Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A tribute to the oldest vet I know

This is my article that came out in last Friday's Herald-Journal. Thought it worth reposting today.

Three weeks ago my grandpa passed the century mark. It’s pretty cool having a grandpa who’s spent 100 years on this planet.

The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of activity for him. The partying started with more than a hundred family and friends stopping by his house to celebrate a life well lived. He’s been on the front page of the Greenville News and featured on a few local TV news broadcasts.

Last week Grandpa, and his 91 year-old brother Homer, were able to take the Honor Flight to visit the WWII memorial in Washington, DC. Grandpa is a veteran of WWII. He landed on Omaha Beach six days after D-Day and eventually fought his way from there to Berlin.

I love Grandpa Henry stories. One time he got chewed out by his commanding officer for taking a German Army motorcycle for a spin around the German countryside because it could have gotten him shot by one of his fellow Americans. Grandpa always loved motorcycles.

Then there’s the one about the French family that invited him into their home for breakfast. He taught them how to put cheese in their scrambled eggs. They served him wine with breakfast.

His unit was responsible for rescuing thousands of Polish citizens from a German prison camp. He says “That was one of the greatest experiences of my life, setting those people free.” I get teary-eyed just typing that.

Grandpa is a part of what Tom Brokaw calls The Greatest Generation. There is so much that makes Grandpa a living example of what Tom’s book. He has always had a willingness to do whatever needed to be done, without asking for credit and special favor. Before he could come home, he spent nine months in the Hospital recovering from injuries brought on by the war, but then he came home, went to work, raised a family and never complained. You can still find him in the yard working on his ’61 Corvair, because those cars always need some sort of maintenance.

He is someone who approaches life with fresh gratitude daily. It seems to ooze out of his pores. We would all be better off if we had his attitude.

Grandpa has been married to my 94 year-old Grandma for 77 years. That level of love and commitment serves as a great example to a generation where it is rarely seen.

Veterans hold a special place in my heart. My dad is a veteran. I spend the first 18 years of my life as an Army Brat. I am grateful for all of our veterans, but this Veteran’s Day I’m especially grateful for my Grandpa.

Monday, November 09, 2015

From a friend of mine

I'm a really big believer that those of us who call ourselves Christians should act like Christians. I realize this is a ridiculous statement that should go without saying, but the fact of the matter is that too often Christians don't act like Christians.

I am sorry for the times when I don't act like I'm supposed to act. I'm sorry for the times my fellow brothers and sisters don't act like they're supposed to act. We must do better.

That is why we're talking about what it means to be counter-cultural at Hub City. To be counter-cultural means we live lives that are different from our culture, and at the same time, attractive to our culture.

Yesterday we take about the character trait of humility. Mike did a phenomenal job, and he gave us some assignments: Consider others before yourself, Engage in silence, Remember that it's not all about you. 

This coming week I'm going to be talking about what is possibly the most difficult counter-cultural trait of all because it is in direct opposition to the consumerism that undergirds everything in our culture.

In two weeks we're talking about commitment. Whetting our appetite for this topic, a friend of mine, the infamous Chris Pollard, pastor of The Journey here in Spartanburg, posted some great statements that flow into all of our counter-cultural talk. They were so good that I asked him for permission to share. He gave it, so here they are:
  • God's people in our country are meeting together less and less often (Avg 3x/mo). Is it any wonder we are weak?
  • We have sacrificed relationships & community for events & experiences.
  • Often, the first sign that we have stepped away from God is that we have stepped away from God's people.

All of this is about us living different from our culture and attractive to our culture. 

Friday, November 06, 2015

Enjoying the roller-coaster ride of parenting

Anybody who is a parent knows the ups and downs of parenting. Six Flags couldn't design a roller-coaster modeled on parenting because it would cause trauma, whiplash and possibly, paralysis. 

There are good days. There are hard days. There are days when you feel like you've got the hang of things. There are other days when you have no idea what you're doing.

The past couple of months have been a unique time in our parenting. Nathan started High School and has been consumed with marching band. Levi has been playing football. He now has a path to the NFL planned out for himself. Just this past week Matthew started off-season training with the High School Tennis team. 

All of this has left us a bit stretched, and I woke up this morning feeling a bit emotional about it all. 

Tomorrow is the marching band state championship. I'm probably biased, but Byrnes' program is phenomenal. I love that Nathan has the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than himself. I hope they win state. I'm even a little surprised that I am sad about the season is coming to an end. It has been such a great experience for Nathan.

Tomorrow is also supposed to be Levi's final football game of the season. Unfortunately, the game will probably be rained out. It has been so much fun watching him have fun quarterbacking and leading and encouraging his young team. 

I'm writing about this because sometimes in the busyness and ups and downs of parenting we forget to pause and reflect on the present. My emotions reminded me to pause today.

Liz and I remind each other often that time is short. Our time with our kids is short. So, even through the roller-coaster ride, remember to enjoy the journey.

And with that being said: Go Rebel Regiment! Win State!!!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of counter-culture. The problem with the phrase “counter-culture” is that all of us have a different idea that comes to mind when we hear it. 

Some people think of hippies. Other's think of David Platt's book by the same title. A friend of mine thinks of that stuff that grows on food that's been left on your counter too long.

And then there's the way we, as Christians, think of being counter-culture in our day. Most of the time when we think of counter-culture we approach it from an issues perspective. In other words, we are different based on how we stand or side with certain issues. 

Issues are important. But I don’t think our stance on issues is what makes us counter-cultural. Where we stand on issues might make us different, but it’s not all that attractive. Issues seem to build walls and push people away.

Since there's to much confusion, let me define what I mean when I use the phrase “counter-culture.”

To be counter-cultural means living in a way that is both different from our culture and attractive to our culture.

To be counter-culture means that you live a life that is in contrast to the current culture. It involves being different. But to be counter-cultural is to be different in such a way that is attractive and that draws people to want to step away from their current culture into your counter-culture.

There’s something about it that is both different and attractive.

This is a great description of how we, as followers of Jesus, should live. We need to live lives that are in contrast to our current culture. Our contrast needs to be attractive, in that people want what we have.

But how do we live in a way that is both different from our culture and attractive to our culture?

Well, instead of an issue-based counter-cultural way of living, I think we need to have a character-trait-based counter-cultural way of living. The Bible lists out all kinds of counter-cultural traits that should characterize our lives as Christians. They are evidences of God’s working in our lives. They are character traits that are in direct contrast to the character traits we see displayed in our culture.

We're going to be talking about this counter-cultural way of living during the month of November at Hub City. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday. God has something he wants to say to you.