Working at Culligan

This is the beginning of a short series about the places where I’ve worked. There are plenty of fun memories, and an immense amount I’ve learned since I was 15. This will likely be only up to, but not including my current job. It’s not usually very ethical to talk about your current place of employment, even if it’s all positive. What’s my purpose in this? I guess it’s just “musing.” Maybe it can be an encouragement to others as well.

First, let me make it clear that the most important catalyst to me having any sense of a work ethic came from my father. Against every grain that was in me as a teenager, he pushed and prodded, pressed and punished me into having a strong work habit. I am far from being a super hard-worker, but any bit that I do have came from him. I would probably be a pretty sorry worker if it wasn’t for my dad’s encouragement to make me better. I may not have liked him making me mow the lawn right — and making me fix it when it was wrong — when I was 13, but I am out -of-this-world thankful for it today.

In September, 2001 my family built and moved into a house just south of Grand Ledge, Michigan. The well water there was very hard and always had a strong sulfur scent. We installed a water softener soon after the home was built to help alleviate the problem. Several months later — I guess it would have been about June of the next year — something broke in the system; I can’t remember what. The water was pretty horrible without the softener, so my dad called the place that installed it: Culligan Water Conditioning of DeWitt.

The person who came to repair the system, Art, quickly fixed the problem (a timer needed reset). I happened to be the only one at home when he made the service call, so he explained to me what he did. I basically just nodded my head and acknowledged that I’d let my dad know. As he was getting ready to head back to his truck, he asked if I needed a job for the summer, and told me how much they would pay. I was 15, and wasn’t all that interested, but I said that I’d talk to my dad about it and get back to him.

When my dad got home from work, I told him that Culligan had offered me a job to work for the summer. He was thrilled about it, and said that I should call back and say, “Yes!” Again, I had never really had much of a job other than shoveling some neighbors’ driveways and mowing their lawns, so I was a bit timid about the whole idea. But I was 15, and figured that it was about time for me to start working somewhere, at least for the summer.

It was about this time, right before I started at Culligan, that my dad set a firm precedent in my life that continues to this day: don’t ever let work interfere with God; this included church services and activities. I had summer camp coming up, and my dad basically said I should be honest with them right off the bat about church. I called Art the day after he offered, letting him know that I was interested. I also mentioned that I could not work Sundays (they weren’t open then anyway), Wednesday nights (again, they weren’t open then), and asked if I could wait to start a week later because of camp. He said, “Of course you can wait! Have fun at camp! We’ll see you the Monday after.” I am not overstating that that statement was life-defining for me. I would find out over the years afterward that putting God first and having principal always turned out for the best.

I didn’t have my driver’s license yet, so I had to be taken to Culligan and picked up every day until I got it. My dad would usually drop me off, while my mom would often pick me up. My first day was mainly pulling weeds outside in the landscaping: lots and lots of pulling weeds. Yes, it was outside in the hot sun all day, but it was very fulfilling to put in an 8 hour day of hard work, and get payed for it on top of that! Over the coming weeks and months I was taught a lot. There were about a dozen employees at the shop total: 4 delivery drivers, 1 technician, 2 salesmen, 2 secretaries, and 2 owners who doubled as technicians. Then there was me; I took care of the shop, which included quite a lot: loading salt bags into customers vehicles, cleaning, washing company vehicles, disinfecting water coolers, and regenerating all of the older-style water softeners.

The most time consuming responsibility was the softener regeneration. It was pretty technical for a 15 year old! It started with double-backwashing the 150 lb tanks eight at a time. Sometimes the tubes would explode water everywhere, which was always fun to clean up! Then, the tanks would be hooked together 40 at a time and regenerated using a machine that would run water, salt, and sodium hydrosulfite through the steel softener tanks for about 2 hours. This would regenerate the resin in the tanks and allow them to be delivered to people’s homes again and used for another month.

steel tanks

While I regenerated the softeners, I found that I liked conservative talk radio a lot. During the summer, I would start with listening to Rush Limbaugh for three hours at noon, then Sean Hannity would come on at 3PM and I’d listen to him until I went home at 5. I kind of learned what it meant to be a conservative as a 15-16 year old in that garage! After my first summer was winding down there, Art (who was one of the owners) asked me if I could work afternoons during the school year as well. By this time, I loved my job, and definitely wanted to work during the school year. Being homeschooled made it easier to get there earlier in the afternoon as well.

