Friday, December 30, 2011

New Blog Post: CH (LTC) Dave Spears


Dave and his lovely wife Wanda  

Hi folks and happy New Year

Yesterday Tammy and I went Sanford NC for the funeral of my friend CH (LTC) Dave Spears. I worked with Dave at FT Bragg on my last assignment. He entered heaven on Christmas Day after a yearlong fight with brain cancer.

At the funeral there was a host of friends, colleagues and even a general or two paying tribute to a life well lived but more importantly to a God who saves. 

Dave loved to hunt, fish and make knives. He was not a touchy feely type at all! Probably why he made a great chaplain to the hardened men of Special Forces. 

Dave surrendered his life to Jesus in the late 70's and not long after that gave his life to the ministry, bible college and seminary.

He worked his way through both undergrad and his master’s degree with the ultimate goal of becoming a chaplain in the Army. He did so 16 years ago at the age of 36.

Dave led countless soldiers to Christ, deployed 3 times both to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Special Forces Chaplain. Dave was a gifted counselor and was a straight shooter.

If he didn’t like you, you knew it and if he did like you he gave you a hard time. He was no one’s “Yes man”. Strong and deliberate and a man of few words, when he said something it was important and you had better listen. He could be ornery and gruff, but tender in the same breath.

He taught me much about ministry and life.

We had long talks about Jesus, people and ultiamtely his facing death. We had a CMD SGT MAJ in our office one day, a warrior’s warrior. His name was Jeff. Jeff has taken many a life on the battlefield and has faced death numerous times. He’s seen his friends killed as well.

Jeff was getting ready to leave for another assignment and was making his rounds saying goodbye. I think he knew that this would be the last time he would see Dave. After a lot of joking around Jeff got serious and asked Dave how he was making it through this.

Dave very coolly said, “Jeff, I’m dying but 32 years ago I put my faith in Jesus Christ, and that sealed the deal for me. 
After that Jeff said something to Dave that I’ll never forget. He said “Chaplain, I’ve met a lot of men in my time in the Army, but I have never seen anyone face what you are facing with as much strength and faith as you have, you are an inspiration to me!”

After Jeff left the office Dave and I sat and thanked God for the privilege of that previous moment. Dave never picked up a rifle on the battlefield or kicked a door in, but he made a lasting impact not through exploits in combat, but through the way he held firm with reckless abandon his faith in a crucified, resurrected Savior.

I will never forget the testimony that Dave displayed as he was living out his final months. My prayer is that I will be able to live well and finish well too!

At 12:40 on Christmas day, Dave crossed over the valley of the shadow of death and said “Happy Birthday Jesus!” and he did it in person, completely healed,….finishing well!

Thanks Dave, keep the lines tight in the river of Life for me, I'll see you someday

But not yet....but not yet

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Blog Post: From Grinch to Santa in 4 hours, all it takes is a little light in your life!

So today at 4:00 I was the Grinch.







Seriously. Sometimes during this time of the year I get frustrated. I get frustrated with obligatory visits, the pressure to buy gifts, the disruption to life's normal rhythm and to be quite honest I'm not sure what any of this stuff at Christmas has to do with Christ. Don't you? Then I start thinking about it and I get mad, really mad. Your probably thinking, "Brad that never happens to me", well God bless you...you are freed from having to endure this post. But for the rest of you, hang on it gets better.

My mom wanted me and the kids to roll down to Belmont to visit with our cousins Betsy and Lisa. Betsy lives in my Uncle Bill's old house on the same farm where my Granddaddy grew up and became the man we all knew and loved. I love going there. It conjures up so many sweet memories for me about being helped along in life by a great man.

But today, I didn't want to go. It was just one of those days. I did want to honor my mother. I did want to see my cousins. But as my son says, "I'll do it, but why do I have to like it!"

Well today I didn't like it. I was the Grinch. We packed in Tori's car, headed out through Hickory. That is a longer route but the traffic through the Charlotte area is horrible. The Hickory route took forever. The more we rode the madder I got. It was raining too and I was getting seasonal effective disorder in a big way.

