My dad is teaching me.

grandkids tell the truth about beware.

My grandson, Jonathan and I were driving to baseball practice lately. He loves baseball. He is the kid who comes out of the dug-out with his bat raised like William Wallace in Braveheart. He confidently steps up to the plate and kicks the dust off his cleats and looks the pitcher in the eye as if to say “I’m gonna knock this one out of the park”. He raises your spirit with that raised bat and his attitude is simply inspiring. He doesn’t usually get a hit…..seldom. He was awarded the last game ball simply because his attitude was amazing.

He comes back to the dug-out with  that bat still raised and says ” I know what I did wrong and I will get better next time”. If you meet this kid, you fall immediately in love with him. He has a mind like a trap and nothing gets passed him. He was recently chosen in his school to speak to the astronauts on the space station. His question “can you see more stars from up there or is it about the same?” He loves looking through his telescope.

So, on this particular day we were driving along in my convertible with the top down just enjoying hanging out. He likes that he is now tall enough to sit in the front without a car seat. He puts his arm up on the arm rest and we are just two guys chillin. I casually asked him a question. I asked.”Jonathan, what are you working on right now?”. I always know he is busy doing something.

He looked at me with his big blue eyes and said “Well, Pop, I have been doing some wood work. I want to build a table and some things for the outdoors around the fire pit. ” He is eight! I never want to discourage him so I asked “So are you using the saw and hammer and those things?” He looked at me with a puzzled look, like how could you build a table without using those tools.

Then he said something that has been with me since that day. He said “My dad is teaching me.” I have to admit I got a bit choked up. I remember spending time with my sons, teaching them how to use tools. He went on to explain how “his dad” was this great builder and was teaching him how to use safety first. He had his own safety glasses that he and his dad bought together at Lowe’s. He told me he was learning basic skills with a tape measure and how to cut wood with a hand saw and keep it on the marked line. He gave me a fully detailed description of all he was learning. I was overwhelmed with joy.

He then said “My dad told me that your dad taught you and you taught my dad and that this was part of who we are. My dad said that one day I will probably have a little boy and I will teach him.” Then he rocked my world. He said “My dad is teaching me about God. He is teaching me about heaven and how to be a good person. He is teaching me everything he knows about growing up to be a man.”

By this time I was fighting back the tears. I know my son. My grand son could have no better teacher on this earth. And my grandson felt pride in saying. “My dad is teaching me”. How those words fill me with hope and gratitude.

Since then I have thought about all the things my dad taught me. He did indeed teach me wood working and building. Our last time together on earth was building in a garage and making a big room and bath room out of it. We loved those times together. And while he taught me of wood and tape measures and hammers and saws, he taught ME about Jesus and what it means to be a man. He taught me to respect my mother, my wife, my children, my president(right or wrong) and how to provide for those I love.

I know we have some serious problems in this world. I know the government, the schools, the church, could all do a better job at teaching our children. But I think the real issue is that we don’t have enough fathers teaching their sons about real things. It’s fine to teach them about throwing a ball , or running fast, or being a musician (well maybe not that). But it’s time for us to hear words that are more solid from children. We need to hear them say “My dad is teaching me”. And that needs to be a good thing…not a bad thing.

My dad was my mentor. He taught me how to study the bible. He taught me how to preach a funeral. He taught me that the greatest commodity on earth is love. Love that is a verb, not just an emotion. But more importantly, he would point me to the Lord and say, “He can and will teach you more than I ever could. Listen to Him and follow him.”

“My dad is teaching me……everyday”.



Wow, it is so good to see you!

Reunions are interesting events. They are held for all manner of reasons. High School, College, Family, Work, Military, Church…on and on.

This past weekend I attended a reunion. It was actually the International Assembly of the Church of God of Prophecy. This was the denomination I grew up in and was an official in for many years. I began working as a child missionary/evangelist with a well known Missionary/Evangelist , Harrison E. Price. I traveled the country and much of the world with him. We organized churches and did revival campaigns in amazing places. I am in the early stages of writing my life story. In the story of my life, this denomination is central to who I am and what I have become.

The two days I spent in Chattanooga were fun and humbling. I have not attended one of these for the past 20 years. So, I had no idea what was in store for me. I knew I wanted to hear the Bahama Brass Band play live again. I was not disappointed. They continue to be what they have always been. You cannot hear this band without wanting to pick your feet up and march. They inspire inclusion. I brought them to New Orleans once and we did a parade down Bourbon St. The bars emptied and people were joining in. The crowd who marched with us gave away 150,000 gospel tracts telling the story of Jesus. It was a wonderful time. So they are dear to my heart. I loved every moment of their performance.

