High Five’s or New Rules

I have been thinking about Game 6 all day today. The game had so many amazing features and I didn’t even turn it on until the 8th inning. Even though I am not a huge fan of either team, two of my favs are in the series: Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton…neither disappointed last night.
However, the clear MVP of the game was David Freese…he pulled off a night that was simply amazing. In the 9th inning he belted a 2 run triple that tied the score and sent the game into extra innings. After Josh Hamilton pounded out a 2 run homer the Cards tied it with some scattered hits.
So we get to the bottom of the 11th inning and the score is tied 9-9.
It was over. David Freese hit a walk off home run to send the series into Game 7. I have been trying to imagine what it would have felt like when he realized his ball cleared the fence. I have also have been wondering what it felt like as he rounded 3rd base and saw all of his teammates (I have attached a picture) waiting for him.
I have also imagined what it would have felt like to be a teammate waiting…
After looking at their faces, it is obvious that they are so excited for Freese to come home. The reunion at home plate was pretty special. They were so overwhelmed with emotion that they all wanted shout for joy and hug him and then proceed to tear off his shirt.

Before that amazing game last night, while waiting for Alexa to finish her soccer practice, I was playing with the kids on a playground. There were a few older kids who were playing tag. I stayed pretty close so that if one of them ran over Dallas it wouldn’t take me long to pick up the pieces. It took quite a while for the kid who was “it” to tag anyone else. Finally, he made a move and hit the boot of another kid
Rule change…
The one who had been tagged decided that it would be best to clarify the “rules” to state that one must be tagged on their actual body and that a boot would not work. After that interaction, the game of tag died out and the kids went their separate ways.
That simple game of tag and the reunion at home plate illustrate two totally different emotions. The kids playing tag didn’t want the person who was “it” to come close. They did everything they could to stay away. In order for them to do this, they had to constantly be on the run. There was no rest.
The reunion at home plate was marked by guys who could not wait for their hero to get around the bases so that they could congratulate and thank him.
When it comes to our relationship with God, some people seem to think it is best to stay away from Him out of fear that God will catch them. On the other hand, there are those who are overwhelmed with excitement for and anticipation of the presence of God.
The difference is found in our view of God…if we see God as a sort of Cosmic policeman waiting to arrest us as soon as we make a mistake then we will do our best to steer clear of Him. However, if we see Him as the hero of our life we will yearn for his presence.
This Sunday, we get to study one of the greatest chapters in the Bible…Revelation 4. This passage goes to great lengths to describe the person, nature and gift of God. It is my prayer that we will see Him as our Loving Redeemer who is worthy of all our praise.
Now for game 7….and a bit more sermon prep (not necessarily in that order =)).


I tink they’re talking about me…

Yesterday morning we were hosting a Bible study at our home and were discussing the sermon from this past Sunday from Revelation 3:7-13 about the church in Philadelphia. We were talking about going through open doors and taking opportunities when they are presented.
Dallas was hanging out with us during that discussion. He walked over to Leigh-Ann and whispered in her ear, “I tink (think) they are talking about me.”
So, Leigh-Ann interpreted…
Dallas had just been upstairs and was shutting every door, so Leigh-Ann told him that he didn’t need to close every door. Shortly after that conversation upstairs, he came down and heard us talking about walking through open doors and naturally assumed that we were talking about him.
I share this story for several reasons:
·         It’s pretty funny
·         It proves how smart 2 year olds can be
·         It communicates that we are wired to personalize more than we should
·         It shows that Dallas was concerned about how his actions may affect more people than himself
That last point is the one that I want to unpack for a bit. It is a good thing to be concerned about how our actions affect others. This Sunday we are looking at Laodicea which is the 7th and final church addressed by Jesus in Revelation 2-3. Their problems boiled down to the fact that they were apathetic.
They did their thing…they assumed they were good; however, they were failing miserably. Generally speaking the church in America which is made up of people like you and me relates far too well.
We have accepted a faulty valuation system which has provided us with a false sense of security and success. Unfortunately,  we don’t seem real concerned with how our actions affect most others around us.
If you are thinking that I am ready to hit people over the head on Sunday, don’t “tink that I’m talking about you =).” This journey is about growth and God has been generous to provide opportunities, mentors and grace for each of us.
I hope to see you Sunday!

The Outrageous Promise

Leigh-Ann and I made it home safely from Budapest this past Monday evening. I think we are both pretty well adjusted back to the Central Time zone and living in America. Clearly we missed our kids, family and friends, but we had such a great time.

I have shared with several others that it was amazing for us to participate in the harvest from the fields that had so much labor invested into them before we arrived.

That sounds so churchy….here is another way to put it: We got to see God move!

Last weekend, there were about 160 public school teachers (the majority of them did not know Jesus) that attended a symposium. At the end, 44 of them communicated that they would like to know more about Jesus and 4 of them made decisions to follow Jesus.

