Monday, October 31, 2005

Show me T-Money!


T-Money and Me at the WFJ Banquet in July Posted by Picasa

Saturday's WFJ show in Branchville was a huge success. Many came to know the Lord, and many were touched, including a few people in my home! It was great to see everyone in WFJ and I love watching them perform. Along with Tama, I provided ringside commentary and had a blast. The best part was no broken bones!

I have a confession to make. My favorite part of the WFJ show is NOT the wrestling. It is the chance to hang out, briefly or not, with T-Money, the heart and soul of WFJ. T-Money's real name is Timothy, and rightly so. Like the Timothy of the Bible, he has the heart of a pastor, and WFJ is his flock.

WFJ is a Christian organization located out of Langley, SC, aka, The Valley. Most of the wrestlers are from the valley, but quite a few are not. Some are from Charleston, Columbia, Newberry, and Augusta, GA. With WFJ being a Christian ministry, you might expect that all the wrestlers are perfect people and have no problems. Most churches would accept no less. WFJ accepts the least of the least. How do you think I got in?

Let me tell you where I was when I found WFJ. I was an outcast. I was on the back end of two divorces. One was from my wife of 13 years, who just didn't want to be married anymore. The second was from my church where I had pastored for almost 4 years. I hadn't done anything wrong. Even after the news of my separation and impending divorce, they allowed me to stay and minister there. They were very supportive on the surface, but then one person began stirring stuff, then another, then another...

Under intense pressure I resigned my pastorate. My colleagues and friends told me that I was never to step back into the pulpit again. All my life and education had been in preparation for the ministry. What was I going to do now?

Add to all of that the reality that I could not go out in my community without seeing people whispering behind my back and pointing. As a youngster I wanted to be popular, but this was not at all what I had imagined popularity to be like. I couldn't even register my children at school without catching the whisperers behind me. As a pastor I had spoken at two PTA meetings in front of hundreds of parents and teachers. Now I was a social outcast in my children's school. I was worried what this might do to them. Fortunately, the Lord protected them from any comments or other such nonsense. It was truly one of the worse times in my life.

Fast forward. It is November of 2004. I am happily re-married and working for the cable company. In my email box is a note inviting me to check out WFJ's website. The email was from The "B" Bryon James, who is now a treasured friend. I love wrestling. I have since I was a kid. I love Jesus and the ministry. Before I left my church, we were going to pit me and an ex-ECW wrestler who was a member of our church and a good friend in an exhibition match upon reaching 200 in Sunday School. We even had Nikita Koloff come to our church www.nikitakoloff.com so the fire was hot for me in terms of mixing ministry and wrestling.

So I got Timothy's phone number off the website and sitting in the driveway of a "no-show" cable installation, I called him. He invited me to come to practice and listened as I shared my "shameful" tale. When I finished, I waited for him to say, "Well, Todd, your story is most unfortunate, and while Jesus loves you, there's just no way we could dirty ourselves by allowing you into our ministry." Quite the opposite, he said, "We aren't worried about that. Just come on and be a part of us."

Almost a year later, I have discovered over and over again that this is how Timothy is. He has a beautiful wife and family. He could have a better life financially than what he has. Yet he has chosen to work around WFJ. None of us are paid, by the way. In fact, Timothy has invested quite a chunk of his personal finances into this ministry.

Timothy is one of those rare people who just make you feel better having been around him. He is a builder of people. He takes time, lots of time, to minister to all of us. He never complains and never asks for anything in return. When I broke my arm, he called me every day for nearly a month to check on me. Never once did he say, "Well so much for your wrestling career." Instead he found other ways to use my gifts. Sometimes I get to offer the gospel message and invitiation at our shows, or lead Bible studies at practice. WFJ has given me back the ministry, but more importantly, WFJ has shown me grace that can only come from the Lord. God used Timothy to give a confused, beaten, burnt out case another chance and rebuild me into a much more gracious and accepting man of God than I ever was.

T-Money, you da man! The best is yet to come!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Branchville Bash 2

Ok, go ahead, if you will, and spew forth all of your "midlife crisis alert" comments, and then we will get to the nitty-gritty.

At age 37, I pursued professional wrestling as a pastime. I met a group who uses the platform of pro-wrestling as a means to proclaim the gospel. I love wrestling, and I love Jesus. I reasoned that I wasn't getting any younger, and having been divorced, was limited in my ministry options. Welcome to life in the buckle of the Bible belt.

