Thursday, September 17, 2009

No Substitute for Guts

John McIntosh was one of the upperclass offensive linemen when I went to play football at The University of Alabama. He was one of the older guys I looked up to because he seemed so invinceable. He worked out hard, practiced hard and hated losing. I ran into some of his recent work on Facebook and found out that he had started a ministry. Guys, this is a guy thats tough as they come. He is not only a Brother of mine in the A-Club, But in God's club as well. Heres what God has put on Johns heart for us.

Blogging is relatively new to me, as I have only been blogging a few months. I follow a few blogs, but to be honest, wonder how many really read my ramblings, and are they even making a difference. If you have gotten this far, could I ask you that this time, you read this one through to the end. These next few paragraphs are a divine appointment for all of us (including me).

Mike and I played football together at The University of Alabama, way back in the 1980's. I haven't seen or talked to Mike since leaving the capstone some 25 years ago. You can imagine my surprise when I opened my email to find that he had found me via facebook and asked to share with you via his blog. I am flattered and honored that he would even ask me to write a guest blog on his site.

I too have a blog site: "NO SUBSTITUTE FOR GUTS.BLOGSPOT.COM. I learned that quote from the legendary Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, and have had a lot of fun throwing it around. It's kinda catchy and people seem to respond to it. After reading Mike's story about his daughter Katie being killed in a car accident while following her Father, "NO SUBSTITUTE FOR GUTS" has taken on a whole new meaning. You see the thing about courage, "guts" if you will, is that it is hard to define, but when you see it, it becomes unmistakeable. To see how Mike has handled this tragedy ladies and gentlemen is "guts" in action! That's what I want to spend just a couple more minutes talking about.

Mike shares something very intimate with God that very few of us ever will. Experiencing the lose of a child. I often tell teenagers that the greatest single act of courage in all of humanity, was not the physical part of the Cross, but what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus is talking to His Father about what is about to happen to him. Jesus told His friends: "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death." Matthew 26:38. This decision of obedience was literally killing Him, even before He was arrested. Jesus then went off to ask His Father not once, not twice, but three times, if it were possible, to let this cup of suffering pass by Him. We clearly see the anguish that Jesus (The Son) was going through, but have we ever stopped to imagine the absolute anguish and horror that His Dad/Father/God was going through? After all, this was His plan to reconcile you and I back to Him, and the reality of the moment was upon both of them. Then comes the moment of courage, "guts": "Yet I want your will to be done, not mine" Matthew 26:39. That moment was the greatest act of "courage" in all humanity. I love how that scene is depicted in the movie "The Passion of The Christ". The serpent slithers out as to come for Jesus and He stomps his head, burying him forever!!! "he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." Genesis 3:15. I marvel as such "courage" and have gained a whole new respect for those who display it. Mike understands that kind of courage! The question is, do you and I?

Where does such courage come from? It comes from God! Jesus had to go to His Father to summon that kind of courage, and so did Mike. Mike continues to show that courage everyday in his life. The same courage that Paul had: "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:20. Here is the really cool thing about this type of courage. God is no respecter of person! Meaning, this type of courage is not just for Jesus, Paul and now Mike. It is available to all of us, but to claim it takes "guts"! I'm talking about a 24/7/365 kind of "guts". Here's the thing about "guts", you can't fake it! Yeah, you might be able to fool a few people for a while, but sooner or later your true character will be revealed.

There are so many lessons to be learned through Katie's life that we can apply to our own. While I never met Katie, I am told that she has an incredible love for Jesus and that love is being passed on to literally thousands of people that now includes me, and I am blessed by it!
I'm not sure what you may have learned from reading this blog. I can tell you what I have learned in writing it! Mike Burkett understands what "NO SUBSTITUTE FOR GUTS" really means and it's time that I try to fully comprehend it as well. I can't for a moment even begin to imagine all the emotions that Mike and his family have gone through. What I can do is pay attention when God is speaking to me through Mike, and simply obey what He is telling me. That is we are in the very serious business of sharing the most incredible "truth" in the entire world with as many people as we can, and to do it effectively takes "guts". Jesus made it very clear that the world would hate us because of what He has asked us to do. "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world anymore than I am of the world." John 17:14 The only way we are going to stand a chance to face that kind of persecution is through the "courage" of the Cross. So next time you see the Cross, don't forget the lesson we can all learn in The Garden of Gethsemane and through Mike Burkett and his family.

