Thursday, October 01, 2015

I am only 50- Assign me the Hill Country

Joshua 14:10 So nowlookthe Lord has preserved my life, just as he promised,these past forty-five years since the Lord spoke these words to Mosesduring which Israel traveled through the wildernessNow lookI am today eighty-five years old. 11 Today I am still as strong as when Moses sent me outI can fight and go about my daily activities with the same energy I had then. 

Half a century ago my mom Sarah struggled through a really long labor in a hospital in West Allis, Wisconsin and my walk on this earth began. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

I must say it out loud, I am 50. There, that wasn't so bad. Its an odd thing to say. Its days like today where men sometimes reflect over their lives, take stock, remember, regret, laugh, smile, cry. Some men I talk to think that its the beginning of the end. 

As I've approached this day I've thought much about being 50. In my mind I've compared myself to my dad and my grandfather when they were 50. Have I measured up to the examples set before me? I suppose these things are not for me to decide. That question will be answered by others. 

I reflect back on what I've seen these last 50 years. My world has changed from one of blissful isolation in a small southern town riding bikes and playing in the woods with my little brother and our neighborhood friends.... to a world that is connected in seconds by fiber optics..... as someone from England or China will be able to read this as soon as I hit the "publish" button.

I think on the places I've been. I've walked and seen the tallest mountains in the world. I've had my feet in the pristine rivers of Alaska. Seen sunsets over the pacific. Enjoyed lightning bugs in my own back yard. 

I've experienced the sad reality of war first hand far from my home. I've been patriotic and disillusioned at times. 

I've buried heroes and I have heroes for friends. 

I've watched my two children grow from toddlers to teenagers. I had the privilege of seeing them both come to faith in the Savior Jesus. They will be change agents!

I've known the love of a good woman and she is more valuable than precious jewels. 

I am 50

I think about Caleb in his statement from the book of Joshua above. Its one of my favorites. "Today I am as strong as when Moses sent me out." At 85 he said this! 

But the coolest part about what Caleb had to say, was his mission request. At 85 no one would have slighted him if he had asked for some bottom land next to the river. At 85 and after the life he lived, surely an easy retirement was in order....relax big guy, enjoy it for a while before you die. 

But Caleb wouldn't have it that way. He said in verse 12 Nowassign me this hill country which the Lord promised me at that time! No doubt you heard at that time that the Anakites live therein largefortified cities. 

Assign me the hill country...where the giants live. 

That's bold. That's audacious. I think I'd like some of that. Caleb despite the number of his years was placing his life in the hands of the God of all years. And He was determined to trust the God who had been unswerving and faithful. It was logical. God has promised...I will follow. 

So today isn't a lament for turning 50, today is a day to say "I'm only 50....Lord, assign me some hill country" 

Save the toughest mission for last. 

I feel as strong as I did 21 years ago when the Lord opened up the Gospel of Jesus to me through the radio in my car. When He rescued me from my pit and set my feet on a solid rock.  He has preserved me all these years. I am ready for the next 50 years and yes I am ready for tomorrow. There is much to do. 

My long rest will come when the Kingdom of God and the King Himself return in full force. 
Until then there are missions to do 
There are people to encourage
There is darkness that needs light
There are the lost that need to be found
There is truth to be declared
There is a faithful God to follow

None of that is done on the porch 

I am only 50- Assign me the hill country

Monday, March 30, 2015

Markers along the way

If you are a dad you have all kinds of hopes and dreams for your children. Some long for scholarships for athletic prowess, others want their offspring to succeed financially. No matter the dream we all want those little ones to grow up well. I made up my mind a long time ago that I wanted my kids to first be followers of Jesus and second be difference makers in this world. Both my children became followers of Christ at a young age and we continue to develop that walk even today.

There are also markers along the way where you notice growth spurts in their lives. Maybe it's that first time away from home, or the first job. My son Jack had a growth spurt in his life Friday night. Next month we are doing a GORUCK event together and he has been training for this the past few months. 

In case you don't know a GORUCK event is a team building endurance challenge put on by current/former special operations soldiers with the center piece being the whole event you are wearing at least a 35# ruck. Depending on the type of event you do they last from 8-24 hours. They are hard, needless to say. 

Teddy Roosevlt touted the benefits of living the "strenuous life". I fear that ethic is fast fading in our culture. I was taught by my father and grandfather to work hard, to live outside. I've been trying to pass that on to my children as well. 

Friday night, Jack got a taste of the "strenuous life" in a 4 hour preparatory event hosted by some of my brothers with F3. ( Thanks to Ray Ray, Tune Up, Dallas, Free pass, Mini Me, Chief, Calypso, Friday, Springfield and the rest of F3nation for building into my son. Especially to the men of F3Crossroads!

He joined 35 men, with rucks.  He was tasked with leading them for a portion of the event. What better way to build leadership skills than to put the youngest guy in charge of a bunch of rowdy dudes. They did bear crawls, carried a huge log, spent some time in Lake Norman in 50 degree water. It was tough. He has cuts on his knees and sore shoulders from bearing the load. And he finished it. For his trouble he recieved a little black and white Velcro patch that he is incredibly proud of. 

