Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Weeds 'n Things

This is my favorite time of year! I love pretty much everything about it--cool mornings and warm afternoons, trees and flowers in bloom, Daylight Savings Time, fresh fruits and vegetables, outdoor grilling, shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, Easter, spring break, The Final Four (Go Heels!), The Masters, and the list just keeps on going...

At this time of year, I also find myself getting excited about "the potential" for my yard. Dead branches, brown grass, and piles of leaves are enough to have me jazzed about transforming my lawn into something that resembles the likes of Augusta National.

So this past week as I was putting out fertilizer, trimming shrubs, and trying to make scizzor-straight lines with my lawn mower, I was quickly reminded that the five months of winter are just long enough for fantasy to overtake reality. Instead of the lawn of distinction that I dream of, I find myself facing endless weeds, crabgrass, and dandelions. It doesn't take long for me to remember that they don't go away. Regardless of how much weed killer is applied and how many taproots are pulled, the job is endless.

You would think as a pastor that the echos of Genesis would ring loudly enough to keep my hopes and dreams at bay:

And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
and in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

So with many months of weeds and sweat ahead, my prayer is that I will never forget the magnitude of sin, and that my real hope will be for a new "weed-free" heaven and earth.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Turn it Green!

Oh yes! St. Patrick's Day! As a man of Irish heritage, I always get excited about this annual celebration. However, my soul is saddened at the mockery our country (and others) have made out of such a meaningful man and his true legacy, which should give us all reason to celebrate.

This past Sunday, I asked the 5th and 6th graders at our church to tell me what they knew about St. Patrick's Day. Keeping with culture, they rattled off the things that have become so closely associated with this March holiday. Wearing green, getting pinched, clovers, and leprechauns. And before we chuckle too loudly, my guess is that most adults would be able to add parades, corned beef, and green beer to the list. What has been lost is the major impact that this one man had on a nation.

Born in Britain around 400 A.D., Patrick was raised in a wealthy family. Tragically, he was kidnapped and shipped off to Ireland where he was a slave for over seven years. After being rescued and returned to Britain, Patrick became a Christian. He then felt led by God to spend the rest of his days as a missionary to Ireland--a land which at the time had little Christian influence. He spent the majority of his adult life loving the very people he was once enslaved to, and telling them about the great love of Jesus. (Does that story sound at all familiar?)

As someone who comes from a long lineage of Christians, I am very grateful for the faithfulness of St. Patrick and his unending commitment to share and live out the gospel with the people of Ireland. So this year, as you don your green, watch your parade, pinch your friend, or toss back your Guinness, be sure to do it with an understanding of the true greatness of St. Patrick.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

little things mean a lot

I hear the phrase often, but I don't always "get it." And at times I believe it, but other times..hmmm...I am not so sure. But despite my ambivilence, the reality for me (like most of us), is that I am a product of my culture. And if you haven't noticed lately, this culture is all about me and all about now. Microwaves, instant everything, text messaging, live this and live that, drive-thru, drive-up, drive-by, fast food, fast cash, lose weight fast, get rich fast, interactive TV, everything on demand, and the list goes on and on. Simple ideas such as patience, diligence, routine, discipline, and process seem to fit more with re-runs of "The Walton's" than they do with life in the 21st Century.

However, this past weekend, through the words of our pastor, Bill White, I was reminded that simple things actually do mean a lot, and they really do make a difference. It's just that most of the time we don't realize it until weeks, months and sometimes years later. So recently I have been evaluating my life experiences, and I have found plenty to validate this truth that things in the moment that seem simple, minute, and almost pointless over time produce life-long memories, create limitless opportunities, and make a profound difference in the lives of many. Looking back, here are a few that have meant the most to me:

- my dad always hugging and kissing my mom
- my dad reading the Bible to us during breakfast
- the use of "please" "thank you" "ma'am" and "sir"
- family, friends, and youth leaders showing up to my sporting events
- my friends hanging with me when I needed them most
- buddy days and family nights
- family votes

Here are a few that I am trying to focus on now:

- always telling my wife and kids that I love them and am proud of them
- praying daily with and for Kelly and the kids
- writing a quick note or e-mail to say thank-you
- talking to God about whatever is on my mind, even when I don't feel like it
- letting the kids win from time to time (this one is really hard!)
- smelling a cup of coffee before I take the first sip
- enjoying time my kids, even when it is late and I am tired
- reading the Bible to my kids even when they don't pay attention
- enjoying God's creation everyday
- saying "please" "thank you" "ma'am" and "sir"
- finding ways to encourage others
- piggy-back rides, even when my back hurts
- engaging a student when I would rather not
- smiling, laughing, and being ridiculous

I realize that a lot on this list may seem silly and even pointless. However, if history is right, I believe that this time next week, year, or lifetime the efforts will prove to mean so much more!