The Price of Freedom

Memorial Day

Today is the day on which we Americans pause to remember and honor those who have fought and died for our country. We also honor those who have served and are serving.

Unfortunately, most people use this day to only focus on the celebration aspect of the holiday, not the memorial. But had it not been for those men and women who bled in the trenches and fell from the sky, there might not be a place to hold a barbecue. We celebrate because we are free, but that freedom came with a price.

Visiting Memorials

Last year at this time I visited Washington, D.C.. with my family, and one can’t visit D.C. without going to the memorials, especially on Memorial Day.

It had been a long time since the last time I was here, and new monuments to the fallen had been erected. One of them, which is probably the most impressive, is the World War 2 Memorial. I took my time exploring it.

One of the places at the WW2 Memorial is pictured below. Gold stars are affixed to a curved wall above a reflective pool. A plaque beside the reflective pool reads, “The Price of Freedom.”

Each star represents 100 who died in the war to defeat the Axis powers. Did you get that? 1 star = 100 dead. 

image

On this day let us pause and remember the lives sacrificed so that we (and the world) might live in freedom. Remember also that those stars represent mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, and scores of children whose loss purchased our gain.

Freedom isn’t free.

 

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Filed under America, Life/Death, Vacation

Today’s Preaching Tip from Sir Winston Churchill

Men, sometimes our best-designed outlines, our ingenious illustrations, and our attempts to convey a point without offending do nothing more than muddy the cleansing water, smudge the reflective properties of God’s Word, and lessen the needed blow to our hardened consciences.

Maybe we should heed the following advice:

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time-a tremendous whack.” –  Sir Winston Churchill

 

Do you think the Apostle Paul and Churchill might have been related?

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Preaching

An Official Goodbye to an Era

Time for a Change

As you know, I have been driving a school bus for a while. Much of that time was spent in an area where I used to live and pastor, Lookout Valley, TN (just in sight of Lookout Mountain).

For several years (actually, since 2009) I was what we call a “park out” driver. That means that I was able, because I had the space, and because of the closeness to the schools I served, to keep my bus at home. That was extremely convenient in that all I had to do to go to work was walk out my front door.

But now that I no longer pastor in Lookout Valley, nor do I live there, it is no longer convenient to drive a bus route in that area. It makes much more sense to drive a school bus route closer to where I will now be living (in that parsonage I recently showed you) 30 miles away.

Now, there are no guarantees I will be able to secure a route in the area to which I am moving – that is still a matter of prayer. However, as with the last route I had, the fact remains the same: I want to be a fixture in the community in which I pastor. If it’s God’s will, He will provide the route I need.

It happened before, you know.

If it be the Lord’s will, next school year (2017-2018) I will secure a route on a special needs bus (a small bus) that I can park in the new church’s parking lot. However, that remains to be seen. This summer I will be working as a driver trainer, but I will be keeping my eyes open for whatever opportunities are out there.

In the meantime, I thought I would share with you some photos that tell a little about the era that is passing, the era of Bus 374.

A History In Pictures

When I first started driving for Durham School Services in Hamilton County (the Chattanooga, TN area), I was a “sub” driver. In other words, I didn’t have my own route, a particular route with an assigned bus, that I drove every day. What I did the first couple of years was fill in and drive whatever route needed me, wherever that route happened to go.

As a matter of fact, when I started driving a school bus in Kentucky back in 2001, that is all I ever did – work as a substitute driver. Some of the experiences I had while doing that, especially the part including tennis balls, is detailed in my book. However, I unfortunately don’t have any pictures of my early days driving a bus – I wish I did.

My first route after being a sub-driver was bus 369. I drove the 369 route for a year or so, then went on to drive bus 374. If I’m not mistaken, bus 369 started out as a conventional-style bus (with a long nose) and later changed to a front-engine transit (flat front) …it might have been the other way around, but I can’t remember.

All total I had four different models of buses during my time as driver of #374. At one point I drove a 2007 Thomas transit. Later I drove a conventional-style (long nose) Thomas with a Mercedes engine (my favorite bus out of all of them). After that I went back to a Thomas transit, but a more modern 2011 model. Lastly, I finally ended up with a 2013 International transit with AIR CONDITIONING!

My first ride as bus 374. A front-engined transit with no air – and it could reach 120 degrees around the driver’s seat in August!

 

The conventional-style Thomas (with the cool Mercedes engine) parked behind the church, the place where I parked all the time during the week.

 

The next generation of #374. This pic shows an ultra-rare instance of when we in Tennessee actually had to pick up kids in the snow!

 

A side view of the final incarnation of #374, the unwashed, rear-engined (called a “pusher”) 2013 International. Notice the additional cargo bays underneath.

 

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of things while driving a bus (and some of that is also detailed in my book) But there are two places on 374’s route that I will miss seeing on a regular basis.

The first is a little pond and the view of it from a little hill on Shanty Lake Road. The view varied with the change of seasons and the angle of the sun. Incidentally, the children on my bus hated it whenever another driver drove instead of me – I was always better at going over that hill without scaring the kids 😉

A view of the pond on Shanty Lake Road from inside my bus on the last day of school (the bus was stopped).

 

The very same view as above, but as the sun is coming up in January. God is a beautiful artist, isn’t He?

 

The other view that I will miss is the one seen driving back into Lookout Valley over Cummings Highway across the side of Lookout Mountain. I wrote about this in my book and six years ago in another blog, Ebs and Flows (you should check it out).

Looking down towards Lookout Valley and the Tennessee River from the Cummings Highway bridge – yes, a bridge.

 

Over the years I’ve also met a few adults while driving in Lookout Valley, not just a lot children (of all ages). There were a few teachers with which became friends, but it was the other bus drivers that helped make getting up in the morning a little easier.

