Southwest Florida Road-Trip

This past U.S. holiday weekend I enjoyed a 3-day / 3-county / 360-mile Florida road-trip to and from Fort Myers. It was my first visit to the region since last July. I always enjoy visiting Southwest Florida (Collier and Lee County). Usually I venture over there to see a concert at the Hertz Arena, and this trip was no exception.

My first stop though after crossing the Everglades via the Tamiami Trail was the flagship branch of the multi-site Collier County Museum in East Naples. It was my first visit since June 2012. Back then I thought it was my first visit ever – until I saw some of the exhibits outside – and then I realized that I had been there years earlier.

At the end of my 90-minute visit I picked-up a brochure for a nearby place that I never knew existed – the Naples Museum Of Military History – at the main terminal of the Naples Airport. So I went there, and I immersed myself in all of the awesome displays there. They were overflowing at the seams in the two rooms that they occupy there. They need more space, and hopefully they get it.

After that I took a ride out to the country and into the woods for another first-time visit ever – the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. What a wonderful and beautiful place this was – especially on a sunny and coolish day. I’m sure that it would be a miserable place to be during our 9-month bug season and especially our 5-month rainy season, but that was truly a great day to be outdoors strolling the 2.25-mile elevated boardwalk absorbing nature’s beauty – created by my Almighty God.

By the way all of the above was Day 1 of my road-trip !  Day 2 started in Fort Myers at probably their # 1 tourist attraction – the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. It was my first visit since April 2011. I love this place. I could work and have fun at this place after I retire from my military / civil service career. I took the 1-hour and 15-minute guided tour which was a lot of fun (even though I had done it before). I’d do it again !

On Sunday night I went to the Hertz Arena to see Franklin Graham conclude his recent tour of Florida. He led us in prayer for our nation and our leaders, and then he preached a classic Billy Graham Crusade sermon on Repentance & Salvation. That’s a topic that I’m quite familiar with, as many of my sermons are about the same. Jeremy Camp opened and closed for Franklin, as he performed 7 of his greatest hits. I’ll be seeing Jeremy Camp perform again at this very same arena in 6 weeks, as he opens for MercyMe.

Day 3 of 3 started back in East Naples at the Naples Botanical Garden – yet another first-time visit. I walked well over 3 miles for 2 hours at this fun place on a chilly and overcast morning.

I’ve got over 80 photos of this fun road-trip to and from Southwest Florida – also known as Florida’s Paradise Coast. At least 60 of those 80 photos will probably be uploaded and captioned on my Flickr site over the next few weeks. But I’ll close this blog post with a sneak-peek. It’s a photo of the chalkboard at the start of the boardwalk at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary where visitors can write-down what they’ve seen along their walk on the boardwalk. A little less than 90 minutes later – there were more sightings documented on the chalkboard.

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All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

My Flickr Photostream

Happy Thursday my friends. It’s the start of a 5-blog-post holiday weekend here at #CountUp. As is always the case – weekends start on Thursdays !

2019 was a great year for one of my other longtime social media platforms – Flickr – where I store all of my treasured photos online – many for public viewing. It was my most active year (as far as uploading new photos) since 2015, and it was the first year since 2015 that I uploaded at least 10 photos per month for all 12 months.

I plan to do it again in 2020. I’m off to a good start so far with 27 photos uploaded this month (as of last night). I’m currently uploading (and captioning) the best photos of my recent Christmas Eve trip to Okeechobee Florida. I’ve currently got 21 out of 52 photos up now, and I’ll probably put up another 20 over the next few weeks. (Generally out of every 5 photos taken on any given trip – 3 to 4 make it onto my Flickr Photostream for all to see.)

Here’s a photo that is not yet up on my Flickr site:

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That’s one of several military static displays located at Veterans Park in the heart of Okeechobee Florida where U.S. 98, U.S. 441, and Florida State Road 70 converge.

My Flickr Photostreamhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/cmday6567

You can follow me over there, or you can simply view my last 5 photos uploaded here at revchrismday.com. (They appear over on the right-hand side of the blog.)

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Sunday Scripture

On this 522ND and final Sunday of the 2010s I did what I’ve done for about 475 of those 522 Sundays, and that is to praise, worship, and celebrate our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ with my brothers and sisters of my church family.

I opened the service with God’s Word from First Thessalonians Chapter 5 (9 to 11):

For God decided to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ – not to pour out His anger on us. He died for us so that we can live with Him forever – whether we are dead or alive at the time of His return. So encourage each other and build each other up – just as you are already doing.

We had an unusually well-attended Sunday morning service for the final Sunday of the year – during the peak of holiday vacation time. In fact it was actually one of our biggest crowds of the year !

Today I led with my 30TH sermon over the past 3 years and 3 months. It was a groundbreaking sermon for me personally, and one that I was most nervous about. It’s the first time I went unscripted. I essentially had no idea what I was going to say until I actually said it. I used Internet memes to tell the story of how great our God is.

Earlier this year I began saving, collecting, and organizing Internet memes – mostly from Facebook. I then came up with the idea of preaching an entire sermon based solely on memes. Then I decided that it was a silly idea – perhaps even corny. Then I kept thinking about it, and praying about the best way to have a few dozen memes tell the story that I wanted to tell without the usual full manuscript that I write, edit, rewrite, enhance, finalize, rehearse, and print for each of my typical sermons.

I preached “Ways & Memes” today. It lasted a little over 45 minutes, and I think that it went fairly well considering I was out of my comfort zone at the pulpit. It can be rather risky giving me a wireless mic and 45 minutes to preach without a script, but I managed to do so without saying anything controversial.