I would like to thank Mike for inviting me to post on his blog. Mike's courage is an inspiration and has helped me to understand what it truly takes to make a difference in this world. It takes "guts"! Mike, because of your example, I now have a whole new appreciation for the phrase: "NO SUBSTITUTE FOR GUTS"

Love ya, mean it! Mike
John McIntosh

PS: Here is a link that brings to life the type of "courage" that is available to us all!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Today in America

I believe America stands at a spiritual and Moral crossroad. A time that will determine the path of our nation and possibly the world. Christians are openly scorned and ridiculed by the media. Believers in Jesus Christ are never portrayed favorably by the entertainment industry. There has not been one occasion in recent memory where good wholesome Christian virtues have been treated respectfully by any major media outlet.

On the Judicial front, our courts and justices grow ever more hostile to any public expression of Christian faith. Public schools, funded by millions of our tax dollars, make it difficult for students to exercise their freedom of religion. They also have allowed the distribution of Condoms and Birth control pills to young boys and girls without parental consent.

The mention of Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life is an affront. In an era where all faiths must be equally exceptable, the exclusive claims of the Gospel are considered morally offensive. Our culture hates the mere mention of Jesus. What can we as Christians do to change this?

1) Prayer and repentence. We need to examine ourselves and come to the Lord with humility.

2) We must respectfully engage those in our circle of influence with the truth of the Gospel .

3) Speak the truth in love for our fellow man.

4) Be bold in our faith.

With God in our corner, we can make a difference. We must make a difference.

The above message was given by Franklin Graham In his message "Taking a Stand For Christ"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Teachable Moments

When Brother Steve left GFBC for Belleview, I was very concerned for our Church. Steve was such a dynamic Pastor and really had a heart for God. When I heard Pastor Kevin preach for the first time my doubts were immediately removed. He has taken the reins at our Church and made each Sunday a blessing. I look forward to getting to know Kevin in the Future and was thrilled when he said yes to doing my blog.

As a pastor and a parent of 3 girls (senior, freshman and 1st grade), I am desperately trying to discern when I have a “teachable moment” with my children. You see, as a pastor EVERYTHING seems to be a teachable moment . . . at least, that’s what my kids tell me. So I am learning when to speak and when not to speak. I often ask the Holy Spirit for divine discernment as to when I should share a “life lesson” and when I should just keep quiet and allow God to “teach” my kids. Oh yeah, I also have to keep reminding myself that they are not “my” kids but “HIS” kids. Therefore, HE also has their best interest in mind.

So how do you determine when you have a teachable moment or not? That is a great question. I wish that I could say that I have the full-proof answer to that tough question but I don’t. I have learned a few lessons along the way that just might help you in your search for that answer.

First of all, I must rely on the wisdom of God through His Holy Spirit. I am striving to become more sensitive to the Spirit so that He can help me know when to talk and when to just be quiet. The Bible encourages us to ask for wisdom and God will give it to us freely and generously (James 1:5). Praying for wisdom has been a recurring theme for me for a long, long time. I was saved when I was 8 years old and surrendered to the ministry was I was 11 years old so I’ve had the incredible benefit at starting my walk with Jesus at an early age. However, it seems like I was always the young, inexperienced minister (my kids do remind me now that I’m not that young anymore) so I learned early on to pray earnestly for divine wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge in the best possible way. Every parent … every teacher … every coach … every leader of young people desperately needs divine wisdom from above!

Secondly, I have learned to “read” the reactions of my daughters. There are certain times that they seem more open to “teachable moments” than others. As a matter of fact, I often ask them, “Hey, I just noticed something that I would like to briefly share with you. Are you open to hearing about it?” Rarely have they not given me permission to push on but I think that by giving them the “control” of the conversation they feel more affirmed and appreciated.

Thirdly, I reward them for reading the books that I want them to read. You may object, “But you are bribing her!” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Yes, I am paying them to do what I want them to do. We used to call that an allowance. Clean your room. Put up your dirty clothes. Take out the trash then I will give you an allowance. Kim and I do not pay for household chores. Allow me to say that again. We do not pay for household chore. That is expected of everyone in the family (yes, even I have to do some chores . . . of course, they don’t involve power tools … ha, ha). Kim and I are more than willing to “reward” our girls for reading a book that we know can change their perspective and set them on the right track for life!

