Thursday, July 24, 2008


We were wondering together why we are here. I enjoyed reading your comments. Some of you were paying attention in Sunday School! What I learned and what I experienced were two different things. I learned guilt. Did anyone else?
To understand where I am going you need a little background. I was raised in a fairly rigid, autocratic, legalistic, but loving family. My German born and raised grandfather was the chief law giver. He came from a long line of patriarchs who laid down the law. His father was a Colonel in the Austrian army pre WWI. While still living in the land of the hops my (then unbelieving) great grandfather outlawed liquor of any kind in the Zimmermann household. Picture this, mid 1800’s Germany, NO booze allowed in a military family. No one had any idea why and as far as I know, no one ever dared ask. 100 years later when I was a child and well before I knew what alcohol was, I was informed that Zimmermanns did not drink alcohol. Why? Great grandfather said no. Never mind that he died before I was born! We were gold metal Olympic caliber rule keepers. My grandfather was raised with that ideal and brought it with him to America as a young man just before WWI. The style suited him well in his new land and even after he became a believer and a traveling evangelist who led 10’s of thousands to the Lord, he never completely gave up the rigid veneer. Grandpa was a wonderful and godly man but boy, did he have rules. Rules about everything…and they were to be unchallenged. As early as 4 years old I remember challenging grandpa’s rules with my childish logic. (I wanted to say innocence there but in honesty I had and agenda) Once after church we went out to lunch. A rigid rule was no playing or working on Sunday. (come to think of it all the rules were rigid, I guess that’s the nature of rules) In feigned innocence I asked “aren’t we making them work by eating here?”. In my logic if I could weaken him here, maybe I could play too. Didn’t work. That pattern continued through out my life with Grandpa. As I grew in boldness, he grew in grace which explains why he let me live. (we are getting to the point, really) Another BIG sin in the early 60’s was the theater. Christians did not go to the theater, at least not the ones I knew. Attendence at a movie would run my testimony! They showed Horrible things on those big screens of people doing ghastly things like smoking, drinking, dancing, playing pool, foul language and things that were to horrible to speak of in polite company. I never went. I was afraid to. It was plainly wrong. I was sure. Then my godly, rule keeping, Bible toting, track carrying, always evangelizing (except in theaters) grandfather snuck me and my sister away to another town and entered…dare I confess?…a theater!. Did you know they have bigger boxes of candy than I could get at the store? And popcorn. And Cokes! It was a sinner’s paradise! If my testimony was going to be destroyed at least it would die on a full stomach. I was more than a little confused. Grandpa was a little ashamed, but the movie we had to sneak out to see was….The Sound of Music! It was filmed in part in grandpa’s beloved Austria and he knew it was as close to home as he would ever be again. If grandpa felt guilty about it, he would never say, the sneaking to another town told me all I needed to know. We were again cautioned that this was an exception, a special circumstance and since we were not caught by anyone who knew us, our testimony was still in tact. Later Grandpa snuck into BEN HUR! A couple of years elapsed before our next venture into Satan’s stronghold. We traveled over 100 miles…to Hollywood no less…to see How the West Was Won and It’s a Mad, Mad, World. Same conditions and precautions as before were applied. I was handling the guilt pretty well but I still would not go to the theater. We lived in a small one theater town and everybody went. No way to keep my testimony and go to that demonic pit! Problem, BIG problem. As a junior in high school I met a girl. First saw her in Church, a very proper church that kept all grandpas rules and may even have had a few of their own. It took almost a year to get the courage and the right circumstances to ask her out. She said yes. She was truly a fine Christian girl and could easily pass any test/standard/requirement/expectation my grandfather, father or church had. Truth be told, she was way better than me. She was a great rule keeper and did not struggle with it a bit. Why she said yes to the first date is still a mystery. I’m pretty sure she broke some rule in doing it because she told her mother it was not serious. (40 years, 5 kids and 10 grandkids later just may contradict that excuse) Anyway I fell in love with her…still am. My Problem. Her father was the projectionist at the local theater. I could now get into for free to a place I was not free to go. At first I would sit in the car while she went up to the projection booth to see her father. Finally I somehow got the courage to risk my all important testimony. The future of all Christianity and the salvation of all my friends depended on me keeping my testimony in tact, but I figured it was only a few feet from the side door to the door that led up stairs to the booth. I had already learned if they don’t see you do it, it doesn’t count against you. I decided to sneak in and go with her. The plan would have worked perfectly except for the fact that nearly all my teammates from my high school football team were in the lobby. I was caught red faced and handed. Do you know what my very pagan teammates had the nerve to say to me? They said, Hey Z, how’s it going? Terrorized by the deafening sound of my shattering testimony I quickly defended my presence in Lucifer’s Lair with a brief but powerful offering. “I’m not here to see the movie, my girlfriends father is the projectionist. We are going up to see him.” They immediately saw through the ruse and retorted: ”so you can get in for free? Awesome!” In a way only known to God my tattered testimony traveled at light speed going from certain destruction to unscathed in the eyes of my envious friends.
I learned something that day that was a long time in coming. Sinners and Saviors don’t try to make you feel guilty, Pharisees do. They tried to do it to Jesus too! We are definitely not here to feel guilty. Live free!


heidi jo said...

oh my goodness! spiritual insight and encouragement AND a family legacy all in one blog. :) i love the way you tell the story.

for the record, i bought "He Loves Me" and began reading it on a boulder on the beach this evening. I'm already into chapter 2. It's already drawing out even more what I knew as a child and grasped even greater in the years I needed HIM as Daddy most. How precious to grab on even tighter and for HIM to give me the opportunity and enlightenment. I'm looking WAY ;) forward to reading more. :)

(what am i going to do when i'm out of internet connection during the start of my move? oh my... i'll sure have some catching up to do here - and i'll miss you! i can't tell you how glad i am that you are online. :) )

Johanne said...

Loved that story, I could almsot see it all as you were telling it. Way better than any movie :)

Doni Brinkman said...

I giggled the whole way through. More to say on this and The Shack study guide but I am off to shop with Jodi so I'll stop back by later.

Laurie said...

That was the best story! Does this mean you will be dancing now too??? Be Free Pastor D! :))

PapaZ said...

Laurie, Personally I feel free to dance with my wife, or alone for that matter if I want to. Problem is I would if I could but I can't so I don' least not while anyone is watching! Dancing is like learning to speak Navajo. If you did not do it early in life, it is nearly impossible to learn.

Doni Brinkman said...

This morning while doing the dishes I was thanking the Lord for how He has worked in your life. You have had quite the journey on the grace road and I am so thankful that the Lord, in His great love, walked with you because your children are walking behind you and finding you faithful. Where would I be if I were on my own in this - essentially as you were? If I had these questions in my soul and all those around me cried "heretic"? You have endured much and I am so grateful you did. P.S. Keeping copies of your blog posts - love these stories.