THE LORD LOVES THE DRINKING MAN

THE LORD LOVES THE DRINKING MAN  “For God so loved the world…John 3:16”

So I was sitting on the bus, suffering from a real bad case of writer’s block.  This Barbed Wire Halo blog had me stumped and a few of my new songs in progress had me stuck dead in my tracks as well.  The bus was parked backstage at the Concrete Street Amphitheater in Corpus Christi. My guys were setting up for Fowler Fest, which is obviously hosted by my good buddy, Mr. Kevin Fowler.  After a few hours of drawing blanks, my writer’s block felt more like a thirty foot tall brick wall.  I decided to call it a day and said, “Lord, I might need some help with this one.”  Little did I know, my simple request would be answered with a small hint of a topic suggestion later that night.

So I had finished the show and was visiting with fans when Kevin kicked off his song, “The Lord Loves the Drinking Man.”  If you’re into the Texas Music Scene you probably know this tune well.  It was a big hit for Kevin and even Mark Chestnut recorded it on one of his albums a few years back.  During the second verse this college boy with a bottle in his hand jokingly said, “Hey Aaron, does the Lord really love the drinking man?”  I quickly said, “Absolutely, the Lord loves everybody!”  The college boy then smiled as if acknowledging that he approved of my simple answer and our conversation ended there.  Now I said that the Lord loves the drinking man, but I never said that I thought the Lord approves of all the drinking man’s actions.  But that applies to all of us.  I know the Lord loves Aaron Watson, but He doesn’t always love the way I act.  In defense of the crazy drunk, at least he sort of has an excuse for his actions.  When I act like an idiot there’s no one to blame but me!  No whiskey, no wine, just that guy in the mirror staring back at me.

We all have imperfections, weaknesses and struggles. It’s important that we NEVER FORGET that no matter how big the problem, God’s love is bigger.  His grace can trump any troubles we throw at Him.  He loves because that’s what He does and that’s who He is.  GOD IS LOVE.  His love is unconditional, therefore He loves us even at our worst.  I may not agree with all the theology behind the song, but my friend Mr. Kevin Fowler hit the nail on the head when he said “THE LORD LOVES THE DRINKING MAN.”

“HEY AW, WHY DON’T YOU DRINK?”

“Hey Aaron, why don’t you drink” is probably the most frequently asked question that I get.  Apparently, being a “non-drinking honky-tonker” is an odd combination and even controversial at times.  One night a big corn-fed looking country boy brought me a shot of something and he expected to throw one back with me right there on the stage.  When I declined his offer, I must have really offended him big time because he went from fan to foe instantly.  Thank goodness his tiny little wife grabbed him by the arm and somehow escorted him away.  (Never underestimate the strength of a woman!)  He actually came back to another show a few months later and apologized.  He said he didn’t even remember the incident but his “better half” informed him of his actions the very next morning.  He then laughed and said she had grounded him from the bottle indefinitely.  Before he left that night he brought me a Dr. Pepper from the bar. I thought that was pretty cool!

The soul purpose of this week’s blog is not for me to get preachy by telling others how to live their lives.  It’s simply for me to share my story and the reasons behind my reasons for not drinking.  I’m no “goodie two shoes” so I’m not here to condemn, judge, or criticize.  Nobody likes someone pointing a finger in their face, that’s why I’m going to point the finger at myself instead.  I’m not going to argue Christian doctrine as to whether alcohol is acceptable or unacceptable.  Yes, I know Jesus turned the water into wine and I also know all the bible verses that discourage drunkenness (Proverbs 4:17, Proverbs 20:1, Luke 12:45, Ephesians 5:18, Romans 13:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:6-7, 1 Peter 4:3-4, Genesis 19:30-38, Genesis 9:20-26, Proverbs 23:19-20, etc etc).  Of course I have my opinions, but at the end of the day they are just one man’s opinions.  There are a lot of questions I can’t answer, but there is one thing I am sure of: I am flawed yet forgiven because Jesus died for my sins.

In my short time here on earth I’ve surpassed my life time quota of mishaps.  On a positive note, I’ve learned a lot from my many mistakes.  You know the saying, “what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.”  Well, you would think I’d be as strong as Popeye by now!  I look back at some of the things I’ve done and realize I’m lucky to be alive.  Through trial and error, I found out that me and alcohol get along about as well as mixing oil and water or perhaps fire and dynamite would be a more accurate analogy.  As a young man, the consequences for my actions were less severe than they would be today.  I have a lot more on the line than I did ten or fifteen years ago.  I’m a husband and a daddy now.  I have a responsibility to give my best to my family.  My little girl thinks I’m a knight in shining armor and my little boys think I’m a super-hero and I intend to keep it that way.

