Tag Archives: Chattanooga

My Mayor’s Email, and My Response

You can read my response in the conclusion of this post.


Filed under America, politics

How Polluted Is Your City?

As much as I hate to admit it, everything that Mark West says in this article about Chattanooga (my home town) is true. For example, he points out that Chattanooga was once considered the most polluted city in America – I remember those days when one couldn’t even see Lookout Mountain because of the brown smog that hung low over the city.

But it’s another kind of pollution that Mark describes in “Chattanooga: A Polluted City,” and that pollution is proving far more difficult to eradicate.

I love my city, and I’m happy to live here. I mean, seriously, Chattanooga is regularly listed as one of those beautiful places everyone one – especially the nature-loving folk – should visit at least once. In addition to the natural beauty, there’s the history, the southern culture, and the courteous people. Yet, a serious problem wafts through the streets, and it’s going to take a lot more than nice words and eco-friendly investments to solve.

Click on the above links and read my friend’s assessment of the situation. If you have any other suggestions, I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear. Just let him know I sent you 😉

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Filed under America, community, current events, Guest Posts, places

Remembering Our Brush With Terror in Chattanooga

Two years ago, today, a man drove around in his convertible Mustang and shot up my town. His goal was to kill as many servicemen as possible, so first he drove by the recruiting office on Lee Highway and unleashed a hail of bullets into the glass-fronted building. The “No Weapons” sticker applied to both serviceman and citizen alike, so no one was able to stop him before he drove off.

Photo credit: The Telegraph, UK

I stood here and wept as I took this picture. Note the green marks where spent shell casings lay.

The next place he went to was the Marine Corp/Navy Reserve training facility on Amnicola Highway, right between the community college so many of us have attended and the riverfront bike trails and pavilions so many of us have enjoyed. There the Muslim terrorists – for that is what he was, and that is what he intended on being – once again began firing on unarmed Marines and sailors with his high-powered semi-automatic rifle. At least one Marine had unofficially brought his personal sidearm with him that day and tried to stop the terrorist, but to no avail. Before long four Marines lay dead.

(Left to Right) Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, and Lance Clp. Squire K. Wells

A Navy sailor would later succumb to his wounds.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith


The local police in Chattanooga sped to the location where the terrorist was committing murder and engaged him with their own weapons.

Bullets from the conflict left holes in buildings as far away as the Coca-Cola offices across the highway and not even in view of the firefight. But before long, the self-proclaimed jihadist lay dead, too.

But Chattanooga survived.

Within the hour my city was the focus of world-wide attention. Terrorism had come to the South, and it was worth noting. But what was also worth noting was the righteous indignation of our citizens, and the flickering flames that dared the enemy of freedom to fan us into a raging fire. We were shocked by what happened, but we were far from terrorized; we Tennesseans aren’t the type to retreat from a fight.

It wasn’t long before the first American flags started appearing at the two places where gunfire was exchanged.

In no time there were hundreds, and then there were thousands. Flags and mementos too numerable to count turned into defiant monuments to those who died protecting our freedom.

Tents were erected to shelter the thousands upon thousands of flags, letters, and memorabilia from the weather.

It wasn’t long before black, white, and every other color and faith united arm-in-arm as family, as Chattanoogans… as Americans.

In short, terror didn’t have it’s desired effect; it had the opposite.


Skip forward two years and a few months after a presidential election. What happened to the unity?

Unfortunately, we are now divided more than ever. What the terrorist couldn’t do with his guns, politicians and the media, with weapons of jealousy, anger, lies, and hate, are succeeding. Unconquerable from without, we are being destroyed from within.

Chattanooga, are we still strong? Then let us come together once again as Americans, or else the “fallen five” will have fallen in vain.

#Noogastrong, #Chattanoogastrong

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Filed under America, community, current events, politics

Morning In Chattanooga

Before church on Sunday morning, down beneath the Market Street Bridge, just before transporting swimmers and their support kayakers to their starting point. 9.3 mile swim! 

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Just Look Ahead

This is the third time I’ve edited this post in an hour. It’s just hard to write. 

Sometimes we…

No, we can never stop the bad news; all we can do is decide what we’re going to do with it.

