A Beautiful Day For a Wedding

Sunday afternoon I was in College Station to perform a wedding. The happy couple are members of my church and have planned long and prepared well. It was a joy and an honor to officiate their wedding as a wedding is about getting married.

Yesterday they had their wedding, today they are married.

The word “wedding” comes from the Old English “weddian” meaning, “a pledge.” A wedding is the joining of two people who have pledged to each other.

A wedding gives birth to a marriage. 

Weddings are rich in tradition and range from the fabulously expensive big white wedding to two people standing in my office. Typically, weddings contain the following elements:

  • Someone to perform the ceremony
  • A wedding license
  • Vows or words of promise
  • Rings
  • A verbal response of “I do”
  • The pronouncement of “husband and wife”
  • A kiss of some kind

I perform on average six weddings a year. Some are held in churches while others are event/destination weddings. Some are members of my church and some are from the community. Half a dozen a year doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve been doing them for forty years.

Some observations from having officiated 240 weddings:

  • Grooms are typically nervous, perspire and wonder why all the expense and fuss.
  • It’s a priceless look on a groom’s face when he sees his bride walking up the aisle.
  • I’ve never seen a bride walk the aisle who wasn’t smiling radiantly.
  • Someone cries: the bride, groom, parent, grandparent, or all of them.
  • No matter what they say, wedding pictures never take “just a few minutes.”
  • Receptions are about: relief, joy, tears, celebration, pride, and a little sadness too.

Weddings are rich in tradition and laced with sacred customs.

KrisandraEvans.com | Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Yonah Mountain Vineyard
Not us, or our wedding place, but close, really very close.

I’ve performed weddings in huge churches, tiny churches, standing in two feet of snow, standing on the edge of mountain cliffs, next to rivers, in homes and wedding chapels, in the parlors of Bed and Breakfasts, in my office and all kinds of places.

The two most memorable weddings?

My own and my daughters.

 

 

 

 

The Loyal Sports Fan

Team loyalty gets me into trouble with the friendly and the not so friendly. I know, already you are asking, “What?” Well, does team loyalty necessitate an acidic hatred of all other players, coaches, teams and cities?

Some say a definitive yes. I dare to say a cautious no. 

Don’t hate me.

 FAN LOYALTY?

  • Root for the local team, hate all others.
  • If two local teams: swear undying loyalty to whoever came first.
  • Only wear the caps, shirts, jackets and underwear of your team.
  • Amp up support for post season events.
  • Face painting strongly recommended, but not absolute.
  • Body painting for men with weight problems acceptable.
  • Tailgate & halftime parties, snacks, and victory celebrations required.
  • Boo, hiss, complain, insult, yell, and throw things at opposing teams
  • (If watching on TV, ignore the thing about throwing stuff)

HERE’S A THING

What happens when your company relocates you to another city? Do you remain loyal to your old team or do you drop them and embrace a new one?

EXAMPLES…

If you get transferred from Boston to Dallas are you required to hate the Patriots and love the Cowboys?

If you get transferred from Houston to New York are you required to hate the Astros and love the Yankees?

I know, the wisdom of Solomon wouldn’t be enough. 

Speaking of loyalty, should you be loyal to your spouse only when you are in town? Can you be unfaithful as long as you are in another city? Shouldn’t spousal loyalty be absolute regardless of where you are? Does geography determine loyalty?

Here’s another: Do you still love America when you are out of the country? Based on Fan Loyalty Guidelines, when I’m in Port-au-Prince, Mexico City,  Beijing or Jerusalem I should be loyal to Haiti, Mexico, China and Israel. It’s just a thought.

AND ME?

Forty years ago I became a Florida Gator fan. It doesn’t matter why. We currently live in Houston, Texas and have for 23 years. It’s been tough as there are several college teams of note in this state. Here is how I’ve steered through these shark-infested waters.

Florida Field
That’s not me there on the left. Close, really very close, but no. 
  • I love the Texas Aggies, Longhorns, Red-Raiders, Cougars, Horned Frogs, Mustangs and Bears and just over 1200 high school teams.
  • I love the: Texans, Cowboys, Astros, Rangers, Rockets and Mavericks

Sure, I have my favorites, but I don’t boo, hiss, say horrible things or chuck stuff at the other players. Can I cheer, root, clap, and support my team without hating and denigrating the other teams and players?

