As soon as my plane hits the tarmac in Chicago, I am already thinking about when I will be able to hit a Portillo’s hot dog restaurant. Famous for their themed restaurants, great food, and speedy service, Portillo’s has been a family favorite of mine since 1993! (Don’t miss the Chocolate Cake Shake!)
While I may be almost religious about getting some Portillo’s on every visit to Chicago, there is certainly nothing spiritual about a great bacon cheeseburger or crinkle fries or a large ice cold Coca-Cola. Which would explain my surprise on my recent trip to Chicago to see a Gospel Presentation on every table!
But there it was, as plane as day! Instructions on how to be DELIVERED from the burden of sin. It’s as simple as A-B-C.
I couldn’t believe when I read, “Delivery is as easy as…”
A – Appetite. ADMIT your appetite for sin and realize that no sin will ever truly satisfy. Know that ALL have sinned, and fall short of God’s perfect standard. That’s the bad news. The Good News is that Jesus came and only he can truly satisfy and He has paid the penalty for our sin.
B – Big Decisions. Jesus may have died for the world, but salvation isn’t automatic. Upon learning of what Jesus did for you, you have some Big Decisions to make. Are you going to continue along the wide road that leads to desctruction, or choose the narrow way that leads to life? Life is all about the Big Decision of what you will decide about Jesus. To be delivered, Admit your Appetite, Consider the Big Decision, and then…
C – Call. Yup, it’s that easy! Call on the Name of the Lord and you will be delivered! No more punishment for your sin, no more condemnation – 100% delivery upon calling.
They even provided a phone number to call!
NOTE: If you call that number to ask how to get to heaven, I’m sure whoever answers will be confused and say, “Um, we just do catering.”
But the Gospel is everywhere – for those who have eyes to see!
It is always a fun and unpredictable time when those who work with children get together! And the highlights of a Children’s Pastors Conference are often from around a table sharing a meal, rather than a workshop or general session – as wonderful and inspiring as they may, in fact, be for helping with one’s ministry. But I’ve long made by Mission one of “Equipping and Encouraging” because I know that laughter is often as needed as another great idea or resource.
In that spirit, one of the highlights of CPC this year, happened not at the conference at all, but as Tom and John and I, joined by some new friends from the shuttle, Darcie and Rebecca, where hanging out at my favorite restaurant in Downtown Disney, The Earl of Sandwhich. When I suggested this location for our pre-conference meal I explained that it was named after the inventor of the sandwich! Which is explained the cups you get your drinks out of:
The History of the Earl of Sandwich
As a bit of fun, I invited each person at the table to read the cup in their own dramatic fashion, as they would if it were a movie trailer, or as they might for a kids church drama. Then, as it turned out, Josh Baker, one of the children’s pastors at the table, informed us that he actually produces full scale dramatic productions every week at his church. He said he doesn’t do voices, but he could rather, approach the subject matter as he would his weekly topics, as a writer/director. “THEN!” said I, “you must create for us the screen play for the Pastor of Sandwich! What is the children’s pastor’s version of the classic story? How might this simple historical event be seem through the eyes of a children’s pastor? What are we missing? And how might it be presented properly?”
On the spot, Josh amazed us by creating a scene, describing the set, the characters, the situations, and unfolding a story, changing it as he went, adapting to our collaborative input as we contributed to the story as it unfolded. In the end, we figured out that the Earl of Sandwich, must have been a children’s pastor who was too busy getting ready for Sunday to stop for lunch and made the sandwich from left-overs in the church kitchen.
I challenged Josh to finish the manuscript and submit it to me later. Here is the finished work. Soon to be a major motion picture from Walden Media and DreamWorks Productions and Disney as soon as funding is secured.
See what creativity can be inspired and spurred when children’s pastors get together and share a sandwich? Creative fellowship is the best fellowship!
THE PASTOR OF SANDWICH
By: Pastor Josh Baker
Capital Baptist Church, Annadale VA
Dedicated to the work of Kidology.org
and the shared fellowship of friends over what else? A sandwich.
Pastor: P (dressed in vintage “Dickens era” clothing if available)
Props: desk, chair, desk lamp, books, pencil or feathered quill (older looking on first five items the better to set the proper time period) paper, trash can, bread, chicken leg, bread knife
[scene opens with P sitting behind a big old desk that is littered with papers, open and closed books, a dimly-lit desk lamp, and an overflowing wastepaper basket near the desk on the floor. P has got his head down looking over his work, head is leaning on left hand, with his fingers spread through his messy, unkempt hair. His right hand nervously taps a well-worn pencil now lacking an eraser.]