Then I began to see people who I had not seen in decades. Amazingly they remembered me from some meeting or other. We laughed about old times, and shared stories about where we had been and what life had handed us. Many times I was humbled by the stories of how my ministry had touched the lives of people far and wide. It’s always pleasant to hear, “You were a blessing to my family”. I was indeed grateful to know I had an influence in helping someone along life’s pathway.

One brother in particular was from Seattle. I did not remember him at all until he told me the story of how his father had accepted Christ in one of my revivals there many years ago. His father had passed and the family were all thankful that he had made that peace with God. They knew he left for a heavenly eternity. I began to recall that meeting and that experience with that man. He changed my life as much as I changed his. Now his son shared with me that at least one man was in his heavenly home because I had flown across the country and presented the gospel to that group for that week of my life.

Reunions are about the years of our existence. We are able to synopsize the decades with ease because our lives are not about one day or one week or one month or one year, but the continuing flow of our contributions . I can’t remember how many times I was asked, “so how are things”? My answer was generally predicated as to the memory of the person asking the question. If I had had regular contact with that person, I knew how to answer. If I had not crossed paths with them in ages, then my answer was a bit more generalized.

Over all we like to go to these events to remind ourselves of our past and reconnect with people who at one time in our lives, figured prominently. Now, maybe not so much, but it is good to see them again.

I attended my 50th High School reunion a few years back and my wife and I sat at the table with the girls who were cheerleaders during those HS years. They were pulling up their pant legs and comparing the scars where they had had knee replacements. It was kind of funny. Those legs that once jumped and bounced  and climbed now were showing the signs of the damage that had been done in their youth.

This week end, I didn’t see cheerleaders showing scars of physical damage, but I did see the results of people who had lived lives. I saw some who had been hit hard with damage. Some who had children born with special needs. Some who had tried to follow the path of their parents dreams and had found it empty. I saw people who had weathered storms. I saw people who had been drafted into the military and had seen war on a grand scale. I saw those who had drifted from the biblical theory they once espoused. I saw those who had tried and failed; some who had tried and succeeded; some who had simply gone along with the flow.

But mostly I saw people who had hope. They all still held on to the idea that we got this far and we will keep on going. They all could still laugh and hug necks and take pictures together. They could remember the good times and the bad and know that nothing can kill the spirit of brother hood when it is forged in the flames of friendship.

This was a good reunion. I enjoyed it because it helped me to know that we are not alone as long as we hold memories dear. As long as our dreams still have some spark left. We go on…

Until the next reunion…….keep moving forward.

100th International Assembly /COGOP

Congratulations on this milestone. Assembly Zeal!!!!

Assembly Zeal!!!! Wow, what words those have always been! It is that time to come together from all over the globe for the bi-annual conclave of believers who are members and friends of The Church of God of Prophecy. This year it is to be held in Chattanooga Tennessee. I can guarantee a large crowd of excited people.

I attended my first IA in 1947 as a nine month old. My mother and her entire family were members of that organization when I was born. They always went to that meeting. It happened annually at that time. So, she packed me and my sister up in an old Chevy with her mother, Ruth Mays, and her Aunt, Lois Guire. The old car had suicide doors on it. Some will understand that terminology quickly.

In those days the road over Monteagle Mountain was just two lanes of switch -back road. It was slow going especially if you got behind a log truck. According to my mother, I got quite upset on that stretch of road. She says I began to move around and accidentally hit the door handle. Out I went rolling down the road. My grandmother stopped the old Chevy, and my mom was chasing me down the road. She says I was bouncing like a rubber ball.

My Aunt Lois, took me from my mother’s arms and began to pray for me. That was back when people actually believed in prayer. According to my mother, my aunt Lois began to pray to the Lord. I was knocked out from the fall. She prayed. “Lord, we are on business for you. This child is your child. If you have work for him to do in his life, then heal him NOW”. My mother said I woke up and looked around and started laughing. I don’t remember a thing, of course, but I know that the hand of God was on my life from that day to this.

My mother never told my dad about that since he was a “sinner” and she knew he would be upset and would beat her. He had told her he didn’t approve of her bringing me. She finally told him when he found the Lord. He still was not too happy about it.

From that day forward, I was present at the IA every year for the next 50 years. And Oh my the places we had to stay. We all (my family) stayed with an old lady named Sally. She had several bedrooms and a shower /bath on the back porch. She allowed us to cook there. It was hot and maybe not so clean, but it worked.

