Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hachiko Revisited

After reading this past week about one of our fallen soldier's,a Navy Seal named Jon Tumilson killed in Afghanistan, and his faithful dog Hawkeye lying beside the casket at his funeral,I couldn't help but think about the true story of Hachiko. Here's a review I wrote on this film last year:

You may want keep a box of kleenex close by when reading this one.

After waiting a few months on Netflix it was finally my turn to watch the film
Hachiko starring Richard Gere. It is an adaptation (and a good one) of the true story of a dog who faithfully waited for his master who wasn't coming home. I will part ways with the Hollywood version and give you the real story:

Hachiko was an Akita mix and was born in Odate, Japan in 1923. The dog was 2 months old when he was given to Professor Uyeno in Tokyo. The two of them would become inseparable as the Professor obviously showed great love and affection towards the dog. Living in a small village in Tokyo, the Professor took the train at the Shibuya station to Imperial University everyday. Hachiko would accompany his master to the station everyday and would then return later to the station and wait for his master's return.

This went on consistently for two straight years and the local townspeople had taken notice of this amazing loyalty. And despite the fact Hachiko was only two years old, the bond between him and his master was strong.

Then one day the Professor did not return. He became ill and passed away at the University. Hachiko remained vigil in hopes of his master's return as he would return to the station everyday at 5 pm and wait. He would faithfully do this for the next nine years.

I would be remiss if I didn't ask you to stop for a moment to think about this: Hachiko went to the station everyday for nine years to wait for his master.

At times Hachiko would not return home for days at a stretch. You would find him at the station just waiting.

On March 8, 1935 Hachiko died at the very spot he waited each day for 9 years. The local townspeople erected a bronze statue in his honor at the Shibuya train station.

Today that statue is one of the largest tourist attractions in Tokyo.

This story is billed as one that represents: loyalty, faithfulness, and unconditional love. You do not have to necessarily be spiritual to relate to any of these character traits. If any of us want to be successful at our job, in our home, in our relationships, we need these characteristics within us.

A few days later and still pondering this story (I just cannot get this story out of my head), I began to also wonder this about Hachiko:

The dog was still young when his master died, so why didn't he have a short vigil and just go on being a dog and do the things that dogs enjoy doing?

Perhaps it was the unconditional love that he had received from his master, and so he chose to remain loyal and faithful and wait for his return.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Nope, the title's not a misprint nor is this another blog post on saying hello, but it is now a ministry, a much needed ministry.
The state of Texas is now in it's tenth month of a severe drought, the longest such drought in 100 years. And this not only affects farmers, it affects all of us in the United States.

Many Texas farmers have been forced to sell their cattle due to insufficient hay and grass to feed them. Until one member of a small Baptist church in Louisiana decided to donate some extra bales of hay that were just sitting in his barn. And the next thing you know, a Hay Ministry had been born. Many farmers who have been blessed with much rain,good crops,and extra hay have been donating bales of hay by the ton.

What a novel idea,people helping people! Which leads me to this:

Operation Blessing is a food pantry that serves many communities in the south and southwest suburbs of Chicagoland. They not only provide food and clothing for needy families but the ministers there provide the all-important counseling and caring.

Today they provide for close to 3,000 families a month. As you can tell by the large number,unfortunately you no longer have to look any further than your own backyard to find someone who is in need.

If you are looking for ways to be a blessing to others and to be blessed in return, you can donate to Operation Blessing by clicking on their link on the left hand column of my blog home page.

Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the
Lord your God has blessed you.
Deuteronomy 16:17

A great reminder for all of us who are being blessed on this very day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When Technology Disconnects Us From Our Surroundings

Text,Text,Text,Bamm! Plunk! Splash!!!

I remember last year the You Tube video that literally made it's way around the world and embarrassed one young lady. She had been walking through a shopping mall feverishly texting someone on her cell phone,and not paying attention to where she was walking. The next thing you know she found herself falling into the huge fountain in the center of the mall. She got up, stepped out of the water, and proceeded through the mall as if nothing happened, thinking no one would notice her being dripping wet.