Tammy was doing her best to cheer me up...but failing miserably...not her fault...for what is a faithful wife to do with a Grinchy old husband?

I think I became a complete atheist again for a few minutes!

Well the GPS took us to Mcadenville NC. Mcadenville is known around here as Christmas Town and the whole place is like one great big Christmas tree. The city decorates public buildings with incredible flair and the citizens are just as flamboyant. People from miles around drive there to gander at the lights. And they are spectacular. BUT, people from miles around come to cruise at 5 MPH to GANDER! Hundreds of cars inching through a small Carolina town.

And we were stuck, late, in the rain and Tammy and the kids had the Grinch with them in a slow moving car, oh and did I mention we were late and I was Grinchy?

But something about those lights, something about the people hollering out of their cars "Merry Christmas!"
Something about us as a family together, not talking over skype thousands of miles from one another...there was something about all that that "de-grinch-ified" me.

The lights were amazing. One house, pictured here... featured in bright lights a blatant emphasis on CHRIST in their greeting to passers by. We stopped the car and I just looked at it....and took a picture.

I realized then that if Santa's sleigh ran on Christmas Spirit, then I had officially grounded the old guy. The lights shone through the darkness. I was reminded and stunned again by God's love and the beauty of the moment. The wonder of Emmanuel, God coming to be with us, one of us...to save His people.

More De-Grinch-ification!

We were late, but Betsy and Lisa didn't care. We told stories about our family. We laughed alot too. There was joy and fellowship. Grinch was fading!

On the way back to top it all off, because God really really is good, we met this guy in Chik-Fil-A! And who doesn't love Chik-Fil-A?


He gave me his card that read simply.... "SANTA".

He told me I was on his list and he said, "I love you man!"

So long Grinch.....Merry CHRISTmas everybody!

More to follow.....





Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Blog Post: Work is a privilege!

I have been reluctant to commentate on all the "occupy" movements going on across America. I have done this for two reasons. The first is that I don't know the folks out in the streets protesting and its hard to get a handle on what it their collective protest is about. But the main reason I haven't commentated on it is, I just don't have time....because I have work to do. I am blessed with a great job and have had steady employment for the last 25 years of my life. But even if I didn't have a job there would still be work to do.



There is always work to do. My dad and grandfather were big believers in work. I rarely got to sleep in as a young fellow. There was always something to do, mowing a yard, splitting or cutting wood, cleaning up a job site, work on our farm and this time of year the onslaught of the maples, red and white oaks and the poplars....leaves, millions and millions of leaves. And as a kid I grew to hate the thought of hours of raking, blowing and burning leaves. My brother and I got a great life lesson though from dad and granddaddy, get out of bed and get to work! I still feel guilty if I sleep past 7:30 on a weekend!

Every Thanksgiving it was a tradition in our family to spend that holiday giving thanks by raking and burning leaves. I still am trying to figure out that one. Granddaddy loved to burn things. We are all in agreement that he secretly was a pyromaniac. He burnt fires in his fireplace every day if the temperature got below 60. He especially loved to burn leaves, not matter how windy or dry, the leaves must be burned. Many times the Cool Springs volunteer fire department had to be called to extinguish one of his blazes that took off either up a 200 year old oak tree or in my Aunt Becky's yard.



All in all those days were long and tiring, but I have great memories. Now, I am getting the privilege of passing on the thankfulness of leaves to my son. Today he is experiencing hours of raking, mowing, blowing and pushing leaves. We don't get to burn them any more because we live in the confines of the city limits of Statesville. But if I could, I would light them all on fire as sort of a burnt offering in memory and honor of my Grandaddy who taught me so much.

There is always work to do. And work is a privilege. I am thankful that I can work; that my body is healthy enough to do the chores around my house, to get my leaves up, to fix my roof, to mend fences at my farm. All these things and this attitude of work were passed down from my Granddaddy and my dad. And I am passing them to my son. I imagine my brother and I drove my dad nuts griping and complaining about having to work, just like my son drives me nuts. But that is all a part of the process. Someday, Lord willing, Jack will do the same for his son.

