The Day The Squirrel Went Berserk…..!

You’ve surely heard that  ‘ol Ray Stevens song. If not you really should. (Click here to watch/listen) It’s a funny song about a squirrel getting loose in a church service and the chaos that ensued. Ray Stevens is a funny guy anyway and he does great job of singing this hilarious song.

Well, the song was funny enough, and to think something that bizarre could actually happen is ludicrous to consider. But it did! It actually happened at our place. About 10 years ago we were having some night meetings Jack Taylor was preaching here. It was Monday night in November. The weather outside was brutally cold….down in the teens. There was a lady visiting that night who didn’t go to church with us. Nobody knew but she had a little pet ‘sugar glider’. I’d never heard of one, either! But a sugar glider is a little squirrel that some people get as pets. Nobody knew about the squirrel but her.

It was so cold outside that she didn’t want to leave the little varmint in the car for fear that it’d freeze to death so she put it in her purse and came into the church service. I guess she started getting concerned about whether or not it could get enough air in there so she unzipped her purse just a little. Well after the little squirrel warmed up a little and decided to go exploring.

Well, it was, no problemo……..that is until the squirrel ran up a lady’s leg and then on up her back. She let out a blood curdling scream that could’ve broke glass a half mile away. She was up and doing all she could to get that crazed animal off her! I don’t blame her one bit! I looked across the room and saw something on her back and the first thought that went through my mind was….“What the hell is THAT?!!”

Kenny Drake, who was close to the action, picked up something to whack the thing when the squirrel lady started screaming, “Don’t kill it, don’t kill it!!”. “It’s my pet!” Kenny backed down…..reluctantly, I might add. The lady gathered up her little sugar glider, put it back in her purse and we went on with the church service. I don’t remember much Jack said after that….and I doubt if anybody else did either!

That’s the true story about “The Day the Squirrel Went Berserk”!! So the next time you hear Ray Stevens sing that funny little song….you can tell ’em, “That actually happened”!!


I Fought the Law….and the Law Won!

You’ve surely heard that old song; I remember it from when I was a teenager. I had no idea who did the song until I looked it up. It was written by Sonny Curtis of “The Crickets” (Buddy Holly’s Band). They recorded it in 1959 not long after Buddy Holly had died but the song went absolutely nowhere. It’s still a good song if you ask me.Turns out it was later done, and brought to popularity by Bobby Fuller in 1966 (click any of the highlighted links to watch video). There’ve been others who recorded it more recently if you’re interested: The Clash or Green Day and at least a dozen others. 

Well so much for a little trivia but this blog’s not about the song but about the song title. If you’re a regular reader of my blogs (and if you’re not….WHY ain’t ‘ya?! lol) you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m a music lover. I see a song title from time to time and think, “Now that’d be good blog title”. That’s the case with “I Fought The Law and the Law Won”.

There’s a growing controversy in religious circles today over ‘grace’ versus ‘law’. It’s no small controversy by anyone’s standards. In fact my opinion is that it’s one of the main, and most important, issues facing the church in this critical hour. It’s no new argument; It’s been going on since Jesus showed up. In fact, He’s the one that ignited the whole controversy to begin with….and it has only escalated since. Jesus ushered in this thing we call ‘grace’. It wasn’t just a teaching He did. No, it was much more than that. Grace displayed His very nature…and the very nature of the Father. And today, just like it did then, it ticked off the religious legalists to no end!

The Jews in Jesus’ day could not digest this grace thing. They were sticklers for the Law. They knew it well and even though they couldn’t keep the Law (no man could keep the law; no one has ever been made righteous by the Law; if you violated even one facet of the law you were guilty of violating the ‘whole’ law), it didn’t stop them from trying to enforce it on everyone else. But Jesus was doing something entirely different. It was centered on lovenot just an ordinary, superficial kind of love but a love that is unconditionalindestructible and life-giving!

The Law says that you have to keep the long list of good things to do to be accepted by God. But grace says that you’re already accepted and valued by God, Himself. You’re His Sons and Daughters, by His own choice. It’s not a result of your own doing but because of what Jesus did! He has already ‘fulfilled the Law’! (because you and I couldn’t!)

You can attempt to keep the Law but you won’t get it done! If you ‘fight the Law’….the Law always wins…you always lose!

The only way you can win….is to accept, and live in, what’s already been done for you! That’s what we call GRACE!