You’ve heard the saying “BUSINESS IS BUSINESS” but I believe BUSINESS IS PERSONAL, too.  I take pride in what I do.  My music is a direct reflection of who I am.  I feel it’s my duty to put on a good show for the folks who spend their hard-earned money on my concert tickets, CDs, and merchandise, etc.  The entertainment business is no different than if I were running a little hometown cafe.  If you were to order from “A-DUB’S BURGERS AND FRIES,”  how would you react if the fries were ice-cold, the burger was burnt black, and the service was rude and obnoxious?  Would you tolerate that?  Absolutely not!  You would either send that burger back to kitchen or get up and walk out without paying.  As a fan of music myself, nothing disappoints me more than to get excited and all dressed up just to show up and watch some drunk yo-yo stutter and stumble all over the stage.  There is no excuse for this kind of service/performance.  I believe the fans/customers deserve better.  I guarantee you that the artist that conducts themselves in such a fashion would change their ways real quick if when they went to get paid out at the end of the night, found that the venue had refunded thousands due to a poor quality show.  After all, it’s tough enough remembering 120 minutes worth of music sober…why complicate the issue?

BREAKING MOMMA’S HEART 

I can still hear my Momma saying, your Granddaddy was an alcoholic and your Paw Paw was an alcoholic, so you better watch out because alcoholism runs in our family and its been known to skip a generation.  Now I don’t know how valid this “skip a generation genetic theory” is.  Whether it’s an old wives’ tale or a medical fact really doesn’t matter.  In my eyes, if my Momma said it then it must be true.

During my senior year in high school, one of my buddies had the brilliant idea of throwing a party on the baseball field on the school grounds.  Genius right!?   In the home dugout, there was a 50 gallon trash can full of Cool Aid, Ever-clear and whatever else they threw in there.  I don’t remember drinking much, but apparently I drank enough to have a drastic effect on a little 140 pound skinny punk.  We eventually got busted by my friend’s dad who took me home and made me wake my Dad up at 2:00 am and tell him what we had done.  Dad half asleep said, “Are the police out there?”  I said, “No sir.”   He got up and went outside to visit with the other dad.  When he came back in he said, “Go to bed and we’ll deal with this in the morning.”   I only wish it could have been that easy.

As I walked down the hallway to my room, I could hear my sweet Momma in the living room crying on the couch.  She called me in there and she hugged me like there was no tomorrow.  I had missed curfew by two hours and she had been worried sick!  No wonder she was scared!  A teenage boy at a nearby high school had died a few months earlier in an alcohol related accident.  I felt like the biggest loser on the face of the earth!  There’s something sobering about breaking your Momma’s heart.

I remember going straight to my room, I turned off the lights and flopped onto my water-bed.  I was dog tired and looking forward to a good nights rest.  For a moment, I felt some relief but that was just the calm before the storm.  That’s when I opened my eyes and stared through the pitch dark at the red numbers on my alarm clock.  All of a sudden those glowing digits began to turn a bit sideways and that’s when it started.  Things started spinning.  I would close my eyes but things were still spinning.  At any moment I expected those hellish-red glowing digits reading 2:22 AM to change to 6:66.  Next thing I know, I’m hugging the porcelain pot and hating life.  At some point I literally thought I was going to die and as bad as I felt that didn’t seem like too bad of an option.  I will spare you the details but I would spend the rest of the night there on the bathroom floor.

Dad woke me up at the crack of dawn with a cup of coffee and a long list of chores.  I walked out on the back porch squinting from the sunrise peaking over the tops of the trees.  It was a beautiful yet miserable morning.  I grabbed the chord on the mower and gave it a painful tug.  The sound of the lawn mower firing up sounded more like a freight train inside my head.  Later that night, after a hard days work, I watched an Astros game with Dad on the couch.  I remember he put his arm around me and then kissed me on the cheek.  He didn’t have to say a thing.  He knew that I knew I had done wrong.  And I knew that he loved me still.