So as I think about the occupy movement and all the energy those folks are putting into being angry and hollering about who knows what, I'd really like to see them go find some work to do. If they took all that energy they have in fussing and griping, they could clean up those parks they occupy. They could help some elderly folks who need assistance around their homes. They could do all kinds of meaningful work that contributes to the betterment of the lives of those around them.

But I suspect no one ever taught them about splitting wood, or raking leaves or made them get up early to cultivate the garden. Maybe that kind of thing never got passed on to them. Maybe all they got was directionless modeling and for that I am sad for them.

So, to do my part for the next generation, I will not go out and protest with signs and chants. Nope, I'll work  at my job, around my house, my family's homes, around my town and my church. I'll take my son and daughter along with me and teach them that there is plenty of work to do and that work is a privilege!

For that I am thankful on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Blog Post: In the company of men....suffering together


Have you noticed the new TV shows about being a man this year, “Man Up” and “Last Man Standing”. Then there are the beer commercials that make fun of guys who don’t act manly…hilarious. But if art imitates life what are these media portrayals of men really saying. I think its saying that the attempt to make men what they are not has failed and failed miserably. The emasculated metro sexual male inspires no one, leads nowhere and leaves men and women crying out “Where are the men?” Not the steroid freak, domineering man cartoon character, but a real live man who inspires and leads and says “I will stand here and hold my ground”.

So this past weekend was huge, I mean huge. I have, along with a few friends, been planning a trip on the Appalachian Trail for the last 6 months. The biggest part for me was the fact that my son Jack was going to join us in his first “real man” adventure. The route was from Stacoah Gap, NC to Fontana Dam. It’s nearly 17 miles over some of the most picturesque vistas in Western NC. The Appalachian Trail extends from Maine to Georgia and covers the better part of 2000 miles. This section is one of the highlights of the whole thing. Its also physically challenging just to complete, rises and drops in elevation, this is no jaunt through the woods.
I’ve been looking forward to this since my son was born, to take your boy into the woods, camp, hike, cook with fire, poot, laugh and experience the journey together and yes suffer together. I’ve been away from him quite a bit over the last 7 years, time away serving others, serving my country. Now its time to get some of that time back for him.
We went with some old Army buddies, Pete, John and Dan. All accomplished soldiers and great friends. All dads themselves. All honorable and strong men. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew.


A lot of learning to be a man, in fact I’d say most of it, is observed in the lives of other men. Little boys, good or bad will follow after the roles that are played out before them. Pete, John and Dan are not wimps, not touchy feely, emasculated males, certainly not metro sexual. They are rough and strong and passionate and live with deep conviction.I want my son to be around men like that, not men who just get by or go through the motions. This kind of man is opposed today, men who live with deep passion and conviction.

So our trip began on a Friday and would end on Sunday. Our packs loaded with all the gear we need for a few days, stoves, sleeping systems, underwear, socks, flashlights and of course knives and even a pistol or two. The pistols were not just for bear protection but for the lunatic ax murderers that live in the woods. My friend Paul Lowry calls his pistol a “Lead Injector, good for all sorts of maladies”. This is just a reminder that we live in a dangerous world. And a little bit of danger is good for a young man learning to be a grown man!

Our first day started going up. Jack had told me that he was nervous. He had every right to be. It was going to be tough for him. He has never done anything like this at all. We ascended 800 ft in less than a mile. Jack has battled allergies and childhood asthma all his life. The asthma is exacerbated when he gets discouraged and not 30 minutes into our 48 hour adventure he was struggling. 

I prayed for him. No amount of verbal encouragement would take the hill away. He was going to have to push through. I took is pack from him and front loaded it, my 45 lb pack on my back, his 30 lb pack on my front. Jack struggled on. John came back and took the load from me and we made it to the top after spooking a flock of wild turkeys. It was awesome!

Jack was thankful to make it to the camp site, we cooked freeze dried food, filtered water from a spring, used the mouldering site (a fancy name for an outhouse). We slept with sticks in our backs, the wind in the trees and strange noises all night long.

