Monthly Archives: November 2013

Thanksgiving

Hey All,

I really am thankful for a lot of things…in fact it’s not so much things as people.  (Although, daily bread, a house and bed, clothes, shoes, clean water, indoor plumbing, are things I enjoy)  I’m thankful for a Mom and Dad that loved me, taught me good things, provided for me, protected me….FORGAVE ME!!!!!!!  I’m thankful for a wife that is way above my pay grade…Who after 35 years still makes my heart race when I walk through the door and see her face.  I’m thankful for friends that love me and invite me to spend time with them…real friends that I don’t have to entertain or walk on eggshells around.  I’m thankful for a job I love and for the opportunity to do what I believe I was made to do.  I’m thankful for my children, because I had to have children to get grandchildren.  I’m thankful for America, and even though I do not agree with the direction we are heading, I still believe we live in the free-est, greatest, country in the world.  I am thankful for Soldiers who have fought, died, been disfigured and wounded, physically and mentally for us to have those freedoms.  I am most thankful for God’s love…how He loved me when I was sooooooooooooooo far from lovable.  I’m thankful He loved me first, and began to call out to me like a Mother calls her children home at dark.  Without that amazing intervention in my life 36 years ago I would not have any of the aforementioned people or things in my life right now, because my life would have been over, long before any of those things and people came along.

However, I need to honestly confess something to you.  I don’t know the right things to be thankful for at the right times.  We have one of the most amazing art shows going on at Gardenside Christian Church in our foyer right now.  It’s a group of pictures from James Lane Allen Elementary School (My Alma Mater).  Here’s a sampling :

photo (1)

 

Some of the kids were thankful for their dogs, some their parents and friends, others were thankful for their pencil, or crayons…I think one of my favorites was “Reeses Cups.”  We put a note box on the bottom of each picture so our folks could write encouraging things to each of the students.  I love when we do stuff like this with our community and our schools.  These kids knew right way what to be thankful for…at least for them it was simple.

I’ve discovered that Romans 8:28 totally messes up the simple side of Thanksgiving for me….Romans 8:28 says, And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.”  (by the way Romans 8:29 tells us that God’s purpose is to transform us to be like Jesus, His only son).  Here’s my thanksgiving problem:  I’m thankful for the Velocity channel on T.V. because I like to relax in my boxer shorts on Sunday nights (sorry about that image in your brain) while eating little meat snacks and watching Muscle cars.  But I’m convinced that doesn’t make me like Jesus.  It might help me keep my sanity and stop me from strangling someone, but it just doesn’t make me like Jesus.  I’m always thankful for the Lazy boy recliner…I’m just never thankful immediately for the cross.  I’m always thankful for the full belly after I eat at Wendy’s…I’m just never thoughtful enough that I’m thankful for fasting so I can focus on more important things than food.  It’s only after God works that I become thankful.  It’s only after God takes the most horrendous event in my life and turns it into the most joyful and beautiful that I look back on it and thank God.  I’m never thankful for the things that give me a scar….until those scars become testimonies of His saving and transforming goodness.  Romans 8:28 (and 29) have a way of messing up “instant gratification” and the items I have become thankful for…Maybe what I’m saying is….I’m thankful God is in control and not me….He’s a lot smarter than me and His plan is a lot better than mine…even when it destroys all the little white picket fences I dream about.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all…but don’t forget to thank God for the best things that come from the hardest things….Besides, “Chicks dig scars…at least that’s what my wife Kari tells me.”

 

Thankful…but still figuring out for what,

 

Rick Burdette

Dream Big

photoHey All,

When I was 9 years old I had these grandiose dreams of swimming in the Olympics one day.  Every day after school I would head to the YMCA and then later on GLSA (Greater Lexington Swimming Association) and I would swim…for hours I would swim…Butter, Back Breast Free became my montra (Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and then Freestyle was the order of the individual medly) ..and I was fast…and as I got older I got faster.  I never made it past the Olympics trials…I’m not sure exactly when I stopped dreaming of the Olympics, but probably sometime in my middle teens when my choices took me down trails that had nothing to do with swimming or anything else positive for that matter…but I still remember, truly believing that one day I would be like Mark Spitz (7 gold medals in the 72 Olympics).  Michael Phelps is this generation’s Mark Spitz…but Mark did it first, and I wanted to follow in his wake.

