Category Archives: current events

My Verse. My Prayer. My Hope. 

“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.”  – King David (Psalm 57:1-2)

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Filed under Christianity, current events, Depression, God, Struggles and Trials, worship

Take Me To Your Leader

Today, on Presidents Day, many people across America took to the streets in protest, not celebration. With banners raised and voices lifted (or visa versa), the disappointed citizens, non-citizens, voters, and even non-voters (i.e., those who should just shut up and keep out of it) spewed out the following phrase:

“Not my president!”

Yes, in cities across the land the very same people who say they care about America, yet claim it was “never great” and are convinced the Russians have damaged our democracy, are marching around proclaiming themselves leaderless after a fair election. 

What would these protesters have said if a bunch of Republicans had said the same thing about Obama? I was deeply disappointed when he was elected, but I respected the result. The rule of law, you see, even extends to accepting duly-elected leaders, even when we don’t like them or their policies. Had we protested Obama the same way these today have protested President Trump, we would have been labeled both un-American and racist. Heck, I was labeled a racist for just not voting for the man! 

Yet, here we have a bunch of people who are boldly proclaiming that Trump is not their president, and that they will not submit to any of his policies. Are they racists, or just un-American? Because, as I see it, unless we were invaded by hostiles and forced to accept regime change, even a new constitution, the man in the White House right now is my leader. 

So, here’s my question: If the President of the United Stated of America is not your president, who is? Obviously you are not American, because ours has been elected. 

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Filed under America, current events, General Observations, politics

Escapist or Expectant?

As I was lying in bed this morning, shivering in the cold – the house is like a dadgum freezer – I proceeded to do an mental inventory. No, it wasn’t an inventory of all the things that need to be organized and packed for our upcoming move in a few days. I wasn’t even thinking about all the bills that need to be paid with money we don’t have (that’s a growing list too depressing to think about). Actually, it was a mental inventory of pain. 

It’s the last day of 2016 – this is the last post of the year – and with every day that passes I’m acquiring a new pain. As I lay there covered up, not wanting to get out of bed, I came to the realization that there was not one part of my body that didn’t hurt – literally. 

I’m not yet fifty years old, but I hurt from head to toe. Seriously, I’m looking forward to that “new body” the Bible says I’ll have one day. Maybe that is why I’m not as critical as I used to be of certain hymnals that have more songs about heaven than other, more weighty themes. Maybe it’s because I wake up and go to sleep with pain that I look forward heaven a little more than my younger, healthier theologians. 

One of the criticisms leveled at Christians is that we are “escapists” (i.e., those who care more about escaping this world than saving it). Sometimes we are accused of being so “heavenly-minded” that we’re no earthly good, all because we believe there’s a place to go after the cares of this life are over. Well, I’ve got news for everybody: I’m ready to go!!

No, I don’t want to die. No, I don’t want to give up on reaching the lost in order to selfishly escape to paradise. However, with each new day that passes by…with every New Year’s celebration that comes and goes…I’m that much closer to my faith becoming sight. …And no more pain. 

No, I don’t want to escape, but my expectations are pretty high. I’m looking forward to what God has in store for those who love Him… and believe it or not, that includes 2017. 

Happy New Year, my friends! 

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Filed under current events, Future, the future

Leaving My Study; Medical Update; and Drinking Urine: A VLOG

I know it was a long title, but watch the video and it will all make sense.

Update to the “urine” story: She walked in the wrong direction.

I know it’s not funny. I’m sorry. Really, I’m glad the lady survived; it could have turned out much worse. She was very courageous for what she did, seriously.  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/yearinoffbeatgoodnews/las-vegas-woman-who-walked-26-miles-in-snowy-grand-canyon-to-save-family-tells-ordeal/ar-BBxDcMA?li=AAk6ORB&ocid=spartanntp

 

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Filed under current events, General Observations

Even Mondays Are Made By God

Today is Monday, but I guess you knew that.

Coffee always helps.

Coffee always helps.

How did you wake up? Was it with a sense of dread? Instead of turning off the alarm clock that woke you up, did you strike it like a mosquito that had been buzzing around your head for an hour?

