They pull in every afternoon in their Mercedes SUV festooned with homemade political signs and carrying custom made bikes.
They long for the day when there will be no skatepark here, when there will just be a lovely park with a bike path that good and holy people like themselves can enjoy without having to deal with the unwashed masses.
She, in particular, hates the kids.
You can occasionally hear loud profanity from the young ones as they engage in the rite of passage of learning to curse.
They don’t do it well, but they can do it loudly.
This offends her Christian sensibilities.
The fact that most of them are either drop outs or on the edge of dropping out doesn’t bother her.
The fact that you can hear story after story about how their parents broke up doesn’t bother her.
The fact that some have to spend as much time keeping their shoes intact from completely disintegrating as they do skating doesn’t bother her.
The fact that a couple of them slept here last night doesn’t bother her.
What bothers her is seeing and hearing the “scum” when they come to the park.
I’ve tried to help her understand, but understanding would ruin the narrative she holds dear.
Because I’m usually the only adult there, she holds me responsible for all she loathes.
“If you were a decent parent you wouldn’t allow your boy to be here. You wouldn’t sacrifice your child for the good of scum.”
I reminded her that if another Father hadn’t done exactly that we’d all be go to hell.
I felt good and holy and much better than her for saying so.
That’s when T skated over and asked if we could give one of the most troubled kids a ride to pick up some stuff.
No, I thought to myself…he’s bad news…he’s sc…
That’s when I thought I heard thunder.
Hypocrisy is a tight fitting garment and one size fits all.
The boy was much appreciative of the ride.
I was thankful for the sacrifice of the Father, without which I’d be sharing a condo in hell with a mean woman and her bike.
Maybe she’s covered too…
Make your own application…
Well done big brother.
Thanks, Dusty. 🙂
Great Pic. Could have been on the cover of Thrasher back in the 80’s.
Thanks, Josh…he’s getting his legs back under him.
““If you were a decent parent you wouldn’t allow your boy to be here. You wouldn’t sacrifice your child for the good of scum”…
Seems to me, your bringing your boy there is helping him live out the faith you’re instilling in him. Obviously he didn’t have any problem helping out the “scum”.
And that is a great pic.
This quote has been in my head this week…
“The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?”
T has much more grace than I do…it was the worst of the bunch that took him under their wings and taught him skating without teaching any of their lesser habits.
They treat him kindly and me respectfully.
They are actually very protective of him at times.
Grace brings out the best in everyone it touches…
Dallas…that is gold.
EEK! That quote is an ouch. Source?
That is so good to hear.
If I recall correctly, I first came across it in the intro to Bonhoeffer’s Life Together.
scratched my sarcasm comment here… just tell her that the park is not her backyard
who knows what good fruit will come of the seeds planted by Michael and his little man, nor can we guess when…
This woman and I have gone around…she and her husband are not nice people.
She’s outraged at the moment because the police didn’t come and arrest kids for cussing when she called them.
She was expressing glee at the thought of one kid being deported…until finding out he was a Native American.
My fear is that someone is going to vandalize her Mercedes while she and her husband are on a bike ride…I might try to stop them.
All four of my sons have rejected Faith in Jesus –for now— and listening to their conversations is very enlightening…
The Pharisee like attitudes of many church folks is repulsive, off putting and damaging. I am certainly guilty of such arrogance and forgetting my own sinful estate, having been saved and preserved completely by Grace Alone.
Lord help us all to remember that God loves people. Encouragement and kindness go a very long way towards softening hearts and giving people hope in this life.
And per the other thread, yes, boundaries at times, when needed. Boundaries with love and humility.
We so easily forget where He found us…
You don’t just take in stray cats under your wing but lost boys as well. That is commendable.
I want to be like you when I grow up. 😉
still praying for your boys Paige. May God hear our voices….and the cry of our hearts.
I still prefer the cats… 🙂
Thank you sweetie, Dusty. VERY good to see you here. Lord bless you…
Big brother, you have raised an incredible young man.
Michael #17 lol
you big softy,
I’m guessing that there is not much you wouldn’t do to help these boys.
The school where I teach is similar to your skate park. The gulf between where the students “live” and the “church” is growing wider each year…guess which party moved? The answer isn’t correct theology. Love incarnate is.