Fourthly, I am learning patience. I cannot make every moment a “teachable moment.” Some lessons take time to develop and be learned and they don’t have to get it all before they begin dating at age 35 … ha, ha! Parenting is one of the most difficult, challenging, frustrating, disappointing, depressing, agitating, irritating, but rewarding jobs in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for a weekly allowance!

Kevin Hamm

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I have been blown away

I have asked God many times to lead me in the direction that he wanted me to take with my Blog. I have asked that he put the words that he wanted me to write on this paper. God has led me to use others in the blog to show their point of view and life experiences. One day God spoke to me and told me that I needed to ask Carli Patrick to do one of my next blogs. After reading her message I know why he led me in that direction.

Carli is a 19 year old Freshman at Alabama. She was one of Katie's best friends for many years and has been like a member of the Burkett Family. Words cannot describe how we all feel about Carli. She took many vacations with us and was injured in the wreck that took my Katies life. Here is her amazing story:

When Buckett asked me to write a blog, I looked at him like we was crazy. I told him I have absolutely nothing to write. Buckett reminded me that we all have a story and that I should write about mine. So here goes nothing….

13 months ago, I was involved in a car accident that dramatically changed 5 peoples’ lives along with all of our families. We all lost a part of us: a best friend, a daughter, a cousin, etc. I remember my dad telling me in the hospital that Katie didn’t make it and all I could think about was why did this happen. We were all good people. We went to church. We made good grades. Why did we deserve this?

While we were in the hospital, it felt as if the entire city of Gardendale came to visit us. People brought flowers, cards, food, etc! Amazing love was shown to us through our families and friends. For that, I will forever be grateful.

I remember my brother coming in. He came the day after the accident, holding a note. He put it beside my bed and told me to open it after everyone had left. In the note, he explained how much he wanted to take all the pain away. He thought that’s what big brothers were supposed to do. He said all he could do was to hold my hand though. He also told me that “he strongly encouraged me to take all of my thoughts to God. HE could handle them.” It would be a long time before I actually understood what that meant.

My senior year was filled with bittersweet memories. It seemed as if as soon as things seemed like they would be normal again, I would start missing Katie more. Everyone told me to just keep praying and everything would get better because God had a plan for me. I didn’t really believe that then. I had been praying and nothing was getting better and I surely didn’t believe that God could use me. As my senior year dragged on, it seemed as if I just got angrier and angrier. Not on the outside but on the inside I did. I quit praying all together. I decided that God hadn’t been there for me, so I surely wasn’t going to be there for him.

Everything only got worse. I only became angrier and more closed off than I had been in the first place. I kept thinking that I was going to wake up. This whole thing had just been a bad dream and that none of it was real. But it was real and I never woke up. One day as I sat alone in my house, I came across the note that my brother had written me. As I read over the words I thought to myself, “God, if you really want to know how I feel well here it is.” I began screaming. Yes, I said screaming and at the top of my lungs. I sat there crying and screaming. I honestly think that was the first time I had been real with myself and especially with God. I finally let go of all that I had been holding inside for so many months. Nothing changed in my life in that moment. I didn’t start praying more or reading my Bible, but I did start telling God how I felt in each moment. If I was sad, I would tell him about it. If I thought things were unfair, I would tell him about that too. Each time it was if God kept telling me, “I’m here daughter. I’ve always been right here.”

I started going to Generation on Thursday nights at church. I would listen to the message, sing the songs, and then sit nervously during the invitation. I knew that I didn’t have a real relationship with God. My relationship with Him had always been a one way street. I took and took from Him and wanted Him to help me only when I thought I couldn’t handle things myself. One night, I couldn’t sit still any longer. I confessed to God that I hadn’t been a disciple for Him. I had never experienced a true relationship with Him and I told Him that I wanted Him to be the center of my life. I didn’t want to run anymore. If I ran anywhere it was going to be into Him. So that’s what I did. I ran to Him and let Him run with me. I began reading and praying and talking to God about everything that went on in my life. I told Him what I was thinking, what I needed, what I felt, and I knew deep in my heart that He was listening. God actually did care about me, not only that, but He did love me! ME!! I sometimes have a hard time understanding that and constantly find myself asking the question, “God why do you love me so much? Selfish, impatient, me??” And the answer is always the same. “Because you are my child and nothing you do will ever take that love away from you!”

