A Redneck?!? Really?!?!...

Does this kid honestly need to be wearing a shirt that says "Good Ole Boy" or is it not just understood at this point? Either way, kinda cool tricks...Especially when he shoots the golf ball off the end of the shotgun. Check it out if ya' wanna' kill a couple minutes...


Memorial Day @ Wrigley Field...

This past Memorial Day weekend I got to go on an incredible trip. Last week one of the students in our youth group turned 16 and for his birthday he got to plan a trip for him, his dad, and me to go to Wrigley Field to watch a Cubs game...It was such a blessing to be able to go and be a part of an incredible trip and I am still pumped about the whole weekend.

On Sunday after church, we flew from Austin to DFW and then on to Chicago O'Hare Airport. We arrived in Chi-Town late Sunday night and went straight to the hotel (The Fairmont in dowtown Chicago - INCREDIBLE!) to hit the sack and get ready for our big day on Monday. Monday morning we got up early, grabbed some Mickey D's for breakfast, and headed out to Wrigley Field. After a brief scenic tour, we finally found out where we were going and arrived at the ballpark at about 10:30. Walking up to that site of sports history was almost breathtaking. Let me just say this for those of you who don't know - I am a Sports Fanatic. I love sports and I love the history and richness found in so many of our great sporting pasttimes, so being at Wrigley Field, which was built in 1914, was an incredible moment for me...The gates didn't open until 11:20, 2 hours before gametime, so we got to walk around the outside of the stadium for a while and take it all in. When the gates opened, we were some of the first ones into the park and took in all the sights, sounds, and experiences of batting practice. Mark and I took tons of pictures while Mike tried to catch foul balls from batting practice...He even got his hand on one, but didn't have a glove on, so he couldn't pull it in...Once it got close to game time we grabbed some hot dogs, drinks, and peanuts and headed to our seats. We were in the top section of the lower level right along third base so they were great seats. We watched the game and cheered on the Cubbies, even though they ended up falling short in the end to the Marlins. In the final inning and a half people were leaving so we got to move really close to the field right behind the Cubs dugout and the last inning was the most exciting because the Cubs almost made a comeback.

After the game was over we took some more pics and then headed to see some other sporting venues in Chicago. Mike drove us all around Chicago just so Mark and I could get pics of all the different sports venues. It was awesome. We went to the United Center, where the Chicago Bulls of the NBA play and the Chicago Blackhawks play hockey. From there, we headed to U.S. Cellular Field, home of the 2005 World Series Chicago White Sox. Then from there, we headed to take some pictures of the monstrosity that is Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. Soldier Field was actually right down the street a little ways from our hotel. From there we heaed to ESPNZone for supper and to watch the Spurs and Jazz on a gigantic TV screen.

Tuesday we lounged around in the morning and hit up Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. From there we made a lighting fast trip up to the top of Sears Tower (we were litterally only up there for 5 minutes!) so that we could take some more pictures and then headed to Chicago O'Hare Airport to catch our 5:00 flight home...And as far as we're concerned, we made it there in plenty of time, right guys!?!?

Anyway, overall it was an incredible trip and I am so blessed to get to be a part of it...The weekend was full of tons of sports experiences and memories and Monday was definitely a dream day, watching the Cubs game at Wrigley field, seeing all the sports venues, and hanging out at the ESPNZone. The trip was also full of great fellowship...We all had a great time and I am so glad not only to get to go on the trip but to get to go with who I got to go with...Chicago...The Windy City...Chi-Town...Great time, great trip, great company, great memories...Memorial Day at Wrigley Field...Nothing beats it.



Me, Jaron, Andy, & Curry with Auntie Daisy & The Girls

Our new friends from Uganda - Auntie Daisy, Allen, Lovinsa, & Fiona

The girls taught the boys some of their choir dances, so the boys returned the favor and taught the girls some "dances." Here they are learning the dance from the movie "Hitch."

Tuesday night our church had the great privilege of having the Watoto Children's Choir perform. It was incredible! Watoto is a ministry in Uganda that places orphaned children in caring, loving homes and communities where they provide a mother for eight children, a school, a home for each family group, and a church. Each of the children in Watoto have lost one or both parents to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Being on staff, I got to spend a little extra time with this group of kids and the young adults who travel with them and they were just an oustanding group of people. Johanna and I (and the college boys living with us now) were fortunate enough to have three of the girls and on the the sponsors spend the night in our home. It was just a great, life-changing, life-altering experience for us...