“Hypocrisy is a tight fitting garment and one size fits all.”
true….but ouch! 😉
i’ll bet Jesus would choose a skateboard over a Mercedes… Michael needs a bumper sticker, too: “Jesus loves skateboards more than cars” just jok’n… i think…
so glad dusty is back here … makes things here seem more normal 🙂
Gilbert’s said….” The answer isn’t correct theology. Love incarnate.”
God help us.
Filbertz!!! Not Gilbert . My apologies, kind sir.
Oddly, I think actual correct theology will lead us to love incarnate. And nothing else will.
After 8 years of being in skateparks here in the valley there is no evidence that any churches have ever been planted in the region.
Tomorrow is our big day at the Medford skatepark…the annual “Medford Mayhem” competition.
Trey looks forward to it like some kids look forward to Christmas…all year.
There will be a large and motley group of scary looking people and they will play terrible music loudly from large speakers.
It will be a day when there are more tattoos than trees in the park.
Nice people will avoid it like the plague.
We will bring homemade cookies and water and look as square as the day is long.
I will enjoy it immensely.
“Oddly, I think actual correct theology will lead us to love incarnate. And nothing else will.”
I agree 100% with Josh – this general ‘love’ will get you nowhere. A Muslim, Jew, or Hindu can show all kinds of ‘love’ to the lost — and they will still be lost.
Preaching / teaching the word to the lost is the only form of love out there.
“Preaching / teaching the word to the lost is the only form of love out there.”
You have to earn the right to be heard…and that starts with loving people where they are.
Michael said, ‘After 8 years of being in skateparks here in the valley there is no evidence that any churches have ever been planted in the region.’
save that one small pickup backed in tailgate down proud papa sitting there with a case of water and a huge heart and backbone stronger than any person I know to back up his purpose and words. proclaiming God in word and deed…
Where two or more are gathered there He is in their midst…you and t make two…..and we are there with you in spirit.
“Preaching / teaching the word to the lost is the only form of love”
I’m not nice, but I’m willing to show up…
Hi paige and em, good to see you both. (((((hugs)))))
“Grace brings out the best in everyone it touches…” Amen, my brother, Amen!
Well then it becomes a competition to see who ‘earns’ the right to speak truth.
Jesus did just the opposite of what you proposed – he placed roadblocks to the gospel to those he thought undeserving of hearing the gospel message.
I guess I would be terrible at skate park evangelism since I believe God’s word goes out and accomplishes its purpose.
Jesus healed and fed people along with his message.
Jesus met the present need so people could hear what He had to say and know that he cared.
I’m big on the Jesus Way.
I’m not big on making kids read a tract before they can have some water…
“You have to earn the right to be heard…”
When Jesus feed the 5K – he made them sit through his presentation first – and they had no expectation of being feed.
When they had the expectation of being fed – Jesus clammed up.
Giving water to the kids is a good thing – I just hope you are not trying to ‘buy’ their ear.
Michael, just keep doing what you are doing. You don’t need to justify a damn thing to that woman, or to MLD.
“Giving water to the kids is a good thing – I just hope you are not trying to ‘buy’ their ear.”
Most of the time I’m too broke to buy water this year…I’m simply trying to keep kids from having heatstroke.
I don’t “evangelize” the kids…Trey sometimes does when he sees an opening.
I stay in the parking lot and let them do their thing…I only show up if someone gets hurt or needs something.
My job is to be present and to be kind…and hopefully earn enough trust to speak into someone’s life at some point.
Thank you. 🙂
Trust me, I have no intention of changing anything…except my own crappy attitude at times.
I have not asked Michael to stop doing anything – I have not even said what he does is wrong.
Good stuff Michael. Keep being who you are.
Thanks, Alex…I’ve tried being someone else and made them look bad too… 🙂
I’m off for the weekend…blessings on all of you.
We have a competition to get ready for. 🙂
***That’s when T skated over and asked if we could give one of the most troubled kids a ride to pick up some stuff.
No, I thought to myself…he’s bad news…he’s sc…***
But, recognizing that someone is bad news doesn’t necessarily mean you view him as scum either.
The neighborhood I live in is on the lower end of the economic spectrum, and basically every kid that hangs out at the park comes from a broken home. I try to be nice to them and such, but that doesn’t mean I don’t also recognize that they have a lot of issues and, as Calice gets bigger, there are situations in which I would not want her playing with them. That doesn’t mean they’re scum.