Choosing to not drink was not a decision that I came to that day or even the years to follow.  By God’s design I’m sure, I was broke in college and could hardly afford to pay the water bill much less buy alcohol.  Between school and working two jobs there was little time to play.  Then one day I turned around and found myself in a rocking little country band on a honky-tonk stage surrounded by dim lights, thick smoke and lots of neon signs!  You can imagine what my Mother must have been thinking when her baby boy came home and said “I’m going to be a country singer!”  Despite her hesitation and worries, she was very supportive.  She did make me agree to a set of commandment-like expectations.  I won’t go into all of them but I promised to get my college degree, to stay away from drinking, and to never accept a beer sponsorship.  I agreed to all of Mom’s requests unaware of the temptations that lay ahead of me.  Mom’s first time ever in a bar was at the Golden Light Cafe in Amarillo to see her baby boy, “The Honky Tonk Kid” in concert!  She was so cute sitting next to my Aunt Bee with her diet coke in hand.  I was so proud of her!  And wouldn’t you know, during my show, some crazy girl flashed me and I almost died from embarrassment right there on stage.  Thank goodness Mom somehow didn’t witness that!  If she had, she may have made me sell my guitar the very next morning!  Ha ha!

Over the years I have had several beer companies approach me with different business propositions.  I always respectfully decline.  I had one guy in particular, I won’t mention the brand, get a bit put off by my stance on the issue.  He said, “You have got to be kidding me!  Are you telling me that if I were to offer you a ton of money you would still refuse a sponsorship just because of a little promise you made to your Mom?”  I said, “Yep.”  He said, “That’s crazy.”  And once again I just said, “Yep.”  What can I say; I’m a momma’s boy!  Mom is still one of my biggest encouragers.  The other day she sent me a text right before my show that said, “I LOVE YOU BOY.  LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!”  I’m trying Momma!

THE WINE, THE JERK, AND THE PERFECT WOMAN 

PERINI RANCH STEAKHOUSE in Buffalo Gap, Texas is probably one of my favorite places on earth.  This is saying a lot since I have eaten at lots of great places all over the map.  The fact that I still love it even after working there in college is a huge compliment as well!  This place is five-star!  The experience would be worth your drive off the beaten path.  Rumor has it that even Waylon Jennings and Robert Duvall used to fly to Abilene just to eat some prime rib and bread pudding.  If you ever have a chance to go there, make sure you tell Nan at the front counter that Aaron sent ya!

Kimberly and I have had many a hot date out at Perini Ranch!  One such date, sticks out in particular…although it wasn’t exactly a hot date.  The girl was about 6 months pregnant with our first child and she said the baby was craving some jalapeno poppers!  We were sitting at a corner table in the back of the restaurant.  I had ordered a T-bone steak, green chili hominy and some old-fashioned green beans.  Oh, and did I mention the hot buttery bread?  (My stomach just growled!).  The waitress asked If I would like a beer or glass of wine with my meal.  I’d had a pretty stressful week and a glass of wine sounded really nice.  I glanced at Kimberly, looking for her approval, and she had that “I don’t think so” look in her eyes.  I then got a little flustered and just ordered an iced tea.  After the waitress walked off I said, “What in the heck is wrong with one little glass of wine?”  She said, “There is nothing wrong with one little glass of wine but I just don’t think you should.  A lot of young boys look up to you and you never know who might be watching and what they might think.”  So I pretty much acted like a jerk the rest of the dinner while my sweet pregnant wife seemed to enjoy her jalapeno poppers despite the poor company.

At the end of dinner, I’m stuffed, feeling like I need a wheelchair to roll me out to the truck.  Right as the waitress brought our ticket, a man walked up with his son and said “Aaron, I’m sorry to disturb your dinner, but my son and I are big fans of you and what you do.”  He said, “In my son’s eyes you are bigger than George Strait and I just wanted to thank you for always keeping your music clean and showing these kids they don’t have to drink alcohol to have a good time.”  I instantly felt a huge lump in my throat.  I would have felt horrible if a harmless half glass of wine on my table would have shattered that young boy’s image of me and any good I try to stand for.  Because of the reputation of my occupation, many assume that I embrace the “crazy so-called rock star life” that so often surrounds musicians.  I want it to be clear what I stand for at all times, both on stage and off stage.  It’s never been the issue of whether drinking is right or wrong, but whether it was right or wrong for me, my family, and my job.  I knew in my heart that this experience was a way in which God was answering my prayers.  After I hung out with the dad and his boy for a while, I paid my bill and escorted my beautiful bride to the parking lot.