The children sang songs of hope and peace and the love of God found in Jesus. One of the most moving moments of the night for me was to hear and see these orphaned children dance and sing the song, "I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, God knows my name!" I sat in the pew and begin to cry for a couple of reasons: First of all, I too am not forgotten because God does know my name...How incredible is that. But, secondly, here is a group of orphaned children who, by the worlds standards have every reason to be down and out, depressed and crushed. They've been orphaned and left behind to fend for themselves as children - 6, 7, 8, 10 year old children. But the came Christ, through the ministry of Watoto and told them, while the world may have forgotten you I have not! Here are these children singing songs of HOPE with all of their soul and heart and might and with the biggest smiles that you've ever seen...That is only a HOPE that comes from Jesus.

This event, like several in the past, has really got me considering my own life. It has me examining what I am doing with my life and what impact I am making. It has me examining my own choices of how I spend my money and my treasures. It has me doing some evaluation of what it is that God desires from me for my days, my bank account, my choices, my LIFE. For me, this was one of those type of experiences.

Words cannot express what God has taught me and is teaching me through seeing once abandoned and orphaned children sing of HOPE and LOVE and GRACE and PEACE. And sing it with such conviction and joy that they really do know that they are not forgotten and that God does know their names. If you get a chance and they are in your neck of the woods, I don't care what you have scheduled...Drop it and go hear the Watoto choir perform. This group is only in the states for a couple more months and then they head back to Uganda. Check it out at www.watoto.com.

Also, this has got me again thinking about my/our role in the AIDS epidemic in Africa and I am planning on sharing some sights that can help you make a difference in showing people in this fight the love of Christ. Please check back in the next day or two for that post. Until then...


The Weekend Update...

It was a busy weekend for us again...Seems like as the summer gets closer and my really busy time of the year is approaching, it is only getting more and more crazy. Johanna spent the weekend in D.C. with her family. She flew out on Friday to watch her brother graduate from the Naval Academy with his MD on Saturday. Me and the guys headed to my hometown for the weekend to see my grandparents and parents. It had been a while since I had been home, so it was great to be at home and to spend the weekend with family, especially since it was my grandfathers birthday.

Sunday was "Senior Sunday" at our church. We honored our seniors and presented them with gifts and a luncheon in their honor...I preached at both of our morning services and talked about leaving a legacy that lasts. I challenged our students to not just live for success, but for significance and to leave a legacy that lasts beyond their lifetimes by living for the glory of God and the good of others. It was a busy weekend, but a good one.


Lindsey Kane Live...

Tonight at the Attic we were blessed to have an incredible singer, song-writer, lead worshipper Lindsey Kane perform a concert for our students. Lindsey has led worship for us at an event before and will be leading worship at our high school camp this summer. She is an incredibly gifted artist, but the most impressive thing in my opinion is her genuine-ness and authenticity. She is always willing to work with our budget so that even if we're not a "big bucks" church our students receive "big bucks" experiences and such a great quality of ministry. Basically, she does what she does to serve and bring glory to the Father and unfortunately, that is rare in so many worship leaders and Christian artists these days. Our students and our ministry has been blessed by Lindsey and I know if you check out her music you will be too. Check it out at www.lindseykane.com.


A New Kind of Missionary...

A couple years ago I read the book The Emerging Church by Dan Kimball. Kimball is the pastor at Graceland in Santa Cruz and is a leading voice among those seeking to reach the emerging and postmodern generations that the church seems to be missing in today's society. I was looking back over it today when I came across this section that I highlighted:

"Our (the United States) unchurched population is the largest mission field in the English-speaking world and the fifth largest globally...As we approach ministry to the emerging culture - a post-Christian mission field - we need to use the same approach we would employ entering a foreign culture. We cannot go on seeing ourselves simply as pastors and teachers; we need to see ourselves as a new kind of missionary. And we must train people in our churches to do the same. We must dream missionary dreams. We must bleed missionary blood. We must pray missionary prayers."

That makes me think of the words of Jesus:
The harvest is PLENTIFUL but the workers are FEW. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. - Matthew 9:37-38

A Great Thought...

