## Dear Mr. President–An Open Letter

Dear Mr. President,

Allow me to begin my thoughts by saying that you are my President. Even though I did not vote for you, nonetheless, you are my President because. . .because the laws and procedures of our Great Nation have declared you to be so. Therefore I pray for you every day, that our great God will endow you with wisdom in these times.

My letter to you, sir, is void of politics. Like myself, I am confident that you are exhausted from all this political caterwauling. Let us communicate as citizen to citizen. After all, this is what our Founding Fathers envisioned for this great nation. Amazing, isn’t it, that those men possessed such great wisdom and forward thinking. Accordingly there is an issue for which I must address concerning your recent Presidential Mandate in regards to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Through Hipaa Laws my personal medical information is Federally protected, but I make the conscious choice to freely share with you that I have received both of the Moderna Vaccinations. This was my decision based on the best available scientific information out there. I also observed friends who had received the Vaccine and noticed no ill effects. My point is, Sir, that I made the best decision possible for myself, my family, my friends, and my community. And I am pleased to share with you that thus far we have been safe from this horrid virus. It was my choice, Mr. President. And this leads into the express purpose of this communication, Sir.

I am seeking and asking you to reverse your Presidential Mandate concerning COVID-19 Vaccinations. I do indeed understand your desire, and mine, that this scourge be vanquished from this great nation and the world. But a Presidential Mandate will not, nor can it triumph over this dreaded disease. I am sure your intentions are noble and honorable. And if we are truthful with each other, you and I know that intentions rarely, if ever, resolve complicated issues–such as this pandemic.

Our Founding Fathers created this Nation because decisions, mandates and laws were chosen and enacted by those who were far removed from real life as it happened in real time in real places. Those laws, decisions, and mandates stirred up that great desire for freedom and self-determination. Let us be honest with each other, Sir. Washington D.C. is far removed from the real life that is experienced everyday throughout this great land. Sir, this remark is not an attempt by me to disparage you nor your administration. This has been going on long before you sat in the Oval Office for the first time. For decades, Washington D.C. has been a isolated and insulated from the American citizenry, the citizenry for which the U.S. Constitution was thoughtfully, and sometimes heatedly debated–for the citizens of this Nation.

I will not be so presumptuous as to say I have the solution. Far too many people today are quick to point out the problems but never offer a viable solution. May I suggest, Sir, that you make a decision to repeal the Vaccine Mandate. But repealing one thing also requires choices in a different direction. May I pose to you an alternative path. Exercise your Presidential Mandate for more research on all proposed and existing vaccines.

Not to say I am qualified to take your position, but I want to offer for your consideration a different approach for this research. Since there is so much suspicion surrounding big pharmaceutical companies, have independent researchers who do not have even the appearance of being influenced by the big pharmaceutical companies review their findings and pursue paths from their perspectives and knowledge. Have their research totally transparent and available to the general public. With the tool known as the Internet, at the end of each day they would report what they did, what they discovered, and what, if any conclusions they have reached.

Mr. President, neither you nor anyone else can prevent some people from being–and please pardon my bluntness–from being Stupid! My definition of stupidity is the choice to ignore both facts and truth. Ignorance, on the other hand, is easily defeated with solid and truthful information. What I am attempting to say, Sir, is let’s win the hearts of minds of those who readily respond to factual truth. Transparency in research will go much further than Mandates–regardless of how well intentioned those Mandates are.

Mr. President, I want to thank you for taking the time to listen to these thoughts and reflections. Your duties and responsibilities are both intense and immense; so I pray for you and your administration every day.

Respectfully yours,
Randy Burbank
Citizen of the greatest nation on Earth

## Scrambled Eggs

We’ve been gone on a Sabbatical, and I promised my readers that I would resume writing every day when we got home. We left Lake Millsite, Florida on Tuesday, going home by a “different” route. Soooo, in the immortal words made famous by Jack Nicholson:

Not in quaint and beautiful Mt. Vernon, Alabama. Right now I’m in Center Star, Alabama–in the home Dad had built about 59 years ago. Monday night, my son Matthew called and said they had to take Dad to the emergency room. His oxygen concentration was low. Turns out he was having a severe spell with his A-Fib and had caused his heart to have what is called RVR. (Click here to find out about RVR)

So Tuesday morning we packed up and headed to be with him in the hospital. The good news is they were able to restore normal heart rhythm. No more A-Fib or RVR. The bad news is that he has been diagnosed stenosis of the aortic valve in his heart. That’s when the flaps of the aortic valve become thick and stiff, or they fuse together. These problems cause the valve opening to become narrow. The narrowed valve reduces or blocks blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. The normal size of an adult aortic valve is around 3.0 to 4.0 cm2. His is now 1 cm2.

Normally, the treatment is to replace the diseased valve, going through the femoral artery. However at 95 years old, he is not a candidate for the procedure. Bad news, right? Well. . .the Good News he is ready to go Home; you know, the Eternal Home where there’s no such thing as A-Fib, RVR, arthritis or any of these aches and pains we experience on this orb known as Earth. He has 2 daughters already there and his wife of 73 years. Best of all, he knows Jesus is there.

Our conversations in the hospital revolved around the best care for him now. We talked about Hospice, and agreed it was time. In case you didn’t know, Hospice isn’t just for when death is imminent. It’s also for cases where death is medically determined to be inevitable because there are no longer viable medical treatment options. So today, Thursday, the twenty-eighth day of October in the year 2021 of our Lord, he and we met all of those who will be involved in his care until the inevitable happens.