The security guards manning the surveillance video at the mall had a good laugh and decided to share it with the world via You Tube.

So, when does a technology become a distraction?

When it literally consumes our every movement and disconnects us from our surroundings.
The technology of cell phones and our: texting, twittering, and Face Booking every little detail we go through in a day is our obsession. We may think the sharing of our different little nuggets through the day may be helping someone, and in fact it may, but what about that person walking by you in the store or on the sidewalk who may be lost, hurting, or just plain struggling with everyday life. Today there is a greater need for all Christians to step up to the plate and do something positive as we are called to do.

With a record 48.5 million people on food stamps, and over 40 percent of America's population unemployed or only working part-time jobs, the need for community and relational contact is greatly needed.

We as a generation have let technology replace the all important human element of community,one of:language, relationship, and the act of actually helping someone in need.

For several months now my Pastor has been teaching us to be aware of our surroundings, be aware of those around you who may be struggling or hurting, and step out of your comfort zone and talk to them. In other words: encourage them, speak a blessing over them, or do an act of kindness toward them.

This past weekend I arrived about 3 hours late for my usual Saturday run. My weekend runs are at a nature center filled with trails and park benches around a pond filled with all kinds of nature.

On this particular day things became rather unusual for this location and time of day. After my run, I sat on a bench overlooking a pond filled with: lily pads, croaking toads,fish,turtles, and snakes.

After a few moments of solitude I found myself being surrounded by at least 5 different families with several children of all ages. Each child began pointing out the different animals in the pond. The next thing you know even the adults got in on the action. Suddenly we were all working in unison, pointing out to each other the various creatures amongst the murky waters.

And one of the most amazing things was that no one was busy talking on a cell phone or texting their mother to see where they would meet for lunch. There were men, women, and children actually communicating with each other, and enjoying nature the way God intended for it to be. No distractions. No disconnection from our surroundings.

Imagine that, an hour or so of connecting with others without the use of technology.

Disconnecting ourselves from technology is a good thing once in awhile.

Hmmm, I wonder what the Disciples would have done if they had cell phones?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Humble Beginnings

"If your dream ain't bigger than you, than there's something wrong with your dream."- Deion Sanders

Political speeches? Nope. Deep theological speeches? Nope. Some of the most fascinating and inspirational speeches are those coming from pro football players who are enshrined into the Hall Fame each year. Being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame is one of the more prestigious honors and always seems to outshine the 3 other major sports Hall of Fame. But the one characteristic that all sports players have in common is speaking of their humble beginnings and how they got where they are today. Here's some inspirational tidbits from this past weekend's Pro Football Hall of Fame:

Marshall Falk, St. Louis Rams:

"It took hard work to get from the projects of New Orleans to the penthouse."

Marshall Falk was not just a player, but a fan of the game. As a kid he would sell popcorn inside the SuperDome because he couldn't afford a ticket to watch the Saints.
Having a love for the game of football and carrying the dream of succeeding from out of the projects to a pro football career was his goal. It was truly a fulfillment of a lifetime dream.

"God blessed everyone on this earth, but what we do with it is the blessing. It's in our hands to put that blessing in motion and living true to life as it is to me."

Shannon Sharpe, Denver Broncos:

Shannon and his older brother Sterling both played in the NFL. They grew up on a farm in Georgia where they developed their strong work ethic and the 3 D's: determination,dedication, and discipline.

Shannon went off to college at Savanna State with only 2 grocery bags filled with all of his belongings, and all he heard when he got there was that he was destined to fail.

"When people told me I'd never make it, I listened to the one person who said I could:me."

Shannon went from being a 7th round draft pick to a stellar career as a pro bowl tight end, winning 3 Super Bowls: 2 with Denver and 1 with Baltimore. His older brother Sterling Sharpe was dealt a different hand: played only 7 years due to injuries, but in those 7 years he was one of the top receivers in the league.

