Miscelaneous of Life

I know I’ve been horrible about updating this thing, so I thought I would put some random things up that don’t exactly make a whole post, but are interesting nonetheless.

Rush Hour

For those of you who don’t know, our Wednesday night program is called Rush Hour.  This past Wednesday we started our time in Lamentations and were working through the first chapter when we were greeted with quite the surprise.  About 15 minutes into the message, I noticed a man walk into the back of the Youth Center.  My first thought was that it was the father of one of the kids and they would just sit in back and listen.  It certainly isn’t rare for this to happen.  But then he started walking up front and I realize he wasn’t a parent.

This man was clearly a homeless person.  He wasn’t in rags, but his clothes were well worn.  Its also not uncommon for homeless people to come around looking for handouts.  So this man comes up and takes a seat on the edge of the rows up front and the kids, one-by-one, begin to realize he is there.  Now I’m trying to think of what to do.  We had no other staff there, as a couple were at the Dodger game, and a couple more were out for various reasons, and the one who was there was actually playing the game with the Jr Highers.  Thankfully, we had one of our college students there sitting near the back, but I didn’t want to have her have to handle this.  I was also thinking that if the guy is going to just sit there, I can let him be and deal with him when I’m done.

But then he started waving his arms around and making gruffing noises when I mentioned prostitutes (I was preaching through Lamentations 1).  I actually had to tone down what I was saying because I didn’t want to say something that would make this guy go nuts.  I’m now thinking of how in the world I can alert someone to come deal with this without stopping the message and causing a scene.  I’m thinking I’m not talented enough to text and preach at the same time, so that wasn’t a possibility.  At this point, I’m just begging for someone to walk in that can take care of this.

Then the guy gets up and walks out the side door to the rest of the campus.  I took a time out, turned to the college student, Meredith, and said, “Get Matt and get him to deal with this guy.”  She pops into my office and he isn’t in there.  So she has to deal with it herself.  So as I’m still preaching, I’m keeping an eye on what is going on and see the guy make his way towards the back and on out the doors.  Never a dull moment!

Warning About “Incognito

This is a warning for parents out there about new browser options that allow a computer to not trace where you have been.  They say that it is for public computer use when you are looking at personal information, but it is becoming known for surfing porn without leaving fingerprints.  Here’s a link that talks about it.  I advise parents to check it out and take the necessary steps to protect your children.  It’s not enough to just check the history, but it is an absolute MUST in my mind to have your family computer in a public room with lots of traffic.  DO NOT allow your child to have their computer in their room.  Temptation abounds and it is a recipe for spiritual disaster.

Speaking of pornography, here is a helpful article by David Powlison about dealing with it from a biblical perspective.

The Pointlessness of Politics

I don’t know about the rest of you, but this is the season that I abhor politics.  I have grown tired of both options and wish we had an option where we could tell them to disappear and find two better options.  I feel used as a Republican leaning person and helf hostage over the issue of abortion.  It seems that some politicians know that they can get your vote as long as they vote pro-life when the opportunity arises.  I grow frustrated with a government that can’t spend responsibly and waste my hard earned money.  It kills me that in order to pass the bail out bill, they had to attach billions of dollars of pork to serve their own interests.  It frustrates me that no candidate can be truthful and approach his job with integrity.  They both lie.  They both twist the truth.  They both present a picture that isn’t representative of reality.  It frustrates me that good candidates are ‘unelectable’ because of perceived flaws and their penchant to tell it like it is.  All of this, amongst other things, has pushed my heart to yearn the ruling of Christ.

No matter how much any candidate promotes hope, it will not be found in political reform.  Jeremiah says in Lamentations 3:24, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in him.  The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”  Our only hope is found in God.  Not in politicians, not in elections.  So next time you feel frustrated, remind yourself of the day when Christ will rule on earth in righteousness.

Am I Now a Satisfied Boston Fan?

