Tag Archives: History

It’s What’s In the Bottle that Matters Most

Ole Doc Bell

Last month, as you may remember, I went to a Civil War reenactment nearby (you can read about that in this previous post, if you’d like). But the part where the soldiers get together and shoot at each other is only a small part of the experience.

Just like back in the old days, the soldiers (reenactors) usually camp out somewhere not too far from where the mock battles will take place. It’s there where you will find period reenactors living life like they did back in the 1860’s, and that includes people like Ole Doc Bell (I don’t know his real name, or if he is really a doctor).

The bottles in the above picture were meant to hold your choice of beverage. I thought is was a pretty cool idea. You’d get free refills in the bottle you purchased, and when it was all said and done – or drank – the keepsake would be a lot prettier than a plastic cup.

Regardless, whatever the bottle looked like, and regardless what the label said, it was all Doc Bell’s products on the inside: root beer, birch beer, lemonade, or cream soda.

Ole Kanye

That being said, I just want to make a loose connection to the bottles and say a quick word about Kanye West and his profession of faith.

I don’t know Kanye’s heart, only God does. However, his actions of late have boldly proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ to the world, while I know others who claim to be Christians that haven’t shared their faith in 20 years.

I listened to his album Jesus Is King. I was impressed with the lyrics, especially the ones in “Hands On.” There’s room to take issue with his lament over other believers making him feel unloved by doubting him – I mean, it was just a short while ago he claimed divinity for himself. Yet, when he said what he really needed right now was “hands on,” as in people praying for him, I totally agreed.

Kanye West is a different bottle all together. But what really matters is what’s inside. If that is the legitimate product, he could make a huge and lasting impact on many, many people.

And therein lies the danger: he’s a threat if he’s legit. Ask Paul.

All I can say is “hands on,” everybody. Hand’s on.

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Memory Lane In a School Bus

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of my book Life Lessons from the School Bus. There you can find some of the stories posted earlier today, plus a lot more (really, there’s a lot more content).

However, being this is my last day as a school bus driver (going to pastor full-time in Georgia), I now want to share some of my favorite photos from my bus-driving years, including some from today. I only wish I’d thought to take more when I first started doing this back in 2001.

I know this will be as boring as a vacation slide show, but maybe you’ll find some of the pics amusing.

Listen to the song, first 😁The School Bus Man Can

The man. The Legend.

I first started driving for Durham in Chattanooga in August of ’07. However, I started driving a school bus in August of 2001 in Christian County, KY. I don’t have any pictures from those days.

One of my favorite pictures taken by my daughter, Katie. This should have been the cover of my book.

Driving at night in the rain can be dangerous, especially with all the reflections. Notice the reflection of the gas station all the way across the parking lot to my right – reflected in the window, NOT the mirror to my left!

I officially drove a total of 3 routes during my 10 years with Durham School Services. First, I drove 370 for two days. Then I drove 369 for a couple of years. Finally, I drove 374 until the time I had shoulder surgery and left. However, 374 went through 4 different bus models during that time. This one had a Mercedes engine.

Hey, it was St. Patrick’s Day! Give me a break!

The bus. The Legend.

There were times that I had plenty of time on field trips to study for a sermon. But that’s what it’s like when one is bi-vocational – you study when you can.

One day when my bus sprang a coolant leak. This was the view from the passenger’s seat of a BIG tow truck. At least it had air conditioning 🙂

Literally, this was the closest thing I ever came to an accident that was my fault. No damage, just stuck. I got complacent turning into my own driveway and wasn’t paying attention. The student doors were so close to the ground that they wouldn’t open.

The only way to get in and out of the bus was through the side emergency exit with a step stool! LOL

If you haven’t bought one, you should 🙂

Book signing at Barnes & Noble.

My book at Barnes & Noble – in the comedy section!

“Bobble Head” Phil rode with me for years. He usually sat facing the kids (which some didn’t like).

Phil stuck with me through thick and thin, even waving down traffic when I was broken down.

Former drivers Chris (370), Joseph (369), and me at McDonalds. We always stopped either their or Hardee’s for coffee and biscuits in between our morning routes.

The last day of school (I forget what 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.

Driving a bus in the snow in Tennessee is more rare than a total solar eclipse or hen’s teeth. But it actually happened to me at least twice in 10 years.

 

This is where I would pull the bus into the driveway of the parsonage of Riverside Baptist in order to wash it. That was my old Cadillac, “The Ride.”

On the first day we got nugget I took him for a ride on my bus – with kids on the bus (this was when I was driving 369).

Our little dog, Nugget, would love to run out and meet me in the mornings after parking my bus.

Stress relief 🙂

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?

My final lineup at Lookout Valley Middle/High.

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

I was giving myself a thumbs up, but the driver I was training nearly took me off the side of a mountain that very same day!

