Friday, September 29, 2006

Sick of September

Actually, it would be more accurate to say Sick IN September. For the past several days, I have been down from food poisoning. I partook of some bad Blackberry Jam last weekend. I am over the vomiting part now, which I absolutely did NOT enjoy. I am still kind of weak and nauseous, but today is a beautiful day, and I felt the pull of the blog.

Nothing specific rolling around in my head (only my stomach). I hate feeling so foul. I am 35 pounds overweight, an insomniac, yet tired all the time. I am going to be making a few lifestyle changes. I would appreciate prayers for strength and the resolve to follow through. I have resolved to change several times lately. Each time I do, bad things seem to happen to my vehicles. Nevertheless, I must make these changes or suffer the consequences.

If in fact any progress is made, I will post about it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Summer 2007

Friday, September 22, 2006

Trust 2

My post generated some rather lively comments from a pal, but offline, a few people who read my blog have shared that it hit home for them. So what to do with this struggle of trusting God. In no way will these thoughts encapsulate God's magnificent character, but it does give a snapshot of what I am learning about my Heavenly Father.
  • Rick is right. My real question is not why God doesn't answer prayer, but why He answers the way He does. Sometimes I just blog what I am thinking, before I really think about it. It comes down to what I want vs. what God wants, and He will always win that battle. It is not mine to win.
  • Prayer is not simply asking God for what you want and hoping that you get it, like a Christmas list. The word "pray" comes from old English, and it means "to ask." The Greek word that is translated prayer (a big word, too) literally means "to stretch out." The picture here is of a person stretching out trying to reach God. That is what real prayer consists of. Spurgeon once said that "The goal of prayer is the ear of God." When my children were small, they would reach up with their arms indicating the need to be picked up and held. When I picked them up they were closer not only to my ear, but my heart as well. That is the kind of prayer life worth striving for.
  • When God doesn't answer prayer the way I want, could it be that He is trying to show me that what I really want is Him? Even if the Packers are having a bad season, it doesn't affect who and Whose I am.
  • Bottom line (at least for this humble post): What I want is not always what is best, even though sometimes it may seem so to me. My problem is that I enjoy getting my own way. Submitting to the will of God is not always convenient, but it is always the right thing to do, because He is always right.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Welcome to the Family

Isabelle Judie O'Neal
4 lbs., 10 oz.
Born: September 19, 2006, 10:30 pm
Proud Parents: Jason & Tiffani O'Neal
Proud Uncle: Me

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Trust

Last night was the inauguration of Youth Sundays at Evergreen. We have been wanting to do this for a long time. I have happily pushed for this Sunday night service for youth and children, and our first one was a big success in many ways.

The older teenagers' lesson was about trusting God. Mrs. Christy and Mrs. Allie did a phenomenal job. In fact, they did so well, that for a brief moment I felt like I was in Frank W.'s class back in my youth group 23 years ago. The material was great, the games were fun, and I was challenged. Perhaps more than I bargained for.

You see, I have a beef with God lately. The lesson point was, "We can always trust God, no matter what." I did not verbalize my beef, but took it to God later, as I have been doing in my quiet moments. My beef is this:

Do I really believe God can be trusted? My beef is that I am struggling with that question lately. I believe that I can trust Him with BIG things. It's the little things I am having problems trusting Him with...well sometimes.

For example, why can I pray for a good parking spot at Walmart and get it, but when I pray for the Packers to win, they lose. In fact NONE of the teams I pray for ever have a winning season. What does this mean? The other day, I prayed for an ailing church member in the hospital, and he passed away within 48 hours. I'm serious.

How can one trust in God, when He only answers certain prayers, while seeming indifferent about other ones? This is where I am in my walk with God.

To be continued....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

9/12---Five Years Later

The events of 9/11/2001 still stagger me. I was seated in Shoneys on Bush River Road with an associate of mine. We were having a meeting, when we both realized that all eyes in the place were on the TV. There we watched with horror as the second airplane crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. After awhile, we just went home. Nothing else mattered from that moment on. Within minutes, we went from discussing sales strategy to living in a world where our country was attacked by terrorists in the most unimaginable way. Like most of the country, I got my kids out of school and spent the rest of the day glued to the TV.

The next day, 9/12/2001, I felt numb. Like I had just awakened from a nightmare but it was still happening. Similar to the loss of a loved one, I expected to wake up and find that the twin towers were still there after all, and that the mind-blowing events of the previous day never happened.

No chance.

What was there, however, was the rebirth of the spirit of this great country. For at least one day, there were no Republicans or Democrats. There were no opinion polls. There was no racism (at least no black and white). We ransacked the local stores purchasing flags to display on our homes. We were sending a unified message to our enemies: that you can attack America, but you can NEVER beat us!

