July 27, 2010

Extraordinary People

Greetings from the deep end!
There are a few times in a person’s life when, for a brief time, they are paired up with truly extraordinary people. For the past four months I have had that privilege with Shawn Michael Shoup. I have written in past blogs about most of the process of my family and I coming to Rapid City and Destiny foursquare. What I have not written about, until today, is the caring heart and gracious attitude of the man whose position I will be carrying on. I am truly humbled to have spent time with such an extraordinary man. Perhaps a little back story would help the reader understand why I feel this amount of praise is necessary.

At the end of April of this year, I found on the Foursquare website a job opening here in Rapid. I wasn’t sure if Rapid was a place we wanted to go to and I didn’t even tell Pam that I had emailed. It was simply a request for more information. Pastor Brent wrote back that he would like to pursue a relationship with me and Pam to see if God had a plan for all of us. Things progressed. One day I opened Facebook to see that Shawn had invited me to be a friend. Knowing that Shawn was the current Youth Minister I didn’t know what to expect. I accepted the friend request and one way or another Shawn and I began a Facebook email dialogue. Shawn was open and honest in answering my questions about the staff at Destiny, about the youth program here and about the town in general. He never hesitated to give me advice and opportunity to find support and to grow as a youth minister. This was all before Pam and I had our first meeting with Pastors Brent and Tani Parker.

It was obvious to me that Shawn cared very much for his youth kids and wanted to make sure that they were well taken care of in his absence. It was also quite evident that Shawn had a heart for encouraging, networking with and training youth pastors. Over the next weeks, Pam and I had the chance to talk at length with the Parkers and were invited to come to Rapid to visit the church, meet some of the people and get a feel for the Rapid/Destiny situation.

I met Shawn in person first thing the morning after we arrived. I came to the church early for music practice as I was to play the acoustic guitar that morning. Shawn was the first person I saw. We were dressed in like fashion. Both in black button up shirts, jeans and fashionable footwear. We are both very stylish men. That is to say, we both have wives that make us look good. He introduced himself and helped me get set up for music. Meeting with him that day was not an uncomfortable experience. He was not aggressive towards me. He was not hostile as some men would be when faced with the person who could possibly be the one to carry on the work that he had spent over nine years building. Shawn was humble and friendly. That in itself is worth all of the praise I could give to a man, however, my story is not yet complete. In fact, Shawn and I had only begun our time together.

That Tuesday, Pam and I had not yet been hired but we were feeling more and more that this is where God was leading us, I found myself in Shawn’s office. That morning, instead of spending his time doing what he usually did on a Tuesday morning, he spent the time we had showing me how to be a better youth pastor in Sheridan. He introduced me to Twitter and the networking system that opens up. He introduced me to a myriad of online services for youth ministers and he started handing me tangible resources off of his wall. Shawn had no such obligations to me at this point, but as mentioned earlier, Shawn’s heart is for the mentoring and building up of youth ministers so they can better build up their students so that in the end, God be glorified.

That Wednesday we were offered and accepted the position at Destiny. From that day on, I do not believe that there was a single day when Shawn and I were not in communication about one thing or another, from his youth kids and their needs to how the Destiny youth program is run to how to better utilize online programs and applications so that I could be a better minister for my youth kids in Sheridan and for the Destiny kids when I arrived. For four months Shawn has been dedicated to helping prepare me for the trials set before me.

The last month of my life, my first month in Rapid, was spent working in tandem with Shawn. Not many people would be comfortable training their successor. They would feel threatened by the presence of the new guy. If Shawn felt this way he had the grace and patience to not show it but rather to become my friend. Over the last four weeks Shawn and I have worked and sweated next to each other. We made phone calls and emails and texts and Twitter direct messages to each other at all hours of the day and night so that we as a team could better serve the youth of Destiny Forusquare.

Today and tomorrow as Shawn and his family leave Rapid City to pursue the new adventures God has placed before them, I feel sad. My friend is moving away, and I will miss him. Not many predecessors have the integrity and personality that would make the person coming in not want them to leave. It is with this blog that I share my feelings towards one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known. I believe that I will end with this, I believe it is fitting. It is a quote from Pastor Scott in Sheridan, his signature farewell:

Grace, mercy and peace to you and your family, my friend. 

