Frontliners Advance Training 8-8-20

Glad I spent my Saturday morning being discipled by these men.  Investing in my  future as a husband, father, grandfather, disciple, churchman, citizen.

(RW: Randy Wilson, FC: F.C. Collins, JM: Joaquinn Molina, BJ: Bishop Jackson)

 

GEMS (Top  14):

  • There is incredible power in the spoken word. In Genesis 1 God spoke the world into existence.  What worlds are my words creating? (RW)
  • All success comes from tunnel vision. (Lion of Judah)
  • The Crisis of Manhood – Immaturity (JM) — The opposite of a man is not a woman, it is a child. An immature man.  Focused only on self.
    • 1 Corinthians 13:11 — When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
  • When a man’s thoughts are different than his words, he is a child. (JM)
  • If you’re not tithing, you are still teething. (JM)
  • If you have a wife, 3 children and 8 grandchildren and you are considering leaving your wife – you are a brat, an immature brat, a child. (Like athletes switching jerseys just for selfish gain.  When no gain is needed.) (JM)
  • In Exodus 4 God met Moses on the way and was about to kill him – Moses! Why? Because he did not circumcise his son.   He did not mark his son.  Am I marking my son, my daughter, my grandchildren? (JM)
  • Adam knew there was male and female for every other thing on the planet, but he couldn’t do anything about a female for himself. He had to wait on God. (BJ)
  • Taking my place at church. Do we depend on the women to make sure everything happens?  That’s wrong. (BJ)
  • Does my family understand – I’m not going to compromise my Christian faith, my value, my principles? Can they trust me?
  • Grandfather must speak into the lives of grandchildren things that the parents don’t even know … yet. (BJ)
  • Live so that my Band of Brothers will never have to say or think – I can’t count on him.
  • Can God set his clock (if he has a clock) depending on me, that I will be there in my morning devotion chair at the appointed time? (BJ)
  • Without prayer and scriptures, I’m playing the game without practicing. (FC)

 

Other Gems:

  • Taking my place in the home. My place of worship.  My chair?  I love to worship – to sing, praise, read.  (BJ)
  • Man in refrigerated box car overnight froze to death even though it was 60 degrees – because he thought it was below freezing. (RW)
  • Cardiologist after trying everything else told the woman to tell her heart to beat. (RW)
  • Power of the tongue (James 3:5-10). From a small spark corrupts, sets THE WHOLE COURSE OF LIFE on fire, used to praise and curse -should not be so, cannot be tamed by man (but can be by God)  Sermon by Calvin Justice – Tongue Fire.
  • Proverbs 18:21 —power of the tongue (words). “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.  Total nonsense found on office walls and school halls.
  • It takes more than 20 positive words to overcome one negative input. (RW)
  • The language of the enemy is sarcasm and laughter at mistakes. (like we do with out children)  Isaiah 5:20 (RW)
  • The Priestly Blessing — Numbers 6:24-26 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Use at every opportunity with children and grandchildren.  (RW)
  • Prayer for Children and Grandchildren Psalm 112:2 — Their children will be mighty in the land, the generation of the upright will be blessed. (JM)
  • I don’t know anything except what God has shown me. Don’t have any words unless he speaks to me through prayer or the scriptures.  (BJ) (It is the desire of my heart to be able to live saying “it is written”.)
  • Wellington Boone — BAM — beat your wife By A Mile. In worship and serving.

ACTIONS:

  • Make a list of what God says we are – “I Am” list. Print on posters and tape to children’s ceiling.  For them to see as they rest there.  For them to sleep under the pronouncements.
  • 50th Anniversary (Sunday Worship Time) — pledge/covenant with family
  • The Silver Box. Used for special occasions/milestones like birthdays, births, etc.  The box is passed around the room/table and the person holding it speaks words of blessing, affirmation and encouragement to the person being honored.
  • Early morning devotion. Get back to it.  If not now, when?

Notes:

  • RealLife Men – It has to be our charge to provide this type of training. We have to bring solid, challenging teaching to move our men, stir them to become Mighty Men.  To disciple them.

Resources

  • Facebook Page – Frontliners Advancement
  • Lion of Judah videos
  • Celebrations of Faith – Randy Wilson
  • Daddy’s Blessing – Randy Wilson
  • Toxic Masculinity – Bishop Jackson
  • What is a Man – Molina

 

Russell Justice, August 2020

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TODAY I’M CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF RETIREMENT LIFE.

What a ride it has been! I retired from Eastman on July 1st, 2000. I knew it was going to be good, but I really had no idea the adventure that was ahead. Here are A FEW of the many highlights of those 20 years.

  • 2 Marriages/Weddings — Matthew/Suzy, Lauren/Kyle
  • 4 Residences — Buttermilk Road (TN), Birkdale Village (NC), Skybrook (NC), Beverly Square (TN)
  • 4 Churches — TriCities Baptist, Celebration, Lake Forest, StoneBridge
  • 6 Grandchildren — 4 girls, 2 boys, 2 in TN, 4 in NC, ages 15 years to 6 months
  • Coffee Shops Hobby — Debby and I have turned discovering, exploring, and enjoying coffee shops (dozens of them) into a “hobby”. Always looking for a new one. Spending the time there reading, journaling, reminiscing, planning, praying and just enjoying sweetheart time. A couple of favorites: Artisan Gourmet Café Black Mountain, Java Joes HHI, Old City Java Knoxville, City Bistro St. Augustine, Café Con Leche Apalachicola.
  • Grandchildren Adventures — dance recitals, swimming meets, touch a truck, theater plays and musicals, scavenger hunts, band concerts, building projects, school programs, church programs, hiking, biking, picnics, Panther Fun Fest, Light Rail rides, sledding, movies, camping, sleepovers, spelling bees, science fairs, zoo, Dollywood, Disney World, Carowinds, swimming, SYATP, Central park, concerts, museums, Amtrak rides, parades, Summer shoot out, playgrounds, botanical gardens, hooping, fireworks, symphony, bookstores, tea parties, dress up time, fairs & carnivals, water parks/spray grounds, motorhomes, fairy festival, drive in theater.
  • Adventures and Outings: Biltmore, Grove Park Inn, Sliding Rock, Kannapolis Intimidators Baseball, Blue Ridge parkway drives and hikes, US whitewater center, Snowmobiling, World’s Longest Yard Sale, Lake Erie, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Calloway Gardens, Rocky Mt National Park, Lake Junaluska, Mitford Days in Blowing Rock, On the Red Carpet at the World Premier of the War Room, Grissom and Tompkins family reunions, Dollywood, Carowinds, Disney World, Disney Land, Knoxville Zoo, Discovery Place, Tweetsie Railroad, Road to the Sun Glacier NP, Knotts Berry Farm, Universal Studios (CA & FL), San Diego Zoo, Dahlonega, Pottery Highway, Valentine’s Day at Lake Junaluska, Road Trip Across America — 33 days, 5000+ miles, 17 states
  • Festivals/Concerts — Wolly Worm Festival, Jiggy with the Piggy, James Taylor (2), Michael Buble, American Idol Tour, Charlotte Symphony
  • Conferences/Retreats/Seminars — Men Fully Alive Black Mt YMCA, RealLife Men Black Mt YMCA and Montreat, Band of Brothers Night of Worship, Joe Gibbs and Tony Evans, ManUp Charlotte, Promise Keepers, The Cove with Howard Hendricks, Character Training Institute
  • Discovering and Establish Justice Rock(s) — a place for personal and family worship. One in the Smoky Mountains established on 1st weekend of retirement. One in NC along Clark Creek Greenway.
  • Men’s Ministry – speaker for retreats, breakfast meetings, man caves — over 50 topics/messages developed. (I’ll publish the list sometime.)
  • Writing — Mr. Whiskers monthly Articles for 15 years, Word Press Articles
  • Debby’s assistant for her amazing Arts & Crafts – mostly when she needed wood working (primitive wood block angels, designer pin cushions, cigar box assemblages, paper cuttings, tea cup, fairy house doors, ornaments, vintage Christmas ball wreath, baby shoe ornaments,
  • Biking — 9965 miles recorded on my Trek bike. Some favorite trails: Virginia Creeper, New River, Hilton Head, Cape San Blas, St. George Island, Outer Banks, Clarks/Mallard Creek, McAlpine Creek, Jeton, Torrence Creek, Sugar Creek, McMullen Creek, Eufaula, Cades Cove,
  • Consulting — American Greetings (Greenville, Bardstown, Danville, Osceola, Ripley, Ohio) , Angus Palm (TN & SD) , TRICOR, Barter, John Deer, Dentsply, Landair, Carolina Management, A&W Canada, Mead Westvaco, Hinton Rural Life, BAE/Holston Defense, 911 Operators, Army War College, ASQ, Pals, Goodwill Industries International DC, Goodwill Omaha, Mac Steel, Chick-fil-A, Bristol Leadership, Jardin Zinc, SW Virginia Community College, Richland’s Chamber of Commerce, Upper East Tennessee Head Start, Women’s Council of Realtors in Johnson City, Tennessee Parks and Recreation, Central Baptist Church, RPM (Dominos) Pizza, Arbys (Denver), Eastman Credit Union, California Film Extruders and Converters, PPG, Wilson Sporting Goods
  • Beaches — Hilton Head, Myrtle, Duck, Kitty Hawk, St Augustine, St George, Cape San Blas, Panama City, Key West, Mexico Beach, South Walton, Destine, California, Sanibel, Captiva, Santa Monica, Balboa, Malibu, Laguna, Coronado
  • Hikes — Mt Leconte with Lauren for 21st birthday, Jenny Falls in the Tetons with Matt’s family, Mt LeConte with accountability partners, Rough Ridge on Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Mentoring Couples (partnered with Debby) — Big Canoe Valentine Banquet, Gotta Have You , Marriage Event, 1st Broad Teammates, Couples Life Groups, Mighty Men and Wonderful Women Valentines Banquet
  • ProLife Ministry— The Gatekeeper/Sidewalk Counselor outside the Hebron abortion center on Wednesdays, One Day for Life Events, DC March for Life
  • Establishing Dads of TADs (TeenAged Daughters) Support Network — one in TN, one in NC
  • Band(s) of Brothers — Mighty Men of Tri-Cities, Cracker Barrel Men, Rigg’s Cabin, Meadowview Men, Mighty Men of Lake Norman, , Seasoned Warriors, RealLife Men Leadership (John Evans, Ivey Redmon, Vic Dingus, Jim Fuller, Bob Gerwig, Jay Roths, Scott Crawford, John Campbell, Brad Vice, Ken Camut, Bruce Horsley, Doug Poppen Jay Allder, David Vroon, Lee Henderson, Mike Sheets, Frank Tallerico)
  • Battling Relapsing Polychondritis (now in remission)

20 amazing, incredible, blessed years. Filled with adventure, exploration, love, wonder, amazement, joy and blessings. Centered around the Lord God Almighty and amazing, incredible family and friends. Thank you Lord for these 7305 days. (Psalm 90:12)

Looking ahead — When I turned 70 (an epic time for me), I wrote my Maxims for Living. They are: Own It, If not Not-When, Number our Days, Recalculating, Rounding 3rd Base, Gravitas, Die with Memories-not dreams.

Russell Justice 7-1-2020

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MANUP CHARLOTTE 2020 – Gems & Summary

TOP 7 GEMS

  1. Who is my fullback? Blocking for me, taking the pain for me? (like Tolbert for Stewart)
  2. The most important thing that the main male influence in my life (Dad) passed on to me was that everything in life is governed, judged and lived according to Biblical/Christian beliefs, concepts and principles – World View.
  3. Where is my locker room? The place where I gather with my teammates to prepare for the game. The place where everything can be (and is) discussed.
  4. I didn’t even know I needed to talk until he called and asked how I was doing.
  5. Take children/grandchildren along on errands. Involve them in projects (even though it will take longer). Invent projects just to be together and working. Engage in their interest.
  6. How to get involved in addressing fatherlessness — don’t ask how or why, just ask “who”.
  7. Jesus did not come to make bad men good, but to make dead men alive.

 

Derwin Gray – Weak is the New Strong

  • Jesus did not come to make bad men good, but to make dead men alive.
  • Pride rejects grace. I can do it myself.
  • We don’t need/want “fairness”. We need/want grace.
  • Disappointment leads to bitterness without forgiveness.
  • We need to exchange anger for mourning and lamenting.
  • The people who really know me, know I’m a mess.

 

Josh Meadows & Colin Pickney — Fatherlessness

  • Less than 1 in 20 people that start in poverty escape poverty
  • Working in an East Charlotte neighborhood where 90% of homes are fatherless. (Meadows)
  • 70% of those who come for service are experiencing fatherlessness. (Pickney)
  • How to get started in the battle against fatherlessness – don’t ask how or why – just ask “who”.

 

Jonathan Stewart & Mike Tolbert — Teammates

  • Who is my fullback, blocking for me? Every man needs a man that will take the pain for him. Like a fullback takes the pain for his halfback teammate.
  • I didn’t even know I needed talk until he called and asked how I was doing.
  • Who am I the fullback for, blocking for, taking the pain for?
  • Everyman needs a locker room – a place where teammates come together (hangout) to prepare and get ready for the game. A place where anything can be discussed.

 

Farrell Lemmings – Leading so Children can Follow   (Follow Me as I Follow Christ)

  • Who was my main male influence? (Dad, Frank Limbaugh, Garland Justice, Blute Jinks, Cliff Hall, Henry Litton, Dr. Hool, Charles Chandler, Bud Pettigrew, LeeRoy Cleek, Aubrey Daniels)
  • What was their most valuable contribution? (faith, work hard, love and serve the community, be satisfied with what you have not forever straining for more) (World View – life is governed, judged and lived according to Biblical/Christian beliefs, concepts and principles.)
  • Point a child in the right direction and when they are old they will not be lost. (From Proverbs – remember that proverbs are not promises, but rather wisdom for living)
  • 1) Define the target (Christian World View) 2) Caught vs Taught 3) Invest Time (1. Limit screens 2) Take children along. Invent projects 3) Engage in their interest.

 

You can watch the conference here: https://www.facebook.com/manupQC/videos/552990308707966/?v=552990308707966

Russell Justice, June 2020

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P…A…D

In preparing an after dinner presentation last week on “Whine Bark and Growl” to be given at the Army War College, I was reminded of a tool that Debby and I have found to be very useful in helping us not to whine and growl. A tool that we use often, a tool that saves us lots of wasted time, and a tool that keeps us from engaging is unhealthy conversations. — The tool is TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms).

Let me explain by using an example. I sometimes (still much too frequently) start to go on and on about a family member, friend or acquaintance – how they are so picky about the foods they eat, how they are unusual about the way they spend their money, the lack of discipline they have in their life, the movies they watch or music they listen to. Even the clothes they wear, the places they go for vacation, the ways they choose to worship, or the way they raise their children. When I do this, Debby will often stop me in mid sentence and say “P…A…D”.

Those three letters convey an immediate and powerful message to me. People Are Different. I am wasting my time and Debby’s too by going on and on about how they are different — people are just different – and that is ok. I (usually) stop where I am and we move on to another subject in our conversation. No need to continue this fruitless (probably even harmful) dialog.

Got it? It’s pretty simple. But it has saved us many, many minutes and hours of unfruitful and unhealthy conversation over the past years.

A couple of other TLAs that we have found useful:

  • N…A…M – (It’s) Not About Me. Life is not about me. It’s about others – loving them, serving them Esteeming others greater than myself.
  • T…T…BThink The Best. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Don’t be ready to believe the worst about them. Don’t receive a bad report about them without challenging it. Have a bias for thinking the best.

