Monday, April 23, 2007
The Red Sox swept the Yankees this weekend :) That always makes a weekend better.
Next time I buy a grill it will be the pre assembled floor model.
I was so happy how I had pitched last week in my old mans league. I was equally disappointed with this weeks outing. My arm is killing me.
Rice Lake Wisconsin is a long ways away. Thank you Micah for spending friday with me. (I drove to this little quaint town in northern wisc to pick up books).
Our worship service/gathering has a really good music leader. We will soon be doing our service weekly.
Back,back,back, back (ramirez,drew,lowell,varitek). The highlight of my weekend.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Throughout this week I was thinking through the context living in America and what it would mean to live missional here. As I was thinking about the missionaries of Indonesia they shared how they brought in medicine to the tribes. Could you imagine if someone came here to America with something that physically change our lives? The medicine can change the way these tribes live their lives, it can save their children from diseases, and it can prolong their own lives by many years. I think this concept has to be brought to the people we want to share with in America. What these missionaries are doing is adding value to their culture. Before they can share their faith, they not only have to learn the language but they have to have some form of platform to speak on.I saw this in action yesterday.
I started volunteer coaching baseball at wheeler high school. Yesterday was my first day and before the coach introduced me and told about my illustrious college career :). I forgot to tell him about all the yahoos I played with. But nayways when these kids realized that I could them preform better in their baseball playing they all clamoured to talk to me. Now it was perception. Was I a college baseball star? Not in the least. But, there was a perception that since I had played college baseball that I would have something to offer them. Who knows how this can help in my sharing my faith and values with them. But, isn't that the point for us as Christians? If we live in our community and add value to people in our areas of expertise then what would life look like? If we took the church to them it might actually change the world that our kids are growing up in.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Here are Lance's thought's on the night: if you would want to respond directly to him his email is firstname.lastname@example.org
As we walked up to the Indiana State Prison, I found myself tensing up inside, hoping it wouldn't show on the outside. During my drive up earlier in the day, I asked God, "What am I doing here?" This was my first visit to a prison, let alone a maximum security prison. It was obvious Ben had gone through the routine before, as he seemed quite relaxed.
After going through several gates of security and flashing ID badges at a few checkpoints, we wove our way through the halls to a door leading outside, then across a short courtyard to a century old chapel that could probably hold around 400 people. As we entered, another class was taking place with about 50 inmates scattered around the room, so we took seats in the back. As we sat, Ben motioned to an inmate by name sitting several seats over. The huge smile that appeared made it clear that Andre was very glad to see Ben. A few moments later an inmate that looked like he just arrived in a time machine from 1970 walked up and started a lively one-sided discussion about a contradiction he had noticed in the chapters of the book. His argument was persuasive, and Ben just nodded and smiled. Dave went on to chat about how well he was doing in school, listing the grades for each class, beaming with excitement about his progress and the potential merit it could earn him to reduce his sentence.
The class in progress was wrapping up, and we got up to moved to the aisle. As we stood, several other inmates approached us, and Ben greeted them each by name, introduced me, and participated in light banter with each about various topics.
I struck up a conversation with Andre. He was a large man, probably would've been a linebacker or defensive end in high school, yet carried a very calm and quiet presence about himself. He looked to be 30ish, and began to tell me about his four children, all under the age of 10. Before I knew it, he had whipped out a stack of photos, and was proudly displaying them to me, rattling off their names and ages. He then showed me pictures of his wife, and was full of compliments for the way she was raising them while he was in "the joint." I felt so at ease talking with this man who most likely committed a horrific crime, and I almost forgot I was in a place that housed death row offenders. Andre went on to tell how he was came to know Jesus in 2004 (he quoted the date), and how his life before knowing Christ was full of one terrible choice after another. He said growing up in east Chicago was really tough, but God is faithful. We talked about the importance of praying for our kids, staying faithful to Christ, and the power of encouraging others. Then he quietly said something about having to be here for 60 years, as if it were going to be over soon. At that moment the weight of it all hit me....
