OK, tomorrow night JT and I may, or may not be, going to see Eowyn in concert again. The reason why I say "may, or may not" is because she has a show listed for Murrysville on her Myspace page, but there are no details for where it is or how much it costs.
Ya know, you'd think that would be important information to anyone who wants to show up for it, but apparently whoever is putting this show together hasn't quite smoothed out all of the particulars yet. Go figure...
Anyways, JT has been in contact with Eowyn to find out as much as he can from her. He's hoping to get the interview he missed out on at the Summer Slam last month. I am expecting to reprise my role as his assistant/bodyguard/camera-man again. So, if there's a show for us to go to, we already have our plans in place. If we get the show details soon enough, I'll make sure to post them here, that way everyone will know where were went. And, of course, I'll be sure to get more pics for everyone.
Today I attended my very first Team Meeting with the other Compassion Advocates from this area. It was a great experience. In addition to meeting Joe, our Area Coordinator, and several other advocates, we also had Mark, our Regional Manager from New York, in attendance. I have to admit that at first I wasn't sure what to expect from the meeting. You see, I've served as an Elder at my church for many years. And I've seen my fair share of meetings where business and finances and whatnot are discussed. But this was not one of those kinds of meetings. Of course, we opened with prayer and some scripture reading, and even had a worship song to sing along with. It was Kutless', Better Is One Day, a song which I have found myself listening to quite a bit of late. Sometimes I think it's strange how this song can wring the tears from my eyes no matter where I am or what I'm doing when I listen to it. But then again, that is the awesome power of worship when it comes from the heart. There were three new advocates among us, myself being one of them, so we all had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to everyone else. And as an icebreaker everyone was asked to share a funny story about ourselves. I shared the story about Bob and his "Get Compassion" sign from our Friday night adventures at Creation 08. At this point, Barb - one of the other advocates who was at Creation, remembered where she knew from. Persistence was the focus of this meeting. Several of the advocates shared stories of how long it took them to make any headway with finding support from their churches for the ministry of Compassion. I found this somewhat odd since The Revolution Church fully embraced my involvement with Compassion and sponsored a child almost immediately. Perhaps I'm just specially blessed to have P.Dave as my pastor, and such a great congregation - as small as we may be - to be so supportive of the individual ministries that we're all called to. Another focus of the meeting was the encouragment to take a trip to visit a Compassion project any time the opportunity arises. Several of the other advocates spoke of their experiences while on these trips, but the most amazing tales were those shared by Mark. He admits that he's been on more than 20 trips, and has seen things that would really change anyone's perspective of what it really means to live in poverty. I know I've said it before, here in America, our idea of poverty means having only one TV and basic cable. In the rest of the world it means wondering if you're going to eat at all today, or if the water you drink is going to make you sick, or if someone you know will die from starvation or disease. And Mark's stories brought those points home like a sledgehammer. Mark spoke of meeting a family that lived in what couldn't even be called a shack. It was, for all intents and purposes, a box-spring, a sheet of aluminum and some wooden planks. And inside the family's "home" there was a little table and a stool. The family treated him as an honored guest, offering him the stool and one of the drinks that they had just received from the project that Mark was visiting at. But he realized how important it was to allow them to do this for him. It was their way of giving back for what they had received. Another story he told was one in which he met a little girl who was sitting outside on the edge of the town with her little brother laying asleep across her lap. He noticed that she seemed sad so he tried to make her smile. He offered her a lollipop and she took it with some hesitation. He tried to speak to her a little, and she did understand a little bit of english, but not enough. But after much trying he did manage to get a smile out of her. After a few more moments one of the guides from the project saw him and asked what he was doing. He explained that he was just talking to the little girl. The guide then looked over and said very sadly "Oh, her sibling is dying." Mark had no idea the child was dying of AIDS. And after all his attempts to make a little girl smile while her little brother was dying in her arms.
This is the harsh reality for nearly 2/3 of the people in the world. Here, in the most blessed land on earth, we complain about how long we wait in line at Wal-Mart. Forget the fact that we can have practically any convenience, any luxury, we could ever wish for in a matter of minutes, we want it ten minutes ago. Meanwhile, there are people on the other side of the world, who have close to nothing, but are willing to share whatever it is they do have - even with a wealthy stranger. It's heartbreaking.
I must confess; it took me way too long to get involved with Compassion. This was a ministry that I've known about for years, and I did nothing about it. For years I ignored what I knew was happening in the world, all because I was convinced that I couldn't afford to take on the financial responsibility of the monthly commitment. I was convinced that I really couldn't make a real difference in the world. After all, I was only one person. But I finally came to the realization that I could no longer afford to do nothing. I came to the realization that if I really believed what I claim to believe, then I need to live as if I do - and that meant finally getting involved with a ministry that is doing great things. So, this is why I do what I do with Compassion. I've got a lot of lost time to make up for. And even though I know I can't afford to sponsor more than one child, for now, I know that my efforts will help other children to find sponsors.
One final note; I recently received an e-mail notifying me that there will be a trip to Kenya, where my sponsored child lives, coming up in February. I'd love to go, especially after all of the stories I've heard from the others. But I also know how expensive the trip is, and I just can't afford that right now. But I do hope that someday I can make the trip. And can you imagine the blog posts I'd have after something like that?
OK, if you read the above Quote, I'd like you to try to add another "great thing" to the list. And perhaps explain why you picked it. My choice; Compassion. And I'm sure you all know why I chose that particular something.
For those of you who've already read yesterdays' post this is an update. If you haven't read that post yet, please do so before you read any further.
OK, are you done? Good...
When the Norwin Relay For Life ended this afternoon we had collectively raised $84,000 for cancer research and awareness. I just wanted to let everybody know that. I know that those of us from The Revolution Church who were involved with the Relay feel pretty good about it. But we're also exhausted. Even those of us who didn't walk, we just helped get everything set-up and taken apart.
