It’s been a lonely season of empty seats and shattered basketball hopes at this point. Deb and I love going to the basketball games, but it would be nice if just one season we could actually improve. This year is no different, they seem to have no chemistry, no cohesion, and few wins, though I love our players non-the-less. Year after year after year we keep coming to the games, and now we sit in a gorgeous new $92 million facility, which now seems to prove the point that you can’t just build it and they (players and fans) will come. Maybe I’m expecting a little too much out of a football town, but we sure have seen a lot of…
pressing into the paint… by the other team
shots made beyond the arc… by the other team…
but hey, maybe we haven’t been paying close enough attention as fans, maybe they said something, but we had our Beats on because the game was sooooo exciting…
or maybe we just need one of those giant megaphones to yell with… since there aren’t many fans at the games, we could just do that as the next promo instead of a cheesy Verizon draw string bag nobody wants anyway…
or, maybe the halftime show guys will let our team use their trampoline so they too can fly through the air and slam the ball with style…
…finally giving our excited little fans that do show up something to cheer about.
There are of course advantages to having no fans show up to a game and a team that has lost 17 games before the end of February. Nobody cares about the “prohibited items list” (except they still search my wife’s purse for FOOD), and I can actually take photos at the game without being ejected or my equipment confiscated.
from the tip off…
to our beloved Aubie cheering in the stands with students…
We really do love our Auburn basketball, it would just be nice to see something positive come out of the season to create momentum for next year? March Madness is right around the corner though, can’t wait.
Here are a few shots from our service last night. For me personally it was a physically and emotionally draining day, but a good one. I always like this particular service for the mere fact it starts a time of reflection and prayer, which moves our focus toward what’s really the greatest celebration of the year, Easter.
Last night was more about recognizing our own brokenness, our own mortality, and coming in a posture of humility to the Creator with our lives. It is still amazing to me how busy we get, how filled our schedules become, and in that business we often lose touch with the reason for our ultimate existence and why we do what we do.
A few weeks ago at my church we had what we call a Celebration Dinner, beginning a process of visioning for the future called Dream 2020. As we move through this visioning experience in 2013, we are asking people to begin this season with 40 days of prayer (and fasting), beginning with Ash Wednesday.
Prayer During Lent
Prayer, by its very nature, causes us to slow down and reveals our priorities. As a church, prayer is our declaration of dependence on God instead of ourselves. It is our response to grace, a corporate collective cry for God to move in the midst of our sin. Prayer is something that challenges our mind, which, by its very nature, is prone to wonder and daydream as we try to bring our hearts to the Lord. We lose focus in our 24/7-connected world and struggle to find consistency in prayer, but so did the disciples when Jesus took them into the garden to pray before His trial (Matthew 26:40).
As with most things in life that challenge us, the results are also beyond our own imagination. As the disciples discovered, more could be accomplished through prayer than they had ever dreamed, and Jesus said we, through prayer, would do even greater things than He Himself had done (John 14:12-14).
Fasting During Lent
Fasting is another spiritual discipline discussed during lent, often in the context of giving up candy, television, or some other “extra” thing in our life. My experience with fasting generally didn’t even go that far, until one night I began to pray about fasting. Only through prayer was I led to a traditional fast, a weekly one that lasted an entire year. In that year God prepared and changed my heart for things I could never foresee happening in my life, and he can do the same for our church body. Some cannot participate in a traditional fast from food, and I know God understands that situation. But for those of us who can, I would challenge you to begin by praying about fasting.
Prayer and fasting together make a powerful bond, one stronger than prayer alone or fasting alone. When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not do what they expected could be done, Jesus’ response was this could only be done through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21). As you are challenged in this area I would encourage you to ask practical questions if you have any. Please feel free to contact me, I would be more than happy to discuss the specific practicalities of fasting with you.
Here are Some Practical Suggestions and Next Steps
First, over each of the next 40 days of Lent we will be posting a new prayer for Cornerstone’s future, which you can read here. We will be prayerfully asking how we can impact our community, our schools, lives in Uganda, and many other areas where Cornerstone can lead people to know and serve Jesus. We invite you to participate with Cornerstone in prayer each day, putting on the whole armor of God around Ephesians 6:18 twice a day, at 6:18am and 6:18pm.
