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Archive for the category “friends”

Cliff Jumpers – Live

I tried to play football at South Miami High School. I was a quarterback who couldn’t run fast or throw well. But man, could I hold a clipboard.

I was pale, skinny, and completely lost on the football field. I had never played before my 9th grade year and was far more afraid of our head coach than any opposing linebacker. It was on our high school football practice field I met Jonathan Scott. He looked like he could bench press 500 pounds. His robust laugh flew right in the face of danger.

We became close friends. His walk with Christ impressed me. It was real. He truly loved Jesus and it was hard to miss. Before practices and games he would even pray for his new friend, the pale and skinny QB who desperately needed courage…and much faster feet. Together, we survived on and off the field.

Today, Jonathan is the South Park Campus Pastor of Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, NC. He is a fabulous musician, teacher, preacher, motivator, father and husband. And now, on his own accord, he’s taken to putting to life to some of my blogs. And that’s just really cool. But more than anything else, John is my friend. That is a wonderful privilege and joy and one that will only last…FOREVER!

Writing Stories

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View from the outdoor cafe

I’m sitting at an outdoor coffee bar that serves a lot more than just coffee. It overlooks a sports arena, downtown buildings, and a commuter train railway. There is also an airport close by. A few minutes ago an airplane flew past while at the same time a train and a bus rolled along. Everyone is going someplace.

It’s interesting to observe the mix of people in this place. There are all shapes and sizes and I count at least six different nationalities. Most seem quite happy. I suspect the median age is late 30’s and I suddenly realize I’m pulling the curve up instead of down.

Most conversations I overhear seem pretty light. If I had to guess, I would say there is one budding romance across the way. They are all smiles and laugh even if what was said may not have been particularly funny. A trio of ladies have gathered for drinks and are swapping stories about their respective “crazy” day. An elderly man is by himself staring into his glass deep in thought.

I wonder what their stories are?

We all have them. We’re all on a journey. All of us are hopeful our story comes to a happy and peaceful conclusion. We’re all writing stories.

I can’t help but wonder how God’s eternal and perfect plan—His story for us—is possibly taking place at this exact moment in each one of our lives. There just seems to be too much going on, too many  details, too many people, too many possible outcomes. How can it be that God is in control and that “…every day of my life was recorded in His book and every moment laid out before a single day had passed” (Psalm 139:16)? How can this be true right now, right here in this coffee bar?

I know God lives in eternity and is outside all of nature’s laws regarding time and space. It is difficult to try and comprehend. My Dad loved to tell me that this meant “God has all the ‘time’ in the world to focus on me and me alone for my entire life—every moment of every day.” That both thrills and terrifies me. But I do believe that in some mysterious God-ordained-free–will way, we write our story with uncoerced choices which fit exactly into God’s eternal plan. 

Maybe David was sitting in a coffee bar (circa 1000 BC) drinking a strong black coffee (no way King David drank lattés) thinking about some of these things. Why does the Almighty God–with that kind of power and ability–unconditionally love and care for someone like me? Why would he even care about my story and even desire that “through his mighty power at work within me, accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)? It’s too outlandish to imagine.

But He does. And so David had to say what I’m feeling at this moment, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand” (Psalm 139:6).

I need another strong black coffee.

Award Winning Book

Fun summer reading. “Monkeys In My Coconut Tree” by Ed Thompson, is a compilation of fun, easy-to-read stories of fun, family, and faith. It was a Reader’s Favorite 2016 Silver Medal Winner. So come on, check it out. Read some of the reviews and download your copy by clicking HERE. (Also available at Amazon.com, iTunes and others.)

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The GREAT Listener

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My son and daughter-in-law went away for the weekend, so I got to babysit my grand-dog, Luke. Luke is a beautiful and lovable German Short-Haired Pointer with piercing light brown eyes and a wonderful soft coat.

But of course, he’s nuts.

To babysit this dog, all you have to do is turn on a light that throws some sort of shadow on the wall. Luke will then sit there and stare intently at the shadow as if he’s certain it will jump off the wall at any moment and he must be ready to pounce on it. His focus and patience are amazing. Bumping the light so the shadow moves causes Luke’s muscles to quiver and his ears to peal back with excitement. This routine can keep me—I mean him—entertained for hours.

He also eats rocks.