Try P…A…D,   N…A…M, and T…T…B with your family, friends and co-workers. You will be glad you learned this simple, yet effective technique for guiding conversations.

Let me hear about TLAs that are helpful in your life.

 

January Gems (from an opportunity I had to sit under the teaching of Zane Scott for a day last week)

  • When you kill an idea, you kill it’s children. (Like chopping a branch off a tree.)
  • In hostage negotiations – when you get the captor to call you by your first name, you are half way there. The relationship has begun.
  • Begin with creative thinking (divergent, lots of possibilities) and move to critical thinking (convergent and practical).
  • Practice “interest based” problem solving. When safety is threatened, step away from the dialog and articulate the higher level purpose where there is agreement. Then go back to generating ideas.

A Reminder & A Report

  • Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Be making your plans. Be serious about this very important day.   Tip: search for “romantic ideas” on the web. Or send me a note for a copy of last year’s Valentine Day suggestions. Let me hear about some of your “ringer” ideas.
  • My report on my 2006 Valentine gift – a promise to take my wife/sweetheart Debby to a restaurant starting with each letter of the alphabet during the coming year. (26 restaurants in 52 weeks)   We still have N, X, Y, and Z to go. Some of our favorites have been: Starving Artist (Abingdon, VA), Storie Street Grill (Blowing Rock, NC), Tomato Head (Knoxville, TN), Stardust Café (Lewisburg, WV), Applewood (Gatlinburg, TN), Dogwood Lane (Jonesboro, TN), K.P. Duty (Bristol, TN), Madagascar Coffee Company (Kingsport, TN), Ridgewood BBQ (Bluff City, TN), and OUR restaurant – Panera Bread (Johnson City, TN)

Russell Justice – Posting April 2020 (Originally written 2007)

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Easter Eggs & Rattlesnakes

(In the Calvin & Oma Jean Justice family of Bon Air, Easter went like this.)

  • Before church — on waking up, Easter eggs were hidden in the yard for the children to go find. In the grass, on top of the clothesline poles, between the bricks around the foundation, in the fig and other fruit trees – anywhere within the boundaries of the yard was permitted. The grass was usually wet, getting shoes and socks soaking. Sometimes cold, sometimes warmer.
  • Church — dressed in Sunday finest. Suitcoat and tie for the men and boys. Dresses with sweaters for the ladies and girls. While we were inside the church singing “Up From the Grave He Arouse” and hearing the Easter message, some of the men of the church hit eggs around the church grounds. With the pronouncement of the final Amen, the children were turned loose to find the eggs – including the prize one.
  • After church —it was a well establish Justice Family tradition to go to “the mountain” for a picnic. The “mountain” was just off the Old Sylacauga Highway where Green Hill Memorial Gardens sits today. There was a grassy meadow like area from the road to the foot of the mountain. At the edge of the grassy area right where the mountain and woods began was a stream.
  • The picnic took place on one of the family quilts spread on the edge of the woods. With a meal that consisted of sandwiches and Mom’s famous (to me) potato salad – with chunks of cheese added. (That is still the Justice family recipe 50 years later.)
  • The “picnic” included a walk/hike along the stream and up the side of the mountain. There was something of a trail and even the remains of an old road part of the way. Along this stream the bright white dogwood trees were bursting out this time of year. I was always told that the dogwoods bloomed as a symbol of Easter – with the red color at the tip of the leaves representing the blood that Jesus had shed for us.
  • As you made your way along the stream and into the gap between ridges, you encountered two bushes that I absolutely love to this day – wild honeysuckle bushes and sweet shrub bushes. Some of these grew along the stream, but we also scrambled up the hillside for more. Cutting a few branches of the wild honeysuckle for a vase back home. The sweet shrubs buds were gathered, wrapped in a handkerchief and saved in a purse (an old timey perfume) or just taken back to the house to fill the room with that sweet aroma for days to come. (By the way, real men in those days always had a handkerchief in their back pocket, ready for such an occasion. – Just like the pocketknife in the front pocket.)
  • Then came the day that would be our last “Easter picnic at the Mountain”. My newlywed wife and now an official part of the family Debby joined us for her first Justice family Easter picnic. After the sandwiches and potato salad (with cheese hunks), Dad and I started walking along the stream. Then … there it was – rattlesnake. Now to understand what happened to that rattlesnake you need to know that when Dad was a young man he was bitten by a rattlesnake while picking blackberries at Aunt Mary Jinks house. After that day he had a hole in his thigh where the venom was cut out. So – just to make sure that that snake never bit anyone – we killed him. We didn’t have the hoe, so it had to be done with a rock.
  • We took our prize rattlesnake back to the picnic to show the family. Hung it on a tree and tried to finish up Easter picnic desserts. But when the snake started moving on the limb of that tree it did not take long for the ladies to pack up the picnic and we were out of there.
  • We didn’t know that day (like many other last times) that it would be the last time we ever “went to the mountain” for our Easter picnic. There have been lots of fun Justice Family Easter Picnics in the backyard or at a park – but never again at the Mountain.
  • Today Dad and Mom’s bodies are buried only a few feet from that Easter Picnic spot.   A very, very special place for the Justice Family – even if there was once (and probably now) a rattlesnake there.  Mom and Dad, I just know you are celebrating Easter in a glorious way in heaven this year.

Russell Justice, Easter 2020

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DAYS OF CORONAVIRUS – DURING & AFTER

DURING

  • Legacy Moments — Last Saturday morning at our men’s breakfast, Pastor Kevin talked about these days as being “Legacy Moments” – times that will be remembered and talked about for the rest of our lives. (Like 9-11 or the Challenger explosion.) Most importantly, for our children and grandchildren, this is “the first” legacy moments for them and ones that will not be forgotten. Great care must be taken in the way we handle this crisis. The examples we set about being under authority, about trusting God, about helping others will forever shape the character and values of our children and grandchildren. How will your family remember these days?
  • Formative moments — We also talked about Formative moments.  Sheltered in place with no dance, drama, youth group, or swimming lessons to go to.  Reduced hours of school.   No shopping. More free time than ever before. What “lessons” will be taught (and caught) at home. In Deuteronomy chapters 6 & 11 after Moses speaks to the people about God’s laws and ways, he tells parents to … “Teach them to your children. Repeat them when you are at home …” (6:7a) “Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home …” (11:19a) So that you may enjoy long life and it may go well with you and your children and their children. What a great opportunity these Days of Coronavirus are to do just that! Maybe the greatest opportunity you will ever have to teach your children and grandchildren. To explain God’s ways, what it means to fear God and to love God. To tell the stories about God at work in your life and family. Don’t miss the chance of a lifetime.

 

AFTER

  • Reboot — These days are also giving us a chance (forcing us) to “reboot”.  Aren’t there times, maybe many of them, when you wished you had a do over, a mulligan? Aren’t there commitments, habits, practices that you wish you could change? Rebooting gives us that very chance. In this reboot, we are losing some things – some of them good to lose (things we were wasting our time on) and some sad to lose (like missing a holiday together).   Rebooting gives us the chance to reset our priorities – and our calendars.
  • Reset — Last week wife Debby’s phone finally reached the point where no amount of tweaking would let her continue. Nothing would do but to reboot, to go back to factory settings. It was a little scary that she might lose some things important to her, but we pushed the reset button. And, now she is happy with a phone that actually functions.
  • Pillars — Seize this opportunity to establish your “pillars” (those essentials in your life).
    • The objective is not to fill my life as full as possible. It is to fill life with the things that really matter.
    • The objective is to give my time, energy, effort to those things that God is calling me to.
    • From the pursuit of more, to the disciplined pursuit of less, but better.
    • Remembering that – If I don’t establish my essentials, someone else will do it for me.

All of that said, I want to take a moment to recognize and encourage my daughter Lauren and son Matthew and their spouses for the valiant effort they are making in these Days of Coronavirus to not just survive or get by (which in itself would be an accomplishment), but trying every way they can to redeem these days – to create legacy moments and formative moments for their family.

Russell Justice, April 2020

P.S. Also check out: https://russelljustice.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/im-overwhelmed/

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Calm is Contagious

Calm is contagious. (Anxiety is too.) “When we transmit less anxiety than we receive in the systems we belong to, we are not only moving in the direction of calming things down …we are also doing what the world desperately needs: creating a more peaceable, open-hearted place to live.” (The Dance of Fear by Harriet Lerner) Do I transmit anxiety or calm things down? Especially when the tension is high.

In my working days at Kodak, I once travelled to Rochester with the Sr. Vice President of the Chemicals Division for a meeting of Kodak executives. At that meeting a “5% cost reduction program” was announced. The expectation was laid out for every division to “cut their costs” by 5% in the coming year. At that same time, in the Chemicals Division, we were following a strategy for Sales Revenue Growth by focusing on Making Eastman the Preferred Supplier. The MEPS strategy was deployed worldwide in every operating and support unit.

On the company plane flying back to Tennessee, I asked Mr. Reid what he was going to do. He shared with me how he felt that the Chemicals Division had the right strategy to delight the customer and grow the business to the point where cost reduction would not be the issue – even to the point that if cost increased, that would be overshadowed by significant sales revenue growth and the associated earnings. He said he intended to go back and tell the troops to press on – confidently knowing the cost reduction would come in the form of “unit cost” because of the sales revenue growth.

Then in one of those special moments when I was privileged to be challenged by this man’s thinking, he went on to share – My job as senior executive of this division is to absorb news like we heard today. Most executives when told to cut cost by 5% would simple turn to those reporting to them and pass on the demand. Those managers in turn would do the same until the demand was passed to the front lines. My job is to protect our people from being distracted from the task at hand. To shield them. To absorb the distractions.

I’m much in debt and thankful for the mentoring I received from Mr. Reid that day (and many other days). In the weeks/months ahead I saw how he lived out his thinking and I learned that Calm is Contagious.

All of us are faced with moments of anxiety, tension, chaos and even fear. We have a choice – fan the flames or calm the chaos. I’m thankful for those who choose to be “calmers”.

Russell Justice, April 2020

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Pa – Ed Justice (my grandfather)

My earliest memories of Pa were hanging out with him in his Texaco gas station and store. This was one of those neighborhood stores that was a predecessor to the 7-11 type convenience stores.   His was located on the old U.S. 280 Highway between Childersburg and Sylacauga – it was just north of where you now turn off to go to Bon Air. For me, as a young boy, the store was this magic place filled with cokes (some people mistakenly call them soft drinks or pop, or sodas) in a box that cooled them with water flowing through it. Of course, there were boxes and boxes of candy of every kind. I liked Snickers, candy cigarettes, Zero bars, Kool Aid sticks (Yipes Stripes), Fizzies tablets, Sugar Babies, Kits and of course Double Bubble Gum, Bazooka bubble gum and bubble gum cigars. There was a bubble gum machine where you put in a penny for gum and hopefully a prize. Pa had a key to the machine and he would open it and get out a prize for me. The store also had chocolate milk. Most of the neighbors shopped at the store for their gas and daily grocery needs.

The gas pumps out front had the Texaco star on them and there was a lift beside the store to raise cars up for changing the oil. I loved to play with that lift when allowed to do so. Pa wore a Texaco uniform with the star on it. He also wore a wide brimmed hat most of the time. He carried a really big leather wallet with a chain on it.

The store also served as a bit of a car garage and Pa worked on cars. He enjoyed trading cars and the store was a bit of a car lot. When I think of him, I think of cars and him “tinkering” with them. (Maybe this is where I got my love for toy cars as a boy – and now it seems Micah has inherited the gene.)

This store on Highway 280 was next to the house that Grannie and Paw lived. A white block house as I remember it. I’m not positive, but I think he built the house with help from friends and family. A nice place with a big yard on the side away from the store. Pa had a small tractor and he would let me “drive” it around the yard.

Running under the highway, beside the store and then behind the house was a “ditch”. I loved to play in that ditch. My dad would make me waterwheels to play with in the stream.

Sometime in the 50’s Highway 280 was turned into a 4-lane highway between Childersburg and Sylacauga. As part of that project, the new highway took the land where Pa and Grannie’s house and store sat. They were paid for their land of course and used the money to help build a new house. I don’t know how they did it (I think my dad’s standing with mill management has a lot to do with it) but somehow, they were able to convince Danville Yarn Mills to sell them an acre of land where Bon Air Road ran into Highway 280. This was a big deal. There they built a “brick house”. Very nice. By the standards of their world it was a dream home – 3 bedrooms, kitchen, dining, car port, laundry room, wrap around front porch. The house was built from foundation up by Pa, my Dad, family and friends. The front screen door had a big “J” on it. We still have that “J”. I remember good times in that house eating Grannie’s cooking (especially the fried pies), playing on the carport, cutting the grass on the “riding” lawnmower.

Out back, Pa has his shop. A large building for a personal shop, filled with every tool needed – table saw, band saw, sander, grinder, drill press, and cabinets full of hand tools, nuts, bolts and the like.   The most interesting tool was the lathe. It was made from a car transmission. You could shift the gears to change the speed of the rotation. Using these tools, Pa (and my Dad) made furniture and lots of knick knacks. A good bit of the furniture in their houses was made here. I remember a radio cabinet that Pa had in his house. There were trunks, end tables, kitchen tables and benches, coffee tables. The “coffee table” in our NC living room now was at first a cedar chest made by Pa and then his tool trunk. When I obtained it to use as furniture it took a lot of cleaning to remove the grease and grime. Neighbors, friends and family would come by to have things worked on in the shop when they needed some wood item. The knick knacks were sold or given to friends and neighbors. (Later my dad turned the knick knack “business” into a hobby – designing, building and selling from his own “shop”.)

It should be mentioned with much sadness that I never heard Pa talk about church or God. As far as I know, he was not a man of faith, a believer. It breaks my heart to think that he never enjoyed a sweet relationship with Jesus and the fellowship of a Christian believers.

My memories of Pa revolve around the store on Highway 280 and the house/shop on Bon Air Road. Just being around him – as he pumped gas for cars, changed oil, sold things in the store, stocked the shelves, worked on cars, did wood working.   I don’t remember us really “doing things together” like I do today with my grandchildren. Maybe it was just a combination of the times and his personality.

Russell Justice, posted 4/2020

Ed Justice Texaco Store

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The Weaknesses of Strong Men

We like to think of ourselves as strong men – and we all are in different ways. At the same time, we are also wild at heart – with a need for adventure. In his book, The Sampson Syndrome, Mark Atteberry list the 12 weaknesses of strong men. Among them are 6 that are a good word for us in these Days of Coronavirus.

  • Disregarding boundaries, ignoring good advice, breaking rules, overestimating their own cleverness, taking foolish risks, taking too much for granted

I don’t know about you, but I hate those boundary signs and those fences. Like the ones at Linville Gorge that won’t let me climb out on Babel’s Tower for a look into the gorge where the river makes a horseshoe turn around the tower – spectacular. (In spite of the fact that my friends and I once found a bed of rattlesnakes sunning on those rocks, I still want to go up there.) Or the new fences at Rough Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway (my favorite spot on the entire parkway) to keep me off the rocks and ledges with the best views. (Places I used to go before the fences. Places I have taken visitors from around the globe to show them some of God’s handiwork.)

We are being asked these days to “stay at home”.   The words seem pretty straight forward, but there seems to be broad interpretation by us fellows. There are the clear exceptions for things like groceries, medicines, and helping others, but in many of my interactions and the things I am seeing — it seems that there is an underlying tone with us men to look for a LOOPHOLE; to exempt ourselves; to get as close to the edge as possible; to set our own definition of essential; to resist being under authority. Like the cow sticking it head through the fence for grass on the other side. (While at the same time our wives keep cautioning us to just stay home.) Our motto, like that of Samson is “I can handle it”.

