Tim Lester, The Devil?

Wouldn’t you know it? The very Sunday that I fail to take my camera into the service, I miss a great shot. And then I’m stuck with only my phone’s camera to try and take a picture – something it does not do very well indoors. (Well… there to the left is what I was able to get!)

Yes, Tim Lester preached the entire sermon with a stick attached behind him with a drawn face of the Devil – as if Satan was whispering in Tim’s ear. (I’ve often wondered why Tim always cocks his head to the left as if he is attempting to hear something!)

However, I was kind of wondering if maybe the way to see this is sort of like one of those identifying little plastic sticks that you have in a six-pack of vegetable or flowering plants – you know, the stick that identifies what those plants are. So, was the stick really saying that THIS IS THE DEVIL!

No… Tim is one of a kind, and devils are really rather common if you think about it.


Senate Candidate Dan Bongino

Today was the semi-annual meeting of the Maryland State Republican Party, and it was held in Solomons, Maryland. Though I’m midway through my elected term on the county Central Committee, this is not my crowd. Politically speaking it certainly is. But most of these folks are very ‘Type A’ personalities. They love the game of politics and all the aspects of campaigning: signs, stickers, buttons, “button-holing”, arguing, posturing … and dare I say sibling rivalry and in-fighting! I vacillate between finding it immensely amusing or inordinately irritating. But the role of political organization is an honorable and valuable part of American democracy, and so I do it as a calling that found me far more than I found it.

It has been interesting to meet a lot of people who sit in places of power – both in Annapolis and Washington. These are very, very mortal people. Some of them are very fine people, some of them are wannabes, and a few are very troubled people who have gained the world at the expense of their soul. I thought I’d be more impressed with a higher percentage of them than I have been.

But I will tell you that there is one guy I’m totally impressed by, and that is Dan Bongino who is the Republican nominee for United States Senate. He will be squaring off against the incumbent Ben Cardin. Bongino spoke at a luncheon I attended today, and he was amazing in his communication. His word pictures that describe the current situation in America – particularly in economics – are so colorfully illustrative in making complex situations understandable.  He walked through a variety of common sense and workable solutions to an entire host of problems facing America.

Bongino is a bundle of positive energy. He is invigorated by the challenges of problems and the belief that they can be overcome. Having personally grown up in a poor family in New York, and then working eventually with the secret service, he gave up this career at the great personal loss to take on this challenge of running for the Senate.

Actually, my son Jesse is working for the campaign in a volunteer capacity with a team of young guys who are doing research and writing for Dan.

So look for him on the national shows. There is no doubt that this is an uphill battle here in the most blue of states, but Bongino is an impressive fellow whom I think can at least make a race out of this – and so do many pundits around the country.

<As always with political narrative in this blog, I write to remind everyone and anyone that this blog is the opinion only of the author. It represents nothing of the viewpoint of Tri-State Fellowship – which takes no stand or viewpoint upon such matters. Furthermore, all costs associated with this blog are at the expense of the author without any connection to Tri-State Fellowship … not by registration costs or equipment costs, etc.  I have for many years bought my own computers and devices so as to be distanced from any connection.>

Snake Today!

Today I am in far southern Maryland and staying overnight to go to a political convention tomorrow in Solomon’s Island. I’ve never been to this part of the state before, but it is fully as beautiful as I expected it would be.

I got here by early afternoon, as I took a vacation day to go to Point Lookout – which was a huge Civil War Union POW camp (of Confederate soldiers after Gettysburg). None of the buildings remain from that difficult era, though there are varied monuments and a museum. Unfortunately, the museum (I learned) does not open until Memorial Day. Oh well … a bad day of Civil War snooping beats a good day of ……………….. whatever.

The area is filled with many environmental preservation projects and organizations. I followed a nature trail through a tidal marsh and thought, “I wonder how long it will take to see a snake in this place.”  The answer: about three minutes! I’m telling you, nobody can find a snake anywhere and everywhere like I can … they are always just lurking about – the miserable creatures.

Here is a picture for proof … And check some others below it.

Hanging Out With Mitt

Mitt Romney was in nearby Greencastle, PA on Sunday evening for a campaign event hosted by the Franklin County Republican Party. (For those of you who read this from outside this area, Greencastle is about 20 miles north of where I live – just over the Mason-Dixon Line into PA.)