NOW JESUS

His disciples once rebuked a man for trying to do miracles. Jesus told them to leave him alone, that he wasn’t their enemy.

Speaking of enemies, Jesus taught his followers to pray for them, to be kind to those who would persecute them, and to forgive everyone.

I know, it’s tough to discuss sports and fan loyalty when you bring Jesus into it. 

TO CLOSE

This morning I’m giving thanks that even though he loved his fellow Israelites, Jesus still offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for all others too. Like me.

Thank you Jesus for not booing, hissing, yelling or saying horrible things or throwing things at me because I’m not from Jerusalem. You are the best!

Shalom

What Kids Do

FROM PROVERS 22:15

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child”. 

I guess that’s right, it sure seems to be.

  • Adam and Eve had trouble with Cain
  • Noah cursed one of his sons
  • Eli’s sons were wicked men
  • David had a son who plotted to steal his throne
  • He had another son who raped his sister
  • Isaac was lied to and deceived by a son
  • Jacob had sons who wanted to kill one of their brothers
  • Joseph and Mary had sons who didn’t believe in Jesus
  • Aaron’s sons were killed because of their foolishness
  • The children of Israel were stubborn, rebellious and sinful

WHAT ABOUT ME?

  • At five years old I buried my mom’s watch
  • At eight I set the back fence on fire
  • At eleven I got caught for public mischief
  • At twelve I got swats for talking too much in class
  • At fourteen I burned up some cotton trailers
  • At seventeen I went around town opening fire hydrants

WHAT ABOUT JESUS?

He was twelve when he separated himself from his parents and stayed behind in Jerusalem while they traveled north to Nazareth. When Joseph and Mary discovered he wasn’t with the caravan they headed back and it took them three days to find him. When they did, they were not happy. Nor were they impressed that he was sitting with the Rabbi’s studying and discussing the Torah.

TO CLOSE

I could tell stories of my own kids, but I won’t. But I’ll leave you with this. Kids can be foolish, impulsive, rebellious, unwise, disobedient and snarky. They are capable of mischief, breaking the law, fighting, stealing, cheating, lying, and other such behaviors.

Not all kids do all those things. I didn’t. But I did enough. Moms and Dads, I love you and pray for you and I know sometimes you want to pull your hair out. It’s okay, go ahead. But also know that from the first family on the planet to the very last, parents will know frustration and even heartbreak over what their kids can do.

Hang in there. You are in good company!

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.”

World’s Biggest of its Kind

HERE’S SOMETHING

According to the internet the biggest car wash in the world is here in the Houston area.

Also big is the Astrodome that opened in 1965 and was the world’s first multi-purpose sports stadium and the first air-conditioned dome. It cost $35 million to build and into today’s economy would cost $278 million. It was dubbed,

“The Eighth Wonder of the World”

There is an anti-Astrodome group who lobbies to have it torn down to make room for  parking and green space. However, early in 2018 Harris County Commissioners voted unanimously to restore the Dome at a cost of $105.

POLITICS?

The chief advocate for Dome revival was Ed Emmett but he lost his seat on the Commission to Lina Hildago who steered the Commission to put a hold on Dome renewal believing that Houston needs to invest funds in flood control and other needs essential for a better quality of life for its residents. So once again, the debate rages and it seems unclear if the plans for the Dome will resume or not.

Dome 1Dome 2

NOW JESUS

One day in sunny Jerusalem, the Christ was teaching the crowds in the temple courts. Some of his disciples commented on the stones used for the temple, and rightly so, for  the base stones weighed 165,000 pounds each.

They said, “Look, Rabbi, What massive stones, what magnificent buildings”.

Jesus had some interesting interactions with stones, of which Judea had no short supply.

  • The temptation in the desert, “Tell these stones to become bread”.
  • “God can raise up these stones to become children of Abraham”.
  • Speaking of children, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out”.
  • “And they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus slipped away.”

Big or small, for good or evil, stones, rocks and boulders were a daily part of life in Judea. Houses were built of stone walls, as were fences and buildings.