July 24, 2010

Petra Means Rock

Greetings from the deep end!
As promised on Facebook and Twitter one week ago last night, this is my Petra blog.

Twenty years ago, I was seven years old. My friends had introduced me to Petra. A rock band that all of their high school aged brothers and cousins were excited about. I begged my mother to get me what I believed was their first "tape" (a music storing device not as nice as a CD with much less to offer than vinyl) called Beyond Belief. Later I would learn that Beyond Belief was their 12th of album of what would become 21 albums.

Through Petra's music I was introduced to some of the greatest song writing in all of rock music history, via Bob Hartman. I was also introduced to a kind of religion that wasn't about looking real and sounding real but actually getting into the dirt, digging deep, and regardless of mistakes or past sins, being real. Much of my early learning and questions about God were spawned from questions from Petra albums. I learned early with my second Petra cassette that what it means to really be a  man is to be willing so fully surrender to God and His will (This Means War!).

As time went on, around the age of 15, I began to play guitar. I still, 12 years later, cannot play much of what Bob Hartman wrote but I began to search out music to find where I fit. Interestingly enough, I found my home in Christian Rock. Cutting hard metal with biblically solid lyrical background. Four years later I found myself going to college to become a worship leader. Listening back at those first Petra albums that I listened to when I was little, my sound is quite similar. It is evident that the music I listened to twenty years ago is still influencing me today.

As I was growing up there was never an opportunity for me to see Petra play live. A few years ago when I heard they were going to retire I made peace with the fact that I would simply have to wait for an encore performance in heaven. I know what some of you are thinking. THERE WILL BE NO ROCK MUSIC IN HEAVEN!!! I would disagree. I believe that God gave rock and roll to you, and me for that matter. Besides that, God created the sub woofer and I believe that in heaven "22's" are measured in feet not inches. I was gonna skip over all of the biblical characters and just snag John Schlitt and Bob Hartman and have them play for me. Selfish perhaps, but I figure the line to smack Adam would be too long anyway.

That WAS the plan. Shortly after accepting the new job in Rapid City I checked the Hills Alive web site and almost passed out when I looked at the main stage line up and saw a picture of four men. Two I had never seen before, two were men I knew the likenesses of quite well. The caption at the bottom of the picture simply said, Petra.

So, last Friday morning, I woke at ONEcamp. I got up with the kids, packed my bedding, helped pack camp, returned to Rapid City to unload trucks and trailers, take a quick nap and be on the fence in front of the Hills Alive stage twenty minutes before Petra came on the stage. I screamed more than I should, was impressed that the father of Christian Metal guitar still played practically flawlessly, that John Schlitt could still hit all but the very highest notes (the ones that would have broken glass) and that they sounded just like the tapes, CD's and LP's that I have listened to all my life. I stood at the fence, I leaned on it for most of the show, I could reach out and touch the stage right monitor that Mr. Schlitt was using. At one point in the show, Mr. Hartman came to center stage to do a solo, he saw me taking a picture with my phone, leaned towards me and smiled. This was the best show of my life.

Perhaps what touched me the most, and many people may not understand why, but at the end of the show, I was talking to a friend back stage just outside of the back stage fence and I saw Bob Hartman leaving the stage area. He was carrying his own guitar, in a soft case.

The reader at this point may be considering whether or not Derick is over glorifying men. Perhaps a little idol worship is going on here. I say dear friend, that is not so. I simply believe in giving credit where credit is due. I am blessed to have been able to witness the fathers of Christian rock play in my lifetime. These are men who were faithful to the Father when all of Christianity thought they were of the devil. They were obedient when most of the church would have rather had them excommunicated than rock with them. I believe that it was through these men's ministry that I am able to lead worship from the electric guitar and minister to kids the way that I do. We practically had concert style audio at camp last week. I am convinced that if these men had not done what they did, and God had not used another rout to bring freedom to the worshiping masses, that youth camp last week would have been 84 teenagers with hymnals and an old organ.

July 14, 2010

Fell in the Pond.