Not taking precautions is the same as saying go ahead virus have your way with my family and friends. It’s certainly true that with every interaction with someone outside our home, we are increasing the probability that one or more people will get Covid-19 and we will have been the agent for spread. (Since we don’t know if we or the other person is already infected.)

There is a time for being cavalier, macho, for manning up – this is not it. This is a time for an abundance of caution. Boundaries are designed to keep us on track and out of trouble. If we’re trampling the fences and railings – the boundaries – being put up by our authorities, we may be in grave danger.

I’m reminded of the scripture from Judges chapter 21 – “In those days . . . . every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

Think about it.

Russell Justice, April 2020, The Days of Coronavirus

 

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The Bon Air Mailbag

As you remember we lived next door to the Bon Air post office. Mr. Leach was the postmaster for as long as I could remember. Since we lived next door to the store (also run by Mr. Leach and his wife), I spent time in and out of both places – they were almost an extension of our house. And the Leach’s somewhat adopted me as the boy next door. I hung out around them (other boys would be told to go on home), watched and listened to them interact with friends and fellow church members in both the roles of friends and business owners. I liked them and learned from them. Sometimes they would give me “jobs” like helping in the stock room, cutting the grass, picking up trash in the yard.

As the postmaster, one of Mr. Leach’s jobs was to go get the mail each day. The mail came by train. He would get in his truck and drive across the tracks to the pole where mail was dropped off. As the train passed by one of the conductors would throw off a heavy cloth sack with the mail for Bon Air. Of course, the mail had to be “picked up” also and this was the fun part. Another heavy cloth sack was run up the pole by putting it on a hook and pulling it up with a cord. (like raising a flag) When the train came by, the conductor would reach out with a hook and “grab” the bag of outgoing mail.

As my good fortune would have it, Mr. Leach would sometimes ask me if I wanted to go with him to pick up and put out the mail. And …. of course, I did. (As Debby and others say – my middle, or first name, is “go”.) This was great adventure for a boy in the village. I loved running the mail up the pole and then waiting for the train to come by. The conductor always gave a friendly wave.

(Note: I’m sure that in this day and age letting a boy help would be against every rule there is. Sad. At the same time, there was the rule that I could never go “behind the boxes” in the post office – back where the mail was sorted and put into each box. I never once got to go back there. That was strictly off limits.)

More on the post office

Our box number was 115 and the combination was one past B and between P and R. Grannie’s box was 67 and her combination was G and one past M.

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1st Corinthians – 7 Key Verses

I’m studying 1st Corinthians today as part of a Bible project. My favorite 7 verses/passages are:

  • Great Challenge (10:33) “Follow my example as I follow Christ.” (4:6) “Imitate me.”
  • Stand Firm (15:58) “Let nothing move you.” (16:3) “Be on your guard. Be courageous. Be strong. Do everything in love.”
  • Bad Company (15;33) “Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.”
  • Mind of Christ (2:16) “We have the mind of Christ.” (Phil 2:5)
  • Victory (15:55-57) “Where is the sting of death? But, thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through out Lord Jesus Christ.” (My mother’s last words on her death bed. I’ve won the victory.)
  • Great Questions – three in one verse (4:7) “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”

Russell Justice, March 2020

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THE DAYS OF CORONAVIRUS

Some have asked ,and all of us are curious about our family and friends. Here is what I (and Debby) are doing in these Days of Coronavirus – so far. Probably best described as “sheltering in place”. Because of my age and my underlying autoimmune disease and taking immune suppressing drugs. Debby and I are getting out of the house each day for a walk (keeping our distance from others) and I’m biking on the greenway each day – parking in remote spots and not stopping to talk or interact. (I do use my elbow to push the button to cross streets.)

My last public interaction was last Thursday (a week ago today) at lunch with friend Jay and Bishop Larry Jackson. Since then – cancelled attendance at two events on Saturday (prayer rally and a sidewalk counselor’s picnic), online church on Sunday, cancelled participation as a speaker and panelist for a Sunday night men’s Legacy Lab and turned down other requests.

Enjoying the “at home” time. Pouring lots of time into a book project and a Bible project. I guess that means it’s 3 “B’s” for me – Book, Bible, Bike. Debby is doing her crafts thing and we are enjoying time together much like we have for the last 20 years.

That said, it’s a challenge for me as a goer and adventurer. Probably the best opportunity I have ever had to practice my beliefs about “being a man under authority”. Something I first learned many years ago on mission trips to the Navajos in Arizona after being “Captain of the World” as a younger buck. This time, under the authority of my health officials, government and family. Perhaps most of all, I’m trying to give Debby (and the children and grandchildren) peace of mind as she is concerned for me and what she would do if I became serious sick.  I’m seeking to fulfill my role as protector – since anxiety is at the top of the list that we all need protection from.   I’m looking forward to the messages “that will preach” that will surely come out of these Days of Coronavirus.

Russell Justice, March 2020

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Navigating Life (my title) (Based on Philippians 3:17-21 Pastor Kevin Burrell)

  1. Choose the Right Guide
    • Paul said several times “follow me”, “imitate me” (as I follow Christ). (See 1 Cor 4:16)
    • It is one of the desires of my heart that my legacy would be one where family, friends, others could say about me that I was a person who could be followed.
    • Yet, I hesitate to be so bold as Paul and say that to my children or grandchildren.
    • Instead I more often find myself saying/praying – “Lord please don’t let them be like me”.
    • I wouldn’t (didn’t) hesitate to say to my children and grandchildren – “watch how I hold the bat and then swing it like I do”. I don’t hesitate to say to business leaders – “this is the best known way in the world to improve your business”. I don’t hesitate to say to a men’s group – “build your legacy on these principles”. I don’t hesitate to tell people where to find a good coffee shop or where to take a bicycle ride.
    • A real challenge here to live so that I can say “follow me” about all of life’s walks.
  2. Remember Where You Are Going
    • Life’s 3 great questions: 1) Where are you coming from? 2) What are you doing here? 3) Where are you going next?
    • Where I’m coming from (my home, hometown) is not most important. But, where I’m heading. My citizenship is in heaven. I’m an alien here, an ambassador – representing my King. Bringing a bit of my home (heaven) to earth. Don’t be defined by where I’m coming from.
    • This is not my home. Like Bishop Jackson told us this week that he is not a “black” man. He looks black, but he has been born again and is a “man of God”.
    • Story of a missionary and his wife coming home after serving 30 years on the mission field. On departure and arrival back home there was no one and no fanfare. Yet, for President Roosevelt who was returning from a hunting trip, there was bands, crowds and much fanfare. Disappointed and angry the missionary turned to God telling Him of his disappointment in his prayers. God’s answer – you’re not home yet.
    • It’s like then I make a wrong turn and my GPS says “recalculating”. It’s as if it’s saying – “You missed a turn back there. But don’t worry. I know where we’re going. It may take a little bit longer, but we will get there. Recalculating.”

Thanks Kevin.

Russell Justice, March 2020

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Winter Highlights: 12/14 – 2/4 (45 of those days in Knoxville)

  • Weekend in Chicagoland with friend Bob.
  • Middle of the night drive to Knoxville to welcome Grandboy Arlo and meet him face to face. (When a Baby is Born Everything Changes)
  • Holding Grandboy Arlo in my arms, looking into his eyes and singing to him.
  • Scavenger hunts (many) with Grandgirl Lily.
  • Coffee Shops (Old City Java, Panera, Einstein Brothers), Restaurants (Sweet P’s BBQ, Apple Barn) with Debby
  • KARM Thrift Stores treasure hunting with Debby
  • Christmas with all the family in Knoxville
  • Sunday morning church in Chicago, Mississippi, Fellowship Knoxville, Fellowship North, and one Sunday morning in the emergency room at Children’s Hospital.
  • Deacon Ordination weekend in Mississippi with nephew Josh and family.
  • Sunday morning coffee with sister Tiffeny and brother-in-law Randy at Cups in Clinton, MS.
  • Daughter Lauren’s helper for driving to appointments and for carrying Arlo.
  • Biking in World’s Fair Park, along Neyland Greenway and Halls’ Marsh.
  • Smoky Mountain cabin hunting and viewing for 50th anniversary coming in September.
  • Adventure Outings with Lily — Sunsphere, Holston River Park (with Debby, Lauren, Arlo)
  • Children’s Theater – Alice in Wonderland play with Debby and Lily
  • Morning with friend Vic at East TN Coffee Company in Newport.
  • Morning coffee with neighbors.
  • Debby goes to neighborhood meet and greet.
  • Lily brings her brother to school. Baby Arlo goes to Lily’s school to pick her up and meet her classmates. Excitement!!
  • Hiking at Sharp’s Ridge
  • Back to NC and experiencing entropy — gas logs, smoke alarm, car battery, light fixture, medical bill with error.
  • Memorable and enjoyable 52 days!

Russell Justice, February 2020

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BOREDOM IS LAZINESS OF THE HEART

The Grissom family (my mother’s side) gathered this month at St. George Island for their semi-annual reunion. No trip to the Forgotten Coast of Florida would be complete without a visit(s) to Café Con Leche in the village of Apalachicola. More specifically, no visit would be complete without a cup of Venezuelan coffee and some of Tamara’s bread pudding from Café Con Leche.

Café Con Leche is located on River Street in the Cotton Gin building, across from the bay and fishing boats. It is the type of place where you feel comfortable just hanging out and when you leave a few hours later you are refreshed and relaxed. It’s a great place to read, catch up on the internet, chat with some of the locals and tourists passing through and people watch. Tamara is the proprietor and chef. She has the knack for delicious coffee, pastry, and some breakfast delights.

On this particular visit, it was my bad fortune that Tamara was on extended vacation in Venezuela and there was no chocolate bread pudding. But, brother-in-law Randy and I enjoyed some good coffee and pastries and were later joined by wife Debby and sister Tiffeny around a table.

While enjoying the coffee shop and thumbing through the journal/log book I ran across one of those quotes that – the more you think about it, the better it gets “Boredom is laziness of the heart.” The quote comes from Frederic Kahler who works in the café. Frederic, from France, is also an artist (Oil Boy) with varied other interests.

As I thought about it more, how could anyone be “bored” in this amazing life, earth and universe where God has placed us? There is always another person to meet, friend to make, book to read or reread, sight to see, and song to hear and sing along. There are children, grandchildren, mothers, fathers, and friends to love – to call, write, talk to and serve. There are ministry needs to be met. There is God’s endless creation to be explored contemplated and enjoyed.

I like Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “The Great Adventure” with the lyrics – “saddle up your horses we’ve got a trail to blaze”. In our short lives here we will only scratch the surface of the possibilities. Boredom is indeed a laziness, not only of the heart, but of an appreciation of God’s incredible gifts to us. Beth Moore, writer and speaker, says, “Life shouldn’t be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserve body, but rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly shouting, “Wow! What a ride!   Thank You Lord.”

I believe this gem has the making of a possible “gem of the year”. So, I share it with you –half way through the year – for your consideration and pondering. “Boredom is laziness of the heart.”

Russell Justice, June 2010

P.S. While in Apalachicola be sure and check out Tamara’s Café Floridita (owned and operated by Tamara’s daughter) on Market Street. It has some of THE best dishes you will eat. For seafood, dockside character and watching the seagulls and fishing boats come in – Boss Oyster on the bay.

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Adventure in Chicagoland

What happens when two accused “adventure addicts” (can’t get enough new places, foods, and experiences) get together for the first time in a few years? In about 24 hours on a December weekend with friend Bob Gerwig, we packed in a boatload of Chicagoland adventures. Actually, they were probably only adventures for me, because Bob had done most , if not all, of them before. Well, in case you have travel plans that include Chicagoland and you have a friend of a lifetime like Bob, let me share some of the adventures with you.

  • Not long after landing at O’Hare Bob had me walking into Kreger’s Brat & Sausage Haus. As we were driving through a traditional neighborhood, there it was. In an old house with no other businesses anywhere around. In mid-afternoon, Bob and I had the place to ourselves – that is, except for the owner and staff who chatted us up about the place, the history and the food. At Kreger’s I discovered “brats”. Special made brats. Some named after each NFL team. Created so fans of those teams could pick up some brats on the way to THE Bears game. The brat I chose was delicious. I had eaten what was called brats before, but this was something different. Check it out here: https://kregersbrats.com/
  • After checking in at Bob’s condo, we were out on the town (Naperville). My first visit to a Starbucks Reserve Coffee Bar. (There are only a few in the nation.) As many of you know, I’m not that much of a coffee drinker. But, I do love the warmth, the aroma, the atmosphere and the conversation. My kind of coffee house. Lots of chatter, people enjoying life. We ordered three pots of coffee (Sun Dried Ethiopia, Hawaii KA’U and one other) with 6 cups so we could sample each one without contamination. And to top it off we added a cup of hot chocolate. While enjoying the coffee our conversation covered every topic imaginable from family, friends, work, church, cars, sports.
  • Sunday morning started with biscuits and gravy prepared by Bob. (He often does this on Saturday mornings for the men in his church.) The biscuits were prepared in iron skillets for a crisp bottom and the gravy was ummm good.
  • Sunday School was followed by a Christmas program at Bob’s Church featuring a children’s choir, the regular choir, and instruments. A nice celebration of the Season. The message gave me a theme to ponder – “Hidden in Plain Sight.” The most spectacular event in human history overlooked by most then, and even now. Where might God be working around me right now in plain sight and I’m missing it?
  • After church, coffee time with Bob and his daughter Anna. Anna has a very special place in my heart (and Debby’s). Ask us sometime and we’ll tell you all about it. Over coffee I got to tell her why I admired her dad, what a great friend he has been to me, and pay tribute to him and the Mighty Man life that he lives.
  • A Sunday afternoon visit to a downtown Chicago Rehab Hospital where a friend of Bob was recuperating. He had been crushed in a train accident. It was my privilege to watch Bob love on and minister to this friend. The friend said that Bob was the person who had cared most for him during his time in the rehab center after the accident. Some plans were made to help him later the next week when he moved back into his home.
  • A winter afternoon stroll in downtown Chicago. The lights along the streets, the river and the hustle and bustle of people was an adventure in itself. Stepping inside Macy’s  was like a step back in time to the golden days of department stores.  An iconic Chicago landmark —  atrium reaching to the ceiling floors above; marble, Christmas lights and decorations everywhere; old fashioned elevators packed with holiday shoppers.  An amazing sight. Inside, the Chicago Macy’s store, one of the biggest department stores in the world, the array of items that can be bought took on a completely new meeting for me as I realized that every single item in that store had come through a warehouse that Bob managers. Lipstick, Furniture, perfume, sweaters, shoes, knickknacks, every single item got there because of the work that Bob is doing. While there, we also visited the Walnut Room on the upper level, an historic Chicago restaurant. The place was buzzing with people who had made reservations months ago to eat in this special place. Bob had to pick out some of Macy’s famous Frango chocolates as a gift for Debby before we headed back out to the streets.
  • Back on the streets, past Michigan Avenue and along the river, our next stop was Eataly. A food and restaurant Emporium. Wow. What a place to observe the variety and abundance of foods that we enjoy. I suppose you could eat here every day of the week and never get the same thing twice. The hustle and bustle, the aromas, and the colors were amazing.
  • Our last stop in the city was Garrett’s Popcorn Shop. We could smell the popcorn when we turned the corner for the street where the shop was located. We had to wait outside the door for the line to move up enough for us to get in. Once inside, we sampled different handcrafted flavors while in line to place our order. Our purchase – the famous Chicago Mix – part caramel corn and part cheesy corn. Any of you who have ever spent any time with Bob will know, we picked up a bag to eat along the way back home. https://www.garrettpopcorn.com/
  • For our final adventure on Sunday, Bob, Anna and I met Bob’s son Chris at Giordano’s Pizza (a famous Chicago pizza place) We told stories from days gone by (perhaps some that Anna and Chris had never heard) Chris and Anna shared their next step plans. Anna for after graduating from Arizona State and Chris as the new pastor at a developing church plant.    https://giordanos.com/
  • So, there you have it, the Highlights, Sights and Sounds of the weekend. But, I believe, best of all was the conversation. I can’t even begin to describe the topics that we covered.