I don’t like Mondays any more than you. As a matter of fact, Mondays are pretty rough. Mondays should be my day off, but I am (was) what they call a bivocational pastor; therefore, my alarm clock feels like a mosquito, too.

However, the Psalmist (David) says…

This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 

Today…this Monday…every Monday…this is the day which the Lord has made. As a matter of fact, He has made every day. So, what will we do? Will we bemoan the blessing of waking up? Will we cry “foul” even before we enter the game? Will we start the day with the expectation that Monday will be like every other Monday?

This day was made by God. He knows what He is doing. Nothing will come our way that God is not already planning to use for our good – for those who love Him.

Today you may face a storm that leaves you feeling abandoned by God. You may feel like the disciples who were out on the Sea of Galilee all night fighting winds and waves. You may think that your Savior has forgotten you. Just remember that even in the worst storm, on the worst day, Jesus knows where you are.

When the time is right you might even get an invitation to surf the waves of adversity (Matthew 14:27).

So, rejoice! Be glad! Seize the day! It’s been custom-made for you!

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Filed under Christian Living, current events, Faith, God, Life Lessons, worship

The Woodmore Crash – My Observations

I live in Chattanooga, and I wanted to share with you some of what I witnessed the night of November 21, 2016.

A Tragedy

You’ve probably already heard the news and seen the pictures of bus 366, the one that crashed while carrying students home from Woodmore Elelementary. Maybe you were one of many who have shed tears at the thought of not only the loss, but what all involved have gone through. Certainly, the whole accident – everything about it – was certainly a tragedy.

As of this writing 6 young lives were lost due to the crash, and still 5 more fight for their lives at T. C. Thomson Children’s Hospital here in Chattanooga. Some parents are grieving, while others are desperately praying and hoping for the best. And then there are the first responders who worked the scene of the crash, those who had to recover the broken bodies of children: they will have to live the rest of their lives with memories they’d love to forget.

Yes, it was a tragedy, for everyone involved, including the driver and his family. Lest we forget, he will likely go to prison, and then there will be one more child without a father. Tragic.

My Role

If you didn’t know, I am a Police Chaplain with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. I have been in this role for about a year, doing what I can to minister to those who put their lives on the line to protect us. Thursday night, November 21st, was the first time I was called upon to offer my help in the middle of a catastrophe.

Like many other chaplains, pastors, and ministers from all over the area, I went to one of the locations where parents, family, friends and neighbors, media, and a host of men and women in uniform were gathered. My job, as it were, was to simply offer the “ministry of presence” to whomever I could. People were grieving, fearful, and angry, so I went to offer whatever help I could, even if it was nothing more than my being there.

What I Witnessed

I can’t begin to describe in this short blog post all the pain and suffering I witnessed in the lobby and waiting rooms where hundreds of distraught family members were gathered. Just think, for every one of the 27 that were taken to the hospital there were multiple family and friends waiting for news – news that was long in coming, for it was difficult to identify children when they had no ID’s and all wore the same school uniform.

The hospital estimated that over 800 people came to the children’s emergency room. That’s a lot of worried, grieving people!

Broken Families. There were so many broken – as in divorced and separated – families at the hospital. This became obvious as many of the parents of the children yelled at each other, either in person (where some had to be physically restrained) or over the phone. One father, obviously not the custodial parent, cursed his child’s mother for not letting him see his child. During a time when a group had gathered in a circle, holding hands in prayer, a mother stood ten feet away screaming into her smartphone: “You ain’t never f****** been there when we f****** needed you, so get your f****** ass down here right f****** now!”

Varying Responses. Different people deal with grief in different ways, and this was never more apparent than on Monday night. Some people would hold each other and silently weep. Others would appear emotionless as they walked around or sat and stared. Others would seem calm for one moment, then break out into wails of, “Not my baby! Not my baby!” There was plenty of anger to go around, so many were already talking of law suits and violence. But a few would explode into rage, putting fists through walls, throwing chairs, running through the rooms at full speed and crashing into glass walls and doors (thankfully, none shattered). People were falling onto the floor, rolling and screaming, fighting off anyone who’d try to calm them down.

