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Showing posts from 2012

Christmas in Dixie, it is not Snowing in the Pines

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Merry Christmas everyone!

I am still breathing. I am way behind on posting due to demands of school and working with our
nonprofit. I wanted to be sure to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. And if by some odd chance of matters you have been wondering what a moose has to do with Christmas, I am happy to share the whole story: The Legend of the Christmas Moose

Behind the Scenes

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Brad Keselowski 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion
(Photo Courtesy Penske Racing Photos- Facebook)

As the confetti fell and Miller Beer sprayed in the air, Brad Keselowski and Roger Penske celebrated their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. Indeed, it was Penske's first NASCAR Cup Series Championship since he began fielding cars in NASCAR's premier series in 1972. While the TV audience got a glimpse of the car owner, crew chief, driver, and crew, what they did not see was the amount of men and women that work full time 12 months a year at the company headquarters and shop in Mooresville, NC. These men and women are responsible for building 55 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars, 11 NASCAR Nationwide Series cars, and 7 IndyCar Series cars.

Michael Lott NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Chassis Fabricator
(Photo courtesy Leah Lott Photography)

Sitting at home with his wife and two boys watching the final race of the season wind down at Homestead-Miami and watching his driver w…

Being the Church to the Community Around Us

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For years the Church has gotten a bad rap for building a grandiose cathedral and expecting the lost and hurting to come to them. When the lost and hurting does not respond, committees are formed to try to figure out why. And when the Church contemplated service, they looked overseas – raised money, bought plane tickets and travelled thousands of miles away completely overlooking the hurting in the community that surrounded them.

I am guest writing at The Assembling of the Church, the weblog of Alan Knox. You can read this rest of this post there. Read More...

Wine Country North Georgia

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Between work, school, and our nonprofit, it has been really busy this year and several mornings I have awoken tired. The lesson I have learned over the years is that at times like these, it is very important to find a respite however brief to remove my mind from current events - a temporary distraction from deadlines and responsibilities and an opportunity to refocus. While sleep is important, it is also important to take sometime to relieve my mind of all of the details, spend sometime with my wife, and simply enjoy the handy work of the Creator.

Photo by the Author

Saturday we awoke to overcast skies and predictions of rain. This seemed like as good of a chance as any to take a day off and unwind. I have lived in North Georgia for 12 years and have ventured out to some of the points of interest, winding roads built with motorcycles in mind and quaint little towns built during the gold rush. For longer than I can recall, I have been aware that there were vineyards in North Georgia, bu…

Adventures in Firefighting

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Photo - The Author

I was rudely awakened at 4am one morning by the tones of the paging system of our local volunteer fire department. Blurry eyed and trying to shake myself into consciousness, I heard the address of a reported brush fire. As I crawled over the side-rail of the waterbed, all I could think was “how in the world does a brush fire get started at 4am?” The majority of the brush fires I had responded to had been caused by someone burning trash and letting the fire get away from them. Who in their right mind would be burning trash at 4am?

Photo Source: longforestry.com I stumbled my way down the hallway to the utility room and stepped into my bunker gear pants and boots, pulled the pants up, and threw the suspenders over my shoulders. I pulled on my bunker coat, grabbed my helmet, and stumbled out to my pickup. As I drove down the driveway, I was still fixated on the cause of this blaze. I picked up my radio and called our department volunteers and cautioned them to check car…

Modern Day Idols

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Several years ago, I was a very determined dirt track stock car racer. I was bound and determined I was going to make my way into a NASCAR traveling circuit as a full-time paid stock car racer. I ate, breathed, and slept stock car racing. I would work all day at my day job and go home and work all night on the car - a 1970 Chevelle.
Photo Source: The Author
One of the biggest events every year was held in Phenix City, AL - the East Alabama State Championship. It was on my calendar marked in red. It was a three day event with hundreds of cars showing up to compete. I had hotel rooms reserved and had our entry fee already sent in months in advance.
Photo Source: eamsdirt.com
Photo Source: eamsdirt.com
One Sunday, a couple friends of mine approached me at church about attending a spiritual renewal weekend retreat. After listening to them describe it, I agreed. The told me they would submit my name and it might be a while before I was selected for a weekend as it was only held once a…

The Pet Possum

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The company in this commercial has not paid any advertising fees on this site
I cannot help but laugh every time I see the commercial. I have seen it enough that I usually chime in with the Dad when he says, "There he is." The reason it is so funny to me is that it is absurd. If your kids asked for a puppy, would you say, "Nah, they are too expensive have a possum!" Probably not.

