Before you finish that thought, take a gander at this.  We find what we are looking for in the least likely places sometimes. Other times the answers are right in front of us.

A few weeks ago I visited another church to hear my brother-in-Christ preach on a beautiful Sunday morning.  I’d made excuses as to why I absolutely needed to serve at my home church unyieldingly.  But I was convinced otherwise.  So many little distractions sought to derail me from hearing this meaningful sermon.  Alas, I arrived unscathed and unrattled.

The humidity was high and the fans were whirling.  The sweaty brows were merely preparing for the message that had been prepared days before.  Days before.  The message was about the days that were left.  The minutes that were left.  And if there was anything that would make a soul sweat, it’s the uncertainty.  “Am I worthy?”  That’s the question that is so often asked.  And the answer is yes!  “Is there time?”  That’s a question that is not easily answered.

Spoiler alert!  Tomorrow is not promised.

He preached on the book of Revelations.  Specifically the tribulations as described in Revelations 6:1  I shall call them the Dees. There was Dominion; the Division that we are witnessing daily with the injustice and civil unrest in our nation and the world; the Deprivation that we can not ignore unless we live far from the urban areas; and the Destruction that is eminent.

This book of the Bible is always fascinating to folks who enjoy science fiction.  However, calling any part of the Bible science fiction is practically blasphemy.  Believers embrace it as truth, but non-believers become intrigued.  If not for the evidence from our history and contemporary proof, agnostics and atheists would debunk every prediction as a scare tactic or as fables and myths. 


Simply put, we are ignoring the laws that have been laid before us by God.  Matthew 18:18 provides a rule for adhering to the laws made here on earth.  We are making our own laws that could potentially be recognized in heaven (if we as a culture would adhere to them here on earth).  But we do not.  Romans 13:1-7 speaks a more intense truth.

Our laws are outdated, our law makers are corrupt and distracted, and our prisons are filled.  We have allowed the wrong forces to rule dominion over us.  Only when there is mass oppression is there an uprising.  Where were the rebels when the laws were proposed?  Who spoke up when the votes were cast?  How did we as a people get so distracted?  We’ve sought the world instead of God, and now can not recognize Him and His word unless it is discretely placed on a track in our favorite song. Even then God’s word is misquoted, misrepresented, and misguiding.

With the Bible being the most purchased book in the English language, it is still the least read.  Seek ye first the kingdom of God.  How do we know when scripture is taken out of context?  We don’t.  We defend that it was written by man, translated by man, and facilitated by man to justify man’s will, not God’s.  The southern doctrine of slavery is proof positive of this.  Global missionaries are also facilitated and supported based on the Bible and man’s interpretation that the gospel must be read from the highest mountain.  This is not hypocrisy. This is doctrine.  Without guidance however, mankind too often misinterprets the rules by calling them guidelines.


We witness division daily.  We can not turn on the news without hearing about how “they” have oppressed us; or how “our” rights and liberties are in jeopardy.  Them verses us is the daily argument.  There hasn’t been a week in the past three years that our nation has not seen a steady incline of inequality.  Foreign nations have been dealing with civil unrest for hundreds of years!  The fights over the Holy Land have escalated to the point that the hype of the war-torn regions no longer peaks the interest of media fanatics.  It’s no longer news.

There’s division in race, gender, sexuality, nationality, religion and creed, age, and the list goes on.  The oppressors worry that they will become the oppressed.  The fear is that vengeance will be sought by the righteous.  But it is the meek who shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are the righteous!


We see starving families at all corners of the world.  When we can’t see it, the media surely broadcasts the impoverished nations for profit (either through corporate sponsorship or via fundraising campaigns).  Scandal plagues our world and chips away at what is left of our trust and social conscience.  Even the righteous and giving are left to feel stupid and used as they seek to follow God’s word–to help right the wrongs of the world.  Trust is lost.  The hungry continue to starve as fewer people want to help.  Servants of God dwindle as the true believers struggle all alone.