As a result of last weekend with the teachers, more than 10,000 public school students will see the Jesus film in a classroom this year.

Over the past 17 years more than 295,000 students have seen the Jesus film and thousands have made professions of faith. We listened to teachers share firsthand how they had already been impacted.

One shared that her son was a senior in high school and had been in trouble for abusing alcohol and drugs. He took the class and saw the Jesus film and accepted Jesus into his life. His mom who is a teacher shared that the change was so dramatic that she wanted to know what had happened. When she learned that he had become a Christian, she accepted Jesus as well and was now attending the symposium in order to teach the curriculum in her classroom.


This happened because 17 years ago, Gabor Gresz who was raising support as a missionary to his own country, sent a support letter to the National AIDS coordinator for the country of Hungary. Dr. Banhegy read about the ministry to young people and asked if Gabor and his boss would be willing to write a curriculum for the public schools.

It was a bit bizarre for missionaries to be writing AIDS curriculum, but they believed that God was opening a door and so they went through by faith. The curriculum is packed with Biblical principles and suggests that students watch the Jesus Film as a part of the class time. Since then the curriculum translated as, “Youth at the Threshold of Life” is now being used in classrooms in 62 countries including China.

This all was born out of a time of extreme difficulty in a country that had been dominated by communists. Shortly before the letter was sent, the entire missionary team decided that they should take a break from ministry and pray for God to move. And the rest, they say is history…except for the fact that it continues to challenge us today.

This story can be read in detail from the book written by David Robinson and Gabor Gresz entitled, “The Outrageous Promise: A story of God’s love beyond the Iron Curtain” (http://www.outrageouspromise.com).

This story may be inspiring, but it is not the first and will not be the last about God moving in unexpected ways. In fact, this Sunday we will look closely at the church in Philadelphia from Revelation 37-13. They were not afraid to walk through open doors and were brave enough to stick with their calling even in tough times.

God is still on the move and we have an invitation to join in…


Budapest and beyond…

Where do I start…there are so many topics to write about and so little time. We have been in Budapest all week and it has been absolutely incredible.
We arrived on Sunday afternoon and stopped at the hotel and then took the bus straight to the church that our friends helped to start. That evening after church we enjoyed an awesome Hungarian dinner and then received our instructions for the week.
On Monday we woke up early and went to a training class for the morning and part of the afternoon. Then I worked on a talk that I shared in the evening with an English club in a University dorm.
Tuesday and Wednesday we were allowed into the public university English classes to share short stories and then break down into groups of 2 or 3 to allow the students to practice English. In the afternoons we walked around the campuses and did “random evangelism” using surveys and the “Four Spiritual Laws.”
There are about 40 of us from America and we were split up all over the city to share the Gospel and invite the students to a gathering on Wednesday night where the Gospel would be shared. We were praying for about 200-250 and had a total of 268 chairs in the building. We ended up with about 400 showing up….it was packed. That was an amazing experience to see God answer prayer with such an overwhelming response.
Thursday and Friday have been very relaxing with much time to tour the city. This evening (we are 7 hours ahead of you), we began the Symposium where about 200 School Teachers have come to learn the curriculum. We have the opportunity to build relationships with the teachers and then hope to share the Gospel with them. Tomorrow night, each teacher will be invited to a dramatic presentation of the Gospel called, “Story of the Soul.” We have already heard stories of teachers whose lives have been changed through this outreach.
We will wrap up the symposium on Sunday and then pack up to leave for home early Monday morning. I want to close with a pretty awesome story that happened this morning while Leigh-Ann and I and a friend were headed into the city to do some sightseeing and find some souvenirs.
We were waiting for the tram and a little elderly gentleman eyed us from a few feet away. I was practicing a Hungarian word that I can’t even remember and honestly was not sure of its meaning. Not the smartest idea ever….as soon as I spoke he looked right over at me. He put his umbrella in my chest and with a bit of a grin motioned for my wallet. I told him I only spoke English and he quizzed me to see if I spoke Hungarian or German. After a few seconds he smiled and pointed at my running shoes and said “American?”
Then he started humming a bit of tune and asked in German if Leigh-Ann knew how to dance. I told him she was a great dancer and so he took her hand and started dancing. Right in the middle of the street with people everywhere. Then they kissed European style on each cheek and then he kissed her hand. Leigh-Ann had made his day! I was so fun to be in the middle of the city meeting such a sweet old man….
I was once again reminded of how every person in the world wants to feel important. Although it is so easy to think that I need to be a part of major ministries to change the world, the truth is that I simply need to seize the opportunities that God gives to touch a life. This could mean that we travel overseas to be a part of a well organized program or it could simply mean that we strike up a conversation with someone God puts into our path to put a smile on their face and hope in their heart.
 Leigh-Ann and I are so full of God’s blessings, and we can’t wait to share more…
 Love to you all!