Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas in Dixie, it is not Snowing in the Pines

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

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Behind the Scenes

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 win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship was Michael Lott, chassis fabricator. Michael started his racing career at 19 years old, He had dropped out of college after the first day deciding it was not the path for him. He had instead elected to work in his father's automotive repair shop.

I met Michael early in my dirt track racing career at a time when I had been responsible for maintaining and driving my own car. I quickly learned he had a passion for automobiles and racing and had a intense desire to perform quality work in everything he was involved. When I met him, his mechanical knowledge was amazing. The best way I could describe him was someone who could disassemble your street car, reassemble it blindfolded, and it would run better.

He dove head first into learning race car suspension and tuning. Together we took a car that had been finishing laps down and created a car that began logging top-10 finishes. I distinctly remember explaining concepts of jacking wedge, moving static weight, unsprung vs. sprung weight, effects of reciprocal weight on drivetrain, and other fundamentals involved in stock car racing to him. He was attentive and a quick study. He would ask a few questions to ensure he had a full understanding of what I was explaining and then it was committed to memory.

Within a month of Michael working with me, he had assumed the complete maintenance of my race car. In fact, he made it very clear that he did not want me wrenching on the car, "Go do your driver thing", he would tell me once the car was unloaded at the race track.

After my daughter was born, I resigned my day job and launched a computer consulting business. The business start up eliminated the budget to race, so I sold out my inventory of racing equipment and poured myself into the business. Michael felt lost without racing and after a few months, he set out to Charlotte, NC to attend a one week Racing Suspension class and to circulate his resume. Before the week was over, he had secured a job with a small NASCAR Cup team sweeping the floor, picking up tools, and serving as a general gofer. But his knowledge of race cars and mechanical ability was soon recognized and before long he was on the road crew and the over the wall pit crew.

I still remember him calling me from the garage of the Michigan International Speedway on his first road trip as a crew member. I am not sure he slept the entire four days he was there. He was rubbing shoulders with all of the guys he had watched on TV for years and now he was apart of them. His skills continued to improve. When I had met him he could arc weld. I had helped him master MIG welding. He took it upon himself to learn TIG welding which is in much demand among the big league race teams.

His skills continued to be noticed and appreciated. He made a few team changes and continued to receive promotions. He went from a general mechanic to a fabricator. On one trip to NC, I admired the work he had been performing shaping sheet metal into fenders, hoods, quarter panels deck lids, and roofs. Eventually, he moved to the chassis shop where he works with a team of skilled individuals work build the entire chassis (frame and rollcages) for Penske Racing's NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series cars.

So as I sat and watched Brad Keselowski celebrate winning the Sprint Cup, I smiled as I thought about my friend who has labored behind the scenes for the last 15 years that is apart of a team of people who's hard work and determination just won the championship.

Congratulations Brad Keselowski, Roger Penske, Penske Racing, and Michael Lott on a job well down.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Being the Church to the Community Around Us

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...

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Wine Country North Georgia

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, but I never knew how many. This day, we elected to visit a couple. Apparently there are a dozen vineyards surrounding Dahlonega, Georgia a short drive from our home.

Photo by the Author


The low clouds and North Georgia Mountains captured my attention. The longer I stood and gazed on the horizon, the more relaxed and peaceful I felt. Acres and acres of rolling hills covered in grapevines cover the area. Lush green grass and grape leaves against a grey sky and a blue mountain range. One would think you would have to travel to California to see scenery like this, but it is right here in North Georgia begging to be explored.



Photos by the Author

One of these vineyards covers 18 acres of an 184 acre farm - pretty impressive. All of these vineyards operate a tasting room open to the public usually Thursday through Saturday (some even Sunday).

After a few hours of taking in the scenery and the impressive selections of wine that each winery produces, we ambled down to Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge, paid the $5 parking fee and drove to the top of the 729 feet tall falls and to the Lodge for the buffet lunch.

Amicalola Falls Lodge
(Photo Courtesy: www.gastateparks.org )

Amicalola Falls Lodge
(Photo Courtesy: www.gastateparks.org )

As always, we requested a seat by the window so we could enjoy the mountain view over lunch. On a clear day, the view is like the picture above. But on this particular day a fog was rolling in shrouding the mountains from view. Before long, a tree twenty feet away almost disappeared from sight into the fog.


