My Personal Connection to the Space Shuttle Challenger: Remembering That Tragic Day

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We were driving around Nashville in our old van.  It was a snow day.  Well, sort of.  It was one of those days when it snowed, but cleared up quickly.  We had moved into our new house just the year before.  My parents had been searching for wallpaper for the house.

We had the radio on in the van – loud enough to hear but not loud enough for us to really pay attention.  I was sitting in the back seat.  In between stores, as we were driving down the road, I faintly heard someone on the radio say “The space shuttle Challenger has exploded.”

I remember this day vividly for two reasons.  First of all – it was a major event in American history.  Tragedies such as this are things that scar your mind.  Assassinations, natural disasters, bombings, and other things such as this are the things you tell your children about in the manner of “I remember when…” or “I can remember where I was when…”

The second reason I remember this day was because of a personal connection to the shuttle.  One of the reasons the space shuttle Challenger was so important was because of the Teacher-in-Space program.  They were going to put a school teacher in space along with the other astronauts on the voyage.

One of my best friends in elementary school was Travis Fakes.  His mother was a teacher for Lebanon High School, and she qualified as one of two finalists for the state of Tennessee for the program.  Out of over 10,000 applications, she was in the top 100 of teacher candidates.

She did not make it to the top 10 – but I remember how shaken she was, and how shaken our community was when the explosion occurred.  Here’s a list of the top 100 or so candidates: http://www.worldspaceflight.com/bios/teacher.php

Tragedies like this are inevitable.  They have occurred all throughout history, and will continue to happen.  But, we continue to move forward.  The space program did not stop because of that tragic event.  It has had other tragedies occur as well.  But, the space program continues.

And now, I continue to have a connection to the space program through my brother-in-law, Philip Garton, who works for Boeing and has had his hand in helping with the International Space Station, and also with the new Orion program.

I praise God that He has given mankind a can-do attitude, a resolve to continue through struggles, and an ability to bounce back.

Tonight, pray for the families of those whose lives were taken on the Space Shuttle Challenger 29 years ago today.

The Best of … Blog posts that YOU NEED to read

Best-of-the-Best

Today, I’d like to share with you some powerful blogs/articles I read this past week.  Please go and read over these.  They will change your life!

  1. 9 Leadership Principles from Amazon and How They Apply to Your Church by Joshua Reich http://joshuareich.org/books/__-leadership-principles-amazon-apply-church/
  2. The Funeral You Probably Missed by Jon Acuff  http://acuff.me/2015/01/funeral-probably-missed/
  3. Why God Cares About Football written by James T. Wood, hosted on Peter Horne’s blog  http://www.godmeetsball.com/2015/01/why-god-cares-about-football.html?m=1
  4. Pedestals Are For Dead People by John G. Miller http://qbq.com/pedestals-are-for-dead-people/

Thursday Potpourri Volume 2

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Thursday Potpourri is back.  Here are some random thoughts from the past week:

  1. “Deflate”gate is in full force, with the New England Patriots being accused of deflating footballs in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts so they could have an edge in the poor weather.  My opinion – sure they did it.  How else do you explain it?  11 of 12 footballs deflated?  Did it make a difference in the final outcome?  Whose to say, but I don’t think the 40 point drumming of the Colts is due to a deflated football.  My prediction is that New England will lose a draft pick or two if found guilty.
  2. My pick for the Super Bowl this year, between the Seahawks and the Patriots, I’ll go with the Seahawks.
  3. I took a trip to McKay used bookstore today in Nashville.  I had never been to their newer location.  Its the size of a gymnasium – its massive – and its filled with books, dvds, cds, electronics, and more.  All these items are used, and a rather decent bargain.  I filled 3 totes with books, and 1 tote with DVDS, and made a decent amount of money selling those.  Word to the wise:  If you’re over there often, take the store credit – you’ll get practically double the cash you would receive.  It is a very clean, friendly environment.  I highly recommend it

Help Wanted: Do You Have What it Takes?

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Can you help me out for a second?

I’m in the process of trying to commit more time to writing on my blog.  One thing that is needed to make a blog successful is to have some followers.  I have several right now, but am looking to increase my readership.

I don’t want to do this just so I can have massive amounts of people following.  In fact, I’m not a numbers guy at all.  The reason I want to do this is because I feel like this is a very effective way of reaching people who are lost, reaching those who are spiritually confused, or those who are seeking.  You never know what someone scrolling through social media may be struggling with these days, and when you share something – it may be just what someone needs that day!

You can help me in these ways:

  1. Please “Follow” my blog via email.  I will never spam you, or send you requests for things – this simply means that when I make a post, you’ll get an email notifying you that I have a new blog post up.  You can do this by looking to the top right of the page, and click on the “Follow” button.  It looks like this:

    Followers

  2. Favorite and Re-tweet my posts on Twitter.  I automatically share my posts to Twitter when I publish them, so if you see them on Twitter – could you just hit the Favorite button, and then hit the re-tweet button as well.  You can follow me on Twitter @lanewidick
  3. Like and Share my posts on Facebook.  Just hit the like button, and then hit the share button.  You can make a comment, you can tag someone in the share that you know may need that thought that day.
  4. Do this for others.  For ministers, this is just one extra way we can enlarge our sphere of influence for the Kingdom.

