I was able to follow up on an invitation to go skeet shooting with a friend. A
couple of months ago we had made a date for this outing where we were to be
joined by my friend’s son and grandson. I had to back out at the time because
of my sister-in-law’s passing.
was up early, which is my habit, fully prepared to meet Ralph at the designated
time of 7:00. However, there was one small interruption. I received a text at
6:00 from my oldest daughter, Laura, reminding me that her sister, Jenny, our
youngest, was going to be interviewed on Good Morning Sacramento, a TV program
for the early-risers and commuters. Jenny and her business partner, Chris, have
just opened a new shop in Turlock, named Rustic
Roots. It is one of those cute little shops that has antiques and older
items for the home or workplace. It has everything from homemade soaps to
specialty made chandeliers.
as the news channel came on they announced they would be interviewing the
owners of Rustic Roots. Knowing
something about broadcasting, I had the distinct impression this story was
coming much later in the program. Sure enough – forty-five minutes later the
story on Rustic Roots was aired. It
was exciting to see Jenny and Chris in their new shop. Hopefully this will
bring them more business, which has already been excellent from the grand
opening just two weeks ago. I dutifully recorded the news program, and took
pictures of the TV screen during the interview. I then raced out the door
arriving at Ralph’s farm at 7:02. Bless his heart; he had brewed a couple of
cups of coffee for the two of us!
loaded up Ralph’s pickup truck and made sure the trailer towing the ATV was
secure. For the uninitiated, ATV is the acronym for All Terrain Vehicle. We
drove for at least an hour arriving at Camanche Hills Hunting Preserve, which
is a private hunters/shooters club. Not long after, son David and grandson Will
rolled in next to us. We four hearty souls then entered the restaurant on the
club grounds and enjoyed more coffee and a great breakfast. As you might expect
in a shooters club restaurant, the walls were totally covered with the heads of
large animals, as well as small animals and birds. I ordered the pancake,
bacon, eggs combo. When I asked Doris, the waitress, to toss in a second pancake,
she gave me that look that says, “You’re not from around here, are you?” She
pleasantly informed me that one pancake would probably be all I would want, but
if perchance, I changed my mind, she’d bring me a second pancake. Wise woman!
The one pancake nearly filled the entire platter!
eating we assured Doris we’d be back for lunch and to hold our tab. We then
paid for our round of shooting before loading up our shotguns in the ATV and
heading for the first of ten stations. Skeet shooting is a form of trapshooting in which clay
targets are thrown from traps to simulate birds in flight and are shot at from
different stations. This particular course also included simulations of rabbits
and rats just to add to the overall challenge.
quite familiar with guns and the handling of weapons, but the only time I ever
handled and fired a shotgun was during some anti-terrorism training. I had
never shot skeet before, so I was attempting to soak it all in. Each of us was
provided 10 shotgun shells for each station, times the 10 stations would equal
100 rounds fired per person. We had our choice of either a twelve gauge or
twenty gauge shotgun. Being unfamiliar with shotguns in general, and even more
unfamiliar with skeet shooting, I was on a steep learning curve. The term used
in shooting skeet is “sweep.” You hold the butt of the gun tight against your
shoulder while smoothly swinging (sweeping) the gun barrel in the pattern you
anticipate the clay target (often called a “clay pigeon”) coming into your
view. The added challenge is that there are always two clay targets every time.
They are staggered so that they come seconds apart. The idea is that you shoot
the first target quickly enough so that you have sufficient enough time to
sweep in on the second clay target and blow it into little pieces, as well.
early on it was rough going getting the hang of it, but I gradually warmed up
to the whole thing and actually missed only one clay target out of my last
twenty. It was a fun time and following a sumptuous lunch, we all loaded up our
stuff and went our separate ways.
a fun day. I guess you could say – We had a blast!
I am a fan of Tim Tebow. You remember him, right? The charismatic young quarterback
who led the University of Florida to two national football championships. He
was also selected for the coveted college football honor – the Heisman Trophy.
became popular for bringing his teams back from defeat in what became known as
“Tebow Time.” He did it repeatedly with Florida, and then with the Denver
football analysts pooh-poohed his chances of ever having a successful career in
the National Football League (NFL). He was picked up in the first round of the
draft by the Denver Broncos. He understood that he would be the backup
quarterback behind Kyle Orton. The opening five games in the 2011 season were
mostly a disaster for the Broncos. They lost four and won one before Orton
suffered an injury, giving Tebow an opportunity few quarterbacks have
eleven games left in the season, Tebow rallied the Broncos to seven wins and
four loses. It wasn’t a great season overall, but it was an astounding
accomplishment when you consider where the Broncos started. Tebow, a young
inexperienced NFL quarterback, motivated his team, as well as a world-wide
audience, by taking the Broncos into the play-offs. He then led them to a
victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers for their first play-off win since 2005.
