Friday, December 31, 2021

Freedom Starts Today

 What a great reminder as we enter a new year!

Friday, December 24, 2021

The Meaning Of Christmas

 Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 23, 2021


Many years before my introduction to the Columbia Record Club, (8 Records for a penny!) I received for Christmas the Jackson 5 "ABC" recording on cassette. My Uncle Ricky and Aunt Theresa who gave me this wonderful gift probably couldn't have dreamed the journey this little tape would take me. 

First a little context, I was around 10 when I received this wonderful gift and I had already been experimenting with my cassette recorder which was a gift given to me the previous Christmas. I would put my recorder next to my Dad's huge (or so it seemed at the time) Fisher speakers in our living room and record the Top 40 with Casey Kasem. The quality was not all that great, with the variables of the FM radio reception and my inexpensive microphone but I was starting to expand my musical environment and that was the key. I had been taking piano lessons for around 4 years and due to my gift of almost perfect pitch I could pick out songs from my recordings and dissect their composition. It seems so foreign to look back now but at that time there was no MTV, no Walkmans or iPods, stereo equipment was beyond my allowance and odd job capabilities, no VHS tapes, Live concerts were out of the question (too expensive combined with dubious influences) and I didn't know anyone who played a musical instrument other than the piano. But all that changed when I could listen to the pristine arrangement of the song ABC coming from the 3" speaker in my tape recorder. Unlike the radio, I could stop the song, rewind it to listen in greater detail, and this allowed me to start picking up the parts of the song that I had never been aware of before. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

A Story of Two Graves

In a cemetery located in a Civil War battlefield, you will discover an interesting sight. All of the graves but two in Jones Cemetery face East to West. But there are two graves marked by two white gravestones that face North to South. Why?

During my visit to Parker's Crossing Battlefield last summer, I asked one of the guides in the visitor center if they could explain this discrepancy. Here is their reply . . . 

You don't have to be a history buff to appreciate Reverend John Parker who died in 1864, but makes his point in eternity. Reverend Parker had a cabin located in Parker's Crossroads, in West Tennessee. Reverend Parker was a passionate unionist, fiercely opposing southern secession. However, in late 1862, after Union forces placed a cannon right in his front yard, he demanded that the Union commander remove it, saying that his house would become a target for the Confederates counter strike. The Union commander refused. After the commander's refusal to move the cannon, Dr. Parker switched sides, and supported the confederacy. 

So when he and his wife were buried in Jones cemetery, Reverend Parker's final wish was to be buried with his head facing the south and his feet to the north, so that 'when the angel Gabriel sounds his trumpet', he could rise and kick the Yankees behinds all the way back to the North!

You've got to love a man with a cause . . . 

Friday, December 03, 2021

Why Did Jesus Christ Come To The Earth?

Why did Jesus Christ come to the earth? 

He proclaimed His mission in public on a regular basis, to eliminate any doubt as to why He chose to remove Himself from perfection and take on all the weaknesses of His creation. But He also did this so that His voice was prominent in the noise of the day.  

Jesus was, among other things, concerned with where we get our information. Now this may seem odd, coming from a time before the invention of social media and such. Yet mankind has always found a way to communicate to the masses and that was no less true in the days of Jesus. We read that “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria” (Matt. 4:23–24, emphasis added).

There’s a key distinction here that we can miss. Jesus teaches—he gives instruction or advice on how to live. But he also preaches, or proclaims. Today we associate preaching with churches and telling people what to do. But preaching wasn’t used that way in Jesus’ time. It wasn’t even a religious word. It was a “news” word. Jesus went around announcing that something had happened. And it wasn’t just news; it was good news. That’s what the word gospel means. 

So what is this good news that Jesus himself proclaimed? His gospel message was simple, that the kingdom of God is now, because Jesus has brought it from Heaven to Earth through the incarnation of God to man. The good news is that all men now have access to the kingdom of God, and it is not a far off gift - it is something we can claim now. 

But Jesus didn't just desire us to claim access to the kingdom of God, He desired that we, His people, would extend the kingdom to all the earth. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

"Because He Bends Down To Listen . . . "

This is one of my favorite pictures depicting Jesus Christ. There are so many details that I love about this picture, for instance, Jesus's smile. It frames his face as approachable, friendly, open, transparent, attentive, and loyal. Then you have his closeness, his desire to be with us, to listen to us, to support us, to help us, to comfort us, to teach us, to provide us whatever strength and peace we need at that moment. And I also appreciate the action portrayed in this picture, the feeling of motion, of moving with us, not pulling us back, but accompanying us into the future, Jesus alongside us, together facing whatever challenge that lies ahead. Finally, this picture always reminds me of Psalm 116:2, "Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!" (NLT) 

I recognize the difficulty in appreciating this verse but I urge you to read it again, slowly. To let it sink in that God, Creator God, All-Powerful and All-Knowing God, leans down to hear us when we pray to Him is a truth that the enemy and this world desperately work to hide from our minds and hearts. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was so interested in you that they leaned in, eyes focused, giving you their undivided attention, totally immersed in the moment?

That is what this verse is proclaiming, that Jesus awaits our overture, longing for us to desire the intimacy with Him that He died to achieve. God never rejects a sincere, humble heart that is seeking Him with all their resources. And yes, that is also a truth from scripture. (James 4:8) 

So rest in the assurance that you are loved, that God is so interested in you that He will drop everything at the sound of your voice. That your prayers, your concerns, your joys, and your struggles are all equally welcomed by Jesus Christ. 

I pray that this picture tugs at your heart and draws you closer to God. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Manager of the Year

He began as a minor-league player. He became a minor-league manager. He worked for Bobby Cox and Fredi Gonzalez as a third-base coach. If you’ve followed the Atlanta Braves, you’ve become familiar with Brian Gerald Snitker, manager of the 2021 World Champion team.