It actually began last night. Sometime right before 9:00 PM I got a phone call from the Ex. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Playing on the computer." I replied, not knowing why it should matter to her. "Come get your son before I rip his face off." she snapped at me. OK! I won't get into any of the details, but suffice it to say that they had a big blow-up over something that could've been easily avoided had either of them exercised a little bit of common sense with one another. So, off I went to pick Bob up. It takes me almost an hour to make the trip out. That means the trip home is plenty of time for us to talk things over and get Bob to calm down. And I have to admit, there were a lot of things that Bob shared with me that make feel pretty good about being a dad. The even better part of it is how he told me that the lessons he picked up while we were at Creation, from the various speakers that he listened to, are still having an impact in his life. We talked into the early hours of the morning. And while he remained upset with his mother over some of the things that were said, he was willing to not hold onto his anger. We went to sleep for a few hours before having to get up and start the day. His mother called first thing. I spoke to her briefly about what Bob and I discussed, but I reserved some of our conversation because I didn't want to stir things up. I left it pretty much as a matter of thinking that she "may have over-reacted." and that Bob probably should've "thought more about what he did." That's when I handed the phone to Bob so the two of them could straighten things out for themselves. They did, and before I could take my shower Bob informed me that his mother was coming down to get him today. So much for us getting to spend some quality time together this week... Anyway, that was all the prelude to what took place today. Today was the Relay for Life fundraiser at Norwin High School.
When you sign up to be involved you form a team of people who will particpate. The team is responsible for having at least one of it's members walking around the track, at any given time, for the entire 24 hours that the event lasts. The Revolution Church had a team signed up to participate. And we also had a booth for our church to place flyers and whatnot at, as well as coming up with some way of trying to raise additional funds for the event. This is our brand new banner as we had it on display at our booth.
Unfortunately, none of the details were hashed out with anyone who was supposed to be involved. So our participation was somewhat lackluster. The situation was this; P.Dave wanted us to sign up as a church so we could sorta introduce ourselves to the community at the event. So P.Dave formed a team. But P.Dave was previously scheduled to be a part of a Group Workcamp for the last week. So while it was his team, he was in Michigan and unable to make any of the arrangements that were necessary to make things run smoothly. He did, however, ask certain people to make some of the arrangements in his stead, but there was very little effort put into it. There was also some miscommunication involved as well. So, needless to say, those of us who were supposed to be doing something with the booth, really didn't have any idea of what was going on. So we faked it. We were supposed to have a dunk. But none of the organizers of the event ever got back to us about whether or not we could do that. So that was one idea shot down. As JT and I sat at the booth waiting for P.Dave to return from his Workcamp in Michigan, we tried to come up with some creative alternatives. These were some of the ideas we had; *We already had water ballons. So we were considering just standing on the edge of the track and coercing the people who were walking to pay us a quarter to either throw, or not throw, the balloons at them. Since it was so hot today we figured there might be a decent market in people wanting to get wet. *We also considered buying Super Soakers and making the same offer. Of course, the more we thought about these, the less feasible they seemed. We came to realize that while there might be a substantial number of people who would donate to our coersion, but that's really not the image we want for our church? We also considered the additional moral ramifications of such manuevers. There were quite a few young ladies and women walking around the track all day, most of whom were wearing their white Relay For Life T-shirts, and we were just not willing to be the church that somehow became responsible for turning the Relay for Life into an impromptu wet T-shirt contest... So we just kinda gathered at the tent/booth and hung out until P.Dave arrived from Michigan.
Aren't we a lovely bunch? You'll notice that JT is behind everyone. And "everyone", from left to right, would be Lori, Rosio, and Stephan. And then of course, there's me.
Notice anything different? I think I'll make this my new profile pic, for now. I expect to have my picture taken in front of a Compassion banner in the not too distant future. When I do, I suspect I'll use that one instead. Which is not to say that I'm not proud of my involvement with The Revolution Church, but I really have such a heart for what Compassion does. So I want to give it as much exposure as possible here on my blog for that aspect of my ministry. In any event, eventually, our dunk tank plans kinda meshed with the water balloons and we basically were selling the balloons so that people could either throw them at one of us, or at themselves. There was a little bit more to this whole scheme than I'm sharing with everyone, and there was a certain aspect of the whole idea that I really didn't feel right about. But neither did I feel like I was in any place to speak up against it either. So I'm just conveniently ignoring it here in my post. Now, JT and I had arrived at the field sometime around 11:30 AM, and as I mentioned before, it was pretty hot out today. So by the time P.Dave arrived from Michigan - which was around 3:30 PM - JT and I were pretty much wiped out. Not to mention I was getting pretty well sunburnt, even though I had been in the shade for most of the day. Fortunately for us, our Revolution site was only a few minutes away. So, with an errand to run, we ran to the site and enjoyed a brief rest from the heat of the day. Upon returning we decied that we would stay a little while longer before we departed. What? How can we depart when the Relay for Life is supposed to be a 24 hour event? Well, truth be told, JT and I never signed up to participate. We only volunteered our time and services to help get things set-up. Niether of us ever had any intentions of doing laps for this event. Are you kidding? Look at us! We're just as likely to have a stroke or a heart attack in this kind of weather. No thanks! We did our part to help out, and we will return tomorrow to help out in the morning and to take everything back to the church when the event is over. And P.Dave is just fine with that, so you can be too. So sometime around 5:00 JT and I left so we could enjoy dinner. And where did we go but to our new favorite chinese buffet, the Moon Buffet & Mongolian BBQ w/ Sushi Bar. That's right folks, we were hungry since we hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. And when we were done, we decided that we stil wanted to hang out with each other for awhile. And what else would two geeks like JT and myself do this weekend but go to see...
Awesome! Absolutely incredible movie! I gotta tell ya, even for as much as we loved Iron Man, The Dark Knight just blew away any other comic book movies that have been made. And I know that there are a lot of people who are looking at this final performance of Heath Ledger and thinking it was a masterpiece, well I agree. But I don't agree for many of the sappy reasons that others might think so. I really think he nailed the Joker in this role. I thought Jack Nicholson did a great job when he played the part, but Ledger's portrayal of the Joker is hideously brilliant. I'm amazed at how well he pulled it off. You have to go see this movie, and you don't even have to be a fan of comic books, or of Batman in particular. It's a great story and there's more action than you can shake a stick at. And now I'm sitting here wrapping up the day, sharing all of it with all of you, and getting ready to head off to bed so I can get an early start on tomorrow.