Great Professionalism. It’s times like this that bring out the best in people. The police officers, EMT’s, firemen, security personnel, hospital staff, and doctors all did their jobs as true professionals. Even though they were certainly affected by all of this, they not only maintained control of their own emotions, but they compassionately managed the traumatic outbursts of others. Even though the medical staff were completely overwhelmed, I never once saw panic in their expressions – only calm assurance that everything possible was being done. Many, if not all, went above and beyond.

Heartbreaking Hopelessness. Without doubt, the hardest thing for me to witness was the hopelessness of some. Actually, there were more than a few family members who grieved in such a way that I was vividly reminded of the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:13:  “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” Tears came to my own eyes as I listened to cries of loss, the kind of loss that is permanent and hopeless. That was the true tragedy of all this.

What I Learned

I don’t know if I really learned a lot Monday night after the crash, but I was definitely reminded of a a couple of things.

First, coloring is a good thing. Yes, sometimes all one needs is a little distraction in order to deal with trauma. When that distraction is creating something beautiful, all the better.

img_3079

Click on the picture to read my interview in the Baptist Press.

Secondly, life is short. Again, I might not have learned anything new Thursday night after the crash of bus 366, but I sure was reminded of something: life is short, no matter how long we live. We never know when our lives will end, so there is never a better time to make things right with God than today.

Please say a prayer or two for the families and all those affected by the tragic crash of bus 366, especially on this Thanksgiving Day. Also, the next time you see a school bus driver doing his/her or job well, say something nice – it’s a tough job.

 

 

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Filed under baptist, current events, General Observations, Life/Death, ministry

The Would-be Veteran

Tennessee Volunteers

Please, just because I am from Tennessee, don’t mistake me for a big Vol fan. As a matter of fact, I am pretty much a non-fan, that is, I am not a real fan of any team. I’m just not a big sports guy.

Don’t be too shocked. It’s not that I dislike sports; it’s just that I have too little time to get into all the games and stats and money spent on dressing like an orange safety cone. However, when and if Tennessee ever again beats Alabama in football, you can bet I will be bouncing off the walls with unadulterated happiness.

But here’s the thing: I come from a long line of proud, patriotic, Tennessee volunteers – the kind that volunteer to serve.

We Tried

Many of my family served in the military, including one great uncle who was at Normandy in WWII. But for the last three generations on my father’s side, we were only volunteers, never veterans.

As I understand it, my grandfather, William D. Baker, volunteered at the beginning of World War 2, but was declared to be “4F” ( physically unfit for military duty). I don’t know what was wrong with him, but he was a tough man that looked like he could have whipped more than a few Nazi’s.

In the 1960’s, before the “Tet” offensive, my dad, Terry L. Baker, volunteered to go to Vietnam. Yes, before he could be drafted, he volunteered to fight. Yet, like his father, my dad was turned away from the army because he was “overweight.” Is that all? Really? My dad could bench 300 lbs., was the state heavyweight wrestling champion, competed in track and field, knew how to hunt, and was considered (along with his brother) two of the toughest, meanest boys on the river. He could have handled the Army, I’m sure.

Then, on January 17 of 1990, after two days of humiliating tests and physicals, I was turned down by the Army. Believe it or not, I volunteered for service, just like my dad and grandfather before me, but was turned away because it was believed I had glaucoma (an eye condition), which I never actually had.

Almost a Veteran

What I had no way of knowing was that exactly one year after I was turned away from the Army, one year after volunteering, Operation Desert Storm would begin. Had I been accepted, I could have been right in the middle of the conflict in Iraq. Knowing me, I probably would have been one of the few Americans killed.

tennesseeYes, I’m a true Tennessee volunteer, and that’s all I will ever be, unless America is ever invaded during my lifetime. So, I was almost a veteran, but not quite.

In the meantime, I will consider myself one those carrying on the legacy of the “Black Robed Brigade” of the American Revolution. I may never be called to take up arms against the enemies of freedom, but I can man the pulpit and let freedom ring!

God bless our veterans and the families that stayed behind waiting for their homecoming. Your sacrifices paid for the liberty we enjoy today.

May God remind us that freedom isn’t free.

 

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Filed under America, current events, Preaching