For one fateful day, September 11, 2001, we were Americans, one and all. No one could come between us. Heroes were born. At night we confidently told our frightened children, "Don't worry, President Bush is taking care of us."

Five years later, with great emotion, our Commander-in-Chief visited all the crash sites. He consoled family members of those lost five years ago. The final word on the news last night was, "Will it be enough for President Bush to win back the popularity he had five years ago?"

I do my best to leave politics out of my blog. Not today.

What has President Bush done wrong exactly? Is he sleeping with interns? Is he being investigated for shady real estate deals? All he has done for the last five years is try to protect us from another terrorist attack, and to rid the world completely of terrorism. This is an aggressive plan which will not be accomplished overnight. Many Americans feel that we should not be at war any longer. To them I say, where were you five years ago yesterday? Have we forgotten the thousands of people buried under the twin towers who never had a chance to escape? What about those airline passengers who were unwillingly crashed into the WTC Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, PA? Do you think that they would approve of our nation's attitude?

Politics and religion stir up discussion more than anything else. That is not my intention here. I am only voicing one man's opinion, my own. I am willing to concede to the fact that there are many things which I do not know, including how to run a nation. I have two friends, Russ and John, who served in Iraq as Marines. They have both said to me that they do not regret one minute of their stay over there, and that they would go back if they were called. I have another friend who left his home each morning, drove to the air base at which he was stationed, boarded his fighter jet, and for 12 hours a day, remained in the cramped cockpit flying missions for his country. I asked him if he would rather do anything else with his life. His answer was a resounding "No."

The men and women on the front lines don't seem to have lost sight of why they are there. Neither should we.

As a Christian, I will continue to pray for our President and for the end of this conflict. As a pastor, I will continue to preach and teach God's word. As an American, I will continue to support our President and our troops. As a Christian-American-Pastor, I will always pray that it will not take another horrible tragedy such as 9/11 to unite us as a country again, but that going forward we will do so because it is right.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Happy 40th Anniversary


I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not Star Trek fanatic. I was born the year after the original series launched, and so I have only been able to enjoy the syndication reruns.

The Star Trek universe is where I would like to live, I think. No prejudice, no poverty, and highly advanced toys. I have always been intrigued by the view of the our present though the eyes of the Star Trek of the 60's. Apparently, in 1999, we blew ourselves to smithereens in WWIII. I'm glad the series was not prophetic in that regard.

Gene Roddenberry had a vision of a better world that was not so far from our reach. But have we listened? What other than cool pocket gadgets and desktop computers have we taken from Trek? Is there still prejudice and poverty? Is there world cooperation? I think Roddenberry would be disappointed that we have not totally embraced his vision of a better universe.

Maybe it will take another 40 years.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back to Reality, but Well Rested

Tracy and I got home last night from our trip to Carolina Beach. We had an absolutely wonderful visit with my Wisconsin relatives, and my cousin Ben's wedding was beautiful. After the wedding, we ate dinner at a very nice restaurant. When I received my bill, it was only $3.75. Uncle Bob and Aunt Karen paid for all of our meals. I paid for 2 iced teas.

For me, personally, being around other Vicks was a nice treat. Being with them reminds me of my heritage. In the last few years, I have learned the history of my family, and it gives me a sense of deep personal security to know my family roots. It also gives me something to share with my own children.

Only one thing was missing from this amazing weekend: my Dad. I had the honor of saying the blessing before our big dinner after the wedding. Before I did that I proposed a toast to my father. The response that it received told me that I was clearly not the only one who felt his absence. I heard even more new and funny stories about Dad. I never knew that he also aspired to be a professional wrestler at one time!

It is good to be home, but when Tracy and I drove out of Carolina Beach yesterday, I left a huge part of my heart behind. Not surprisingly, so did Tracy. She fit right in with my clan. I never doubted that she would.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Goodbye Walterboro, Hello Ernesto

Tracy and I are a couple of hours away from leaving for the weekend. It will be our first weekend away (alone) since our honeymoon. We are off to Carolina Beach, NC for my cousin Ben's wedding. It is an honor to officiate this ceremony. Ben and I were really close as kids, and even though I have not seen him in 12 years, we have stayed in touch through email and phone. He is a good guy, and I am happy for him. I am also looking forward to spending some time with my other cousins, Kim and Mike, and their families, and of course, Uncle Bob and Aunt Karen.

Most importantly, I am looking forward to spending 4 days and 3 nights with my wife, minus kids, cats, dogs, homework, and pastoral responsibilities. We have needed this for quite awhile. The last couple years have been tough in some ways, but Tracy and I have weathered the storms together. She is a real trooper, and I can't wait to walk hand in hand on the beach with her...alone...while we are pelted by the remnants of Ernesto.