Mr. Monkey Endorses My Book

If you have been waiting to hear glowing endorsements before purchasing my new book Life Lessons from the School Bus, then wait no longer.

On today’s edition of “Monday Monkey” Mr. Monkey will share a few words regarding the book and our friendship.

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The New Books Are In

It was reminiscent of the scene in The Jerk when Steve Martin exclaimed, “The new phone books are here ! The new phone books are here!” There, leaned ever so proudly against my screen door, was a cardboard box containing my new little books. My youngest daughter and I were excited!

So, here it is, finally in my hands – excerpts from nearly 15 years of bi-vocational bus driving. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like 15 years-worth. You’d think I could have written a novel-sized volume, not a 75-page baby book. Nevertheless, the idea was for it to be a quick and easy read, much like a blog post; something quick and to the point.

This is a funny book, but it’s meant to make a mark or two on the soul. My prayer is that it will have a part in changing at least a few lives for the better. Since God is known for working in the strangest ways, maybe He will work through this book.

Contact me if you’d like an autographed copy.

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Powerful Mercy

“The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.” - Proverbs 11:17

“I Pardon You”

As I thought about this verse, a scene from a movie came to mind. In Schindler’s List, the 1993 masterpiece by Steven Spielburg, two characters, Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth, discuss what should be done with Jewish prisoners.

Seeing that Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) was a cruel and sadistic concentration camp commander, Schindler (Liam Neeson) tries to convince him that the greatest exhibition of power is not in killing people, but pardoning them.

Schindler:  They fear us because we have the power to kill arbitrarily. A man commits a crime, he should know better. We have him killed and we feel pretty good about it. Or we kill him ourselves and we feel even better. That’s not power, though, that’s justice. That’s different than power. Power is when we have every justification to kill – and we don’t.

Goeth: You think that’s power.

Schindler: That’s what the emperors had. A man stole something, he’s brought in before the emperor, he throws himself down on the ground, he begs for mercy, he knows he’s going to die. And the emperor pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.

Goeth: I think you are drunk.

Schindler: That’s power, Amon. That is power. (Schindler gestures toward Goeth as a merciful emperor) Amon, the Good.

Later in the film, Goeth almost decides to not punish a young boy for not cleaning his bath tub well enough. Instead of beating him, he looks at the boy (remembering Schindler’s words), and says, “I pardon you.” The boy then runs outside as Goeth begings to stare into the mirror, pointing to himself like a Michelangelo painting, and repeating the words, “I pardon you.”

It was only a moment later that Goeth notices a stain on the bath tub. His anger boiled as he picked up his rifle and shot the boy who was now walking to his barracks.

Mercy is Medicine

Just the other day, even though I was broke, I gave the last $20 I had to a man and his wife who had nothing. I am not writing this in order to get a pat on the back, but in order to make a point. The point is that I had no problem sleeping that night. My kindness was a small sacrifice.

However, to show mercy to someone who has wronged you, to someone who has hurt you, can be a tremendous sacrifice. Showing mercy means you give up something, like justice, payback, and revenge. But, there is no greater salve to the soul than showing mercy to the one who least deserves it.

The cruel person feels justified for his actions. But cruelty, no matter how it is rationalized, whether it be towards man or beast, is an acid that eats away at the soul.

Are you suffering from the effects of bitterness? Are you troubled by your anger? There is a cure. It’s called mercy.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

I pray that those who are protesting and rioting would keep this in mind.

- from Proverbial Thought

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Christmas Monkey Repeat

Monday Monkey’s Voice

Some of you had the opportunity to hear Mr. Monkey speak for the very first time last Monday. It was difficult for him to develop such a strong voice (especially since his felt tongue fell out years ago), but he believed is was necessary in order to open up some other opportunities.

That being said, it has been a year since Mr. Monkey’s last Christmas video. The last part features a serious message by Mr. Monkey, but one that had to be subtitled due to his poor speaking ability.

The Least of These

This video is one of my favorites. It features my youngest daughter, Haley, wrapping a warm blanket around a shivering Buddy, and me doing a little guitar in the background. Katie did the camera work.

The message of the video should be obvious, and one that we should take to heart. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to share it, too!

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Serving Up Thanksgiving, Family-of-Faith Style

A Combined Service

Anthony Import 11 30 14 194Last week we welcomed the congregation of Tiftonia Church of God to our Riverside Baptist. It was the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, the night many churches set aside a time for a community fellowship.

Being that it was a Tuesday night, there wasn’t a big crowd. However, enough showed up from both of our churches to, well, “have church.” And that we did.

Brother Michael Fugatt, the new pastor of Tiftonia Church of God, brought a great message from Psalm 100, blessing us all. And, for the record, he didn’t speak in tongues (just in case some of my Baptist brethren were wondering).

