Monday, October 25, 2010

Dan Smick - Part II

Dan was an intellectual with a sense of humor. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive – though I imagine there are intellectuals who are affectatious when it comes to humor, that is they kill whatever humor might be latent so as not to mar their intellectual persona.

C.S. Lewis had humor that would embarrass many (most?) American Evangelicals – he called it “bawdy”. You can make what you want of that as you sip your pint of bitter. While I don’t know that I’d hold John Riggins up as a model for life, his words to Sandra Day O’Connor (who probably didn’t deserve them), “Loosen up Sandy baby”, might be good advice for a good many churches and academic institutions.

When Dan went to meet his future in-laws for the first time he wore wax teeth – or something along that line – Dan not only had a sense of humor, he was a man of courage.

Dan’s courage extended far beyond wearing wax teeth, for the root of his courage was a life in Christ, a life which extends into eternity. Throughout his illness his focus was on others, encouraging them, challenging them, comforting them. He ministered to nurses, doctors, hospital aides, and fellow patients – but there was none of that the flowers come up in the spring kind of thing, there was Jesus.

I recall prepping for a seminary exam in which I anticipated an essay question on the philosopher Immanuel Kant. I read and read about Kant, trying to distill his approach to life, philosophy, and epistemology – but I just couldn’t get it. With exam hour rapidly approaching I called Dan and asked him to give me a primer on Kant. Within 20 or 30 minutes Dan made the elusive (to me) Kant understandable, the fragments of knowledge I had about Kant fell into place and I began the exam looking forward to meeting Mr. Kant; which I did with good result.

Of all the marketplace material I’ve read over the years, Dan’s seminal work is the best and without a doubt the most systemic. In fact, in terms of a matrix of thought and approach, I know of nothing close to it. The problem, if it can be called a problem, was that Dan spawned the concepts and pictures but had trouble filling in the wide open spaces within the constructs he created. Some of that was in his nature, ever the explorer, venturing into new lands. Perhaps some of it was a sense that he needed to break as many new trails as possible within a short life? He wrote little that I am aware of but he outlined a great deal. His Thirty Moments of Truth in the marketplace remains a valuable framework within which to consider our vocational calling.

Dan not only challenged our thinking, he challenged the way we live – something I have found lacking in much marketplace ministry – Dan wasn’t content to see Christians live good lives in the marketplace, he wanted them to live in and through the Cross – he wanted their lives to be sacrificially intentional in Christ.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dan Smick - Part I

I’ve been thinking about Dan Smick recently so I thought I’d write about him. It has been over ten years since Dan went to be “at home with the Lord”; his funeral at Park Street Church, Boston, was packed. Haddon Robinson delivered a message in which he said (relying on memory):

Dan once said to me, “Haddon, when you’re preaching my funeral, don’t talk about the flowers coming up every spring after a long hard winter – give them the Gospel”.

And the Gospel is just what Haddon gave us. Andy Mills, chairman of The Marketplace Network, a ministry Dan founded, received a phone call after the funeral from a man who had known Dan and who heard Haddon’s message; the man said to Andy:

I get it! Now I get it. I see that Jesus Christ died for me!

Dan would have been pleased – he was all about people coming to know Jesus.

One of the most moving and instructive moments of my life was visiting Dan in the hospital during the final stages of his liver disease. As I entered his hospital room his eyes were closed and I assumed he was asleep; not wanting to disturb him I sat quietly by his bed for a few minutes. Dan opened his eyes, saw me and smiled, saying:

Oh, it’s you, Bob. I was just thinking about some new ways to share the Gospel with folks.

Here was a young man with liver failure, with a wife and two young boys, and he is thinking about others. A few weeks later when Dan, his wife Susan, and Andy Mills traveled to a hospital in Lincoln, NE in search of a liver transplant, they took literature with them about Jesus Christ. Within a week or so we received a request; Please send more material, we’ve given all we have away to the folks we’re meeting here in Lincoln.

