A Story

I think I’ve reached that time in life that seems to happen to individuals who are usually in their 60’s, 70’s or later. You know, when they reach that age where they don’t care what they say or how they say it. In some cases, they really don’t care if it hurts your feelings or not, they just want to make sure you hear their opinion. They don’t make apologies and/or excuses, they are just stating their view point on whatever the topic is.

I would love be at that point but honestly, I’m not. Not yet anyway but definitely closer with each passing day. In the last two weeks I have had the opportunity to experience two totally different times of life while continuing to live my own. Two weeks ago at this time, I was wrapping up our first night of Church time at the youth camp our church students were attending for the week.

I knew that I had a theme that I wanted to introduce the students and was basically trying to lay the groundwork for the week ahead. My hope was for each student, no matter what grade they were in, to grasp the concept that the week they were beginning to embark on, could represent a new chapter in the rest of their lives. As I looked out on the faces of these young people I could see them begin to contemplate their respective futures. The room was filled with future wives and husbands; bankers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, homemakers, missionaries and any number of things all in that room together.

Obviously with the first night of camp everyone is excited and anxious for the week to unfold. These young people had a look of expectancy about them. They knew and understood that the week could hold great promise/change for them. For others it was if they were waiting for affirmation of choices they had already made. I could see, sense all of this as I looked out on this room of the future. Each of them with their own story to write and I was overwhelmed with the potential that was listening to me intently.

Last Monday night, I spent the night at mom and dad’s house keeping mom company. Dad had been admitted to Cobb General earlier in the day, so I took mom home to eat and hopefully get a good nights rest. I was praying that Dad would also be able to rest and that we might be able to get some answers early the next morning as to what was going on. As mom retired for the night, I poured myself some tea and tried to find some junk food to eat but to no avail. I settled for a PB&J and a little milk.

As time begin to pass by I found myself recollecting on the previous week and all the promising futures I got to be with. I spent several minutes praying for all the kids and some specific requests that I had been made aware of during the week. I found myself thinking about my own life and some of the promises I held when I was 18. Being in mom and dad’s house made that easy to think on and reflect.

I wandered through the minefields of my memory and found myself thinking about my parents life and the stories they have written thus far – individually and together. I must say as I went through this exercise I found myself  realizing how great their journey has been. What struck me the most was to realize how much impact their life – their story has had on those around them.

Back to camp my mind drifted and how I wish I had conveyed to all those students just how much their lives could impact the world. The choice is truly theirs! Yes, they will all have obstacles to overcome and some battles will be lost but the impact they will have on the world around them is theirs to decide. Then that quiet voice that I truly hate to hear from sometimes, whispered in my ear; what about you?

What about me?, I thought. I’m trying to do my thing, be a positive influence on the world around me. Live my life in a way that reflects Christ in all that I do. So as I sat in the wee hours of the morning pondering over all these things, I realized there’s more to my own story. Being honest with myself I admit that I have been writing the same chapter for awhile now. Time to begin a new chapter. What this looks like I have no idea but I do know that I am the only one who can write it.

So for any students that may read this – I am accepting the same challenge I gave to you all at camp. What is God’s plan for my life? I will seek Him and search for the answers. I know they are there – I just have to be diligent to do my part.

I’ll continue my journey of the last two weeks later but for now I’ll leave all of you with this question/challenge – Are you writing the story that was meant for you to write? Or is time for you to begin a new chapter? a different story?

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Jeremiah 29:11 – 11 For I know the plans that I [a]have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Ephesians 2:10 – 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Life Lesson Series – Choose to Love

Beautiful-Examples-Of-Love-High-Resolution-Photos-7

I wonder how many people woke up this morning and decided that today would be a day to hate other people. To purposefully seek out opportunities where they might have the opportunity to hurt others; either by word or action. My hope would be that no one would intentionally start their day in this manner but unfortunately we live in a world where this type of thing happens far too often.

Conversely, how many of us woke up this morning and as we were drinking our coffee, decided that today would be a day where we consciously seek out opportunities to love others; either by deeds or simply sharing an encouraging word with others. Or were we already running frantic and simply didn’t have time to contemplate anything other than getting out the door to start our day.

