Monday, June 30, 2008

Beach Blast Day One

So, the first day started off great. Somebody broke a window on one of the buses before we even left the parking lot. But after that things go a lot better. My bus was full of the 6th and 7th graders. They were awesome and very good and clean. We watched 3 movies, Night at the Museum, The Incredibles and Napoleon Dynamite.
The worship last night was incredible. The Turning did a great job. They did mostly songs that were unfamiliar to me, but it was still so worshipful. Mark Matlock is hilarious. He also brought his son, Dax, who is a very cool kid. He talked about Sharach, Meshach, and Abindigo (not sure about the spelling). He talked about how passionate they were for God (since our theme is Amp'd Up). Then he asked every student, on a scale from one to ten, how amp'd are you for God. It was cool for the kids to think about. Then, we had a night swim. I spent most of the time helping a kid who couldn't swim get around the pool, and some other kids do back flips. It was a great first day, except for the broken window.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Baptist Children's Home

Today, several of us went out to the Baptist Children's Home to play soccer with the migrant kids. Man, those kids are good. I've been working out a lot and exercising, and thought I was getting in o.k. shape (I'm still way out of shape, but better than I was). By the end I was weezing like...well, I can't think of a good analogy. Anyways, I was weezing really bad. It was about 110 and I was about to have a heat stroke. I scored one goal. Corbin scored one. Other than that, the only goals are team scored were for the other team. Those kids are super good.

It's cool to get to go hang out with these guys. They're just sitting there waiting to be deported, and whenever somebody comes to hang out with them, they get super-excited. I just wish it was cooler so we could have stayed longer. And hopefully, when they get back to Hondurus, or Ecuador, or Venezuelar, or wherever they're from, they'll remember some white kids came and hung out with them and tried to talk Spanish to them, and that they were from a church, and they'll decide to see what church is all about, and out of that experience God.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pancho Claus

All week we've been having Sports Camp at our church. I've been leading the Bible study for the 4th and 5th graders, and they've been a ton of fun. The first night I told a fart joke and a poop story. The rest of the night, the boys were farting. So I had to declare a "No Fart Zone" last night. Anyways, tonight, I'm talking about loving people and I'm going to share the story of Pancho Claus. I wrote a blog about it a year or so ago, and just reread it. I thought it was pretty funny, so I'm going to put it up here again, since I've been thinking about it today. Let me know what you think.

Every month my church goes out for a trip to do homeless ministry. We give away a great meal, clothes, toiletries, and some other stuff to people who live under the Commerce Street bridge or in the homeless shelter near there. This past Saturday I went along with a group of junior highers. I met some interesting people, and over the next couple of days I'm going to tell about the encounters that I had with some homeless people that I met.
First, I'm going to tell you about "Pancho Claus." He was a big man with a big white beard. He also was in a wheel chair and had a patch over one of his eyes. There was a man on a bicycle who called him "Pancho Claus" because he looked like a Hispanic Santa.
Well, Pancho had been talking to a couple of the kids, so I wanted to get close to him so I could hear and make sure they were ok. He was very, very drunk. The kids were being nice, talking to him, and inviting him over to get some food. We even offered to bring the food to him, since he was, after all, in a wheelchair. So after a few minutes, I knew we had to get back, so I said that to him to try to end the conversation. Well, he looked at me and said, "You come over here to talk to me, you don't have to be scared." I wasn't scared, so I walked over to him. He gave me his empty beer can to throw away.
After I threw the empty beer can away, he asked me to come back. So I walked back and he grabbed me by my hand. (Ok, a little freaky, but I'm still not scared) He starts talking to me, and I can't hear him very well. One, because I have bad hearing, and 2 because he was slurring his speech. He asked if he could have my sunglasses. I know sunglasses is a petty thing, and I could get along in my life without them, but they were expensive, and there was not a chance I was going to give them to him, especially since he only had one eye anyways.
So, he's got me by the hand and he says for me to listen to him, so I turn my head to point my ear at him, so I can hear him. This apparently makes him mad, and he hollers, "LOOK AT ME!" So, I look at him, but I can't hear him.
He tells me, "what do you see?"
I say, "I see a man."
"What kind of a man?" (you have to imagine this in the same type of accent as El Guapo from "The Three Amigos."
I say, "a good man?"
I say, "a hairy man?"
By this time I have no idea what he wants me to say. I am very aware of his sweaty hand and that all but one kid has left the scene. So, I guess, "a hippy man?"
He says "NO! I am a Roman Pirate and I'm here to kill the demons..." and then he rambles on about something that I really didn't understand.
So I say, very enthusiastically, "yeah, you do look like a pirate."
This apparently didn't make him happy, and he tells me, "You're a bad man. You're not a real Christian."
Well, I didn't like that much, so I asked him why he would say something like that.
He then grabs my hand tighter and says, "Look at me!" He lifts the patch from his eye a little bit and I am telling you now that was one of the grossest things I have ever seen. It was like looking into a fleshy hole. And he just wants me to look at him and listen. BUT HE DOESN'T SAY ANYTHING!!! He just holds my hand and stares. So, I just look back at him, and watching his other hand to make sure he doesn't pull out a butcher knife to chop out my eye to replace his. (OK, honestly, I'm getting a little spooked by this point)
After a minute or so, he asks me, "What did I say?" HE DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT. I said, "something about you being a Roman Pirate." That was really the only thing I could remember him saying.
Pancho Clause yells, "NO! Listen to me." Again he makes me stare at the hole in his eye and listen to him trying to speak with his mind. I really don't want to know what he was telling me with his mind thoughts. All I was really thinking was that I really want to wash my hand.
Again, after a minute of silence he said, "Did you hear what I said to you."
I said, "Nope, I didn't hear a thing."
Then he went off about this Roman Pirate thing and what it meant to be a real Christian and how we need to serve Jesus.
Then he started laughing and let go of my hand, and said he was just messing around with me. On the outside I was laughing with him, and on the inside I was screaming, "Dude, you are crazy."
Then, before I left, he asked me one more thing. "Hey man, I need some underwear, can I have yours? You can go behind that car and change for me."
I was like, "No, heck no." Then he asked Isaac. Isaac said, "No, heck no!"

