Follow by Email

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Tree

I was about 11 or 12 years old when I was first "introduced" to the Tree. He was one of my heroes. The "Tree" was Wayne "The Tree" Rollins and he was a basketball player from Clemson University who had moved on to the NBA. I first found out about him when he joined the Atlanta Hawks and became a shot-blocking center piece for their team.

Though I was three feet shorter, 200 pounds lighter and noticeably less tan than Tree, I went to bed many nights with dreams of being just like him. I was going to work my way through school, stretch myself every day and defeat my DNA of average height to be just like him. That was...until the Spring came. Then, the Tree faded into the background as I geared up to be Dale Murphy. Yep, that was it. Dale Murphy. All-star center fielder for the completely inept Atlanta Braves of the mid-70's. No matter what happened, I was going to do everything I could to be the next amazing center fielder for the home team...till the Fall...and football.

You get the point. Like most kids, I spent most of my life dreaming about who I could emulate and who I most wanted to replace as the next great __________. It didn't make any difference that the chances were slim (or that I was genetically challenged to be as tall or fast or strong as most of them). I simply wanted to be like them.

So, I spent countless hours running and throwing and shooting and catching. I bought jerseys and hats. I put their trading cards on my mirror in my room and had their names imprinted on my shirts. It was going to happen...no matter what the obstacle.

And here I sit. No shot-blocking. No home runs. No game changing, break away runs. Just me...exactly where God wants me. Well...almost.

You see, there is one more imitation to pull off. No, I'm not genetically inclined to do this one either. While I spend hours practicing and going over the game book, I'm very slow in learning what this one looks like. I'm convinced this is the one that matters more than all the rest though. This is the journey that will make all the others pale in comparison. God's got just one more. It's found right there in Ephesians 5:1:

Be imitators of God....

Hello? Imitators of God? The God? The One who spoke creation into being? The One who defeated giants, parted waters and caused large fish to swallow prophets? He wants me to imitate Him? Absolutely, but not like you think. Paul goes on to explain that our lives should be defined by love, just as God is love. It may not be as glamorous as world championships or Super Bowl rings but love is monumental in the difference it can make in people. For the young mom who is all alone with no support, the troubled teen looking for a role model or the couple who thinks that all hope is gone for their marriage, "lovers" may be just the heroes they have been waiting on. God is love. No doubt about it. Now He asks that you and I follow suit by loving the world around us and bringing Him glory in the process.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Relax

"Relax." You've heard that word used many times before. My wife and I use this great dentist here in Tennessee where we live. He's a wonderful guy with a great personality. But he has two of the biggest hands I've ever seen. They are like something you'd expect to see on a big offensive lineman. So, when he lays me back in the chair to look at my teeth, relaxation is not what's on my mind. I know this guy. I know he's good and he cares about my "oral health." But relaxing is not what I think when he's about to put one drill, two pieces of cotton, a mirror and parts of both of those hands in my mouth.

The same is true with the chiropractor I go to. I've seen this guy for years with all the accidents and sports injuries I've had. I love the guy. He's wonderful. But there's something disconcerting about a guy who says to you "relax" just before he takes your head into his hands and jerks your neck around violently. It's easier said than done.

The same is true with Jesus. Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking. How in the world could I ever question Jesus? It's not Jesus I'm questioning. It's our human nature. When we look at the world around us and the size of our problems, relaxing is not what we think about. And when we see that our lives are about to be jerked about violently, even if we know the end result is for our good, we don't naturally choose to relax.

But that's exactly what Jesus said in Matthew. It was during the message he gave to the people while standing on the mountain top--we call it the Sermon on the Mount and it's found in Matthew 6. (This is just a part of what he said. You can read the whole thing in Matthew 6:25-34)

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry (relax), about your life, what you will eat or drink....For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Fathers knows that you need them.

You know what Jesus was saying there? Relax. God's got your back. He loves you and cares for you far greater than you know. I don't know about you but I get tired of doing the "pagan run"--chasing after things that God says he will take care of. I'm ready to rest on most days, knowing that "tomorrow will worry about itself." Thank God, He's already there.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Usable

DISCLAIMER: Over the last several weeks, I have been encouraged to write regularly about the accident from 2004. I am working my way through writing a book about the incident. So, every Tuesday, I've taken the opportunity to write, remember and share snapshots of that tragic event.

It was a cool morning in December 2004. I found myself standing in an auditorium inside the walls of Memorial University Medical Center--the place where Josh had died just 8 months before. I had come at the invitation of their administration. Not sure what value I could add to their training that day, I had reluctantly agreed to be the "face of a victim." Truth is, I only came because God and I had made a deal to try and bring good from Josh's death.