Thanks everyone!

Thursday Potpourri

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Every once in a while, its good to just let your mind wander.  I don’t have a vast audience for my blog, but its a respectable group of folks and I’m appreciative for the hits each day.  Today, I’m just going to let my mind reflect on a few things I’ve been thinking on lately.

  1. Thanks to some good friends, Grey and Melanie Carter, I have gotten into the “Buy Sell Trade” Facebook pages.  These things are pretty cool.  I haven’t bought anything off any of them yet, but I have sold a few things – a train table, a pair of shoes, and a couple of movies.  If you have some junk around your house, join one of these groups.  I’m amazed at what people will sell or buy.
  2. I was disappointed this year that my Crimson Tide went out the way they did for the season, but truth be told, I thought they overachieved this year.  If you had told me at the beginning of the year that Ohio State would have won the inaugural playoff run – I would have said you were nuts.  Congrats to the Buckeyes.
  3. Josie has been in the process of losing her two front teeth for about a month now.  Its almost cartoonish to look at her cute little smile.
  4. My wife and I have been really into the thought process of down-sizing our possessions.  The other day, I went through my closet and pulled out about 15 shirts that I haven’t worn in the past year.  I haven’t gone through my drawers and storage.  When was the last time you did some cleaning like that?  I found it rather therapeutic.
  5. I’m not a big fan of the “winter breaks” that a lot of television shows are taking these days.  I suppose its nice to have continuity without weeks in between shows all year long – but lots of the best shows seem to take about a 2 month break these days.  What show are you looking forward to returning?
  6. I’m trying to get in more reading this year as well.  The current book I’m reading is entitled : “Satan and His Kingdom: What the Bible Says and How it Matters to You” written by Dennis McCallum.  Its a good read on how to understand the Evil One a bit more, and how he attacks us, how he works, the powers he possesses, and much more.

I hope your 2015 has started off great!

Booyah!

Stuart Scott pic

While growing up, our family did not have cable. I never fully appreciated ESPN or Sportscenter until I got to college, where you could imagine it would be on in the lobby pretty much 24/7. At night, I remember sitting in my room with various roommates, and we would catch up on the day’s sporting events, and one of my favorite hosts was always Stuart Scott.

After multiple battles with cancer, Scott passed away today. I spent some time today watching some of the tributes made about him and his journalism career. Many thought he was unorthodox in his approach to sports journalism, with his catch phrases and his attitude and his style, but that’s what made him memorable. That’s what made you want to tune in and listen.

Its a great testament to who he was when you read all of the celebrities, athletes, politicians, etc. who went to Twitter today and wrote their farewells. You can read some of them by going here: ESPN Stuart Scott Farewells

These are the things that make manly men tear up and weep a bit. I, too, pretended to blow my nose so I could wipe tears away while my wife was on the couch reading.

It makes you stop and ask yourself – what impact are you leaving behind? What do people think of you? What are you doing to make your world a better place? You’re only here for a little while, what are you doing with that precious time?

Stuart Scott

The Best Thing You Can Do


If you read this, regardless of whether you are a full time preaching minister or not, I hope you realize the importance of the message and apply it immediately.

In September of 2011, I began a new job as the full time preaching minister for the Granny White Church of Christ. I was honored and thrilled to be offered this position. Truthfully, I never really wanted to be a “preaching” minister. I never thought I would be very good at it.

I’ve actually been preaching since I was 14, starting in high school when the Friendship Christian School high school chorus did its annual “Church Tour”. I probably would preach 4 or 5 times each year. I did devotionals during college, but never really had a preaching job. When I did campus ministry at Westbury Christian, I was in charge of chapel and spoke often. While a youth minister, I filled in when necessary.

Finally when I was an Associate Minister in Houston, I was asked to speak 12 Sundays a year. I immediately knew this was more than just filling in – and I got a bit nervous. It had been a long time since my “Prep and Del” class at FHU. I immediately began reading books on preaching, listening to podcasts of preachers, reading sermons and sermon outlines, and began paying closer attention each Sunday when I was not preaching to our senior minister.
When asked to be the full time preacher at Granny White, I was honored. I knew it was a great opportunity for me to serve God and a great congregation. Since I’ve been here, I’ve taken advantage of going to 2 lectureships, and a few seminars.

During the seminars, I learned that a minister should try and memorize his sermons, that a minister never preaches a sermon twice, a minister never borrows or uses someone else’s material, a minister should spend X amount of hours preparing a lesson…the list goes on and on and on.

This got in my head and really shook me up. I was not memorizing my lessons. I was preaching a few things I had already done. I was preaching a couple of sermons that I had re-written and modified. I wasn’t spending “X” amount of hours preparing.

And I started to get nervous, and confused.

