It was a Thursday in 2007. UGA was scheduled to play Oklahoma State on Saturday and it was the headline game of the first week of the College Football season. ESPN was already there and so was I. My Pastor and Friend Jentezen Franklin had been invited to do an (optional) devotion for the team after practice that day by some of the staff and chaplains. We went early and had all access to the practice. It was a thrill to see the talent and hear the game plan from a close up view. I was extremely impressed with Coach Richt and staff in how they prepared the young men for the game, the season and ultimately life. There was no excessive criticism, but plenty of correction and encouragement. The team appeared very ready to play and eager to get the year started.
It was a HOT end of August day, the players were exhausted and hydrating as they left the field and entered the locker room area. Coach Richt stood at the door and spoke, high fived, fist bumped (some sort of touch) on each player as they entered. Coach was brief and positive in his practice summary and then he invited the team to a devotion going on later in the film room. The response to his invite was minimal. He followed up by inviting them again and informed the team that Jentezen Franklin was speaking describing him as a worldwide known preacher who could be anywhere in the world at that moment. “You are not at all required to attend this meeting, but If you care about your future, I strongly suggest you come hear what this guy has to say.” A couple dozen expressed an interest this time. Coach Richt then gave a third invitation, “Guys, anyone who comes to this devotion will get your own Large pizza!” After about 30 minutes and an opportunity for the players to get a shower and a couple sports drinks, 87 members of the team came to that devotion!!!
Jentezen did a masterful job speaking to the young men about their future and their faith. At the end of this (optional) devotion 21 players made a profession of faith. Many rededicated their lives while others accepted Christ for the first time. We prayed with the players, heard their confessions and listened as they confided in us some things they were struggling with as 18-20 year old men. These players were shown not only the love of Christ that day, but the sincere concern for their future and eternal well being by their Head Coach Mark Richt.
Today, UGA fired Mark Richt. Words cannot express the frustration and disappointment I feel. It seems that the A.D. and powers that be have forgotten Bulldog football in the years prior to Coach Richt. .500 Seasons, no bowl games and losses to then Div. IAA schools were the norm under Jim Donnan and Ray Goff. Coach Richt changed all of that and averages just under 10 wins per season. He will have a chance for yet another 10 win season with the forthcoming bowl berth in a few weeks.
Coach Richt’s success on the field speaks for itself and cannot be disputed, but there is not and in this day and time, will most likely never be a Coach who has the off the field impact that Mark Richt has had on his players. Today is a sad day for Coaching, College Football and countless young men who will not have the opportunity to play for Coach Richt. Coach Richt is a champion and he will be just fine. By the way the Dawgs won that game in 2007 over Oklahoma State 35-14 on the way to an 11 win season which included wins over Alabama and in the Sugar Bowl.
Today we have the choice; To TAKE time to give Thanks or To TAKE for granted the many blessings God has given us. I challenge you to make your own list and put it on paper. I do this every year. In fact my last year’s list is still posted on this blog site. This exercise will be most beneficial for you in raising your awareness of God’s Goodness and may just allow you to have a little fun. I CHALLENGE all of you to share your list on social media. By doing this, your followers may do the same. What would the world look like if we were all focused on being Thankful, not stressed this Thanksgiving season.??
2015 list (some are serious, some are fun, but all are appreciated) NOT in any particular order of priority- strictly random.
I am thankful for:
1. My loving God who has no strings attached in loving me, forgiving me, blessing and providing for me……. and the list goes on. His Holy Spirit who comforts and encourages me daily.
2. My wife and children- everyday with them is amazing. We are far from perfect people, but in the end we love and appreciate each other.
3. Buffalo Chicken Tenders- Like the cell phone, sometimes I wonder how I ever lived before these things!! I’m praying for a fat free, calorie free version!
4. College Football- I love the SEC and the playoff system. I find myself watching games just to see how the outcome affects the rankings and playoff system. (Note to UGA and LSU- to consider firing your coaches is bizarre)
5. Music- I have found that my hashtag #MusicMakesMyMood is so true. When I need energy, my music is there, when I need encouragement my music is there, when I just want to Praise my God, my music is there for me.
6. My charcoal grill- I don’t have a Green egg or a big expensive Webster type, but my little grill on the patio provides solitude and some of the best private times I have. (by the way, I am a master HOT DOG Chef too! lol)
7. Godly Heritage- Raised in the faith, taught to believe in Miracles and doing my best to pass this along to my children.Thanks Mom, Dad, Grandparents, Great Grandparents……..
