Pipe Smoking

My first pipe - savinelli roma

My first pipe - savinelli roma

Back in 1986, I was a freshman at the University of the Pacific and I purchased my first pipe from a great little pipe shop called The Tobacco Leaf in Stockton, CA. The pipe was a Savinelli Roma. At the time, it was I splurged and throughout college I enjoyed smoking a variety of tobaccos through that pipe. I continued to smoke through dental school and really enjoyed the romance of walking down the streets of San Francisco with smoke billowing out from my pipe. I continued throughout the early years of marriage, but once kids showed up I slowed down and found myself smoking less and less.

Why? Like many things in parenting, I don't think I had a great answer for my kids about smoking my pipe.  Truthfully, I was probably concerned with what people would think and rather than explain what I was doing, I just packed up my pipe supplies and decided to ignore my real and imaginary critics.

The current collection

The current collection

While that pipe was packed away and gathering dust in the garage, many tough discussions have surfaced with my kids regarding faith and behavior. As it turns out, my kids could handle many of those discussions. Likewise, I have also been freed from a lot of the religious behavior and bondage I was stuck in. I also really missed the smell and taste of good pipe tobacco.

So, earlier this year, I brought my pipe out of storage and with the help of eBay I began a new collection. The photo on the right shows the current collection of acquired pipes. I consider this post a coming-out of sorts as I let my readers in on the fact that I enjoy smoking good tobacco in a beautiful briar pipe.

I know this might sound inconsistent, but I still really can't stand the smell or appeal of cigarettes and cigar smoking. The smell from both is a bit offensive and I'm well aware of the dangers of chain smoking and the risk of cancer, so I personally don't understand the appeal of either. If you love smoking cigarettes or cigars, feel free to indulge, but forgive me, because I don't find favor in either. 

That being said, there are a few things I've discovered about pipe smoking in my life. First, my smoking has been a little sporadic. Since I don't smoke in the house, I don't smoke regularly. I find myself enjoying a smoke when I walk with kids, the back porch with my dad, or when I can sneak down to the local pipe shop. Because it is sporadic, it is something I look forward to regularly.

The second thing I have discovered is that smoking a pipe is a super relaxing aspect to my day. Slow puffing and multiple re-lights as I enjoy a bowl of tobacco force me to slow down and enjoy the slower pace of life. I find this slower pace often accompanied by good conversation and reflection on the day.

My pop at our Pipe club - e. crosby tobacconist, Modesto CA

My pop at our Pipe club - e. crosby tobacconist, Modesto CA

Third, the slowing down of life to enjoy a bowl of tobacco has led to a general increase in talking to the people around me as I savor the moments. We don't do enough of that anymore. I have found that enjoying a pipe smoke with Kendra or the kids or anyone leads to deeper conversations. I enjoy those conversations and the camaraderie that leads to with other pipe smokers.

Lastly, I have found that many people enjoy the smell of a pipe and it makes me chuckle when other women tell Kendra how lucky she is that I smoke a pipe. Kendra doesn't see the luck. ;) Some folks connect pipe smoke with a memory of a grandfather or a father, but for the vast majority of people who smell pipe smoke, they will comment how much they like it. I like that it brings others as much joy as it brings to me.

So, if you ever want to join me for a nice smoke, just let me know. I'd love to introduce you to my favorite pipes and tobaccos.

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

 

Freedom In Christ

I updated my MacBook Air this week with the new Mavericks operating system. I love the iBooks app that comes pre-loaded. Reading on my computer? Are you kidding me? Yes, please. As I opened my library, one of the stored books I found was The Radical Reformission, by Mark Driscoll. I remember reading and enjoying this book several years ago when I was trying to read books on my iPad.

I enjoy finding old books that I connected with at a different time in my life. This was one of those books. At the time, I was in the midst of recovering from Gospel Amnesia, this was one of the books that spoke to me from nearly every page.

This section below was one of the few I had highlighted. I even wrote a blog post about it once. It's worthy of a second mention.