Before I could get the car in reverse I heard a little chuckle coming from the passenger’s seat.  I looked at Kimberly and she said with that cute little smart-alecky grin that so often ticks me off, “I told you so, that’s why I think you should just stick with iced tea, Mr. Watson.”   She was so right!  I had to smile and swallow my pride.  Did I mention she was right?  Did I mention she is perfect?

BOTTLE IN MY HAND

I have friends who drank occasionally in high school and then “occasionally” evolved into “very frequently” in college.  They went on to graduate, get married, have kids, and then one day they turned around and realized that over the years they had slowly developed a very big problem.  Their drinking life was silently yet drastically interfering with their family life.  Instead of racing home after work to play with the kids, they were consumed with consumption, racing to get their next fix.  Or how about the full-time touring band that plays anywhere from 150-225 shows a year.  Two or three beers before the show is no biggie…right?  Until 2 or 3 turns into a 12 pack, the 12 pack turns into whiskey, and the whiskey turns into something even more destructive.  All this trouble for something that started from nothing.  I would never name names, but I’m talking about real people, and real life situations.  My heart goes out to those whose lives are controlled by a substance of any kind; those who neglect and harm themselves and their loved ones because of some powerful addiction.  Moderation, you say?  I often hear the argument for moderation.  I believe there is something in the saying “anything in moderation is ok”…except for that theory wouldn’t work too well for me.  I am an all or nothing kind of guy.  I’m in no way telling the world to stop drinking.  I’m not saying walk to the fridge, clear out those silver cans, rid that liquor cabinet of all the hard stuff and then head to the bathroom and pour your Listerine down the toilet.  And there’s no way I’m saying stop going to those Aaron Watson and Kevin Fowler concerts!  Ha ha!  Like I’ve said, I don’t believe the issue is as much “drinking” as it is getting wasted and all the bad decisions and bad results that occur from that.  I came to my decision through prayer, asking God for direction.  God never once whispered in my ear, sent me a burning bush or a postcard from heaven, but I feel he guided and influenced me through my experiences.  What some call a coincidence, I call an answered prayer.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to have fun as much as the next guy, if not more!  But at the end of the day it would be a struggle for me to glorify God with a bottle in my hand.

Once I was asked in a radio interview what my choice of beer was.  I said, “I don’t know.  I don’t have one.”  There was a moment of awkward silence, so I jumped in and said, ”Well I’d like to think I’m more of a connoisseur of cheap truck stop coffee.  But if I had to choose, being a die-hard Texas boy, I would obviously have to go with Lone Star or Shiner Bock.  With that being said, I would much rather prefer a Dublin Texas Dr. Pepper made with real cane sugar any day…but hey that’s just me!”

Here’s my toast to all of us – making the most of this life, giving God the Glory with every breath we take.

Cheers!

AW

Advertisements
Published in: on July 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm  Comments (34)  

HOW SWEET THE SOUND…

Love, Faith and Wisdom will get you on base, but only God’s Grace can get you Home. (baseball analogy)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus  (Romans 3:23-24)

If you’ve ever been to one of my shows, then you know immediately following my last song I head straight to the merchandise booth where I hang out and visit with “my faithful following”.  I say “faithful following” because I honestly don’t feel right calling them fans; they are more like friends if anything.  After all, they are the ones supporting my career and helping me provide for my family.  These “meet and greets” are part of my routine work day but I do truly enjoy the face to face interaction. We country boys like to call it “shooting the bull” and it’s something I happen to be pretty darn good at.  A lot of times, I’ll be out there till 2 am, so you can imagine there is definitely never a dull moment.  I’ve broken up fights, been proposed to by a tipsy college chick and even had a 300 pound offensive lineman ask me to sign his chest, just to name a few!

On a more serious note, I’ve had some real tear jerkers, as well.  I recently visited with the widow of a soldier killed in Iraq.  I felt a lump in my throat, as she showed me a picture of her husband and myself from a festival that I’d played a week before his last and final deployment.  She said I was his favorite country artist.  At his funeral, they played Barbed Wire Halo.  I am honored beyond words.

