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are you a puddle jumper…….

April 9, 2014


I loved mud puddles. We lived in a very muddy place when I was a child. From the age of four until halfway through my fifth grade year I lived with my family in Neodesha, Kansas. A small community nestled where the Fall River and Verdigris River meet. The town gets its name from an Osage word meaning, “The-Water-Is-Smoky-With-Mud.” I kid you not. The rivers were muddy but so was the ground. No wonder it had so many mud puddles. They go with the name.

Getting muddy and messy was just part of life. Great adventures were always around the corner. We lived on the edge of town just down E. Oak Street. I was always told that if we lived just a few homes further we would be outside of the city limits. It was a great place to grow up. Surrounded by water. We had a pond near our home and it wasn’t far to the Verdigris River or Chetopa Creek. With all of that water there were also plenty of trees. And lots of mud.

I returned home many an evening covered from head to toe. I remember playing so late one night that by the time I returned home the family had already eaten and it was time to go to baseball practice. Needless to say I was a muddy mess that night. I never was much for baseball, mud was more fun.

Recently a close friend’s called me a puddle jumper. Actually a “radically” puddle jumper. I thought about it for awhile and I liked it. It made me think about the mud puddles of my youth. You couldn’t show me one that wasn’t worth getting into. One time my older brother Lane dared me to step into a muddle puddle in the field beside our home. I wouldn’t recommend doing that while wearing galoshes. Your mother may have to come and pull you out. She might even take a moment to insure she documents the event with a camera. Somewhere the photo does exist.

There is something carefree about puddle jumping. Something innocent and fun. There is a lace of concern with how one looks to others. Our world needs more puddle jumpers. Maybe that is what Jesus meant when he told his followers they need faith like a child. Maybe he wanted puddle jumpers. People of faith doing crazy things in His name for his glory. I thank my friend Bron for making me think about puddle jumping. I plan to jump in today. I can’t wait for the mess. Want to join me? My goal for the next few weeks is to add my puddle jumping adventurers to my blog. Pray for me that it goes well. The kingdom needs adventures, risk takers, those who are not afraid to get dirty in the puddles of life.

God bless.


A Cold Glass of Water

March 26, 2014

waterI have learned. It has taken me time but I have. I have learned that when traveling by plane drink the water. Resist the temptation to enjoy a cold Coke. I am much better off just drinking water. When I drink the cola I always end up with the “SEAT BELT FASTENED” light on and me in desperate need of the facilities. It always happens. We are taxing down the runway taking our sweet time and all I can think about is where is the restroom when we deplane. TMI? Probably so but this is what I was thinking when the flight attendant asked if I would like a drink recently.

So on my way back from Tulsa it was all water all of the time. But this got me to thinking. The water was better for me but there was nothing glamorous about it. Just plain, old bottled water. As I looked at the cheap plastic cup with the airplane logo on the side I was struck by the ho-hum nature of the experience.

Then I thought about Jesus saying he was living water. I don’t think there is anything ho-hum about Jesus but he did say that he was water. Nothing glamorous. Water sustains your life but it isn’t fancy. It made me think about Jesus. Practical, yes, necessary, you betcha, but is Jesus also simple and plain? Then I thought about what we expect out of worship and at times out of life if we follow Him. Fancy? Flashy? Exciting? Water? It really got me to thinking.

I appreciate water, I need water. I appreciate Jesus? I need Jesus. Maybe I should spend less time trying to discover flashy and earth shattering and a little more enjoying the simple sustenance of life. What do you think? Am I out of line taking a look at Jesus this way?

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7:27-39

I believe Jesus is telling the truth but maybe my expectations for what the Holy Spirit will be like are all confused? I’m looking for something spectacular? Vitamin water at the very least. I wonder if a lot of our Christian troubles today are because we are looking for flashy water instead of water that sustains our life? I don’t know, just some thoughts from a plane ride home. God bless. Oh, and if you missed the Tulsa Workshop you missed being blessed. You should really plan on making it next year and if you go by plane, I recommend the water.


I Skipped Wednesday Night Bible Study

March 13, 2014

I did. This might not have been as big a deal if I wasn’t the one tasked with leading the discussion. It might not have even mattered if we were going through a book of the Bible but we aren’t. We started a study discussing the book Seven Things You Better Have Nailed Down by Robert Wolgemuth, and I believe I have the only copy.

So there I was at a basketball game instead of the Bible Study I was supposed to lead. It happened rather suddenly. Around 4:15 my cell phone rang, well more like buzzed, and I answered it. I know, almost a minor miracle. Anyway, it was my good friend Kyle. He wanted to ask me to call our mutual friend Heather. You she she had called him to ask if we would call and have me call her.

He wasn’t sure why she wanted me to call but she insisted I do so before 5:00. And so because I love Heather and her smile and her nature I made sure to call before 5:00. Heather wanted to let me know she had a basketball game at 6:00 at the DMS gym. Okay, not a problem. Well, at that moment I didn’t think it was a problem. I would go to watch a little of her game and then head over for our Wednesday evening study.

That is until I arrived at the gym. It was full of people playing basketball. It was full of lots of people playing basketball that I knew from school and the community. Kids that wanted to high five and talk, adults sponsoring and playing from the Delta Volunteer Fire Department. It was a night for Special Olympians.

It was then that I knew this was where I needed to be. Heather wasn’t even sure when she was going to get to play but she was glad I came. She told me she knew I liked basketball. So I stayed as long as I could before running up to the building. It was a little before 6:30 and I asked those gathered if they would mind if I skipped our study. I am so thankful for my fellowship. They really get what it is all about. They more than understood. I was able to run back in time to see Heather play.  To watch her shoot and score. To steal the ball. I was there in time to give her a hug and tell her good job. She is a natural. She could probably teach me a thing or two about basketball. At a minimum she could help me with my attitude.

