The Flag Flies High

On Fridays I plan to post origial poems. They may not be very good, but I enjoy writing them. It’s good to do things you enjoy even if you may not be very good.

The Flag Flies High

The flag flies high for
our sisters and brothers
who are serving with honor
away from fathers and mothers

Their training was thorough
minds and bodies are strong
families and friends are praying
for nothing to go wrong

Some are posted closeby
others are stationed far away
all believing they will make it
to yet another day

Giving of themselves through
difficulties great and small
with the knowledge deep within
that the flag flies high

For all

 

Menu Options at Peyton Manning’s Restaurant

It has been reported that former University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning is planning on opening a western-themed restaurant called “Saloon 16” in Knoxville. If his restaurant is anything like Peyton was as a quarterback it will be fantastic, but still not as good as restaurants in Florida. If you didn’t understand that last sentence– Congratulations! You aren’t a long-time Tennessee Volunteer fan and, as a result, have been spared a lot of misery over the past couple of decades.

I have no idea what this restaurant will be like, but because I am a VFL (Vol For Life) and a Peyton Manning admirer I’m sure I will eventually check it out after it opens.

Until then, I have a few suggestions for menu options at Peyton Manning’s restaurant.

1. Forehead Fries. This menu item would feature the number of french fries that could fit on Peyton Manning’s forehead. If you know the size of his forehead then you know “forehead fries” could easily feed a family of 60.

2. Horseburgers. Manning started his career with the Indianapolis Colts before finishing up with the Denver Broncos. Colts….Broncos. Horses. Horseburgers.

3. Pop Tarts and Juice Boxes. For when his brother Eli comes to town.

4. Omaha Steaks. But you will have to order something else first and then do an audible. OMAHA! OMAHA!

5. Goat. Since Manning couldn’t be the G.O.A.T. (because of Tom Brady), he may as well let his fans eat goat. And no, I’m not a Tom Brady fan, but facts are facts.

6. Chicken Parmesan. Ordering this without singing the “chicken parm you taste so good” jingle should result in being forcibly removed from the restaurant.

Some of these menu options may not be very appealing, but I know there are at least a couple of good ones. And Peyton — If you read this, I’m just joking about your forehead. You have a lovely forehead.

No matter what is on the menu, I’m pretty sure this restaurant will be a success. Tennessee Fans are Peyton Manning fans and he has plenty of fans in and around Knoxville.

Including me. I’m a Peyton Manning fan. Which is fine as long as I remember to keep my fandom in check and healthy.

Some people obsess over certain athletes, entertainers, actors, and politicians. Some even go so far as being followers instead of just fans. I find this level of fandom dangerous because none of these people are perfect.

Jesus is the only one who is perfect.

Go ahead and be a fan of Manning and other people with talents and abilities you admire. But be sure you don’t follow them.

Follow Jesus. Only He is worthy of everything you have and everything you are.

 

What are some other possible menu items for Peyton Manning’s restaurant? Who are some athletes you admire? Tell us in the comments.

Guns N’ Roses and the Goodness of God

Last week I ministered to a young lady and her family after it was found out that her precious baby girl had died in her womb. Her death was sad and shocking, but the Lord was near.

Yesterday I went to the funeral of a 20-year-old young man who is the youngest son of a couple my wife and I have been blessed to know for about 16 years. His death was sad and shocking, but again the Lord was near.

I know the Lord was near because He has promised to be near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

I also know the Lord was near because I could feel His presence in these times of tremendous sorrow.

Before the services for both of the departed, I tried to prepare myself and my emotions. I wanted to be strong for parents, families, and others who were mourning. This worked until midway through the funeral service yesterday.

That is when the deceased young man’s mother sang an unexpected song.

Accompanied by a softly-played piano, she sweetly sang a rendition of the Guns ‘N Roses song “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” The only changes she made from the original were changing the “she” to “he” and slightly shortening it. Here are the lyrics:

He’s got a smile it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see his face
He takes me away to that special place
And if I’d stare too long
I’d probably break down and cry

Oh, oh, oh
Sweet child o’ mine
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Sweet love of mine

He’s got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain
His hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I’d hide
And pray for the thunder
And the rain
To quietly pass me by

Oh, oh, oh
Sweet child o’ mine
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Sweet love of mine

I know these lyrics were written by Axl Rose about his then-girlfriend, but in that moment it transformed into a song from a grief-stricken mother to her much-loved son. And that is when my pent-up tears began flowing.