8. Books and articles- My insatiable need for information and the desire to be a lifelong learner pushes me to read everything I can get my hands on. Downloads are great, but I still love paper! (Favorite book: Proverbs)
9. Slow drivers who actually drive in the right hand lane on the interstate- To the slow guys in the fast lane: Get OUT Of the way if you are going Slow and allow those of us who are MASTER drivers to pass you!
10. The fact that I can drive 10 minutes to be with my wonderful parents and family for Thanksgiving dinner! No long drives or passing through airports in this tumultuous time for our country. Thank you Lord.
Well, there are just a few of mine. (hundreds more could be listed)
So how about it? Go do your list today!! You will be THANKFUL you did.
God bless all of you.
Yesterday my two daughters got in a car and drove out of my driveway headed to HIGH School together. Did I mention HIGH school? Did you catch the part about them DRIVING themselves? As a Dad, this was one of the most bittersweet days I have ever experienced. You see most all of their school days to this point, I have done the driving. I have shared the morning drive to school. I have quizzed them in the car preparing for their tests that day. I have heard their conversations regarding their friends, their teachers, their upcoming ball games, etc. But that did not happen yesterday! They simply loaded up and left. (we had a brief hug and our daily prayer of blessing)
Throughout the day, I experienced excitement (especially for my youngest- her first day of High School) and then depression. My daughters, those little girls who used to sit on the sofa with Daddy, who use to run to my arms when they got a boo- boo playing in the driveway, they…..they….they just didn’t NEED me anymore! As they entered our home last evening, I hung on every word about their day. Tell me more…. Tell me more. I wanted to know every detail. Talk to me…..no don’t go up to your room and get on the IPad. Stay here a little longer….talk to me….share your life with me. How did you like your teachers? What friends are in your classes? Who did you eat lunch with?
In this moment of almost desperation, I realized that is how OUR FATHER feels. The old southern Gospel song says it this way, “Now let us have a little talk with Jesus, Let us tell HIM all about our troubles, He will hear our fainted cry and He will answer by and by.” Jesus desperately desires to hear the smallest details. He wants a relationship. He wants to be included and yes HE wants so badly to be NEEDED! We rush through our days, drive too fast, text instead of talking (to save time and carry on multiple conversations at the same time) and multi-task our way through an overcrowded day. Maybe, just maybe, we return thanks before our lunch meal. Where is our Father in our busyness? Do we still NEED HIM? (my answer: MORE than ever!)
As you go through your day, stop for a minute or two and “Have a little talk with Jesus.” He’s worth the time.
Each year, our family notes our top 10 things we are thankful for. Some are more serious than others, but all have a value in our lives. Here is the 2014 version:
I am THANKFUL for:
1. Work- an opportunity to earn a living to support my family.
2. Scenes of fall- just passed peak seasons of leaves changing, but this year was especially beautiful or maybe I am just noticing things more as I age.
3. SEC football- there just isn’t anything like it! SATURDAYS IN THE SOUTH! The SEC network and Paul Finebaum, enough said.
4. 6 generations of faith- at least 6, that’s what I can trace. Over 100 years of ministry in my family. What a blessed heritage.
5. YOU Version Bible App- I still love my Bible (paper version). I love to turn and feel the thin pages, highlight and write notes in the book, but the You version has given me prepared plans to read with commentaries from great leaders. The YOU version is priceless in my life now and our family has the tremendous blessing of choosing a reading plan that applies to each life at the appropriate age.
6. An Incredibly HOT wife- She loves the Lord, is a great mother and tolerates me. I call her my “Godly Hottie.”
7. A community of peace- There are pro’s and cons with any city, but I believe we have great community relations in Cleveland, TN
8. Eyes to see and Ears to hear- No earthly pleasure is greater to me than to WATCH my girls compete in sports and HEAR their laughter.
9. USA- Far from perfect, but still the envy of every other nation of the world. GOD BLESS AMERICA.
10. All those who like us, love us and pray for us. We have the blessing of a great family and wonderful friends.
Today, we will gather with loved ones and take part in a meal, catch up on the past year and maybe watch a parade or football game. I hope you will take a moment, reflect and maybe even write down your top 10. Thank you for the part each of you play in our lives. Whether we are directly connected or just an online visit or social media follower, God bless you.
