Get an email update of when I make a new post by signing up for a free account at and when asked for a URL type in and be part of my blog family!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Greatest Gift

Merry Christmas one and all!!! This will most likely be my last post of the year, and so Happy New Year to you to.
I have had a very eventful couple of weeks since I last posted. The most memorable part of it all for me was... Michael Spurlock!!! If you are not from Tampa or at least central Florida then you may not know what I am talking about, but I will enlighten you.
On Thanksgiving I had a relative (I think she is technically my Stepcousin??) offer me and my wife tickets to this past Sunday's Tampa Bay Buccaneer game against the Atlanta Falcons. This was a huge game because if we won then we clinched the division, which is huge considering the year of injuries and adversity that the team had.

My wife and I were to leave directly after church (after the last Amen) and make the hour drive to the game. On the way my stepcousin called and said she broke her toe could we find someone to take her spot. (no problem) My good friend Joseph met us at the place we were parking and my stepcousin gave us the tickets and dropped us off in front of the stadium.

The whole way to the stadium she kept on saying "I know today is going to be the day that the Bucs return their first kickof for a touchdown and I am going to miss it."

Let me fill you in if you don't know what that means. The Bucs are officially in there 32nd year of existence. They had NEVER returned a kickoff for a touchdown... NEVER. Ever since I was a little kid, every game I have ever watched the announcer would point this out. It was a huge thing for Tampa. I met the special teams coach Rich Basachia (not spelled right) at PF Changs last year and I know that everywhere he goes thats all anyone says to him "When we getting our kickoff touchdown?"

Well, the Falcons made a field goal and was kicking it off to us for the first time in the game. This was officially the 1,865th kickoff in Bucs history. 1,865!!!! And the second he kicked it I stood up and said "This is it." I just knew it. Michael Spurlock (former quartback at Ole Miss) took the kick, went to the center of the field and saw congestion and cut it out to his right... wide open. He was running straight toward us, and we were only four rows from the field, and the end zone he was running to... four rows! I have never screamed so loud in all my life, and I have never heard Tampa Bay fans get so crazy. He scored the touchdown!

Michael Spurlock was not on our team four weeks ago, and now he is being given the key to the city. It was the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed, and I almost have my wife convinced to name our first kid... Spurlock. Oh, and as for my stepcousin... she won't answer my phone calls. I hope to see her at Christmas and thank her, but I can imagine that after going to every game for ten years or so, that she is probably a little bit bitter.

That was great and amazing, but it is not the only thing in the world. I want you all to know that in this season when we all want and want and want; and we all buy and buy and buy; that Christmas is more than we are making it. It was an amazing gift to be able to witness Tampa Bay history but it pales in comparsion to the gift that this season represents.

I want all of my faithful blog readers to know that Christmas is not about presents and trees and parties. I want you to know that Christmas isn't even about the baby in the manger. That's right, it's NOT about the baby in the manger. You see, that baby grew up, and that man is my Savior and my God! For some there is a huge disconnect from Christmas to Easter, but I want you to know that Christmas is about the MAN who gave His life for you and for me on the cross at Calvary. There is no greater gift.

This Christmas in the midst of your gift exchanges and Christmas parties, take some time out and sing some worship songs to your savior; take some time out and lock yourself in a closet and pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the God who has saved your life.

Don't make Christmas about yourself, make it about your Savior!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just catching up

Well I have noticed that it has been a while since I posted and I was going through withdrawals. Just a little update on my last post. Golden Compass did lead the box office in its first week out, but was still a huge disappointment. It grossed $25.8 million dollars on its first weekend, but had virtually no competition for its release date. The number is also less than half of what Chronicles of Narnia did on its first weekend, and considering it cost $180 million dollars to make, I would hope that New Line Cinema would not make a movie based on the next two books in Philip Pullman's blasphemous trilogy.

I don't really have a theme to my post today, but I have a lot of things to relay to you. It has been very, very busy since I last posted and a lot of great things have taken place that I need to share with my public.

First of all, I went to South Carolina a few weeks ago and ran into some old friends from when I lived there. One of those friends was Jeremy Lucas who worked with me at St. George Baptist Church in Orangeburg, SC. He was the music pastor and I was the youth pastor. We worked very well together and he became a very close friend.

Anyhow, we offered for him to come and stay with us for a visit, and he came down the very next week. While he was here, he loved it so much that he found a job and moved into an apartment across the street from me. So I am very excited to have my good friend Jeremy back in my life again. So if you see this man that I am sword fighting with...make him feel welcome.

On November 30th we took a group of students to Lake Aurora Christian Retreat Center for a Fall Retreat. The name of the retreat was One Heart. My prayer for the weekend was that our youth group would grow together in unity so much that they would develop one heart. I believe that is was a huge success. On our last night I had them do something called an "affirmation circle." Basically the idea is that in our world we spend so much time focusing on the negative of people that we rarely say anything nice to them. So everybody at the retreat at one point in time had to sit in the middle of a circle and everybody in the circle had say something positive about them. It was such a great time, that even though the students were exhausted, we did the circle for three and a half hour and there was not one complaint. It was a very emotional and uplifting time for all of us.

We got back from that last Sunday, and last Monday I got back in the car and went to our staff retreat. The six pastors of NorthRidge all spent three days together at a condo in Daytona Beach. We ate a lot (restaurant called Aunt Catfish's mmmmm!), watched some football (the Ravens should have won!) had some fun, but spent most of our time working. We each had to teach about a different part of 2 Peter 1:5-7 and that was an incredible time of personal growth for me. We also went over goals for the upcoming year. I am very pleased at the direction we are going as a church, and our main goal for next year is to "Grow." It is pretty simple but the basic idea is to take our congregation from surface level knowledge to a deep rooted love and understanding of God's word. We are all going to be challenged to go through the Bible in a year and that will be amazing. I am also getting trained to be an E.E. trainer and we will be starting Evangelism Explosion in early 2008, and that will grow the church in their evangelism. And of course we are moving to two service in January, with a slightly different style of worship which will be a part of growing us numerically as well. 2008 will be an incredible year!

Finally, I wanted to share with you what I did the day after I got back from our staff retreat. I had the privilege of leading chapel at a place called H.E.A.R.T. Missionary Training Institute. It is down a long dirt road behind Warner Southern College. This is a training ground for students who want to learn to be a missionary in a third world country. It is a three month program that they are going through. For the first month they are cut off from the outside world except for mail they receive once a week. They are forbidden electricity, running water, stoves, microwaves, etc. The site is filled with amenities that are found in a third world country. Such as the shower is a water pump pumped into a shed with a solar panel of sorts attached to it. The water goes into a five gallon bucket that has holes stabbed into it. After their one month of adjustment, they sit in a classroom for one month and learn things such as "appropriate technology." Things like how to get water to a village that has no water, how to weave clothes, and how to grow your food. And then in the last month the students become the teachers, and they have to prove that they have learned enough to go overseas by showing projects and doing the daily duties that the instructor would normally do.

I met a lot of students who have a heart for going to places of the world that have not heard the Gospel. I felt very honored to have been a very small part of their lives, and I will be excited to get to Heaven and learn just how many people they reached with the message because of the H.E.A.R.T. Missionary Training Institute. Please keep them in prayer.