I never expected to cry while listening to a Guns N’ Roses song, but I should always expect the Lord to be near the brokenhearted.

Because His promises are always kept.

 

Feel free to share a comment and thank you for reading!

Nothing to Prove

This past Friday night I was challenged to a race. My 11-year-old daughter and I were in my Dodge Caravan stopped at a traffic light when a black SUV filled with teenage boys pulled up beside of us. That is when the driver began revving his motor and the punks in the SUV began looking and laughing in our direction.

I, a middle-aged man in a Dodge Caravan driving home with his little girl, was challenged to a street race by a group of boys at a traffic light.

I didn’t take the bait.

When the light turned green, the boys sped off and I slowly made my way through the intersection and onward toward home. I wasn’t aggravated by what happened and neither was I worried.

I’m a grown man who has been married for nearly twenty years. I have five children who I love tremendously. The Lord has blessed me more than I could ever be able to fathom. I am secure in who I am and in who God has called me to be.

I have absolutely nothing to prove to a bunch of guys at a traffic light.

Jesus Christ has saved me from my sin. He has redeemed me by His own blood which He shed on the cross. Jesus Christ took my sin and imputed unto me His righteousness. Because of Jesus I am just as secure before God the Father as He is.

I’m not worried about proving my worth by racing down the road. My worth is determined by the price which was paid for me on Calvary.

And for that I am amazingly thankful!

When is the last time you were challenged to a race? How thankful are you for Jesus? Leave a comment below!

We’ll See

“We’ll see” has become my go-to answer for the majority of questions I am asked by people in my househould.  And I am asked so, so, so, so, so (that’s 1 so for every kid I have) many questions.

Them: “Can I go to my friend’s house this weekend?”
Me: “We’ll see.”

Them: “Do you think we’ll go to an Atlanta Braves game this year?”
Me: “We’ll see.”

Them: “Are we going out to eat for supper tonight?
Me: “We’ll see.”

Them: “Can we continue to live here rent-free and mooch off of you and mom?”
Me: “We’ll see.”

Even though that last one isn’t real and has only taken place in my head, I think you get the idea. After pondering this for a while, I think I have come to a conclusion as to why I use this term instead of anything else I could say.

“We’ll see” is a hopeful way of saying “maybe.”

“Maybe” is a fine answer to many questions, but it doesn’t have the hopeful optimism of “we’ll see.” To my mind, “we’ll see” points the questioner toward a future of amazing possibilities. It’s not just a mundane, so-so answer. It is an answer that points the conversation toward a many-colored horizon of opportunity and potential. Or something like that.

You may think that I am overthinking this or that much pondering hath made me mad. You may be correct. I’m still going to use it, though, because you aren’t the boss of me.

Which gets me to the real reason for this post.

A few years ago, I blogged on this site every weekday. It was fun, encouraging, and enlightening as the site gained a little bit of a steady readership and I was given the opportunity to interact with people from all over the country.

And then I stopped and started back.

And stopped and started back.

A few times.

And now I think it’s time to start back.

Will I blog every weekday like I did before? Will I re-start some of the semi-popular regular features? Will I keep it up or once again abruptly quit?

My answer is….

We’ll see.

What are your go-to answers to common questions? Do you think “we’ll see” is better than maybe? Feel free to leave a comment!

Handsome Joseph Smith

I have never thought of past world or religious leaders as handsome or beautiful. As a general rule, my interest in these types of folks has nothing to do with whether or not their bone structure is rugged or if their hair is on fleek (or whatever the kids these days are saying). Apparently, not everyone is like me in this regard.

I found this out after a trip to McDonald’s where my 14-year-old daughter and her friend were talking about the cuteness level of Joseph Smith. Yes, that Joseph Smith. According to them, the founder of Mormonism was cute.

This revelation led to an interesting exchange:

Me: “You really think Joseph Smith was cute?”

My daughter: “Yes. And do you know who else thought he was cute?”

Me: “Who?”

My daughter: “His 40 wives.”

I laughed way harder than anyone ever should in a McDonald’s. Usually that kind of laughter is reserved for someplace fancy, like Chick-fil-A.

And she might be right. According to this article from the New York Times, after denying it for many years Mormon leaders in 2014 finally admitted that “Joseph Smith, portrayed in church materials as a loyal partner to his loving spouse Emma, took as many as 40 wives, some already married and one only 14 years old.”

Of course there no way to know for sure that they all thought Joseph was cute, but it’s certainly possible.

