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Camp Catastrophe

cover12Recently, I came across a letter that Sam wrote to us during a week he spent at camp. We really missed him while he was gone, but thankfully he was able to take a little time to write us a letter that eased all of our fears about him being away. His letter is below:

Dear Mom and Dad,
    Our camp counselor told us to write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and were worried. We are OK. Only one of our tents and two sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up the mountain looking for Josh when it happened. Oh yes, please call Josh’s mother and tell her he is OK. He can’t write because of the cast. I got to ride in one of the search and rescue jeeps. It was neat. We never would have found him in the dark if it wasn’t for the lightning. Our Counselor Clark got mad at Josh for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Josh said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn’t hear him.
    Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blowup? The wet wood didn’t burn, but one of the tents did. Also some of our clothes. Michael is going to look weird until his hair grows back.
     We will be home on Saturday if Counselor Clark gets the car fixed. It wasn’t his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked OK when we left. Counselor Clark said that with a car that old, you have to expect something to break down; that’s probably why he can’t get insurance. We think it’s a neat car. He doesn’t care if we get it dirty, and if it’s hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the fenders. It gets pretty hot with 10 people in a car. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the state policeman stopped and talked to us. Counselor Clark is a neat guy. Don’t worry, he is a good driver. In fact, he is teaching Michael how to drive on the mountain roads where there isn’t any traffic. All we ever see up here is logging trucks.
     This morning, all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out in the lake. Counselor Clark wouldn’t let me because I can’t swim, and Josh was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. You can still see some of the trees under the water from the flood. Counselor Clark isn’t crabby like some Counselors. He didn’t even get mad about the lifejackets. He has to spend a lot of the time working on the car so we are trying not to cause him any trouble.
Guess what? We have all passed our first aid merit badges. When Dave dove in the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Wade and I threw up, but Counselor Clark said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken. He said they got sick that way with the food they ate in prison. I’m so glad he got out and became our Counselor. He said he sure figured out how to get things done better while he was doing his time. By the way, what is a pyromaniac? I have to go now. We are going to town to mail our letters and buy bullets. Don’t worry about anything. We are fine.

Love, Sam

PS: How long has it been since I had a tetanus shot?

Obviously, Sam didn’t really write that letter and when he was at summer camp, they took excellent care of him while he was there. This is just a funny letter I found on the internet and modified a bit – and while it gave me quite a chuckle it also made me think about worrying. There are so many things in this world that we can worry about – things that will happen, things that could happen, things that might happen, things that we want to happen but might not, things that should have happened but didn’t. There is certainly more than enough worry to go around and we can become a slave to it. If we sent our son to camp and then worried that all of those things written in the letter might happen, it would have crippled us. The point is… we need not worry – let me rephrase that – we need to not worry because we aren’t in charge anyway. We need to be prudent and alert, but worrying causes us to forget that God is in control.  As the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff… and it’s all small stuff (for God).

Philippians 4 (The Message)
6Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. 7Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

1 Peter 5 (ESV)
6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2010 in Christianity

 

Jesus and the NFL

EagleHelmetI have been keeping a secret… a secret that I am sure you will all find surprising.  I am a football fan!  Shocking, isn’t it? Is there anyone who knows me surprised to find out that I actually like football?

OK… maybe it isn’t all that surprising. Why didn’t it surprise any of you? It wasn’t a shock because I’ve made it rather obvious. If you have known me for any length of time, I have probably talked about football, or you have seen me in a football jersey, or heard me discussing our fantasy football league. Many people have even watched football at my house or seen me wearing one of my football ties. Not only is it evident that I like football, it is also obvious that my favorite team is the Eagles. In addition, the Eagles happen to be the favorite team of my entire family (not that they were ever given a choice.) If you see them, you’ll see them dressed in the appropriate attire for a football fan on the first Sunday of football season. Yes – I’ll confess, I am an Eagles fan.

Why does any of this matter? It matters, because as I thought about how obvious I have made it that I am an Eagles fan, I wondered how about how obvious it was that I am also Jesus fan. After all, what have the Eagles ever done for me? Sure, they have given me many hours of entertainment and lifted my spirits. But… there have been plenty of occasions where they have let me down too. Jesus, on the other hand has done everything for me. He created me, sustains me, guides me, and died for my sins. All my hope is in Christ. That being the case, it should be even more evident that my life is dedicated to Him than it is that I like a football team. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with being an Eagles fan (being a Cowboys fan on the other hand, that’s different – someone should invent a pill to cure that), and the NFL has its share of solid Christian leadership – Reggie White was a powerful evangelist, both coaches of the past Superbowl are professing Christians, etc.  Enjoying football isn’t wrong, but I do find myself searching my heart to make sure it isn’t something that I am putting ahead of God. Do I need football – certainly not. Do I need God – absolutely.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2010 in Christianity

 

Hello Grand Canyon, Meet My Crazy Wife!

