Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Tie

My mother (who is lost) bought me an "Amazing Grace" Evangelism Neck Tie for Christmas. It's Navy Blue with all the words to Amazing Grace writen in different sizes and fonts throughout the's not too ugly...definitely wearable.

Two thoughts...

First, how does my lost mom view me to even consider getting me this gift? Why would she go into a Christian bookstore, buy this for me, read it, wrap it, wait expectantly as I open it...but really, really look through jaded lenses of contempt at my actual faith? She sees my faith as "what we do." It's our "entertainment". Some folks are bowlers, some fish, some hunt...we go to Church. No matter how real we are or how much we live it to the core...that's the reality of how she sees us. Something is not right here on our end...I wish God would reveal this to me.

Second, I wear ties to work only (not to Church) will my associates at work, lost or otherwise, take to this brazen in-your-face display of my faith. I don't do fish, or stickers, or frankly any other displays of I'm saved and you're not, and really make it a point to (again) live my faith through love and consistency in my behavior, taking opportunities to share the Gospel when opportunities present themselves...but this tie is a bit over the top.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


My oldest brother is Richard Scott Bolter. We all call him Scott, but everyone at his job calls him Richard. You see he worked at the same diner as a cook and quit in his 4th day on the job (as Scott), so when he came back a year later and applied for the dishwasher position, he applied as Richard, the owner didn't remember him, and he got the job...he's been there almost two years and is by far the longest tenured person at the diner. The whole Richard thing cracks me up.

Anyway Scott is a different cat, by societal standards. But as my standards become broader, his stock continues to increase. My other brother and I took him back to his home (a room in a downtown boarding house) in St. Pete yesterday, and my middle brother, who doesn't see him near as often as I do, commented about living conditions and guilt and sadness and other words that frankly I had to rebuke. If we had a happiness scale for everyone in the family (grandparents down to kids), I'm not sure where Scott would fall, but he'd certainly be in the top half. If he wanted to talk about it, which I'm sure he doesn't, here's what I think he'd take stock in:

- He has 374 CDs. I tried to borrow the first album by Blood, Sweat and Tears...but he wouldn't part with it. So I settled for Echo and the Bunney Men and The Smitherenes.

- His boarding house room has a bed, a lock on the door, a window unit AC and a bath and toilet down the hall. Compared to homelesss, which he's been for several years of his life (in LA, Pittsburgh, Richmond, and Norfolk), his accomodations are pretty nice.

- Dishwasher at the Dome Diner is a pretty sweet gig. It's much better than working graveyard at Steak & Shake or the grill at Denny's. His boss really likes him and the stability has been good. And, oh yeah, he walks to work (2 blocks).

- He hasn't smoked pot since 1999. He was explaining to us how it zapped his energy for 48 hours following it, and really made him not want to do anything. Somehow Scott can articulate this very well, but teens all across America don't get it.

- When we asked him what we could get him for Christmas, his response was..."I really don't have any material needs." Go Figure. We probed a bit...found some things that we would never tolerate, and went shopping on the way back to Mom's house.

- This same materialism thing was affirmed a few months ago when I stopped by the diner to have coffee with him. Scott (in downtown dishwasher gear) sat down with me (in weekday businessman gear), and the diner cook (his coworker) later asked Scott...

"is that your brother?"


"why don't you ask him to throw a few bucks your way?"

"nah, I don't need anything."

Go Figure.

I'm so glad God gave me Scott for a brother. I'm even more glad that God changed me to allow me to appreciate who Scott is and to see Scott as He sees him.

Thanks God.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Freedom, meaning what?

I'm glad you asked.

Meaning if asked specifically about abortion, I would tell about the freedom experienced by my friend TJ and his sisters Beth and Kathy, all of whom were adopted. You see, rather than legislate oppression to those who think I want to take away their freedoms, I would choose to extol those who made tremendous choices to grant these three a bountiful free life. You see if TJ's biological mom had not made this wonderful choice, TJ would not have fought with honor during Desert Storm, nor serve proudly as a Federal Law Enforcement Officer, or be a great husband and father of four. That's one way I would extol freedom, not by tearing down, but by building up the positive choice of freedom and encouraging others to do the same, by leading!