I’m not sure why we stop dreaming as we get older.  Yes I know the reality of age, duties, responsibilities and the everyday grind of life chip away at our inner child…but, like Peter Pan, there are parts of me I don’t want to grow up…parts of me I don’t want to die.  Jesus listened to His followers argue about greatness…James and John, along with their Mother, conspired to ask Jesus for the two most powerful and prestigious seats in “His Kingdom.”  Jesus did something amazing in these circumstances…He welcomed little children into His presence…held them up and said, “Unless you become like this little child you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”  I think back to my innocent 9 year old self, dreaming of the Olympics, and truly believing in my heart that I could get there…and I wonder, “Is that some of what Jesus is talking about?”  The innocence that believes the “impossible” is possible.  The childlike faith that sees beyond the stuff that makes “perfect” sense into the future of dreams…sometimes even “Big Dreams!!!”

Reality is sobering.  As adults we step into the place where we have to deal with paychecks, insurance, college tuition, everyday bills and stresses.  But God is so much bigger than those things.  Faith is on the other side of the door…it’s in a place we are afraid to go because we’ve never been there and it doesn’t make sense to the status Quo.  Hebrews 11:6 is one of my very favorite verses of Scripture.  It simply starts, “Without faith it is impossible to please God…”  Not hard to please God…not difficult to please God…IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!

So, Church….Dream Big….stop just doing the things that are possible for us to accomplish and then patting ourselves on the back for a job well done….Let’s start pleasing God in Olympic proportions again…(no, you will not see me in a speedo…board shorts are much more my style nowadays 🙂  But, even in the midst of harsh realities…our God is bigger…Faith is stepping through the door into the land of fear….and then God is God and all our fears turn to joy.  HMMMMMMMM, 53….just maybe I will break out that speedo…..NOT!!!!!

The Day I saw My Dad’s Heart

photoHey All,

For little boys there is no greater hero than his Dad.  And even as we age and mature in life there is usually no one we want to be proud of us more than our Fathers.  I had the great privilege to grow up with an amazingly connected Father.  He took me hunting, fishing, and he was at my ball games to cheer me on.  Here’s a glimpse into my Dad’s personality.  When I was about 8 or 9 and playing for Southland Christian Church’s youth league, led by an amazing man named Jack Williams…we were playing at another Church’s gym.  And even to my immature 8 year old eyes the referee was completely biased.  By somewhat a miracle we won the game with a last second shot…he tried to wave off, but the other referee wouldn’t agree…I even remember hearing him say, “I can’t cheat them like that!!!!”  My Dad was taking pictures…he loved photography…and after the game he came up to the unscrupulous referee and said, “Can I take your picture?”  And the Referee said, “Why sure.” and he struck a pose…after taking the picture my Dad said while walking away, “Thanks, I want to be able to show my grandchildren what a “Jack—” looks like!”

So, do you have a picture of my father…6’1 135 pound soaking wet, served in the 101st airborne and then broke his ankle in a parachute jump and then put him into the 63rd infantry.  He had a leg blown off in the black forest of Germany during the battle of the bulge.  Came home and met my Mom in an amputee hospital in Atlanta Ga.  By the way…my Mom’s parents had sent her to Atlanta to go to an all girls school called Agnes Scott University because they didn’t like the boy she was dating…they liked my Dad even less….God is hilarious in Hisphoto providence.

My Dad was 36 when I was born…the youngest of three.  My brother ten years older than me and my sister 7.  My Mom had two miscarriages before I was born, so they really wanted a third child…and there were times they really wanted to send me back.  Dad was strong…he disciplined, but he also was generous and helpful…stubborn, yep…but the classic picture of someone from Tom Brokaw’s “The Greatest Generation.”