For six weeks I trained every Saturday. I would literally ache in places I had no inkling would hurt, but I went back for more every week. Additionally, I was building a camaraderie with a group of people that I can now say I dearly love. I was improving in skill, not hurting quiet as much, and so Timothy, aka T-Money, the CEO of WFJ www.wrestlingforjesus.org thought I was ready to make my wrestling debut...

...as a referee. It wasn't a world title shot, but I was on it. Our first show was out in the middle of nowhere in a place called Branchville, SC. We arrived early, and I wanted to get in wrestling training before the show. T-Money enlisted one of WFJ's distinguished veterans, a cool cat named Dynamite Dave, to work with me. Dave had been beaten with a strap by the legendary Wahoo McDaniel early in his career, and knew a lot of the legends I grew up watching on TV as a teenager. So I was honored to have him teach me some basics.

One of the premiere wrestling moves everyone must master is called a "back bump." You literally fall backwards, tuck your chin, and land on your shoulder blades, which absorb the shock quite nicely if you do it right. I was not. So Dave was going to use one of the more effective methods of training me to teach me how to do a professional back bump. I was a most eager student.

I assumed the ready position (later to find out there was no actual ready position in wrestling...only tennis) and without warning, which is the proper way to master this technique, Dynamite Dave hit me with the force of a perfect dropkick. I went back with heavy force, and, somewhat startled, instinctively reached out to catch myself (NEVER DO THIS) the next thing I recall is the sound of my right forearm literally snapping. I heard the snap, then I looked at my arm (NEVER DO THIS EITHER) and realized my right forearm was in the shape of a capital "C."

Suddenly I was the object of much attention. I regretted this because I really was about to vomit. Another wrestler, Deuce, told me to breathe deeply. The nausea began to subside, but the pain was unbelievable. One of our security guys was also an EMT, and for 45 minutes while we waited on the ambulance (recall I am in the middle of nowhere) held my arm in traction, easing the pain somewhat. Thanks again, Brian!

There is an old saying among Christians that sometimes a man has to get flat on his back in order to look up at God. On March 12, 2005, I was that man. I had been running from God, running from ministry, and running from myself. Now I was literally flat on my back in a strange place. I recalled an old sermon of mine based on Psalm 23 where I illustrated that actual Shepherds will break the leg of a sheep if it falls into the "Cast" position, where they have fallen over and cannot get up due to the excess weight and fleece. The shepherd first shears the sheep of all its fleece, the thing that makes it most significant. He then takes the naked sheep and breaks its right foreleg. The result of this is that the sheep now has to be carried by the shepherd for awhile. Also, the shepherd deliberately places the ear of the sheep over his heart. Eventually, the sheep, which would have otherwise died, regains its equilibrium and is able to rejoin the flock.

That is what I needed. Just to be out of commission for awhile and listen to the Shepherd's Heart. It was truly a life-changing experience.

Tonight WFJ is back in Branchville, and I'm going. I will most likely do ringside commentary and maybe help with the ministry part afterwards. Can't get hurt that way. It is now 7 months later, and my arm is 98% healed. It has been a long process. I will need to wait at least 6 months to begin wrestling training again. I will be 38 years old. We'll see what happens. What will I feel as I walk into that gymnasium so far away from home and everything else? I don't know. I do know that I have an 8 inch scar on my right forearm that daily reminds me of how awesome God is, and of how NOT to take a back bump.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Now he tells us

The following was sent to me in an email from my brother, who is also a die hard Trekker. I wonder if Chekov was aware of this....

George Takei Says He's Gay
Actor Is Best Known for Role of Mr. Sulu on Star Trek

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 27) - George Takei, best known for his role as Mr. Sulu in "Star Trek," came out as homosexual in the current issue of a magazine covering the Los Angeles gay and lesbian community.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

I miss my Harley!

My Sleeping Beauty


My Sleeping Beauty Posted by Picasa

Today's blog is about my wife, Tracy. The above photo was taken while we were on our way to Walterboro, SC, where I was to preach at a church that day. It was an hour and 15 minute drive.

Tracy is a helper. In her position as a CNA/Nurse Tech, it befalls her to care for the elderly in the same way one would care for an infant. She feeds, bathes, changes (yes diapers), and generally cares for elderly people placed in a permanent care facility. She takes great care in preserving their dignity and making them feel special all the while. I have watched her at work. It is a sight to behold, and the residents and their families all adore her. No surprise to me.