So, I skipped Wednesday Night Bible Study, and I will do it again if given the chance.

God bless.


I Can Come to Church?

March 11, 2014

rightMaybe it is just me, but sometimes I think I forget. Yesterday I ran into one of my homeless friends around town. I saw him and went out of my way to say hello. It was fun and I gave him a hard time. I figured he wouldn’t recognize me outside of our building since it wasn’t breakfast.

The interesting thing is when I saw him the thought hit me that I needed to invite him to church. Now that is a bit embarrassing. I am in the invite people business and yet it struck me that I had never really made sure this young man knew he was welcome to worship with us on Sundays.

That is when it got interesting. You see he was surprised that he could come. He was shocked that I asked. It got me to thinking, how often do I assume people know they are welcome to come? How often do I not even think to ask? Certain types of people I have no problem with but those on the fringe? Do I forget?

Homelessness is not a dirty word. They are not lepers and even if they were, where would Jesus be? I’m pretty sure I know how welcoming he would be and here I am forgetting to make sure he knows he can come.

I pray he comes. I know we will make him feel welcome. I made sure to repeated the invitation this morning over breakfast.

I have to remember that not everyone knows. Some have experienced the same religious types that Jesus did. Those you find in places like Luke 7:36-50. They couldn’t believe Jesus would allow a sinful woman to wash his feet with her tears.  Keep this in mind next time, I know I’m going to try.

Do you know of someone you need to invite today? I pray they say yes as you invite them into a relationship with their Creator through Jesus Christ.

God bless.

I Didn’t Want to Go

March 3, 2014

runningThat is the truth. This morning as the clock ticked ever closer to 10:30 I didn’t want to go. I don’t really know why, maybe I just didn’t feel like it. And yes you can say “feeeel” just like that since that is how I was saying the word when I typed it.

I don’t go every Monday. If I am busy or have something else scheduled I don’t read with the 4th Grade students in Mr. Magner’s class at Garnet Mesa Elementary. Today I didn’t have anything scheduled. I was working on my sermon for Sunday. I was planning out our Sunday morning messages up to Easter. Yes I do plan some. I also have a book I am reading for our Wednesday night Bible Study. I really wanted to read the book instead.

In the end I ignored my feeeeeelings and went anyway, and I am so glad that I did. Duty called. I never know who I will be reading with but today I had the chance to read with a young man that I really enjoy. We read an entire book together. That doesn’t usually happen. I quizzed him on what he read and he remembered the entire book. That was awesome. I was glad because I knew I could send him back to class with an opportunity to move one step closer to his AR goals.

I also had the opportunity to drop off some Nutter Butter cookies to the ladies working the front desk. I had mentioned that they missed them last week when I brought a box for the janitor and cooks. They were bummed so I decided to make a quick stop at Walmart to take their bummerness away (I know it’s not a word but I like it so there).

In the end the time I spent motivated me to go to Delta Middle School for lunch. Not bad for a day that started with me not feeling like going….

Watch What You Say

February 28, 2014

studyI am struggling today with what I said. I’m not sure if it was good or bad. One of the things you learn when dealing with people from all kinds of backgrounds is that their experience influences how they take what you say.

Today I was doing some volunteer work in the schools. There is a young man that I have known for years. I originally met him while serving lunch at Garnet Mesa Elementary. He is one of those kids that you make a connection with and so you keep track of them. Today I was asked to help him study for a test. He assured the teacher that he was ready. That he had been studying. That he didn’t need any more preparation. The teacher said we should go over the material to be safe.

It became very clear very fast that he wasn’t ready. After going over the material the teacher asked me if he was prepared. I told the teacher that he wasn’t. His face revealed immediately that I had broken his trust. That some bit of the relationship we had exited the room. That a safe person just revealed himself to be like everyone else.

He shared enough of his story that I guess I should have known. Should have understood. Reminded me that relationship trumps grades in my line of work. I understand where he is coming from. I didn’t think that my attempt to motivate him would backfire but I’m pretty sure it did. So I sit here wondering about what I said. Praying that I can repair the relationship. That I can be someone he trusts. Someone he knows that cares.

I guess I should have done a better job watching what I said.

Phys Ed Teacher

February 25, 2014

basketballLooks like I might need some new business cards. I am going to be teaching basketball skills to some students at a local one-room school house. I wonder if this is how Bill Self got his start….. well I know it isn’t so, maybe John Wooden…..

Anyway, yesterday I was called and asked if I knew anything about basketball. I mean, do I know basketball? Well maybe not enough to teach it but certainly enough to play the game. To love the game. To jump at a chance to teach the game. Can you imagine a bunch of elementary kids learning the left-handed jump hook? Maybe not, but I am still thankful for the opportunity. A court full of baby “Cleves”…. Sorry if you didn’t go to school with me in St. John, Kansas that won’t make any sense at all.

How did this happen? I was open to the opportunity. I go past the school whenever I walk to work. When I do I feel this tug to go inside and volunteer. I finally answered the call. At the end of last year I stopped in and asked if they could use a hand. It took some time, some fits and starts, but yesterday I received the call.

So just call me Physical Education Instructor Darin Hamm. Cue the Harlem Globetrotter music and send me some YouTube videos on teaching kids the basics of basketball. I’m pretty sure we won’t be running full court or teaching them Phil Jackson’s triangle offense any time soon.

Remember, be open to the Spirit, you never know where He might lead. God bless.