Our society has no relief for the vacant homes that outnumber the homeless.  The homeless perish in the winds of destruction, the floods, and the oppressive heat that is unpredicted and unexplained.  The leaders rush to make sense of the perilous times as the followers scrutinize every decision. We believe everything that we read.  But we refuse to check our source.  We’ve no longer insisted on checking our facts.  We deprive ourselves of knowledge for the sake of time. We refuse to use that same time that we saved to think about what we are doing.

The hungry stay hungry.  Even the rich squander their wealth, risk their health, abuse life, and (stolen) liberty to maintain their privileged lifestyle.  Don’t take my word for it (click on any of the highlighted links above to read more).


destruction 2

Although the apocalypse describes characteristics of our culture that are already present, in fact the worse has not yet occurred. We are only getting a glimpse. It took what was described as seven days to create the world (and the scientists translate those “days” into billions of years). Could not the last “days” already be amongst us?

Even the secular world is beginning to see the signs and the impending doom.  I take relief only in knowing that despite the signs of impending doom, the mere prediction is not enough to know for certain.  We won’t know.  We won’t see it coming. And there won’t be anytime to prepare once it has begun.

It’s not too late to get right with The Lord. Tomorrow is not promised, but we still have right now.  This is not a final synopsis.  It’s important to get right today.  Immediately!  But even after salvation, there is much work to be done here on earth.  The saints emphasize serving the Lord.  We serve Him by serving man, but not by serving ourselves individually.  It is the world that makes salvation tricky.  There are no tricks in God’s word.

Be mindful of the D’s.  In a time when we believe everything that we see, most of what we read, and a lot of what we hear, we are gravely at risk.  We’ve given dominion to the wrong authority.  We’ve willingly divided ourselves.  We watched the destruction and simply rebuilt our lives on sinking sand.  Waiting for the destruction makes even less sense.

The New Sneetches

Fairfield Township Committee Meeting (June 16, 2015)


Mayor Byrd expeditiously terminated the meeting before there could be committee reports or comments, further discussion or questions. A commentary is offered here:    

It was announced by the solicitor, coming out of executive session, that there was some discussion about a potential technology/data system breach that is pending investigation.  This is an alarming discovery that must be rectified immediately due to the confidential nature of all sorts of public and privileged documents.

Also handled in public session was the Rice Hearing for the clerk.  Oddly enough the timely passage of Ordinance No. 8-2015 has provided provisions for ANY elected official or APPOINTED official to be covered under the ordinance which provides legal counsel.  Although the amendment to that Ordinance No. 9-2015 has only had its first reading this evening, the changes do not disqualify the clerk from being protected under the ordinance.  In other words, her legal fees are the responsibility of the Township.

This time the public questioned the urgency for another ordinance.  The first reading of Ordinance No. 9-2015 was explained by the solicitor to be necessary because Ordinance No. 8-2015 (which provided legal counsel for any elected or appointment official to be provided by the Township) was presented, voted on, passed by a 3-2 vote, and was written and presented incorrectly!  There was a typographical error that was in fact questioned (by Committeeman Morton) during debate and determined to be a non-issue by the solicitor and the three committeemen that favored the ordinance.  Now the public via the Township Committee is exposed to legal fees and the liability as a result of a committee that has already made a risky judgment.  The committee is now scrambling to correct this error.  The solicitor consented this evening that the erroneous ordinance is in fact in effect; although he affirmed that steps are being taken to correct the oversight.


Ordinance No. 8-2015 should not have been passed.  It should be rescinded.  Poor counsel and devious intent may be driving passage of similar misdoings.

Mining ordinance (Ordinance No. 6-2015):  There was a mining ordinance passed but there is some concern in the community that the ordinance has been challenged by another governing authority.  The challenge resulted from a declared conflict-of-interest by the committeemen who voted in favor of the ordinance (Committeeman Pitts, Committeeman Clark, and Mayor Byrd).  Although the conflict was declared, the committee passed the ordinance regardless.  What is the outcome of that error?  Will that ordinance be revisited?