My point is that we have to be purposeful in choosing what our attitudes will be during the course of any given day. My fear is that more times than not, we simply go through the motions of living life with the single purpose of just getting through the day. I must admit that even for myself, this tends to happen far more than I would like to think. How different would my and your days look if we simply chose to love.

If Christ is truly within us, then shouldn’t our lives be a testament of the Love that He has for us? Jesus is a seeker of opportunities to share His love with everyone. Should that not be our desire as well? Here is what we forget. For some, their view of Jesus will be directly influenced by our actions; in both word and deed. When we choose not to love others, we are choosing to sin against God.

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment – His response was this – Matthew 22:37 – 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So what will we choose to do this day. Will we choose to love others as Christ loves us (and them) or maybe we’re undecided, have too much going on to think about it, so we choose not to choose. Here’s the thing as I see it – if we choose not to choose, we are still deciding not to love!!

My prayer is that each day, the Lord will make fresh in my heart a desire to love others. That through me, others would see the love that Christ has for them. Or to say it another way, this song is perfect – please give it a listen.

by Shawn McDonald – All I Need

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Life Lesson Series – Listening

ears

I originally posted this back in December but thought it was worth a re-post for this series. 

This is one life lesson that is very much a learned skill and discipline. Ask yourself, How often do you truly listen to the world around you? When in conversation how often do you truly engage the person and listen to what they are telling you? More times than not, I catch myself thinking of my response more than I am actually listening to what is being said.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say”. Bryant H. McGill

I love the quote above and think it’s absolutely true. It’s amazing how much more we get out of a conversation when we truly listen to what is being said instead of just hearing them speak. Another aspect of listening and respect is to have eye contact with the person you are conversing with instead of looking at our phones or fidgeting with this or that.

As a kid I had to go to speech therapy 2 times a week for a couple of years so that I could learn how to speak properly. Being born with a cleft pallet caused this process to take longer for me than it did other kids but looking back on it now I realize what a blessing that was, as it taught me how to listen. Time after time, my therapist would say a word or a sentence and then I would have to repeat it back to her. Another benefit of this is that with time I learned how to read lips proficiently. This ability has proven very beneficial over the years.

One of the things I had to overcome and still struggle with to this day is that I have a tendency to look at people’s lips when talking with them instead of making eye contact. As I said earlier, eye contact, is another key component of showing someone respect and something that I made sure to teach my children how to do. When you keep eye contact with someone as their speaking to you, you will also notice that it allows you to see more. Maybe not into their souls but it allows you to see more deeply into the person.

The life lesson of listening is one that is typically overlooked but over the years, at least for me, as become one of the most critical for me. Listening is one discipline I am constantly having to work at, as it is easy for me to be distracted but is also one of the most needed. Another component of listening, especially to God, is to simply be still. In  Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

In order to truly hear God, we must learn to be still and allow Him the opportunity to speak to us. To often I find myself going through the motions with God – my prayers become one-sided and I don’t take time to pause and let Him speak to me or during my study time, I may find myself trying to understand a particular passage of scripture and I simply breeze through it without actually taking the time to study or meditate on it, giving Him the opportunity to speak to me.

Again – Listening, to me, is one of those skills that we can never master but by being diligent to try, we can greatly improve the relationships around us.

Would love to hear your thoughts! Really, I would love hear your thoughts. Honestly, ………….I will listen.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Life Lesson Series – serving continued

Beautiful-Examples-Of-Love-High-Resolution-Photos-7

I ended the last post saying that Love was another component to serving others. I have not always had a desire to serve others. Actually, for most of my life, my desire was to see how I could get others to serve me. Ok, that was a little sobering to actually type out but being honest, that is the truth. Now there have been times over the years where I willingly gave of my time, money or other resources without regard to what was in it for me but not very often.

Several years ago I remember hearing this verse in a sermon and was immediately captivated by it: Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus, God’s son, came to serve us and give is life as payment for our sins. Why did He do this? What was his motivation in serving us and ultimately giving his life in exchange for us? A love so great, so vast that even infinity doesn’t come close to measuring it. A love which desires to be in fellowship with you and I, regardless of our transgressions. Imagine someone loving and caring about you so much that nothing, not even death would ever deter them from having that relationship with you.

