Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Rock God Met The God of Rock!

I love amazing encounters with really interesting people. This past weekend I had one of those. I had the opportunity to work in security at the International Guitar Festival which took place at Market Hall here in Dallas, Texas. Imagine if you will a giant convention center filled with nothing but guitars and things pertaining to the music business. It was quite a gathering of very peculiar people. There were large music vendors like Gibson, Fender, and Yamaha all showing their newest wares that turn the mediocre into guitar virtuosos. There were lots of 50-something women still dressed like they were groupies waiting for Motley Crue to come out of the stage door so they could party with the band. Unfortunately, they still look hot, only in their own minds. And yes, there were lots of 60-something men, adorned with rock gear who still live in a 70s time capsule. It was sad. Remember the song by Jethro TullToo Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die”? That song was written for these wrinkled musicians of the days of yore. But my weekend changed at a place called the cave.

I was working the back of the facility at a small room where they did “up close and personal” guitar clinics. George Lynch of Dokken blasted the room at a decibel level to make sure that nobody had ear drums left. Like Spinal Tap, he just wanted to make some ear drums bleed. They screened a great movie called “The Wrecking Crew”. Watch it if you can. It's amazing. But then, in came rock star Rick Derringer to do a clinic. I stood outside the room, trying to look as daunting and bad-ass as possible. I was security after all. But I listened intently to everything he was saying. He told his story. The room was packed; and all ears were focused on his captivating storytelling abilities. Everyone was amazed at the famous songs he had played guitar on, and the fame he had accumulated. And then he did it. He played the famous song that everyone thinks about when the name Rick Derringer is mentioned: “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo”. Horned hand salutes bobbed in the air as swaying heads and tapping feet played right along with his song. The man hit all the high notes. He still has it. Then his clinic took an amazing turn.

He went on to tell the people that he had rewritten that song due to the fact that he now has a relationship with Jesus Christ that changed his life. And he sang it with the new/improved lyrics. “Rock and roll hoochhie koo” was now “Read the word, live it too”. “I'm high all the time, hope you all are too” now sings “I'm high on God hope you all are too”. And the lyric that still sang the same “truck on out and spread the news” took on a whole new meaning. It was at that time that half the crowd got up and left. They weren't interested in hearing any of that “Jesus shit”. Rick didn't seem to mind. He continued with the clinic, giving glory to God by telling about how his life changed for the better. His smile was peaceful and angelic. His testimony of God's provision in his life was motivational. I was stunned, inspired, amazed, and so proud of him. There was no doubt that God has done an amazing work in his life.

Here's where the story gets really good. As I stood by the door, God spoke to me. He said to tell Rick Derringer that “I will honor those that honor me. That was straight from the Old Testament.

“But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” 1 Sam 2:30

As Rick was leaving I walked right up to him and told him that God had given me a message for him. He didn't balk or discount me. He stopped and said “What is it?” I told him. He immediately raised his hands in the air and said “Praise God”. Could this be the man that worshiped at the altar of the rock gods? I guess that is the beauty of the transforming power of our Lord. I then told him a version of Luke 12:8 that just came off the top of my head:

“Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.”

We hugged, and he went outside to do a radio interview. I saw him again briefly the next day and reminded him what God had told him. He raised his hands and kept walking. I love that man.

So why do I write this story? Because as we approach Easter, it is good to remember that the power of the resurrection can work in the life of any man; regardless of how bad he might seem to be. There are bonds that can be broken, healing that can take place, and new starts in life that can begin.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Cor 5:17

We all have some old things that need to pass away. Let this season be the time of spring cleaning. And then call out to the One who raised Jesus from the dead. By looking at Rick Derringer, I can tell that God is still in the miracle business.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Met The Death Angel Last Week

There are many things to love about life. I guess my favorite is how it interrupts the mundane and regular with a surprise that will change everything, at least for a while. Last week I met the death angel. And I haven't been able to put what happened out of my mind since then.

