Monday, April 04, 2016

An unlikely double's team

My sons Shen and Bao may very well be competing in their last high school tennis tournament next week as doubles partners.  Over the last couple of years they have occasionally teamed up in men’s doubles, but this Spring has been a special time for me and my wife as the two have consistently teamed up, and they’ve done quite well. Shen and Bao have put together a 20-8 record - winning one tournament and going deep in every other tournament they’ve played in.  Next Monday begins the district tournament, and, although there are hopes at advancing to regionals, there is a chance that this will be the last time the two team together representing the fighting yellowjackets of Denison High.

Shen and Bao are an unlikely pair.  They are both adopted and they are not biological brothers, but over the years those realities have faded from our consciousness as they are no less than our sons and true brothers.  Their journey to the tennis court has been nothing short of miraculous.

We adopted Bao, the younger of the two, first in July 2003.  Bao was only five years old when he joined our family.  He quickly adapted to his mom and me and his two sisters, Melanie and Cina.  He took up the new language remarkably fast and as his communication skills improved he began to reminisce about his old friends back in the Chinese orphanage that he had called home for his first five years.  Many names were mentioned but one name stood out above the rest, Shen Bao Long.   One evening he made a strange request – he wanted to know if Shen Bao Long could come to his new home to visit.   Our hearts were breaking for him as we explained the impossibility of his request.  At least at the time, we thought it was impossible.

Bao didn’t let it drop.  He continued to talk about Shen Bao Long and, to make a long story short, my wife Henriann passionately and determinedly sought out information about Bao’s friend.  Through a series of circumstances I can only attribute to divine intervention we were able to adopt Bao’s friend in November 2004.  The two Chinese orphans who first became friends had now become brothers.  And this Spring they have become doubles partners.

As youths Shen and Bao dabbled in a variety of sports – basketball, football, baseball – but eventually they both settled on tennis.  They both have had successful singles careers and have played with several others in doubles, but this Spring the two have been steady double’s partners.  Bao is a junior and Shen is a senior so their days together as tennis partners are winding down.  Next week may be it and the moment has not been lost in my heart.  All season I have watched them compete with equal feelings of joy and amazement.  Joy to see my two sons work together and do so well.  Amazement to realize that twelve years ago these two were running around the playground of an orphanage on the other side of the world.  Joy to be their father and amazed by a God who could make it all happen.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Why I don't like April Fool's Day

Two reasons why I don't like April Fool's Day: One, I'm not a good liar (which I suppose is good since I'm a minister) so it's difficult for me to pull pranks , and two, I don’t like being made a fool.  That can be a good thing too since the Bible doesn’t speak very highly of fools.

The book of Proverbs uses the word fool more than any other in the Bible which makes sense since its purpose is to make us wise, the opposite of being a fool.  A fool is useless, lazy, always dependent on others, mistake prone, and gets in a lot of messy accidents.  It's not a good thing to be a fool, but how does one actually become one?

There are many paths to foolishness but one sure way is mentioned in Proverbs 14:16 , "Fools are headstrong and reckless."  Fools don’t listen to others and they have no restraints.

In college, a friend and I had an internship at a church about an hour away from school.  One Sunday morning we jumped in his car to be there for Sunday services and as we approached the turn to the church I told Art we need to make a left.  He just sailed by.  When I told him he responded with the comforting words, "I know but my brakes aren’t working well."  We were in a car with no brakes.  I never told my mother that story.  Moms are not too fond of their sons driving in cars in with no brakes, and rightfully so. 

Imagine buying a car and as the salesperson rifles through all the options and perks he casually mentions that the car does not come with brakes.  How ridiculous would that be?  Brakes are not an option, they’re a standard feature.  Every car has brakes and every life needs them too. 

Fools live their lives with no brakes!

There are a lot of "no's" in the Bible and sometimes we are critical of God for all his prohibitions.  But really these "Thou shalt not's" are the braking system for our lives.  Wise people know that life is full of twists and turns and stop's and go's.  Wise people know that brakes - prohibitions - are vital to a safe trip.  If you really think about, even cars without brakes eventually stop -- usually when they run into a wall, or a pole, or another car, or when they fall in a ditch.  When fools stop it's really messy and a lot of people get hurt.

There may be some things in your life that you need to put the brakes on.  It may be sex, or greed, or pride, or alcohol, or lust, or drugs, or anger.  So, use your brakes before you crash!

A fool is reckless.  A fool never uses his brakes.  A fool ends up hurting himself and others.  Don’t be a fool.