The Sea Horse: The Survey

imageIn another city, a man sits at a desk. He is reading a report that should never have reached him. It’s a geological survey with some abnormal findings.

There is a knock at the door, and unlike the movies, he realizes in time what he must do. He grabs his coat, takes something out of it, and destroys the report before answering the door. As he answers the door, the fireplace crackles on the early fall night.

“Dr Melvins, do you have the Carrion survey?” “Come on in, but I’m afraid I don’t.” “You’ll forgive my doubts, but it was delivered two hours ago.” “It was supposed to be, but I don’t have it. You’re more than welcome to search the room if you don’t believe me.”

The man declined verbally, but did using his powers. It wasn’t there, so he allowed the man to live. The Titanic’s operative, Cargo, made an excuse and left. Dr. Melvins waited twenty minutes and headed for the airport.

It was only before boarding the plane that the Doctor hit send on the cell phone. Once the pics were sent, he destroyed the burner cell phone. He hurried to board, as the announcement for the flight to Oceania, made its final call.

The Varnish

violin_bridge_closeupIf you were playing trivial pursuit and someone asked what the most expensive violin ever sold was, you’d probably lose. Most people would give the answer as a Stradivarius, when in truth, In 2013, a del Gesù sold for almost eighteen million dollars. What makes these instruments so valuable? To understand the instrument, you must learn about their maker.

Antonio Stradivari and Bartolomeo Guarneri, del Gesù, or of Jesus, are considered the greatest violin makers in history. The latter given this title because he added the Latin abbreviation for Jesus and the symbol of the Cross. Both were citizens of Cremona, Italy, and each students of the work of Nicola Amati.  While one’s career spanned decades, the other’s was relatively short. Bartolomeo only producing from the late 1720’s until his death in 1744.

[tweetthis]Our job is not to prove our worth, but to improve their view of themselves.[/tweetthis]

According to scientists, the thing that made the difference wasn’t the carving, or the choice of wood. Most violins are spruce on top, maple on the sides and back, and ebony for the fingerboard whenever it was available. The thing that produced the sound that garnished almost eighteen million was the varnish.

The last thing that each man applied, was what produced their legacy in every instrument. Primer, sealer, ground, color coats, and top coat. Some violin maker’s varnish included egg white, others volcanic ash. In the late eighteenth century oxen blood was even used to give a rich red color.

This amazing liquid combination not only produced the sound cherished by men such as Heifetz and Perlman, it preserved the ancient creations long enough for these modern men to play them. In your work, and mine, what touch do we add that will preserve it for the use of future generations?

As a Minister, I believe that what I do has to be relevant for today’s generation. I also believe that it should be something that younger men can build on. A man should never be jealous of the superior accomplishments of others, especially those younger than them. Our job is not to prove our worth, but to improve their view of themselves.

We should do this, not by applying needless layers of advice, but layers of encouragement and reinforcement. If we are champions of those around us, when in need, they’ll ask for help. If we are critical of others, then we should not expect to impact those we have alienated.

My goal is not to produce a famous legacy of Pruitt clones, but of men who produced something that benefited from my influence. If my life can be a layer of varnish in the lives of others, much like Amati’s influence on Stradivarius and del Gesù, then I will have succeeded in doing the most important thing of all. I will have helped to pour into someone whom The Maestro can use to minister to thousands more.

Labor and Strength

imageColossians 1:28-29
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

Notice two words in the last verse, labor and working. The interesting thing is not the meaning of the first, but of the second. Labor here means, as you might expect, hard work. Working means efficiency, energy, and super human power.

Upon reading it, as a comic fan, the character of Green Lantern came to mind. If you’re not familiar, he has a battery, a lantern, that powers his ring. He does super human things, as long as he’s charged, or connected to the power source.

In Paul’s case, the task was instructing the Church. Christ was anointing Paul to teach, as well as anointing Paul’s teaching. The Apostle may get weary, but all he had to do, was to connect to the source of His strength.

God gave him both the words to speak, and the power to say them. Did Paul get weary, yes. Did he get tired, of course. When he did, he would draw strength to complete the journey.

The same is true of us. Last Wednesday, had been a hard day. I needed a mental reboot before our service began. A weary soul, a few fleeting moments with The Master in prayer. It was all I had time for, but it was exactly what I needed.