How amazing is it that God loves us? More importantly, how amazing is it when we actually realize that? INCREDIBLE!

I am now a freshman student at The University of Alabama! I moved to Tuscaloosa about 2 ½ weeks ago. Everyday is a challenge. I have to drag myself out of bed and to class almost everyday. I have to actually do my homework without mom and dad making me and I have to find my own food!! It doesn’t make it any easier that I miss Katie Burkett every day! I know she would be right here with us loving every minute of it! But she is here. She’s always with us!

What a journey I have been on. God has already used me in some amazing ways. I had the incredible opportunity of becoming apart of the Generation ministry. I developed God-building relationships with people who have been there for me unconditionally. I have gotten to speak to people who do not yet know the Lord and tell them my story. God sent me to Ecuador in July and I got to serve his people! In Ecuador, I got to be apart of an incredible experience I will never forget! I also know that part of God’s plan in my life is to serve in other countries such as Ecuador! What an amazing call that is!

I have an amazing group of friends that support me and encourage me in my Christian faith daily! I have an amazing family that does the same. But more importantly, I have an amazing God who never fails me. I know God has a plan for me. He has a plan for me in a job one day, in a family, and to a Godly man. Right now, I am just walking daily with him fulfilling His purpose in my life. I don’t exactly know what it is, but I know that wherever I go, He is going to use me for His glory. Nothing is too big for GOD. I realized He actually can handle our thoughts and anything we throw at him! He wants us to do that. He wants us to be honest with Him and that’s what I intend to do with Him daily.

I encourage you also to throw any emotion you have at God. Any feelings, worries, doubts, etc. HE CAN HANDLE THEM!! God has an amazing plan for you! You just have to ask for it! J

Carli Patrick

There's always more time

The demon awards show is at a fever pitch. It is time to name the Most Valuable demon of the year. The second runner up is introduced and as he receives his award Satan ask him how he was able to send 5000 souls to hell. He smiled and told him that he convinced each one there was no hell. All the demons roared with approval. The first runner up is introduced and satan ask him the same question. He answered that he simply convinced the 10,000 souls that there was no heaven. Again the underworld roared with approval. Finally, Time for the MVD. He is introduced and again satan smiling so very proud, ask the question again. How did you get 20,000 souls to hell? The demon smiled and said, " I told them there was a heaven. I told them there was a hell. But, I told them they had plenty of time."

I bring up this little story that most of us heard in Sunday School because this Week 2 very dear people I know lost their lives. One was 24 and the other was 62. Both of them woke up that very morning thinking that this is just another day. As fate would have it, It would be there last day on earth. Neither one was sick. Neither one had any idea that this was coming. They both had families that they were planning future events with here on earth.

Satan and his cronies work diligently to do all they can to bring people down. In our very community, they work to make Christians look bad to Non-believers. He also attacks the estabolishments like GFBC and MVUMC to dis-credit Their ability to do God's work in the community. He often times does all he can to pit Christian against Christian. Why would they spend their time attacking us this way?

The answer to that question is very simple. I only recently understood it and when I figured it out it blew me away. If GFBC or MOFBC or Generations or any of our Churches go out and save one dynamic person, it can alter the balance of Heaven and hell in incredible ways. You must think of this dynamic as a triangle. Small at the top and getting larger as it goes down. The point at the top is the moment that one person is saved. As you go down the triangle in his lifetime. it grows wider as the people he saves and the people they save join the Kingdom of God. Amazing

Thinking of it this way, I began to understand why satan and his demons work so very hard at making Christians and Churches look bad. I understand why they tell so many lies to non-believers to try and keep them away from Jesus. If you are not saved, please do not listen to the lies. Please understand that tomorrow is not a given. The only thing that is certain is one day our time here will run out and we will stand before God and be judged. Take the next step and ask Jesus to be Lord of your Life. If you do this, It will not matter when that day comes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What do I do now

It is midnight here on a Thursday night. It has really been an interesting week. I had a realtor over on Monday to see about selling my house. By the time he had gotten back to me on Tuesday I had been laid off of a job I had been at for the last seven years. They took my cell phone and my truck and there I was in Bessemer trying to figure out how I was going to get home. Wednesday, I borrowed my cousins old work truck and signed up for unemployment. Thursday I was tooling around in that old truck with no air conditioner and the blew the head gasket. I got a call and found out that all Kate's classmates were in Tuscaloosa moving into their dorms and I couldn't help but think that Buggs should be there as well. I think I will just stay in bed in the morning til Monday and get up and start over.

