By My Side

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Recently I have felt a great separation from God in my life.  This has caused a little introspection on my part.  When I look at the things that I have said and done it doesn’t take long to identify the issue.  I haven’t been living to please God as much as I could.  From the moment sin entered our world, there has not been complete oneness with God at any point.  Adam and Eve were walking with God daily before being booted from the garden.  They definitely noticed the difference in the way that it used to be and the way that was after the fruit eating incident.  Sin separates us from that incredible relationship that we are to have with God.  God doesn’t leave, we just walk away from Him.  God follows us into the valley and is still there regardless of whether we acknowledge Him or not.  That is what has been happening with me.  I haven’t been doing a good job of glorifying God with my actions and words, so I have felt that God hasn’t been there.  I haven’t taken hardly any time to just be in awe of the Creator of the universe.  I haven’t been real with Him about what’s going on in my life, and I have neglected doing anything to change that.  The lyrics of one of Chris Tomlin’s newer songs really strike me.  Here are a few lines from the song “Whom Shall I Fear?”:  

“The one who reigns forever,

He is a friend of mine.

The God of angel armies

is always by my side.”

How blessed I am to serve a God that knows me and that will never leave.  I’m so glad that He’s not too far away because I really need his hand of grace to pull me up.  I can’t help but be in awe at the thought that God is by my side with a hand open for me to grab onto regardless of how many times I fall flat on my face.  God never leaves.  

God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.

Blessings!

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Coach Mac: “As for Me…”

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I still remember one of my first interactions with the man known as “Coach Mac.”  I was in eighth grade and on the football team.  Us eighth graders had decided that since we were older and it would be funny, we would haze the seventh graders.  One of the most common forms of that hazing was the classic “Purple Nurple.”  Coach Mac got wind of what was going on, so he came and payed the middle school locker room a visit.  In a way that only Coach Mac could, he gave us a speech about being men, and then called us all “Queer Nipple Twisters,” which became a term the team used jokingly the rest of the time we were in school.  

Another one of my first experiences with Coach Mac came during my first Mustang Test after Christmas break my Freshman year.  Coach Mac had walked out to the track to see how the 40-yard dashes were coming.  He saw me running and said to Coach Taylor, “That looked pretty good! How fast was that?” Coach Taylor responded, “6.4.” “Oh, well at least it looked good!”  I was certainly not much of an athlete, but I always admired how Coach Mac told me that I could contribute and invested as much time in me as everyone else.

In both my Sophomore and Junior years, I had season ending shoulder injuries.  Since I couldn’t practice, Coach Mac would always send me on these errands.  Whether it was driving up to school to get something from his office or going and getting his whistle because he had forgotten it in the coaches’ office, Coach Mac gave me responsibilities and trusted me to get the job done.  It took me a while before I had much of an understanding of “Mac speak,” so often it would take him telling me two, three, even four times before I understood what he was asking.  There was a reason behind everything he told me to do even though it didn’t always feel like it.

After my Junior football season, I thought I had a decision to make.  I could have undergone surgery on my right shoulder for a second time and been cleared by some doctors for my Senior season.  Coach Mac told me that he wouldn’t play me my Senior year even if I did get a surgery done.  I was a little hacked off because I thought that it was my choice and not his, but looking back, I now understand that he was just doing the right thing for my health, and I am so thankful that I got to play for a coach who really did care about my well-being.  Even though Coach Mac wouldn’t play me, he really insisted that I stay on the team as a manager.  I considered walking away from football, but Coach Mac played a big role in my decision to stick around for my Senior season.

My Senior football season was one of the most challenging and difficult times in my life, and I am sure that many of my teammates would agree with that statement.  We weren’t very good, and that was something Lipscomb was not used to.  Even though Coach Mac hates losing more than just about anything, he never gave up on us and reminded us regularly how proud of us he was.  We missed the playoffs, but Coach Mac didn’t view us as failures by any means.  That year really proved to me and many others that Coach Mac would rather lose with class and glorify God than win a State Championship going about it the wrong way.

Football was a huge part of Coach Mac’s life, but the way that he carried himself away from football is what set him apart.  Coach Mac genuinely cared about everyone that he came into contact with.  He led by example, and followed Christ’s example in every aspect of his life.  He was Christlike in his attitude towards his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his co-workers, his students, his players, and even the officials.  Coach Mac was in the business of fishing for men, and once he caught them, he was in the business of helping them grow into the man that God was calling them to be.  I am the man that I am today because of Coach Mac’s incredible example.