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! - Matthew 7:8-11

We all know how to shower the people we love with good gifts. We did not have to attend a three day seminar at the Hyatt Regency to learn to give good gifts. And most of us are humble enough to t…

Perspective

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Photo Source: The author

I stand in silence looking out on the Gulf of Mexico. No matter how many times I have stood in this exact same spot and looked out upon the rolling green waters, I never cease to be amazed at how vast it is - reaching infinately off into the distance. I remember making a joke as a high schooler standing in the water at Jekyll Island that England was just over the hill - that ridge on the horizon. I think about how vast this body of water is and it is just the Gulf, it is not the Atlantic Ocean. I gaze up and down the beach to my East and West and think about how many millions of grains of sand make up the beach. I cannot help but think of the hand that created this magnificant body of water and each individual grain of sand. I am amazed how peaceful it is, how everything else that has weighed on my mind over the last several months seems to melt away as I stand looking out on the rolling waves.

I suddenly feel very insignificant in the grand scheme of things…

Peace

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Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”
I have that scripture tattooed on my inner forearm. Growing up, it seemed I was surrounded by drama, at school and at home. So, I often sought peace. I found peace closed in my bedroom with a book or spending time just out riding my bicycle. As I got older, I found peace fishing on the river, camping in the woods, sitting looking out over the mountains or the ocean. I have long been on a self-induced stress reduction diet. If a particular situation or relationship does not have value that exceeds the level of stress related to it, I simply cut it out of my life.
As a father, I have strongly desired peace for my daughter’s life and have done whatever I could to be a peace bringer. As a husband, I have listened to my wife’s struggles and sought to be a peace bringer. One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn was to avoid trying to provide fixes to situations and instead listen and help provide an env…

The Best Father's Day

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For Father's Day, my daughter, who lives with her mother about an hour and a half away from me, wanted to meet me for lunch. We had picked a restaurant half-way between us, so she could get to her evening job without much problem. I knew it was going to be an interesting day when I arrived to find the restaurant closed, all of the signage removed, and the parking lot filled with tumbleweeds. I tried to call her cellphone, but she did not answer (all that talk about not taking cellphone calls while driving was paying off). So, I parked and waited. She called, and I proposed a different restaurant. A few minutes later, I pulled up but no daughter. A few minutes passed, and I began to worry. Finally, she called and was frustrated, because she was lost. I tried to give her some landmarks and directions. A few minutes later, she called crying, upset that she was going to "jack up father's day", because she was driving circles. I gave her some more directions, and in a fe…

The Hamster Wheel

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Image Source: http://laroucheplanet.info
Over the last several years, I have been on the hamster wheel – climbing the career ladder pursuing the better salary, the nicer car, the bigger house, and everything society has continued to convince us is necessary to be happy. We have been brain washed by society that everyone around us is living a better life driving a more expensive car and having a home with a theater room in the basement. Even taking a reprieve from it all to vacation in the mountains or at the ocean, we get more of the bait of materialism – “You need a house at the beach and a cabin in the mountains.”

The truth of it all is that we are living in one of the richest countries in the world, and if we earn $30,000 a year, we are rich compared to most of the rest of the world. So why is it we can walk silently by homeless people and ignore their situation as if they are invisible? Why can we tell ourselves that we cannot afford to help? It is pretty simple. We have quietly bee…

Book Review: Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith by Jen Hatmaker

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Book Review: Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith by Jen Hatmaker


What happens when someone earnestly prays, "God, raise up in me a holy passion"? What happens when God interrupts our idea of the American Dream of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"? Can we be happy without chasing after the corner office, the German made sedan, and the 4,000 sq ft suburban house? What happens if all of those pursuits are abandoned, and we begin a life of service where we value the least of these - the forgotten? The call to service in the New Testament is not to serve the comfortable and the blessed, it clearly says, "the least of these".