Second, begin to prayerfully seek God’s guidance as it pertains to fasting in your life. If you have questions, please ask. If you are led to fast during Lent some practical things to ask yourself are why, when, and how. In the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us the most practical advice on fasting in Matthew 6:16-18. You can start by reading this passage, and the whole sermon if possible from Matthew 5:2 to 7:27, then answer the why.
The why is often seen as an emptying of self and the filling of God, generally by means of abstaining from food and/or water. The when could be giving up lunch on Tuesdays during Lent, or food for 24 hours on Wednesdays. The how is different for each person, but is an important practical step to think about. How do you not eat and not call attention to yourself? Look at your schedule; it’s different for everyone.
As we prepare ourselves for this time of reflection through prayer and fasting let us remember our brokenness, and our need for a redeemer, which is Christ crucified for us.
Pride really does come before the fall, even literally. I guess looking back at my first wreck on Wednesday I would say I was probably pretty proud I had never wrecked a bike as an adult, motor or cycle, nor did I ever expect to wreck, and certainly not on a bike less than a week old (see previous post). But, it’s all a matter of perspective because that ominous looking road above on Wednesday got the better of my ride. After finishing my ride for the day I decided to go a little farther down the road from my car to cool down when all of a sudden I found myself being chased by a 90 pound mass of Doberman flesh at 26 mph. Without any warning, in less than a blink of an eye, in full stride, he turned his 90+ pounds like a pro running back directly into my front tire and it was all over.
Being chased by a dog is certainly nothing new out here in the county. There are way WAY too many dog owners out here in Lee County Alabama who just refuse to tie up their dogs, and most of them own Rottweilers, Dobermans, or Pit Bulls. It wasn’t even the first dog who chased me on my ride that day, it was more like the 5th or 6th dog. Faced with slowing down and possibly having the dog take off flesh like a shark out of water, then the ensuing rabies shots that follow, I generally just keep going hoping to outrun the dog (note to self, big giant dogs can actually run over 20mph for not so short distances).
I really gave no thought to my helmet or anything else I put on that day. When I landed, or bounced, on the pavement I was so stunned when the dog speared my wheel, seemingly at the time on purpose to take me out, I hadn’t really understood that all the safety gear I was wearing actually did what it was supposed to do, give me a fighting chance at surviving a body plant on pavement at 26mph. I landed directly on my hip and the back of my head simultaneously. My helmet basically was split in two and apparently a hip socket can take a beating I never knew was possible. I’m not sure how I didn’t black out completely, and my brain somehow didn’t seem to get scrambled inside my skull as I quickly went through the “do I have a concussion” routine.
Some questions came up of course:
How Did it happen? See above.
Are you ok? I think so although I still can’t really walk yet, have some nice road rash on my skin and every muscle I have seems to be yelling at me. Nothing broken (I think, but how I don’t know), and seemingly no concussion (at least not a serious one).
How is the dog? Who cares, but, yes he never even slowed down or looked back. Pepper spray will be flying next time around.
How is the bike? See below, but surprisingly, it fared extremely well. I was wearing a pair of Bontrager RL Road shoes (pictured here in their new splendor), which split at the seam of the buckle. Kind of strange but it just snapped in half. I was hopefully Bontrager would warranty the shoes being only 5 days old. After my LBS checked on it for me they said, no Bontrager said they couldn’t warranty the shoes because they were smashed to oblivion and in an accident. They did however say they would replace them under their “good will” program because they were less than a week old. I figured out this meant they felt really sorry for me. WOW, well I’m now a Bontrager fan now and will certainly recommend Bontrager gear to anyone who asks.
The bike, a Trek Madone 2.1, purchased a week ago from my fantastic LBS in Auburn, had some fabric wear on the seat and bar tape, and the front tire is slightly out of round, but other than that, the frame held up extremely well, hardly even a scratch on it. I didn’t really anticipate writing a review about how well a Trek Madone 2.1 holds up in a wrecked, but crashing at 26mph, the bike looks fantastic.
What were you wearing? An old Trek helmet. My helmet was smashed but my head wasn’t. I was wearing gloves. Something I never thought about much, but they kept my hands from some serious pain. I was wearing thicker riding pants (tights), something that also saved me some pain (hair on legs was not a good idea). I had on a breathable non-cotton shirt, but it was pretty thick, it also ended up being a good choice.
