Rev’d Up

Rev’d Up

It was a strange and almost surreal experience, standing up in front of the congregation while my Pastor spoke loving, kind, and supportive words about me and the faith journey I am on. It was all part of the process of being ordained through my church and carrying with me the fully certified and recognized authority that comes with the title.

My new faith journey began in June of 2009 when my wife and I attended Relevant Church for the first time. Since then, Lee and I plugged into service ministry, small groups, volunteer efforts, and mission trips. I feel our spirituality has grown exponentially since we discovered: faith is about a relationship and not religion, faith is meant to be done in community, and that through our individual faith in God we are stronger together as a couple.

So as Pastor Paul completed the presentation of the certificate of ordination, I felt Lee’s name deserved to be on that certificate as much as mine. I would not be the man of Christ I am today if not for her guidance, direction, and support. I would not be on the cusp of moving to the Dominican Republic if not for her shared enthusiasm and determination to do God’s work. I may have attended the classes at Trinity College of Florida, but Lee was with me every step of the way.

20180306_223309

It is an honor and a blessing to be able to celebrate this milestone in my life, and I owe a world of thanks to everyone who also helped make it possible along the way. I feel I am a reflection of the collective love and support I’ve received from my friends and family, and I hope I will continue to be a positive representative of this loving community in the years to come.


On a completely separate tangent, I sent a photo of me to our Technical Director Jarrett asking him if it could be included in the service. It was a picture from my First Communion, and no, it did not end up as part of the service. Although Jarrett wanted to use the pic, Pastor Paul was not on the same page.

Those in attendance at Relevant may have been deprived of this glorious artistry, but you won’t be. So please, enjoy!

Gil FC

Advertisements

Brotherhood

Brotherhood

I know I’ve written before about my brothers, but I need to take a moment to share my thoughts about a man who has been everything from a friend to a counselor to a teacher to a sophomoric counterpart.

I’m spending this weekend in Hahira, Georgia, with my friend (and brother) Jeff Smith. While his wife Lindsey and my wife Lee take part in a women’s retreat at their house, he and I have been banished relegated to the cozy confines of “Nanna’s House,” Lindsey’s grandmother’s house in Cecil, Georgia.

We have the four-wheelers, a fridge full of beer and a whole lot of nothing to do. And truth be told, it’s nice to have this downtime where we can just sit back, catch up on everything, and sip a cold one (or six) to our heart’s content. With the exception of a couple of to-do items in support of the ladies and their retreat, Jeff and I have had the weekend to ourselves.

And I find it invaluable to be able to strengthen the steel-like bond he and I share. Along with my other friend Jeff (Wilson), I am never lacking in terms of strong, solid men of Christ to whom I can turn when I need help.

So thank you, Jeff Smith, for being my brother and for helping make me a better man in the process.

 

20180303_175859
A Man and His Hound

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”
– Psalm 133:1 (NASB)

 

Dad In Progress

So my son informed me he registered for an online gaming tournament, but he was very vague and non-specific with the details. I don’t think he was deliberately trying to hide anything. Rather, he still doesn’t see things from the perspective I do as a dad (what’s the tournament?, what’s the URL?, is there a fee?, what type of personal information, if any did you provide?, etc.)

So I turned to reddit​ to try and research it. I tend to shy away from reddit because sometimes you need a thick skin to navigate the comments, but the users were really helpful and supportive.

reddit-alien

Then I got to these comments. The both filled and broke my heart at the same time.

Capture1

Capture2

Capture3

I think I am a pretty cool dad, but I am by no means perfect. For as tough as I used to be with my kids, I know I’ve gotten a little soft these last couple of years. Still, I am very proud of the job my ex-wife, my current wife, and I have done in bringing up the two stellar, well behaved, and loving young adults that are my children.

Still, the road ahead is long, and they – as sixteen and fourteen year-olds – have the most challenging time in their lives yet to come. Sports radio personality Colin Cowherd once said it best about this age for kids. “You stop being a parent and you start being a consultant.”

I think there’s a lot of truth to that, but how I really see myself right now is as an enabler of dreams. I still have a lot of responsibility to make sure they’re getting good grades in school, behaving, staying out of trouble, etc., but I also need to continue asking what they want to do when they grow up, where do they see themselves in ten years, and what their dreams are. Then, I need to work my tail off to help steer them in that direction.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to being a good parent, except to say love them, learn from them, let them develop into who they want to be. Because life’s not a video game and there’s no reset button.

 

Feet on the Ground

There are so many things that come to mind when I think about the word Mission. I think of an elite group of soldiers making their way through a South American jungle, en route to a specific location. I think of wordy statements corporations place on their websites, most of which go ignored by the companies’ employees. I think of a style of architecture popular in the Southwest.

…and yes, I think of Ethan Hunt precariously dangling from a cable in a sound and temperature sensitive computer room.

You've got the theme song stuck in your head now, don't you?
You’ve got the theme song stuck in your head now, don’t you?

But for the purpose of this particular post, my mission is to set you on a mission to help us take part in a mission trip.

In January, my wife and I will be joining other members of our church family in the Dominican Republic as part of a faith mission trip through Relevant Church. We’ve always wanted to be a part of a mission team, helping others in need, and Kingdom building here on Earth. Now we have a chance to do it, to be ‘feet on the ground’, and the part of something so much greater than we could offer as individuals.

But we need your help to get there.

