I was set up. I was ambushed. Looking back now, I should have seen it coming. But I was blinded by my unabashed love and devotion to my brothers in Christ. I was naive to the deceit and scheming going on all around me. My belief and faith in my brothers clouded my vision. Trust me, it will never happen again.
Things were rocking along pretty well at the church cookout last night. Great burgers and dogs. Outstanding fellowship. Kudos to Paul and Andrea Brightwell and their ministry group who planned and executed the evening so wonderfully. What a great night! And then we went outside to play games. Whitney and I KILLED in the egg toss. She made two amazing catches between her elbows on a couple of short throws. I made one spectacular one-handed, left-handed running grab. We finished fourth! And then the water balloon toss. We didn’t fare as well there, but we were still having lots of fun. After the second game of water balloon toss, I figured we were done. But Steve Fleming talked me into one more game. He paired me up with a girl I had never met. And instead of everybody on one side tossing their balloon at the same time, he had me toss mine first. Alone.
I should have seen it coming.
As soon as I threw my balloon, they came after me. 30-40 little kids and a couple of adults. I was completely defenseless and they were all armed. It was like running in a swamp following the 40-days and 40-nights of rain we’ve had here in North Texas. I got hit a couple of times. And then I went down. I slipped in the mud. I went down. And it was over. They pounded me. It turned into a little bit of a dog pile. Somebody brought in some eggs. It was ugly. I tried to take down as many of the kids as I could. But everything was so slippery.
And then the acts of cowardice.
After all the water balloons had been emptied onto my head, I regained my footing and my bearings and began to seek my revenge. Not on the kids, but on the adults I figured had planned the attack. As I grabbed the last carton of eggs, Steve Fleming began singing like a canary. He ratted out David Byrnes as the mastermind almost before I could ask. Such loyalty. Such dedication to his comrade. And as I approached Byrnes, he actually grabbed his wife, Shanna, and used her as a human shield. Unbelievable. It was worse than Costanza knocking over the seven-year-olds and his girlfriend’s grandmother to get out of the burning house. At least David acknowledged his character flaw late last night by emailing me a picture of himself.
Byrnes, I hope the yolk comes out of your pink shirt!
What a fabulous night. I’ve been so amazed to feel like such a part of the church family here in such a hurry. Your response and your encouragment, and even your water balloons and eggs have meant so much to me. Thank you.
Our Christian ministry is a continuation of God’s work in Jesus Christ. God’s plans for his world began before there was time and will continue throughout eternity. And it encourages me to think of God’s work as this huge, massive, unmeasurable thing that’s always been and will never stop. When God called Abram out of Haran, I like to think he did it with my great-grandparents in mind. When he took Israel across the Red Sea, I like to think he did that for me. When he brought his people back from exile, he did it to benefit my great-grandchildren. His labor is for all people for all time. God has always been and will always be present in and with his people. He’s continually loving and blessing his people, redeeming and reconciling his people, and defeating the enemies of his people. That work didn’t end with the resurrection of Jesus or with the beginning of the church or even with the writing of the New Testament. Luke says in Acts 1 that the earthly ministry of Jesus was just the beginning of what he does and teaches. It continues. Present tense, on and on.
And when we recognize the big picture of God’s work in our world, we realize that we’re only jumping in to join it. Nothing originates with us. We’re not starting any new work or beginning any new ways to show the love of God. It’s a process that began long ago and will continue until Christ returns. We’re only taking part in God’s constant labor. It’s so much bigger than my ministry or the work of the Legacy Church. He’s working through us and his church, yes. But that work continues whether we’re in on it or not. Let’s all pledge to jump in and join it.
59 days until football season. And the all-time best #59 in football history is Steelers linebacker Jack Ham. A consensus All-America from Penn State, he was drafted by Pittsburgh and became a starter his rookie year of 1971. He won four Super Bowl rings and went to eight Pro Bowls, racking up 25-1/2 sacks, 21 fumble recoveries, and 32 interceptions in his 12 year career. He’s in the college and pro football halls of fame. And as much as I hate to honor or recognize any Steeler from the ’70s, Ham’s the guy.
Excellent dinner Saturday night at the Fairmont for the Medina Children’s Home. Over 1,300 people there raising money for a great cause. It was so good to hook up with so many dear friends from Mesquite, Saturn Road, and Dallas Christian. I don’t know yet how much money was raised, but it had to have been a record. Avery Johnson handled the awkward moment when one of the former Medina kids (she’s an Aggie, Charlie) said she’d rather get an internship with the Spurs than with the Mavericks because they’ve won four rings with great diplomacy and kindness. And his own story of reaching the heights of athletic success and popularity from the drug-infested ghettos of New Orleans was inspiring. Just remember two things: “Failure is not Final” and “Things Don’t Change if Things Don’t Change.”