And his dad is incredibly proud of him too. 

My son may not get an athletic scholarship and play D1 football, he might not make millions of dollars. 

But based on what I'm seeing in him, embracing hard things, living a strenous life.....he will follow Christ and make a differnce in this world. What more could a dad want. 

Now, bring on GORUCK in April!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dangerous Assumptions

Back in the 80s as a teenager I worked summers driving a delivery truck for Tarheel Lumber company here in western central NC. It was a great job for burley teenager, carrying hundreds of pieces of Sheetrock, plywood and every other building product known to man. My family was steeped in the building business, both my dad and grandfather were general contractors. Taking raw materials and producing a home for someone to live in still intrigues me. It's very american!

My delivery job took me all over our county and to numerous job sites. The most coveted delivery were the simple ones. A bundle of OSB sheathing was my favorite. 60 pieces of 4x8 plywood all wrapped in a bundle. Easy delivery for the driver. Wrap a chain around the bundle, secure with a "dog" come-along, raise the bed and watch drop off the back of the truck....then pull away and head back to the shop, too easy.

However, sometimes things go awry. One day I delivered a bundle of this stuff to a contractor down on Lake Norman doing a remodel on an older home.The house set up on a hill with a long driveway and a sweeping yard that led down to the lake. It's a beautiful spot.

That day was normal, a hot summer day. The job-site was busy with workers and the homeowner was there watching his dream come to life. The contractor as well was there, an old friend of the family.

I backed up the long drive way in my 1972' Chevy 600 flatbed dump truck ready to re supply the engine of America. Everything was normal, I dumped the load, it all looked good. I undid the come along that held the chain tight around the bundle of plywood. We did this to keep the material from flying around like a deck of cards. Normally you could simply pull the chain out from under the bundle due to some strategically placed 2x4s underneath, but sometimes the chain would get pressed by the weight of the plywood. This was the case that day.

Simple problem to solve, just take the hook on the end of the chain and fasten it to the bed of the truck and drive away, no problem. I followed the SOP, but this day I noticed in my rear view mirror the bundle moving with the truck. I deduced that the hook on the other end of the chain had just gotten lodged on the bottom edge of the plywood, much like catching a large rectangular fish.

Then some events were set in motion that bring us to the climax of this story. I pulled up the parking break with the motor still running and the truck out of gear. We were on the slight hill of the driveway. I eased my foot off the brake, but the truck did not move. My assumption....the brake is holding.

I exited the truck and walked to the rear and noticed the chain was quite taught. Upon further examination my initial conclusion was confirmed, I had indeed hooked the plywood. So with my big steel bar, used for tightening the strap ratchets, in hand I simply tapped the hook at the end of the chai. And it disappeared under the plywood!

My mind shifted in to "oh no!" mode! I looked up and saw my driverless truck rolling down the driveway ever gaining speed. You see, the only thing holding that truck in place was the chain, precariously hooked to the corner of the plywood. One of the carpenters leapt into action trying to board the vehicle like cowboy trying to slow an out of control buckboard. I have a distinct memory of his cowboy boots dragging thought the gravel driveway kicking up dust as he tried desperately to rescue the truck.He failed miserably having to combat roll into the grass. I could only watch in horror.

The truck now gaining great speed aided by gravity was heading towards a 150 year old white oak tree. I prayed to a God I didn't know....Please don't' let it hit that tree,

Prayer answered! Due to the motor running and the power steering still active the right front tire eased off the driveway and the slope of the yard caused the wheel to turn ever so slightly as to avoid the impending collision with the tree.

For a brief moment my spirits raised but reality dashed my hopes on the rocks of despair as the truck now traveling about 30 mph was suddenly headed toward the cool waters of Lake Norman!

But that would not be the fate of the big white Chevy, instead in its way was a brand new 1986 F150 pickup truck, which my truck hit head on with a thunderous, sickening crash. After dispatching the ford, the behemoth lumber hauler then, as if it were driven by the devil himself, then hit my customer's jeep wagoneer that had his bass boat on a trailer fixed to the back.

Finally after the smoke cleared, there were 4 wrecked vehicles all within about 15 seconds. I found myself standing next to the homeowner, who called me names and decorum prevents me from quotation. The contractor who was the family friend also reminded me of how brilliant that move was. I then got to call my boss and hear another litany of profanity laced insults. Not my best day.

Looking back now, it's quite hilarious.

So, is there a know there is, probably a bunch of morals. But what has struck me the most over the years is how this story illustrates the danger of assumption.

I made a lot of assumptions that day. I assumed the parking break was working. I assumed the truck was secure. I assumed that tapping that hook would do nothing.

Assumptions can be destructive.

I've heard it said that assumptions are the termites of relationships. I agree

Be wary of making assumptions in your marriage, on your job, or in your friendships about people. In many ways, you'll think the parking brake might be on or that the hook means nothing.

And sheer destruction can follow with a simple tap....if our assumptions are not based in fact.

I'm assuming you'll think about this as you go about your life today!

All for now, more to follow!


The songs of life- Thanks to mom

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