Money in Mining?

Bill list:  It’s difficult to approve a bill list with no time to review it.  But it was approved nonetheless.  Legal fees were disclosed this month only after there was concern that the fees were greater than usual in the past month due to personnel issues (the release of volunteers and an Office of Emergency Management Coordinator) that were initiated without the committees consent.  As an aside, aren’t these appointed officials also entitled to township sponsored legal counsel and fees?

Approval of the minutes:  The committee was asked to approve the minutes from May, but receiving them this evening, there was very little time to verify the accuracy.   If not for the reliability of the clerk’s minutes, I would be concerned.  However, a brief review indicated that there was very lengthy and descriptive discussion about proposed ordinances.  The Mayor and the members of the committee engaged in appropriate discussion that clearly highlighted the dangers of taking certain actions.  But the motions were made to approve despite those discussions that clearly exposed the committee and the public to liability.  Debate is important.  But more important is the value that debate has to the outcome.

Former Mayor Viola Thomas-Hughes inquired this evening for a second time about the line items in the budget that defined and warranted the recent tax increase.  For a second time, the Mayor indicated that he had the information but he “forgot” to bring it with him.  His appropriate response could have been that one of the committeemen discussed three of those line items at the last meeting, but the Mayor may have forgotten that as well.

There were rumors circulating that there might be a pending resignation by a member of the committee.  There has been neither a confirmation nor denial of any such resignation.

As a result of the actions taken by the Mayor and his three-fifths, the meeting was adjourned.  This left no remedies for pressing issues and no direction for the new Administrator or current Clerk on how to resolve pending controversies.  In his finality, Mayor Byrd motioned to have these matters referred to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in Trenton.  Surely, a governmental review of the impartiality, racial bias, and political corruption in Fairfield Township will shine a spotlight on the entire organization.

Michael Morton is your Delegate to the 2015 National Education Association Representative Assembly

Hello to all of my friends, colleagues, and fellow educators.

As you may be aware, you have selected me for the sixth time to attend the National Education Association Representative Assembly.  The first time that I attended, the venue was in Washington D.C. back in 2008.  As you may recall,  I was selected to attend after I was RIFed from my teaching position in Millville for the second time.   When I was hired as an 8th Grade Civics & Inclusion Teacher in Bridgeton the following September, I’d been awakened professionally and politically.  I was ready to take on new endeavors.  Since then, I have attended the NEA RA in Chicago (2011) and the NEA RA in Washington D.C. again (2012).  Two years ago, I was fortunately enough to attend the NEA RA in Atlanta (2013). And last year I was your delegate to the Denver NEA RA. With each opportunity, I advocate for you and our colleagues.

Besides representing the professional issues that we as educators face, I’ve been networking with educators across the nation.  I’ve developed a sufficient knowledge of the issues that our fellow educators are dealing with in various regions.  I’ve also become proficient at conveying our needs and concerns through social media.  I’ll be tweeting live from Orlando this year. Connected to many of you through Facebook and Twitter already, I’d like to take my interactions with you to another level. Hashtagging is where it’s at this year.  It has proven very effective in rallying educators and confronting our legislators in Trenton with the impending pension crisis.


A little humor helps sometimes…

Each time that I am asked to represent New Jersey, Cumberland County, Millville, or Bridgeton at the Representative Assembly I am required to make a mandatory $180 political action committee (PAC) contribution.  I am encouraged, of course, to raise more.  This year, I was challenged to raise $200 or more.  The PAC gives the organization lobbying power which is necessary to ensure our voices are heard.