The Sox find themselves facing another 3-1 defecit, with game 5 tonight.  Their pitching is in shambles, their hitters are confused.  And I’m fine if they lose tonight.  I realized this the other day.  Normally, I would feel a sense of devestation and frustration, but now I know that, “Well, it wasn’t our year.”  I’ve seen more wins in the last few years than at any time in my life.  My two favorite teams have 3 championships in the last 4 years, and both are threatening to do it again.  I never thought I would get to this point, but I’d be fine if they lost tonight, and I wouldn’t be very disappointed.  Now I turn to the Celtics and Cowboys for two more teams making a championship push.  I’m so spoiled now.

Just because I thought this was funny

Randomness…

This is just a compilation of a few things…

Hilarious, Painful Mistake

Check out this video.  hahahaha….

Slamball

Then I heard SlamBall is coming back.  A few years ago I was at a college retreat and became engrossed in this.  I’m happy to hear it is back for all to enjoy:

Red Sox

As most of you know, the Sox are back in Spring Training.  Yesterday, they went to the White House to visit the President as the World Series Champions.  Bush managed to make a joke about Manny not being there because his grandmother must have died again.  The first time they went to the White House after winning in 2004, Manny missed it supposedly because his grandmother was sick.  No one believed him then, and Bush managed to make light of it again.

Then I saw this picture, which is priceless:

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It totally looks photoshopped, but he rode in the side car from the White House to Walter Reed to visit some troops.  Francona apparently rode in it from the Airport to the White House, and challenged Papi to do it, himself.  Then Kyle Snyder rode in it from Walter Reed to the airport, which apparently was longer than the other two.  He said it was so cold, but he wouldn’t get out and go to the bus because he wouldn’t stop hearing it from his friends.  I like this team, and that picture is hilarious.

Celtics

Speaking of Boston sports, on Monday I went to the Celtics game against the Clippers at the Staples Center here in LA.  It was funny how many Boston fans there were.  Everyone around us were Boston fans, and the guys next to us were talking in Boston accents and spent the 4th quarter talking about Spring Training, the Sox, and the Yankees.  The place was full of green jerseys, shirts, and Red Sox hats.  It was just great.  The Celts blew  ’em out by 28, and the 4th quarter was all the young guys playing against each other.  When we walked out into the concourse after the game, it was like we were in the Garden.  I would say by the end of the game that the Celtics fans outnumbered others by 4-1.  EVERYONE was a Celtics fan.

Micah

Micah has been sick this week, but is now apparently getting better.  He was looking pretty bad at some points, with a high fever, but now he is getting better.  He lost a couple pounds, but now appears to be on the rebound.  Leah’s looking forward to getting out of the house, as she’s been trapped there quite a bit, lately.

Pet Peeve

Lately, I’ve been hearing people use the word ‘literally’ a lot, and hardly any of it is really literal.  For example, I’m watching a sporting event and someone says, “He’s literally giving 110% out there.”  That phrase ‘110%’ already is annoying because its impossible, but then you throw literal in there and its literally impossible!  Or someone may say, “It literally killed him.” Well, no.  It didn’t.  It may have brought him great pain, but it didn’t literally kill him.  I’m now going to be the ‘literal’ police, but not literally.  There will be no badge or actual penalties.

Funny Videos   

Here are a couple funny videos that the kids showed me this weekend:

Harvest Festival

Our church has an annual Harvest Festival where the school families and community families are invited to bring their kids all dressed up.  We have games for the kids, bounce houses, an inflatable obstacle course, horse rides, plenty of food like bot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and snow cones, and then finally the ‘trunk ‘r treat’ where about 25 cars line the parking lot in front of the gym with their trunks decorated and hand out candy to the kids. (how was that for a run on sentence!)

This year we joined up with another family in the church to decorate our trunk as Red Sox Nation.  It was nice that the Sox were playing game 4 of the World Series, so we even had a TV playing the game for all to watch.  It was very popular with the fathers.  Here are a few pics from the event that brought over 700 people out!