When life doesn’t go as planned I often think of Dan Smick; he certainly didn’t plan to leave this life as soon as he did; he had hopes and dreams for his family, for sharing Christ, for making an impact in the Boston marketplace and academia and beyond; he had more insight and knowledge in him – both in depth and breath – than most of us could dream of…but he got sick…and he died. But through it all he loved Jesus and he loved others – and I got a glimpse of that for which I’ll always be thankful.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sky Bar

Now when I say "Sky Bar" people probably think about that scene in Star Wars when Luke and Obi Wan meet Han Solo and the Wookie; but that's not the Sky Bar I'm talking about. Here is my Sky Bar:

Have you ever had one? It's been years for me, but I have verified that Necco still makes them. Four different...count 'em...four different flavors in one candy bar. I don't purchase candy bars, but if I saw Sky Bars I'd buy a few of them and eat them very slowly...they'd be my own little treasures. I wouldn't want to share - though I suppose I would just to let folks know what they've been missing - maybe...maybe I would share...and then maybe I wouldn't...I mean, since each compartment has its own distinct flavor you really have to experience the entire candy bar to appreciate the experience.

I guess it's like reading the Gospels, they are similar but they are different - each has its own flavor, and all together they make for quite the experience. 

Did I mention that when I was a kid candy bars were 5 cents? Hey, that is something isn't it - I'm in the season of life when I can say things like that :-)

Friday, October 15, 2010

More on the Drug Store

Ford's Pharmacy used to have a Hires Root Beer barrel. You'd get your root beer in frosted mugs - and boy was it good! I wonder if there's anyplace that still uses root beer barrels?

Vickie made some home-made root beer a few years ago. Problem was, she let it ferment too long, kept it in an upstairs bedroom to keep it warm - until one day, just was we were getting to leave on a trip - POP, POP, POP!!!!! The bottles started exploring. We had root beer on the ceiling, on the walls, on the floor - it was a sticky mess. Well, there are some things best purchased at the store - that was the first and only time we tried making our own root beer.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Won't Somebody Play With Me?

I guess it's tough being a dog with a ball but with no one to play with. Poor poor puppy.

Still no one to play with.

Lina was just kind of taking it easy and wasn't into playing ball this particular day.

Actually, two weeks ago Lina spent two days in the doggy hospital, was dehydrated and on IV's - she seems to be fine now - but it was quite the scare.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Totally Irrelevant

Granted this is not a good image, but after a few Google pages I gave up trying to find a better one. TV's and radios used to have vacuum tubes. Since I'm not into electronics I'll not try to explain them - what I do know is that I used to be fascinated by the tubes - especially when the rear panel of the TV was off and I could see them lighting up. Sure beats watching solid circuitry. I used to play with burned out tubes - pretended they were spaceships - hey, what can I say - imagination. 

Drug stores used to have tube testers - they were standard fare - and folks used to bring their tubes to the drug store to use the tube tester - you can tell we were living on the edge back in the 50's.

Now you may be wondering about why I'd write about tube testers. The fact is that I think about them from time to time and this may be the best way to get them out of my head. Now you may be wondering why I think about tube testers from time to time. Probably because I like to think back to my early childhood when things were simple and the pages of my book of life didn't have too much written on them yet. My world was pretty much limited to Kensington, MD, and surrounding environs; with the occasional trip to Uncle Caskie's in Virgina.

In those simple days the drug store was one of those places we went on a regular basis, there was Ford's Pharmacy in Kensington, and also Connecticut - Knowles Pharmacy in Kensington. Ford's was next to our pediatrician and also in proximity to our dentist. Either the doctor or the dentist (can't recall which one) used to give gift certificates for ice cream cones at Ford's Pharmacy out - not a bad idea.There is a lot to be said for an ice cream cone in a kid's hand. Actually, there is a lot to be said for an ice cream cone in my hand whatever my age. 

Both drug stores had lunch counters where you could get a small Coke for 5 cents or a large Coke for 10 cents. They were serviced in paper cones that were placed in metal or plastic holders - wonder if there is a photo of those on the Net?

Hey, I found one - the Net is something else. Anyway, you could get a large or a small paper cone in one of these, pretty neat - like I said, 5 cents for small, 10 cents for large - they put ice in the cones in case you're wondering.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Moon Vines

A friend gave us some moon vine seeds a year ago. This spring we put them in a potting tray and they sat and sat and sat and sat. Finally one of them sprouted and we planted it by an arbor. Moon vines blossom at night.