Saturday, July 28, 2007

Team Semper Fi

Brent Hopkins, a reporter with the L.A. Daily News, emailed me asking if I'd consider posting a link on my Marine Corps Web site to an article he wrote on Team Semper Fi.

Team Semper Fi is a fantastic sports program that helps U.S. Marines recover after sustaining injuries in combat. The organization provides coaches, specialized sporting equipment, entry fees, and travel expenses for wounded Marines.

I added a link to my other site, but I thought I'd place one here as well.

Here's a link to his blog entry which includes his article, a link to Team Semper Fi's Web site, and a video.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Rock show last night

I had a great time last night at the 25th KSBJ Anniversary Show. TobyMac, Israel and New Breed, Mandisa and MercyMe all performed throughout the night. Everyone was excellent. Great show, and somehow the rain held off. Personally, the highlights for me at these shows are always the times of worship.

Thoughts on each act:

Mandisa -- Because of the traffic on 45 North and the line at the ticket counter, I got seated a little late. I should have left earlier to get out there. I saw the last song of her performance, and she came out to sing with TobyMac. She's obviously a great talent. I'll get my ticket online in advance next time.

Israel and New Breed -- I'm biased, Israel is one of the worship leaders at church. Fantastic! This was my favorite part.

TobyMac -- Man, that was off the chain (whatever that means). I wanted to dance, just like the dog in this video, but I kept my composure and just clapped at times.

MercyMe -- Ending the show with them was perfect. Great time of worship. I look forward to the new CD.

On the event of the radio station's 25th anniversary, I thought back to when I started listening to KSBJ. As a freshman in high school, I was really into all the mainstream heavy metal stuff -- and someone turned me on to Stryper's "Yellow and Black Attack" and told me about a show called "The Rock of Love" on KSBJ.

Shortly thereafter, my taste for music expanded and I was listening to the station almost all the time. Remember the Imperials, Randy Stonehill, Petra, Second Chapter of Acts?

One of the most exciting aspects of Christian music in general is how much the production values have improved. Back in the day, you at times felt you were having to compensate for lack of production quality by adding Jesus lyrics. Not any more. Christian music today often offers the same quality and musicianship as the mainstream, and frankly that's the way it should be.

(That's not to disparage the talented musicians in the industry in the early years -- they just didn't have the resources that are available to Christian musicians today).

One of my earliest KSBJ memories was winning a Bible verse memorization kit from the station. It was either in 1984 or 1985, and the station used to have a contest at night where they would read a verse and the first person to call in with the correct location in the Word would win a prize.

I would sit on the floor with a huge concordance, wait for the first words of the verse, press the final number of their phone number, and start frantically looking up the scripture before they answered the phone. I finally won it and rejoiced.

Don't forget, Jeremy Camp is playing at the Astros game on Aug. 11.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Here's the B-G-O moment I'll remember most

Craig Biggio announced his retirement today at Minute Maid Park.

There are many things that set him apart, but it's funny how what always comes to my mind is him sprinting out to second base from the dugout when the Astros are announced before each game.

It may seem like a small observation, but it really encapsulated how he consistently played the game...with his whole heart.

I did a search for "Craig Biggio" on YouTube and came up with this video a fan shot from the stands on the occasion of his 3,000th hit. There are several similar videos on YouTube, but I think this one really captures what we were all feeling at that moment.

I've been an Astros fan for many years, and have enjoyed many incredibly exciting moments watching that team.

More than the playoff games, even more than the World Series appearance, the few minutes captured on this video represent what was for me the most exciting moments I've ever enjoyed at a Houston Astros game.

Thank you for what you've meant to this city, the Astros and the fans. Best of everything to you and your family.

On another note...

Those are the milkshakes at 59 question about it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Meeting Jesus and the fear of Gumby

"With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation" (Psalm 91:16)

I got a call from a friend of mine from high school this week. He is currently pastoring a church out of state and is in town after bringing members of his youth group to Texas. They're attending a conference at the Texas Bible Institute.