But, either way, the christian lady of whom you wrote sounds like a real winner. :/
Thanks, I had a hunch that was Luther. My wife and I are about to watch a movie about Bonhoeffer this evening (Agent of Grace).
The one you mentioned I’ve not heard of, I’m assuming that’s a book?
I remember when I resembled the lady described.
Then my self-righteousness began to be dealt with.
And it still is.
Lots to digest here Michael. I think many Christian parents might have different approaches to the atmosphere you describe at the skate park. You have been placed there and have history with the kids. Thanks for sharing.
I purposely qualified “love” with “incarnate.” Should remind one of John 14:6. The only correct theology is one that is lived, and that is summarized by love. One could argue that the Old Testament is full of correct theology…but why would Jesus take on the incarnation? My students couldn’t care less what the church up or down the road, or even across the street, believes, but they can tell when someone loves them and moves into their space.
sorry, wrong reference…John 1:14
I’ll never understand how one can read the Bible and insist on an either/or dichotomy on this topic.
Jesus used the words truth and love equally. And we are told to speak the truth in love.
John the elder rejoiced to hear of the elect lady’s children walking in truth. (Read 2 John for a taste of the importance of the word). Likewise, there are plenty of verses about the importance of love being our calling card to the unbelieving world.
For that matter, get the concordance, and go through the Gospel of John. Count up all the uses by Jesus of love, and all the uses by Jesus of truth.
It is not either/or, it is both/and.
The challenge is to put this into practice as the Lord leads in our close relationships, as well as our chance encounters (and whatever is in between). There is no challenge in understanding what the mandate is….for it comes straight from the Lord and His example.
“full of grace and truth”
Great verse to illustrate the point..
#39-alright that does it, now i’m angry, pie hat… 🙁
i don’t see Jesus showing up in a nightshirt, hands outstretched saying, “come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden”…
i see Jesus, appropriately attired for the venue, sitting on the tailgate with Michael and praying to the Father for some pray-ers to cover the situation with what they do best 🙂
and when at last these kids stand before Him and say, “where you God?” He’ll answer, “in the skatepark with that guy who brought water for you…”
for the record, this is something that this granny more than likely could not do and, if young T didn’t have the right mentor, he shouldn’t be there either… however, he does have the right mentor – what a wonderful perspective on life that lad is getting – as well as a great mental and physical outlet for a kid who colors outside the lines
sigh… i was already on my last nerve… do you know that a pit bull “talks?” – they sound like the dirty old man on the old Saturday Night Live show… the walnetto guy? working in the kitchen, listening to my daughter’s food obsessed, geriatric dog do that non-stop for 45 mins (her way of saying she wants some of whatever it is that’s cooking) brought me here ready to whack someone or something and i picked on poor MLD…
p.s. the question was meant to read, “where were you God?”
Well I agreed with Josh earlier and it got me in all kinds of trouble. Let’s see what happens now when I declare I agree with Steve.
I certainly agree with steve…he agrees with scripture. But, my point is with the practical reaching out to non-religious culture. Try to lead with truth and see how far you get. Lead with love and you may well find truth gets a hearing. This has consistently been my experience.
Filbertz 58! That is what I thought you meant in the first place. Thank you for spelling it out for those who didn’t “get it.”
My #27 was not trying to disagree with fil. I thought his comment was thought provoking and deserving discussion.
My point was more to back up what fil was saying. He said “correct theology” isn’t what will reach people. Love incarnate will. (basically)
I agree!. My point was that if my theology doesn’t lead me to show that love to others, then I have incorrect theology. If my theology doesn’t lead me to actually follow Jesus is showing compassion to the down and hurting, I should scrap that system and start over.
MLD then started a discussion on the methods how that love plays out. I don’ have any argument with him either, just wanted to clarify that I wasn’t as concerned with the method as he is.
Great though fil. Thankful for the discussion it has generated.
An example would be Driscoll back in his hey day. HE WAS ALWAYS A JERK!!!. Always. It didn’t just pop-up years later that he started being a jerk. HE was a jerk from day one. But everywhere you heard about said…welll, he’s a jerk. Sure. But he has GREAT theology. This is from big names like Piper.
I always thought that was ridiculous. How could he have have great ideas and thoughts about God that lead him to abuse people in the name of Jesus?
His theology was rotten, which lead to everything we’ve seen since.
