Thursday, February 26, 2009


Just a few weeks ago, the world sat witness as Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger was forced to set his damaged airliner in the frigid waters of the Hudson River in New York City. Amazingly, every person, passenger and crew, was able to exit the aircraft safely and lived to tell the tale. It didn't take very long for "Sully" to receive a new title, that of Hero. When asked how he felt in performing such an amazing feat, "Sully" simply replied that he only did what he had been trained to do.

Perhaps it was just timing, but it seems to me now that this nation needed a hero and "Sully" was the right man in the right spot at the right time. We rally around heroes for in them we see something bigger than ourselves.

When I was growing up, I had my heroes. One of my favorites was a war hero. Sgt. Alvin York was a trouble-maker before World War I started, but became a Christian and a contientous objector after he was drafted. He didn't want to hurt anyone, and was appalled by the idea of killing others. However, when he and his men were trapped and being killed one by one by Germans, he reluctently picked up his rifle and began shooting back. He was forced to kill 28 Germans singlehandedly and was responsible for capturing 132 others. When asked what led him to do something that was against his beliefs, he replied that he couldn't just sit there and watch his friends die, that he only shot back to protect his men.

Since the incident on the Hudson River a few weeks ago, I have been thinking quite a bit about heroes. Most often when we think of heroes we envision men at war, fighting against overwhelming odds, and more often than not, dying in the effort. But heroes are much more than men with guns. Allow me to share with you an example.

A couple years ago I was able to perform a funeral for a member of the church who had been in a nursing home for several years, suffering from heart problems and the onset of Alzheimers. In his prime, this gentleman had been an avid high school sports fan, and for many years, he was the announcer at the local football games on Friday nights. Some considered him the local team's biggest fan. Well, when the football team found out that he had been placed on hospice, they purchased a football with their own money, had each member of the state championship team sign the ball, and a delegation of players traveled to the nursing home to present the autographed ball to their biggest fan. A few weeks later when he passed away, many of the team attended the funeral. In my eyes, these boys were a dying man, to his wife, to their parents, their coaches, their peers, and to God.

So my question to you today is this...who is your hero? Who is that person that has touched your heart with duty above and beyond the call of normal men or women? Who do you look up to, and perhaps hope that someday, you can live up to their expectations? The world is looking for a hero today, another "Sully" who is just doing their job, but with amazing results. :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pet Peeves...

Okay now...fess up! What's your Pet Peeve? Everybody has something that just sets them off. We see others doing the stupidest things and we wonder what on earth they were thinking at the time.

Most of my pet peeves have to do with driving. For those of you who are not aware, I was a high school driving instructor for five years, and I think I can honestly say I have just about seen anything and everything a driver can do while behind the wheel of a car. I have seen people eat food, change clothes, read books, watch movies on portable DVD's, put on make-up, shave, talk on cell phones, text messages, and a few other things I'll not mention here. Talk about multi-tasking!

As far as driving goes though, I guess my biggest pet peeve has to do with turn signals. I have come to the conclusion that most cars don't have them (must have been optional equipment!) Part of my teaching was trying to explain something called 'Defensive Driving' (that is being prepared for anything), but how can you be prepared when the other driver doesn't even know where they are going or what they are doing?

My wife has learned to read the signs - she knows when I've encountered drivers without drivability (that is drivers who have either forgotten everything their instructors taught them, or they just don't care). She claims my jaw clamps tight, my knuckles turn white as I grip the wheel, and my eyes narrow as I watch these accidents looking for a place to happen.

While I still tend to sneer at drivers without drivability, my pet peeves have turned to other interests. As I have grown older and more involved in my church, I can't help but wonder why people don't go to church. Oh, they make excuses. For example, I was working with a group of teens a few years ago and we were talking about church. Every single one of them told me that they like the church services, they enjoyed the hymns and songs, they loved the time we set aside for children, they even like the older poeple of the church. Their only complaint: church was too early (our worship starts at 10:30 am and they thought this was too early?)

Sounds like excuses to me. And the problem with teens using these kinds of excuses now is that they will develop them into a lifestyle that omits corporate worship and a relationship with God. that I've spouted, what's your pet peeve? Is it people? Actions? Work? Drivers? The girl at the checkout? Professional sports and spoiled players? TV commercials that are twice as loud as the show you were watching? Well, here's your opportunity to shout it out. Yeah, go ahead...yell out as loud as you can. What ticks you off?? :-)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Unconditional Love...

Well, it's Valentine's Day weekend and you know what that means...let's spend some money! Flowers...candy...a night out at your favorite eating establishment...and don't forget the bling! After all, what says 'I Love You' better than some fancy, shiny, expensive bauble...right?

It's not uncommon at this time of year that our thoughts turn to the subject of love. The retail world has created a whole industry devoted to providing a mutitude of ways to show just how much you care. Cards, candy, flowers, and jewelry are just a few of the ways you can spend your money to prove your love.