He would also say of the temple to his impressionable disciples,

“All these stones will be torn down, not one will be left upon another”.

FOR HOUSTON

Houston has other impressive buildings, quite a few actually. But perhaps nothing as impressive as the Dome, or at least as it once was. Will it stand? Will it be torn down? Who knows?

But perhaps it’s not the most impressive thing. For somewhere in the Houston suburb of Katy is the world’s largest car wash. It’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records. Its 255 feet in length, which is almost a football field. Seems fitting since the Dome was the home of the Houston Oilers Football Team, as well as and Astros. It’s still home for the Houston Rodeo, which receives 2.5 million visitors annually.

TO CLOSE

I just ask that we take a moment to see Jesus, high and lifted up, and offer a simple word of praise to his name. He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings and is bigger than Buc-ee’s Car Wash.

Car Wash
Pretty Impressive Huh?

Is Washington Defeated?

It’s not everyone who gets Ga-Ga about sports, but lots of us do. I’m not sure why. Here are a few suggestions:

  • we have nothing better to do
  • competition boils the blood
  • a proclivity for getting attached
  • community pride
  • love sports like professional wrestling and hi alai
  • the spectacle and pagentry
  • we miss the gladiatorial days of blood sport

Maybe.

HOUSTON ASTROS

The Houston Astros are in the World Series with the Washington Nationals. Houstonians thought we would smoke the Nationals four games to none. We didn’t.

The Nationals came to Houston and won the first two games, and the second game was a total blow out. The sporting world was stunned. I was. It was crazy. The Nationals were unbothered by our Hall of Fame pitching and unfazed by our rowdy Texas crowds. They flew back confident that with three games in their home park they would win the Series. They didn’t.

It was Houston’s turn to stun the sporting world by winning all three games. Two of them were total blow outs. The Astros return to Houston for the final two games. We believe one is all they need, the next one.

usa_today_13581868.0

THE FANS

People get a little nuts in professional sports playoffs. They throw things at the opposing players. They boo. They shout profanities. They yell ugly words and say tacky things. Wow, tacky things, sounds rough.

It’s all in fun, right? Sure it is. Of course it is because it’s only a game. So hearing people shout, “Let’s kill em,” shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

THE CROWDS

People get carried away when they are upset, angry and jealous. In France they shouted, “Off with his head, off with his head.” In the old west the crowd shouted, “Lynch him, string him up.” In more modern times, “Gas him” or “Give the Chair.” In ancient Rome the crowd voted for death with a thumbs up or thumbs down.

In Jerusalem, with Jesus on trial, they shouted, “Crucify him, crucify him.” Was it all in good fun? Only a game? Was the crowd just a little rowdy?

No, they were genuinely riled up. Not for sport, or politics, or food or human rights. It was about religion. The craziest stuff of all happens when people are consumed with religious hate and bent on religious violence.

Riots, ethnic cleanings, genocide, inquisitions, violent crusades, murders, and lynchings  are but a few examples of religious fanaticism.

In crucifying Jesus his opponents believed they delivered a total blow out. They didn’t.

empty_tomb_wide

IN CLOSING

I like fan fanaticism. It makes the game more interesting, the sport more appealing, and the playoffs more intense.

Religious fanaticism? Well, no thank you.

 

Just Skating By

Last night we had an All Church Skate Party at Fun-City SK8 & Play. It was a blast. Mind you we didn’t get the whole church; I don’t think 445 families would have fit. But we had a lovely group and it was fun.

Skate Party 1
Not our skaters, close, really very close, but not the same.

SKATING?

I didn’t skate. I can skate. I know how to skate but I didn’t. Mostly, I didn’t want to fall down a lot. There, I said it. It’s possible that I could have gone around without falling but it wouldn’t have been probable. What would have been probable is that I’d fall and couldn’t get up,

“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” 

People would have helped me, at least the kids would have. There is nothing more kind, more sweet, or more reassuring than a pod of five year olds assisting you to your feet. Bless their skating little hearts.

THE QUESTION

Children of various ages asked why I wasn’t skating. Within the following responses is one honest answer. Can you discern which one?