Interrupted is the story of Jen and Brandon Hatmaker's life as they abandon the comfortable and began a journey of obedience and service - from safe to dangerous. They quickly decide it's time to practice what the church has been preaching for years.

Their story will give you a check in your …

Another Trip to Washington

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"If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you." - Proverbs 25:21-22

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." - Matthew 25:35-36

My work sends me to Washington, DC once a year. While I find the city interesting and there are a great many sites to experience, I always find the trip depressing. Why depressing? Because every trip to our nation's capital is a harsh reminder for me of just how bad things are in this country.

Photo Courtesy Marcus Gurley - Washington, DC May 2012
Small parks that might be 20ft by 20ft are occupied by people trying to find a spot to sleep. National monuments have people sleeping in them. Every blo…

Catfish

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Image Source: bellapearlsmom.com
One of my favorite childhood memories is going fishing with my Dad. On occasion we would go to a private catfish pond and sink a few chicken livers. On one particular occasion, I guess I was around second grade. My Dad came home off the road working construction and on Saturday, we went to the Bostick's Catfish pond. I am pretty sure at the time that Dad was fishing, and I was learning how to bait cast. But this day was different. I got a bite, and when I set the hook, it became very clear I had hooked something big. I began reeling in with all the might in my small body and the fight from the other end was substantial. Pop offered to take the pole, and I refused. "Don't touch this pole. This is mine!" I kept reeling. Every time I stopped reeling for a second, the fish on the other end would pull line back out and the brake on the Zebco would squeal. I caught my breath and began reeling again. Finally, after a struggle that seemed to …

Marli

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A little over a year ago, we came home one night, rolled up the garage door and drove into our garage. My wife opened the door to the house while I was unloading grocery bags and was working to keep our two small dogs from running out into the garage. Suddenly a strange dog darted into our garage and headed for the door into the house. Expecting a dog confrontation with an unknown dog, I quickly started trying to run the dog out of our garage while thinking to myself, "Who is the irresponsible owner letting their dog run free through our neighborhood?" I soon discovered who the owner was as I hear a voice down the street several feet snort, "Obviously not dog people!" I was taken back by the retort after having some strange dog running into my house. In fact, I was expecting an apology instead of such a snappy retort. I finished getting groceries inside, and Allison walked out and had a conversation with the owner. She explained our concern for our two small dogs …

Gues Post: Leadership: The Moses - Joshua Connection

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This is a guest post from Chris Vonada. Chris is an aspiring author
and professional geologist, and also enjoys reading, running, anything outdoors,
travel, family, friends, music and life! He writes about his passions
at I’m Just Thinkin’ (http://chrisvonada.com). -- http://chrisvonada.info

Leadership: The Moses - Joshua Connection
This may be the most inspiring lesson in the history of mankind regarding leadership.
Whether you believe in God or not I hope that you will stick with me through this message as this one, like so many others from the Bible, is relevant to our world today.
We all know something of Moses' incredible story. He's the one who God chose to lead the people out of Egypt and into the promised land, and the one who God gave the 10 commandments to share with the people. Moses wasn't really thinking he should be "the one" ... when God assigned Moses the task of bringing the people out of Egypt, his reply was "Who am I?" Also, …

Guest Post: Our Love Is Too Safe by @Moe_NYC

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This week I am proud to share this space with an author that I really respect. I think you will enjoy what he has to share. Moe (@Moe_NYC) is the author of betachristian.net.

He is a a native New Yorker who loves God, family, others (in that order). My regular readers might find it ironic that I am introducing you to a New Yorker as we firmly disagree on baseball and football teams, but he has his redeeming qualities. He is a pretty outgoing person who loves to be competitive and hungry for the things he is passionate about which include: teaching, tutoring and leading people. He believes in books (both physical and digital), organization (love GTD) and growing people (everyone has potential). If you spend anytime following him on twitter or reading his blog, you will quickly pickup on the fact that he loves coffee, writing, reading, photography and really cool software (not necessarily in that order but pretty close). I will shut up now.

