Tag Archives: Cracker Barrel

Building 429 Meets My Judgmentalism, Then Gets an Apology

The following post was first published in 2011, yet it is definitely worth revisiting. If you have not read this post, what it depicts is a perfect example of why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Even now I cringe when I recall my judgmental, legalistic actions 6 years ago. But God’s grace doesn’t force immediate change; we grow in grace.

Some take longer than others.


The Story

For the last several weeks we have been going out to get some food after evening services. If you don’t know what I am talking about, let me explain:

Getting Food = going to a restaurant that sells stuff you could make at home for a lot less money, but tastes better and is more fun when you pay for it in the company of others.

Evening Services = gathering of believers at a local church that still takes place on Sunday nights, while most people stay home, in order to give the pastor something to do.

FoodFriday #17: Cracker Barrel - Old Country Store

Last night, after a great time of worship and hearing from God’s Word, my wife, our girls, our youth director, and I went to Cracker Barrel. When we pulled in, I noticed a really sweet Prevost tour bus sitting in the lot. I said to my wife, Valerie, “Now that has got to be a group, or a band, or something, because it takes somebody serious to keep one of those things on the road.

We gently maneuver our tired, aged frames (we’re getting old in our 40’s) out of the car and walk toward the entrance. As we walk across the front of Cracker Barrel, where all the rocking chairs are, my wife and I notice some interesting young men dressed in black. One of them had a black hat and a hairstyle that would make more than a few grannies say, “What died on your head, sonny?”

Myself? Well I am in a suit and tie. My wife? She is wearing a dress. WE are the “Reverend and Mrs. Baker,” you know. WE know how to dress on Sunday, unlike these guys. So, my wife walks past them first and gives them a forced, but gentle smile. Next, I walk by, thinking to myself, “These are definitely musicians…yep…the hair gives it away…they’re the Prevost riders.” I nod and smile.

Once inside the Cracker Barrel, my conscience started to bother me. Something wasn’t right. I have been around long enough to recognize when the Holy Spirit says, “Hey, I bear witness that those weird-looking guys out there are part of the Family.” That is when I come up with a brilliant, self-covering plan – send Katie, our 15 year old, out to see who they are.

I only had an old iPhone. And it was dark.

Katie,” I say, “go out there and ask those guys on the porch who they are or what band they’re with.”  Fortunately, and I knew this, there were others outside beside the “men in black,” so don’t think I sent my little girl out to talk to strangers, alone. She talked to strangers with other strangers there to help.

A few minutes later, Katie comes back in with the biggest smile on her face, beaming with a glow that could blind a man in sunglasses, saying, “They are Building 429!!

Now, here’s the point of all this. Here I am, someone who preaches against unrighteously judging others, especially Christians who look different (what’s normal?). What do I do? I walk right by a group of guys and assume, wrongfully, that evidently, just because they were not in suits on a Sunday night, they were a group of heathen beatniks heading to/from Nashville.  I messed up.

An Official Apology

Sorry, guys, for doing the very thing I hate seeing other people do. This is why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Sometimes I fail. Last night I failed in a bad way. Up until last night, I had never even seen you before to recognize you in person. All I know is that the song you recorded, “Always,” is one of my favorites…I’ve shed more than a few tears while listening to it.

Please forgive my wife and I for acting like a couple of snobby, self-righteous, judgmental legalists. If I’m fortunate, maybe God will someday give this preacher some hair like yours.

May God bless you and your ministry. He WILL be with you always.

 


UPDATE: Shortly after this post was first published, Building 429 posted a link to it on their Facebook page. A little later we exchanged a few emails in which they graciously accepted my apology. I offered to buy them dinner the next time they came through town, but Jason Roy (lead singer) said that wouldn’t be necessary – then he offered me free tickets the next time they came to town! Cool, huh? But I never took him up on it – we just bought them, anyway.

Here is a more recent video from Building 429, “Unashamed.”

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Filed under Do not judge, General Observations, legalism

Rock’n and Blog’n

Honored

It was such an honor to take part in the Third Periodic Blogger Convention held in Chattanooga, TN!

Actually, what really happened was that once again I got to meet up with fellow Christian bloggers and spend some time getting to know each other in the non-digital world. It was a total blast to talk face-to-face with these guys!

