Are you motivated by Advertising?

I see bill-boards up and down the Highways that proclaim, “Advertising Works,” but I am not so sure they actually work on me. Do they work on you?

I must confess that I do enjoy certain TV ads, but they rarely motivate me to buy anything. I often hear the claim made about advertising working, but it is generally being made by someone in the advertising business.

Of course, it is important for a business to get its name and products out before the market place, but I suspect that a great deal of money is wasted on advertising.

Are we really that easily manipulated as a society?

I recently was waiting in an office for an appointment and flipped through a magazine. I am not sure why anyone would pay several bucks for that magazine as 80% of it was advertisements, but it did get me to thinking that someone believes it works and is investing in that belief. Those ads are not cheap.

As I scanned the magazine I saw that several of the ads were for men’s clothing. The old adage, “The clothes make the man” was the tone and image of most of those ads.

Brooks Brothers for example had an advertisement which depicted the firm as an upscale clothier. The ad conveyed a tone that if a man does not wear clothes from their firm, then that man is not well-clothed. There was also another ad for expensive shirts and ties which were casually wrinkled as if to suggest that business for the day is finished and it is time to relax. There was a byline saying, “Everyone can find themselves at Brooks Brothers.” Are they suggesting that if I do not wear Brooks Brothers’ clothing perhaps I am yet to find myself?  The ad used the image of an executive after work, now more casually attired; lounging elsewhere, away from the office.  Even with the slight wrinkling in the ad, the quality and configuration of the garments suggest power, authority, and money.

The ad carried a declaration, “Established in 1818” to imply that the suggestions in the ad must be true since the firm has stood the test of time. The obvious intent is to stir up emotions to make a man who does not wear a Brooks Brothers’ shirts wish that he did and go out and buy.

In the late nineteenth century, Brooks Brothers introduced the button-down collar which became a staple in the closets of men. I am glad that they introduced the button-down collar, but I have never been motivated to buy one because of their ads. I buy it because I like the way it looks and it prevents my collar from being goofy. The cultural image shouts “Privileged.”

From a cultural aspect, the ad reminds me of the lines within our culture. They appeal to the well-dressed man and that is ok, but I am reminded that there is something to be said for every man trying to look his best, be clean and polished, even if he cannot afford to wear Brooks Brothers.

I believe the truth is, “The clothes do not make the man.” They simply help make him look better.

I see some ads that lean toward political. I don’t much like those. I think Chevron has a couple that get close to that description airing at this moment in time. They carry the “We agree . . . ” message.

It seems there are advertisements for everything. Some of the things advertised are so personal they can be embarrassingly difficult to watch on TV in mixed company.

The drug company ads are a hoot. The ad will tell you how significantly a particular drug can improve your life, but then warns about the possible side effects of the drug. The list of the side effects seems to be far worse than the condition that needs to be treated with medication.

My personal favorite ads are the McDonald ads, but they don’t make me rush out and buy a Big Mac.

The beer commercials are often designed to be funny and sometimes they accomplish that. But, more often they make me wonder about how many kids across American didn’t see their dad that night because he was in a bar drinking that product.

The point of an ad is for one guy to tell us why his product is bigger and better than the other guy’s product. The ads often imply, “You can’t live without this . . .”

My dad loved the Tide detergent commercials and believed that tide was the best detergent on the market. I am not sure what he knew about detergents, but he swore by Tide. I know that there were times when my mom bought a less expensive brand to save a bit of money and he would have a fit. She would simply pour the cheaper brand in the Tide box and all was well.

My favorite ads are generally those with a jingle and I occasionally find myself humming such a jingle.  A few years back, I read an article about a small boat filled with people who had been intercepted by the Coast Guard as they sought to enter the USA illegally. The only thing the boat people knew in the English language was the jingle, “Have you had your break today” from a McDonald’s ad. Those folks had risked their lives in that small boat in open water. Did they really come here to take a break at McDonald’s? Perhaps ads do work and I am just not willing to admit to myself that I am easily influenced.

On FB, I saw that a friend had posted the statement above about small business. I liked it and agree with its message. Do we take money out of circulation in our communities that help us all because we have been seduced by flashy advertisements?

Do you think advertising works? What ads inspire you to buy a certain product?

A Couple of Expectant Dads ……….