As the four hundred-plus people spilled into the auditorium that day, I was more than a little intimidated. There were doctors, a few lawyers, nurses and hospital administrators. Every one of them knew far more about medicine and health care than I could ever think. More than once that morning, the question rolled through my mind, "Ridley, what are you doing here? What in the world are you going to say?" I got up to the platform after my introduction without a clue or a note card in my hand. God did the rest.

That day cleared some of the fog for me. It began an incredible journey that has taken me from a national conference in Boston to a small gathering of doctors in Pittsburgh. It has put me in the auditoriums of hospitals in Jacksonville, Florida; Tuscon, Arizona; and Charlotte, North Carolina. I could have never written this script for myself. But my searching in the days after the accident lead me to believe that God was up to something. I just didn't dream big enough. There's a shocker.

I'm a firm believer in a big God who opens doors that we thought were slammed shut. I am living proof that our God can do whatever, whenever, however He chooses. Josh's story has been used to improve hospital safety in many dozens of places across this nation. Far more important, though, is the fact that Josh's life is causing people to talk about pain, faith, forgiveness and loss all while bringing glory to God.

Here's the thing I want you to hear from me...I could never do this on my own. I'm not strong enough, smart enough, qualified enough. Neither are you. And when you realize that, that's when you will find yourself at the place where you are most useful to God. God's not looking for the qualified. He's looking for the willing.

Joshua was no great warrior chief when he took down Jericho. He was just willing to be lead by God.

David had no notches in his belt from past giant slayings the day he entered that valley. He just had a sling, some stones and a malleable heart.

Peter was a fisherman with no speaking ability, no leadership training and no lengthy education resume. He just knew how to follow his heart as it followed Jesus.

Mary had never birthed a child. Heck, she had never even been intimate with a man. It was her heart, humbled before God, that made her the perfect candidate for the unexpected.

God wants to do the same for you. Don't worry about what you bring to the table. He probably won't use it anyway. He just needs you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My life

Man, what a finish to our week last week! I had the privilege of speaking at a Safety Summit here in Nashville on Wednesday. I literally ran into the banquet room as the video of Josh's story was playing. I rushed onto the stage, sat down in the chair and began to pray, "God, calm my nerves and help me do what I came to do...bring You glory." We had an awesome time with the people there afterwards. They were a great group and had lots of encouraging feedback. I even had the privilege of speaking with some of my "long time" friends who have followed our blog here for months. I also talked with one young lady who was part of the investigative team at the hospital after Josh's death. An enlightening conversation to say the least.

We rushed out of the hotel there, dropped by the house to pick up suitcases and hit the road for Cleveland, Georgia and Truett-McConnell College. My good friend, Danny Moosbrugger, is a VP down there. I was a part of their chapel services on Tuesday. It's a small, Baptist college there and a well-hidden gem. Great things happening there and I loved getting to hang out with the college kids, even if just briefly.

I also got to hang out with another very dear friend, Mike. He drove over for the chapel service and hung around for lunch. It's always a blessing to be reminded of these special friends--the kind that miles and years just never diminish. We talked with Mike for a while and spent some time praying about some cool things that God is doing in his life. Then, Lisa and I were back in the van headed to our first family weekend at Samford. Got into Birmingham late Thursday night and got to spend two full days checking on Morgan. Late Saturday came too soon as we piled back into the van with the other three kids and began our trek home.

I can't tell you how good home feels though. Being back with my family at RCC for worship. Getting to share God's word with this incredible group of people. Seeing what God is doing as our fellowship continues to grow and He weekly brings new faces to join us. I am thankful for all of these. They are part of the great joy of getting to be a pastor. Nothing surpasses that feeling of home and family. Speaking of family, have I told you how blessed I am to have the incredible wife and kids that I have? Can't beat my life--no way, no how.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lessons

DISCLAIMER: Over the last several weeks, I have been encouraged to write regularly about the accident from 2004. I am working my way through writing a book about the incident. So, every Tuesday, I've taken the opportunity to write, remember and share snapshots of that tragic event.

Sometimes I wonder if I spend a little too much time looking for lessons in what happened on that April day. I ask myself, "Am I trying too hard to find what God is up to?" Maybe I've already seen everything He wants me to see or learned the lessons He wants to draw for me from this experience. Then I'll catch myself thinking again about that week and the months that followed. I'll think back on emotions that I had. I'll recall conversations that went on. I'll replay every minute that I spent in that recliner talking with God and reevaluating my faith.