Before this week, the list of managers to take the Atlanta-era Braves to the Fall Classic numbered one. (Bobby Cox) But now this unassuming, baseball lifer just achieved what seemed impossible less than 30 days ago.

Which is the reason for this discussion regarding the announcement of  the 2021 MLB awards this week, awards such as Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, etc. No Atlanta Brave player or manager won or was even in serious consideration for in any of the awards given out this year despite the team winning the World Series. Which begs the question, why did Brian Snitker not warrant more consideration for NL Manager of the Year?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

39 Days Until Christmas!

 39 Days Until Christmas! 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Atlanta Braves Memories - Part II

Here are some of my favorite Atlanta Braves players, in no particular order: 

Phil Niekro, Andruw Jones, Eddie Matthew, Warren Spahn, David Justice, Javy Lopez, Ron Gant, Rafael, Furcal, Rico Carty, Ryan Klesko, Mike Stanton, Max Fried, Al Hrabosky, Darrell Evans, Johnny Sain, Glen Hubbard, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, Greg Maddux, Jeff Blauser, Mark Lemke, Sid Bream, Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy, Ralph Garr, Bob Horner, Terry Pendleton, Joe Torre, John Rocker, Brian Hunter, Eddie Rosario, Rafael Belliard, Dan Uggla, Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers, Alejandro Pena, Otis Nixon, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, Orlando Cepeda, Charlie Leibrandt, Greg Olsen, Ronald Acuna, Fred McGriff, Chipper Jones, Freddie Freeman, Jorge Soler, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, Deion Sanders, Marvin Freeman, Brian Snitker. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

Atlanta Braves Memories - Part I

I can't recall a time in my life when I didn't follow the Atlanta Braves baseball team. This affiliation continued despite the fact that in the first twenty years of my life, they finished first in their division only once, and then promptly lost in the National League championship to the 69' New York "Miracle" Mets. 

In other words, I wasn't a bandwagon fan because there was not wagon available. But their success on the field was never the only reason I followed the Braves. I think the greatest reason was that my family were fans of the Braves and we made the drive from Chattanooga to Atlanta a few times during my childhood to watch the Braves play in Fulton County Stadium. I remember that it wasn't difficult to get a ticket and the stands were never close to capacity during those years despite having legendary players like Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews and Dale Murphy on the roster. I also remember watching greats like Willie Mays, Pete Rose, Ron Santo and more! 

But I digress . . . 

Fast forward to the year 1982 and the Braves playoff drought continued. My dad would always remind me that some fans lived their whole life without their team even getting to the World Series, forget about winning it all. So as I entered my thirties, I had resigned myself to the fact that the Brave's glory days were long gone and hope of a championship season entered the realm of fantasy. 

Then came 1991. 

Friday, November 05, 2021

Acutely Desperate

Ferociously desperate.

Do you remember a time in your life when all of your emotions, intellect, strength, everything you possessed, was laser focussed on the perilous situation consuming your every thought?

During these times of suffering, you may find yourself gravitating toward any help that could rescue you from your situation. Let me give you an personal example:

During a particularly deep valley experience, I picked up a book by an author who had found himself in a similar environment in his life. The more I read an emotional bond was formed and by the time I had finished the book it had become an overwhelming dependence. I promptly googled his website and composed an email, pouring out my heart in a way that I had never done with any of my closest friends and family, and then I pressed send. 

I never received a reply.  

But I did learn something about myself, I am a lot more fragile than I thought I was. My emotional, physical, and spiritual strengths are deceptive, because no one can endure extended seasons of despair and suffering without breaking. The tedious threads that hold us together are just that, threads of dubious strength and resilience. When I am being swept away by the waves of my storm, I am tempted to grasp at anything that looks like a form of rescue. It is during such times that it is imperative that we guard our hearts, minds, and souls from influences that are not God inspired.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Braves Win the World Series!

Dansby Swanson fielded the final out of the 2021 World Series, a chopper from Yuli Gurriel, and briefly glared at Atlanta Braves teammate Ozzie Albies. Seconds earlier, Albies had assured Swanson that he would be standing on second base to record Tuesday's 27th out. When he wasn't, Swanson had to pivot to complete the most important throw of his life -- and maybe that was fitting.

Swanson grew up 20 miles from Atlanta and was raised to love the local baseball team. Before he graduated high school, Freddie Freeman ascended to the major leagues and began to establish himself as one of the sport's greatest first basemen. They became teammates, helped lead the Braves into another resurgence and grew close through the process.

On this night, in Game 6 of the World Series, they connected on the final out that cemented a 7-0 victory over the Houston Astros and capped the Braves' improbable ascendance.

Monday, November 01, 2021

World Series - Game 5 in Atlanta

 Join the "Daily Woo" as he travels to Atlanta for Game 5 of the 2021 World Series. 

Friday, October 29, 2021

12 Tips In Managing People

I worked in retail management for over twenty two years. I was manager of a grocery store, supervisor over eight fast food restaurants, and manager of an IT department in a computer store. In each of these positions, I applied the lessons below that helped me to lead my team members and our employers to greater sales, growth, and bigger profits. Here are twelve tips that I believe anyone can use when managing people. 

Manage yourself first

Before you can manage others, you first need to take care of yourself. Make your own schedule a priority and guard your time, setting aside a block of time each day that you dedicate to completing your own work without interruptions. And to further expand this thought, you need to prioritize your own mental, physical, and spiritual health as it is impossible to lead well when your own fuel gauges are on empty.