"If Jesus is the Son of God, we should be terrified of what He will do when He gets his hands on our lives; if the Bible is the Word of God, we should be quaking every time we read its soulpiercing words; if the church is the body of Christ, our culture should be threatened by our intimidating presence. But our culture is not threatened by our presence, it's not terrified of the Jesus in our lives, and it's not quaking at the Word of God. Why? Because we have familiarized the gospel, sanitized it, flattened it, taken the sting and terror out of it. We've been intimidated by those who claim to be familiar with Jesus...At first glance these people seem to know God extremely well. They know the "Key To God's Will" or "How To Live A Happy Life" or "Six Steps to Maturity." These people have reduced the gospel to a set of principles, Bible verses, moral absolutes, and theorems - as though God were some kind of mathematical problem that needed to be solved. What is implied (but never said) is that once we understand the formula, once we have determined "God's principles," then we can be comfortable because we know how God works. Which makes great sense...unless they are wrong."
- Dangerous Wonder by Mike Yaconelli


What Are You Doing With Your Tuna Fish...

Last night in our guys small group I led a discussion on John 6, specifically the first 15 verses where Jesus feeds several thousand people. As we talked and discussed and as I read the passage, a few thoughts occured to me. When Jesus confronts Phillip he doesn't ask whether or not they will be able to feed the crowd. He doesn't ask if it is possible or if they can afford it or if they are capable. He just asks how. It's not a matter of capability with Jesus. Immediately, though, that is Phillip's concern. He replies that eight months wages wouldn't even give everyone in the crowd one tiny nibble of food...Then as the disciples begin to brainstorm and problem-solve (or more likely talk about how Jesus once again could possibly be going insane), a little boy comes up and offers his five pieces of bread and two fish. I can see him trying to leave home with the crowd earlier in the day, eager to see what was going on and to watch what Jesus would do next, and his mother yelling at him as he ran out the door, "Don't forget your sack lunch!" Luckily, he didn't and here he offers all he has, albeit nto a whole lot...He hears the disciples discussing the perceived problem and Andrew sees him walk by and the boy offers up his two tuna-fish sandwiches...It wasn't much and sure wouldn't feed the crowd in his hands, but it was all he had.
The disciples then go to Jesus, almost ashamed of the little that they are able to come up with and offer. They even say, "Well, here's what we found Jesus, but it's not gonna' help." But they forgot something. They forgot that the tuna-fish sandwiches were no longer in the boys hands. They were no longer in the disciples hands. They were in Jesus' hands. And in Jesus' hands two tuna-fish sandwiches can feed THOUSANDS. And so Jesus blesses the food and they eat - They ALL eat - and the Bible says they eat until they are all so full that they cannot eat another bite! Wow! This story amazes me at what Jesus can do when we put what we have in his hands!
And then at the end of the story he instructs the disciples to go and gather the leftovers...And you know what? There were exactly 12 baskets of food left. Twelve "take home" boxes and twelve disciples. Coincidence? I don't think so. I think Jesus told them to pick up the leftovers becuase he knew exactly how much was left. He knew that each disciple would have enough left to take with them and eat on for a few days to come...And he knew that when they looked at that basket and ate of those leftovers that they would realize and remember the power of the One they were following. Each time they took a bite they would remember that when they saw the situation as impossible and they thought that they were not capable or couldn't do it, that Jesus just asked them how, not if. Jesus never asks if they can feed the hungry crowd, only how. He had the power to do it, he was just seeing if his disciples had come to the realization that with Jesus it is not a matter of if but how.
So what about you and I? What are our "tuna-fish sandwiches?" A little boy saw a huge dilemna and didn't say, "Well, this is all I've got...Too bad it won't help." No, he saw a need and he gave of what he had. And that is all God asks of us...He has gifted us with talents and abilties, and personalities, and possessions, and he says to us, "Will you put it back in my hands to be used to feed thousands?" We may look at our talent and see it as insignificant. We may look at our possessions and wealth and see it as small. We may look at what we can contribute with our hands and see it as too little to make a difference...But when we place those things in his hands, a couple tuna-fish sandwiches can feed the world. So what are you doing with your tuna-fish? In whose hands is it in?

The Weekend Update...