In years past, I’ve asked you to help me raise these funds.  Not this year! Although I still have to meet my $200 goal, many of you have offered without the request.  Thank you!  A generous offer from Rossi Honda of Vineland will allow me to defray some of my cost too.

hondaNea ra

This year I ask for your prayers.  My colleague Larry Blake and I will be driving the entire trip to Orlando.  Rather than flying, driving will offer us time for fellowship as we transcend the east coast.  We will be meeting plenty of interesting folks along the way, and we will be sharing our concerns as we look for answers.   It’s a long trip!  But we’ve been called to make it.  Prayers for a swift and safe journey is all that we ask.  Can you help us?

Committeeman Morton           Blake

I will be posting to Twitter (@ocelot74) and Facebook (New Jersey Teachers Unite) every step of the way to Orlando.  I’ll be using #neara15 and#RossiHonda2NEAra to keep you informed.  As we arrive in the “Happiest City on Earth” we’d like your support and most importantly your prayers…as we remain focused on the fundamentals of quality education.

Thanks for your support,

Mike Morton


NEA Representative Assembly 2015

P.S.   If you haven’t already checked out our “teacher idea exchanges” pages, click on the links below:

Dear Dad…

When there are so many things to write about and so many things to reflect on, today is a day that my focus shifts.  As a father and a son, Father’s Day is a day when I can do what ever I like (in theory).  However, it is the day that I represent all that is important to me.  Not too many fathers will admit, but the truth is that we are far more important than we are given credit for.  This is not to diminish mothers or grandmothers or even grandfathers, aunts, uncles, or anyone else that helps raise up a child.  But on this day we focus on the importance of fathers.

As an educator, I spend very little time discussing any of the “holidays” because of the need to focus on everything else.  I don’t place a high priority on any holiday because I end up having to justify and dance around beliefs systems. Otherwise I’d try to make a way to incorporate the meaning of the holiday into a bonafide lesson.  And because Father’s Day usually falls so close to the end of the school year that it gets overlooked anyway, no one complains–not even the dads.  The mayor of a local town recently posted to his Facebook page that he is so proud that 15 dads came out to the “Annual Donuts with Dad Breakfast. ” This kind of puzzled me.  I certainly could address that, but I’d like this story to take a different direction.

As a social worker, my focus on dads was minimal because mothers usually accepted all the responsibility in the household. For court, counseling, and intake interviews moms carry the load.  Sure there’s mention of dad but there’s always a compelling reason that he could not attend.  And although there’s a shared responsibility of raising a child, there are usually responsibilities that are often overlooked that dad is actually fulfilling.   Dad is not there to defend himself.

As a father, I do not need to defend myself.   As a son, my father’s absence had an explanation.  I never questioned it.  I knew and I understood.  But because the moms of the world were always there to offer an explanation, the real reasons were diluted.  Our world has two sides to it–the explained and the unexplained.  This is a balance that is necessary to keep things in check.  Although we might not be comfortable, please understand that balance is required in everything.  The ying to the yang, the male to the female, the rational to the irrational, and the list goes on…

But we force an inequality.  We demand more than we should and accept less than is acceptable.  It’s a paradox!  We overlook the need for balance.  Mother Nature will find the balance though; just like Father Time will never cease (even though we don’t see him until it’s too late).

My father is no longer here.  My mother is.  Balance.  I miss him.  My mother demands that I miss her.  Irony.  I have to laugh to keep from crying.  Today I celebrate the fathers who can no longer be there with their children.  I recognize the reasons.  I embrace those reasons even though I may not endorse them.

In this world full of so much tragedy, we manage to find some happiness.  Balance.  When the scales are tipped too much in one direction there is chaos.  We’ve come to accept certain arguments and conditions. Someone might suggest that the scales need to be re-calibrated.  This rings true in just about every aspect of our natural world–and probably in the supernatural realm as well.  Let’s explore that for a moment.

I spoke to one of my pastors yesterday who suggested that our role in the church has become antiquated. Men don’t come out to church as often as they should because the church is perceived as effeminate.  We refer to our Savior as a man who is caring and compassionate, who counsels and nurtures, who provides and heals.  This sounds more like a mother than a father.  I replied that “We call Him Father, but treat Him like a mother…”  Make of that what you will.  I’m certain that it will become a preaching point in today’s sermon.

