"...and I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's the Simple Things...

This past week was extremely busy for me. Between sermon preparation, speaking engagements that required me to travel, graduate studies and church activities, it felt like I was travelling 1,000 mph. By 9:00 Sunday evening, after Sunday's "hustle and bustle" had come to a close, exhaustion had set in.

However, I had the opportunity to enjoy something the Texas Hill Country hasn't seen in months. As soon as we walked in the door, Natalie and I sat on our back porch and watched the storm roll over the hills of Kerrville. With every flash of lighting and roar of thunder, I felt the presence of Almighty God. The aroma from the much needed moisture reminded me of God's faithfulness. As the rain fell from the sky, my soul was refreshed like the parched ground below. Sometimes, it's the simple things that mean the most.

When was the last time you stopped to appreciate the "simple things"? They come in many forms and fashion, but they all serve the same purpose; they remind us how great God is, and how small we are in comparsion. In this complex world, search for simplicity. It makes all the difference.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Learning from a Snake?

The College Football season has once again made its dwelling among us. College bands play their school anthems with pride, players battle like warriors on the field, coaches lose sleep, and America watches with excitement as we make our early "picks" for Bowl Season.

As coaches ignite the testosterone flame in their helmet wearing heroes each week, I can't help but remember the story of Erk Russell, football coach for Georgia Southern College. Russell's team had a serious drug problem. Many of the players were addicts, and each week Russell lost players due to eligibility violations. But, Russell was more than just a coach, he was also a mentor. Not only did he want the best for his players on the field, but also in life. Russell contacted some good ol' country boys, and asked them to make an "appearance" at the next team meeting. That next Friday during the team's big meeting before game day, the country boys burst into the room and threw a writhing, hissing, six-foot long rattle snake on the table in front of the team. The players screamed and scattered; even a 6'9 Defensive Tackle ran to the other side of campus. Russell ordered the snake to be removed from the room. He called his team back together and told them, "When cocaine comes into a room, you're not nearly as apt to leave as you are when that rattle snake comes in. But they'll both kill you!"

Anyone who knows me very well knows that I can't stand snakes. I avoid them like the plague. In fact, I would rather get a good, strong kick to the stomach than be within fifty yards of those hissing creatures. But, Erk Russell brought everything into perspective--cocaine or snake--either way, you're playing with death.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death..." Do we believe him? I don't know about you, but I don't need a rattle snake to get the point!

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Special Memory of 9/11

"Where were you on 9/11?" It's the question of the millenium. Just like older generations remember the JFK assasination and Pearl Harbor with crystal clarity, this generation remembers that September morning when the world stopped turning.

I remember it all too well. I was a freshman in High School, eating a bowl of cereal, about to walk out of the door for 1st period Geometry. As I was watching ABC's coverage of the first plane hitting the first tower, I saw the second plane hit the second tower on live TV. Not a re-run, but live. I dropped my bowl of cereal in disbelief. I remember a congregational prayer service that evening at Waterview Church of Christ, where I saw some of the toughest men I knew crying like babies. I remember visiting New York City that next June, and the thousands of "Missing" pictures of family members that lined the subway walls; the unbelievable sadness that encompassed my heart when I read hand written messages from young children, "Daddy, we miss you. Please come home." Just like you, it's a day I'll never forget.

For the past ten years, we've heard touching stories from families directly affected by the terrorist attacks, but are you familiar with Ron DiFrancesco? Ron was a 37 year-old Canadian money-market broker for Euro Brokers. His office was on the 84th floor of the South Tower, and he is only one of four people to have escaped above the 81st floor. When the plane struck, Ron began running down the stairs, but safety crews told him to run back up because the flames were too bad below. Ron ran back up the stairs in search of clean air, but realizing that the doors of the stairwell were locked, he covered his mouth and nose with his foreamrs and ran all the way to the bottom fighting the flames. When he reached the ground floor, he heard a giant roar as the building began to collapse. Days later, he woke up in the hospital with burns all over his body and a broken bone in his back. He still has the watch he was wearing on 9/11, which stopped at the exact time the building came down. We can understand why Ron struggles everytime he tells the story, smelling the smoke, feeling the flames, and tasting death like it was yesterday.

Ron DiFrancesco's story is very touching, but his memory is life changing. When reporters asked him what he would remember most about 9/11, Ron said, "Guilt. I will carry with me to my grave whether I should have taken somebody with me." Ten years later, Ron is grateful to be alive, but he still feels the burden of rescuing only himself.

As Christians, it's our responsibility to escape the dangers of this world so we can see Heaven, but we're commanded to take people with us. When the tower of your life falls, who will you rescue? Begin today, before the smoke, flames, and chaos keep you from being a hero!