Great people! We met his social worker, hospice aide, RN, and his chaplain. I enjoyed meeting all of them, as did Dad! But it was something that his chaplain said that is provoking these thoughts tonight. Garry, that’s his name, said, and listen very carefully: Only God Can Unscramble Eggs. Isn’t this rich!!!

When you make scrambled eggs, the shells are broken–and you can’t put the shells back together–I mean, someone might could try like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. But it ain’t gonna be able to hold anything, much less those innards of the egg. Then the egg whites and the egg yellows are all mixed together–the whites are indistinguishable from the yellows–dear Lord, you can’t separate them back into just the egg whites and egg yellows again. It is impossible, I say, impossible!!!

We just can’t do it! But that is just a small thing for God to do. In fact, He is the only one who can unscramble eggs. And this is why The Holy Spirit used Garry’s words to say something important to me–something I needed to hear.

Right now we are walking through the Valley of the Shadow of death. Dad is still alive, and kicking–and in his own words–“just not very high.” But negotiating the rest of the journey through this Valley, well. . .we need a little help. You may remember back in August we made this journey when my sister died.

And the help we are receiving right now and the help that will be with us as we journey from one end of this Valley all the way to the other end–comes from the only One who can unscramble an egg. With that kind of skill–I reckon we will make it just fine.

## Wherever You Are, There You Are!

Nope, I didn’t write anything yesterday. Seems like I said something about that before our semiannual sabbatical. In fact, yesterday I played a round of golf. And no, I am not ready for the Seniors Tour. I did hit a couple of good drives; and I made one birdie. Enough to make me want to play again. But I was thinking this morning.

I’m in a different location–different county–different state–doing different from the usual things–and a different time zone. But do you know what hasn’t changed?

• The sun still rises
• The sun still sets
• The moon still shines
• The breeze still blows
• Nature continues to show her awesome beauty
• And God is still faithful to me; not just me–but also to you!

As a small child, I never thought about spending Christmas Eve away from our house–because Santa might miss bringing me my toys. This is a small analogy to make–but God always knows where we are. Even if we think–NAY–even if we BELIEVED AND ARE TOTALLY CONVINCED THAT GOD CAN’T FIND US–yet He is always there with us. This Truth doesn’t depend on how we feel. This truth depends on God–and He is faithful.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.

Psalm 36:5 (NLT)

Just remember–wherever you are, there you are. And so is your Heavenly Father! Amen and Amen!

## When And Where

Here I am, Day 2 of our semi-annual sabbatical at Millsite Lake. And the eleven and a half hour drive has already proven to be well worth the sacrifice. As good as it is right now, it’s only going to get better. Now, just a few words about where we are–physically, mentally, and spiritually.

1. First, I rested very well. Rest is important for us–they human body, mind, and spirit are not made for 24 hour operations.
2. Second, my routine changed. Normally I’m up before 4:30 a.m. But this morning it was nearly 6:00 a.m. before I woke up. I poured my morning Cup from the Fountain of Life (that’s also known as coffee), went on the back deck, turned on my music, and worshiped my Lord and Savior. Though the place was difference, the result and response \in my heart didn’t change. Amazing! God is still with me even though I’m not at home. Astonishing, isn’t it!
3. I don’t yet know what we will do–but that’s OK. It seems so often that my daily agenda is driven by things to do and places I know I need to be. Today, no agenda but to experience and appreciate what God has in store for me.

When the routine changes, remember that God’s love, grace, mercy and purpose for you never changes. Now, if you will excuse me–I’m going back to the back deck.

## When It’s Dark

When this post appears, it’s dark outside for us. Truthfully, I can’t tell you exactly where we are–because I don’t know. Thanks to this marvelous thing called “Schedule your post”, I can share my thoughts even though I’m not sitting at my desk. Debbie and I left Sunday afternoon for our semi-annual sabbatical visit family at Lake Millsite near Bartow, Florida.

When this post appears, it’s still dark–but I’m not worried. You see, I have some things going for me. One thing is our headlights. I never have to worry about seeing the road. Another thing is I know where we are going. We’ve been there enough times, so we don’t need a roadmap (for you old folks) or even a GPS. The route is known to us. We know where the gas stations are; and where the Rest Areas are. Finally, I’m not alone–my gift from God, Debbie, is with me. She’s probably asleep right now–but that’s OK. She’s with me, and that’s good enough.

Now, let’s do an application of this little story. When darkness tries to overwhelm you, even make you afraid, or seem to be lost, remember that Jesus Is The Light. Remember Psalm 119: 105–“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” When it’s dark, go to the Word that became flesh!

Second, remember your destination. Your destination is more than heaven. Your destination is to become exactly like Jesus, the image you were created in. And for this remember Philippians 1:6–“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Every day so far, God has been at work in you. And even when it seems so dark outside, God is still at work!

Finally, remember you are not alone! Allow me to rephrase this: You Are Never Alone! He’s closer to you than Debbie is to me right now in the passenger seat. Jesus had something to say about Being with us in Matthew 28:20–“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Depending on the current time you are reading this–we may or may not have arrived at our destination. But we’re closer than we were at 4:00 p.m. Central Daylight Savings Time. I’m not frustrated we’re not there yet–I’m just confident, through God’s Grace, that we will get there!

P.S. Since this is a sabbatical, I may not be posting every day. But then again I might. We’re recharging our batteries. So if I don’t post tomorrow, remember:

## Did You Just See That?

Oh, wow! Did you see that? Oh, my–there’s another one. Wait! Another one! Goodness, gracious–there’s another one! And another! There’s another one! And Another! Another One! Man, they just keep coming–one right after the other! I’m telling you! There’s more of them than you can shake a stick at! What? I just had a vision that some of you are shaking your head at me, wondering if I need some special medication; wondering if I’ve gone off the deep end. Well, I haven’t–because in the time it took me to write these words, I saw many more. What is it I’m seeing so many of this morning? Actually, I’m only seeing one at a time. Let’s call them MOMENTS!