My father was no mother.   As caring and compassionate as he was, he was still assertive and stubborn in his ways.  He provided resources that the family happily consumed.  He provided for several families and raised more children than he conceived.  He married more often than his wives would have preferred, but he was respected by each until the relationship had ended.  He loved his trucks and his sailboats.  He loved his projects and his books.  And he loved his children.  He was riddled with the guilt that he hadn’t enough love to give–even though he had given all that he had.  That’s not effeminate. That’s the type of man he raised me to be.  That’s the type of man that all of his son’s have turned out to be.  These are traits that I am modeling for my son.


In his absence, I’ve learned the meaning of balance.  I only had him as a constant in my life for 13 years.  Too short?  No way!  That’s way longer than than I’ve been in my son’s life (so far); and way longer than most children have their fathers in their lives.  I am blessed to have been conceived by him, to be supported by him, and to have him there to show his love to me.  My father demonstrated balance in his life.  He was a poet and a sailor.  He lived his life like a well-narrated story, filled with comedy and tragedy.  He rarely completed a project, and his ultimate demise mimicked his projects.  This was no accident.  As I said, he was a poet.  Had he been a painter I’d suggest that all of his brush strokes were deliberate.  Instead, I confirm that all of his “I’s” were dotted and all of his “T’s” were crossed.  He left this earth of his own free will.  It’s been impossible to grieve his death because I daily celebrate his life.  Although I’m criticized for my perception of my father, I will learn from his model.  I will live my life the way I know best and I will teach my children how to LIVE life to the fullest.

Today, I also celebrate my children.   They were conceived in love and are nurtured daily by a mother and father who want nothing more than for them to be healthy and happy. Our children’s lives are not traditional.  However, “traditional” is no longer the norm. Therefore, their existence is actually better than most–and certainly better than what they could have had–no father.  I am the best father that my children will ever have! That’s as easy as affirming that I am the only father they will ever have.  I had a step-father for a few years who once told me, “you only get one mother…” Puzzled, I asked him if the same was true for fathers.  He had no answer.

034IMG_0001kids and me

Dear Dad, I love you.  Knowing that I will never see you again, I am happy for those years we had together.  You will live on in me as I provide for my children.  And one day when I too have left this earth, my children will be great people and live happy lives.


One of my all time favorite Mos Def Songs, “Umi”Positive Change

I don’t wanna write this down,
I wanna tell you how I feel right now
I don’t wanna take no time to write this down,
wanna tell you how I feel right now…

Tomorrow may never come…

For you or me, Life is not promised…

Tomorrow may never show up…

For you and me…

This life is not promised

I ain’t no perfect man. I’m trying to do, the best that I can,

With what it is I have.

I ain’t no perfect man. I’m trying to do, the best that I can,

With what it is I have

Put my heart and soul into this song.

I hope you feel me.

From where I am, to wherever you are…

I mean that sincerely.

Tomorrow may never come…

For you and me…

Life is not promised…

Tomorrow may never appear…

You better hold this very moment very close to you [right now]

Very close to you [right now]

So close to you, So- close to you

[your moment in history is right now!]

Don’t be affraid, to let it shine

My Umi said shine your light on the world.

Shine your light for the world to see.

My Abi said shine your light on the world.

Shine your light for the world to see[I want black people to be free, to be free, to be free].

My Abi said shine your light on the world [Want black people to be free, to be free, to be free].

Shine your light for the world to see

[Want black people to be free, to be free, to be free].

My Umi said shine your light on the world

[Want black people to be free, to be free, to be free]

Shine your light for the world to see

[Want black people to be free, to be free…]

Sometimes I get discouraged.

I look around and, things are so weak.

People are so weak

Sometimes;  Sometimes I feel like crying.

