Chattanooga Shooting (My Town)

I would appreciate it if you would think of my city when you pray. Intercede, if you would, for our city’s leadership and citizens. The main thing we need at this point is calm. 4 Marines and 1 Chattanooga police officer were shot.

All we know at this point is that the news is unpredictable – it changes moment from moment. From what I have heard, a shooter attacked a local Navy recruiting center close to Chattanooga State Community College, and then went to the river park, where, it seems, he was killed.

From what we have heard, this is no longer an active situation.

What a violent, godless world we live in. But the things that make a difference are people caring for each other and knowing the love of God is stronger than the hate of the world.

The police officer that was shot is reported to be in stable condition.

I am sure more information will become available in the coming hours, especially on the national news media. I just wanted my readers to hear from a resident in real time.

Let’s just hope this wasn’t a cell, and the shooter who is dead was the only one.

Just pray for Chattanooga, today. Let’s have the same kind of character as Charleston has shown.

It’s a small world, isn’t it?

UPDATE: This wasn’t a simple act of hate to which love is the answer, is it? This was a genuine internationally-influenced terror attack in my home town! How do I respond? How will the nation respond now that the ISIS threat of hitting soft police and military targets in America has begun? 

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Filed under America, Christian Unity

Unfiltered Thoughts (Trump, Iran, Planned Parenthood)

My Mouth

It may come as a total shock to some of you, but I have a history of getting myself into trouble when I speak too quickly. My wife has said that when I die she is going to have the following words etched on my tombstone: “I can’t believe he actually said that.”

Yes, I can get myself into situations which may require an apology, or at least a re-phrasing of a previous comment. But hey, that’s OK. I’d rather have people sit a little on edge when I speak than never pay any attention at all.

Donald Trump

One thing about Donald Trump, if nothing else: he refuses to be intimidated. Maybe that’s why I have a hard time disliking him. Will I vote for him for president? Probably not. However, politics – life in general – would benefit from more people speaking without industrial-strength filters cleansing their speech of everything offensive. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people would just say what they mean and mean what they say?

So many are afraid of letting Mr. Trump speak out with regards to immigration, the economy, and the military. They are afraid his “tone” is making things worse, that is actually offensive. Frankly, having someone speak his mind without fear or intimidation is like a breath of fresh air. It’s the silver-tonged politicians who lie out of the both sides of their mouths that scare me.

My advice to Donald Trump is to just keep doing what he is doing, especially if it makes people in Washington uncomfortable.

Iran

Unless you are simply not paying attention, Iran is now going to become a nuclear-armed terrorist nation, thanks to an agreement that was written by the equivalent of worn-out parents of spoiled toddlers.

I have no respect for our President and John Kerry. None. Period. Nada. These guys are going around praising a nuclear agreement that goes against any and all logic, unless, of course, you’re an enemy of Israel, America, and democracy world-wide. There used to be a day when America was feared and respected, even if she wasn’t liked. However, our current leadership has made the great United States of America a laughing stock in the eyes of those who seek our demise.

Just my “unfiltered” thoughts, that’s all.

Planned Parenthood

And speaking of “unfiltered,” I want to speak honestly to the folks at Planned Parenthood, along with the people that adore that satanic entity: there is a hell.

If you are not aware of the recent video that surfaced, a video showing a senior official at Planned Parenthood casually discussing selling the parts of aborted babies, then click on THIS LINK and prepare to be disgusted. Planned Parenthood can try to explain this away all they want, but the fact remains: they kill babies and sell their body parts.

Jesus didn’t filter His words, either, especially when it came to people like this. He said:

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:5-6

Did you get that? Jesus – yes, Jesus – had harsh words for those who harm or deceive children. He made it clear that what awaits them, one day, is going to be far worse than having a 2-ton stone tied to their neck and tossed into the ocean. I wonder what He thinks of those who chop them up for profit?

Well, there you have it: my unfiltered thoughts on today’s news. I feel a little better.

