If It Feels Good, Kill It

On October 10, 1991, two boys drowned in a South Carolina lake. From the moment I first heard the news, I considered the deaths of three-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alexander to be a tragedy. In my view, the person responsible for killing these two young boys was a monster. Most of America seemed to be in agreement with me.

It turns out that maybe we were wrong all of this time.

Michael and Alexander were  not murdered in cold blood. No, their death was simply the result of their mother’s feelings. Her right to choose, if you will. And Susan Smith was no mentally unstable killer. She was a freedom fighter who was way ahead of her time. She was fighting for the reproductive rights of women everywhere. She refused to abide by the laws handed down to her by men who knew nothing of what it is like to be a young mother.

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry has once again used her show to say something outrageous, this time while sharing her opinion on abortion. And what an opinion it was. Marty Duren does an excellent job of breaking things down but here’s the backbone of Harris-Perry’s argument.

“But not every pregnancy is a fairy tale. There are other stories. An ultrasound reveals severe birth defects. A child is raped and becomes pregnant. Another baby would jeopardize a mother’s ability to feed her living children. A woman decides she does not want a child at all. These are different pregnancies. They are reminders that an unwanted pregnancy can be biologically the same as a wanted one. But the experience can be entirely different.” 

In Harris-Perry’s world, a world which sadly we all seem to be living in, life does not begin at conception or even birth. It begins when the mother wants it to begin. Theology has no say here. Nor does science. Only the mother’s feelings. What could possibly go wrong?

But the MSNBC host isn’t only talking about a high school cheerleader who got pregnant and doesn’t want her parents to find out. She’s talking about a mom with a two-year-old and a nine-month-old who has finally had enough. She’s talking about someone like Susan Smith.

“Eggs are fertilized. Embryos are implanted. Cells divide and multiply. Fetuses grow. When does life begin? I submit the answer depends an awful lot on the feeling of the parents. A powerful feeling, but not science.”

It’s been said that you can tell a lot about a society by how that society treats its prisoners. Maybe. But how the most vulnerable are treated can be very telling too. For decades now we’ve been killing ours and calling it a right. We’ve even turned it into a booming industry. And now it appears that our bloodlust will not stop at the womb. Now we are witnessing the growth of a movement that has no problem with the murder of toddlers. It all depends on how the mother feels.

Two decades ago Susan Smith strapped her children into her automobile and drove them to a watery grave. The nation was horrified. Outraged.

But times have changed.

Susan Smith is up for parole on November 4, 2024.

Upon her release, she just might get elected to the United States Senate.

Or her own show on MSNBC.

Asphalt Kings

A man comes here from another planet. He’s heard a lot about us; our passions, our evils, the things we do for fun and how we treat each other. But he’s never experienced our world for himself. When he gets here he sees that the two planets have a lot in common with the exception of one thing.

Our roads.

On this man’s planet, asphalt is king. Musicians write songs about it. People work themselves to death trying to get more of it. Thieves break in and steal in order to acquire it. Politicians get elected by promising to hand out more of it while at the same time hoping to acquire more of it for themselves. When it runs out, they conjure up ways to create it out of thin air.

On this man’s planet, it’s all about the almighty asphalt, baby.

“Another day, another pound of asphalt,” his friends tell one another at the end of a long day at work.

So imagine this man’s joy when he sees the abundance of asphalt on our planet. We’ve got roads made out of the stuff so he assumes that life on planet earth is one big party where asphalt is the main ingredient.

The man, overwhelmed with excitement, comes to you.

“I’ve never seen so much asphalt! I’m going to love it here.”

“Asphalt?”

“Yes! It’s everywhere. What do your people do with all of it?”

“Well, let’s see. We drive on it. And that’s about it.”

You go on to tell him that you never really think that much about asphalt. He walks away confused.

When the Bible speaks of the streets of gold in the New Jerusalem, a lot of Christians get excited. We dream about living on a road made out of pure gold instead of one riddled with pot holes and roadkill stains.

But what if Jesus wasn’t just trying to tell us about the cool streets we’ll have in heaven? What if his revelation of the streets of gold was meant, in some small way, to expose our foolishness?

“Jesus, I’ve never seen so much gold. This is great!”

“Gold?”

“Yes! It’s everywhere. What are we going to do with all of it?”

“Well, let’s see. You can walk around on it. And that’s about it. Here, we never really give it much thought.”

We miss the point of eternity if we think that it is all about mansions and streets of gold. The star of eternity is Jesus Christ. He will be our greatest joy then and he should be now too.