I was driving on my way to the gym to workout like I do most afternoons when I came upon a major intersection. There was a white van that belonged to a plumbing or A/C business sitting at a red light. Behind it was a car full of teenage girls. To the left of it was a truck with a Hispanic man in his 40s, and behind him was a black woman who was a nurse. The driver of the van opened his door at the light and got out, and fell to the pavement. At first I thought he had dropped something out of his window and was retrieving it. Then he laid down on the pavement. My second thought was that he heard some type of strange noise emanating from under the van, and that he went down to take a look. It was at that exact moment that a kind of a chill came over me and goosebumps raised on my forearms. I immediately knew that the man was dying. I pulled over, parked, and got out of my car. I ran to the spot, weaving around the cars full of annoyed people that nobody was moving. By that time the Hispanic man was straddling him and beating on his chest. The girls had gotten out of their car and were standing there just looking at him. The nurse was on her knees, had his wrist and was looking for a pulse. She touched the side of his neck. I had a chance to get a good look at the man lying on the street. He was probably in his late 40's, dressed like a blue collar worker, was overweight, and lied there motionless. His only movements were from the CPR being performed. Then something strange happened.

The nurse dropped his wrist and said to us that he was dead. The man performing CPR refused to quit until the ambulance arrived. She said that it was of no use. But he just continued pinching his nose, blowing in his mouth, then beating on his chest. And a thought instantly wafted through my mind that I had dreamed and prayed about for years. I thought, “I am going to lay hands on that man, pray, and bring him back from the dead”. Jesus did it. And Jesus said that the things he did shall we do also, and greater things that that. Strangely, there was absolutely no check in my spirit, no thought of unreasonableness in my mind, nor fear of what the others might think as I lay hands on this man and he comes to his feet. I was ready, willing, and able to perform a bona fide miracle, just like the kind you read about in the Bible. I could see myself looking up to heaven, and saying something like “In the name of Jesus, rise and walk”. I'm not sure whether I took a step towards that man or not. But I do know that the next thing that happened is hard to put into words. The most intense fear I have felt in a very long time seemed to step right up to me and block me. Although I could see nothing, there was definitely something or someone there. And I found myself completely paralyzed. So I just stood there, like a dog who had been told to “stay”. And I did nothing.

I was amazed at how fast the ambulance came screaming in. There was also a policeman who blocked the street. The paramedics took one look at the man and knew that it was too late. They didn't break out the defibrillator or start beating on his chest. They simply brought out a gurney, and asked for help to lift the portly body onto it. It was clear that this “earth suit” no longer had an inhabitant. And would soon be returned to dust.

I have asked many questions about last Tuesday that still have yet to be answered sufficiently in my mind. Why did the man have to die on the pavement in East Dallas? Why couldn't he have died a more noble death; something like throwing himself in front of a bullet to save the Pope's life? Why didn't I raise him from the dead? I bargained with God about how much he would receive glory in a miracle like that. Think about the press: “God Lives...and Still In The Raising From The Dead Business!” What a killer Easter season PR blitz for Jesus that could have been. But the one that haunts me still is: who stepped in front of me that day? Who was this unseen man that carries such power of fear? Was this the man who went through Egypt killing the firstborn? Or was this a loyal servant of Satan there to take this man to a place he really doesn't want to be? I thought about the movie “Ghost” where shadowy figures come out of the ground and take men screaming in fear to the nether world.

I've learned that everyone dies. I've learned that the way we die isn't as important as the fact that we die. Suicide seems worse than choking on a chicken bone. But neither of them can beat saving a bus load of orphans. Or dying on a cross. I hope I face death with dignity and honor. I hope I am not afraid. I want my belief in the fact that my Lord died for me, and that I trust in him, to be the overwhelming factor on the day that somebody is picking up my “earth suit” and putting it on a gurney. I hope I am surrounded by someone who loves enough to keep beating on my chest and blowing in my mouth, never giving up on me. But most importantly, I hope that when I am asked to leave this place, that I have understood my destiny, and have given my best in trying to achieve all that God wants me to do. That may be today. But if it’s not, I'll seize this day and live my life to it's fullest. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go tell some people that I love them.