It was my first spring basketball practice for High School ball. Still in school at the Jr. High, I was incredibly apprehensive, somewhat intimidated and totally unsure of what to expect. From the time I walked into the gym and saw the upper classmen, guys I had watched play on that hallowed court at Bradley Central, our best player David Landrith always made me feel special. His 6’6 lanky frame and closely cut hair never changed as long as I knew him. Even up to just a few months ago, 30 years later, David always looked the same. More than that, David always acted the same. One could say, he was incredibly mature as a High School boy or that he just never really grew up as an adult. Both would be accurate, but only because David wanted it that way.
I remember that first summer practice and the first time I heard David’s famous saying, “You got to C’mon!” His last personal tweet before Jen took over his phone had that same familiar saying as he promoted his beloved Long Hollow Church with those same words, “C’mon.” (see his tweet dated 10/25/14) Speaking of Twitter, David had 8,000+ followers, so imagine how I felt when I got a notification that my very first follower upon creating an account was @davidlandrith. Again, he made me (all of us) feel special. David specialized in making people feel special.
As a Sophomore, this Senior Captain of our team took me under his wing. We poured on the sweat and worked hard each day in the gym battling with our teammates and opponents, but it is the off the court memories that I am most reflective of. We shared a passion for basketball and people, but mostly our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Even as High School “kids” we had healthy discussions, sometimes debates about the Bible and what we had learned from our devotions, studies, church’s theology and speakers that we had heard. In the end, as teenagers we came to the same conclusion we discussed the last time I saw him just a few months ago. “Let’s forget all the debates, quit wasting time discussing any minor differences that don’t really matter and go tell people about Jesus.”
We have all experienced loss. I personally have lost a younger brother at 28 and sister at 32. Loss is incredibly difficult and the pain is sometimes almost insurmountable. I often wonder how one makes it without the “comforter.” (Holy Spirit) Even as I pound these keys, my eyes blur with tears. Losing David is a heart shattering blow to all of us! We have literally prayed daily for David and for my childhood neighbor, Jennifer (Ramsey) Landrith and family since the day we heard the shocking news almost 2 years ago. The call came and the news was that David had this dreaded disease that we all fear. We have prayed for Long Hollow church and those with the daunting task of following such an anointed Leader.
My daughter wonders why I am so moved when speaking of David. After all, she knows I have experienced numerous losses. She has as well. But there was just something about David Landrith! I imagine David is walking down the streets of Gold and as he passes each mansion more people jump in and follow this infectious personality. While we are left to celebrate his life on Earth, David is overwhelmed with countless lives that are sharing their story with him of how he impacted their lives. Heaven is rejoicing and David is pain free and totally healed from all disease. He is talking with so many that he never even really knew while here on earth, but they sat in the chairs of his church, maybe they heard him preach or were somehow connected to his ministry. David had no idea of the impact he had while on earth. David Landrith’s impact was massive.
As I write these last words, if I look up to the heavens………………………………… and listen really close……………………………….. I can almost hear David……………………… “Rich, this is the place we used to talk about and it’s ALL that! This place will put you where you oughta be!………………………….. YOU GOT TO C’MON!”
I’ll be there soon my friend. There will NEVER be another David Landrith.
Well, she’s 15 today and I’m a basket case! My daughter who just yesterday could lay down and nap on top of my chest is now a beautiful young lady. She is wonderful and talented. She loves Jesus and I couldn’t ask for more. It seems last week that I could feel her tiny little heart beating against my chest and I could hold her in one hand. 15!!!! Now what?
If you are a parent, maybe you have experienced this same helpless feeling of “how do I do this?” It’s been said that, “there is no manual for parenting” and yes I am guilty of having all the answers BEFORE I had my own children. The truth is, all we can do is simply TRY our BEST and TRUST HIM the MOST. I don’t have any answers, but here are 3 parenting suggestions:
1. PRAY for Wisdom and Guidance. TRUST God’s inspiration for the answers to the questions. ASK the MASTER.
2. PRAY for Patience. DO NOT act in haste. A deliberate strategy may produce the desired outcome with your children.
3. PRAY for Passion. Ask God to give your children an area that they are passionate about. That passion may occupy the mind, therefore eliminating the time to get into things they shouldn’t.
While these 3 suggestions are simple, parenting is NOT! I pray your children are rooted in the love of Christ Jesus and that they (Mine included) somehow understand how imperfect we are as parents. (Imperfect yes, but trying our very best to show them the way) I ask for you to pray for Stephanie and myself and we will do the same for you.
Trust is one of the most powerful words in our language. The human race operates under monumental levels of trust without even realizing it. Examples: We drive at high rates of speed passing cars that are merely a few feet away from us. We sleep at night trusting that our locks will keep out the bad guys and on and on we trust.
