Friday, June 12, 2009

Reality Check Friday

Hey Fresno, there's room on the Rangers' bandwagon, but it is filling up fast! This week, my beloved Rangers used two of their first three draft picks on ex-Fresno State Bulldogs (Tanner Scheppers - first round supplemental and Tommy Mendonca - second round).

This weekend is a good opportunity to test your potential new-found loyalties: Rangers versus Dodgers.

Think Blue...Ranger Blue!


This week, I had one of those reality checks that hurls men my age into a mid-life crisis! I received a friend request to my Facebook account from a person who attended the first-ever First Principles Day Camp eighteen years ago.

In the summer of 1991, I was interning at the Pine Grove church in Scott Depot, WV. It was a wonderful summer learning ministry from my mentor and friend, Dale Mannon. I put together a notebook of material for the kids in the youth group the week before church camp about the First Principles of the faith. We studied together two hours each day and had a fun activity in the afternoon.

One of the young ladies, Summer, was involved in that first-ever day camp session. At the time, she was 12 and on her way to 6th grade. And in my memory, she's still 12. So you can imagine my shock to receive her friend request on Facebook and discover she is now 30 with a 9-year old son.



The 18th installment of Day Camp will be held next week at Woodward Park. We'll meet at 10 a.m. each morning (Monday through Wednesday), break for lunch at high noon, and then enjoy an afternoon of fun (Monday is Boomers, Tuesday is a movie on the big screen at church, Wednesday is Cal Skate). Everything will wrap up by 3:00.

This year, I have revised the material -- added some new stuff, deleted some old stuff, and invited the parents' to take a more active sharing role in the nightly homework.

Parents, remember your nightly participation with your children in their homework is the backbone of this effort. Open up with your child, read the Bible with your child, discuss the questions together, and above all, pray with your child. Your involvement in the birth of their discipleship is priceless!


Day Camp is always one of the highlight weeks of the year for me in ministry. Another highlight of ministry in Fresno is our inner-city outreach. I missed being with the crew last week, due to Tori's dance recital. Cedric, Arnold, Mark, and company always do an awesome job coordinating, cooking, and feeding for the masses that assemble each first Saturday of the month at Ventura and G Streets in downtown Fresno.

In the New York Times Bestseller, Same Kind of Different as Me, Denver Moore (a homeless man from Fort Worth, TX.) describes how he sees and perceives those who volunteer in soup kitchens and outreach to the homeless, particularly one couple who befriended him which forms the heart of the story told in the book:

"Lemme tell you what homeless people think about folks that help homeless people: When you homeless, you wonder why certain volunteers do what they do. What do they want? Everybody want somethin. For instance, when that couple come to the mission, I thought the man looked like the law. The way he dressed, the way he acted. Too high-class. His wife, too, at first. The way she acted, the way she treated people...she just looked too sophisticated. Wadn't the way she dressed. It was just somethin about the way she carried herself. And both of em was askin way too many questions.

While everybody else was fallin in love with them, I was what you call skeptical. I wadn't thinkin nothin evil. It was just that they didn't look like the type to come in and mess with the homeless. People like that may not feel it within themselves that they're better than you, but when you're the one that's homeless, you feel like they feel like they're better than you.

But these folks was different. One reason was they didn't just come on holidays. Most people don't want the homeless close to em -- think they're dirty, or got some kind of disease, or maybe they think that kind of troubles life gon' rub off on em. They come at Christmas and Easter and Thanksgivin and give you a little turkey and lukewarm gravy. Then they go home and gather round their own table and forget about you till the next time come round where they start feeling a little guilty cause they got so much to be thankful for" (p. 93).

Since our inner-city outreach at Woodward Park took off, lives have been touched, souls have been saved, a transition home has been opened, men have been rehabilitated, and formerly homeless people have become productive citizens of this world and God's kingdom.

But I live with this uncomfortable itch that we could do more! More than just once a month.

Could we?