Influential men, the meeting and their machines

This post is dedicated to men who have mentored me and led me to be more like Jesus Christ. The reason I post about their machines is that the significant bulk of our conversations were spent in their automotive vehicles.

Kris Brackett

The meeting: I met Kris when I was starting 8th grade in the Junior High (Junior Hello) Ministry at Grace, he was my small group leader for a year.

The man: Kris was a seminary guy who was from Georgia, one of the significant things he introduced me to was Snapple. Chris was such a faithful leader who spent time reaching out to a knucklehead like me who did not know Jesus Christ. I was a quiet kid who did not really desire to spend much time with Christians. He faithfully picked me up on the way to our weekly small group meeting. While I did not know Jesus at the time, his faithfulness with the aid of the Holy Spirit softened my hard-heart.

Things I learned: To be faithful, even when your influence is not sought after, and mostly ignored. His love for me as a 13-year-old still influences the way I love today.The machine: If I recall properly, Chris drove a late 80s/early 90s Volvo Sedan. It was blue and it had Georgia plates.

Where he is today: Kris finished seminary and is a faithful missionary in the Ukraine. He married a Filipina and has two children. Whenever I see him I always thank him for his faithfulness and care towards my 13-year-old hard-heart. I am unsure of where the Volvo Sedan has gone at this time…

Massimo Mollica

The meeting: I met Massimo when I was still 13, at the first small group meeting I attended at Morgan Harabedian’s parents house.

The man: Massimo was a Junior at LAB. He lived very close to my house and he offered to take me to the different church events. My favorite excuse: “I don’t have a ride” did not work for Massimo since he lived less than a mile away.

Things I learned: Out of the way is never an appropriate excuse when determining if you should be involved with ministry. I am sure that Massimo could have gotten to church or the small group meeting earlier to help with setup, etc, but he decided it would be better for him to sacrifice his time to minister to a very young believer. He taught me that faithfulness to God in the closet time was of utmost importance.

The machine: Massimo had a Buick station wagon which squealed every time he turned right. The beast was awesome. Massimo later upgraded to a Toyota Tercel with the sticker of the outline of a bird on the side, the word underneath the bird sticker was “Blackhawk”

Where he is today: Massimo graduated from LAB, then COC, then UCLA and is now attending The Master’s Seminary. He is married to Susanna (The southern girl from California).

Sean Higgins

The meeting: Kurt Gebhards introduced me to Sean when I was 15, and in the 10th grade.

The man: Sean had just moved into California, with the goal to attend the Master’s Seminary. He was an overnight security guard who lived in Chatsworth. His bedroom had books and clothes in it, no bed.

Things I learned: By God’s grace, I was able to spend much time with Sean. He was the first person to clearly introduce me to the Doctrines of Grace. He actually bought me Steele’s book, “The Five Points of Calvinism”. He faithfully poured his life into students like me. His love of Jesus and love of theology has had a lasting impact on my life. He also taught me how to eat ribs at the Borruels’s.

The machine: Early 90s Ford Probe. The color: Red. It was awesome; we traveled many miles in that car, with many memorable conversations occurring.

Where he is today: Sean finished the Master’s Seminary while serving as the Pastor of the Junior High ministry at my church. He now lives in Marysville Washington with his lovely bride Morgan. He is Student Ministries pastor at Grace Bible Church. If I am not mistaken, the red Ford Probe has gone to be with the Lord.

Kurt Gebhards

The meeting: I met Kurt was I was first starting High School Ministry at Grace. First thing I noticed his tall height. I distinctly remember this meeting, which happened on a Wednesday night, right before “The Edge” began.

The man: Kurt was a seminary student who was also serving as a Student Ministries Intern. He also lived with an elderly widow who later became a friend of ours, whom our bible study served for a few years as part of a James 1:27 ministry.

Things I learn: I still have weekly interaction with Kurt, which we’ve been having for the better part of the last 6 years. Kurt has shown me through his life what a passion for God looks like. He has shown me that proper understanding of the deep truth of God requires a very passionate response.  He accurately displays what a true love of God and love of the His bride should look like. Knowing him for 10 years has allowed me to see how the Holy Spirit is working in his life, transforming him into a humble man who knows how to accurately handle the Book. He taught me very early in my Christian walk that discipleship SHOULD happen in very conversation, by every reference. His courage and zeal puts my fear and timidity to shame on a regular basis. He also taught me the fine art of ministry administration, and the correct way to lead people through music. He also introduced me to The Waiting and Wes King, and how to stain bookcases. This man’s life is all about loving others. Remarkable.

