Thursday, March 09, 2006

God is really amazing.  I like hanging out with Him.  For some reason He seems to like hanging out with me too.  This is a good thing.  But the really surprising thing is that He chooses to keep blessing the work of my hands.  I mean, come on.  I've been a youth pastor since I was 19 years old.  I walked straight out of being in the youth group into leading the youth group.  That's a little odd.  Since then I have spent exactly one month not pastoring teenagers.  That comes to 31 years.

The big question seems to be why would teenagers allow ... and even encourage ... an old man who is turning gray and no longer "gets" their music ... to hang out with them and even choose to follow him?  I am not at all sure that I would, were I them.  But they do.  And I am honored.

It's gotten really interesting lately.  It is like God has decided to go hyper-active in our kids.  As of the first Sunday in March I have baptized 6 teens this year.  I have 4 more that are now waiting to be baptized.  After that is done the teens will be leading every other age group in our church COMBINED by a 5 - 1 ratio.  Wow.

Which brings me to todays story.  Last Sunday I was to baptize two young men, Casey and Kyle.  These two guys are really incredible.  they are high school students and they have fallen in love with God. No, they don't "get it" all yet. But they are moving in that direction. And they are both football player big. Prime beef kind of guys. I love them to death, along with about 50 or so of their closest friends.

So they show up Sunday morning and I have to break the news to them. The baptistry heater didn't work the night before and the water is cold I mean COLD. I've checked and water comes out of the ground at a consistent 54 degrees. That, my friend, is quite chilly. And that is what it checked in at in our church baptistry. So I told them of the situation and told them it would be fine if they wanted to wait. They laughed at me. Our heater has been breaking a lot lately and I don't think either of them was surprised. Kyle told me he had recently gone swimming in a very cold pool of water and he wasn't concerned. Hey, I wasn't concerned either. I wear these big rubberized fishing waders so that I don't have to change clothes before returning to the auditorium. When the heater fails I can feel the cold through them but it's not a big deal. However, it IS a VERY big deal to the one being baptized.

The time came and, with hundreds watching, I waded into the water, looked up at Casey, and gave him the nod. He hesitated. Then he stepped into the water. One toe at a time. This big guy literally creeped, gasping, down into the pool and stood in front of me. His teeth chattered. No joke. I asked him the usual questions about what decision he had made recently that had brought us to this point. He spoke involuntary words ... "It's so cold!" And then he caught himself and told us that he had asked Jesus Christ into his life to be his Savior. Then I dunked him. He went down fast and came up faster. But if you really want to see fast you should have seen him climb those stairs out of the big tub!

Now that left Kyle standing there looking down at me. He's a tough guy. No doubt. He is a football player and does not intimidate easily. I watched him steel himself and wade down into the water with me. He clinched his teeth. I asked the questions and he answered them appropriately. When i went to lean him back ... he helped me out in a big way. He literally threw himself backward! When he did his feet slipped out from under him and I was the only thing keeping him from sinking to the floor of the baptistry. I mean, he went WAY down. Deeper than anybody I've ever baptized. So deep that the entire right half of my body went under with him in order to bring him back up. So deep that the water began flowing into my waders. Did I mention that it was cold? Now I knew just how cold! As I pulled Kyle back to the surface the water was still going up from his going down. It didn't just get me. It got part of the choir that was sitting immediately in front of us! And when I finally got Kyle to the surface he "pulled a dog" on me. I mean he SHOOK just like a Golden Retriever after a bath. Water went everywhere. All over me. All over the choir. People were actually diving out of their chairs to get away from the splash! It was one of the greatest moments of my life! I loved it! I didn't know it at the time but the water had flowed so far into the waders I was wearing that the microphone box to my wireless lapel mike got wet. This is not good.

Kyle and I both managed to get out of the water. We shivered our way downstairs to the changing rooms. I did not bring a change of clothes with me because I didn't expect to need them and so I had to go home to change. When I got back and the worship service ended I went and found both of my friends and we laughed and hugged and had an awesome time celebrating the wonderfully unique experience they had in following Jesus.

So right now we are just sittng here waiting for a new heater to arrive so that we can baptize 4 more kids that are waiting. All four of them are middle school girls and I would not even consider baptizing them in unheated water. No way. And get this. They tell me that in the process of trying to find out what was wrong with the heater they made a discovery. It seems that the box that holds the plug that the heater plugs in to ... is above and behind the baptistry ... and has never ... NEVER ... been bolted to the wall. It has just been hanging there. I have been dunking kids and adults here for 23 years. And it has never been bolted down.

This is just one more reason why I believe in God.

Monday, March 06, 2006

After even greater deliberation here is a comprehensive list of my 10 Most Enjoyable Things In The World As Of Today Though I Reserve The Right To Change It At Any Moment Without Prior Notice And Without The Express Written Consent Of Major League Baseball(not counting things like relationships, hugging family, being ... ahem ... alone with my bride, worshipping God, etc. This is a blog not a political philosophy or theological/doctrinal statement!)

10. (It's a tie) Gym shoes that fit perfectly (it's a fetish) //// Opposable thumbs (try brushing your teeth without them tonight)
9. Remote control anything (sooooo lazy)
8. The first hour after a good work-out (they say it's chemical)
7. Music ("... it's the best thing I have ever found..." Rich Mullins R.I.P.)
6. An Ipod, a helmet, a motorcycle ... and no cars
5. Sunny days, Green Mustang, top down ... nuff said
4. White Sox Tickets, downstairs near Jermaine Dye after an hour at the Grandstand (35th Street just west of "The Cell")
3. Cubs tickets, bleachers on the vines (Night ... day ... doesn't matter)
2. Bailey crashing next to me in my big huge brown fuzzy mega-chair (She is form fitting)
1. Crashing in my big huge brown fuzzy mega-chair (You have to be there to get it)

After great deliberation here is a comprehensive list of my 10 Most Irritating Things In The World As Of Today Though I Reserve The Right To Change It At Any Moment Without Prior Notice And Without The Express Written Consent Of Major League Baseball(not counting things like war, disease, famine, etc. This is a blog not a political philosophy or theological/doctrinal statement!)

10. Camping (or anything having to do with being required to shower and/or sleep out doors)
9. Weddings (sorry. I feel badly about this one but it is true)
8. In coming phone calls from phone numbers that caller id doesn't recognize (forget it ... I won't answer)
7. The Cardinals (every day in every way)
6. Staying when I don't want to stay
5. Going when I don't want to go
4. Daytime television (a waste land)
3. Anything involving numbers or math (I don't do numbers)
2. Meetings (necessary evils)
1. Peanut Butter (it is inherently evil)