The dudes in the above photo are expectant dads . . . and I love them. Their lives have been changing over recent months, and are about to change in a dramatic way in the next few weeks.

Chris is my son; Cody is my nephew. Cody’s mom is my dear, sweet sister, Dorothy. Chris’ wife is Sarah, and Cody’s wife is Deanna. Chris and Sarah are having a girl, Abi, and Cody and Deanna are having a boy, Grayson. It is really cool that they are both just a matter of a few weeks away, but then, Chris and Cody were born pretty close together.

These are both pretty hi-tech Generation X guys who like gadgets, electronics, new technology, and both really get that stuff. They are about to make a huge discovery about God’s technology – the birth of a child and becoming a dad. It will forever change their lives, and it will change it for better.

Sandy had surgery recently and Courtney, Chris, Cody, and Deanna came to help look after her for a few days. While they were here, the guys and I went fishing for a day. It was fun and I loved being with those two good guys. At this time in their lives, a fun fishing trip was good medicine for them. Man stuff!

They have each been on an almost nine-month roller coaster of anticipation. Even though their bodies haven’t change, they have had a serious change of heart and minds as the reality of “I am going to be responsible for this child” has been rattling around in their heads. That will even come in a bigger wave after the cord is snipped, the baby’s bottom is slapped and the yell is let loose.  Up to this point, there really hasn’t been much the guys could do except think and try to make the girls happy and comfortable. The girls have had the primary task and they have gotten most of the attention. Sometimes, that left the guys off to the side.  When she had morning sickness and ran to the bathroom, he stood in the hallway, confused about what was happening, uncertain about what would happen, and concerned about his wife … and a bit out of the loop.  Much of the pregnancy has left him feeling like that.

I snapped a photo of them on my phone before they left. I look at it from time to time and have been thinking about them and what surely what must be going on in their hearts and minds as they anticipate life as a Dad. I have been praying for them.

They have seen serious changes over the past 8 months.  Each has watched his bride’s body change, most likely experienced some mood changes in her, and they have been put to work on some changes being made in their homes – in anticipation of the new addition to the family.

I know that as an expectant dad, I would lay in bed, in the dark of the night, with my bride asleep and  think about my child in the womb and worry about things such as, “What does the future hold?, Will I be able to make them a good living?, Will I be a good dad? Am I up to this? Can I protect both mom and child?” and as well as a thousand other such questions. Questions about things that can either make him a better man or cause greater apprehension.  I suspect that Cody and Chris are doing that now.  I think every man worth his salt does that.

I would encourage both of the expectant dads to consider a few bits of advice from an old dude who ought to have done a better job with it all when he was at that place in his life.

  1. Adopt a mindset that says, “God has entrusted me with this child” and being mindful of that truth will help me do better with my job as a dad. When you are uncertain, talk to God and ask for direction.
  2. Love and honor the child’s mother and always let the child see that. Few things make a child feel more secure than knowing the parents love each other.  Few things will have greater impact on the child than being reared in a home filled with love and respect. It is true that children learn what they live – and live what they learn.
  3. Think about what’s in your mind and heart before putting that into words. What you say matters and will carry more weight in your home than it ever has anywhere else  – you are the head of the house. It is impossible to take back things once they have been said.
  4. Be diligent, be kind, be soft-spoken, and tender-hearted; Let your child see these virtues in your life.

Yesterday I taught the Old Testament Book of Ruth in Sunday school. Sadly, the Book of Ruth is often looked at as study material for the women’s group. But, nothing could be further from the truth.

The Book of Ruth begins with an error made by a husband and father. It was his error that brings the story to history’s stage. That truth is established in the first verse of the first chapter.

1:1 – “And a certain man of Bethlehem-Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.”

The man’s name was Elimelech and his wife was Namoi.  Elimelech most likely thought he was doing the prudent thing for his family because a famine had come and he wanted to make a better, easier life for his family. But his error was that he left Bethlehem-Judah (the house of bread) and went searching for bread in the desert.  Elimelech took his family away from the place of God’s purpose, power, and provision (the Promised Land) and he led them into the desert.

One tragedy is that he led them away – another tragedy is that he would not get to lead them back. Shortly after arriving in Moab, Elimelech dies. His grave is dug and his funeral is attended by pagans, and he is buried in a foreign land. His family is left to fend for themselves in the far country. That sets the stage for the rest of the story.

