Snowed In

Posted January 12, 2011 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

“Forced Sabbath”
“Cabin Fever”
“Snowed In”
“Itchin’ to Get Out!”
“Stir Crazy!”

Over the past 72 hours, these are a few of the statements flying around Twitter & Facebook.  Here in the ATL (ok, actually Cartersville, GA) we got several inches of snow – and in some cases ice.  And because we obviously don’t have the equipment to clear the roads down here in the South, it sometimes renders us S-T-U-C-K.

2 quick things: First, I like that term “forced Sabbath”.  For many, this break in the 9-5 hustle and bustle caused a much needed SLOW DOWN.  Time to take a deep breath.  Time to not worry about that report due at the end of the week (you can’t drive to the office anyway!).  Time to pay more attention to the kids right in front of us…who, if we are honest, could use some more focused attention.  Time.  Just a little more time.  Reflecting on God’s goodness in our lives.

Second, these terms and these times like this remind me how sometimes our souls get stir crazy…and that’s a good thing.  Don’t you long to go on a mission trip?  To do something BIG?  To get away from the mundane and find more purpose and worth in your activities?  It’s the cabin fever of the mind.  The snowed in trap of boring American Christianity.  Maybe you don’t struggle with this.  Maybe you find 100% fulfillment in what you get to do everyday and you never get an itch to do anything different.  Not the case with me.  6 inches of snow brings about 6 inches of pileup in my head – thinking about where I’m at now and where God wants me to be in 6 months, 2 years, etc.  (Oakleaf Church mission statement there for those that don’t know. :))

So I suppose, in conclusion, I’d say I like times like this.  Reflection and Appreciation and Anticipation.  Family.  What’s God up to?  Are we available for Him?  Follow up on that stir craziness and do great things for the advancement…of not ourselves…but for His name and His glory.

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Home Security

Posted January 3, 2011 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

I asked my 9 yr old the other night to shut the blinds on one of the downstairs’ windows.  It was bedtime and we were straightening up the playroom and winding down the day.  About an hour or so later I came back downstairs to realize that the door was unlocked.  Hmmm…interesting I thought.  Quite the oversight.  I had asked my son to shut the blinds to one of the windows so no one could see in – just a simple home security measure.  YET, I overlooked the fact that less than 10 feet away was a door that was left completely unlocked.

It got me thinking about how we sometimes parent.  We often try to shield our kids from stuff…and often wisely so.  Bad movies.  Bad video games.  The bad kid at school, etc.  But yet, like the unlocked door that was overlooked, we can miss the most obvious danger threatening our kid’s safety: the overwhelming fact that there is an ENEMY looking to destroy them.

If our lives are committed to Christ, we can expect spiritual warfare.  And not just on us, the adults.  Satan wants to destroy the family.  He wants to build up hatred in your kids – towards you, towards others, towards the church.  It’s real and can’t be ignored.

So yes, of course, look for the “blinds” in your kid’s life.  Look for the things that perhaps you can control and the Godly influences you can indeed put around them.  But while we do that, we must not overlook the unlocked door.  Let’s teach our kids the Word.  Pray over them daily.  Model for them a life sold out to following Jesus.  Don’t give the Devil a FOOTHOLD.  Make the JOSHUA declaration: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

I heart QuikTrip

Posted April 1, 2010 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

Here are a few reasons why the QuikTrip on Hwy 41 in Cartersville is better than any other gas station in the area.

1.  They take pride in having a clean store.  Most gas stations are dumps.  Dirty bathrooms, dirty floors, even dusty & dirty food sometimes.  Not QuikTrip.

2.  Only place in Carterville (that I can find) that offers free air for your tires.  Maybe not a huge deal to you, but I HATE spending 75 cents or a buck for 90 seconds of air.

3.  It always smells like hotdogs, which reminds me to pray for a dude (and his wife/kids/new ministry) that has an addiction to QT hotdogs:CLICK

4.  Lowest gas prices in town.  Walmart may be the only exception.

5.  Nobody comes close to their customer service.  Have never been in the store without being greeted as I walked in and as I walked to the counter.