The low key morning and filling lunch in the North Georgia Mountains was just what I needed to rest my mind and relax. I believe an occasional day like this is good for the soul. 



A few North Georgia Vineyards worth checking out:












Monday, July 23, 2012

Adventures in Firefighting


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 carefully for downed power lines. The last thing we needed was a volunteer firefighter getting killed stepping out of a vehicle trying to extinguish a brush fire.

Photo Source: county10.com

I flipped on the red strobe lightbar, flashing headlights, and siren, and quickly made my way to the fire scene. I made no apologies to my sleeping neighbors I passed for all the noise. Abiding by state law, no siren would make me liable for any possible accidents enroute, and I was not opening myself up on that one.

Arriving at the fire scene, I saw four of our volunteers already working with hand tools to extinguish the fire. I took out my flashlight and began carefully inspecting the overhead power lines. Everything was intact - no down power lines. What could have started this fire? Content the scene was safe, I stepped out of the truck, retrieved a fire flap out of one of the tool boxes, and began fighting the fire.

Once we had the fire completely knocked out, as the senior officer on scene, I knew my next responsibility was to determine the cause and write the report. So, I began walking and observing the burn pattern. A couple other volunteers joined me walking and observing. We quickly noted that there was a very apparent “V” pattern which pointed to a point of origination. At the base of the “V” was a severely burned carcass that I would estimate at 7 to 8 lbs. Looking at the remainder of the carcass gave me pause as I attempted to identify the animal. A group of firefighters circled the carcass and a heated discussion ensued.

“It looks like a possum”, one guy noted.

“Nah, I think it’s a raccoon”, another quickly disagreed.
The possum vs. coon discussion went back and forth for several minutes. Those who were steadfast in their beliefs that it was a possum were basing their conclusion solely on the diameter of the tail. I tried to interject that the tail was probably much thicker before it had been burned, but they were hearing none of it.

Those on the other side of the argument countered that raccoons climbed trees and phone poles and possums did not.  Unable to arrive at a consensus, I steered the conversation away from what kind of animal it was to constructing a hypothesis of what had happened. I suggested that this animal had climbed the utility pole which was 5 feet from where the carcass was lying, and somehow had gotten across both terminals on the transformer which blew it off the transformer and set its fur on fire. When it hit the ground, the burning carcass had set the broom straw field on fire.
Everyone present seemed content with accepting my hypothesis as plausible. So, we were back to the argument of identifying the animal. One of my good friends had remained silent up to this point of the discussion. He spit a large amount of tobacco juice on the ground, pulled on the suspenders of his bunker pants, and said, “It’s obvious it’s a coon.” Everyone stopped the conversations mid-sentence and looked at my friend. “OK, why is that?” one asked. “That’s simple”, he replied, “If it was a possum, there would be sweet taters.”

(For the curious, possum and sweet potato recipes can be found here: Southern Cuisine: Baked Possum with Apples and Sweet Potatoes)

No one seemed to have any further arguments. I wrote the report noting a raccoon had apparently crawled across both terminals of the transformer, setting its fur on fire and blowing it off the pole into a broom straw field setting it ablaze. I have always thought it would have been an amazing sight to have been driving down that county two lane road in the middle of the night and to have seen a flaming raccoon flying through the air.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Modern Day Idols

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 year. ''No problem'', I thought.

One afternoon, I pulled onto our driveway and pulled the mail out of the mailbox. In the day's mail was a postcard saying I had been selected for the next retreat weekend and listed the date. I immediately recognized the date, the same weekend as the big race in Alabama. I did not give it a thought. I did not pray about it. I did not seek insight from my wife, my crew chief, or friends. I just quickly checked the box that said ''I cannot attend, please schedule me for another weekend.'' and tossed in back in the mailbox.

When the weekend of the big race came around, nothing seemed to go right. When the gates opened, four lines of waiting race haulers were trying to funnel into a single gate with no one directing traffic. When it was our turn, another crew decided they were tired of waiting and tried to move in front of us. Before it was all over we had trailer fenders rubbing and heated tempers. We managed to get the two trailers separated and everyone calmed down. Once we were signed in and issued arm bands, guess where the track officials directed us to pit for the weekend. Right next to the team we ran into at the gate. I do love a little irony.