“Reformission is ultimately about being like Jesus, through his empowering grace. One of the underlying keys to reformission is knowing that neither the freedom of Christ nor our freedom in Christ is intended to permit us to dance as close to sin as possible without crossing the line. But both are intended to permit us to dance as close to sinners as possible by crossing the lines that unnecessarily separate the people God has found from those he is still seeking. To be a Christian, literally, is to be a “little Christ.” It is imperative that Christians be like Jesus, by living freely within the culture as missionaries who are as faithful to the Father and his gospel as Jesus was in his own time and place.

I am advocating not sin but freedom. That freedom is denied by many traditions and theological systems because they fear that some people will use their freedom to sin against Christ. But rules, regulations, and the pursuit of outward morality are ultimately incapable of preventing sin. They can only, at best, rearrange the flesh and get people to stop drinking, smoking, and having sex, only to start being proud of their morality. Jesus’ love for us and our love for him are, frankly, the only tethers that will keep us from abusing our freedom, yet they will enable us to venture as far into the culture and into relationships with lost people as Jesus did, because we go with him.”

Excerpt From: Mark Driscoll. “The Radical Reformission.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=362055909

Quietly making noise,
Fletch



The Gospel, Andrew, Tattoos

"Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."

"Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."

Upon encountering Jesus for the first time, Andrew immediately recognized Him as the messiah. He dropped his nets, his profession, and his livelihood and grabbed his brother Peter to go and follow Jesus.

For three years Andrew listened and learned and travelled with Jesus. He assisted personally with the ministry of Jesus. He was there during private moments of personal instruction. Andrew was involved and committed to the work and mission of the Messiah.

Fast forward to the end of the gospels and the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus. We get a peek into a few of the other disciple's thoughts and actions, but I wonder what Andrew thought when he saw that Christ was arrested, tried and then killed? According to the accounts of Matthew and Mark, we know that when Jesus was arrested, all the disciples fled. We know that his brother Peter hung around in the distance, but I wonder if Andrew hid in fear?

I'm not speculating from scripture, but considering what I would have done in the same situation. If I had followed someone and identified myself with them and their ministry, what would my reaction be to a swift arrest, trial and execution. What was Andrew's response? Did he (and the others) feared they would be next in line for the cross?

I wonder if Andrew ever felt like he had been duped. He gave up everything to follow Jesus and become a "fisher of men" only to end up with his leader being tried and executed as a criminal and blasphemer. Did it (even for a moment) cause him to second guess the previous few years of discipleship?

If so, his questions and doubts were quickly addressed within days as Christ began to make his appearances to the disciples and confirm that He was in fact alive! Then Pentecost and the filling with the Holy Spirit. All the disciples, Andrew included, received supernatural power and spilled out into the streets speaking in the dialects of all the pilgrims who were gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost.

Church history tells us that Andrew fulfilled his calling. He continued to fish for men throughout the near East and as far north as Russia. His eventual martyrdom took place in Patras, Greece. Legend states that when Andrew was crucified, he was bound on a cross and requested the shape of an X, so as not to find equality with Christ in death.

 Some of the relics of Andrew can be found in Patras, including his cross, but several of his relics are located in a cathedral in Amalfi, Italy. We had the opportunity to travel through Italy last month and although I do not subscribe to saint worship, I loved the opportunity to visit Amalfi and visit the tributes to my favorite apostle.

I was not named after the apostle. My parents did not have hidden plans for me to become an evangelist. At my birth I was named after my Italian grandfather: Andrew Carlino. However, my new life with Christ began with a simple invitation to follow Jesus and along the way I have found many people willing to listen to the GREAT NEWS that Jesus offers to us here, now and in the future. Like Andrew's brother Peter, some of those people continue to follow Jesus with me today!

Was it worth getting the tattoo? You bet. I have more discussions about the calling of Andrew and the good news of Jesus because of that tattoo. Here's the bigger question: Will it be worth an X-shaped cross? Pray for me that the answer will always be yes. 

Quietly making noise,
Fletch