That’s exactly the kind of love Jesus has for you. We only need to accept what is truly the perfect gift. Once we do, we can begin to faintly understand the depths of His love. It is His love found within that compels me to serve others as He served us. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, seeking opportunities to help those in need. The tendency of most people when they see something about helping those in need is to think about those folks that may need help with material things such as money, food, shelter, clothing, etc. And yes, that’s part of it but to only focus on that aspect is to not fully engage in serving each other.

What about those who are in need of companionship, a word of encouragement or to feel needed. Surely all of us would agree that each of us desire to know that we are loved, at least a little. So maybe instead of asking how we may be able to serve one another, maybe we should ask how can we show love, one to another.  1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 

As faithful stewards. Faithful meaning to do what we are called to do. Steward meaning to wisely use what we have been given. To serve others, extending God’s grace in all it’s forms, that we may show others that God loves them. Jesus was real clear about this as we find when reading Matthew 22:37-39  – 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

Peace and thanks for reading!!

All about Me

vernon_davis_49ers_back_pointing_at_name_v11

An incredible game took place Monday night between the Auburn Tigers and Florida State Seminoles has they battled for the BCS National Championship. By and large, last night’s game was a perfect picture of everything that is right with college football and why we as a nation, love it so much. Yet, even in the midst of this spectacular game, I was struck by how often, certain players took the opportunity to say “hey, look at me, yes, I am all that!!”.  I won’t call the individuals out by name but there were several of them.

I understand that in the heat of the moment or in the exuberance of making a play, a player will be excited, jump to his feet and pound his chest a couple of times and then celebrate with his team. Today’s athletes however, seem more likely to run to the cameras (they know exactly where they are), and make Madonna proud by striking a pose or turning their backs to the camera and pointing to their name on the back of the jersey. as Vernon Davis illustrates above. At one point last night, one individual thought so highly of himself that he took it upon himself to taunt the entire opposing team.

There are some players who still understand that it’s about the team first, individual accomplishments second and oh how refreshing it is to here an athlete these days, being genuinely humble. Obviously, it’s football season and especially with all the bowl games, we have been witness to an overwhelming amount of grandstanding these past two weeks. Lest you think this only takes place in football, I will remind you that 80% of the truly great grand standers play in a local NBA arena near you. It’s rare these days that you will ever catch me watching an NBA game for that reason.

I know some out there are probably going to try and make the argument that these kids/young men are just having fun and some have suggested that it is just the culture these days or it’s just this generation. Label it, justify it, excuse it all you want but it is nothing more than being selfish. And shame on my generation for allowing this to become acceptable behavior in sports and really, across all venues of our lives today.

My generation has done nothing to address the trend of – “it’s all about me” and truth be told, we have helped perpetuate the antics of these individual. I know there have been plenty that came before him – Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, O.J. Simpson, Joe DiMaggio, Dizzy Dean, Satchel Paige and Babe Ruth just to name a few but Deion Sanders was the first that I can remember that truly understood and developed his own brand – Prime Time. In my opinion, he was and still is the most talented athlete to ever play the game and although you may disagree with that I believe you would be hard pressed to find anybody that was better than he was at promoting himself!!

I bring Sanders up because I used to be the guy that would excuse some of his antics by saying he was just a showman that happened to play football, or that he was simply being entertaining and that was true. He was all of those things and I had no problem with it….until he moved on from the Falcons and Braves. I was there when he picked off the pass and danced all the way down the sidelines in front of the Falcons bench. In that instance, he disrespected the Falcons, his team and the game of football. He made himself bigger than the game.

Unfortunately, he was just helping to refine the art of self-promotion that we see is so rampant in today’s sports and society. As I watched last night I realized that I and we need to own up to the fact that we have helped create this “it’s all about me” culture and unless we start addressing it now, it’s only going to get worse and truth is, it may already be too late.