During my habitual time of listening to Christian Music to start my morning, I confess I was distracted–again. Instead of simply praising God in worship–I was thinking. Thinking about what to write this morning. Sometimes my words just flow out–most times I have to seek and seek hard on what to write. This morning was one of those latter times. As the music was playing in my earbuds, I was trying to find an idea for this morning. It was then, above my own thoughts, I heard the Spirit say, “Listen to that song, please!” Truthfully? He had been trying to get my attention the whole time–but I was lost in my thoughts.

Well, I listened and the song was “Keep Me In The Moment” by Jeremy Camp. And it was at the line in the refrain I heard ever so clear which said: “Keep me in the moment, I don’t want to miss what You have for me.” I knew what I was missing, so I sat my thoughts down, put them in the corner and told them not to move until I was ready for them to move. And as I lost myself in that Moment of worship, it was then I saw them–one at a time. Moments where God is present and offering me so much–much more than I deserve. He’s offering me His Presence. And with that presence, I find everything I need for anything!

Whatever you are facing in This Moment–remember that God is also present. Whatever the battle you face in This Moment, God is there waiting for you to put Him in the game. He will fight for you–and He’s a great fighter. He’s never lost a battle. Don’t let another Moment pass you by where you fail to see The Faithful Presence of your Heavenly Father. Every Moment He is with you. Remember these words of David who at first thought he found a Moment where God was not with him:

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Psalm 139:7-12 (The Message)

And to help you see This Moment, here’s the song from Jeremy Camp:

## If A Frog Had Wings

If a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his butt every time he hopped. This is one of the many facts in scientific law. Wish as the frog may, he has no wings–so each time he moves as he is designed to move, he bumps his butt. But (pun intended) still he hops, even though wings sure would help soften the landing. What does all this have to do with the Kingdom Life?

How many people today are living with their own IF? And because they are living with that IF, they feel that hard landing of the frog. They look around and see others who seem to be having much easier life than they are. They think to themselves, and often out loud, “You know, IF I had been born to different parents. IF I had their money. IF I had married that person, or NOT married the person I did. IF life had treated me fairly–then I would be as happy as a frog with wings.”

And they go through life sad, disillusioned, defeated, and miserable. IF you think about it, IF is a tragic way to live. Still, they are like that frog who wishes he had wings as he moves about his day doing what frogs do. While it’s true that a frog with wings would not bump his butt every time he hopped–it’s equally true that he wasn’t designed with wings.

And some people have that IF when it comes to God. That somehow God isn’t all He claims to be. That God isn’t fair with them. That God doesn’t care. That God has forgotten them.

• IF God is real, why is there such a mess out there?
• IF God cares, why did my spouse leave me?
• IF God loves me, why did my child die?
• IF God will provide for me, why did I lose my job?
• IF God is all powerful, why am I having to take chemotherapy today?
• IF God _________________(insert your own IF here)

But the problem with this thinking is it focuses on what we don’t have–rather than what we do have. The IF that you may long for will not, cannot give you the kind of life we are created to experience. It is true that while money cannot buy you happiness, it will buy you a place on the beach–and the beach is a better place to be unhappy. But it will not satisfy your heart.

There is a better way to live than like the frog who wishes he had wings. It is living within the relationship where God keeps every promise He ever made for you. God didn’t promise an easy life–but He provides an unshakable life. He provides the life that isn’t shaped by circumstances–but by His Truth and Faithfulness to us. How can I confidently say this? Because all of us are created in God’s Image. We just need to trust–to hang in there even IF everything inside of us screams to let go of God. I leave you this morning with these words of Paul–words that strengthen us for a life better than a frog with wings:

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NLT)

## Sighs Of The Times

Not a misprint–I said SIGHS of the time. I hear of lot of sighs around me. And for some time now–I’ve been SIGHING a lot.

• I sigh when I hear people say we don’t need to talk about racism–though nearly every day I hear a racist statement or two or three or four…
• I sigh when I hear people say that anyone younger than them “ain’t got a clue” about life–though they never try to teach…
• I sigh when I hear people whine and complain that they are not getting their fair share of life–though they are unwilling to apply themselves to the challenges of life…
• I sigh…when I hear employers complain they can’t find decent employees–though they regularly reject applications of people they think won’t fit in…
• I sigh when I hear church folks wonder why people don’t come to their church, after all, they are a friendly church–though they take neither the time nor the effort to get to know others…
• I sigh when I hear people complaining about the government–though they keep putting career politicians back in office…
• I sigh when I hear people say that Democrats are the answer to our problems–though they have helped create those problems…
• I sigh when I hear people say that Republicans are the answer to our problems–though they have helped create those problems…
• I sigh when I hear people complain about the culture–and that’s all they do: COMPLAIN
• I sigh when I hear people speak hate about other people today because of what other people did 175 years ago–as it they were the cause of poor decisions…
• I sigh when I hear when folks point out the sins of others–why they ignore their own sin…
• I sigh when I hear the researchers throwing out their fake science that is ruining so many lives–and vainly believe they are helping…
• I sigh when I hear self-identified Christians say they want Jesus to come back right how–not thinking about all those who will not be ready for His Appearing…
• I sigh when I hear me confess my sin–knowing I had the power of The Holy Spirit to successfully resist…
• I sigh when I hear hate and anger catapulted at those who wear the badge–and don’t seem to care they are human beings who want nothing but to help others and keep us all safe…
• I sigh when I hear nothing but silence–when it comes to the Truth of God and His Word…