What a weekend. One of those never-to-be-forgotten times. Packed into less than 48 hours. It surely reminds me that I should do much more of this – carving out time with friends of a lifetime. (Lord, teach me to number my days.)

Russell Justice, December 2019

 

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Gems of the Year 2019

Another year, another “Gem of the Year” and collection of “Gems of the Year”. My Gem of the Year (GOY) for 2019 is “Die with Memories, not Dreams”. I’m adding this to my Maxims for Living in my 70’s.

  1. Die with memories, not dreams. (Gem of the Year)
  2. Mighty/Noble men are bored by financial success. They pursue a grander purpose.
  3. There is no such thing as time management – only self management. (Rory Vaden)
  4. It’s up to us to break generational curses. When they say, “it runs in the family”, you tell them: “and this is where it runs out”.
  5. God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.” (Elisabeth Elliot)
  6. Live to be missed. (Johnny Hunt)
  7. Forgive others not because they deserve it, but because you deserve peace.
  8. All I “heard” at church may not be the same as all that was “taught” at church.
  9. If you see your glass as half empty pour it into a smaller glass.
  10. Encouragement is oxygen to the soul. (George M Adams)
  11. Questions are a strategy for putting a pebble in someone’s shoe.  
  12. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts and truth.
  13. Elect leaders you don’t have to lobby.
  14. It’s fun following Jesus until you find out where He is going.
  15. Christians are safe in the “salt shaker”.  But when the salt gets “stuck”, you open the lid, take it off and jab a butter knife in to unstick the salt.
  16. Everybody in the world wants to come to American and “live in poverty” (Developing countries poverty level: $748/yr.  US poverty level: $25,000)
  17. There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self. (Ernest Hemingway)
  18. The worse thing you can do for others are those things they could and should do for themselves (Abraham Lincoln).
  19. A concern for efficiency and productivity, for making every minute count, can lead us to view others as resources or as interruptions to be avoided rather than as people to be valued. 

 

Russell Justice, 2019

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HIGHLIGHTS & BLESSINGS – 2019

  1. Birth of Arlo Przybyszewski – 12/18/19
  2. Exploring Coffee Shops: Artisan Gourmet, Smelly Cat, Awaken, Carolina Coffee, City Bistro, French Express, Haymaker, Vienna, Coco and the Director, Old City Java, Coffee Underground, Sun Up Café, The Hub
  3. Lost & Found Bible
  4. Craft Projects: Tiny House Scenes, Cup Rack, Plate Rack, Printers’ Tray
  5. Biking – reached 9000 miles. Clark Creek & Mallard Creek, Neyland & World’s Fair, Cades’ Cove Loop, River to Sea Trail. Road with Ava, Ivy, Eden, Lily, Micah, Matthew, Mike Sheets
  6. Valentine’s Day in Greenville SC
  7. Easter celebration at Ijams Park – the yarn – “that’s a lot of life”
  8. Baking Day at Grandma’s
  9. Family Day at Village Park
  10. Debby’s 50th High School Reunion
  11. Disney World with Lauren & Family
  12. 49th Anniversary at Hilton Head
  13. Prostate Cancer not detectable
  14. Uncle Gile’s Birthday Party
  15. Justice Rock Back to School Prayer
  16. Easter Egg Hunt at Kyle & Laurens’
  17. Touch a Truck with Micah
  18. Lily Dance Recital
  19. Dollywood – LumiLights
  20. Anakeesta Park Gatlinburg
  21. Rowdy Mountain Coaster & Glider Rides for 71st birthday
  22. Bradford Prep Play – High School Musical
  23. Augustine Beach and Savannah stop overs
  24. Micah visits townhouse. Lily visits condo
  25. Swim Meets. Band Concerts.

Russell Justice, December 2019

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GEMS OF THE YEAR — (19 Gems for 2019)

Another year, another “Gem of the Year” and collection of “Gems of the Year”. My Gem of the Year (GOY) for 2019 is “Die with Memories, not Dreams”. I’m adding this to my Maxims for Living in my 70’s.

  1. Die with memories, not dreams. (Gem of the Year)
  2. Mighty/Noble men are bored by financial success. They pursue a grander purpose.
  3. There is no such thing as time management – only self management. (Rory Vaden)
  4. It’s up to us to break generational curses. When they say, “it runs in the family”, you tell them: “and this is where it runs out”.
  5. God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.” (Elisabeth Elliot)
  6. Live to be missed. (Johnny Hunt)
  7. Forgive others not because they deserve it, but because you deserve peace.
  8. All I “heard” at church may not be the same as all that was “taught” at church.
  9. If you see your glass as half empty pour it into a smaller glass.
  10. Encouragement if oxygen to the soul. (George M Adams)
  11. Questions are a strategy for putting a pebble in someone’s shoe. 
  12. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts and truth.
  13. Elect leaders you don’t have to lobby.
  14. It’s fun following Jesus until you find out where He is going.
  15. Christians are safe in the “salt shaker”.  But when the salt gets “stuck”, you open the lid, take it off and jab a butter knife in to unstick the salt.
  16. Everybody in the world wants to come to American and “live in poverty” (Developing countries poverty level: $748/yr.  US poverty level: $25,000)
  17. There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self. (Ernest Hemingway)
  18. The worse thing you can do for others are those things they could and should do for themselves (Abraham Lincoln).
  19. A concern for efficiency and productivity, for making every minute count, can lead us to view others as resources or as interruptions to be avoided rather than as people to be valued. 

Russell Justice, 2019

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CHRISTMAS DEVOTION – Hidden in Plain Sight

As Christmas approaches each year, I begin to search for a theme for worshipping and celebrating. My search began this year while in Chicagoland visiting friend of a lifetime Bob Gerwig and worshipping with him. On Sunday morning, the Pastor, Derek Webster, at Grace Pointe Church talked about things that are “Hidden in Plain Sight”   Things that are right there, but we just can’t see them.

For myself, I call it “Male Blindness”. It’s like when wife Debby sends me to the refrigerator to get an item. After looking for a while, I used to say, “It’s not here.” But after she opened the fridge door, reached straight in, picked up the item and handed it to me enough times – I now say, “I don’t know if it’s in there or not, but I don’t see it”. (Remember the gem – how many times does something have to happen to you before something occurs to you?)

It’s like when the wife is out of town for a retreat and leaves a recipe for the husband to prepare for the family. Then comes home to find the trash filled with empty pizza boxes. The excuse – “one of the ingredients was missing”. The ingredient that she sees right in front of her when she returns home and opens the pantry door.   You get it, right? Hidden in plain sight.

Pastor Derek pointed out that the birth of Jesus was just like that. It was the most incredible event ever to take place on the planet, yet it was overlooked by almost everyone as they went about their everyday life.  And … Jesus’s presence in our world and our lives is still being overlooked by most – the fact of the event and the magnitude of its personal impact.

I left that Sunday morning with some new challenges for Christmas 2019.

  • Am I overlooking what God is doing in plain view in my life?  Hidden in plain sight.
  • Am I overlooking what God is doing in plain view around me?  Hidden in plain sight.

Probably so! …. Lord give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to care about what you are doing around me this Christmas and in the numbered days ahead of me.

Russell Justice – Christmas, 2019

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A Baby was Born and Everything Changed

Each year at Christmas I choose a Bible verse, a song, a phrase as my theme for worshipping and celebrating that year. This year I’m choosing “A Baby was born, and everything changed” The world changed. I changed.

I choose this of course because we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on this day. (Luke 2:11 — For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. KJV) I also choose it as we celebrate the birth of our 6th grandchild seven days ago – Jon Arlo Przybyszewski.

No doubt the world changes with the birth of every child. (Thus, the horror and tragedy of abortion.) With the birth of Arlo, our family changes. As he is already changing our world, I’m praying for Arlo that he will be a Mighty Warrior for our Lord – his Creator. The One who has knit him together in his mother’s womb. The One who has said in Jeremiah 29:11-13“I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I pray that he will seek and find the Lord at an early age and become a man after God’s heart, a Mighty Man, a Warrior … and that he will shake his world, this world, for God’s Kingdom. I plan to stand back and watch with amazement and joy.

Russell Justice, Christmas 2019

P.S. In the middle of this thinking I found this song “A Baby Changes Everything”. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D-DH9aT3bs

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The Blessing of a Friendship

Spent some time this morning with my friend John Campbell. We have enjoyed 10 years of friendship here in NC – much of it through our “hobby” of seeking out new breakfast places. Over those breakfast meetings we have shared good things in our lives, challenges, and have solved many of the world’s major problems. Since John had moved to NC from Ohio, we joked that it was my task to teach him the intricacies of being a “southern gentleman”. Like finding the proper way to order his favorite breakfast of “cake and eggs”. My favorite memory during these 10 years was a day spent on the Blue Ridge Parkway and at Linville Falls together.

To be truthful, there is no need whatsoever for “gentleman” training for John. All who meet him soon realize that he is a gentleman’s gentleman. Soft spoken, full of compassion. (For the orphans in Asia and India where he ministered and for all who crossed his path.)  Always cracking some subtle human that you would miss if you didn’t pay attention. He speaks with gravitas, wisdom and authority. A noble man if ever I met one.

John has faced more tragedy than any man I have ever met!!  And he has done it with grace and faithfulness even while carrying a broken heart. Through it all he has stood firm as a Mighty Man, a Mighty Warrior, an amazing husband, father and friend.

Moving here 12 years ago from Ohio where he retired from being an emergency room physician, John leaves on Sunday for Portland to his new home there – near son, daughter-in-law and 3 grandchildren. He leaves without his beloved wife Bobbi who died suddenly and unexpectedly last year shattering their plan for living on Lake Norman where Bobbi would care for John as he battled Parkinson’s.

Today … we spent some time at Duck Donuts enjoying the treats and the music that was playing from our generation over the speaker system. We looked up the names of the songs and artists. We talked about some of the ones we had heard in concerts through the years. We sang along to the old tunes. Two old men in Duck Donut singing songs from the 60’s and 70’s. Sharing memories of days never to be forgotten and wondering what’s ahead. John mused that he did not know how to go about ending an era – and I must say I was no help for him.

Sometimes an era comes to an end and you don’t even realize It’s happening. Not so this time. John and I knew the era of our NC friendship was coming to an end. Sad in many ways. Yet – the realization that God has richly blessed us with a special friendship that touched our lives and will not be forgotten. A hug – not one of those slappy man hugs – a real, tight squeeze with whispers and tears kind of hug – of manly friendship, respect, honor and blessing.

Russell Justice, 11-22-19

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Lost & Found — Rejoice with Me

lost and found

Yesterday, after attending church at Fellowship North in Knoxville with Debby, Lauren, Lily, and Baby Bear (due in January), I gave Lily a ride out to the car on what we call “the Bible chair”. After lunch at Cracker Barrel and back home unloading the car – No Bible! No where to be found after turning the car upside down. Then …… I remembered …. putting the Bible on top of the car while buckling Lily in. Big mistake! A heart sinking feeling of fear and despair – to the point of numbness.  What would I do without my Bible? Would I ever see it again? How would I begin to find it?

Many times, I’ve said that there’s only one material possession in this world that I really treasure – my Bible. The one I’ve been using for over 25 years. The Bible that is chock-full of notes, underlines, starred verses, “G’s” for gems, and “A’s” for actions. The one with dates written in the margins for special moments of worship. The Bible whose front and back covers are filled with the great questions of the Bible, commitments I have made, key scriptures about marriage, parenting, children, sons, friends, work, and getting old, and favorite scriptures of blessings, prayers and songs. The Bible with special markings for the passages where I say, “that will preach”. You get it, this Bible is a Priceless Treasure. It is not “A” Bible, it is “MY” Bible. Much of my life is recorded and noted here. I am who I am in large part because of the shaping I have received from moments spent with this Bible.

Inside the condo and checking my text messages, I found this – “Hi! I found your Bible on the side of the road”. Relief, joy, praise, thanksgiving swept over me. My Good Samaritan, a young lady on her way home from another church rescued my Bible. It turns out that my Bible was found more than a mile from Fellowship North. Arrangements were made to meet up and retrieve my Bible. Debby and I put together a gift, a reward and a couple of notes as a small expression of our appreciation to this kind young woman. We wondered how this series of events – the loss, the rescue, the find, the return, the relationship might play out in God’s kingdom.

So, with my treasured Bible back where it belongs – I’m touched and moved. I’m overwhelmed with the sudden feeling of loss, the joy of the return, the thoughtfulness and kindness of a young Christian lady and the amazing journey My Bible took on this October Sunday. I’m still pondering the lessons (other than don’t put things on top of the car) and the blessings.   As the woman in Luke 15 said when she found her lost coin – “Rejoice with me!”

Russell Justice, October 2019                             My Bible

P.S. My journal was found in the church parking lot and returned this morning

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Back to School Prayer Day

1) Jericho March around Bradford Prep this morning. 7 laps, 2+ miles, 5 Back to School Prayers: Peace, Protection, Purity, Passion and Perspective. No one else on the school grounds made for a peaceful march. Cool 60 degrees and misting.

2) Back to School Prayer on Justice Rock with the NC family. A tradition like no other. Each family member prayed. Prayers for Studies, Friends, Teachers, Fun, Peace, Favor, Health & Protection.

If you would like a copy of the prayers, let me know.

DSC_0098

 

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ONLY THROUGH THE EYES OF A 5-YEAR OLD

Disney World is an amazing place of fun and enjoyment. Excellence is seen in the details of the architecture, costumes, characters, rides, food service, transportation, landscaping, etc. But it only becomes all that it can be when experienced with a 5-year old child. Then it becomes really magical, incredible and filled with joy.   It was my privilege last week to spend 4 days at Disney World with Grandgirl Lily as she celebrated her 5th birthday. (The group included wife Debby who was also celebrating her birthday – I’m not telling which one – and Lily’s Mom and Dad.) Each day we would ask – “what was the most fun thing today?”  And every day the answer was – “Watching the joy on Lily’s face and hearing her laughter”. Below are some Sights & Sounds from the week and my top photos of Lily’s joy.

  • Conversations with Disney Characters – especially Tinker Bell.  
  • Meals with the characters – Supercalifragilistic Breakfast, Donald’s Disney Safari Lunch, Minnie’s Hollywood & Vine Dinner
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Sitting on Dad Kyle’s shoulders to watch the fireworks over the castle
  • Tinker Bell’s flight from the top of the castle.
  • Asleep on her dad as we rode back to the Pop Century Resort on our bus after the fireworks.
  • Toy Story Mania shooting ride.
  • Frozen Sign Along and catching the snow on her tongue.
  • Beauty and the Beast Stage Show
  • The songs and scenes of Small World.
  • (Plus Roller Coasters for me — Space Mountain, Expedition Everest (twice), Sever Dwarfs Mine Train, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, Flight of Passage)

Russell Justice, Summer 2019

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NASA Co-op in 1969

My first major at Auburn University was Aerospace Engineering. I was fortunate in my Sophomore year (1967) to be accepted as a co-op student (alternating quarters of work and school) at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. I first reported for work on March 20, 1967. When I arrived for my first quarterly assignment all the new co-ops (maybe 100 or so) were told to go the auditorium where we would be giving orientation and find out about out assignments. When my named was called and my assignment, the group applauded. I had no idea why. I soon found out it was because I had been assigned to the Advanced Systems Group – the group headed by Dr. Von Braun and his team. My office was in the 4200 Building (MSFC HQ).