Hot day on the lot as a driver trainer. All day on the asphalt in between my own routes.

My last day (in December 2017) before shoulder surgery, and my last day officially working for Durham.

I took this picture when I was coloring with children of family members of the children killed in the Woodmore accident. Everyone in the room at Erlanger Hospital was waiting to hear if a particular boy survived – he didn’t. He was one of the 6 who died. I was there as a police chaplain that night, and the best thing I could find to do was distract the other children with coloring.

This was the first day I started driving a bus again – after nearly a year! I went to work with Chattanooga Bus Company and my former manager at Durham, Dominic D’Amico. I couldn’t decide if I was happy or not 😉

This was my bus I drove when I finally got back to work this last school year (after my heart attack) and had a route. I called this bus “Spinal Tap” because of the number “11,” but hardly anyone got the joke.

This was taken the first year I was a “park out” driver. I prayed over every seat and asked God to use me in some way to make a difference in the live of the children I transported. He did. At least 7 came to Christ over the years!

My last-ever pre-trip log sheet (nothing digital this time).

The last bus cockpit I’ll officially sit behind.

 

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Blog Post Blitz Coming!

This is just a quick announcement.

Tomorrow (July 18th, 2019) I will be publishing 11 posts, 10 of them in 5 hours. The first one will come at 9am (eastern), then a final one will come at 2pm.

All of this is to celebrate and commemorate my school bus driving career coming to an end. Tomorrow will be my last day on a school bus.

Next week: Full-time pastor.

So, I hope the blog blitz is not overwhelming.

Enjoy!

The future’s so bright I had to wear shades! Or, maybe it’s my shirt?

 

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Will God Put More On You than You Can Handle?

In a recent Facebook comment I was told by a friend (one who was only trying to encourage me) that “God will not put more on you than you can handle.” This was in reference to one more in a long list of “trials” we have had to endure, and in this case it was the issue with our van’s transmission failing.

Then, right after that, another friend tried to help by saying: “Not true. But the word says, you shall have what you say.

With these two well-meaning comments I was faced with a conundrum: Should I let them stand or challenge them? Like I said, I know they were well-meaning, but they must be evaluated in the light of Scripture.

Let’s begin with the first…

“God will not put more on you than you can handle.”

Where, exactly, does that statement come from? Well the basis of it is found Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. There, in chapter 10, he was discussing the way the children of Israel had been rebellious in their discontent and had angered God in the wilderness. Paul wrote:

Nevertheless God was not pleased with most of them, since they were struck down in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, so that we will not desire evil things as they did. Don’t become idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to party. Let us not commit sexual immorality as some of them did, and in a single day twenty-three thousand people died. Let us not test Christ as some of them did and were destroyed by snakes. And don’t complain as some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer. – 1 Corinthians 10:5-10 CSB

The time in the wilderness was a time of trial, of testing, of proving. The wandering Hebrews were never tempted by God to sin, but were very often tested to prove their trust in the One who brought them out of captivity. Would they trust Him to provide?

Unfortunately, most of the time they did not trust God, but complained at every turn. They doubted God’s provision, even though time after time He miraculously provided for their needs (water, manna, clothes and shoes that never wore out, etc.). They “tempted,” or “tested” God – they wanted to put Him to the test to “prove” His faithfulness, as if He had not already done so!

Even worse, they blamed God for their rebellion and idolatry! They would say that is was only because God had led them into the wilderness to die of hunger or thirst that they were forced to fornicate and create their own false gods.

And it was the very judgment of God on the children of Israel when they tested God that Paul points to when he warns the Corinthians not to test or tempt Christ. He said:

These things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our instruction… – 1 Corinthians 10:11a CSB

Therefore, when we get to 1 Corinthians 10:13, what we find is the reassurance, along with a warning, that God will certainly test, or prove us, and just like the children of Israel, there will be a “way of escape,” i.e., an option to put one’s faith in God/Christ to provide as opposed to turning to idols.

No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 CSB
So then, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. – 1 Corinthians 10:14 CSB

So how does all the things my family and I have been going through relate to all of this? Has God put more on us than we can handle? Well, honestly, no…not unless we are unwilling to take the “way of escape” He has provided.

If we choose to lose faith, question God’s goodness and provision… If we start to murmur and complain… If I start with all the “Why God? Whyyyy???”… If I start trotting off after other “gods” to meet my immediate needs… then I choose to allow the “temptation” to be more than I’m able to bear by not accepting God’s provision.

But to take things one step further, let me repeat what I wrote in the comments on Facebook:

“For the record, I do believe that God will allow us to experience more than we can handle (on our own)…otherwise, we wouldn’t need Him.”


I’ll address the next point – “But the word says, you shall have what you say” – in the next post.

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These Are the Glory Days: We Were Made for This!

