Here and Now

costa ricaAll we really have, is that moment that’s happening now. Right here, right now. The promise of growing old and having a lifetime of memories to look back on, for some, is an empty, unrelentingly cruel lie. A systematic elimination of memory after memory slowly erodes into a great void for that person who desperately WANTS to remember but simply can’t. For friends and family of those searching for remnants of a past life, it can be just as cruel if not crueller as you slowly watch as a lifetime of memories is simply erased from a person’s data base.

So again, what we have is that which is right in front of us, here and now. It’s so easy, to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget to enjoy the moments of life as they happen. How great a gift is each of our lives, that we should so easily forget how precious it really is – with all its ups and downs – the ebb and flow of emotions as we travel this journey, that is our life.

I can tell you now, that I would have taken a greater risk and asked Suzy to attend the 8th grade dance with me. At the time, I thought she hung the moon. I did get to have one dance with her, which, I obviously still remember today. I would look to enjoy more of the moments that at the time, I too easily let escape by for being fearful of failure. That truly is my only regret – that I let fear of failing dictate, way too often, how I pursued life. I would love to go back and fail often in so many grand and wonderful ways! I realize now that those and any failures too come only help to make the successes that much greater when I experience them!

I would’ve love to spend more time taking in those incredible moments with family. The family gatherings at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas truly hold special memories I will hopefully, always be able to treasure. Vacations taken from Myrtle Beach to Cherokee to Daytona Beach and Gatlinburg, TN. Moments in life that were great but I didn’t take them fully in, enjoying that moment for all it was worth. It was only has cousins, uncles and aunts begin to pass away that I fully begin to treasure those fleeting moments that had passed way too fast.

I definitely would have taken more time to enjoy my wife and kids in the early days of our marriage. I would make sure that I set and kept my priorities in order to ensure that I never missed any of their special here and now moments! I know that at the time, I really did make an effort to be there and to enjoy all the moments of raising a family had to offer. But even so, I know there are so many times I wasn’t able to fully engage in the moment, taking it all in and simply living in that here and now. Distractions in our life can rob us of so many moments if we allow them too.

Enjoy the here and now and all the different emotions it can bring. To be sad, to cry, to laugh, to be filled with joy or pride, the experience of a great failure or the exhilaration of great triumph. All of these are to be experienced – the life, our journey we travel is to be lived moment by moment. Enjoy it all, taking it all in. We are each promised nothing but what we have right in front of us – this moment – here and now. Don’t waste it! Life is a precious gift so my prayer for all of us is that we would live each and every moment – HERE AND NOW!

Peace and thanks for reading!

Scott

40 Day Journey – with Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Day 1 finished

Its-a-wonderful-lifepicture from thefilmspectrum.com

Day 1 – finished thoughts.

I had a friend of mine comment yesterday with two, very insightful thoughts on truly following wherever Jesus may lead us. The first was the idea that we tend to limit God because we are unwilling to take risks, to dream big or maybe it’s because we’ve never really accepted the promise that God really does want what is best for us, “plans for us to prosper”. This doesn’t necessarily mean financially. It could but to only think of that verse in terms of prospering financially, again limits the ways that God could help us “prosper”.

The second thought, which I completely overlooked, was the idea of – in all things be thankful. Eucharisto. No matter my circumstance, I am and should be thankful for wherever I may find myself. This can be extremely difficult depending on the situation we may find ourselves. Speaking for myself here, I tend to never really express my gratitude for the countless blessings God has given me over the course of my life. Even through the worst moments of my journey, when I reflect on where I came from and what I’ve been through, I’ve experienced first hand the countless times where God has blessed me financially, with strength, with wisdom, with stamina and yes, even with patience.

I once again find myself in such a season where I truly don’t know where God is leading me and in my human nature, it is more than a little unnerving not knowing. However, through Christ, I know if obedient, He will lead me exactly to where I should be. Probably not known to a lot of people, I have been looking for employment since the first of the year. The circumstances which led me to this place are not important but rather the process of which I proceed forward is.

The really great thing about this, is that God started preparing Lisa and I for this months in advance. In talking with each other we both had this sense that God was preparing us for a change. Whether that change was in physically moving or a job change, or both we weren’t sure but we knew things weren’t going to stay the same. The reason we knew this was because God has done this before in our lives. As we started thinking and praying about what was to come, we suddenly, out of the blue, learned that we would be coming into money.