But too often, here on our planet, he isn’t. We are prone to chase after things that never really last. Things that don’t mean a whole lot in eternity.

Things like gold.

I think that’s one reason why there will be streets of gold in heaven. It’s Jesus reminding us that the things we tend to value so much here on earth won’t really matter in the next life. It’s his way of saying to us that the things we lust after and kill for will be nothing more than asphalt in the next life.

“One Dollar, Bob.”

A few things about this video.

1. Bob Barker commits a hate crime (0:05).

2. People get way, way too excited about carpet (0:37).

3. Jose has never seen The Price Is Right (1:30).

“Everything?”

“Everything!”

4. Bob Barker is really impatient. In fact, he’s kind of a jerk (1:41).

5. Jose either…

a.) Has no concept of finance

b.) Works for the IRS

c.) All of the Above

6. Jose is at least man enough to know when he’s done something stupid (1:52).

7. Take back what I said earlier about Bob Barker. He’s actually very kind and gracious (1:58).

8. Hit pause at 2:23. Gay is a serial killer (2:23).

9. Jose still thinks he has a chance (2:47).

10. Why is Gay so surprised (3:05)?

So the moral of the story is quite clear. If you ever make it on The Price Is Right and you’re not quite sure what to do, always, and I mean always, say, “One dollar, Bob.”

Take It Easy, For His Name’s Sake

I spent a significant portion of my childhood in a death trap.

At least that’s what my grandparents had me to believe.

Our car was built in the 70s and like a lot of things that were built in the 70s, it was ugly. To begin with, it was a station wagon so it never really had a chance. There was wood paneling on the side, the tires didn’t match and the upholstery on the ceiling sagged down to our heads.

The only cool thing about our station wagon was the back. Not the back seat, the back. I called it the back-back. I’m sure it was intended for groceries but I used it for my own personal space during the hour long trip to and from my grandparents. No seats. No seat belts. Just wide open spaces. For my grandparents, seeing me back there was like seeing me walk a tight rope across the Grand Canyon with a rattlesnake in one hand and an open bottle of liquor in the other. They were terrified and they made sure to share their fears with me.

“Jason, you be careful back there. We saw on the news where a little boy was sitting back there and got thrown out into the ocean. Sharks are still eating his precious, innocent flesh.”

They had a way of making me think.

My grandparents were worriers and that gene got handed down to me.

In the fourth grade I was missing school from worrying myself sick. By the fifth grade I was seeing specialists who were examining my stomach for ulcers. As an adult, I still hate going to doctor’s offices and hospitals. A few years ago I went in for a check-up and found out that I had something called White Coat Syndrome because my blood pressure was somewhere around 762 over 2. The nurse told me that it was like that because I was scared. It made me wonder about how well I was representing Jesus, the One whom I claimed to trust.

We live in a scary world. Kids really do get thrown out of cars. And hospitals aren’t empty. We can try to avoid the scary things but sometimes our alternatives can be just as dangerous, or so we’re told. For proof, look no further than the food you eat.

A while back we were told that some foods were manufactured in a laboratory by evil scientists working for Cobra Commander. The news told us things like, “that bowl of chicken noodle soup could take up to 15 years off of your life.” Soup! Really? And I thought the back of our station wagon was dangerous.

So some people decided to go organic and traded in Campbell’s for homemade soup made with all-natural fur balls from the cat. And we felt better about ourselves. Until doctors told us that soup made from all-natural fur balls from the cat would make your children’s ears stop working and that their kids were 73 times more likely to be born with a hacking cough.

What’s healthy today is what the experts will declare toxic in another decade. For worriers, life is a lose-lose scenario where we’re all just waiting for our time to go. The Bible offers a better alternative. You might know it as the 23rd Psalm.

The 23rd Psalm is about Jesus, the Good Shepherd. One of the things that makes a shepherd a good one is his presence. Others who know much more about sheep than I do have said that the mere presence of an alert shepherd can work wonders on scared and confused sheep. One of the many things we can say about our Shepherd is that he is present.

It was his presence with men like Abraham, Moses and Joshua that became the basis for their courage. But he is not just present with them. We are told in Matthew 1:23 that the baby born to Mary would be called Immanuel. Matthew fills us in on what that name means.

“God with us.”

Not God with Abraham. Not God with Moses. Not God with Joshua. God with us.

It’s good to be an us.