While unloading some tools out of the back of my pickup, I jumped off the tailgate to the ground - something I had done a million times. But this time it had terrible consequences. My heel hit a dimple in the ground and shot out from under me. I heard a loud pop and immediately felt excruciating pain. I collapsed in a heap on the red clay dirt. A couple of guys next to us said they heard it pop and were sure my ankle was broke. After a few minutes rolling on the ground, a couple folks helped me onto the tailgate of my pickup. I managed to get my boot off which made my ankle hurt even worse. It was dislocated. I took my foot in both hands and relocated my ankle. The sudden pop told me it was back in place. The increased pain made me want to vomit. After lying in on the tailgate a few minutes to let the pain subside, I managed to put on my boot. I took a couple handfuls of ice and poured into my boot and resumed preparing for the qualified race. Since it was my left ankle, my clutch foot, I reasoned I was OK to race.

Once the qualifier race started, I was quickly one position from a transfer spot. The leaders got together and began to spin. I moved high and started to pass. The car behind me had jumped low when I had checked for the wreck. He was headed straight for the wreck, so he swerved to miss them and slammed into my left from wheel breaking the upper ball joint leaving my car nondriveable. In a matter of seconds I had gone from having a chance at qualifying to being hauled to the pits on a tow hook. During the race, I had quickly recognized that I did not want to use the clutch because every time I did, it felt like bone was going through my foot.

Back in the pits, we inspected the damage and determined what parts we needed to repair the car. My wife and crew chief then turned their attention to my ankle. I suggested a visit to a local Emergency Room. My resourceful crew chief got us to a hospital, managed to park our race hauler, and negotiated with a security guard to watch it for us. After two hours the Emergency Room staff declared my ankle not broken. They wrapped it, gave me a pair of crutches, and told me to stay off of it. We got to the hotel around 3am, took showers, and passed out.

Around 8am the next morning, we were up and out to a local auto parts store. We returned to the track and began repairing the damage from the night before. My ankle resembled an ASA regulation softball but purple. So, I limped around on the crutches and set on a bucket to work. We managed to complete repairs in time to make track inspection and entered the last chance qualifier or consolation race. We drew a horrible starting position something like 26th, and they were taking the Top Three finishers for the main race or as we called it, ''the show''. I think we spun or got spun five or six times over the course of the consolation race finishing a disappointing 12th. We had not made "The Show" and would collect no money for our troubles. Zero Dineros. Nada. The empty set. Null.

On the long ride home, my crew chief confided that he had not felt good about the whole weekend even before we left. I found this odd as he was always excited to go racing. He began to explain that he had felt a knot in his stomach from the time we loaded up, and it had persisted all weekend long. I had to admit that I had felt a bit peculiar when we left for the track, but I could not put my finger on why, so I had brushed it off. But while discussing it with him on the ride home, it hit me. I had gotten my priorities all out of line. Racing had taken priority over everything in my life. I had let it become an idol. I had brushed aside the spiritual retreat for racing, and it had gone horribly wrong. We had our shares of bad nights at the track, and I had always left saying a bad night racing beat a whole week at work. But not this time. We all regretted even going, and I had a messed up ankle to boot. I thought of the story of Jonah.

In Jonah 1:1-3, we learn about Jonah's situation. "The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish . He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord."

I could totally relate. I felt like I knew where I was supposed to have gone that weekend, but I rebelled and went for something that sounded more important and more fun. You probably remember the rest of the story. The boat that Jonah gets on gets in a really bad storm. The crew draws lots to decide who is responsible. It comes up Jonah, because he was. They throw him overboard and he gets swallowed by a whale. While in the whale's stomach, after 3 days and nights, Jonah realized he should have obeyed the word of God that had come to him.

Jonah 2:1 says, "From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God." During his prayer, Jonah says, “Those who cling to worthless idols  turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord'" Jonah 2:8-9.

It obviously was the right thing to do, because verse 10 says, "And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land."