So if anyone from corporate reads this and wants to give me a 1yr supply of free fountain drinks, thank you!  🙂

Outreach FAIL

Posted February 13, 2010 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

What I’m about to post is very ironic, considering my last post.  You may conclude I’m a hypocrite…no worries, I often draw the same conclusion.

Like many others this morning, me and the kiddos headed out to explore Cartersville and find a big hill.  Objective: Sledding (and snowball fights and getting wet…and cold).  We found a nice sized hill next to a church where others were already and decided to join in on the fun.  As we approached the group of adults & kids – about 10 of them – a man approached me with this, “Hey man, we are having our own family thing here but you can use that slope right there” (pointing to a smaller hill about 50 yards away).  My first immediate thought was I’ve stepped on to private property and he’s just kindly telling me so.  My second thought – exactly half a second after the first one – was YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME as I surveyed the TON of space and the FEW people utilizing it.

I really wish it was just a property issue.  Unfortunately it’s much worse.

“Oh, I’m sorry, is this your property?” I asked.  He said no and then continued, “But it’s church property and I’m a member.” He then reminded me that they’re just trying to do a “family thing”.  He could tell by my silence and facial expression that the conversation was going downhill – pun intended.  All I could think was BITE YOUR TONGUE SUTTON.  Don’t be stupid.  Let it go.  Just walk away.  Instead, I replied, “You got to be kidding me” as I looked to my right and left as if to say “all this room and you’re going to stake your claim to a hill that doesn’t belong to you?!”

As I turned to walk away and head toward our smaller patch of paridise, one more thing came out.  I’m still discerning if it was of the flesh or of the Spirit (ha).  “Cmon kids, the church people don’t want us here” I said.  I wanted the weight of that to land on this dude.  I wanted him to think I was an unchurched guy and that he had just blown an opportunity.  Most likely though, it didn’t.  He never came over to apologize and they continued with their “family outing”.  It perhaps only gave me an opportunity to try and explain to my kids what I was attempting.

Maybe I’m missing something.  Maybe there’s something within this story I’m not grasping.  But from best I could tell, it’s an outreach fail (and a reaction fail on my part).  I couldn’t help but think about how many of the friends I’m blessed to know at Oak Leaf would have reacted if they had been in this guy’s shoes and a stranger had walked up.  “Hey, cmon over!  Can I help you with your sled?  What’s your name?  We got a table with hot chocolate over there.  Watch out for that big grassy patch.  You live around here?  Go to church anywhere?”

No need in naming the church…and no need in trying to blame them for one of their members being a twerp.

Bonus: Wonder if I should tell the church that this same member later brought out a 4 wheeler that made quite an impression on their landscaping?  🙂

Putting Down

Posted February 9, 2010 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

During my exciting errand this morning of going to purchase stamps, I was listening to talk radio.  In the middle of the normal he said-she said gunk, an interesting parallel developed in front of me…one that personally hit (convicted) me right between the eyes.

Putting Others Down: Not Just A Bad Idea For Politicians

At times it can be extremely popular for a politician to “turn” on their own.  I’m not talking about completely switching parties, but rather verbal jabs and putdowns toward their own in order to gain political favor…or so they think.  Many are doing so because they think it will A. Gain some merit from a needed few in the other party to help push through a piece of legislation or B. Gain more votes from independents or even opposite party voters.  THE REALITY THOUGH: It rarely works.  In fact, in this current political climate, people are fet up with the trashing of others.  The historical blame game is losing momentum, and fast.

