Category Archives: Life Lessons

Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

Happy Father’s Day!

There is a portrait of my family hanging in our living room with the following verse written below it.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. – Joshua 24:15 KJV

There is a lot to be said about a father who will say such things. There’s a lot to be said about a father who won’t.

Tuff Stuff

I want to share with you a list I found in a sermon by a Wesleyan pastor, Bruce Howell. I don’t know if he came up with it or if he found it somewhere else. All I know is that it is convicting.

There will be a lot of people talking about how to be a better dad, but if you want to know how to fail, here are 10 sure-fire ways to screw up.

Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

1. Have fights in front of your children. Then when guests come, turn around and act affectionate toward one another.
2. Stifle your children’squestions by saying, “Don’t bother me now; I’m busy.”
3. Take no interest in your children’s friends. Let them run around with whomever they choose.
4. Never discipline your children; try to use psychology instead.
5. Nag them about their schoolwork; never compliment them on their achievements.
6. Demonstrate your love for them with material things. Give them everything their little hearts desire.
7. Never discuss the facts of life with them. Instead, let them learn about sex from their friends, public school, or pornographic literature.
8. Set a bad example so the children will not want to grow up to be like you.
9. Absolutely refuse to believe it if you are told that your children have done something wrong.
10. Let your children make their own choices in the matter of religion. Be careful not to influence them in any way.

Help us, Father God, to be more like you.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, Parenting, Relationships and Family

A Thought for Monday

Today is Monday, but you’ve probably figured that out, haven’t you?

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, if it wasn’t for the fact that an iPhone is so expensive, I’d thrown mine across the room already. That snooze alarm can be soooooo annoying!

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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June 6th… Would We Do It Again?

d day

Seventy-five years have passed since the pride of the Allies, 156,000 strong, stepped out of landing craft and jumped out of airplanes into the mouth of a monster ready to eat them alive.

Seventy-five years have passed since young men from America, England, and Canada (and we must not forget Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland) landed on beaches called Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

Seventy-five years ago, long before the fancy rock-climbing walls which are so popular in today’s health clubs and gyms,  the 2nd Ranger battalion “led the way” up the 100 ft. cliffs of Pointe du Hoc.

Seventy-five years ago, on the 6th of June, 2,499 American and 1,914 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4,413, gave their lives for the sake of freedom.

Seventy-five years ago men were stepping on the backs of their comrades as they sloshed through red water, breathed in the mist of war, and wondered if they would live to see the ground only yards (meters) in front of them.

On June 6, 1944, seventy-five years ago, it was said of those who landed:

They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio broadcast, June 6, 1944

It is the 6th of June, 2019, but are we still a people with the stomach to liberate? If we were the ones living seventy-five years ago, where would we be today?

Ask those who take a knee, or hide in a locker room when the anthem is played.

Ask those who protest the same American flag that their African-American ancestors fought and died for – the same ancestors who fought in segregated units, but were still ferociously proud to be Americans. What did the pilots of the Red Tail Squadron do when the flag was raised and the anthem was played?

For that matter, what did Tuskegee Airmen Dr. Harold Brown, a pilot with the renowned 332nd Fighter Group in World War II (an all-black squadron) say when asked the following question during a recorded conference call: “Why [when the slavery trappings, the discrimination was all there] would you raise your right hand and swear to defend this country?”

“Oh, that’s very, very simple, in my opinion. I was a citizen of the United States of America! This was my country, too! Even though it had some shortcomings, it was still the greatest country in the world. There is no other country I would ever trade for it.” (Feb. 28, 2018)

Ask those who are burning the American flag because “America was never great.”

Ask the socialists in Congress, or the mobs who attack anyone who wears a red hat.

Ask the millions as they enjoy their legalized weed.

Ask the rainbow-painted parade attendees as they throw glitter at each other.

Ask the protesters who don’t even know why they protest.

image

The reflection pool at the WW2 Memorial in Washington, D.C. Each gold star represents 100 Americans who died or remain missing during the war.

It cost a lot to buy seventy-five years of freedom. Would we do it again?

