Tuesday, December 10, 2013
This morning I came in early to get a microphone ready for the United Methodist Women's meeting. I went into the closet in Anderson hall and looked for what I needed. It wasn't there so I had to go to the sacristy to get the microphone and stand. I decided that I would walk to the sanctuary to get there. The moment I opened the doors to the sanctuary it hit me. The smell of pine of a Christmas tree radiated throughout the space. I stopped in my tracks because I knew that our tree in the Sanctuary is fake. I took another deep breathe to make sure that I was really smelling pine. Sure enough the pine permeated my lungs. It was definitely a wonderful, opening presents on a Christmas morning, real Christmas tree pine smell. I started to look around to see where the smell might be coming from and then it hit me. The wreathes that are hanging on the walls are pine. They are real and I forgot about them.
I walked closer to them and the smell got stronger and stronger. As I got to the steps leading up toward the alter I stopped and looked up at both the wreaths and the tree. It was such a warm, wonderful feeling on such a cold, rainy winter's day. As I stood there I glanced down to my left and the manger scene got my eye. I stopped and sat down on the steps and studied the manger scene. I started to think about the smells that most of been coming from that stable long before Mary and Joseph even arrived. Just think of all the animals were dirty and obviously do what animals do. No one had time to clean the stable before Mary and Joseph got there. They arrived ready to give birth and had to do it in a stable. It's funny how the beautiful manger scenes can't give us the full experience of what it must of been like in a manger.
As I sat there and thought about it, something hit me. Maybe someone the Innkeeper or Innkeeper's wife went out and cut some fresh pine branches and brought them in and put them on the hay so that they brought a fresh smell to the stable. Maybe the manger was made out of cedar and even though it had been there for a while it still smelled fresh and clean.
I don't even know if cedar and pine trees were available in that area but it sure makes thinking about giving birth in a stable a little more tolerable. I hope your Advent season is filled with the smells that make Christmas enjoyable. Hopefully you don't live in a stable :)
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Everyone has some great and not so great moments when it comes to the holidays. We are often with family that we don't see very often so it is often hard to tell what is going to happen from one Thanksgiving to another. I was thinking back to my family's Thanksgivings and I came up with my top 5 Thanksgiving moments.
5. One year my Grandparents on my father's side came to Thanksgiving and decided that we would go to the cafeteria for Thanksgiving dinner. What a great experience having to wait in line to get your cafeteria turkey and dressing. Having someone from behind the counter yelling "Meat Veg -a -ta- ble Roll" at you is so much fun. The saving grace of that experience was the fact that it was a K and W and they had Chocolate Cream Pie. Don't go to dinner at the cafeteria for Thanksgiving. It is not a fun experience.
4. Another year we ate out. This time it was at a Holiday Inn buffet. This was actually an exciting and fun experience. You could eat as much as you wanted and try anything you wanted on the buffet line. It was nice to have the opportunity to try different things and enjoy time together without having to worry about cleaning up after. I love a traditional Thanksgiving experience but for 1 time it was a lot of fun and the food was really good. I am good with any Thanksgiving experience really as long as I get my mashed potatoes. I have to have those!
3. When we lived in Clemmons, NC we had A LOT of trees which in turn produced A LOT of leaves. I can remember one Thanksgiving in particular where we had to rake and move leaves all morning. It was hard work because we had to move all the leaves from the front of the yard to the natural areas and woods in the back yard. My brother, father, and I were out there for hours that Thanksgiving moving leaves. I can remember my aunt and uncle and cousins showing up but we couldn't stop, we had to keep going! My uncle even came out and gave us a hand. It was such hard work. The only thing that was worse than raking and moving leaves was when Dad would order mulch for the yard. Talk about hard work and the smell well that is a different story.