Wally Fry (Truth in Palmyra) and his family left Arkansas and drove into Chattanooga Saturday night. He and I met for coffee before church on Sunday morning, then later attended church together. To my surprise, James Neff (Men of One Accord) and his wife also showed up for church! James visited a couple of times before, but this was the first time he and Wally had met.

I was also honored that they would sacrifice their time to sit through my preaching. Believe me, it’s always humbling to have people you admire in the audience saying “Amen!

After Church

When the morning service was over, we did what any typical church-goer might do down here in the South – we went to Cracker Barrel. There we shared plates of biscuits, downed plenty of coffee, and shared more stories than a serial Facebooker.

Wally Fry thought that we should get a picture together before all parted ways. Therefore, like proper husbands, we heeded  the suggestion of our wives and sat down in the rocking chairs out front. And you know, even that seemed too fortuitous to be coincidence (but that’s another story).

IMG_0378 IMG_0379 IMG_0386

Real People

What I hope all of you take away from this story is that behind that computer screen, writing those blogs, are real people. Each one is part of a larger community where genuine friendships can develop. And when you actually get to see these people in person, it’s totally awesome!

But here’s a thought that just came to mind. What do you think it will be like, after all those years of reading his letters…after all those years of communicating across vast distances…to see Jesus face-to-face? He’s real too, you know. Even more real than Wally, James, or myself.

You might oughta be making plans to meet Him for dinner.

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Filed under blogging, Christian Unity, Church, Relationships and Family

Recovering Legalist Meets Building 429

The following took place 5 years ago in February, 2011. A lot has happened since then, but I’m still a “recovering” legalist – I still mess up from time to time.

NOTE: I updated the link to the music video. If you couldn’t watch it before, try again. Oh, and seriously, you should be shouting at the end of it 🙂

The Story

For the last several weeks we have been going out to get some food after evening services. If you don’t know what I am talking about, let me explain:

Getting Food = going to a restaurant that sells stuff you could make at home for a lot less money, but tastes better and is more fun when you pay for it in the company of others.

Evening Services = gathering of believers at a local church that still takes place on Sunday nights, while most people stay home, in order to give the pastor something to do.

FoodFriday #17: Cracker Barrel - Old Country Store

Image by inju via Flickr

Last night, after a great time of worship and hearing from God’s Word, my wife, our girls, our youth director, and I went to Cracker Barrel. When we pulled in, I noticed a really sweet Prevost tour bus sitting in the lot. I said to my wife, Valerie, “Now that has got to be a group, or a band, or something, because it takes somebody serious to keep one of those things on the road.

We gently maneuver our tired, aged frames (we’re getting old in our 40’s) out of the car and walk toward the entrance. As we walk across the front of Cracker Barrel, where all the rocking chairs are, my wife and I notice some interesting young men dressed in black. One of them had a black hat and a hairstyle that would make more than a few grannies say, “What died on your head, sonny?”

Myself? Well I am in a suit and tie. My wife? She is wearing a dress. WE are the “Reverend and Mrs. Baker,” you know. WE know how to dress on Sunday, unlike these guys. So, my wife walks past them first and gives them a forced, but gentle smile. Next, I walk by, thinking to myself, “These are definitely musicians…yep…the hair gives it away…they’re the Prevost riders.” I nod and smile.

Once inside the Cracker Barrel, my conscience started to bother me. Something wasn’t right. I have been around long enough to recognize when the Holy Spirit says, “Hey, I bear witness that those weird-looking guys out there are part of the Family.” That is when I come up with a brilliant, self-covering plan – send Katie, our 15 year old, out to see who they are.

I only had an old iPhone. And it was dark.

Katie,” I say, “go out there and ask those guys on the porch who they are or what band they’re with.”  Fortunately, and I knew this, there were others outside beside the “men in black,” so don’t think I sent my little girl out to talk to strangers, alone. She talked to strangers with other strangers there to help.

A few minutes later, Katie comes back in with the biggest smile on her face, beaming with a glow that could blind a man in sunglasses, saying, “They are Building 429!!

Now here’s the point of all this. Here I am, someone who preaches against unrighteously judging others, especially Christians who look different (what’s normal?). What do I do? I walk right by a group of guys and assume, wrongfully, that evidently, just because they were not in suits on a Sunday night, they were a group of heathen beatniks heading to/from Nashville.  I messed up.