Diana and Jesse and I went to the dinner, having gotten tickets through the Washington County Republican Central Committee – where I am one of 9 members. I had great fun by posting on my Facebook status line: “Headed out to dinner with Mitt Romney and a few friends…”

OK… there were 600 friends there! And, we were seated back from the front in the third row of about 15 rows of tables!  (This is when you know you’ve arrived!…. or, maybe just been fortunate for some reason.)

As always surrounding these events, the security was rather tight to say the least. There were a lot of big dudes just standing around “watching” everything.

So … people have been asking me if I’m a big Romney guy now. Well, not sure how big I am, but it has grown on me. He certainly hit ALL of the right themes in his speech, and if he can be taken at his word and he is able to accomplish a number of these initiatives, we are going to be better off as a country. I truly believe the country we will have if President Obama is re-elected is one we will not recognize … and will be one that is significantly more hostile to the Gospel message and Christianity within the culture. God will not be undone if that happens, and His grace and sufficiency will prevail for whatever contingencies ensue, but so long as we still have a democratic process, I am going to participate in it in a way that I believe best serves the God-ordained principles of American exceptionalism that also provide the best context for the Gospel. Toward that end, I am not concerned about Romney’s Mormon faith; I am concerned about Obama’s radicalism and connections to some of the most anti-Christian elements to be found in the world today.

I would have much preferred Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, though he did not run. It is my understanding that he is on the short list of those being considered for Vice President. I recently met some very fine evangelical folks from Wisconsin and from Ryan’s district – people who know him and those close to him – and they tell me he is truly squared away with an evangelical faith.

I put together a little video from Sunday night, and if you’d like to see it, here is the link:


I’ve read some local criticism of my committee and how, while the Franklin County folks are getting Karl Rove (2011) and Mitt Romney, we are featuring a defeated state senator (State Chairman Alex Mooney) and a relative unknown (a fellow who is a frontrunner for the next gubernatorial race). Well, we did have Representative Steve King of Iowa last year – a legit big dog in the House. But more than anything, Pennsylvania is a battleground state beyond what we are in Maryland, and Franklin County is seen as a pivotal area – hence the emphasis. I cannot explain that, but that is what is believed by Party activists who research these things.

Whatever, it was an interesting evening.


<As always with political narrative in this blog, I write to remind everyone and anyone that this blog is the opinion only of the author. It represents nothing of the viewpoint of Tri-State Fellowship – which takes no stand or viewpoint upon such matters. Furthermore, all costs associated with this blog are at the expense of the author without any connection to Tri-State Fellowship … not by registration costs or equipment costs, etc.  I have for many years bought my own computers and devices so as to be distanced from any connection.>

30 Years Ago Today in Dallas

On this day in 1982 in Dallas, the first of my five boys was born. Nathan arrived in the early evening hours after a tense day of pitocin-induced labor … that was probably overly-administered and did more damage than good, resulting in a C-section baby.  (The other four boys were not … and that’s not a common story … but Diana is not a common lady!)

During the labor, to pass the time, Diana and I were playing a card game that involved quick hands and movements. She was connected to an IV, but still beat me – more proof (as all the boys will tell you) that she is actually the more competitive of the two of us!

After the decision was made to do the surgery and Diana was taken away, I thought they would come and get me, and only THEN start the procedure. NO!  I heard them say from down the hallway, “You can call the husband in now.”  So I figured they would say, “OK, everyone is here, so let’s begin.”  Nope, it was already well in progress as I walked around Diana, whose feet were toward the door. All I noticed out of my side view, as I went to my appointed place by her head, was a lot of red in her direction… and red on the floor. This whole childbirth thing really is very difficult on fathers, you know.

We had seen videos of C-sections in our child-birthing classes, and everyone in the video was having a good time – it was like a party! So we were unprepared when Diana said, “This really, really hurts!”  The anesthesiologist – a fellow a bit lacking in bedside manners – said, “You are feeling something? Honey, they just cut you wide open, I don’t think you are feeling anything!”

At that moment, Diana passed out and her head dropped sideways. The anesthesiologist went into a bit of panic mode. He said to me (about the breathing thing over Diana’s face), “Here, hold this in place, I need both hands.” And he began frantically turning dials and dohickuses. About that time I heard a cry from a few feet away, but all I was thinking was, “OMG, my wife just died!”

Well, as you know, she did not die … but by the time she awoke and we both realized we had a baby, a good several minutes had passed. This experience, along with several other elements, put Diana on a warpath to never have another C-section … and she didn’t!  (Diana is a tough dudette!)

As I went home that night, I remember being so in awe of the whole thing – a day which I recall all these years later as the most surreal experience of my life.