Taken a couple of years ago, here we see Chris (370), Joseph (369), and me at McDonald’s.

 

Myself and Paul Mashburn (the contract driver of #49). Mr. Mashburn drove my wife on band trips in 1985! And she said he still looks the same!

 

The last day of school this year we went to Cracker Barrel. Here is Chris (370), a driver from New Orleans, Jean (369), and myself…I should have tucked in my shirt.

 

The following are just a couple of pictures I wanted to throw in for good measure. The first is me on a day when I wore a wig to keep my head warm – why wear a hat when you can be different?

The second picture is of our little dog, Nugget. Nugget went missing in August of last year, and we miss him terribly. This photo was taken on the day after we first got him. I was driving bus 369 at the time, and I didn’t want to leave him home alone, so I took him with me that day 🙂

A wig can both keep you warm and give you attitude.

 

Baby Nugget on the school bus.

 

On the last day of school I pulled up in front of Lookout Valley Middle and High School, along with the other buses there to pick up what kids actually came that day (I had none). Only four or five buses were ever needed to service this small school, so the afternoon lineup became a traditional time to shoot the breeze for a few minutes before the doors burst open.

My final lineup at Lookout Valley Middle/High.

 

And as you may have seen from other blog posts of mine, Bobble Head Phil always rode on my dash (secured with double-sided tape) and stared at the kids behind me. One time a little girl said, “Mr. Baker, make him stop looking at me!” I replied, “Why? What are you doing?”

Phil has left the building (or bus, rather).

 

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. God willing, Phil and I will drive another bus – a smaller bus – in the area closer to our new place of ministry. But for now, goodbye Lookout Valley and bus 374…we will always remember you.

In the meantime, keep me in your prayers – I’ve got new drivers to train! 

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Filed under community, places

A Fellow Alum Wins “The Voice”

Congratulations to a fellow Tennessee Temple Crusader, Chris Blue, for winning “The Voice”!

Chris Blue is a worship leader in Knoxville, TN, and attended the school where I received my bachelors and masters degrees, Tennessee Temple University. He was the worship leader there until the school closed in 2015.

Being that I did not attend many chapel services there since I was a commuter and spent most of my time in the seminary, I never got to meet Chris in person. Nevertheless, I wish him well. May God continue to use his talents to bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ.

After all, that’s what being “Distinctively Christian” is all about.

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Filed under Christianity, current events, General Observations, music

Now Accepting Awesome Guest Posts

First Thing

Here’s the first thing I want you to know…my blog statistics for 2017 are looking good! I’m on track for breaking last year’s record!

Oh, I know my stats are nothing compared to bloggers like Beauty Beyond Bones. For crying out loud, she’s got 23,000 more followers than me…so you do the math. She’s also slightly better-looking that me, so… Nevertheless, my numbers are 51% of last year’s total, so I am ahead of schedule!

Awesome, right?

That is why I would like to keep things active, even though the next month or two is likely to be uber-hectic.

Second Thing

We will be moving once again, this time into the parsonage at South Soddy Baptist Church. Now, this old home hasn’t been lived in for years, and it’s in desperate need of some cleaning and repair – not to mention a few upgrades – so a lot of my time will be spent working there before moving in.

Don’t believe there’s work to be done? Here are some pics.

The back porch/laundry room.

The living room with a broken window, no lights, and some floors that need help.

The ceiling in the kitchen. The ceilings in the rest of the rooms aren’t this bad, but they need work.

The bathroom shower was evidently used in a horror movie.

What is the best way to keep out a draft? Evidently duct tape. This is the inside view of the front door.

 

Also, the place where we are now living is going on the market very soon, so there is work to be done here before it sells. All the work here, and at the parsonage, will be taking a lot of my time – time which will also be shared with working as a trainer for new bus drivers, studying for sermons, recording radio programs, doing lectures at the seminary, and doing a lot of visitation this summer.

When am I supposed to be writing for this blog???

Third Thing (the charming part)

Because I am going to be soooo busy this summer (Oh, and my wife and I are going on a paid-for cruise for our 50th birthdays!), and since I want to keep the viewers coming back, I need guest posts!

It’s not something I’ve done very often, but it’s been fun in the past to have guest bloggers contribute to The Recovering Legalist. However, now it’s more of a necessity than fun – I’m going to be too busy to post something brilliant every day.

So, if you would like to contribute entertaining, thought-provoking, God-honoring, award-worthy literature, start writing now and start submitting. Once I get enough I will start publishing them, thereby freeing me up some valuable time.

But I need your posts. Like soon. ‘Cuz I got me sum tings to be doin,’ doncha know.

Otherwise, I’ll never have enough views/stats/hits to justify renaming my blog…”Beauty Beneath the Fat.” 😉

I’m anxiously awaiting your submissions!

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Filed under blogging, Guest Posts

Why Complain About Lemons?

Why is it that people say, “When life gives you lemons…” it’s always in a response to something bad?

What is wrong with lemons?

Coincidentally, my daughter just sent this to me from her phone.

Why not cherries? Or grapes? Why not complain about them?

Why not suggest what to do when life gives us avocados? I hate avocados!

What if life gave you tomatoes for your iced tea? You’d be wishing you had some lemons, I bet.

No, it’s always the poor lemon. It’s like everyone is prejujuiced.

What’s wrong with a little sourness every once in a while?

The fact is that God doesn’t just allow lemons, He sends them as a gift! Unfortunately, most people never take the time to recognize the benefits of a little acidity.

So, the next time when life gives you lemons instead of strawberries, don’t be so negative; you might have been spared an allergic reaction from hell without even knowing it.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

If nothing else, add the lemon to your tea.

If nothing else, add the lemon to your tea.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Food, General Observations, wisdom

Pastoral Ministry 

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Filed under Humor, ministry