Here’s 1 of the 30 memes that told the story of God’s Way:

Jesus Is

My next sermon is already half-written, and it’s titled “Church & State”. I hope to preach it to my church family in January or February. Meanwhile the saving, collecting, and organizing of Internet memes continues on. I’ll start compiling a new batch for “Ways & Memes 2” later in 2020.

All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Christmas In Okeechobee

Merry Day After Christmas my friends. I hope that you got to spend some quality time with loved ones, or you got to do something that you love.

For the 2ND Christmas in a row I embarked on a Florida road-trip to and from just a few hours to the north of where I live. This time I drove 355 miles round-trip to West Palm Beach, and then over to Okeechobee. It was a 4-day road-trip. I returned home yesterday (Christmas Day) morning.

Over in West Palm Beach I saw Jim Gaffigan LIVE in concert at the Kravis Center For The Performing Arts. He’s my favorite comedian today. I last saw him in 2010. Ryan Hamilton opened for Jim. He was very funny. He reminded me of Jerry Seinfeld. The next morning I spent a couple of hours at the historic Palm Beach Zoo. I got in for free as a military veteran. It was my first visit since 2010.

A few times each year I visit a town in Florida that I’ve never been to before, I haven’t visited in many years, or I’ve only driven through – in order to determine whether or not I wish to move there in a few years after I retire. I selected Okeechobee several months ago, and I spent a couple of days and nights there leading up to Christmas Day. It’s on the northern side of the big Lake Okeechobee.

While in Okeechobee I visited the main attraction – the big Lake ‘O’. I walked a couple of miles high atop the dike / levee known as the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail. If you were to walk completely around the lake then it would take you a few days to do so – because it’s 109 miles around the lake !  I also ate at a couple of family-owned restaurants “where the locals eat”, and I toured the town’s old historic downtown district. It was a fun visit, but I don’t think I’d want to move there after I retire. Its location is a bit secluded from other towns. I’ll visit again though. It’s got small-town charm.

I ended up taking over 110 photos of my excursions on this Florida road-trip. 3 of them are up above, and I’ll probably post about half of the remaining photos over on my Flickr site in the weeks and months to come.

All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Merry Christmas

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On this Thursday before Christmas (next Wednesday) I take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you following me and reading my blog a very Merry Christmas.

My traditional family “Christmas” actually occurred 3 weeks ago today on Thanksgiving Day. For the past dozen years or so my family has enjoyed a hearty home-cooked Breakfast, and then shortly after that we’ve opened all of the presents underneath the Christmas tree. Once they are all opened it’s time to watch the Macy’s Parade, and then football for the rest of the day and into the night – pausing for about an hour to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at around three in the afternoon.

On the day after Thanksgiving (“Black Friday”) Christmas is done and over for me. Well – sort of. For the first 3 weeks of December I get to observe and celebrate bits and pieces of Christmas here and there by putting up the Christmas tree and decorations in the church sanctuary, listening to Christmas music on the radio, watching Christmas shows on television, writing and sending out Christmas cards to friends from afar, and enjoying several Christmas luncheons with friends and coworkers.

We all celebrate Christmas in our own unique and traditional ways. May you spend this season with your loved ones. Make and share good memories that will last a lifetime. Honor each other. Love one another.

And may we remember why we celebrate Christmas.

And she will have a Son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21 NLT)

The LORD saves.

All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

Sunday Scripture

WELCOME to the “Winter Season Premiere” of my blog. Today – December 01ST 2019 – is the 12TH anniversary of this blog here on WordPress. It officially began on this date in 2007, but it was actually a continuation of my blog that started on Myspace a little more than 6 months earlier.

I’ve been on hiatus since my last post was published almost 2 weeks ago, but now I’m back. I got to spend quality time with immediate family over in North Texas, and we celebrated our annual tradition known as #ThanksChristmasGiving – 8 fun-filled days and nights of Thanksgiving and Christmas combined leading-up to the traditional Thanksgiving Day Dinner.

Over the next 3½ weeks I’ll celebrate Christmas here in South Florida with church family and work family. I’ll also be here online resuming blog posts every Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and Monday – starting today – with a special end-of-year post on New Year’s Eve.

Today I preached my sermon on the prophet Habakkuk to my church family.

Here’s how I started today’s sermon – before preaching on Habakkuk:

Well Good Morning (again) Church Family !  It is so great to be here – in the house of the Lord. You know this is a nice sanctuary that we have here – with this nice pulpit – on this nice big stage – and we have nice new chairs on our nice new carpet. We have an A.C. that works great. We have a roof that doesn’t leak.

This is the Lord’s house – but only because – we are here right now, and the Lord is with us. You know our bodies are the Lord’s house. That means that everywhere we go – is the Lord’s house. God’s presence – is there – right where we are. God lives within us – in our hearts. The Bible says that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit – who lives in you – and was given to you by God. You do not belong to yourself. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

I like Psalm 27 & 4:

The one thing I ask of the LORD – the thing I seek most – is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life – delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in His Temple.

That’s why we praise and worship Him. That’s why we have faith in Him.

Here’s how I closed today’s sermon:

As today’s prophets – with the temple of the Holy Spirit living within us – we must continue to go forth – together – as a church body – towards His bright light. We must remember what He has done for us in the past. We must accept what He is doing for us right now. We must trust what He will do for us in the future. We must believe in Him, for He is the only way. And we must invite our loved ones to join us for this journey. We want our loved ones to know the God that we know. That’s how we bring the church in everything we do – and in everywhere we go.

(And that Conclusion was actually a hidden “sneak-preview” of my next sermon to preach.)

All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries