Sunday, August 19, 2007

MONTANA!





I've always been intrigued by explorers. As a kid I used to love to go to places where I thought no one had been. I'd read about people who explored the New World, Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett. I also often thought about guys like Lewis and Clark who took off into uncharted lands back in the 1800's. This past week I went with a group of men from my church to Lewsitown MT. Yes its named after Lewis of the explorer duo. Its the geographic center of MT. Its in the vastness of Big Sky country and oh my how big that country is. We saw literally 1000's of deer. I saw a herd of Elk 300 strong coming down out of the mountains to graze on prairie grass. I saw rainbow trout that weighed 6 lbs. I met amazingly kind people that love the creation that God has so generously given us.

Our journey was purposeful. We went out to help int eh construction of a church out there. Central Baptist Church is building a new place of gathering and as you might imagine funds are a bit tight. So they have relied on volunteer help all summer, from the framing all the way to what we did, the sheetrock. I'm not sure if you've ever hung a piece of sheetrock but its 4'x12' and weighs about 96lbs per sheet. We hung walls and most frightening, the ceiling in the main sanctuary. At the top of the cathedral ceiling it was about 22 feet vertically to a very hard concrete floor. We had to use movable lifts that have scissor mechanisms. They are kind of like a portable elevator. The only problem is that they feel very unstable when the reach maximum height. Add a 4x12 piece of sheetrock and 3 men and you have a recipe for trembling legs. The job got finished however and in total 350 boards were installed. I'm very proud of the work that our team did.

I suspect what I'm most proud of is the men from our church. Jeremy Harrell started this group for men who love the outdoors in the last year or so. God gave him a vision for this and the men just keep rolling in. Then this opportunity came up and 13 guys signed up to go. They all took vacation time to go. They sacrificed what could have been a week at the beach with their families to give away. We had a church that supported us all the way helping us pay for the trip, even with a ride to and from the airport. We are relatively young as a group of believers. Reaching out beyond our little NC community has been something that has been hit and miss. But I sense a renewed commitment among our guys to give away their lives. Our trip to Montana will be a great stepping stone for building purpose and confidence in future trips. My dream is to see a church in Cleveland NC that not only cares about the community it serves but the world that is out there. Short term projects like this generate energy for doing more. Ultimately a project like this is about one thing and that is the Kingdom of God. Christ established his church 2000 years ago and the book of Acts chronicles that growth in the 1st century. That first group of believers was made up of people just like us just like you, regular folks that had been changed by the love of a risen Savior. At the end of the book of Acts if you read it, you'll notice there's no real ending point, its kind of a cliffhanger. There are 28 chapters in that book. I like to think our trip was part of the 29th chapter of Acts and we are still writing today. And tomorrow's section still needs to written.
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Working

It has been almost 2.5 years since I strapped on my tool belt and headed off to work in a truck early in the morning. Its mid summer here, its humid and its hot. The morning air is really thick and sticky. The dew is so heavy on the grass like it rained. I've been working this week with my friends Eric and Hank. We've been building a deck and doing some remodeling for some folks. The one thing I've noticed is that with all the training I did in the Army, the running, the road marching, the push ups and the sit ups, I have found that those exercises do not translate very well with doing carpentry labor. My back is screaming! It could be that I'm getting old too. I've noticed that my legs fatigue faster than they used to as well. Climbing up ladders all day takes the spring out of my step. I remember learning how to work from my dad and grandfather. I hated splitting wood and mowing grass and cleaning up job sites when I was a kid. But one thing I have rediscovered is the joy of a hard days work, where you are just physically spent after accomplishing something productive. I suspect its part of that creative nature that God has fingerprinted on us. I looked it up and the word "work" or some form of it is used in 513 verses in the Bible. From Genesis to James the Bible speaks of God's creative work in Creation to His his creative work in His people. It speaks of the work of craftsmen. It proclaims that the work of people glorify God. So could it be that building a deck that someone enjoys or putting up a piece of crown moulding is in essence a creative act that glorifies God? I believe it is. I believe we are also walking in the image of our creator when we rest and look at what has been accomplished. When we are tired and say, "I'm glad that's over, but it sure does look good." The Bible is clear on one point that in all things that we do we are to glorify God by the excellence of our work and the excellence of our rest in what has been accomplished.
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The songs of life- Thanks to mom

My home was filled with music and people growing up. Mom loved music and can play an assortment of instruments but her favorites are th...