Old Style Hospitality

DT Kirby’s is pretty much my favorite place in the Greater Lafayette area.

It’s a humble joint…just a small bar, a handful of tables, a tiny kitchen, a ton of TV’s, and some Cubs and Bears memorabilia.

However, it’s in this humble pub that I continually experience examples of radical hospitality.

As soon as you set foot inside the door, you are warmly greeted…especially if Don is in the bar…and Don is usually in the bar! I kid you not…it’s very much like Cheers. You walk in and your presence is recognized…in a positive manner (unlike some places when you walk in and the staff looks annoyed that they will have to actually work)…I continually wait for someone to yell out, “Norm!”

The DT Kirby’s staff wants to make sure that you have a positive experience. Whenever I’m there, someone continually checks in…seeing if everything is to my liking, if I need anything, etc. They go out of their way to do all they can to make your visit great!

And, I’m far from a regular. I can only imagine that I’d be treated like royalty if I were on a first name basis with the staff (sort of like when I would walk into the Heorot on a Friday and the bartender would start pouring a Guinness and put in an order for a mushroom pizza before I even sat down).

I’ve been in DT Kirby’s when there is not a seat available. This is when Don and his staff truly work their magic. He notices the order people come in…he entertains them and tells them that if they’ll just give him a little time, he’ll get them a seat…he gets them menu’s and drinks while they wait. Then, when something opens up, you get a seat…and he won’t let anyone snake you!

But, he has his limits…for example…don’t ask for a Jameson and Coke. He’ll simply look at you in disgust and say, “We don’t do that here. I can sell you a Jameson. And I can sell you a Coke. But, I won’t put them in the same glass!” I like that. It sort of feels like High Fidelity when Jack Black says, “Do we look like the kind of record store that has ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’? Go to the mall!” The man has principles! I also get the impression that he won’t let you treat his staff poorly.

The folks at DT Kirby’s go out of their way to make sure you have a positive experience. And, if you are not having a positive experience, they will work hard to fix that. Of course, if your poor experience is because you order drinks like a teenage girl, well, that’s your own problem! Como hombre!

I’m continually amazed at how the staff makes each person feel like they are welcome…that they are important…and that they are highly valued. Don has a way of talking to people that makes you feel like you’re long-lost friends. He makes you feel like you are his most important customer.

To top it all off…it’s genuine. I’ve never felt like someone is just working for their tip. I’ve always felt like when I’m asked how I’m doing…the person asking actually cares…to the point that they stop and take the time to actually listen. I know, it’s crazy!

Then, your food comes out and there is so much of it that you could feed a small village. That’s the kind of hospitality that says…”we don’t want you to go hungry!”

In all honesty, every time I go to DT Kirby’s, I find myself thinking about how we can make the church feel as warm and inviting as this little pub. How can we make people feel welcome? How can we make people feel at home? How can we make them feel like they are surrounded by long-lost friends? How can we make people feel that we truly do care about them? How can we make people feel like we are concerned that they have a positive experience?

It all starts within, of course. We need to have a heart of hospitality. We have to possess a desire to look beyond ourselves…beyond our own experience…beyond our own comfort…and truly have a concern for the other.

It’s my prayer that I might be able to get out of my comfort zone and practice the kind of old style hospitality that I have experienced firsthand at DT Kirby’s.

If you’re in the Greater Lafayette area, I suggest you experience the old style hospitality at DT Kirby’s. Order a tasty sandwich (like the Uncle or the Triple Hog) or an amazing hot dog (my favorites are the Sonoma and the Sweet Carolina) and, of course, an Old Style! By the way…it’s a bar…21 and over!

Romans 12:13- “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Hebrews 13:2“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

1 Peter 4:9- Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

3 John 1:8“We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.”

Back to Reality

One of the quickest ways I have been brought back to reality upon my return from Guatemala is the overall lack of friendliness among folks in the states.

Now, don’t get me wrong…No one has been overly rude and unkind to me. It’s just that, overall, it seems that we are only truly nice and interested in those we already know.

Walking through the cities of Guatemala, complete strangers would smile, wave, and say “hola”, accompanied by the “buenos dias”, “buenos tardes”, or “buenos noches” appropriate for the time of day.

At first, it was a bit overwhelming. I mean, every person you would pass would kindly greet you. Entire groups of teenagers, yes even teenagers, would individually greet those walking by.

By the end of my time in Guatemala, it was an old habit. A smile, a “hola”, a “buenos” whatever…

And, somehow…mysteriously, I guess, I found myself feeling more connected with my surroundings. In a simple, “hello” accompanied by a smile, there was an unexplainable sense of unity…of community. It gave me an overwhelming feeling that I was welcome.

As soon as we landed in Atlanta, I could feel that this unity was left behind…it was obvious that I was back to the American reality. That American reality is seemingly focused on individuality…in the idea that we do not need one another.

Walking through the airport, even smiling at those passing by made me feel like an idiot. Rather than receiving smiles in return, I would get those looks of “something must be wrong with that guy” or the “that’s creepy” look. And, when the smile is accompanied by a “hello”…9 times out of 10 the hello is not returned. In fact, even when walking through our neighborhood, our attempts to greet our neighbors are often ignored…a simple “hello” is ignored…or a simple dirty look is quickly flashed. Of course, I often cast my judgment upon those who ignore my friendly gestures…I make comments like, “well, aren’t you just filled with personality” or “what the heck is wrong with that person”.

