John Deere and the Power of Prayer

This actually sounds like a movie or something.  Like an archaeologist with a cool hat who goes looking for stuff only to get into trouble.  Too bad it’s not quite on that level.  On the other hand, it’s on a much higher level.  And there are no Nazis that I know of related to my blog post, which, if I made 3 original posts undoubtedly the best would be the 3rd and I’d have to go and ruin the legacy with a fourth post years later.  OK…enough of the silliness.

Last week, I had an interesting experience that showed (a teeny bit) my lawn-mowing machinery prowess and (much more so) the fact that prayers are answered…even the ones we sort of just throw out there.  Behold, my John Deere miracle:

After last year’s grass cutting season my riding lawnmower was shot.  I parked it in its spot a little weird, tried to restart it to get it in correctly, and it was dead.  I left it.  My initial thoughts were, “Oh well, I guess this gets me off the hook for the rest of 2011,” and “I’ll have plenty of time to look at it!”  Yeah, before I knew it this year, the grass was calf high.  I mean, upper calf, too… not just right above the ankle!

I tried to start my late 80s, Hydrostatic 185 green and yellow fellow (with rust!) and I got zip.  Nothing happened when I turned the key.  Dead.  I remember talking to the benefactor who gave me the mower about a loose battery connection possibility.  I knew where the battery was, since I’d replaced it in April of 2011.  No joke!  I lifted the hood and saw that nothing was loose as far as my trained eye could tell.  I’m trained in plenty of things- lawnmower repair not being one of them.  I slammed the hood down.  I tried it again and got a little click!

I then did what just about anyone with no knowledge of what they are doing would do… I did the exact same thing!  I got two clicks.  I then sent up a prayer that went something like this, “Lord, you know I don’t have any more time this week to get this done, and I don’t have the money to go replacing batteries on this thing.  Please, let this start for me so I can get this done and not be the failure living in between two retired guys that have nothing better to do than cut their grass and have manicured lawns.”  OK, I added the last bit just now.  The first part was true, because I literally had no time other than right then.  By the time I could get to it again it would be calf-high as in a baby cow would get lost in it!!  Also our funds were low- AAA batteries would be an expense for us, so a lawnmower battery was out of the question.

I then did what I can only assume was God leading me to lawnmower repair.  I lifted the hood and gave the battery a little shake.  No clicks this time, but whirring as if it was getting ready to start.  I then proceeded to shake the battery like a dirty dog, or like it owed me money… maybe like a dirty dog that owed me money!  After a few seconds of holding the ignition it was the sweet smell of success.  And of old gas and combustion, smoke, exhaust, and all that stuff.

I’m certainly not advocating the “get out of jail free card” approach to prayer.  I also don’t want to excuse my laziness in not looking at the problem earlier.  As is the case with God, there are things we just don’t understand about Him.  On the one hand, He certainly is not a Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy who just gives us stuff on a whim.  On the other hand, if we are to be in constant communication with Him like 1 Thessalonians 5:17 advocates, then we should be ashamed if we don’t take something like that to Him.  James 5:16 tells us that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”  Prayer isn’t a means of only getting what we want.  Imagine if you had a friend that only called you when he needed something.  By the same token, I think that there are times when we are upholding a constant and daily prayer life , that this kind of scenario happens.  One this is for sure:  I feel quite certain that I had absolutely nothing to do with this incident other than deciding to cut the grass and not be a slacker, and more importantly pray- even a short one in desperation.

Until next time!

Renaissance Man

I have to admit something.  I actually spelled ‘renaissance’ without the aid of spell check, a dictionary, or the help of any art/ music professors.  The title of the post is actually an inside joke of sorts.  It refers to what the athletic director of Morehead High School said about me in my last year of teaching.  He was giving introductions to all of the coaching staff, and when he got to me, the band directing youth pastor turned rookie assistant cross country coach it seemed appropriate.

In all honesty, I’ve always liked the idea of being skilled at many things.  I remember in college as a trumpet player the idea of focusing only on one aspect of the instrument never appealed to me.  I wanted to do equally well on the classical side of the horn as well as the jazz side.  Of course, this is highly unlikely unless your last name happens to be Marsalis.  But it was a goal.  In my trumpeting career (if that’s what one can call it) I did do a variety of things.  I got the chance to play with a civic orchestra for part of their season, for example.  Big whoop, you might say.  I’d rather say that I got to play Dvorak 9, Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait”, Beethoven 5, and a few other really neat things.  It was the time when my piccolo paid for itself by the plethora of “Messiah” side performances I got!  Swing bands, brass quintets, jam sessions (including one blues jam where I was the weird trumpet guy), a demo that I made with some folks, all kinds of crazy gigs.  I guess I did a few interesting things as a musician.

I think that in doing this blog, in seminary, in my interests in things like running, and in a new career and new family life this renaissance man mentality has pushed through.  Of course, I’m still holding firm to my quasi- Lenten vow, but I feel that if I were to look at the different categories of people I follow on Twitter it would run quite a large gambit.  Jazz/ jazz musicians, writing topics, a couple of celebs, friends, running things, youth ministers/ ministry, Christian “celebs”, Christian bands, and more.  I don’t know, but I think sometimes that focusing too narrowly puts on blinders.  There’s a big world out there.  If we are obedient to Jesus’ Great Commission we can allow our lives (even something as trivial as a blog) to reach more people than in one narrow aspect.  I hope that my Renaissancyness will be able to do that.