And so it is that presence that gives David, the former shepherd boy, great confidence as he passes through the valley of the shadow of death. Through the valley of the shadow of death. That word through is an interesting one. David knew that commitment to his Lord did not give him a bypass around the valley of the shadow of death. But he also knew that it wasn’t his home. He was just passing through. Under the constant care and supervision of the Good Shepherd.

Our Shepherd carries us through the valley of the shadow of death but he leads us in paths of righteousness. But why? Remember, the 23rd Psalm isn’t primarily about us. It’s about Jesus.

“For his name’s sake.”

That is to say, for his glory.

Our reaction to difficult or frightening situations tells a story about our Shepherd. If we are consumed by fear and worry, we are lying about him. It’s as if we are telling the world that we have been abandoned and left for the wolves. But if we realize the comfort that is ours in the Shepherd, with rod and staff in his nail-pierced hands, we tell quite a different story.

Around the same age that I was riding around in that station wagon, my church had a seminar on rock music. Some evangelist came in and warned us about the dangers of Led Zeppelin and Van Halen. For the record, that’s when I became a fan of Led Zeppelin and Van Halen. “If they sounded that cool played backwards, they had to be good,” I reasoned to myself.

Anyway, one of the dangerous songs he warned us about was Take It Easy by the Eagles. Yeah, that one. His argument was that the song would lead people to be too laid back. As if Jesus said, “Come unto me and I will make you uptight.”

It would do us good to take it easy. I don’t mean sticking our heads in the sand while the world starves to death or retiring early and finishing life out in the mountains. But as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we should remember that we are not alone.

And so we should take it easy.

Not because The Eagles told us to.

But because our Shepherd is with us.

Nine Ways to Kill Your Church

Earlier this week I was at a meeting where men from churches all over our county were present. At the beginning of the meeting a nice, older lady who had prepared food for us said that she was really encouraged to see so many Christian men in one place. By the time the meeting was over I was anything but encouraged. Gravely concerned would be a better description.

It started when we worked our way around the room with a representative from each church giving a mini state of their church address. Having spent several years going to meetings like this one, I knew what to expect.

“Hi, I’m Chuck and I’m from CrossPointe. Things are blowing up at our church. We’re all really stoked. Last Sunday we saw 32,000 people give their lives to Christ and at our Vacation Bible School in June we put an end to childhood poverty. God has really favored us so top that, losers.”

I braced myself when the first man stood up to talk. But I was surprised. And it wasn’t a pleasant surprise.

“Well, we’re struggling. We need a new pastor, the choir is on strike and the parking lot needs to be paved.”

And then the next church.

“Things are no good for us either. The good news is that we had 100 people at our church last Sunday. The bad news is that 90% of them were there because the pastor was being arrested for running something called a Ponzi scheme.”

But wait, there’s more!

“Well, I’m the only one here from our church because all of the other men are sorry. And I mean sorry. I guess they were all too busy getting their nails done to come. Idiots.”

When it was my turn to speak I felt like the guy I always hated to hear at these things just because I didn’t have any affairs or church splits to report. I started to wonder what happened. Some of these churches seemed to be doing okay just a short time ago. How did they get to this point? And what do I need to be looking out for to make sure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen at the church that I pastor?

The next day, I found my answers in Philippians. The Philippian church wasn’t perfect. There’s no such thing. But they were on mission. As long as a church is on a biblically-grounded mission, that church is alive. Again, it won’t be perfect but it also won’t be dead.

But if you prefer the dead church, all you have to do is the exact opposite of what Paul and the Philippian church did.

1. Run and hide at the first sign of opposition (Philippians 1:12-30).

Paul used opposition as just another platform for spreading the gospel and making disciples. He knew that whenever the Spirit was working, Satan was too.

But opposition is hard. So the next time some lady who sort of goes to your church complains about you not drawing out the invitation with “one more verse,” cave in to her demands. Worry more about pleasing those on the fringe who, by the way, are never pleased, than you care about pleasing Jesus, the one in charge of the church.

2. Divide and be conquered (2:1-3).

Paul urged the Philippian church to be unified.

Surely that doesn’t apply to your church so go ahead, divide things up. Make sure that the families who homeschool and the families who prefer a private education and the public school families have little to nothing to do with one another. To help things along, pick the style of education that you prefer and preach it as gospel truth.

And then just sit back and watch the destruction.

3. View Jesus as a historical figure to admire rather than the God who demands full devotion (2:1-11).

That’s really sweet of Jesus to be a humble servant but that sort of thing doesn’t fly in today’s world. Feel free to talk about Jesus, sing about Jesus and even promote a What Would Jesus Do? culture in your church. But if you really want to see everything go down in flames, steer Christians away from living out their true identity in Christ.