I suspect that being a good dad begins with recognizing the truth that the child actually belongs to God and He had entrusted you with the child’s care for a few years. A man will do well to look for opportunities to influence the child toward God and thus, toward good. That will be no simple task.

I have raised a couple of kids and a few birddogs. I discovered something kids and bird dogs amazingly have in common – they need no parental help in finding bad – they just need a bunch of help finding the good. Those silly puppies would chew up a good pair of shoes if left by the back door. I had to work pretty hard to teach them not to do that.

Dad, you can be certain that there is a big world out there ready to teach your child the bad things. That child needs you to stand in the gap and play a critical role in his and her life . . .

Man up, Dudes, and answer the challenge . . .  It has eternal rewards and a bunch along the way.

Me? Hey, I got to spend a cool day with two great guys out fishing . . . that is certainly one form of reward!  If  you had not had the right influences in your life to help make you the men that you are, perhaps no one would want to be in a boat with you . . .

There are some dudes like that!

Charlie ……… (The Fisherman)

I have a friend named Charlie. Charlie is the happiest person I know . . .

He really is! From a human perspective, Charlie is a man well acquainted with grief and sorrow. Death has struck his family – up close and personal – not once, but three times in succession (his beloved wife, a son, and a daughter). Even further, he experienced great financial loss, as well as the loss of his business. Standing back looking on from my place, Charlie’s life seriously resembles Job’s experience.  In spite of all that, Charlie is a genuinely happy human being.

I know many people who have not had nearly the turmoil, sorrow, and heartache that Charlie has experienced and it made them bitter. Charlie, on the other hand, chose to be happy — in spite of his circumstances. And Charlie is genuinely happy . . .  He is living proof that one can go through bitter experiences without becoming bitter.

At an earlier time in his life, Charlie was in business and was successful for many years. The company he owned and operated did large projects all over the USA – and even did large projects for international firms. He had hundreds of employees.  He flew his own airplane and had boats up and down the Coast, and a fine home. I am not sure what happened, but I know that today his lifestyle is at a much lower level than he grew accustomed to during the prosperous  times  – in spite of that, Charlie is still a happy man. Charlie’s happiness is not based on his bank balance, it wasn’t then and it isn’t now  – Charlie’s happiness is based on his relationship with the Lord. He views everything as having purpose and trust the Lord in all things. Charlie is a man of tremendous faith.

Charlie loves people . . . If you spend 5 minutes with Charlie, he considers you his friend. I am not saying friend in the terms of just a friend in passing. I am saying friend in the context that you could call him at 2 a.m., wake him and ask him to come help you change a flat tire on the side of the road. He would come with a smile on his face and when he arrived he would be carrying a cup of coffee for you and be ready to help.

Charlie hangs out at WalMart of an evening. He wanders around, just visiting with and getting to know people as they shop. If he encounters a person struggling with any difficulty in their lives, Charlie will pray for them on the spot and will find a way to encourage them.  Every Saturday night Charlie goes to a half-way house in Corpus Christi (ironically named Charlie’s Place) to minister to and encourage those in rehab. Charlie is a great source of encouragement for the people living there.  A few years back Charlie drove to the half-way house, went through a difficult process of resistance by the halfway house just to get that ministry going. Over time he has pulled several others alongside him to help minister to the people struggling with addiction. For a long time, Charlie drove back and forth to North Central Texas each week to keep a jail ministry alive while it was going through a difficult time. Charlie does all of this at his own expense (and the truth be told, he can’t afford to do it but he just does it anyway). Every Sunday morning Charlie is going to show up in Sunday School with a handful of  3” x 5” index cards containing the name,  needs, and basic information about various individuals living at Charlie’s Place. He distributes the cards and asks people to take the cards and pray for the struggling individual named on the card. He is always excited about what happened the night before at Charlie’s Place and begins every sentence with, “I can’t believe it but . . . ” and then goes on to tell you about some sweet experience he had with one of the kids. He has even recruited a lady to give the folks haircuts on Saturday nights – free of charge.

One of the things I love about Charlie is that he always makes everyone else more important that himself. There is no boasting in Charlie – he is a man who knows who he is and is comfortable with that. I once asked him about him flying his own plane. He laughed and said, “I had to have been the worst pilot ever and it is a miracle I didn’t kill myself flying those silly things.” He went on to tell me about several experiences he had when flying.  Just the retelling made me glad I never flew with him. In one of those experiences he made an emergency landing for fuel. He said he called the tower and asked for taxi instructions and the Controller said, “When you get out of the corn field and back on the runway, you can call back for instructions”!