Lighting: very dim with just a soft glow, almost candlelight, over the desk.
Music: if available, some instrumental medieval time period or classical Dickens style music could be played softly in the background
(N speaks from a microphone off stage and out of sight)
N: Our scene opens in the English land of Sandwich, Kent, a historic town in southeast England. It was late at night on a Saturday evening in the dead of winter back in the seventeen hundreds…
N: In a scene that would remind one of the classics like Dickens and Scrooge, we find a haggardly looking pastor of children burning the midnight oil seeking inspiration for his message needing to be done for morning worship at his church in Sandwich just a few hours away…
N: Unfortunately, for those of you who write or are thusly employed to provide inspiration to those who seemingly have none, you would know that often when inspiration must be rushed due to deadlines, it is in this time, that inspiration often fails oneself.
N: Thus the night becomes long as one struggles to force a story from one’s brain, all the while praying to God that He would provide where you have found yourself lacking.
N: It was in such a state of mind we find poor Master Montagu, a tireless worker of the church. It is likely that had there not been a hearth and pantry at the church, Montagu would have starved to death many a time over as these late nights were a common practice. But as it was, the church pantry was often found littered with remnants of feasts and celebrations gone by to which Montagu survived his late night writings.
[P exits his desk and goes backstage. He then returns eating a chicken leg and a loaf of bread.]
N: In this time, long before pizza delivery and Chinese take-out, Montagu often relied on appetizer remnants of fruits and vegetables. When he found himself particularly blessed, he would find leftover meat and bread.
P: Tis blessed I am this night! For I have meat and bread! (sitting back down at his desk, he realizes both his hands are full and he can not write)
P: Tis good food, but alas! For I can not work and eat at the same time in such a manner as this! Cursed be I! (pausing to survey the situation deeper and think about what he should do) Wait! Cursed be not I! For I have been blessed with an idea! If I were to take my bread and cut it in two and then place my meat between it, then I could have a free hand in which to write and I also would not get so messy!
[P goes about cutting the bread in two and putting the chicken leg in between and then holding up his creation proudly for all to see.]
P: I do believe I have something here! I believe others will soon be asking to have what I have here in my church of Sandwich- they will be calling to have “the same as Sandwich!”
[P begins to munch on his creation while he puts his head back down to his studies and returns to thinking.]
P (thinking out loud sadly): If only I could be as inspired by God’s Word as I am with this meat and bread tonight! (momentary pause as he thinks) Wait! I do believe I have it!
P (turning to his paper, he begins to scribble quickly and excitedly with his pencil in one hand and the sandwich in his other):
There once was a group of people, quite large indeed you see, that sought the words and inspiration of a Man, calling to them to follow…and yet they were hungry, distracted from his Words. And so the man called out to his disciples and ask them to seek out bread and meat in which to serve the people, but his disciples said unto him, Master! There are too many of them! We shall surely not feed them all!
Despite their disbelief, they sought out amongst the crowd anyone who could provide a creative solution to their problem. Found among the masses was just one small boy with nothing more then a few pieces of bread and a couple fish, mere leftovers most likely from the home pantry and a feast of the night before.
But what inspiration and solution it would provide to the Master! For the humble offering was combined together and miraculously multiplied and the masses were fed while the Master continued to speak!
Boys and girls, if we humbly seek to take what is available to us that the Lord provides and then use our Lord as the source of inspiration towards its use, it can become a blessing to many!
[P setting his pencil down and looking at his sandwich for a moment and then lifting his eyes to heaven:]
P: Thank you God for taking a humble leftover and an ordinary Pastor and combining the two to show the kids how you can combine what others have left behind and a searching soul to bring about a message of blessing!
Lighting: fades out as the P gets up from his desk, turns off his desk lamp and quietly leaves, eating his sandwich.
This is part of a series called 24 Days of Thankfulness. These posts are in RANDOM order, NOT priority order. Each is something I am thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving.
DAY #8: Barq’s Root Beer
Most people still think I’m a Dewaholic, even though I’ve not had a sip of Mountain Dew in years! Mentally, I’m still in love with the taste of Dew, but in reality, due to one of the cardiac meds I’m on, the taste of Dew (and most soads) has been altered, so where it tastes gross. Only root beer retains normal taste.
So now I enjoy Barq’s – and WHY am I thankful for Barq’s? Because it is the ONLY root beer with caffeine which I need for migraine control (and life control). Since I don’t drink coffee or tea, Barq’s is how I get my caffeine! I now know which restaurants have Barq’s and enjoy a few cans a day. (Like with Dew, no bottles, plastic bottles alter the taste, yuck!)