61692_435482273493_574873493_5326591_4450694_nRecently, my wife and I had the opportunity to make a trip to Las Vegas for a mini-reunion with some of the folks that I had been in the Navy with. We an enjoyable time looking at the many attractions that Las Vegas had to offer and saw some amazing things. Everything in the city is built to impress. The Paris casino has a replica of the Eiffel tower out front, New York New York has replicas of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and the Statue of Liberty. The Bellagio has an 8-acre lake and a choreographed show with fountains that shoot water up to 460 feet in the air. The Venetian has canals inside the casino with gondolas and gondoliers as well as incredible ceilings designed to look like something that Michelangelo might have created. Each casino tries to outdo the others and everything is designed to call attention to how spectacular it is. I must say that as Marcia and I walked around, we were quite impressed. While there, we also got to take a trip to the Grand Canyon. I initially debated as to whether we should go, because we were only in Vegas for a few days and it is such  long drive out to the Canyon and back that it would consume an entire day. We did, however, decide to make the trip and nothing could have prepared us for what we saw. We saw the best that man had to offer in Las Vegas and then… standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon and looking out everything previous seemed insignificant. I had seen hundreds of photos and heard stories and thought that I knew what to expect. I was wrong. The sheer size and beauty of it is staggering. Over 270 miles long, 18 miles wide at spots, and over a mile deep with amazing rock formations and beautiful colors. I couldn’t help but think, “OK, God… you’ve made man to be capable of some amazing things, but you win. This blows everything else away.” Nothing I say can truly describe it properly, even photos and videos don’t come close to conveying the scale properly. The Grand Canyon was the unquestionable highlight of our trip.


DSCF16821While we were at the Grand Canyon enjoying the view, Marcia frightened everyone in the group. For some reason, she insisted on walking out the edge of the cliff face and then she balanced on one foot and leaned out to look down at the canyon floor 4,000 feet below. I wish that I had taken a picture of it but I was too busy yelling at her to step back. The rock at the edge was crumbling and there were high wind gusts but that didn’t matter to her… she just leaned right out over this thing and looked down. She wasn’t concerned in the slightest about what could have happened to her. You might think Marcia is just fearless if it weren’t for the following incident. The next day, while we were walking around on the strip in Vegas, we came to a nice fountain at the Monte Carlo and thought it was a good opportunity for a picture. I, being the goofball that I am, suggested that Marcia climb onto my shoulders for the picture. She took a little convincing, but she did it. During the 30 seconds that she was sitting on my shoulders, she was hanging on for dear life and shaking like leaf in tornado. Picture this – leaning out over a 4,000 foot high precipice, no problem. Sitting on my shoulders 4 feet off the ground, and she’s petrified. When I considered this, I thought… this makes no sense. Of course, I do basically the same thing with God. Marcia wasn’t scared at the Grand Canyon because she was under the illusion that she was in control, whereas she had to rely on me to keep her safe when she was on my shoulders. I am the same way. I make plans and follow through under my own power oblivious to the danger that is all around because I am in control. When I come to my senses and rely on God for help, I get nervous because I have to rely on Him. Let me ask you, where could I possibly be safer than sitting on God’s shoulders?

Isaiah 26 (New Living Translation)
4Trust in the LORD always,for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock. 5He humbles the proud and brings down the arrogant city. He brings it down to the dust. 6The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot, and the needy walk all over it. 7But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them. 8LORD, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2010 in Christianity, Personal

 

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“The Cloud”

Delivered to Hope Church on September 12, 2010

The-CloudIf you know me, you know that I spend much of my daily life submerged in technology and things related to technology. Being that my predilection for technology is fairly common knowledge, I frequently get asked about the latest gadgets, computer software, phones, trends, etc. Yesterday I was asked about “The Cloud”. The Cloud is the latest trend in computing and if you haven’t yet heard about, rest assured that you will. The Cloud is an intentionally nebulous term that references the internet. In its broadest sense, The Cloud is the internet. Cloud Computing is becoming the new way to use computers, phones, tablets, etc. and basically means that your data or your computer programs, or both are not on your physical computer. The live on the internet somewhere, in the cloud. You never see them but always have access to them. There are some tremendous benefits to working this way:

  • Tremendous processing power is on hand instantly, any time you need it.
  • Managing your computer becomes much simpler since nothing needs to be installed or updated.
  • All of your applications and files are available no matter where you are, even if you use a different computer.
  • Your computer can be smaller and cheaper because it no longer needs to do the processing.

After describing this new paradigm that we are transitioning to in the computer world I thought that there are some interesting parallels to the conversion we undergo as Christians. As non-Christians, our lives tend to be complicated because of everything we have to be worried about and in control of. Our lives need constant maintenance, updates, patches, antivirus, etc. When something in our lives breaks, we scramble to find the fix anywhere we can – medication, psychiatrists, self-help books, etc.

A Christian’s life is supposed to be much simpler and closer to the ideal cloud computing environment –

  • We have tremendous power at hand any time we need it. We just need to ask.
  • Our lives aren’t problem free by a longshot, but the solution to our problems should be more evident and accessible.
  • God is always available, no matter where we are.
  • Our lives should be more streamlined as we rely on God for direction and support.

Of course, our God is far more capable and mighty than any cloud computing solution we could even imagine. He knows our hearts and minds, our fears and desires and loves us and desires for us to have a relationship with Him. Truly amazing!

Psalm 139 (New Living Translation)
1O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. 2You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. 3You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. 4You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. 5You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. 6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! 7I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 11I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— 12but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. 13You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. 17How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2010 in Christianity

 

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