What is absolutely certain is that Joseph Smith and the religion he founded have led people into error and away from God.

To spare those of you who agree with time, I won’t go into the details of why I believe this way here. However, if you disagree with me, a good place for you to find a little of why I believe this way is this 2012 post by Joe Carter.

Really, though, it should come as no surprise that Joseph Smith is seen as handsome. Satan has a way of making that which is wrong look not only right, but appealing. Adultery, gossip, pride, an insatiable thirst for power – all of these things and so many more are indeed as wrong, even evil. But to so many they can be made to look so good.

Being aware of this tactic of our enemy is a good start. Setting up safeguards to prevent us from falling into his crafty hands is also important.

Perhaps the best strategy, though, is seeking to look at things through God’s eyes. Then we might be able to see that Joseph Smith wasn’t handsome; he was wrong.

And so is so much else of what our world sees as right. Or handsome.

 

Learning to Smile

If my wife’s dogs were children Honey would be the middle child. She’s a Chihuahua like the older two; she’s not a Doberman or a Siberian Husky like the younger two.

She’s a sweet dog except for that time she bit the seat of a church member’s britches. (It’s been a long time since I typed the word “britches.” It felt good.)

It isn’t like Honey doesn’t get any attention. She does. It just isn’t as much as she used to get when she was a puppy. Back then it was just the three Chihuahuas with Honey being the youngest. She was carried back and forth, talked to incessantly by my kids and named one of People Magazine’s most eligible Chihuahuas.

That last one isn’t true, but don’t tell Honey. She believes everything we tell her.

Ever since we acquired Beulah (the Doberman) and Sasha (the Husky), Honey’s circumstances have changed. The younger two have stolen her thunder and erased some of her attention.

What’s a Chihuahua to do? I’ll tell you what Honey did: she learned how to SMILE! I don’t know how she did it and I’m pretty sure she didn’t know the impact it would have, but Honey learned to smile.

I’m a sucker for dogs who smile. Seeing one makes me happy. If it doesn’t make you happy you probably also frown at rainbows and fat babies. A smiling dog is amazing. Honey (probably inadvertently) found a way to get back some long-lost attention.

Sometimes when people fail to get what they want or they grow stagnant, they try to change their circumstances. Honey wasn’t able to do that. Instead of changing her circumstance, she changed herself. She learned to smile.

Her smile isn’t perfect. It’s really more of a half-smile. But it was enough.

Stagnancy is bad, but it may not be a reason to make a major change. All you and I may need to do in some situations is learn how to smile.

A Lesson from Driver’s Ed

I found out the other day that my old high school no longer offers Driver’s Ed. While this wasn’t devastating news, it was still quite surprising.

Driver’s Education was one of my favorite classes. There was the driving simulator where we pretended to be put in dangerous situations while we pretended to drive. There were the Chevy Corsicas and Chevy Luminas we took turn driving around the mean streets of Strawberry Plains. And there were the two driving instructors.

One of the instructors was high-strung guy who called me by my full first name, but instead of saying “Matthew” he said “Maffew.” The other one was so laid back he was almost comatose. I liked them both even though I did get yelled at a few times.

There was one thing that happened in that class, though, that made me really angry. It involved a police officer who came into our class to talk about drunk driving.

During the first part of his spiel he asked how many people had never tasted any alcoholic beverages. Several of us raised our hands. He seemed surprised by this.

He then asked how many people had never tasted any alcoholic beverages–including wine coolers. This time only me and another guy raised our hands. That is when he made me mad.

He looked right at us and said, “You’re lying.”

I remember the rest of the class laughing. I remember shaking my head. And I remember him replying, “Yes you are!”

The thing was, I wasn’t lying. Up until that point in my life I had never tasted any alcoholic beverage. And I still haven’t. It was an aggravating thing, but that incident made me realize something.

People expect people to act like other people.

If a lot of people do a particular thing or act a particular way, some expect everyone to do a particular thing or act a particular way.

People expect people to act like other people so much so that we begin to expect ourselves to act like other people. In other words, we tend to go along with the crowd.

This wouldn’t be a problem if the crowd generally went a good, God honoring way. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Which is why Christians aren’t called to go along with the crowd. We are called to go along with Christ.

People expect people to act like other people. But Jesus expects His people to act like Him.

Thankfully He doesn’t leave us to our own devices to do this.

He expects His people to act like Him and empowers us to do so by His presence and His strength.

And for this I say “Hallelujah!” And that’s no lie.

Do your high school have Driver’s Ed? If so–what was the best thing about it?