What makes YOU sigh today? I could go on and on and on; and on some more about what makes me SIGH. But I am hit–and hit hard–by the Holy Spirit this morning. He asked me: “Randy, can you kindly tell me what all your SIGHING has accomplished? I mean other than made you feel sad, even an unhealthy bit of despair? After all, any amount of despair ain’t heathy for you.” So, I let that thought sink in a little bit. I refrained from that knee jerk reaction of: “I’m justified in this because that’s the way it is!” As His question marinated in my heart and mind, I finally answered Him: “It would be better for me, and my world, if I prayed instead of SIGHING!” And I could swear that I heard The Spirit say, “Mm-hmm.” Instead of SIGHING today, I’ll pray today, tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next, and the next… Will you join me in giving up SIGHING and replace it with PRAYING?

## Spending Our Way Into Oblivion!

News Flash! The U.S. Government is needing to buy new Intaglio Presses because their current supply is wearing out. . .and wearing out fast! As of 5:11 a.m. Central Daylight Savings Time, the U.S. National Debt is $28,430,725,597,463 and it’s growing. We have problems, serious problems in our nation; and it seems whether one is a Democrat or a Republican, the answer is SPEND SPEND SPEND AND SPEND SOME MORE! I have it from an unnamed source that the Treasury Department has had to install additional air conditioner units in order to keep their existing Intaglio Presses from overheating. Both on the surface and through deep inspection, I am convinced that our leadership believes that all of our problems can be solved through the Intaglio Press. “Let’s just print more money to spend, and we can fix all of the problems!” And now at 5:19 a.m. Central Daylight Savings Time, the National Debt is now$28,430,747,205,478 and still rising. And I am left wondering, “If money can fix all of our problems, why ain’t they fixed yet?”

Call me Simple Simon, but I just don’t think nor believe that money is the answer to the problems facing our nation. Yet, this is the path that not only our government is pursuing, but countless lives are walking down. It is that proverbial primrose path that Shakespeare warned about in his epic play “Hamlet”. Hamlet’s sister Ophelia tried to warn him to do what is right–but Hamlet chose what appeared to be a path filled with fragrant flowers leading to great pleasure. Instead, it led to his own destruction. Was Shakespeare a prophet? Seems so.

If money isn’t the answer, what is the answer? We are facing complex issues and even more complex problems–as a nation and as individuals. Simplistic solutions will not work. But a Simple Solution will work. And it doesn’t start with the government nor Democrats nor Republicans nor Big Corporations nor even with a nation as a whole. It begins with a very small (compared to the total population) group. Would you like to know the process to end this madness?

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

We’ve all seen this passage, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. But it’s not been applied correctly. There is a formula and process involved. Here’s how it works:

• If my people who are called by my name: not nations, people! Not Americans or Asians or Russians or Chinese. God’s People–people who have aligned themselves with God’s Rule over their life, and those who call themselves Christians.
• Will humble themselves: Stop thinking you are better than someone else. Stop believing you are right and they are wrong. Stop relying on your own intellect and abilities. Neither are much to write home about.
• And pray: God said PRAY not BLAME! I hear a lot of BLAME PRAYING today; and that’s just plain LAME! Go back to the second step–be concerned and focused on yourself!
• And seek my face: Not your image of God’s face–but God’s true face. Lay aside your preconceived notions about God and simply allow God to BE GOD!
• And turn from THEIR wicked ways: We’ve asked God to turn the Democrats around. We’ve asked God to turn the Republicans around. That ain’t working. Go back to Step One. It’s not the wicked ways of this nation, but our own failure to deal with the sin inside us. Until we Followers of Jesus deal with our problems, our nation’s problems cannot be resolved! If we, God’s people fail in this step, our nation will continue to fail!
• I will hear from heaven: This step is simple: Put our confidence in God. He says He is listening. We know He is good. Now really trust Him.
• And will forgive their sins: Not the sins of a nation–but the sins of people who claim to be followers of Jesus.
• And will restore their land! But we never arrive here, until we follow the complete process.

Spending more isn’t going to restore our land. Let’s spend more time on allowing God to restore us His People, then our land will be restored. And at 5:54 a.m. Central Daylight Savings Time our National Debt is \$28,430,759,856,803 and rising.

## The Lost Art Of Listening

This past Saturday was a difficult day for so many in the Shoals area. It was the funeral for Sgt. Nick Risner of the Sheffield Police Department. I knew Matthew was very involved in preparations, so I waited until late that evening to call and check on him. My call woke him up from his sleep, so I didn’t talk long. I just let him know I was thinking and praying for him. I ended the call and prayed.

Early Sunday morning he called me back. And he talked. . . about his week. And I listened to pain and great tiredness as he described in clear details his week. . .and that Saturday. It must have been about 15 to 20 minutes. I didn’t try to “fix” him, I just listened. That listening helped me to pray–and the two churches I serve to pray for all those who were hurting.

And this morning, sitting on the front porch, listening to my music, I realized how important it is that we Listen. And I started thinking about how that so many do NOT want to Listen–they would rather talk–NAY–they want to SHOUT! It seems, at least to me, that the vast majority of people have lost The Art Of Listening. We live in a society and culture where more value is placed on talking and less value is placed on Listening.