With all that being said I would like to tell you that I am really in a great mood. Due to a couple of things in my life, I know its all going to be okay. I have a wonderful supportive family. I live in the greatest community in the world. ( even if Obama is President). Most of all though, I am a Child of a Wonderful, Gracious, Loving, Heavenly Father thats going to never give me any more than I can handle. Jesus stated in the Gospels that Even the birds of the trees are taken care of and that each one of us are many times more important to him than the birds. My God has been carrying me the last 13 months and I know he is able to do it longer if need be.

I am going to continue to sing the praises of My Lord till my dying day. He put people in my life that led me to an understanding of his love at an early age. He has given me a wonderful church family at GFBC and beyond. I have my Christian Brotherhood like, Ronnie Vaughn, David Jett, Andy Heis, Mike McCulley, Donny Headley, Andy Hardin, Jeff Powell, Brad Myrick, Danial Foy, Hunter Graveman, and many others that always seem to just kinda show up when life gets heavy. Many people who seem to be Praying for me and my family and giving us unconditional Love and friendship.

I encourage anyone thats going to a hard time in their life to seek out friends and family. Talk about the issues with someone thats a positive influence. Try to look at the good and realize the bad is going to one day go away. But, the most important thing that I would encourage you to do is turn it all over to Jesus. Ask him to be the Lord of your life and seek him. That is the way to peace and contentment. That is the only way to true happiness. With him comes a friend thats closer than a brother. He will never leave you or forsake you. One day he will take you by the hand and lead you to Glory.

Mike "Buckett" Burkett

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Very Special Lady

Last week I was just coming in from getting off work when My phone Rang. It was my mother. She began talking to me in one of those ways that lets you know she has something to tell you but is not ready to tell you yet kinda ways. After a moment of small talk she broke the news that Kendal Thomas had Lymphoma. She was having some back and leg problems that the doctors finally diagnosed as cancer. BAMMM. This can't be, only a month or two ago Kendal was finishing up her freshman year of softball at AUM. ( Most of you know what school that is but I cant bring myself to write it). She is in perfect health, there is no possible way that could be true I thought. I immediately called Darryl and he confirmed it. My heart has hurt for them from that very minute on. I wanted to take a few moments and tell you about this one very special little lady and her family.

I first got to really know Kendal when she was 12 years old. She and my Katie were on Darryl's softball team. Buggs thought that was awesome because she could never hit Kendal when she pitched and they had always been on opposite teams. When Kendal was born God reached down and put a thunderbolt on her shoulder and she became a VERY good softball pitcher and player. With that being said, All of the credit should not be put on her ability. You see, that year I got to see how very hard she worked at being such a good player. She would work daily to make perfect the skills God had blessed her with. That season Darryl's team won the championship in large part because of Kendal and her presence on the mound.

Many people have physical abilities but not the mental abilities to use them. That was never a problem for 48 (Kendal). It seemed to me that the tougher things got in game situations, The better she would perform. She never got riled. She never gave up. When things got tough on her, she always seemed to be at her best. With all this being said, the thing that I admired most about her is that she has always been a shy, sweet, innocent person.

One day when She was a freshman at Gardendale High School, she was having some problems with adjusting to playing on the varsity softball team. I saw her in the parking lot and she told me that she didn't know if she could pitch anymore. Her reason to me was that she was letting her teammates down when they lost. It wasn't the pressure, or not being good enough, it was that she was concerned for her team. I knew then that 48 was a very special individual and told her that on the spot. If I recall correctly she only lost 3 times as 14 year old playing against 18 year olds.

The abilities and fortitude that I have mentioned above are the reasons I know that Kendal will beat this cancer. Her faith is being tested like Rick Burgess said in the previous blog and there is no doubt in my mind that she will past this test. She has a wonderful family giving her uncondition love and care. She has this whole community pulling for her and praying for her. She also has all the qualities that I mentioned above that she will use to put this in her past. God gave her many abilities and to those that have much, much is expected. She will come through this with flying colors because like I said before, Kendal Thomas is SPECIAL.

Mike "Buckett" Burkett