Some fond memories that I had at Culligan were detailing all of the company vehicles for the DeWitt Ox Roast parade, getting to know the regular customers that would pick up salt, getting my clothes stained with chlorine all of the time, shoveling salt into the pit in the basement, shoveling snow off of the flat roof (you have to do that sometimes in Michigan if you don’t want the roof to cave in!), ordering Hungry Howie’s pizza on Tuesdays, helping with deliveries sometimes, and OSHA saying I had to wear a gas mask. The people that I worked with were all great as well.

Just as my 2 year anniversary of working at Culligan was about to pass, one of the two franchise owners passed away after a short battle with cancer. Soon afterwards our franchise merged with a larger franchise, and I lost the job that I loved! It was kind of sad for me because I loved the people that I worked with, but thankfully God had something else for me that I would enjoy even more. I was just finishing up my junior year of high school when Culligan DeWitt merged with Lansing. I knew that I had only about a year and a half before I would be going to college. I had to find another job, though, and God would give it to me much sooner than I would have ever expected…

location today

My few years at Culligan taught me what it meant to work for someone. I learned to be on time, faithful to my employer, and to get tasks done right. I was not always perfect at those things, but over time I would get better.


Brainwash – to make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure.

Have you ever been directly or indirectly accused of being brainwashed?  I am convinced that this word is horrendously overused in today’s American English.  It implies being dominated completely by another human being, and not being able to think for yourself; as well it often includes being labeled as a “dunce.”  Being a Christian, I would say that I am fairly used to, especially in the post-modernist media establishment, being labeled as brainwashed.  It is hilarious to me to see how many angles this label/accusation originates from.  For example:

  • Many nations from around the globe claim that Americans are brainwashed into believing their country is the greatest on earth.
  • Those who believe in God are said to have been brainwashed into believing in Him when they were uneducated Christians.
  • Christians are supposedly brainwashed by their church to believe that Christ is God, and that there is no other way to heaven but through Him.
  • Fundamental Baptists are somehow accused of being brainwashed into adapting biblical standards concerning separation and godly living.

But what are all these accusations based on?  Fact?  The accusations are far from fact.  They are all based on opinion and emotion.  Brainwash is a very emotion-driven word, especially to the average person living in the United States.  The immediate reaction to this word is supposed to be, “How horrible!  ___________ is using mind control techniques to make people believe things.”  And I agree, human mind control is wrong in every aspect; but to be specific, why label separated Baptists as brainwashed?  Truth: it stirs the general public’s emotions by, at the very least, embellishing, if not outright lying to them about what is actually happening.

Let me illustrate by personal example and experience.  I was raised in what most would consider a very “religious” home –to be exact, a fundamental Baptist home.  I was constantly trained from the Bible.  I was always taught to listen to what godly teachers and preachers said, and as long as it lined up with the Word of God, to direct my life in that path.  Yes, I was highly influenced by people, starting with my parents, and so many others thereafter.  Who is not influenced by teachers and mentors in their life?  This is where the brainwashing accusation comes in.

However, the key difference is that I made a conscience decision to follow what I was taught.  I could have rebelled, stopped going to church, threw away everything that I was taught, and lived the way I wanted.  However, I didn’t choose to.  Why would I?  God has given me so much to be thankful for.  I could not have planned my life to be as joyful as it has been.  By God’s grace, I made my own choice to follow Christ with my life.  Contrary to today’s common belief, I was never brainwashed into doing anything.

I think what these people are really trying to say is that they do not like what people are being taught.  For most people who use the word, I think that they classify brainwashing as someone being taught anything that they themselves do not believe.  Now it all makes sense!

Here are some not-so-uncommon comments that are said when using the term brainwash.

“Those children behave too well.  They must be brainwashed!.” –No, that’s called obedience.  That used to be common in America up until fifty or so years ago.

“____________ just takes the Bible so literally.  He’s brainwashed.”  –No, he has faith.

“The people from _______________ Church are so religious..and they dress funny too.  They’re so brainwashed!” –No, they’re making their own decision to follow Biblical standards.

If we are going to use this false definition of brainwashing than we should use it universally.  All children are brainwashed by their teachers; all people who want to lose weight are brainwashed by their newest diet guru; all sports fans are brainwashed by their favorite team; and television brainwashes everyone!