Until next week!

A Baptist and Lent

I grew up in the Episcopal church.  We had a lot of things that Baptists don’t really celebrate.  Drinking actual wine during Communion would be one of those things.  Calling the Lord’s Supper “Communion” would be another.  Oddly enough, I’ve read that there is an increasing trend towards Baptist churches celebrating Advent, the season leading up to Christmas, but there are few that will recognize Lent.  Not the stuff in your belly button, folks, the season leading up to Easter.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that any tradition just for the sake of tradition (especially one that was actually invented by man and doesn’t really rest on Scripture) is not on my good list.  That’s probably why Baptists don’t really give much thought to this part of the church calendar. 

That being said, when one looks at the motives and reasons behind Lent, at face value it is something all Christians can benefit from.  (Very) Simply stated it is a time when we can reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and make, in comparison, a small sacrifice to show our love for the Savior.  This is why you always hear some folks asking what you’re giving up for Lent.  I remember in high school I actually did the traditionally Catholic no red meat thing.  That was pretty easy compared to giving up soft drinks one year.  I was a disagreeable young lad for those 40 days!

Well, I’m being a bad Baptist (or maybe a good one?) and I’m doing a Lenten sacrifice this year.  I’m giving up Facebook and Twitter.  If you think it sounds lame, then that’s your call.  As for me personally, I have seen many instances since Ash Wednesday five days ago where I have sort of instinctively reached for the smartphone to check either one or both.  As a matter of fact, so as not to raise suspicions, I’m not even going to publish any of my postaweek blogs to these social media outlets.  I’m going to give the time to reading more Scripture or other edifying books, and in prayer.  So far I’ve noticed that I’m actually OK without Facebook.  I kind of like Twitter for the fact that I follow many youth leader “gurus” and other Christian tweeps, but they can wait for another 35 days!

Until next week (or before since I have a week off of classes!)

Write or Wrong?

I must enjoy having a constant flow of activities going on at all times.  I picture it being like the jugglers at the circus, where they’re trying to cope with 10 items which are usually on fire.  Be that as it may, I am becoming more and more interested in a new hobby/endeavor/interest/ avocation/ you-get-the-point-thing.  I’m starting (for some wild reason) to get into writing.  Hmm, let’s see:  still two (and a half?) more semesters at Liberty, 3 month old, two year old, wife, full time job… in the ministry.  I think I may be slightly not with it.

Now, I’ve never made this fact well-known (and unless my blog becomes some sort of internet sensation, then I’m not in much danger of doing so) but I actually considered minoring in some kind of English-y area in college.  That was before I knew the rigors and horrors of being a music major.  It still gives me cold chills.  After college and grad school, I’d often thought about doing some writing.  Now, a more well-known fact is that I proposed to Jenn with a pretty clever little poem.  Of all the non-music classes I’ve ever taken, English was the only one I ever really enjoyed.  Not that I wasn’t good at some other subjects, but we’re talking enjoyment, here.

Recently, like in the past year or so, I’ve written a couple of short stories that I’ve submitted to some contests.  No, they probably weren’t that good.  Actually, neither contest was the feedback type… you either win it or you don’t.  I think that  may be for the best, come to think of it.  I’m thinking, really thinking about using one of them as a blog post.  The only problem with this is the anonymity I’ve enjoyed from being some random contestant will be over.  As a musician I know that a lot of the time, I’m my own hardest critic, but this is something different.  We’ll have to see… for now, I’ll stick to the normal blogging which, I’m told, is kind of like writing.

One thing I do know for sure.  Whatever comes from this whole writing thing, I only want to use it for the glory of the Lord.  That’s what I’m all about.  Just like this blog, if only one person reads anything I write and is blessed by it, or comes to know Jesus as their Savior as a result, then I’ll know I’ve done what I’m supposed to.

Until next week (or before)

Blessed Misspellings

Knowledge is power.  That’s the saying, right?  Well. maybe if the power comes in the form of my feelings being whooped up.  WordPress has these stats that geeky people like me can check on.  Well, it turns out that almost every visit to my blog has been for a previous shenanigan on my evening with baby James at home by myself titled “Super Bawl I”.  Not bad, in that there have been many, many people that have visited it.  The problem is that I found out they were searching for “Super Bowl” and didn’t know how to spell it!  I mean, come on folks.  ‘A’ and ‘O’ are on opposite sides of the keyboard for crying out loud.  Stop toying, or maybe I should say, “taying” with my emotions!  Now, I know that not everyone has come across my blog in such a manner as this, and for that I thank you, my loyal readers… of like, three-ish.

Oh well, there’s a lot to be thankful for and many reasons I consider myself blessed.  God is good, I’m alive and well, and each morning when I wake up there are three beautiful people at home that I get to share a part of that day with.  I have a chance to be a part of the ministry at Boones Mill Baptist, and to see great things happening there.  I’m near the end of a seminary degree, and if you aren’t one of the random Googlers and knew me a while back, then let’s just say God is still in the miracle business!  I think I’m beginning to like the whole blogging/writing thing, so I’m praying that in some way the Lord will have me to do this for His glory.  If a misspelled word brings someone to this blog, then God can work with that!

Until next week…

UPDATE: thought it was an interesting tidbit, but this post has now garnered more views than the post which I described… until Super Bowl time in 2012, that is.