Saturday, December 28, 2019


"A time to be born, and a time to die; ..."  (from Ecclesiastes 3:2)

I heard the news last night (December 27, 2019) that retired radio personality Don Imus had died at a College Station, Texas hospital earlier in the day.  I may be taking a risk in admitting this, but I was a regular listener to the Imus in the Morning radio show for many years and a fan of Don Imus and his cast of characters who joined him every weekday morning.  I remember the first time I listened to Imus in the Morning.  It was in the late summer of 1999.  Boston's "Smooth Jazz 96.9" at that time was in the transitional phase of completely changing its format and call letters to becoming a 24/7 FM Talk station.  (And, seven years ago, they changed formats again, this time becoming a music station that caters to the taste of young adults.)  The very first talk program 96.9 introduced was Imus in the Morning (which originated at WFAN in New York City and was syndicated to stations all over the country).  On that late summer day, I was driving my daughter Amy to a medical procedure at Faulker Hospital in Boston's Jamaica Plain section.  I'm not sure why I turned it on, but I became a pretty regular listener over the next eight years.

Don Imus, like many radio personalities had a certain schtick.  He usually dressed like a cowboy.  (I know that because the show could also be watched on C-SPAN television.)  He was surly and rude; always sounding annoyed and irritated.  There was a lot of banter with several other guys on the program.  You couldn't listen to Imus without hearing the word "awful" used by him (and by his colleagues) a couple dozen times each morning.  That new restaurant Imus tried was "awful".  That Giants football game was "awful".  The State of the Union address was "awful".  A popular Top 40 hit song was "awful".  You get the point.  Another word commonly used by the Imus gang, and always stated slowly, was "Nobody".  Who liked that concert last night?  "Nobody".  Who liked the front page story in the New York News?  "Nobody".  Who watches Public Television?  "Nobody".  Again, you get the point.  So, why did so many people listen, and why was Imus in the Morning almost addictive?

One reason is: Variety.  It wasn't just a group of macho middle-aged (and old) men chatting and fooling around and acting like a bunch of kids in a Junior High cafeteria.  There were great guest interviews.  Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was a regular on the program, and her interviews were actually quite "highbrow" and cerebral at times.  During such interviews, it was obvious that Don Imus was really very intelligent and well-read.  Senator John McCain was also a regular guest on Imus in the Morning, and his interviews were as good as anything you'd see on 60 Minutes.  I've even heard former President George H.W. Bush on the show!  Don Imus loved country music and played quite a bit of country music on the program.  I was introduced to a number of country artists and groups and their songs, and to my surprise, I started liking and listening to a lot of that music!  Don Imus had causes he cared about.  He was very passionate about helping kids with cancer and their families as well as helping families who'd gone through the horror of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

I enjoyed Charles McCord, the newsman on the show.  Charles is a born-again Christian, and is originally from Springfield, Missouri.  Many of you know I went to Bible College in Springfield, Missouri and my daughter Amy not only graduated from Evangel University there, but she and my son-in-law David and their kids lived there for a number of years.  So, I always felt I had a lot in common with Charles.  He took a lot of teasing and comments about his Christian faith, Bible study, etc.  But Charles, for better or for worse, did not "turn the other cheek".  They really razzed him on occasions, and he gave it right back to them!  As crazy as this may sound, I think Charles may have unwittingly been an inspiration and encouragement to a lot of Christian men who listened.  They were often going into work environments where loving and serving Jesus Christ and reading your Bible were considered foolish, not manly, and something to be ridiculed.  I suspect there were guys who gained courage to stand up for Christ in their work environment by listening to Charles McCord on Imus in the Morning.

Don Imus and Imus in the Morning went through quite a crisis in 2007.  Imus was fired for making horribly racist comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team.  In fact, sidekick Bernie had made the remarks, but Imus enthusiastically laughed and repeated his words.  I was listening at the time, and I immediately turned the radio off!  It was disgusting.  I was not surprised he was fired.  But about nine months later, as I recall, the show returned, this time originating from New York's WABC and featured on a smaller network of stations around the country.  Locally at that time it was on AM 790 from Rhode Island.  The audio reception wasn't quite as good but I'd still tune in from time-to-time.

Don Imus was truly an enigma.  It may well shock you that one of his favorite people in all the world was Evangelist Billy Graham!  He often mentioned Billy Graham and always spoke well of him.  Shortly after Billy Graham's death in February 2018, Don Imus devoted a whole broadcast to memorializing him.

Don Imus had a brother Fred Imus who passed away a number of years ago.  In my early days of listening, Fred would call the show and he and Don would chat.  I have often told this joke that Fred told Don one morning:  A pair of jumper cables walked into a bar and sat down.  The bartender said to the jumper cables, "I don't mind you being in here, but just don't try to start something!"

I hope nobody thinks I'm "trying to start something" here.  I just wanted to share these thoughts about Don Imus and Imus in the Morning,  and I offer my condolences to Don's widow Deidre, his family, and all his friends.