I hear so many heartbreaking stories.  It’s a constant reminder of just how painful and ruthless this cruel world can be at times.  A few weeks ago at the merchandise booth, I had a sweet girl ask me to autograph the shirt and CD that she had just bought.  While doing so, she told me that she had really enjoyed my new blog.  Then, with tears welling up, she went on to tell me that she had been struggling with a lot of things lately.  She had made some poor decisions and from doing so had recently found out she was pregnant.  She was really beating herself up good.  She was embarrassed, full of guilt, scared to tell her family, uncertain of her future and certain she had messed her life up beyond repair.  She said, with doubt in her voice, “I just hope that God can forgive me.”  I gave her a big hug and tried my best to encourage and enlighten her.  I shared with her a very similar personal situation that I had experienced within my family ten years ago.  I assured her, though she may have some hard times ahead, not only did God forgive her but she would be blessed with “a little blessing in disguise” in less than nine months from now.  We continued to visit while a long line behind her waited politely and patiently.  So don’t tell me all honky tonk crowds are rowdy and rude! HA HA!  I wish I would have had more time to visit with her, in perhaps some place less smokey, with less hip hop music blaring over the top of our voices.  So I decided to shelf the blog that I had completed and do my best to write something that would cater directly to her and her current feelings.

One thing I do: forgetting what is behind me and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:12-14)

Ok, now I need a show of hands.  If you have ever screwed up in any form or fashion please raise your hand.  If we could all see each other, we would see every honest individual with a hand raised.  I would actually be the guy holding up both of his hands!  When we make decisions that make a mess of our life, it’s common to get knocked down and discouraged.  Feeling “not good enough” is not uncommon!   I’ve been there and done that only a few hundred thousand times.  The good news is that I have a remedy for your bad news!  When I find myself down in the dumps, unable to pull myself out; I start with a simple prayer.  I ask for help, forgiveness, guidance, “Lord, I’m not strong enough to climb out of this hole on my own!  Can you please throw me a rope?”  I also lean heavily on my Bible.  It’s amazing how the same old story that I’ve read a hundred times can almost miraculously change form and speak to me differently than it has ever done before.  I’m going to share my thoughts on the story of Peter.  Peter’s rejections and redemptions have helped me get back up on my feet multiple times.  Now maybe the new expectant mother won’t relate to Peter like I do, but I want to encourage her to find the story that does.  I would suggest the story of “the woman at the well” or even better, the story of “Mary Magdalene”.  These two girls had been going down the wrong road for a long, long time but they hit a road block when they met Jesus.  He turned their lives around, wiped away their tears and the million miles of misery behind them.  He gave them a new hope, a fresh new start, a new light on their horizon.  As you are fixing to find out, he did the same thing for Peter too.  Not just once or twice but time and time and time again.

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him.  “You also were with Jesus,” she said.  Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.  Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”  And Peter went outside and wept bitterly.  (Matthew 26: 69, 74 and Luke 22:61-62)

The more I read about Peter the more I can relate to Peter. When he’s good, he’s great and when he’s bad, he’s real BAD.  Kind of reminds me of me!  There’s also a lot of things about ol’ Pete that remind me very much of my Paw Paw Pennington.  My Paw Paw was rough around the edges to say the least.  His mom and dad died when he was only 18 months old.  So the odds were stacked against him from the “get-go” (country slang for “beginning”).  He would run away, hobo on a train from Birmingham to Chicago and join the Navy when he was sixteen.  Adventure he would seek and adventure he would find.  His Naval travels would take him from New York, to Pearl Harbor, missing the December 7th attack by two weeks, seeing head hunters off the shore of New Guinea and the horrors of war as the dead floated down the Yangtze River in China. He survived countless kamikaze attacks, endless enemy torpedoes and his battleship would be one of the first to dock in Tokyo harbor upon Japan’s surrender to the U.S.  After the war, he would return to reality, trying to find work to feed a growing family. His occupations led him from the engine room of a battleship, to coal mining, to working on his own fixing air conditioners, refrigerators and beer boxes  –  hard times fueled by hard liquor.  It would take years of unconditional love and patience from my Grandmother and the traumatic event of losing his oldest daughter at age 15, to turn his life around.  But the man, would eventually trade the bar stool and bottle for a Church pew and a Bible.  He would lead singing in front of the Church!  He would even preach when given the chance and bring his point home by pounding his fist on the podium.  I would have loved to have seen him in action.  His transformation was not overnight nor was it an easy one.

My Paw Paw died when I was young so his memory is faint.  My Grandmother once told me, “I finally got him just like I always wanted him and then I lost him”.  Most everything I know about Paw Paw is from stories passed down from my Mom and Grandmother.  I do have a few cloudy images in my head, of me sitting on his knee and him promising to take me fishing someday.  Oh how I wish he could have lived long enough to teach me how to bait a hook, cast a line, and clean a fish.  There’s even been a few times while fishing when I felt as if he was looking down on me.  I bet he gets a real laugh out of watching me chase my little boys around the stock tank trying my best to keep them from getting stuck in the mud or even worse, stuck with a fishing hook.  Like Peter, my Paw Paw had his fair share of ups and downs but he was a good man not to mention a mighty fine fisherman.