Listening is more difficult to do that talking. Heck, you don’t even have to think to talk! In politics, in community, and unfortunately, even in church–we have forgotten the value and importance of Listening. Now, there are some who Listen–but they Listen for the wrong purpose. Their purpose is to fix the person talking. Think about that last statement for a moment–to fix. You do know that when you fix a pet, you are making them impotent and unable to reproduce?

My friends, I desire and pray that none of you forget the value of Listening! You don’t have to go to college to learn the Art Of Listening. I believe, with all my heart, that the Art Of Listening begins with the Heart Of Caring. Let’s stop talking at each other. Let’s stop shouting at each other. Let’s stop thinking that our opinions are so vital and important that we must get them across at any cost. Let’s stop trying to fix (making impotent) people around us.

Of all the useless dribble I learned decades ago at Emory, there is one lesson I have never forgot. The class was on Christian Care and Counseling. I can’t remember the instructor’s name, but I do remember what he did–he was a chaplain at Emory University Hospital. Amazing how we remember what someone does for others even when we can’t remember their name. Anyhow, what he said was this: “Never under estimate the power of your presence. You do not have to give them good answers–if they know you care enough to be there to listen. There is something powerful in the ministry of just being there.” Care enough to Listen!

## WHAT IS TODAY?

What is today? Looking at the calendar the answer would be Columbus Day. It’s also Indigenous People Day. It seems that almost every day on the calendar it’s some day focused on something or someone. There’s Donut Day, Pizza Day, Ice Cream Day, Pet Day, Daughter’s Day, Son’s Day, Frisbee Day, No Socks Day, and the beat goes on.

Today’s reflections are short and to the point. We are a culture driven by calendars. But what if instead we were driven by just one thought? What would that thought be? How would we dedicate that day to just one thought? Well…it depends on the thought. And here’s my thought: What if we dedicated and declared every day to be Psalm 118 Verse 24 Day?

This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

New Living Translation

What would our culture look like if we did this every day? Call me crazy, I think every day would be better than the one before.

## The Prejudice Problem

The Prejudice Problem in our nation is greater in number of people who hold tightly to their prejudice than those who hold tightly to their Racist views. And yes, there is a difference between Prejudice and Racism. There, I said it and I do not take it back! But they do have something in common: They Are Wrong And Sinful Views To Hold!

Racism oozes and gushes out from Prejudice. But Prejudice? It has nothing to do with racism. And if you disagree with me on this point–it’s OK to disagree with me–but you’re still wrong. Look and analyze these two words. First, look at the word Racism. It obvious that it revolves around a person’s race. Right?

Now look at the word Prejudice. There’s nothing in that word that says anything about a person’s Race. Still think I’m wrong? Well, if you still think that, then YOU are still wrong. The word Prejudice comes from the Latin word “praejudicium” which is a combination of two words. The first is prae” which means in advance. The second is “judicium” which means judgement. Prejudice means to judge someone or something in advance of knowing all the facts.

Prejudice happens when conclusions are drawn about someone or a group of people without without really knowing anything about them. And this can happen regardless of the color of one’s skin or their nationality. Think of this word: Prejudge. If you were charged with a crime and appear in the courtroom only to find out that the jury and judge has already deemed you guilty before the trial begins, how would you feel? Or if you were a victim of a crime, and the jury and judge determined the accused was innocent before any evidence was presented, how would that make you feel?

Yet, people do the same thing to other people. They draw conclusions about them because of their economic status. Or they draw conclusions about them because of where they go to church. Or the community they live in. Or the style of their hair. Or the football team they support. Or the neighborhood they live in. Or which political party they support. Or which version of the Bible they read. Or their favorite color. Or on what others say about that person.

How about this “Or“: they Prejudge someone based on things that happened 2 centuries ago. Prejudice is holding tightly to opinions that have no basis in fact. Prejudice goes deeper than the color of one’s skin. Truth is, it has nothing to do with one’s skin color. The truth is Prejudice is forming opinions without facts to back up and justify that opinion of another person. Prejudice is that conscious decision to alienate others without ever knowing them.

Prejudice has led us to this culture that mistrusts and dislikes others. Prejudice leads to many horrible, ugly things. Racism is one of them. No doubt, Racism is both wrong and a problem. And so many are trying to eliminate Racism by treating it as The Problem. Racism is a symptom of The Problem–but it’s not the disease. And we know from the medical world that often times treating The Problem will not cure The Disease.

The Disease which has cast a dark shadow over the land is Prejudice. Until we treat The Disease, The Problem continues to grow like cancer. How about it people? Let’s stop Prejudging others before we even get to know them. Let’s stop Prejudging others on things that have nothing to do with the character of their heart and life. Let’s stop Prejudging others before we get to know them. Call me crazy (you won’t be the first or last to do so), I believe that we can weaken that demon called Racism if we would just stop thinking and acting out of Prejudice. Racism will happen because we live in a fallen world, and it has a ton of idiots. This isn’t an attempt to justify Racism; it’s just a fact. We will do more to improve this culture and world if we will stop engaging in praejudicium. But who knows, maybe we would eliminate Racism.

## An Open Letter To The Alabama Department Of Corrections and To Colbert County D.A. Bryce Graham, Jr.

To the aforementioned individuals,

First I want to say something to the Alabama Department of Corrections. On your website you have the wrong Mission, Vision, and Values Statement. To be factual, I took this screenshot so as not to miss or misquote a single word of your Statements:

You state that your Vision is “impacting lives for a safer Alabama”. Well, on the afternoon of 1 October 2021, that proved to be a bald-faced lie. In 2016 you released Brian Martin for allegedly “good behavior”–though records show he got into a fight with another inmate seriously injuring him, failing to obey a guard, and not one but TWO drug possessions. All this in LESS THAN 3 YEARS of incarceration. In 2013 Mr. Martin shot and killed his father. And you have the audacity to excuse your failings on Alabama’s Good Behavior law? YOU made him a Class I offender. (If anyone wants to know more about Alabama’s Good Behavior Law CLICK HERE) Did you even look at your Vision Statement? Do you even understand it?