An Official Apology

Sorry, guys, for doing the very thing I hate seeing other people do. This is why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Sometimes I fail. Last night I failed in a bad way. Up until last night, I had never even seen you before to recognize you in person. All I know is that the song you recorded, “Always,” is one of my favorite…I’ve shed more than a few tears while listening to it. Please forgive my wife and I for acting like a couple of snobby, self-righteous, judgmental legalists. If I’m fortunate, maybe God will give this preacher some hair like yours, someday.

May God bless you and your ministry. He WILL be with you always.

 

 

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Filed under Do not judge, General Observations, legalism

Thursday Thoughts (Frogs and Fears)

What in the world does a preacher think about on Thursdays? Let’s find out!

Does water fall sideways?

My wife and I were taken to dinner the other day by a very nice couple who appreciate fine dining – they took us to Cracker Barrel. While in the gift shop, I noticed two frogs continually spitting into a small pond.

photo (24)First, what is so attractive about a fountain with spitting frogs? I mean, do frogs spit? And if they do, wouldn’t that much be a sign of impending kidney failure and death? What would make an amphibian with projectile saliva be your first choice of lawn decoration?

Secondly, notice the water. The little stream from froggy on the right is obviously falling at an angle due to the position in which he/she is sitting. What might not be as noticeable is that the one on the left, as I was standing there watching, was really, literally falling to the left, i.e. NOT straight down! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

So, another couple walks up behind me and I say to the husband, “Does the water coming out of the frog’s mouth on the left look like it’s falling straight down?” “Huh, no it doesn’t,” he said.

Then the man’s wife walked up and asked what he was looking at. He asked, “Doesn’t that water look like it’s falling to the left? How’s that possible?” No joke, the wife replied, “Well, it would if the hose was curved.”

I looked at the guy and asked, “Can I quote her on that?

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

Thinking about the frogs and the crazy water, I was reminded that our eyes can play tricks on us. In reality, based on what we see, our understanding of the world can be very misleading.

“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God.” – Isaiah 50:10 NLT

That is why, even in the darkest nights of life, I trust God: He knows what’s really going on.

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Filed under Faith, Uncategorized

Anthony’s Appetite #6 (Marinated Herring)

The Place

It has been a while since my last “Appetite” post. I have eaten since then, but the problem has been finding food worthy of comment. Fortunately, the search came to an end when I went to the Epicurean Restaurant in East Ridge, Tennessee.

The last time I went to the Epicurean was back in the 80’s. Trying to impress a girlfriend, I took her to a place that had a reputation for quality food and excellent service (Frankly, I also heard it was expensive, and girlfriends like expensive). This time we went for a birthday dinner, and the prices were not as bad as I remembered.

The Clientele

They say that one mark of a good restaurant is how many cars are in the parking lot. If that is true, the Epicurean is a GREAT place to eat. When my family and I got there at 2pm on Sunday, the parking lot and dining area were packed……with seniors…..the aged….walkers & canes.  How does that factor in, I wonder?

Isn’t it true that the older one gets, the fewer active taste buds? Hmmm.

The Menu

A quick look at the menu revealed that most of the food was “home-cooking” dishes typical in the South. For example, one of the Sunday specials was turkey and dressing served with two vegetables. That type of food, from what I saw on other people’s plates, looked pretty decent, but was not what I would expect from a place with such a local reputation for being above average. The home-cooking-type food I saw was no better than food at Cracker Barrel, and probably not as tasty (can I get an “amen” for Cracker Barrel turnip greens?). However, a deeper look into the menu options promised something new…something I felt obligated to try…

Marinated Herring

Every once in a while I feel the urge to try something TOTALLY new. I have even found myself eating things that were hard to identify. This dish, however, was something that was new to me on every level.

According to the experts in the culinary arts, marinated herring (aka, pickled herring, etc.) is a delicacy in Europe, and the Epicurean Restaurant IS a Greek-family-owned establishment.  I figured it was time to taste the delicacy the Europeans raved about. Did I ever say that I was NOT European?

Aside from cottage cheese, there are not many things that will cause my gag reflexes to act up.

Add to that list, “marinated herring.”

