Monday, June 30, 2008

A Great Day at Central

Wow what a day around Central. Following two great morning services, we had a very beautiful Memorial Service for Diane Garrison and following that our Summer Fest began.

The weather was perfect. The crowd was great. The music and games and food were terrific. There were a lot of guests. It was a good, good day to call Central home!

Back Home

Our stay in Michigan has concluded while there we: visited family, camped on Lake Michigan, cut up two 80 foot trees, visited old neighbors, stopped by our old church, viewed Get Smart, saw two of our old houses, played in the sand dunes of Silver Lake, went to a Tiger's game, ate Duncan Donuts, drank Vernors, went to my old favorite restaurant in Detroit, visited the people that used to watch our dogs, went to Mars Hill church in Grand Rapids, played miniature golf, and drove a about 2000 miles.

It was a good trip. It's good to be home.

Monday, June 23, 2008

No Camping, no problem.

We are enjoying family in Michigan these days. We were suppose to be camping, but some truck troubles to my father-in-laws chevy caused us to spend an extra night at Karla's sisters house. I'll be honest... spending an extra night in a bed instead of camping was not the worst thing in the world.

We went to Rob Bell's Mars Hill church in Grand Rapids yesterday. Rob Bell wasn't preaching, but it was a good service nonetheless.

Today, we should be camping. Tomorrow it's off to my folks.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Go Celtics!

I am beginning to write this article on my way back to Kansas City. If you hadn’t heard, I made a quick get away from the Sunflower State because my friend Larry gave me a ticket to see his favorite team (the Boston Celtics) play a basketball game. Well, not just any basketball game, the NBA Finals basketball game. All I had to do was get to Boston. Here’s where the story gets even better… my father-in-law heard about the offer from Larry and said he would pay for my airline ticket. So except for some meals, I went to the NBA Finals for free. One word: SWEEEEEET!!! And now, I am writing about the whole experience from 30,000 feet in the air somewhere between Boston and Minneapolis.

There are a lot of great things that happened in the game—especially if you are a Celtics’ fan. Boston won something like 496 to 27 (and it wasn’t that close!). Larry bought me a “Beat L.A.” t-shirt to wear to the game so I would look like I was a real Celtics fan. (I think he was worried I’d be wearing a Pistons shirt, and he didn’t want to be responsible for me getting beat up). I am not really a Celtics fan (I usually root for those Detroit ballers), still one couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement of the evening.

The fans in Boston know how to cheer their team to victory. Besides the expected chants throughout the game of “Beat L.A. Beat L.A.,” “Defense. Defense.” and “Seventeen! Seventeen!” (a reference to the number of championships that the Celtics have won), the fans were quite creative in their chants and songs (many of which I can’t write about in this family friendly little prose). For instance, whenever a referee whistled a foul against the home team the fans always (I mean ALWAYS) took exception to the “bad” call and shouted a reference to a male bovine’s bodily function. And when one of the opposing players stepped to the free throw line to attempt the shot, the crowd would chant something about a past indiscretion in the opposing player’s life. One player apparently had a problem with an illegal weed that some people have been known to smoke and the crowd chanted “Reefer! Reefer!” (Only in their New England accent it sounded like: “Reefah. Reefah.”). One player‘s only “sin” was that he was born in Spain, and when he stepped up to shoot the crowd chanted “USA. USA. USA.” Some of their other chants were not as nice and definitely not as “G” rated. Still, all in all, it was a fun, once-in-a-lifetime type of event that I was very glad I could attend.

As the game was winding down, I even joined in the singing of “Na, Na, Na, Na. Hey, Hey, Hey, Good Bye,” and when it was all over I sang “We are the Champions.” Maybe the leprechaun on my T-shirt was having some kind of effect on me or maybe it was my Irish heritage coming out or maybe it was the thrill of seeing so many people so happy. After the game was over with confetti flying and music blaring, the crowd was ecstatic. They were jumping and shouting and hugging complete strangers-- you would have thought a war had ended or a cure for cancer had been found. I can’t imagine euphoria any greater.

Maybe I’m goofy (OK I know I am goofy), but I kept thinking about the referees and the opposing players and their life’s indiscretions and sins and mistakes open for all to mock and question. I know taunting and teasing are a part of the game. I’ve done it myself. (I think I yelled to an umpire following what I believed was a blatant missed call: “Hey Ump! If you had one more eye we could call you Cyclops!”) It’s all in good (although as the Boston fans demonstrated, not always clean) fun. Still, I would not want my every sin shouted from the top of 20,000, beer saturated sets of lungs. I wouldn’t want my every decision scrutinized and jeered.

Well get a load of this-- the One whose opinion matters most, the Lord, has promised to throw our sins into the “sea of forgetfulness” and not hold them against us any longer. Once we seek his forgiveness, the Bible tells us “that he is faithful and just to forgive anyone who calls on His name.” In other words, you’ll never hear the Lord rehashing your past forgiven sins. The angels aren’t pointing at you and taunting about a bad decision. I am glad that when I step up to the line—he doesn’t view me as the guy with all the problems or the guy born in the wrong place or the guy who stumbled and fell—but rather He views me as the one that He loves. The one He has forgiven. The one for whom Jesus went to the cross (you are that one too, by the way!). He views us as His children!