Tracy is a giver. She will do anything for anyone. She knows how to say no, but chooses not to. We have sort of "adopted" a young teen who needed some love and parental guidance. Yup, it was Tracy's idea. Both of Tracy's brothers are living with us right now. She does their laundry, cooks their meals, prepares their lunches, and picks up after them. Might I add she does all of this cheerfully and voluntarily. She works all day long, and has the energy and heart to do these things when she comes home. Note that all of this is above and beyond her primary duties.

Tracy is a trip! Man can she make me laugh! We have so much fun together. Sometimes, well most of the time, I want to steal her away and have her all to myself. I am planning a trip for just such a purpose. She is not selfish at all. She wants nothing for herself, except to be loved and provided for. If we lived in a motor home with only three wheels, she would keep it clean, find a place for everyone to sleep, and make it fun.

Tracy is a mother. We are a blended family. I have three children and she has four. When I first introduced my 3 to her, they loved her right away, and she them. I pray one day that all of our children realize what a wonderful woman this is who feeds and cares for them. She washes, folds, and puts away all of their clothes. She makes sure everyone gets their medicine at the right times every day. She helps with homework. She never does this grudgingly, and she doesn't do it because no one else will. She does it out of pure love.

Tracy is my wife. She is my best friend, lover, and soulmate. The Bible uses the phrase, 'ezer kenegdo, which is a Hebrew expression sort of conveying the idea of a missing piece completing a puzzle. Tracy completes me. She is the only woman in the world to ever make my coffee. She herself doesn't drink the stuff, but she makes it for me. She was made to be a minister's wife. Anything I do in church, praying, preaching, singing, or ministering at the altar, causes her eyes to light up with a pride and love that only a wife could have. The picture of her sleeping above is special to me. She could have stayed home and slept that day while I went and preached. That would have been fine. But she wouldn't have missed being there to see me preach for all the tea in China. She couldn't keep her eyes open coming or going, but when her husband was preaching, she was wide awake. Her eyes are the most beautiful things I have ever seen. They are so full of love and compassion. She is so very passionate. What she loves and believes in drives her. I am blessed, so very blessed, that God gave her to me.

Tracy is God's daughter. His baby girl. She has been through so much in her life. In every moment, good or bad, God was there, protecting and guarding her. He had big plans for her, and was getting her ready. There has not been one moment of her life that God has not loved her absolutely. He is going to do huge things through her life. He already is. Maybe one day the world will see these huge things. Maybe only her family and the host of Heaven will see it. At any rate, God sees. I believe He looks at Tracy and then calls everyone in Heaven over and points with joy while exclaiming, "Look at her! That's how I want it done! Isn't she precious!" Her earthly father abandoned and neglected her. Her Heavenly Father adores and cheers her while guiding and loving her through each day.

Tracy, I love you more today than I did yesterday, and as hard as it is to imagine, I will love you more tomorrow than I do right now. Thank you for being you, thank you for being there, and thank you for being my wife. I hope we get really, really old together.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

No more ice cream at bedtime

On a typical night I sleep very soundly. So much so that it takes much effort to awaken me during the night. Case in point, back when I was pastoring, I was summoned in the middle of the night to attend to a family who had just lost a loved one. It was about 1:00 am, and to this day, I barely recall actually going. I remember that I did in fact go and sit with Mrs. Doby, but the details are a bit hazy. I hope I didn't say anything dumb. Sleep-pastoring? A new mental disorder which I may delve into in another blog.

Ummmm...no.

Last night I was awakened rather suddenly, which, as I said before, is hard to do. But this time it wasn't a family emergency, or a sick child, or my dog, Levi, sticking his big wet nose in my face desiring a late-night petting. This was something I haven't experienced in a long time.

I had a bad dream.

Bear in mind I seldom recall my dreams. I wake up in the morning and the dreams are gone. Last night I remembered the whole thing. The dream began with my co-workers, friends, and family at a restaurant being merrily led by yours truly in a chorus of Elton John's, "Crocodile Rock." Then I had to leave to go to another engagement. I was driving my old 1990 Nissan Sentra, which in reality was totaled by the ex-wife on I-85 near Cary, NC. She was OK, the car was a goner. I now drive a 97 Chevy S-10. Nevertheless I was in my Sentra in the dream.