4. Act like the world (2:12-18).

If you don’t want to stand out in a dark room, turn off your flashlight.

5. Run-off, bore-off or scare-off as many godly male examples as you possibly can (2:19-30; 3:12-4:1; 4:8-9).

Your kids have plenty of role models that they can learn from during the week so why do they need one when they come to church? Besides, what can your son learn at church from some nobody who only sings and empties trash cans that he can’t learn from Kanye West?

6. Value tradition or religion over the gospel (3:1-11).

When in doubt, do it the old way and make sure that everyone knows that it’s the only way.

When in doubt, make a new law for people to follow and make sure that everyone knows that failure to follow this new law will place them directly under the wrath of God.

7. Assume that tension between church members will go away on its own (4:2-3).

Jesus did tell us not to judge others so that must mean that he just wants us to mind our own business and let things work out on their own. Well, unless you count Matthew 18:15-20. Or Galatians 6:1-10. Or Hebrews 10:19-25. Or James 5:16.

The American landscape is littered with once thriving churches that are now dead because leaders decided to let conflict take care of itself. If you’d like for your church to join the list of mass casualties, follow their example.

8. Worry! And when you’re done, worry some more (4:4-7).

Never make decisions based on what the Bible says. Doing that would be a major step away from your goal of destroying your church. So instead, constantly worry about what could go wrong and make key decisions based on what people might think. And whatever you do, don’t pray.

9. When things get tough, act like God has left you all alone (4:10-20).

Paul was content because he relied on the strength of Christ. As a result, churches flourished.

If you’d like to see your church’s doors closed on Sunday mornings a few years from now, try as hard as you can to keep Jesus out of the equation. Refer to the church as your church. Work hard to make it your church. And eventually it will be. But it won’t be a church. Just another empty building. Hey, on the bright side, I’m sure that the local Lion’s Club will be very appreciative for being allowed to use your facilities on Sunday mornings.

There’s this video on the Internet of trees in a junkyard. These are determined trees. They’re growing through cars and around motorcycle wheels. The cars are dead. The trees are alive and growing around and in spite of the death that surrounds them.

The same is true of Jesus’ church. You can try to stop it by making it your own. And, at least at the local level, you might succeed. But ultimately you will fail and what Jesus told Paul, the author of the letter to the Philippians, will be true of you.

“And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'” Acts 26:14 (ESV)

The First Married Second Grader on the Varsity Wrestling Team

School is starting back soon and we’ve got big plans for our oldest son.

Really big plans.

First on our agenda is sports, where we’re shooting for the stars. Only the best for our son. That’s why he’ll be trying out for the varsity wrestling team this year. Sure, he’s only in the second grade but why should that stop him from following his dreams? Haven’t you ever watched one of those sitcoms on The Disney Channel? Those kids are real young and they get to do all kinds of stuff. Why should my son be any different?

The school has given us some negative feedback but that’s just because those people are backwards and still think that the world needs boundaries. They have yet to realize that it’s 2013 and kids have rights too. I mean it’s in our Constitution somewhere. Or is it the Declaration of Independence? Whatever. It doesn’t matter. All I know is that small children have the right to wrestle for the varsity team and I’m pretty sure that Abraham Lincoln would agree with me. I’m certain that Jesus would. Didn’t he say, “Let the children come unto me”? Apparently that verse isn’t in the varsity wrestling coach’s Bible.

The good news is that Geraldo has asked us to come on his show to explain the persecution we’ve experienced at the hands of our son’s unjust school. Let’s just hope that Geraldo is wearing a shirt. He may have gotten away with that sort of thing back in the 90s when he did that Rico Suave video but those days are gone. You’re 70 now, Geraldo!

It looks like we’ll also have a wedding to plan for during this school year. Our firstborn has fell in love and it looks like the feeling is mutual. Yes, again, he’s only in the second grade. And yes, his significant other is a 32-year-old waitress named Thelma. But they both really do love each other. Isn’t that enough?

It is for Mariah Carey.

“If two people want to get married, it’s their prerogative — we hope. Everybody should be able to do what they want to do and be in the pursuit of happiness.”

And it is for our First Lady, Michelle Obama.

“If proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that American dream.”

So it’s good enough for me too. If the lady who is like the greatest singer in the history of music and another lady who is practically the president tell me that love is enough, then love is enough. Besides, they’re both always so well dressed. What’s there to disagree with? Well, unless you’re some backwards religious wing nut who knows nothing of real love. Or fashion.