During my 5 quarters of work at MSFC I was fortunate to work on some interesting futuristic projects – most of which would not take place for years to come – like the Lunar Rover, the LBJ (Lunar Backpack Jumper) and several planetary flybys. It should be noted that many of our “advanced system” project proposals were never funded by Congress, but the ones that were made later headlines. When the astronauts returned from missions during those years (1967-1969) we would gather in the auditorium to hear their “reports”, get autographs, etc.

A major highlight of my time at NASA was a trip to Cape Kennedy to observe the launch of Apollo 10. I will never forget experiencing the power of that Saturn V rocket as it blasted off. Everything shook and the sound was overpowering – not a continuous roar, but, popping and cracking like I had never imagined.

Today, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Landing on the Moon, these memories flood back to me. As I reflect, I realize this is just one more of those amazing times in my life when God put me in places and situations beyond anything I could ever have dreamed. (Turtle on a Fence Post) NASA – thanks for the memories, thanks for the on-the-job training; thanks for the pay that helped cover my college expenses (especially those overtime shifts where we were running the flyby simulations on our ultra modern IBM 360 computer). Thanks for putting a man on the moon and bringing him back safely to advance the technology and superiority of our nation.

Russell Justice, July 20th, 2019 (50th Anniversary of Man on the Moon)

P.S. Debby and I watched the landing from my apartment on East Glenn Avenue in Auburn. Her first quarter there as a Freshman.

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CHILDERSBURG HIGH SCHOOL GRAND REUNION 2019

Enjoyed the Childersburg High School Grand reunion last night with Debby as her class was host and was celebrating their 50th reunion (1969). Some sights and sounds:

  • Lots of fun having a chance to chat with friends from good days of the past.
  • Good food, great bread pudding, great music by The No Name Band composed of several friends from my high school class and lead singer, my best friend in high school and college roommate, Rod Lee Bowling. We talked about the first couple of gigs they performed back in 1966. I will always remember their 2nd gig at the Coosa Pines golf course as Debby and I enjoyed the evening as were falling in love. They only come together now for special events like this.
  • The highlight of the evening was dancing with Debby to “our song”, My Girl.  Just like we first did in 1966.
  • As the evening went on, I realized and Debby and I talked about, how many of my conversations and relationships revolved around playing sports in high school.  Those sports times were days where you say, “It doesn’t get any better than this”.
  • One friend Carroll was able to name the players in every position from one of our favorite teams.   Carroll was catcher and told me that when it was 2 outs and they hit the ball toward centerfield where I played – he just headed for the dugout even before I caught the ball – he was that sure of the catch. I must say, I loved playing center field and having coaches and other teams try to hit a ball in my direction that I couldn’t get to.
  • Missed many of you Class of ’66 folks.

Russell Justice, June 2019

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My Woodworking Dad

As many of you know, my dad was a carpenter. THE carpenter for Bon Air Yarn Mills. He was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of all the houses in the village plus some – approximately 50 houses. “Carpentry” included all the plumbing and electrical as well. He was also responsible for carpentry in the mill which included some welding and machine tooling. There were other duties like taking care of the spring pump that fed water to the town and serving as a night watchman during holidays.

Some of the favorite toys that dad made for me included: a slingshot and an amazing scooter. He made the platform and handle for the scooter and attached skate wheels to the bottom. My scooter was the envy of the neighborhood. He made waterwheels for me to play with in the streams in the village and at Pa’s Texaco store.

He and some friends once rented one of the garages in the village and built boats there on winter evenings. I loved hanging out with the men in that garage as they cut, sanded and screwed those hundreds of pieces of wood together to make their very own, custom build fishing boats. I was mostly in charge of supplying the screws, watching and picking up supper from our house across the street. I was also “in charge” of listening to these mill village men “solve” many of the world’s problems right there in that garage.

My Dad built his own house – designed it (including a special fireplace for my Mom), laid the block foundation, did all the carpentry, plumbing, electrical, roofing and brick laying. I was able to come home from Auburn some weekends to help with laying the bricks. The plan also included a big and the best garden ever, fruit trees, a hot house to start his plants our early, and St. Augustine grass. Moving from the mill village house (the mayor’s house, next to the village store) to this “brick house” with paneling and a carport was a lifetime achievement. By the way – he only built this house after he has saved up enough money to paid for all of it. He never had a loan of any kind in his life.

When they were building the new Bon Air Baptist Church (where he was the “contractor” and chief builder), they needed a new podium for the pulpit. Dad and I went to the lumber company in Sylacauga to pick out the wood for the new podium. (I’m surprised he didn’t just use something he already had, as was his custom for almost everything.) We picked out several pieces of detailed molding for the trim. In no time at all dad (with a little of my help) built the podium. He took special care to trim it ornately. This is a special time of memory for me – with my dad. (I would love to have that podium if they ever stop using it – but what would I do with it? I just need to go by sometime and take a photo of it.)

The biggest woodworking project I ever took on with my dad – by far – was to build the furniture for our first house in Kingsport. Debby and I were moving from Cabana Apartments to a rental house on Dogwood Drive in Colonial Heights. We had almost no furniture for the house, so I took a few days of vacation time and we went to Alabama to get dad to help me make furniture for the house. We had some furniture plans that we had found and ordered. In those few days in Alabama, we bought the wood and made a table and chairs, two love seats, end tables, coffee tables, and a picnic table. Mom made the cushions for the love seats. We cut the top for the coffee table from a plate glass window. We picked up the bed and side tables from Debby’s mom. We rented a U-Haul and headed back to Kingsport to a house full of new, mostly homemade furnishings. Most of these pieces of furniture are still in the family.

I was, and am, always proud of my dad and the way he used his God-given skills of carpentry (both hands and head) to make things and fix things. Whether it was working at a house in the mill village, in the cotton mill, at church, at the Bon Air school, or on a friend’s house – he always did his work with skill, excellence and unto the Lord. I was then, and still now, amazed at how he could take out his square and calculate the angles that needed to be cut and how much lumber would be needed for a project.

I appreciated the way he often let me tag along when he was working on a project for a friend – building a new room, adding on a porch or remodeling. These “after hour” projects added income for our family that let us enjoy some extras. To this day I love the smell of fresh cut lumber and enjoy taking a hammer to nails. He taught me to measure twice, cut once. Although, he was bad to “freehand” lots of his cuts – eyeballing it and cutting. But, he was rarely wrong with his eyeballing and free-handing.

My Woodworking Dad, Calvin Justice – rough hands from hard work, a reputation for skill and smarts, and character traits of compassion and integrity.   I never wondered for one moment if he loved me. What an honor, a privilege and a joy to have shared life with him. Thank you Lord for such a blessing.

Russell Justice, Father’s Day 2019

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SAVE OUR CHILDREN RALLY

 

I know of no more fitting way to spend the Saturday morning of Father’s Day weekend that by attending the Save Our Children Rally in the Cherry Street Neighborhood of Charlotte. The purpose of the rally was to encourage the people of Charlotte to reject the expansion of Planned Parenthood into a state, city and neighborhood where they are not welcome. The rally was sponsored by The Douglass Leadership Institute, COGIC Family Life Campaign, Black and Brown Coalition and National Black Pro-Life Coalition. The rally was challenging and inspiring for me as the war for our unborn children and the soul of our nation rages on. Here are some of my sights, sounds, gems and notes (in italics).

  • We sang in songs of praise and worship. We prayed in mass and in small groups of 3. We heard messages from about 10 pastors. We walked in quiet prayer in front of the new Planned Parenthood building. — A beautiful sight. Men, women, youth, children, White, Black, Latino, young, old. United in purpose. Unhindered by differences. (Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! – Psalm 133:1)
  • When scriptures were quoted, after a few words, many in the crowd quoted in unison.

 

  • The fight has come to me, to you, to us, to this neighborhood. We didn’t ask for it, but it is here.
  • In 1 Samuel 17:29 David says “Is there not a cause?”   When the Philistines and Goliath rose up against God and his people, David answered the challenge, the call. Let me ask you, here, today – “Is there not a cause?” The Philistines are here. They want our children, grandchildren, marriages, faith. You can’t run away from them. They are relentless. You have to fight. You can’t do it alone. The Church of the Almighty God must rise up in unity against this horror in our land.
  • I (we) will not stand silent on my watch.
  • Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.
  • Blow the trumpet and sound the alarm.
  • We stand today to rebuke evil and lies. Against hidden motives. Against murder for profit. To stand for life abundant and everlasting.
  • We claim today for our Lord every place that our feet will touch – for eternal impact.
  • It’s not about Queen Charlotte. It is about King Jesus
  • The 2nd greatest failure of mankind is to have learned how to remove life (a baby) from the womb.
  • The greatest failure of mankind is to stand by and allow it – millions of times. (Francis Shaeffer said, “Every abortion clinic should have a sign in front of it saying, “Open by the permission of the church.”)
  • American has lost 1.5 million troops in war and 65 million babies to abortion.
  • Black lives won’t matter until black lives matter in the womb.
  • Recently pro-abortion advocate Merle Hoffman said, “Abortion is as American as apple pie.”
  • Men, don’t be the mouse of the house.

It was a joy to worship, sing, pray, walk and visit with a number of pro-life friends from throughout the city. It was also an honor to meet Pastor Mark Harris and to meet and talk with Joseph McNeil one of the Greensboro Four – pioneers in civil rights movement in the 1960’s and Major General in the U.S. Air Force, serving 37 years.

Russell Justice, June 2019

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ManUp Charlotte

Yesterday I attended the ManUp Charlotte Conference. A day devoted to strengthening our skills and resolve as husbands, fathers, grandfathers, mentors, churchmen and citizens. The worship team was incredible and led us in “heaven came down” kind of music and singing.

The speakers included NFL greats: Mike Rucker, Donnie Shell, Eugene Robinson and Jason Baker who shared some amazing stories about God at work in their lives – including the locker room and on/off the field. Bryce Johnson from Unpackin It Radio conducted an insightful interview of Rucker and Baker. Breakout Sessions included topics like: Forgive First, Identity Theft, Men Gone Wild, C’mon Man, Love that Last and Coaching Your Children.

Below is my summary of the day — gems and actions.

Top Gems (in order)

  1. Relationship always trumps results. (In parenting and life.)
  2. Be wherever my feet are. (i.e. Get off the phone and computer.) (Wherever you are, be there.) (Daddy, give me your eyes.)
  3. It’s not about living a “balanced” life. It is about having and abiding by priorities.
  4. My children and grandchildren deserve to hear me pray, talk about God, and share my faith. And to see me love their mother/grandmother and care for the unfortunate.
  5. Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you like, but you can only spend it once.
  6. Make my voice and my eyes (and ears) what my children/grandchildren want most.
  7. It’s not how hard you hit, it’s how hard you get hit and keep going.
  8. We encourage by talking, inspire by living.
  9. The office of father is different than the office of daddy.
  10. Our world/culture wants to turn the marriage vow into – as long as we both shall “love”. Having no understanding that marriage is a 3-way covenant between a man, a woman and God.

 

Actions

  • Use my words and hands to bless my children and grandchildren. Words that pronounce who they are and who they can be in Christ. (Debby’s bedtime blessing.) (Song: I Am Who You Say I Am)
  • Keep pounding on my two pillars — building into my grandchildren and men.
  • Be part of a group of men where there is a non-judgmental zone. Where men are there to build me up, not beat me down.
  • Be open to opportunities to mentor fatherless young men and boys.

 

Story

Little boy and his brother in room together. Little boy playing with baseball and bat. Little boy says “I’m the best hitter in the world”. Tosses the ball up, swings and misses. His brother yells out, “strike one”. Little boy tries it again. Tosses the ball up, swings, misses and brother yells “strike two”. One more time the little boy tries. Tosses up the ball, swings and misses. Brother yells “strike 3, you’re out. Little boy says – “I’m the best pitcher in the world”.

Man Up Charlotte 1

 

 

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Meaning & Trust

Last week I had the privilege and honor of spending the week in Danville, KY conducting a workshop on Accelerating Continuous Improvement with American Greetings managers from around the south.  A quote in one of my morning devotions today on the topic of “Meaning of Life” expresses well the way I feel about these opportunities.  From Radical Wisdom by Regi Campbell — “Meaning is experienced when you see your efforts make a difference to the people you are serving, and you know you’re exercising your God-given talents and gifts.  You see the impact on others, and that gives you a lot of joy.  But you know God was behind it all.”  (Turtle on a Fence Post & Shovel Digging a Hole)

Yesterday I got a call from A&W Canada where I was scheduled to lead two workshops next week at their annual company meeting in Vancouver.  They have experienced a disruption that requires them to redo the agenda they had planned for next week and go in a different direction.  With this announcement to me – I’m experiencing both disappointment (I had two value packed workshops prepared for them.) and joy.  I was looking forward to the time of sharing about life and leadership principles with A&W.  But … now I have two weeks (prep week and workshops week) of freed up time.  No second thoughts about this – God is in control and I am trusting Him.  Verse in one of my devotion books today – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Russell Justice, January 2019

 

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2018 Justice Family Highlights

  • Road Trip Across America — 23 Days, 5469 Miles, 17 States, Cost $1 per mile. (see article in Skybrook Magazine)
  • The month of November adventure at North Myrtle Beach — Family joined us (All In) for Thanksgiving.  Exploring the Grand Strand.
  • Debby starts Sweet Sisters Fellowship/Support group. 
  • Russell speaks at Long’s Chapel breakfast meeting.
  • New Light Rail system provides transportation Uptown for coffee shops like Coco and the Director, accountability meetings, Marine Week with Micah, Panthers Fan Fest, lunch at Bentley’s on 27 with Eden. 
  • Sweetheart time continuing to discover and enjoy coffee shops, bookstores, and thrift shops in Knoxville and Charlotte.
  • Hundreds of hours playing with (building into their lives) grandgirls and grandboy.  Hiking, biking, townhome/condo playtime, sledding, crafts, movies, church. 
  • Matthew has a full year of career break with intentional family time, studying, composing and writing.
  • Gall bladder surgery for Russell
  • Visits from Nephew Josh and family and Niece Kristen. 
  • Lauren continues to produce TV programs part time.
  • RealLife Men’s “Identity Theft”” Retreat at Montreat.
  • Dance recitals, school programs, band concerts, and church programs with grands. 
  • Suzy majors in Homemaking. 
  • Another year of Arts and Crafts projects one after another for Debby— Primitive Wooden Block Angels, Designer Pin Cushions, 10000 photos – to name a few. 
  • Kyle has a company change – similar job – remains at Barley’s. (New owner.)
  • Enjoying the comforts and Debby’s homemaking skills in the Skybrook Townhome and the Knoxville Pied-a-terre
  • Back to school prayer time with Matt and family at Justice Rock.
  • StoneBridge Ladies Retreat.
  • Dads of TADs (TeenAged Daughters) Support Network monthly meetings.
  • Frequent visits to the Knoxville Zoo with Lily and Lauren.  (Including Boo at the Zoo)
  • TRICOR Consulting.

Russell & Debby, 12/31/18

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NO DOUBT

The phrase “there will always be doubt” is being used frequently in the current hearings in congress.  I say there is no doubt that the political process in this country is broken. (Even though it may still be the best governing system on the planet.)   Severely and sadly broken. We have moved so far beyond the design of our democracy which called for REPRESENTATIVES from communities to come to Washington to govern.   Representatives who had real jobs back in their community – factory workers, truck drivers, farmers, teachers, business men and women.   People who took some time away from real jobs to come to Washington to represent their community, their district and their state and then return to their real job.  It is sad that the word “politician” and even worse the term “career politician” is even in our language.  