And if asked about the economy, I would argue that minimum wage and freedom are mutually exclusive. And how much sense does it make to have a payroll tax for employers, that by its very nature discourages adding people to the payroll...this is NOT freedom. Freedom, in business, encourages enterprise. I would draw on true stories where the socio-economic lower wrung broke out of the cellar to climb to success because of our freedom...and anything we do to hinder that pursuit is flat out wrong.

Any other questions? Or, other situations where you think Freedom might be out of line?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Considering Throwing My Hat in the Ring

I haven't discussed the move to DC yet with my wife, but the country needs leadership, not politicians, so I'm thinking about jumping in. Before I do, I thought I'd air out some of the

Any questions about how I'd handle certain things?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Painter

There's this painter, who's been on TV for about 30 years...he's a white guy, with an afro, and he's very soft spoken...and he paints these amazing pictures in front of your eyes. I used to watch him in college with my friends Greg Stack and Ray Loggins. Once each show, Greg would shout out, as the painter put some obscure blot of paint in the middle of something nice, "he just SCREWED it up! There's no way he makes this look good." And Ray would calm him down by saying something like..."just watch Greg, he always makes it perfect." I hadn't thought of that painter for almost 20 years...until last night.

My wife made reference to the same painter. He's still on TV. She also re-told me the Greg Stack story (very well by the way)...but she made this great parallel. She says in life she finds herself alot like Greg...doubting God when he puts a blot on our canvas we don't understand...sometimes saying "You screwed that up God." But then God works it out...makes it perfect.

What a cool conversation.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Local Footbal and Phosphate

Our local high school just won it's third 5A State Championship in a row...sixth in the last 30 years. They haven't lost in three years. They have finished the season N0. 1 in the USA Today High School Poll the last two years. This year they traveled to Ohio to play their best...came away with a solid victory.

There are 25 seniors on their roster...nine of them are going to SEC powerhouses (1 to Alabama, 6 to Florida, 1 to LSU, and arguably the best of the group is still undecided).

This isn't anything new...our county has produced Ray Lewis, Freddy Mitchel, Rod Smart (or, He Hate Me), Travis Henry...and more.

There's a cliche that there's something in the water...but I really think there is. We have three things that grow really well here...oak trees bigger than you'll ever see, the best oranges in the world, and fast football players. The reason...we have the largest deposit of phosphate on earth...mines all over the place to dig it up...and phosphate chemical plants (6 or 8) to process the phosphate into fertilizer.

Note to Tommy T...recruiting in Florida starts in Polk County.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My Pastor's Wife

I'm sure it comes with the territory, but it must be tough to live the faith your husband preaches...virtually all the time. Not for Ruth - it seems effortless for her. She teaches PE at my kids' school, coaches JV Basketball, bakes cookies for local businesses, but this next one takes the cake.

The latest proof of her faith in action is in a tradition she started called the Evangel Tree. Ruth went to a few local schools that she had a hunch may have a few kids who may not have very joyful Christmases. She created a form that the guidance counselors and teachers could discretely share with the kids and ask kids, who would normally get nothing for Christmas, what they would like for Christmas. Some of the requests would break your heart (like, I want a school uniform t-shirt, so I can look like the other kids). So Ruth collects up all the forms and transfers the requests into construction paper cutout ornaments that read: Boy, age 9, Spiderman...or Girl, age 12, anything. Then she hangs these ornaments on a tree in the foyer of our church. Over 100 ornaments were hung Sunday morning. By Sunday night, they were all gone.

The neat part is that all this is done anonymously. The kids only know that a local church did this for them. I'm positive that God is able to orchestrate the connection between His love for them and this outward show of love by His people. Hats off to Ruth for puting this together. Thanks Ruth.