Ya know what else? God is so good to me. He's surrounded me with such good friends, and good people to share this with. Now that I think about it, as I sit here blogging about my days and experiences, I'm very thankful for those of you who take the time to put up with me. You are all a wonderful blessing to me. Thank you very much for being out there, even those of you who remain anonymous in your occasional visits. I truly hope that you are at least occasionally blessed by what I have to share. I know that at times my posts can be quite lengthy, and yet many of you soldier through them because I have managed to catch some part of your attention with either what I say, or the way in which I say it, or maybe just because it's kinda like an accident - you don't want to look, but you just can't resist. So thank you for taking the time to visit, and I hope enjoy, sharing these experiences with me. Peace and Blessings to you all!
I should have posted this much sooner, but just haven't had the time. So I'm gonna post it now. And there's nothing any of you can do about it... So there!
Anyways... Recently JT and I had a conversation about one of P.Dave's sermons. Actually, it was more like one of our group discussions during one of our Tuesday Night Family Dinners at church. And we had the opportunity to rehash that conversation with one of our sisters-in-the-faith earlier this week (after our Tuesday Night Family Dinner). P.Dave's sermon was based on John 21:15-19. For those of you who're not familiar with the passage, this is the one where Jesus asks Peter "Do you love me?" three times. Now, I'm sure most of you have heard the story, and maybe even heard a message preached on it. And I'm almost certain that most of you have been told the warm, fuzzy message that Jesus was giving Peter the chance to make up for denying Him three times by asking Peter "Do you love me?" three times. Wrong !!! You see, something that nobody likes to talk about with this passage is the greek text in which it was written. According to the earliest manuscripts when Jesus asks Peter "Do you love me?", Jesus is using the word "agapae" - which means unconditional love. Peter answers "Yes, Lord, you know I love you." but Peter uses the word "phileo" - which means brotherly love. So Jesus is asking a question that Peter is refusing to answer. Peter is telling Jesus that he loves Him like a brother, not unconditionally. Jesus asks Peter this question a second time, and Peter answers it the same way. So finally, Jesus asks Peter for the third time and this time Jesus uses the word "phileo" and after Peter answers again, the same as before, Jesus pretty much tells Peter that he will die for His faith.
Knowing this about the text leaves JT and I wondering how anyone, especially anyone who knows the greek text (and any pastor ought to know the greek text), can you put together that tired, old message of Jesus giving Peter the chance to make up for his denials. It's not possible. Peter isn't answering the question. He's avoiding it. And if Jesus were satisfied with Peter's answers, enough to say that it made up for the denials, then why would Jesus tell Peter 'Oh, by the way, you're gonna be crucified for me when you've finished the job I'm giving you.'
This is mine and JT's conclusion to the passage; Jesus wants to give Peter the chance to make up for the denials, but He also wants to know just how much Peter loves Him. Would Peter be willing to die for Him? So Jesus asks Peter the first two times, and when Peter replies with his weak-willed, brotherly love remark, Jesus gives Peter his assignment to take care of the sheep. And then on the last one Jesus was stern with Peter telling him "when you are old, you will stretch out your hand, and another will dress you and take you where you don't want to go." Basically, Jesus is telling Peter "OK, I gave you three chances to say it. You aren't willing to say you'll die for Me, but you'll die for me anyways." And that's about it. And this story is typical of Peter to me. Anyone who reads the gospels has to be able to identify Peter as the brash, unthinking, loud-mouth of the bunch. Jesus is constantly correcting him. Think about it, even beyond the whole denial thing. Who wanted to walk on the water with Jesus? When the temple guards came to arrest Jesus in the garden, who cut off the servant's ear? Even later on in the New Testament, Paul has to correct Peter for not acting properly towards gentile believers. The only time when Peter's personality worked out for him was when Jesus asked "Who do men say I am?" then "Who do you say I am?". Peter nailed it for once. He blurted out the answer, and whaddya know, Peter was right! But that's about the only time. Now, please don't think I'm being critical of Peter. I like him as a character, not because of who he was, but because of who he became in spite of who he was. Anytime I have a discussion about Peter I remind everyone of these faults that he had. But I also always come back to the man he became in the Book of Acts. When you look at the beginning of the Book of Acts we find the disciples hiding out in a little room above someone's house. After Pentecost, they're out in the streets boldly preaching to everyone. And Peter is the one who takes charge. He even confronts the Sanhedrin, knowing full well that these are the same men who had Jesus executed. That is a true testimony to the transformative power of God's Holy Spirit.
So, what message do JT and I get from this little exchange between Jesus and Peter?
Well, that's the question that Jesus is asking all of us, isn't it? Do you love me, with an unconditional love? Do you love me with a love that says I'm willing to live and die for you? Are you willing to do the job I have for you without regard for the cost? I ask myself these questions everyday. And I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I answer like Peter did. But I also know that the more I submit myself to God's will in my life, the more I'm willing to be obedient to the Spirit, the more satisfied I am with where He is leading me. And that makes it much easier to answer with a "Yes" the next time.
OK, I realize it's kinda redundant to ask everyone to relive my Creation 08 experiences once again - since I'm sure you've already taken an hour or so to read through my posts and look at the pictures and videos here at my blog. But JT has our two part review/discussion of mine, and my son Bob's, (mis)adventures at the festival, and our particpation with Compassion International. You can check them out here;
Give yourself about 2 hours for the entire show. Or you could just download the whole show and put it on your mp3 player for later. We had a lot of fun, covered a lot of what happened and discussed with some depth my involvement with Compassion there.
"If you think about disaster, you will get it. Brood about death and you hasten your demise. Think positively and masterfully, with confidence and faith, and life becomes more secure, more fraught with action, richer in achievement and experience." Edward Rickenbacker
That's the number of children who were sponsored through Compassion as a result of the Creation Festival. I received an e-mail the other day telling me this. I wanted to share that with everyone because it's important to me. I wanted to let you all know what kind of impact Compassion is having in the world. That's 1403 children who will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. 1403 children who will receive the benefit of a better education. 1403 children who will have enough food to keep them healthy. 1403 children who will go to sleep tonight knowing that somebody out there in this great big world cares about them.