We got up and did it again the next day, 6.7 miles, up and down across the backbone of the Appalachians talking of old Army stories, memories from our childhood, wondering at the views of the blue ridge mountains in full Autumn color.
Late in the day Jack’s ruck became heavy again. He was starting to really feel it. So at a rest point we decided to get into his pack and distribute his load. Each man took a piece of Jacks stuff, lightening his load. It was a great boost for him and he survived another day. 

We camped Saturday night at Cable Gap, down in a saddle by a stream and we got there early in the day so there was ample time for goofing off. Jack did his best to start a fire with flint and steel. He was unsuccessful, but that did not deter him. I use a lighter! He played in the woods with his SOG knife that I gave him for his birthday. I kept waiting for him to get cut so Pete could use his quik-clot!


We met lots of folks, some weird through hikers (folks that are hiking the entire 2000 mile route) that shared their trail names with us like “Fern Toe” and “Fire Marshall”. We shared the shelter with a guy named “Donkey” because his friends said he snored really loud. The name fit well. 

Everyone on the trail gets a trail name. John and Pete started me out as “Bald Eagle” but they changed it to “War Eagle” for obvious reasons. Dan was “Badger” because his small in stature but large in ferocity. They wanted to call him “Chipmunk” but Dan was having none of that. Pete was “Night Force” because of a new scope he bought for one of his guns and John was “Kodiak” because he likes bears or wants to be a bear or something like that. Jack was “Tank”, no stretch of the imagination there. He loves that name!
We gorged on trail bars, freeze dried cheese cake and raspberry crumble and crashed about 8:00 pm. More awesome!

We rose early, 0400 early so that we could make the dam early enough to get me back home to see Tori get inducted into the Beta club, plus Pete, John and Dan were looking at really long drives. So in the cover of darkness, in the moonlit woods we struck out, another 6.5 miles to go.
We started again with a long uphill trek, over an hour up. Jack kept asking “Why is it all uphill?” A valid question that we were all thinking with our sore muscles and aching feet. Jacks feet were torn up. The pounding of the rocks and his lack of experience started to really take a toll on his outlook.

About three hours in he broke…inside. We were well behind the others so they did not see this. This breaking point was just for father and son. He turned to me and said “I can’t do it dad”. In many ways I was hoping for this moment. Its in these very special times of suffering, where we absolutely must push on despite our desire to lay down where growth really happens. I needed to be stern but loving with him. I prayed “God help Jack to be strong”

I told him, “Jack, you have no choice but to push ahead. No one is going to carry you. There is no car coming. All the weight from your pack has been taken, now it is on you. So turn ahead and move out.”

And he did. He was not happy. But he pushed on. He did not quit.
This scene happened 3 or 4 more times all the way to the end, even at 400 meters from our vehicle. There was a huge hill leading to the car. He struggled, hyperventilated. But he finished, sore feet, sore back, aching muscles, but also a new perspective on lots of things.

One thing I wanted Jack to see he did. He saw men being men, men that he looks up to. He had big strong men show him what self reliance looks like. He saw what bearing another’s burden looks like. He heard genuine laughter. He suffered with men becasue we were all hurting. He was included in an adventure and I believe Jack left a little boy out there on the trail and came out of the woods with his first steps into manhood. I couldn’t be prouder of him.

So big thanks to Paul Lowry for hooking us up with some gear and great intel, because he knows those woods well. To Pete, John and Dan for their many hours of planning  planning and communication, driving long distances and most of all for the example they set in front of my son. Most of all for acting like Jesus for my boy by bearing his burden on the trail. It was a visual reminder for him that he will never forget.


A reminder that Jesus bears our burdens, our sins and when we were lost He carries us and shows us the way. His cross is the ultimate in taking the weight. The burden of sin is too much for us to bear, we cannot carry it. It paralyzes us. But Jesus relieves that by lowering Himself to our level, taking the load and carrying it up the hill to Calvary. Just like Jack found out with his pack, so we don't half to carry a load that will crush us! Thanks for that Jesus!

Thanks to "Tank" for a great weekend as father and son. You earned your trail name by pushing though!

Many more to come bud.
More to follow!