Suddenly I had taken a wrong turn and was in the woods driving along a spooky looking trail headed toward a cabin. I felt an eerie presence, so I rolled up the car window, leaving it cracked slightly (which I always do...I need air). Without warning there were hands covering my ears, and another set of hands grabbing my shoulders, but they were not hurting me. In my mind I felt the hands were leading somewhere I didn't want to go, only I didn't mind. I believe it was Deceit leading me into some terrible sin with grave consequences. I'd been here too many times before. I began to resist.

I startled awake and immediately began to pray. I confessed every known sin. My heart was pounding and I even nudged my beautiful wife Tracy and told her I'd had a bad dream. She mumbled something about Root Beer and put her arm around me. So there I was, late last night, praying until I finally dozed off again while my semi-comatose wife laid her arm on me.

I woke up this morning feeling somewhat rested and glad to see the sunlight. I prepared my coffee, showered, dressed, and out the door I went. I was never happier to see my truck in the driveway. I arrived at work this morning and got settled in. As I began to post this blog, guess what was playing on the radio?

Elton John's Crocodile Rock.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Daddy's Chair

There is a sacred place in my house. It is my chair. My recliner. My source of comfort and relaxation. No one can sit in it but me. I work for a living. I pay for everything, and all I ask for is this one chair...all to myself...all mine.

Yet every time I leave the room, someone is sitting in my chair. MY chair...MY world! It's MINE! I make the child get up, and remind them that there are other places to sit in the house, and that this chair is not one of them. Not for you, anyway. It's MINE!

Then it occurred to me. What if God, MY father, MY Daddy, kicked me out of His private place everytime I tried to get in it. I shed tears this morning over the thought of a loving, selfless, Heavenly Dad who welcomes me into His Most Holy Place anytime I want to come in. I can crawl in His recliner, watch the tube, eat my chips and look at Him and say, "Daddy, this is the life." My children have not had that privilege. I have not offered it to them.

They love me so much that they feel perfectly comfortable "invading" my personal space at anytime. In return, I kick them out. Not anymore.

Today, I am going to offer my chair to whoever wants it. Then I am going to wait on them hand and foot. Maybe we will have a family devotion tonight on Selflessness.

I still love my chair and the comfort it brings. But I have a brand new outlook and perspective. "Daddy's Chair" is for everyone to enjoy, and so is Daddy.

Thanks, Father...I mean, Daddy.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Now, I'm really gonna sing!

Is it possible to have missed God's perfect will? Let me explain...

I recall the day as if it were moments ago. Truly, it was one of the first big "God" moments of my life. The first of many, might I add.

There I was, kneeling at my bed, Bible open, needing an answer to the question, "Why am I here?" I was a new Christian and only 16 years old. I felt as if my life were a mistake and wondered what purpose there was for me. I was saved now and going to Heaven. What was God waiting for? I wanted to go right then, but I knew I'd have to wait. I said, "Lord, I am Your servant. Tell me what You want me to do with my life."

Though the Bible was open, I had not yet chosen a passage to read. At the end of my prayer, I looked down and saw Colossians 3:16, "Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God." That was it! Before I got saved, I had the typical adolescent fantasy of being a singer, or playing in a band. I wanted to sing like the masters, Barry Manilow, Tom Jones, Dean Martin, and of course, Frank Sinatra. When they sang, it was from their gut. No cheesy falsetto with these men.

So that was my answer. I was to sing for Jesus. Though I had never sung in public in my life, I auditioned for the musical, "The Witness," at my church. My audition was probably the worse anyone had ever heard. I couldn't sight read and had no musical training, except singing at home into the mirror. Miraculously, I got the lead part of Peter. Scared to death doesn't begin to capture my emotional roller coaster prior to the event. I never actually threw up, as I've heard that some singers do before a performance, but I sure could have.

When the musical was over, I don't remember anything except a huge sense of relief, and Pastor Davis hugging me. After that moment, I felt as if I were right in the center of God's will. Talk about a "happy place." That was it. Singing the Lord's praise was/is my happy place.

Then why did my life's journey take me into the preaching ministry? Am I a singer who sometimes preaches, or a preacher who sometimes sings? Did I miss God's perfect will by choosing to take the educational path of Bible exegesis and preaching? I thought I had until I read the verse again this morning.

"Let the WORD (emphasis mine) of Christ richly dwell in you, teaching and admonishing...(THEN) singing..."

God has meticulously led me on a journey of building a solid biblical foundation. And although I have "renounced" my Southern Baptist roots, I do not believe I'd have received the quality Bible education I got from anywhere else. Along the way, there have been life lessons and experiences that I'd have chosen to avoid (given such a choice).