Nathan has been a great guy! He is truly one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. I did not think it was possible that there could be a less sentimental person than myself, but by comparison, Nathan makes me look like a writer for Hallmark’s collection of greeting cards for Valentine’s Day!

Nathan has brought some trauma to our lives! (as do most kids).  There was the cancer-that-wasn’t scare of 1996, the diabetes onset of 1997, and a number of terrifying low blood sugars since then. And one of the great joys of my life was to see him come back from those episodes to win gold medals in high school track and to run in college … and because he was a runner, he met his running wife on the cross country team at Dickinson.

Beyond that, we’ve got Bella and Hudson, and an enormous multi-national business empire – sort of!

Chuck Colson is Gone

The news today is filled with the word that Chuck Colson has passed away at age 80. He was a great voice and thinker for the conservative evangelical movement. Over the years I’ve been much impacted by his speaking and writing.

Chuck had two halves of his life: a first half living for the power and things of this world – only to be imprisoned for his deep role in the Watergate scandal; and a second half living for Christ – having been truly transformed by grace, he was a completely different person in every way.

It will likely be that the world will remember him more for the first half, while the church will remember him for the latter. This alone is a display of grace.

Many of us who listen to Christian radio – such as our local WCRH – will most remember Colson for his morning commentaries called “BreakPoint.”

I get a regular email from Prison Fellowship, and this is what they had to say upon the death of Colson:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that Chuck Colson — our friend, founder, and brother in Christ — has passed away. Though we mourn the loss of a great leader, we rejoice knowing God has welcomed his humble and faithful servant home.

When Chuck Colson left prison, he promised to remember the men who remained behind bars. “I will never forget you guys!” he told them.

And for 36 years, Chuck faithfully kept that promise. In 1976, he founded Prison Fellowship, a ministry dedicated to living out Jesus’ command to remember the incarcerated and share the transformational love of Jesus Christ with them and their families.

“I could never, ever have left prison and accomplished what has been accomplished but for God doing it through me,” Chuck once said.


The Devil in the Sound System

I know this seems absolutely silly to those of you who are, say, age 30 and under, but there was a time when absolutely nobody thought of the idea that a church should have a worship team of instrumentalists and vocalists leading a service. Most churches just had a song leader; or in large sanctuaries with a pipe organ (likely made in Hagerstown at the Moller factory), the organ was so loud and so in charge that it was “the leader of the songs – the hymns.”  Some larger churches might also have had an orchestra.

But ALL churches of any size whatsoever had a choir. My first job in a church in 1977 was with a Christian and Missionary Alliance congregation in Cherry Hill, NJ.  I was the choir director there for a year – my final year of college and first year Diana and I were married. The total attendance of that church was about 100 people. In terms of talent, it was one of the best choirs I ever had.

Anyhow, in the old order of doing church, choirs were often the veritable den of iniquity in a church!  It was too frequently a place of gossip and discontent and opinions and egos run amuck! Honestly, I never had many problems as such in the three churches where I weekly did this sort of thing for a period of about 15 years … though one time in Dallas when there was a small controversy about something, I did put a sign on my office door that said “Office of the Department of War.”

I think it was the famed radio preacher of a previous generation – J. Vernon McGee – who said, “When Satan fell, he fell into the choir loft and has been there ever since!”

If that was true of the 1900s, I’d submit that the saying for this century is that “when Satan fell, he fell into the church sound system and has been there ever since!”

Yesterday, I was in the Café service where Todd Seville was sharing some thoughts related to our new series called “Unseen: Exposing the Paranormal” … and he was commenting about the ways in which Satan and his minions may affect the proclamation of the Word in church. One of the things he said was how technical problems seem to happen at the worst times – the power will go off, or something of that nature. When I spoke, I made some further remarks about the topic. All I can say is what I see that happens; and I can tell you without any doubts whatsoever that things like computers and printers break down on Sundays at a rate far beyond what they do on any other day of the week (even though they are more used on those other days).

Well, when it was time for me to speak at the 11:00 iGrow session, I looked around for the wireless microphone that is always up front – having just been used by the 9:30 service speaker that morning. It was not there, and I was then told that it malfunctioned during Chris’ sermon. I heard later that it was unexplainable – that there was a new battery right out of the box just put into it … that the problem was not the switch or anything like that. It just stopped working.

We’ll research it some more. But you have to wonder if the paranormal was not being exposed! Hmm? Who could it be? Hmm? Could it be SATAN?!?  (You also have to be older than 30 to remember “the Church lady” on Saturday Night Live.)