Sometimes my heart gets heavy.

Sometimes I just want to leave and fly away [fly fly fly, like a dove].

Sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself [ow!]

Passion takes over me.

I feel like a man Going insane Losing my brain…

Trying to maintain…Doing my thang.

Hey hey hey hey hey.

Put my heart and soul into this y’all.

I hope you feel me.

Where I am, to wherever you are…

Sometimes I don’t want to be bothered.

Sometimes I just want a quiet life,

with Me and my babies, me and my lady.

Sometimes I don’t want to get into no war

[Black people to be free, to be free…].

Sometimes I don’t wanna be a soldier.

Sometimes I just wanna be a man, but

Umi said shine your light on the world.

Shine your light for the world to see.

My Abi said shine your light on the world.

Shine your light for the world to see

[I want black people to be free, to be free, to be free].

My dreamers(?) said shine your light on the world

[Want black people to be free, to be free, to be free].

Shine your light for the world to see

[Want black people]My elders said shine your light on the world

[Hey hey]Shine your light for the world to see

I want black people to be free, to be free, to be free.

All my people to be free, to be free, to be free.

Oh black people to be free, to be free, to be free.

Oh black people to be free, to be free, to be free

That’s all that matters to me

Black people unite and let’s all get down.

Gotta have what,Gotta have that love,

Peace and understanding.

One God, one light, One man, one voice, one mic.

Black people unite come on and do it right.

Black people unite come on and do it right.

Black people unite come on and get down.

Gotta have what,Love, peace and understanding.

One God, one voice, one life, One man, gon’ shine my light

Black people unite, now hop up and do it right.

Black people unite, now come on and do it right.

Yeah baby that’s what I like.

Yeah baby that’s what I like.

Yeah baby that’s what I like…


Fairfield Fantasy

Imagine that the residents were offered an opportunity to have a township celebration at the municipal building and surrounding recreation fields. There could be refreshments and rides and music.  It would rival the Harvest Festival, but admission would be free.  Unlimited fun while children and adults engage in countless activities.  This event could be planned annually for the next ten years for no additional cost!  The only cost would be a one-time fee of $20 by each tax payer in the township. Wouldn’t that be great?

How about this instead?  Imagine planning for a community center for the entire township. With a game room, big screen televisions, and a dinning hall;  a recreation area for community events and staff to facilitate, we’d have an asset that would rival neighboring communities. Again all of this (with some creative planning and about a $20 contribution from each tax payer) could be ours. How cool would that be?    Alright!  One more idea–what if we could get a discount on an emergency vehicle that could supplement the emergency medical services for all of Fairfield Township. The vehicle could be paid for with grants, but mostly with the funds that could be raised from consenting taxpayers. It would cost a minimal $20 times all 4000 tax payers.

Now here are the requirements. We can only choose one of these delightful options. Either a 10 year festival that celebrates the residents of the township, or a community center for all of the residents, or an emergency medical vehicle that services the entire community.  Which would you choose?  The entire township would have to vote, and the winning selection would be acted upon immediately.  Every tax payer would be pledging the minimal one-time-only fee of $20.  Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

The Math

There are approximately 8000 residents in the township, but not all are tax payers. Excluding the children , the seniors, the renters, and the other family members that live in each household, there are about 4000 folks who are eligible to pay taxes. But that would be enough to meet these goals. If everyone made their mandatory contribution, the fund would amass a whopping $80,000!  Imagine that!  An annual celebration would cost about $8000 a year.  With proper planning and community development, a community center could be developed. Non-profit organizations right here in Cumberland County have done it for less! Emergency vehicles are expensive, but (again) with proper planning, research, and a lot of tenacity a vehicle could be purchased for nearly the same amount of money.  It wouldn’t be easy, but nothing worth having is ever easy. This doesn’t have to be a fantasy. This $20 we speak of is smaller than the additional $30 a year that we WILL be paying due to the most recent tax hike. That’s NOT a fantasy!   

