We spotted cubs. Shortly after this we could only think of one thing, getting to them. They were so cute, cuddly, had to be soft, and surely they were like puppies or something right? But 11 yr olds don't think about that stuff. We wanted close but cuddling never entered our mind. The closer the better and if we could, we wanted a touch. Why? Just to say we did. Imagine the celebration as we returned to Graysville Elementary and told Matt, Brian, Kenny and especially Carla. What would Carla think of me then? It was planned, not really planned as much as a "Hey Chris look, cubs!" - "Cool, let's go touch him!" - "OK!"
Un-calculated risks are rarely good ideas. But again, we were 11ish. How often does sound reason and wisdom exist at that age? Of course I was in the front, I was dumb and Brian was scared, or smart. But I was quicker, just in case. The closer I got the more I began to think through the celebration dance. I was leaning more to the Iggy Shuffle. Then I heard a voice, it was Brian. "There's the momma!" His voice seemed far away but there in the middle of rustling leaves and the sounds of a flowing stream I hear it again....."The Momma!" What an odd thing to call your mother. Why couldn't he just say there's my mom? And why would she care? I'd let her hold it too. You'd have to know me back then as well, think Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer we were. I'll let you decide who was Huck. Then it hit me....oh, the cubs momma.
"RETREAT! RETREAT!" We bolted...had there been a track coach close by I would have been offered a scholarship at 11ish. Brian was smarter than most, he was already in the back of the Dodge truck, in the camper top waiting. How long had he been there? Was I that deaf to not hear him retreat earlier. And now I'm wondering, at what point did he see momma? How long did he withhold this information? Well, there I was, 100 yards out. I was a bit cocky, I knew I was fast. No need to look back to see how close she was but I'd choose to think about other more important things...like at what time I would do my Ozzie Smith back flip. After all, I needed to celebrate something since the cub touching was obviously out now (enter sad emoticon face we didn't have back then.)
About 10 yards out I begin my Pete Rose dive into the truck. Immediately hitting the truck bed and into the back of the truck, the Dodge truck. There is nothing but silence........and then laughter, I mean belly laughs begin. Celebration, relief, and fear all wrapped up into one small, exhaust filled, hot camper cover Dodge truck. We had plenty of time to celebrate due to the fact that "the momma" wasn't leaving for a while.
What a memory! What a stupid, stupid risk. We didn't have the heart to tell any of our parents until we had moved out. But where were his parents. Lesson #1 - never leave 11ish yr old boys unattended in the Smokey Mountains where bear cubs may be present. Lesson #2 - don't take stupid risks.
*Disclaimer - 95% of this story is true
Last night at the Rock we looked at Right Risks. Is there a time where risk is right? It's a good question to consider and as we look at what it looks like to NOT waste your life, risk is involved.
I've attached the sermon and questions but the end point is this. It's never wrong to risk for the cause of Christ. We risk every day. Some stupid risks and some right risks and also some daily risk. Faith is key, trust cannot be optional. Wisdom plays a huge part but we can no longer run from issues or what we've been called to do by God. It's time to obey God rather than man. I'm not saying to go chase a bear cub the next time you go to Cades Cove but I am saying be willing to take those right risks for the sake of the Gospel.
I pray everyone is doing well today and basking in the sunshine that has seemed to avoid us the last few weeks. Also praying our students are doing well as they find themselves smack dab in the middle of testing. Such a potentially pressure filled situation for them and I pray they experience the peace that only comes from God as they walk through this testing season! The end is in sight!
Summer Camp 2015 will literally be here before we know it. Praying many of our students hurry and get signed up and also pay the $20 deposit. This helps us in a huge way. We will be having our team night on June 3 which is very early. Team Night is a night we introduce the competition teams for the week of camp and also introduce some key components of camp. Knowing who is going is crucial to making this night beneficial. To learn more about Reach Camp please visit the REACH CAMP PAGE.
Many of our students are involved with so many school activities that require summer practices, meetings and other requirements. Because of this we realize some simply cannot attend camp. But we are asking that you do all you can to work this out. We only ask because we see the potential of a week in the Word of God with the people of God. It's never a bad thing to gather your heart and thoughts around this amazing God is it?
What we've learned through the years is that many of our coaches, instructors, bosses are very understandable when it comes to this and will allow you to be absent for a week, it just may require some extra work when you return. While we definitely want you to honor commitments to your activities we also desire you to be with us for this amazing week together. But we do realize this is a hard decision for you and your family. Our encouragement is to pray, seek God, and then simply follow what you feel He desires for you to do, then simply honor that commitment and pursue excellence as you move forward. Seek to use each activity as a platform to glorify God.