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Filed under Abortion, America, Countries, current events

Visiting Charleston (Part 3)

History

One thing is for sure, Charleston is full of history. The harbor is full of stories dating back long before the Civil War, even before the Revolution. Battery Point (White Point Garden) has beautiful, massive homes still in use that were built before this country was even a nation! Pictures don’t do this place justice.

Then, of course, there are places like Fort Sumter (where the Civil War began), Patriots Point (home of the USS Yorktown), the Charleston City Market, the H. L. Hunley Museum (the world’s first successful combat submarine), and even The Confederate Museum.

Confederate Controversy

Speaking of the Confederacy, my youngest and I took a few minutes and toured the small Confederate Museum in Market Hall. Originally a place where business was conducted, in 1899 this building was turned into a museum by those who actually fought for Charleston during the Civil War, thereby making the museum historic in its own right.

photo (57)Some of you reading this may have felt uneasy going into the Confederate Museum, and that is unfortunate. So much has been done since the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E Church to sponge away any remnant or reminder of Confederate history, yet what happened back in the 1860’s is part of the fabric of our nation. Much honor is to be found in the stories of the brave young men who fought for their homeland.

Back when there were no cell phones, television, or internet, the average young man’s world was a small one, limited to just a few miles in any direction from the very place he was born. All he would have known; all the people he would have known; everything pertinent to his universe would have been right there in his community, or, at most, his state. How could he be compelled to take up arms against his home?

The Flag Letter

Among the many stunning artifacts from when the Civil War enveloped Charleston was a signal flag – not your stereotypical Confederate battle flag –  a single, simple, signal flag used during the evacuation of Fort Sumter. Attached to this flag was a small letter from the original owner. I will paraphrase part of what it said:

“You may not consider this flag much more than a trinket, but it means much more than that to me. It represents the best years of a patriotic young boy’s life, from age 16 to 20.”

I stood there with my daughter and read aloud the full letter describing the history of the flag written by the one who raised it in victory, then lowered it in defeat. This young man didn’t sound like a slave owner, or a bigot, or a murderer. These were just the words of a patriotic young man who did what he was called to do when his home was threatened.

I’m not ashamed of the South. What I am ashamed of are those who, for political expediency or “white guilt,” want to erase the heritage of a strong, dignified, loyal people without even setting foot on our soil. I am ashamed of those who forget that it was the soldiers who fought each other that came together after the war to heal their wounds and erect monuments to each other’s bravery. I am ashamed of Americans who choose make all Southerners out to be something we are not.

Forgiven His-Story

The folks in the news media only want ratings; they don’t care about truth. Sure, there are bad people, bigoted people out there, but there are also good people – and a lot more of them than the other.

There in the City Market I talked with a black lady about all that had been going on after the shooting at the church. It was at her church that the last of the funerals were to be held that afternoon. It was from her that I bought a New Testament written in the Gullah language (the language of the low country). We talked for a long time about the contrasts between people who chose to forgive and those who chose to burn down their cities. We talked about race, about how the media only wants to further divide us, and how that God loves us all. We talked about Jesus, about loving each other, and then hugged as we parted.

Two strangers in a market…a market in a town that could have gone the way of Baltimore and Ferguson, but didn’t…because people chose to show forgiveness…because good people didn’t resort to painting everyone else with a broad brush.

Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that real Southerners are ones who’ve learned how to grow up, admit our mistakes, and move on. We don’t need the modern PC police trying to score political points by opening up old wounds. We can’t change what happened 150 years ago, but we can forgive…as Christ forgives us…and be better people than the history revisionist want us to be.

Now that South Carolina has voted in the house and senate to remove the Confederate flag and “move it to a museum,” I hope they don’t forget to go visit it once in a while. Those who once flew that flag in war were the very same ones who came back together to heal this nation.

I’m just glad my little girl got to see how history can become His-story before all the history is history.

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Filed under America, Parenting, politics, Vacation

Spew-Worthy News

Coffee and Donuts

This evening I stopped by Krispy Kreme to buy some donuts and coffee for my wife and me (Actually, the coffee was for me – she hates coffee). We did so in order to celebrate something special, but I can’t tell you what the special thing was – it was just special.

kk-hot-signAnyway, we got donuts…I got coffee. That’s all you need to know about that part.

