Faith, Family, Country, Sports

Jesus WOD (Workout of the Day) – apart or a part

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”  –  John 15:5

As a basketball coach, it’s not difficult to tell what players are about the team and which ones are about themselves. Do they want to play defense as much as they want the ball on the offensive end? Will they hustle, dive for the loose ball … do the dirty work? Does their body language affect the team in a positive or negative manner?

In John 15:5, Jesus basically said if you’re on My team, you “can do all things through” Me. Jesus is the lifeline. He is the life giver. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

On God’s team, you are a segment, a piece of His divine plan that serves a special and specific purpose. “The body is a unit, though it is comprised of many parts. And although its parts are many, they all form one body. So it is with Christ…Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it.” (I Corinthians 12:12, 27)

As Christ is “the vine”, we serve as an extension of Him to the world. Our every breath and heartbeat comes not from our greatness, but the simple fact we are attached to Jesus.

Break a branch off from its main source and certain death will come. For non-Christians, being “…apart from” God doesn’t mean a successful life cannot be had, for it certainly can. The difference is when those individuals die, and we all will, they “can do nothing” to be a part of God’s team. Time has run out. The game is over. An eternity apart from the Father has been sealed.


  • God has a place for you on His team. Have you asked Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior?
  • If you’ve already accepted Jesus, is He asking you to be a part of something “special and specific”? Are you following His calling?

The Cost of Memorial Day

Not all memories on Memorial Day bring a smile.

For many, they are reminders of the ones left behind.

Memorial Day in Arlington National Cemetery 2015

Friends and buddies.

Sisters and brothers.

Daughters and sons.

Aunts and uncles.

Wives and husbands.

Moms and dads.

For them, today does not mark the official beginning of summer.

It is not a “regular” holiday.

It is a day of past pain that still lives in the present.

It is a gut wrenching reminder of what freedom really costs.

May we never forget it.








The New Yorker is Chicken

The vaunted, highly esteemed, socially left leaning New Yorker magazine is … chicken.

The fearful arrival of southern fowl into the Big Apple is not at the heart of Dan Piepenbring’s recent article entitled, Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City.

Like most places in America, “The city that never sleeps” has a pallet for poultry and the many ways this feathered delicacy can be presented.  Pipenbring’s piece, though, is more of a pluck job on Christianity.

He states: “And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism. (The same Judeo-Christian values America was built upon – my emphasis) Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays.”

He does mention the long lines waiting to enter Chick-fil-A’s newest, and fourth restaurant, in New York city, but Piepenbring apparently cannot digest this “infiltration” is welcomed by thousands of his fellow citizens.


He has trouble swallowing “The company has since reaffirmed its intention to ‘treat every person with honor, dignity and respect,’ but it has quietly continued to donate to anti-L.G.B.T. groups.” Please do not forget, Mr. Pipenbring, Chick-fil-A is a privately owned company and can parcel out its funds as it wishes.

It appears The New Yorker, published by Conde’ Nast and owned by Advanced Publications, writes about anything is chooses.

I have first-hand knowledge of Chick-fil-A’s intentions having worked at an establishment in Macon, Georgia. From the initial day of training, it is stressed that every customer is the same. Every customer is equal. Every customer is valuable. The goal is for them to walk out feeling as such.

Chick-fil-A employees  are not trained to decipher, decode, decrypt, or descramble a customer’s religion or sexual ethnicity. Customers are not quizzed before ordering and no exit polls are taken following their delicious meal. Evangelism does not take place. Salvation tracts are not included with the sauce (Polynesian, Chick-fil-A, Honey Mustard, etc…) of your choice. Bibles do not adorn each table nor are they found on the bathroom sink.

But, without the name of Jesus being uttered, customers know there is a different aura, atmosphere, and feeling here.  Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Paul wrote in Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Pipenbring sees it as “distasteful” that Chick-fil-A would “portray itself as better than other fast food.” This is simply called competition. To survive, you must compete. Since 1925, The New Yorker has been doing the same thing.

Honoring its customers is what truly separates Chick-fil-A from other fast food competitors. Simply, it is genuine, professional, courteous service, something rarely seen these days, guided by Biblical principles.

For The New Yorker, there’s no reason to fear this infiltration of light in the darkness. It’s just chicken.


The Obstinate Ones

“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets.” Zechariah 7:11-12

How often do we choose to not pay attention to GOD’s calling? Whether it be large or small, it does not matter. This act of disobedience happens daily.

The word that stands out in this passage is “stubbornly.” The Israelites were not passively ignoring GOD, they were doing it with all they had. They were dogged, inflexible, relentless and tenacious in their desire to want it their way.  All their energy was put forth into opposing GOD and HIS best interests for them.


