Category: Theology


[See part one, two, or three] “I was driving to Bossier City to do a little gambling. I knew it was, well, a gamble, but I was getting desperate and needed money. I wasn’t going to be stupid about it – I had a limit. But I was worried about losing, having nothing to show for it, and having it end up on the list of bad choices that for some reason I always had trouble avoiding. I was listening to the radio and trying not to think about it when the tire blew.

I replaced the blown tire with the factory “donut” in the trunk, knowing I was on borrowed time to get a replacement. My budget blew with the tire if I couldn’t get it fixed cheap. Putting the flat tire in the trunk, I got in and started the car. At the same time, the passenger door opened and a man fell into the seat with a pistol pointed at me.

He told me to drive and I drove. I’m already on probation for being stupid in public and I didn’t want to end up dead or in jail. He said he just broke out of jail. He rambled on about being set up for the charge of assault with a deadly weapon. Which I thought a little weird since he was doing just that with me. But I kept driving.

We were just coming around a curve when he hit my shoulder and told me to pull in to the gas station on the left. Which I did, barely avoiding a gray Prius pulling out of the station.

I managed to pull up to the pump without colliding with anything more important than the trash can. It did not fall over, but I knocked it into the other side of the pump. After which a car coming in from the other direction knocked it nearly back in place. As I shifted into park, he handed me a Visa credit card with a name I was pretty damn sure wasn’t his. But I sure as hell wasn’t going to ask him.

“Use it like a credit card and fill up the tank. The zip code is 75234. Then go inside and go to the blonde behind the food counter. Tell her you need two barbecue sandwiches with regular chips and waters on the fly. Say it just like that. She’ll know what to do.”

“I hate to bring this up, but I’m going to need to get my tire fixed. This donut isn’t going to last much longer.”

“Fill the tank up and I’ll let you know.” He turned to his phone and  began to send a text as I was getting the gas.

“Get in and back into the bay and the mechanic will fix the tire,” he said as I looked into the car after filling the gas tank.

Which I did and the mechanic did, putting the tire on the car and the donut in the trunk. All while my inconvenient passenger was sitting in the car, and I stood nervously by. I got in the car, started it, pulled out of the bay and stopped, putting the car in park. I turned and looked at the guy.

“Should I get the sandwiches now?”

“Of course, do you remember what to say”

“I’ve got it.”

And I did. I walked into the station and went straight to the food counter.

“May I help you?” the blonde asked.

“I need two barbecue sandwiches with regular chips and waters on the fly.” By now I was getting kinda hungry. I knew it must be some sort of code, but I hoped the sandwiches were real. I didn’t know what the hell was going to happen and it never hurts to have barbecue first. Fortunately, she handed me the food and waters. Unfortunately, things began to take a nasty turn.

When I got back to the car, my passenger was now the driver. He motioned for me to get in the back seat. As I was opening the door, I heard the shots. I was in the car and closing the door when the blonde came running out of the gas station with a gun in her left hand and a bag in the right.

“Let’s go, Pete,” she said to the driver as she jumped into the passenger seat.

“I thought we weren’t going to use names, Sharon.”

” Just drive.”

I’m thinking, well great, I just ran into a modern day Bonnie and freaking Clyde. Talk about bad choices and bad luck. I was better than fifty percent positive I wasn’t going to get to Bossier City. I was hoping I would get to keep the money I had on me.

I saw the speed trap coming. Pete didn’t. Apparently, neither did Sharon.

[Peace be with you.]

Here is a song I wrote for women in response to the derogatory comments we have heard about them in recent times, played for a small group. I will be recording the song in the next month. Copyright 2017

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

[This is the Sunday post, but there was this game…] Read part one.

Immediately upon spotting the gun, Antonio felt the man’s left arm come around and clamp his chest under his chin, reclaiming his vise grip on Antonio’s right shoulder. Although he  had an urge to turn his head to see where the pistol was pointed, the preacher decided instantaneously that it would not be the wisest choice he could make. His heart was beating so fast that it seemed determined to fly out of his chest. At the same time his brain struggled between telling his eyes to close tightly to feel the barrel of the gun should it be pointed at his head, and telling them to remain open to eliminate the element of surprise.

Francis dropped the coffee pot, which shattered, sending hot coffee and shards of glass onto her shoes and legs. Her fear of the man holding Antonio and the gun offset the pain in her legs. That, and she was praying harder than she ever remembered praying. She wondered if it would matter to the gunman if he knew Antonio was a preacher.

The instant the coffee pot shattered, Fred Martinez, the owner of the truck stop who was still at the cash register, stepped on the floor alarm under the register that signaled the police. He always had unruly customers, but he had the alarm installed when a late night birthday party got  out of control. With the use of credit and debit cards, the truck stop never had enough cash that he thought someone would rob the place at gunpoint. Especially with all the glass and traffic.