Saturday, December 7, 2019


"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."  (James 3:17)

Early on this cold Saturday morning,  I sat at a small window table at Panera Bread in Walpole, Massachusetts; enjoyed a tasty breakfast, and spent a truly rich time reading Proverbs chapter eight and thinking about it.  Proverbs chapter eight is all about God's wisdom.  I've read Proverbs chapter eight a number of times before, but when you allow yourself to really "soak" in it and to think deeply about it, it's definitely profound and important stuff!  

There's a couple named Steve and Nancy who began attending Bread of Life Church in Westminster (where my wife and I fellowship) just a few months ago.  They've taken quite a liking to me.  I must say, though, I was very humbled when Steve told me he and his wife were coming to my Adult Sunday School Class because (as Steve put it), "I really sense you have a lot of wisdom."  Wow.  I was humbled because throughout my life and ministry "having a lot of wisdom" is something I have not been known for.  In fact, it's been just the opposite!  My late father loved me, but I know at times he thought I was very idealistic, very naive, and very foolish.  I've had colleagues and superiors in ministry, as well as members of the churches where I served, who would have heartily agreed with my father.  And, most of the time, they weren't wrong!  My nature is to be very emotional, very opinionated, very outspoken even to the point of sometimes lacking a filter, and yes having a tendency to be idealistic and naive.  Thus, I pondered Steve's assessment of me.  It made me feel really sober and accountable to God as I taught Sunday School this fall- wanting to genuinely "get it right"- wanting to honor God and make sure I was not just grandstanding.  I hope this isn't egotistical, but I absolutely believe I did get it right.

I began writing this blog in 2006.  If you go back and look at a lot of the posts from 2006 through maybe 2011 or 2012, many (but not all of them) do present a guy who is very emotional, very opinionated, very outspoken even to the point of sometimes lacking a filter, and yes having a tendency to be idealistic and naive.  I was devastated when the little church I'd pastored closed, and I was devastated that (frankly) a number of people didn't seem to think all that well of me at the time.  But as I read Proverbs eight today, I realized that what's come in my own life from over nine years of radical deprivation, change, and humility is (and I'm taking a deep breath as I write this) some godly wisdom.  Have I "arrived"?  Not at all.  Do I still "mess up"?  I absolutely do.  But I'm now at a vantage point where I can see some progress being made in my Christian life.  I struggle with "God, why didn't this happen twenty years ago?  I'm getting to be too old.  In less than five years I'll be seventy!"  But I also know I have to trust that God knows what He is doing.  Joseph was one of the wisest people in the Old Testament.  He became the number two man in all of Egypt- only Pharaoh was above him.  He also was the smart mouthed seventeen-year-old kid who bragged to his family that he had a dream that all of them were bowing down to him and that he was more important than all of them.  (Not a lot of wisdom, there, Joseph!)  And there's Moses- who became God's great leader in the Exodus.  Yeah, he's the hot-headed forty-year old who went out and murdered an Egyptian and thought everybody would rally and they'd have a revolution.  No, he didn't show a lot of wisdom there, either; but by the time God called him to paradise, he was a genuinely wise man.

I have greatly striven to not post "political stuff" online.  It's not that I don't have political thoughts or opinions.  I do.  But I'm genuinely so sad about the lack of God's wisdom in our country and our world today!  I voted for Donald Trump and unless he does get thrown out of that office, I will probably vote for him again next November.  I agree with about eighty percent of what he's doing as far as policies and philosophy.  But as far as wisdom?  I deeply appreciate his support for the state of Israel and for Jerusalem being the capital of Israel.  I deeply appreciate his support for religious liberty around the world.  But to have that conversation on a recorded line with the leader of Ukraine about Biden's son?  No wisdom there.  And for the Democrats to waste all kinds of precious time and energy with the committee hearings about a possible Impeachment which (as of this writing) looks as if it's going to happen in early 2020- what a colossal lack of wisdom.  There will be an election next November.  If Trump is really as bad as they say he is, he won't get reelected.  I must add how bad I feel when Facebook friends of mine post about what a "dupe" and stooge and fool they think Vice-President Mike Pence is.  Then, you have to think I'm also a "dupe", a stooge, and a fool.  I for one am so thankful to have one guy in there that I believe the overwhelming majority of the time is walking in godly wisdom!  Mike Pence is not flashy nor sensational.  I doubt Mike Pence could ever get elected President in his own right, and that's such a shame.

Now before my friends on the right and my friends on the left come unglued I'll say that if I do get "in your face" comments from you over the next couple of days, I'll definitely know you're not walking in godly wisdom.  Please don't take that as an insult.  Remember, I've admitted on this post that I have spent most of my Christian life and most of my ministry not walking in godly wisdom, and I know I'm not 100% there yet!

Just saying'

I'm sixty-five and I wish I "got this" a whole lot sooner - decades ago!

Most modern Americans have no time to read God's Word, nor study it, nor meditate upon it.  The result is we're certainly not practicing it!  What an indictment.  But if we would do just that, our country and our world would be changed for the better.

I challenge you, read Proverbs chapter eight.  And think about it.  And when you're through with that, maybe check out the Book of James in the New Testament!