I consider myself a pretty independent person.  I typically like to make my own decisions, make my own living, and make my own way in life –until God comes in.  And believe me, He is always there.  I gladly throw away every ounce of independence I may have, for His will.  I could never be happier than to be influenced and controlled by God and his Word.  What a privilege!

The New Face of Fundamentalist Christianity–Part II

The Trojan Horse of Compromise

I think I have always been a fan of music.  Since I can remember, I have loved listening to something while working, studying, and relaxing.  Music surrounds us: now more than ever.  With the creation of the iPod and internet, it is almost as if we cannot escape it.  Even as I am writing now, I am listening to something!

I am no where near an expert of music theory or technique; however, I, like any other discerning Christian, can know what is right and wrong.  Yes, there is a right and wrong!  To deny that would be to deny the very cardinal doctrines of holiness, sin, and God Himself.  It is not neutral.  A Christian’s standard of music, like any other standard, derives itself from God’s Word.  Examine the following passages:

Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

An adjective is used in these verses to describe what kind of music Christians are to listen to.  Adjectives are words that modify nouns (Thank you, freshman English!).  The noun that is specifically being modified is songs.  The adjective is spiritual.  The word spiritual means “something of the Holy Spirit.”  Therefore, our little analysis says that our music is supposed to consist of psalms, hymns, and songs of the Holy Spirit.  All of those are good things–holy things of God.  On the contrary, since there is good and holy music, there is also bad and unholy music.  According to the Bible, it is impossible for music to be neutral.

We can know what is good and holy from the Bible.  That is one reason God gave us His Word.  Without question, it is our sole authority for faith and practice.  God did not give us His Word without the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit.  With the Word and the Spirit, we have the Power of God to rightly discern what is right and wrong–without question.  Even to the person who is not completely studied in the science of music, God gave us an even greater gift: the Word and the Spirit!

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

This is just one place among many in the Bible where we can rightly judge music.  Does the music you sing or listen to match up to the Word of God?

Another issue other than neutrality is that of Contemporary “Christian” music.  I inserted quotations there for a reason.  This type of music is not Christian.  Some may say, “Oh, but the words are Christian.  That makes it good!”  Again, that abruptly strays away from principles laid out in the Bible.  Other than the words themselves, there is the music that actually makes it music!  In several passages in the Bible, music is labeled under different types.  There were different types of music during the godless worship of the golden calf, and the song at the temple dedication.  Would God have allowed the calf worship music at the His temple dedication?  Of course not.  Then why do so many churches use the world’s music in their services?

The answer to that question is that the Satan is master of deceit.  He so frequently uses the tool of music to drag churches closer to the world–step by step–and not always slowly.  I believe that Bible-believing fundamental Baptist churches are Satan’s chief target.  Who else preaches the Bible with God’s power?  Who else has a zeal for the lost of the world to be saved and discipled.  Yes, I believe that the devil has planted his prime target of compromise on fundamental Baptist churches.  His easiest way of bring that about is music.

A Scenario

Greg Wilson is a thirty-year old husband, father, and deacon at Glenn Avenue Church in Rockland Gap, Pennsylvania.  He grew up in this church–his family was at the church every time the door was open.  From the time he could remember, his family involved themselves in the ministries of the church.  His father drove the church’s Sunday School bus, and helped with the upkeep of the church; while his mother had taught a children’s class for many years.  Greg, along with his two siblings, grew up in an overall good home.  Mr. and Mrs. Wilson tried to train their children according to the Bible all the way until they left the home.  While attending the church’s academy from K5 on up, Greg really became what some would call a “good guy.”

The pastor of Glenn Avenue Baptist Church was also a very godly man.  He had been the pastor for forty years at the time of Greg’s graduation from high school.  The pastor always encouraged the youth at his church to attend Bible college, and possibly feeling called to the ministry, Greg knew that’s what he wanted to do.  The research of different Bible colleges was tedious.  He found one that he thought God might want him at, and asked his pastor’s advice.  His pastor advised against it, mostly because of the college’s weak music standards.  Greg, though, had basically already made up his mind.  Even against his parent’s counsel, Greg enrolled for his first semester at that college.