Please don’t misunderstand, I strongly believe and practice regular prayer. In this instance though, I had a very real need, and a very short interval. God met me where I was, answered my prayer, and I was able to give my all in that service.

He will do for us what He did for the Apostle. Anything that we are anointed to complete, God will strengthen us to finish. Some days we get weary, and sadly we worry, but we shouldn’t. Our labor for Him, will never be in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

The Sea Horse: The Recruits

recruitsSoldier, dressed in tan and black camouflage, a tan face mask, and black beret, addressed his cadets. “You are here to learn to fight for your city. It’s dangerous, even deadly. You’ve prepared, as much as you can mentally, for that. Now, face the fact that what you do is lonely. Most won’t know who you are, and if they care, it’s for the wrong reason.”

“You’re job is to protect, as quietly as possible, those around you. The reason you wear costumes is to draw the same attention a bullseye would on a target. You’re volunteering to be the bait, if they hit you, they won’t hit someone else. If you’re ready, we’ll begin. First, stop me from getting across this field.”

Each recruit gave it their best. The ones with powers relied too heavily on their abilities. The ones without relied too heavily on strategy. Only one was able to get close to stopping Soldier, and he stunned him with a stun staff. It was a last minute recruit, known only as PocketWatch, that almost made it.

“Most of you did as expected, and that is not bad. PocketWatch you only made one mistake, you tried to disarm me, as if it were a gun. When the weapon is foreign to you, don’t assume what direction it fires. Now, we’ll reverse it. You all will try to cross the field, and I’ll stop you.”

Each time that day, Soldier won, but each time he taught them why. Their training would be difficult, but it had to be, because it would also be short. The recruits would be called up for active duty much sooner than anyone expected. It would take every Ally they could muster to stop High Society and Mimic’s war.

Hisbits: Roy Acuff

imageSunstroke caused it, the premature end of his baseball career. It was followed by a nervous breakdown, and then while recovering, he began to perfect his violin skills on the porch after sunset. He would be called the king of Country Music, Roy Acuff.

The young athlete was trying out for a minor league team, the Knoxville Smokies. They were affiliated with the then New York and now San Francisco Giants. Several collapses followed the sun stroke, and he had to accept that baseball was not his future.

For a long time he couldn’t be outside until the sun went down. His Father, a Baptist Minister, gave him records of locally famous fiddlers that influenced his style. In 1932 he joined Dr Hauer’s medicine show. With no microphones, Roy learned to sing loud enough to be heard. This skill would propel him to fame very soon.

He left the medicine show circuit in 1934 and formed the band, the Tennessee Crackerjacks. Roy’s version of the Gospel song, The Great Speckled Bird, landed the band their first recording contract. They also recorded The Wabash Cannonball in 1936.

In 1938 they changed their name to the Smoky Mountain Boys, and joined The Grand Ole Opry. The first audition didn’t go well, but the second gained them the spot. Shortly after that, the dobro player Beecher Kirby joined the group. Roy had met him at a Knoxville bakery. The man would become famous as Bashful Brother Oswald, his stage name.

In the forties, the band went to Hollywood, appearing in at least four pictures. Roy played a singing sheriff in Night Train To Memphis. He also starred in Home In San Antone.

A dispute with management caused Roy to leave the Opry in 1946. A few years earlier he and Fred Rose had formed Acuff-Rose Music. They signed Hank Williams Sr in 1946. Their company became the most important publishing company in Country music.

The non Opry years saw Roy run and lose the Governor’s race for the Republican ticket in 1948. As well as several years touring the western states. He eventually returned to the Opry, but wasn’t as popular as the younger singers, Ernest Tubb and Eddy Arnold. Roy considered retirement, but had a resurgence in the early seventies.

On March 16, 1974, Roy was the headliner all over again. That night, the Opry moved from the Ryman to the Grand Ole Opry house. The first show began with a picture of a 1939 Roy and the Smoky Mountain Boys. A recording of George Hay introducing them was followed by a live performance of the Wabash Cannonball.

Before his death in 1992, he would be given both the National Medal Of Arts, and a lifetime achievement award from the John F. Kennedy Center. Roy also has a star on Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame. The title that described the singer, yo-yo and fiddle player best, was the one I grew up hearing, Roy Acuff, King Of Country Music.