future in the NFL looked promising. But Broncos’ owner John Elway, a Hall of
Fame quarterback himself, did not see Tebow as a fit for the team. So he was
picked up by the New York Jets in a trade. The next season was a waste of this
young man’s talent and development. He was rarely used in what can only be
called a dismal season for the Jets. He was released earlier this year to seek
an opportunity to be picked up by another team.
born Timothy Richard Tebow, has become something of a lightning rod over two
things in his life: First, he is exceptionally popular. Tebow wore
number 15 on his jersey for the Broncos, the same number he wore in college. He
set an NFL Draft record for jersey sales and continued to have the top selling
jersey through the 2010 season. Also, he created the instantly popular
“Tebowing,” an action where Tebow would kneel on one knee, place his elbow on
his knee, with his head bowed on his fist in an attitude of prayer and
The second reason for his garnering so much attention,
both positive and negative, is his openly vocal Christian witness. He makes no
bones about where he stands. This goes back to his college days, and even
earlier. But his popularity at Florida provided him a platform to speak boldly
about his faith. He popularized the message, John 3:16, on his face black,
which prompted millions of Internet searches for the beloved verse from the
Bible: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” When
other college students took their two-week Spring Break down in the islands of
the Caribbean, or Florida, Tebow would fly to the Philippines where he worked
with children in an orphanage.
This past week Tebow was picked up by the New England
Patriots, a championship caliber team under what is clearly a legendary Hall of
Fame coach in Bill Belichick. The Tebow naysayers are claiming that Tebow won’t
amount to anything even under a coach like Belichick. As a life-long Patriots
fan, I have to believe that Belichick has a plan as to how to best utilize this
young man. It will be interesting to watch.
His parents were missionaries when Tebow was born in the
Philippines. He grew up loving Jesus and has made a significant difference in
the lives of many people by sharing his faith and being philanthropic. “Tebow
envisioned a foundation to give back to others during his college career, and
he, along with other University of Florida students, created First and 15,
raising funds for Uncle Dick's Orphanage in the Philippines, founded by his
father's nonprofit association, the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association. He also
raised money for Shands Hospital pediatric cancer center in Gainesville and a Disney
trip for disadvantaged children. Upon graduation from the University of Florida,
Tebow launched the Tim Tebow Foundation in January 2010. A hospital is being
built in the Philippines to provide specific medical care for conditions that
can be treated by surgery. Ground-breaking began in 2012. In 2013 Tim Tebow was
designated a Great Floridian by Florida Governor Rick Scott in recognition of his
‘major contributions to the progress and welfare’ of Florida.
So, love him or not, it will be very interesting to see
if the next few years become “Tebow Time” again.
not sure just how to begin this article other than I have been struggling with
this issue for several years. To put it simply, “What in the world is happening
to my country?”
growing concern based upon a government run amok is very disturbing. In an
attempt to keep up with all the scandals coming out of Washington DC, I admit
that my head is spinning. Of the many stories emerging about government
overreach and abuse, we are being treated to a litany of activities that are in
clear violation of our laws – namely, the U.S. Constitution.
probably became an unsettling issue for me when the current administration
pushed hard for The Patient Protection and Affordable
Care Act which was signed into law on March 23, 2010. It has been euphemistically
called “Obamacare.” Then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi,
said Congress needed to pass the bill before they could read the bill. What?!
The promises of this bill for all Americans is grandiose, and at the same time
frightening in the scope of its reach into our lives. The early talk of “Death
Panels” was quickly pooh-poohed as being the ridiculous scare tactics of conservatives.
Now we are three years removed from the passage of this bill (a bill I took the
time to read in its entirety in 2009), and it’s showing evidence of having government
officials making decisions regarding what health procedures you would be
authorized to have. An overriding concern with this universal healthcare bill
is the requirement for all Americans to be covered. The laws of the United
States say that we the people cannot be forced to be a part of such a policy if
we choose not to.
2nd amendment came under attack after a number of violent shooting
incidents took place across our land. Remember your U.S. Government class from
high school? The 2nd amendment says, “A well-regulated
Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the
people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” There has been a certain hysteria
associated with guns and gun ownership. The opponents of gun rights paint
anyone with a gun as a potential homicidal killer. They particularly like to
point the finger of accusation at former military personnel – especially if you
are a combat vet. The desire on the part of the anti-gun crowd is such that
they immediately label a shooting suspect as having formerly served in the
military. Later, when a background check is actually conducted, it is
frequently discovered that the person never served in the military. I had some
firsthand experience with this back in 1989 while stationed at Naval
Communication Station in Stockton, California. A man drove to an elementary
school in Stockton and began shooting children and teachers on the playground
before turning the gun on himself. My wife and I unknowingly drove by the
school within minutes of the shooting, but we quickly cleared out of the area
because emergency vehicles were racing in from all directions. I turned on my
car radio to catch the news. Sure enough, the shooter was 24 years old and a
Vietnam veteran. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! This was 1989! Vietnam
ended in 1975, and our last combat troops left Vietnam in January of 1973. Do
the math. This guy was born in 1964!