Now imagine instead of getting one of these amazing projects, we had to give that entire sum to one person.  Would you be as excited?  Collectively, would we consent?  Perhaps if you had an explanation?  Imagine that the reason is because that individual claimed that he or she felt entitled because the system failed him or her.   All of those who already consented to the other project(s) have already made their mandatory contribution. No party!  No community center!  No rescue vehicle!  Instead a law suit must be settled. It’s sad but necessary. No refunds will be given.  No further explanation will be offered. How do you feel about that?

What if I told you that this is one of many reasons that residents loose interest in local government.  Is this the reason that so few residents vote?  Would our participation adversely impact the final outcome?  So often great plans crumble as a result of exchanging the wants for a community for the needs of a few.  This is the Fairfield Fantasy.  Or should it be called Fact or Fiction?  Either way the residents will get an F.   

Boys or Men In Law Enforcement

I had an epiphany while waiting at the Wawa.  A detective I’d worked with nearly twenty years ago walked into the Wawa where I get my weekly coffee.  It’s my Friday morning treat.  But this morning, unlike others, I garnished an idea that had to be explored immediately.  What if cops were not hired until AFTER they were 35 years old?  Thirty-five is the cut off for new recruits.  Most seasoned officers have scaled the ranks and are preparing for retirement by the time they’re in their late 30s.  By age 45, most officers are too young for the retirement home obviously, but young enough to embark on a new career. The wisdom that a mature officer must have… 

Not knowing the statistics involving the average age of officers accused of misconduct, I can only recall the emphasis on empathy. The civil injustice argument is that our law enforcement community is out of touch with the people that it serves. Rookies are so eager to make their mark that empathy is not as coveted as aggression. Making the arrest gets the recognition that restoring community confidence lacks.  But what if these cops already had the experience in the community that was not embalmed in distrust, racial inequity, or profiling?  An older cop (who usually aspires to be a detective or ranking officer) is more likely to deescalate a situation.  Police don’t just arrest criminals. They are community servants.  There’s an opportunity to lead a community and to be a positive example.  Cops are the ones who respond to all types of distress calls.  Caught in traffic with a woman in labor?  Grandpa wandered off again? Noise ordinance violations?  Who do we call?  We are never disappointed when the police arrive regardless of the officers’ age.  But wouldn’t we agree that a seasoned officer has a more realistic approach?

In a more intense scenario, which officer would you want to respond?   In a domestic violence call? Community disturbance? How about an attempted larceny?  A recruit straight out of the academy (or with only a few years experience) has a lot to learn about long term implications.  Since when does a year of physical training, days of class lectures, or hours of practice at the shooting range qualify anyone to effectively manage a crisis?  Are they equally qualified to mediate a dispute?  The answer is yes according to past practice and societal norms.

With all of this (mis)information spinning in my head, I approached the plain clothes cop who was wearing his badge on his belt opposite his cuffs. I let the fellow behind me in line scoot ahead just so I could chat with the detective. Omitting an introduction, I was blunt.  I asked him, “do you suppose that with all that is going on with our failing pension system, it would be more prudent to be starting a career at our age rather than preparing to retire?”   He responded gently, “pardon me?”  I introduced myself as merely another public employee. I took a different approach.  He was not annoyed.  Seemingly intrigued, he waited for me to explain.  I continued, “do you suppose there would be fewer cases of misconduct if the officers were a little older?”

He said, “well, I hadn’t given it much thought”.  This was probably the most honest answer he could have given.  Why not?  A forced answer is not necessarily a good answer. Who was I to ask, anyway?  I thanked him for listening and thanked him again for serving the community as I paid for my coffee.