Get to know your team

The first step to effective management is understanding the people you are managing. Depending on their personality type, people respond differently to various leadership styles. And remember, there are no shortcuts to getting to know your team members, it requires time and commitment on your part to cultivate those relationships. 

Delegate tasks

Learning how to trust others with key tasks allows you to focus on high-level management duties instead of micromanaging each responsibility on a project. Once you learn about each team member's strengths, weaknesses, experiences and skills, you will be able to accurately delegate jobs to the people who are likely to do them well within the given time frame. One of the phrases that still sticks with me years later is if you are a 25 cent person, don't constantly be doing 5 cent jobs. Yes, of course there will be times when you need to put on an apron and jump in to help your team, but if you find yourself doing this on a regular basis you have a major problem. You are being paid to work on 25 cent jobs, hire and delegate your team to do the 5 cent tasks. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Atlanta Braves are in the World Series!

For the first time since 1999, the Braves are going back to the World Series!!

One season after the Braves lost to the Dodgers in a seven-game National League Championship Series, Atlanta knocked off the defending champions in six. The loss ends the title defense of the Dodgers, who won the World Series after last year's pandemic-shortened season. 

Instead, it's the 88-win Braves who take the NL pennant during a season in which they did not climb over the .500 mark until Aug. 6. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the latest first-day-over-.500 date ever for a team that reached the World Series. The previous record was Aug. 3, held by another version of the franchise -- the 1914 Boston Braves, known to history as the "Miracle Braves."

Friday, October 22, 2021

Choosing Gratitude

Bold claim, I have never met an unhappy person who was a person of gratitude. A heart, devoted to ruthlessly pursuing thankfulness, throughout their day, inspired by the small and great, is the foundation to a life well lived. 

Most of us know cultivating a grateful heart is good for us. But do we know just how good? Full confession, for most of my life I've battled worry and fear, which generally led me into the land of doubt. The first thing that I usually found myself doubting was the goodness of God. At that point, gratitude was usually devoid in my heart.

So trust me when I say that this is a choice that I still struggle with in my daily life. But by the grace of God I'm getting more consistent with choosing gratitude over fear when life throws me a curveball.

Having said that, here are three reasons I've discovered why I should embrace the choice of being grateful:

Friday, October 15, 2021

Walking Across Dry Land

We recently received a well-needed respite from our drought like conditions this summer. After a full day of steady rainfall, large parts of our lawn turned into a mud pile, as evidenced after our daughter's dog returned from doing his business. And I know this may sound weird, but everytime I walk through mud, or have to clean mud from my shoes or boots, I'm reminded of this story from the book of Exodus.

The people of Israel, God's chosen people, are fleeing their former captors in Egypt, and are complaining to their leader, Moses, about their dire situation. Which is sort of crazy because in Exodus, Chapter 14, God had instructed Moses to tell his people that Pharaoh was going to pursue them, and that God would get glory over Pharaoh and all his armies, so that the Egyptians would learn that He is the LORD.  In other words, God told them this was going to happen! Yet, it's one thing to be told of a situation, it's another altogether to experience it in person. When the Israelites saw the enormous dust cloud on the horizon, generated by all of Pharaoh's chariots, his horsemen, and all his army, they were struck with fear. And they cried out, "Have you taken us away from Egypt just to die in the wilderness?" 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Atlanta Braves are Headed Back to the Championship Series!

The Atlanta Braves are headed back to the National League Championship Series for the second straight season, and they go there in dramatic fashion.

The Braves' Freddie Freeman hammered a two-out, first-pitch homer to center field in the bottom of the eighth off Josh Hader, the Milwaukee Brewers' All-Star closer, lifting Atlanta to a 5-4 come-from-behind win on Tuesday, closing out the NL division series in four games.

"I've had a lot of cool moments in my career, but so far I think that's going to top them right there," Freeman said. "But hopefully that's not the last cool one."

Freeman's heroics ended a back-and-forth affair in which the Braves and Brewers combined for nine runs -- the total number of runs they scored together during the first three games of a well-pitched series.

Though Freeman is the face of the Braves franchise, the reigning NL MVP and possibly a future Hall of Famer, his homer off Hader was a stunner.

Friday, October 08, 2021

The Mystery of Suffering

"It is the most ungodly and dangerous business to abandon the certain and revealed will of God in order to search in to the hidden mysteries of God." - Martin Luther

"The secret of the mystery is: God is always greater. No matter how great we think Him to be, His love is always greater." - Brennan Manning

"It is easier to gaze into the sun, than into the face of the mystery of God. Such is its beauty and its radiance." -  Hildegard Of Bingen

With deepest regards to Martin Luther, today I would like to visit one of the puzzles of Christian theology, represented in this famous syllogism.

1) God is omnipotent and omniscient.

2) God is perfectly good.

3) Bad things happen to good people.

At the outset, we must acknowledge three things, 1) This is a mystery that has withstood centuries of thought and investigation, it cannot be fully explored in a blog post. 2) That human beings, who are not eternal, infinite, or omniscient, cannot expect to fully understand God’s purposes and ways. 3) It is arguably impossible for human beings to even properly evaluate what is good and bad in regard to their life experiences.

Friday, October 01, 2021

"How Are We To Live In An Atomic Age?"

Today I'd like to address your attention toward two articles written by C.S. Lewis. His writing has always been a source of personal comfort throughout the years and I have especially found the articles listed below to be sources of wisdom that I keep returning to, year after year, because they encourage me to live with eyes focused upward. (“Onward and Upward! To Narnia and the North!” a quote from the Narnia series, "The Horse and His Boy.")

Yes, we live in trying times and there is a lot to fear if we allow our minds to wander in that direction. But we are reminded in Scripture, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). So how do we reprogram our minds to reflect this truth?