Mix it all up, add a little jazz, and you have a 37 year old husband and father who no longer pastors, but still preaches and sings (or sings and preaches). I am writing songs every day, and we'll see what the Lord does with them. Maybe they're just for me to sing to Him. Maybe He'll let me share them with you. One of my original songs was recorded in 2002. I will try to figure out a way to get a link/stream or whatever, if anyone actually wants to hear it.

Where it goes from here is gonna be one fun ride.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Peekaboo!


Please...no more pictures. Posted by Picasa

Resistance is futile

Today has been a tough one. There is a principle that Dr. Jack Hayford teaches called the Principle of Resistance. For every advance of the Kingdom of God, there is a counter attack by hell's forces.

God has been advancing in my life recently, and much has happened. Financial troubles, ex-spouse troubles, teenager troubles, church troubles, etc. They all seemed to pile up today.

My wife had an amazing time at the women's retreat this past weekend. It is easy to see that the enemy is threatened and he is trying to cause resistance in the lives of two of God's babies.

The Bible says that "No weapon formed against us will prosper." In other words, "resistance is futile," to quote the Borg. The enemy's fate is sealed. The war is over. He is defeated, and we are victorious. The enemy can bring it but he can't use it to defeat us. He has NO power and NO authority to mess with our lives this way. He is rebuked, and Father is with us!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Am I famous?

Last night was huge. That's the best word I can come up with. After a long time of sitting in the pew, I was put back in the pulpit last night at my church. I preached like it was my last time. I preached on hell from Luke 16:19-31 and Mark 9:42-ff. God's favor was with me, and I received another unexpected miracle.

My 15 year old son Steven received Jesus Christ last night. Oh, how his mother and I have been praying for him.

Thank you Jesus, that his name is now written in Your book of life. Thank you, Pastor Dave, for sharing the pulpit with me. Thank you, church family, for being there and loving me anyway.

After the service, people were lined up to speak to me and express their gratitude for the message. My daughter Katie tapped me on the side and motioned for me to bend down so she could whisper in my ear. She very earnestly asked, "Daddy, are you famous?"

Not in this world, Katie, but I think I made news in Heaven last night! Thank You, Lord.

P.S. No casualties from the weekend. We all survived and Mom had a great women's retreat.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Another Proud Parent Moment

4 of my 7 children made the Honor Roll! One of the 4 made the Principal's List, which is all A's!

In middle school, my best friend James and I were on the Principal's List, but it was a different list!

I am very proud of my bunch, even the ones who fell short of honor roll status. Remember it's not how you start but how you finish that really counts.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Never just a haircut

One of my best friends is Angela Hill (see links section). She and her husband Tim are two people who fall under my "Solid Gold" category. Back in the day, she was just my hairstylist. Now she is a budding Christian Country Superstar. I will not try to tell Angela's testimony here, but it is a powerful one. Go to her link. Her music really tugs the heartstrings of the downtrodden and brokenhearted.

Angela has been cutting my hair for 7 years, and whenever I go in, I never get just a haircut. Angela and her Mom, Fran, are a ministry team. Over the last 7 years I have been prayed for, prayed with, invited in to prayer, ministered to, rebuked, encouraged and blessed.

All for the price of a haircut.

Now my hairstylist is going to Nashville to perform at the CCMA Awards Nov. 5-10. I know that the Lord is gonna use Angela and that new opportunities will open for her. I have always known they would.

NowI am left with the dilemma of who's gonna cut my hair. I may just have to drive to Nashville for my bi-monthly tweak. Where else can I go to get a haircut, a blessing, and a song for one low price?

Angela, I am proud of you and excited about what's next.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Weekend Warrior

My wife is going on a women's retreat this weekend. This leaves me home to attend to the children...all 7 of them. I will post on Monday how I did and report any casualties.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Have you lemon and butter?

On the left corner of my desk sits a "megarita" sized cup containing a blue fish. That is until today. When feeding him today, I noticed that he had gone to fish heaven.

I recall my first day on the job wondering why I had a fish on my desk to begin with. Now that he is gone, I miss him. I never even named the fish.

At any rate, I performed my first (hopefully last) Fish Funeral.

For no reason, I recalled a spinoff from the old "Barney Miller" 70's TV series starring Abe Vigoda (how old is he now, 1000?) called, "Fish."