*You might want to check out one of my previous blogs: “It Ain’t Grace’s Fault”


No Country For Old Men

That was a great movie in my opinion. I like about everything Tommy Lee Jones does, and Javier Bardem does a stellar job as the bad guy. If you haven’t seen it, you should. This blog is not about the movie. But “No Country For Old Men” seemed to be a great blog title to me after enduring about 6 minutes of the CMA Music Festival recently. Actually 6 minutes was about 4 more than I could take. I stayed hooked for 6 thinking it might get better. It didn’t.

I’m a music lover. I like all kinds of music. My iPod playlist includes a broad variety of everything from Blues, Soul, Rock, Tex-Mex, Jazz, Country, some Christian, very few Rap…. and even a little Classical. I can appreciate and artist’s craft no matter what kind of music they’re laying down. I don’t particularly like it all but I can appreciate it. I cut my teeth on Country. I was listening to it….and liking it since I was a little kid. In my folks vehicle the radio was always tuned to a Country station. When I started driving I bought an 8-track tape deck for $20 and mounted in the glove box of my dad’s pickup. My first 8-tracks were Hank Thompson, Johnny Cash, Charlie Walker and Waylon Jennings. Those are still to this day some of my all-time favorites. And if you want to get started on Country Music…those 4, any or all, would be a great place to start.

Nashville, in my opinion, has sold out. I wouldn’t argue that the stuff they’re putting out there today does sell. They’ve done a good job of marketing to younger and, in my opinion, less sophisticated listeners….and have ignored the ‘purists’…..the ‘real’ Country Music lovers. There are a few out there today who hold fast to the genuine. Jamey Johnson stands out, newcomer Chris Stapleton looks good out of the box. Dale Watson, who you’ve probably never heard of does the real thing. There’s a handful of artists still around who’ve got the goods. Alan Jackson and Dwight can still get ‘er done; No more George, Jones or Strait, Buck and Waylon are gone, but Willie and Merle are still out there gettin’ it done.

I guess my gripe is this; I can appreciate the talent of some of these young guys…although none of them are near as cool as they think they are. I can deal with their skinny, girly jeans (although I ain’t wearin’ em!) and I can tolerate their bad hats. I can even ignore the fact that they buy an acre or two, turn out a cow or a pig and call it a ranch. I do, however, think someone ought to tell ’em that pickups……ain’t trucks!

All I’m saying is this…..don’t call it Country Music…..when it ain’t!!

You don’t have to agree….it’s just my opinion….and you have a right to your own. And don’t waste your time trying to ‘set me straight’. It’s sad for the entire, so called, Country genre that there ain’t no more Hank’s, Lefty’s. ET’s, Faron Young’s, Webb Pierce’s or Ray Price’s coming up. Those guys songs will still be being played long after we’re all gone. The stuff you’re hearing today….listen up ’cause ain’t nobody gonna be playing it a year from now!

There’s No Country For Old Men!

**(Click on highlighted links to listen)


Just Some Friendly Advice: Always Approach a Possum With Extreme Caution!!

About a year after we had moved from the ranch in Texas we were living in a nice place just 10 miles south of Cheyenne, Oklahoma. We had a big ‘ol Chow dog named “Buddy”. He wasn’t much count for anything except for barking non-stop if he heard or saw anything during the night. It had become pretty common for the possums to come up during the night and try to steal some of his dog food. He killed a couple of them and I imagine a couple dozen or more got some of his food and made their escape. That happened at least once a week. The big house we lived in had a nice, wrap-around porch all across the front and around one side. On the front porch we had a long church pew; it was about a 12 footer. His favorite thing was to get one of those possums hemmed up and bark at them until the fight happened or they, by chance, got away.

It was the middle of the summer and the yearly rodeo was going on in Cheyenne so we thought we ought to take in a night of it. We got home about 11 pm and got the kids put down and were just about to ‘hit the sack’ when ‘ol Buddy went to barking. It doesn’t take much of that to start wearing on my patience, you understand. I’m barefooted and in my underwear, (tighty-whiteys in those days…..I have since upgraded!). I grabbed a broom on the way out the door and it was just as I thought. He had him a possum down the porch at the end of the long church pew. Now, nobody likes possums; I guess they’re harmless but they’re just nasty if you ask me. My plan was to spook him off the porch with the broom and then let nature take it’s course.

I’m ticked off and yelling at ‘ol Buddy, who’s still barking furiously, as I neared the end of the church pew. Well…..when I got to the end of the pew and reared back to smack the varmint with my broom…..I finally got a good look at the possum. But, it wasn’t a possum!