Forget Driscoll and them – I am more concerned with Mormons etc – who are great at providing “LOVE” for the sole purpose of luring their prey into their deadly system – as in ‘later will come the doctrine’
You cannot find a system that better provides ‘welcome’ to people who might as well slit their own throats.
I am not going to have a ‘love in’ competition with Jews, Muslims oe New Agers to see who has the ‘right to be heard’ – Jesus is the one who has the right to be heard and his word will convert people – not my love or relationship methods – which is no more than an extension of Finneyism.
Telling people about Jesus is not like pledge week on a college campus.
that was not to Josh – just general to the entire conversation.
reading and rabbit trailing a bit here, i guess…
the lady on the bicycle who wants to own the park and kick the kids out is wrong (bet she’s a Calif. transplant 🙂 )
adults affirming kids as human beings of worth is never wrong – not too sure i’d give them rides to run errands, tho… might not be a good errand… dunno, tho, do i?
God doesn’t have a right way of bringing people to the Faith – He’s used some pretty strange tactics/maneuvers on some of us
the Mormon faith is strange… they are full of fair play and integrity until they think or imagine that you’ve crossed one of their own, then they quietly and nefariously circle the wagons… … Al is wise to stay on friendly terms over there – IMX they’ve got dirty tricks and getting even down to a science… but that’s just like a lot of “good” people – in general, i guess…
There are times to share the Gospel. There are times to give a cup of water to a child. The two do not always go hand in hand.
Costco – I was playing off this comment;
““You have to earn the right to be heard…”
Now, this is not only untrue – but if you could still find a Christian bookstore, you would find shelves of books giving the proper method to do so … none of which we find in the scriptures.
I will need to go back and check – I wonder if Stephen had earned the right to be heard – but I know it put a bug in Saul’s ear so a short time later, that same word converted him.
I am all for giving the kids water – but I must ask the deep questions — they built a park with no water fountains? 😉
I invite you to come and give your Gospel message today at our competition.
If anything happens, I always carry a first aid kit…
Michael, well my ‘method’ must work better than yours – I have never encountered violence while speaking to anyone about Jesus. 😉
The most resistance I have ever had was people saying – “no thanks I am not interested.”
You’ve never delivered your message in a skatepark with a hundred kids flying around wanting you to get the hell out of the way…
Well I am not a street evangelist so I don’t work in traffic. But I would bet the kids could be engaged one at a time – even if it was to sit next to one on a break and ask – “what do you think of Jesus Christ?”
All I know is that Paul spoke to tougher crowds and faced the consequences without permission.
But hey, my success rate is probably the same as a Harvest Crusade – perhaps 1%
I don’t say we should demonstrate a loving attitude towards people to prove Christians are more loving and therefore, have earned the right to be heard more than Mormons, etc. I say we should demonstrate a loving attitude because it’s the right thing to do.
Having had no father growing up, being a latch key kid and having raised myself, I was once was just like one of those kids at the skate park Michael.
The skate park is all these kids have to be good at something and be appreciated.
They also get to “belong” to something that is “them.”
What a bonus that they get T and you.
Love and acceptance along with tolerance speaks volumes to these kids.
On location you become what we call “a father of Israel
God’s representative, His hands, His feet, His mouth.
My scripture since 17 yrs old:
(God) A father to the fatherless…
We all have a need to be loved, cherished, protected, and valued. Ideally, an earthly father will meet those needs.
But even if he doesn’t, God will.
God has a special place in His heart for the orphans and fatherless (Deuteronomy 24:20; Jeremiah 49:11; James 1:27).
Psalm 27:10 says,
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.”
God knows that many times earthly fathers have been absent or have not done their job (Ephesians 6:4).
He offers to fill the role of a Father (John 6:37; Deuteronomy 1:31).
He invites us to call out to Him when we are in trouble (Psalm 50:15), to cast all our worries on Him (1 Peter 5:7), and to enjoy His company (1 Corinthians 1:9: Psalm 116:1; 1 John 5:14).
He models for us the characteristics He had in mind when He designed fatherhood.
Although many times earthly fathers do not live up to the ideal, God promises that, in Him, no one has to be without a perfect Father.
T is blessed.
The skate parks dudes are blessed.
They have the Father modeled for them, through a man of God’s yielded submissive live who allows God to love them through his presence there at the skate park on God’s behalf.
A man of God loving sons who most likely know not the love of a father.
Praise God they get to see T and his father and get to experience “Family.”
God bless you!!!
A glass skate deck at the skate park!