Charlie loves to fish and pretty much does that every day – except Sundays.  Charlie is no fair-weather fisherman. Weather conditions are simply not too important to Charlie and very rarely interfere with his fishing. He will go when it is blistering hot, when it is so cold the rain turns into sleet, when the wind howls, and on a perfect day. Charlie pretty much sees everyday as perfect.

Charlie has a routine that he follows in his fishing. He drives his small galvanized boat to any one of a half dozen different places and anchors the boat. He gets out of the boat, stepping into knee deep water, and then wades out looking for bait-fish. Did I mention that Charlie is 85 years old? As he wades through the water searching for bait-fish, he sort of hobbles along like an old man. When he spies bait-fish, something really amazing happens – Charlie turns into the karate kid. When he is on bait-fish, he trots along pulling a five gallon plastic bucket secured inside an inner tube. He is carrying a 4’ cast net with a 15’ lead with a loop tied to his wrist. When he gets close enough, he turns a quick circle in the water to give him momentum, lets out a war whoop, and makes a perfect cast with his net. As the net falls on the water, he laughs out loud (and can be heard across the bay) and hollers out, “Did you see that? I nailed ‘em”! I have seen him do it a hundred times and marvel at the transformation each time. Once he has secured enough bait, whatever that thing is that happens in Charlie happens again, and he begins to hobble again as he heads back to the boat. When he arrives at the boat, he transfers his bait to the live-well, climbs back in the boat, fires up his motor, and heads out to the fishing hole he has selected for the day.

Charlie only fishes for Redfish and if he doesn’t limit out on a given day something is wrong – not wrong with Charlie but with the elements! Charlie is probably the best Redfish-fisherman in the world.  He sneaks his boat into an area where he can cast into the selected hole, sets his anchor, baits up a half dozen rods, and casts them out with the energy of a 16-year-old. When all of his rods have been cast out, he sits down and begins the wait. It usually doesn’t take long for the action to start –Charlie pretty much knows where the fish will be. He is masterful in his art and is genuinely delighted to be at that place at that moment, doing what he is doing. In fact, the people in every boat that passes knows they just passed by a happy man (they know because Charlie was hollering out to them and laughing with that big goofy grin of his).

Charlie taught a Sunday school class for 50 years. It was called the Fisherman’s class and no girls were allowed. That class had great impact on many men over many years. One of the recruiting techniques Charlie used for the class was an annual Men’s Fish Fry. For many years Charlie caught and provided all the fish. As part of the event, he always had a guest speaker to encourage the men. One year he asked me to be the speaker. There were about 400 men there, so that required a serious amount of fish.

If you visit this area and want to go fishing, all you need to do is let Charlie know. But be prepared – one fishing trip with Charlie will inspire you! I invited Charlie and another friend (who was 70 years of age) to fish with me awhile back. That evening over dinner my friend said, “I have had certain hopes about my health and physical abilities as I move through the aging process, but after today I have a completely new standard to aspire to……”). That is Charlie and his influence on folks.

Charlie doesn’t just fish for Redfish. He is also a fisher of men . . . and he is really good at that, too.

Charlie is one happy dude and he is an inspiration to me and many others.  . . .  I am really glad Charlie is my friend . . . I love that dude!

. . . I want to be like Charlie when I grow up!

Ali and Abi



Sandy and I are Grandparents  – and that is about to double by volume. We have a new grandbaby scheduled to make her appearance in about 6 weeks– her name is Abi. Her big sister is Ali. Her mom is Sarah. Her dad is Chris. Her aunt is Courtney. Her Nana is Sandy. Her GiGi is Gayle. Her other Granddad is Gary. She also has a couple of special great-grandmothers – Gran and Granny. Her Great Granddad is Jake. I am her Pappy . . . and I am excited.

Chris has spent a number of years as a Baptist Youth Minister and is currently making the transition to become a Pastor. I say that because when they told us the new name for the baby, I asked Chris if they were really Baptist. He laughed and said, “Of course we are” and then asked, “Why are you asking that?” I told him that two girls with three letter names beginning with A and end with I sort of sounded like they might be Muslim. He assured me they were Baptist and that Sarah really like both names. I agreed that they were really cool names.