There is a word that is associated with everything I have written and I have referred to it a couple of times already but I will clarify it now. This generation has very little respect for others and I’m not just talking about sports now but rather our entire culture. Anytime an individual places themselves above, in front of  and at the expense of others or without regard to others, that is called selfishness.

*NOTE – there are additional reasons as to why we have this culture today and perhaps I will try and address those in a later post.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Why bother?

question-mark

The longer I live the more I find myself asking the question…Why? Why do Cub fans get excited every spring and think that yes, finally, this is their year? Why is it that the things that taste the best are the worst for you and vice versa? Why is Taylor Swift nominated for best female artist year after year? Why do the police insist being on the highway whenever I am late to get somewhere? Why can we name the starting lineup for all the sports team we root for but can’t remember that guys name that lives next door? If family is the most important thing, why is it so easy for us to let other things keep us from them?

Why don’t more parents actually parent their kids instead of trying to be friends with them? Why did you just get upset while reading that last sentence? Why do we insist on “adjusting” the standards of what’s acceptable downward? Why do weather forecasters get to keep their job when they are so often wrong? But then again, why do we celebrate all-star hitters who actually fail 70% of the time at their job? Why did striving to be the best you can be become such a negative thing to pursue?

Why did we allow ourselves to become so disconnected with our communities? Why do we not hold ourselves to the standards that we hold others to? Why do atlanta sport fans show up late to games and leave well before they are over? Why do I insist on spending more than I actually make? Why don’t we take time to get to know one another? Why did Garth Brooks quit making music? Why doesn’t Taylor Swift quit making music? (I KNOW, THAT”S TWO SHOTS I’VE TAKEN AT TAYLOR)

Why? I think it’s time each of us started asking ourselves, why? I think we have allowed ourselves to go through the motions of living life and not ACTUALLY, LIVING our lives. Have we become complacent with the world around us and quit asking the hard questions and most importantly, taking action when needed. Why do we so willingly accept mediocrity? No, I am not angry with anyone or anything. Just being reflective this afternoon and asking myself what do I want the rest of my life to look like?

I listened to a message this past Sunday where the question was – what if you have 1 month to live? what changes would you make? how would you live the next 30 days? So, anyway, as I was thinking about that, I found myself asking – why don’t I live every day like  it’s my last? My intention is to start doing just that, living each day the best that I can so that 30 years or 3o days from now, I won’t be asking myself, why didn’t I change?

Peace and thanks for reading!!

What is God’s Will for My Life?

I left off the last post with the question, What is God’s Will for My Life? You here this question or statement a lot while hanging out with Christians, usually something like – “if you could pray for me, I am praying that I would do God’s will”. Or maybe you hear – “I feel strongly that this the path God has laid out before me”. I wonder how many of us truly do know what God’s will for our life is? Has Dr. Del Tackett asked the question, I begin to ask that of myself. Am I truly following His path for my life?

He then got into this kind of open thought process: If only God had made it simple for us. Maybe if there was just one law that we had to obey, maybe then we could know beyond a shadow of a doubt. Maybe if Jesus had just narrowed it down for us we have a better chance of coming closer to be in God’s will. It was a clever way for the Doctor to infuse some scripture into the conversation as he asked us to look at some different verses. The first was James 2:8 – If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Sounds pretty simple, do this and we are doing right. Why is this so hard for us? I mean, I like most people, and I can get along with just about anybody, but love them? like myself? That’s not so easy. Let’s look at another verse – Matthew 22: 37-40 – 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Now Jesus is answering a question posed by the Pharisees which was – what is the greatest commandment. Jesus makes it simple for them and us to understand – with all YOUR HEART, all YOUR SOUL and all YOUR MIND, Love the Lord your God. Got it and that one I can do. Love God, yes, I do love God so I can follow this commandment and I am good to go. But wait, there is another couple of verses in His answer. Verse 39 He says “the second is like it:”. Like it, let’s see, that means it’s just as critical as the first one and then we read again – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Well there it is again, the whole loving the neighbor thing. But wait, what is a neighbor, surely that can’t mean everyone, just those we really know, right?  I want another verse please, maybe there’s an exception or something.

