with me.

If we claim we have not sinned,
we make him out to be a liar and
his word has no place in our lives.

I John 1:10

Fast Food Christianity

By Lewis Hamilton
From the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

Fast food restaurants
Computer Technology
Knowledge expanding
We’re in the new century

Planes flying everywhere
Scanners at the stores
Medical technology
like never before

Microwave ovens
next to fax machines
Instant relief from pain
Quick oil changings

Quick drying, fast moving
products that we try
See it on a commercial
Soon you’re going to buy

Fast stop Christianity
service ends at noon
Better not end later,
OK if it’s too soon

Big fancy churches
buildings made for men
We won’t be too humble
so God cannot come in

Sunday afternoon restaurant,
smorgasboard and all
Preacher got long winded
giving an altar call

Break this heavy chain, Lord
I’m spiritually tied
Fast food Christianity
has me satisfied.

corresponding verse James 1:27

Thoughts about “Fast Food Christianity”

I have a phrase that I write in books if I’m asked to sign one.  It is a phrase that encompasses what this book is all about and is my wish for all of you!  The phrase is “May your hearts garden always be in the Master Gardener’s hands”  The wonderful news is it can be!  It’s totally up to you and I!  Are we willing to stop putting ourselves first and give God total control of our lives?  Chapter I “The Weeds” is  poems about “weeds”, things that get in the way of our relationship with God.

Are you wondering where this thing is going and how can someone who is hurting get comfort from reading poems about weeds?  I’ve found that comfort comes from knowing the big picture!  Yes, circumstances have hit us like a hurricane and we feel like we are hanging on to a tree while the winds gust all around!  We are wondering if we can hang on much longer!  The good news is that God knows where we are and what we need!

These poems in chapter 1 are not easy for us to hear at times.  They spotlight how we try to go our own way and how our efforts end up in failure.  Only by putting our complete faith in The Gardener to fix our garden can we truly have success!  It is comforting to know that there is a solution out there!  However, as you will see in the poems ahead there are many lessons to be learned!

Fast Food Christianity is a poem about how we like everything in our lives to be fast!  Think about the internet, a plane trip, and of course a stop at a  favorite fast food restaurant!  Usually things move fast, as we expect it should!  If things slow down somebody will hear about it!  In all of our fast paced lives, one thing that shouldn’t be fast is our walk with God!  It is a walk with God, not a sprint with God!   When you think about fast food you don’t think about how good it is for you.  Fast food gives us something and does it quick! Yet fast food isn’t the answer to our nutritional requirements and  “Fast Food Christianity” will not satisfy our spiritual needs!

Coming up next-The poem “Fast Food Christianity”

The Americanized Gospel

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book
“The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

We’ve Americanized the gospel
I’m standing in your line
Give me this day my daily bread
and get it here on time

Not your will, oh Lord my God
But give me my will I pray
Bless the things that I decide
Then get out of the way

I love my movies and my games
How about that M-TV!
Lord, I know you don’t always approve
but please, just let me be

My money is so hard to get
I hope it’s not a sin
Instead of tithing what I should
I stick a dollar in

I know I should pray to you more,
your face I should seek
You know, oh Lord how rushed I am
so I’ll pray once a week

My bible sits on the table there,
it almost looks brand new
There are so many books to read
and read the bible too?

I like my gospel nice and hot
I’ll name and claim my prize
I’ll gather all my blessings
as they fall down from the sky

When life is done for me, oh Lord
I’ll give you all of me
As for now don’t ask too much
I’m in a big hurry

I’ll squeeze you in at dinnertime,
on Sunday mornings too
Please make it quick if you call me
I have a lot to do.

corresponding passage II Timothy 3:2-4

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