The past year has presented some new opportunities for myself. I became a father on June 24 to my beautiful daughter Camille. August 19 found me in front of my home church being given the opportunity beyond anything I could have dreamed. The position of college and young adults pastor at Westside.
I start with a quick reflection on those two major events because today is my fathers birthday. What a great example he has been for me in both of the arenas I have just entered. Some quick stories:
Growing up I witnessed the impact my father had on others. He was always available. At times people would take advantage of him or treat him unfairly and when I would want to snap he would talk me off the ledge. He would remind me of his calling and why he did this. He pointed me and others towards Christ.
I was four years old and walked out of my preschool class with my art project in hand. It was a red heart cut out of construction paper. I gave “my heart” to my dad. The guy was my hero. Fast forward 19 years later. The day after my wedding I’m sitting with Charity and my parents over lunch. My dad looks at Charity and says “I have something I’d like to give to you.” He reaches in his wallet (“yes! He’s paying the bill!” my initial thought) and pulls out a worn out folded up piece of paper. He hands it to Charity and says “for 23 years I have been holding onto his heart and now I want to give it to you.”. It was the paper heart.
That’s my dad. He was there to teach me with words and action what a husband, father, and minister of the gospel should look like. I often get told I am a younger version of my father. I take that as a compliment. Happy birthday to the greatest dad the world has ever seen.
I am a fan of weddings. It may not come across as the most manly thing to say but it would be a lie to communicate it any other way. I am someone who enjoys being apart of “moments”. It is why every time I watch a baseball game my first thought is “I may be watching history today”. Being a witness of a moment that you can talk about for years is exciting. For me it reminds me of the sense of “awe” I am filled with in regards to God and my understanding of God. I feel small and as if I am in a moment bigger than I or those around me truly understand at the time. Weddings are very much the same.
The chapel doors open and the bride stands in the door way. Every eye goes to the bride. Mine go to the groom. His face tells it all. This woman that he has seen for countless hours before has never looked quite so radiant. Her smile never quite as charming. Her eyes never seemed so full of life. The mans face shows that. Its overwhelming. He can not hide it.
Seeing my sister (yes, she is technically my sister -in-law but she is most definitely my sister) walk down the aisle was beautiful. A woman who I have become extremely thankful for. Her friendship opened the door to meet my ultimate best friend (my wife, her sister). She was walking to a man who has made it known not just by his words but by his actions how much he cares for her. A man that is too nice at times and while he does not completely deserve her (like I said, I look at her like my sister), I could not have found a better man for her. He is a friend and a brother.
This weekend was a beautiful reminder for me of the beauty of “moments”. Experiencing them, embracing them, and reflecting on them. Seeing two beautiful people commit to lift each other up for the rest of their lives is beautiful. Congrats to Jason and Joy Lynch and thank you for letting me be apart.
April 1st is traditionaly a day of pranks and jokes. I have been on both ends of the spectrum. It really gives one the excuse to get away with things that would never work 364 days a year. As enjoyable as pranks and all can be on this day, the first thing that comes to mind for me is that it is my mothers birthday. My mom is no joke (see what I tried to do there?). This year stands out to me more than ever before. It is the first time I celebrate my mothers brithday as a parent of my own. Seeing my little girl grow and develop into who God created her to be is a beautiful process. I find myself wanting to be there for every little thing she does, watch every crawl, and listen to every gaggle is a whole new experience. Yet, it feels familiar. This has to be in large part to the life I have observed when watching my mother. She has always been there for every step of the way. She taught me how to throw a baseball (the mechanics. The lack of ability was my fault), how to pursue Christ, and to love others. When I was looking for my wife, my mom was my standard. When I think of being a parent, my mom is my standard.
Thank you mother for seriously being more than any child could ever deserve.You are a beautiful woman who makes our world a truly better place. There is no one like you. Happy Birthday!
Love, Your Eldest Fool
Social networks have brought me some of the most entertaining moments and conversations over the last few years. Whether it is banter between myself and my brother-in-law about sports, creating fake accounts from the perspective of bald spots, or spending ten minutes to think of a clever status to see how many “likes” I can get, I enjoy social networks. Yet, today, on November 7, 2012, I do not.
I understand, the man you voted for either achieved victory or he did not. It is typically how these things go. Like in sports, when your team wins you celebrate and when you lose you grow angry and frustrated (I know this all to well. Go Jaguars…). We invest into our politicians. We buy into the ideologies that they align with our viewpoints and naturally, our viewpoints are best for the world. It is how this whole process goes. I am aware of this.
Today’s readings on sites like Facebook or Twitter will leave one confused. I see a lot of people who have apparently placed their faith, vision, and calling in the hands of men. Circumstances have dictated their view of life and their understanding of God’s calling on their life. Followers of Christ are disqualifying themselves today. They are crossing the line from politically active to politically consumed.
We are called to abide in Christ. Abide can be understood like string on a bow that is not being pulled back. Abiding in Christ frees us from the tension. The tension of feeling unsettled with the actions of this world. I am reminded of Psalm 46. The Psalmist offers a word that many followers of Christ need today. Our present circumstances should not change our understanding of God. Verse 10 of Psalm 46 is perhaps the most recognizable, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Oh Christian, be still. Find your peace in Christ. Let go of your circumstances. Let go of your temporary vision and see today as an opportunity. A chance to reflect Christ and demonstrate that our calling is not dictated by who wins the presidency.
“Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling… Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46
There are two ways of recommending true religion and virtue in the world, which God hath made use of: the one is by doctrine and precept; the other by instance and example. – Jonathan Edwards, 1749
It has become increasingly evident to me the influence one holds over those around. Society tells us that celebrities, athletes, musicians, etc. are worthy of being influenced by. More than ever before, our culture clings to the words and actions of anyone who is captured on camera. I have experienced this kind of “superficial”influence. I discussed it a few posts ago when talking about Chipper Jones. However, the influence I hope to have over those around me is one that I still draw from when I was a teenager.
Having always grown up in church I was very exposed to Sunday school teachers and other men and women who played various roles. You begin to pick up on tendencies of everyone. My mind was one that poked holes in situations. I always looked at people and thought of ways I could challenge them. Having a father like I did, I recognized the standard of genuine Christ followers. In my mind, few people met that standard. If I felt like they did not, I would adopt the mindset that they offered me very little in the way of a challenge. Enter Jim Gibbs.
A little background may paint a clearer picture. The church I was attending handed out Metamucil and Geritol in the offering plates (may or may not be true). It was a smaller church. As a 9th grader, I was the oldest of the youth. Our youth pastor decided to bring in a church elder to speak to us every week on Wednesday nights. His name was Jim Gibbs. He did not have a dyed soul patch, affliction shirt, or a tattoo. He did not use amazing visuals, trendy speech, or video sermons. No, Jim Gibbs was unique. He would bring in his cracked and worn out leather Bible, pen marks on the pages, and we would speak. He spoke with a tone of humility yet, conviction. A voice that sounded weak but projected mighty words. Mighty words from a mighty man. It was this man that pushed me. His joy found in Christ was evident. It was genuine. It was influential. I would anticipate our Wednesday night meetings because of his passion. Passion to see others draw closer to Christ. He epitomized leadership.
Jim Gibbs and his wife recently started attending the same church as I do. He still has that look in his eye everytime I hug him. Age has not diminished his passion. Neither has it diminished his influence.
I wanted to take time and recognize this faithful brother because it should serve as a moment of encouragement for all who walk in faith. His influence could perhaps provoke thoughts and memories of those who have influenced you. Share that story. It reminds us as followers of Christ of the standard and that others are watching us. What kind of influence are we being?
They say “time flies when you’re having fun”. It’s a cliché statement. One that is overused and often times misused. Yet, its spot on. You see, October 16th will mark three years of marriage for Charity and me. The month of October will bring our relationship to a total of seven years. I look back and find myself saying “time flies when you’re having fun”.
It serves as little surprise to me that our relationship has been covered in comedic moments. We laugh at how our entire relationship began (I lied about having another date just to make her jealous and sure enough it worked. We laugh at this now.), walking down St. George street and listening to Charity pronounce the restaurant names (Rendezvous), or the infamous “fallen candle” as she walked down the aisle at our wedding. That candle moment is one the best memories I have of my wife. It is the day she has planned for over a year. A once in a lifetime moment as she is walking down the aisle with her father to be married to her extremely handsome and charming husband (that last part may be how I imagine her seeing the moment). I am not an emotional person. Tears do not fall from my eyes too often. Yet, when those doors opened and there stood my bride I felt the lip quiver and the eyes moisten. Most beautiful moment of my life. I am on the verge of a breakdown then it happens. She knocks over a candle. It is in this moment where my bride shone the brightest. She smiled, shrugged her shoulders, found my eyes, and moved on like nothing had occurred. That is her in her truest form. She smiles, finds my eyes, and assures me that all is well.
So as I sit in 2012 and look back, I am amazed at the journey we have walked. I consider myself beyond blessed. I shake my head, smile, and think time flies when you’re having fun. Happy 3rd anniversary my darling.
I am not sure if it was the fact that you were from the Jacksonville area. Maybe, it was the World Championship you helped the Braves capture in the mid-90s. Perhaps, the MVP season amidst an era of performance enhancing drugs is what did it for me.
As a baseball loving adolescent, Chipper Jones was everything I wanted to be. The guy played baseball the way I understood it needed to be played. He never seemed to walk off the field with a clean jersey. More than that, he made me enjoy the game. Hearing Mets fans chant “Larry” (his real name) and knowing it was cause they despised him so much based on how good he was, especially against the Mets. Their villain was my hero.
One of my greatest memories involving Chipper happened when I was 10. My family and I had gone to a Braves/Marlins game. Every kid was given a Braves hat. I was dead set on getting #10′s autograph. My dad, knowing how much I idolized Chipper, takes a glance at the extremely long lines around the dugout and figures the chances of getting an autograph were about a million to one ( I know, I know “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”). My father takes my Braves hat grabs a pen and signs it “Chipper Jones #10″, looks at me and says “Your friends will never know the difference.” Sure, it was not the real deal. True, my friends would not have known the difference. I knew though.
October 5, 2012 will have been the last time any of us could have witnessed #10 suit up. The last time “Crazy Train” is played before an at bat. The last time I find myself trying to guess at what the tattoo on his right arm is. The last time my childhood hero digs into the batters box. The beauty of sports is that 2013 will offer new hope, a new season, with new things to cheer about but there will never be another #10 to this guy. Thanks for the memories Chipper.