I guess, deep down, there is a fear that drives that. The Bible says that God can bring good from bad. The Scriptures tell me that God uses experiences to teach us lessons and to refine our character. So, my fear is that Josh and Sarah will have died without me seeing what God had in store.

I can hear the responses now. "Ridley, you can't imagine how God has used this in my life." or "There's no way that we can miss the good that has been brought from your tragedy."

I know. I get that. But what if there was one more lesson...or some totally different thing that God wanted to happen? For instance, for six years now, I've wanted to write Josh and Sarah's story for others to read. I've wanted to put it into a book so maybe someone who picked it up might be encouraged or strengthened for their own personal battle. I just haven't been able to make it happen (though it's already started and has been in the works for what seems like an eternity). I've wondered if God is disappointed that I haven't followed through with the book.

Maybe there's something else, something smaller or less obvious that He desired for me. I don't know. Maybe that's a crazy thought. It isn't the first. It won't be the last. I guess I'll continue to analyze these events until I find a peace that He is done with me in that area. Till then, I continue to reflect, to remember, to recapture every tear and fear and broken dream that the accident visited on me. It's one more way that I honor their lives and bring sense from the nonsense.

Monday, September 20, 2010

This is our God!

I told my family at Ridgeview yesterday that this was one of my favorite worship songs. I thought I'd share it with you.

A refuge for the poor, a shelter from the storm
This is our God
He will wipe away your tears and return your wasted years
This is our God
So call upon His Name He is mighty to save
This is our God

A father to the orphan, a healer to the broken
This is our God
And he brings peace to our madness and comfort in our sadness
This is our God
So call upon His Name He is mighty to save
This is our God

This is the one we have waited for
Jesus Lord and Savior
This is our God

A fountain for the thirsty, a lover for the lonely
This is our God
He brings glory to the humble and crowns for the faithful
This is our God (Chris Tomlin)

How powerful it is to think about that statement! "This is the one we have waited for..." Most of us have uttered those words at some point in our life. Whether it was a new car, a new home, the man or woman of our dreams--we have all known what it feels like to believe that our search is over. Unfortunately, we usually are seeking the things that just won't satisfy.

I thought about that today as I read about two different characters from Scripture: Pilate and the woman at the well from John 4. Both were seeking the same thing. Both wanted fulfillment and purpose for their lives. It's the search that we are all on. One got it; one missed it completely. Pilate had the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to look into the eyes of the Savior and receive all that Jesus offered him. He missed it. He washed his hands to "remove" his guilt but the river Jordan could not have washed away the feeling he must have had when he discovered who Jesus really was.

On the other hand, the woman at the well found everything she had ever hoped for in this Man. Her life was changed eternally, her perspective rearranged by the One who is "a fountain to the thirsty and a lover to the lonely."

This is God--the God, the One and Only hope for all mankind. Why would we ever go anywhere else? But many of us do. I hope you hear this and understand what I'm about to say...when you come to Jesus--really come to Him with all that you have--the search is over, the journey is done. The One we have sought, the One who has promised us life and abundance has come. He is Jesus! Don't miss Him.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Our kids

I remember the day I found out that we were expecting Harrison. I came home from the church office and Sarah met me at the door. She said, "Sit down. I need to talk to you about something." A million thoughts went racing through my head--is there bad news? Did she find a job? How did she find out about those extra chocolate chip cookies at lunch? She walked into the bathroom and came back with a shoe box. In it, was a baby doll. As I opened it up, she simply said, "You think you are ready to handle one of these?" I was floored. Have been ever since.

We began to pray that day for Harrison--and the other two kids that would follow--asking that God would protect them, bless them, and use them for God's glory. Lisa and I still pray that prayer for all four of our kids. Harrison may never win a Super Bowl. Morgan may not discover the cure for cancer. Landon may never appear on Broadway and Abby may never make it to the World Cup. That's okay. That isn't what I am seeking for them. I just want their lives to be used up for God's fame. The thought struck me this morning, Josh is already being used for God's glory and He never got older than 17 months.

That's why it bothers me so much to see kids throwing their lives away and never being encouraged to reach their potential. Some of you have seen those situations. You work in the schools or in the recreation programs.

I've got a young person I'm mentoring right now. He's a good kid at heart who comes from a pretty tough situation. But down inside this kid, buried beneath the confusion and desire for attention is all the potential in the world. It just can't make it's way out. Not without someone convincing him that he can do it.