Like my Paw Paw, my wild imagination has Peter as this red headed, hot head with a hair trigger temper.  Perhaps Peter had an anchor tattoo on one arm and a bomber girl tattooed on the other (you know, like the girls that were painted on the side of the WWII airplanes).  Perhaps he had a broken nose and a scar on his face from a chair throwing, bottle breaking bar room brawl.  I bet at his worst, he could make a sailor blush.   No one else would dare take a chance on such a high temper, high risk case like Peter!  No one, except for Jesus that is.  Peter’s destiny and occupation would instantly change the second Jesus stepped foot on to his boat.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.  (Mark 1:17-18)

Folks refer to him as Saint Peter but let’s not forget that Peter is also well known for his “not so saintly” mishaps.  This isn’t some fairytale story about a man who’s only weakness is a glowing green stone called Kryptonite.  This is a real guy with real problems.  In the very end, you could say that Peter earned his sainthood the hard way.  Peter was the one who was “ye of little faith” as he attempted to walk on water out to Jesus. Then again, in his defense, he was the only one who had the guts to get out of the boat in the first place.  Peter was also bold in his confessions about who Jesus was.  While others were claiming Jesus to be just a great prophet from the past, Peter was the one to step up and say “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   Peter had followed Jesus to the top of the mountain, witnessed miracles like no man had ever seen. Peter was even brave enough to draw his sword against a detachment of soldiers in defense of Jesus.  How could a man be so brave one second then turn right around and wimp out on his best friend three times?  Like I said earlier, when he’s good, he’s great and when he’s not, he’s not.  What a combination of both courage and cowardice.  We should all find a little encouragement in Peter’s discouragements.  After all, he is human just like us.  Proof that there is hope for even guys like me!  It is so comforting that Jesus knows our bad decisions are of the head and not of the heart.

I do often wonder, where did Peter go after he looked Jesus in the eyes and denied him for the third and final time?  Where did he hide while Jesus carried that cross with the weight of eternity on his back?  He must have felt worthless, unworthy, perhaps even suicidal knowing that he had betrayed his friend and Savior.  Peter was well practiced, prepared and rehearsed, yet when it was game time; he totally choked.  He shanked the shot, missed the game winning field goal, threw up a brick at the buzzer, he pulled a Bill Buckner letting a routine ground ball go through his legs.  In the eyes of the world, Peter was a failure, a fluke and a hypocrite.  Game over Peter, you big fat loser!   Everyone had given up on Peter; Peter had given up on Peter; yet Jesus returns and specifically calls out for Peter.  Jesus not only welcomes Peter back with open arms, but he puts the man in charge.  I love that part!  For that 300 pound offensive lineman’s sake, let’s talk football for a second. Let’s pretend that Peter is the young rookie quarterback and Jesus is the Coach.  Peter, after throwing his third interception, mopes off the field to the sideline.  He takes off his helmet, sits on the bench and puts his head between his knees.  The Coach walks up, yanks him off the bench and gives him a good old fashioned butt chewing!  He says, “get back in there and play the game the way I taught you to play the game”.  It must have been the pep talk of all pep talks!  Needless to say the young quarterback would go on to do some miraculous things!

Peter would eventually “get back in the game,” returning after his three rash denials of Jesus with some encouragement from his brother, Andrew.  He would regain his confidence and the fires of the kingdom of God would again burn red hot within his soul.  He would let his light shine brightly throughout the darkness and much of the world would come to know Jesus through him.  He would preach and never disown his Savior again.  He would be beaten, persecuted, thrown in jail time and time again.  In the end, he would even die for the cause.  What a bittersweet redemption.  Way to go Peter!  Job well done!  You could’ve given up.  Taken the easy way out and pulled a Judas but you didn’t.  You hung in there and you came back around.  Persistence pays off!  More importantly, you went down swinging!  What an example for all of us.  Thanks Pete!

I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19)

Like I’ve said many times before, if you think I’ve got it all together, just ask my sweet wife!  I’d be lying to you if I said I’ve never punched a hole in the wall, made a promise I didn’t keep, said hurtful and hateful things, or even turned my back on Jesus multiple times.  I am not perfect but I am a CHRISTIAN!  Being an “imperfect Christian” is not an oxymoron.  I believe the worst thing I can do is walk around acting flawless!  (A) I think it comes off snooty or high and mighty.  (B) Giving off a perfect perception only sets me up for certain failure because perfection is impossible.  There’s a huge difference between being perfect and striving for perfection.  I strive and stumble towards perfection daily, and every cotton picking day I come up short, way short.  I’m trying to live like Jesus…emphasis on TRYING!

