February 12, 2000
What brings great joy to you? There are some things that do, and some that don't, for each of
I enjoy watching Auburn University play football, especially when they win. I also like basketball, baseball, and track. My wife says I am a sports nut, and that must be true because she is always right.
I like high school sports, especially football. It is great fun to serve as the chaplain for the Opelika High School football team. The Bulldogs are my favorite team and I can hardly wait for the fall season to begin.
Music is a delight to me. I like to sing and I like to hear other people sing, especially those who can deliver a wonderful song with beautiful harmony.
I enjoy good food, especially BBQ ribs, steak, fish, fruit, ice cream, anything chocolate. I like to eat a good hotdog at Mrs. Story's Dairy Bar and hope Bob Booth is there so he can tell the girls to drop a little extra chocolate in my milkshake.
I like to wrap my chops around that good catfish at the Cock of the Walk so I can visit with Randy, Janet, Mike, and Joy. I like to eat with people at church. After all, Jesus ate with sinners.
It is fun to relax at the beach and watch the waves roll in from the Gulf. But I like the mountains even more, especially during the fall of the year when the colors of the leaves are changing.
On a nice Saturday I like walking in the woods and listening to the birds singing. I like patting the head of my grandson Jake's big dog, and thanking the Lord that he owns that dog, not me. My favorite dog is the porcelain dog with the black spots, the one that sits on the hearth and never eats. I just don't think I could handle having to get up every now and then to take a dog outside to find a fire hydrant.
I like watching my grandchildren play football and basketball. Last fall we got to see Mark, Anthony, and Robert play for Jemison. We saw Joseph and Jake play in the YMCA league. I get a kick out of cheering for them to do well.
I like to travel. My wife and I are very fortunate; we have been around the world. We have walked where Jesus walked in the Holy Land. We have flown by the Alps, ridden a dog sled in Alaska, admired the colorful birds and flora in Costa Rica, and visited the magnificent Taj Mahal.
We have enjoyed sight-seeing in England, France, Germany, Austria, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Switzerland, Nepal, India, and Argentina. And I must admit that I was thrilled to have the privilege of seeing so much of this incredible world of ours.
I invite you to notice that in all of the above I did not once use the word "love." I am trying to reserve the use of that word for one purpose, a sacred purpose. I am trying to teach myself to use "love" only to describe the way I feel about the Lord, my family, and my friends in the larger family of God.
This is not an easy thing to teach oneself. All my life I have talked, as other people do, a bout "loving " a truck, a dog, or a steak. But I am working on it because, if I can change this bad habit, it will help me keep things in the right focus.
While it is all right to like football, or a hotdog, or any of these other things that bring me happiness, I want to save the word "love" for the One who has brought joy, deep, abiding joy, into my life. When I have been crushed by defeat, embarrassed by my sins, perplexed by tragedy, it was the Lord alone who restored my joy and renewed my hope for tomorrow.
So, if you like the idea of being more careful about how we use the word "love," join me. We could go on a crusade together. And even if we fail to change the whole world, we could give the word "love" fresh meaning in our lives for a little while.