They would have to be willing to fight to defend something, and too many no longer believe what was purchased with the blood of others is worth fighting for. We’re too busy fighting each other.

Would we be willing to do it again?

I seriously doubt it. God help us.

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You Could Be the “Shift Change”

Command Staff Meetings

Some of you know that I am a chaplain with our county’s Sheriff’s office. It is a great honor to be allowed to serve our men and women in blue, for they are the ones who put their lives on the line every day for us.

Myself and Chaplains Rich Payne, Allen Lindon, and Sergio Freeman (who is also a Chaplain with the Air Force and the US Secret Service)

But about twice a year the rotation comes around and it becomes my time to speak at the Command Staff meeting. This is the meeting where the Sheriff and his captains, along with public relation heads and personal staff, meet to discuss everything from the general budget and how much should be allocated to new body armor, to the number of hits the office’s Facebook page received and when the next Presidential visit may be.

Needless to say, these meetings involve some very important, professional, and intimidating people…including a chaplain. And let me tell you, it’s one place I ALWAYS feel intimidated. But it’s always an honor.

Go to some places and you will have a hard time finding anything having to do with God in the public square. But if you were to visit Hamilton County, TN, you would find a highly professional Sheriff’s office, along with “In God We Trust” on ever county police vehicle and a time for a chaplain to open up the Command Staff meetings with a short devotional and prayer… per the Sheriff’s orders.

No Meeting Today

However, yesterday I got an email notification that this week’s Command Staff meeting was cancelled. Therefore, even though I had set aside time in my schedule, the encouraging words I was planning to share with the Sheriff and his team will have to wait till another time…

Unless I share them with YOU! 🙂

The Shift Change

A little over a month ago I suffered a heart attack. Actually, one may label it more of an “event,” not an actual full-fledged “there’s an elephant on my chest!” type of attack. Had I not gone to a hospital when I did, I might have lived through the night, but I was well on my way to assuming room temperature. I had block arteries and my heart was in distress; it was only a matter of time.

That type of heart attack is so dangerous because it doesn’t show up on an EKG. The only way you can tell you are having that type of heart attack is when blood is drawn, then drawn again, and then the Troponin levels are compared. Troponin is a cardiac marker that increases when the heart is being damaged.

On the evening that my wife and I went to the emergency room, all the usual tests were done and came back negative for a heart attack. As a matter of fact, I was dressed and ready to go home because the first doctor didn’t see any reason to keep me. However, before I was to be released, there was a shift change and the new doctor had other plans.

“Before you go,” said the doctor, “I want to run one more blood test, just to see if there have been any changes over the last couple of hours.” “That’s fine,” I replied, not expecting anything at this point.

No more than 30 minutes later the doctor came back to our little room and said, “Well, there’s been some changes…you need to see a cardiologist…. Now.”

You see, what had happened was that from the time of my last blood test my Troponin levels had doubled, indicating a serious problem. By the time I got to the hospital in Macon, GA, by ambulance, my levels had double again. By the time I was taken to surgery later that morning, they had more than doubled again.

If it had not been for a shift change, I would be dead.

You Could Be the Shift Change

Folks, you never know how God is going to use you from one minute to the next. What may start out as any other shift, that shift could be the one that make an eternal difference in the life of another.

Had that doctor stayed home or been late, I would be dead. Had that doctor decided to just let things be and not follow protocol with a new test for his own records, I would be dead. But when he came to work, he did his job, so I’m alive.

Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. Do the best you can. Be there, be committed, and understand that you might just be the one who’s fresh perspective and energy, who’s unique abilities and instincts, could make all the difference.

Even the difference between life and death. 

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Filed under Life Lessons, ministry

A Heart Update (May 5, 2019)

I just wanted to share an update about my heart and other medical issues. 

As most of you who read this blog know, I had a heart attack a little over a month ago. That resulted in me receiving 2 stents and having to take a lot of medication – ugh!

Yesterday, I finished my first round of cardiac therapy – it wasn’t that bad, just a little trip to a nice gym where nice nurses and technicians treated me like an invalid and made me wear a heart monitor while I worked up a sweat.