My first thought was how cool, now I can buy some things (toys), and maybe get some things done around the house that really need to get done. But fortunately my conscience (Lisa), prevailed in convincing me that maybe we should practice patience and sit tight with the money. A very wise woman, my wife and someone I never fail to be thankful for! God’s timing proved to be perfect again as the week before the check arrived we found out what the provision of money was to be used for, as I found out that I would soon be unemployed. God’s grace really is sufficient.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also take this chance and express gratitude for Pastor Chuck and the rest of my family (church staff), for the love and support they have shown me and my family through this transition. It is rare to find yourself in this type of position and have nothing but respect, love and admiration for your former employer. But that is exactly how I feel about them. Their constant uplifting as served as a reminder that God is in control and I only need to be faithful to follow Him.

So as I type this I still have no idea what is next for Lisa and I but I am thankful for the peace I have in this moment. It’s cliché I know but honestly, I feel a little like Jimmy Stewart at the end of It’s A Wonderful Life. Not the very end where everything works out but at the moment where he understands how precious his life really is. At that moment, he doesn’t know how things will turn out, he only knows that he has a chance to live, to see and be with his family again. In that moment, he fully understands how blessed he is and is truly thankful for all he has. And just as he was to learn, we typically learn later how much more we are blessed than what we first realize. Standing in his living room, he finally understands that one of his greatest blessings are those relationships which surround him in love in his hour of greatest need.

Peace and thanks for reading

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 2 – Serving continued

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!!

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!!

A Look at Truth

download

This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to travel down to Pine Mountain, GA and sit in on a morning session at IMPACT360. Impact is a one-year gap program designed to give young men and women the opportunity to establish a strong, Biblical world view before heading off to college, missions or wherever their next step is to take them. My son, Ben is a student there and has had an incredible time in his time there this year.

In addition to catching up with Ben, I was looking forward to listening to Dr. Del Tackett, author and creator of the Truth Project. My wife and I have gone through the Truth Project a couple of times now and appreciate the depth of the study and all the “truths” uncovered during the course of the series. Dr. Tackett, like many others, will come to IMPACT and teach the students over a three day time period. I went that morning expecting to hear from God through whatever Dr. Tackett’s lesson would be for the day. I had no idea as I sat down that morning of the deep, lasting impact the next three hours would have on me. Even now, a week later, I am just now really starting to process all the things uncovered for me last Tuesday morning.

There is no way to adequately cover everything that Dr. Tackett spoke of but hopefully, something I share of my own journey will be helpful to you, the readers, in some way.

As the session began, Dr. Tackett began with a review of the previous day’s discussion. In the opening, he said – “the nature of God is always truth”. This was so profound to me, of course it is, but wow, how simple was that statement. In a day and time where truth seems so scarce, there it is; there it’s always been since God spoke the earth and heavens into existence and created man – TRUTH, has been there all along.

So anytime, we are in the presence of God, studying His word, praying or worshiping Him through music, it means we are faced with Truth. Truth, God’s nature, exposes us and the culture around us. When we are exposed to truth, it calls us to action. We must decide to either ignore the truth as it’s revealed to us or to take action and do something with that which is revealed to us. Make no mistake, to ignore it (truth), is an action as it represents a conscience choice.

Just as I was beginning to wrap my head around this, the good doctor was getting into the next phase of the discussion. That we, through Christ are Equipped, Empowered and Set free to Flourish – Physically, Vocationally and Spiritually. In Genesis 1:22, we read – 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” So there’s the physical call to flourish and in Psalm 128:2 we find – You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. And finally, in Mark 4:20 – 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

As he was sharing this I was processing the thought of flourishing spiritually and asking myself how well I was doing in this department. As I was pondering this Mr. Del said the following – “We tend to look inward at people instead of looking at the fruit they bear.” I looked at Mark 4:20 again: hear the word, accept it and produce a crop. I looked at it again and remembering the earlier talking point about truth – HEAR THE WORD (truth), ACCEPT IT (truth) and produce a crop (ACTION). In other words, it is not simply enough to know the truth, we are called to take action with the truth. The devil himself knows the truth and takes every action he can in preventing the truth from being told, shared with others.

So how do we share the “truth”, take action if you will. John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. I have camped out in John 15 over the last week, reading it over and over again. In verse 5 Jesus calls us to action by abiding in Him, and He will abide in us. In doing so, we will bear much fruit! Choosing not to abide in Him means we choose to do nothing. My prayer is that all of you who read this will take a moment and read this chapter for yourselves, with fresh eyes and an open heart.

In Thursday’s post I will share with you my thoughts as Dr. Tackett transitioned into the “Great Question”. What is God’s will for my life?

Thanks for reading! Peace!

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?