We’ve all heard the saying, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”   I believe this, if you actually learn from your mistakes.  When I was three I touched the hot stove after Mom had warned me twice.  I could have saved myself a lot of pain if I would have just listened to Mom in the first place.  Being the hard head that I am, I had to learn my lesson the hard way.  So many times we do the same thing with God.  He gives us warning signs, gut feelings, and guidance, yet time after time, we “put our little hands back up on the hot stove” so to speak.  Did my mom love me any less? Absolutely not!  If anything, she dried my tears, kissed my little throbbing hand and showed me even more affection.  After all, that’s what LOVE is!  That’s what JESUS does!  That’s why he died on the CROSS.

Use your hard learned experiences to help those around you: like the ex-drug addict who now counsels struggling addicts towards a road to recovery and speaks to school kids about the dangers of drugs or the ex-convict who now has a prison ministry helping inmates turn their lives around for the better.  There’s also the woman at Church who had a baby at 16 and now helps nurture young pregnant teenage girls into mature and responsible moms.  All these people can relate to the tough times and help because they have been there and know what it is like.  This world is in desperate need of more “real” people like this.  God uses our strengths to glorify HIM as well as our weaknesses too…if not more!

Just the other day Kimberly was cooking and both my boys had pulled chairs up to the counter, begging like little dogs for any tiny scraps they could get from their momma.  I told Jake and Jack to watch out for the hot stove.  Little by little, in AW fashion, they inched a little closer.  I reminded them again and then explained how I’d burned my hand really bad when I was little.  I went into further detail explaining the excruciating pain, the suffering, blistering and bleeding.  Then I topped it off with a tall tale about a hospital visit and a BIG SHOT!  Ok I may have exaggerated the story a bit but I definitely got my point across.  Unlike their Daddy, they chose to not touch the hot stove.  I guess not only did they get their Momma’s good looks but they inherited her intelligence as well.  Thank God for that!

I hope and pray this blog will, in some way, help out that young expectant mother and anyone else who is feeling similar.  If she is reading this, I would say, “Let it go girl!  You are forgiven so forgive yourself.  You are beautiful, wonderful with your whole life in front of you.  Nothing you have done is so bad that it outweighs the GRACE, MERCY and FORGIVENESS that JESUS gave us when He carried our burdens upon that CROSS.  It’s time to get over it and get excited.  You’re going to be a MOM!  Maybe this isn’t the fairy tale that you had dreamed about but that’s okay!  I promise you, the moment you look into the eyes of your “little blessing in disguise” you will see a glimpse of the magnitude of GOD’s never ending unconditional LOVE.

AMAZING GRACE, HOW SWEET THE SOUND…

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my sweetheart KIMBERLY!  Babe, you are beautiful and beyond amazing.  Jake, Jack, Jolee Kate, Baby J and myself are lucky to have you as our own!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my MOMMA!  I knew that cancer couldn’t withstand your sweetness and strength.  It’s been a tough year but one I am thankful for as well.  Love and prayers prevail!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all MOMMAS of all ages.  To the Great-Grandmas, the young expectant moms and all moms in-between…You Moms make the world go around!

GOD BLESS, AW


Published in: on May 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm  Comments (27)  

WHY I DO WHAT I DO

“The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation!” (Psalm 118:14)

“So much to do in so little time!”  Isn’t that the story of our lives? I’m a husband, father of three with another one on the way, singer/songwriter with a busy tour schedule, little league coach, churchgoer, etc, etc, etc, and my terrible golf swing is evidence that I don’t have time for that game anymore.  In my so called spare time, if there is such a thing, I’m attempting to write a book, record a charity swing album and finish my 11th CD due out next January.  I have so many irons in the fire that I often find myself getting distracted, overwhelmed and discouraged.  So why, with all this said, am I making yet another weekly obligation to write this blog?  Well… This blog is part of a challenge I’ve made with myself to set aside some quality time everyday to slow down, chill out, pray, study my bible and then reflect on my heart, my family and my love for Jesus.  Hopefully I will even brighten up someone’s day while doing so.  This is something I should have started a long time ago.  I’ve got to give a big thanks to all the fans/friends that, for the past few years, have encouraged/harassed me to start something like this!  So here we are the first entry of the Barbed Wire Halo Blog.  Finally!