But with all of these big dreams for our son, we’ve got to make sure that he’s safe. It’s kind of hard to be the first married second grader to wrestle for the varsity team if you’re dead. That’s why we’re taking every possible step to ensure that our child is secure. We’ve settled on two instruments that will help us to live our lives through our son for many, many years to come.

First, there’s what we call The Dome of Love and Safety. One of the neighbors called it a cage but we had her put away for hate speech. Now she’s in her own little Dome of Love and Safety down in Cuba. Anyway, we put our son in the cage… sorry, Dome, every day when he gets home from school and take him out every morning before school. Being in captivity… sorry, security, ensures that he will be protected from everything from a scraped knee to an electromagnetic pulse.

The politicians are always saying that if just one child is saved by their new laws, it was all worth it. I agree. Just as long as that one child is mine.

The protection doesn’t stop there. He’s got to leave the Dome sometime because the idiots in charge of his school really don’t want him to wrestle in it. Our lawyers are working on that one. But for now, it’s important to make sure that he’s safe while he’s not in his cage… there I go again, Dome. With this implanted chip we found on the Internet, government officials will be able to monitor his every move. This makes us feel real good because nothing can go wrong under constant government supervision. Just look at the city of Chicago. There are all kinds of cameras and laws up there so you know those folks feel safe.

Some people, like our former neighbor, tell us that our plans are too big. So apparently, in this day and time, making sure that your kid can achieve your dreams of parenting the first married second grader to wrestle in a protective Dome is too big.

So I guess we’ll just be known as the parents who dream too big for their children. That’s okay. Besides, isn’t that why you have kids, so that you can live out your dreams through them?

In Defense of Kitchen Tables

When I grew up I ate fish sticks and tater tots for dinner almost every night. I don’t remember exactly but I think that the word fish on the box of fish sticks had an asterisk by it.

Captain Billy’s Fish* Sticks

*No fish were harmed in the making of this product because there are no fish in it. Seaweed? Yes. Fish? No way.

Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Captain Billy

We didn’t eat at the table very much either. We ate in the living room off of these miniature fold out tables called TV trays while watching reruns of Mama’s Family. That aspect of my childhood disqualifies me from ever being able to serve as the President of the United States. Or be a teacher. Or a pastor. Don’t tell my church.

My kids have it different. They’re growing up with homemade bread. No fish* sticks. No Mama’s Family.

And no TV trays.

Instead, we eat at our kitchen table. But it’s more than just a kitchen table. It’s a seminary classroom. This isn’t really by my design. It’s not like I make my four-year-old parse a Greek verb or defend the doctrine of election before he passes the potatoes. That doesn’t come until he turns five. For now, the questions just seem to come naturally.

“Dad, did God know that Adam and Eve would sin?”

“Dad, will we have jobs in Heaven?”

“Dad, how much does Jesus love us?”

“Dad, is Gregg Allman a Christian? What about Dwight Yoakam?”

When I was a kid, eating dinner meant listening to the sounds of the television. Now it means listening to the curious little boys sitting at the kitchen table. But it’s more than me listening to them. They’re listening to me too.

A few nights ago my son told me that he had something about God figured out.

“God is in control of everything. We can’t always understand the things that God does but that’s okay because God is good.”

I think he’s right. He does have that figured out. He went on to tell me that he was having a more difficult time with the Trinity. I told him that it was okay because any god that’s easy to understand isn’t worth worshiping. That seemed to help. But we’ve still got plenty of time to try and understand the Trinity better. My wife has a lot of good recipes and there’s always plenty of room at our kitchen table for good questions.

At some point our kids will have their faith called into question. They will have the option either to abandon the faith of their mother and father or make it their own. I’m thankful that my two boys are in a church where they are being prepared for whenever that day comes. But the kitchen table is where it all comes together. The kitchen table is where the theology they learn on Sundays comes to life.

So moms, while you’re planning out the menu for the week, remember that you’re doing more than providing nourishment for your children. Even if it’s fish* sticks and tater tots, you just might be helping to feed their souls as well as their stomachs.

And dads, turn the TV off and put your phone down. Talk to your kid. Answer her questions, even if your best answer is, “I don’t know.” Sometimes an open ear can say just as much as an open mouth.

When my sons are grown and their faith is their own, I hope that they look back and remember our family meals.

Along with a diligent mother who prepared those meals with love.

A father who loved them enough to listen, even if he didn’t know all of the answers to their questions.