For those who weren't aware, last Thursday JT and I sat down together and recorded a podcast episode about Creation. It was part review, part interview, part discussion and all fun. In fact, we had so much fun that we actually ran much longer than a typical episode, so JT decided to post it in two parts. Part 1 is already up at JT's Indie Christian Music Podcast, and Part 2 will be coming in a day or two. So, if you want to hear about the misadventures of yours truly, and Not-So-Emo Bob, while we were at Creation - with the added benefit of JT's witticisms - go check it out. If you thought reading my posts about Creation was great, you'll love hearing mine and JT's interaction with each other. And be sure to stay tuned for the second installment later this week.
"The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny it is the light that guides your way." Heraclitus
What a crappy month for quotes! I'll try not to it happen again. As most of you already know, I had some legitimate reasons this time around. Not having a computer for the last two weeks of the month will put a huge dent into one's online activities. And I'm sure most of you have already read about the other reasons in my Creation posts...
Allow me to say a little bit about what the Creation Festival is. Perhaps my earlier descriptions have left one with the impression that Creation is one huge music festival of one Christian band after another. That would not be accurate. Creation is actually something of a total worship experience spread out over the entire weekend. As the motto above the stage says, it's "A tribute to our Creator". In addition to the music there are many speakers and teachers who encourage Christians in their walk, and try to impart messages that will help us grow in our faith. There are children's ministries, and seminars. And there are vendors and artists of all sorts as well. But all of it is about helping Christians to express their faith and their love for God in powerful, new ways. Something else that I think is important to mention is the fact that the festival runs almost completely on the power of volunteers. It's the selfless desire of these volunteers that helps to make Creation so amazing. It's that same selfless desire that has so many people returning year after year to volunteer their time, talents and services to this event. And I, for one, am quite thankful for their efforts. And one last thing. Creation's main sponsor is Compassion International. It is a fantastic relationship that began early on and continues to grow as the years pass. Over the 30 years that Creation has been in existence nearly 30,000 children have been sponsored by attendees of the festival. What a remarkable testimony that is, and one more reason why I'm so glad to be a part of both of these incredible ministries. As a result of that relationship, the various volunteers from Compassion's advocate network work tirelessly to make sure the festival runs smoothly. To my fellow advocates and our various coordinators, I am deeply indebted to your steadfast commitment to this ongoing relationship. I am proud to have served with all of you. Jason, for your efforts in coordinating the whole event. Randy, who I never once saw stop for more than a minute at any given time through the entire weekend. Wanda, Debbie, Compassion Dave and all the rest, you so rocked my world at this event. I hope to learn so much more from all of you as our paths cross at future events. All I ask is the opportunity to serve. And now, for the rest of my posts regarding the festival. You're gonna find that I'm not really doing any reviews of any of the bands. I'm just sorta talking about who was playing. And I'm not throwing any pictures into the "daily" posts. I'm saving those for individual posts with mainly only the photos and brief comments. And as a special treat, after some of the mosh pit and random pics at the end, I have 3 brief video clips with no sound, but you'll be able to enjoy them anyways. At least I hope you will. So, read on my faithful...
PS. My entire tale is going to be retold on JT's Indie Christian Music Podcast on Monday and Tuesday of next week. I'm willing to bet it sounds even better with the interaction between JT and myself. I'll be sure to link to it when JT has it up.
I took a half day at work so Bob and I could get an early start. We didn't want to miss anything. Got on the road by 1:00 and it was pretty smooth sailing the whole way. Even took a picture of the Wind Farms along the Turnpike.
Where's Don Quixote when we need him? Anyways, we made it to the festival grounds around 4:00.
It didn't take too long to find the Compassion Campsite. Once we found it we settled in and set-up camp before taking a stroll around the festival grounds to take a look see.
Then headed up to one of the Compassion booths to see what things looked like from up there. There were three others spread around the main stage area and one by the fringe stage. The one I took this picture from was the one I would be spending most of my time at.
I also mananged to find someone very important to my involvement with Compassion as an advocate, Compassion Dave. He was attending to the booth that was located inside the vendor's pavillion. The reason why I say that he's important to my involvement with Compassion is because he stumbled upon my blogpost from when I first sponsored a child and encouraged me to become an advocate. And now here I am.
Thanks Dave, that little nudge has opened a whole new world of faith for me. I've never been so satisfied in my walk with Christ as I have been since I joined.
OK, after a little more exploration Bob and I decided it was time to find a place for the first concert. As we mingled with the crowd Bob decided to make things interesting. He Began randomly introducing himself to the people standing around us. It was kinda funny because he'd just turn to someone in the crowd and say "Hey, I'm Rob Cross. What's your name?" And they would tell him and he'd say "Great to know ya. We're gonna have a great time here." Then he'd turn to someone else and say "Hey, do you know Rob Cross?" and they would usually say "No" so he'd reply with "Well, I'm Rob Cross, you're gonna wanna know that." Eventually, several of these kids would be joining us in the mosh pit at the Fringe Stage. But more on that later. Of course, since ths is a Christian festival, and "A Tribute to our Creator", the entire festival started with a prayer from one of the founders of the Creation Festival, Pastor Harry Thomas.