John 13:34 – 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I  have loved you, so you must love one another. Love one another and not just love like you love ice cream on a hot sunny day or maybe like you love milk gravy on your biscuits. Jesus is crystal clear when he says “As I have LOVED YOU”. To love others as Jesus loved me, can that really be what God’s will for my life is. I believe it is, no, I know it is, think how much different my life, your life would be if we, as Christ followers would actually obey these two commandments.

To accomplish this will take lots of courage, a willingness to make ourselves vulnerable and going back to last weeks post we already know that apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Sure we can try on our own strength but truly, it is only through Christ that we can ever reach a place that we LOVE OTHERS as HE LOVED US.

As we enter into Easter weekend, I think it’s a perfect time to reflect on just how Jesus loved us. He took all our short comings, faults, and sins to the cross and willingly gave His life, a perfect life for ours. Remember this, Jesus had never known separation from God but He knew that would be price to pay for all of our sins. And He did it anyway!! Through Jesus, we know that we will not be separated from God for all eternity. Because Jesus loved us, we can love others.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

South Africa Revisited

Image

I thought I would take the time and try to put a wrap on my recent South Africa trip. I have not been the same person since that trip and my hope is that I never again, take for granted, this incredible life that I have been given. Before South Africa I was doing just that – taking my life for granted.

I had been struggling for some time trying to figure out what was next for my life. Recently, the youngest of our 4 kids has begun his first chapter into adulthood, leaving his mother and I with an empty house for the first time in a long, long time. I think when parents become empty nesters, there is a natural tendency to reevaluate life and make sure you are on the right path. Looking at all the aspects of my life I started asking one question – was I content with? my marriage? my kids? my job? my friends? Generally speaking, I answered each of those questions with an affirmative, yes but yet I still found myself, well, restless. I was missing something. What? What was I missing?

One of the questions I asked myself was “Am I content in my walk with Jesus”? The answer was easy, yes, I was content. I pray everyday, study most days, and my job affords me the opportunity to minister to people throughout the week, so yea, I felt pretty content. Still, I couldn’t shake the restlessness. Then a question came to me that I wasn’t expecting – “Was Jesus content with His walk with me”? Honestly…..I tried to ignore the question for a couple of days and was doing ok until we took off on our first leg of our journey to South Africa. Let me tell you, 15 hours is an incredibly long time when trying to ignore something so prevalent in your mind.

Do you remember the very first line from Rick Warren’s – A Purpose Driven Life? I do. The first line is “It’s not about you”. That kept coming back to my mind time and again during that flight as I read scripture, prayed and studied. I tried watching a couple of movies, the names of which both escape me as I write this. I would love to tell you that I had a great epiphany on the flight and God revealed everything to me but that is not what happened. But He did begin to show me areas of my thought that were skewed during my time in South Africa. And on several occasions I felt the full presence of God for the first time in a long time!

One revelation I experienced and shared with you earlier was a moment I had while standing on a sand dune. As I looked one way, I was awed by the Indian Ocean, the coast line, as wave after wave ascended on the shore and then looking inland, being able to see the various mountain ranges that circle the city of Cape Town was simply overwhelming to my soul. God’s creative beauty on display for all to see. Just incredible. Then in the same instance as we looked on what is called the Cape Flats and the 6 to 8 million people that inhabit this area, God impressed on me that I had missed the beauty found in His creation of people. All people, each one uniquely created by Him.

The most important lesson I learned during my trip is that I had made God too small, I had limited Him in my life by trying to make Him fit into something I could understand, relate to. Since returning, there have been a myriad of different events, situations and circumstances that have allowed me to see God with new eyes. I am just beginning to understand that I need to see my life through the eyes of Jesus. Jesus wants to have a relationship with me! To see me live a life that is fulfilled. To be content no matter the circumstance. In order for this to happen, I must release my selfish desires and allow Him to be Lord and Master over ALL of my life.

So, with all respect to Mr. Warren. I think we need to understand that it is about us in one sense and that is – we must choose what we are going to do with Christ today? tomorrow? and every day that follows.

Lastly, here is a clip of a song that is one of the most honest songs I have ever heard. I heard it for the first time about 3 weeks before I left for South Africa. Below the clip are the lyrics to the song. This is my worship song for now. It reminds of how great God truly is and that I will never understand the depths of Jesus’ love for me.