Living and Leaving a Legacy

I recently had the honor of speaking at a funeral to celebrate the life of one of the greatest men I have ever known. Below is a copy of my preparation draft leading up to that day. I decided to post it as a blog post because, outside of my father, no other person apart from Christ has had a greater influence on me becoming the man I am today. Although most of you won’t have a chance to meet him this side of heaven, this will give you a glimpse as to what this man meant to me and countless others in his lifetime. As you read this, keep in mind, the impact, the potential each of us has to impact the world around us.

Living and Leaving a Legacy

A “Great” man stepped off of the pavement of this life onto streets of gold in eternity last Saturday morning. A truly great man, who devoted much of his adult life to teach kids the game of baseball and for some of that time, basketball as well. Any of us who ever had the opportunity to play for him, whether baseball or basketball always improved as a player because of his coaching. He has forgotten more about the game of baseball than most of us will ever learn about it.

But is that why we are all here today? to honor a great coach? Maybe in some respect, that’s true but it’s more than that – I think, for most of us, we are here because of a bond that we have with this man that goes well beyond anything we could ever learn from just playing a sport!! The lessons we learned from this man have carried on within us to this very day. His influence has not just been in regards to those he coached, no……, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles have all been influenced by him.

Coach used the game of baseball to teach us about how to live our lives. Over the past week, as I have talked to several of you and read various posts, articles and such. I thought it was interesting how many times someone would say or write something like, “I didn’t realize it at the time but I learned this or that from Mr. Hilton.” Yes, we learned how to become better ballplayers from coach but more importantly we learned life lessons about – trust, respect, honor, loyalty, hard work, integrity, to just do the right thing and most of all LOVE. To pursue excellence is not only what he taught but how he lived.

Heritage by definition means “an inherited or established way of thinking, feeling, or doing”. All of us who are gathered here today are here because of the heritage established and handed down to us by Coach Hilton. Mark, I’m not sure but I maybe the only person here that can say – I played for your dad, coached baseball and basketball with him and also played for you. And as I think about your dad, and all the lessons he ever taught us….they really all revolved around one basic concept. To simply do the right thing. No shortcuts. Just do whatever it is that you need to do.

I’m reminded of a story. A time that Coach made me wear a catcher’s mask while playing second base.  I had just gotten braces and that same afternoon at practice, I took a shot to the mouth as we were taking infield practice. There was blood everywhere it seemed. After the bleeding had stopped, Coach had me grab my glove and head on out to second. He knew I needed to get back on that horse so to speak. As he hit ground ball after ground ball, I kept turning my head or looking up at the last instant. This is not what he taught. Finally, after several minutes he walked over to the catching gear and brought out a mask to me. One way or another, I was going to learn to keep my head down and watch that ball all the way into my glove.

Coach didn’t mind physical errors, that’s part of the game but mental errors, not giving the effort, that was unacceptable. And everyone here knows what you heard from coach whenever one of these lapses occurred. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I heard the phrase – “knock em bout”. (this phrase was our cue to take a lap)

And I do want to pause here and say that there are two things Mr. Hilton taught me by example: to respect everyone! You don’t have to like everyone or get along with them but you can always respect them. And the other was to just be honest – with yourself, and others alike.

I received a phone call from coach…I guess it was 7 or 8 years ago now…., he was calling to let me know that he was getting baptized and just wanted me to know. I asked him when it was and as soon as I hung up the phone, the date was marked in our family calendar. This was one baptism I wasn’t going to miss.  I tell you, outside of my own families baptisms, that was by far one of my favorite memories to date. Why? Knowing that he had accepted Christ and that I was able to see him publicly  professing his faith was just an incredible experience for me. Even now as we are here celebrating the life he lived here, i know that there is a day coming where once again, I will be able to sit and visit with coach. To reminisce and share stories once more.

It’s rare that you find anyone who exemplifies a Christ-like life but they themselves have not accepted Christ as their savior. And I can’t explain why Mr. Hilton didn’t come to accept Christ sooner than he did but there is not  a doubt in my mind, as I know, God used Mr. Hilton – Coach, to instill in all of us, biblical values, that if we incorporated and lived by, would help us to be successful in living out our own lives.

If Coach had the opportunity to step back one last time and impart one last lesson on us all, it would be this – Don’t miss heaven! One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is Philippians 4:8-9. The apostle Paul has written the church in Philipi to remind them of Christ’s love for them and to encourage and challenge them. Like Paul, Mr. Hilton had a desire, a love for people, especially kids and if he was here, I think he would use very similar words found in Philippians 4: 8-9; Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Today, we may mourn the physical loss of someone we loved very much but the life – the heritage – the legacy of this man will continue on for generations to come.

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.