November 21, 2017

If you die tomorrow, what will you remember? What does Tim McGraw think?

If you die tomorrow, what will you remember? Worries? Troubles with your life? Or final memories with friends, family, and other loved ones?

I am currently on a cordial visit to Auburn University for a possible new career opportunity that might additionally compliment my ambitions to become a published book author. I thoroughly enjoy my time back in the Plains, where I ask my fellow Auburn comrade, fan, and best friend, Caleb Rotton, the meaning to all of life’s greatest ministries and questions. Just tonight over a brew and bacon cheese fries at the Outback, I asked the question that enters all our minds at some point during the work week, “If you die tomorrow, what will you remember?”

And he responds, “Nothing. I will be dead.” While obviously insightful, that is not the ideal answer I exactly hoped for.

As illustrated in the previous entry, I recently attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference where I met new connections and contacts beyond my wildest dreams with doors and blessings that continue to flow forward with God’s fresh air in my sails. I then spent five days with my Dad on a father-son vacation in Daytona Beach, Florida. In addition to putt putt tournaments, walks and jogs on the beach, sling shot carnival rides, lighthouses, and the best seafood money can buy, the memories of flirting with a beautiful bartender (with my father’s efforts to “connect” us) still sing through my own sensory recall of recent remembrances.

As also mentioned with Caleb, we ate a luxurious meal at The Outback tonight, a restaurant I rarely frequent a visit to given the expense of their prices.

If I die late tonight or tomorrow, I am not going to remember the job hunt, the next draft of a book proposal, or even the papers I need to grade in the college courses I teach. I will remember the amazing writers I met at the conference in the beautiful lakeside country of Floridian scenes and the much needed personal one-on-one time with both my father and best friend. I will remember the final blog entry inputted here to remind you of what matters in life beyond the ordinary.

It is the relational moments in our favorite places that matter, at the beach, Christian-like-minded gatherings, the Daytona 500, or Auburn, Alabama, a place I still consider home on many levels. These heaven-like moments I will take with me to the afterlife. The worries and to-do lists will probably be the last thing on my spiritual mind when I meet Jesus face-to-face for an angelic home welcome to sit at His right hand. I hope a parade and hug from Jesus also await me. All the tedious other-things pass away in the doldrums of day-to-day existence.

With unforeseen adversity and losing a life dear to me at the end of last year, God reminded me to keep this perspective, a heavenly mindset. All the tedious details take care of themselves in obedience to remain faithful in the small tasks of each day. God will take care of the rest. And so I ask the question to you and myself once more, “What will you remember if you die tomorrow?”

I am so fortunate to have run across this Christian lesson and sermon with this very same message entailed. While there is no extensive videographer special effect here, I believe the clip is worth five to ten minutes of your time if you find that fresh breath is rarely experienced in your day-to-day walk with Jesus. It further solidifies my approach to life given in this blog entry.

Enjoy and remember what it truly important to live like you were dying.

My Best Christmas Gift This Year – A New Home in Grace Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia – Video Imagery!

12 It is not an enemy who taunts me—
I could bear that.
It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—
I could have hidden from them.
13 Instead, it is you—my equal,
my companion and close friend.
14 What good fellowship we once enjoyed
as we walked together to the house of God.
Psalm 55:12-14 (NLT)

You know – coming to a new place and town can always be somewhat daunting for those taking the pilgrimage for new opportunities. I have backpacked around the world through Europe, South America, and the continental United States. However the move to Atlanta felt like a move to China for me. I stressed about it in both unusual and unique ways as I was about to experience a test unlike ever faced before; however that is not the subject of this blog and journal entry, even though adversity has been withstood.

In the last two months, I radically experienced two different spectrums of faith: religious churches versus real churches. When I mention a religious church, I mean a legalistic body that follows protocol, rank of title, and certain constitutional procedures and policies. We live Christ in the confines of these guiding principles, placing Jesus in the realm of a box or church structure.

On the flip side, I experienced a real church with real people in the relationships evident at Grace Midtown Church, the home I will inevitably join if I am granted my wish and blessing to make Atlanta my permanent residence for a few many years. Grace is not solely defined by a box of rules. This body of God is defined by the teaching of a real and live Jesus Christ.

Probably more than ever before, through the internet, face-to-face interaction, and phone calls, I have felt more called (literally and spiritually) to this church for growth in addition to security and comfort in an unfamiliar place with recent troublesome and turbulent circumstances. The following video gives a slight feel for how this church rises up to higher heights, much like Birmingham Church of the Highlands, another purpose-driven real community.

I took my home church, Church of the Highlands, extremely for granted when I firsthand experienced a really bad religious institution here in Atlanta upon first moving here. While some might think it wrong to blog about any such church, it became increasingly apparent between stagnant structure of so-called faith versus a life-breathing organization that brings fresh air to our lungs in relationship, small fellowship, and Big Time plays for heaven size purposes. When I escaped the perils of that lost freedom of boredom and routine, I found Grace Midtown House Churches through the referrals of friends in Auburn, Birmingham, and an unusual phone conversation with a rather special college junior obsessed with Arabic culture and building the firm foundation of house churches within Grace Midtown.

And so as you can see in the previous video, I found a home of real people with real worship and real intentions to ask me about me and invite me to activities without my lead, a very unusual social approach. In other words, I am used to introducing myself and meeting others. It was nice to have others do that in my direction, in my favor, and in pursuit of joint relationship with Christ. More people prayed over me at Grace Midtown in six weeks than a year anywhere else I have ever been. Now that is a Christmas present of fellowship worth blogging about! Have your way with me here, Lord! Have your way with me!

Grace Midtown, I owe you an extreme multitude of many thanks and appreciation. While I am not sure where God will place me in 2013, I am so firmly glad and grateful for the meaning you restored into new life relationships, strengthening my faith for a firm presence of mind to rise next year as a new creation. I am ready and willing to be a part of your family once my destination is set, delivered, and whispered into existence. Thank you for the best Christmas present I received this year – your body of believers!

If you, as a reader of my blog, find a faith community like this, you will truly never be the same as these videos illustrate including this past Christmas service at the Gwinnett County Civic Center and Arena. I challenge you this Christmas and this New Year in 2013 to find something that will never make you feel the same again as you live and pursue Christ in the present in real community. Find a body of believers to celebrate holidays like this!