The more we walk away from GOD, relishing in our season of sin (and those last longer than others), our heart hardens. The passage equates it to a flint rock. These are durable, and tough, fashioned into tools and weapons.

More times we choose to run from GOD, like Jonah did, our heart becomes a weapon we use against ourselves. This is exactly what satan desires. For then, he knows we are traveling the path to destruction. If you are a Christian, it can destroy your witness for JESUS; for the unbeliever, it can secure your place in hell beside the prince of darkness.

We are all the obstinate ones. Will it be to follow GOD’s plan for our life or not? The choice is ours.





“Sweet Lou”

2 Corinthians 12:9 – “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

This past weekend, I saw this verse in action.

Lou StrongAlong with my good friend, Jonas Endreson, we visited our dear college buddy, “Sweet” Lou Caruso.

Like Paul, who wrote the passage above, Lou also has a “thorn”. He is battling brain cancer.

Since late last year, so many have been praying, pleading with the LORD, “to take” this thorn away. That has yet to happen, and the disease continues its slow march.

At the same time, GOD’s grace is overflowing.  It always does.

Though Lou is losing sight in one eye, his trademark smile still fills the room.

His short term memory is becoming more consistent, but his laughter is ever-present.

GOD’s “power…made perfect in weakness”.

Lou’s wife, Kim, lovingly “stands in the gap”, meeting this daily battle with dogged determination, and relentless praise for what the LORD has done and is doing.

Watching his father struggle, Lou’s son displays a patience and understanding far beyond his mid-teen years.

The Caruso’s are surrounded by an abundance of love and support. Their neighbors have helped supply meals for months. Friends drive hours to visit. Family members began a #LouStrong t-shirt campaign supported by many.

GOD’s “grace is sufficient.”

Currently, it is evident Lou cannot rely on his own power. Those human abilities have been diminished and continue to be attacked daily. The sting of the “thorn” is felt. It inhibit’s and slows the pace of life down. It makes the doable, difficult.

Yet, it hasn’t stopped Lou or his family!  It hasn’t crushed their spirit or resolve. It hasn’t destroyed their hope.  It hasn’t halted life.

GOD’s “grace” and “power” is sharper than any thorn. It allows us to “soar on wings like eagles”. It helps us to “run and not grow weary”. It makes us “walk and not faint.”

Make no mistake about it, at his weakest point, “Sweet” Lou is very “strong”.

Please keep my good friend in your prayers.





In less than 48 hours, Jesus will kneel in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Overwhelmed with sorrow” and the knowledge of what is to come, He will make a plea to heaven.

“‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:42-43)

I’ve always focused on verse 42. Jesus shows his humanity. Just like us, He would rather not endure the forthcoming pain. There must be a better means to the end. Still, He was committed to His Father’s will being “done.”

In “anguish”, with “sweat…like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44), God heard Jesus’s prayer, but He didn’t take the “cup”. Instead, He filled it with exactly what was needed at that moment…strength.

Just like us, Jesus was in the valley (though we can’t fathom the depth of His), and God prepared Him for the brutal journey to come. He is the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end. He has already been where He is leading us.

As He did with Jesus, God will always provide us with the strength to complete His plan.

Refuge – Anywhere

Psalm 23 is the famous passage where GOD leads us beside “quiet” or “still” waters. It’s the type of refuge we all desire.

The soothing sounds of a brook as it meanders over rocks and between crevasses. Maybe it’s the ocean breeze that makes the palm trees sing their coastal tune or the stillness of a mountain range. In any case, our response renders a deep sigh, smile or the fleeting “feeling” of total relaxation. In our finite eyes, and minds, the desired refuge is another place. Another time.

As stated in verse 2, GOD “makes me lie down in green pastures.” It doesn’t say our refuge will be found in greener pastures. That’s what we often think, though. My situation will be better if, if, if … I can get over there. Why? Because “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” That’s where calm resides and the new beginning begins. If I can just get there, it will be…

But the “Great I AM”, HE is a different cat and even tells us such in Isaiah 55:8 (NLT) – “For MY thoughts are nothing like your thoughts. And MY ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

Who in their right mind would ever consider the cruel cross as a place to take refuge? As GOD’s love knows no bounds, neither do the places HE offers refuge. HE makes right out of wrong, good out of bad and beauty out of ashes.

Ask the thief that hung on the cross beside JESUS. On that day, he found “goodness and love” (v. 6), “right paths” (v. 5), and “comfort” (v. 4). He found…refuge.








Refuge. We all need it. That place to go in times of, as Webster’s dictionary puts it, “danger or distress.” It’s where we refuel, recharge, and reexamine what is happening in our world.  The results and answers sought after are often only as good as the chosen refuge.