I have a great deal of resepct and admiration for this man because of his wholehearted commitment to Christ and using the festival to glorify God. What else needs to be said? After the prayer, Flyleaf was set to kick things off, and what a way to kick off this festival. They're a great band who've seen substantial mainstream success. And with such a positive message you couldn't ask for a better opening act for Creation. It was especially touching when their vocalist, Lacey spoke about how glad they were to be playing at Creation. She expressed to the crowd that they don't get very many opporunities to play before their brothers and sisters in Christ because of the venues that their popularity has lead them to play in. So they felt exceptionally blessed to be a part of this festival for their first time, and just wanted to rejoice in this chance to fellowship with 70,000+ other believers. They were followed up by a band called Leeland. I really liked their sound. A bit alternative, a bit rock, and all worship. Very cool. And perfect to set things up for the first speaker of the event. His name was Justin Lookadoo. He's a comedian with a great message. His message; "If only I'd known.". A reminder that we don't always know what's going to happen next in our lives and we might not get a second chance to do or say something for/to someone we care about. Eventually, Bob would admit to me that this message hit home with him, and I was proud to hear him say so. But I'll share more about that later. In respect to this being Creation's 30th year, the organizers decided to do something unique. They introduced the crowd to Melody Green, the widow of the late Keith Green - a pioneer of early Christian rock and one of the godfathers of the earliest Christian music festivals. He passed away before I even became a Christian, so I wasn't too familiar with his work on my own terms, but only because of the influence he had on so many of the musicians I loved when I did become a believer. In any event, this was a great opportunity to pay a small tribute to one of the men who made festivals like Creation possible, even if most of the younger audience members had know idea who these people were. Next up, Skillet. Best live show I have ever seen! Very intense. The crowd absolutely loved them. And what's not to love? Hot chick drummer, hot chick guitarist, need I say more? Actually, Skillet is one of those bands that sounds just as good live as they do on the CD, and with so much energy in their performance, too. I can't wait to see them again. It was after Skillet's set that Bob and I realized we hadn't eaten since we left the house - just before 1:00. So we headed out to see what kind of food vendors were around. There were plenty to choose from, but we opted for strombolis. Most everything else seemed a bit pricey. As we ate we realized we were never going to be able to get anywhere near the stage for the next set, which was Switchfoot. So we just wandered around as they played and I didn't get any pics since the lighting was no good and my camera's night setting is only good at close range when everything is standing still. And you can't expect any of these bands to stand still. So even if we had gotten close enough, the pictures probably would've been crap. The night wrapped up with a fireworks display...
I'd like to say that the fireworks were an excellent end to a great day, but they weren't. You see, Creation has this after-hours thing called The Late Nite Cafe that takes place in the tent which, in the mornings, is dedicated to the children's minsitry. So, after the main stage is shut down for the night, some time after midnight, many of the campers head over to the Late Nite Cafe. It just so happens that the Late Nite Cafe was right next to the site were Bob and I had set-up camp. Needless to say, we didn't get to sleep until sometime after 2:30. Possibly even later because after the goings on in the Cafe were over plenty of people lingered on to chat. Very loudly. Very annoyingly. Now don't get me wrong, the guy who was performing in the Late Nite Cafe was hilarious. His name was Paul Aldrich and he's a very talented musician/comedian who had Bob and I laughing the entire time we were trying to fall asleep. But it would've been nice to have less noisey neighbors for the weekend. Perhaps next year things will work out better for us.
Well, I'm not one to sleep past the break of daylight, so I was up by 6:30 this morning. Not a great thing, but I've seen worse situations in my life. Of course the light rain that was falling outside of the tent wasn't making it very pleasant, but, again, I've survived worse. I headed down to the showers and found myself fortunate enough to have hot water. Oh, thank you, Jesus for such a blessing. I returned to our campsite to eat a wonderful breakfast of Pop-Tarts and milk. It would seem that there was no place for us to build a fire to cook our own food with, and I didn't have anything to set our camp stove on - this was kinda short notice for us when you think about it, so we were kinda ill-prepared. As a result, our weekend eating consisted primarily of Pop-Tarts, Fruity Pebbles and milk for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly for lunch and either pepperoni sandwiches or something from the food vendors for dinner. Except today I decided to see what goes on in the mornings at Creation only to discover that one of the food vendors actually had breakfast sandwiches for only $3. Boy were they tasty! And they really hit the spot for both of us. I roamed about for awhile waiting for things to come to life again. When they finally did I took a walk through the art and vendor tents and pavillion. There were all sorts of ministries and colleges present, as well as artists, crafters, booksellers, T-shirt sellers, jewelers and others. And this guy I like...
I take that back. This guy, I love! His name is Stephen S Sawyer and he is one very talented artist. You can find his work at Art 4 God. That painting in the background of our picture is amazing. I fell in love with it as soon as my eyes fell on it, and I could feel the way the Spirit was using this man through his artwork. I made sure to stop by his booth everyday because he was such a blessing to me. And I will also mention that he really loved my artwork, too. Which is why we decided to pose together like we did. His tattoo is actually a temporary tat which is a design that was taken from one of his other paintings. Go to his page and see if you can find out which one. I saw a lot of other people with these temporary tats on their arms throughout the weekend. Eventually I made my way around to see who was speaking on the main stage but wasn't feeling like staying for a sermon. It was actually another artist named Eric Samuel Timm. Also amazing in his own way. You can see a video of his presentation (not from Creation) on You Tube. It's in 3 parts, and well worth the watch. That's one of the things that makes Creation a worship experience. Each morning is like a unique church service. The first band wakes everyone up, the next band leads worship, followed by a speaker with a message, then another band before breaking for lunch. It's all very well structured and works very well. I returned to our campsite to discover that Bob was now out and about. Little did I know that he was watching the presentation on the Main Stage. Of course, I figured he'd catch up to me eventually so I decided to wander over to the Fringe Stage (a smaller stage for the lesser known or more hardcore bands) where I found other amusments to admire.
It was a shame that Bob didn't come with me because I made another great discovery at the Fringe Stage. Unlike the Main Stage, the Fringe Stage allows full-out moshing. I was in my glory! The first band up was Children 18:3. Yes, hardcore punk! I loved their energy. They so rocked. And the bassist is pretty hot, too. But you'll see the pics later on. I spent a little while here enjoying the mosh pit and the music, while roasting in the hot sun. Thank God for this angel of mercy.
She's actually one of the security people for this stage. Her name is Maddie, and she has a twin sister named Jessie on the other side of the stage. They basically function as the eyes of the guys who are standing down in the crowd to keep people from getting out of hand in the mosh pit. They just point to the trouble makers and out they go. Pretty cool arrangement, huh? But they were also kinda like cheerleaders (and though I didn't get to know them all that well, I can tell they'd probably kill me if they knew I used that term about them) for the stage. In the above pic she's using one of several spray bottles to wet down the crowd to keep the moshers from getting overheated. Below you'll see her doing the cheerleader thing while watching for trouble in the pit.