So, it may not be very spiritual or profound, but today, I am thankful for root beer with caffeine, so I’m thankful for Barq’s!
Hide the Beer, The Preacher’s Here!
(Oh, it’s just root beer!)
It’s really just something I need to DO MYSELF – but I thought maybe others might want to join me, and I’d enjoy reading/seeing what others are thankful for. So you are welcome to use the Word doc, or just post in the forum what YOU are thankful for! So let me begin today, with my first post. These are NOT going to be in priority order, otherwise I’d have to go God, Family, etc. and then later on, people might judge me for putting one thing “above” or “before” another – so right out of the gate let me say, these posts will be in RANDOM ORDER of things I am THANKFUL FOR!
Once again it is time to post the Bastian Christmas Letter! We hope you are in the midst of enjoying a wonderful Christmas Season! As usual we are getting our letter out the week of Christmas! (Ahhhhhh!) We mail it to family and some friends, but to save on postage I also post it here on my blog so anyone interested can also download the PDF and enjoy it, just click on the image here:
Then, in February, I went on a personal solo sabbatical to experience “Yosemite in Winter” snowshoeing the valley. It was incredible. I didn’t blog about it, as it was a personal time between me and God. But I did make this highlight video:
March saw anotherCPC – I’ve lost track how many I’ve been to, but I’ve been to every single once since 1995, so I’ve been to over 35 of them with all their locations, some years there being three! (See Why You Should Go to CPC)
In April I hiked Devil’s Backbone with some friends as the beginning of Hiking Group I’m trying to start in Colorado.
In May, I went on my third Yosemite Summit. This has become the highpoint of my year, as I unplug (quite literally!) from everything and spend almost a week disconnected from normal life with God and some other children’s ministers.
June was a real treat, as I finally got to go to Toronto to see my brothers town, just before the G4 riots and before he moved to Ohio! I also spoke in at the KidBuilders conference while I was there.
In October, I decided to become a rat, and we lauched our Family Pit Stops, which have become a highlight of our family – and are mentioned in the Christmas Letter. (My dad says that reference in the Christmas Letter needs explanation and sounds like we all head to the restroom together. If so, read this link.)
One thing I do realize, as I reflect on my blog, is how much Facebook and Twitter has trumped my blog. There are so many events that in the past that I would have blogged, but that I didn’t because I was updating Facebook along the way or Tweeting pics and comments. The only problem is – those posts are long gone, and difficult, if not impossible to link to, which is why as much as I surrender to the advent of Facebook, I really don’t like it. I would much prefer that every had a blog and Facebook only aggregated feeds from them. But that’s a post for another day! (on my blog, not Facebook!)
I do plan to do some re-thinking of how to integrate all my online data collection in the New Year… its tricky! But I do know, I much prefer things on my blog, as they are “safer” and better preserved than Facebook, but things are read more on Facebook.
Saturday while my wife went to a tea at church, Luke and I decided we needed to have some fun too, so we went to McDonald’s where there was a play place! The last time we were there, about a month ago, we celebrated Luke’s first basketball basket and those of you on facebook got to see the video of I happened to capture right before my iPhone battery died! What an exciting day that was!
If you want, you can watch Luke make his FIRST basketball basket right before turning four:
Well, when given a choice of three different restaurants with play places, he chose McDonald’s when I reminded him of the basketball hoop and showed him the video on my iPhone. We got there and after eating and watching some “big boys” hog up the hoop for awhile, finally we got some court time. Luke shocked me by how quickly he got the hang of it. Soon he was nailing the shots, often in a row! Once he made THREE in a row before having some dry spells due to getting so excited he’d get erratic in his shooting for awhile. But we kept track – first it was FIVE SHOTS we celebrated, then it got up to an amazing TEN! Then it was FIFTEEN! But when he got to TWENTY even I was impressed and we had to ask another little girl what was after 20 and learn how to count so high!
Every number after that was celebrated as a major life achievement! On TWENTY-FIVE another boy came in with his dad so we surrendered the court and left as though we had just won the NBA FINALS!
Luke had not only shot 2500% better than last time, but learned to count into the 20′s better than ever before!
As we were driving down the road home, I was telling him how proud I was and he asked, “How proud are you, Daddy?” and I said, “This proud…” and I rolled down the window of the car and yelled out the window at the houses we were passing and yelled as loudly as I could,
MY SON JUST SHOT 25 BASKETS AT McDONALD’S ALL BY HIMSELF!