WHY I DO WHAT I DO (or perhaps “why I do what I try to do”)

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)

Let’s rewind back 10 years…

In the beginning my passion for music revolved around me, myself and I.  Like most 20 year old boys, I was chasing after rock star dreams.  You know, fame, fortune and perhaps a girl or two. 🙂 It’s kind of funny now, but I had no clue of what I was getting myself into.  I guess, thanks to my ignorance and cockiness, I actually thought I’d take over the music industry over night.   Obviously that didn’t happen!   During the first year or so, I lived at a gas station, played over 200 shows and managed to not make a dime.  I would eventually improve my living accommodations but paying my dues while paying for the van, the band, the trailer, the gear, the gas, and the hotel rooms would remain a constant struggle for the next 5 years.  And it didn’t help that I was second guessing myself every step of the way.  For instance, I questioned my decision for passing on an opportunity to pursue a record deal in the early stages of my career.  They flew me out to Nashville, drove me around in a fancy foreign car but something just didn’t feel right.  It all seemed like a bunch of hollow words and empty promises.  Did I make the right decision?  Who knows?  Maybe I would have become the biggest thing since sliced bread then again maybe I would have gotten dropped like a hot potato!   I am confident now knowing that God steered me in the right direction.  Even if I had been ready to take on the world musically I was definitely not ready spiritually. An old cowboy preacher, after one of my Fort Worth shows 7 or 8 years ago, put it best when he said, “Aaron, in the end, selling a million CDs will be worthless if you aren’t glorifying God while doing so.”  Well that ol’ preacher hit the nail on the head but this was something I had always known in my heart but had never backed up with my actions.  I knew I wasn’t giving God my best and it was time to step it up a notch.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well”.     Martin Luther King Jr.

Now let’s rewind back 20 years…..

My biggest hero was the custodian at my Church growing up.  He drove an old brown station wagon that had orange shag carpet on the dash.  The only thing flashy about the man was his purple heart and other military medals that he would let me take to school for show and tell.  He coached every little league team I ever played on, and has revolved his life and love around me since the day I was born.  Yep, you probably guessed it; I’m talking about my Daddy.  I learned my greatest lessons in life while spending time with Dad.  In fact, I’m still learning from him today.  I recall one time in particular, I was probably 11 or 12, while we were cleaning the bathrooms at the Church.  Dad was in one stall and I was in the next one, wearing yellow rubber gloves, scrubbing, complaining and wanting to cuss that porcelain pot a blue streak.  Dad, with his humor, gave me the classic line “it’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it”.  Then he said, “Son, I don’t like cleaning these toilets anymore than you do but I do it because I love you.  I give my best because I want to show God that I am thankful for being blessed with a job that provides for my family.”  Then he added, “Not to mention that I am honored knowing that, in a way, I am cleaning His house.”  Looking back, I probably cherish those times with Dad wearing those yellow rubber gloves even more than the times we spent wearing our baseball gloves.  Perhaps from our society’s materialistic point of view, Dad was an insignificant janitor with a lower class job.  But in God’s eyes I know he saw Dad as a hardworking, faithful and courageous servant.  And to this boy he was everything!  In the 3rd grade a kid made a crack about Dad’s job while out on the playground, before I had a chance to react, one of my buddies knocked that kid on his can.  I guess I wasn’t the only kid who considered Dad a hero!

Take a second to revisit the Martin Luther King Jr. quote above and replace each underlined “street sweeper” and “sweep streets” with your own personal occupation whatever that may be.

We are all ordinary people with a very extraordinary God!  You don’t have to be the next Billy Graham or a missionary in Africa to glorify God with your life.  The bible is full of average, everyday kinds of people like you and I doing some amazing and almost impossible kinds of things.  There’s the story of the runt shepherd boy David, or the farmer Gideon, the widow Ruth, or how about the prostitute Rahab!   And then there’s Jesus!  Even though he was the Son of God, He was born in a barn to a lowly Carpenter and his wife.  Years later Jesus would go on to choose a dozen unwanted rejects to be his disciples and to help spread his message.   And that message would spread to all four corners of the world.  I’d say not too bad for a bunch of country boys!

So to sum it all up: Put your faith in action and make an impact in your corner of the world.  Have a great week!

Published in: on April 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm  Comments (45)