Tag Archive: Johnny Cash


A cell phone is an on again and off again love affair.  They are quite amazing if we stop and remember it wasn’t that long ago we didn’t have them.  Now we not only have a phone but a camera, mini computer, video games, and more in the palm of our hands.  I love it and then I hate it.

I hate it when the phone rings or a text is delivered ,and I glance at the clock (that’s on the phone as well), and it’s 8:30 p.m.  As a police chaplain on 24-hour call, I have to look at it.  Usually, it is not a call from the command staff or a family member in need.  It’s often somebody who, for some reason, couldn’t call during the work-day asking a mundane question.  My thoughts aren’t very positive on those calls.  

The biggest problem is that the advent of the amazing cell phone now has everyone expecting a response within minutes.  Minutes.  In our world today, we have to give excuses as to why we did not respond fast enough.  Excuses.  We wonder why there is so much anxiety these days.  Crazy, if you ask me.

Talking of crazy, the ringtones available are really cool.  My bipolar love/hate relationship with my phone moves back into the love sector.  I think ringtones are really cool.  By choosing a ring tone, I can hear who is calling me.  I use them.

When my wife calls me, those around me smile without question.  I ought to take bets I can make people smile without talking to them.  Then I should get my wife to call me.  They always smile when they hear “This Girl Is On Fire” by Alicia Keys.  Yeah, I love ring tones.  

I have one friend who is that one guy who seems to be in emergency mode when he calls.  There is no such thing as a gentle phone call from him.  His ring-tone?  Tom Hanks’ “Houston, We Have a Problem.”  He doesn’t know it, so don’t tell him.

My son-in-law used to stand like Superman with his hands on his hips.  It became a family joke.  So of course He gets the Superman Main Title.  Another friend loves cars.  I found a motorcycle revving sound.  The ringtones immediately match the person in our minds.

My all-time favorite is, again, not one of my best moments.  A family member spent some time on the wrong side of the law.  Picking that ringtone was easy.  Johnny Cash’s version of Folsom Prison Blues live at Folsom Prison causes many to look at me funny while a big grin crosses my face.  Don’t worry, the family member knows and thinks it’s pretty funny as well.  That’s the beauty of the gospel.  We can get back up and move forward with our lives.  It’s a great story.  It’s not mine.  Maybe one day I can get his permission to tell some of it.

As mentioned before, ringtones grab our attention immediately.  They connect the call to the person on the other end without having to look at the caller i.d.  We tend to use them with special people in our lives.  

I don’t have ringtones for the “others” in my life.  It’s only reserved for those who will get my attention whenever they ring.  They are the important ones.  

I was with a few people I really don’t know very well while attending a training conference.  They heard some of my ringtones .  We began to share different ones and had a great time telling the stories that connect the people to the sounds.

Sometimes God works in very strange ways.  Here we were talking about our ringtones with no idea the speaker was going to talk about the same thing.  Strange.  It wasn’t the main topic, but he used ringtones as an example.  His theme was God getting our attention.  We were quietly grinning at our table having a little fun at his expense when all of a sudden he asked, “What is God’s ringtone that gets your attention?”  

He made a good point.  Our relationship with Jesus Christ is to be a relationship.  It is to be the most important relationship of our lives.  We talk with him all the time through prayer.  He talks to us.  It’s called the Bible.  

It’s funny how people ask me all the time about dreams.  I ask a simple question, “Was your dream consistent with the Bible?”  That one usually ends the conversation since few actually read the Bible.  Instead of waiting for the cryptic communication, we should look for the clarity of the Word of God.  

I think the ringtone for God should be a rendition of the kids song that goes, “The B.I.B.L.E. yes, that’s the book for me.  I stand alone on the Word of God.  The B.I.B.L.E.”  

I can tell it’s time for a vacation.  The articles of the  last few weeks have been hard to write.  Usually, when the mind is not putting things together, it’s time to take a break.  I tell people all the time when I sense they are running on empty, “Even Jesus took a break, and you ain’t Jesus.”  My time away is still ,as of today, 16 days away.  I see light at the end of the tunnel.  In the mean time readers, you may have to put up with my ramblings that may seem to run all over the place.  It’s how my tired mind works.  Or doesn’t.  

I like to listen to Johnny Cash’s music.  His songs are so full of life.  People who have had struggles and I mean serious struggles seem to relate to his songs.  My personal favorite is “A Boy Named Sue.”  I remember the first time I heard that one.  I laughed, and laughed, and laughed.  Johnny came out with that one in 1969.  I was 10 years old.  I thought it was so funny that someone would name his boy, Sue.  

Just the other day my iPod shuffled the classic hit into play mode.  Again, a smile crossed my face as I ventured back to 1969.  Only this time, not only did I enjoy Johnny’s live rendition, I focused on the words of his dad.  He named him Sue because he knew he was not going to be along, and he wanted his boy to grow up tough.  A bit over the top, but the message comes through.  He loved his son enough to give him a girl’s name.  Let’s just say it was a different world in 1969.  

We could argue all day long that if that dad really loved his boy he would hot have wandered away.  I use the word “wander” on purpose.  Jesus describes us as wandering sheep in Luke 15.  Do you know why sheep wander? It’s easy.  They are natural wanderers!  Sometimes I think we forget the basics of Jesus’ teachings.  Jesus had no real issues with our nature.  Our fallen nature should not surprise anyone.  In that amazing chapter written by Dr. Luke, Jesus is addressing the group who thought they had their act together.  He describes us as lost sheep, lost coins, and rebellious kids.  In all of this, Jesus does not issue one single negative comment.  Instead, he talks about his love and grace.  His love to find us and welcome us home.  HIs grace to restore us in relationship with Him.  

I have way too many discussions with fellow “Christians” who want to talk about the reasons we are losing the next generation.  We want to blame technology.  We want to blame the education system.  We want to blame the youth group leaders.  We want to blame just about anything we can get our hands on.  That is, as long as you don’t blame me.  You can blame me, though.  I will admit I’m a natural wanderer.  I get lost at times and, yes, I too can shake my fist at my God and take off on my own path.  Any one of those three will impact my church, my family, and my community.  That is, if I don’t have a sound understanding of the nature of man and the nature of God and how they engage one another.

It is at this point we need to stop our debating and useless blame shifting.  The struggle to give the gospel to the next generation has been an issue since man sinned.  After Adam and Eve came Cain, and he killed his brother.   Noah had an issue with Ham.  David, yes, the great King David, a man after God’s own heart, had serious next generation problems.  In case you don’t know, his one son sexually abused his sister. David’s son Absalom killed the abuser-brother.  Eventually, Absalom rebelled against dad, but, was killed fighting against him.  Don’t forget Solomon, the one son left.  He had serious women issues.  What did David do in all this?  From what we see, not much at all.  

There are plenty of other next generation problems in Scripture as well as the entire history of the church.  It is a common problem.  We waste too much time trying to fix blame.  Fixing blame takes the heat off of those trying to find a solution.  

In the end of the day, each one of us needs to take personal responsibility as we address the next generations.  Instead of judgment, we need to express grace.  Instead of fixing blame on everyone and everything else, we extend mercy by taking responsibility for our failures and sin.  Instead of building walls expecting the next generation to leap tall buildings in a single bound, we express our love by walking with them as the Prodigal Father did in Luke 15 with our arms wide open looking to embrace our natural wanderers.

We as adult individuals either live our lives thinking we are the potter, or we live our lives understanding we are the clay, being honest with our human nature and responding with great love, grace, and mercy.  It’s truly the Jesus way.  

I can hear Johnny Cash now…”I hear the train a coming…”. I hear the vacation train coming around the bend.