“Pull down the shades, and turn the sign around!” the gunman demanded, pointing the gun at Francis – who fought hard against the fainting spell, which along with her fear, was turning her legs to jello.

Francis was not sure how her legs kept moving, but she moved toward the windows as quickly as she dared. As she reached up for the shade on the last window by the door, she spotted Steve Striden at the pump putting gas in his blue Ford F150. He looked around toward the restaurant. Francis tried to catch Steve’s eye as she pulled down the shade. She turned the open sign around in the window, glancing again toward the pump.

“Lock the door,” said the gunman, who had backed up against the wall dividing the restaurant from the store. “Now this one,” he said after she locked the front door, nodding to the door to his right.

The gunman still held Antonio in front of him. Antonio had said so many prayers they had turned into one long prayer. When the gunman had relocated – pulling Antonio with him – the preacher nearly lost his balance. He was sweating buckets and knew the gunman was, too.

Antonio was struggling to keep his bladder in check against the fear and coffee. But that did not keep him from noticing that the man with the gun and arm around his chest was getting nervous. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Which was when someone dropped something in the kitchen, Antonio felt the gunman twitch as he pointed the gun toward the kitchen, the gun fired, and Antonio’s ears rang.

Brother Antonio opened the chapel – a 52-foot semitrailer in the parking lot of the Traveler’s Treasure Truck Stop – at 6 a.m. as he did on most mornings. He liked to be available for the truckers who were getting an early start and wanted to pray before heading out. As he walked up the wooden stairs and unlocked the wooden door in the wooden wall that replaced the metal doors of the trailer, Antonio recalled the pain of opening the original doors which would swing around and bang against the side of the trailer, knocking a few pictures off of the wall.

Leaving the door open, he flipped on the two window air conditioning units installed on the left wall. The units were a welcome benefit of the redesigned entrance. Taylor Perkins, a long hauler for a lumber company, donated a batch of leftover lumber to the chapel that the company did not want to pay him to haul back. Fred Mullins, the truck stop owner, paid his handyman, Jeff Purvis, to build the steps, the rear wall with the door in the middle, and add supports under the trailer.

Purvis, a deacon at the Community Christian Church, painted The Church of the Necessarily Significant on both sides of the trailer as a favor to Brother Antonio. He also was a handyman for the Restful Traveler Hotel across the road from the truck stop. The hotel had upgraded from window unit air conditioners in the past year and the owners were happy to donate two of the units to the chapel. Jeff Purvis attended Brother Antonio’s Thursday night Bible study.

The Mothers of Miracles group at the Community Christian Church sewed blue tarps together to cover the underside of the trailer. The women added crosses alternating with the words Jesus, Forgiveness, Redemption, Faith, and Love. Mavis Monahan, secretary of the group, was the waitress/manager in the evening at the Food and Plenty diner in the truck stop.

Antonio walked out and closed the door behind him. He straightened the sign hung on a nail in the center of the top of the door. “I’m in the restaurant, 406-224-5893 (ask for Brother Antonio) or stop in.” When he was in the restaurant the waitresses would call him to the phone.

Which was where he headed after straightening the sign. He entered the truck stop through the main entrance – saying “hello” to Fred at the cash register – and turned left toward the restaurant.

“Good morning, Antonio.” Francis smiled brightly as she served his coffee – one sugar, one cream – while he settled into his usual corner booth.

“Good morning, Francis.”

“Do you want the usual on this beautiful morning?” She went ahead and wrote special on her order pad anyway. He had only been in town for four months, but the order had not changed.

“Yes, thank you. It is a good day that the Lord has made, isn’t it?”

“Better than yesterday.”

“Nature has a mind of her own, so to speak.”

Francis smiled, topped off Antonio’s coffee, and headed to the kitchen to turn in his order, stopping along the way to refill the coffee cups of other patrons. Antonio glanced around the restaurant, smiling at everyone who caught his eye, and nodding to the regulars. He pulled out his phone and checked the Church of the Necessarily Significant’s Facebook page. It was not a church, per se, although that was Antonio’s goal. The church had begun…

“Here you are, Antonio. Two eggs over easy, bacon, toast, and grits.” Francis slid the plate in front of him as he raised his hands to give her room. She filled his coffee, smiled, and walked to another customer.

Antonio bowed his head and said a quiet prayer. He added butter, salt, and pepper to the grits, stirred them, and tasted a spoonful. Then he cut a piece of an egg, broke off a piece of bacon, and put them on the corner of a piece of toast and took a bite. As he was preparing his second bite, Antonio felt the rush of air as the door to the restaurant opened behind him. He was chewing the second bite when he was suddenly jerked out of the booth and to his feet by a vise grip on his shoulder. While he was regaining his footing he saw the gun.