And because of your ineptitude, on that horrendous afternoon, two people are dead, including Sheffield Police Department Sgt. Nick Risner. Mr. Martin also shot at other police officers, injuring one, and another was missed by inches. And now a family is without a husband and a father; a community is without the service and dedication of one of it’s officers; and another family deals with their loved one being dumped out of a moving vehicle like a piece of trash. Alabama Department of Corrections, do you think all this makes for a “safer Alabama”?

And to add insult to injury, your ALLEGED VALUES statement includes ACCOUNTABILITY! Obviously there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY within your department. If there was, then the Warden, any others who could have but failed to stop this pathetic early release, and the head of the Alabama Department of Corrections need to be criminally charged (and hopefully convicted) of being accessories before the fact. YOU bear responsibility for the deaths and trauma in the Shoals Area. You have NO MISSION, NO VISION, AND ABSOLUTELY NO VALUES when it comes to a safer Alabama.

And now, on to you, Mr. Bryce Graham, Jr. Here’s a screenshot from your website:

You declare that you want to see justice done in each and every case. Well, your decisions prove that’s just not the case. In 2013, when Mr. Martin was on trial for shooting and killing his father, you pled him down to manslaughter and a sentence of only 10 years. Was justice really served in that case? Surely, Mr. Graham, Jr., you are aware of Alabama’s Good Time Law. You must have known (at least should have known) that Mr. Martin could have been released after serving only one-third of his sentence.

Mr. Graham, Jr.–you share with the Alabama Department of Corrections responsibility for the tragic events on 1 October 2021. What were you thinking when you agreed to the plea deal? The only answer I can reach is that you were more concerned about your conviction rate than justice for Mr. Martin’s victim. And now the victims of Mr. Martin have multiplied. How does that make you feel, Mr. Graham, Jr.? And now, for there to be any sense of justice, Mr. Graham, Jr. you should finish the last 7 years of Mr. Martin’s sentence. Who knows, maybe the Alabama Department of Corrections (‘corrections’, what a joke!) will classify you as a Class I prisoner and let you go free before your 7 year sentence is serve.

Before you ever reach another “plea deal”, remember 1 October 2021. Maybe, I said Maybe, you will think long and hard–and rise up to the challenge of seeking justice for the victims of criminals.

## When We Need To Slow Down!

I am nearly always up long before the sun. Sometimes it’s the alarm clock; most of the time I just wake up. I reckon it’s part of growing older; at least that’s what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes. I do it because I both need and want some quiet time with God. Even this early in the morning, there is some traffic on Alabama Highway 18. I suppose it’s people on their way to work.

Most mornings the vast majority of the drivers are in a hurry, exceeding the posted speed limit. Highway 18 is a two lane road. And the battle is between those who observe the posted limit and those who think they are in a NASCAR race. This morning it’s foggy–really foggy. An advisory has been issued. And between songs and talking with Papa, I noticed this: Most vehicles were driving slower because of this fog. But then–some were driving like the visibility was unlimited–even though it was severely limited. And it got me to thinking. I know, it doesn’t take much for me.

Here’s what I was thinking: It’s dangerous to keep moving at the same speed when we can’t see clearly what’s ahead. I’m not just talking about cars–though around here, deer have a tendency to be moving at this time of morning–and if a car hits a deer, the outcome isn’t good for either. No, I’m talking about life!

Fog isn’t just a meteorological phenomenon; it happens in Life; and sometimes it happens frequently. There are events that happen that hit us hard–so hard that the visibility of what is ahead is limited. And some people, like some cars I witnessed this morning–keep driving fast as if everything will be OK. And when it happens in Life, the results can spell disaster.

So what should we do when the road ahead cannot be clearly seen? Slow down–both our cars and our lives. And to remember, that when we can’t clearly see what’s ahead–our Heavenly Father sees with clarity. All we need to do is heed the advice of David:

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.

Psalm 42:1 (NLT)

One of the meanings of the Hebrew word translated “waited patiently” is “to wait for, linger for”. Indeed, Life often moves at a fast pace, but it doesn’t mean we have to move at that pace. Linger for a moment, and God will hear your cry. It’s safer for you–and everybody else.

## The Wrong Dwelling

According to dictionary.com dwelling, as a noun, is defined as “a building or place of shelter to live in; place of residence; abode; home.” This morning I wasn’t thinking about nouns, I was thinking about verbs. And from the Cambridge Dictionary, as a verb, it is defined as to think or talk about something a lot of the time”. And as I sitting here thinking about that word as a verb, the above picture is my mental image.

I mean, how many people are dwelling in the wrong dwelling these days? And this is not a unique phenomenon for our times. It’s been around for a very long time. The particular dwelling I’m dwelling on this morning is that venomous, noxious, and vulgar eyesore called The Past. And though I was thinking about the verb form of dwelling, the noun form also fits.

Living In The Past is choosing to live each in a dilapidated house. Think about living in a dilapidated house. It’s cold in the winter; hot in the summer. It’s filled with critters and creatures that will make the skin crawl. I mean, who would even want to live in a house like the one pictured above? Of course not! Yet mentally, emotionally, and spiritually this is the kind of dwelling people live within when their focus is on The Past.