I have wondered what it was like to wander around smelling like the contents of a whale's stomach. I think this weekend was as close as I will get to sharing that experience. I am pretty confident I do not want to know. Getting vomited from a whale's belly, eww. I would want to shower in bleach for a month.
The following week my ankle was put in a cast which I wore for two months. It served as a constant reminder to me about making good choices, priorities, and the idols in my life to which I had been unwittingly bowing. It gave me a lot of opportunity to evaluate what I was doing and to the blinders I had been wearing. As I limped around on crutches, I was able to consider what the priorities were in my life and what the should be. Changes did not come over night. But a light had come on that I needed to start paying more attention and get things in proper order.

The next year, I received another post card in the mail for the retreat. I immediately recounted my ''Jonah Experience'' from declining the last opportunity, checked the ''Yes, I will attend'' box, and tossed it back in the mail. That retreat weekend served as a catalyst for reconciliation of my relationships with my Dad and my brother. I often wonder what it would have been like if I had gone the first year.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Pet Possum


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 tell you we struggle to do what is right and to do good. So if we can pull it off, how much better can God, being the ultimate definition of what good is, be at giving good gifts to those who ask? Is he going to give you a Ferrari and a $50 million lottery winning if you ask? Probably not. He is interested in what is best for us - not setting us up to be self-indulged. But how about providing for our families? How about helping us become better husbands and dads? He is all about it.

But come on, how about the rich thing?

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. - Luke 12:48

 So, if you do make the big payday, keep in mind much is expected of you. Sorry to break that one to you, but there it is. So where does that leave us? According to this article: The World's Top-10 Richest Countries in 2012, The United States is the Seventh richest country in the world with an "Average income per capita: 46,860 dollars a year." We have been diluted with the middle class, upper class, nonsense that we constantly hear on the evening news. As bad as it may seem with the current economy, the fact is that the middle class citizens of the United States are rich compared to the majority of the planet. We do not carry our water in buckets for miles to cook, we have HVAC climate controlled homes, and we have cars to drive. So, much is expected? How are we doing on that part? Working to relieve suffering? Providing for the needy? Taking care of orphans and widows? Ouch! While we are fussing about how long our commute home is, someone is worried about where their going to get their next meal if at all. While we are fussing about the city's water restrictions impinging on our ability to spray drinking water on our yard, someone is wishing they had clean drinking water.

So what is it that has been a major struggle that has been burdening your spirit? Have you asked God for help or are you going at it on your own? Does pride flair up followed by the words, "I got this!" Marriage Struggle? Problems with a teenager? Health issues? Have you asked God? Matthew 7 says much more is given to those who ask Him. So ask!



Monday, July 02, 2012

Perspective

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. I feel much like one of the grains of sand under my bare feet. From anyone elses' perspective, I am a tiny dot on the horizon. How much even smaller I must appear from the heavens. I am humbled and amazed that the maker of heaven and earth - who created all of this that I am taking in - wants a personal relationship with me and cares for me.

Photo Source: The author


A sandpiper quietly walks past me unconcerned that I am near. I am reminded of a piece of scripture, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? " - Matthew 6:26

The storms of life bang against my shores, and I have to make decisions on how I will respond. The sandpiper stands with his back to the crashing waves not paying any attention to the water or how close the waves crash against the beach where he stands. I am reminded that worrying about things I cannot control is futile. I cannot trust in my own abilities but in the one who controls all things.

Photo Source: The author

You can browse my collection of beach photography at: allenmadding.smugmug.com.
I appreciate your support.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Peace

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 environment of peace.

While I have failed at times to be a source of peace and some might say that I have stirred the pot, I have always strongly wanted peace. Many times I find myself struggling when faced with the decision of engaging a problem and confronting a situation or not saying anything just to maintain the peace. I have felt convicted when my desire for peace seemed to outweigh my desire to right a situation by having the difficult discussion. At times, it seems, we have to step into the conflict and face matters head-on. But even during difficult conversations requiring confrontations, we can still seek to obtain peace without having to avoid the situation.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

The good news is God desires peace in our lives as much as I desire peace in the lives of my loved ones. In fact, Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6. So our desire for peace is a quality instilled in us by our creator. When we promote peace in our relationships, we are being Christ-like which is pretty awesome.