2. A couple of years ago I decided that when I got home to Blacksburg that I was going to make a pumpkin pie from scratch, well as close to scratch as canned pumpkin can get you. When I got to Blacksburg I stopped at the absolutely huge Kroger and bought the ingredients that I needed. After I got home and visited with my Mom and Dad for a bit I went into the kitchen and started to put my pie together. Everything seemed to be going well but I did notice that the pie was a little soupy when we put it in the oven. My Dad and I were sitting in the study watching Virginia Tech play basketball when we heard a scream from the kitchen. We both went running to see what had happen to mom. When we got to the kitchen there was pumpkin pie all over the floor. Mom had gone to check the pie and noticed it was still not firm and needed some more time to cook. Unfortunately she pulled the oven shelf out too far and the pie had fallen face down on the oven door and splattered all over the place. We did have to give Mom a hard time about it but Dad went out first think Thanksgiving morning and found us a pumpkin pie.
1. There was a Thanksgiving when we were kids that got us in a lot of trouble. Mom had been working hard in the kitchen all day and my brother, my father, and I were all three being brats and joking around too much. We were really getting on Mom's nerves. She was telling us to settle down and be quiet but we wouldn't do it. She finally got us to settle down enough to sit down for dinner. She asked my brother to say grace. We all bowed our heads and my brother said "Rub a dub dub thanks for the grub amen!" My Dad and I cracked up but mom threw here napkin onto the table and ran upstairs slamming the door to the bedroom and locking it. I remember Dad spending the next 30 minutes or so outside the door trying to get her to come back down. Needless to say we were good boys for the rest of the meal :) How did she do it with three boys in the house? I don't know but I love you Mom and I promise to say a better grace this Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Yesterday, Philip and I, went to the Duke verses UNC-Asheville basketball game. It was a lot of fun. After finding our parking spot (just one wrong turn), we made our way to our seats and watched both teams warm up. The game was close and a little sloppy at first but Duke began to get hot from the outside and hit some three pointers to start to pull away.
There was a series in the game where a player from Duke stole the ball and hit a layup, he followed that up with an emphatic dunk and then he nailed a three pointer. It was an awesome display of his abilities but here is where the problem lies. After he slammed the ball, he got cocky and did a macho walk toward the crowd under the basket. After hitting the three pointer he put his hands out in the shapes of guns and started shooting at the crowd who of course got loud and excited and shot right back at him. All this happened with Duke up 25 points on Asheville.
I understand that these are college kids and they get excited but I have never been a fan of a boastful athlete. I don't think there is a need for that cocky attitude and swagger after you dunk a basketball or hit a three pointer. I mean, aren't they supposed to be able to be able to do that? If he plays for Duke he should be able to hit those shots every game!
Tony Dungy says in his book Uncommon Life: Daily Challenge:
"Be confident in your God-given gifts and abilities, but always avoid pride. Trying to build yourself up will eventually bring you down. If you catch yourself with a "big head" today, deflate it by confessing your sin of pride to God."
I agree that you should be very confident in your God-given abilities but remember that they are God-given abilities. I know that you work hard to be the athlete that you are but you have been given the talents in that area (basketball, football, baseball, etc.) from God. He has blessed you and it is up to you use them to glorify him.
I know that Duke is going to have a great season and rightfully so because they have a great team. I wish them luck and I hope that Coach K can get some of that showboating under control because if he doesn't they are going to come across the wrong team that won't put up with it and the game could get ugly.
God doesn't sit up in heaven and have a cocky attitude or a swagger about him because he created the world. If anyone deserves to showboat it is God creator of all. Let's be humble, let's hit three pointers and dunk basketballs, but lets remember who gave us that ability and act accordingly!
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
A couple of months ago Danielle got a job at Chick Fil A in order to start working toward buying a car. She got the job at the Chick Fill A at North Hills. I like that Chick Fil A a lot, it is one of my favorite restaurants. While working there Danielle became friends with a senior at Sanderson named Josh Abbott. Josh has worked there for over a year and a half. After getting to know Josh, Danielle invited Josh to come to our youth group because honestly Josh wasn't too happy with his. He agreed and came to his first youth group about two months ago.