We are really excited about Abi and already love her more than can be expressed in words. We love Chris, we love Sarah, and we love Ali.

Ali has been teaching us stuff about being a Nana and Pappy, but I fear we still have a long way to go. We are excited that Ali will have her little sister, Abi, to help her whip us into shape.

What an exciting thing – the birth of a baby and the expansion of the family. A true gift from God . . .

Let the lesson’s begin . . .

A Trip that Brought Back Memories . . .


Earlier this month, my Aunt Opal passed away in Yuma, Arizona. She was a cool lady and always my favorite aunt. She was one of those folks who just understood and related to kids, and that always made her special to me. So, we drove to Yuma, Arizona, for her funeral. It is a long drive, but it brought back fond memories.

We traveled much of the way on IH 10 West, which took us through El Paso. I had not been in El Paso in 40+ years. I have some fond memories from El Paso, where my family actually lived for a couple of years while I was in high school. I went to Ysleta High School – which was a very large school, even then. As I recall, my freshman year there were like 1,500 freshmen enrolled. At that time I had actually lived much of my life in towns that didn’t have a population of 1,500. It was there that I learned about being in the minority, and that has served me well through the years. It gave me an insight about how it feels to be in the minority and how that makes one feel. That experience has helped me to be more considerate on things that have caused much pain in human history. I even learned to speak Spanish (well, sort of) while I lived there.

While living in El Paso, I went to school with two brothers that were always special to me. Over the past couple of years I have talked with each of those guys, so I thought about them as I passed through that area. I committed to myself that I would invite them to come down and fish with me this fall. It would be good to see them again and spend some time with them.

From El Paso we drove to Los Cruces, New Mexico. I recalled having lived there for a short period of time as a kid, but I don’t remember much about it. I do, vaguely, remember a pretty, dark haired girl named Dianne from there.

From there we drove to Tucson, AZ.  I remembered having lived in Tucson as a young guy and working at Anaconda Mines for a few months. The mines were gathering information and planning on expansion. I worked for a company from Kansas that was drilling core holes around the mines. The purpose was to drill holes into the earth and bring up core samples to identify what products were present and at what levels. I was reminded of how brutally hot it was that summer working on a drilling rig.  It is still hot in Tucson.

About 50 miles west of Tucson, we took IH 8 to Yuma. As I drove along that route, I remembered my two (2) uncles (Dink and Hank) who spent several years helping build that hiway. They were heavy-equipment operators and had moved there to work. They each spent the majority of their adult lives living in Arizona, raised their families there, and are now buried there. Their families continue to live there; it is their home.

I remembered how those two uncles and Aunt Opal were kind and gracious to us as kids. Most years during the summer they would come to our Family Reunion in Burnet. Several summers, they took me or my younger brother or sisters back home with them. I always enjoyed that time. I am not sure why because it was really hot and there wasn’t much to do. But I did get to hang out with my favorite cousins, Nancy Sue and Jimmy Dale (Aunt Opal was their mom). I also recall that sometimes one or both of the uncle’s would take me fishing at night. As I recall, we fished in an irrigation ditch and caught channel catfish. We would clean the fish, put them in used wax milk cartons, and freeze them. At some point before the summer was over, we would defrost them and have a fish fry. Today, I would not fish in an irrigation channel, nor fish for catfish, but it was fun then.

We arrived in Yuma on Thursday afternoon and went to the viewing that evening. There I got to see folks I haven’t seen in several years, including my Cousin Jimmy Dale and his son, Grady, my Cousin Nancy’s sons, and Nancy’s husband.  It was a sad time, but it was good to see my family. Afterward, we had dinner with my Sister and Brother, Stella and Pete (and Pete’s wife, Cindy).

The service for Aunt Opal was Friday morning. After the service, Nancy and Mark had everyone out to their lovely home. It was good to be with them all. We left mid-afternoon and began our 19-hour drive back home. It was a long, hot trip (110 degrees crossing the desert), but it was filled with fond memories of places, events, and people I love.

My Aunt Opal always had a way of bringing us together . . .  She did it one more time.

I loved her . . . and have the fondest memories of what a gracious lady she was to a bunch of poor kids.