The tattoo on my forearm is a constant reminder for me in the hustle and bustle of life to find those moments of peace in my own life and to be an instrument of peace in others lives. It is also a reminder of who the source of peace is.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Best Father's Day



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 few more minutes she drove up. Despite her frustration with getting lost and driving circles for an hour, it all worked out well as there had been a waiting list. When she drove up, my wife had just gotten us a table 5 minutes prior. No harm, no foul.

I was just thrilled that an 18 year old girl cared enough to take time out of her weekend and drive 30 miles to spend Father's Day with her Dad. As always, I had enjoyed spending time with her, laughing, and sharing a meal. When I walked her out to her car, a look of frustration suddenly came over her. "I drove off and left your Father's Day gift at home!", she exclaimed. I told her not to worry about it that I had enjoyed just getting to spend time with her. As she pulled out of the parking lot, I thought "What the heck", so I followed her to her Mom's and picked up my gift. She completely surprised me with a book I had wanted and a touching card. Not only had she set aside time for me, she had went out and located a book I wanted - the last copy the bookstore had I later learned.

While the day had a lot of twists, turns, frustrations, and things did not go off without a hitch, I beg anyone to try and convince me it was not the most perfect Father's Day I have ever had. I would not trade it for anything. As much as I have cherished the hand written, crayon drawn Father's Day cards when she was little, and the rock that has scripture written on one side and Happy Father's Day on the other that I have kept for years, I think this was one of the best Father's Days I have had in 18 years. It is definitely one I will cherish for a long time.

Despite how hard you try to be a good Dad and support your child as they are growing up, you always have some regrets - times when work prevented you from being at a school event, a play, a musical performance or times when your patience were thin and you spoke harshly. So when your 18 year old daughter works so hard to make a day special for you, it makes it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Hamster Wheel


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 been seduced into this consumerism that all of the marketing firms have hyped. We have slowly been drawn into spending 110 percent of our income by leveraging credit cards, home equity loans, and car loans.

Last summer I went to Venezuela on a mission trip to work in a boy’s home for a week. One week in Venezuela gave me a good taste of what the rest of the world looks like. Older cars and smaller homes dominated the landscape, but the people I met were no less happy than anyone living in the U.S. What got my attention was their generosity. People living on a tenth of what general laborers in the U.S. earned were concerned with the welfare of those around them. They donated money, food, and clothing to those around them that they saw struggling. It was a punch in the gut to see this knowing how much better we live and feeling like we could not afford to help others.

How much do we have to have? How much do we really need? Is it possible to scale back our standard of living and still be comfortable and have margin to be able to make a difference in the world around us? Would we be happier knowing that we are making a difference in our own backyard? Would we feel more fulfilled helping out the people we encounter that are struggling?

We are actually commanded to help what Jesus called, “The least of these”.  In Matthew 25:31-36 Jesus says that when he returns, all the nations will be gathered and the sheep will be separated from the goats, and the King will say “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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.”


It is time for us to step off the hamster wheel and say enough. It is time for us to find contentment with what we have and be grateful. It is time for us to create margin in our lives both financially and in our schedules so we can open our hands and bless those around us.

Monday, June 11, 2012

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

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 spirit regarding your current priorities.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Another Trip to Washington

"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 block on every street I walked was an encounter with another homeless person and all of their earthly belongings in black garbage bags.

Photo Courtesy Marcus Gurley - Washington, DC May 2012

Homeless are sleeping on the steps outside Starbucks and a DC cop is standing four feet away without any concern. Everywhere you turn, someone is asking for $6 to get into the local homeless shelter. It becomes overwhelming. One night walking back to the hotel from dinner, I encountered two people talking on the sidewalk. As I passed the guy, obviously drunk, began to holler at me. First with threatening remarks, then claiming I had dropped my wallet ( I had not). I ignored him and walked away.

All of this weighed heavy on my mind. I had to battle to not become depressed from it all. On one hand you want to do something to help them all. At the same time you question personal safety. Above all you feel helpless knowing whatever you do is just a drop in the ocean compared to the problem. It is our nation's capital. Our President and Congress have to see this everyday. Do they just turn their eyes another direction and hope it goes away?

I returned home at the end of the week tired and weary. These images continue to roll through my mind. I know I cannot change the world. I doubt I can change this nation or even the state where I live. But I believe I can make a difference in my backyard. Homelessness and hunger exist in every community in our nation. Some hide it better than others, but rest assured as you go to bed tonight someone in your community does not have enough to eat.

