Monday, March 17, 2014

It's Not My Fault

There's a young lady in our family who was having a run of bad luck around the time of a family gathering. Her continual cry was "it's not my f-a-u-l-t," dragging the last word out for dramatic effect. There was nothing serious going on, so fixing blame was not really an issue; but we did harass her by quoting her for many gatherings thereafter.
I have a young friend though, for whom everything seems to be not his fault. In the last few years nearly his entire life has gone downhill. Failed relationships, out of wedlock children, job issues, excessive alcohol consumption...all of it seems to be the fault of someone else. It's that woman, that man, that boss, that person, that set of circumstances....  Never is there any acknowledgement that he might have something to do with at least a little bit of the problem. Sadly, I think that attitude is going to destroy what's left of what was once a promising career. He's bright, talented, personable, and in denial.  He fails to see that the common denominator is himself.
When our kids were in school, we often heard about "that dumb teacher," and in fairness to the kids, a couple times the teacher was the primary component of the problem. However, when there were several "dumb teaches" at one time, we sat the kids down and made them look at it objectively: What is the common component here? It was usually the student, not the teacher. It took some doing, but the boys all faced up the issues, got through them and are now successful men.
My point here is that I am pained when folks fail to stand up to their own failings, deal with them and move on. Continually blaming others will never allow a person fix a problem. I have watched a near never-ending parade of promising lives being destroyed by men and women who fail to face up to the realities of their own choices. So often, facing up to a problem early on stops the problem in its tracks while ignoring it only makes it worse.  Penalty delayed is like interest on a loan, it only gets greater the longer it's unpaid.
So, identify the issue, deal with whatever your responsibility is and move on. You'll be better for it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

He Made Me Do It

One of the many sub-specialties I've developed in my nearly 40 years of police work is teaching the laws regarding the use of physical force and deadly physical force. This came as a byproduct of being a firearms instructor. One of the things that must continually be reinforced is the reality that we, as police officers, are not generally the actors, but the re-actors. We respond to the actions of another.
In my years I've been blessed with the ability to talk my way out of most situations; I've even told drunks "GO OUT AND SIT IN THE BACK SEAT OF MY CAR," and they have done it...then along came last night.
It wasn't a horrible call, bad enough; but I've been on worse. It finally came to the point where the other guy made the decision for me. The best use of resources, the most effective way to end the conflict, the safest way to get it over with was to use the Taser.
In spite of several warnings, verbal directions, more warnings...I deployed the tool. What a horrible decision to make, to put fifty thousand volts into another human being! However, he had made the decision; he made me do it. The safety of the others made it necessary. He made me do it. Not a second thought nor a regret has gone through my head.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Time Lost

Lately its been on my mind that my dad had a small sign up in his business: "Only one life, 'twill soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last."
When I compare myself to others, I guess I've been somewhat successful at doing things for Christ. I've done mission work, taught Sunday School at times, served as a deacon, and am now a preacher; but I really lost 10 years that I could have done something.  On top of that, when I compare myself to other men I know, men who set their courses earlier in life and have worked tirelessly for Christ, I see that I have fallen far short, not a lot of lasting work.
I had all the right excuses, dating my wife, then busy with a young family, then trying to establish myself in my profession--all good things--but I neglected those things that would have had a lasting impact. It really wasn't until we were in Staten Island that I got really serious.
I had been raised in a great family and a good church, had accepted the Lord as my personal Savior when I was about 10 and from all appearances was on track--and I was, sort of. My faith kept me from many of the problems I could have; but that was all about me, not really about Christ--the things that last.
Shortly after joining Bethel Evangelical Free church in Staten Island, the pastor told me that my name had come up in the nominating committee and I had his endorsement for any position I might be asked to fill. A couple days later, I was asked to be a deacon. That's when I got serious, I became a Bible student and a worker, a servant. It's been a steady climb since then. I love the growth that God has granted me; but mostly I love the impact that I have had on other lives. However, I often ask myself how much more impact--those things done for Christ--could I have had if I'd not forfeited those 10 years.
My point here is that my passion is turning to developing leadership in the local churches. I have a basic grasp on what kept me out of it when I was younger, but wonder what factors are causing it now. Men are not stepping up to the plate and leading, that's a church-wide phenomenon. I'd probably be happy if I saw more of the 30 year old guys getting into it--but they are not. I'd be ecstatic if I saw more than the few 20- something aged guys jumping into it.  
So, if you read this and have some ideas, please drop me a line at  

Stuck in My Craw--Again!

