Archive for category sacrifice

Folds of Honor

Who knew that attending a Memorial Day golf tournament would be so memorable….

The Folds of Honor Foundations sponsors a fund-raising Pro-Am that raises money and awareness for children of military heroes.  Folds of Honor gives scholarships to children of veterans, many of whom have been wounded and can no longer provide for their families.

One poignant scene is burned in my mind…. As the first group rounded the 9th green, headed to the 10th tee, a bugler sounded Taps, the tune known worldwide as the tune recognizing the end of the day.  For military heroes,Taps is reserved for funerals of heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms of the United States.

Almost immediately, the sound of thousands of fans was replaced by a nervous hush.  Old and young stood wherever they were, found one of the dozens of flags along the course property, and with hands and hats over their hearts, allowed the haunting tune to take their minds to those loved ones who serve, and who have served.

As the last notes of Taps rolled around the gentle hills of Northeast Oklahoma, a chime sounded.  One….Two… Three… In the distance, a rumble could be heard.  Faint at first, we could determine neither direction nor destination.  Four…. Five….Six…. the rumble was now echoing across the course.  Seven…. Eight… We were all facing the same direction now, waiting for the rumble to reveal its purpose.  Suddenly, over the trees, we saw them…

 

WW2 era fighter planes, similar to those in the photo, flying the famed “missing wingman” formation.  Even though the engine sounds were extreme, I could almost hear the gasp from the crowd as people suddenly recognized and identified with the drama unfolding above us.  They flew directly overhead, and they were flying low.  Unexpectedly, as they passed the Clubhouse, one of the planes peeled off to the north, representing yet another loss of a military hero.  Through tears, I followed that plane until it disappeared across the horizon.  I had lost count of the tolling of the chime, but I think the chimes numbered 12.

Finally, someone let out a cheer and the entire crowd let loose with applause and appreciation for the men and women who serve our country, risking limb and life for our freedom.  Men like my dad and father-in-law; their brothers and fathers. Men and women today who serve, placing my freedom above their lives.

I hope you’ll consider supporting our military and their families by supporting the Folds of Honor Foundation.  More information about this fine organization can be found here.

I have been reminded of the brevity of life, and of the teetering frailty of what our society calls freedom.  Join me in praying for freedom, bound in peace and secured by the iron will of the men and women of the United States Military.

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Take the Five-Minute Challenge

The Five-Minute Challenge

I discovered this video and the challenge just a few minutes ago.  I dare you to click the link above to watch the video, and I double-dog dare you to take the challenge…. join me and a world of others who dare to make a difference through prayer!

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Seek First the Church?

I am a recovering church-lover.

Let me be clear on this.  I still really, really enjoy going to church, serving the church, working for the church, even working overtime for the church.  I like the church culture (the culture of our church, anyway), the people who attend our church, and the folks who visit periodically.  I like how our church uses the Bible as its primary directional document.  I feel safe with other church people.  I like how they make me feel, when in a church context and setting.  I like our denomination (most of the time), and our efforts in missions and evangelism.

Lately, I have been bothered by the whispers of my soul about my love for the church.  Those whispers reveal the truth that I am a church lover.

The truth is, I can be more concerned, place more thought and work in the culture of the church, and enjoy serving the church while almost completely losing connection with Christ, Who gave His life for us and will return one day and claim the Church, His Bride.

As a child, I was saved because of what I understood about Jesus and His loving sacrifices for me.  I loved Him, read His word, and learned about Him as I attended church.  It wasn’t long, however, that I began to receive more recognition, more pats on the back for good church involvement and attendance than I did for loving and following Christ.  I even rode my bike to church in the snow and ice when we couldn’t get the car out.  Somehow, without realizing it, I had become a church lover. Somehow, without my knowing, the thin line between loving church and loving God had become muddied. So- I dare say for many of us- it has become easy to allow the vision and administration of church to determine what is right and best for us, rather than staying true to the simple followship of Christ.  The followship of Christ guarantees rejection, danger, suffering.  I don’t know of many churches who market their ministries using those words.

So, I am re-focusing.  Revelation 2:5 (in the Bible) says, “Look how far you have fallen from your first love!  Turn back to me again and work as you did at first.”

I am not giving up loving the church… just the order in which I dispense my love and allegiance.  Seeking first the kingdom of God… Falling in love with Jesus on a daily basis… Keeping my conversation with Jesus open and active… Serving Jesus through the ministries of the church…

There. That’s better.

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The Fundamentals

I played basketball in high school. 

As hard as it is to belive, I was once an athlete.  Sort of.  I was tall, but made up for it by being slow.  I wasn’t a smart athlete, nor was I particularly aggressive.  So, before I even had packed my shoes, I already had two strikes against me.

The longer I played, the more comfortable I became in my role on the floor.  And the more comfortable I became, the better I got at playing my position. The better I got, the more cocky I became.  Now, the instant I became cocky, I seemed to lose all sense of coordination, skill, or training.  I suddenly played like a beginner again.

My coach- a tall, agressive, smart, athletic man- was constantly pushing me to improve.  And so, to give me the best chance at success, he coached the fundamentals.  The easy stuff, the stuff every player had to do without thinking to be able to play the game.  For me, the fundamentals included moving without the ball; footwork; catching and passing; keeping the ball above my head; spreading me feet and moving my feet on defense; rebounding.  Lots of rebounding. There were no shortcuts.

As I compartmentalized my responsibilities on the floor, and as I focused on my fundamentals, I improved.  Over time, I became a fair player when I focused on my role.   I love the game, and loved playing.