Those Annoying Robocalls

I don’t say or write a lot around church about my political involvement on the county Republican Central Committee. I try to keep these pieces of my life as rather separate. So I would point out that this blog, though referenced on such as the church web page, is actually of my own creation and expense apart from the church.

Like many local residents, I received a plethora of robocalls in the final hours leading to the recent primary elections. And though something of a political junkie, I found them as annoying as so many others who complained to me and our Central Committee.

Many who run for public office secure the services of an advisor who counsels them to use these calls. But why … when there is so much anecdotal evidence that they are distasteful and even counterproductive for the outcome sought?

The sad truth is that they work! Consultants identify that name recognition is just about the most critical ingredient in a winning campaign. Research has demonstrated that people will vote for a person whose name they have most seen and heard, even if they do not know a thing about that candidate’s positions!

Though we may all wish to simply shut down our phone lines in the days leading to an election, the actual best long-term deterrent to robo-ruptions is an informed electorate. The existence of a voting public largely engaged in an active understanding of the major issues and players would nullify the effectiveness of hit-and-run election techniques.

Our country and our state face issues of immense significance in the immediate future. The proposals as to how to address these issues are oft radically different. Now more than ever we need an engaged and knowledgeable electorate.

This is not a Republican issue alone – though it often seems that way around here, since there are more GOP candidates for everything than Democrats seeking office. Neither is it a local issue, as this annoyance is common in other regions.

Those who have been involved in this activism longer than have I (with just 3 years) tell me that they have attempted over and over to get candidates and campaigns to minimize this activity … all to no avail. I believe the trends are much against positive outcomes from these intrusions. But with a variety of critical referendum issues on the ballot and hotly contested elections, the calls are not likely to decrease anytime soon.


Abner Doubleday, Baseball, and the 151st Anniversary of the Civil War

Today, April 12, 2012, is a sort of convergence point for a number of my most valued hobbies and interests. As a Civil War history enthusiast, it marks the 151st anniversary of the essential beginning of that 4-year struggle. The first Union shoot – a cannon blast from Fort Sumter in response to the Confederate attack in Charleston Harbor – was aimed by Captain Abner Doubleday, about whom I’ve written most of a book. And Doubleday was for many years considered the father of the great, great American game of Baseball – hence the location of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

So there is no way I can let this date go by without a posting on Doubleday and baseball. And since this writing is going to end up longer than most, here is the conclusion for anyone who can’t read to the end: Doubleday was an effective Civil War General who had nothing to do with inventing the game; he was more of a boy scout than a little leaguer; he would have demanded credit for it if he did invent it; baseball is more about evolution than creation; Doubleday may have only ever written the word “baseball” once in his life.

If I ever do get around to publishing my book on Doubleday, the baseball part of his story will be the shortest chapter. I knew when going into the project that the General had no serious connection, but no book on Doubleday could be complete without at least some explanation as to how his name got attached to the great American pastime.

Part of my research took me to the archives room at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. A summer intern met me at the door and escorted me to the inner sanctum. There, an archivist, hearing what I was interested in researching, said to me, “I’ll get you the Doubleday file, but I’ll tell you right now there’s not much in it.”

Whereas Abner Doubleday would ultimately write extensively in the latter years of his life, a subject he did not address was the origins of baseball. But others surely have and continue to do so today. Though now largely discredited as the inventor of the game, he remains a sort of Paul Bunyan or John Henry folklore figure for the sport.Baseball’s founding is in fact more about “evolution” than “creation”—having evolved from a variety of bat and ball games played in American towns probably for even decades before Doubleday.

So how does an admittedly non-athletic, even somewhat portly person of military fame, who never claimed to be associated with a sport that had gained public and professional prominence long before his death, end up as the George Washington of the great American pastime? Only a convoluted storyline could yield such a result.

In 1905, sporting equipment manufacturer Albert Spalding determined it was in the public interest to establish definitively the origin of the great game of baseball. This baseball executive and former star pitcher assembled a group of like-minded associates to research the ancestry of the sport. The “like-minded” aspect of this group defined a joint hope that baseball was truly fully American, owing no connection to the English children’s game called “Rounders.”

The chairman of the commission was National League President A.G. Mills. Other members included several men associated with the sport, and two United States Senators. A vast amount of communications came to the committee, including a letter from an Albert Graves, a mining engineer in Colorado. Graves claimed to be a Coopersburg boyhood friend of Abner Doubleday, and said that the Civil War General in 1839 devised a scheme for changing the game of “Town Ball” to include a diamond formation, four bases, and a certain number of players with specific positions.