What Do I Know of Holy – Addison Road

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

(CHORUS)

(CHORUS 2)

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life “its” name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?

Life Pause

I am experiencing what I am calling a “Life Pause”. Within the last month or so, my life has been filled with some incredible highs and not incredible lows but some lows none the less. If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know that last month I had the incredible opportunity to go to South Africa on a mission trip. And I won’t revisit that here other than to say that it’s been a month and almost daily, I am still experiencing revelations from that trip.

Returning home was great and the first weekend back, the kids, Lisa, and I were all able to meet in Thomasville, GA for a truly spectacular wedding and reception for the daughter of one of our dearest and closest friends. Getting together with old friends to celebrate such a joyous time naturally leads to good times! Being able to reminisce and share all the stories again, just served as a great reminder of what life is truly about, the journey. At some point, regardless of our past, we all have the opportunity to choose what kind of journey we take – the relationships we invest in and how we respond to the unexpected ups, downs, trials, tribulations, joys, sorrow and happiness that happens within the fabric of each of our lives.

The following week was thanksgiving and again, we all had the opportunity to gather with our extended families on both my mom and dad’s sides of the family. And although entirely different types of families, both are grounded in love for each other. As we drove home that night from a day filled with great food, laughter, good stories and a couple of games of corn hole, I was most thankful for the love that serves as the foundation for both sides of my extended family. It is not lost on me how rare that seems to be these days and I feel greatly blessed anytime I think of my family!!

The downside was that this was our first thanksgiving without my father-in-law, Jim and for all of us, there were moments where that realization would kind of stop you cold, a solemn reminder of how truly short our life here can be. Yet, even in the midst of the loss; we are able to ease the pain a little because of the memories we hold onto of brighter days gone by. And for me, it helps as I go through the day, spending time with family, to remember those who have all left us too soon. Each of them playing some part in my own journey on this earth, obviously some had bigger parts but all contributed to the memories in my life thus far.

Now it’s the 18th of December and this time next week, we will be celebrating the birth of our savior. Again, it will be a joyous time as we are able to gather together with loved ones. And yet again there will be some sadness, as we realize that not everybody is with us any longer but as we go about the tasks of creating new memories, there is no doubt they will be influenced by the memories already stored away.

In the midst of the anticipation for this joyous time of year, I received word that my old coach, Richard Hilton, was being put into a Hospice care facility to hopefully give him some rest and peace. In my journey thus far, he is one of the two most influential men in my life – the other is my father, Ed. It is not ironic, that these two men are more like brothers than friends and although not as close these last couple of years as I know both would of liked, brothers none the less. Coach was my little league coach back in 77 and 78. I was just one kid this man loved through his coaching of baseball. He loved kids through coaching baseball for 38 years. Quick math for you, that’s about 456 kids he directly poured his life into and multiply that by an average of 6 other teams per year and that number jumps to 2,736 kids. This doesn’t even begin to count all of the siblings and parents that were influenced by his time on the diamond.

As I visited him yesterday, I found myself oddly at peace as I looked into the face of a man who had such a profound influence on my life! I learned one thing from him and my dad both, that is at the heart of who I am. It is this thought – Anything worth doing, is worth doing right!! I am not always successful in this approach but it is the approach I always take. I was fortunate to not only play for Coach but I had the opportunity to coach with him as well, not only in baseball but basketball also.

Yes, a life pause, is what I am calling this. Taking time to reminisce and reflect on my life thus far and to remember all of those who have impacted my life, whether great or small. But life is to be lived moving forward, creating new memories, setting new goals and experiencing life to the fullest. This pause has caused me to reexamine the relationships I have in my life – what type of memories am I helping to create for those that I share this life’s journey with?

My prayer this Christmas season is that each of us would examine our lives and pause to consider the relationships we have and ask ourselves if we our having a positive impact on those that we are sharing this journey of life.

I wish you all a wonderful and merry Christmas!! Peace and thanks for Reading!!