The machine: 95 Nissan Maxima, by far the coolest car of all of the men featured here.

Where he is today: Kurt is a Pastor at my church, giving direction to the Foundry and Logos Equipping Ministries. Kurt is also the father of four, and the husband of Julie. You can find us every Sunday from 12:55 to 1:30 on the corner of Balboa and Devonshire in Quizno’s devouring a small TBG and small Chicken Milano. The Maxima went to be with the Lord after a bad accident.

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back home

For my “regular” visitors to the Clyde:Blog you will know that Lisa, Claire and I were on a short vacation, er trip, to the bay area.  I hesitate labeling it a vacation, since the word vacation is a synonym to the word intermission which Merriam-Webster would describe as

2 a : a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended b : a period of exemption from work granted to an employee for rest and relaxation

This trip was indeed a “scheduled period during which activity is suspended”, but some would argue that this employee did not always have “rest.” Readers may refer to the September 10 post but to make sure I am not overstating the truth, we actually had a very easy time with Claire on Saturday evening. She went down in her pack ‘n play without much trouble, and as I can recall we had 6 hours of consecutive slumber.

On Sunday we enjoyed a leisurely drive home, which started from our hotel (which I must say was fabulous) at around 10:00 am. We traveled on to Highway 1, which features a very picturesque ocean and mountain views at every stretch and bend. We stopped in Carmel-by-the-Sea (if the city is called, “Carmel-by-the-Sea” perhaps my town should be called “Saugus-by-the-Extremely Dry Hill” or maybe “Santa Clarita-with-a-plethora-of-Franchises”) for lunch and window-shopping. It our first visit to Carmel-by-the-Sea and we loved it.As usual, as travelers who return home from their journeys, either succinct or extended, it was good to be back home. And verily we still are not yet home.

traveling with children

Let us say that traveling with kids is difficult. While they are small, and generally their brains have not developed to their full capacity, much to one’s discredit they actually are keenly aware of their environment. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that infants have no clue was it going on. It is a lie! Claire’s talent for recognition was beginning to manifest  just 3 weeks after Claire was born, when we went to the COC retreat. She knew that she was not in Mom and Dad’s room and that her cozy basinet was not around. Oddly, when they are that young they seem to be able to sleep wherever, whenever. It was/is not always so. Challenging is an appropriate definition of that retreat for Lisa. Usually at that stage of their little lives it is relatively easy to take them places. They mostly stay in the carseat, and they can sleep during a dinner out or during church. NEW COUPLES TAKE NOTE:  ENJOY THIS STAGE. FOR THE FIRST THREE MONTHS WHILE YOU MAY BE ACHING FROM CHILDBIRTH or adjusting to your own lack of sleep BUT REALLY, YOU MUST ENJOY THIS STAGE!!!!  GO OUT TO DINNER, USE THE TOYSRUS GIFT CARDS FOR SOMETHING FOR YOU, and SEE MOVIES, it will be a long time before you take your little one out to a sit-down restaurant.

Once they develop some control they can sit up, play, etc. they morph into very cute, cuddly little babies who respond to attention. It is very neat. But with the multiplied cuteness comes the inability to stay still.

Anyway, back to where I started. Claire’s keen sense of environmental awareness was again highlighted when we flew to Florida in January. Claire was a handful on the plane, a handful during meals, and a handful in the evenings in the hotel room. She knew that this was not her room, and that what she was sleeping on was not her crib mattress.

 

Resolved in February was similarly challenging. Still growing in cuteness, but yet growing in many other ways. She was very aware of her surroundings.