A spirit of fearfulness and timidity does not come from God. Sometimes this “spirit of fear” overcomes us, and to overcome it we need to trust in and love God more completely. “There is no fear in love. To help us be complete in love, God has liberally sprinkled encouragement against fear throughout the Bible. God tells us not to be afraid of being alone, of being too weak, of not being heard in our prayers, or of being destitute of physical necessities. These admonishments cover many different aspects of the “spirit of fear.”

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Atlanta Braves Clinch The Division!

The Atlanta Braves secured their fourth consecutive National League East crown on Thursday, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3. 

The Atlanta Braves have done it all before — many, many times before — but this one felt a bit different. More satisfying, for sure.

The Braves may have been the reigning champions, but their continued dominance was hardly assured. Atlanta finished the first half with a losing record, at 44-45, and entered August trailing in the division by five games. Nevertheless, the Braves were able to rally by winning games in the second half at a 98-win pace overall.

And there they were Thursday night, swigging champagne, puffing on cigars and celebrating an NL East championship.

Monday, September 27, 2021

"Giving It All To Christ" (Part III of the Salvation Series)

Getting started as a new Christian can be intimidating. So many voices, so many paths, it can be a overwhelming season as you take your first steps as a Christ-follower. I think C.S. Lewis would suggest that we don’t dip into this new life, we dive in! In this Devotional Classics excerpt, Lewis encourages us to abandon the idea of just ​“being good,” and to embrace utter abandonment to God. Step by step, Lewis walks us through the challenge and then offers us a practical exercise for getting started. 

1. How Much of Myself Must I Give?

The ordinary idea which we all have before we become Christians is this, we take as the starting point our ordinary self with its various desires and interests. We then admit that something else — call it ​“morality” or ​“decent behavior,” or ​“the good of society” — has claims on this self: claims which interfere with its own desires. What we mean by ​“being good” is giving in to those claims. Some of the things the ordinary self wanted to do turn out to be what we call ​“wrong”: well, we must give them up. Other things turn out to be what we call ​“right”: well, we shall have to do them. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

"Knowing You Have Eternal Life" (Part II of the Salvation Series)

Some people doubt that they are actually Christians. They want to be, but feel like they are missing the joy of the Christian faith. In this blog we will discover how we can determine if we are indeed a follower of Christ and how we can put to rest our doubts and fears about this matter for good.

This blog is based on an article by Billy Graham. 

The dreadful uncertainty that haunts many people grows out of misunderstanding what the Christian experience is. Some people don’t seem to know the nature of Christian conversion, while others have been misinformed concerning conversion and seek an experience that is not biblical. But for most, it comes down to confusing faith with feeling.

Faith always implies an object—that is, when we believe, we must believe something. That something is what we call the “fact.” Now let me give you three words that will help you understand the Christian life: fact, faith and feeling. They come in this order, and the order is essential. In this order, you will have the joy and confidence of one who can say, “I know whom I have believed” (II Timothy 1:12).

Saturday, September 25, 2021

"The Narrow Path" (Part I of the Salvation Series)

The New Testament is filled with information on what it means to be a Christ follower, what Jesus Christ beautifully described as “the narrow path.” This path can be summarized as: Embracing Jesus’ sacrifice for mankind, Believing He died for our sins and Living life for Him.

Jesus purposely left no wiggle room when it came to the topic of salvation, explaining that the pathway is exclusive, and that path is through Him.

In Matthew 7:13-14 and Luke 13:23-24 we see Jesus saying that "narrow is the gate" and "narrow is the way." So without question Jesus is saying that Christian way is not one that most will follow. In fact, He says that only "a few will find it."

A lot of people speculate about the number of people who will embrace Jesus as the way, but that's not the point God wants us to take away from that scripture. We know from John 3:16 that God's desire is for none to perish but for all to have eternal life. God's desire is clear, His desire is for everyone to be saved.

Let's take an overhead view of the entire third chapter of John. We start with the story of  Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Jewish ruling class, who visited Jesus to discuss how he could be saved.

Friday, September 24, 2021

A Gift Like No Other

I read something interesting in the recent biography,"Ali: A Life" by Jonathan Eig. It was a story regarding an old man and a young boy who showed up at Muhammad Ali's mansion in 1982. One of Ali's associates, Larry Kolb, answered the door and the old man explained that they had traveled from Tanzania to meet Ali. "We are here," the man explained, "because before I die, I wish to introduce my grandson to the great Muhammad Ali." 

Ali said to let them enter. He hugged the child, ate the gift of a Big Mac that the boy had brought Ali, and performed a magic trick for the young child. 

"Today we found you," the old man said, "Tomorrow we can go home." 

Ali gave them dinner and drove them back to their airport hotel. He embraced them both and told them to go with God. On the drive home, Kolb asked Ali why he had taken so much time for the two strangers. Ali explained that it was his belief that everyone had an angel watching them at all times, keep track of their actions and logging if they were good or bad. Ali called it a "Tallying Angel."

"When we die, he told Kolb, "if we've got more good marks than bad, we go to paradise. If we've got more bad marks, we go to hell . . . I've done a lot of bad things. Gotta keep doing good now. I wanna to to paradise."

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

September 21st

Do you have a favorite day of the year?

Now I'm not counting any of the Holidays, I mean who doesn't love either Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas. No, I'm talking about a favorite day of the year that has meaning beyond any other day of the year. 

For me, that date is September 21st. To be precise, September 21st, 2000. 

Before I go any further let me clarify a couple of things. Unlike some people, I can't tell you exactly when I made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. I made a public profession when I was young, but I'm not totally sure that date was the origin of my faith journey. In the days and weeks after that public proclamation, I began to truly understand what it meant to accept Jesus as Lord of my life. But I can't tell you exactly what day of the year that happened. 