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Blog Post: Serendipitous Football

So, 13 years ago at 4:30 pm on October 8th I was teaching through the book of Romans with a 17 year old high school dude name Will Long. Will had come to faith in Christ in the weeks prior to that through the ministry of Young Life where I volunteered as a leader.

My wife simultaneously was 9 months pregnant and the 8th happened to be her due date. Our first, Tori had arrived 3 years earlier exactly on her due date!

That day Will and I were on our back porch, my back to the sliding glass door, Will sitting across from me on an awesome fall afternoon. Will, I noticed, kept looking over my shoulder into our den. I said, "Hey dude, this is God's word its worthy of our full attention!"

Will replied, "Man, I think your wife is needing you"

I turned, and saw Tammy sitting on the couch about to rip the stuffing out of the cushions and she hollered, "Its time!"

Of course, I freaked! No warning? Just like that? Yep!

I turned to Will and asked if he could stay with Tori till my mother in law got there. Will being the fine young man he was agreed.

Tammy and I raced to the hospital and an hour later Jack B Borders III was here in the world.

So that's the background

Now, 13 years later Will is 30. Will is a grown man and a lawyer and with all the comings and goings of life we rarely see each other. He lives in Raleigh and I live in Statesville. But randomly a couple times a year Will checks in.
So get this, at exactly 4:30 on October 8th, Will calls this year. He didn't remember it was Jack's birthday. He called wanting to know if Jack and I would like Panthers tickets for the game against the Saints!

Of course we said yes and had a blast at the game.

The question is...coincidence? If you hold a naturalistic world view I suppose you might say yes. But for those of us that believe that God is personal and near, I think not.

It also reminded me that the impact that we have on people lasts far into the future. Will and I chose to spend time together that day 13 years ago and he will be forever linked to our lives as the guy who was there for us on the day our son was born.

Turns out Will was there for us on Jack's 13th birthday too. It should be noted that Jack had been asking me all season if we could go to a Panthers game. Well...we did.

Will asked me to pay it forward so I am. I'm gonna find a way to be a blessing to someone today, and I hope you will too!

Thanks Will!









Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thursday, September 08, 2011

New Blog Post: Be THOR3

Heavy Aircraft Carrier Ropes!

Ray, Chaplain Ken Lewis (a great training partner) and Jason

Laurel took this picture of me suffering!
The THOR Logo, its trademarked so don't get any ideas!

When I first arrived at FT Bragg over a year ago one of the first people I met was Ray Bear. I caught Ray in the halls at our headquarters carrying a giant, I mean like Aircraft Carrier big rope around. I said to him, "Hey man that looks like a rope for undulations!" I thought I was being smart and cool that I knew the term undulation. 
Ray said, "Thats exactly what that is for, you should come to my gym and try it out"
I said, "You are on brother!"
That was the beginning of a great friendship with our new strength and conditioning coach. Ray is a veteran and spent most of his career training professional baseball and hockey players, helping them get over injury, get stronger and faster. 

Now Ray does the same for soldiers!

Ray is also a believer in Jesus. I found that out in our very first conversation. You'll find that out by the way he cares for folks and by the way he pushes you to be your best. 

He added some other amazing trainers, Greg, Jason, Lance and then  Laurel came along as our nutritionist to make sure we don't eat too many chocolate chip cookies. When I wasn't training at Southern Pines Crossfit I was at the THOR gym. I'm not sure what THOR means, but it sure sounds cool, especially after seeing that movie. My wife surmised that Thor in the movie had done some functional training! I was jealous until she told me I was still hot for an old guy!

I went by the THOR gym today and did my last workout with Lance. We hit the ropes and swung the kettlebells for a long time, it felt like hours. I figured I'd go hard to the finish. It was brutal but awesome!

I honestly can't believe how blessed I am to have made such good friends. God is so good to us to allow us the privilege of friendship. I have been honored to work and serve around people who just by being with them make you feel better....I call them energy givers. 

Those guys get the worlds toughest soldiers ready for missions and back from injury. They keep old guys like me resilient and teach me new stuff all the time.

So many thanks to you Ray, Jason, Lance, Greg and Laurel. Thanks for a great year of fellowship, training, laughter!