For a few moments this year, I ask that you consider another type of love. The ancient Greeks had a great way of defining love. They used three words to express different kinds of love. Philia is a word that usually meant 'friendship' or a general type of love, like between friends or family, or when talking about something you enjoy doing. Eros is used to identify erotic, passionate love as between two individuals who strongly desire one another. Then there is Agapē love, which is unconditional love, or love for another, not because of what they can do or return, but simply because they are.

Since it is Friday, and Valentine's day weekend, allow me to share with you a poem I wrote a couple years ago for my wife. It is a poem of unconditional love.

The Rose and the Leaf

If my love were a rose, and I were a leaf…
separate and distinct, yet connected by necessity.

I would bask in the glory of her beauty,
content to reside in her shadow.

Daily providing strength and encouragement;
collecting sunshine to brighten her day,
and savoring the morning dew as her kiss.

Growing together in love that only time can provide,
until the ravages of time take their toll.

Til that day when age and Mother Nature take their course,
and together we whither and fall,
to take our place amongst those who have gone before.

Only to change and become one once again,
mixed and mingled with the soil of new life,
together always and forever…

If my love were a rose, and I were a leaf…

Enjoy your weekend. Take the time to examine your heart. Tell someone you love them this weekend. :-)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Poetry Friday...

Okay boys and's Friday! Finally!! The sun is shining, it's warming up outside, and it's a beautiful day!

I was just sitting here thinking about my busy weekend...(what weekend isn't busy?) Performing a wedding on saturday which is always a great time. I find it amazing to be part of the beginning of new life and new love. Fun, food, fellowship...and someone to share your love and your interests and your time...what could be better?

Well, there is always the flip side of the coin. What if you don't have that special someone to share with? What if love just hasn't found you yet? Or, what if you loved and lost...due to a misunderstanding, or error in judgement, or mis-communication, or whatever...?

Well, since this is Poetry Friday...allow me the space to offer the following...

Desparations' Hope

Pain and sorrow crush the heart
Desparation now a part;
Alone within, darkness descends,
A trail of torment now begins.

Love is lost, spirit crushed,
Heart-felt voices now are hushed.
Hope is lost, dispair my friend,
Wondering when the pain will end.

But true friends see thru tinted eyes,
Asking not the hows or whys.
Love so deep, not understood
Offered oft in bad and good.

An ear to hear and arms so strong
Holds you safe where you belong.
Shoulder firm to lean upon,
Steadfast and sure till fear is gone.

Strength is given, love poured out,
Love is shared beyond all doubt.
Connected now by heart and mind,
Soul to soul evermore entwined.

Seems to me the key to surviving this old world is
True Friends...True friends are hard to find. They are worth their weight in gold. They like you for who you are, not what you can do for them. True friends are willing to lend a hand, lend a buck, lend a laugh, or lend a kleenex.

This weekend, I urge you to spend some quality time with your true friend...even if it's only a phone call or an email. They are there for you...share the love

Your friend...Gary :-)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Groundhog Day...

Groundhog Day 2009 has come and gone...and according to that little "Whistling Pig", looks like 6 more weeks of winter for us snow weary souls. But I'm not here to talk about varmits...let's talk about life.

Most of you should be familiar with the Bill Murray movie, 'Groundhog Day'. The basic story of the movie is that Bill's character is stuck in time and is forced to relive the same day over and over and over again until he gets something right. As watchers, we are privy to his hits and misses, his triumphs and his failures. And we watch as each morning he wakes up to the same tune on the radio. He tries, but nothing seems to change...that is until he meets someone who makes him think about really changing his life.

There is a scene in another movie that leads my thoughts along a similar path. In the movie 'City Slickers', Billy Crystal's character is having a conversation on horseback with his friend who was caught with another woman and was consequently sued for divorce. As they are riding their horses along the trail, Crystal relates that this 'vacation', this outdoor experience can be a 'Do Over' for his friend... a time to start fresh and to try and avoid the mistakes of the past.

Do you see the similarities? In each movie, the characters had made mistakes and were paying a high price for their transgressions. In both movies, the main characters meet someone who makes them realize they need change in their lives. In each movie, these same characters are given an opportunity that few of us realize in our lifetimes... a "do-over", a chance to try opportunity to continue with life on this earth with friends, family, and even strangers, while trying to avoid the mistakes of our past, knowing that their past doesn't matter anymore.

This two movies are simple illustrations of God's unlimited mercy and His unconditional love. You see, humans love each other for what they can do for each other and for what they expect in return. God loves us, not because of what we can do for him, but just because he wants to. God loves us for who we are, not what we can do.

The best news for Christians today is this...everyday is a Groundhog Day...everyday is an opprtunity to start fresh...a "do over" of life.

Anybody out there want to join me in another day of starting over??