I walked away wondering if he would ponder why I had engaged him. Would he follow me to my car?  Would he write down my tag number?  Was it probable that he might remember working with me long ago when I was a cadet?  Our hair is gray now and our memory is selective.  Did it even matter?  Even after I no longer worked in law enforcement, the sight of uniformed officers intimidated me. Today was very different. The detective was no more thrown off than I was. Perhaps I planted a seed. Or maybe the entire conversation would be discarded.

The Rock

Who’s your rock?  My friend used to call me her rock.  I didn’t understand what she meant, but it sounded like a compliment so I received it happily.  She was going through a storm and I seemed to resemble a beacon of hope.  She put a lot of faith in me which made me nervous. I felt a little unworthy. But who was I to dispute her opinion, especially when she was in duress.

Years later she’s come through the storm and has the battle wounds to show for it.  She made it through the worst on her own, as far as I knew. When I called upon her recently to reiterate some of the “good advice” that I offered her, she only said, “be still”.  She told me that was the best advice that I’d given her.  In fact, she admitted that it took years to realize how important being still was to obtaining serenity.  I was confused because the same advice I had given was the precise advice that I needed.

I’d forgotten the power of release.  Sacrifice comes in many forms.  Personal sacrifice requires an understanding as well as a commitment.  The most important component of personal sacrifice is that it can’t be dictated by someone else.  We find comfort in sharing someone else’s experience, but we can never truly make their experience our own. Even in a book, we can only be provided an out-of-body experience.  However, living the tale is a story unique in its own right.

When we are lost, we look to a map. The map may come in the form of a fold-out paper with a key and squiggly lines, or it can be a valuable testament of biblical proportions.  My pastor used to tell us to remember to bring our map to church every Sunday.  But we worshiped while learning how to interpret the map.  I put my faith in the map.  I put my faith in the Bible, and I put my faith in  the the preacher.  It sounds like a good plan.  Putting my faith in good should yield positive results, right?

Where we put our trust we put our faith.  When we put our faith in the wrong person, the disappointment shutters our belief system.  No more so than when everything hinges on a single belief that there is a master plan that doesn’t work.

The rock.   This is where we want to put our hopes, our trust, and our faith.  More emotional than any of these is love.

Lovers Rock
When my father died, this song was what I played each time I entered his solemn abode. It was a new release at a time before Pandora, mp3s, or satellite radio.  Putting the cd on repeat was the worst thing I could have done. It made me hate a song that I’d have otherwise loved.  It was symbolic.   At a time that my family lost its rock, I was the replacement pebble.

For my formidable years, my father was my rock.  I was certain that I’d be the rock for my kids soon enough. But the circumstances by which my father’s life was lost left me wondering if I’d placed my faith in the wrong person. For me there was faith in the father, and there was faith in the Father.  I thought that the two weren’t mutually exclusive.   My father was instrumental in my walk with the Lord. When he was gone, my walk truly became my own.

After fifteen years of progress without my dad, I’ve lost more faith in man and garnered more faith in myself.  As a man, faith in self is an arguably less popular trend.  As a Christian, faith in God’s will is enough to restore any lost faith in myself; but it does nothing to restore my faith in man.  I am.
 I’ve learned to distrust.  Having faith in relationships, organizations, colleagues, and family has left me empty and disappointed.  We know the importance in having faith. We simply struggle with knowing how to cope when things go wrong.  There will certainly be disappointment.  But the vagueness on how our map was constructed or how to combat the struggles en route to our destination–that’s the hardship!  It’s those milestones and all the tribulations along the way that really test our faith.  You see, that rock seems worthless if we don’t step off of it.  I mean, how do we lead a life without movement?  We step off the rock, assess the situation, and proceed with caution.  The whole while we are keeping the rock in sight (in case we need to run back to it).  And what do we do when we falter?  We seek the rock. Mankind can not merely savor the comfort and sanctity of salvation.  #Savorthefavor

 Who’s your rock?  Have you invested so much faith in man (and the world) that you’ve lost sight of the Rock?   Will you turn to your rock when all else fails?  Or will you not only stand on the rock but encourage others to do the same?