Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm Going Home

So I was thinking...would it be neat or awful to be celebrating a birthday today? I guess it would be cool as you age, you know, only having to add a year every four.

Do kids born on leap day get to celebrate the last day of February? The first day of March? Or both?

Maybe this leap day birthday thing has more to it than meets the eye!

Confession time: Until sometime around Spring Training 1996, the St. Louis Cardinals were my favorite baseball team. Yeah, I kept up with the Rangers but the Cardinals had been the team of my childhood.

Then the Tony LaRussa era began.

And I was gone.

Last year, my brother-in-law's father, Gary Halford, was privileged to entertain Ozzie Smith in his home. I received from my family an autographed picture of the Wizard with a question, "Hey Jim, what happened?"

Hey Wiz, Tony LaRussa coming to town is what happened.

For the record, the answer to Wednesday's baseball trivia question about the team with the most players implicated in the Mitchell Reports is none other than the St. Louis Cardinals (with five players in Spring Training down in Jupiter, Florida).

Not surprisingly, the godfather of the Steroid era, Tony LaRussa, has asked Cardinal brass to consider adding Barry Bonds to the clubhouse. What's mind-boggling is not only does LaRussa underestimate the PR damage Bonds would do by wearing the birds-on-bats, he even believes Mark McGwire was above-board all those years.



I'm going home.

For the first time in twelve years, I have been invited to speak at the congregation where I was raised. Every Sunday of my formative years, save vacations, was spent in the Northside Church of Christ building in Benton, Arkansas. It was there both of my grandfathers, and later my dad, served as elders. It was there I learned memory work in Bible Hour. It was there my faith was grounded. It was there I preached my first sermon. It was there I was mentored by Youth Ministers like Dale Mannon and Tom Perkins and Doug Yates.

And now, the current elders at Northside have afforded me the wonderful opportunity to go home and speak at Friends Day on Sunday, March 30th. The Northside church has themed 2008 "Growing in Grace" and that is the focus of the first Sunday following Easter in an effort to reach out with the good news of God's grace.

I can't wait to go home; to be back in the building where so many good faith memories were birthed. I can't wait to go home to the place where so much godly teaching was imparted to me.

And I can't wait to go home so that my grandfather, if his strength is sufficient, can hear me preach one more time.

To the Northside elders, thank you. Thank you for the most privileged speaking invitation of my preaching career. The opportunity to speak at Northside, on Friends Day, with the hope of my grandfather hearing me speak one more time is just almost too much to absorb. Thank you for demonstrating in living color the theme you are shepherding the church in Benton to live and understand.