I came home motivated to continue to work diligently with the nonprofit we have started to eliminate hunger here in our county. It has to start somewhere. I have to do something.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Catfish


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 last forever, I reeled in a catfish that weighed 10 lbs.

If you do some research, you will quickly find that a 10lbs catfish is not any kind of record, locally, regionally, or nationally. In fact, there are reports that catfish have been caught in excess of 600lbs. MSNBC Fish whopper: 646 pounds a freshwater record. But to a young boy in second grade, reeling in a 10lb catfish was a major accomplishment.

Fishing in a private pond had fees. You paid per pound for what you caught. As a young boy, these things really did not register. Years later, I learned that that fish cost my Dad half of his weekly spending budget. He left on Sunday evening to go on the road working construction for a week with a mere five dollars spending money to his name until his next paycheck. He made the financial sacrifice to see the smile on a little boy's face for what seemed like an overwhelming accomplishment.

Living in a small town has a few benefits that larger cities do not have. One of those is a small town newspaper which covered small local and personal events as news. One of our neighbors heard the story and suggested my Mom carry me to the newspaper office on Monday with my picture with my fish. So after school on Monday, we went to the newspaper. They deemed it newsworthy and ran a small story. When my Dad got home the following weekend, I handed him a clipping from the local paper about me and the catfish.

A lot of things happen growing up. I had clashes of will with my Dad and at times questioned if he loved me or if he just wanted to fight me at every chance in the road. But when I learned what that catfish cost him, the financial sacrifice he made for a moment of joy and a bit of accomplishment - it put it all in perspective for me and our relationship began to heal. I realized that Pop had loved me all my life. He fought me when he thought he knew better. Through our collisions, he began to realize he had to let me fail on my own to be able to mature and develop.

I will always cherish one Saturday at a fish pond with a little Zebco rod and reel with my Dad. I never realized how important that day was in my life until I was in my mid 20s. But I hold it as one of the best memories of my childhood.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Marli


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 in the house and that we walk our dogs on leashes per the leash law and tried to respect our neighbors property. I heard bits and pieces of the conversation, but to say the least I was put off by the whole encounter. Allison later told me that the woman was our new neighbor two houses down. "Swell", I thought.

The next day, my next door neighbor stopped me and said she had spoken with the woman and confronted her about the situation and told her in as much that she was wrong for her actions and her response and had expounded on our virtues as some of her favorite neighbors. I was flattered that she had jumped to our defense. I thanked her and figured we just had a new neighbor that would be a burr in our saddle for the future.

A few nights later, the door bell rang. When we opened the door, there stood the new neighbor lady with some flowers and a small bag. She introduced herself as "Marli" and began to apologize for our encounter both with her dog and her earlier in the week. She then presented my wife with flowers and the gift bag of treats. I was pleasantly surprised by the change in events.

Over the course of the next few months, we regularly saw Marli and struck up conversation. We discovered she suffered from Lupus and was on disability. She had a hard time getting up and down the stairs of the house she rented, but worked really hard to have a positive outlook. We showered her with encouragement, stopped by to visit from time to time, and surprised her with small gifts of freshly baked goodies and homemade candies.

About three weeks ago, she announced that she had found a one-story house for rent about 15 miles away and was going to move as the stairs were just becoming too much trouble for her. We were sad to see her go, hugged her neck and said our goodbyes. A couple of days after her move, we found a note and some large envelopes on our doorstep with a note from Marli. The Post Office was not forwarding her mail, and she wanted us to collect her mail and send it to her. We were more than happy to help and mailed three packages of mail to her. When the envelopes run out, the mail was continuing to pour in. She called and said to just collect it, and she would swing by that Saturday to pick it up. We set a bag out on our front porch for her on Saturday before departing to a function as she had requested. When we got home late that night, the bag was still there. It concerned us, because we knew her bouts with Lupus and automatically assumed she was having a bad day. She called on Monday to say she had in fact had a bad weekend and had not been out of bed.

