Friday, September 30, 2011

Virgin Falls

You ever have one of those days when you're reminded of what the simple things in life should be and why you should simplify your own life immediately upon the completion of the day or, at the very least, at the close of business for the specific event of which you might be in the middle?

A four and a half mile hike into the woods to see a 100+ foot waterfall appear from some hidden water source at the top of its descent and then disappear into the ground at its hungry base is an incredible way to have a wake up call with your wife.

Thursday was a perfect day to go into the woods: blue skies with an occasional white, puffy cloud, fall colors interwoven among the branches of towering trees, the rustle of fallen leaves under our feet as we made our way to our destination, and silence ... The silence that can only be found in the deepest parts of the forest - the silence that makes a twig sound like a sonic boom when it snaps under your foot.

The time away from "civilization" makes me appreciate things like that because right now I'm in the Imaging Center at CRMC with my Dad who's finding out how spread his Hodgkin's is. The silence - when it is quiet - is not reassuring. It's almost threatening because of the enemy which is being scanned - the fear that will always come with the word "cancer."

Some of the noise that is present is elevator music ... As if that genre of music is reassuring in the least. I love Edwin McCain's "I'll Be" but its words and melody do nothing to comfort the uncertainty in my mind about what's going to happen with my Dad. I have faith that he will be fine. God is good ... And his WILL will be done so there's no fear ... But that certainty only comes by faith in Jesus Christ!

All that to say ... Go out into the woods. Get back to your core

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Meeting Chaplain Strong

So I'm sitting at the O'Charley's in Lebanon waiting to have a face-to-face with my Chaplain Recruiter. About two years ago in this same restaurant I met my National Guard Chaplain Recruiter for the first time ... Ah, memories.

This has been a challenging few weeks in regards to my package. I've stayed on top of getting the required documents to the recruiter but inevitably when you have to share your fate with others, others may not have the passion for your dreams that you do. You'd think I'd learn. God's still teaching me a lot about faith and patience: faith that He will remain faithful to what he's called me to do and He will complete his work and patience with those who He has placed in my path on the way to finishing what He started.

Praying for his will to be done should be closely followed by asking for the grace and strength to be obedient to his will.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Proverbs 27:15-16

September 27, 2011

Proverbs 27:15-16
“A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike, to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand.”
Proverbs 27:17
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

I’ve read this for years as separate issues: a quarrelsome wife as a completely different set of verses from “iron sharpens iron.” But today, for some reason, God spoke to me, through these verses, in a way that really blew my mind. I understand what the King was saying about a quarrelsome wife. For those of you who have been, are, or are planning to be married, you know what I’m talking about when I say sometimes you quarrel with your wife. Sometimes you might even say that your wife nags you (a continual dripping on a rainy day). Have you ever tried to rein her in? That’s the other part of the verse. Doing that is like “restraining the wind” or like trying to hold oil – any liquid – in your hand. Let me ask you guys: does your wife think you’re the continual dripping, quarrelsome, or about as able to restrain as the wind?
That series of questions sets up the next verse: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Having been to combat and having served a number of years with the military, I have come to truly appreciate this verse. There is an unexplainable bond that comes between men or women who have shed blood, sweat, and tears together. The same thing goes for those of us who play team sports. The shared experience can never be duplicated or replicated outside the bonds of those individuals who were present during the experience no matter to what extent the details are shared about that experience with non-participants.
I share my experience of combat more readily with other “green suiters” than with my wife because the ones with whom I would share have shed their blood as well. Translate that back to regular, everyday life. There are situations when a man needs encouragement from other men and only other men will be able to exhort their brother. Likewise, times prevent men from understanding what a woman experiences and women should find other women who can empathize with them more readily than a man.
The challenge then becomes finding that individual or individuals who can hold you accountable as well as build you up throughout your life. I’ve been fortunate on a few occasions to find such men. I hope to experience that again soon.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Galatians 6:9 - Doing Good

September 26, 2011

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” – Galatians 6:9

This was the word of the day sent out to some of the guys in the unit. It spoke to me today because it seems that often times – probably more often than not – I am quick to give up on doing what’s good. Honestly, it becomes a pain in my rear. I have to laugh at myself at times because the “motivator” in me hears the words that I often say to others: “Humans are like water. We take the path of least resistance.” We are … let me clear that one up … I am a lazy man when it comes to doing what’s good. It’s tough. It’s inconvenient most of the time. But …
There always has to be a “but.” The Apostle Paul reminds me often about suffering through doing what’s good, what’s right. “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:3-5).
I think most of us would agree that sometimes you have to suffer to do what’s good. It’s tough. Ask anyone who’s in a committed relationship. The hardest part of being married to me, for instance, is suffering through every day crap and crud to get to what’s good – to get to that little pony in the room full of poo. Just ask my wife. I’m brutal. I’m tough to live with much less a person with whom to have a personal conversation. But you know what? She suffers through the flotsam and jetsam that is “our” marriage and her efforts will eventually pay back huge dividends.
Thanks God for daily reminders of who you are, whose we are, and who we are called to serve – called to suffer for – in doing what’s good.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Valley View Two

Before I was even finished going over what I was going to say to the campers this weekend they started showing up. At first they were apprehensive as most people are in a new setting but soon enough the observatory walls that they had put up to gauge new faces started coming down.