What does that have to do with tonight?  Last night in our hotel was difficult. Ok, that’s an understatement. Let’s just say, I hope you had a goodnight’s rest. We did manage to enjoy our day however. Here are a few photos from the journeys:

This is on the boat tour of the San Francisco Bay

Through the traffic outside of North Beach area…

 

a raised awareness

Perhaps it is just me “growing up” the last few years, perhaps it is just growth of awareness in the last few years or perhaps it is what is. I do not remember a time in my lifetime where quite as many tragedies have occurred. As Lisa and I were reading an AP article about the initial damage of Hurricane Katrina I tried my best to place myself in the shoes of those dear people.

Here we are, sitting in our bedroom reading articles and watching footage of this disaster with the fan on, comfortable and clean. Our 1-year-old is happily sleeping in her crib across the hall, the beagle is snoring by our bedside and we are preparing to pillow our heads. I am about to pull newly washed clothes out of the laundry. In contrast, those people who’s lives have been shattered by Katrina are stranded, hungry, unable to sleep, without their belongings and many of them are looking for loved ones and neighbors. I can’t even place myself in their shoes… I was in North Hills just a few miles from the epicenter of the Northridge quake in 1994. The townhome my family lived in was somewhat damaged, and we did not have power for a few hours, but we at least had water and some comforts. We still COULD sleep in our beds. Aside from the broken glass, and other things we did not face too much hardship. It is hard to grasp what the folks in the Gulf of Mexico are dealing with right now.

Perhaps I just was not as informed, or most likely I did not care to consider the catastrophic events of our day and age. Like the real events that happened in Rwanda in 1994 (featured in the film “Hotel Rwanda”). While I was very young at that time I probably did hear about it in the news, but if my memory does serve me correct, I did not pause to think about it.

Starting on September 11, 2001 with the attacks in New York and Pennsylvania.

Later that year another plane crash in New York…

Earlier this year, the tsunami that decimated Southeast Asia

This week’s stampede in Iraq and the Hurricane…

It goes to show that we can not expect or prevent anything. Our government, the governments of the nations around the globe can strive for the safety of their citizens from terrorism, invading nations, but they can never escape “natural” God-designed events. Perhaps even if we had known about the September 11 attacks we could have thwarted or maybe lessened the damage. Perhaps. But can anyone truly prevent every potentially damaging attack?

I dare say no.

Even in the wake of the Hurricane, we knew that people were asked to evacuate the city, but for many reasons not all made it out. Even if all did leave the threatened areas, would that have guaranteed that no lives would be lost?

I write these things not to minimize grief or to downplay the tragedy. These are real people, with real issues. They have real families, they have real needs and they have real souls! In fact I am going to commit to praying for believers in the area, commit some resources, and I encourage you if possible to do the same.

My point is, that God is a just God. He is also in control of all things. While we live in a “controlled” world we can never control the hand of God. I think of Job’s own response to tragedy.

I will be interesting to see how the media will point fingers at government officials who perhaps could have “prevented” this. It will happen, since we are a society of zero-responsibility. God’s sovereign hand will not be an acceptable cause of this catastrophe.

God is the Lord over all things, and we can somehow trust in His sovereignty while we cannot understand it. We can rest in the fact that He desires all men to be saved and that as a result of this people may come to a point in their journey where they recognize that NOTHING they can do can be able to save them from death. God will make hearts soft so people can realize this!

While these folks have real issues, real families, real heartache and real loss there is a very real Savior who has gone through the worse pain that any man has ever experienced that we would have real hope in a real Salvation.

Pray for messengers in the Gulf of Mexico and all around to use these times as an encouragement to take the gospel with boldness and clarity.

This is a fitting song to post lyrics for:

After the Last Tear Falls
by Andrew Osenga and Andrew Peterson

After the last tear falls
After the last secret’s told
After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone
After the last child starves
And the last girl walks the boulevard
After the last year that’s just too hard

There is love
Love, love, love
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love 

After the last disgrace
After the last lie to save some face
After the last brutal jab from a poison tongue
After the last dirty politician
After the last meal down at the mission
After the last lonely night in prison

There is love
Love, love, love
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

And in the end, the end is
Oceans and oceans
Of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales

‘Cause after the last plan fails
After the last siren wails
After the last young husband sails off to join the war
After the last “this marriage is over”
After the last young girl’s innocence is stolen
After the last years of silence that won’t let a heart open

There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

And in the end, the end is
Oceans and oceans
Of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales

‘Cause after the last tear falls
There is love