It is this need to trust that causes us to hurt so deeply when trust is broken. I continually watch as people break trust doing serious damage to relationships. Many times trust is never regained and the relationship is totally lost. Other times, it takes many years for the healing to occur. The Bible is clear regarding forgiveness. However, I have witnessed the forgiveness piece in action, without a relationship ever recovering.
Let’s remember how valuable Trust and being Trustworthy really is. Remember it is earned, not easily given. More than that, let’s strive to continually be trustworthy. Prov. 17:17 “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” Are you trustworthy?
It was 15 years ago today. Keri Marcel Hughes’ life was celebrated at our church. We had a time of reflection and a time of worship as we imagined her seeing her beloved savior face to face. Oh, how she loved Jesus.
No one loved Church more than Keri. If the doors were open and she was able, she was in Church. (bible in hand) From the time she was born, she had physical challenges and the medications used to attempt to control the epilepsy took portions of her mind. BUT nothing could ever take her HEART. She was the greatest lover of people I have ever witnessed. Her smile was infectious and just watching her function each day in spite of her limitations was amazing. Seldom was she able to attend my games, but I remember those special times she would greet me at the door after a win. She had listened on the radio and knew the outcome. Her approval of my play was on the same level as I sought from my coaches, teammates or parents. There’s something special about special children. Words cannot explain it, but those with special ones understand.
15 years later, I tearfully write these words just to pay tribute to the greatest winner I have ever known. Keri’s victories were greater than anything I could ever accomplish. Today, her handwriting is perfect, her voice is beautiful and on key as she sings her worship songs and her physical body is made perfect. She is probably working a mean crossword puzzle or playing some angel in checkers. (the things she loved) Whatever she is doing, she is competing to her best ability and has a huge smile on her face. She fits right in among all the other angels.
We all do it. Some do it more than others, but we all talk to ourselves. Second guessing, name calling and the occasional self encouragement are just a few of the ways we have this ongoing conversation with…….. well…… ourselves. One of my recent conversations went like this…..”Richie, you Idiot.” Now, I don’t really believe I am an Idiot, but when you hit your tee ball in the woods at the golf course, it’s either “Idiot” or something much worse. Being that I refrain from profanity, “Idiot” seemed appropriate.
I read a powerful sentence today that “spoke” to me. (see talking to myself again) This sentence simply said, “When you talk to yourself, say nice things.” As you go through today, remember to encourage yourself. BUILD up rather than BEAT up and I am referring to yourself. You are God’s Masterpiece and HE sees you as just that. How do you see yourself? Half the battle may be won by saying NICE things to yourself.
Hi, my name is Richie and I’m an “OVERLY COMPETITIVE AHOLIC.” There, I said it and admit it. Quite frankly, I’m not ashamed. After all, doesn’t the Bible say to “run the race to win the prize?” Last Friday night, I witnessed an incredible event in our community. The BRADLEY/ CLEVELAND High School football game is one of the year’s best events and has been for many, many decades. This year was no exception as the game’s outcome was holding in the balance until the final minute as the Blue Raiders blocked a PAT after the Bears scored on a long TD pass. The final score: 21-20. (can’t get any closer) Multiplied thousands attended and were truly entertained by young men on both sides giving all they had and playing their hearts out for their respective fans and schools. To see this type of fierce rivalry take place with little or no incidents is a true testimony to the CLASS of our COMMUNITY. Please understand, in this community you must choose one or the other. (we actually have 3 great schools now, recently adding Walker Valley HS in the past 10 years) There is no love lost. For a time period during my High School career, (19– – 19– none of your business) Bradley and Cleveland stopped the annual football game due to excessive, uncontrollable violence! History tells us that many championships are determined by the winner of this game. True rivalries can only continue to be rivalries if both teams have a chance to win each year. Any type of one sided, long term dominance kills a rivalry. The Bradley/ Cleveland game is most always a pretty even match up and the “county trophy” goes back and forth, never staying at one school for any great length of time.
So at least until basketball season, where we will all do it again- probably 3-4 times counting the district, region and even state playoffs, CHS has bragging rights. Me? I attended Bradley and love the Bears. While my team lost this time, my reflections are on how the players reacted with the utmost of class the entire night. (no taunting each other or the crowd), how most of the fans supported their team with spirit, but weren’t overly obnoxious as some can be and how 7-8000 of us filed out of the same gate to our cars in the same parking lots without major incident. Kudos to our school superintendents, principals and coaches. You all COMPETED WITH CLASS. Dadgum, that blocked kick!