I looked back at Luke and the look on his face was worth a million dollars. He couldn’t believe I was THAT proud, that I would yell it out the window! After I rolled up the window, he said, “Are you so proud you would do that again?” And I said, “I’m so proud I would do that all the way home.” And I did.
I don’t think anyone actually heard me. And I have a sore throat today. But it’s O.K. My son knows that I was so proud of him I wanted the world to know it.
Have you let your kids know you are THAT proud of them lately? Your volunteers? Whoever it is you are proud of?
They are wondering, just how proud of them are you? Are you willing to shout it? Is your throat hurting yet?
Well, I decided to bless my wife by cooking the Kid U Post-Conference Pizza Outing Left Overs last night… it was good stuff, Gino’s East if you’re curious. Deep dish pepperoni pizza to be exact, and there was some left over to take home to my wife who missed the late night dinner due to getting our little boy to bed.
I could swear (though I don’t) that she said, “Just put it in the oven at 350, it will heat up better than in the microwave.” I was a little surprised, thinking she meant just put the box in, so I answered, “Really? Just put it in the oven?” She replied, “Yes.”
So I did. I set the timer for 20 minutes but about 15 into it the kitchen smelled of smoke. I was on the phone with my dad giving Kid U highlights when my wife comes in crying, “Did you put the BOX in the oven?!?!?”
I said “Yes, just like you told me too.” Turns out it was on fire!
The fire was quickly put out, and after all the excitement, the pizza was fine, though it definitely had that “smoked” flavor! Please tell me we aren’t the only couple with communication problems.
The lesson learned? Best to just let the wife prepare the food and I’ll stick to clean up duty!
As blogged last week, I got to be interviewed at the Equip Conference in Peoria last week. It was fun to talk about how my mom encouraged me as a boy to not wait until I “grew up” to serve the Lord (some would say I still haven’t!) as well as to give some highlights of the workshops. I gotta tell ya, radio interviews always go by SO fast… those 15 minutes seemed like only 5!
They had me busy speaking nearly every session so the booth was run by some of our staff who did a great job, even dealing with the weirdos that come by the booth!
Afterward we headed out to a local pub (recommended by my good Christian friend Bill Allison) who recommended I order their famous Pork Tenderloin… he said it was GIANT… and he wasn’t kidding!
This weekend I had the privilege of participating in a Kidology To Go in Georgetown, TX, just North of Austin, the capital of Texas. I’ll be posting pictures later of the awesome children’s ministry rooms at NewChurch. One of the highlights of the trip was getting to hang out with CP Team member Jeramy Chapman.
We hadn’t seen each other since CPC Dallas in 2003 (I think), so it was awesome to catch up. Jeramy is the childen’s pastor at The Journey, a five year old mobile church. I will be writing a Kidology Report on mobile children’s ministry based upon this visit, so stay tuned! As a sneak peek, here is a flash video of the 20 minutes set up of the Kids Church room speeded up to three minutes. Enjoy:
But first, Texas style breakfast…
But before all the great ministry, Jeramy made me get up an hour earlier than necessary to take me to his favorite donut joint, Round Rock Donuts. Reportedly ranked #2 in the entire USA by an independant British pastry reviewer. (Krispy Kremes didn’t even make the list)
There were many choices, how would I decide? And then I saw:
The Texas Donut! WOW! It was the biggest donut I’d ever seen. Here it is next to large muffins to give a better idea of the size:
When in Texas, eat like Texans… so I ordered a Texas Donut:
After a few bites, (and a smaller chocolate covered yum yum) we were off to the Kidology To Go host where I continued to work on my donut during seminar breaks:
After the conferen it was off to Jeramy’s house to meet his wife and kids and to enjoy some of Jeramy’s hand-battered Steaks!
and WOW it was a great steak! I always make sure to get a steak when I’m in Texas, and this was one of the best yet! (Jeramy’s secret: Daddy Hinkles)
Dinner, Texas style! Sunday I went to Jeramy’s church (reporting on that later) and then on the way to the airport, we headed into downtown Austin.
Hands on experience? I decided to milk this opportunity to learn.
Then we decided to take a bus ride, and the driver nicely let me drive! But it was a bad idea, I quickly lost control of the bus:
It was a great weekend, and I look forward to posting more from the two wonderful children’s ministries I observed, but right now (on the plane!) I am just eager to get home to my beautiful wife and adorable son.
I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.
~ Stephen R. Covey