Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jesus + Baseball = Awesome

A couple of weeks ago we went to Houston to celebrate Olivia's birthday with some family there.  We planned a pretty jammed pack couple of days and even managed to fill in some activities we wanted to do during summer vacation.  The day before we left, my dad texted and said that his church had some extra tickets for the Astros' game Saturday night.  Every time we go I scout out the schedule to see if there's a game.  I knew about this game already because this one had a special treat...David Crowder playing at Faith & Family Night after the game.  If there are two things that are nearly impossible for me to pass up, it's baseball and David Crowder.  Put them together (even in the Astros are ridiculously bad), add my family, and it just doesn't get much better than that.  So, we decided that some things are worth losing sleep over (we had to drive back for Sunday morning), and this was one of them.

The game was predictable as the Astros got smoked, but the Faith and Family night ensued.  I am usually somewhat skeptical of forced, large scale Christian events (yes that is strange for a pastor).  I didn't really know what to expect, but I figured I would endure some lame testimonies from rich baseball players to get to the Crowder part of the night. They invited all the fans down to the 1st base side where our first surprise happened. A young lady who was in our 1st youth group in Sugar Land appeared right next to us. Her family and ours are close, and to make it more fun she recently got hitched to a Ukrainian guy.  Since there were only a handful of people at the game to begin with, the odds of finding another Ukrainian couldn't have been that good.  But we found him, and they sat with us.  He spoke to the girls in Ukrainian while they got embarrassed and giggled. It was good fun and great to see them.

First out of the shoot was Reid Ryan. Since the Astros couldn't woo Nolan from the Rangers, they did the next best thing by hiring his son.  He is the president of the Astros, and he came out and welcomed everyone. Not only that, he said that he was excited to be a part of helping people know Jesus Christ personally.  He dropped a big fat JC, and gave some other heartfelt remarks that were really strong. He went on to introduce the chaplain for the 'Stros, one of the radio announcers and a couple of players.  The chaplain said that Major League Baseball is very quietly a 3,000 member church every given week across the country. He went on to tell of the chapel services and Bible Studies they conduct and told stories of MLB players coming to Christ through those things. The announcer was Steve Sparks, a former pitcher, who talked about believing in Jesus after realizing his identity had previously been wrapped up in baseball. A couple of players and one of their wives talked about the ups and downs of chasing your dream and the sacrifices they made for each other to get to where they are. They explained in detail how their faith in Jesus helped them navigate through uncertain seasons.  I was blown away.  They weren't just speaking in generalities, they were quoting specific scriptures and testifying to the role the Word had played and continues to play in their life.  It was awesome, and God was glorified by their stories.

After that, Crowder came out and rocked, well blue-grassed the house down. It was so, so good. This is cheesy, but I found myself losing it.  This monument built to worship baseball was suddenly transformed into a house of God. The bazillion dollar HD jumbotron became nothing more than a ProPresenter backdrop as worship filled the stadium.  It was the worst worship environment ever, and it didn't matter. I glanced over to see Jake get swept up in it all. The girls enjoyed it too, but they were more excited that b/c of the smaller crowd, their chances of getting on the big screen increased drastically. The whole thing was a tremendous blessing, and the Spirit was just there.

It's silly how God can use things that bring you joy to fill your soul. This year has been challenging and has had a lot of ups and downs for us.  We've spent a great deal of time being tired, And even though we sacrificed yet more sleep for the concert, it was worth it for souls to be filled.  A sweet time of refreshing caught us by surprise, and it reminded me of how important positioning for refreshment is. Next time I hear about baseball and Crowder, it's going to be even harder to keep us away. Just think how awesome it would've been if the Astros were actually any good!

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