I struggled with the fact that this man was human, and that he would be staring at the barbed wire surrounding the complex until my own toddler sons were grandparents someday. I struggled with the thought of Andre's children only knowing their father through plexiglass visits and timed phone calls. I wrestled with the idea that if I knew the man's actual crime, I might find myself thinking "And you only got 60 years as a penalty?"
Class began as Ben handed out the essay tests, and the inmates took 15 minutes to fill in their answers. As each came to turn in their papers, Ben introduced us. Each man looked me in the eye and shook hands.
Ben shared on the first two chapters of the night, covering the ideas of Accepting Your Assignment for Service and realizing that we're all Shaped for Serving God. He did a great job hitting the highlights of the chapters, engaging the students, and wrangling the tangential comments back on course. As he asked for feedback from the group, he called out each raised hand by name - this was very striking to me.
Then it was my turn to share from the final two chapters for the night. By this time, all my fears were gone as I felt as if I was speaking to a bunch of guys I could hang out with to watch a game this weekend or play a pickup game of hoops. I highlighted the author's chapters on Understanding Your Shape and then Using What God Gave You. Again, the group was very willing to participate in discussion and offer insight based on their unique experiences. It was an easy discussion to lead.
As time ran out on our class, the guys started to dismiss and several approached Ben and I to offer thanks for making the effort to be there. They seemed very genuine in their gratitude, and had I not been in a maximum security prison, I would've never realized I was rubbing shoulders with a population of men that the church - for the most part - has left to rot inside these thick concrete walls.
Ben and I left I.S.P. telling each other about the conversations we had with the men that night, and how apparent it was that once Christ enters a man's heart, no matter what evil that heart had done, that same heart can become new.
This was my first visit to a maximum security prison. It won't, by the grace of God, be my last.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Many people like me want to change; the question is how we get the inspiration/motivation to do this. My inspiration comes many times from those around me.
I am going to share some of the different areas that I have been challenged recently in and some of the people who have inspired me.
In the area of money-
Recently I was in a small group and the issue of finances came up and we were all talking about our current status and talking about how money wasn’t that important. This one older wiser man in our group said well I want to make more money. I was shocked and was taken aback by this comment. He smiled and went on to explain that his goal in life was to be a reverse tither. I asked him what that meant he said I want to be able to live on 10% of my money and give 90% to God. Many Christians think the gold standard of giving is ten percent and once they accomplish that they are good for life. This friend of mine has taken a different stance and has inspired me to think about my finances. I have to ask the question how much money do I waste on myself and my selfish desires? To be absolutely honest most of it.
In the area of Spiritual Disciplines-
Who have I learned the most from in this area? None other than my new found friends in prison. These men are an inspiration to me in reading, studying, and memorizing the Bible. I feel that I have much to learn from these men in their dedication to God’s word. One gentleman I was talking to last night was talking about how he was reading through the Bible for his second time. I have read through the Bible once and it was for a class in college. One other man was sharing how he writes Bible verses down on note cards and memorizes them through out the day. Verses flow from these men’s mouths through out the class I teach. It is an inspiration and a desire to know God’s word front wards and backwards like these men do.
In the area of helping the poor-
I have had the opportunity to watch a 65 year old man who wears Mr Rogers sweaters love poor people. This man has dedicated his life to the poor and loving them. He pastor’s a church fittingly called the
Inspiration to change is much better for me than change because of guilt, obligation, or fear. There are so many more people that have inspired me and will continue to inspire me. Is it true that we become like the company we keep? I hope that some of these people that I try and surround myself with will rub off on me.
By the way if you want to be inspired this Saturday night a small group/church that I am a part of is having a missionary couple who was persecuted in
Sunday, April 1, 2007
I would recommend making this type of trip once in your life, we brought the mother in law with us but I think you could bring anyone in the family along. I don't know how a family pet would do in this type of setting but if you do try it tell me so I can decide if I want try that when my wife convinces me that we need to rent a rv and tour the country. Btw, I had suggested flying to alaska and going on a cruise for our ten year anniversary but she has vetoed that and wants to rent the affor mentioned rv and traveling the country. This is bound to be a summer to remember.