This is all basically to say… if you ride a bike, wear a helmet, period. Make safety a priority. I never ever ever thought I would make use of my helmet, but when I go to pick out my next one it will be with a keen eye on safety. I do wish I had mounted my GoPro Hero 3 on my bike to capture this event, but hope it never happens again.
It’s been a while since my last Friday Feet post. I kept trying to get a shot on a Friday with a different pair of shoes and decided this was it. For the first time in 2013 I got back on my bike again, although it was still pretty cold, I did ride for about 10 miles and didn’t bonk. I have high hopes for riding this year, and even higher hopes as the temperature rises into the Spring and Summer. For now, I’m just trying to rebuild my cardiovascular from far too long a break.
My previous ride was a Trek Madone 4.5 and this year I have moved to this updated aerodynamic frame of the Madone 2.1. At some point after I get a few hundred miles on this frame I’m going to try to do a review, albeit an amateur review, but I can already feel a few differences between the carbon of the 4.5 and the aluminum of the 2.1, but not too many if you are a rider who isn’t too concerned with winning the next Tour de France.
Last night our church came together to celebrate what God has done in the life of our church over the previous year along with putting out the vision for what Cornerstone looks like in the year 2020. It was a great night, but it was a launching point for 2013. We still have one more night to go tonight, so if anyone happens to be reading this in Auburn and wants to come join the celebration there are still a few seats left. I didn’t get to take too many shots last night, but here are a few.
Last night Auburn started their SEC conference play. This is always a favorite sports season of the year for us, so I started off with a little iPhoneography art of Auburn Arena. Something I love about my iPhone is how it gives me the ability to move beyond formal photography and put my own artistic flare in the image. Some don’t like it, but over the years I have grown to love the freedom in living outside the rules of photography.
This image results from a technique I use called stacking, which is just something I made up, but comes from stacking the image in different apps where the end result is something you can’t just get from one single post processing app. You can certainly overdue it, and the garbage in garbage out rule of photography always applies. Now with the iOS Panorama you can get some really cool results, like this, and with all the great apps like Camera+ and others the artistic results are almost limitless. Some day I will have to list all the photography apps I use and how they work but that’s not for today.
I purposely tried to take a break with my blog over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, but now I’m also having a hard time getting back in the groove of writing again. Habits are like that, you get into a routine, then drop it for a time and boom, it’s gone. I sat at my favorite crossroad recently (above) thinking back at 2012 and ahead to 2013, hoping for sun and warms from the winter sky.
New Year’s resolutions to me always seemed like the impulse buy at the checkout line, so I don’t set resolutions for myself, I try to look at goals for the year. Some small and easy, some near impossible. I started off 2013 by reading and finishing Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Geoff. This ended up being an incredible way to start off the new year, and is really now my word or phrase I want to live in for 2013, Does.
For years (maybe decades now) I have had a constant internal battle between faith and works, legalism and action, intellectualism and doing. Eventually, a while back actually, I came to the ultimate conclusion that it isn’t a battle for one or the other, but for one AND the other. It’s pretty hard to read the book of James and come to any other conclusion, but being a “doer” sometimes takes some work and effort. Sometimes, doing is “not doing.” For 2013 my goals have as many DO NOT do as it does TO DO.
My Top Ten List for 2013
1. Spend Less Time on Social Networking Sites
My goal really is to try to ditch Facebook in 2013. I’m about as sick of Facebook and all it has to offer but there are still a few people that only operate on Facebook, and they are the reason I haven’t left yet. I have some great relationships developed through social sites, but they are largely time suckers.
2. To Not Take Any Seminary Classes in 2013
Late in 2012 I conferred my first seminary master degree, a Master of Arts in Theology. This was to be the first in a line of “continuing education” in the formal faith setting. But it also comes with a price, and that price has overtaken my extremely strong desire to want to actively be in seminary classes. Mostly it has to do with time. Time it takes to read books I’m actively reading for church compared to books for classes. Time away from Deborah and things we want to do together this year, and my ability to be 100% fully engaged in my ministry work each day. As much as I love seminary work, it’s very hard to be fully engaged in people’s lives while having to spend every spare second studying when it’s a personal choice not a career choice.
