Ascend.

I have this crazy dream.  It’s not the normal thing that a guy who has lived most of his life in Florida would probably want to do, but I want to do it anyway.  I want to go on a cattle drive.  You know – riding like a cowboy on a horse, yelping and making noises as I try to get cattle moving in the right direction.  Boots, the hat, the whole thing.  Now, I did the “City Slickers” thing and told myself I would have it done before my 40th birthday – well I’m 41 now and I haven’t done it yet.  Funny thing how money is always involved.  But it’s still inside of me rumbling around wanting to be done – and I just KNOW that someday I am going to do it.  I guess this probably leaves you wondering why any sane person would want to do something so unusual, right?  That’s an easy-enough answer… It’s God’s fault.

If you’ve been reading these posts, by now you know I love history… and maybe you’ve also picked up a bit on that part of me that yearns for the big, sweeping, and epic moments of life.  I love movies like “Dances With Wolves”, “Glory” and “The Patriot” – anything full of big, wide, panoramic shots of the openness of America, all packed in with historical moments and zipped up in an overwhelming sound score.  Something in me craves to know that there is more out there than the laid out streets of our neighborhoods.  When I was a child, I had a subscription to Arizona Highways magazine – just so I could look at the pictures of the Grand Canyon and life “out West”.  I would also play for hours alone in the woods near where we lived with an old WWII-era training rifle, letting the hills and streams of Delmar, NY and Walpole, MA become the battlefields of Bunker Hill and Normandy.  Fallen logs would turn into the walls and ramparts at the Alamo or the fences surrounding Gettysburg.  I don’t think that there was a major battle in our nation’s history that I didn’t fight in.  I covered a lot of ground for a kid in the 4th grade. Continue reading

No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.” – Isaiah 42:1

It was the summer before my Junior year in High School that God used this verse to confirm that He was calling me into a life in the ministry.  When I responded to the Holy Spirit’s drawing at a youth camp that summer, I knew from that moment forward that I would be working with youth the rest of my life.  I had been praying and asked God to confirm that calling to me through His Word, and one day that scripture “address” popped into my head, and when I looked it up – well, you can see why I would take that as a confirmation.

Over the 25+ years as youth pastors and pastors since then, we have had so many young people come and go through our lives.  It’s been an awesome privilege to see so many grow in their walks with the Lord, and especially in seeing those who have responded themselves to that same call into ministry.  Now – don’t get me wrong, those who are now studying law, or who are teachers, soldiers, store clerks, nurses, firefighters, moms, dads… I am equally proud of each of them, too!  But to deny that there is not some sort of kindredness with those called into ministry would be a lie.  I guess you could compare it to being a Marine and knowing other Marines… sure you admire the Navy, Army, and Air Force – but you really feel connected to another Marine.  I hope that makes sense. Continue reading

Gaining a fire through the Forge…

I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s this year pretty much in bed.  I woke up two days after Christmas with a bad bug and spent the next few days either in bed sleeping or in the bathroom being sick.  The first time I can ever remember being sick like that was when I was in the third or fourth grade and we lived in New York.  I just remember being so sick that I could barely get out of bed.  Three decades later and I can still remember how uncomfortable it was, and the delirium and strange dreams that always accompany these kinds of sicknesses.  It seems like those dreams are the strangest when you lay there watching television, so this latest time I at least made sure it didn’t come on until the intensity of the bug had passed.  Either way, it felt like an almost prophetic way to end 2011.

“I am sick, discontented, and out of humor. Poor food, hard lodging, cold weather, fatigue, nasty clothes, nasty cookery, vomit half my time, smoked out my senses – the Devil’s in it; I can’t Endure it.  Why are we sent here to starve and freeze?  What sweet felicities have I left at home: a charming wife, pretty children, good beds, good food, good cookery – all agreeable, all harmonious. Here all confusion, smoke and cold, hunger and filthiness…” – Surgeon Albigence Waldo, Valley Forge, December 14, 1777 Continue reading