We continued to accumulate mail this week, and I thought we would give her a call Sunday afternoon and carry the mail down to her. She had left a voicemail Friday that she had been in the hospital with problems swallowing and had just been released. Sunday while I was with my 6th grade small group, Allison called Marli to see if we could drop her mail off for her. No one answered, so she left a voicemail. A few minutes later, Allison's cellphone rang, it was a lady police officer. She relayed the news that Marli had died Sunday morning.

We were both stunned. I walked around for a couple of hours feeling like I had been electrocuted. I am grateful for the time we were given to love on someone having a tough time with a terrible disease. I am amazed how a friendship grew from a rough first encounter. It is my prayer that some how we made her life a bit more enjoyable in the last months of her life.

Rest in Peace, Marli.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gues Post: Leadership: The Moses - Joshua Connection



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, for one chosen to be the leader, Moses quickly pointed out to God that he was lacking in communication skills... so God suggested that Moses utilize the assistance of his brother Aaron to speak to the people.

Many of us know something about Joshua too... remember Joshua and Caleb were the only 2 of the 12 spies that came back from the original scouting mission to the promised land with an encouraging report. Plus, Joshua was the only one allowed to accompany Moses part way up the mountain when Moses received the law from God.

Moses had a vision and marching orders from God... unfortunately, he never lead his people into the promised land. Moses died before that happened. Fortunately, before Moses passed away he was able to share with and guide Joshua in the leadership skills necessary to lead these people... not only INTO the promised land, Joshua lead the people in a heroic and monumental way that shines the beaming light on this as one of the greatest mentoring relationships. Ever. Moses chose Joshua and Joshua became his shadow. God later confirmed this wise choice when he instructed Moses to name Joshua as his successor.

And that, to me, is the story of the greatest lesson for any leader... how to help the people around you learn to perform everything that you can teach them... the task of "making myself replaceable." We talk about this at church all the time, as any growing organization should. Making myself replaceable means I can help someone else learn the skills that I possess... that I'm confident enough in myself and the organization to tell someone everything I know about my job, without the fear of becoming obsolete in the process. That frees me up to continue leading and for the organization to keep growing.

Where would we be if Moses hadn't made himself replaceable... maybe still wandering in the desert? Maybe someone would have risen to the occasion... but it certainly made sense then... as it does now... to always focus on "making myself replaceable."

What do you feel is the most important leadership skill?





Monday, April 23, 2012

Guest Post: Our Love Is Too Safe by @Moe_NYC

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:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Our Love Is Too Safe


In the New Testament we read how Jesus came to earth and how bold He lived His life. He spoke against the religious elite, He "worked" on the Sabbath, He invited himself to people's houses, He was the "drunk and the glutton", loved to have his feet cleaned in hooker tears and chased out the temple merchants, turned their tables and borrowed Indiana Jones's whip.

As we move over to the Epistles, and eventually to Revelation, we see more boldness, more valor and more desire to spread this Gospel with fervor. It rarely feels like safe Christianity.

What made Jesus so dangerous and so threatening was that He was intentional in desiring to be in people's lives. He wasn't satisfied with a handshake and a "Shalom". He wanted so much more. He desired a place in the heart of people. He made the long trip through Samaria, not around it. He wasn't satisfied with just knowing there were Samaritans confused and fighting for the rights to a well. He desired to be part of their lives.

Today, we confuse love with a romantic feeling of butterflies and pretty words. Real love is having the ability to be dangerous and bold and seek those who need to be found. Not only those who agree with us, who we like, who look and dress like us. The love I see in my Bible is a love that goes against anything cute and pretty, but seeks to find the ugly and dangerous. True love is dangerous and uncomfortable.

God didn't come to create a society of Christians that lived safe, loved safe and spent more time making themselves comfortable rather than dangerous. We have made the greatest news ever heard, the greatest event in history about us, rather than about Him. God didn't come to earth so that we have all of our little itches scratched.

We have become a people that don’t intrude, that never demand, never judges, never meddles. We have become a people who keep their distance and doesn’t crowd. Jesus's theology was one of involvement, not one of avoidance.

As the Christian church, we’re supposed to be one body, and we should be standing together seeking to love dangerously and seek that which was lost. We need to listen to what Jesus is saying and to follow his teaching and principles. Jesus wasn’t afraid to speak out for others, and we shouldn’t be either. Let's move past the books we read, the conferences we attend and the romantic gospel we preach, and move towards a dangerous mob of people who are bold in doing what God demands of us.