This morning I received some tragic news of a police officer getting shot and killed…by other police. I wish now I could have met him, but he worked a shift I haven’t yet visited. I have reasons for why I haven’t, but that doesn’t change anything. 

I’m a police Chaplain, that’s what I’m supposed to do: visit with all the officers I can, to minister to them in some way, if possible. 

But I didn’t with this young man. 

Now he’s gone. It’s in the hands of a merciful God. That’s all I know. 

I can’t go back and change what happened, what I did or didn’t do, but what I can do is look to the future as I keep my eyes on Jesus, my eyes wet with tears for the lost.

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Filed under community, Life Lessons, Life/Death

The Harmful Effects of Drought (on video)

Tonight I was very privileged to preach at Mile Straight Baptist Church, a wonderful and gracious congregation in Soddy-Daisy, TN. Dr. Tom Goss is the pastor, and a great friend.

Unfortunately, the numbers were down a good bit for the service, but that was too be expected. For a good while the Chattanooga area has been suffering from a severe drought, and recently forest fires have caused much of the surrounding area to look like it’s covered in fog, even in the daylight. Smoke is everywhere, even in the church building.

So, I preached to a smaller crowd in person, but others watched live over their computers at home (isn’t technology great?). Mile Straight has certainly taken advantage of technology.

Therefore, I give you a rare treat – video of me preaching. The sermon took advantage of the most obvious illustration one could ask for.

Funny things: I was told to dress casual – this was old, fat man casual. 😉


Filed under Church, Preaching

Tornado Parking Lot

Today marks the 5th anniversary of when we in the South were struck by multiple deadly tornadoes. The following is a post I wrote on April 29, 2011, just two days after the first storms came.

Tornado Alley?

I don’t know who coined the term “tornado alley,” but they need to come up with a new one…

“Tornado Parking Lot”

…or something like that. Tornadoes used to be something that was common only in mid-western, grassland states, right? Didn’t Dorothy and Toto live in Kansas? Well, it seems that tornadoes aren’t just for Kansas, anymore. They have come to like the South.

April 27-28, 2011 will be remembered as the most destructive time in the South since the Civil War. Never in my lifetime have I seen such destruction over such a wide area. Whenever we use to hear of a tornado hitting a city, there would be pictures of one stretch wiped out or damaged. This time, it is whole states involved, not just one city or trailer park, and hundreds of tornadoes.


It can’t be overstated that we in the South need your prayers. There is so much to do and so many who need help. The destruction is so wide-spread that many are overwhelmed with the logistics of providing assistance. All many could do in the first day was put every chainsaw into use clearing trees from roads, drive ways, and off houses. Now, it is the job of the professionals to try to get power lines back up. But with so many displaced, and with electricity scarce, taking care of basic needs for so many will be a monumental task.

Pray for the families of those that are missing. In one town (Ringgold, GA) not far from where I live, at least 26 people were reported missing after a tornado struck a doomed food store. There is no telling where they went. So many others were killed, as well as injured in the destruction.


Pull Together

One thing that never fails to amaze is the tendency of people to come together in a time of need. Being a good neighbor means more than lending forever a cup of sugar or hand tool. Good neighbors help pull a tree off of your roof; help locate your pet; comfort your little kids while you search for survivors; bring a hot meal to workers; donate blood; or, share a home with the homeless. Pulling together is the “neighborly” thing to do.

Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. – 1Cr 10:24 NASB
For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” – Gal 5:14 NASB


But before you come to the South, at least the rural parts, make sure you’re a good neighbor. Down here, in times like this, “a friend in need is a friend indeed,” even if he’s a total stranger. On the other hand, you’d better be careful if you’re not on the up-and-up.  A few blocks away from my house here in Chattanooga, a local policeman’s house was damaged, along with his car. That night, some looters came around trying to find stuff. The warning I photographed says it all. This ain’t no alley, this is a neighborhood, and we look out for each other.

I’d take this guy seriously!


It could have been far worse. As I drove around yesterday, I can’t tell you how many large trees fell just feet away from family homes. Even though many places suffered damage, many, many more were spared. One could be critical and skeptical about it all, but I choose to praise God. Many more lives could have been lost. Many more could have been injured. I shall stand among the living in the “parking lot” and give Him praise, for in Him do we have hope for tomorrow, and in the tomorrow to come.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us. – Rom 8:18 KJV

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