Charity

Charity: (n) the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.

“I’m no charity case!”

It is a statement often flung in my direction when I’m attempting to be generous to someone who obviously could use some bolstering.

The statement is prideful statement, and unfortunately, doused in ignorance. For truly, there is not a soul among us who does not
occasionally require the charity provided by strangers.

In viewing my abundant life, there have been many times when I have possessed finance to fund an unnecessary, extravagant dinner–and also specific occasions when a dollar bill lit up and danced before my eyes because its arrival was truly divinely inspired.

If we go with the Old English definition of charity–which is love–the desperation each of us possesses to be loved is incomprehensible.

Denying it makes us look like foolish, pouting children.

Demanding it too often has the whiff of the charlatan.

So I have a simple saying in my life:

“May those around me who happen to arrive at just the right moment to come to my aid find me busy doing my best, unaware that they are on their way.”

 

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Charismatic

Charismatic: (adj) relating to the charismatic movement in the Christian Church.

Even in the midst of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenburg Church, symbolizing the beginning of the Reformation Movement and the Protestant rendition of the faith, my mind prefers to go back less than fifty years–when
those boundaries existing between Catholics and Protestants were melted away by a simple sweet spirit.

I had just begun traveling the country–a young man full of dreams and plagued by empty pockets–when suddenly the walls that had once stood strong between the denominations of the followers of Jesus began to tumble by a movement of the Holy Spirit.

Matter of fact, many of my first opportunities to sing and share ended up being in front of Catholic Charismatic meetings, where those who honored a Pope and offered wine and cheese for snacks, suddenly joined hands in prayer with their Protestant counterparts.

It was beautiful. It was childlike. It was awe-inspiriring and sometimes a bit clumsy.

One night at a McDonald’s, one of my Catholic brothers, in an attempt to validate his newfound freedom and faith, proclaimed to the entire table of hamburger-munchers that “Jesus wiped with the same hand we do.” Everybody graciously said a quiet “amen,” our Big Macs suddenly shrinking in appeal.

What were the ingredients that made this movement so successful?

  1. They didn’t take too much time discussing theology.
  2. Everyone became known as a “Charismatic” instead of identifying by their denominational nametag.
  3. Love and hugging were just as important as Bible study and prayer.
  4. The music was like children’s hymns, sung with tears.
  5. It unified.

The Charismatic Movement didn’t last very long. False teachers, televangelists and those who wanted to make a dime off of a penny’s worth of thoughts soon came in and ravaged the faithful.

But it truly was charismatic.

Charismatic in the sense of being totally charming.

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Charisma

Charisma: (n) compelling attractiveness or charm

I just finished a performance.

I don’t think the audience liked me.

The money was bad; the response was tepid and nobody was particularly interested in purchasing my books.

So I asked myself, what did I do wrong?

Always our first inclination. Where is my fault in the matter? It is an agonizing process, but without it, vanity can make us intolerable.

You know what the truth of the matter is? The people who sat and listened may have been with their moms and dads years and years ago and heard one of the parents comment or joke about a heavy-set man walking by, portraying that he was less than acceptable.

Maybe that person just never forgot that little drama. Maybe he or she found themselves trapped in a response that was not his or her own, but so ingrained that it popped out without permission.

Charisma is such a wicked maze of misunderstanding.

For after all, one man’s “beautiful” is another man’s “plain.” And one woman’s “gentle” is another woman’s “boring.”

So what’s the best we can do?

Find our gift, work on our gift, share our gift in good cheer.

For lo and behold, anybody who would benefit from knowing us will certainly find us.

 

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Chariot

Chariot: (n) a two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle used in ancient warfare and racing.

“Negro spiritual. “

It’s not exactly an oxymoron, but within the two words there seems to be a contradiction of purpose.

After all, if you were a Negro, you might find it difficult to be spiritual to those who decided to know you only by that term.

Yet a race of people who were beaten, subjugated, raped and sometimes nearly starved managed to get around a fire late at night when their persecutors had retired to the Big House, and come up with songs which we now display in our religious catalogues today.

  • “Let My People Go”
  • “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”
  • And of course, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

Even though the songs are melodic, harmonic and perhaps even rhythmic, they all carry a central theme: “Dear God, I hope they stop beating me and if they won’t, I hope you kill me soon.”