The value of the possession is seen in the intensity of the pursuit.
My experience, or back story, is that I loved sports, baseball particularly. Though I grew up in a time that was less demanding on the time required it was still an effect that I often look back on with some regrets.
My heart was to honor God, I remember that clearly. I also remember telling God that if He got me to some sort of big platform in baseball I would make much of Him while there. So I spent the majority of my life, really all of my time between the ages of 12-25 pursuing nothing but baseball. My heart was ready but my actions never really came through. It seemed I was waiting for that big platform and failed to see that the ground beneath my feet was that platform. There is no bigger platform than the one you are now standing on. I failed to see that and wasted many years chasing and pursuing something I thought was ahead of me all the while failing to see that the platform was right in front of me, beneath me, in the present rather than the future. I needed to trust God's sovereignty and walk faithfully with Him, I often failed to do that. and still do. Looking back I failed to make much of Jesus, my voice was silent.
I wouldn't trade the moments learning but rather look back with a renewed sense of God's provisions and protection during a time I was focused on self. I would trade anything for having this history of my failures. These failures would later be a driving force to helping others who face the same experiences. I never imagined that the demand for time on students would be so great. But it is here nonetheless and there is no greater time for our students to use their platforms to make much of the name of Jesus. Wherever, Whenever, Whatever.
Through the years I've seen many students make the same mistake I made. What to say? How to counsel? If I say something too direct I am a legalist. If I disregard and say nothing I fear I fail to use what God has given me to help others. So I encourage them to chase these dreams all the while taking advantage of the opportunities that are staring them right in the face right now. Stand strong, honor God, pursue excellence, have fun as you walk this out but never forget the platform you now have is the most important once you'll ever have.
I do not want students and parents to look back feeling they've wasted valuable time chasing things that in the end didn't produce what they hoped. There is value in that pursuit but only when the end goal is the right goal. The encouragement is this: Chase those dreams and pursuits. But as you chase them never allow them to push your ultimate task of glorifying God to the curb. Seek things that are eternal.
Have fun pursuing a scholarship, a contract, a job, a __________________. But don't place all your hope on this one thing. We must face the reality that the pursuit may end in a "no." The destination is only half the battle...the actual pursuit is the other half. Pursue well! Glorify God in all things!
Here is the *disclaimer - I love seeing students use their life to make much of Jesus. I cringe to see students waste these opportunities. Sadly we often reveal our heart, our treasure amidst these pursuits. I am the perfect example of this and now my heart is to help others not waste such a great opportunity. Thankfully God is gracious and full of mercy. My heart here is to encourage and remind, to exhort and proclaim God's goodness. This leads to last night really...
The last few week we've been in a series called "Don't Waste Your Life." This is a book written by John Piper and it simply challenges the reader in what I've just discussed above. Don't Waste Your Life by chasing things that simply do not matter. But rather pursue things in life with one huge purpose of glorifying God in all things.
Last night we took a turn in our study. How do we honor God and seek to glorify Him with things go south.....when we suffer.....when sickness comes? Is this possible?
We have some heartache in our ministry this week with the loss of loved ones, bad news, uncertainties. We need hope. We need reminding. We need assurance.
The last place we need to prepare for a battle in the midst of the battle. Being prepared to face storms is crucial and last night we prepared, were reminded, were offered hope that suffering is not our end.
Attached are the notes and questions for you to walk through.
Would love to hear your thoughts and how I can help your student walk through the busyness of life all the while glorifying God and making much of Jesus.
From Spring Break to Testing Season...