All in all, we had a wonderful, intimate time of godly fellowship. At the end of the sermon, Bro. Fugatt requested that all of us gather around the altar, hold hands, and pray. But when Pastor Fugatt prayed, he prayed that God would bless and encourage us (the Baptist church!!) and cause us to grow in number! It was truly a Kingdom prayer from a fellow believer and brother in Christ.

The Challenges

Now the sad part is that so many would have never allowed another denomination to worship with them. That’s very sad.

For the record, I am a Baptist, and for that I make no apology. But just because I am Baptist, that does not mean I may only worship with other Baptists. No, Baptists aren’t the only ones going to heaven, I can assure you; only those who have been born into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Many of my fellow Baptists would never come together in worship, even once a year, with those in the Church of God denomination because of our different takes on several ecclesiastical issues and certain doctrines, especially those regarding the gifts of the Spirit. However, as it is with Baptists, not every Church of God congregation is exactly like the next, nor is their pastor. It really pays to be more gracious than writing off every congregation just because of the name above the door.

Believe it or not, there is room withing the family of God to disagree on the interpretation of certain passages in First Corinthians. There is room withing the family of God to disagree on how to handle church finances, ordain and hire ministers, etc. There’s room for differences, just as long as what it takes to make us “family” is agreed upon.

The Family Table

On Thanksgiving most of you probably sat at a big table, surrounded by family, and had a meal. Some of you, if not most of you, sat across from other family units, like brothers and sisters-in-law, or a crazy aunt and uncle. Maybe you shared a meal with some cousins you see only once a year – for good reason. But here’s the thing: you did it because they were family.

My wife and I lead a family unit, and our unit does things a little differently than the rest. So, when we come together with other family units for Thanksgiving or Christmas, we rarely discuss the different ways we run our households; we just enjoy the fellowship and the food. Why can’t we do that more often as Christians?

Many in the world make excuses for their atheism by pointing at Christians and their denominations. They say things like, “See, your beliefs can’t be true; you can’t even agree!” What community services provide is the chance to show that real Christians, true believers in Christ, can have their different ways of doing things when at home, but still come together for a family reunion, a meal around a common table of faith.

Of course, there are times when fellowship with other churches must be avoided; heresy cannot be tolerated. But the fact is that there are more times than not when genuine believers should come together once in a while to break bread, if for no other reason than to show the world that we are children of the same Father, co-heirs with Jesus our brother, regardless how we run our individual homes.

Now, will someone pass the manna?

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Filed under baptist, Christian Unity, Christmas, legalism, Relationships and Family, Thanksgiving, worship

An Interview With Mr. Monkey

It’s Monday!

Normally, in the real world, declaring it is Monday does not bring squeals of joy. However, this is the world of the Recovering Legalist, and I’m not a sour puss.

IT’S MONDAY!! Do you know what that means? Yes, it is time for a brand spanking new Monday Monkey video

The world may be burning, but there’s only so many fire extinguishers to go around, anyway. Chill out. Have fun for a few minutes. Laugh.

Yesterday, before I drove Katie (a.k.a. Piper Smokestack) back to school, she interviewed Mr. Monkey. The last time she did anything like that was when she was reporting on Mr. Monkey losing his banana.

But here’s the thing: Mr. Monkey now has a Twitter account! He will be staying in touch and answering fan mail. Just go to @MonkeyBuddy1984.

Now, tomorrow we can talk about some more serious stuff, if that kinda stuff floats your boat.

In the meantime, watch the video again, share it, then go buy one of my books. That will make us all have a great Monday ;-)

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How to Fix the Fergusons of the World In 12 Difficult Steps

My Confession

Let me begin by confessing that I am not a person of “color,” at least not in the politically-correct use of the term. This is important to recognize up front because, according to many, my color (or lack thereof) disqualifies me from commenting on racial issues (unless I’m willing to confess any bigotries).

However, even though I am “white” (regardless of the fact that my shading is tinted by several hues on the palate of history), I would like to suggest some steps that could lead to true reconciliation and sustainable peace, not only in Ferguson, Missouri, but in all areas suffering from racial tensions, gang violence, urban decay, poor leadership, and civil unrest.

The Qualifier

Now, let it be known that the following suggestions will only work in a nation that supports the rule of law, condemns mob violence, and understands that there is a Higher Standard to which all will ultimately be held accountable. As long as we choose to continue down a road toward total moral relativism and anarchy, our cherished Constitution inevitably must give way to tyranny and/or ruin.

“[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams (Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Second President of the United States), 1798

1. Make the “Reverends” preach the Gospel.

You see, here’s the thing: if you claim to be an ordained Christian minister (Reverend), lay off the political charades and race-baiting…preach the WORD! When Jesus asked Peter if he was going to leave like others had, Peter responded with “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). 

My advice to those like Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson is twofold. First, move beyond the “social gospel” that’s been so perverted, even from what it was intended from the beginning, and on to the true gospel of Christ that cares not about race, nationality, or social status.

The second thing is this: God knows why you’re doing what you’re doing; be careful how you make your fortune and why you demand to be in the spotlight.