Let the confetti spray and the music blare….that’s worth shouting from the top of our non-beer saturated lungs, “We are the children of the King!”

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Chance of a Lifetime

I have several life goals that I put together when I was still in seminary. These goals deal with family, my walk with God, ministry and enrichment. Some of them are just for fun. Next week, I hopefully will be able to mark one of my fun goals off my list.

I have been offered tickets to the Celtics and Lakers NBA Finals game-- so next Tuesday (if the Celtics don't win the next two games), I will meet up with my old seminary roommate and current missionary to Jordan, Rod Green, and fellow Centralites Larry and Lynne Bollinger in Boston and go to the game. Wow... I am really excited about the chance to do this.

(Some of my other "fun goals" include going to a World Series Game, Stanley Cup Final and the Super Bowl.)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Heading to camp

In a couple of hours our Junior and Senior Highers are heading off to camp. I don't know the exact numbers-- but around 50 students will be there. Imagine the impact on our church and youth group-- if 50 students all grew closer to the Lord this week! Wow! Powerful! So pray. Pray that God will work in a great way this week.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pepsi... Super Dog

Last week Riley, this week Pepsi.

“Don’t let the Princes watch your dog,” I think that’s the lesson learned over the last two weeks. Last week I told you how “Riley” (Pastor Rubio’s Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix dog) upon entering our back yard, took a flying leap into our pool in spite of the fact that swimming is not one of Riley’s stronger attributes. This week “Pepsi” (Amy Story-Hall’s “I-don’t-know-what-kind-of-mix” breed) took a flying leap out a second floor window, (you read that right—Pepsi jumped out of our house… from the second floor) and presumably flying is not one of Pepsi’s stronger attributes or maybe it is…!

Here’s what happened:

Our neighbor and fellow Centralite, Amy asked Karla if we could watch their very cute and nice dog, Pepsi, during her son’s Zach’s wedding rehearsal and dinner. “No problem,” was the reply. But then we discovered there was a slight problem, Ben had a baseball game during part of the time that Pepsi was to be our house guest. “No problem,” again was the reply—just put Pepsi behind a gate in the mud room. Easy solution.

So the Princes went to Ben’s game. Zach and his family went to his wedding rehearsal. Pepsi went to the mud room. All was right with the world.

Well, not so fast. Alex beat us home and quickly called saying that Pepsi was not in the mud room, Pepsi was no where to be seen, and in fact Pepsi was not in the house. About that time, the Story kids showed up on our porch with Pepsi saying that he had run home. That’s strange. How did Pepsi get out of the mud room? Alex said the gate was still up. OK, I’ve heard of the other dogs jumping over or scaling over or in some way getting around those little kiddie gate things. But how did he get out of the house? Alex said the doors were still closed and locked. Does Pepsi know how to unlock and open doors and relock them? This would be quite an accomplishment for a dog that can barely reach the doorknob while standing on his hind legs. Did someone break into our home and let Pepsi out (Maggie, our dog, was still inside the house)? This had all the makings of a great mystery: “The Case of the Missing Dog” or how about this: “The Case of Missing Pepsi” (not to be confused with “the missing case of Pepsi”). Where was Sherlock Holmes when we needed him?

Alex began to snoop around and before long discovered that all the doors were locked and shut, and only one window was open in the entire house. My bedroom window (on the second floor, by the way) was open and the screen was ripped. Hmm… very interesting, Mr. Watson. While we have no security cameras to prove our theory on Pepsi’s great escape, we believe that Pepsi scaled the mud room gate, ran upstairs to our bed room and took a flying leap, through the screen, onto the bushes below and ran all the way home.

Pepsi obviously isn’t named 7-Up—he came down in the bushes. Thankfully, we didn’t have to call Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pibb wasn’t talking about what happened. (OK, that’s all the soda references I can make). Pepsi didn’t seem to be bothered by his second story leap. No broken bones. No nervous twitches. He has just a few scratches on his tummy.

The bottom line: Pepsi wanted to go home. Nothing would deter him from getting home. Not a gate in the mud room doorway and not a screen in my bedroom window. Not the fact that the bedroom window was on the second floor and that exiting from that window and onto the bushes below could really, really hurt. Nothing would stop Pepsi—he was a dog on a mission.

I wonder how intense we are about making sure we make it to our ultimate home, our heavenly home. Are we on a mission? Are we as resolute that we are going to get to our heavenly home as Pepsi was to get to his earthly one? Do we have the same (pun intended) “dogged determination” to make sure that our loved ones join us in our heavenly home, as Pepsi was to see his loved ones? The Bible says that we are just passing through here—that this is not our home, that we are aliens (1 Peter 2:11). Paul tells us not to get so comfortable in our surroundings that we lose sight of the goal. I’m afraid sometimes we forget those facts. We act like this old earth is the end all, be all. It’s not. Our four bedroom, split level is not all that matters—God has something more. Much more. Like Pepsi wanting to get home-- I can’t wait to get there, but unlike Pepsi I don’t recommend jumping out any windows to hurry the process!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Red Wings Win

Here's me and friend Kevin with the Cup (from 10 years ago) that the Red Wings are carrying around the ice tonight!