Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Eagle or Oyster?

We, as Americans, must not sacrifice freedom for security. I like the difference between the American oyster and the American eagle. When God made the oyster, he put a big thick shell around him, put him deep in the water, and provided him constant nourishment. Whenever he gets hungry, he just opens his mouth, sucks in food, and then shuts his jaws. When God made the eagle, He put him out in the mountains and said, “Build your own nest and fight your own enemies, and raise your own young, and provide your own food, and stand against the wind and the rain. But I will give you the great blue sky to fly in and the strength to endure.” I am so thankful we are Eagle, not oyster, people.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Darren Strickland's Eagle Scout Court of Honor

Scoutmaster Gourley: Welcome to this special meeting of Troop 51. This afternoon we are gathered to celebrate the achievement of the Eagle Rank by Darren Strickland. First, I ask Brian Witthoeft to open this Court of Honor by thanking God for this day.

Brian W: (...opening prayer...)

Scoutmaster Gourley: Please stand for the presentation of the colors. Color guard advance...Scout the colors.

[Scout]: Please join me in the pledge of allegiance (...recite pledge...)

Scoutmaster Gourley: Color guard retreat. You may be seated. It is my pleasure to declare this Court of Honor officially open. Would [names of four Scouts] please come forward and recite the Scout Oath, Law, Slogan, and Motto (...scouts come forward...)

These are the principles on which Scouting is built. Members of Troop 51 please stand and make the Scout sign.

[Scout 1]: recite Oath
[Scout 2]: recite Law
[Scout 3]: recite Slogan
[Scout 4]: recite Motto

Scoutmaster Gourley: Thank you gentlemen, Troop be seated. Now we have an opportunity to reflect on the makings of an Eagle Scout as we hear from a few individuals concerning Darren's journey toward the Eagle Rank.

Brian Blankenship: speaks

Mrs. Beatty: speaks

Dad: speaks

Today we are here to celebrate Darren's achievement of becoming an Eagle Scout…AND an all around fine young man! As proud of Darren as I am, this achievement is not just about a single individual's accomplishment. This celebration is about the accomplishments and teamwork of many people.

It's about Troop 68 in Beavercreek where Darren started his scouting journey 7 years ago. It's about Troop 362 here in Xenia who welcomed Darren when we moved from Beavercreek to Xenia in late 2002. It's about people like Mr. Davis, Mr. Conover, Mr. Seva and others investing their time, talent and energy into Darren and many other scouts along the way. It's about Troop 51 in Waynesville welcoming Darren as a First Class Scout and helping him through the rest of his scouting journey. It's about individuals like Brian Blankenship, Gordon & Shelly Beatty, Alan Carter and others guiding and helping Darren and many other scouts. It's about all the individuals who gave of their time, energy and other resources to help plan and complete Darren's Eagle Scout Project at Apex Community Church.

So to each and every one of you who has invested in Darren and helped him to become the person he is today, AND to become an Eagle Scout…I say, "thank you!"

Darren, the journey to this moment has been one of the longest single journeys you've been on in your 17.5 years. It started when you were 10.5 in March 2002 with your first visit to Troop 68 when we were living in Beavercreek. It continued when you were 11, in the fall of 2002, when we moved to Xenia and you transferred to Troop 362. And it continued on when you were 12, in 2003, when we transferred to Troop 51 in Waynesville. So, Darren, 3 Boy Scout troops and 7 years later, we stand here today celebrating your journey from Scout to Eagle Scout AND all those who helped you along the way.

As Darren's father, I'd like to quickly review the Scout Oath and Law qualities I have observed in Darren over the years.

The Scout Oath:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
And to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep my self physically strong,
Mentally awake, and morally straight.

The first line of the Scout Oath talks about doing your best - in most endeavors Darren undertakes, he does strive to do his best, whether it is studying for a test, learning a classical guitar piece, or just being a friend.

The fourth line of the Scout Oath says "to help other people at all times" - Darren is keenly aware of the needs and feelings of others and is usually very helpful when he sees or discerns a need.

The last line of the Scout Oath talks about being morally straight - there is no doubt to anyone who knows Darren that he is a person of high morals based upon his personal relationship with God.

The Scout Law:
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,
brave, clean, and reverent.

While I have observed all of the Scout Law characteristics in Darren over the years, the following stand out to me:

Friendly, Courteous, Kind and Cheerful - Just by meeting Darren you know he is friendly, courteous, kind, and cheerful.

Obedient - He has been trained in obedience and has mastered that character trait well, unlike his father, who still struggles with authority.

Thrifty - Darren demonstrates the quality of being thrifty by always searching and shopping for the best deal.

Clean - He can't help but to be clean in the German heritage and environment in which he has been raised.

And finally, Reverent - Darren is reverent to his God and to all people he encounters.

Darren, in conclusion, before all of these people (family and friends), I want to say that I am so proud of you, I love you and I respect you. You have indeed grown into a fine young man and one of your rewards is to be able to call yourself an Eagle Scout for the rest of your life. Congratulations.

Dillon: Darren please come forward. I would like to invite all Eagle Scouts in the audience to come forward and introduce yourself, including the Troop and year when you received the Eagle Rank. (...introductions...)

Eagles, please make the scout sign and rededicate yourselves silently while the Eagle Scout Promise is administered. Darren, repeat after me:

I affirm my allegiance
To the promises of the Scout Oath.
I thoughtfully recognize,
And take upon myself,
The obligations and responsibilities,
Of an Eagle Scout.
On my honor, I will do my best
To make my training an example;
To make my rank, and my influence,
Count strongly for better Scouting.
And for better citizenship,
In my troop,
In my community,
And in my contact with other people.
To this I pledge my sacred honor.

Dillon: It is my honor to present the Eagle badge to you
( badge on...)

Scoutmaster Gourley: As your Scoutmaster it is my pleasure to present the Eagle neckerchief and slide.
(...present neckerchief and slide...)

Now, Darren, you have the opportunity to recognize some very special people who have helped you in your journey to the Eagle Rank.

Darren: gives pins and gives thanks

Scoutmaster Gourely: Color guard advance...scout salute...retrieve the colors....retire the colors.

Brian Witthoeft: (...Closing prayer...)

Scoutmaster Gourley: Thank you all for coming today. Please enjoy the refreshments and
congratulate Darren Strickland, Troop 51's newest Eagle Scout.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Living a GREAT life!

What does living a GREAT life mean to you?

You do know a GREAT life doesn’t just happen, don’t you?

It seems to me that a GREAT life has at least 3 components:

One, a GREAT life is one that is chosen and is lived in the service of something greater than self. What greater purpose is there than the Kingdom of God and sharing the Good News?

Second, a GREAT life makes a contribution to something larger than self. A GREAT life stands up, speaks out, and gets things done. A GREAT life makes a difference and leaves this world better than we found it.

Third, a GREAT life leaves a path for others to follow. A GREAT life leaves a legacy and inspires the next generation to go further and achieve more than we did. This is the crux of discipleship.

I love the story of the "star thrower," about a man walking on the beach after a storm, throwing starfish back into the ocean so they won't die on the shore. Someone criticizes him for wasting his time, noting that there are millions of starfish, and the few he saves won't make much difference. The man silently bends over, throws a starfish into the surf and replies, "It made a difference for that one."

Set your minimum standard to live a GREAT life: to know your purpose, make a contribution and leave a legacy. Make a difference for “that one” already in your life.

Some day each one of us must look back and assess our life, and when that time comes we want to know it was a GREAT life, with a certain purpose, contributions, and those who can carry the message on.