I just talked with a friend who told me about another kid in our area--17 years old and in a facility to dry up. Dry up! Really? At age 17 he's drunk so much alcohol that he's not playing sports or doing homework or talking on the phone with his girlfriend. Instead, he's locked away in a facility to detox.

You know, Jesus had much to say about children. He considered them precious and gave special warnings for those who would lead them astray. That causes me to stop, to reflect on what we are doing--or should I say, not doing--for our children. We bring them into the world without consideration of whether or not we are ready to raise them. We give them few boundaries and little spiritual foundation. We push them too hard in some areas, forcing them to be the next Tiger Woods or Mia Hamm. In other areas, we make them grow up too fast, asking them to deal with things like divorce, child abuse, custody battles and sexual pressures. At the same time, we baby them to death, never asking them to learn the meaning of words like responsibility or personal integrity. Then, we scratch our heads at the "younger generation."

If we don't do our part to redeem the next generation, we've got no one to blame but ourselves. They are stressed out, strung out, confused and dazed. They read the same headlines we do and wonder what kind of world they will inherit from people like you and me. What they need is for us to believe in them and to teach them the important truths that change lives. Truths like God is absolutely crazy about them. They are not an accident but an individual created for a purpose. Failure is not the end of their lives but the beginning of their learning.

As long as their is an empty tomb, their lives can be full of hope. The choices you and I make now will have ripple effects across many lives and many generations. I just pray we are guiding them in the right direction. We will have much to answer to God for if we don't.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Getting even

There was a horrible headline that caught my attention this morning. A 17 year-old young lady from Atlanta was in jail after an incident of road rage where she ran over a 15 year old boy. I don't know all of the details behind the story but it seems the young lady was traveling pretty fast through a neighborhood. As she sped by a group of kids, they all shouted for her to slow down, she was going to fast. Obviously enraged by their suggestion, the young lady got into a shouting match of some kind with neighbors then returned to the scene later and intentionally ran down one of the kids who was a part of the original group. Maybe she somehow felt vindicated for what she did. After all, she had a right to drive as she chose.

While she has to take responsibility for her actions, I can't help but believe that this goes back to some of our discussion from Monday's blog--our rights. We have taught our kids that NO ONE has a right to impede us from doing what our freedoms allow. They can't stop us from talking out, having sex with who we want, being disrespectful, having our money, spending our money how we choose and on and on.

Though I believe the Bible teaches there is a time to stand your ground and to not give in, I also believe the Bible teaches a more important, often forgotten principle--our lives are not ours. When Jesus died on the Cross 2000 years ago, He willingly gave up "His" life because He understood that it was His Father's. No one took it from Him. He gave it.

Here is an interesting irony from Scripture: strength looks more like a Cross than a sword, more like laying down your rights than defending them to the end. Strength looks less like Russell Crowe taking on the world than it does you and I knowing that, most often, forgiveness is the strongest thing we can do.

The next time you or I feel wronged, maybe we would do well to remember Jesus, to remember the Cross. We will find the strength to do as He did and live without regret for allowing our rights to be superseded by God's rights over our lives. If one young lady had remembered this in Atlanta yesterday, she might have a future free of prison and another young man would be free of the ICU. But, hey, she had her rights...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wayne

DISCLAIMER: Over the last several weeks, I have been encouraged to write regularly about the accident from 2004. I am working my way through writing a book about the incident. So, every Tuesday, I've taken the opportunity to write, remember and share snapshots of that tragic event.

It's impossible for me to look back over the last six years, to see all that God has allowed to come from Sarah and Josh's deaths, and not think about Wayne. Wayne was the Vice President of Risk Management at the hospital where Josh was taken in Savannah. It was Wayne who was given the unenviable task of how to address my family when it was made clear that the hospital had made a tragic error in medication.

It wasn't till five years later (just last Spring, in fact) that I would become aware of what a vital role Wayne played in "bringing good from evil." In his position as VP, Wayne was charged with handling the events surrounding Josh's death. Immediately upon discovering their mistake, Wayne was faced with a choice. Should he blame the death on Josh's injuries or take the path of openness and transparency regarding the tragic mistake? It would have been very easy to place the blame on the car accident and hope that our family would accept that explanation without ever challenging his statements.

Wayne refused. He believed that honesty and openness was and still is the best policy. He knew the risk he was taking by putting all the information out there. He knew that it could lead to large lawsuits and awful publicity for the hospital. But he also believed the long term results would be worth whatever journey the hospital had to take. So, it was Wayne who, with tremendous candor, approached my brother-in-law that April Wednesday morning to say, "Mr. Solomon, our hospital has made a huge mistake. We are very sorry."