I am scheduled to do therapy for two days a week, then up it to three. I may even get into shape when it’s all over!

Today I went to my cardiologist, endured a painful echo cardiogram, and, to be brief, got a good report. My heart is functioning just wonderful and there is no damage as a result of my heart incident. Hallelujah!

Now, as Paul Harvey would say, here’s the REST of the story…

I have a mass in my chest, just above my heart, close to the aorta. I will be having a PET scan sometime soon to find out if it is malignant. Regardless, because of the size and where it is, I am told it must be removed. If it is cancerous, it must be addressed sooner than later.

The only problem is that having any kind of surgery any time sooner than at least six months after a heart attack (and being on blood thinners) is a risky procedure and ill-advised. If I do have to have surgery soon, then it will require me having to be admitted to the hospital at least 5 days prior in order to be put on a drip to take me off of the Brilinta.

Nothing is easy anymore, is it?

But here’s the good news – yes, there is good news. The constant pain in my chest may be related to the mass in my chest, not my heart. Well, fact is, it’s NOT my heart! So, whatever the other thing is, once it’s removed, I will not keep having these pains that make me think my heart is hurting. That’s awesome!

Funny thing, though… the pain of the mass in my chest may have actually saved my life by getting me into the hospital to find out I was having a heart attack that I DIDN’T feel. On top of that, the heart attack may have opened the door to the early discovery of what could be cancer (hope not).

While I was in the waiting area waiting for the echo cardiogram to be done, I met an 85-year-old man named Hyman. To make a long story short, with the sweetest and calmest of temperament, he began to talk to me about life, his lack of worry, his marriage to his bride Rachael, and his life-changing faith in Jesus Christ. We had a wonderful discussion, which leads me to my final thought.

As I told the elderly saint in the waiting room, my wish is that people not necessarily pray for my healing, but for me to be a faithful witness of the love and grace of Jesus Christ while God allows me to endure whatever He has planned for me. Sure, I want to be healed, but I’d much prefer to be able to point people to Jesus.

As I told Hyman, sometimes, when the people in the hospital won’t go to church or seek after God, God sends the church to the hospital to be a witness for Him. When the hospital won’t go to church, He sends the Church to the hospital.

I appreciate your continued prayers… and pray for Rachael, Hyman’s wife. He really loves her. 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Church, Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Struggles and Trials

Life Lessons from the School Bus #2

“Which Way?”

Every school bus driver is a hero, but substitute bus drivers (“sub drivers”) are in a class by themselves. I should know….I was one.

Sub Drivers Rule!

Unlike a driver that has a regular route, a “sub” is driver that drives different routes every day. Whenever a driver gets sick, lays out, or gets fired for doing something stupid, the substitute driver has to drive that route. Most of the time, the call comes without any warning…or sunlight.

However, one of the problems that a substitute driver faces is figuring out where to go. Imagine being put in a vehicle with 70 children just out of class, wanting to go home. Imagine you are in a part of town you’ve never been in before. Imagine that you have no instructions or directions, but must depend on the kids (Heaven help us) to get you where you need to go. Been there…done that…literally got the t-shirt.

Now, try to imagine that the very ones that are trying to tell you where to turn don’t EVEN know their rights from their lefts! It happened to me…..surely it did!

“I’m NOT Stupid”

I will never forget pulling up to an intersection and being forced to decide which way to go. I ask, “Which way?” The response comes back, “Go right.” So, that’s what I proceeded to do, when, I swear, the conversation went something like this:

Kid 1:  NOOO! Go RIGHT! You’re going the wrong way!

Me:     Wait, you said “Go right,” so that what I was doing.

Kid 1:  No you weren’t…you’re going left…I said “go right.”

Me:     I DID go right!

Kid 1:  No, you went left.

Kid 2:  You did tell the bus driver to go right, man, and that’s what he did.

Kid 1:  No he didn’t! He went left!

Kid 2: Dude, you must not know your right from your left.

Kid 1:  Shut up! Yes I DO!!