He arrived at the college’s exciting campus a couple of days before classes started.  He attended the church services at the church that the college was a part of for the first time on August 30th.  He did realize that the special music at that college was different and perhaps worldly, but looked over it.  Over the first semester, Greg began to actually enjoy the music of the college.  He had also been introduced to some other types of music at the college, thanks to his roommates.  The head of his dorm room liked to listen to some very questionable southern gospel groups now and then, which made Greg uncomfortable at first.  His parents taught him that music like that is not right.  But again, he became accustomed to his roommate’s music, and soon became a big fan.  In some college chapel services, Greg heard even more worldly music during the specials.  Music looked more like an entertaining performance rather than devotion and glorifying God.  Then, on occasion, he would hear one of the staff preachers say that music should never be a separating issue among loving Christians.  Preachers would say that it is one of those “nonessential” issues.  Sure, Greg’s college’s brochure said that they believed conservative music; but not-so-subtly, that church and college rejected separation from worldliness in music.

Greg graduated, married his high-school sweetheart, and moved home to work in a good job, and help serve in his church.  Greg and some other friends who had went to the same Bible college slowly began to question their pastor’s stance on music.  They secretly accused him of being too “old-fashioned” and in need of some new life–especially in music.  Now and then, Greg and his friends might sing a special, lead songs at a church activity, or teach a Sunday School class.  It was there that they introduced these questionable types of music to the church.  Most of the members didn’t know different, except that this was the Greg who grew up in a good family in their church, went to Bible college, and knew “everything.”

The pastor of the church knew little of the festering that was happening beneath his nose at the church.  The devil was at work–bringing the church down to insignificance.

At home, Greg and his wife began to develop a taste for “Christian rock”, praise teams, and even mainstream country/western music.  Along with the writers and promoters of the music came their standards and ministry philosophy.  Greg began to be influenced by Calvinists, the emergent church crowd, and different Bible versions.  Now he said he would never go “all the way” with those people, but over the years, he became one of them at heart.  The faithful pastor of Glenn Avenue Baptist Church sadly retired three years after Greg and his friends had graduated.  With this, the younger crowd of the church voted in a compromising, neo-evangelical type of pastor in just a few months.  Over the next five years, Glenn Avenue Baptist Church dropped the name Baptist for the sake of “tearing down walls of separation.”  The pastor also introduced a praise team, and eventually a set of drums and electric guitar.  Soon, they changed from the Authorized Version of the Bible to the New English Bible.  The pastor was Calvinistic in doctrine, so soul winning efforts diminished.  The older generations in the church, including Greg Wilson’s parents, tried to fight the change to no avail.  Some left and went to other churches, while some stayed and gritted their teeth just because that’s where they had always gone to church.  This church of Jesus Christ had been rendered insignificant by the devil.  Greg Wilson was just a tool to introduce worldliness.

…now all of this is fictional.  There is no Greg Wilson, or Rockland Gap, or Glenn Avenue Baptist.  Yet, scenarios like this are occurring all over America in our churches.  Much of the time because of Satan’s Trojan Horse–music.


Compromising music in our lives does not just come all of the sudden.  There are things that happen that get us away form the Word and the Spirit that convict before we ever compromise.  We must stay close to God by faithfully devoting time to Him each day through fervent prayer and meditation in the Bible.  Just as Colossians 3:16 says: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…”  We cannot let Satan obtain a foothold in our lives.

Do not let yourself gain an appetite for even questionable music.  Whether it be labeled “Christian”, folk, oldie, or “gospel.”  Dwell on and develop an appetite for good, sacred, spiritual music that truly brings honor to our Savior!

Coming Tomorrow: A New Home!

Today was a great day!  We had our first six kids come out on the bus this morning to church, and it seemed like they had a great time.  It was Andrea, myself, and the bus driver who were able to help.  I think that the kids were really excited and will bring out some friends next week–they were even inviting some right when they got home.  Praise the Lord, and we pray the same come next week and even more!

Tonight I also had the opportunity to preach–Isaiah 53: “His Life for Ours.”  I really believed that God worked through His Word, and some came forward and made decisions.  After church, a lot of the teens in church helped us load up for the move tomorrow.  That ended up being a BIG blessing!  We loaded up one vehicle, which we will take tomorrow, and one of the older teens is going to bring his truck in the morning to load that up.  We are starting around 9:00a, and am hoping to be all unloaded around 11:00a.  We are really looking forward to moving in, and will post a few pictures sometime–not tomorrow though!  I don’t think everyone wants to see our big mess that will be there.

We can say that today was truly the Lord’s day today.  He blessed with kids riding the bus to church, a good attendance, a great message this morning about the Table of Shewbread from Pastor; He then blessed with testimonies and preaching in the evening.