People are just people – 11/8/12

As we got into the teaching time with the students, you could sense their excitement in having new people come to share with them. As I looked around the room, all of them had their bibles out and were on the front edge of their seats and all eyes looking forward. Initially I was nervous as I opened up our study time but that quickly vanished as we read some scripture and I begin speaking about what we had just read. It was such a pleasure to be up in front of these guys as you could just tell they were trying to soak up every word and being very attentive. With this group it was very easy to stand and speak about the things of God.

After my piece, I turned it over to Jimmie and he led the rest of our study time and truly did a phenomenal job in the short time he had to extol his wisdom. Faith Bradbury joined Jimmie for a short segment and talked to the kids about different ways to share the story of Jesus. As she was leading this time, you could see the kids really come to life as this is what is near and dear to all of them. Unlike most Christians that I know here in the states and including myself, we don’t always seem to have the same drive, desire to tell others about the good news of Christ.

When you talk to these kids, there is a common thread intertwined within each of them. Although each have experienced turbulent childhoods they choose not to dwell there. When you talk to them individually, you can see that most of them come from a very dark time in their past – it’s in their eyes, their voice and you can just feel it but then, like a switch, as they begin talking about God, Jesus and Bridge 4 Hope, you see all the darkness, the pain just fade away and you realize there is an entirely different person standing in front of you.

This is what they haven’t forgotten – that when all seemed hopeless or that no one seemed to care, they were able to find hope and know that someone did love and care about them through Jesus Christ. And they understand, that there are countless others within their family, community, Cape Town, and across the world that feel the same way they did, so they take every opportunity that comes to tell others about Christ. They live Matthew 28:18-20 as they go about their daily routine of life.

After lunch, we all gathered back in the classroom to get our assignments from Asanda before heading out into the community to talk, listen, pray and tell others about Jesus. The excitement expressed by everyone was palpable as their was an expectation that good things were about to happen. My partners were two of the most incredible young ladies I have ever met – Abongile and Bomikazi. I was about to learn a lesson in what trust, courage and boldness really looks like and see, for the first time in a long time, how God can change lives if we would just be willing to live Matthew 28:18-20.

Going door to door is so far out of my comfort zone and is something I have rarely taken part in when given the chance in the past. As we walked to the community I was reminded of my prayer, that I would be open to follow and commit to whatever God wanted me to do, so here it is, something I wouldn’t choose to do but hey, were here, so let’s do this. As we approached the first house, I realized that I wasn’t really nervous, I was curious to see what would unfold. AB and Bom showed no nervousness, fear or even apprehension as they stuck their head in the first door and asked if it was ok to come in.

As I watched Bom engage the young lady in conversation, I was struck by the confidence she had and then noticed that AB was right behind her looking just as confident and ready to speak if need be. No tracks, no phamplets, just two people wanting to share a conversation with the folks they had just met. Although they were speaking in a language unfamiliar to me, I was amazed at how much of the conversation I was able to follow. As the conversation was winding down, AB asked a simple question – “do you know about Jesus?”. And although they said they did, they didn’t want to talk about it so Bom asked if it would be ok if we prayed for them and if there was anything specific we could pray for on their behalf.

I watched in amazement as house after house, these two ladies would engage the people in conversation and as they talked with them, I was able to watch their faces and noticed how intently focused they were on the task at hand. Nothing else mattered except what was before them and the desire they had to help people make a connection to Jesus.

Making our way from house to house, God was impressing on me on just how beautiful His creation of people truly is. 4 weeks later and I can still recall each and everyone that I met that afternoon. Seeing people through God’s eyes means that you see them through LOVE! And as I met these wonderful people, I saw beauty in each of them and my sole desire for each of them was that they would be open to hear about Christ and to know that He truly is somebody that loves and cares about them.

For AB and Bom, they had no idea of the impact they made on my life that day. They reminded me that day that I have no excuses for not sharing my story of what Christ has done in my life. To see how boldly, and courageously these young women were at their sharing their faith, renewed a sense of urgency within me and empowered me to know that God is faithful and that His word never returns void.

Not sure if I have 1 or 2 more posts left about our trip to South Africa but will definitely wrap up by week’s end.