There's something fishy about that (like you didn't know that was coming!).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Before Heaven

I have always wanted to make a list of things I wanna do before I die. My motto is, "Get busy living!" It is taken from The Shawshank Redemption, one of my favorite films. The defining moment for me was the line, "You have two choices, get busy living or get busy dying." At the time, I was going through a separation and divorce, and so I decided to get busy LIVING.

Here is just a partial list of things I wanna do before I expire (hopefully no time soon):

1) Own another Harley. I miss my bike.
2) Put my wife on the back of said Harley and ride with no worries and no hurry to get home.
3) Jump out of an airplane. Yes, with a parachute.
4) Go to New York City and just hang out for a few days.
5) Go to Las Vegas to catch Manilow's show. www.musicandpassion.com
6) Be financially independent...SOON!
7) Be buff. Why not? I have been average with extra padding long enough.
8) Win the WFJ US Heavyweight title. www.wrestlingforjesus.org
9) Take my family to Disney World.
10) Increase my net worth to $500,000 by 2008. A bit lofty, but why not?

Remember, dear reader, you have two (2) choices: get busy living or get busy dying.


Make your lists!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Help me, Rhonda

I think that my views of Christian music of today are fairly well documented within the confines of my humble blog. I was in Christian Radio back in the 80s, and I did a lot of local singing. The songs of that day just seemed to challenge me more. Maybe I am just showing my age. But I have good news.

At long last, the winds of change seem to be blowing in the realm of Contemporary Christian Music! Allow me to introduce someone who I discovered on the web, Rhonda McCoy. She is a christian jazz singer out of Virginia. Visit my link section and check her out. Now! Go!

Welcome back! So what did you think? I have not recommended a Christian singer since the late Rich Mullins. However, it gives me great joy to present Rhonda to you. Those of you who live in my area will be treated to a visit by Mrs. McCoy as soon as I can work out the details. Meanwhile, go back and buy her CD.

A reviewer of her CD at Amazon.com called her the "Diana Krall" of Christian Jazz. That's major. Mrs. Elvis Costello is a staple in my regular CD playlist. She is now joined by Rhonda McCoy.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Go, God!

This morning I baptized my sister's two sons. Both of my nephews are great. Justin is so athletic. He is 12, but I think if I provoked him enough, he could whip me. Jacob (Jake) is his younger brother, and the comic relief of the bunch. Jake is the life of every family gathering. In 1983 I watched as their mother got baptized. That was a proud happy moment in and of itself. I never thought I'd ever be baptizing her boys much less anyone else. I have had the privilege of baptizing 4 of my 7 kids and my wife. In a few weeks, I will have the honor of standing to baptize my stepfather, who has been more like a Dad to me than any man on this earth. I prayed for his salvation for 13 years. He was a tough nut to crack, but the Lord specializes in cracking us nuts. He and my Mom both attend church and now Sunday School. Go, God!

My sister's church has evidence of God all over it. The pastor is a man who I knew as a kid growing up. He was a wild one. You should've heard him preach today! Go, God!

I also saw a man there today I went to school with and played football with in middle school. This guy was a BAD kid. He was in trouble all the time and seemingly destined for jail or worse. A couple years ago God gloriously saved him and his wife. Now they are active in the church and their son helped with the baptism today. Go, God!

Then at the end of today's service, a young couple joined the church and got saved. You guessed it, another former schoolmate who was on the wild side. Go, God!

The rest of you wild tough nuts better look out; if you don't want to be gloriously saved and changed, stay away from Pastor Chris and my sister's church!

Go, God!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Proud Parent Moment

My 12 year old son, Cody, is a 7th grader who does high school math and college level reading. Talking to him is like talking to a very smart grown up, and yet he is still very much a kid. He loves the Lord. At a recent Acquire the Fire event, he went with the youth from our church (my firstborn is now in the youth group...AHHHHHH!!!!), and he gave his birthday money during the offering. The other teens couldn't figure out why he would do that. It was a $20 bill. Thank you, Lord, that my children are learning the joy of giving over receiving. To be honest, I was a bit surprised that he did that myself.

Now he has been tapped by Duke University because of his Homeschool Placement Test scores to participate in their TIP program www.tip.duke.edu.

He is the only one of my children who is homeschooled, and his mother (my ex-wife) and I have probably heard every reason not to do it. Both sides of Cody's family have all protested and told us how crazy it is to homeschool him. "He needs to be around other kids." Well, he is. I have 7 kids in my home. He is in the youth group at my church and his mother's church. He takes Karate. He was just too smart for public school. There, I said it. They were stifling his potential, so we decided to homeschool him.