Now, many years and quite a few pounds later, I am reminded that there are fundamentals to life.  Things that, with proper training, practice, and focus, will help us achieve our goals.  And different areas of life can require a different set of fundamentals.  Relationships, work ethic, parenting, personal money management, and a plethora of other areas require us to focus, to train, to master the basics of each area.  You can never forsake those fundamentals and continue to grow, to excel, to achieve.  There are no shortcuts.

The same is true for our spiritual lives.  There are fundamental excercises that we need to practice regularly in order to achieve God’s best for our lives.  Daily quiet time in the Word; praying without ceasing; serving people; all are necessary to developing the closest relationship with the Father possible.  There are no shortcuts.

What are your spiritual fundamentals?  How often do you practice?

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And the winner is….

Ok, ok.  Many of my regular readers (both of you) have asked about the two-month sabbattical from writings and ramblings about the good life.  So, here’s the deal-i-o…

Along with being busier than a I really care to be, I have been doing some soul searching about the direction of this blog.  Should it become more of a professional project, designed and written to aid and assist other church staffers and church leaders?  I read lots of those types of blogs.  Or should it continue to simply be a digital expression of, well, me.

Decision is made.

And the winner is…

Life is good.  I will write about life as I experience it, and continue to prove that God is good and loving, and that He is alive in my life.

So, stand by for more posts about life… about God… about family and friends…

Life is good!

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Borrowed Blog Post

In checking my Twitter account this morning before work, I came across this energizing and encouraging post from South Carolina Pastor Perry Nobles.  I am so jazzed, I stole (I mean I borrowed) it.  Read it- I pray it energizes you for Christ as it energized me!

HE IS AWESOME…HIS CHURCH SHOULD BE AS WELL! May 5, 2010

From time to time in reading the Bible a verse or particular passage of Scripture will LEAP off the page at me and consume my mind…

Recently it has been II Chronicles 2:5

Solomon had a vision…it was to build something to show the world that his God was different, that He was greater and more powerful than any other “god” on the planet.

Honestly, I believe church leaders should have THAT SAME PASSION…to work as hard as we can to build a work that SCREAMS to the world that our God is different…that He is GREATER than all other “gods.”

With that in mind I am specifically praying for 15 things for the church…

#1 – That our church services would be a reflection of the fact that Jesus is alive, not dead!

#2 – That leaders would take what we do seriously and not EVER allow things to slip into cruise control.

#3 – That we will understand that the creative potential in HIS CHURCH is greater than the creative potential in the world!  Disney created a mouse…GOD created the Grand Canyon…HE HAS THE TRUMP CARD!

#4 – That we would have a heart for the same things that God has a heart for!

#5 – That we would meet people where they are and actually answer questions that they are asking rather than thinking they actually want to know more about where the Hittites came from!

#6 – That we would challenge people with God’s truth instead of worrying about how many people MAY get offended.

#7 – That our view of God will INCREASE…because the GREATER we see that He is the GREATER things we will attempt in His name.  (People who have small vision often have a small view of God.)

#8 – That we will STOP doing church for the already convinced and begin doing it for those who are far away from God.

#9 – That we would embrace an Acts 15:19 mindset by NOT giving people a list of rules but rather teach them how to have an active, vibrant relationship with a HOLY GOD!

#10 – That the church would actually begin to minister to “one another” rather than depending on “paid professionals” to do it all.

#11 – That our agenda would be Jesus and HIS KINGDOM and not a particular political party.

#12 – That we would model John 13:34-35 to a world that is ALWAYS changed when they see these verses in action!

#13 – That we would reject the notion that God deserves “just enough” and instead we would offer Him the very best we’ve got!

#14 – That we would STOP looking for a formula but rather seek God and HIS agenda for our church!

#15 – That we would spend LESS time declaring what we’re against and more time living out WHO we are for!

He is a GREAT GOD…far greater than ANYONE or ANYTHING on this planet.  And we as the church are called to point other people to that greatness…and I think our church services are a great place to begin displaying that truth to the world.  (Yes, it DOES go beyond the doors of the church…but it has to start somewhere!!!)

Thank you, Perry Nobles.  I hope to meet you someday…..

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Playing Not to Lose

For as long as I can remember, I have harbored a private, deep-seated and closely hidden fear.  This fear is so debilitating, and I know many people who suffer from it.  It changes the course of the future for many people.  The hidden fear?

The fear of failure.

“Really?” you ask.  “Failure?  Really?”

Really.  Fear of failure has kept many people from taking risks of any size that might lead to less-than-acceptable results.  So, we just don’t take the risk.  As a matter of fact, many people live their lives in a fashion similar to how some athletic teams perform during playoffs and stressful situations- playing, not to win, but playing not to lose.

I am realizing that it is no longer enough for me to risk just enough of myself that still guarantees some success, or at least, a neutral result.  I’ve done that long enough.  I am learning to put myself out there, to try different things, to risk reputation, comfort, and success, to be all that God has called me to be. 

It isn’t just a matter of being shy; it is a matter of faith.  And my faith tells me that as I follow Christ, I will be asked from time to time to follow where I cannot see the path; to speak where I cannot see the benefit; and to love when there is nothing at all to be gained.

I no longer want to safely play not to lose.  I want to get about the business of living; of taking risks for the Kingdom; and leaving the results to God.  Facing failure eye to eye, and working up a big spit for it.  And while my knees my knock and my palms may sweat, I will take the risk.  I will play to win.

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