  1. “I accidentally brought my ice skates instead of my roller skates.”
  2. “My skates have metal wheels and those aren’t permitted.”
  3. “My rollerskating skills would have intimidated you kids.”
  4. “I was a professional Roller Derby skater and now I have bad knees.”
  5. “Falling a lot would have been injurious to my ego and other parts.”

THE ADULTS

So, instead of skating I did what most of the adults did. I socialized while watching the kids, and some of their parents, go around and around and they did great. Hardly anyone fell. Well, one dad repeatedly fell and we tried not to laugh but we did.

CONVERSATIONS

Here are but a few of the conversations I enjoyed:

  1. Talked with a new family that’s been coming to church for a few weeks.
  2. Talked with a school teacher about her class and how it’s going.
  3. Chatted with a grandfather who was there to take pictures of his grandkids.
  4. Had some discussion with a couple of Dads who are in men’s group with me.
  5. Had conversation with some of our ministers who were there.

LEAVING

I left a little early. Went home to watch the Sunday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints. Cowboys lost 12-10.

I should have stayed at the party.

IN CLOSING

It was fun and I’ll go again. Probably won’t skate, again. Probably will stand and socialize with parents and interact with the skaters, the kids going around and around and stopping to tease me for not skating.

It was a sweet time with some of my brothers and sisters and some very fun moments with those to whom Jesus has pledged his kingdom.

Maybe I need to invest in a new pair of skates.

Maybe not.  

Skate Party 2

Five Year Old Kids

KINDERGARTEN ASSISTANT

A woman in our Life Group asked if someone could help with her Sunday morning Kindergarten Class. Her usual assistant was dropping off a kid at college.

So I responded, “Sure, I’ll help.”

WHAT HAPPENED?

My duties were basically crowd control. You know, help them stay seated, keep them from getting crazy with their neighbors and make sure nobody got hurt.

The teacher, who is a professional school teacher, was phenomenal. Her teaching skills were impressive. Her ability to engage each child with respect and dignity was effective. She could do a lot with just the sound and tone of her voice.

If I had been the teacher I would have been outwitted, outplayed and outlasted by a bunch of sweet little five year old kids. I was barely getting by with crowd control.

kids
                          Not our Kindergarten class, not even close, our kids were cuter and smarter.  Maybe I’m just biased. Maybe?

SOME OBSERVATIONS

While making the first letter of their names with Play-Doh one kid asked another:

“Where does Play-Doh come from?” The kid shrugged and said, “I think it’s magic.” 

When asked what they knew about God and his Son:

“I think God and Jesus are basically the same person.” 

“Jesus went to the cross and there were fireworks.” 

When asked, “Can you name something God made that we can see.”

“TV” 

“Kids riding bikes. I saw a picture of it on the wall.” 

The Play-doh kid said, “Play-Doh.”

MY TAKE AWAY’S

They were adorable and smart. One child knew the days of creation, of what happened each day. One named four or five things she learned in school that week. One child wanted to talk and say all kinds of things. Some raised their hands when they wanted to speak or answer a question. I went away blessed to have been there.

I laughed, marveled and thanked God for such precious people. They were obviously from loving families who are talking about God in their homes. It was so sweet.

I think I’ll go back next week!

A Child’s Five Questions

FIVE QUESTIONS

At this year’s Orange Conference in Atlanta I heard Kristen Ivey talk about the five questions a child needs an adult to answer in order to trust them.

  1. Do you know my name?
  2. Do you know where I live?
  3. Do you know what matters to me?
  4. Do you what I have done?
  5. Do you know what I can do?

It makes sense doesn’t it? Before extending trust to an adult a child needs to know the adult understands who they are, that the adult has a sense of what matters to them.

Children's Blessing 1

When I think about it, the five questions work pretty well for me too.

  1. I’m flattered when someone takes the trouble to learn my name.
  2. Not my home address, but aware of something that’s going on in my life.
  3. I instantly like a person who understands what’s important to me.
  4. The person who has some sense of my history will sooner earn my trust.
  5. The person aware of my abilities and achievements gets my attention.

These questions make it personal for the one who is asking and for the one who is answering. If a child asks and I know the answers, then the child will more readily view me as a friend. It isn’t easy because it’s a lot to know, and will take effort and intentional interest.