I know I've been trying to think about how to love people more. Did I show love to this guy. I didn't love him, he actually freaked me out a little bit. (You look at a hole in somebody's eye while he holds your hand and tries to telepathically speak into your head by a guy who looks like a Hispanic Santa Claus in a wheelchair and tell me you're not a little freaked out too) But thinking back, did I meet his needs and show him love. We did bring him some food, and then he came over and got seconds. But then one of his friends told me that he was very lonely and wanted people to talk to him and listen to him.
I don't think I did all I could for this man, but I think this is what God had me to do for that day with this man to show him the love of God. Is it going to make a big difference in his life? Probably not, but for that moment, I feel that God was using me and the other students to show the love of God to Pancho Claus.

Sunday Morning Impact

I think we had a pretty good Sunday overall. Our game was a little weak though. We had 7 students come up to the front of the stage. We gave each of them a bowl of Rice Crispees. They had to eat as much of them as they could in one minute without using their hands. Alyssa was the winner. It seems like she wins every time she plays the game. None of the kids ate very many though.
Nathan led worship, and he did a pretty good job. I didn't know a couple of the songs, which is o.k., but the kids don't sing as well as they do on the songs they do know. But, I think it's great that he's teaching us new songs, which eventually the kids will know and sing to. It's just that getting acquainted part that is hard.
Our lesson was about going to church. I did the opener. I talked about how I feel that we don't take church as serious as we should. We (and I say 'we' because I do this too) come in late, we don't pay attention, and we make excuses for not going. Church is where we come to worship God. It's not for socialization and entertainment (although that's what we've begun to make it into). It's for worship. And if we really want to worship God, then why would be late. Why would we want to miss it. I know if I was going to a movie, I make sure I get there early so I don't miss any of it, not even the previews. It's sad that we don't have the same motivation about church, which is so much more important than any movie we could ever see.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wed. Night Impact

I know this is a little late. I've been busy with some different things and just haven't kept up with the blog as good as I should have. So, I'm going to catch up over the next couple of days.
Last Wed, I spoke about unknown heroes of the Bible. This was the third sermon on this subject. The first was about John Mark. The second was about a blind man named Bartimeus. This was about the 4 friends who brought their lame friend on a mat to see Jesus. When they came to the house where Jesus was, they found that there was no room. So, they went to the top of the house, and dug a hole in the roof, and lowered him down from the roof in front of everybody. The Bible says that Jesus saw the friends' faith and then he looks at the man and says that his sins are forgiven. Some people thought it was blasphemous for Jesus to say that, so Jesus told them, "which is easier, to say get up and take your mat and walk or that your sins are forgiven, but that you might believe, get up, take your mat, and walk." And at once the man got up off his mat and began to walk, praising God.