And a sovereign God who graciously and gradually made himself known to them.

All at the kitchen table.

Stop Calling Me Jesus

She was ahead of the times. She dyed her hair black, wore white make-up and acted depressed before it was cool to do such things. I, on the other hand, was way behind the times. I had a ridiculous hair cut, acne and I was vocal about being a Christian. During my tenth grade year, every morning during P.E. class, we clashed.

She always called me names. Not just any names. Religious names.

“What’s up, Jesus?”

“How’s it going, Messiah?”

Just to be clear, she didn’t really think that I was Jesus or the Messiah. It’s not like she tried to worship me every morning while we were playing volleyball. She sincerely didn’t like me and this was her way of making it known.

I mostly kept quiet. I just wanted it to stop. At the very least, I wanted to blend in like everybody else.

So that’s what I did. Getting a normal haircut probably didn’t hurt but I also toned down the Jesus talk. And then a strange thing happened. That girl stopped calling me Jesus. No one called me Jesus. Blending in worked.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I understood my foolishness. Christians aren’t meant to blend in. If the salt has lost its flavor, what good is it? If a light is hidden, what’s the point?

In a few weeks my son will start going to school. The plan is for his brother to follow him the year after. My wife and I will do everything we can to steer our boys away from having a bad haircut. And apparently there’s been some kind of a cure for acne because no kid today has it as bad as I did back then.

But I really hope that our boys don’t blend in.

Not in the Repent, Heathen! or Turn or Burn! sense. Anyone can do that. You don’t have to be a Christian or love Jesus to yell at people (See: Westboro). Just loving Jesus and keeping his commandments, even the ones about loving others, is enough to make you stick out. It’s enough to make people want to call you names. It’s enough to make you hated.

We start out with a tight grip on our kids. When they’re born we have to do everything for them. When they’re learning how to crawl and walk it seems like “No!” is all we ever say. But as we train them our grip loosens. It has too.

Hopefully, prayerfully, that training has been sufficient.

If it has, my kids will get called names.

Names like Jesus or Messiah.

That’s when I really hope that their training kicks in and they remember that sometimes an insult can be the highest compliment.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12 (ESV)

Bad Grass

I’ve got the worst lawn in my neighborhood.

It’s not that I don’t try. I mean I don’t have a ’72 Camaro up on blocks hiding behind four feet of grass. Well, not anymore at least. But I also don’t have what everyone else on my street has – a nice green lawn that looks like a work of art.

People stay off of my neighbors’ lawns because walking on grass like that would be sort of like taking crayons to the Mona Lisa.

People stay off of my lawn because they’re afraid that they might catch a fungus.

So I decided to fix this problem. I went to a home improvement store.

“Can I help you, sir?”

“Yes, I have bad grass in my yard.”

“Oh, so you must be the guy who lives in that house. I think your yard would look better if the grass was four feet tall and you had a ’72 Camaro sitting in it.”

Sometimes the people at these stores can be real jerks.

The worker directed me to a bag of something. The directions looked simple enough.

Step One: Remove ’72 Camaro from yard.

Step Two: Apply granules to yard.

Step Three: Enjoy finally not being made fun of by your neighbors. We were starting to wonder what it was going to take for you to come in and by this stuff, Jay.

Pretty specific directions. But then I read the warning. It was in fine print, of course.

Keep away from children. Do not allow children or pets on grass within 16 years of application. Make sure you register your purchase with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Do not stare at your grass for more than 12 seconds. If grass comes into contact with your skin, quarantine yourself immediately. Do not make your grass angry.

I didn’t buy the bag.

What’s the point of having a piece of art for a front lawn if my kids can’t play on it?

“Boy, that Sanders sure does have a nice lawn.”

“Yeah, but it’s a shame about his kid growing a third arm out of the side of his head.”

Right now there are lines in my grass from where I was teaching my son how to ride his bike yesterday. There’s also a big divot because I forgot to teach him how to use the brakes. It was a nasty fall. Sort of like something one would see on the X Games. But he got back up and rode again. And again. I was proud.

By the time we went inside, half of the grass in my front yard was stuck to my son’s shirtless back. And I think that’s where it belongs. On his back. In his hair. Staining the knees of his pants.

Grass isn’t meant to be looked at.

It’s meant to be walked through, sat in and played on. With your dad.

So if you ever come by my house for a visit, ours is the one with the bad grass.

You won’t find a ’72 Camaro parked on it.

But, most likely, you will see my kids on it. And it on them.

And that’s how it should be.