Coach Mac was a man of incredible wisdom.  He had a lot of sayings regarding just about every aspect of life.  One of my favorites is “Girls are like Mountains.”  I am not going to go into detail on that comparison, but you can use your imagination.  Another saying that he used quite often was, “We put some more hay in the barn today.”  Today I can honestly say that Coach Mac’s hay is in the barn, and someday I hope to get my barn just half as full as his.

Coach Mac was a man who not only had incredible knowledge of Scripture, but he put it into practice.  My Senior season, he constantly reminded us of the last sentence of Psalm 55.  He always made us put both of our hands in the air to remind us where the verse was found, and we would recite it together over and over.  The sentence is, “As for me, I trust in You.”  Coach Mac leaves quite a void in many of our lives and in our hearts, but he left us so much.  Even though we are grieving the loss of an incredible man, I think its obvious what Coach Mac would have us do, and that is put our trust in God.  So when we have lost an great husband, father, grandfather, educator, and coach we have one thing to do.

“As for me, I trust in You.”

Going Somewhere

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I struggle with being stagnant in my faith.

I am and have always been an idealist.  This is great when I am hanging out with my friends and I can say things like “What if we…” and “Wouldn’t it be awesome if….”  Although I come up with all of these great thoughts, I so often struggle going through with my ideas.  Maybe I just don’t care enough, maybe I am scared of failure, and maybe I feel like there are better things that I can be doing, but I tend to give up on projects easily.  I don’t follow through in my spiritual life like I should most of the time, and that bugs me.  For the longest time I have wondered what to do to avoid these stagnant periods in my faith that follow periods of incredible growth.

I have been reading Donald Miller’s book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” and in the book, Miller constantly refers to living a better story in his life.  I really connect with what he is saying.  I consider myself a “big picture” guy, and with me not knowing what God’s “big picture” for my life is, I really have trouble going anywhere and doing anything in life.  Miller suggests giving our lives direction by setting goals or having something to strive for.  Having goals forces us to go out and actually DO things.  So what I am going to try and do is set some goals that will force me to get out and LIVE.  I will get back to you on how that goes.

Blessings!

P.S.: If you are into the whole reading thing and haven’t read any of Donald Miller’s books, I would  highly recommend giving him a shot. I would start with “Blue Like Jazz,” it’s fantastic!

Faithfulness

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Yesterday I was sitting across a table and over a cup of coffee from a friend of mine named Joseph.  I do not really know him very well yet, but we were talking and he asked me, “If someone who had never heard about God asked you to describe God, what would you say?”  I was thrown for a loop by the question because I had honestly never really thought about being asked that.  I thought about it for a moment, and tried to talk through it a little.  The word that ended up being my response was “faithfulness.” I am so lucky to worship a God who never leaves and always comes through.  Even when I have really screwed the pooch, God is still seeking me and wanting me to turn to Him.  I can’t say that thought has always been an easy one for me.  In the past and still often, I have really struggled with praying at times.  Honestly, most of the time I know what I am doing is wrong and feel terrible during and afterwards.  At these times I feel like I should come back to God for forgiveness, but I just can’t bring myself to even ask for more grace.  After I fall into sin, I just feel like I would be cheapening God’s grace if I were to ask for forgiveness immediately. I struggle with thinking that God has given up on me.  How could the creator of the entire universe love me enough to put up with all of my baggage and all of my crap?  The answer to that is amazing.  God sent His son to be treated like the worst of criminals so that I wouldn’t have to be punished for my sin.  One of my favorite stories in all of scripture is found in chapter 3 of Genesis.  It is after Adam and Eve have sinned and are guilt-ridden.  They are hiding in the Garden covered in fig leaves.  Surely they are thinking to themselves, “God must not want to be with me anymore, I am such a screw-up,” but right in the moment when they are scared, ashamed, and confused, the Lord God calls out to them, “Where are you?”  This is such a beautiful story!  The creator of the heavens and the most powerful being that has ever existed and ever will exist is walking around LOOKING FOR THEM!!!  So often I forget how I am constantly being called to live a better story than the story that I live in.  Freedom in Christ can be such a hard concept to understand, but there is one thing that I know, and that is God sent his son for us, that we might not only live, but LIVE WELL!  God is faithful and promises that He will not leave us when we are caught in sin, and God also promises incredible rewards for people who live for Him.

Blessings!