This first one is Micah acquainting himself with Wally the Green Monster.  I’ve historically been against Wally, thinking it is just tacky and too much like the rest of baseball, but it looks like I may have to quickly change that opinion.

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These are our cars.  Notice the broom for the approaching sweep!

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Here are some other cars.  There were a few USC decorated cars, but they were a little less passioned than in the past years.  Two losses with a month to go can do that to you.

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Here’s Donny’s car.  He was Willy Wonka.

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In Appreciation of New England: Part I

Deep on the inside, I guess I will always be an New England person.  There is something about coming back to the area that makes it feel so natural.  I haven’t been home in the fall in nearly 9 years, so early on in our marriage, we figured we would come back to New England when I finally wasn’t in school for the first time.

One of the biggest things has been the widespread support of the Red Sox.  When we got here, everyone was gearing up for the first game of the ALCS, which was still a few days away.  When I watched the news, the lead stories were all about the Red Sox.  What was parking going to be like around Fenway?  What was the weather going to be like at game time?  Does Cleveland have its own curse?  The first ten minutes of the half hour news was dedicated to the Red Sox. 

Then I was listening to the radio, and there were playing a remix of “Sweet Caroline”, which is played during the 7th inning stretch at each home game at Fenway.  Interspersed were sound clips of various calls of games, including the series sweep of the Angels.  It was played just like any other song would be played. 

When we go out, EVERYONE is wearing something with a “B” on it.  And everyone is talking about it.  The thing I may like the most is that you don’t see a lot of pink Red Sox hats.  Instead, the girls are wearing true, old school hats and shirts. 

Of course the Sox game is the topic on every TV show or radio show.  When the game went to almost 2am into Sunday morning, everyone at church was tired because they had to watch it.  Everyone was down because of the loss.  Yes, its October in New England, or Soxtober.  

A successful week, but also a tiring one

Its funny how some weeks in ministry can be so successful, but so dramatically draining at the same time.  This past week would be one of those.  Here are some of the highlights:

1. This week was the week that The Master’s College team came out and helped for their Outreach Week.  Projects in the past have consisted of helping remodel a meeting lounge at the church, initially cleaning out my office, then later doing some demo and painting in there, and every few years we have them work on the Shelter, where our Jr High meets across the street.  This year they gave it a good paint job and cleared out the jungle that had grown behind it.

The paint job is great, and it matches the church, now.  It is an off-white with dark green trim on the wood and a dark red, maroon on the metal awnings and such.   It looks great!  We’re going to use the area cleared out in the back to store bottles and cans, so we don’t have to keep them in the kitchen.

2. This week was also a success, as it saw two kids make a profession of faith.  The first was one of our regular Jr Highers.  I have been taking the boys out to eat during the school week, and we walk to the KFC across the street and talk.  I’ve been going after these boys because they haven’t shown the kind of growth we’re used to.  Basically, we started talking, and he was way upfront with his lack of faith.  he said he always just went back on whatever decisions he’s made.  From speaking with him, it was clear that these decisions have been more about avoiding Hell, rather than falling in love with the Lord.  So after speaking for awhile, and me talking to him about what it means to be saved, he said he wanted to get saved.  So we prayed and talked some more.  When we were walking back to church he made sure I knew that he wanted to do this again sometime.

The other one came on Saturday night, during our Battle of the Bands.  Tim, our Student Ministries intern, got into a conversation with someone who had never come before, but was brought by a friend.  He was immediately intrigued, and wanted to learn more.  This turned into a conversation that spanned a couple hours, including a time where he professed salvation.  Please pray for both of these boys, as they are in difficult situations and need to be encouraged and followed up on.
3. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, we also had our Battle of the Bands.  We had about 200 people here for it, and everyone really enjoyed our new additions.  We had an addition to the Battle this year, with a promenade area.  We had some acoustic acts perform before the actual Battle, had an art show where kids displayed their pictures, paintings, sketches, and even an American flag made out of red, white and blue duct tape.  We also had a coffee shop, where everyone got a free drink with admission.  This was a huge hit.  We had caramel and mocha fraps, tea, coffee, slushies, and soda.  We also had cookies available for free.  Our desire was to be gracious and godly hosts who were generous.  We had tables and couches set up, with games out so people could hang out if they didn’t want to watch a band.