Question on an internet search “what is the origin of politician”?  Two answers that came right up:·      

What is a politician?

Answer: A politician is a person who seeks or holds an elected position within the government. A political leader, someone involved in politics.  A politician is someone who tells people what he thinks they want to hear in order to get elected, once elected does nothing he said he would do, and spends money like it’s not his—-and it isn’t…it’s the taxpayers money.

What does a politician do?

Answer: One who is actively involved in politics, especially party politics. One who holds or seeks a political office. One who seeks personal or partisan gain, often by scheming and maneuvering. One who is skilled or experienced in the science or administration of government.

 

  • Career politicians – go home and get yourself a real job.  (Oh, how we need term limits – one term.)  
  • God help us.  Turn our hearts to you.
  • Psalm 64:2-6 — 

    Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
        from the plots of evildoers.
    They sharpen their tongues like swords
        and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
    They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
        they shoot suddenly, without fear.

    They encourage each other in evil plans,
        they talk about hiding their snares;
        they say, “Who will see it[a]?”
    They plot injustice and say,
        “We have devised a perfect plan!”

Russell Justice, September 2018

 

 

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LONG DAY YESTERDAY

Long day yesterday as I had my gall bladder removed.   I moved the surgery from November 14th to yesterday because I have experienced 3 “flares” in the last week that have been severe enough to keep me up in pain most of the night.  This is after having had only 3 flairs over the past 5 years.   This increase in frequency recalibrated my urgency. I count it an answer to our prayers that I was able to reschedule the surgery so soon.  We had prayed for God to intervene on my behalf.

Surgery was not until 1PM, so I had the morning to work on this coming Saturday’s “Dads of TADs” meeting where dads will be praying for their TeenAged Daughters as they head back to school.  I like the reminder in 1 Samuel 12:23 – “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.” And the way Max Lucado puts it in his book Walking with the Savior – “Never underestimate the power that comes when a parent pleads with God on behalf of a child. . . God listens to thoughtful parents.  Praying for our children is a noble task.  If what we are doing, in this fast-paced society, is taking us away from prayer time for our children, we’re doing too much.  There is nothing more special, more precious than time that a parent spends struggling and pondering with God on behalf of a child.”. 

At Presbyterian Hospital in Huntersville the staff, doctors and nurses were most caring, compassionate and competent. I received good help with the open back gown and tummy shave.  We enjoyed the irony of a head hair cover but nothing for my equally hairy beard. I was disappointed not to get to count backwards from 10 when they put me to “sleep”.

I was told the surgery went well and that one of the gall stones was marble sized showing a risk of infection.  Appears that I had dodged a bullet by God’s care.  I was also told with each additional dose of pain meds that this would ease the pain.  Friends had encouraged me to “enjoy the cocktails”, but the nagging pain persisted even after arrival at home.  When, the pain did subside about 6 hours after the surgery, the relief was wonderful.

Throughout the day I was reminded through texts, calls, visits and emails that I was being covered in prayer.  And … to top it all, I had Debby by my side all day – helping me listen and make notes, dress and undress and serving me foods, meds, comfort, hugs and kisses.

As morning arrives, all is well.  Thankful to not have to be anxious about 2AM gall bladder flares.  Thankful for modern day medical staff, medicines and facilities.  Thankful for the loving care and prayers of family and friends.  Thankful for God’s incredible healing process for our bodies and for the timing of the surgery as God intervened to give me favor.

Let’s get some breakfast.

Russell Justice, 8/30/18

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YOU CAN TELL A LOT ABOUT A MAN/DAD BY THE CLOTHES/UNIFORMS HE WEARS

 

Thinking of my Dad this morning and some of the responsibilities/roles/duties/jobs that he fulfilled with excellence.  Many of these are symbolized by the clothing/attire associated with the responsibility/role.  

  • Bus driver when in high school.  (That’s where he met my Mother. Another story.)
  • Soldier in the Army in World War II as a scout in the Philippines.   
  • Carpenter all his life for Bon Air Yarn Mill and for friends and neighbors. He built the family home after saving enough money to pay cash.  He oversaw and did much of the building of the church he worshipped in for the last part of his life.  He wore carpenter overalls most every day of his life. 
  • Deacon at Bon Air Baptist Church where he cared for the members, typed and printed the bulletin, prepared the Lord’s Supper, filled the baptistry, did the crafts for VBS, counted the offerings, preached on Laymen’s Sundays, and taught Sunday School.
  • Gardener – grew enough vegetables for our family to eat, can and freeze and for many in the community.  
  • Fisherman – his favorite pastime (other than studying the Bible).  One of my great life regrets is that I  did not fish with him.  (I did help him catch worms and minnows.)
  • Umpire for Childersburg Little League baseball.  (When he was behind the plate, I had to be swinging because I knew I would not get a walk.)
  • Mayor of Bon Air, Alabama for many years where he clearly displayed the character of “Justice”.
  • Son – took care of his Mother (who lived next door) for many years after this Father died.
  • Husband – honored, loved, provided and protected his wife Oma Jean
  • Father – provided a role model for me and my sister Tiffeny of a godly man. 
  • Grandfather – his favorite thing to do with grandchildren (4) was walk in the garden and ride on the tractor with them.

I praise and thank God for such a man, such a Father as Calvin Justice.

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70 – Own it! — JT and Me

Last night Debby and I attended “An Evening with James Taylor” in Charleston.  Highlights included: the opening song: “Carolina In My Mind”; “Up on the Roof”, “Fire and Rain”, “Steamroller”, “You’ve Got a Friend”, “Whenever I See Your Smiling Face”, and ending with “Carolina In My Mind” again. The crowd was with it – singing alone with many of the songs. 

“The Moment” was when Debby and I stood and danced at our seat to “How Sweet It Is to be Loved by You”.   The touch of sweethearts dancing, swaying to the music, singing the words in each other’s ears.  (“I just want to stop … and thank you Baby”), and the sweet kisses.

This was our 4th JT concert.  The first one was in March of 1982 in Johnson City, Tennessee in a small auditorium. At our second concert we huddled under a poncho in the rain at Verizon Amphitheater in Charlotte – a night of romance not to be forgotten. The third was in the Charlotte Coliseum featuring JT and Carole King performing their Troubadour Reunion Concert which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the original performance.  (maybe best concert ever). And now the fourth concert in Charleston.   Although snuggling under a poncho in the rain and hearing JT and Carol King swoon the Troubadour Reunion were great moments, somehow this concert seemed the best of all!  Why

The venue, the good seats, being on an out of town one-night escape was part of it.  But, I believe the real difference is that I am now 70.  And 70 bring a new perspective on life.  A new ability to take life in, to enjoy it.  To not be bothered by finding the parking lot or the loud (maybe drunk) women behind us – but instead “soaking up” the moments.  Enjoying them to the full.  It seems that life is more intense – food taste better, walks with Debby are more relaxing, hanging with grandchildren is sweeter, worship is more inspiring.

When I turned 70 a couple of months ago, I realized something was happening to me.  Decade birthdays at 30, 40, 50, 60 passed with little real impact.  Not so, 70.  All of a sudden how old I was was not the question.  Age was simply a statement of how many years I had lived.  The question was no longer “how old are you?”, but how many years/days do I have left.  I talked some about this in a recent article called Stepping Aside”.  (https://russelljustice.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/stepping-aside/)  Over these months I have developed some new guiding principles.  I will list them here and save the discussion for a future article. 

  • 70 – Own It!
  • Number Our Days (Psalm 90:12)
  • If not now, when?
  • Recalculating
  • Essentials, not Priorities
  • Gravitas
  • No time for whining and complaining

As Debby and I enjoyed the night, we observed and talked about how I’m 8 days older than JT as he too just turned 70 back in March.  We also talked about how he is clearly “Owning It” and enjoying life to the full.  You could see his joy in sharing his songs and stories with the audience – songs that he had sung countless times before.  Enjoying over and over again telling the story and singing the songs.  Is it possible – his voice is not only as strong as ever, but even stronger, clearer and sweeter.  Even in a coliseum of 5000 people, he connected on what felt like a personal basis.  He even said “I’m not a performer here, a persona here – it’s me, the real me, here with you tonight.  (I hope to be that way with those who attend my workshops for business and when I speak for men’s breakfast meetings and retreats.)   We also noted that the band for the most part was a collection of hippies from the 60’s and they were surely “owning it” – rocking the place with blues.  JT, the band, the vocalist, and his wife displayed gravitas – with dignity and grandeur

Another very special night with Debby and JT.  One not to be forgotten.  One made even better by numbering my days, saying if not now, when, and without effort being able to immerse myself in the moment and soak it up.  Lord, thank you for 70 years that have gone far beyond what I could even dream.  Lord, teach me to number my days and show me how to live life to the full that You said you came to bring us

Russell Justice – May 2018

JT concert

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STEPPING ASIDE

For about the last 6 months as I approached my 70th birthday (earlier this month), I have been carefully examining my life for the next season – how I am investing my God-given time and talents.  I have spent fruitful hours discussing what’s next with family, friends and mentors.

Psalm 90:12 has guided that journey – “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  With an increasing realization of numbered days, I have also been challenged by the thought – “if not now, when?”.   There are things God has placed on my heart to do that have been put off.  Things that I believe God has uniquely prepared me for and called me to.   I plan to focus on these.  At the same time, I’m also looking at this next season as a time of “sabbatical” or “jubilee”.

As a result of this time of reflection and examination – after 6 years (7 Lent seasons, about 250 Wednesdays) serving as a Gatekeeper at the Hebron Abortion Center (wrongfully known as Family Reproductive Health), today I’m “stepping aside” from the gate – perhaps for just a season.  In some ways this is painful – being away from a place where I have met God in some special ways and watched Him work over the last 6 years.  At the same time, I step away with peace that this is what God has for me and knowing that in his sovereignty all will be well.  These 6 years of Wednesdays are days never to be forgotten – God at work in my life in an unmistakable way.

At this gate, I have:

  • Met God in many amazing moments of worship. Turning this place of horror and sadness into a place of praise and worship to our awesome God, through Scripture reading, songs and proclamation of the gospel.
  • Seen dozens of mothers in a crisis change their heart and mind from abortion vulnerable or abortion determined to choose life for their baby(s). (I will never forget a twin baby who was named “Justus”.)
  • Watched approximately 2500 mothers drive through the gate and leave their babies behind (for the trash).
  • Watched mothers as they heard the offer of help and the plea for the baby’s life. As their eyes filled with tears.  And some turned around to follow me to the PRC or just leave with a changed heart and mind.
  • Watched mothers who went inside for a while then came back out – announcing at the gate “I changed my mind”.
  • Watched mothers who stopped to talk about how God would make a way for them, about options and help available. Some took the Tiny Hands booklet.
  • Watched mothers take the blanket I offered with the challenge to give birth to their baby and wrap it in THIS blanket instead of leaving your baby here for the trash. Almost without exception when they took that blanket and touched it, the tears flowed, and they had a change of heart.  (Baby Lyric (she loved music) was stillborn and buried in one of those blankets.)
  • Held a baby that had once been here scheduled for an abortion.
  • Made some special friendships and stood at the gate with Katherine, Keith, Donna, Judy, Lou, Matthew, Bruce, Nathaniel (Big Boss) Daniel V, Daniel P, Flip, Jennifer, Jill C, Andrea, Francesca, Callie, Gretchen, Heather Lee, Bianca, Malgorzata, Gissell, Shanna, Vasti, Heather V, Jill M.
  • Stood alone, at times – by myself, but not alone. Experiencing the gate with our Lord and Savior.    In the hot, rain, cold, early morning, and sunset when the place was quiet
  • Wept over the tragedy that this place can exist – as Francis Shaeffer said “with permission of the church.
  • Held my “I am a Person” poster and waved at about 300,000 cars and the people in them as they drove by. Received many thumbs up and quite a few fingers.  Shouts of encouragement and shouts of derision.
  • Interacted with the abortionist Richard Manning and the owner Debra Walsh and regularly prayed for them to be freed from the captivity of Satan.
  • Been encouraged by the mail man, truck drivers (Thomas), FedEx drivers, church groups, PRC groups, 40 days for life prayer volunteers, people who stopped by to say a kind word and even some who shared a snack or food item.
  • Enjoyed my favorite worship moment of the week during my one hour drive to Hebron. Listening to Christian radio for the words that would encourage me and inspire me for the day.  I was never disappointed by not getting a message for the day.  Often those words from the radio became my message at the gate that day.  (And once, on the way to Hebron when all traffic had stopped, at the suggestion of the radio station, I danced in the middle of the interstate along with the music.)
  • Practiced for the day of celebration when this place closes. It will be a day of celebration and joy like very few in my life.  (Lord, please make it so in my lifetime – sooner rather than later).

This ministry has certainly not been something I have done alone.  First of all, there is wife Debby (back at the townhouse) supporting and praying for me (as she has done so many times through the years).  As I step aside, I want to thank my faithful prayer support team (over 30 people) that received a weekly report and prayed.  I want to thank those of you who contributed funds to buy the sound system and the Tiny Hands booklets and to pay for the printing.  I want to thank the ladies in the knitting group and the teenaged girls homeschool group who knit the blankets that so touched mother’s hearts.  They kept a steady supply of blankets, booties, and caps coming.

You want to know how it works to be at the gate — as I was packing up and walking across the street to my car, another car pulls in.  I put down my stuff, grab a Tiny Hands booklet and head back across the street to call out a message of hope over the fence to one more mother in crisis.  (If you would like to hear more about “A Day in the Life of a Gatekeeper”, let me know I will send you my booklet.)

Russell Justice, Hebron Gatekeeper, 3/21/18

  • Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless.”  (Proverbs 31:8 GNV)
  • If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weights the heart perceive it?  Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” (Proverbs 24:10-12)

 

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70th Birthday Celebration in Blowing Rock NC

This 70th birthday may well be the one birthday I have paid the most attention to so far.  As I turn 70 I’m giving some serious consideration to the wonderful journey I have enjoyed and to be very deliberate and intentional about the days ahead.

The Justice tribe spent this weekend in Blowing Rock celebrating my 70th birthday. They honored me with the theme of “Warrior” – complete with a painting and a sword.  Great time!!! We enjoyed: the adventure and beauty of cold weather hiking, private room breakfast at Daniel Boone Inn, the Blowing Rock lake and playground, tire swing and stream behind cabin, games, stories, favorite foods, music in the cabin, and grandchildren running, playing and laughing everywhere.

I had a chance to share “70 years and counting” – looking back and looking forward.  I pointed out how the reality had exceeded even what I was able to dream – the journey exceeded the expectations.  From the 3-room house and 3-room school in the cotton mill village to many times when I pause in the middle of an adventure or blessing and have to pinch myself and ask “how in the world did I ever get HERE?”.

Those blessing include:  A prissy, gorgeous, brainy, artistic, compassionate incredible southern lady for my sweetheart, companion and wife.  A reinessance son with many talents and a pure heart.  An amazing daughter with a “let’s get it done and quit talking about it” attitude and great compassion for those less fortunate.  The opportunity to travel around the world – with the family (more than once).   Visiting such places as London, Paris, Brazil, Hong Kong, Sydney, Nice, Switzerland, Germany, Argentina, Perth, Beijing, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and many more. The privilege of having a platform for sharing, teaching, coaching, and ministering to dozens of organizations and Christian groups – again around the globe.  And then, learning the true meaning of “joy” by sharing my life with my grandchildren.

I shared looking forward in our Sunday morning devotion with the 4 verses below.