By the way, tonight was the first night I ever saw a deformed donut come off the line. It made me wonder if Krispy Kreme had a museum somewhere to keep the really unique ones.

The News

A short time later, as we were pulling into our driveway at home, I retrieved my recently-purchased coffee from the cup holder and brought it up to my lips. It was at this time a story came over the news which was then playing on the car radio. Permit me to paraphrase what I heard…

“Due to a recent surge in deaths, Russia is launching a new public awareness campaign to advise people of the dangers of taking selfies…”

Right about now I had brought my disposable paper cup full of black coffee to my lips and had begun to fill my mouth with said black coffee. The story continued, though, before I could swallow the ounce or two now bringing pleasure to my palate…

“The Russian government is using graphics to warn people that it is not safe to take selfies while standing on railroad tracks, putting a gun to one’s head, or while standing beside a tiger…”

I almost spit the entire contents of my mouth – the previously-mentioned black coffee – onto my steering wheel!

Tigers? …What the heck!?

Now, it wouldn’t surprise me to read about some dude from Alabama taking a selfie with a gun to his head. I mean, after all, do you know what the most common last words of a redneck are? “Hey! Watch this!”

Sure, I’ve taken selfies with a monkey, even made whole videos (see below)! And yes, I’ve even taken a few calculated risks – like the time I filmed on the beach…and at the zoo…and in a real hospital…etc.

But a tiger? Only in Russia. 

Here’s the story. Just don’t be drinking coffee when you read it.

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Filed under current events, Humor, Monday Monkey

Visiting Charleston, S.C. (Part 2)

The Plan

photo 1 (3)Even though it was already planned that we would visit our daughter in Charleston, as soon as I heard the tragic news of the shooting, I knew I needed to visit (Mother) Emanuel A.M.E. Church. The original plan was to go with friends on a cheap vacation to the beach, stroll through the downtown market, and visit family, but on June 17 the agenda changed.

In a text to Roy Cavender, a friend who was already planning to go with us on vacation, I said, “My plan while in Charleston is to visit Emanuel AME Church and pray. You down with that?

His reply was short and simple: “You know it!!!

So that is what we did.

The Memorials

photo 2 (3)It wasn’t that difficult to know when we had arrived at Emanuel A.M.E., for the flowers and memorials of all kinds were neatly stacked against the sturdy black iron fence separating the front of the church building from the sidewalk.

But it was more than just the flowers and trinkets that caused me to pause; it was the trees and the fire hydrant, all of them covered completely with condolences, names, and Scripture references written with colored Sharpie pens.

It took me a while to find a small, clear place on one of the trees, but when I did, I had to reach as high as I could without a stool. With a red Sharpie I simply wrote: John 17.

You see, unlike in the days after other tragedies, the people of Charleston, along with so many around the country, came together in a way that put evil to shame. This was especially evident by the support shown by the other churches all over the city. It was evident in the way people talked, put together fund raisers, and even in the way they welcomed the prayers from a total stranger.

The Prayer

Now, let me say up front that I did not originally pose for the accompanying photo of me praying. Let me explain what happened.

Like I said, I determined early on that I wanted to go pray on location at Emanuel A.M.E. What I did not go seeking, however, was a photo opportunity. However, it was only after I was given permission to kneel and pray on the front steps that a couple of ladies (members, I suppose), decided to take my picture – with several cameras.

As soon as I finished praying – praying that the name of Jesus Christ would be proclaimed through the deaths of His saints and the love of those who forgave – I started to stand. As I turned to me right, there was this lady with a camera phone saying, “Oh, I’m sorry…could you keep praying? I was trying to take a picture.” Once again I knelt down and prayed aloud.

photo 1 (4)As soon as I finished praying a second time, there was another woman with another cell phone: “I’m so sorry, sir, but could you pray some more? Please?” What was I supposed to do? So, of course I knelt once more and prayed…aloud…for real.