Dwelling on their own sins. Dwelling on someone else’s sins. Dwelling on the wrong someone did to them. Dwelling on being passed over at work. Dwelling on being betrayed by someone who we thought was our friend. Dwelling on how someone else’s life is great while yours is the pits. Dwelling on a harsh word spoken in the heat of a moment. Dwelling on missed opportunities. Dwelling on being denied a loan. Dwelling Dwelling Dwelling in places that are not healthy for us at all. So, how do we change our Dwelling?

It’s simple; so simple that we make it difficult. Change your Dwelling! You just move out and move into! Out of the past and into the new present and new future. The move has already been provided and paid for–you just need to do more than decide–you gotta act right now! It’s just like Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17:

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life emerges!

From The Message

Dwelling on the past never changes the present; and it never offers us a future. On the other hand, Dwelling in and on Jesus–now that’s the kind of Dwelling to live in. It’s a great neighborhood, too! Regardless of how difficult you think it will be to make this kind of move, remember that God will take care of you. He has taken care of your Past–He has your Present–and oh, what a Future He will have for you!

## The Wailing Heard Around The World!

Did you hear it yesterday? There was a wailing that beset and enveloped the globe yesterday. Facebook and Instagram was missing in action! And panic quickly ensued and consumed the hearts and minds of billions. Scientists were quickly scrambling to see if the earth suddenly stopped spinning. Is the Zombie Apocalypse about to happen? Is the world about to end? Is our Sun about to go super nova and all people have worked so hard for about to become a black hole? Are the stock markets about to crash? And how can they express their pain of not having Facebook if there is no Facebook?

I mean, how will their thousands of “friends” know what they had for lunch? How will their “friends” know how unfair life is treating them. How will they discover their next “life hack”? How will their “friends” know where they are, what they are seeing? How in the world will they communicate with their “friends”? How will their function without their beloved “Facebook Fact Checkers”?

And we thought 2020 was the most horrible year of all. But oh such dark hours on Monday, the fourth of October of 2021. So many were left befuddled and confused. What use is there for their phones if Facebook and Instagram aren’t working? Many were feeling a deep emptiness and a crushing and devastating darkness consuming their lives. I wonder if suicide crisis lines were being overwhelmed with calls.

But then, just as mysteriously as it disappeared, Facebook and Instagram were back. The clouds began to part–they were reunited with their “friends”. And now everyone will know the despair and pain they felt in those dark, dark, ominous hours when “there was no Facebook and Instagram”!

Well, guess what, Buttercup? The world kept on spinning. The stock markets didn’t crash. Your “friends” survived not know what you were eating or where you were at. The sun didn’t go super nova and a black hole didn’t happen. But for some time to come they will ask the question with a tear still in there eyes, “Do you remember where you were on 10-4?”

## TICKS!

This past Friday afternoon I committed to a decision to work on another place to hunt. It was in the woods behind my house. So I cleared me a path to it, found a good spot for a feeder and to make a mineral lick. I needed to clear a lot of undergrowth and to make a couple of shooting lanes from my stand. It was exhausting, but I made a lot of progress and felt really good about my efforts; at 65 years old, too!

Being a bit sweaty, covered in dirt and what the chainsaw threw back on me, I headed for the shower. As I was about to step into the shower, I noticed a tick on my right leg. It was firmly imbedded and was feasting on my Type O negative blood. It took a pair of tweezers to dislodge him from his dinner table. End of story, right?

Wrong! The next morning as I was sitting outside and enjoying the Living Waters (a.k.a.) coffee, I found another tick. This one had already been feasting overnight on MY blood. I carefully removed him, sending him to Tick Hell! Then I found another–and then another! Three that morning who had spent the night enjoying my Type O negative blood. And it was those 4 Ticks that got me to thinking about this morning’s musings.

Ticks are blood-sucking ogres who want something from me–and they don’t care what they do to me. Some of them even carry serious diseases such as Lyme Disease and the infamous Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. Ticks are not insects, they are classified as arachnids, or relatives of spiders, scorpions and mites. Ticks also are found in other forms.

Some Ticks come in the form of feelings. Feelings such as fear, depression, despair, anger, bitterness, remorse, regret, uselessness, or memories of past failures. Some ticks come in the form of persistent sin in our life. They attack and attach themselves deep within us. And they do not want to let go. After all, they are getting free food from you.

And sometimes nature’s Ticks come in the form of human beings. I’m not talking about vampires or zombies. I’m talking about real, live, walking and (unfortunately) talking human beings. And like those small Ticks, they may not be noticed at first. But from the first moment they attach themselves to you, they begin sucking the life right out of us. Examples are people who dwell on and spew the venom of the negative; those who like you only for what you can do for them; those who are living in self-destruct mode but they want others to self-destruct with them; and of course–abusers! Abuse can be verbal, mental, physical, or sexual. We call these toxic relationships because they are deadly to us.

And like nature’s Ticks, emotions and toxic relationships get bigger the longer they stay attached to you. While a small nature’s Tick may not be all that noticeable at the beginning, the longer they remain attached the more obvious and ugly, they become. See?

So what’s person to do if they finally see the ugliness of their “Infestation of Ticks”? Do what Paul recommended to the Colossians:

But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us.

(Emphasis mine) Colossians 3:8-11

If you will give me a little liberty with Paul’s words, I would say to you: In this new life, it doesn’t matter who you are, or who you used to be. And you are not defined by those toxic relationships. Jesus has and will continue to deliver you from all of that!” Don’t let those Ticks ruin your life. Jesus has the best life of all for you!

