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Posts from September 2007

Marines Silent Drill

Yesterday at the Jaguars - Titans game, the USMC Silent Drill Platoon performed.  When they entered the stadium, the crowd stood up and remained standing for their entire performance.  These men were incredible.  Here's a clip showing their precision and skill.  Semper Fi.


Separated from our Loved Ones - for a Season

This morning about 10:30am, I received a phone call.  My caller id gave me an indication of the nature of this call.  It was one of those calls you just don't want to answer, but you must.

It was today that my friend and long time member of our church, Joe Graves, exited this world and entered into heaven.  Amazingly, it was just earlier this year that Joe was in church, teaching his Sunday School class, serving as an active Deacon and other areas of church service.

Then, on May 29th, he was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), better known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease."  ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually lead to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

In most cases, the symptoms and the degeneration appear over a long period of time.  In Joe's case, it was dramatically quick.  In talking to some of his friends, Esra, Bob D., Bob W., Lee, and others, not to mention his wife, Sue, the discussion about Joe's disease always revolved around how quickly it had come upon him.  Even his doctors have said that it was abnormally fast.

Perhaps the speed of the degeneration was a good thing.  Sue believes it was.  Due to the quickness of the degeneration, Joe's suffering was not prolonged.

In knowing Joe Graves over these past 13 1/2 years, I have grown to love him as a man with convictions, love for his Lord, his wife, his family, his church and his nation (in that order.)  He was always such and encouragement to me, especially in these past two years as pastor.

While serving as youth pastor, I worked with Joe to develop our first "freedom museum" at the church.  Joe was instrumental in contacting veterans within our church and setting up the displays that were placed in our front foyer.  It was such a joy to see him and others reminisce of their days in the military and swapping "war stories."  You see, Joe was a patriot, a dutiful man, a Navy man through and through, but always allowed his faith shine through.

Last fall I asked Joe to help me in an area of local missions and in sharing the vision among our seniors.  He originally told me that he wasn't sure how much time he could give to it (citing his age and health - little did I know how serious the health issue was) but the next day he called me and said "I'll do whatever you need me to so this church can move forward."  Wow.  What a servant!  What a friend!  What a vision!

Not too long ago I met with him the day he was being transported to the Hospice location in Mandarin.  We prayed together and he shared how he was ready to go to heaven, for a number of reasons:  he was sure of his salvation, he was ready to sit at the feet of Jesus, and because he in no way wanted to be a burden for his wife or anyone else.  Joe had his eternal perspective clear and true to form, was always thinking of Sue and others.

Then, after we prayed and waited for the ambulance to arrive to transport him, he began to talk to me about the church and the satellite campus we're putting at Swimming Pen.  Amazing.  I didn't expect that conversation at all, but here he was talking about the growth of God's Kingdom and our role in it.  He encouraged me to not slow down and to keep moving forward as pastor and to make sure our church does so as well.  Here's a man, in a wheelchair, looking eternity in the eyes and yet encouraging me.  It was overwhelming.  Then he said "I'll help start a satellite campus over in Mandarin in the Hospice facility."  We laughed and I told him that was a great plan.

This has been a good, but sad day.  Today I rejoice with Sue that Joe Graves is home.  In a way, it makes us jealous.  But, because of Christ, we know we'll be there too one day.

This has been a difficult day for our church family, because early this morning we received word that B.J. Green (Dennny Bucy's sister and Chris Green's mother) passed away as well.  B.J. was fighting cancer and at times seemed to be winning, but nonetheless, just couldn't fight any longer.  Our church family grieves with our brothers and sisters.  Only God can bring peace and comfort needed now, but as I stated last week, perhaps God wants to use you to help bring comfort to these dear families.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.


This week's College Football Update

North Texas at Southern Methodist

This could be the week that North Texas redeems itself from it's embarrassing national telecast against Oklahoma last week.  Playing SMU in Dallas is no easy win, but SMU has never really recovered from the death penalty handed down by the NCAA years ago.

So, knowing that UNT is in a rebuilding year, the odds aren't great that they'll beat the Mustangs.  Regardless, I pick them to win 24-14.

Other picks this week (I picked these earlier in the week on my Yahoo! College Football Pick 'Em):

West Virginia over Marshall

Wake Forest over Nebraska

Oklahoma over Miami

Ohio State over Akron

Clemson over Lousiana - Monroe

Georgia Tech over Samford

California over Colorado State

Boise State over Washington

Texas A&M over Fresno State (but they won't beat the spread of 17.5)

South Carolina over Georgia

Florida over Troy

Penn State over Notre Dame

UCLA over BYU

Tennessee over Southern Miss

Texas over TCU

Hawaii over Louisiana Tech

Auburn over South Florida

LSU over Virginia Tech (but they won't beat the spread of 12.5 pts.)

Wisconsin over UNLV (but they won't beat the spread of 25.5 pts.)

Hey, can you name these college teams by their helmets?

Falcons_2 Akron


Mike Huckabee for President

Have you ever heard of Mike Huckabee?  Being that my wife's family is from Arkansas, I have followed his political career since he was elected Governor.

He's running for President now and unfortunately, many people still have never heard of him or know what he stands for.  He is an ordained Baptist pastor and felt compelled to enter the political realm years ago and God allowed him to be elected Governor.

For those still trying to determine what all the 2008 candidates stand for, and there are many of them, take a look at Huckabee's response at a recent CNN sponsored Republican debate.

My opinion?  I like this guy!


Tonight the OP Town Council Votes on Poker

163835467_7e052e5ce5 Tonight (Tuesday, September 4) at 7:30pm, the Orange Park Town Council will vote whether to allow Poker Rooms at the Orange Park Kennel Club.  All citizens are encouraged to voice their opinions and let the council members know your feelings.  Click below to view a film by the American Family Forum that addresses the issue of the poker rooms and shows what will happen to our community potentially.

Download BetBaderNow.mov


The One About Loneliness

Friendship1_copy Statistically speaking, it should be impossible to be lonely on planet earth. After all, there are more than 6 billion of us roaming around on this big rock.

I read a quote from actress Lauren Bacall last week. She was lamenting the fact that since her husband, Humphrey Bogart’s death and the death of other friends she feels so alone in this world.

A recent article by Probe Ministries in Dallas tells of a coming epidemic in our society. This is an epidemic of loneliness. This week we begin a new series of messages focused on friendships.

I believe we live in a community of acquaintances and the need for true friends is there, but not being fulfilled.

Download 01_the_one_about_loneliness.mp3


Country Commandments

This was given to me this morning at church by Elmer Coffman.

This was posted on a wall at Cross Trails Church in Harlan, Kentucky

1.  Just one God

2.  Honor yer Ma & Pa

3.  No tellin' tales or gossipin'

4.  Git yourself to Sunday meetin'

5.  Put nothin' before God

6.  No foolin' around with another fellow's gal

7.  No killin'

8.  Watch yer mouth

9.  Don't take what ain't yers

10.  Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff

Hillbilly

That purty much settles it, don't you think?


It Starts Tonight at 7pm

I know you will all want to set your TiVo for tonight's big game between the North Texas Mean Green and some small school from Oklahoma called the Sooners.  This is the beginning of the Mean Green's run to the BCS Championship (OK, I'm dreaming.)  I'm just glad they're on TV around here.  It's on Fox Sports Net at 7pm.

Unt_vs_ou_copy_2