Hear, hear to a great woman – Berneta Peoples

I had the privilege of working with Bernita Peoples from 2003- the end of 2005.

She is a true treasure and a wealth of knowledge. And at 96 she’s contemplating retirement – again.

Read the article in today’s Dallas Morning news.



I was just looking over the March 2 issue of the Belton Journal, and realized somehow I was lumped together with Michael Robinson and Chris Allman. Not that I object to being lumped with either of those two great guys (they’re probably two of the greatest guys to be lumped with), but the term they used to describe us was “indelible.”

I have to admit, I had to look that word up. It was not an 8th grade word.

According to my thesaurus, it means, “impossible to remove” or “unforgettable.”

I’m not sure which meaning they were going with there and the editor was out when I called to question his wording.

Oh well.

This week’s column: An unlikely source

Adolphe Charles Adam was born July 24, 1803. He was born in France, the son of a Jewish music professor at the Conservatoire.

His mother was the daughter of a notable physician.

Adam began to study music but preferred improvising as he went, rather than studying specific pieces or composers.

By the time he was 20 he was writing songs for Paris vaudeville houses.

By 1830 he had completed 28 works for the theater.

Adam is probably best known for his work in authoring the ballet Giselle. He wrote a number of other ballets and nearly 40 operas before his death.

In 1847 he opened the third opera house in Paris, The Theatre National, after feuding with the owner of The Opera, another opera house in the city.

The Revolution of 1848 closed The Theatre National and left Adam with overwhelming debt.

He briefly turned to journalism but settled on teaching composition at the Paris Conservatoire from 1849 till his death in 1856.

Placide Cappeaua was born in Roquemaure, France, north of Avignon in 1808.

Cappeaua was a wine seller and an occasional writer.

Although Cappeaua was not a regular at church, yet a parish priest knew of his writing abilities and asked him to pen a poem about Christmas in 1847.

On his way to Paris, Cappeaua, inspired by the Gospel of Luke, wrote “Minuit, Chretiens.”

Once in Paris, Cappeaua met Adam and asked him to pen music for the Christmas poem.

Three days later, Adam wrote the tune and “Cantique de Noël” was premiered at midnight mass on Christmas Eve, 1847 in Roquremaure.

Not long after its debut, the song began to receive attacks from church leaders in France.

Cappeaua later left the church to join the socialist movement and adopted the more “extreme” political and social ideas of his day – such as opposition to slavery, inequality, injustice and other kinds of oppression.

It was also discovered that Adam was in fact Jewish and his reputation of composing ballets and operas was deemed incompatible with the composition of Christian songs.

The song was attacked not for the nature or subject of the song, but because of who wrote the song.

One French bishop denounced the song for its “lack of musical taste and total absence of the spirit of religion.”

But despite being shunned from the church, the song lived on in the homes and hearts of the French.

And in 1855, American Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight published an English translation to the song, “O Holy Night.”

Dwights’ strong anti-slavery views shown through in his translation with the lyrics: “Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, And in His name all oppression shall cease.”

And so today, we sing — a Christmas song, shunned by the church, written by a French Socialist and a Jewish composer, translated by a Unitarian minister and written about a holy night when God became man to save us all from the oppression of sin.

Not only was “O Holy Night” composed by a Jewish composer, but a number of other Christmas songs were written or composed by Jews.

“White Christmas” was written by Irving Berlin.
“You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” was written by Albert Hague.
“We Need a Little Christmas” was written by Jerry Herman.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas” were written by Johhny Marks.
“The Christmas Walz” and “Let it Snow, Let is Snow, Let it Snow” was written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.
“Silver Bells” was written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston.
“I’m Getting’ Nuttin’ for Christmas” was written by Barry Gordo

Flowers make all the difference

Originally published as Church Flowers in The Belton Journal

A pastor in St. Paul, Minn. blogged this week about a flower garden planted in front of his church.

First of all, I love pastors that blog regularly. It gives a lot of insight into the ministry and what they go through and see throughout the week.