As I was enjoying Christmas with family, I couldn’t help but think about the families that we delivered food to during the summer and for Thanksgiving and all families like them. I hoped and prayed that they were able to have Christmas dinner and presents of some sort. Or whichever religious celebration they observe. Thanks should be given to Metrocrest Social Services, North Texas Food Bank, churches, and other organizations that make sure families – children and seniors in particular – have the nourishment they need.

Here is the music video of my song, What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger). Feel free to click on the YouTube logo in the bottom right corner to watch it on my YouTube channel and subscribe to the channel (you will only get an email when I upload a new video).

Peace be with you.

Merry Christmas from Jesus

He walked through the streets in darkness,
Homeless but not alone,
A man on a mission of reverence
beyond the mundane chore of survival,
in a spirit of grace and mercy.

He stopped at Johnson’s Laundry
With it’s Closed for Christmas sign,
He knelt on the sidewalk outside the door,
Quietly saying the Lord’s Prayer,
the only prayer he knew.

Thanking “Papa” Johnson
For the clothes left unclaimed,
He left a small package – a crude, homemade cross
With a card on which was scrawled,
“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Next was Garcia’s Grocery
For the leftovers not yet spoiled
He knelt and prayed –
Another crude cross,
And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Ten blocks later, Miller’s Hardware,
For his sturdy, cardboard box dwelling,
and timber for his bed,
A kneel, a prayer, a larger crude cross,
And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Too far from home, the mission closed,
He found a bench in the park,
after a passerby bought coffee
and he walked – recalling forgotten memories –
without knowing what they meant.

Early the next morning on Christmas Day,
he fought the wind and rain,
through the cold streets to the mission,
where Christmas dinner was served, the soul sustained,
and life again had purpose.

The rain stopped, the wind died down,
as he trekked on home,
home – an alley behind the church
white and made of stone,
with a view of the cross on the wall.

He turned into the alley
and stopped in his tracks.
Where his cardboard box had stood,
was a sturdy lumber shack,
with a roof, a window, and a door.

He opened the door to a sturdy wooden cot,
An orange crate table, his few possessions inside,
with something new on top.
A suit of clothes hung on a hook,
with the laundry marker still on it.

He closed the door because he could,
he’d forgotten what it felt like.
Walking to the table he turned on the lamp,
it had been years since he had his own light,
but then his breath went away.

Also on the table sat a Bible, brand new,
inscribed with a name he hadn’t used in years,
next to a picture of a family he’d forgotten he had.
He stood staring at them, his mind racing,
memories bombarding his thoughts.

He sat on the cot and picked up the Bible,
after staring at the picture a while.
He ran his fingers over the only thing he owned
that wasn’t worn by wear or weather,
with emotions he couldn’t control.

Through tears, with shaking hands,
he opened the Bible and read
“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Peace be with you.

Dan during video shoot

The week before we filmed footage for the What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger) music video, I kept practicing the song. I had already been playing it frequently in support of the program. But since we were going to film me playing the song, I wanted to be able to do it in as few takes as possible.

On Friday night, I played it numerous times. Then I got up Saturday and played the song to warm up. I arrived at the church at 8 a.m. I set up my camera and filmed myself playing the song a couple of times. Marcus Belmore arrived and began getting footage of the volunteers, including me, sorting and delivering the food to the families whose children received free or reduced lunches during the school year, but nothing during the summer.

I don’t know about other songwriters, but when I write a new song that I really like, I have a hard time getting it out of my head. And since I was playing it in support of the program during the summer, What the Lord Intends was really stuck in my head. I played it a couple of times after I got home from the church.

After a nap and dinner, I later decided to play the song again. I fingerpick on the song and couldn’t play the opening licks for the likes of me. My fingers just wouldn’t work together in the syncopated way they normally would. It was comically frustrating, if you catch my drift.

The lack of dexterity actually concerned me for a moment – even though it was only on that song. Working at the computer a lot of the time, I’m used to carpal tunnel type symptoms. I exercise my hands frequently. Playing guitar helps to stretch the fingers. Except in this case when the two worlds collided, so to speak.

Are there any lessons to be learned? Never play guitar after a nap and dinner? I don’t think so. Never film a video at a church on Saturday morning? Again, no. Don’t play the same song one more time, being tired, without playing other songs? That’s closer.

Anyone had this, or something similar, happen to them? Any other lessons to be learned? I laugh about it now, but it was scary for a while, not having the fingers work on a song.

Peace be with you.