I love the way she has her hair spiked up into a mohawk. It doesn't show too well in this shot, but you kinda see it. Eventually I would have the chance to ask her what she uses to get it to stand up. I may have to try it some time. Ya know what, I'll admit it, I kinda had a crush on Maddie. The mohawk-rocker chick thing appeals to me. That, and I'm a sucker for a redhead. But, moving right along...
I didn't stay for the next band because I need to head back to my campsite to get Bob and go to the Main Stage to see Pillar. As I explained the Fringe Stage to him he became truly excited to know that we were going to get to go all-out in the pit later on. Pillar put on a good show. We both enjoyed it and Bob seemed to like it more than he expected to. I didn't take very many pics of this show since I had so many from the festival I did two weeks earlier. But what was really cool was when I was at the Compassion booth later on, Noah, Pillar's guitarist, walked by the booth and remembered me from that festival - well, he remembered seeing my shoulder. So we got to talk for a few minutes. It's nice to know how down to earth so many of the Christian artists are that they'll walk right up to someone and have a conversation with them without any pretentions about their fame. I really do respect them for that. I spent the better part of the afternoon at the Compassion booth with Bob and another advocate named David. He was a really nice guy. Bob and I joked around a lot and tried to include David, but as Bob put it "I don't think he gets us." And that's OK because not everybody does. I mean, really! Look at me! In any event, as the evening drew on we did get to see Family Force 5 from our vantage point at the Compassion booth. It's a strange show, kinda like a theatrical presentation set to techno-punk rock with an almost cartoonish flair. That's the best way to describe it all. After our shift ended we headed back to our campsite to grab a bite to eat. The Newsboys were the last show of the night, and I was looking forward to seeing them live. However, God does have a great sense of humor. Two songs into their set and things went awry. The MC comes on stage to tell everybody about the approaching thunderstorms and asked everyone to seek shelter until it blew over. He assured everyone that the storm was moving fast and that the show would continue as soon as it had passed. Sure enough, within 10 minutes the storm was upon us with thunder and lightning and a deluge of rain. 20 minutes later it was all over and the show went on as planned. But Bob and I stayed in our tents. And finally, the Late Nite Cafe started again, but tonight's entertainment was not so entertaining as the previous night's. So Bob and I actually got to sleep a little early, if you consider 2:00 instead of 2:30-ish early. The saga continues below...
Of course, Friday morning was pretty wet. But I still managed to wake up early and get a hot shower again. Another amazing blessing. This time, however, I came back to the campsite and lounged in my tent until the activitiy in the children's tent became my cue to go wandering some more. Today I decided that I needed to find a hat or a bandana for my head since I had already toasted my partially shaved skull yesterday. I didn't want it getting any worse. So I picked one up at a booth for a ministry oriented clothing booth called Thorn Clothing. I opted for the white bandana with black print instead of the black with white print, which would have just soaked up more heat - and nobody wants that. You'll see pics of me wearing it later on. Today was going to be mine and Bob's day of glory. We knew that the Fringe Stage was scheduled to start things off at 11:00 and we were going to be in the thick of the mosh pit from Go. And there were some pretty good bands set to appear. First up was a band called Worth Dying For. Very cool. They're an alternative worship band. For their amazing hardcore sound there was a real sense of spirituality and worship to their songs. And we could mosh to it! Allow me to say this right now; the mosh pit was incredible! I had so much fun with all of the kids that were bangin' around in there. And they all had fun with me. There were plenty of one-on-ones and a lot of the kids wanted to go head-to-head with me just because I was the "big guy". There were quite a few girls jumping into the pit and we even had a few little kids (7 - 9 years old) that were jumping in. At that point Jessie (whom I mentioned with yesterday's post) actually came into the pit to make sure none of them got hurt by those of us larger folk. So I worked my way to that side of the pit in case she needed a hand. After all, I was the "responsible adult" in this crowd (Yeah, right!) and it never hurts to be standing near a pretty girl.
OK, they were twins! I couldn't really tell them apart at first, so I didn't really know which one I had the crush on. Of course, the fact that Jessie doesn't spike her hair into a mohawk might have given me a clue...
Anyways, a lot of these kids had been hangin' out with me and Bob during the Flyleaf and Skillet shows. Then as each band ended their set most of the kids would come up to me to tell me "Dude! You so rock!" or "Dude! You're awesome!". It was even to the point where Bob was pointing to me and telling everybody "Yeah, that's my dad. He's pretty cool isn't he?" can you get a better compliment from your teenaged son? After Worth Dying For came Run Kid Run. This is another band that I've seen live before and I do like their sound. It was a good show, but after their set we needed to take a break. Besides, Compassion was having a dinner for those of us who volunteered for the festival. All of us gathered around at the Compassion Campsite and had pizza. It was great getting to see everybody there and start to get to know some of the others that were a part of this grand endeavor. I gotta hand it to the Event Coordinators and Area Coordinators who had everything running so smoothly. These people truly have the hearts of servants, and I am proud to be among them. But I'll share a little bit more about that later on. As the dinner winded down and everybody started to spread out again to do their own thing, Bob and I went back to the Fringe Stage to catch the tail end of The Afters. They're a kinda pop-alternative band and the mosh just wasn't happening for me with these guys. But that was OK with me since the band that Bob and I really wanted to see today was up next. And the mosh would be magnificent with them. Red had a great beginning to their set. Before the band hit the stage they played a sound byte from the movie The Boondock Saints, the courtroom speech came across the speakers and the crowd went wild. Red came out and the mosh pit exploded. Up to this point there had been maybe 20 or 30 kids in the pit most of the day. We were all getting to know each other because of it, too. But when Red hit the first hard chords of Break Me Down everything changed. I started at what I thought was going to be the edge of the mosh pit only to find myself smack dab in the middle of it. Which is not to say I didn't want to be there, but I wasn't expecting to be there so quickly. I think it took the security people by surprise, too. I say this because it became obvious early on that they were having a hard time keeping the surge from moving too far forward toward the stage whenever the crowd would press forward. That and the fact that after the show one of the guys running security wanted to talk to me. His name was Don, and I had been talking to him in the mornings through my wanderings. We kinda got to know each other that way. He had also noticed me in the pit taking on guys half my age and not getting knocked down. So after this show he asked me if I'd be willing to help out with tomorrow's security. He just said "I could use a man of your size and talents.". I said "Sure". More on that later. After this I headed back to the Compassion Camp because we were expecting a big rush tonight. The speaker for the evening, Bob Lenz wanted the Compassion volunteers to be available to pass out child packets at the end of his presentation. Bob Lenz has a real heart for the work that Compassion is doing, and he wanted to make the most of his efforts here. So we organized and spread out to wait until he finished his message. And it was a great message, it was all about going into the world to be Christ to those who need Him. It began with the story of his daughter, Joy, singing Joy to the World around Christmastime one year, and Bob's son Tim, being 5 at the time, hearing this thought his sister was singing about herself. So he chimed in with his own version; Tim to the World. And this stuck out to Bob as it is just what we ought to be doing. We ought to be putting ourselves out to the world. We ought to be singing that song with our own names in it. Then he spoke of Compassion and the plight of millions of children around the world living in poverty and encouraged the crowd to start sponsoring children as a means of sending themselves to the world. I gave away at least 15 packets by myself. Then I headed to my booth to help with everyone who wanted to sponsor a child or just to ask questions about it. The rush lasted for quite awhile, and it was well worth it. It gave us such an amazing oportunity to talk to people and answer questions and get others excited about the ministry of Compassion. I was blown away by the response. And just so you all know, Bob was doing his part with me at the Compassion booth, too. You see, scattered across the entire festival were countless young people with makeshift cardboard signs reading "Free Hugs", "Free Prayer", "Free this" "Free that", and standing right in front of our Compassion booth were two young ladies offering "Free Encouragement" to get up the steep little hill that lead to the art's tent and pavilion. One held a sign that said "Free Encouragement" while the other held one that said "You can make it up the hill". And Bob, being Bob always out to get a laugh, stood beside them with a little sign that said "No you can't." It was kinda funny, but I had to remind Bob that he was supposed to be working with me, and he needed to remember that Compassion had paid his way into this festival. So he came back to the booth and started work on a new sign. After a few moments he was back out on the hillside with a sign that read "Get Compassion". And it was kinda neat how people would stop and ask him what he meant with the sign, so he would tell them "Go talk to my dad over there about sponsoring a child through Compassion." It actually worked for a few people. They came over and asked me about Compassion and how to sponsor a child. Bob so rocks! Then, just as you think it can't get any more intense, the rush slows down but we've already missed one of the concerts, because who can pay attention to the Main Stage when there are dozens of people clamoring to find a child to sponsor. It was great and it got better because there was a special guest slated to appear tonight for the candlelight service. It turned out to be Amy Grant. And why shouldn't it be? She was the first performer to have a candlelight service at Creation. As the story goes, it was the first year that Creation was held at the site it currently takes place at, the Agape Farm in Mt. Union, PA. And as Amy was a few songs into her set the underground transformers blew and all the power at the festival went off. So, in an attempt to keep everyone from getting injured by trampling over one another in the dark, the volunteer staff for the festival began passing out candles for everyone to see by. The power was restored shortly thereafter, but the candles had created such an awe inspiring atmosphere that everybody decide that they should continue without the stage lights. So Amy Grant finished her set with only a lantern on stage. It's been a tradition ever since. And now you can see it for yourself.
This was truly an incredible ending to a fantastic night.
Last day of the festival. The morning stuff was the usual up early, hot shower, Pop-Tarts and Fruity Pebbles thing until Bob and I went to the Fringe Stage. But I actually went over a little bit early to talk to Don about helping with security. That's when he introduced me to Alan, the guy who was really in charge of security for the Fringe Stage.
Don is in the middle, Alan on the right and you know who's standing on the left. But as we talked the subject of another festival came up, The Purple Door. It seems Don, or Big Don as he has come to be known, is in charge of security for that festival, and he wanted me to sign up to volunteer to work for him. And me, being commited to what I do, asked if Compassion would have a booth at the festival. When he told me yes, I knew I wanted to be involved. So I have that going on in August, but let me get back to Creation. The first band up was Divine Day. They were the winners of the Creation Talent Search - which was held in the Late Nite Cafe last night. They were pretty good, and I suppose they would have to be to win the Talent Search. They were followed by a band called Ruth. Also pretty good. They had a decent edge to their music and I may have to pick up their CD's. The following band was incredibly energetic. They were Eleventyseven, and allow me to say that they sound different live - less techno than what you're hearing if you went to their myspace page with that link. These guys were also hilarious. They joked with one another and made fun of themselves through the entire show. And at different points both the bassist and the drummer ended up in the mosh pit with everyone else. But the best part was when they were getting ready to end their set and one of the stage crew held up a sign letting them know that they still had 30 minutes. The guitarist proclaimed "30 minutes? We don't even have 30 more minutes of music we can play. We'll have to improvise." So they intiated a bit of audience participation by having a breakdance contest on the stage. Very funny. Needless to say the crowd was pretty hyped by all of this, and that's a great thing. Especially since the next band to play was Fireflight. Another band that I really like. And not just because of the hot chick bassist or their lead vocalist. They just sound awesome and put on a great show. At one point their vocalist shared a little message with the crowd about God's love where she reminded everyone of the passage from 1 John that "God is love" and then she turned to 1 Corinthians 13 and substituted God for the word love through the entire passage. I highly recommend you try this at home. I've done it before and it is amazing when you let that sink into your heart. And the rest of the concert was absolutely incredible. As things settled down after this show I noticed that Bob was no longer in the mosh pit where I had left him. So I went looking for him, as there was plenty of time before I had to report for my shift with security. I found him at the campsite sitting in the car. I asked him what was wrong to which he informed me that he hurt his shoulder while going head-to-head with some guy about my height and maybe closer to 200 lbs. Bob slipped on some gravel and twisted just before the guy hit his shoulder, so there was a loud pop and Bob kinda knew what happened. He didn't want to go to the First Aid Tent because he was worried it might cause a problem for me with my last shift working the Compassion booth tonight. I really respect the fact that he was actually concerned about the booth being staffed tonight and not just us possibly missing out on more fun and music. Bob is shaping up to be a pretty considerate