Have you ever woke up from a great dream only to be placed back into a harsh reality? I have....my first overseas mission trip. It all began one summers morning when our team left the church at 5am and caught a flight to Houston from which we caught a connecting flight to Tegucigalpa (the 2nd most dangerous airport in the world) then hopped on a school bus (yes, it was orange) to drive 5 hours on pavement and then 5 hours on pig trails to finally arrive at our destination at 11:30 pm local time (that'd be 1:30am Georgia time.) I was tired, the bedroom (10x10) was arrayed with old creepy dentist chairs, I slept in one. I was beginning to wonder if I'd made a mistake. I needed a shower and a light and a chair and a coke. 1 of 4 wasn't bad except for the fact the power had gone out so my shower was cold and dark, but at least I was clean and ready to bed down for the night in my 1960 dentist chair. We had a major snorer, he is still attending our church so I will withhold his name for protection. I have difficulty falling to sleep, this night was even more hard. That night I eventually fell asleep and I dreamed of home, not heaven, but my bed, family, chair, fridge, lights, hot water heater. I was dreaming good and I was happy. But what happened next would be a harsh reality. The sun comes up early in Honduras, way too early. Like 5 am early. Roosters are all over the place in most parts of Honduras but glass windows are not. My harsh reality came in the form of a Rooster in one open air window who decided it was time for me to wake up and the other harsh reality was a local staring back at me through the other open air window. I'm not sure who was more surprised to see the other, the rooster, the local or me. That morning for me was about like this morning for many of our students after a week off of school only to return to the stressful situation of testing season.
I prayed this morning for all the students just like we prayed for many of them last night at The Rock. The assurance was this. God is in control. In Honduras when roosters are waking you up to locals staring back at you and also to testing season the moment you return from the beach and also to that phone call you receive just when everything is going good. God is in control. That is not in question. The question is this....will we trust in Him and walk with Him?
moment to moment
The sad reality is that the majority of people living today live moment to moment. We often find ourselves looking from one source of happiness to another source of happiness. Rather than trusting God completely in every situation we look to what this world can provide as these mystical "X's" on a treasure map. We must understand that Jesus is our greatest treasure and that each moment we have is anchored in Him.
Start in January, consider how we often think. MLK Weekend (a break), Spring Break (Relief), End of school, Summer (vacation, ball season), Fall (football, fall break trip), Thanksgiving, Christmas. We all have a next moment, trip, season, thing we're looking forward to in life. These our not bad but there is something much greater that is sealed. You see situations could easily change in our life that could drastically change how we view the "next big things" in our life or year. All the while the one constant remains. Jesus.
So maybe we remain focused on Him and allow this one constant to reign in our lives as we live for the glory of God?
Last night we looked at this a bit...the thought is we do not want students wasting their lives. So we want to dive into Scripture and seek out what this means. How do we NOT waste our lives? The answer is there and last night we learned that the cross is the blazing center of this thought.
Attached are the notes from last night as well as the bulletin. I've set you up to take a look and I pray you do and also continue the conversation of this huge topic within your homes.
REACH Camp & Mission ATL
Please be speaking with your students about our summer plans. Two big events coming up we need to get signed up for as we quickly approach some major planning. Use the tabs above, under Events, to gain more information or feel free to email me.
Have a great day and weekend!
Good morning, afternoon, evening. Hope everyone is geared up for Spring Break! We will be having the Rock next week so if you're in town plan on joining us. We've started a new series that will be challenging. It's from the book Don't Waste Your Life, by John Piper. I remember reading this book years ago and even leading some students through it was back when. The book confronts the American dream and the thought that your life is your own. Last night we kicked this study off, you can find the sermon notes to the side if you care to read them.
I also had the opportunity to speak at the Central MS FCA this morning. I love the opportunity Mrs. Morton gives me to be there so often. She is a great influence to these students at Central MS. She finds folks that present truth to these students and I appreciate her willingness to lead these mornings.
Of course the students are all gearing up for Spring Break and the fact that they do not have to attend school. Of course I had to remind them that the Monday after Spring Break was also coming. Don't you hate that person who always has to bring you back to reality? Well it wasn't all bad news this morning, there was hope.
Many times we spend our life going from one event to the next. There's vacation, start of school, spring break, christmas break, fall break, this event, that event. We go from event to event and many times lose sight of the hope of one big event. This is not our goal or plan but it's the way things happen. We spend so much energy and time thinking from one event to the next that we often lose sight of the hope that is in Jesus. Maybe this year for Easter we capture this hope and we hold onto it and in the midst of all the other events one eclipses them all.
With this mindset we keep the main thing the main thing and our joy is based on what has happened rather than that which is going to happen.
Just a friendly reminder to be planning and thinking towards Reach Camp. We have a page set up with all the information regarding camp. A sign up is up in the Rock and deposits are now being taken. Please don't miss it and please begin praying now for all the planning. Some new things coming down the pike that I'm excited about. Big changes that we're praying brings big results!
Have a great weekend and spring break but above all have a great Easter celebrating the risen King!
Also - pass this blog/email on to those who may not be receiving them.
Why a blog?
A great way for parents and ministry to connect and continue the conversation of what's going on at The Rock.