It all went very, very well, and we’re already excited about some changes for next year!

4. Another highlight was the Red Sox games.  Thanks to the genius folks at MLB, they didn’t have the games on network TV, but only on TBS. (that’ll change for the LCS and WS)  So we didn’t get to see any of the games.  But the good news is that they were playing the Angels, so we had all the games covered well on the radio.  And plenty of highlights on the news (or low-lights, depending who you were cheering for).  So we pretty much stuck it to ’em.

The funniest thing may have been listening to all the callers on “Angel Talk”.  They were all sad and depressed.  One caller actually blamed the lack of the ‘Rally Monkey’ that the Angels put up on a screen to tell the fans to cheer.  She blamed the fans for not cheering and giving the players the energy they needed.  She said they didn’t perform because the fans didn’t cheer because the Angels didn’t put a stupid monkey jumping up and down on the screen.  That’s why she’s a stupid Angels fan.

The thing that cracks me up is its always the same thing for the Angels.  They need to get a back in the offseason or trading deadline, but never do.  Then the real season starts and they don’t hit and get bounced.  When are they going to learn?

5. As far as a Micah update goes, he’s mostly better.  He is now just not sleeping, meaning that we (and when I say we, I mostly mean Leah) don’t get much sleep.  So the main prayer request is that Micah sleeps well.  Leah is completely drained and needs rest badly.

Garnett, Gagne, and Bonds

As most of you know, I am a pretty avid sports fan. The odd thing is that I hardly ever post about it, and I guess the reason is because I know that most of you would not care to read about my musings and thoughts in the sports world. But yesterday was too good of a day to pass up commenting on. In one day, the total landscape of Boston shifted with a couple acquisitions. A giant that has long been sleeping has been awoken, and a giant that has been lurking was given more strength. And a third, genetically aided giant was crawling to a finish line.

The Celtics

The first giant, is the Boston Celtics. Growing up, the Celtics were my first love when it came to sports. My mother raised me to cheer for the 80’s Celtics. I remember saying good night to Chief, DJ, Bird, “Armpits” McHale, and Danny, who looked down on me from a poster on my door. I distinctly remember watching the playoffs, watching games from a recliner, wedged in with my mom and using binoculars so I could see better. My friends and I would go down to the court in my dad’s warehouse and pretend to be different Celtic players.

Then Bird started falling a part before my eyes, and unfortunately, I have more memories of him lying on the side of the court, trying to stretch out his back, which betrayed him at the end of his career. But then came Reggie. Reggie was my favorite. His poster made it up on the wall, and I even remember painting a slate with his jersey for my art project at summer camp. Then the day came when my mom woke me up and had to tell my that my hero, Reggie Lewis, had died playing basketball. I just couldn’t believe it, and since then, being a Celtics fan just hasn’t been the same for me.

It seems like we’ve always been looking at potential with the likes of Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker, Joe Johnson, Ron Mercer, and Chauncy Billups, only to see most of them dealt away. Then there were the forgettable types like Eric Montross, Acie Earl, Joe Forte, Kedrick Brown, Jerome Moiso, Dino Radja, and Vitaly Potapenko. Then there were the retreads that they brought through town, hoping to capture their former glory. Dominique Wilkins, Vin Baker, Gary Payton, Raef LaFrentz, Kenny Anderson.

Throughout that time, all a Celtics fan could do was to ignore the failures, tolerate personalities like Rick Pitino, and cheer for fan favorites like Dana Barros, Rick Fox, Eddie Pinckney, the Sherm, Dee Brown, Kevin Gamble, and recently, Al Jefferson, Delonte West, and Ryan Gomes.