I credit Tracy as one of the people directly responsible for my decision to follow Christ in high school. I remember having lunch in the courtyard at school and being ambushed one day by Tracy and several other Bible-toting high schoolers. I thought they were lunatics, but they kept loving and praying for me even when I laughed at them and often hid from them.

Several months later, something happened inside of me at a Christian rock concert they invited me to. The band was Resurrection Band. I felt the tangible love and presence of God that evening. At the end of the show, the band invited the crowd to enter into a relationship with Christ, but I left the show without praying with the band. That night was the turning point, however.

Just a short time later, I knew what Tracy and his friends had was real, and I knew I needed it. I got on my knees in my bedroom all by myself and asked Jesus to come into my life. I was 14 years old.

Tracy and I eventually started a Christian metal band called Sanctified, ministered on the streets on the weekends, and became two extremely zealous teenaged believers.

Another buddie of ours from that time period is a minister up in Alaska. In fact, several the guys I hung out with in high school are now ministers.

Tracy and I both served God together, joined the Marines around the same time, and we both love the Houston Astros.

It's always great to catch up with the high school friends when I can. I caught an Astros game last night with him and his wife. Another great ballgame. Hunter Pence homered in the 13th inning for a 5-4 win over Philadelphia.

His call prompted me to pull out some old videos we shot back in the day. One of the activities we enjoyed in high school was making goofy films with our video camera. It appears we enjoyed making fun of horror movies. We created and stared in such riveting shorts as "The Fear of Mayonnaise" and "Death Comes to John's House."

I know, I know..."Death Comes to John's House" doesn't sound too spiritual. It's not, but it's kinda funny. Here's a short clip. Sorry I didn't include the entire film, but it may be too intense for some viewers. I'm 18 years old in that clip.

I really don't fear Gumby. Perfect love casts out all fear.

Happy 4th of July! Talk to you later.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I'm afraid the well meaning movie critic missed it

I ran out and caught a showing of Evan Almighty. Have you heard about this film yet? God tells a modern-day family man to build an arc, just like Noah, and he does.

Collegues laugh at him, birds poop on him, and his wife thinks he's nuts and takes the kids to her parents house. It's the typical stuff you imagine would happen to someone if God told them to buy up lots of land to build a huge boat on, started dropping off lumber at their home, and if He didn't ever allow them to shave.

And yes, this movie is entertaining.

However, a reviewer for something called "Moviefone" said on CNN that "God himself couldn't save Evan Almighty." I heard this remark before going to go see the movie. I went with very low expectations as a result, but I was determined to go, because I have a personal policy to thank Hollywood for this kind of filmaking by buying a ticket.

You know what? I enjoyed myself, and the movie inadvertently teaches real spiritual lessons about obedience, faith, and family. Truthfully, there weren't a whole lot of laugh-out-loud moments, but it was a good time. And patrons in the theater I was at applauded at the conclusion of the film, so I wasn't alone in my assessment. I'm not sure our reviewer saw the same film I did.

One aspect of the movie that really struck a chord with me is how the filmakers accurately captured what a real faithwalk feels like at times.

We know Evan's really heard from God. Morgan Freeman (God) appears to Evan and gives him instructions, so we have the benefit of knowing he's not crazy. But Evan's circumstances scream, "You're nuts!" Anyone who has ever had a faith experience where they have been walking in obedience to the best of their ability, only to feel like God was almost picking on them by a mounting birage of unusual or uncomfortable circumstances will giggle during this film for all the right reasons.

The funny thing is when Evan appears to need God the most, He's strangely silent. Almost non-existant. It's like He gives Evan these absurd instructions and then leaves him all by himself to obey and explain himself to a bunch of people who think he's losing it.

Ever had to believe God at His word even when it made sense to no one but you and God? You'll probably like this movie. I'm not going to give away any more details here, but God does finally prove Himself faithful, as He always does.

A great take-home message is that there are benfits to faith. Go take your kids to see Evan Almighty despite anything a film critic has said.