I don’t do raw fish, for the first thing. I can’t even stomach fake sushi. What on earth made me think I could eat this stuff? Well, for one thing I didn’t really understand how it was made. You see, I thought they took a fish, marinated it in some “stuff,” then cooked it. WRONG! The herring is actually rinsed, then marinated for a couple of days, then sliced up for easier human consumption. It is served cold over a bed of lettuce, with chopped onion, lemon, and dill-flavored sour cream on the side.

Let me brag about this – I ate four bites, maybe five.  The last one, however, was the hardest to get down. The strong fish taste, coupled with the flavors of dill, white wine, and onion was too much. I brought home the rest in a take-home container for the neighborhood cat that seems to have made our front porch one of his stops. That must have been the first time I saw a cat gag.

Define scary:

A large, gray cat looking at you with suspicion and contempt, his vertical pupils turning horizontal to line up with the evil squint he is giving.

Well, after a few hours went by, the lingering taste of cold, raw, meaty, oily herring finally dissipated. Some foods are definitely an aquired taste. On the other hand, some might be better left alone, especially if you don’t want your leftovers creating a Stephen King / Pet Cemetery moment right in your own yard.

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Filed under Food, General Observations

Recovering Legalist Meets Building 429

The Story

For the last several weeks we have been going out to get some food after evening services. If you don’t know what I am talking about, let me explain:

Getting Food = going to a resturant that sells stuff you could make at home for a lot less money, but tastes better and is more fun when you pay for it in the company of others.

Evening Services = gathering of believers at a local church that still takes place on Sunday nights, while most people stay home, in order to give the pastor something to do.

FoodFriday #17: Cracker Barrel - Old Country Store

Image by inju via Flickr

Last night, after a great time of worship and hearing from God’s Word, my wife, our girls, our youth director, and I went to Cracker Barrel. When we pulled in, I noticed a really sweet Prevost tour bus sitting in the lot. I said to my wife, Valerie, “Now that has got to be a group, or a band, or something, because it takes somebody serious to keep one of those things on the road.

We gently maneuver our tired, aged frames (we’re getting old in our 40’s) out of the car and walk toward the entrance. As we walk across the front of Cracker Barrel, where all the rocking chairs are, my wife and I notice some interesting young men dressed in black. One of them had a black hat and a hairstyle that would make more than a few grannies say, “What died on your head, sonny?”

Myself? Well I am in a suit and tie. My wife? She is wearing a dress. WE are the “Reverend and Mrs. Baker,” you know. WE know how to dress on Sunday, unlike these guys. So, my wife walks past them first and gives them a forced, but gentle smile. Next, I walk by, thinking to myself, “These are definitely musicians…yep…the hair gives it away…they’re the Prevost riders.” I nod and smile.

Once inside the Cracker Barrel, my conscience started to bother me. Something wasn’t right. I have been around long enough to recognize when the Holy Spirit says, “Hey, I bear witness that those weird-looking guys out there are part of the Family.” That is when I come up with a brilliant, self-covering plan – send Katie, our 15 year old, out to see who they are.

I only had an old iPhone. And it was dark.

Katie,” I say, “go out there and ask those guys on the porch who they are or what band they’re with.”  Fortunately, and I knew this, there were others outside beside the “men in black,” so don’t think I sent my little girl out to talk to strangers, alone. She talked to strangers with other strangers there to help.

A few minutes later, Katie comes back in with the biggest smile on her face, beaming with a glow that could blind a man in sunglasses, saying, “They are Building 429!!

Now here’s the point of all this. Here I am, someone who preaches against unrighteously judging others, especially Christians who look different (what’s normal?). What do I do? I walk right by a group of guys and assume, wrongfully, that evidently, just because they were not in suits on a Sunday night, they were a group of heathen beatniks heading to/from Nashville.  I messed up.

An Official Apology

Sorry, guys, for doing the very thing I hate seeing other people do. This is why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Sometimes I fail. Last night I failed in a bad way. Up until last night, I had never even seen you before to recognize you in person. All I know is that the song you recorded, “Always,” is one of my favorite…I’ve shed more than a few tears while listening to it. Please forgive my wife and I for acting like a couple of snobby, self-righteous, judgmental legalists. If I’m fortunate, maybe God will give this preacher some hair like yours, someday.

May God bless you and your ministry. He WILL be with you always.

 

11 Comments

Filed under Do not judge, General Observations, legalism