I like seeing Jesus reaching out to people. Take Zacchaeus for example, it’s Jesus making an effort with intentional interest. It’s Jesus getting personal.

DO YOU KNOW MY NAME? Jesus looked up and called him by name.

DO YOU KNOW WHERE I LIVE? He wanted to go to Zach’s house for the day.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT MATTERS TO ME? Jesus knew money was important to him.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT I HAVE DONE? Jesus knew he collected taxes for Rome.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT I CAN DO? Jesus knew Zach would trade extraordinary greed with extraordinary generosity.

AND US TODAY?

How does Jesus get personal with us? Does he know who we are, does he know our name and what’s happening in our lives, a sense of “where we live” or “Where we are at?”

In my next blog I’ll write about some ways that God gets personal with us.

TO CLOSE

Jesus spent most of his time with huge crowds. But he often reached out to individuals and did something to change their lives. It’s how Jesus made it personal.

On his way to the cross to save everyone he often stopped to save someone.   

A Very Cool Thing

There are things that warm my heart and fill my soul. Here are a few of them:

  • playful puppies
  • the love of a young child
  • an unexpected gift at an unexpected time
  • the hugs after baptisms

 FIRST: SOME JESUS CONTEXT

One day a wealthy man asked what he needed for salvation. He was told that because his wealth controlled him he needed to give it to the poor and make Jesus his one true master. He wouldn’t, and he left sad.

A woman was caught having sex with a man not her husband. The religious police brought her to Jesus trying to discredit him before the people, they failed and left defeated. Jesus didn’t condemn, but forgave, and encouraged her to live for God.

One night, an influential man approached Jesus saying that he must be a teacher from God due to his miraculous signs. Rather than discuss his credentials, Jesus taught him to be born again, that to enter the coming kingdom he would need to be born of the Spirit.

Three Key Thoughts:

  1. Make Jesus the Lord and master of your life.
  2. Look to Jesus for forgiveness and righteousness.
  3. Regardless of race or heritage, we all need to be born of the Spirit

Those three thoughts come together when a person confesses Jesus as Lord and Savior and is immersed into his name, and raised a new creation, fully cleansed, filled with the Spirit, and dedicated to holiness. Some call it baptism.

I saw a pic on Facebook of a Pastor, who is a dear friend, who was about to baptize some people, probably in the Conejos River, water temperature at snow melt levels!

A week ago I baptized a woman who happened to be deaf. Thankfully, our church has a member who interprets for the deaf and was a huge help. Being deaf had nothing to do with being baptized; it wasn’t about her hearing, but about her believing.

Below is a 20 second video clip of a dad baptizing his teenage son in a river very likely warmer than the Conejos. Watch the hug, its one of the things that warms my heart and fills my soul!

The 92

Kids go to camp. Many go to more than one.

Yesterday at church I called for all the kids who were going to Camp Bandina to come on stage. There were 92 of them. I offered a prayer of blessing and then moms and dads got their kids and their stuff on two huge, beautiful busses and off to camp they went.

I saw a few parents with a few tears and a few parents running to their cars in freedom.

With 350 total campers and 80 adults to serve them there will be an outpouring of love and faith; an amazing experience of friendship and fellowship.

Here are nine thoughts about the “9” in “92”

  • nine are first time campers
  • nine will miss home and want to call mom or dad
  • nine will develop a crush on someone
  • nine will make friends with kids from other places
  • nine will deepen friendships within our group of 92
  • nine will have life-affecting conversations with their counselor
  • nine will come home thinking about their futures for the first time
  • nine will make some kind a decision about who they are with God
  • nine will return a bit sad because it’s their last year at Camp Bandina

We have excellent people at the camp this week. People who will guide the campers well, who will model Christ for them, share their lives with them and be available at all hours of the day and night.

Camp is for having fun and the campers will have a blast. But camp is also for disconnecting from their tech, from gaming systems, cell phones and tablets. It’s a week of discovery about themselves, others and God. It’s a week of personal connection. A time when their hearts and minds will be open, available and receptive to healthy influence.

May God bless them all.

I loved camp.