Let's move out of this safe love and make it dangerous. Let's be more intentional in seeking friendships with those who people do not accept today. I believe that these dangerous friendships reveal true love and become much stronger than doctrine, rules, and tradition.

Let's show this world that we can bear fruit, not fungus or empty acorns.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Let me also recommend you swing by Moe's blog and read his three part testimony.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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.

Friday, April 13, 2012

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

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 justice offers action, awareness, advocacy, and right action.

The Bible calls us to love our neighbor and does not cut us any slack for the neighbor that is a pain to tolerate or does not smell good. If we call ourselves believers or disciples, then we should see poverty, hunger, homelessness, and injustice as wrong and we should be motivated to fight to make it right.

"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." Isaiah 1:17

Are we doing that? Or are we walking past the homeless guy holding our breath and trying not to make eye contact?

For far too long we have talked a big talk. Its time to stop the talk and start doing. As another quote says, "nobody cares what you think until they think you care."

If this book doesn't make you stop and question what you are doing, I don't know what will.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

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 God is gracious and has mercy on those who seek him. I have prayed daily for wisdom and perseverance.

One of the greatest answers to prayer has been the four people that have accepted positions on the board of the non-profit. Each one has brought individual giftings and talents. They have embraced the vision and mission and have rolled up their shirt sleeves and begun actively taking part. We began planning a fundraiser to get things off the ground and retained the services of an event coordinator who has also been a tremendous help. The support of my loving wife has been tremendous during stressful times, she calmly reminds me, "If it is supposed to work out, God will make it happen. If it is supposed to fail, it will."

And then volunteers have begun to contact me and say, "how can I help?" Just this week, I have been overwhelmed by the support of extremely creative and talented volunteers willing to contribute their time and talents to the cause.

As I quietly reflect on what all is going on and how much support I am receiving, I cannot help but think of Moses as he stood on the hill watching the battle knowing as long as he held his arms up, the Israelites would win the battle. but when his arms dropped, the Israelites would begin to be defeated. Poor old Moses arms ached and he could barely hold them up any longer. Aaron and Hur saw what was happening and leaped to offer him the assistance. They move a large stone for him to sit on, and they each grabbed an elbow and held his arms up. Over the last two weeks, I can relate. I have felt like I was at the point I could not hold up my arms. And, just when I thought I was at my end, board members and volunteers have said, "Let me take some of the load." And it has been a huge relief.

Have you got an Aaron and Hur in your life?

Monday, March 19, 2012

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



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 this is fiction, Doster does a masterful job of wrapping the story around actual historical events of the time. If you love baseball, you will have a hard time setting this book done until you have read it from cover to cover.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Revenge


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 was a Shopper Guide that was published in the county, and people could list items for sale in the Shopper for free. It seems that someone listed a 1967 Ford Mustang fully restored for $2,500 with the Church parsonage phone number, and the add specified, "Call after 10pm. Ask for Charlie."

Secrets are not well kept in a small town, and ours was no exception. By the following weekend, I had a couple folks tell me that the preacher was not getting much sleep as the parsonage phone was ringing off the wall every night after 10pm. The pastor and his wife were trying to not let anyone know, but they confided in a couple that were their close friends. Those close friends thought it was hilarious and immediately found me to share the details.

Without solicitation, the Shopper ran the ad for a second week, and the parsonage phone continued ringing.

That was the last time I was the butt of a joke in a Charlie the Chipmunk story.

A few other members of the community found their way into Charlie stories and some were the punchline. Around Christmas, the pastor and his wife went to spend a week at their home in NC. While they were gone, their lawn was decorated with a tiny sleigh and twelve pink flamingos adorned with a flood light that was on a dust to dawn timer.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Stereotypes

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Your Love Never Fails


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 of those same people will be in line again.

As I thought about how temporal all of these things are and how hard we seem to pursue these temporary things, the words to a song began to flow in my mind:

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains

Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me
-one-thing-remains-lyrics.html ]
On and one and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains



We can take great comfort in knowing that all that is around us can come and go, ashes to ashes, and dust to dust, but the love of our creator, father, Savior never fails. His love remains.


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. - I Corinthians 13:4-8