Richie Smith and I

Richie Smith and I

I was hosting the Angela’s at the Crosswalk Monday night open mic on Halloween when I first met Richie Smith. He came in with his mom and dad, waving to people as they came by the tables – just saying hi. His dad, Rick, came over and told me who he was so I knew when his slot came up. I asked him what he needed, sound-wise. He said Richie just needed a mic because he was going to play the song on a small Bose iPod/iPhone player.

When his time came, Rick helped Richie up to the microphone. Richie’s left leg was in a brace and his left arm was in a sling. I got him set up with the mic and his dad helped him start the songs. I adjusted the sound and Richie introduced himself.

“I’m Richie Smith. I had surgery for brain cancer to remove a tumor and what was left was diagnosed as grade 4 brain cancer. After surgery, I came out I was like this. This isn’t part of my costume.”

The crowd erupted in laughter. That is a perfect introduction to Richie. He is a twenty-two year old young man who has always loved music. He could play piano as well as other instruments. Music came to him naturally. He performed in cafes for charity.

Then he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011. No one outside of his family knew he had brain cancer. When it worsened in 2012, he had two

Richie and his father, Rick.

Richie and his father, Rick.

days to live without immediate brain surgery. After the surgery on November 24, 2012, what could not be removed was diagnosed as grade 4 brain cancer, and he was given two years to live. “The fight raged on, and in 2013 there were two brain tumors growing in size, leading Richie to lose most mobility on the left side of his body, but he never gave up.”1

Richie thanks God for his music even after all that has happened. His positive attitude and faith in God is infectious. There were a number of his close friends there, but, as far as Richie is concerned, everyone there was his friend. He had everyone laughing and dancing along to one of his songs. Even me – and I don’t dance – used to long ago,  but not anymore. Except for Halloween night.

Two weeks later, when I once again hosted the open mic, Richie was on the list. His left arm hung by his side rather than held up in a sling. He played piano with his right hand while he sat behind it and sang. His father, Rick, played the cajon. Once again, his laughter and infectious spirit filled the room. He played a hilarious cover of Skinny Girl Jeans with some additions of his own. Richie had the crowd singing along on Lean on Me by Bill Withers.

Veronica, Richie, and Rick Smith

Veronica, Richie, and Rick Smith

And, naturally, he played his song, For A Reason. Not only is it the name of his song, but it is also the name of his For A Reason Foundation. For A Reason is also Richie first official song release, produced by multi-platinum producer, John Kurzweg. The song was released this past Thursday, the fourth anniversary of his first brain surgery. It was also – as Richie pointed out at Angela’s – Thanksgiving, his mother, Veronica’s, birthday, and his re-birth. His re-birth is how he refers to the immediate emergency surgery.

For A Reason is available on iTunes, Amazon, and the usual online music distribution sites. You can also check out Richie’s Facebook page and his YouTube channel. You can see Richie on Mondays at Angela’s or  at the fourth Saturday Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA) showcase on December 17.

Peace be with you.

                                                                                        1  Quoted from ournewmonarch.com

fb_img_1479572463549I just got home a little while ago from helping to pick the food up from Metrocrest Social Services with members of Christ United Methodist Church to deliver Thanksgiving food to the Sack Summer Hunger (SSH) families. With the weather having turned cool, it was quite a bit different than the 90+ degrees weather we worked in during the summer. All of the volunteers were in excellent holiday sharing spirit as everyone helped get the vehicles loaded.

When most of the vehicles had been loaded, I headed out with the food for my SSH neighbors. It was the first time I had seen my “summer friends” since SSH ended for the summer on Saturday, August 6th. At the one house I delivered to, the father opened the door as I reached the porch with the food. At each of the two apartments, after a quick knock, they answered the door quickly. Everyone had smiles on their faces – they very much appreciated the food. And they were glad to see me, too. It was like a reunion at each home.

At the one apartment with the little girl that always comes to the door with her mother, the girl was more excited than usual. Partly, I think, because the food was in a sealed box – like a surprise package. Also partly because we were happy to see one another. We had shared smiles once a week all summer. As I was leaving, after I said “Happy Thanksgiving,” the little girl said “thank you, thank you, Happy Thanksgiving, thank you….” and she kept expressing her joy as her mother closed the door.

I don’t deliver the food to hear “thank you.” I do it because it’s the Christian thing to do. But hearing the little girl still talking as I walked down the stairs was a really nice bonus.

I leave you with the video for my song What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger). Peace be with you.

Here is the video for my song, What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger). The video was filmed and produced by Marcus Belmore. The song was produced by my son, Daniel “Conner” Roark. It is the bonus song on my new cd of live songs, Peace Be With You. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel while you’re there. Also, please like my Facebook music page.

Peace be with you.

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