The final report of the commission was issued on December 30, 1907, and concluded that “the first scheme for playing baseball, according to the best evidence obtainable to date, was devised by Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown, N.Y. in 1839.” The notion of the game being invented by an all-American war hero native of New York State caught on with the public.

Almost immediately, there were those who disputed the findings by noting that the alleged Doubleday innovations were in wide use prior to 1839. But their voices could not compete with the official version of the commission, and the identification of Doubleday with the sport was permanently cast. Added to this was the 1934 discovery of an old baseball inside a trunk in the attic of a home having some connection to the Doubleday family. The ball became known as the “Doubleday Baseball.” Stephen Clark, a Cooperstown resident and philanthropist purchased the ball for five dollars and displayed it with other baseball items in a room of the Village Club. A business partner of Clark, by the name of Alexander Cleland, proposed the idea of a National Baseball Museum. National League president Ford Frick and other baseball executives supported the proposal, and before long a supply of baseball memorabilia began to collect in Cooperstown.

In that there was to soon be in 1939 a centennial anniversary of the declared invention of the sport, Ford Frick and other baseball executives proposed that a Hall of Fame be created to honor the great players of the game. The Baseball Writer’s Association of America was tasked with the selection of those from the history of the sport who should be the first honorees. Five famous players were selected: Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson. A total of 25 players were elected by the time of the grand centennial celebration in 1939.

Due to the publicity of the Hall of Fame being established, a new round of investigations and assertions by baseball historians proved the Doubleday connection to the founding of baseball to be a myth. The fact is that the game has a variety of roots—not only to the game of Rounders, but also to a wide assortment of bat and ball games played in towns for decades before the alleged incident in Cooperstown in 1839. An individual name more justly appropriate to associate with the “creation” of baseball is Alexander Cartwright, who in 1845 published a set of baseball rules that were widely adopted. Associated with the earliest forms of professional baseball clubs, particularly the New York Knickerbockers, the first recorded game was played in 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey. The National Association of Base Ball Players was the first organized league in 1858.

In recent years, other discoveries of early forms of baseball have been uncovered—most notably a Pittsfield, Massachusetts bylaw from 1791 that prohibits the playing of baseball within 80 yards of the windows of a new town meeting house.

Part of the debunking of the Graves claim is that he was roughly 14 years younger than Abner Doubleday—though Doubleday did have a cousin with an identical name who was the same age as Graves, and lived in the same community. The incident Graves recalled may well involve a mistaken identity. Such a scenario as Graves penned was surely the mere replication of events in many locations where boys shared their knowledge of the growing codification of the rules of the game. Doubleday was nowhere near Cooperstown in that summer of 1839. And were Abner Doubleday the inventor of the game, he would have never allowed the issue of the origin of baseball to be disputed to the extent that it was in his lifetime, without taking claim for its beginnings. Doubleday had a highly advanced sense of justice and credit—so much so that it became problematic for him in his late Army career. He never claimed credit nor mentioned any affection for the sport in his many writings; and nothing is said upon the matter in his obituary or remembrances written by others who knew him.

One reference actually does exist of Abner Doubleday penning the word “baseball.” Near the end of his military career in 1871 he was stationed at Fort McKavett, Texas as the colonel in command of the 24th U.S. Infantry Regiment. This was one of four army units that were entirely African-American. To the Army’s Adjutant General in Washington he wrote:

“I have the honor to apply for permission to purchase for the Regimental library a few portraits of distinguished generals, Battle pictures, and some Rogers groups of Statuary, particularly those relative to the actions of the Colored population of the south. This being a colored regiment, ornaments of this kind seem very appropriate. I would also like to purchase baseball implements for the amusement of the men and a Magic Lantern for the same purpose. The fund is ample and I think these expenditures would add to the happiness of the men.”

Referring to bats, balls and bases as “implements” hardly sounds like the vocabulary of the founder of the sport! The Rogers Groups of Statuary referenced a very popular form of durable plaster sculpture. The images pictured ordinary people performing ordinary deeds of life—depicting amusements, social customs, literary topics, historical figures, etc. The statues varied in size from eight inches to forty-six inches. Practically anyone of means in Victorian America possessed them, and the announcement of a new issue was cause for much publicity. The social interests and educational concerns of Doubleday may be seen in this request for the benefit of his regiment. The “Magic Lantern” was the name of an immensely popular 1870 invention that may be thought of as the ancestor to the modern slide projector.