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! … What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel. – 1 Corinthians 9:16, 18 NKJV

If you preach the Jesus of the Bible, you have a message of hope that can change lives and communities, black or white. So many of the following suggestions will show that.

2. Forgive.

Storing up hate and exacting revenge is a never-ending spiral towards destruction. Jesus warned his disciples: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). Restoration must begin with forgiveness. Was it not Jesus, even when He was being crucified, that said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”?

Are we more righteous than Jesus?

3. Love your enemies.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.‘ But I say unto you, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you‘” (Matthew 5:43-44).

“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee” (Proverbs 25:21-22). Do you want to change people’s hearts? Try doing good instead of burning down buildings!

4. Do more then seek justice.

It is important that justice be served, but don’t be hypocritical about it; those who demand justice should not act like they are above the law.

Micah 6:8 – He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

No one wants to live in a society of laws not tempered by mercy, unless, of course, that person proudly feels he’s never in the wrong. The humble are rarely recruited by lynch mobs.

5. Teach that everyone’s life is sacred because of Who created it.

If you want to live in a more peaceful society, teach its citizens that life is intrinsically precious. According to the Bible, Mankind was created by God, made in His image. When you add to that the fact that He sent His own Son to die in Man’s place to save him from sin (John 3:16), the value of each life then becomes inestimable. Instill this truth into the hearts of a people and there will practically eradicate drive-by’s, abortions, and prostitution.

6. Condemn any culture/media/personality that promotes and profits from illicit, denigrating, and abusive behavior.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 ESV

When your children’s heroes are girls that swing naked from iron wrecking balls, pimps that bitch-slap their ho’s, and athletes who’d rather “put a cap in yo’ ass” than score a legitimate goal; when the most listened-to music glorifies multiple sex partners, violence, and drug use; when movies get praised for how many f-bombs they can drop; when “reality” is anything but reality, what can you expect?

7. Restore dignity to committed, faithful marriage.

Statistics don’t lie: most thugs and gang-bangers come from broken, single-parent, and/or abusive homes, especially ones without a father at home.

You want to talk about broken systems? Any system that will promote infidelity, encourage shacking up, reward having multiple children out of wedlock, and yet financially punish the family that prays together and stays together – that’s a broken system. Fix this system and you’ll reduce abuse, poverty, welfare addiction, and petty crime. You’ll also see a drop in the prison population, less depression and suicide, and less use of drugs and alcohol.

8. Discipline youth while they are young.

He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail. – Proverbs 22:8

We cannot wait until our youth get in trouble to start “scaring them straight.” It may be cute, now, as you laugh at your little brat’s actions and giggle at his use of foul language, but it won’t be later when he’s getting arrested for cussing the cop that questions him. Make your children behave well while they’re young; don’t wait till they’re older to lose your temper on them: it will fail.

9. Teach respect for all those in authority, including: parents, teachers, coaches, older adults, police, government officials, and ministers.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. – Hebrews 13:17

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. – Romans 13:1-4

10. Hold those in authority accountable to higher, morally-objective standards, regardless of party or race.

“Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? - George Washington (Farewell Address), 1796

11. Create a friendly environment for charitable organizations to do their work.

Simply put, don’t make it hard on churches and charities to do what they do best – look after the needs of the poor, the hungry, and the homeless. Don’t arrest ministers for giving out free food on the street. Don’t force ministries to pay for abortion services against their will, thereby forcing them to close. Encourage ministries to reduce the government’s welfare burden, instead of keeping people dependent in order to secure a political advantage.

12. Demand personal responsibility for criminal activity.

“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” ― Ronald Reagan

I may have missed it, but not once have I heard the Michael Brown family, the family’s attorney, the “Reverends,” or the justice-demanding rioters on the street ever address the fact that the young Mr. Brown robbed a convenience store and assaulted the store owner. Did I miss it? Was that fact overlooked? Do we honestly think that had Mr. Brown purchased his socially-influenced, unhealthy, crappy cigarillos, instead of stealing them, the policeman would have still sought him out to shoot him?

There’s an old saying that goes, “Do the crime – Do the time.” When a man refuses to accept any responsibility, he’s no longer a good American. It’s past time people man up and assume responsibility for their own actions.

There’s also another saying: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

A New Proclamation

When our nation was young, while we were still at war, our Continental Congress crafted several proclamations calling our leaders and our people to pray.  If we would only humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways (2 Chronicles 7:14), a “fix” for Ferguson might come.

May we commit to do as they did in 1777 and set aside a day…

[For] Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise; That with one Heart and one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favour, and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD, through the Merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole; to inspire our Commanders both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE; That it may please him to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People and the Labour of the Husbandman, that our Land may yet yield its Increase; To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand, and to prosper the Means of Religion for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Or, we can simply continue to fight, blame each other, envy each other, hate each other, kill each other, and watch our cities sink deeper into chaos and despair.

“Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.” ― Ronald Reagan

 

 

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