  1. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12)So important to us that it was stenciled on the walls of the Kiva in our house on Buttermilk Road.  If not now when? A new theme to guide my life.
  2. ….. choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ……. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh 24:15)   So important to us that we have had it on the door post of every house since Buttermilk Road.
  3. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 4)
  4. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. (I Samuel 12:23-24)   Written August 1st, 2004, 1st Baptist Church Sevierville, TN — “As long as I have breath within me I will stand in the gap for my children (Matthew and Lauren) by praying for, them, loving them, supporting them and encouraging them.” (Now adding grandchildren.)

What an adventure so far and saddling up for the days ahead!!!

Russell, March 4th, 2018

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HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS? DO LESS!

Friend David sent me an article this morning that relates to the recent RealLife Men’s Retreat we had in Black Mountain back in November – “Less is More”.  The title of the article is “How to Succeed in Business? – Do Less!” by Moten T. Hanson.  This is a ringer!  And I wanted to share some gems from it and some additional thoughts with you.  I plan to send this out to some of the men I mentor and my accountability partners. I will be using parts of this in my conferences, seminars and workshops.

My Gem of the Article is: “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

Other Gems:

  • Top performers mastered selectivity. Whenever they could, they carefully selected which priorities, tasks, meetings, customers, ideas or steps to undertake and which to let go. They then applied intense, targeted effort on those few priorities in order to excel.
  • Occam’s razor. It stipulates that the best explanation in matters of philosophy, science and other areas is usually the simplest one.

I think I could do a seminar based on this article – adding some principles and experiences:

  • The twice cut principle for presentations. Put it together until it is perfect.  Then cut it in half.  Then cut it in half a second time.  You will be getting close.
  • When you (the boss) ask someone to do something you have two obligations: 1)Observe when they do it. 2) Recognize them.
  • No goals permitted without an action plan (ACI) to accompany it. (Deming – “Targets without means are a burlesque”.)
  • Hoshin Kanri — 2 principles: Focus and Alignment
  • It’s not this hard – life, work- family. We are making it a lot harder than it is.
  • MBE – Make Business Easy. (For customers, supplies and associates.)
  • Pack “high and tight”. Never ship air.

Russell Justice, January 2018

NOTE: Read the article here:  https://www.wsj.com/article_email/how-to-succeed-in-business-do-less-1515770816-lMyQjAxMTA4MjE5NDYxNzQ4Wj/

 

 

 

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REINFORCEMENT SCRIPTURES

For several decades I have been collecting scriptures related to reinforcement and using them in my conferences, seminars and workshops.  My Men of Integrity devotion this morning led me to a new one in Isaiah that is a real ringer. 

I never cease being thankful for “the unsearchable riches” of God’s Word.  After more than 60 years of study, there are still many treasures to be discovered.  I also never cease to be thankful for those in my life who have been “reinforcement” to me.  They have comforted me in difficult times; counseled me in the midst of critical decisions; encouraged me to step out in adventure; and loved me when I was not very lovable.  People like: my mother Oma Jean, my wife Debby, John, Ivey, Jim, Vic, Bob, Brad, David, Jay …. and the list could go on and on.

Here are some of my favorite “Reinforcement Scriptures” – with a new one this morning – Isaiah 50:4 added to the list.  Take a close look at these, especially the new one from Hebrews.

  •  “An anxious heart weights a man down, but a kind work cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12:25)
  • “Respect those who work hard.   Hold them in highest regard in love because of their work”        (I Thessalonians 5:12-13)
  • “To make an apt answer is joy to a man, and a timely word, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23)
  • “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.”  (Isaiah 50:4)

 

Russell JusticeJanuary 2018

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The Mighty Men of Lake Norman

Friday morning I had breakfast and Bible study with the Mighty Men of Lake Norman.  (You can read about the Mighty Men in the Bible in 1 Chronicles 12.  They were some amazing dudes.)  The meeting this Friday was a special “Christmas Reunion” gathering and included several group alumni like me.  This group has been meeting for over 9 years on Friday mornings at 6:30. It was my privilege to initiate the group when we first moved to NC.  At my first Lake Forest Church Men Fully Alive retreat I was allowed to stand up and invite men to join this new group.  Of note also, was my roommate at that first LFCMFA retreat – Brad Vice.  The “Mighty Men” group began meeting at Jackson’s Java in the Rosedale Shopping Center. 

Beginning with just 3 men, more than 25 men have since been a part of this group and I believe all have been encouraged and helped in their discipleship journey.  The group has had two official leaders – me and Brad Vice – although many men have taken the leadership on a weekly basis.  For me, this group formed the core of my early friendships in NC.  And over time a number of “friendships of a lifetime” has come from investing time with these men. The Mighty Men have prayed, been accountable and fellowshipped together. 

The Mighty Men have studied: Men Leading the Charge, The Man God Uses, Proverbs (for a year), James, The Men of the Bible, Secrets of the Vine, The Three Chairs, The Samson Syndrome, The Shack, 1 Peter, Joshua, Galatians, Lessons in Prayer, and now Revelation to name a few.   Far beyond the studies, the group has been together through the death of family members, lost jobs, job changes, divorce, rebellious children, illnesses including Parkinson’s and dementia.  The group has participated in mission actions including serving Thanksgiving meals on the street, packing Christmas Child shoe boxes, and supporting and joining mission trips to India.  There have been celebrations of weddings, Stations of the Cross, promotions, and continued trips to the mountains for men’s retreats.  What we feel for each other and the truest testament to the effectiveness of men coming together in the name of the Lord is difficult to put into words, but it works.  I know that every man I have encountered in this group has my back, I know they are “on it”.

This past Friday, as has been the case for many years now the group has been meeting at Bob Evans at Exit 25.  As a tribute to the character and faithfulness of the group, Bob Evans even opens early just for these men each Friday morning.  (It does require some diplomacy as other customers are told the restaurant is not open yet.) 

The meeting yesterday reminded me just what a profound impact this group had had on me and how thankful I am for them.   I’ve been in a number of  men’s  groups over the last 25 years, but this one stands out as my example of how a men’s group should function.  Thank you, Mighty Men of Lake Norman, for being my friends, for loving me and for putting up with me through the years. 

Russell Justice, December 2017

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HOPE IN A HOUSE OF BLUES

Great morning of blues and worship at Lake Forrest Church in their Hope In A House of Blues.  Thoroughly enjoyed the blues music of the McCrary Sisters.  After their first song (with the place dancing, singing along and “Letting It Go”) I already had my cup filled up.   You have to hear this. Check it out here: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=yfp-t&p=youtube+mccrary+sisters+let+it+go#id=2&vid=314996f22d1ee60f9289e25b2c36552d&action=click

 Pastor Mike followed with a getting ready for Easter message.   The “blues” scripture passage was from Mark 15: 34 where Jesus was “singing the blues” of feeling forsaken.  Some gems from Pastor Mike:

  •   The moment was the crucifixion within the crucifixion
  • Imagine the pain of a son being forsaken by his father.
  • (Imagine the pain of the father when his son asked why he has forsaken him.)
  • Feeling pain, crying out, feeling abandoned by those we love (and even God) is normal.
  • When we feel pain, cry out, feel forsaken – we are following Jesus example.
  • Crying out to God is one of the highest forms of faith.
  • Jesus was “clinging to God with both hands” when He cried out “My God, My God.”
  • When Jesus spoke these words, they were not the end of the story.
    • He later said: “It is finished” and “I will always be with you”.
    • Job cried out to/against God for 30 chapters, but he never turned his back on God.  In the end Job said: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end he will stand upon the earth.”
    • David cried out to God in Psalm 22 (as Jesus did later) – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Then in Psalm 23 he said – “The Lord is my Shepherd”.

So, we do live in a House of Blues. This world is a house of blues.  We feel pain, abandonment, betrayal, wounded and sadness.  And the only hope is in Jesus Christ.

Each year at Easter I pick a verse for the year.  This year I believe it will come from an unusual place – Job.  Job 19:25 – “I know my Redeemer lives”. 

 Russell Justice, April, 2017

 

 

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You Don’t Know What You Have Experienced Until You Write it Down

Someway the three major traditional news networks did not recognize that an event with ½ million people took place in Washington, D.C. this past Friday.  It was as if the throngs of people were simply invisible and the event insignificant.  But — for me, it was an event, an experience, a day that will not be forgotten.   I know some of you may have different views on this, but since I regularly share my life and gems with you, I want to share this life impacting experience as one of those half million people who attended the 2013 March for Life.

I traveled to D.C. with about 50 people on a bus from St. Mark’s church in Huntersville.  I knew only one person on the bus as we pulled out.  (That would soon change.)  Not sure what to expect, what would happen, what my role would be, or how it would impact me.  But, I felt called to participate as a “pilgrim” in my first March for Life.  The experience is still fresh for me and I’m sorting out what happened, what I learned, and what I’m gonna do about it.  But for now, I share my adventure with you.

Sights & Sounds

  • Sitting on a marble floor in an amazing basilica (8th largest in the world and tallest building in D.D.) for 3 hours to save a place to stand and a column to lean against for the next three hours of worship.
  • A man – alone. Perhaps 70 years old.  With a quiet, tender nature – asking if he could some way find enough space next to the basilica column to kneel.  Waiting there on the marble floor for 2 hours for his chance to join the worship.  He spoke to no one – not in a pulling away fashion, but in a way that reflected drawing into himself – as if making an altar of his 10 square feet of marble.  The tears that occasionally ran down his face and the redness of his eyes revealed a pain that must have been long present and deeply embedded.  I watched and wondered – not sensing that I should interrupt his time at this altar with my questions.  But, at the same time, not being able to help wondering what caused his tears and what had been his journey to this place today.  I prayed for this man.  (Maybe I should have asked?)
  • Fifty pilgrims (of ages ≈10 to ≈70) sleeping in peace on the floor of a fellowship hall. With all bedded down, I stood in the darkness and looked across at an amazing coalition of pilgrims, united in purpose and heart.  “Lying down and waking again because the Lord sustained them through the night as their Shield.”  (Psalm 3)
  • I wondered when my emotions would kick in on the pilgrimage. Then the tears came as thousands and thousands of voices raised in songs of praise, songs of repentance, song of adoration.  Echoing throughout the vast domes of beauty.  “Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim till all the world adore His sacred name.”  “Like a child rests in its mother’s arms, so will I rest in You.”
  • The climax of the day — Turning the corner to where I could see Constitution Avenue and seeing 10s of thousands, 100s of thousands of marchers in a chain stretching as far as the eye could see – coming from the White House and heading up the hill past Congress to the Supreme Court. No longer able to hold back the tears – my heart leapt within me with tears of joy and exhilaration. My soul broke with tears of sadness and mourning.
  • No sooner had we began the march, than snowflakes began floating down from the sky. Perhaps in a special way God was providing His own touch to the march.  I took it as a blessing and as an anointing for day and for the task that lies ahead.
  • Not only the 100s of thousands of “marchers”, but the 10s of thousand lining the route with cheers, shouts, encouragement, and smiles. As a walked through the crowds and received high fives from teens and old men I felt like that champion that Paul describes in Philippians 3 that presses on toward the goal for which God has called him.
  • Pilgrims traveling through a dark, snowy night. Making their way back to their earthly home tired and exhausted, yet with renewed zeal and passion.  Surrounded by darkness, quietness and fog.  A time to rest and sleep. A time to reflect, dream and prepare.  A time to pray.

Gems

  • A society that allows parents to kill their children, will no doubt allow children to kill their parents. (Sean Cardinal O’Malley)
  • It’s not a change in laws that is needed. It’s a change of hearts.  A change in the laws will follow.  The needed change is away from the misguided belief that abortion is a “necessary evil”.   To the truth written on every person’s heart that life begins with conception and is to be respected and protected.
  • Proclaim truth with civility and empathy.
  • Let our prayers be our passion and let us passion be our prayers.
  • Attempts may be made to justify taking life, but the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death is written on the hearts of every person. It is the gospel of “life”.
  • When you begin with truth, choosing life is not a complex decision as some would want to make it. Making the decision out to be complex is an attempt to justify having “my” way.

Actions

–       My time at the gate will focus not only on offering alternatives to mothers arriving and help to mothers leaving – but mourning for the children “left behind”.

–       Renewed sense of the truth of Sanctity of Life and my responsibility to stand and to speak.  — “Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die.”  (Proverbs 31:8)  “Rescue those being led away to death”  (Proverbs 24:11a)

–       Press on with the “Blankets for Life” initiative.  See what God does.

Russell Justice

dsc_1495

January, 2013

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Gems of the Year – 2016

GEM OF THE YEAR: If you stumble, make it part of the dance.

Top 10 (Hard to choose.  No particular order)

  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
  • For me to take credit for what I have done would be like a shovel saying it dug a hole. (Benham Brothers – BB)
  • Work is worship. Ultimately to be made in the image of God is to be made a worker.  My daily work is ultimately an act of worship to the God who called and equipped me to do it. (Man Cave Monday – MCM)
  • Work is rearranging the raw materials of God’s creation in such a way that it helps the world in general and people in particular thrive and flourish. (Keller)
  • The Original (and continual) Lie – to meet my deepest needs, I must go AROUND God and not To Him. (MCM)
  • God’s answer to every prayer – I will be with you. (StoneBridge Church – SBC)
  • The only thing we contribute to our redemption is our need for it. (SBC)
  • The problem is not the darkness of the world; it is the lack of light. (I never have to ask my wife to turn on the darkness when we go to bed.)  (BB)
  • God is at work in 10,000 ways for his glory and my good every moment. Why am I fretting and trying to take control? (MCM)
  • No man ever steps in the same river twice. It’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. (SBC)

Other top candidates

  • If you are batting 1000, you are playing in the minor league. (Buffet)
  • If not now, when.
  • Turn today into someday
  • Truth is hate to those who hate truth. (BB)
  • If your theology does not become your biography, your theology is worthless. (BB)
  • All laws discriminate against some type of behavior. (Not against people, against behaviors.)  (BB)
  • Duty is mine. Results are God’s. (BB)
  • If you don’t live in integrity, you will either be exposed or live in constant fear of exposure. (MCM)
  • Friendship says “you too?”. (MCM)
  • The power for saying “no” to pornography is being convinced that God Himself and the pathway of Christian discipleship is more satisfying than the lure of lust. (MCM)
  • We say we are laid back when in reality we are just plain lazy.
  • Happiness is not found in comfort. It is found in The Great Adventure. (MCM)
  • Don’t be fooled by fools. (SBC)
  • Live with our back to the past. (SBC)
  • God can (and does) change my appetite. (SBC)
  • Think like a pilgrim, not like a settler. (SBC)
  • Unthinkable, becomes thinkable, becomes doable, becomes done. (SBC)

Certified by Russell Justice, January 2017

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Sugar Bowl – Auburn/Oklahoma 1972

The year was 1972 (New Year’s Day).  The Auburn Tigers with Pat Sullivan and Terry Beasley was playing Oklahoma in the New Year’s Day Sugar Bowl.  As Auburn students, big football fans, married and poor (income of $54 per week) Debby and I were determined to attend this big Auburn game – and enjoy New Year’s Eve in New Orleans.  And we did!  With the help of David Housel (working in the Auburn ticket office at the time – long before becoming Athletic Director at Auburn) we secured tickets.  We drove down with friends and again with the help of Housel we got a room in the hotel.    (By the way, one of the girls staying in that hotel room with us later became, not the wife of the guy she was with, but David Housel’s wife.)