We did a quick ice breaker and then I was given the floor to share Phase One of the "Self-Image" series. It was brutal. I haven't spoken to a small group of kids about God in quite a while. These kids were good kids but they had just been dropped off at a camp that none if us had been to before and it wad up to me to capture their interest for an hour with my snappy talk and engaging games ...

Maybe you aren't as critical about your performance as I am - and you're lucky if you aren't - but I felt like a tool. It was an uphill battle both times I talked. Of course it is a bit difficult to reign in kids after they've been zipping through the forest and climbing up a 50 ft. cedar pool only to jump off and ring a bell - Quantum Leap.

(Angus just woke up ... It's his birthday ... More to follow)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Valley View

Been here about 30 or 40 minutes. Beautiful place hidden somewhere between I-65 on the way to Kentucky and the heart Music City. Actually, it's only about 20 miles North of Nashville.

I walked around the lake first thing when I got here ... Kind of shallow but it's home to a monster bass. Photos from a distance don't do it justice.

So folks are starting to come in. This one will be short. More to follow ...

Colossians 3:23

Friday, September 23, 2011

Self-Image @ Poet's

September 23, 2011


            I’m sitting in Poet’s which is a town square coffee shop in Cookeville, Tennessee. Tomorrow morning I will head to a camp called Valley View to speak to kids about self-image. For anyone who has known me for an extended period of time, I am probably one of the last people who I would ask to do something like this. It’s not that I have a poor self-image; it’s just that I don’t know how to successfully encourage others with their own images.
            I could possibly be a coach or a drill sergeant but a positive, motivating influence over a teenager to ensure that he or she might feel better about whom they are is a stretch. That’s pretty funny coming from a guy who worked youth ministry the first 12 years of his “professional” ministry career.
            Maybe … it’s more about self-worth? I don’t know. What I do know – when it comes to self-image – is that we were created in the image of God. “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us” (Gen. 1:26). God said that about this incredible creature called man that He was going to create to “reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground” (Gen. 1:26). The next verse says that He created man and woman in his image.
            On the surface that could come across as trite but the reality is that we – Adam and Eve – were created with the blueprints of perfection! Perfection is in our DNA. For those of us who call Jesus Lord and Savior, we understand that the fall has tainted that perfection but I wholeheartedly believe that the blueprints are still somewhere deep down inside us all. It’s a matter of figuring out where they reside. It’s a matter of coming to grips that the architect and engineer who can read those prints is God.

            When’s the last time you read Psalm 139?

            Let me remind you of God’s brilliance and love for his creation with just the first six verses:

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


September 20, 2011

Tonight I began facilitating my first course of Financial Peace University. Of the 12 who said that they would be attending, only four showed: one retired Service Member, a SSG, a MAJ, and a LTC. Despite having small numbers at our FPU preview session, I was really encouraged and excited about the possibilities of what might happen in our lives if we choose to follow where Dave is leading and has already been.
            One of the things that Dave mentions in the preview is the reality that even though you might get 98% of it, truth by its very definition is only truth if it’s 100%.  I absolutely agree with that statement. Dr. Don Ragland (Ragland & Riley Vet. Clinic) challenged me to think that way when he was discussing evolution and intelligent design with our youth group. He said something to the effect that all truth – any truth for that matter – will lead to God. I absolutely agree with that statement as well.
            The point being this: Jesus clearly says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” To finish that verse (John 14:6) He continues by saying, “No man comes to the Father but through me.” The argument for and against absolute truths has gone on for a long time now but the fact remains that unless otherwise impeded by some other entity (like a suspension bridge) or superseded by some other law (like with an airplane), gravity is gravity and what goes up must come down.
            So what does all this have to do with learning how to “live like no one else so that you can live like no one else?” I’m excited for those of us who have taken a chance at finding the correct azimuth again when it comes to how we manage our money. Cheer for us while we go on this little adventure.

The page listens to me without bias. J

Monday, September 19, 2011

Veterans' Chapel

Don't you love it when God gives you a vision?

9/11 rocked my world like no other date in history ... except my proposal / wedding to Amanda and the birth of each of my children, Sophia and Angus. Nothing else has shaped me or made my path so direct as 9/11.

That being said, despite the calling God put on my life on that day, there have been some areas within the course of the last 10 years about which I knew nothing. But that's a good thing. God doesn't call us to walk by sight ... He calls us to walk by faith and we work that out as we walk on that faith journey.

Translate that to blue-collar speak ... and what we have is the vision or objective that we work towards by setting goals, working to those goals, reaching those goals, and then readjusting fire to set a new series of goals for greater achievement ... right? Well, almost.

Walking by faith simply means to trust that something hope will happen ... believe will happen ... will, in fact, occur. That's the beauty of faith: you want it to happen and with everything in you, you pray, work towards, and hope beyond hope (if there even is a thing) that "This too shall [come to] pass."

All that to say this: Veterans Chapel is the next phase of my faith walk.

More to follow ...