 

One Angry Cookie

One Angry Cookie

My wife has 3 Chihuahuas which, as it turns out, is the exact number too many. The oldest of the three is Cookie. Cookie is generally a sweet dog with a tolerant disposition.

But in the above picture she looks a little psychotic.

Why? Here are the possibilities–see if you can guess which one is true…

1. She just listened to “Weird” Al Yankovic’s new album Mandatory Fun. It’s good. Real good. I should know–I’m a big ‘ol nerd.

2. She knows it’s almost Shark Week and was working on her best shark impression. Wouldn’t a Chihuahua Shark be terrifying?

3. I asked her what she thought about mayonnaise. Even Chihuahuas know mayonnaise is not fit for human (or canine) consumption.

4. She has an audition for an upcoming Colgate commercial and was working on her smile. It needs more work. A LOT more work.

5. We have a Doberman puppy that she DOES NOT LIKE.

If you picked #5, you are correct. None of our Chihuahuas like poor Beulah. That’s right, I named our puppy Beulah; mostly so I could call her crate “Beulah Land.” If you don’t get that lame attempt at a joke it means you haven’t spent much time in a Baptist Church.

Anyway, the Chihuahuas don’t like our new puppy and make sure she is aware of this as much as possible. But all of their growling isn’t going to change things; Beulah is here to stay.

When what they growl about isn’t going to change, their growling is a waste of time.

And the same is true for us. There are some things that can and will change; there are some things that will never change. Growling and griping about what will never change will give us less time and energy to work on those things that can be changed.

Maybe Cookie will one day learn this; hopefully we will, too.

What are some other reasons Cookie might look this way? How are you doing at not growling at things that you have no control over?

 

If Jack Bauer were a Pastor

I didn’t watch 24 during it’s initial 8 season run. Thankfully I rectified this oversight a couple of years ago by watching all 8 seasons on my Amazon Kindle. It quickly became on of my all-time favorite shows mainly for one reason….

Jack Bauer.

Played by Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer has to be considered one of the greatest heroic characters ever on television. His devotion to his country and his take-no-prisoners approach to bringing down the bad guys caused 24 to be a consistently action-packed, twist-filled hour of television.

Because of this when I heard Jack was coming back I was pretty excited. And 24: Live Another Day did not disappoint. The season finale aired this past Monday and it was one of the best hours of television I ever remember seeing.

In honor of the finale I thought it would be interesting to think about what would happen if Jack Bauer were a pastor. You know, because I’m a nerd. So, without further adieu…

If Jack Bauer were a pastor his congregation would have to….

1. Listen very carefully to his sermons. Jack only said one phrase loudly and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t use it in a sermon. Most of the time he spoke in intense whispers. If it wasn’t for DVR I’m pretty sure I would have missed roughly all of his dialogue this season.

2. Deal with a huffy secretary. Yeah, I’m talking about Chloe, the sometimes great/sometimes annoying Robin to Jack Bauer’s Batman. Can you imagine having to ask her to put something in the bulletin. *eye roll–“Well, I guess if it has to be in there.”*

3. Expect the worst when called to the pastor’s office. On 24 Jack would often get people to talk by shooting them in the leg or otherwise physically maiming them. I can only imagine what he would do in a Deacon’s meeting.

4. Get used to having one of the most annoying pastor’s kids ever. While Jack Bauer may be the best character ever on television, his TV daughter, Kim Bauer, is in the running for the worst. Bless her heart.

5. Wonder when he goes to the bathroom. Once, just once, I wanted to see Jack look intensely at Chloe and whisper, “I gotta go pee.” It never happened.

6. Be ok with either getting killed, half-killed, or kidnapped. Those closest to Jack tend to get killed, half-killed, or kidnapped. That’s a small price to pay for getting to hang around someone so cool.

On second thought, maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea for Jack Bauer to be a pastor. He probably wouldn’t be a good one.

You know who could be a good pastor? The one you already have.

Whether you consider your pastor “good” or not, I am sure there are things he could improve about who he is or what he does. Why am I so sure of this? Because (as my Dad would say) I are one.

I’m not perfect; no pastor is. Some may say the best way to get a better pastor is to get a new one. I disagree.

The best way to get a better pastor is to pray for and support the one you already have.

I encourage you to do this.

And be thankful that you probably won’t get killed, half-killed, or kidnapped while doing so.

What else would “Pastor Jack Bauer’s” congregation have to do? What are some ways you can encourage your pastor?