The Barflies and the Baptists | Bible lessons from Miranda Lambert

miranda-lambertSometimes, you like a song because it hits you where you live. It's lyrics resonate with you, speak truth to your soul, taunt you with their malice, soothe you with their medicine, encourage you with their message. Other times, you find a beat inescapably enjoyable, whether the lyrics mean anything to you or not...or they may even deliver a message with which you whole-heartedly disagree, but still your toe taps.

Don't act like you don't know what I mean. That's the power of music.

"Momma's Broken Heart," by Miranda Lambert falls somewhere in between. I have been as happily married as anyone has a right to be for more than three decades.

Besides all that, I am not a woman scorned, so Hell's fury still has me beat.

In other words, I cannot say that I identify with the story.

These things notwithstanding, I find the song fun and engaging and I cannot help turning it up when I hear it.

I also, quite unexpectedly, found it informative and the seed for a good, if short, sermon. Or two.

The Barflies and the Baptists

So, the story is about a woman whose husband or boyfriend cheated on her or left her and she went a little nutso over it. Apparently, her mom is something like an "old school" Southern Baptist southern lady...

Word got around to the barflies and the Baptists My mama's phone started ringin' off the hook

Such a sobering, if not shocking, thing seeing the words "barflies" and "Baptists" in the same sentence and engaging in the same behavior.

I grew up Baptist. We only had former barflies in our congregation, the kind God had saved from all that carousing around.

Tell you what we did have, though. We had gossips!

In fact, as a former Baptist preacher and pastor of congregations in places as diverse as east Texas, the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, and northern California, I can tell you that just about every Baptist church comes equipped with a gossip or two or 20. It isn't just the Baptists, either.

Truth be told, it is hard to imagine any bar anywhere being a better grapevine for gossip than a church.

And that is a crying shame...especially when you consider how much the Bible has to say about gossips and gossiping...

Gossip separates friends.

Proverbs 16:28 - A troublemaker plants seeds of strife;  gossip separates the best of friends. 

Gossip undermines trust.

Proverbs 11:13 - A gossip goes around telling secrets,  but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence. 

Idleness and idle gossip are detrimental to the church.

1 Timothy 5:13 - And if they are on the list, they will learn to be lazy and will spend their time gossiping from house to house, meddling in other people’s business and talking about things they shouldn’t. 

Gossip is often the igniter for big trouble.

James 3:5-7 - In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. 1 7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish...

Anything that unites barflies and Baptists probably ought to be looked into...and avoided.

It's what's on the OUTSIDE that counts

I do not like the Sonic commercials with the two dudes in the car. I find them a little...creepy. But I do like this one...

Reminds me of the next two lines in Lambert's song...

I can hear her now sayin' she ain't gonna have it Don't matter how you feel, it only matters how you look

Can I get a witness?

How many of us work so very hard to conceal the truth and put our best foot forward? How much energy do we expend making sure we look good, whether we feel it or mean it or not?

Facebook status? Selfies? Tweets?

Admittedly, there are some, like me, in danger of going too far the other direction and not giving a fiddler's fart how we look, as long as we let everyone know how we dang well feel.

That's wrong, too. And dangerous. Just like you cannot unsay a word or undo a deed, you cannot take back a single thing you put on the Internet. You can delete it, but it is likely still there, retrievable. Remember that, girls and boys.

How you look does matter.

How you feel matters, too.

But what matters more than anything is what you are. Deep down in those dark, secret places of your heart and mind, what you are matters most.

That is what God told the prophet Samuel when he was prepping him to anoint a new king for Israel.

1 Samuel 16:7 - But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 

Israel had already gone the route of the biggest, strongest, most likely to succeed. His name was King Saul, and he delivered far less than his appearance promised. He proved to be tall in stature, but short on character. He was mighty in physique and weak in spirit. He was a disaster.

But the ruddy kid Samuel anointed next, the shepherd boy, was everything Saul could never be. He was flawed, sure. He made costly mistakes. But deep down in that heart of his, King David was the man...

This is what Samuel said to Saul...

1 Samuel 13:13,14 -  “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord ’s command.”

This is how the New Testament writer, Luke, recounted those long-ago events in Israel...

Acts 13:22 - But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’

And in Conclusion...

Bet you didn't know Miranda Lambert could preach like that, huh?

What have we learned from her reminders about biblical truths?

  1. Mind your tongue.
  2. Work on yourself from the inside out. Who you are is more important than what you do, because what you do will reflect who you are.
  3. The two go together. A person of character will not be a gossip, because what is down in the well comes up in the pail.

And that's the truth about the barflies and the Baptists.