Though Doubleday would surely prefer to have been remembered for his military accomplishments and his advanced sense of social justice, he has instead been remembered more for the sport of baseball, and Cooperstown, New York. It has frequently been said that if baseball was not invented in Cooperstown, it should have been. Cooperstown is the classic All-American town—with tree-lined streets of Colonial and Victorian homes, and a Main Street of storefront shops and merchants. Situated on the south shore of Glimmerglass Lake, the town reverberates from an enchanted past. Beyond what Abner Doubleday’s dubious legend has brought to the community, it factually stands in memorial to the life and work of James Fenimore Cooper—the famed author of The Last of the Mohicans, and the son of the founder of the town. The natural beauty of the lake, woods, and mountains easily conjure the settings for Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales about Indians, settlers, pioneering, and wild animals.

But James Fenimore Cooper does not even get to first base compared to the plethora of acknowledgements of Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown. The brick ballpark built in 1938-1939 in Phinney’s Pasture (the actual location of the alleged moment of creation) by the Work Projects Administration is named “Doubleday Field,” and serves as the location for a yearly exhibition game between two professional teams. Nearby are the Doubleday Batting Range and the Doubleday Club House Shop full of souvenirs. The visitor may enjoy an ice cream cone at the Doubleday Dip. For a meal, there is the Doubleday Café, complete with a large, framed, crude drawing of a corpulent Abner Doubleday in military garb holding—not a sword or revolver—but a baseball.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is the frequent brunt of criticism for making too much of this spurious heritage, and thereby perpetuating it. The fact remains that the legend, though now proven devoid of substance, did account for the location of what has become a major museum and library attraction for visitors from across America and around the world. The legend, as a story, must be embraced. Indeed, the Hall of Fame writes that the events recorded by Abner Graves “capture that point in time when rapid changes in the game of town ball arrived in one typical American community and caused a minor revolution on the sandlot.”


Abner Doubleday did “throw out the first pitch”—but not in the game of baseball. Rather, it was the first salvo of the Civil War at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. As political columnist and baseball fan extraordinaire George Will notes:

Precisions about origins is appropriate in the national pastime of a nation that knows precisely when it got going: July 4, 1776. Not that there hasn’t been a rhubarb about that. Lincoln at Gettysburg in 1863 made a point of pinpointing the nation’s birth fourscore and seven years earlier, at the Declaration of Independence. He did so because some wily Confederates were arguing that the country came into existence in 1789, with the ratification of the Constitution, which was, they said, a compact among sovereign states that therefore retained a right to secede.

Lincoln had sound reasoning and, more important, the bigger army, so his view prevailed. It did so with the help of General Abner Doubleday, who, before he fought at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg, fired the first shot in defense of Fort Sumter. So in a sense he really did start something. Just not something as important as baseball.  <<George F. Will, Bunts, (NY: Touchstone, 1998), 273>>

Aging 5 Years in 5 Hours

I remember seeing a comic some years ago that depicted a pastor and his wife at home on Easter morning – preparing to leave for church. And the caption had the pastor saying, “It’s funny, I used to like Easter.”

Now understand – I’m all for the resurrection and all it signifies, and celebrating it actually makes a lot more sense than celebrating Christmas (though again, the Scripture does not dictate that we should do either). But Easter Sunday – for a pastor – is a lot like looking forward to a looming final exam for the semester.

At Tri-State, we of course much fashion ourselves as creative and innovative … so we’re not going to let an Easter go by with just a sermon, four songs, a prayer and an offering – we’re going to somehow pull out a bunch of unique features.

I determined this year to do something that involved a number of the church children. If you were there on Sunday, you saw how great they did with their acting and singing – you can never lose when putting the kids up front. They were simply awesome.

We also had Jun Frias with a special song and had 3 videos and other features. Then, I find out early Sunday morning that the whole Boutieller family is down with a virus! They were leading all the music. So I came to church needing to not only put together the final details with my stuff, but to do the worship leading as well as the preaching, etc.  There just was not enough time to get it perfectly set up without any glitches. I remember having black hair when I woke up in the morning, and it was all white by noon.

But, the kids really did save the day and make it awesome. I was so proud of them. They are great kids and were a blast to work with. I wrote each of their parts to sort of display their unique personalities. It was one of the more fun things I’ve ever done in ministry. I’ll have to think about how to use them in some other format.