You can be sympathetic to their plight.

“Swing low, sweet chariot,

Comin’ for to carry me home…”

A pretty simple passage: “Since there’s no solution here on Earth, since the Massa has the whip and since my family can be sold at a moment’s notice, maybe it would be wise to begin Eternity really soon.”

Negro spiritual–a music that tells us where people find solace when other humans abandon and mistreat them.

It is soulful, it is seeking and it is sad.

I can’t listen to the song about the chariot without realizing that my ancestors made the singer want to die.

 

 

 

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Charger

Charger: (n) Archaic a large, flat dish; platter

Long, long ago, when an epidemic of the simple common cold could kill people off by the thousands, a flat serving tray was referred to as a “charger.”

It has very little significance to us, as we now view a small cord which attaches to our phone as the only charger of note.

But long ago, when a young girl breathlessly finished a dance, nearly naked from her exuberant efforts, her step-father, a king, greatly
aroused by her choreography, promised to give her anything she wanted as payment for her little strip-tease.

He was obviously staring down at a beautiful temptation, and also at the evidence that she had succeeded in waking up the “little king.”

She was a nasty little vixen, with a mother who had been trained to be ruthless and cruel. So the two of them got together, and the girl requested the head of John the Baptist–“on a charger.”

(This is origin of the slogan, “I want his head on a silver platter.” I assume that the request for the platter was to express extreme indifference.)

But it is a warning.

For the Prophet John made the mistake of generating enemies of souls with no conscience.

And the young girl, who had been raised by a bedeviled mother to use the lust of men to her advantage, was able to take the Baptist’s indiscretion in judging a queen, and the queen’s fury over his insolence, and turn it into a tragedy.

It teaches us all that we should choose our words carefully — and avoid making enemies of people who really wouldn’t mind putting our fate on a plate.

 

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Charge

Charge: (v) to rush in a particular direction

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

It’s a line from Alexander Pope.

‘Tis a beautiful thought–but the absence of charging into the conflict often leaves things unaccomplished. And charging at the wrong time,
like Pickett did at Gettysburg, extracts a horrible toll.

When does foolishness later appear to be wise because it was needed to promote justice?

Certainly when Martin Luther King, Jr., did his marches in Alabama and people’s heads were busted in by policemen with sticks, it did not immediately appear to be a prudent move. Blood spilled on the ground rarely seems justified.

  • When do we charge?
  • When do we stand?
  • And when do we retreat?

These are great questions, certainly not to be handled by this meager mutt in this short bark. But I will say this:

When the voice of common sense is silenced by raging inconsistency, there is a need for good men and women everywhere to rise to their feet and move forward to stop it.

 

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Charcoal

Charcoal: (v) to cook over charcoal.

My dad tried hard.

I didn’t know it at the time–I was a teenager and I thought he was an old man. He was pretty old–older than most of the dads.

Sometimes he would imitate joy over having me as a son. I was usually watching television at the time, and unaffected by his attempts at
conversation. Then, when I needed five dollars to take a girl on a date, he distanced himself from me–protecting his pocketbook.

We never connected. But to his credit, he never stopped trying.

He even decided to go out and buy a really cheap grill from Buckeye Mart, complete with charcoal briquettes and lighting fluid. He was determined to grill hamburgers in our back yard.

He had no experience.

The first half hour was spent trying to figure out how to ignite the charcoal. Then he ended up wasting about two pounds of hamburger because he didn’t know you were supposed to wait until the fire went down. I faithfully stood by his side watching as he told me I would be taking over the grill in just a few moments.

I never did take over the grill.

The charcoal he bought was so cheap it wouldn’t stay lit and the lighter fluid was bargain brand and not very effective.

So at the end of the excursion, my father presented a platter of hamburgers that looked like charcoal briquettes, and some that were still raw.

It was a fiasco.

It would have been fine if he had laughed at himself or admitted his lack of foreknowledge. But he didn’t. He blamed Buckeye Mart for having inferior products and me for not being adequately motivated.

It is not a good memory.

But it does remind me that a sad man–who happened to be my dad–kept trying to please a very bratty son.

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