But my grand-dog is a great listener. There’s been much on my mind lately and over the weekend, Luke and I had some long talks. There were no judgements or wary glances or hints of ridicule or condemnation as I rambled on. In fact, he didn’t say anything. He just looked up at me with his kind eyes and listened.

What a good friend.

I’m not a very good listener and need to learn from my grand-dog. I usually begin offering my “wise” counsel and advice before others have even finished their sentences. The classic Bible story in the book of Job tells of three well-meaning friends who offered advice without really knowing or in any way truly comprehending what Job was feeling or what was taking place. Most think the best advice they gave was when they just sat next to Job in silence.

I’m uncomfortable with silence.

No doubt, that’s part of my problem. If there is a gap in the conversation, I feel it’s my job to fill it — even if I have nothing to say. I remember a friend’s anguish as he quietly told me of his son’s drug addiction. His heart was breaking and he didn’t know what to do. He just needed to talk it out a bit and have a friend listen. He took a breath and left a vocal pause and I jumped in and began spewing meaningless advice without knowing anything of what he was experiencing or how to help.

I was just like Job’s friends.

Thankfully, the One with all knowledge is the best listener of all. He knows how to listen. And thankfully, He loves to hear everything that’s on our heart and mind. He doesn’t even mind if you ramble on and on. And unlike my grand-dog, Job’s well-meaning friends, or me, He has the power to answer our prayers according to His perfect will (1 John 5:13-15). I suspect that’s why the Psalmist said, “I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen…” (Psalm 116:1&2).

What a GREAT friend!

A Friendship Reminder

tumblr_static_021-friends-theredlistA friend of mine died this week.

I didn’t know him well, so some might say he was more of an acquaintance than a friend. But they would be wrong. He was my friend.

I knew Lew Fraser for barely two years. He passed away on October 8, 2014. I suspect if you could add up the total time we spent actually talking together, it would not total a full 24 hours. Earlier this year, at least three of those hours were spent in his office where we talked about baseball, friends we had in common, and about Jesus. It was there in his office I learned of his remarkable business career, his desire to reach others with the Good News, and how much he loved his family. Many of those topics were captured in picture frames hanging on his office walls.

I knew his health was suspect. He had been in and out of the hospital for various things. Every time the topic came up, however, he would merely shrug it off. His office has a spiral staircase which he had to climb and in my visit, made the trek three different times while attending to various matters. But after pausing to catch his breath, he finally eased into a chair, leaned forward and focused his attention on me. There was no pretense. He was genuinely interested in me. In some ways, it was a bit unnerving because in our multitasking world, we often hold conversations without really looking each other in the eyes. Lew listened.

Baseball and his granddaughter brought us together. Lew had a big heart and his generosity has been felt by many. As for the University of Miami, I learned he had been a key backer for College Hall of Fame coach, Ron Fraser. From the handwritten notes and mementos on his desk, Coach Fraser enjoyed a key ally.

Over the years his attention had turned elsewhere, but when my son, who is on the University of Miami’s baseball team, started dating his granddaughter, he purchased chair-back season tickets. I’m not sure if it was to watch the games or to be able to more closely examine the interests of his granddaughter, but over the past two seasons, he rarely missed a home game.

He quickly became one of my son’s biggest fans and loved to wait around after games ended so he could congratulate our son on the team’s win, or offer a suggestion or two for winning the next one. He loved baseball and as happens with so many of us, coming out to the ball park on a beautiful Miami evening seemed to invigorate him.

I loved watching as his granddaughter would lovingly leave the social atmosphere of her friends in the stands to go sit with her grandpa. Lew’s eyes would light up with love and joy and there they’d sit, watching the game as they talked and enjoyed being together.

Over his years, Lew faced some of life’s great rewards as well as its heartbreaks and tragedies. I knew him when he couldn’t help but speak of his renewed faith in a loving and personal God and how he hoped his story of faith would encourage others. In one of our last conversations, he told me how much he wished he would have known my Dad. Then, in a very humbling moment, he looked at me with those kind and generous eyes and said, “But I know you. Your dad must have been someone very special.”

Lew was my friend because he wanted to be. It really is as simple and profound as that. In John 15:12, Jesus said, “This is my commandment: love each other in the same way I have loved you.” That’s a very tall order. But I have no doubt, Lew was always trying to do just that.

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