Here's where it gets really interesting for me. It was also Wayne's idea to invite me back to the hospital for that first presentation to their staff. He believed that the face of a victim's family would mean far more than statistics and charts. There were some of his peers who believed it would be a huge mistake to invite me back to the campus. They felt like, at best, it would stir up lots of bad blood and, at worst, it could mean very bad public relations. Wayne proved them wrong forcing many to admit that his "gut feeling" about this decision was right on target.

I believe Wayne, a fellow Christ follower, was used by God to open these doors. Because Wayne held to his convictions that honesty was always best, I was given the opportunity to help God bring good from the bad (Romans 8:28).

Today, Wayne is my friend. Though we have shared a few meals and the platform at a few conferences together, my admiration of Wayne is based on the common belief that we all--whether we acknowledge it or not--live under the watchful eye of a loving God. It was that belief that drove Wayne to stay the course with his values. It's that belief that leads me to believe that Josh's story must be told to any who will listen. There are still others who need to know, who need to hear, who need to feel the love of God who is big enough. Wayne is a "hero" of mine. I have no doubt that he would shrug off any attention given him. That's okay. It's just another reason why I respect him so much.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Looking deeper still

God is up to something really cool...in me. I'd like to believe that this has always been the case but I'm really feeling it over the past several days. There is this struggle going on in my heart and it centers on this question: "Do I really understand fully what it takes to follow Christ?"

Can I tell you there is a tendency to look at our Americanized version of faith and believe that this is what Jesus desired for us? The closer I look, the deeper I dig inside my heart and inside His Word, the less I believe that to be true. Over twenty years in ministry, I have wrestled with these ideas of faith and following and discipleship. I've learned that it has less to do with what music you worship with, what pastor you listen to, what church you are a member of and what Bible study you attend. I'm finding out that faith that costs you nothing is really not faith at all.

When we complain about pastors that preach too long or churches that ask too much, I wonder if we really get what Jesus asked of us. I cringe when I see people who profess faith acting in a certain way or talking about certain things that shouldn't be a part of their life.

Here's where I am now. Salvation is not about a prayer or some mystical formula that happens at the end of a service or camp or retreat. It's more than just acknowledging that God is God or that He is real. (even the "bad guys" get this question right--James 2:19--and eventually everyone else will as well--Philippians 2:10) It is surrendering every desire, every need, every thought and every emotion to His loving direction. It is changing who I am in light of what He desires for me. I can't just pray a prayer and then choose to life on my terms.

Here is where being an American and being a Christian can be confusing. As Americans, we pride ourselves on our rights; we talk and write about them every where we turn. But, as a Christ follower, I give up my rights. They are no longer mine but His. I voluntarily enslave myself to His Lordship, His Authority and His power.

I'm just starting to scrape the top of the iceberg on this. I don't know what it means for me, for my family or my church. I simply know that the end of this journey, if it's properly followed to His conclusion, will bring me closer to the person of Jesus. In the end, that's where I desire to be.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Reason

Several years ago, I had the privilege of going on my first and, to this point, only cruise for mine and Sarah's tenth anniversary. I remember our second night out on the sea. Sarah was getting ready for bed and I walked out onto our little balcony. If you've ever had this experience, you know what I am about to describe.

In the middle of the ocean, there is nothing...and everything. I remember looking up and seeing thousands of stars that I had never had the privilege of "knowing" before. City lights, even in some rural areas, do much to keep us from seeing the galaxy that surrounds us. I remember looking down at the ocean and its vast darkness. As far as my eye could see in any direction there was nothing--no lights, no other boats, no land and...no limits.

I remember thinking how little I felt. I suddenly became very afraid thinking if I fall off this boat out here they may never find me again. So I stepped back from the rail and continued to take it all in. It was a vivid reminder that I am just a man. There are limits to my reason, boundaries to my understanding.

Here's why that is important. For some of us, that's a reason for fear. We are scared of what we don't know. We fight to know everything and when we don't find the answers, we begin to explain it away with phrases like "it can't be known" or "it's obviously not real." For others, though, there is comfort in not knowing. I am one of those. I believe my limited knowledge is proof that there is something, Someone, who is much bigger than me. There has to be. I get great comfort from knowing that I don't have to have all the answers. Indeed, if I did, I'd have no need for a God because I would be Him.

Philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote that the most rational person is the one who recognizes there are limits to his reason. I understand his thinking. All those blank areas on my mental canvas, the places that I can go to and go to without ever finding answers, they are the fields where my seeds of faith are planted.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. Psalm 8:3-5 NIV

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The next half second

DISCLAIMER: Over the last several weeks, I have been encouraged to write regularly about the accident from 2004. I am working my way through writing a book about the incident. So, every Tuesday, I've taken the opportunity to write, remember and share snapshots of that tragic event.

I was entering my church office in Douglas, Georgia. It was a Wednesday night just a few weeks after the accident. In my hand were pictures of our family van, destroyed by the collision from that Friday afternoon. My sister, Tonda, and her husband, Keith, had driven me to the local junkyard to see the van and to try and piece together what had happened the afternoon of the accident. While there, we had taken some snapshots for insurance purposes and for the sake of history.

While standing at the door with my keys, I handed the photos to a dear friend of mine, Gene. Gene is a super smart guy--a graduate of Georgia Tech and the president of a chemical company in South Georgia. I unlocked my door and turned to face Gene as he flipped through the pictures. I could tell from his wrinkled brow that he was giving these pictures some serious thought.

"What are you thinking, Gene?" I asked. I knew him well enough to know his wheels were turning.

"How fast were you and the other vehicle going that night?"

"Both were clocked at between 55 and 60 mph. Why?" I asked. He was studying the pictures again. "What are you thinking?" I asked again.

"Do you realize that at that speed, one half second sooner or later to that intersection and this wreck never happens? One half of a second and your wife and your son are still here."

That phrase has become the mantra of my speaking and a guide stone for my life. One half second. Have you thought about how the next half second could change your life? Have you thought how one half second could impact countless people around you, some who you don't even know? One half second of careless words can tear down the self-esteem of your child or leave your wife an emotional wreck. One half second of cutting corners could leave someone exposed to danger. One half second of distraction could cost you your life or someone else's.

On the other hand, one half second could brighten some one's day, change their outlook on life, begin a life-changing relationship or save someone years of heartache. It could help someone be on time for an interview or keep them from a damaging decision. One half second.

That one half second cost me the lives of two people I love tremendously AND opened me to a door of opportunity for changing the lives of others. The next half second could do the same for you. What will you do with the next half second? I suggest you start by giving all of your half seconds to God...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Why we need friends--one more reason

Monday started off pretty yucky. I'm not sure if it was the fact that I missed Morgan or was worn out from the crazy weekend we had or some combination of issues. Suffice it to say, I started Tuesday morning by looking at my executive pastor and saying, "If I could blow up the world right now and not get singed, you wouldn't be standing here." (Okay, I know that's severe but you get my point because you've said the same kind of stuff. Admit it)

Well, yesterday did it's dead level best to beat out Monday. Monday was the day from hell; Tuesday was the basement.

I knew it had gotten bad by the end of the day when the following event took place. I was finally heading home later than usual. A guy in a beat up old car pulled out in front of me (you probably could have guessed that was going to happen) causing me to slam on brakes. It wasn't until we approached the next intersection that I noticed his bumper sticker.

"Don't let your kid pray in my school and I won't think in your church."

Are you kidding me? Here is the rapid succession of thoughts that went through my head in their exact order. "Your school? Why is it your school? I've got four kids in school and I pay my taxes. Don't think in my church? Dude, you're not thinking right now pulling your raggedy muffin car out in front of my big black truck. I'll tell you what. I won't pray your in school. I'll just come up there right now and lay hands on you...." You get the point. Not a proud moment.

Then, this thought. "Ridley, you're debating the bumper of a car that slipped through the Obama 'cash for clunker' plan. You're out of control."

And I was. I knew it. So I did the three smartest things I had done all day. I texted one of my really good friends and prayer partners and asked him to pray for my really pitiful attitude. Next, I turned off the radio and began to talk to God--I needed forgiveness and transformation in that moment. I needed my Friend. Third, I went home...to the place where all of my best friends live. Yeah, it may get a little crazy around there and we don't always see eye-to-eye but it's the place I most want to be when bumper stickers start to get under my skin.

I wasn't very much the model of Christ yesterday. I needed my friends. I needed each one of them to talk me down, to calm my spirit, to remind me that everything would be okay and that they were there for me.

My friend texted me back with this really cool reminder:
"you can get along with anybody...as long as you forget about being hurt." Good words to keep it all in perspective as I begin my Wednesday. Hope your week is a good one. Let me know if you need a friend. We all do.