3. Write Shorter Blogs Posts More Frequently (this one doesn’t count)
This has been a goal of mine since I started my blog. The key to this for most bloggers is to give up on the perfectionist in you and just post. I use to think if it couldn’t be perfect I really don’t want to do it, now I’m more in the mindset of how much doesn’t ever get done that could be done because it can’t be perfect. Doing, not thinking about doing.
4. To Not Wear Socks
This one sounds easy, but is really going to be the hardest one, near impossible, for me after 40+ years of tradition. There are a lot of metaphorical and spiritual reasons for this one but I’ll let those hang for now.
5. Be a Doer of the Word Not Just a Theology Debater
This is my word of the year, so I kind of already theorized on this one (see what I did there), but this is also going to be one of my biggest challenges of 2013. The challenge being how to find those places to engage where I can be the most effective. One of those areas being my staff position at the church. For me, can I make my position as a “business administrator” one that engages others in love and discipleship.
6. Not To Read the Entire Bible Cover to Cover
I love this one, and it is going to be very freeing. I am going to finish my current canonical reading I started in June, then I’ll focus on a few specific books. I have probably read cover to cover now about 10 times over the last 15-20 years, but I won’t in 2013. Being a very systematic thinker I am still going to read the greatest set of books ever written, but instead of cover to cover, I’m going deep with a few specific books.
7. Read, Read, Read
I lost track of how many books I read in 2012, it was something like 30 or so. The last book I read in 2012 was Sacrilege: Finding Life in the Unorthodox Ways of Jesus, and the first book I read in 2013 was Love Does (above). Both excellent books. In 2013 I’m going to continue to refine my reading process by reading those specific books that take my faith deeper. Books like Creature of the Word, When Helping Hurts, Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books, Jesus A Theography, and a classic here and there like Leaves of Grass or The Hobbit.
8. To Not Forsake Spending High Quality Time With Deborah
This has always been a high priority for both of us, but that’s only because we make it a priority. The hardest thing about this is my ability to say no to good things, good people, and yes to Deb.
9. Take an Entire Week of Vacation All At Once
I (we) have never done this ever. For most of our married life Deb and I have owned our own business and when you own your own business you don’t get to take “vacation.” This year is our 20th wedding anniversary and celebrating 20 years of marriage deserves at least a week at the beach.
10. Love People for Who They Are and Right Where They Are
This is not a new one for me but also not an easy one. This is an ongoing, continuous, and gradually adjusted ability given to me by grace, only provided by Christ. And it is also how he loves me. To do this you have to drop every judgmental fiber in your being, and just love.
I have plenty more in my mind but those are the randomly chosen ten for this post.
God’s divine appointments are always amazing to me. In my normal daily chronological reading through the Old Testament this morning, I ended up reading 1 Chronicles 16, a chapter just about giving thanks, which contains David’s thanksgiving song to the Lord. It was a divine appointment at least for me, and a great reminder that today we give thanks TO our creator and Lord. Not necessarily for what we have physically, but for what God has done in our lives, and yes for the blessings he has abundantly supplied.
Thanksgiving should not be an “American” thing, and when this day was first made into a holiday, Lincoln said as much as well. This is the day for the world to give thanks to God, and in his own words, I give you:
President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation
October 3, 1863
This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.
Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She explained, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”
Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale’s request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book.
he document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary how he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State
… and so it is today. We celebrate with food and family today, and give thanks to our creator and savior that he is truly Lord over all.
I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving again. I haven’t had a chance to post here nearly as much as I would like over the last few weeks, but that’s been the story of my days lately. Every time I get so busy running from meeting to meeting something bumps into me with a little perspective, like this letter above from our girl in Uganda.
I love reading these letters from Joanita, our sponsor child in Uganda. They mean a lot to both of us, even more so since I have had a chance to meet her a few times and know where she lives and where she goes to school. Every time we get a letter from her she makes sure to let me know that she is praying for us, and that blows my mind. I can’t really think too deeply about this because after a while I’m just dumbfounded about what we complain about, and even more what things take up our time here in this land of plenty.
When I read her letters it makes me stop and think about who is praying for me, and who am I praying for? Is it a trivial passing glance or have I made time today for things that are eternally important, not just the mundane task driven daily routine that is so hard to break out of at times. Even though she will probably never know how much I appreciate her prayers just knowing that a little girl 10,000 miles away who sleeps on a dirt floor is praying for me humbles my day.