Are Labels Helpful?

I am on a facebook page of people preparing our 20 year high school reunion.  Even though I can’t make the reunion, I’ve kept up with the information and pictures that are shared.  One comment stuck on to me on these post.  A single mom said it would be fun if the popular people didn’t hang out in a clique like they did in high school.

There is a lot I could unpack about that statement.  The major thing that interest me is how long labels stick with us.  Those that were labeled ‘popular’ surely are not popular anymore.  Many of them have struggled with the responsibility of being an adult.  The ‘losers’ in the class have done okay.

It is crazy those labels have stick for 2 decades.

When I was in high school, a youth leader at my church told me that I was pessimistic.  I’d never thought much about that sort of thing so I just accepted it as truth.  Because I know pessimism can be seen as a negative for a leader, I just told me I was a realist.  As time went on something changed in my mindset or those around me just got a lot more negative than me.  One day I remember thinking I might be the most optimistic person that I know.  How can that be since I’m a pessimist?

It just happened that a leadership test was being required of me by our church.  Part of this test would say if you were a realist or optimist.  I expected to be a realist.  The shocking news came that I was an over the top optimist.  What?!?  When did this happen?  This seems right, but really?

Life, God’s word, traveling, the Holy Spirit, and more have a way of changing us over time.  Don’t let labels from years ago keep you from growing and acknowledging that growth.   Labels are dangerous in that they can define us for years.  Be more than those labels that others put on you.  You can change.

I went from an depressing pessimist to an extreme optimist.  You can too.

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Kids Stories

I took my 2 year old and 5 year old to a warehouse full of inflatables in Valdosta, GA.  Jennifer, Cash, and my mother in law went to buy birthday toys and I volunteered to take the girls to this inflatable park.  No big deal, right?

I kept up with the girls for most of our time.  Finally I had to sit down on the couch with the rest of the parents and take a break.  I’m on the phone and see my 2 year old dive in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse followed by one of the employees followed by the rest of the employees.  I thought what did she do!

The employee could not get her out of the Mickey Mouse inflatable so I got her out of it.  They said she climbed over the closed door and got to the prizes that they give out for arcade game tickets.  I took off the tiara, the first ring, the first bracelet, the toys in her hand, and the rest of the rings and bracelets.  Every employees was laughing at how many prizes she took.  I apologized and didn’t take any more breaks from watching her.

DiVarsity

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In downtown Atlanta there is a restaurant that everyone eventually patrons.  The Varsity is as much an ATL attraction as the Braves, Georgia Aquarium, or the Word of Coke.  Many Georgians love the Varsity and many out of towners aren’t sure why it is so popular.  Regardless of your view on their chili dogs or orange shake, the Varsity accomplishes something truly unique.

When you walk into this place you see all types of people.  I mean ALL types!  You see a homeless man wearing the same clothes for 5 days in a row eating two tables down from a million dollar business man wearing his expensive suit.  You see a high school football team eating together down from an elderly couple enjoying their meal.

This restaurant gets people from every socio economic and racial background.  All at one time eating greasy food together.  United under the purpose of great onion rings.

This is a marvelous example of what Christianity and the church should look like.  People of all races.  People with lots of money.  People with no money.  Coming together, but instead of enjoying a fast food meal they are seeking to glorify God with their lives.

If a restaurant can accomplish this level of diversity with a much smaller purpose than the gospel, surely our churches can do the same.

The Gospel And Kids

I had the honor of presenting the gospel to 3rd-5th graders at a local camp here in Cincinnati.  Preaching the gospel to kids is always a difficult task because how do you make it interactive, how do you add an object lesson, and how can you help them understand such an abstract concept as following Jesus?.  I put several hours of prayer and thought into my sermon.

The kids paid attention so well.  They were engaged throughout the message and many gave their lives to Christ last night.  We put all of them in small group to talk about their decisions and for the small group leader to go more in depth with each child.  I don’t want to hold a child back from Jesus, but we want to make sure children understand the basics of salvation.

My hope and prayer is that they go home, get baptized, and their lives are changed forever because of what happened on the second floor of Woodland Lakes Camp!

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No Place Like Home

My family and I got to spend a few days in my hometown of Sevierville, TN.  Always a joy to come home.  We got to go to Cades Cove, Dollywood, the Petting Zoo, and ride the giant ferris wheel at the Island in Pigeon Forge.  We love the new build your own donut place and rolled ice cream. In between all of that time was spending time with my mom and dad.  My mom is in a rehabilitation center/nursing home.  I am working on getting her to stay permanently.  As you can imagine, that was a difficult part of our time away.  However, getting her in a healthy place is the most important thing.

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Lessons from FC Cincinnati

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Last night I stood among 33,000 people watching a soccer game for 120 minutes in downtown Cincinnati.  I confess:  I don’t like soccer.  I’d watch hockey and almost every other sport over soccer.  Yet here I was having spent $30 on a ticket, $50 on souvenirs, and $4 on gatorade standing for almost the entire 120 minutes of the game.  Passionately watching and caring about something that I had no interest in before.  I’d love to see them go MLS – why I don’t even know.  It is weird.

A historic baseball town become a soccer area.  A 2 million plus metro area with hardly any soccer lovin’ internationals has become soccer central for the USA – if just for a moment.

I think I didn’t love it because I’d never experienced it like that before.  The excitement of penalty kicks.  The fun of a full stadium all wearing blue, orange, and white.  The non-stop cheering from The Bailey.

This is just like the gospel.  People don’t love it because they haven’t experienced the power of God’s love and forgiveness.  They haven’t seen the excitement of a changed life.  They haven’t seen people from all backgrounds come together for a cause bigger than themselves.

Many didn’t think soccer would work in Cincinnati, but it has.  Many have given up on the local church and the gospel working in our area too.  It will work – people just need to see it.

Cincinnati Bengals Playground

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As a dad of 3 kids and a Kids and Family Pastor of a medium sized children’s ministry – I love playgrounds.  They are either free or cheap.  It gets kids and families outdoors.  They help improve balance, hand/eye coordination, motor skills, etc.  Kids nap better once they play hard on a playground.

This spring and summer I’m checking out playgrounds around Cincinnati.  I thought we’d start with a unique experience:  the playground the Marvin Lewis Community Fund, Cincinnati Bengals, and the United Way built in Cincy!

Name:  Hometown Huddle

Cost:  FREE

Age Appropriate:  Something for all ages including young teens

Water:  Seasonal outdoor pool (may have fee)

Where:  Ryan Memorial Sports Complex and is located at 3324 Meyer Pl, Cincinnati, OH 45211

What I LOVED:  The equipment is brand new and unique.  The obstacle course is age appropriate for 13 and above, but my preschoolers loved it too.  The turf on part of the playground is great for kids to fall on and not get hurt.  The gate around the playground is terrific because I never worried about my kids leaving the area.  The Play60 logo and Bengals themed areas make for good pictures.

NOT my favorite parts:  This playground is not easy to find.  Make sure you use a GPS.  The area around this playground probably isn’t the safest in Cincinnati.  I wouldn’t recommend going by yourself or at night, but overall I felt like it was safe enough.

Overall:  We stayed for about an hour.  We probably would have stayed another 30 minutes if a thunderstorm wasn’t coming through the area.  It was fun and I’m glad we checked it out, but I probably would not go back.  Too far away to frequent and my kids love other playgrounds just as much.  If my kids were older and loved football – I’d would make this a 2-3 times a year trip.  A young football fan will LOVE it way more than my kids.