I could share so much but I want to tell you about the day I saw my Father’s heart.  It was at a father and son little league picnic…and it was during a father and son game.  My Dad was a really good athlete, all-state tennis player in South Carolina, but now limited by an artificial leg.  I really wanted to strike him out when he came up to bat…the first pitch he ripped into left field…he took off kind of running, hopping as he had to do with the artificial leg…and 2/3rd’s of the way to first base the strap on his artificial leg broke.  He went face down in the dirt, just about the time the left fielder picked up the ball…and then I saw my Dad’s heart….because he crawled the rest of the way to first.  It was something internal, not something he planned…but I wanted to be more like my Dad on that day than maybe any other day ever…if you go down, try to get up…if you can’t get up….crawl!!!!!

Folks, this world will knock you down…it will take your greatest hits at times and turn them into close plays at first.  Don’t quit…don’t give up…get up and if you can’t get up….crawl.  I think as I’ve given my life to Christ I appreciate this day even more, because I see a Savior, beaten…thorn crowned, in the dirt…unable to carry His own cross, but still climbing…still crawling His way up Calvary…not to reach first, but to reach a cross…to die for me.  By the way…HE DIDN’T STAY DOWN EITHER!!!!!!!

Image

 

I remember seeing this picture for the first time right before our students got together for their meeting.  It’s a Pulitzer Prize winning photo, taken by Kevin Carter in the Sudan in 1993.  This starving toddler, a little boy was trying to reach a feeding center when a hooded vulture landed nearby.  Carter took the picture because he thought it captured why he was in the Sudan.  It was his job to photograph the horrors and inequities.  He sold this photo to the New York Times and it first appeared in their March 26 edition in 1993.  In 1994 he won a Pulitzer Prize for the photo.  

 

Carter is reported to have waited 20 minutes for the vulture to leave and when it didn’t Carter chased it away and left the scene.  Two other reporters, Jose’ Luis and Luis Davilla, reported that they took very similar photos in the area…it was near a feeding center and the vultures came from a manure waste pit.

 

The rest of the story was the firestorm that ensued from public reaction.  How do you leave a toddler in that position?  How do you take a picture and walk away without doing anything about the situation?  Why did’nt you pick up the child and carry him to the feeding center after you scarred the vulture away?…so,

 

On July 27, 1994 just months after winning the Pulitzer Prize Kevin Carter drove to a place he used to play as a child and took his own life by taping one end of a hose to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe and running the other end into the driver’s window.  He died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of….33…His note read….

 

“I am depressed…without phone….money for rent….money for child support….money for debts….money!!!!  I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain…of starving, wounded children…”

 

I thought of Kevin Carter’s pain as he looked back on what he should of could of done..and I realized how many times I’ve passed by on the other side like the priest and levite in the story of the good Samaritan.  How every single one of us have chased the vulture away because it bothered us…but then realized, picking up the child involves too much time…too much of my involvement.  I think before any of us choose to condemn or throw rocks at Kevin Carter we’d better darn well examine our own hearts.

 

I remember a woman’s group getting a bunch of stuff ready for Africa…medical supplies and food…watching them pack each item carefully and beginning to feel good about what they were doing…and I’m not saying they shouldn’t…but I asked one or two of them what they were doing for the Hispanic kids at the school or at River City downtown….and they said, “Nothing right now.”  And I said, “It’s easy to help those we can have a long distant relationship with…harder for those who can know us in our own hometown.”  

 

It is my hope…it is my prayer, that we won’t just scare away vultures and we won’t be continually haunted by the pictures of guilt and pain…but that we will, as Jesus commanded “go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the world.”  For us at Gardenside Christian Church…here’s a loose paraphrase…”Go serve at JLA and Cardinal Valley, in Kentucky, in the Ghetto and Slums and people of Color, and then head to Africa.”

 

Love you all…(Thinking of Photographs)

 

Rick