I learned to play the drum cadence from the Bahama Brass Band. They let me come to the band section as a boy after I started traveling with Harrison Price. I loved and still love that band. I brought them to New Orleans in 1993 and we had a parade down Bourbon St. It was glorious!

I have untold memories that time and space will not allow me to share. Much of it is being written now in my life story. It was a huge part of my life. It was a place to meet people from around the world; to share culture; to forge friendships that have lasted a lifetime.

I am going to attend a day of the IA this year. It has been 20 years since I have been. I am excited to hear the Bahama Brass Band again. I think the members of that band are now in the third generation. I know that a tear will roll down my cheek as they bring me back to my childhood and my young adulthood. I will enjoy seeing people from all over the world whom I have not seen in over two decades.

I congratulate you and I look forward to sharing a day with you all on this momentous occasion. See you at the Assembly! Assembly Zeal!!!!!

Death Ain’t No Big Deal

"The mortality rate is still 100%.

Last year. on this very date, at this very hour, my mother took her last breath and left this life for her eternal home. I had spent the night with her and just went home to get a shower. Just as I sat down on the sofa to rest for a moment, I received the phone call no one ever wants to receive. My mother had passed while I took the time to get a shower. I was heartbroken that I had not been there with her, holding her hand and praying with her. She was gone. All that I had the time and opportunity to say, and do in 70 years of my lifetime was gone.

As I was headed back to hospice to be with the family  and wait for the arrival of the funeral directors, I was thinking about her influence in my life. She had taught me the love of music. She taught me the elementary chords on the guitar. She introduced me to everything in my heritage when it came to music. She loved it.

My dad’s first church was in Huntingdon, Tennessee. It was a small farm town in West Tennessee. We had few people in the church and we had moved into a 32′ by 8′ house trailer (rv was NOT an operative term then). However, one of the great things about this church was Sis Humphrey. She owned a little cafe. It was called the “Cat and Fiddle” and was known all over the state for it’s BBQ. She held “chitlin” dinners for Gov. Gordon Browning.

She didn’t tithe since  her husband objected, but she had permission to feed the Pastors family every day. We ate a lot of meals in that place. I loved that she had a “juke box”. On that big old record player, was a record of the Famous Statesman Quartet. My mom would give me a nickel to play that record every time I walked in. Always,,,”Prayer is the key to Heeaaavvvvennnn, but faith unlocks the door”….The amazing voice of Jake Hess filled that little cafe

Then I would looked at my beautiful mom and smile knowing she had sung with him and knew the Statesmen. I knew I wanted to sing gospel music. A mere 7 years later, I stood on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium and played back up for the Statesmen , Blackwoods, etc. I was hooked from that day. Jake Hess and I became friend….because of mom. Later, I was asked by Jake Hess to play guitar with the Imperials. I can’t describe that feeling. From the Cat and Fiddle to the great stages of America.

One day my boss, Jake Hess, called me to the hospital. He was having a heart procedure. I was his toupee guard…’s true. I was not to allow anyone to take it off. So I didn’t. I spent many hours sitting in his room and talking about death with him. He was a young man, but he seemed much older. During one of our conversations, he said “Hambone, (his pet name for me)…I have come to the conclusion that “Death Ain’t no Big Deal”. Soon afterwards, he walked into a studio and recorded a song by that title. He lived a long time after that, but we talked again many times about that issue.

When I arrived at the hospice, I went to my mom’s room. The woman who had been so forceful in sharing her life, her love, her passion for music, and her love of Christ had silently slipped into eternity. Memories of sitting beside her on a piano stool and playing guitar while she told me the chords to play, standing beside her onstage and singing “Walking the Sea”…..”For Jesus is ever at your side He’s walking the Sea..”…flooded my mind. Seeing her walking through the isles and bringing the power down. Lifting people’s spirits to praise God. Those days were gone to all but those whose lives were impacted by them.

And then , I heard my boss, Jake Hess singing “Someday when I breathe my final breath, and the doctor takes one look and says’s “You’re dead” the truth is gonna finally be revealed Oh, I’m gonna find -Death ain’t no big deal…..The light will shine much brighter than the sun, and I’ll be right back where I started from , Ain’t no way to say how good I’ll feel. Oh..I tell you children …death ain’t no big deal….He’ll reach down and gently close my eyes . I ‘ll be watchin’ from the other side, I’ll be laughing “bout how scared I thought I’d feel…Oh Im gonna find …death ain’t no big deal.”

Mom and Jake….they taught me “Death ain’t no big deal”…..But I sure do miss them both.

See you guys later,