The period also was a time of loss. Gone was the expectation of contending for the championship. Now, we’re just happy when we can get to the playoffs, never mind out of the first round. Gone is Red Auerbach, the original Gahden, and the passionate crowds. Instead, they have been replaced by a cookie-cutter arena, mercifully renamed TD Banknorth Garden, a non-stop rotation of young players learning on the job, and ever cheerleaders.

The saddest thing is that it has probably been the cheerleaders that I’m most upset about. You knew Red was going to die. Thankfully, it was after Pitino left and he was brought back into the fold. But cheerleaders? That’s not Boston. That’s not the Celtics. This isn’t the Celtics.

Then yesterday happened. Before the draft night, Boston was listed with 100-1 odds of winning the championship in Vegas. Today, they are 5-1. That’s a turn around. Now they are three stars surrounded by riff-raff. That hasn’t worked out well for other teams, but they weren’t playing in such a bad conference as the Eastern Conference.

The greatest thing about these three guys is that they have been fighting almost by themselves for years. I’ve heard a criticism that they’ve never done it themselves and don’t make their teammates better, but there is only so much you can do with flotsam. What you can’t challenge is their heart and desire to win. Garnett plays all out no matter what the date, and Allen is a stand up guy that will be able to sink the shot that the team hasn’t been able to hit for the past few years.

So now its exciting to be a Celtics fan again. But they need to do this in the next couple of years. All three are getting older, have huge contracts, and will be getting more mileage in the next couple years because they have no bench. The dropoff when they are done will be huge. They will be back where they were a couple years ago, so they better win something before that.

The Red Sox

It has been great seeing this team win like it has, but there is still a sense of uneasiness. It’s one thing to win in the regular season, its a whole nother thing to win a 7 game series in October. They’ve had the starting pitching, and a great end of the bullpen. But Papelbon wore down last year, and if he goes, it gets real scary.

Enter Gagne.

Now we have almost limited games to 6 innings. Get your starters through 6 innings, then Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okijima, Eric Gagne, and Papelbon. We all know that the playoffs are about pitching, and the Sox now have the pitching to win it again. They have had the hitting, and just haven’t put it all together yet, but hopes remain high that they’ll bring it around.

Bonds

Out here on the west coast, a soap opera being played out on the field where Bonds will capture what is considered the most hallowed record in American sports. I have very conflicted feelings on this.

1. we made Bonds the monster that he is. When Sosa and McGwire were slugging balls out of parks, we cheered and hailed them as heroes. They were co-sportsmen of the year that year. Bonds saw what was happening, and buffed up himself. We all cheered when it was happening and have since had a change of conviction.

2. steroids were not against the rules of baseball. They were illegal in the country, but not against baseballs rules. he never broke the rules. Now they are, but there is no way of getting a positive test from him. he pays too much money to get caught.

3. Barry Bonds has been a punk for a long time, and no one has ever liked him. The sad thing is that he was an incredible hitter before hit started hitting his prime at 38 years old. He didn’t need to do this, but felt he had to.

4. as Mark Grace said, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.” Cheating has been a part of the game for a long time, but not so much anatomically. Bonds has gone outside of the game to get an advantage, while others have doctored baseballs to get a little more movement, or added a little extra pine tar.

So I guess I’m against Bonds breaking the record, just because he has taken baseball to a place where it doesn’t belong, the illegal laboratory. Baseball is all about purity of the game, and while that is highly considered to be a myth.

They’ve been talking about what to do when Barry comes to bat in Dodger stadium.  He’s spoken about how he loves to be booed in Dodger stadium, because he knows it means that he is really good.  So if people want to show their displeasure towards Bonds, how about they turn their back to him when he comes to bat.  It goes quiet, and everyone is ignoring what he is doing.  If people aren’t going to consider him the home run king, why would they watch it happen?  What better way to show that you don’t approve of him than to just turn your back and be silent?  Sounds good to me.