A couple of things that I think are interesting in this encounter with Jesus. First, it wasn't the sick man's faith that healed him. It was the friends' faith in Jesus. Second, Jesus is more concerned with spiritual health than the physical health. It was more important to Jesus that this man's sins were forgiven rather than his ability to walk. Third, it doesn't seem that anybody got upset that some guys dug a hole in somebody else's roof.

I told the kids that somebody you have to carry your friends. When they are going through a hard time, you have to support them and carry them to Jesus. For the most part, Christians have decided to kick the people who are hurting, and keep them down. We need to be willing to lift these guys up and pray for them, and have faith that God is the one who can heal.

And sometimes your friends will carry you. For me, it's easier to carry somebody than to be carried. I feel like a loser if I can't help out and participate. If I see somebody doing something that I should be doing, then I feel like a little lump of poo. But sometimes, we are going to go through hard times, and we can't keep it to ourselves. It's OK to ask for help and lean on others. And I want our youth ministry to be like that; a place where kids can feel comfortable and safe. And when they are struggling, people aren't going to judge them, but are going to lift them up. And when they see somebody struggling, we don't shy away, but stand up and offer to carry them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jim Gaffigan--Cake

I think Jim Gaffigan is hilarious. Here is a little video about him talking about cake.

Monday, June 9, 2008

13 Best Things about my trip to North Carolina

This past weekend, I went to Boone, North Carolina for my friend's, Jay, wedding. Here are the 13 things that I liked best about it.

13. I got to eat a lot of cake. I got there on Thursday, which was Jay's birthday, and we had cake from then until after the wedding.

12. I read the entire book, "21: Bringing Down the House" on my way up there. I felt like I was getting away with something, because that was what the book was about. I kept an eye out for "the man" who was trying to catch me, even though I didn't do anything but read.

11. I met some cool people. Jimmy's girlfriend was super-cool. Jay's wife was super cool, and so was her family. One of Jay's friends from Denver, Josh was super-cool. He told us some stories about when he was in the war in Iraq. Crazy stuff.

10. Rock Band. One night a bunch of us played rock band until about 2 in the morning.

9. Messing up Jay's car. We wrote a bunch of stuff all over his windows and covered it with toilet paper and seran wrap. Because Jay and his wife are missionaries, I wrote "Missionary Position, here I come." And then I covered it with toilet paper. I thought Jay would read it later after he left and started to clean the car. Instead, he pulled off all the toilet paper and seran wrap before he left, which uncovered that window with the writing on it. Jay's dad is an old Southern Baptist preacher. He saw missionary and started reading it out loud, and then he kinda trailed off after he saw that position came after missionary. It was super-funny, but I was embarrassed a little bit too.

8. The food was great. I had some prime rib at the wedding. I had a steak at the rehearsal dinner. I had ribs the night before that.

7. Paintball. We played on Friday morning. I got a lot of kills, and only one welt. Jay and Josh had some big welts, which cracked me up.

6. The farts. Jimmy, Jay, and Josh ate something on Friday night that gave them gas all weekend. Josh had the second smelliest fart that has ever entered my nose. It was awful, but at the same time, very entertaining.

5. Listening to Jim Gaffigan. He's freakin' funny, and it's funnier listening to him with people who have never heard him.

4. We watched "The Best of Chris Farley" and it was awesome. I love the Japanese Game Show.

3. Hanging out with Jimmy. We don't get to see each other very often, but I have a great time talking with him and telling funny stories with him.

2. Hanging out with Jay. I never get to see this guy since he lives half-way around the world. He's hilarious. He's also the most passionate person I have ever met about building the Kingdom of God.

1. Jay's wedding. Jay has wanted to get married more than any other person I have ever met. He finally found the right girl. It was awesome being a part of it, and getting to hear the preacher say, "I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Jay Pratt." And the crowd went wild.

21: Bringing Down the House

This was the true-life account of some M.I.T. students who were able to figure out a way to beat Blackjack mathematically. In the 90's, some students began playing together, and developed a system, with the help of a professor (who had developed the system in the 70's). They would go to casinos all over the place; Vegas, Atlantic City, Shreveport, and riverboats. Over the course of a few years they were able to win a millions of dollars.

I liked the book a lot. It had a lot of moments that you weren't quite sure what was going to happen, and you had some moments that were anxious about what was going to happen. They make it sound easy to beat the game of Blackjack. In the book, they even tell you how they did it. Of course, these guys were mathematical geniuses. I tried it by myself, and it didn't work that well.

