I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3: 8-12 NIV

Today was special. Five young men received their Eagle Scout rank recognition at the Court of Honor for Troop 8 at First Baptist Jackson.  I did not know two of the guys. I had worked with one a little during Carols this year. Another (also involved in Carols) is the grandson of a childhood friend. The fifth is Phillip (for the record he was in Carols this year as well).

Sometime back I wrote about his sister Jojo (Her Name Is Jojo – July 5, 2013). In that post I said that Phillip was a story for another day. Today’s the day.

Phillip is 15 now. Long before Steve and I “claimed him” as a sort of “adopted grandson”, I watched him around First Jackson. He would come in with his Dad as a little guy and put Andy’s offering plate in place before church while his Mom did Sunday morning warm ups.  He was one of those kids that I used to think was born “old”. I can assure you that I am certain now he outgrew that. But, from the cute little kid he has matured into a fine young man, excellent student, outstanding runner, and a fine big brother.

He is also my movie buddy (we have watched Fantastic 4, Night at the Museum I and II, The Last Samurai many times plus all kinds of stuff on the History Channel and some cartoons like SpongeBob and The Fairly Odd Parents), eats all the pepperoni pizza and drinks all the Coke I can produce, travels with us (and sometimes just me) to MLB games (Atlanta, St Louis, New York (were at Yankee Stadium the day Jeter got his 3000th hit), Chicago, and Baltimore so far), likes the beach, was fun to watch during his Little League days, makes up his own rules at “putt putt”, and was a great fort builder (from the sofa cushions) a few years back. He also convinced me to do a Segway Tour in Baltimore and reminded me recently we need to go to another city with the same tour company since we are already qualified to ride! Trust me – he was a natural. I just prayed I would not make an idiot of myself!

I think my first experience with him as a Scout was when he received his God and Country award. We watched as he learned by doing and learned from his mistakes. That last part makes me especially proud of him because some kids (and some adults) never do. I enjoy listening to what he and his friends are doing, what is going on at school, and in giving him the business about his interest in Mississippi State! I listen to him talk about Jojo and watched, as late as yesterday, how he can make her laugh and knows just how far he can push her buttons. I would bet my life though that he’d take a bullet for her and that makes me respect him even more.

I followed with great interest and excitement when he was part of the local contingent at 2013 National Jamboree at The Summit. Every day I followed the pictures, prayed for all those folks in all the rain they endured, and looked forward to hearing about his experiences. He did share some of those with me. As a Girl Scout into adulthood and a participant in several Scouting Wider Opportunities in my day, it gave me a connection to what he was experiencing. Those experiences are something no one can ever take away from him.

More important than any of these, he knows Jesus. And knows how to talk about that with others. I think that is the best of all.

This year he was elected Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 8. That is a big deal and carries with it a lot of responsibility. And he finished the requirements for Eagle including his project to build light boxes and a popcorn stand for The Little Lighthouse – where Jojo spent a few years in pre-school.  The Little Lighthouse is a special place and the work done for them will make a difference for a bunch of cool kids and the great folks who work with them. I enjoy spending time with him and his friends and am glad he still likes to come over and hang out with us at our house (though I wish he would dial back the volume on the TV a few decibels!). I should also confess that I worry that one day we may no longer be “cool enough” for him to want to hang out at our place. In the meantime I will keep the pizza and Coke stockpiled.

I thought it fitting that our pastor, Mark Smith, preached on leadership this morning using this scripture as part of his text. Three things he said really struck home with me:

“We are not victims of society. We are called to be change agents of society.”

“Believers can stop “pressing on” when we are dead.”

“You cannot fully love Jesus unless you are willing to suffer with Him.”

I hope that Phillip and the others in his Eagle class were listening. They have walked the walk so far showing their willingness to be change agents. They know about pressing on and I pray they will continue until they meet that mark that Paul talks about later in Philippians 3. And as he matures in his faith, I pray that each challenge he encounters in life will be acknowledged in the context of where God is in that situation.

We are proud of you. We are grateful that your Mom, Dad, and Jojo as well as your real grandparents have graciously shared you with us. And we have your back as we pray for you and continue to watch you grow and mature.

As for today, well done PT.


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