Daily Archives: May 22, 2012

“B Strong”: Braden Aboud Memorial Foundation

Sunday morning the streets of the upper valley of El Paso swelled with runners and walkers, young and old alike, on a quest to finish the course and make a difference in the lives of others. Over 7,300 runners participated in the “B Strong: Branden Aboud Run Walk.” The money raised by this event this year will put new shoes on the feet of needy children, will provide scholarships for graduates of El Paso high schools, and will provide grants to touch and to change lives.

Gary and Cindi Aboud turned their own personal tragedy into opportunity to be a blessing to others. Their son Braden died in a tragic skiing accident when he was twelve years old. His untimely death broke their hearts in a way that only a parent can know. Yet they discovered that often times God uses broken hearts as channels of blessings to others. Healing of a broken hearts comes by helping others.

Braden’s classmates decided to honor his memory with a run/walk to raise funds for others, and soon the Aboud’s took over this event and transformed it into one of the most significant foundations in the nation targeted at meeting the needs of children. With my own eyes I have seen the smile on the face of a Franklin High graduate who held in her hands a scholarship provide by the vision of the Aboud’s. I have also seen in the paper Gary’s smiling face as he tied the laces of a brand new pair of tennis shoes on the feet of a student who probably could not remember the last time he had a new pair of shoes.

Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your faith that is in heaven.” Too often I fear that the followers of Jesus do most of their work behind the safety and isolation of stained glass windows. Gary and Cindi demonstrate that we can often do our best work out in the community as we collaborate and cooperate with boys and girls, men and women who are willing to give of themselves for others.

The Psalmist sang:

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning..”

The children of El Paso thank God for a family that transformed their weeping into joy by loving others. A family that turned their sorrow into an opportunity to touch and change the world.

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Filed under Border Journal, El Paso Journal, FBC El Paso

Fully Present

I fear my “smart phone” has outsmarted me.  Earlier this week I was sitting in a worship service seeking to pay attention to the service. Since I had a Bible “app” on my cell phone I used it during the Scripture reading. As the pastor explained the text I found my mind thinking about the score in the Texas Ranger baseball game that evening.

Since my “smart phone” could also tap into the “world wide web”, I decided to check out the score during the sermon, while trying to appear to be looking up another verse. At this point it hit me. I was not “present” in the service. My body was there but my mind had wandered off to the “Ball Park in Arlington.”

I must admit I fell under a heavy weight of conviction asking myself, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I pay attention?” Then I realized I had allowed my “smart phone” to outsmart me. I had given control of my mind to a tiny communication tool in my pocket.

Quickly I turned off my phone, plunged it deep into my pocket and turn my full attention to the preacher. I realized that “loving God with all my mind” requires giving Him my full attention especially in worship. It demands focus.

As I drove home after the service it dawned on me that I had become addicted to my “smart phone.” My mind drifted back to a morning when I was sitting in a Barnes and Noble in Amarillo. As I sat there waiting for my wife, I noticed three people at a table across the room from me. They appeared to be three close friends who had decided to share a cup of coffee together, but what was strange about the scene was that each one of them was talking on his or her cell phone.

I thought to myself at the time how odd that looked and how it was a parable of our time. As a people we are together but we are not really together. We have inadvertently allowed our technology that was designed to connect us to each other to rob us of “presence.” We sit together, yet we talk to someone else out of the room.


I remember telling myself that I would never fall for that bloody trap, but I did. Too often I find myself sneaking a peak at my “smart phone” during the evening meal with my wife and daughter, during a lull in a committee meeting, and now sadly even in a worship service.

Now I realize when the “smart phone” takes a seat next to me at the dinner table and I allow it to rob me of being truly present with those I love I have given into a sinister form of unfaithfulness. Paul taught rightly that “love is not rude”, and I now grasp that my quest for the latest score or checking my email or text in essence is the embodiment of being “rude” to those I love.

So how do I outsmart my “smart phone”? First, I discovered it has an “off button.” So now I intend to turn it off when it is time to be present with those I love. Second, the power to turn it off or lay it aside rests in the heart. It is a matter of love. I choose to give my undivided attention to those I love as a priceless gift. Honestly there is no greater gift we can share with each other than to be fully present when we are together.


Filed under Devotion, El Paso Journal, FBC El Paso