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a BADGER at point-blank range with all his teeth showing (it looked like a few dozen of ’em), slobberin’, hissin’….and ready to attack……with nothing but your underwear on or not! It was a first for me!! My whole life flashed in front of me! Instantaneously I had a vision of me being ripped to shreds by this maniac of an animal! He was On. The. Hook.!! I mean….have you ever heard a ‘good’ story about a badger?? Right! That’s ’cause there ain’t no good stories about ’em!! Every outrageous, horrifying thing I’d ever heard before about badgers somehow, at that moment, seemed really legit!

I bet you could still see my toe prints in the concrete on that porch where I skidded to a stop! In my mind I said, “If you’ll just give me one tenth of a second….I’ll be out of your life forever!” Well, fate happened to be on my side that night….thank the Lord! I have no idea what happened to the badger; don’t even care! I was just glad to get out of there with my life!

That was the last time I ever rambled down the porch with a broom! (I’m a quick learner!) And, just between you and me, I can’t remember if I ever wore those underwear again or not!


First Trip to Calgary!

I’ve been seeing different  people’s posts on FaceBook this past week about the Calgary Stampede and it brought back a memory of my first trip up there. Very memorable to say the least. I was 19 and about the biggest town I’d ever seen was Amarillo. Well, Calgarys’ just a tad bigger’n Amarillo, if you know what I mean. And the Stampede…..there’s nothing like it. If you’ve never been, you oughta go at least once. It’s more like a Worlds Fair; It’s the biggest thing that happens in Canada, for sure. And, while I was going there for the rodeo, which is one of the biggest on the planet, there’s tons of other things going on besides the rodeo.

It was me and Barney Brehmer and Doug Shipe. We hit the Canadian border about 4 pm the day before I was to ride at the Stampede. When we went in to the border crossing office Clyde Bullard, a calf roper from Comanche, Oklahoma had the border boys as mad as they could possibly be. I mean he had ’em stirred up! They weren’t letting him across for dang sure and maybe not anyone else, for that matter. Well, their argument went on for a while and the crowd of rodeo people was building all the time of people trying to get to Calgary.

We started our drive through the checkpoint and when they stopped us they told us we had to have at least $50 cash each. Well, this is the truth, we had about $50 amongst all three of us. We’re big-time rodeo hands, you understand! lol So they’re not letting us cross the border which is a problem because I’m up in the bull riding the next day. Another carload of veteran cowboys were in the same shape that we’re in and they’re not letting them across either. Barney borrowed some money from somebody and went ahead across the line. Well, about an hour after he’s crossed I realize that he also took my only set of pickup keys! So now, not only are we stranded at the Canadian border…but now with no keys! Quite the little dilemma….and the clock’s tickin’!

About midnight Rusty Riddle and Clyde Vamvoras showed up. Clyde hot-wired my pickup so it was drivable and the plan was for me to borrow enough cash to have that $50 they required and I’d head out to Calgary. First thing the next morning I fired my hot-wired pickup up, got me $50 cash from a couple of buddies and went on my way to Calgary by myself. At the border they didn’t ask me one thing about how much cash I had….they just waved me on through. I guess the border boys got over their mad spell!

I hit Calgary about 1 pm. My ‘ol hot-wired pickup made it just fine. It was bumper to bumper traffic, I had no idea where I was going and to top it all off it started coming a ‘monsoon’.  I mean, the bottom fell plumb out! That’s when I learned that my hot-wired pickup windshield wipers wouldn’t work. So, I’ve got my drivers side window down getting completely soaked. I’ve got a t-shirt with my left hand and I’m hanging out the window trying to wipe my windshield so I can see through the flood.

I finally found my way to the Calgary Stampede. To this day I can’t remember what bull I had or what I did on him….(must not’ve been too memorable!) but I’ll never forget the trip up there as long as I live!


Quit Telling Me What The Problem Is!!

It was a bit of a rude awakening when we were informed that the ranch we had leased, lived on for nearly 25 years, made our homes, and were assured we’d be there forever, was going to be sold. I’ll never forget that day! Interestingly enough, the day before, I had written inside the cover of my Bible: “God, I want everything You have for me, no matter what it costs me.” I had no idea that the very next day He would begin to shift things in such a way that I could clearly see, at least a little of, what the ‘costs’ might be! It was, even more, the challenge because Julie and I had absolutely no back-up plan. As far as we were concerned we were going to raise our kids…..and grow old there. So everything was somewhat in chaos and we had no choice but to put our trust in the Lord.