## The Blue Line!

What prompted these thoughts is this news. https://whnt.com/news/shoals/2-muscle-shoals-police-officers-shot/

Two more police officers have been shot, this time it was in my former hometown, Sheffield, Alabama. Every time I see or hear of an officer, deputy, or agent being shot, my heart aches and breaks. I hurt for them and for their families, their departments, their friends, and all those who wear The Badge. The suspect had already shot and killed one person earlier that afternoon. And here’s the thing that sticks in my crawl: He was arrested in 2011 for killing his father over an owed debt in Tuscumbia. He was released from prison in May 2016, according to police. He had already been convicted of killing his own father, and a plea deal ended in his conviction of manslaughter. And it gets worse: he served only 3 years of a 10 year sentence.

You see, I am a very proud Dad of a Deputy Sherriff, my son Matthew. And I understand, better than most, that this incident could have involved him. Matthew is also a 22 year plus veteran. I worried about him when he was deployed in Bosnia, Africa, and multiple times in the Middle East. But I also knew that in those hell-holes when someone pulled a weapon on him, it would be the last time they pulled a weapon on anyone. But now my concern for him is even more. He’s had a drunk pull a gun on him in recent months. And because of all the hype and BS about law enforcement, he has to think twice about how to respond. That second thought has cost the life of many law enforcements officers–and it could cost him his life.

And what I want to know this morning is an answer to a very simple question: “Where is the public outrage?” Why aren’t people rushing into the streets to protest this heinous act? Where are the demands that the neighborhood of this suspect be forced to go through sensitivity training, and that those who don’t or who fail to successfully complete the training be kicked out of town and have 24 hours to pack their belongings and leave? Where are the counselors and social workers who should be talking to this man’s family and friends about prejudice against The Blue? Where is the outcry that people who kill other people should not be let out of jail? Why aren’t people who don’t wear the badge held to at least an equal standard? Why aren’t people in other towns, cities, and states flooding the streets crying out for justice for those who wear The Badge?

Thinking about such questions makes me angry and my blood boil. Not at just the man who caused this carnage. But mainly at those who so quickly run to judgement against The Badge, but ignore the sin at their own door! Please pray for Sgt. Nick Risner, his family, fellow officers, and his friends. Pray for those self-serving cretinous, moronic, witless idiots who cry out against The Badge–but never support those who wear The Badge when they are out there protecting and serving.

Postscript: The second picture is the banner picture on my son’s Facebook Page. This is how 98% of those who wear The Badge feel when they put on The Badge.

We need more leaders like Sheriff Grady Judd in Polk County Florida!

## When You Get The Wind Knocked Out Of You

I think it was in the fall of 1990. I was a volunteer fire fighter. One day we were called out to find a woods fire. I was the ranking officer present, so I set us out a plan. I called for the Forest Commission fire plow to assist. Fortunately it was available. When the plow and driver arrived we agreed on where he needed to start. I informed the others that I would be following the plow setting backfires. Oh, did I mention that this “fire plow” was a bulldozer?

Well that bulldozer started cutting a fire line. I was walking behind him with a Bic lighter and some dry sage grass setting a backfire. He noticed me and called me up and graciously loaned me his backfire starter, a fuel can of diesel fuel with a special end that allowed me to literally apply drops of fire to set the backfire. Definitely a lot quick than my little Bic lighter. Oh, a little more details. Where he stopped was a big patch of Kudzu, so thick you couldn’t see what was beneath it except where he had already cut the fire lane.

Here’s what I remember. I picked up the fire starter at the same moment he engaged the dozer. Something hit me square in the sternum and the pain was so intense, I saw nothing but something like a flash. I remember thinking, “I’m about to die!” See, I thought the dozer tracks slipped in the undergrowth and the dozer had just hit me. I couldn’t breathe. But when I caught my breath I was a few yards from the dozer. It wasn’t the dozer that hit me. There were some logs hidden beneath the Kudzu, and one of them attacked me as the track ran over it–hitting me square in the sternum. A little more details are needed.

Where we were was at the top of a hill. Remember, at the bottom of this hill I had already set backfires. For the uninformed, unlike me who walks uphill and runs downhill, fire does the opposite. It RUNS uphill. The dozer operator started to get off his machine but I noticed the fire running like the wind uphill right at us. I managed to motion him to get going, and I rolled to the other side of the fire lane. And off he went trying to outrun the fire. I grabbed my radio and managed to get 2 words out: “192 down!” That was my radio designation.

My fellow firefighters rushed to where I was. They called for an ambulance. By the time they got to me, I was able to breathe again, but it hurt to breathe. I tried to tell them I would be OK, just as soon as my chest quit hurting. But off to the hospital I went. After x-rays the doc determined nothing was broken. Just the wind knocked out of me and some deep bruising. And the point of my story?

Sometimes life is like this. Suddenly–unexpectedly–from out of nowhere we get the wind knocked out of us. It can be with such force that we get knocked back several yards from where we were. And all kind of thoughts can run through out heads. I know! In that particular situation, even though I had difficulty breathing, I let my training take over my thoughts and my actions.

Before the moment comes that hits you so hard that it knocks the spiritual breath out of you–remember what David remembered. When David was being hunted by his enemies, he remembered this:

I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain. I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.

Psalm 3:3-4 (NLT)

This is why spiritual training is mandatory, not optional. By cultivating and working at this wonderful Grace-Filled Relationship, we discover the trustworthiness of God. When that fire was rushing up the hill at me, I would have panicked had it not been for my training. And when life hits you so hard that you go flying through the air, remember that God will fly to your side–and like David–you can rest even when surrounded by the enemies.