Greetings from the deep end!
I actually was in the deep end yesterday. Well, kind of. It only came up to my chest. I guess that I'm getting ahead of myself. Bring on the whirly-wiggly-fuzzy-edge-of-the-screen effects and let the story fade into sepia tone. It is time for a little back story.

I am and have been at Kamp Kinship in the Black Hills of South Dakota with Foursquare ONEcamp (dang, that's a lot of titles) since Sunday afternoon. Shortly after I arrived I took a moment to view the camp pond from a window in the sanctuary. I told Shawn that I wanted to go swimming. He laughed a little and said something along the lines of, "see that eight foot circle of rope? That's the swimming area." My plans to go swimming vanished instantly. I did notice, however, that the camp has a few paddle boats and kayaks. I thought that kayaking might be a fun thing to try.

Fast forward to yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. I had nothing better to do, my kids were either at the zip line, the rock wall or the pond and I thought a nice leisurely trip around the pond would be a nice, relaxing thing to do. I get down to the pond where life guard Amy immediately spots that I am a trouble maker (she has no idea) and gives me the quick, "you gotta wear a life jacket that was made for a guy 1/32nd your size if you are gonna boat". Me, being quick to follow the orders of a sixteen year old with a whistle threw one on. It only smelled a little like fish and B.O. I was waiting on the dock when my kayak arrived. It was the smallest one on the water. A little tiny voice in my head said, "Maybe you oughta wait for a bigger one there Sketch". Sometimes my inner voice calls me Sketch. I told Inner Voice to shut up! I've been on lakes and water and boats my whole life! So I kneel down on the dock, Lyle is holding the boat steady for me. I get my feet in and without really thinking about it drop the rest of myself into the seat.

Have you ever had a time where you thought to yourself something along the lines of, "Wouldn't it be (crazy, weird, funny, crappy, etc...) if...." and then the thing you were gonna think of actually happened. As I slid into the boat it rocked to the right pretty hard. Inner Voice said, "Wouldn't it be interesting if..." Then the water started to rush into the boat with me. Water doesn't belong in the boat with me. I belong in the boat with me. Water is neither welcome or invited to the "me, myself, and I" party in the boat. Water crashed the party. Hard. As the water rose and my head started to go under the water I imagined Lyle on the other side of the boat helping it along. I would have if I were in his shoes. The life jacket that was meant for a person 1/64th of my size joined in on the fun and began choking me. Lyle got the boat right side up enough (THANK GOD FOR LYLE!!!) that I could kick my way out of the boat. I immediately ripped off the murderous life vest, put my feet down and stood up. The water came to mid chest. I looked down and was very glad that I had remembered to take the video camera out of my pocket (THANK GOD AGAIN!!!) My staff badge was full of water and one of the students that was swimming a little ways away said, "Hey Derick! Your puffer is floating behind you!" THANK GOD AGAIN!!!

That is my story. It happened mostly like that. I am now dry and nice smelling again. I was able to remove all sand and pond weed from my shoes, clothing and person. Didn't really learn anything here but you know what? I would be really embarrassed about this if this kind of thing didn't happen to me so regularly.

“I didn’t do it, nobody saw me do it, you can’t prove anything.” Bart Simpson

July 2, 2010

Home Sweet... Car?

Greetings from the deep end!
I was reminded today of something that happened last week while we were still at the ranch. We had parked the RV a couple of days before and I needed to start it to check it's level. I moved back the curtains in the front of the RV, turned the drivers seat forward, jumped in and fired up the beast. Xander ran to the front of the RV and screamed a little. I looked over and saw that he was quite worried. I laughed a little. Well, I am going for the father of the year award and laughing only a little when a situation is HILARIOUS earns you points towards that award. Anyway, I explained to him that it was supposed to start and make those noises. He stopped and thought a bit. He got the most amazing quizzical look on his face, furrowed his eyebrows and pointed to the "captains area" in the front of the RV and said, "Car?" I couldn't help myself, it was too funny to not laugh. I can see it in my minds eye as I write this. "Yes Xander, it's a car." I replied. It didn't sound quite like that as it was filtered through sporadic fits of mirth as I calmed down from the comedic shock that had set in as a result of his statement; "Car". Didn't really learn anything about growing up this time, but it was a cute story that I thought I would share.