So long for now

Brad


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

New Blog Post: Southern Pines Crossfit, more than just a gym!

 
I moved to the Pinehurst-Southern Pines area about a year ago to begin work at FT Bragg. I chose this area to live because its quiet and has a real small town atmosphere. I was looking for a place to workout and discovered a little place called Southern Pines Crossfit. I started doing Crossfit while in Iraq and if you are unfamiliar with this type of training, well its not your average system. There are no machines, just bumper plates, kettle bells, pull up bars, plyo boxes, big tires and lots of sweat. There's no whining, no compromise and no one left behind.

While Crossft is a great training system what has really drawn me to this gym is the people. I've been away from my family for a long time and it gets old spending time by yourself. At the gym each day I worked out with folks who became good friends. I looked forward to the end of my day, so that I could swing by the little garage gym and suffer with my buds. 

Today I did my last WOD or workout of the day. It was a crusher, not just physically but it was a crusher knowing that it was my last time there. The owner of Southern Pines Crossfit is a great guy named Dan Kennedy. He and his wife Dena both work so hard, always encouraging. They welcome everyone and there are no strangers no matter their physical ability. The gym does have a family/community feel to it. 

My thanks to everyone there, you have made my time separated from my family a little more bearable by giving me something to look forward to each day. I pray God's richest blessings on all of you and even though its tough saying bye, the Crossfit community is small and tight and we shall all cross paths again. 

So if you are in downtown Southern Pines go check out the gym, you'll get a smoker of a workout and even better you'll find a friend or two!

Thanks guys....all the best

Brad

Monday, September 05, 2011

New Blog Post- Tribute to an old dog

The picture above is of our dog Levi in his normal fashion keeping watch on the yard from his guard post. We got Levi from an adoption program 13.5 years ago just after our other dog Austin got killed by a car. Levi, part beagle and something else turned out to be an amazing little dog. He was friends with everyone. Always minded, never ran off and was just a great dog. He loved us and our kids. He barked at people in the yard, but the minute he know we liked them he did too. Just hard to put a value on that.

A week ago Levi started showing signs that something was wrong and sure enough after a trip to the vet, we found he had a bad infection. A couple days later he quit eating. He looked so sad. It was brutal. I took him back to the hospital on Friday and the doc said they'd do what they could with him...13.5 years old is getting up there for a dog.

On Saturday we found out that Levi had an infection that was causing his white blood cells to attack his red cells. He was in need of a blood transfusion. The thing was the doc said that there was no guarantee that it would help him. It was one of those moments in life that you know are coming, but you don't want to face.

After some tears and discussion we decided that we'd rather see Levi's suffering end than to prolong his life, maybe a few months, albeit quite possibly with more suffering to come.

My kids and I went to the vet, where we found our little dog resting in one of their pens. In a moment I have never experienced with my kids, we all knelt by Levi and told him we loved him. We told him he was so good, that's what we always said to him. Because he was. I told him I was going to take him home.

We cried together as a family and we let the doc ease his pain. Then we took Levi home, my friend Robbie I laid him to rest in our back yard under the trees that he loved to patrol. I hope it doesn't sound silly to you, but we grieve for our dog today.

We did our devotion time yesterday and tried to answer the question, "Are there pets in heaven?" Although the Bible is silent on pets, it is not silent on the fact that God created animals and He loves His creation. We certainly learn unconditional love from our pets, that is for sure. And who is the author of unconditional love.

Could it be that God is that involved in our lives, even in the pets we have? I believe so.
How could Heaven be Heaven without the things we love, to include our pets?

I will not be shocked if I enter into heaven and waiting patiently for me there is a little yellow beagle that answers to the name of Levi.

I really believe that God is that good!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Blog Post- A most wonderful time of the year

It is a glorious time of the year. I know you are probably sweltering in mid summer heat index that just feels wrong. At FT Bragg I think they actually have a mechanism to actually increase the heat and humidity here just to make training soldiers more miserable. But while it is heating up in our environment something else is heating up too. With September just a mere month and half away, young boys, middle schoolers and high schoolers all across our land are sweating through this unbearable heat with the hope of a 100 yard field, cleats on their feet and shoulder pads and helmets strapped and its time to go to war. Football is almost here!