And my own birthday, though I admit, holds some sentimental appeal, is not my favorite day of the year. It's a day that for me is filled with "Ying" and "Yang" and over the passing years it is impossible to separate the two. 

No, my favorite day of the year is my daughter's birthday. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

"The Duke"

My grandpa on my Dad's side of the family loved westerns. Not just watching westerns on TV, he loved to read and collect Louis L' Amour books, as well as pistols from that era. Saturday evenings at 10:00 pm were reserved for the western TV show Gunsmoke and distractions were simply not allowed. But like many people of that generation, my grandpa's favorite actor was "The Duke". 

John Wayne, also known as "The Duke", was the premier movie star in the 50's and 60's. Larger than life, he picked his roles carefully, to ensure that his movie characters aligned with his own philosophy about life and his cultural priorities. He starred in over 300 films and never once apologized for his pro-USA stance and old fashioned values. They say that some of the best ways to learn about someone is to listen to their views on life so here are some of my favorite quotes from "The Duke":

“All battles are fought by scared men who'd rather be someplace else.”

“A man deserves a second chance, but keep an eye on him.”

“My hope and prayer is that everyone know and love our country for what she really is and what she stands for.”

“I stick to simple themes. Love. Hate. No nuances. I stay away from psychoanalyst's couch scenes. Couches are good for one thing.”

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Gift Of Imagination

I've often pondered the gift of imagination. Is there a boundary that we cannot cross with our imaginations? Is there a future that we cannot imagine with this wonderful gift? And the opposite unfortunately is also true, is there a limit to the darkness that we can explore and unleash using this powerful tool that God has gifted to each one of us?

I believe that we are most like our Creator when we are creative. The Bible says that God imagined the entire universe and then it came to pass. His thoughts became our reality. And we have all been imprinted with that same seal of creativity, to be used for good or evil, in powerful ways that can influence people and alter history.

The reason you have this gift is because God imagines. And God gave you the ability to create with your imagination. When you use your imagination for good and for God, God smiles. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

"I Can Hear You!"

Three days after the horrific attack on the World Trade Center Towers, President Bush visited the site to speak to the first responders, troops, and citizens of our country. It was a perilous time in our nation's history, no one was sure who had attacked the United States, and no one knew if there were more attacks coming. All domestic and international flights were still cancelled, the military was on high alert, and our entire nation was on edge. 

President Bush had already addressed the nation from the Barksdale Air Force Base on 9/11 as well as from the Oval Office later that same evening, but this time, standing on the heap of debri that was the World Trade Center Towers, he seemed to connect directly with the people in a way that his previous speeches had failed to accomplish. Standing on a pile of rubble, arm around one of New York City's finest, he started speaking to the crowd through a bullhorn. It quickly became apparent that the volume of the bullhorn was not loud enough for everyone to hear but that is where President Bush seized the moment to utter his timeless words that comforted, and rallied the nation. In my opinion, this is one of the top five speeches given by anyone in my lifetime. 

We can disagree about the merits of President Bush's policies and even his response to the 9/11 attacks, but I think we can all agree that on that day, September 14th, he communicated with the people of our country in a way that few modern leaders have ever done, assuring the citizens of the United States that their voices were being heard and that soon, the world would also hear from them. 

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Friday, September 03, 2021

"It Would Never Be The Same"

A question that historians have wrestled with for decades is this: "Would Germany and the Axis powers have won World War II without the intervention of the United States?"

No less an authority than England's prime minister at that time, Winston Churchill, expressed his belief after the attack on Pearl Harbor. "After the United States entered the war I never slept as soundly as the night following Pearl Harbor. For I knew that The American Race would now be entering the war and it would never be the same.”

Churchill knew that Germany was going to declare war on the United States in support of the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor. He also knew that Germany had no means of defeating either Great Britain or the United States in an all-out war and that Japan joining the Axis alliance was not going to change that imbalance of resources.

Neither Adolf Hitler nor Hideki Tojo had the education or imagination to understand that, once the United States took sides in a conflict, it could not be stopped by any major power that controlled less resources then America could provide. And that the Americans, as they showed in their own civil war, were utterly relentless when they were angry enough to commit all their strength.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Friday, August 27, 2021

Healing Verses

“Pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.” (Proverbs 4:20–22)

"He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds, we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” (Psalm 147:2)

“For I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)

“I will give you back your health and heal your wounds.” (Jeremiah 30:17)

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

"Then Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Repeating The Same Mistake

Let's examine the facts:

President Barack Obama and Vice-President Biden presided over the devastating withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011. Biden boasted at the time that pulling the troops out of Iraq "could be one of the great achievements of this administration," and thanked President Obama "for giving him the chance to end the Iraq war."

However, the war in Iraq was far from over, and in reality the withdrawal rejuvenated the terrorists that had been decimated by the presence of American troops. The vacuum resulted in the Islamic State capturing territory in Iraq and Syria that was the size of the country of Britain. The atrocities that they committed included not only terrorizing the local population but over 140 attacks in over 25 countries. Yet we can determine from Biden's statements on record that as late as 2013 he felt "happy" and fulfilled" with the decision to withdraw the troops from Iraq. 

Fast forward 2 1/2 years and the Obama administration relented and sent U.S. forces back into Iraq to deal with the terrorists they had allowed to prosper. Incredibly, we have to jump to 2020 to finally see an admission from Biden that the decision to withdraw all the troops from Iraq "was a mistake." And  during the presidential campaign of 2020, Biden even pointed fingers at President Trump's decision to withdraw a small force of U.S. troops from Syria saying, "when we leave a vacuum, like he's leaving it, it creates significant opportunities for difficulty." 

You think?