Make no mistake about it, I do love animals--other peoples' animals that is. I'm done with pets because of the ownership issue...they own me, not the other way around and at this point in life I can't have that. I'm also happy that people love their pets and that many people have great concern for animal welfare in general. That's really a good thing; no animal should be deliberately mistreated.
However it concerns me that the mindset is leaning toward the care the animals above all else. Cases of animal abuse abound, to the shame of those who are guilty of it. It may be small animals--allowing a house to be overrun by cats, dogs and other small animal to the point where they can't be cared for; it may be large animals--rescuing horses llamas and other such sized animals while being without the capacity to care for them. It may be so-called "puppy mills" where breeders keep their animals in poor condition. It may be other circumstances. Whatever the reason, there are laws standing to deal with them, and those laws should be enforced. I've been part of such enforcement actions and would do so again without hesitation.
What concerns me is the reaction of a segment of the public which viciously attacks the people charged with animal abuse and crusades against it. There is outrage! They protest, picket, use the media to crucify the offender.
Where are these people when children are abused? Where is the outrage when women are trafficked? Oh, I get it, a dog has more value than a child, a horse than a woman.... Did I even mention abortion? How many of those same protesters, who will drive miles to make a scene over animals even care about the thousands of babies being killed each year?
There's no way to really conclude this post so I'll just end it the heartbeat of an aborted child.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Game Warden Files--A Pervert on the Island

In my early days in Fulton County, Ray VanAnden and I shared a patrol boat on the Great Sacandaga Lake. It was not a bad boat--if you wanted to take a family boating; but not a good patrol boat by any means. Among other deficiencies was that it had no marine radio, something I'd fought to get for many years. I finally got one and was pivotal in making a good case along with the Fulton Co. Sheriff's Office.
Deputy Scott McCoy who was on the Sheriff's boat and I were stopped chatting somewhere near Northampton Campsite when my brand new radio crackled to life. Someone on Sand Island was calling a marina to ask them to call the police.  There was a flasher on the island and they had him trapped. I acknowledged the call and Scott and I headed for Sand Island--about a 10 minute run at top speed. My boat wasn't a good patrol boat, but it was fast, and I was a quarter mile or so ahead of the Sheriff's boat by the time we approached the island. I went to one place where there was a pile of arm waving and Scott went to the other. The bad guy was getting away and swimming for his anchored boat. Just as he reached it, I tied off to it and told him that he was under arrest--hoping I had the right guy, and there really had been a crime committed.
Scott did a couple interviews and confirmed that there was a case to be made, so he took the man into his boat while I stayed on the island to take statements. This guy had exposed himself to a couple young girls and a couple women in their 30's and 40's.  The young girls gave pretty good statements and one of the other women--who was a surgical nurse--was able to describe him in clinical detail...scars and all.
As I collected more information, I found that this guy had been doing this on and off for about twenty years. Though it had been reported frequently, including the registration number to his boat, he'd never been caught. When I checked the registration on the boat I found the likely reason: the boat registration was from several states away. He would bring the boat here each summer from that other state, use it for a short time and then return it. You can bet that I wrote my bosses a memo explaining just how critical that radio had been to making that case.
I don't recall what the outcome of the case was; but since I was never called to a trial of any kind it probably settled out with a plea agreement of some kind.

Sticky Note

I have a sticky-note app on desktop to my computer. I stuck a random thought there a few days ago before I lost track of it.  Didn't know exactly what I was going to do with then, but for now I'll develop the thought here and maybe build it into something better in the future.
The note says "re-defining, re-aligning, and re-assigning. The thoughts developed from my growing concern over the direction our nation, our culture and our churches are headed.
First we're re-defining God. The God of the Bible introduced himself to Moses at the burning bush as "I AM," which in Hebrew is the term from which we get the proper name of God in English: Jehovah. He did not introduce himself as "I am whatever you want me to be." Yet, we have ignored what the Bible has to say about God and invented a god (note the lower case g), who does not have the character of God, the attributes nor the authority as taught in Scripture.
We have re-assigned the role of God in our lives--if we consider there to be one at all--to be not important. He's just there and has no impact on our lives, a personal relationship is unimportant, He cares not about sin, he just loves.... In fairness, this has been happening over the last hundred years. It's not a new thing at all; it just has become worse.
Finally our churches are re-aligning with popular culture. After re-defining Him and re-assigning His role in our lives, they simply change the line of their path with the way of the world. That is not the role of the Church as Christ founded it. The church and it's people were to be salt and light to a hurting world. That is no longer the case.  
We are told--maybe warned is the better word--in Romans 12:1-2 about letting the world squeeze us into its mold. That's exactly what has happened. I guess folks just haven't been paying attention.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Byproduct of Lesson Planning

We're getting ready for a leaders' retreat in which all the deacons and trustees of our church, along with our two pastors, get away for a short time for some directed study and prayer. It's always a good the time for us.
This year, our pastor gave me the task of preparing a lesson on Acts 16:16-40, a very common passage dealing with Paul, Silas and the jailer in Philippi. There's a lot of meat in the passage, but in my first work session in preparation I came to this conclusion:
People pushed to the end of themselves, overwhelmed by needs, looking for a quick fix, and without any previous knowledge of godly things look to Jesus for temporal help and find their eternal needs met. Our example to them in handling adversity, as individuals or as a church may bring them to us.  We must be ready to provide the message.