And, I don’t blame anyone for this kind of reaction. Prior to my experience in Guatemala, I was the same way. When in public, I would often keep my head down…doing my best to avoid having to interact with people. Or I would try to look so busy…in such a rush…that people would somehow realize that I just couldn’t be bothered. If someone I did not know smiled and said “hello”, I might have returned the “hello”…but I would have walked away thinking “boy, that person sure is a piece of work.”

I now better understand what it feels like to be a greeter at Walmart who is often ignored while people speed past in order to buy a case of Mountain Dew and a family size bag of nacho cheese Doritos.

I now better understand what it feels like to be one of those friendly old farmers driving around in his 30-year-old pickup waving at everyone he passes…only to be ignored or given dirty looks.

So, I guess my desire is to help bring about some change in this area.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we would say “hello” and “good morning”, “good afternoon”, or “good evening” to the people we encounter? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we were intentional about being kind to those around us? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we responded more positively to those who attempt to be friendly to us?

You see, a simple smile and “hello” might be a bigger deal than you think…

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Matthew 5:43-47 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.


One of my favorite Foo Fighters songs starts off with this simple lyric…

“I’ve got another confession to make…”

As I think about that lyric, I find myself thinking about the importance of confession…of being truly open and honest about who we are…our weaknesses, our shortcomings, and all that jazz.

Here is the definition of confession, according to dictionary.com:

1.acknowledgment; avowal; admission: a confession of incompetence.
2.acknowledgment or disclosure of sin or sinfulness, especially to a priest to obtain absolution.
3.something that is confessed.
4.a formal, usually written, acknowledgment of guilt by a person accused of a crime.
5.Also called confession of faith. a formal profession of belief and acceptance of doctrines, as before being admitted to church membership.

So, this evening, I feel that I should make some confessions…

On Friday, I consumed more pork in one meal than any person should consume in a month. The great thing about gluttony is that it taste great! As I polished off the “Triple Hog” sandwich at DT Kirby’s, I found myself experiencing feelings of joy and satisfaction…along with feelings of guilt and shortness of breath. And, you know what? I would do it all over again!

On Saturday, I again consumed more food than any person should consume in a single meal. This time, at Exotic Thai, it was a mix of sushi, sashimi, beef teriyaki, fried vegetables, deep-fried banana, rice and fresh fruit. Afterwards, I found myself feeling full…satisfied…a bit uncomfortable with the extra weight I was now carrying around in my gut…and then a bit of guilt for over-consuming. Would I do it again? Of course!

Wait a second, that’s not really a confession as much as it is a declaration. In both cases, I’ve admitted that I felt somewhat gluttonous…even ashamed of consuming mass quantities of food. And yet, I go on to say that I would do it all over again.

Yet, there might be something to that…

You see, it seems like when I truly confess my weaknesses…my short-comings…my sins…it’s just the same list over and over. I confess…but then I just do it all over again. At least I’m being honest about the desire to return to my gluttonous way. Does anyone else struggle with this? It’s not that I’m continually indulging in new forms of sin…I just seem to continually come back to the familiar ones. I think Paul said something about that??? Yep, Romans 7:15…”I don’t know what I’m doing, because I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do the thing that I hate.”

So, if that’s the case, have I truly confessed?

Okay…so, we could get into a long conversation about the differences between confession and repentance. We could debate theology and blah, blah, blah.

Let’s just sum it up by saying that when I confess…I’m not just trying to wipe my slate clean…I’m not just trying to get things off my chest and feel a little less guilt…I’m also begging for the strength and courage to change because I desperately desire to be different.

As I continue to grow on this journey of faith, I am continually reminded of the great need to have some close friends and family who I can trust with my confessions. These are persons I know will offer their love, support, and encouragment…people who will help hold me accountable…who will check in on me…who will withhold their judgment…who will not gossip.

It’s good to confess…maybe not before the entire congregation (I’ve seen that get a little weird…and I’m not sure everyone needs to know your business…and I’m sure you don’t want “so and so” talking about your confession over lunch) … and maybe not on a blog (I’ve seen that get a little weird too).

But, everyone should have a friend(s), family member(s), counselor, or clergyperson who we can bare our souls to…in all honesty and openness…without judgment or ridicule…but with love, respect, and support. Someone who will listen…who will pray…who will encourage…who will hold you accountable.

The only way I’m going to sin less…the only way I’m going to get better each day is to have some folks around me…praying for me…cheering me on…and loving me.

Who do you confess to?

James 5:16 Common English Bible- 16 For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve.

Challenge Accepted…Slow Progress.

The great hair challenge continues!!!

the mo fro

The progress is quite slow. But, hey, it is growing!!!

Lately, Emily has attempted to make comments that would encourage me to throw in the towel. In fact, it’s not just Emily. Some of the “Team Emily” supporters have been rallying the troops. It went so far as receiving comments about getting my hair cut while on work sites in Guatemala. That’s pretty low.  By now, “Team Emily” should realize that I can pretty much take any harassment that comes my way. I will be victorious!!!

I have noticed that my hair somewhat resembles that of barbeque master chef Steven Raichlen. So, maybe I am just working my way through a list of chefs seen on PBS on this journey towards a head of hair like the great chef Hubert Keller!

Some people continually point out how immature all of this is…of course it’s immature! Do you really believe that I do not understand that this is ridiculous? But, let’s be honest, it’s a harmless way to have some fun. So, my advice to the “holier-than-thou” club…stop taking yourselves so seriously…relax…enjoy life…cut loose and have some fun! It’s only hair.

Steven Raichlen


Hubert Keller