Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy FIRST Anniversary!

Two weeks ago it was Lorie's and my anniversary. Yesterday was David and Lauren's. Lucky for both sets of parents, Lauren and David were in town this weekend for a wedding, and we got to celebrate with them! Here they are sharing the traditional year-old wedding cake:

Thanks to some expert wrapping and freezing by Lauren's mom, the cake was still delicious! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm in Prison! (Please pray for me!)

Western Youth Institution--Morganton, NC
By the time you read this, I'll be in prison.

And so will some other members from Covenant Community. Tripp and Angie Porter, Dave and Barb Korb, Russ and Sandie Davis--we'll all be behind bars.

We're there for an Epiphany Ministry Weekend. Epiphany's mission is "To show Christ's love to troubled and incarcerated youth." An Epiphany weekend is modeled on Walk to Emmaus, Tres Dias, Via de Cristo, Journey, Chrysalis, and other three-day weekends.

The 25 young men who attend our Epiphany weekend at Western Youth Institution in Morganton will experience talks on the Christian life, skits, celebrations, unconditional love, and lots and lots of food. (If you've been to Emmaus, Tres Dias, or Chrysalis, you know what I'm talking about!) Our number one goal this weekend is to demonstrate to these young men, by our actions, that there is a God who loves them and sent His Son to die for them. Our hope and dream and prayer is that they will experience God's love in such a way that they will become followers of Jesus and their lives will be changed.

Think of what can happen! Young men who see no hope for their futures...who feel that a life of crime is the only life they can know... or who are facing countless years in prison -- this weekend could change all of that! They can meet Jesus, get on the right track, leave prison and become strong followers of Christ and productive members of society.

And as these YOUNG LIVES are changed and they go out into the world to interact with friends, family, future spouses, future children -- how many other lives will be changed as well?

This is the power of reaching NEW GENERATIONS! And this is why a ministry to incarcerated youth is so important.

So please pray. Pray for God's Spirit to move. Pray for God to open the hearts of the "Stars" (the guys participating in the weekend). Pray for health and safety and protection for all Epiphany volunteers. Pray for all logistics to run smoothly. And say a special prayer for Angie Porter who's serving as Lay Director -- that means she's in charge of the whole bloomin' thing!

See you when I get out!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Can you believe the beautiful girl in this picture married ME? And she wasn't under the influence of drugs?

And can you believe that it was 28 years ago TODAY? If you've seen Lorie lately, you know that she does not look like a woman who's been married for 28 years (unless she was 5 years old when she got married)!

I'm so blessed. So blessed. I love my wife. She's one of the most amazing human beings on the planet.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"Robinson's a Methodist. I'm a Methodist. God's a Methodist. We can't go wrong." 
         --Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey in "42"

Friday night was date night for Lorie and me. Dinner and a movie. As a comic book geek and a fan of Robert Downey, Jr, I was sorely tempted to take Lorie to the new Iron Man movie.

(She always lets me pick the movie. Nice of her, but it's also a lot of pressure. What if I pick a loser?)

I decided instead that we would go see a movie of social importance, and I'm really glad we did. "42" is  the powerful story of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier in the mid 1940s. Lorie and I enjoyed it immensely. A great story, well told.

One of the things that impressed me was the positive portrayal of Christian faith. Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers who decided to bring African American ball players into Major League Baseball.  Rickey is motivated, at least in part, by his Christian faith and his Wesleyan/Methodist heritage. OK, he's also motivated by money: "Dollars aren't black and white," he tells his staff. "They are green." Rickey sells the idea of integration as a way to attract more African American fans to the ballpark, and an important way to get the best players on his team in order to win the pennant and go to the World Series.

But other scenes in the movie make it clear that he's also motivated by a passion for social justice that is driven by his faith. And Rickey references his faith often. In a highly emotional scene when Robinson wants to quit after enduring a nasty race-based taunting, Rickey talks about Jesus: "Like our Savior, you've got to have the guts to turn the other cheek." At another point he tells Robinson that he is a "living sermon illustration."

I particularly enjoyed the scene where the president of the Philadelphia Phillies calls Rickey to tell him that his team will refuse to play the Dodgers if Robinson is on the field. Rickey passionately informs him that he will have to answer to God for his racism.

It was nice to see Christian faith portrayed as being a motive for positive social change. It was nice to see men of faith (Robinson and Rickey) portrayed as heroes. It was also nice to see Harrison Ford playing a man who was old, fat, and not very handsome, with an awful voice. Don't think I've ever seen that before.

There's a great scene where Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese walks across the field and embraces Jackie Robinson in front of a hostile crowd. I've heard this story before --even used it as a sermon illustration. What I didn't know until I saw "42" was that Pee Wee Resse was from Louisville, and the game was  in Cincinnati, the major league park closest to his home--and the hostile crowd included some of Pee Wee's own family members. That extra info, plus watching the scene brought to life on the screen, made the story even more powerful to me.

One more thing: They shot this movie really well. You felt like you were on the field. The ball came right at you. It almost seemed like you were running the bases with Robinson. I enjoyed that.

A few years ago, Good News, a magazine for United Methodists, did a cover story on Jackie Robinson, his faith, and the amazing impact of the Methodist church on his life. It's almost as powerful as the movie. Do me a favor: CLICK HERE and give it a read.