We have a very modest goal of $2000. This will provide for the both of us to take part in the mission trip, and also covers our travel to the Dominican Republic and accommodations while we’re there.

If you’re interested in sponsoring us, Lee and I have set up a GoFundMe fundraising page at www.gofundme.com/gileeDR. Please note all donations made through our GFM page go directly to Relevant Church (we don’t hold any funds). If you prefer, you can donate directly through Relevant Church at bit.ly/Relevant_DR. And if you consider yourself old school, you can send a check, made payable to Relevant Church, to 1704 N. 16th St. Tampa, FL 33605. (Please be sure to include a note stating the donation is for Gil and Lee).

If you’re in a position where you can’t support us financially, you can still help us out by keeping us in your prayers. Additionally, you can share this post with your friends, as well as online via Facebook, Twitter, etc. Lee and I are blessed to have such a wonderful network of family, friends, and peers, and even if a small percentage of that network donated just $5 each, we’d easily reach our goal.

We want to thank you in advance for your time, generosity, and prayers. We hope we can be a reflection of your love and inspiration to those most in need in the Dominican Republic.

DR Mission Trip
Please help us reach our goal so we can be a part of something great for His Kingdom and His glory.

That’s The Spirit

This past week, Lee and I were very blessed to have been able to volunteer as part of this year’s home rehab project through Relevant Church. The overall effort was seven days of sweat-producing, muscle pain inducing, rain soaking work. Lee and I were able to pitch in four days last week, and it started with Day 1: the demo day.

Immediately following the second service at church on April 27, a team of volunteers headed over to the project site. Before we left, however, our Pastor Paul Wirth gave us a pep talk and high-level instructions about the effort. Included in his collection of Do’s and Don’ts were the words, “We’re even going to need someone to be our dumpster diver and make sure all the trash and debris remains manageable.”

That is where is got funny.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to win a ……. discussion ….. with the Holy Spirit. As soon as Paul mentioned the thing about managing the dumpsters, the Holy Spirit spoke to me.

“He’s talking about you, dude.”

“What? Umm….no.”

“Yep. He needs you in the trash.”

“But I don’t want to be in the trash.”

“That’s nice, but that’s where you’re going.”

“No. Why? Why me? Someone else can do it.”

“That may be so, but you know you’re the best suited for it.”

“Why? Because my dad was a janitor?”

“Partly. But also because you can organize. Because you’re creative. Because you can effectively maximize the available space. And because that is where He wants you to be.”

“So you’re saying all those hours in college I spent playing Tetris were preparing me for this moment?”

“Why do you think He provided you a Gameboy while you were at school.”

“Touché.”

There may have been some creative liberties in my retelling of the dialogue between myself and the Holy Ghost, but you get the idea. Some people call it hunches. Others, gut feeling. The band NEEDTOBREATHE refer to it lyrically as, “the little voice I heard, it’s just a whisper that sounded like a scream.”

To me, God’s message comes as an instantaneous thought and then develops into a conversation. Sometimes they’re very easy to understand and obey. Other times, I wrestle with them. I forget my own humanity and think I can barter and negotiate with God. In the end, He never steers me wrong and He always provides.

So the next time you find yourself in a dilemma, awkward situation, or just being asked to do something you wouldn’t normally want to do, take a second to hear what He is telling you. For me, I found the treasure of giving on top of that big pile of trash.

Trash Man

 

“So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” -James 2:17 NLT

Tasting Colors and Seeing Sounds

I love live music. For me, there’s nothing like it. When you’re invested in a particular band or artist, it makes it that much better.

As I’ve written before, Lee and I are huge fans of Sister Hazel. In many ways, the music of Sister Hazel helped bring us together. When things got really tough for us that first year we were dating, Hazel played a large part in keeping us together.

It’s hard to explain the power, passion, and emotion that goes into watching your favorite band play your favorite songs. Couple that with being surrounded by the friends you love, the very people that make up your music family, and it’s absolutely magical.

We had the privilege of catching Sister Hazel tonight for the 55th time (yes, we’re those types of fans), and it never ceases to be fun and exciting and amazing. My life has been transformed because of their music and the community of fans that music has created. I can’t imagine where I’d be without Sister Hazel, and I am so glad I’ll never have to find out. 

Here’s Lee’s and my favorite song. It is in so many ways “our song.”

193/365 Good Fortune

Tonight we got together for dinner with the members of our growth group from this past Spring. It was great to see all those loving and familiar faces, and it felt like more than just a couple of months since our group concluded in early May. I feel like I’ve been in a personal funk since the group wrapped up, like when you do well on a diet and then let yourself go all over again. Being with the group was a reminder of how I can always do better with my life, both in small and big ways.

In addition to the wonderful food – we always have such wonderful food at our groups – the fellowship that was shared, as well as the loving spirit that filled the room, was just the kind of positive uplift I needed in my life at this time.We also took the time to discuss and plan for the next semester of growth group. I was thrilled to see we all were in agreement to use the same model we followed last semester, with Renee and Mark hosting and Lee and myself leading the group. I think we even settled on which topic we want to cover in our next group.

Getting back to the food, someone had brought, as their contribution to the pot-luck dinner, some fried rice and fortune cookies. I am a big fan of fortune cookies, and I opened mine with giddy anticipation. The message?

Getting together with old friends brings new adventures.

As I’ve said before, coincidence is just God showing off.