That was in 1988, and we moved only 30 miles away south of Cheyenne, Oklahoma. I worked several odd jobs for a few months, everything from helping take care of cattle (which I was way familiar with), to some oilfield day work but nothing extremely stable or permanent. I saw an ad in the local paper and went for an interview, took an aptitude test….and was hired on the spot by Edgar Sellers (before he even looked at how I’d done on the test), a great guy who’d be my boss for the next seven years. I started with Western Merchandisers the next week!

The president of the company was John Marmaduke whose, dad, Sam had started the company on a shoestring a generation before. John was a brilliant businessman, in my opinion. He took a fairly small company and procured a contract with Wal-Mart that eventually enabled Western Merchandisers to supply all the music (Vinyl LP’s, 8-Tracks, Cassettes, CDs), all the books, all the computer software and most of the movies for the entire Wal-Mart chain, nationwide. After a few years, Wal-Mart purchased Western Merchandisers for millions.

John was an aggressive guy in our regional meetings. He knew the business and didn’t tolerate amateurism to any degree. Let’s just say he ‘ran a tight ship’! I remember several meetings with sales reps, district managers, and upper-level management when people would start to talk of all the problems out in the field. John would rip into them….no matter what level they were in…..and I can remember him saying more than a few times, “I’m tired of hearing about the problems; Anybody can tell you what the problems are!’, “I want to hear from somebody who has a solution!”

I’ve never forgotten those meetings and what I learned from John. And, it’s true; whether we’re talking about the Federal Government, the Little League Baseball Team, the Chamber for Commerce, your marriage or the Church; just about anybody can tell you what the problem is….you don’t have to be genius to figure that out! There’s just not many out there who are solution minded.

So, quit telling me what the problem is…….I want to hear from somebody who has a solution!


I’m All For Celebrating ‘Independence Day’, But I Think We Need A ‘Dependence Day’ Too!

We just celebrated Independence Day here in the good ‘ol USA….for the 239th time, no less! It was in 1776 when we won our independence out from under British rule. I, for one, am glad that happened; I really can’t see myself speaking that fancy, refined, limey English brogue. That’d be one heckuva stretch for a ‘whangy’ talkin’ Texas Panhandle boy, if you know what I mean. So I’m glad we’re a sovereign, autonomous….and independent nation!

Independence is a good thing from that perspective. And even, to be independent, as a person can be a very good thing. Independent people are naturally confident and assertive…and they’re not prone to let others’ negativity affect them too much on the road to their goals. But in the kingdom of God…independent attitudes can work against us, not for us. Let me explain; God has created each of us with specific strengths…but on the other side of that, we all have weaknesses as well. He has designed the church in such a way that we’re all needed. Nobody has it all. He wants us to learn to depend on others’ strengths where we’re weak…..and vice-versa.

The church is a ‘body’ with many body parts and it only works really, really well when all the parts are working in conjunction with one another. So, in that respect, we need to get over our independence and be team-players. But there’s an even greater issue with independence that must not be overlooked. It’s my opinion that we need to occasionally re-declare our dependency squarely upon the Lord. We cannot live a successful life nor can we fulfill our destiny without a deep dependency on Him. It’s easy to just put our lives on auto-pilot and not be dependent on Him. I’ve done it too often.

So, I hope you had a great 4th of July; a great Independence Day! It’s a pretty important holiday. And, as much as it’s needed, I doubt we’re going to get the Feds to initiate a National ‘Dependence Day’ so I guess you and I will just have to declare one for ourselves! Do it, and without a doubt, and you’ll notice….and enjoy the benefits!


“Freedom’s Just Another Word” …… But It’s a Whole Lot More Than That!

“Freedom’s Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose”;Kristofferson penned those words a generation ago. It’s really one of the great songs of any genre. And in my opinion nobody comes close to Janis Joplin’s rendition of it…although Roger Miller does run a good second; Waylon knocks it out of the park, as well (although I’m a little partial!). Kris wasn’t at all talking about the freedom that we have here in the USA, it was more of a love song, of sorts. And while I love that line in the song, on a day like today I think of freedom in an altogether different way.

With all that’s going on in America today, and as challenging as the future may be, we still have our freedom. There are countless billions around the planet that have never experienced this thing called freedom; it’s a word alien to their understanding. And for us, who have experienced it to the fullest extent of any nation on the globe, I think we should at least stop for a minute, say thanks, and think a little bit of what we really have. Freedom didn’t just happen; it was fought for….NO, I mean really fought for!Thousands of patriotic Americans have given their lives so we can live free, and do the things that we do. For me, I don’t necessarily think I ever took our freedom for granted. But I remember years back after first watching, “Saving Private Ryan”(If you haven’t seen it, you need to!!), and looking through some tears that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t give freedom the ‘value’ that it really deserves.