Football, a purely American game in itself, is also a game for warriors and warriors in training. I cannot tell you how many of my soldiers in the very special community I work in tell tales of Friday night lights and epic games that they played in as young men. This tradition has been reliving itself out every fall for generations, I did it some 30 years ago, so did my brother, my best friends and now my son Jack is prepping for warfare on Bermuda grass.

Jack played one year in elementary school, but this year is different, he's in middle school now. The kids are bigger, faster and stronger than the 4th grade team he played on. Its a little more serious now, a little more intense. And that is a good thing. Just as life gets a bit more intense, a little more serious as we grow up, so do the games we play, mimicking that life.

Football is more than a game of brute force. Its a game of suffering together through forced running, sled drills, and speed work. Its game of taking care of the guy on your left and on your right. Its a game that individuals stand out, but without the rest of the guys the touchdown makers would be toast. its a game of strategy, a high speed collision infested chess match if you will. Its a game where you line up against the guy across from you and every play its "Alright, lets see who wants this more!" And at its purest form its glorious. It is warrior training....every society has had this in some form since the dawn of time.

So today when Jack called me and said, "Hey dad, guess what?" (He does this every time he has good news)
"I can't guess Jack" (My usual response)
"I got got my position today, I'm playing center!"
"That's awesome son, you know I played center back in the day, I'm proud of you"
"Thanks dad! I got my helmet and shoulder pads too"
"That's awesome Jack...can't wait till your first game!"

He's a warrior in training

And I'll be there come hell or high water at that first game cheering him on and making sure his mom doesn't collapse...it really is a most wonderful time of the year!

Friday, July 08, 2011

New Blog Post-Crossroads Summer Camp and Jack's life decision!

In 1996 my friend Clayton King started a camp for teenagers at Gardner Webb University in Boiling Springs NC. What started as small one week event for a couple hundred kids has now stood the test of time, trends and culture. I began taking groups of kids from the church that I worked at in 1997, those kids are all grown up now, in ministry, have jobs, families and kids. Over the years I've observed hundreds of young people see, hear and receive the Gospel in their lives. To be forgiven of their sin, set free to really live. I've also seen hundreds stand before their peers and proclaim that Jesus is worthy of everything that they can give back and commit their lives to missions. It truly has been an honor and a blessing to be both on the board and an occasional speaker with some dear friends in this ministry.

This week though was especially good as my kids, both camp age, joined their friends from our church for another week at Crossroads. My daughter in her 4th year and my son now going on his 2nd trip. My son Jack came back from camp and boldly asked me, "When are we going to Nepal?"

You see over the last 15 years, one of the priorities that I have made is going to other parts of the world to share the news that I received about 18 years ago about Jesus. The Gospel changed me and I know this good news can change anyone! It has long been a dream of mine to have my family accompany me on one of these trips. So when Jack asked, "When are we going to Nepal?" part of my dream was realized...having a child who wants to go.

This week when the opportunity to say, by way of public proclamation in front of all their friends, students rose to the their feet and indicated that they would make the mission of the Gospel their life's focus. My son Jack was one of those students!

I could not be prouder!

Lots of parents want their kids to grow up to be successful, and I certainly want that for my kids...but even more...I want them to be faithful, faithful to the calling of God, to sharing the Gospel, to reaching the lost, to healing the broken, setting captives free...faithful to what God wants them to do and not the world's idea of what it means to be a success or even mine!

So many thanks to faithfulness of Clayton, Charie, Matt, Seth, Brittany and the rest of my friends at Crossroads Worldwide. You can find out more about their ministry here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Blog Post - A visit to Walter Reed

Last week I accompanied four other soldiers from here at Bragg, up to Walter Reed Hospital in DC, to visit with a Chaplain friend under going treatment for cancer. My friend is doing well and you may pray for him, his name is Dave. He's tired from his treatment, but he's a testimony to strength for sure!

