Grandpa’s Hats

I have two hats hanging up in my garage. They’re not where I can reach up and grab them to wear when I need them. They’re just there to help me remember.

These hats belonged to my grandfather. He was a World War 2 veteran, a hard worker, a fishing enthusiast, and a quiet, peaceful man.

One of them is a hard hat. He worked for many years for our state’s highway department. As a kid I was quick to play the cool grandpa card by injecting, “My Grandpa drives a dump truck.” In the early school years it is way cooler to drive a dump truck than to be a lawyer or accountant or most anything else.

When I look up and see that hard hat hanging there I am reminded that my Grandpa was a man well-acquainted with hard, sweaty, dusty work. I can see him coming in the back door, lunch box in hand. I can see the previous day’s freshly washed overalls hanging on the clothesline and work boots airing out on the back porch. I can smell the sweat and dust… but it’s not a bad smell—pungent but organic, earthy.

The other hat was his fishing hat. He wore a lot of those out over the years and probably lost at least one to bungling grandkids and their fish hooks gone awry. When it’s warm I can still smell him in the hat band of that old hat.

He was never what anyone would consider a wealthy man. I don’t think he ever even owned a house. He went to work and worked hard for his family. He kept going for decades for his family. He worked out in the scorching Oklahoma summers in those trucks with sticky vinyl seats and no air conditioning and endured the cold, blustery winds that come sweeping down the plains. There was never any question that he did it for all of us.

But the fishing he did with us. He took us and taught us and put up with us and endured us and loved us. My dad took us too, but my earliest fishing memories involved my Grandpa. I can still hear him call my name to come back toward him when I would wander too far down the dock for him to keep a good eye on me.

He worked for us.

He fished with us.

And when I look up at these two hats that still bear the marks of the same head, I remember the lesson he taught me without ever saying a word… which was his favorite way to teach.

He taught me to work hard FOR my family. You can’t always like everything about your work, but you must work hard for those who depend upon you. He showed me how to invest my sweat equity in my family.

He taught me to invest the rest of my time, as much as I possibly can, in working (and playing and generally living) WITH my family.

There were many other lessons he taught me… like being (almost irrationally) early for literally everything. But these hats hang in my garage as a silent reminder to pour myself out FOR and WITH the people that have been entrusted to my care.

I think he’d be proud. And that makes my heart smile.

Taking Care of Business… Sort Of

When your dad owns the place, it changes the way you approach it.

I am reminded every time I see a certain pastor’s wife from my childhood of the time I asked her, “Do you know who my dad is?”

My dad was the camp director at the church camp we attended that particular year and, because of his position of leadership and influence (which to a small kid is pretty much the same as ownership) I felt that brought me a certain degree of… well, something akin to diplomatic immunity.

I was wrong… very, very wrong.

Nevertheless, there is something about being in your dad’s business or his house that a son naturally feels some degree of ownership or protectiveness toward it.

When I read in John chapter 2 about Jesus cleaning house in the temple in Jerusalem, I realize that this is a good thing.

Take a moment and read John 2.13-17.

It was a very important time in the temple as the people were coming to offer their passover sacrifices. As a matter of convenience, I’m sure, some of the authorities had allowed a sort of concession agreement to enable some local businessmen to set up a kiosk in the lobby to cater to those who had to travel some distance (which, of course, made the task of bringing animals for sacrifice much more difficult).

People being what people are, the profitability of such an arrangement had been recognized and sufficiently exploited as a significant business practice.

But they also had to have an exchange table that would convert the common Roman currency of the street into the exclusive currency of the temple… for a small convenience fee.
Jesus came into the temple, His Father’s house, and saw the bustling business taking place.

But notice his reaction:

“And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.” (John 2.15)

The response was immediate and harsh. It was the kind of outrageous action that would get most pastors immediately relieved of their duties. He was clearly very angry at what he found taking place in this space set aside for worship.

His comments give us more insight:

“And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’” (John 2.16)

Jesus had a passionate concern for what He referred to as “my Father’s house.” You see, even here Jesus was identifying himself as the Son of God. This seems to be John’s purpose behind relaying this event.

And, as John often does through his account, he relays a comment about how he and the others recognized in this event what the Scriptures had testified so long ago:

“His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” (John 2.17)

John testifies here that Jesus’ followers, when reflecting on what they had witnessed, recalled Psalm 69 and recognized the fulfillment right before their eyes.

Jesus walked into the temple and observed the troubling things going on as the temple was being at the very least disrespected if not outrightly profaned. His reaction, though seemingly violent, was one of simply taking care of business in His Father’s house.

I wonder… what kind of passion ought we to have about our Father’s house today? I speak of the fellowship of believers in which we must be connected, the local faith family we call a church. Should we be outraged at profit-driven practices and self-benefitting arrangements?

Let me be clear: this is not about kids sharing fund-raisers for school in the church building. The building IS NOT THE CHURCH. The people are. Do we practice things as a people that are contradicting the work to which we have been called?

Maybe it’s time we speak up to the moneychangers around us and insist that our practices be cleansed and reformed. But one thing is for sure… we should have a Christ-like zeal for our Father’s house.

We need to prayerfully, obediently, set about taking care of business.

Father, give us a humble and holy zeal for Your house!

Just Like Your Sisters

There are some patterns you can observe among members of a family. My wife and I met in band in college. My kids have all been active in band in school and it would appear that a few of them have even met their match in band. It’s just part of who we are.

My boys go places often to have people say, “You’re a Peercy, aren’t you?” They look a lot alike. They do some similar things. That’s kind of how families are. Continue reading Just Like Your Sisters