We did enjoy New Year’s Eve on Bourbon Street (a first taste of blues that I still enjoy today).   Until ….. Debby woke up sick at her stomach.  Really sick!  We had a nurse in our room that night too (there were 8 of us in the room) and that helped out.  (By the way, that nurse, Shirley,  later married my roommate Steve who was also in the room.)   Nothing seemed to help, so, early in the morning on New Year’s Day we went to the Emergency Room at Charity Hospital on Tulane Avenue.  Think about that a moment – Charity Hospital Emergency Room, 3 o’clock in the morning, after New Year’s Eve in New Orleans.  The place was chaotic.  People shot, stabbed and bleeding.  Plenty of drunks.  And us!  (We didn’t realize until we later checked out that it really was “charity” hospital.) 

It was obvious that we didn’t fit in this crowd and not only did we get charity, but we got mercy, as they gave Debby quick attention.  Without really knowing what the problem was, the physician gave Debby some pain medicine to “knock her out” and relive the pain. 

The next day when it was time to go to the Sugar Bowl game, Debby was still pretty doped up.  To the point that we had to help her get to the game and find her seat.  (Only college aged people would be so knuckleheaded.)  After that …….. things went downhill.

Oklahoma killed Auburn and our high-flying offense.  They were the ones chalking up score after score and each time they played that silly, dreadful “Oklahoma” song as they drove the stage coach around the field.  After all the trouble and expense to be ther (from our meager budget) we stuck it out to the bitter end.   

All said and done — it was one of those trips never to be forgotten.  Some good times with friends, good foods, good music.   At the same time, a long painful night and day for Debby and a football game not to be fondly remembered. 

P.S.  Back at the campus infirmary a week or so later with more stomach pains, the doctor pressed on Debby’s stomach, said it was her appendix and sent us to the hospital.  

Russell Justice , January 2, 2017

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THIS IS WHAT THE CHURCH DOES IN A HURRICANE

On Hurricane Matthew Saturday in Charlotte the church came together outside Charlotte’s largest abortion center – the absolute darkest place in all of Charlotte – the very gates of hell.  150 or so of us from 5 churches gathered on the street and sidewalk for week 32 of the 40-week Love Life Charlotte (http://www.lovelifecharlotte.com/) campaign.  This is the way “the church” responds in the middle of the storm. This is the way the church responds to the horror of abortion in our midst.

The sight of all the men, women, children, umbrellas, and ponchos of every color was beautiful.  The voices raised in songs of worship and the countless prayers lifted must have been a sweet aroma to our Lord.  To stand in the stillness of prayer, surrounded by other prayer warriors, as the wind whipped and gusted and as the rain oscillated between pounding and steady — it was, for me, exhilarating.  For me it was the feeling of God’s obvious touch on our gathering.

For me the gem/thought/prayer of the day was that, moved by the Holy Spirit, the babies in the wombs of the mothers inside the abortion center would “leap” inside their mothers (like John the Baptist leaped inside his mother’s womb) as a sure reminder of the life in their baby.  And that the Holy Spirit would use that reminder to change the mothers’ dread, fear and anxiety about their unborn child into expectation, excitement and joy.

Russell Justice,   October 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Life’s 3 Great Questions

It has become my custom when meeting new people to ask them what I call “Life’s Three Great Questions”.  I have found this useful when meeting a new neighbor, someone new at a gathering or family event, at a men’s retreat or a Sunday school class.  When a new man joins our Bible study group, we welcome him by asking the 3 questions.   The questions provide a nice way to “unpack” someone and get the conversation started.

I first learned these 3 questions from a mentor and friend in the 70’s – Howard King.  Howard was a principle at a local county school and we attended church together.  In the summers Howard and I, along with a few others, conducted a Sunday morning worship service at Warriors Path State Park for the campers.  Howard was the speaker each week and I was a helper – setting up equipment, cutting the grass, and welcoming the campers.

By far my favorite part of this ministry was Saturday afternoon “visitation”.  Some of us would walk around the campground, meet the campers, tell them about the worship service and invite them to attend.  As you can imagine, we had some great experiences meeting the folks and hearing their stories.

On Sunday mornings (with mostly a different group each week) Howard would began his “sermon” each week with “Life’s Three Great Questions”.

–          Where are you coming from?

–          What are you doing here?

–          Where are you going next?

Howard would ask for responses from the crowd and we got to hear more of their stories.  Then he would always work the message around to “ultimately” where are you going?  Eternally?

While Howard had a passion to share the love of Jesus with the campers he also challenged and inspired me with his love for them, his genuine friendliness and his ease around others.  His compassion and caring were obvious as I hung around him.  From Howard I learned the lesson that while we were there to share the gospel and provide a place of worship for the campers – we were equally there to care and to be a friend.

Try out the “3 questions” with someone new.  See how they pave the way for you into their world.  And, of course, it is always well worthwhile to ask ourselves the 3 Questions – for both the moment and for a life review.

Russell Justice, December, 2015

P.S.  Some “gems” from Howard shared in 1998 talking to our men’s group about being a Warrior.

  • A Warrior should be for Not always making headlines by being against.
  • As a warrior, don’t spend your time on being defensive.
  • It’s the little things that matter.  (like a note, or fried apple pie, or a hug)
  • Don’t wait just for the big opportunities to do things for people.  Do the little things because they are always there.  God will certainly bless them and you won’t have any regrets for lost opportunities.
  • Love is stronger than hate.
  • Sign in garment factory – “when the threads become tangled, call the supervisor”.

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A MAN AND HIS TRAPS

Last night we finished our second Man Cave Monday study – A Man and His Traps (33 The Series).  Below are the Gems and notes from that study.  Enjoy!  Let me know what you think about the gems and notes.  The question for each of us is: what is the cheese that is trying to trap me? 

MOUSE TRAP

 

Weekly Gem Collection:

  • Week 1:   Idols: Behavior modification without heart change is DANGEROUS – it looks like holiness, but hides the real issue.
  • Week 2: Empty Promises: Idols are good things, made the greatest thing, becomes a sinful thing.
  • Week 3: Battle Plan: A big part of living the abundant life is STRUGGLING WELL with the traps and idols of our life.
  • Week 4: XXX:  The power for saying “no” to pornography is being CONVINCED that God Himself and the pathway of Christian discipleship is more satisfying than the lure of lust. (p65)
  • Week 5: Control:  God is at work in 10,000 ways for his glory and my good every moment.  Why am I fretting and trying to take control?
  • Week 6:  Less:  The essence of gospel humility is not thinking MORE of myself or thinking LESS of myself; it is thinking of myself less.   (Keller)

 

Top 20 Gems (no particular order):

  • How does it feel chasing stuff that is always just a little faster than you?
  • You can’t lose grace or get more of it.
  • Eating the apple was not a problem – looking for happiness outside of God was the problem.
  • Idols always over promise and under deliver.
  • Our hearts are idol factories.
  • God has created noble pathways to meet our God-given desires.
  • God’s noble pathways are ultimately more satisfying and more fulfilling than ANY alternative. 
  • We have not overcome our idols, just moved on to the new idol that our heart has manufactured.  Idols of 20’s: lust and thrills.  Idols of the 30’s: work and materialism.  Idols of the 40’s and 50’s: power and influence. 
  • You don’t have to find pornography, it finds you.  (Must build fences.)
  • Not taking precautions is the functional equivalent to saying “yes” to pornography. 
  • Every man has those days that – if he had access to porn he would go to it.  Being aware of that – I must play good defense.
  • God can take appetites away. (change appetites)
  • Accountability is not about telling your junk.  At the heart and soul it is giving someone permission to remind you who you are and who you want to be. 
  • With your wife – the hunt may be over, but the pursuit continues.  The pursuit, not to win her heart, but to gladden it.  To bring joy to her heart.  Now is the time to deliver the goods, the goods promised.  What you advertised her.  Wow her again.
  • Do I have more trust in myself than in God?  (control)
  • Anger isolates.
  • A truly humble person is totally interested in the other person. (Phil 2:3 (Learn the skill of unpacking.)
  • The answer to the fear of man is the fear of God – reverential awe.  (Know Fear vs. No Fear)
  • Happiness is not found in comfort.  It is found in The Great Adventure – Saddle Up Your Horses.
  • Comfort leaves us with slices of shame for dessert. 

10 More:

  • Life apart from sin is called heaven.
  • We say we are laid back when we are really lazy.
  • Idols are good things loved excessively and uncontrollably.
  • All men walk either in the shadow of the 1st Adam or in the light of the 2nd Adam.
  • The chief lie says that sin will make our future happier.  Our chief weapon is the truth that says God will make our future happier.  (Piper)
  • Key to overcoming pornography:  barriers PLUS satisfaction with God’s ways.
  • Show me a man connected to God, his wife, and trustworthy men and I’ll show you a man nobly fighting the battle with lust.
  • The power to saying “no” to pornography is being convinced that God Himself and the pathway of Christian discipleship is more satisfying than the lure of lust. (p65)
  • Fear is not always a sin, but it always is an opportunity for sin.
  • Warning – humor (everything is a joke) is a smokescreen used by those seeking comfort

 

SUMMARY (The 3 Deep Idols)

Control:

  • The Lie of Control – IF I can just maintain influence/mastery over this situation, people in my life, my performance, my schedule, my income, my future, or whatever …  THEN I’ll be okay, content, strong and safe.
  • The Antidote to Control – trust.  Trust in the God of the universe, my creator and sustainer.  More confident in God than myself.

Significance:

  • The Lie of Significance – IF “they” find me worthy of attention and acknowledge my value and greatness THEN I am significant.  (They = ???)
  • My significance depends on the opinions of others. (vs. reality).  Guess what, their opinions are often wrong!!
  • The Antidote to Significance – self-forgetfulness, serving others.
  • Example: Unpacking someone.  Skill to learn.

Comfort:

  • The Lie of Comfort – Happiness is found in comfort – apart from responsibility (physical ease, not involved, no obligations, no commitments, no responsibilities, no stress, laid back).
  • All hat, no horse.
  • The Antidote to Comfort — Pleasure/Happiness in life come from “the fulfillment of responsibility.”
  • Creating and Cultivating!

My GEM of the Study:  To meet my deepest needs, I must go TO God and not AROUND Him.

Russell Justice, 5/17/16

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THE BENHAM BROTHERS BROUGHT IT

This past Saturday morning the Benham Brothers spoke at our RealLife Men’s breakfast meeting.  Twin brothers, David and Jason are co-labors with me in family ministry. I have had the privilege of following in their footsteps and benefiting from the work they did before me.   They are men who have made an impact on this city, this state and this nation.  Men who have tasted success and failure.  Men who have paid the price for their faith. Because of their exploits and bold stance for family and faith, I believe God has chosen them to be Modern Day Hall of Famers. These guys brought it with high energy, biblical insight, and relevant/timely topics.  It was my privilege to turn them loose on the RealLife men of StoneBridge Church.

Below are the “Top 20 Gems of the Morning” captured by the 120 men who attended.  Also below is my “Top Dozen” Gems from their book:  Whatever the Cost.  Enjoy and let me hear from you.  If you want to learn more about the Benham Brothers, check out this link:  http://benhambrothers.com

Russell Justice, May 2, 2016

 

 

GEMS FROM REALIFE MEN BREAKFAST — BENHAM BROTHERS 4/30/16

  • If your theology does not become your biography, your theology is worthless.
  • Truth is hate to those who hate truth.
  • God’s blessings are only found within God’s boundaries.
  • Love all people.  Hate ungodly ideas.
  • The problem is not the darkness of the world; it is the lack of light.  (I never have to ask my wife to turn on the darkness when we go to bed.)
  • I can be a professing Christian, and yet be a functional atheist.
  • All laws discriminate against some type of behavior.   (Not against people, against behaviors.)
  • Real men don’t run from bullets, they run to them.
  • When men are asleep they are: unaware of what is happening around them, unconcerned about what is happening around them and unable to do something about what is happening around them.)
  • The secret to courage — – Recognize your inner coward.  Let God unleash your inner lion through the Holy Spirit.
  • Boldness apart from brokenness makes you a bully.
  • If you are captive, you need a warrior.
  • The wind that snuffs out the candle, ignites the coal.  Choose to be a burning coal not a flickering candle.  (Remember the song, “This Little Light of Mine” – Satan might blow out a candle, but not a burning coal.)
  • Be a lightning bolt, not a lightning bug.
  • Define myself by who I am, not what I do.
  • Church is something you are and testimony is something you live.
  • Live from the inside out.
  • Boldness precedes miraculous.
  • How you see yourself is how you conduct yourself.
  • You don’t train warriors on a playground.

 

WHATEVER THE COST – Benham Brothers – GEMS — Top 12

  • Biblical manhood is not for chumps.
  • Your greatest weakness is often an overextension of your greatest strength. 
  • Turn my theology into my biography.  Be the church and not just go to church.  Whatever God is doing in my heart should show up in my actions.
  • The goal of prayer is not to simply get an answer from God – it’s to get to know the God of the answer.
  • Duty is mine.  Results are God’s.
  • One of the biggest dangers for men is to find their identity in what they do as opposed to who they are.
  • There are two aspects to waiting on God: the state of waiting where we look and listen for God and the service of waiting where we serve while we wait. 
  • Two essential business principles: 1) produce more in value that you take in pay and 2) work to your ability and not your pay.
  • For us to take credit for building a successful business would be like a shovel taking credit for digging a hole.  (Remember the Turtle on the Fence Post and 1st Corinthians 4:7)
  • It’s hard to imagine what I would be like for just one day if my conscience grew silent.  Martin Luther King, Jr. said “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state but rather the conscience of the state.” The blame for our spiritual decline slide in America rests solely with the church.
  • God convinced us that money was His boundary for us – if we needed money, He would provide; if He didn’t, we needed to wait.
  • Our nation needs strong leaders and churches – men of God who run to the roar! (David and Goliath)

 

 

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Game Winning Moment

OK, so everyone (not just NC folks) is talking about THE game and THE shot last night (which I did not get to watch since it was not on my network TV antenna).   Mike & Mike on ESPN (not our Mike Rucker and Mike Bunkley show) are asking the question – if you could be the one who had the game winning basket, the walk off home run, the game winning touchdown – which would you choose?

For me, there is no question – the walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in the 7th game of the World Series.  I love most every sport – but in my heart I’m a baseball man.  Can you imagine …. the crack of the ball on the bat and watching the ball heading for the outfield fence and you know for sure it’s gone.  Running (jogging) the bases almost as if time is standing still.  Rounding each base and waving to the crowd.  Pointing to your family in the crowd.  Heading down the third base line for home where all your teammates are jumping up and down and waiting to mob you.

I had not intended to write or even think about this, but as I write this sitting in Uptown Charlotte Panera Bread – out of the “blue”, I begin to tear up as I think of that day when I arrive in heaven and the celebration begins.  Oh my!  The 9th inning, 7th game, World Series walk off home run is nothing compared to what That Day will be like.  To see Jesus face to face.  To fall at his feet in worship.  To hug family and friends waiting there for me. 

Some other thoughts.  Mike & Mike talked about soccer and hockey also, but I have to admit, I just don’t get it.  And a pet peeve for me – they talked about the Super Bowl game winning “kick”.  It just doesn’t seem right to me that a team that can’t get the ball past the 40-yard line should win a Super Bowl or a National Championship.  For me, the game is about getting the ball over the goal line.  And while I’m whining – I don’t really care for basketball games won by a foul shot.  Sorry for the digression – forgive me.

Back to the subject – Are you a baseball, football, basketball (keeping it to my favorite team sports) “man”?  I can enjoy imagining game winning moments in each of these.  It’s fun to sit back for a moment and just imagine.  How about you – what moment would you choose?   Take a moment, a quick break in your day, just to imagine and enjoy.   I’d love to hear your story.

By the way, Mike and Mike both chose the baseball moment.

Russell Justice, April 2016

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