Thursday, April 12, 2007

FCA at Park View

I just got back from an awesome night. I was honored to be asked to come to Park View and speak at their Fellowship of Christian Athletes group. These people are just amazing. Lauren, one of their sponsors is just great. All of the teens who showed up were outgoing and really ready to have fun.

I'll step back for a second. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a bunch of people who are semi-interested in sports and just get together to huddle, talk, pray and just bond together. Every month they have a big "game" event. They invite people from all around, both Christian and not, to play a game and introduce them to FCA. I really hope they bring in some more people, though the core group seemed pretty amazing on their own.

Apparently they were discussing this meeting and asked me to come speak. I haven't mentioned it before mainly because this is the first time I've talk to people outside of church and didn't want to sound like I was the only person who could talk. Somehow they came down to me though, and I was really honored to put together a talk on friendship.

While I enjoyed the talk, and really pray I connected to at least one or two people, the whole thing was rightly centered on playing a variant to kick ball, and everyone was out to really just have fun. I really hope that some of these guys came away feeling closer to the people there than when they came.

Anyway, I figured for those interested, I'd post what was essentially my talk. I tried something new, memorizing the talk and key points and working through it. While my opening joke bombed (note to self, don't plan opening jokes, I'm enough of one without adding to it), I think the rest was decent. But the way I spoke it definitely changed to meet the audience. It was so fun, I almost died playing games. I'd be honored to, again, to see them again.

If you are in high school, and Sterling, check out the Park View FCA. They have some incredibly welcoming members and great leadership.


Let me tell you something about my experience with sports. I know it'll be hard to believe but I've played golf with Tiger Woods and professional football with the Redskins. Ok, it was on my Wii, but isn't that the same thing?

Seriously, the only thing I know anything about is football. I've gotten the chance to go to a bunch of Redskins games and I've learned a bit from that. I even shocked my wife when I mentioned that the next play would be a pass since they were all lining up in shotgun formation. She was stunned into silence since she didn't think I ever paid that close attention. Yeah, my wife is the football fan and I'm the woman in our marriage (smile).

Heck, it only makes sense. When I was in middle school I was pretty reclusive. I had one friend really, and he didn't go to my school, which meant that I was pretty much on my own. It's not like the kids were mean or anything, but we all tended to have our own lives, and I wasn't a part of theirs. There was even a rumor that I was gay. It lasted all through middle school. That's pretty much popularity suicide. Thank goodness I went to a high school where no one from my middle school ended up going.

What does that have to do with anything? Not much really.

Except for what happened during high school.

During high school one girl came up to me in my first semester during class and became my friend. There was absolutely nothing romantic. Oh, and the whole idea that guys and girls can never be friends really isn't true, they can easily be friends without romance, but anyway.

She was a sophomore and knew, pretty much, everyone. That's not all that hard when you got to a high school of 350 people. Anyway, I met a couple of her friends. While I knew them, what Mariama gave me was much more important than simply meeting some other friends. She showed me that it was possible for a stranger to care about me, to be willing to approach me and make me feel welcome. She taught me how to care about another person even though I know nothing about them. She gave me confidence that I really am interesting and worth something to strangers.

It's still hard for me to come into a new place, knowing no one, and talk to them. But at least I'm willing to do it now. Before you'd never catch me talking to a stranger. Seriously, that makes it downright impossible to meet girls.

So, why do I believe in Christ?

It's because my life has been changed because of my relationship with Him. I feel more comfortable and secure knowing that He is there helping out.

While I was growing up, even when I said I believed in God, I also believed in luck and chance. I know that if I didn't look out for myself no one else would. I saw how we all have connections between each other and the world around us. I've even wondered if there is a God and whether Christ really was the savior.

What if believing in God is more about how we treat each-other than it is about there actually being God?

The way I know God is here is that He has helped lead my life for as long as I can remember. Through the people I've met, like Miriama, through the ways my life has been blessed, and even through the connection I feel to Him during church. It feels right that He's there and is taking part in my life.

I also know that I just need to believe in something and that God makes the most sense.

What's so hard about that though is that it's ALL based on belief. I can't prove to anyone that god exists, not even myself.

If I'm not sure about myself, the things I do and the decisions I make, how can I be sure that I'm right about my belief in God? Yeah… I've been there.

God brings people into our lives who help build up our self-confidence. One of the greatest things that can happen in your life is to recognize that you're an amazing person. Once you recognize that you are amazing just the way you are, it doesn't matter what other people say or do to you.

How many of you know someone who is lonely, sad or hurting? If there's something I know, it's that even the people who seem completely sure of themselves, are the most beautiful or are the most popular hurt just as much as I do. All of us are insecure about something.

What's great though is when we get to go up to that someone and talk them up. We are able to let them know, specifically, how they are special and unique. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is the promise that no matter what anyone says, they are exactly the person they were made be, even as a total screw-up. Once we accept how amazing we are, the people around us begin to see it too. I changed from a complete recluse into someone who's proud to have an obnoxious laugh that people can hear from one side of the building to the other.

After I made that leap it was much easier to be confident that my beliefs are right. I was finally able to bring God into my life.

The beauty of Jesus is that you have a friend. He's a friend who unconditionally cares about you, no matter what you do. It's about a friend who will hold your hand and stand behind you and even hold you up high when everyone around you is making you feel like crap. My entire life transformed from the inside out, when I was able to accept Christ's friendship.

So, all of this talking leads me to one question.

Are you an unconditional friend? Are you ready to let someone be that sort of friend to you?

Peace,

+Tom

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