Some even give insight into how their weekly sermon progresses.

Fellowship Church in Dallas has a blog set up for their entire church staff to post notes and journals on. (UPDATE: While Pastor Ed Young still blogs, I can’t find the blogs for the entire staff anymore.)

It gives you a connection with the staff that you might not otherwise have.

But I digress…

Pastor Pat Kahnke of St. Paul Fellowship Church writes that he noticed a bunch of kids bustling around in the church parking lot earlier this week.

As he walked closer he realized that a number of his church members had taken the initiative to plow up a weedy section of their church lot and plant a flower bed in its place.

While planting the flower bed, one of the church members knocked on a neighboring house door to ask to borrow a water hose.

The church neighbor said they could borrow the hose that day and year-round to keep the flower bed looking healthy.

And as a result, another member volunteered to plow the man’s backyard for him.

What a great sign of ministry on so many levels.

They took the care of the church upon themselves

No one sat around and waited for a church beautification committee to tell them what needed to be done. No building committee hired out work that church members could easily do.

People took responsibility for their church and went the extra mile to be sure their place of worship was taken care of.

What if each of us looked for areas in our own churches or work places where we could go the extra mile without being asked?

What if we quit shrugging responsibility for things in our offices or church and stepped up and said, “This needs to be done — and I’m going to do it. Even if it’s not in my job description and even if I may not be an expert on the subject.–

They involved outsiders

One of the things I love about this story is that it involved people in the neighborhood.

Now granted, with a little planning they could have brought their own water hose, but think of the ministry opportunity they would have missed. In the process, they made sure that a neighbor of the church knew what was going on at the church and then found a way to meet him at his need.

Wasn’t that Jesus’ entire ministry was about? He met people at their need.

If we are passionate about what we do, or wherever we do it, it can be contagious – people will want to be a part of it.

A business cannot grow without new customers and a church cannot grow without new members. We must rid ourselves of being exclusive or selective in who we reach out to. We must bring outsiders in.

A few months ago I wrote about George Masters who was so passionate about Apple’s iPod, that he spent several hours designing a complete television commercial based on his favorite toy.

“Why would a school teacher spend a good chunk of his free time, for five months, crafting a really slick ad for no money? For no real recognition other than a, ‘Hey, that’s cool,’ from a few friends? Because he really, really likes his iPod,– wrote blogger Andy Havens. “Masters frankly admits that he partly worked on the project as a way of teaching himself some computer animation basics, and to be part of a portfolio. That being said, why pick the iPod mini as his subject? Because he’s a huge fan. And let’s remember that ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatic.’–

If we can get people passionate about our product or message, people will become a part of the message and share it with them where ever they go.

Little efforts can go a long way

Third, as Pastor Kahnke wrote in his blog that he was blessed and ministered to by seeing their effort and the beautiful flowers left by their effort.

A pastor who was worn down was encouraged and blessed by a small effort by members of his congregation.

I can’t imagine that this group of church goers would have realized the impact their thoughtfulness had on their pastor, or the impact it would have on a newspaper editor some 1,113 miles away.

You never know what impact your willingness to serve will have on others.

The Greatest of These

NOTE: Revision of ‘We want to compete on the highest level.’ Published in Belton Journal 5-5-05.

