Friday, November 21, 2008

Junior gives it to us Straight

H. Wayne Huizenga Jr. aka "Junior" in his own parlance, spoke twice in the Hampton Roads area yesterday; once in the Leadership Prayer Breakfast and again in a special chapel at Regent University.

I've heard famous folks speak before, and to quote Forest Gump, " (famous speakers) are like a box of chocolates, you never know when they're going to get goey and ooze onto the floor or when you'll bite into one that looked good but turned out to be licorice flavor, ukkk!" Maybe that wasn't Forest Gump, but I'm sure someone said that.

From the outside, the box of chocolates looked good; famous wealthy guy from a famous wealthy family who was living the American dream. His bio says he's the President of the holding company that owns a controlling interest in the Dolphins and their stadium, which seems a bit convoluted, but hey; who's kidding whom--this is the guy who gets to sit in the luxury sky box and watch his favorite team every week in the fall--pretty much every little boy's dream! As he said, he had the cars and the houses and the travel and the lifestyle that we all want. But it wasn't enough.

Now I've been around church to know what was coming next. Like the little boy in Sunday School when the teacher asked him "What has a furry tail, climbs trees and eats nuts?" responded "Teacher it sounds like a squirrel, but this is Sunday School so I know the answer has got to be God or Jesus." I knew the answer was going to be "Jesus" (which of course I don't disagree with) but somehow my life has always seemed more complicated than that.

That's when this box of chocolate surprised me. Junior described his encounter with Christ, without hesitation and in powerful detail. But the most powerful part to me was his transparency in describing the steps and the stages by which he discovered that Jesus was the answer to his problems.

First, he was blessed to have a friend he enjoyed, who entered his world with whom he had fun. They did guy stuff like go fishing and ride submarines. Cool. Then he noticed there was a difference in the way they lived their lives. Junior asked great questions, "Why are we so different?" Then he responded by going to church. I loved the fact that he couldn't find any of his immediate friends who went to church. Really it makes me sad, because most church-type Christians have few "unchurched" friends. Then about 18 months later (if I have my facts straight) he had an old-fashioned "get saved" experience at a church. And even then he professed a discomfort with that label.

Wayne Jr. was extremely open, vulnerable and transparent with the struggle to "keep your eyes on Christ" while having alot of money. He talked about steps he takes regularly to grow in his faith, and to model his life on that of others he admires. He talked about ways he attempts to avoid mistakes his dad may have made in giving too much time to business. I came away thinking, "I relate to this guy, and his process of becoming more Christlike, less focused on self, and being honest along the way."

So for once, I reached into the box of chocolates and the one that came out was even better than it looked. Way to go Junior, our prayers are with you.

PS (Any way I can get tickets for this year's Super Bowl?)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Camping is In Tents

Ok, so we went camping this weekend for the first time ever as a family. Call me crazy, I waited until November to do so. Maybe as an Eagle Scout I felt I had something to prove!

Now for those of you who know the Scout laws, "A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, etc." you'll notice one important camping skill is left out...


Probably that's because when I was a Scout, all I had to worry about was myself. Now, I have three kids a wife to look after, and that's where patience comes in. I'm not saying I'm perfect when it comes to camping. I left so many things at home it wasn't funny (D Batteries for the air mattress pump, extra batteries for the lantern...that went out 10 minutes after we got there, skewers to roast the hot dogs and marshmellows, you get the picture) But that didn't keep me from being annoyed at others... no sirree. I could be impatient when somebody else forgot things (paper plates and cups) annoyed when my son kept running off into the woods without telling anybody, or of course, entered the worst GRUMP ZONE of all when we got home and it was time to unload all the smoky things left in the family van.

It's a little humorous to me that God chose a family camping trip to teach patient faith to the forefather of three great religions...Abraham. Such a mundane venue, in a way, and yet such a profound journey.

Gen 12:4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan

I have long since discovered that I am by nature impatient...more concerned with the end result than the process; more worried about final perfection than concerned with the small steps in between. Family camping reveals to me how short-sighted my approach is. It reminds me that the process of discovering what one forgot is in itself preparation for the next trip, and the next.

Abraham learned lots of lessons while camping with his family, the best ones when he wasn't in such a hurry he couldn't share a little hospitality with friends (Gen. 18) or drop what you're doing to help a family member who got lost (Gen. 14) It was when he got IMPATIENT that Abraham got in trouble (Gen. 16) like when he got tired of waiting for God's promise to come true and made up his own plan. (Although in fairness to Abe, the story reveals that it was actually his wife Sarah's idea...which she conveniently blames him for later. Another camping pitfall...)

Family teaches us that life is not about is about community. Family takes patience and proves that going TOGETHER is worth the wait. I was reminded that regardless of what I know or the experiences I have, if I can't use that knowledge to enrich the lives of those around me, it's pretty pointless. Our camping trip wasn't perfect, but it was the pefect opportunity for me to develop patience. And I needed it...

Prov. 19:11 A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

Where do you need patience ? What helps you develop it?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

22 Reasons to Rejoice for 44

22 Reasons to Rejoice for 44

1. No one was killed as a result of exercising their constitutional right to vote in the United States of America.

2. An African-American was elected President for the first time in US History.

3. Women in America had the freedom to vote or not vote for a woman on a major party ticket.

4. Women in America had the freedom to vote or not vote for a woman as president.

5. John McCain, Obama's opponent, overcame imprisonment and torture as a prisoner of war to run for the highest office in the land.

6. Unprecedented voter registrations repudiate charges of apathy among the electorate in America.

7. Experts claim this election boasted the highest voter turnout rate in years, perhaps a century.

8. A Single mom raised a boy who became president, giving hope and inspiration to many.

9. Barack Obama was able to see his grandmother one last time before she passed away, thanking her for the enormous role she played in his life. What grandmother hasn't thought that her grandson or granddaughter might not grow up to be president?

10. Unprecedented numbers of young people got involved in the election process.

11. Hispanic Americans are playing an increasingly crucial role in national elections.

12. "Conventional wisdom" that is, know-it-all pundits telling us normal people what will happen, got set on it's ear in a number of ways...from Hillary Clinton's defeat to Sarah Palin's VP selection.

13. We have not suffered a terrorist attack in the 7 years following 9/11/01.

14. An enormous number of people feel buoyed with hope after the election, and believe good things about the future of our country. It sure beats cynicism!

15. John McCain gave an excellent example of how to lose gracefully.

16. We'll have little kids in the White House again.

17. Obama's victory means we don't have to watch silly
political ads for another four years.

18. Military servicemen who place their lives in harm's way will have their ballots counted, even if it takes time.

19. We can move from talking about the bad economy to
doing something about it.

20. Thousands got free Starbucks coffee, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Chic-fil-A, Ben and Jerry's and others just for voting. I love this country.

21. Tina Fey will have to find a new skit for the next 4 years.

22. God is still on His throne, and shapes the lives of nations and individuals as He choses. No human can limit His power and no government exists without His permission. We can pray and support this government and this President because God can bless it, and bring peace to our lives.

God Bless America, and God Bless our new President Elect, Barack Obama.