So, today, as we celebrate our freedom it would serve us well to stop for a moment and reflect on all that’s been labored for…for us to be free! And even if “she left you somewhere near Salinas”, or even if you’re “busted flat in Baton Rouge” …….you’re still free! So “pull your harpoon out of your dirty red bandana” and blow something Red, White & Blue!

I say we enjoy it!!

There’s Something To Be Said For Not Knowing Anything!

I know, when you first read that, it just doesn’t make sense. But I’m looking at it from a somewhat different perspective. We’re living in the ‘Information Age’ now, here in the 21st century. I kinda like the fact that I can go to Google, ask any question, and get a few hundred thousand options for my answer in a matter of seconds. You can find a video showing you how to do about anything you could possibly imagine. I mean, everything’s available from how to fix your refrigerator to building an ultra-light airplane that actually flies. My point is that knowledge is easy to access these days.

I remember well growing up and living on the ranch out in the Texas Panhandle. We nearly always had a hired-hand. We had a few good ones and there were a few who weren’t so good. The ones who knew pretty much everything, turned out to be the very worst ones we had. And some of those who actually admitted they didn’t know much turned out to be some of the best. I see that pretty often these days. Someone who doesn’t know much about a particular job or vocation, and is willing to admit that he doesn’t know, is actually in a pretty good spot. And from an employer’s perspective…..maybe a really good spot. Nearly all employers like things done ‘their way’! So you can take one of these guys who’ll admit he doesn’t know much and, if he’s willing, teach him how to do it your way. Some would say that it’s the best case scenario.

I think the Father works like that too. Some of these folks that ‘just know everything’ don’t seem to get much done for the Lord in the long haul. God’s not really looking for people who know everything….He actually never has! I’m pretty sure that’s why He picked Himself some fishermen and tax collectors to be His closest confidants. The religious people just knew way too much!

I was a cowboy; grew up on a ranch, and was a rodeo cowboy too. I still know quite a bit of stuff about ranching and rodeo, horses and cattle. I don’t use much of that info these days….but I could if I needed to. When the Lord picked me to do what I’m doing….I knew absolutely nothing about what to do, or how to do it. I’ve learned a few things in 30+ years, and still learning. But I’m positive, at the beginning, He wanted somebody who didn’t know anything…so He could teach him how to do it His way. So I think….from God’s perspective, ‘there’s something to be said for not knowing anything’!


A Father’s Day Reflection

Father’s Day, it’s nice to be honored for being a Dad! As I thought about what I’d teach on Father’s Day (which was yesterday), it became apparent to me that as dads go….I’ve had it pretty good. And while we didn’t grow up going to church, Cliff Taylor really had it together in how to be a great dad. So, in preparing my message for yesterday I wanted to approach it with three emphases. 1) A day to honor The Father. 2) Encourage dads to become ‘spiritual’ fathers. 3) Practical tips for being a great dad. As I remembered the extremely positive things Cliff Taylor (and Charlene Taylor too!!) did in raising my brother, Monty and me….it seemed that these traits would be pertinent for spiritual fathers as well…..and traits that God, our Father, possesses as well. 

1) He took us; My dad took us with him anytime it was possible. *We learned a lot just be ‘being with’ him

2) He helped us do things; He made the things that were important to us….important to him…even when he couldn’t really afford it!

3) He taught us; We grew up on a ranch. We learned all kinds of things. We could do things at 10 or 11 that most men couldn’t

4) He was an example; Cliff Taylor was a great example of a man. The most important thing was in how he treated people.

5) He corrected us; He believed in correction! We’re better men, by far, because of it.

6) He believed in us; Somehow he imparted to us that ‘we could do it’

7) He was there; Well, he was literally ‘there’, but he was and still is ( at 86 yrs old) here when we need someone 

8) He loved my mom; One of the best things a dad can do for his kids. Good job, Dad!

9) He protected us; There was never a time that we felt in danger when dad was around. Nobody messed with us.

10) He loved us; There was never a question. He said it…..and he showed it!

*God, the Father, is like that too! 

Apply these principles with your natural children, and apply them with your ‘spiritual’ children and you’ll be way ahead of the game!

Oh, and incidentally, my Father’s Day was totally off the charts! My youngest son, Clay and his pretty wife, Chelsea announced to us that they’re going to have a baby in January!! What a Father’s Day!!