of Americans own guns legally and have no intention of using them for anything except
for their designated purpose which is determined by the individual: hunting, collecting,
Founding Fathers understood only too well the need for both a well-regulated
militia for the security of a free state, and the need for individuals to have
the right to keep and bear arms. Back in England they were not allowed such
freedoms. Few people argue against the need for a militia (or what we today call
“the military”) to defend our nation against enemies. The problem comes with
personal possession and ownership of guns. Individual ownership of guns makes
our nation virtually impossible to conquer by foreign enemies. Any country that
would want to make the attempt knows full well that we are a well-defended
people. If our own government should succeed in disarming the populace, we
would be virtually defenseless against enemies both foreign and domestic. And
that’s why the 2nd amendment states unequivocally that this right is
not to be infringed – meaning no one is to encroach upon the right in a way
that violates stated law or the rights of another individual.
simply cannot be allowed. The Constitution is not to be tampered with – period.
will continue this train of thought in future articles.
was invited this year by American Legion Post 263 out of Escalon to speak at
their Memorial Day ceremony held at Burwood Cemetery. I was particularly
pleased to see a large number of young children there with their families. They
will be the ones to remember into the future the importance of Memorial Day.
follows is the speech I presented on Memorial Day.
it is a good morning – because of those who have gone before us. It’s a good
morning because our decision to gather here this morning is just one part of
the freedoms that have been provided for us by heroes past. It’s a good morning
because America is still the land of heroes proved. It’s a good morning because
America is still the land of the free because of the brave.
a day like Memorial Day it can be overwhelming when you stop and consider all
the men and women who have gone before us. And of that number of Americans who
have gone before us there is a small percentage who took up arms to defend our
liberty and freedom. Of that number an even smaller percentage laid down their
lives for our freedom.
up in New England I used to ride my bike a few blocks from my house to a small
cemetery. It was cool because there were gravel drives that meandered through
the plots. I was only interested in setting my bike on the gravel and then
jamming my peddle down for a quick take-off. If I did it right, I would shoot
gravel all over the place.
those rare occasions I would stop my gravel-scattering and look at some of the
tombstones. Being New England, there were some old dates on these grave
markers. Some were so worn that the information was hard to read. I used to
wonder who that person had been. Some of the plots were no longer kept up. Did
anyone come and visit them anymore? Were family still coming to lay flowers?
Did anyone remember that they ever lived?
what we’re doing here this morning – Remembering. Remembering those who laid
down their lives so we could live ours. We are in their debt.
morning at 7:00 a Boy Scout troop from Tracy went to the cemetery in their town
and laid flowers by each gravesite of a fallen hero, and then read that
person’s name aloud with a salute. I spoke to the Scout Master, who explained
that ceremonies are often held in honor of the Unknown Soldier. This was
different. They wanted to make sure that every known soldier, sailor, Marine,
airman, Coast Guardsman, or merchant marine would be clearly remembered.
at Woodward Park in Manteca, I was involved in the “Not Forgotten” ceremony.
They reenacted what is done when a Marine has died in battle. They perform a
roll-call, calling the person’s name aloud three times – Michael Anderson –
Michael Anderson – Michael Anderson. When the individual does not roger up, the
Marine’s rifle is then stuck into the ground, bayonet-end down. Then the boots
are placed in front of the rifle. The helmet is placed on top of the rifle
butt, with the Marine’s dog tags dangling from the top.
years ago I officiated at a funeral for a Marine veteran of World War I right
here in this cemetery. I was pastoring a church in Fresno, and I was still a
Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve. The next month I was commissioned a
chaplain in the United States Navy. I admit, I don’t recall the location of the
grave, nor do I recall the gentleman’s name.
there are 6,665 names on the wall of those who have died for our country since
9-11. They all have family, friends, and others who knew and loved them. They
will be remembered for many years to come. Will future generations remember
beyond that? I pray to God that they will.
I want you to know this most of all. Your life is never forgotten. In fact,
your name is always known – on into eternity – by God who loves you and values
you more than you can ever know. Your name is ever on his heart and lips. You
are precious in his sight. And even after all the graves are grown over and the
tombstones are cracked and broken, God still loves you.
said these amazing words: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s
life for one’s friends.”
we remember here today loved their country, loved their families, and loved
their friends, and willingly and lovingly laid down their lives for you and me.
honors such sacrifice and, trust me, it will never be forgotten. Never!