The Chicago Sun-Times ran an interview with U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. last week.
He talked about U2, the botched up ticket sales and how the band is still not satisfied with just being the “biggest band in the world.”
“We want to do better, we want to compete on the highest level, and that means competing on radio, and competing with people like Britney Spears and all those pop artists who are at the top of their game. The songs that are written for them are pretty spectacular, and we want to compete with that. Why else do this? There’s no other reason. None of us need to do it, we’re all financially secure, and for a lot of bands, that’s a huge turn-off. ‘I’ve got the kids now, I’ve got the money, what do I need this for?’ This is revenge for us.”
Granted, in my opinion U2 is already the greatest band in the world.
But apparently they’re not happy yet.
In my own life there are a number of times that I get complacent and feel like I don’t need to improve.
But what if I woke up everyday with a mindset that I needed to be the greatest editor in the world, or the greatest single’s intern in the world or the son or friend or Christian? How would my life differ?
What would it take for me to be the greatest at all these things?
Scripture tells us that even the disciples wanted to be the greatest in the kingdom in heaven.
In Matthew 18 the disciple ask Jesus “Who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus tells them, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
That excites me, because I can be childlike all the time.
But that’s probably more a lack of maturity than what Jesus was talking about.
My friend Mike loves to tell me about his two-year old son, Liam.
A few weeks ago Mike was eating dinner with his wife and Liam. And halfway through the meal Liam realized they hadn’t prayed.
He stopped everything, put his hands together and said, “Pray. Pray.”
That childlike faith is what Jesus was looking for. A faith that isn’t distracted from our daily duties. A faith that never questions how big God is, but knows God is bigger than any problem we have.

8.5% version 2 (or 5 votes)

Warning: I’m on another soap box today.

By the time you read this, there will be less than a week left for early voting in the city’s general election.

This is our chance that only comes once a year, to decide who we want to serve us on the city council.
I’m glad that you were a responsible citizen and you’ve already cast your vote and made your voice heard.

Or did you? I know I did.

But what about you? Chances are very high that you didn’t.

Because in last year’s primary election, only 8.5-percent of the registered voters in Bell County voted. That means 128,107 registered voters did not vote. What part of the percentage were you?

Thus far only 404 people have cast their vote in the city election. That’s 404 out of roughly 7,000 registered voters. A mere 5.7-percent.

Do you realize what the vote difference was between third and fourth place last year? Between winner and loser?

Five votes. Five votes made the difference between one woman serving on the council and another man left outside.

Of course, that may have been the way you wanted it, and that’s fine. If you voted, I have no problem with that. But with such a low voter turnout, realize that every single vote counts.

Now you still have until May 3 to vote early and you can also vote May 7, but what happens if your car breaks down between now and then? What if your child gets sick? And why the heck would you want to wait and risk not being able to vote?

It may not seem like a big deal to most people, but it’s very sickening to me.

A nationwide study released on Tuesday showed that only 7.2% of registered voters had voted in the last year’s primaries before Tuesday’s elections in Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.

So, congratulations Bell County, we beat the national curve last year, but I’m not applauding.

Two of my cousins have spent time in the Middle East protecting my freedom and giving freedom to people who have never had the opportunity to taste it.

Over 1000 young Americans have died in Iraq so that a people they’ve never met can go to their polls and elect a president.

These fine American soldiers fought and died so that a ruthless dictatorship could be overthrown and our country could sleep securely at night.

And the Iraqi people came out with threats of death to the polls.

Over 50-percent of them voted, knowing they could be shot on the spot, or hunted down and killed later.
Yet in the midst of a world war and in the midst of a heated presidential election, as a county we only sent 12,373 people to the polls last year in Bell County. That’s less than the population of Belton.

Now granted, I love Belton. I don’t want to live anywhere else. In fact as you probably know, I bought a house in Belton.

But if I lived in Temple, or Harker Heights or Killeen or anywhere else in Bell County, I wouldn’t like it one bit if the citizens of Belton began making decisions for me and deciding who would represent me and who would stand up for my concerns.

Who are they to decide my representation? Would you let a stranger off the street pick a lawyer to represent you in a major lawsuit?

I want the best possible representation I can get whenever I can get it. I want someone I can trust handling my business. And if they’re not doing a good job, rather than sit around and complain, I’m going to fire them.

I’m not going to walk up to a phone book and play “Ouiji directory” and you shouldn’t either. When it comes to electing our public officials, we each have a choice.

On May 7 we have the opportunity to select our representation for city council and vote to approve a new city charter. Don’t let some stranger come and steal your right to choose our city’s leadership.

Five minutes (and five votes) can change the course of history.