Here is Moe:

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Hunger Hits Home

Food Network showed this report this past weekend. If you missed it, it tells the story of hunger in our country today, and it illustrates the need that we are working to resolve with Feed the Hungry Forsyth. Our efforts are to recover food that would otherwise be thrown away and deliver it to food pantries to provide to the hungry in our area.

Book Review: Barefoot Church - Serving The Least In A Consumer Culture

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Barefoot Church - Serving The Least In A Consumer Culture by Brandon Hatmaker



"Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." - Matthew 25

How many times have you heard someone say or maybe even you have thought to yourself, "The church ought to care for the poor and help the orphans and widows." But then ask yourself, "what am I doing?" Someone once said, "I want to ask God why he allows pain and suffering in the world, but I am afraid he will ask me the same question."

This book tells the story of how a young pastor quit a comfortable job in a mega church and worked to form a church that puts its focus on serving "the least of these." Brandon challenges the reader to be the living epitome of the good news to the lost, broken, hurting world. He challenges the reader with Micah 6:8, "act justly and to love mercy". Mercy offers relief and compassion without judgement to those in distress while j…

Holding Up Moses Arms

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. - Exodus 17:10-13 NIV

Over the last four months, I have been under a lot of pressure and at times feeling torn in multiple directions. Working a full-time job with a daily commute that is 1 hour each way, going to night school working on my graduate degree, leading a small group of 6th grade boys, leading a couples small group with my wife, and launching a non-profit. At times, I have wondered if I have over-committed and if I would have to drop something, which spinning plate would it be. But G…

Book Review: Safe at Home: A Novel - Richard Doster

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Safe at Home: A Novel
by Richard Doster


It’s 1953 and Jack Hall is a sports writer for a small town newspaper in Whitney, GA. The town’s interest in their local minor league baseball team is losing to air-conditioning and prime time television. Segregation is firmly still in place in the small southern town and the black high school on the other side of town has a star player with a .364 batting average.
Hall suggests the minor league team sign the young slugger to boost attendance and reignite some interest in the team. But even though the local folks have seen Jackie Robinson playing Major League Baseball on television, they do not quickly warm to the idea of integrating their local team. Many fear how such a move could affect the rest of the life in their small town. Hall quickly becomes a target for abuse in the town as his editorials supporting the idea draw the ire of several in the town. Relationships, minds, and traditions are tested as the town wrestles with the situation.
While …

Revenge

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Photo Source: wallpapers.free-review.net
Several years ago when I was living in South Georgia, the pastor of our small town Church began creating his own children's sermons each Sunday which contained a mischievous young character he called "Charlie the Chipmunk". Most of the stories involved Charlie in a children's Sunday School class. For humor, the pastor would use the names of actual members of the congregation as other characters in the story each week.

One week, the Pastor thought it clever to use me as one of the characters in Charlie's story. It seemed Charlie was misbehaving that particular week, and Charlie's Sunday School teacher responded by telling him to behave or else he might grow up and be "like Allen Madding". The 200 some odd members of the congregation that Sunday found it quite funny, while some began to whisper about what might happen in response to this little joke.

Photo Source: mustangdreams.com
It just so happened that there…

Stereotypes

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Before you go making some assumption on "Harley Riders", maybe you should stop and consider what kind of folks ride Harleys...

Your Love Never Fails

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As I walked past a co-worker's desk this week, I noticed the roses that she had gotten for Valentine's Day. The once gorgeous flowers that represent the love of her husband are now wilted. The beauty of the flowers short lived. Their death started the minute they were clipped from the rose bush where they grew. Their demise was certain and foreseen.

As I looked at the wilting roses, I thought how short life really is and how temporal the things in this life are that we value. Today's news heralded a report that a shoe store had to call in 100 police officers to quell what was turning into a riot over the sale of the newest Nike glow in the dark basketball shoes (USA Today). In a few months, no one will be willing to fight over those shoes, and whoever bought a pair will be out trying to buy something else. Thousands of people stood in lines outside Apple stores in malls overnight recently to get their hands on the latest iPad. The iPad 3 is soon to be released, and many o…