Personally, my first choices would be working out, watching sports, or a few days at the beach. None of those are bad, but they only serve as a temporary band aid to lingering issues. The refuge that offers truth and peace comes from JESUS and HIS Word.

James 1:22-25 states:

“Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

Going to the refuge, that is GOD, is the only way to experience the peace HE offers from the craziness of this life.  I must be more consistent in not just knowing it’s there, but taking root in that place.

Open Letter to a Main Stream Media Columnist

(This is my rebuttal to a column written by Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald.)

Dear Mr. Pitts,

Your “open letter” to President Trump felt as though it would have been penned for our most recent past-president. So much of your diatribe seemed to pertain to the previous eight years our country endured. But, let’s be proactive, as President Trump is doing, and take a closer look at your correspondence to him.

In relation to the US Constitution, and the presidential election, via your own verbiage, “let me explain to you how this works.” The winner is not based on the popular vote but rather on the electoral college. The Founding Fathers set it up in this manner so, whether they lived in a bustling, cosmopolitan area of millions or in a rural region of hundreds, each legal citizen’s vote would count. (If you happen to differ with my synopsis, please take a moment to access Prager University’s YouTube channel. They offer two excellent presentations on the Electoral College and popular vote). Per your statement, the president has “324 million bosses.” I’d assume you’d want all their votes to count, right?

Included in those “324 million bosses” would be “all the other trolls you (Trump) have brought clambering up from under their bridges.” In an off way, I’d assume you are referring to Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables”? The Bible thumpers. Those who believe in God and those who don’t, but still cling to their guns? The Rednecks? The Uncle Toms? If I am wrong, please specify who these trolls are in your next column.

You also asked, “Just who the hell do you think you are?” We are citizens of this United States. Many, just like you, are “a freeborn American.” Others have taken the legal route to obtain citizenship into this “Shining City upon a Hill.” Truthfully, we either voted for Trump because we loved his views or, like myself, voted against another four years of watching our beloved country decay into a deeper cesspool of socialism while being sold off to the highest bidder.

We also do not like seeing the Constitution trampled upon. It’s laughable for you to assert President Trump feels entitled to “run afoul of the Constitution.” Too busy the previous eight years to watch your guy or were you hampered by selective reporting? The Chrysler Bailout? IRS political profiling? 2012 Recess Appointments? Changing laws without actual legislation? Implementing the Dream Act by executive fiat? There are many, many more examples. Again, in your own words, “Any of that ringing a bell?”

As supporters of President Trump, and his goal to “Make America Great Again,” we have not greeted him “with an out-thrust palm and a hearty ‘Sieg heil!” During Obama’s terms, we did not act “unruly” by rioting in the streets in response to his policies. Public property wasn’t destroyed and business windows were not shattered. We did not turn America’s main streets and highways into war zones. That’s the stuff of the Third Reich and their “night of broken glass.”

Based on what was written, your letter wasn’t to President Trump or his trolls. You must have been thinking of someone else.

God Bless,
Robbie Burns
“Troll” From Under the Bridge

A Perfect Fit

The Masters’ Green Jacket grew from near obscurity into golf’s most iconic victory symbol

(This story was originally written for Executive Golfer magazine in 2009)

As the official 2009 Tour season winds down…and the “silly season” kicks into high gear, I start to look forward to next year’s tournaments and especially The Masters. So, I got thinking, where did the tradition of awarding a green jacket to the champion originate? Here is the story.

Besides Joseph’s “coat of many colors,” the green jacket, awarded to The Masters champion, may be the most famous covering in history.

In 1949, Slammin’ Sam Snead posted a pair of sparkling 67’s in the final two rounds and secured his place in golf history as the first player to don the now coveted green jacket. But, how did golf’s Holy Grail come-to-be and was it as prestigious in its first year as it is now?

Go Green

If you have ever been blessed to walk upon the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club, the stark, natural beauty is breathtaking. Its brilliance of natural tints and shades is an awe-inspiring introduction to Spring’s majesty. One color is clearly dominant above all others…green.

Pine trees, Oak trees, Magnolias, Chinese Firs, and Junipers, all green. Trash cans, you guessed it, green. Even the wrapping paper that covers the legendary pimento cheese sandwiches is green.

Shortly after the tournament’s inception, Augusta National officially went green. After three years of hosting the world’s best golfers, the popularity of the tournament grew (as did the crowds). For that reason, in 1937, Augusta National members were urged to purchase and wear a “green jacket” during The Masters tournament so patrons would be able to identify “a reliable source of information.”

Twelve years later (1949), the club started the now famous tradition of awarding a green jacket to the winner of The Masters. “Where and who that idea came from, we still don’t know,” comments Augusta National’s spokesman Glen Greenspan.