While visiting with Dave, we also went to see some of the other soldiers that our unit has there.

This young man was severely injured by an IED (improvised explosive device) back in the fall. I remember when it happened as I was with his family as the news came in. At that time we didn't even know if he was going to live. I just remember praying alot back then.

The excericise room for soldiers with prosthetics is in a separate part of Walter Reed. You have to pass through the prosthetic lab to get there and the moment I turned the corner I saw, one then two then three, then literally dozens of guys with missing limbs. There were too many to count!

Guys who had lost one leg, two legs, two legs and an arm and even all four were more numerous than people with all their limbs. I have a dear friend who has his lower leg missing and I know how much he struggles, but to lose all four and still press on is really just amazing.

The ward is a specialized gym for amputees. There are work tables and therapists. There is tons of equipment.They have golden retriever therapy dogs that provide companionship and fun for the guys. But what struck me were the legs. In one area of the ward were neatly placed at least 20 mechanical limbs. Legs that fit below the knee, above the knee and even legs with computerized knees that extend all the way to the hip for those more seriously injured.

One of the guys from my unit has lost both his legs and his right arm, although they have been able to reattach that. He is an inspiration to me. For the rest of his life it will be a struggle to do daily things we all take for granted, but his smile endures and he presses on.

A soldier in a wheel chair came up to me...bot legs gone and a huge scar across his head. Now four years after his injury Travis still deals with it every day. He told me what happened like it was just occurring, how his vehicle had be blown to bits and how an unnamed soldier had pulled him to safety. He still lives it out, still struggle, still presses on. We stepped out in the hall and I prayed with him, me on my knee and him in his wheelchair. It was humbling.

As I looked around that ward, so much destruction, so many lives impacted....I couldn't help but think of resurrection. As a Christian and follower of Christ I believe deeply in the bodily resurrection of Christ's followers. I couldn't help but long for things to be whole for these brave men who left parts of themselves in lands that most will never see.

Lord how I want things to be whole, in a world free of death and war. I long for a day where there will be no need for Walter Reed, a day when only peace and joy reign supreme in this world. It surely seems so far off as we watch the news or get the latest Twitter feed.

But I rest in the promises of the Author of the resurrection, who said "I am the resurrection and the life". Jesus made some bold promises about the future that awaits us as those who trust Him. He promises wholeness again, the way it was meant to be, the way we all want it to be. Travis trusts that Savior, just like I do and I plan on having a good long run and a basketball game with him and my granddaddy someday....maybe sooner than we think. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Till then...more to follow!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A new blog post-The power of a baseball

It was a beautiful day here in the foothills of NC, warm in the 60's much nicer than it had been the past 3 months. The warm weather had folks outside, sweeping up, riding bikes and generally basking in a rare warm February day. I rode up the street to fill the Ford with some gas and noticed a guy who has lived in my neighborhood for many years. He lives close enough for me to recognize him around town, but not close enough that we have daily interaction. But the one thing that stands out in my mind over the years of seeing this guy is a baseball. Every year that I can remember I would see him and his son throwing a ball back and forth in their front yard. I remember when his son was so small he could barely chuck it 10 feet. I've seen that kid grow up over the years and seen this man's hair gray. But as I rode by I wondered who that man was throwing the ball with my neighbor. Well, it was his son all grown up, tall and lanky, with facial hair! Now the kids is hurling the ball at a nasty clip and I bet dad's hands are burning.

I saw that very Norman Rockwell looking seen I couldn't help but think about the power of a baseball and more importantly the power of a dad. The fact that this kid, probably 19 now still wants to have a catch with pop speaks more about fathering skills than all the books experts could write on the subject. A simple game of catch  can act as a bonding event that transcends generational issues. Its not a video game, not fancy, not expensive, not even hard to do, but a catch with Pop is awesome. I remember doing the same with my dad, or shooting some hoops. My son does the same with me. Its question asking time, the stuff of life and it is worth millions of dollars....no its priceless, because it can't be conjured up or faked.

I think I'll take advantage of days like that as well and head outside with my son this weekend, throw a ball and make a memory or two.

Hope you will also!

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...