young man. But, in any event, we both decided we would leave the festival tonight when everything was over instead of spending the last night here in our tents. It was also at this point that Bob told me that he felt something changing inside of him. He told me that some of the things that some of the speakers said really hit home with him. But he also added that I shouldn't expect those changes to be too deeply spiritual right away or to be happening really fast. But he wanted me to know that Creation was having an impact on him beyond the music and moshing and having fun. And what more could a dad ask for, other than the "that's my dad, he's pretty cool" thing earlier? After our discussion I went back to the Fringe to prepare to do my thing on the other side of the mosh pit. I talked to Big Don and Dave and they took everybody aside and told us all what was expected of us and let us know what to watch for. Now, just before Inhale Exhale came on, we went out into the crowd to position ourselves for the mosh to start. And when most of the kids who had been moshing with me all weekend long saw me with the orange vest they were all looking at me and asking "Dude! What's goin on? Did you turn to the dark side? You need to be out here with us." And my response became my quote for the weekend; "Nah. I'll just say this; I'm not saying I'm too old for the mosh pit, but I am definitely too old to be in the mosh pit every-day of the festival while sleeping in a tent on the ground all weekend." Strangely enough, they all got it. And when it was all over they still shook my hand, hugged, high fived and fist-bumped with me. It was all so very cool and there's more to that but I have to talk about Inhale Exhale first. Inhale Exhale are a high energy, hardcore screaming metal band. So the mosh pit erupted early, just like it did with Red, and this time there were enough security people to handle the surges as they came forward. Then, to make things even more fun, the lead singer instigated the crowd by telling them "Alright, when I count to 3, I wanna see everybody in the mosh pit moving. OK. 1, 2, 3!" And they did! It was a lot of fun. After this concert they made an announcement from the stage that right after the next band they were going to need volunteers to help tear down the stage. Well, I have some experience with that, and I didn't have anything else that I had to attend to until 9:30, so I said I would help out. Then, as I was standing in the crew area for the security people, a young couple - in their twenties - approached me and asked "Can we get our picture taken with you?" Huh? "We'd like to get our picture taken with you. We've been watching you here all weekend long, and you have just been such a joy for us. You are just so awesome and we'd love to get a picture of you because you really made this festival that much better for us." So I obliged and thanked them for that encouragement. It's nice to know that I've touched people. The last band of the festival for the Fringe was The Myriad. I hate to say it, but the crowd had mostly dispersed by this time and there wasn't any security work to be done. There was a decent sized audience for these guys, but no moshing. And this was also the time when most of the kids that had been moshing with me and Bob all weekend long took the time to give me hugs and whatnot. I told a few of them how to find me on myspace. I haven't heard from any of them yet, but who knows. If they're meant to find me they will. So, after The Myriad finished playing we immediately went to work on the stage. If you've never watched it happen, it's amazing to see how quickly it all comes down. People were hustling and bustling to get things unplugged, packed and moved off the stage. I love this kind of stuff, too. And the other cool part about doing this, most of the bands that played today were still lingering around behind the stage putting their own gear and equipment away. So at various times I got to stop for a second or two to talk to them. I talked to the vocalist from Fireflight, the guys from Eleventyseven, and the vocalist for Inhale Exhale. Again, one of the things I love about being involved with Christian music is that the people are so unpretentious. They are just as thankful for us being there as we are of them playing for us. And they don't mind meeting their fans whenever it's possible. As things moved on I realized I needed to get ready to do my shift at the Compassion booth. So I said my farewells to the guys I was working with, shared my contact info with Big Don so we could keep in touch, and headed over to my tent. Bob was resting, somewhat uncomfortably, but he was OK. So off to the Compassion booth I went, and this time I was going to be in the main pavillion. As I headed to the booth I stopped to talk briefly with some of the vendors I had gotten familiar with while I was there. I talk to both of the artists that I mentioned in my previous posts. I had developed a little thing with a couple of guys working a T-shirt stand. They had noticed I had a Marvel Comics theme going all weekend long. I started the festival on Thrusday with my Iron Man shirt, then on Friday I wore my Marvel SuperHeroes shirt (a bunch of the Marvel characters together) and then wrapped things up on Saturday with my Punisher shirt. But I had changed into my Compassion shirt for this last night at the booth. So they joked with me about that. I told them they needed to get rid of their "I lost my mom in the mosh pit" shirts and get ones that said dad instead. So I arrived at the booth and things were already jumping. There was one last push being made on the Main Stage to reach our goal of 2000 children being sponsored this year. At sometime around 9:00 one of our off-duty advocates told me that we were over 1500. So that was encouraging. At 10:00 the pavillion closed and we all started to break down the set-up so we could move it to the other booth at the top of the hill where I spent my other two evenings. Meanwhile, there were still people coming up to the booth asking to sponsor children. How awesome is that? We managed to get everything moved pretty quickly, and then I stayed at the other booth until everything was packed and ready to go. At this point actual staffers from Compassion International came to load everything up for shipping back to Colorado Springs. They were quite efficient. And I suppose they've had plenty of experience so that would come naturally. Toby Mac was the last show of the festival. And it was a great show. I only know Toby Mac as part of DC talk, so I wasn't too familiar with the music, but he is definitely a showman. But he did do a few of DC Talk's songs so I could enjoy that. The highlight was when they played Jesus Freak. They did an awesome "freeze" during the pause in the bridge of the song, then came back to life - as it were - with fire, smoke and pyrotechnics. Very cool. It was a great way to end the festival. Afterwards, there was an announcement made about needing people to help with tear down at the Main Stage. I would've liked to stay and help, but Bob and I had to get home. He needed to get his shoulder looked at, and both of us were missing our beds and hot food. So I said my goodbyes to the people of Compassion and packed up our gear to leave.
It's hard to leave something like this. You begin to actually love the people you've been hanging out with. You begin to actually care about what's going to happen to them in their lives. You begin to hope that you'll get to see them again next year. And you hope that whatever changes happened inside of you, or those around you, will really take hold and keep you in a state of constant change for the better. And you begin planning for the last weekend in June of next year so you can have it all happen again. A tribute to our Creator, indeed!