Archive for September 2012

I Caught Them All

September 13, 2012

I Caught Them All
by Steven J. Callis

It’s a proud moment for every dad. All three of my children came to the moment in their own respective time, and it was very special each time it happened. I’ve watched other dads enjoy the same kind of moment. What I have discovered over my years of observance is that success is very important to the man standing waist deep in water awaiting that proud moment when his son or daughter gives caution to the wind and leaps with gusto from the side of the pool into his open arms. Success!
I’m not so certain my kids jumped with gusto – probably more with fear and trembling, anxious to end this terrifying ordeal – but they did jump. Interestingly, at home they were like jumping beans! “Kids, stop jumping on the bed.” “Son, don’t jump off the couch, you could get hurt.” “Hey, you kids stop bouncing around in the backseat of the car.”
Then the moment arrives, rules go out the window, and Dad has changed his mind about jumping. But now that he has decided that it’s okay to jump, the kids don’t want to anymore! And it seems that the more dad urges, the more attention is drawn from the bystanders (and byswimmers), which makes the event even more intimidating.
So, why is this moment so important? What difference does it make in the larger scheme of life if junior can or cannot jump off the side of the swimming pool? For me, the significance is in the promise, stated right there in front of God and everybody: “I’ll catch you!” They want to believe me, they really do, but what happens if I don’t make the catch? At this point in their lives, they have not become fully convinced that dad can do absolutely anything. That confidence comes a little later, and seems to be outgrown much too quickly!
What was I saying? I wanted them to know they could count on me to be there when they hit the water. I wanted them to understand that I would do everything in my power to keep them from danger once their feet left the cement. I am glad to say that all three of my kids jumped, and I went three for three in the kid-catching event. Of course, once successful, they needed to jump another 20 or 100 times that day, and I was always there to catch them until they assured me they could do it on their own.
That lesson was not primarily about jumping into a swimming pool. It was a simple lesson that I desired to convey to them about all of life. “You can count on me to be there; I’ll do everything I can to keep you from danger. And sometimes in life, you are going to have to jump. It may be frightening or intimidating, but there are times that staying on the side of the pool is not an option.”
Not only is it my desire and intention to be there for my children, but also to teach them that there is Another One who watches over them with Fatherly care, protection, and provision. Jesus himself declared, “Don’t be anxious about anything. Your heavenly Father will take care of you.” All we have to do is believe and trust Him.

More Than a Fantasy

September 7, 2012

More than a Fantasy, by Steven J. Callis

Just Thinking:  College football is underway!  That fact means very little to some of you, I realize.  On the other hand, I read recently 20 things you will never hear a southerner say, and one of them was, “I don’t have a favorite team.”  Connie and I drove to Knoxville last Friday, and on the highways I saw vehicles saluting their teams:  Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia – – in the words of public address announcer Bobby Denton (for 44 years), “It’s football time in Tennessee!”  Vols fans hear that phrase at the beginning of every Tennessee football game.  Well, it’s football time in the entire South!!!

Coinciding with the arrival of football season is Fantasy Football.  I am in a league with my brothers, nephews, and son.  In Fantasy Football, I am the coach and manager, deciding who will play that week, trading players to get the best possible roster, etc.  Truthfully, though, it’s not much of a fantasy.  I can’t talk to my players, I am not actually on the sideline with an all-star lineup, I can’t hear the fans cheering…no, just names on a computer screen.

Now, Mr. Roark and his sidekick, Tattoo, had this fantasy idea perfected.  Guests of Fantasy Island actually lived out their fantasy for a weekend at this very special place.  The twist, however, was that people’s fantasies usually included unforeseen obstacles and glitches, often involving pain or heartache.  I wonder what YOUR weekend would entail if you took a trip to Fantasy Island.

The Bible speaks of a kind of “fantasy,” and participants will actually experience it emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  AND, there is no danger of heartache, pain, or disappointment there:  Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

And the Band Played On

September 7, 2012

And the Band Played On

By Steven J. Callis

As a high school student, fall Friday nights were all about the game.  After a high protein supper, I would make my way to the locker room where the only noise involved trainers taping ankles, knees, wrists, and elbows, the rustling of shoulder pads and helmets, and occasional whispers among players and coaches.  After the game, the locker room was usually quite noisy in celebration.  I was fortunate to play on a team that won most of its games.

Years later, as a parent, fall Friday nights were all about halftime.  Yes, my wife and I were band parents.  I still watched the game with interest, but the whole night revolved around an 8-minute performance of marching intricacies and musical precision.

Anticipation began as the entire band marched in step to the beat of one lone drummer keeping time with a 4/4 rim shot.  With the players finally in place, one could hear the proverbial pin drop as the announcer inquired, “Drum majors, is you band ready?”  After a series of affirmative salutes, the crowd would erupt with shouts, screams, and applause; then the band played on as they marched their daily-rehearsed patterns.

The highest point of the show was when the band “played to the judges.”  Some people call it the “push,” or the “blow out.”  Immediately prior to that moment, the band plays with its back to the home crowd, and the music is low in volume.  Then, in an instant, the entire band wheels around to face the crowd, marching towards the sideline, and playing at maximum volume.  It is a chilling and thrilling moment that produces proud fans standing in grand reception with shouts of appreciation and pride.

Thinking back in comparison, I have noticed the similarities between the football team and the band.  Both begin the event in a hushed focus, and both end with an enthusiastic celebration.  Both work hard all week, all season, to perfect their performances.  Both play for the pride of the school.

Maybe, just maybe, these thoughts can also be a description of life itself.  We begin with a focus on the very breath of life, we spend years perfecting our performance, and for those who live in the hope of the Christian belief of heaven and eternal life, received by grace through faith, our earthly days end with a celebrative homegoing.   In the words of songwriter Bart Millard, and recorded by MercyMe, “I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by Your side.  I can only imagine what my eyes will see when Your face is before me, I can only imagine.”