And yet . . . 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Thursday, August 19, 2021

C.S. Lewis Quotes on Heaven

"Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind."

"Joy is the serious business of heaven."

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."

"To every soul, God will look like it's first love because He IS its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it - made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand."

"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this."

"The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can't supply is proof that Heaven must be our home."

"The good things even of this world are far too good ever to be reached by imagination. Even the common orange, you know: no one could have imagined it before he tasted it. How much less Heaven."

"If we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell."

"Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains."

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Prayers For Afghanistan

"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)

Even with the restraining force of a U.S. military presence, Afghanistan was listed by Open Doors as a land where “persecution is only very slightly less oppressive than in North Korea.” Christian converts faced dire consequences if their new faith was discovered. As Open Doors notes, they either had to flee the country or they would be killed. “How we survive daily only God knows,” says one secret Afghan believer. “He knows because he has been kind to dwell with us. But we are tired of all the death around us.”

Today, as U.S. troops rapidly exit the country, followers of Christ in Afghanistan have become even more exposed to persecution. Girls and women will also suffer, as will those who helped Western forces for the past 20 years. We need to diligently pray for these vulnerable populations, and ask that God will protect them from the suffering to come.

Monday, August 16, 2021

In Times of Loss

I lost a good friend today - and his passing was almost a year to the day from another good friend leaving this world as well. (August is fast losing its place as one of my favorite months) 

In times of deep loss I have found it comforting to remember that Jesus also experienced the loss of one of his good friends. ""When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept."

Jesus was not immune to the pain and sadness of this life - He experienced loss, betrayal, and death just like everyone else who has taken a breath on this planet. And I love the fact that Jesus didn't sweep away the emotional responses of Martha and Mary but instead He simply grieved with them. Jesus knew where his good friend Lazarus was - and He knew that Lazarus was more alive at that moment than he had ever been here on earth. But Jesus also knew that this was going to be a powerful touchstone for a lot of people, throughout history, to see the power of God, even over death. So despite the pain, the anger, and the sadness, He knew that this was bigger than anyone could imagine - that there were spiritual ramifications that would ripple for thousands of years and yet . . . He didn't try to explain away the grief and sadness that came with Lazarus death, instead, Jesus wept. 

There is nothing that we will ever experience that Jesus Christ has not already felt many times over. He has been wounded for our transgressions, He has taken the entire wrath and punishment of God for our transgressions. But, He is not just our Savior, He is our friend, walking with us and sharing in our experiences, good and bad, that we all encounter. Because He loves us. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

No Hitter In His First Major League Start!

Arizona Diamondbacks rookie left-hander Tyler Gilbert no-hit the San Diego Padres on Saturday night, August 14th, making big-league history on an individual and league-wide basis as part of a 7-0 blowout victory. 

Gilbert, 27, was making his first career start and just his fourth career appearance in the majors. Nevertheless, he became the fourth pitcher to ever toss a no-hitter in start No. 1, joining Theodore Breitenstein (1891), Bumpus Jones (1892), and Bob Holloman (1953), according to research conducted by's Sarah Langs.

Additionally, Gilbert's no-hitter was the eighth in the 2021 Major League Baseball regular season, setting a new record. The most no-hitters thrown in a single season in modern times had previously been seven, a mark that was reached most recently in 2015. Eight, then, ties the all-time record, which was set in 1884. (Note that seven-inning no-hitters are not included, as MLB does not consider them to be official no-nos.)

Gilbert's no-no is the third in Diamondbacks franchise history. Randy Johnson first threw a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves in 2004 (Ugh), and Edwin Jackson then threw a no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010. 

What a way to start your Major League Career! 

Friday, August 13, 2021

A Simple Act Of Faith

A friendship that impacted a man's eternal destination. A bond shared between a black man from the United States and a white man from Germany. One man carrying the hopes of his nation and race, the other man undergirding his country's nationalistic pride and ambition. Luz Long, was a German long jumper favored to win his event in the 1936 Olympics. He was white, blonde, and the perfect candidate to portray Adolf Hitler's superior Aryan beliefs. He had already won the German long jump championship six times in 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939. Hitler, the self proclaimed chancellor of the German Reich, had made no secret of his beliefs that these Olympics would be the global stage where his Aryan people would position themselves as the superior race.

Jesse Owens, a black man from the United States, was experiencing the pressure of competing in this stadium located in the heart of Nazi Germany. He had won the gold medal in the 100 meter race earlier but was struggling to qualify for the long jump contest. This stress could have been amplified by the actions of Hitler who shook hands only with the German victors after the first day of competition and then left the stadium. International Olympic Committee president Henri de Baillet-Latour insisted that Hitler greet every medalist or none at all. Hitler opted for the latter and skipped all further medal presentations. So it was with great expectation that Hitler watched from his perch high above the throng, awaiting the triumph of his favorite German athlete, Luz Long, in the long jump contest. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Field of Dreams Baseball Game

Tonight, Thursday, August 12th, 2021, a Major League Baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees was played in Iowa, for the first time in history. MLB built a baseball stadium next to the Field of Dream stadium, which was originally built for the movie (best baseball movie of all-time in my opinion) which was filmed in 1989. The White Sox won it in the bottom of the 9th with a two run homer - what a night! 

"People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn into your driveway, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door, as innocent as children, longing for the past. “Of course, we won’t mind if you look around,” you’ll say, “It’s only twenty dollars per person.” And they’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it, for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk off to the bleachers and sit in their short sleeves on a perfect afternoon. And find they have reserved seats somewhere along the baselines where they sat when they were children. And cheer their heroes. And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come."