Now he has Duke University schmoozing him at 12 years old.

To all of you who gave me crap about homeschooling Cody, I have only one intelligent thing to say:

THHHHHPPPPPPPTTTTT!!! (Apparently Cody's smarts were acquired from the maternal genes).

I'd always hoped he'd be a Gamecock or a Wisconsin Badger, but I'll take him being a Blue Devil, especially if they pay for his college!

I am so proud of you, son. I love you, and you will always be Daddy's boy!

Friday, October 07, 2005

My Seattle, My Pride

I have had the privilege of travelling quite a bit for a guy who's usually broke or close to it. On of my favorite places to visit is Seattle, Washington. My brother lives there with his precious wife and daughter (with whom I had the distinct privilege of playing "Pirates" on my last visit).

I have been to several big cities in my travels, the trips usually funded by the company I was working for at the time. Atlanta, St. Louis, Kansas City, New York City (ever too brief visit...got lost in Queens), Madison WI (born there, done that), Chicago, and of course, Seattle.

In most of the big cities, I found much pretention among the city dwellers, many of them transplants with no love for their city. In Seattle, however, I found real people of all ages who work very hard and are mighty proud of their fine city. Even the beggers on the street had a certain charm I cannot seem to find in my own city back east. So much to look at. So many great places to eat. So much dang coffee. I actually saw two Starbucks across the street from each other. The very thrill of crossing the street to get your White Chocolate Mocha obliterated by the driving force of caffeinated capitalism.

While in Seattle my brother took me to a Mariners game. Thousands of people in that huge city had nothing better to do that day than go to a ball game! They wouldn't have been anywhere else. They are mighty proud of their sports teams.

And oh, the seafood. A bowl of chowder at Duke's changed me from seafood no to seafood yes. They are mighty proud of their food.

That's my take on the great city of Seattle.

Today I met a coworker's nephew who just returned home from service in Iraq. I introduced him to two of my kids. I said, "Boys this is John. He is a Marine who has been serving our country in Iraq." As I said these words, to my surprise, my voice cracked and my eyes teared slightly. I was mighty proud to be standing in the same room with one of our nation's heroes. The way my boys looked at him was priceless. Even they knew how special John and those who protect our country are.

Good times or bad, I am mighty proud to be an American, and the fighting men and women over there fighting for us are awesome. They are my heroes.

Mon Capitanes!

I have two heroes: Captain James T. Kirk and Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Why, you may ask, at 37 years old (almost 38) am I still looking up to two larger-than-life fictional characters? Silly though it may be, here goes:

Captain Kirk is bold, fearless, and in charge. He is creative in his problem-solving. He keeps going when everyone else would just give up and die. As Bones said in ST:IV, Kirk "turns death into a fighting chance at life." He just won't take no for an answer. When the crew asked why, he would ask, "Why not?"

Captain Picard has many of the same qualities as Kirk, yet he is also compassionate, cultured, and down-to-earth. He speaks with authority and can convince you to do anything, and yet you don't mind because his tone is gentle. He is diplomatic and can diffuse even the toughest of situations by talking and reasoning.

Put the two together, and you have a character combination worth striving for.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Accepting Obedience

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done. (Colossians 2:6-7, New Living Translation).

I have a personal issue. Call it a character flaw if you like. I don't like to be told what to do. I am not sure when or how this started. I think it may be a family trait in the male gene pool. Maybe this is why I preferred to play alone for the most part as a kid. By myself, I only answered to myself. Then Jesus came along when I was 16.

When I got saved it was glorious. You shoulda been there. After I got saved it was harder. All of a sudden I was being deluged with a list of do's and don'ts. Gotta pray, give, go to church 3-4 times a week, dress right, live right, talk right, listen to this music and not that, etc...

I don't like to be told what to do. 21 years later I still struggle.

Todd: Do I have to read my Bible EVERY day??

God: Todd, I love you.

Todd: How about 15 minutes a day? 10? Will that be enough?

God: Todd, I really love you.

Todd: Can I write you an IOU on this month's tithe so my Cable won't be cut off.

God: Todd, I spin around wildly with joy at the thought of you!

You get the picture I guess. His love for me is settled. I can't do anything to increase or decrease it. On April 11, 1983, I accepted that love.