It didn't take long for Josh to fit in. He was very funny and a really nice guy. We hit it off very quickly. After only being there for two youth groups, Josh offered to go to the grocery store and buy over $50.00 worth of canned goods for our feed the 5000 can drive. He has such a loving and giving heart. The more he came to youth group the more I liked him. He came and helped with the Feed the 5000 program and helped with the yard sale. At the yard sale I talked him into coming to Pilgrimage even though it was his birthday weekend. The next day he gave me the $65.00 to pay for Pilgrimage.
Josh continued to come to youth events and started to build relationships with the other youth. He even had a count down clock on his cell phone to the start of Pilgrimage. He tweeted about the event and how excited he was that it was almost here. Pilgrimage finally came and Josh really enjoyed it. He worshiped with us, sung with us, and loved the experience. On Saturday we had a cake for his birthday at our tailgate. Even through he was fighting a cold and cough and could of been miserable, he didn't let it get him down or ruin his experience.
I am really impressed by Josh. He is a down to earth young man that knows what he wants and what he believes. He is strong in his faith and loyal to all of his friends. I know that if I asked Josh to do something he would do it and wouldn't question me. I loved watching him sing and see the emotion in his face as he worshiped. Josh knows what he believes and doesn't waver from his beliefs. I wish that I had that kind of faith at his age.
Josh wants to go to Liberty after he graduates from High School. He wants to continue his faith journey and recently started a blog called: God Drives a Truck: http://goddrivesatruck.blogspot.com/. I am excited about rest of this year and continuing to build a relationship with him. I am excited to watch him continue to grow! I know that it will be a short time before he leaves for school but I can tell you that he has already enriched my life!
Thanks Danielle for bringing Josh-o!
Monday, November 11, 2013
This weekend we went to Pilgrimage. Pilgrimage is a wonderful youth event where over 5000 youth gather together to worship through music, skits, videos, testimonies from youth, and a keynote speaker. It is amazing to be a part of and one of my favorite trips to take the youth on. A couple of years ago we enacted a no cell phones on youth trips policy. This policy was put into place because at the time the youth were more interested in their cell phones than hanging out with the people that were with them on the trip.
I catch some grief or it now and then from the youth but for the most part they understand and comply. At pilgrimage this year there were a lot of youth with cell phones around us. They were on Twitter and Facebook, sending text messages, and making calls. It was okay when the actual event wasn't going on but you would think it would stop when the music started. It didn't. It continued. It even continued through out everything that was going on. When there were youth up on stage providing their personal stories of how they came to find Christ there were youth on their cell phones and talking. When the keynote speaker was on stage sharing the message, there were youth on their cell phones.
It was very distracting and disrespectful. What I didn't understand was that there were adults with all these groups and they did nothing to stop their youth from using their cell phones. In fact many adults were on their cell phones as well. It was truly a shame.
Why do I tell you this? I tell you this because I wasn't the only one that noticed the disrespectful use of cell phones and talking that was happening during the event. Our youth noticed it. They would tell me after each session how distracting and disrespectful the other youth were who were using their cell phones. They even mentioned the adults on their phones. They couldn't believe that they were engaged in the message that our dynamic speaker was bringing.
I know that I made the no cell phone rule but when the youth themselves see first hand why that rule is in place it validates it. I think it was wonderful that all those youth were there and hopefully through their talking and cell phone usage they still received a message. I know that our youth did. I can tell by the tears that were shed during the Saturday night session that our youth heard the message and accepted it.
I know that you can find God in your cell phone but when he is right in front of you with open arms, put the cell phone away!