Me:     (To Kid 1) Ok, let’s get this straight. Which is right, and which is left? Hold up your right hand.

Kid 1:  (Holds up his left hand)

Me:     Hold up your left hand.

Kid 1:  (Holds up his right) See, I told you. I’m NOT stupid!

Life Lesson

There is a right way, and there is a wrong way. The right way may be the left way; but if the facts are not right, somebody’s gonna get left. I know I’m right on this one.  As a matter of fact, there is a verse in the Bible that seems to talk about the same thing.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. – Pro 14:12 (NIV)

Make sure of two things: 1) the direction you are going; and 2) that your source of determining right and wrong (or right and left) is reliable. You don’t want to go the wrong way for an eternity, do you?

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“The Worst Field Trip Guide”

It’s Wednesday, so here’s a funny yet instructional snippet from my book Life Lessons from the School Bus. Even though I can’t drive right now, I can still share a little wisdom from the good old days 😉

One day I transported 80 kindergartners on a field trip to a mountain forest. Do you have any idea how loud 80 excited 5 year-olds can get when confined in a 40ft.-long steel box on wheels?

Teacher Talk

I couldn’t help overhear the advice school teachers were giving to the little crumb crunchers on the bus, then later after they unloaded. One warned, “Don’t pick anything up from the ground; you won’t be able to keep it, anyway.” Another said, “Don’t bounce on the swinging bridge; just look over the side.” Seriously? How can you tell a 5 year-old not to jump on a swinging bridge and then expect him not to jump on the swinging bridge?

SIDE NOTE: I remember when our oldest daughter, Alicia, who was around 12 or 13 at the time, went with me to visit the old capital building in Frankfort, Kentucky. In that old landmark is a genuine floating staircase on which Alicia decided to jump up and down. I asked, “What are you doing?” She calmly replied, “Trying to see if it will fall.” I said, “Two things…First, it’s been here since 1827 and hasn’t fallen, yet you think your scrawny self is going to break it? Second, why would you want to be on it if you could make it fall?”

Anyway… the best piece of advice from the teachers was clear enough: “Do NOT get off the trail!” But again, honestly, how many kids actually listen to instructions that make sense? I mean, you take a child that’s never been out of the suburbs to a forest with plants taller than their apartment buildings and you expect them not to run amuck? Therefore, I decided to speak up and add some clarification to the teachers’ warning. I said, “Because if you get off the trail, we might have to send the DOGS after you.”

Who knew one little girl was afraid of dogs? I didn’t! …Cry baby.

Bad Advice

So, that got me to thinking: what would be the worst advice to give 80 children before a trip into the woods?

  • photo 3 (4)Don’t worry about your lunch box; the forest is full of pretty berries.
  • As long as the animal is smaller than you, go ahead and pet it. It won’t mind.
  • Hey, bounce on the swinging bridge! It’s just like a trampoline.
  • Of course! Rules are meant to be broken.
  • Bears? What bears? This is Tennessee, kid. We don’t have bears. You’re thinking of Chicago.
  • I don’t care what your mom said, poison oak is a hoax. Don’t your parents have oak furniture? Does it make you itch? See, she lied.
  • Who can get closest to the edge? Let’s find out.
  • Whatever you do, don’t stay on the trail. Trails are for babies.
  • Snakes are overrated, misunderstood jump ropes. They want you to play with them.

 

Life Lesson

Thankfully, when it comes to the wilderness of life, there is One who always gives good advice.

In his famous Psalm 23, David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” God urges us to stay on the path that He has already walked, which is why Jesus said in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me.”

He knows the difference between good fruit and the forbidden kind.

Route Suggestions

  • Don’t give vague instructions to children; they need specifics.
  • Go check out the old capital building in Frankfort, Kentucky – but don’t jump on the staircase.
  • Never get to the point where you are too proud to listen to instructions or advice. For example, you may have been down this road before, but your tour guide has been down it more recently. There may have been some changes of which you are unaware, like a washed out bridge or recently released bears. Oh my!
  • Read Psalm 23. Was David walking alone? How could this Psalm relate to your life?

Now, go order the book! 

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