But enough about politics.  I’m not going to pretend to know more than I do. (I’m your typical sound byte American. Ha.)  There is an unfortunate parallel with those who profess Christ.  We are often guilty for putting down other Christians, thinking it will gain favor with those “like minded” believers around us or even crazy enough to think it strikes a common bond with unbelievers who hear our garbage mouths.  Seriously, this is a bad strategy.  Trust me, I’ve been foolish enough to try it.  Oh, no, I didn’t sit down and plan it out on paper…it comes much easier…in everyday conversations.  “Yeah, but you have to admit, there is CRAZY stuff out there done in ‘the name of the Lord!”  I agree.  And to some extent, it’s OK to judge harmful, unbiblical speech and teach our children the difference.  But I’m referring to the unnecessary negative talk we toss out there that’s in no way Christ-like or even remotely smart.

So I’m trying to learn John 13:34-35 in a new way.  It’s one the most powerful weapons God gave us.  For many of us, it’s what drew us to Christ in the first place…seeing others care for each other and respect each other like never before.  Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that putting down a Christian is going to attract a nonbeliever or please God in any way.  Let’s instead use something that seems to be void from politics…something that stands out and grabs attention better than any good slogan: True Love.

Lawnmowers & Problems

Posted August 14, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

My cheap lawnmower reminded me of an important life lesson yesterday.  While cutting the grass I mowed over a plastic cup…actually a piece of a plastic cup.  The end result?  Well yeah, of course, a bazillion pieces of plastic cup all over my yard.  Not cool. 

We often (especially dudes) try to plow through our problems.  We figure if we hit them direct enough, hard enough, and with a big ole weapon (think lawn mower), then we can snuff it out in time or grind it away and destroy it.  And perhaps certain issues call for that.  But in my experience – only 32 years, don’t get too excited – we only complicate the problem because our weapon of choice just spreads the problem…and now we are picking up the pieces of a bad situation.  What could have been solved by stopping, picking up the problem in front of us and disposing of it properly has now resulted in extra time doing damage control.

Two examples that come to mind…perhaps because I’ve dealt with them in my own life…1. Anger/Temper: Your emotions tell you that you are solving the issue by controlling it, but REALITY is screaming, “Wow, look how far you’ve now spread this!” 2. Listening to your wife.  Don’t act dumb dudes.  You know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.  :–) Those times where your wife is simply just wanting you to listen to her…to hear her out…NOT try and be a problem solver.  Not quickly come in and run over her with a lawn mower.  (Ok, that was a weird statement.) 

Stop.  Think.  Turn off the blade if necessary.  Better to pick up one piece – isolated prob – than 47 shreds.

Speaking The Language

Posted August 12, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

It’s always baffled me why sports talk radio shows and popular sports TV shows hire former athletes…and former coaches.  Most of them are absolutely horrific in broadcasting or commentating.  But I’ve realized they are brought on for 2 primary reasons:  1.  Their popularity helps with ratings.  2.  They speak the language. 

This was illustrated for me while driving to Zaxby’s today for lunch (YUM!).  I was flipping through stations and came across a sports talk show.  The former athlete (who’s name I’ll protect…ok, I can’t remember who it was) was talking about the Braves.  After 15 seconds of listening to him, I realized just how much he spoke Baseballnese.  After all, he had lived and breathed and inhaled it for most of his life.  He knew every nuance of the game.  If it’s anything remotely related to baseball, he can speak it.

We no doubt surround-intentionally and unintentionally-ourselves with people who speak our language – in politics, sports, love, television…you name it.   After all, we love it when we meet people who love what we love (that was 3 loves by the way).  BUT, I think it’s EXTREMELY healthy to often be around those that can’t or won’t speak our language.  It can only help you grow.

An example?  Sure.  If you’ve always grown up in the South, leave for heaven’s sake (said with a southern draw)…at least on a trip up north or out west. MORE specifically, if you’ve only experienced church in the south, then PLEASE see what God is doing elsewhere (in and out of the U.S.).  Why?  Mostly because Christianese is not spoken-at least to the same degree-that it is here.  And I think that’s a good thing.

What language are we speaking?  One that only a “fellow brother or sister” would understand?  Or one that has so much grace in it that all would turn an ear.  A language that prioritizes our likes and dislikes over the One we claim to follow?  Or a speech that clearly shows where our devotion lies.