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Do you fish? My Grandpa taught me how to fish when I was a kid, but I really didn't get into it until I was an adult. One of my favorite things to do when I fish is to walk out onto the pier around dusk and throw a casting net off the side. A casting net is used to basically catch fish and shrimp that you can use as bait. In order for it to work properly you have to make sure that it casts out flat across the water so that it covers a large area and you get the best chance of catching something. In order to do it right I was taught to put a corner of it in your mouth to help you fold it over your arm so that you can get an even cast. When I think about it I can still taste the salt water that permeates from the cord of the net. If you are able to cast the net wide it will cover a large portion of the bottom of the ocean floor and you should be able to catch a lot of bait. This is really not a simple thing to do. It is really hard to cast a wide net so that you cover a large area. Casting a perfect net is a technique that can only be mastered by practicing it.
Many of you know Cassidy the Director of Children and Family ministries at church. She is a beautiful wonderful woman with a loving heart and a caring soul. I have the privilege of working hand in hand with Cassidy as we work to minister to the youth and children of our church. A couple of times recently I have had some issues and needed someone to talk to. Cassidy has been there to listen. She is truly engaged in the conversation and often will follow up that conversation with a note, text, or by just coming by to say Hi.
Cassidy deeply cares about the people around her whether they are children in her program, adults in the church, or my precious youth. She knows when a person needs love and support and she makes that person the center of her attention. She covers a wide area of people yet she connects with each one of them.
This is a prime example of how someone casts a wide net. Cassidy knows how to throw her net perfectly without even realizing that she does it. If we could all engage with people the way that she does, we would be able to throw a wide net. Throwing a wide net in the world today is important for our personal and spiritual growth. We are able to reach so many people and truly be involved in their lives. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus when we reach out, listen, or comfort people.
In fishing we need to cast a wide net to catch as much food or bait as possible. In life we cast a wide net so that we can spiritually and emotionally feed those that are around us. We invest in others because they invest in us. We are called to cast a wide net so that we can impact as many people as possible. I hope that we each can make an effort to be more open to those around us and to try and cast our net wide. If you need to know what that looks like I know someone who can show you!
Saturday, October 26, 2013
On offense there are two ways to move the ball up and down the field, running the ball with the tailback or throwing the ball to either the Tight End, Tailback or the one who catches most of the passes, the Wide receiver. The Wide Receiver lines up on the outside ends of the offensive line and runs different patterns down the field based on the play that was called. Sometimes the Wide Receiver even has to block instead of trying to catch a pass. The most important thing to a Wide Receiver is his hands. A Wide Receiver catches short passes as well as long passes. The biggest stat that tells how good a Wide Receiver is outside of how many touchdowns they have is their YAC. YAC stands for yards after catch meaning the yards that a Wide Receiver gains after he catches the ball. The better a Wide Receiver's YAC the more valuable he is.
Are you a Wide Receiver when it comes to your Spiritual Journey?
What is your YAC?
The spiritual Wide Receiver is a person that is open to new experiences and different ways of worship and study. He is willing to go the distance and try everyway possible to increase his faith. Often the Wide Receiver will take information that is given to them through bible study or the sermon during worship and go deeper. They will study it and learn as much as they can. They will work on their YAC as they continue to gain yards of spiritual growth by putting in extra time and energy after the initial play. The spiritual Wide Receiver uses their hands all the time. Whether that is in prayer or packing food for a mission, the spiritual Wide Receiver is always looking for a way to be the hands of God.
The spiritual Wide Receiver listens to the play and goes out onto the field of life and plays the role he needs to play based on that play. If God expects him to block so that other team members can find their way he will do it. If God expects him to go deeper he will do it because he wants to always be looking for ways to increase his faith.
When we accept the role of Wide Receiver on our faith journey we are accepting a role of constant spiritual growth. When in this role we want to learn as much as we can and share it with the world. Our faith because a valuable asset and we use it to go out and teach others. When you study the bible or listen to sermon as a Wide Receiver it is not enough to just catch the message right then and there. To a Wide Receiver our YAC is so valuable. It means that we are going deeper and are willing to push and fight for spiritual knowledge. We have to be willing to catch that short pass but try with everything we have to take it all the way to the End Zone.