On October 5, 2005, I settled my love for Him by accepting a lifestyle of obedience. I still don't like to be told what to do, but I love the Lord and I trust Him to guide my life. Therefore I must decrease and He must increase. I desire to be deeply rooted in Him, strong and vigorous in the faith, and to overflow with thanksgiving (not whining). Jesus said if I love Him I will keep His commandments. Words like surrender and submit are for my growing.

21 years in the faith, and today I decided to grow up! What took me so long?


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Things I love

I love the Lord, with all of my heart, soul, mind, body and strength. I don't always understand him, and sometimes He makes me angry...only because He is always right I am always wrong. But I love Him and will never let go of Him.

I love my wife very much. I love her eyes, her smile, and her laugh. I love her heart, because frankly, it's bigger than her brain. That's how it should be. You should watch her take care of everybody at home and where she works. I have never seen such love in a woman ever before. She has a servant's heart that I am certain makes the Lord say, "Yeah, that's how to do it." I am blessed to have her.

I love my children. Watching them grow up every day (too fast) is more fun than a Sanford and Son marathon. Their lives are so innocent and pure. It terrifies me when I cannot be with them and protect them sometimes. I know the Lord can protect them much better than I, but I would walk through fire for every last one of them. I envy them. I would give my right arm to go back to myself at their age and tell myself to take a different direction at certain times. My children haven't had the chance to make the mistakes I made, and I pray like mad that they won't.

I love my church. Pastor Dave and the church family have helped me be excited about church again. Even when I was pastoring, I wasn't this excited about church. Great things are about to happen there. You can feel it as soon as you walk in the doors.

I love my job. They say working with successful people makes you more successful. Well, the jury is still out on me being successful at work, but it has done wonders for me to be here with JJ and KQ. I have learned so much from them, personally as well as professionally.

I love my friends. I don't have many, but the ones I have, I have had for a LONG time. They are loyal, and they are gold. SOLID gold.

I love my pets. No matter what mood I'm in, they just cozy up in my lap and want my attention. They don't mind if I'm broke, tired, or discouraged. They love me no matter what. Isn't that how God is?

I love my family. My folks don't always like me, but they love me. My sisters have great kids and married great men.

I love music with substance. Today's Christian music stinks, in my opinion. Give me Keith Green, Rich Mullins, Michael W. Smith, Clint Brown, DeGarmo & Key, or Mylon LeFevre. Even Steve Taylor has substance. I also love the smooth and heartfelt melodies of jazz. No one can sing it like Sinatra, and I am not too macho to admit that after 20 years, I never tire of Manilow.
I love people who are real. Maybe that's why the Christian music of today irks me. It is so "Cotton Candy." It looks like a lot, but when you bite into it, there is nothing there but air. People can be like that, too. I have always just tried to be me. What you see is what you get. To do this, you have to know yourself and be happy with you. It has taken years, but I am getting there. Jesus had a word for those who pretend to be something they're not: hypocrite. Ouch.

I love my truck. It is old and worn, but it is mine. It has taken me everywhere I needed to go for a long time, and it's almost paid for!

Finally, I love getting older. As the great Ric Flair once said, "Space Mountain may be the oldest ride in the park, but it still has the longest line!'

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fresh Air, Breaking Wind

One of my old SBC buddies posted a blog bashing women preachers. To imply that someone like Joyce Meyer is not in her right place in ministry is just arrogant. The Bible DOES speak of female deacons and prophetesses. How can we claim to "rightfully divide" God's Word and insert our own prejudices? I am beginning to suspect that the SBC hates women.

How can you not like Joyce Meyer? My wife is reading a JM book right now and has turned three other ladies onto it. It is changing their lives. According to my SBC friend, it is OK for the ladies to read it and be taught, but if I read it, then that is not biblical.

I am no Bible scholar, and I do not feel like delving into a dissertation in defense of women in the pulpit. But I will offer this:

Joyce Meyer's book has been a breath of fresh air into my wife's spiritual walk. I see the difference in her life. Why is it that anytime the Lord has breathed Fresh Air into my life over the years, the powers-that-think-they-be in the good ol' SBC try to pollute that fresh air with the flatulence of their own pseudo-theological, politically motivated, denominational bigotry?

To insist that God can't do something or use someone because it clashes with our predilections and/or denominations no doubt chokes out the sweet aroma in God's nostrils with something more foul and offensive than anything I've ever experienced in an elevator full of quiet people.

To me, the whole thing just stinks.