But then, I realized something – there is no prescribed way in the NT telling a preacher how to preach. Jesus never says “He who memorizes his sermons will be blessed abundantly.” Paul never says “A good preacher will only preach 17.4 minutes.” Peter never talks about how many hours he spent preparing for his great gospel in Acts. In fact, I’m pretty sure Jesus said the same thing in different ways many times.

And that’s when it hit me – the best thing I can do – is to be me.

So what if I don’t memorize my sermons. I don’t think anyone is going to give their life to Christ because they are impressed with my memorization skills.

I don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed with me if I only spend 10 hours one week preparing a sermon instead of 25.

No one at Granny White heard that sermon I preached back in 2001. It wasn’t recorded on tape and I don’t believe anyone was at the same summer camp I was at back then.

I am me. That’s who I was hired to be. And that is who God made me to be. I will do by absolute best to be me.

If I memorize a sermon in the future, great! But if I don’t – it doesn’t make me less of a preacher. If I decide not to wear a tie one Sunday, I think it will be okay. If I only preach for 15 minutes one Sunday, I’ll probably have a whole lot more who are happy about it than upset at me!

The only real requirement I see in preaching is that I preach the truth.

And I will continue to do that to the best of my abilities till God no longer sees fit for me to be doing it anymore.

So for you preachers out there – be you. Don’t try to be the next big thing in preaching. Don’t try to impress your members by doing something that doesn’t come naturally to you. Don’t be fake by doing something you wouldn’t normally do.

Just be you. Do it to the best of your ability. Pray that God will use you and guide you. Don’t feel like you’re not doing a good job just because you don’t preach or teach like the other guys. Just be you – and let God do the rest.

Bieber Fever? A Confession…

I’m a fan of Justin Bieber.  There, I got that out of the way.

But, I’ve never once listened to any of his music.  I’ve never read any lyrics to his songs.  I couldn’t tell you the name of one his songs.  But I’m a big fan.

I know I may get ridiculed for having “Bieber Fever”, but I really don’t care.  The kid is just awesome.

In a society of teen pop culture icons, its good to see that so far, one of them has kept their head on straight.  After seeing the downfalls of so many going from child star to young adult inmate, its refreshing to see that Justin, to this point, has not met that demise.  I hope that he won’t ever fall from where he is right now.

Recently on Extreme Home Makeover, Justin Bieber was a guest star in support of a family who lost their daughter to texting while driving.  You can read more about that episode by clicking HERE. That night, he had a concert and invited the younger sister of the victim to be his guest of honor.  Being a young teenager, she was thrilled, and got to bring along several friends.  She had a private pre concert party with Bieber, and then Justin told her that $1 from every ticket sold that night was going to help their cause of stopping teens from texting and driving.  It was that night I became intrigued as to how such a young guy could have such a big heart.  Since then I have found out about several other things he does to help out.

Last summer, Bieber gave a sizable donation to victims of the Nashville Floods.  He speaks out against bullying in school.  He donates to the Children’s Miracle Network.  $1 from every ticket sale to all of his concerts goes to Pencils of Promise, an organization that builds schools for third world countries.  A simple google search will reveal many charities he helps out with, and he seems to be always looking for a way to help.

As a parent of a young child, I hope that future child and teen stars can look to him as a way to get it right.  I know he was raised right.  Recently, Bieber’s mom issued a public prayer request to ask all his fans to pray that he would continue in the ways he seems to be headed, and not be influenced in a negative way by his fame and fortune.

Friday is always Friday, No Matter What

No matter what, you can’t take Friday away from me.

For the past 9 years or so, I never took a regular day off from work, except on Saturdays.  Every church I’ve worked for has allowed me to take one day off during the week, plus Saturday.  I never routinely took my day off.  Sometimes, I would just come home early from a day at the office, but I never really did much of that.  If Kristen was working, what was I going to do with my day off?

Since coming to Houston, I have realized the value of a day off.  Most of us on staff take Fridays off, and it has really helped make it feel like what a weekend used to be like.  I take Friday and Saturday off, but its back to work on Sunday.  Well, really I usually end up with something to do with church on the weekend also, but I don’t mind, so long as I get my day off on Friday.

It has really helped rejuvenate my spirit.  It has helped me refocus my attention.  It gives me much needed rest.  I go to the gym and get an extra long weight session in for the week.  I get to do some things around the house.  I have time to pray, meditate, and sometimes fast.  I have a chance to listen to God.  It has given me so much.

You know, God rested.  It doesn’t always make sense that God rested.  I mean, He is God.  He created rest.  I can’t entirely comprehend it.  However, its kind of neat to think about our God, taking it easy for a day.  Don’t get me wrong, God never stops loving, working, creating…but I’m sure He still takes a breather every now and then.  If for no other reason, its to stop and look at his creation, maybe re-evaluate it, relish in it, soak it in, or cry over it.

Ecclesiastes tells us to seize every moment we have.  How will you seize today?  How will you relish in the day that God has given to you?  May God bless all of us this weekend.