The weekend started a little early on Thursday with a dinner party for Johanna's work. She works for a CPA office and they were having a dinner to celebrate the end of tax season. Great food and good times on Thursday evening. I got up early Friday morning, which is my day off, and headed to Lake Bastrop. I was planning on spending the morning and early afternoon fishing...After about three hours at two different park locations and not even getting a nibble from a small perch, I decided to give it up and head to the house. Friday evening Johanna and I met up with some friends for a birthday celebration. It was Daniel's 20th birthday so we met him, his parents, and friends Jaron and Jenna at Texas Roadhouse for dinner. After the dinner, we hung out with Jenna, Jaron, and Foster at Dominican Joe's and shared old stories and lots of laughs. Saturday was a relaxing day around the house which happened to include some seafood and crawfish boil in the afternoon...Tasty stuff. Sunday involved church in the morning and evening and in the meantime, hanging out with Jaron and Jenna in the afternoon. Jaron and Foster are both former students of mine and Jenna and Jaron are now dating. Johanna and I both knew Jenna before this weekend but had never really gotten to spend a whole lot of time really getting to know her. As Andy had already told me "She's definitely out of Jaron's league. She's a lot cooler than he is."...So this weekend was great for spending time with old friends and making new ones...Until next time.


A Few Pics...

Us on The Kohootz Boat on the Dolphin Encounter Cruise

Us @ The Rockport Beach

A Dolphin Jumping In The Wake of A Ship - We saw tons of them on the dolphin cruise.

The view out our door at the Inn @ Fulton Harbor

My Sand Artwork on St. Jo Island


2nd Anniversary Trip...

Last weekend Johanna and I were fortunate enough to get to take a great trip to the coast for our 2nd anniversary. We were married two years on April 30th. So to celebrate, we thought a little trip was in order. We headed down to the Rockport-Fulton and Port Aransas area and spent Thursday evening through Monday afternoon just relaxing and taking in life at the beach. Here's a brief rundown of the trip, with some pics coming soon.

Thursday - We left Lockhart around 4 and headed down to The Inn @ Fulton Harbor. Johanna found this place on the internet and it looked really nice so we decided to give it a shot, even though we had never seen it in person. What a great choice! I highly recommend this place if you are ever staying in the Rockport-Fulton, Port Aransas area. The place is only a couple years old and it is incredible. It is small and family owned and they have done a great job maintaining the place and providing a great place for people to get away and relax....And it's right across from the Fulton Harbor and Marina, so the scenery is great! Once we got checked in we hit the restaurant across the street, Charlotte Plummers, for some tasty seafood.

Friday - Friday we headed to Port A to mess around and head out to St. Jo Island. St Jo is a privately owned island and is only accessible through one ferry. We had heard about it from friends and decided to check it out. Because it is privately owned no one is responsible for picking up trash and maintaining the island. That means that lots of trash washes up on shore from the gulf and that there are absolutely no facilities, electricity, shelters, or anything of the sort on the island. While we wished things were a little cleaner, we found a nice spot and spent most of the day playing in the waves and on the beach. There were several people on the island fishing but we were the only ones taking advantage of swimming in the waves...I think they thought we were crazy! We ended the day by hittin' up Snoopy's seafood restaurant, which we had been to before and loved...It was delicious.

Saturday - About 7 or 8 PM on Friday night we realized that Saturday would be a day to do not much at all...That was because we had waited to apply our "spray on" sunscreen until we got out to the island on Friday and due to the crazy wind, we cooked in spots so we were both dealing with major sunburn, but only in spots and blotches...However, we had already decided to have a more down, relaxing day so it was perfect. We took a tour of Fulton Mansion, a really old home in Fulton, during the morning and just swam at the hotel pool and hit the Rockport beach the rest of the day...We tried kite flying in the early evening at the Rockport beach and while the wind was strong, it did not cooperate by blowing with any sort of consistency so we had no luck with the kites...We finished the night with a GREAT meal of cajun seafood at The Boiling Pot.

Sunday - Sunday included another trip back to Port A. We rented an electric cart (Bevo was its name - UT orange with Longhorns painted all over it!) and took it all over the beach and all over town in Port A...It was a lot of fun and a great way to tour the place...After that, we had scheduled an afternoon Dolphin Encounter cruise. We went out on a boat and saw tons of Dolphins and got a tour of the sites from the water. After heading back to Rockport we hit the beach for a swim (and almost got attacked by some jumping fish!) and then hit a little Italian restaraunt that Johanna had saw and wanted to try out.

Monday - Monday morning we took advantage of sleeping in...Then it was time to pack up, load up, and hit the seafood markets to stock the ice-chest before we left...Overall, we had a fantastic weekend and are so blessed to be able to do something like that. What a great way to celebrate 2 years of an incredible marriage!