Based on researched media reports from 1949, the public did not know about the fresh, colorful addition to the winner’s closet. Most reporters focused on Snead’s putting woes, not the new addition to his wardrobe.

Nationally, The New York Times stated that Snead, “often called luckless because of his inability to sink short putts when titles were at stake…banged in long putts with the accuracy of a sharp-shooter.” The Associated Press reported the “uncertain putter,” finally “found a putter that would work.” One week later, Time magazine said the new-found putter was borrowed from Ben Hogan “who was still convalescing from a near fatal auto crash.”

Regionally, the South’s dominant news scroll, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution (AJC) heralded that the “Sweet Swinging Hillbilly Sammy Snead” captured “The Masters Crown.” Within the article, Constitution sports writer Bert Prather reported on the victor’s spoils minus any mention of the new threads: “Following the finish, Robert Tyre Jones, Jr. (President of the Augusta National) announced that $1,000 was added to the original $10,000 purse.” The AJC also ran a photo of Snead with Jones and runners-up Lloyd Mangrum and John Bulla. The West Virginian victor is pictured wearing a jacket, but no reference was made to whether it was the green jacket or not.

Locally, it took the Augusta Chronicle eight years until any mention of the champion’s green jacket received coverage. In 1957, Chronicle Sports Editor Johnny Hendrix wrote that “(Doug) Ford (below) was decked out early in the traditional green coat that marks The Masters champion.”


Green with Envy

1976 champion Raymond Floyd said, “It’s the ultimate.”

For Iowa native Zach Johnson, his 2007 victory was a real field of dreams. “It was an out of body experience,” Johnson said. “Just joining that fraternity (of champions) – you’re talking about the men who pioneered the game of golf – joining those guys and being able to wear that jacket for the rest of my life is something very, very special.”


David Wiechmann, of The Daily Toreador, might have summed it up best:

“The Masters is such a special tournament. Why else would you want to wear such an ugly piece of attire besides someone stuck in the 1970’s? But every year, more than 100 men play for the honor to have it slipped over their shoulders.

“The jacket is a status symbol on Tour. Every former champion wears their jacket the night before the tournament starts. This has to be one of the most intimidating scenes in sports. The green-clad is a club all of their own, and you have to be the best for four days to be welcomed into their group.

“The green jacket is the equivalent of being knighted. One green jacket can make you live forever.”

It can also provide a great night’s sleep. Following their first Masters’ wins, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickleson both impersonated Charlie Brown’s Linus and bedded down with the Green Jacket. Earl Woods’ found his son holding it tightly with a smile on his face.


Mickleson was awakened the following morning “bright and early” by his daughter Sophie who “snuggled up inside the jacket.” Giving him a “high five” she said, “Daddy you won the green jacket! Great job.” The most expensive down comforter could not have provided more warmth.

On the other hand, a closet empty of the “Masters Green” can cause a Tour player to have nightmares.

“It bothers me,” said Johnny Miller, who finished second three times. “You get some ‘Masters baggage’ in your brain. The more times you come close and don’t get it, the more it builds up in your head.”

No one may understand that better than Greg Norman. In 1989, Sports Illustrated’s Bob Verdi put it best writing, “It is possible that if he doesn’t earn a Masters champion’s green jacket soon, Greg Norman will opt for a straitjacket instead.”

“This place may finally have done me in,” said Norman. “I would have loved to have won here, but it’s not the be all and the end all. It’s just when you’ve been involved for a long time in the history of the tournament, you want the good side, too – the green jacket. Not for the jacket itself, but for what it means.”

Evolution of Green

Sixty years ago, no one could have fathomed the passion, intensity and homage this 2 ½ yards of light, tropical weight wool would create.

Snead, a three-time Master’s winner, once said “if you asked golfers what tournament they would rather win over all the others, I think every one of them would say The Masters.”

“Putting on the green jacket is something I worked so hard for, for so many years,” Mickleson said.

Larry Mize shared the same dream. “I am from Augusta and I worked at Augusta National. I was close enough to smell, taste, and ‘touch the untouchable.’ Growing up, it was always The Masters,” he said. “I always wanted to get the green jacket. I could not remember what the trophy was for winning. It was always the green jacket; that’s the first thing that came to mind.”


More than two decades since his improbable pitch, to win the 1987 Masters, Mize is quick to relay his reverence for the cloak of champions.

“It is my favorite jacket color,” Mize said.

Thirty-seven other professional golfers, over the past 62 years, would most certainly agree.

**Writers Note: Aussie Adam Scott celebrates his 2013 playoff victory in the rain on the 10th hole. One of the iconic green jacket photos in Masters history.**


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