Believe it or not, just as soon as I said “amen” and started to stand, there the woman was again! This time, however, she had a 35mm camera in hand! I said, “OK, look, if I’m going to keep doing this, at least take MY phone and take a picture; I’d like a keepsake.”

“Of course!” she said. “This is something you should want to remember!”

The Big Picture

For many years to come people will be asking the same question: “Why?” Why did God allow a murderous young man full of hate to snuff out the lives of nine people during a Bible study? We may never know all the answers, for God’s ways are higher than our ways. However, a quick study of a small word in the New Testament could lend some understanding.

You see, the word translated “witnesses” in Acts 1:8 is the Greek word μάρτυς (pronounced mä’r-tüs). It is also the word from which we get the English word “martyr.”

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

When we look at what has happened since June 17, I cannot help but believe the deaths of those precious nine people were not in vain. Their “witnesses” in death, along with the “love that passeth all understanding” shown by their families, have been nothing less than a fulfillment of Jesus’ words as recorded in Acts 1:8!

What the Devil meant for harm, God has changed to good! Those who died in that church may have never had much of an impact outside of Charleston, but the ripple effects of their deaths have been felt to “the uttermost part of the earth!”

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Folks, as evil becomes more and more prevalent in this world, the love of Jesus can bring healing to our cities, unity to the Body of Christ, and dumbfound the world. May the families of Emanuel A.M.E. be a testimony to that fact. Keep them in your prayers. 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Unity, current events, Life/Death, Vacation

Visiting Charleston, S.C. (Part 1)

Vacation (or Holiday, for you Brits)

Last week my family went on vacation. With the exception of Katie, the daughter who stayed home and watched the house and dogs (and used too much laundry soap), we all loaded up and drove to Charleston, South Carolina, to stay with our oldest daughter, Alicia, and her husband, Josh.

But it wasn’t just family. Roy and Esther Cavender (close friends from Hopkinsville, KY) also endured the long, 8-hour drive in our mini-van to Charleston. In case you’re counting, that’s four adults and one teenager in a single vehicle for the equivalent of a regular work day.

Have you ever gone on vacation with another family to another family’s house in a distant location? Let me clue you in to a fact of life – you’d better be REALLLLLY good friends.

Happily Married

One thing about going on vacation with people that are not in your immediate family is that you come to appreciate why you are married to whom. In other words, we all have differences which we can appreciate (Isn’t that “reyeght” Roy & Esther and Alicia & Josh?).

For example, my wife and I know how to get along (most of the time). We know what the other one likes and dislikes (most of the time); we know how certain situations make us feel (OK, I’m stretching it); and we know what is most likely to tick the other one off (Sure do!). That’s not the case with friends and family that don’t live under the same roof all the time. Vacationing can be a learning curve…with disputing GPS’s.

Staying in someone’s house, as opposed to a hotel, can save money and offer more time to spend together, but it sure has the potential for stress. Don’t get me wrong – we’d do it again! It’s just now that it’s all over, I like the way my wife and I do things. I’m pretty sure everyone else feels the same way.

We Had a Good Time

But even though there were some awkward and tense moments in and on the way to Charleston, we did have a fun and enriching time. We got to spend quality time with friends and family, meet new people, eat new foods, see new places, and experience the time away we so desperately needed. I even made a fish fly.

So, in the next few posts I will share my thoughts on some things I saw and did while in Charleston, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • photo 1 (6)The Confederate Museum
  • Shooting machine guns with my son-in-law
  • Going to the beach
  • Alligators in the back yard
  • Shopping
  • Visiting the Emanuel A.M.E. Church

Have I piqued your curiosity? Let me know if there’s something specific about which you’d like to hear.

I’ve got a lot of stories, it’s just a matter of narrowing them down to the magic 500 words or less, you know.

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Filed under Life Lessons, places, Relationships and Family, Vacation

I Have Things About Which to Write…About

I know the title of this post is confusing, so let me clarify.  

There is so much I want to share, write about, vent, and whatever, especially after this weekend. However, I’m going to have to spread things out over several posts. I’m about ready to start. 

Are you ready to read? I hope so ;-)

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