They made a movie about it, but I haven't seen it yet. I'm glad I read the book first. I'll probably wait for the movie to come out on dvd. I started reading it on Thursday while I was waiting to get on a plane for North Carolina, and by the time I arrived, I had finished the book. It's a real easy read, and if you like stories, this is a great one. Go check it out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Birthday Present

My birthday was last Wed. and I told Suzy all that I wanted was a babysitter so that we could go and do something, and actually eat a relaxing meal at a restaurant. So, she got our friends, Janie and Adrian, to come and watch Parker. They got their pretty early, and we left. We went to tube the river up near Spring Branch. I had done it a couple of times last summer, and thought it was fun. Plus it would be relaxing and something we could do without having to see a movie or wait in long lines at Fiesta Texas.

We got there, and hardly anyone was on the river. It was great. But about 2 minutes after we got in, 3 guys got in behind us. These three guys were the stereotypical dumb rednecks. When I picture rednecks, these are the guys that came to mind, and now I got to see them in real-life. It was about 10 in the morning and they were already drunk when they got into the river. They had a couple of flasks and a couple of cases of beer. It was about 100 degrees already, and they were just getting trashed.

We couldn't help but overhear their conversations, because they were yelling at the top of their lungs. One guy, Bobby, was the worst. He was the drunkest, and the dumbest. At one point it came out that it took him 6 years to finish high school. He was 20 when he graduated high school. Once, he dropped his beer into the river, and then went in after it. He wasn't a good swimmer, but he got his beer. The problem was that he couldn't get back to his raft. He was struggling and struggling. I was watching this for a while, because he was about 200 yards ahead of me. Then I started thinking, this kid is going to drown. His friends didn't care; they were throwing rocks at his head. I paddled over and kicked the raft to him. The first thing he said was, "Got my beer." A little after that, he mentioned that he was in trouble with the law and that he had a baby on the way. Suzy and I joked, that I bet the mother of his baby probably isn't a college graduate and that was going to be one stupid, ugly baby. I know that's a mean thing, but this guy looked like the bad guy from "The Green Mile."

The funniest thing of these dumb rednecks was when two of them were way down river from Suzy and me, and Bobby was way behind us. They were yelling at him to catch up, and he honestly thought he was in front and they were way behind him. He was so drunk. We ended up being by these guys the entire trip, and the bus ride back to the tube rental place. It was a fun day.
The rest of the day was a lot less entertaining. We went shopping for some clothes for a wedding I'm going to this weekend. We had dinner at Dave and Busters with some friends and played some games. It was a good day and a good birthday present. She also got my Rock Band for XBox too.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sunday Morning Impact

I feel like yesterday morning was one of the better Sunday Mornings that we have had in a while. Our game was one where kids put clothespins on their sleeves, and then it was basically a game of tag, trying to get their clothespins off. The last person with their clothespins were the winner. There is one girl, who comes about every other week. Every time she plays a game she wins, and she won again yesterday. There was a lot of energy during the game.
Nathan led worship, and did a great job. Like I said last time, he gets better every time he leads.
Duncan, one of our adult leaders, did the opener. Our last few lessons have been about doing ministry. Duncan is a helicopter pilot for the Army. He flies the Black Hawks. (every time I think "down" should come after "Black Hawk"). But his job isn't to go into areas and rain down bullets. He gets to go to Central America and bring aid to the people there. He helps build schools and roads for little communities. He helps kids and brings them clothes and food and candy. It's really pretty cool. He talked about different things that he has done. He showed a bunch of pictures of what they do. I know it's with the Army, but Duncan uses his talents (flying helicopters) to help people. He still gets to show the love of Christ by taking care of people who are less fortunate. That's what we want the kids to see. Most of them probably won't be missionaries who go out and plant churches in 3rd world countries, but they will be missionaries. Some might be teachers, or nurses, or doctors, or whatever. But where ever they are, they need to see that God can use their gifts and talents to help people.
Another of our leaders, Charles, played baseball. He went all over Central America and Mexico playing baseball, and then having the opportunity to share his faith with people. God can use any thing if we are willing to be used by him. Our scripture was in 1 Kings 17, about how a widow took care of the prophet Elijah. She used what little she had to take care of Elijah. God blessed her and her family because of her willingness to do what God wanted. We don't have to do super-big things in order to be used by God. Most of the time he uses us in very small ways, that nobody will ever write a book about. We just need to be willing, and look for the opportunities for God to use us.