And on a personal note, just hearing the first few notes of the perfect soundtrack from the movie causes me to tear up immediately. Time moves differently in the game of baseball, where stats originate from its start in the 1800's, and there is a direct correlation between that kind of timeless moments and the relationships that we covet the most. It is sacred, almost spiritual in its impact. This film is in my opinion one of the most perfect movies ever made. People do come to this location, and some day I hope to walk on that field, carrying my glove and baseball, and play catch in the twilight of that Iowa cornfield. 

People come to that field, over thirty years after the movie was made, and I believe there will be a steady caravan of people until Jesus returns, longing for the emotional connection they felt when they watched the movie. 

Friday, August 06, 2021

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Quotes from St. Augustine

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”

“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”

“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”

Friday, July 30, 2021

How To Grow Our Faith

Sometimes when I think about my faith, I tend to dismiss the practical aspects of this spiritual discipline. It is often been said that faith is like a muscle, but in my opinion the reality is a little more complicated. 

We know from God's Word that faith is something that can grow, one of many examples of this is the story of the father in the gospel of Mark. This father approached Jesus in the hope that He could heal his son. After Jesus told him that all things were possible for those who believe, the father through his anguish and his tears cried out for Jesus to help his unbelief. But this father was not alone in his need, in fact, we are all commanded to live our lives by faith, "The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17) But how can we grow our faith?

Friday, July 23, 2021

Tech Giants Cry Foul / Who Controls the Truth?

Most would agree that the days we are living are strange and getting stranger. Our republic is suffering from deep fissures and few agree on the most pressing issues, forget about a pathway to unity and healing. One thing is clear, we cannot fix ourselves and without real solutions soon, our country is no longer guaranteed a bright and stable future. 

Today let's examine a couple of issues that are facing our nation and impacting almost everyone on a daily basis.

This news came out of Washington D.C. this week. President Biden accused social media companies of "killing people' by allowing misinformation to be spread on their sites. (He was speaking in regard to Covid-19 information, which in his opinion, was spreading false information throughout the Internet)

Now we'll circle back to the phrase, "in his opinion", in a few moments. But for new let's examine the rather predictable reaction from the leaders of these tech companies - "We are doing the best we can" followed by the refrain, "We are not responsible for all the content on our sites."

The problem is they cannot occupy both sides of this issue . . . 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Jerry Granelli

In honor of Jerry Granelli who was the last surviving member of the Vince Guaraldi Trio. He was probably best known for playing drums on the soundtrack A Charlie Brown Christmas. Check out this video of his performance of "Linus and Lucy" in 2014. He died today at the age of 81.

Friday, July 16, 2021

The Shot Heard 'Round The World

Unveiled on April 19, 1875, The Minute Man statue, by sculptor Daniel Chester French, is an American icon and has stood guard over hallowed ground ever since. It is set near the spot where the first colonial militiamen were killed in Concord on that fateful day in 1775.

The seven foot tall bronze statue was cast from old Civil War cannons by the Ames Foundry of Chicopee Massachusetts. The pedestal base measures over seven feet tall and four feet on each side. Inscribed on the front facing is the first stanza of the poem “The Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood,

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,

Here once the embattled farmers stood,

And fired the shot heard round the world."

Friday, July 09, 2021

Random Thoughts . . .

I think it's so cool that my favorite sport considers their modern era to be anytime after the 1900's. (Baseball)

But I would be less than honest if I didn't admit that my loyalties start to shift as fall approaches and the college football season is just on the horizon.

I wonder who christened the sport, "Football" when only a small percentage of the time do feet even come in contact with the ball?

How many of you have spent any amount of time deconstructing the time / multiple universe theories put forth in Marvel's "Avengers: End Game?"

And why couldn't they simply go into the past and kill Thanos before he grew to adulthood?

I wonder how long Eve stared at the fruit hanging from the forbidden tree before taking a bite? Did she just get bored in paradise and wander over to the one place she wasn't allowed to be? Did she nonchalantly plan her morning walks to draw her closer and closer to that spot? And why did Adam not directly intervene instead of becoming a willing participant?

In the 1998 Home Run Derby there were 10 participants and they hit a total of 82 home runs. Twenty one years later in the 2019 Home Run Derby there were 8 participants and they hit a total of 312 home runs.

I think in 2021 fame is the most desired currency.

And at what cost?

Monday, July 05, 2021

Top 30 TV Shows in 1965

1 Bonanza

2 Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

3 The Lucy Show

4 The Red Skelton Hour

5 Batman (Thurs.)

6 The Andy Griffith Show

7 Bewitched

8 The Beverly Hillbillies

9 Hogan's Heroes

10 Batman (Wed.)

11 Green Acres

12 Get Smart

13 The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

14 Daktari

15 My Three Sons

16 The Dick Van Dyke Show

17 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color

18 The Ed Sullivan Show

19 The Lawrence Welk Show

20 I've Got a Secret

21 Petticoat Junction

22 Gilligan's Island

23 The Wild Wild West

24 The Jackie Gleason Show

25 The Virginian

26 Daniel Boone

27 Lassie

28 I Dream of Jeannie

29 Flipper

30 Gunsmoke

Sunday, July 04, 2021

"The Charter of Our Liberties"

The Declaration of Independence, that proclamation for the ages, that Abraham Lincoln called “the charter of our liberties,” is a document whose meaning, and function today are different from what they were in 1776. In fact, in the years following the end of the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence was almost dismissed from the thoughts of early Americans, as if the document had accomplished its one and only purpose. 

But that all changed following the War of 1812. The Declaration of Independence took upon new meaning in a nation that had just been rudely reminded of the fragility of its republic. A new generation of Americans had come of age and they made preservation of the nation’s revolutionary history their mission. Those efforts, and their reverential attitude toward the revolutionaries and their works, helped establish the Declaration of Independence as an important icon of American identity.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Lee and Longstreet at Gettysburg

Growing up in the South in the 60's, the "Lost Cause" theory was generally treated as fact. To embrace the Southern mythology was to perceive the romantic and discard the reality. Though that is clearer now, back in my childhood, and seeing that General Robert E. Lee and I shared the same last name, my pride and affection rested in the shadow of my hero. Also, a major component of the "LC" theory was that if the Confederates had possessed anywhere near the resources and manpower of the Union, the war would have been over by 1863. The belief being that the South had superior military commanders, better soldiers, who fought with  passion and valor, (in great part because they were fighting on their home soil), and the majority of their citizens were embedded with the fire of the righteous. That is still up for debate. But what is not up for debate is the fact that the South could have won the war in 1863, if not for the horrific mistakes by Southern commanders at Gettysburg.  

Friday, June 25, 2021

Jeremiah 29 - The Promise

I have had a recurring dream throughout my life, I am grasping a rope that seems to have no beginning or end, it is totally dark, and slowly my fingers  start to lose their grip. I drop my backpack, and even wiggle off my shoes in the hope of jettisoning some of my weight, but to no avail. I'm eventually left clinging to the rope with just one hand, and then just three fingers, desperately trying to maintain my position and prevent my fall. The dream always mercifully ends before my grip gives way . . .

Over the years I've come to believe that in my dream my grip on that rope represents my belief about the character of God. And while there are a lot of things that I can jettison while still holding onto the rope, I cannot let go of the only thing that stands between me and death, my belief in the goodness of God. 

When so many of us find ourselves in that position, navigating waters that are getting deeper and deeper, who (or what) do we turn to? Or away from? (John 6:68)

Friday, June 18, 2021

Baseball Will Break Your Heart

It has been my experience that the game of baseball will break your heart. 

This heartbreak starts young with some baseball fans. The game of baseball was incorporated into their DNA when they were exposed to the game on television, or maybe by playing stickball in the street, or perhaps it happened when they gathered together with other neighborhood kids on a dusty piece of land that would yield memories for a lifetime. The point being that when you embrace something magical early in your life, you can count on a life of ebb and flow as you grapple with your passion. 

There is another path into the game of baseball, of course, and that is through our Fathers. If you were lucky, your dad taught you not only the basic skills of the game but the nuance details that separate the observer from the participant. He decoded the unwritten rules of the game and if you were really fortunate, passed on his love of the game till it also became your game, and the two became one. At that point, his favorite players became your favorite players and the eternity of the game took one giant step. I mean, is there a greater memory than having your dad lead you by the hand through a concrete labyrinth until suddenly, you glimpse a view of paradise, and perfection became personified in your mind? 

Whatever and whoever your dad loved with regard to baseball, chances are you too have been infused with that same passion, carrying with you the unquestioning, unblinking, dedication of a true believer. You have been indoctrinated into a mystical fellowship, with a passion that will not give you up, but mark my words, baseball will break your heart. 

There was a time, I’m ashamed to admit, when the love of baseball fled from my heart. 

I was never very good at playing the game myself, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. Perfecting my skills in the heat and dust of summer was a ritual for me as a child and above all I yearned for the game to embrace me the way that I embraced her. Alas, it was not meant to be. 

So I gave her up.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Vols Punch Ticket To Omaha!

Tennessee punched its ticket for a return to the College World Series in emphatic fashion.

A 15-6 win over LSU cemented a Super Regional sweep of the Tigers on Sunday at a rocking Lindsey Nelson Stadium, on a beautiful but balmy afternoon. Tennessee is heading to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska for the first time since 2005.

Jake Wyeth lined out to junior All-America third baseman Jake Rucker to record the final out of a 15-6 win over LSU in front of a loud capacity crowd, and the Vols promptly made a dog pile near the pitcher's mound.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Worst Song Titles (In My Future Lyric Collection)

"Ain't going to do you wrong 'cause I don't wanna do you right"

"When you left you forgot your dog, and that too high a price to pay."

"My car may not look like much, but it doesn't think much of you either"

"Can't lose my heart if I don't remember where I left it"

"Wading through the river of my thoughts"

"Darkness is always just on the horizon."

"Trading my dreams for a moment . . . "

"If love costs a dime, what can I get for a nickel?"

"Do you ever dream about dreaming?"

"If my life is a vehicle, it's on fire and I can't find a hose."

"Discarding the baggage of my life."

"Harold had a crayon, I've got a crowbar"

"Trading it all for a glass that never goes dry"

"Taking the first train heading toward Dixie"

"I'm confident that the road to unending joy winds through your eyes"

Monday, June 07, 2021

Vols Advance to Super Regionals!

Tennessee has advanced to the NCAA Tournament super regionals for the first time since 2005. The Volunteers went 3-0 in the Knoxville regional, disposing of Wright State and Liberty twice to advance. Their opponent will be a familiar one from the SEC — the LSU Tigers.

LSU beat Oregon late on Monday night, coming back to secure a 9-8 win. The next round features a weekend best-of-three series, with the winner advancing to the College World Series.

Tennessee broke out the brooms on LSU earlier this season in Knoxville, sweeping the Tigers on their way to an SEC East title. LSU is 38-23 overall, going just 13-17 in SEC play.

LSU won four straight elimination games on their way to winning the Eugene regional. After an opening loss to Gonzaga, the Tigers came back to beat Central Connecticut State, Gonzaga and then Oregon twice to advance.

They now return to Knoxville — the last place LSU coach Paul Mainieri probably wanted to go. More on that later.

Weekend Schedule

Game 1: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2.

Game 2: Either noon or 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, ESPN2/ESPNU.

Game 3: (if needed) Either 4 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPNU. 

Article by Terry A Lambert /