The King James Version puts it this way:

Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this. – Ecclesiastes 7:10 

The New Living Translation is a little more succinct:

Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise. – Ecclesiastes 7:10 NLT

Either way, the point is the same: There are dangers inherent to longing for what was instead of dealing with today.

Below is a link to the sermon I preached last Sunday morning. I hope it encourages you.

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Those Were the Days

It was 1989, I believe.

It was back in the day when I worked in nuclear field services with Combustion Engineering, and then later with ABB.

It was back in the day when I flew to different nuclear plants to work for weeks at a time, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It was a day when I could go up to any cockpit of any jet and ask to take a picture…and never get any grief.

It was a day when one pilot said, “Here, son, why don’t you just sit in my seat and put on my hat and let me take your picture.”

The engines were still spooling and my hand was on the throttles!

It was a day long before 9/11.

Man, those were the days!

I miss them.

CCI11262012_00000

Were those glasses huge, or was my head smaller?

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Visiting Charleston (Part 3)

History

One thing is for sure, Charleston is full of history. The harbor is full of stories dating back long before the Civil War, even before the Revolution. Battery Point (White Point Garden) has beautiful, massive homes still in use that were built before this country was even a nation! Pictures don’t do this place justice.

Then, of course, there are places like Fort Sumter (where the Civil War began), Patriots Point (home of the USS Yorktown), the Charleston City Market, the H. L. Hunley Museum (the world’s first successful combat submarine), and even The Confederate Museum.

Confederate Controversy

Speaking of the Confederacy, my youngest and I took a few minutes and toured the small Confederate Museum in Market Hall. Originally a place where business was conducted, in 1899 this building was turned into a museum by those who actually fought for Charleston during the Civil War, thereby making the museum historic in its own right.

photo (57)Some of you reading this may have felt uneasy going into the Confederate Museum, and that is unfortunate. So much has been done since the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E Church to sponge away any remnant or reminder of Confederate history, yet what happened back in the 1860’s is part of the fabric of our nation. Much honor is to be found in the stories of the brave young men who fought for their homeland.

Back when there were no cell phones, television, or internet, the average young man’s world was a small one, limited to just a few miles in any direction from the very place he was born. All he would have known; all the people he would have known; everything pertinent to his universe would have been right there in his community, or, at most, his state. How could he be compelled to take up arms against his home?

The Flag Letter

Among the many stunning artifacts from when the Civil War enveloped Charleston was a signal flag – not your stereotypical Confederate battle flag –  a single, simple, signal flag used during the evacuation of Fort Sumter. Attached to this flag was a small letter from the original owner. I will paraphrase part of what it said:

“You may not consider this flag much more than a trinket, but it means much more than that to me. It represents the best years of a patriotic young boy’s life, from age 16 to 20.”

I stood there with my daughter and read aloud the full letter describing the history of the flag written by the one who raised it in victory, then lowered it in defeat. This young man didn’t sound like a slave owner, or a bigot, or a murderer. These were just the words of a patriotic young man who did what he was called to do when his home was threatened.

I’m not ashamed of the South. What I am ashamed of are those who, for political expediency or “white guilt,” want to erase the heritage of a strong, dignified, loyal people without even setting foot on our soil. I am ashamed of those who forget that it was the soldiers who fought each other that came together after the war to heal their wounds and erect monuments to each other’s bravery. I am ashamed of Americans who choose make all Southerners out to be something we are not.

Forgiven His-Story

The folks in the news media only want ratings; they don’t care about truth. Sure, there are bad people, bigoted people out there, but there are also good people – and a lot more of them than the other.

There in the City Market I talked with a black lady about all that had been going on after the shooting at the church. It was at her church that the last of the funerals were to be held that afternoon. It was from her that I bought a New Testament written in the Gullah language (the language of the low country). We talked for a long time about the contrasts between people who chose to forgive and those who chose to burn down their cities. We talked about race, about how the media only wants to further divide us, and how that God loves us all. We talked about Jesus, about loving each other, and then hugged as we parted.

Two strangers in a market…a market in a town that could have gone the way of Baltimore and Ferguson, but didn’t…because people chose to show forgiveness…because good people didn’t resort to painting everyone else with a broad brush.

Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that real Southerners are ones who’ve learned how to grow up, admit our mistakes, and move on. We don’t need the modern PC police trying to score political points by opening up old wounds. We can’t change what happened 150 years ago, but we can forgive…as Christ forgives us…and be better people than the history revisionist want us to be.

Now that South Carolina has voted in the house and senate to remove the Confederate flag and “move it to a museum,” I hope they don’t forget to go visit it once in a while. Those who once flew that flag in war were the very same ones who came back together to heal this nation.

I’m just glad my little girl got to see how history can become His-story before all the history is history.

photo (58)

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