Shannon Sharpe's speech was said to be one of the most inspirational of the evening, and brought his brother and the crowd to tears when he exclaimed:

"I am the only player of 267 men in this Hall of Fame that can honestly say this,
'Though I am in the Hall of Fame, I am the second best football player in my

Deion Sanders, Dallas Cowboys:

Deion was probably the most flamboyant player of his era, and, you either loved him or you hated him for his showtime antics. Deion not only played for 5 different football teams, he was also known for his athleticism as he played professional baseball too.. He can even claim to be the only player to play in both a professional baseball game and a football game on the same day.

Though being a vibrant vocal player on and off the field, he always backed his talk with his stellar play on the field. Deion reached out to his humble beginnings and talked about his upbringing and promising his mother he would be a success so she could quit working in the hospital.

Deion even admits for the first time that in his youth he was ashamed of his mother's job of cleaning in the hospital. He made a pledge to himself that he would do whatever it took to be successful so his mother wouldn't have to work another day in her life.

"When people told me I couldn't do it, I pushed myself harder by just seeing my momma pushing that cart in the hospital all those years to support us kids."

What can drive you forward to succeed in everything you do?
Just look back at your humble beginnings.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A 9 Year Old's Birthday Wish: Clean Water

For Rachel Beckwith's 9th birthday this past June, she asked her family and friends to donate to a charity to provide fresh clean water to families in other countries.
With the help of her parents, Rachel posted a website with the goal of collecting only $300 for clean water projects.

Since 2009, there have been 2,321 clean water projects that have provided fresh water to more than 1 million people in 16 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia.

The simplest necessity we take for granted each day,clean water,is what alludes about two thirds of the world's population.

It is such a rarity these days to see a 9 year old kid put forth such an effort to help others and relinquish any gifts for herself. But that's what Rachel Beckwith did.

Rachel Beckwith died in a car accident on Saturday, July 23rd. But her dream lives on. Her charity has raised over $150,000 and increases more each passing day her story is told. Rachel's Pastor says,

"Life is coming out of this death, with Rachel's generosity."

If you wish to donate to provide what Rachel felt so strongly about, here's the website: www.charitywater.org

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hello, Hello, Hello

The other day I walked into a Home Depot store and was quickly greeted with a hello.
And then another and another. Each of these orange vested employees must have been instructed by store management to obviously greet each customer they come in contact with. Probably just another way of reaching out to the customer to build a good repoire.Once I found what I was looking for, I made my way back toward the front of the store where I was greeted with another hello. Only this time it was the same guy who greeted me just a couple minutes earlier. Either he forgot what I looked like and assumed I was just another customer,or he is just programmed that way to acknowledge whoever walks by. In any case, I could have been sarcastic and said something to the effect of,"You just said hello to me two minutes ago,don't you remember? Hello?"
But I kept my mouth and shout and accepted his second greeting.

I remember my very first time visiting the nostalgic Notre Dame Football Stadium. As we entered the gates each usher that came in contact with us were instructed to greet us with,"Hello. Welcome to Notre Dame." This form of greeting at Notre Dame has been around for many,many years. And each time I heard it on my first visit there brought chills down my spine; mostly because of the excitement of finally getting a chance to walk into the prestigious stadium that some call Hallowed Ground.

Another one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is when Kramer goes into a bank where they will pay you $100 if you are not greeted with a hello. And so when the bank teller acknowledges Kramer with only a Hey, Kramer tries to cash in. He goes straight to the bank president and explains the situation. The president calls the teller in question over and asks him if he greeted Kramer; he explains he said Hey. With Kramer taking this form of hello as not the proper greeting, a situation arises. The president calls over three more tellers to ask their opinion in the matter. Each greets and acknowledges Kramer with a different form of hello:


"How you doin'?"

What's up?"

The bank president calls a little pow-wow between himself and his tellers and then acknowledges Kramer,

"Okay, you received a greeting, it starts with an H, how's $20 bucks sound?"

"I'll take it!" Kramer anxiously replies.

My normal acknowledgement of people whether I am at work,church,or just out and about anywhere is,"Hey." And yes,you may literally take that as a hello.

Just a friendly reminder that any friendly greeting is better than none at all.