Larry Norman died today.

I just heard some sad (happy for him) news. Larry Norman is dead. He died this morning at 2:45 a.m. If you haven’t heard of Larry, you should know that he’s literally the guy who started Christian rock and roll.

The original Jesus Freak. He didn’t do the peace sign, but as a leader of the Jesus Movement, pointed the index finger toward Heaven, signifying “One Way.” He helped lead a movement.

A legend. With Jesus. The Jesus Freak met Jesus face to face this morning. Would’ve been fun to see.

Some memories…

  • In college I hosted a “Thief In the Night” party. We all sat in the Wilkie basement with Kevin on the guitar and sang, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” a song he helped make famous.
  • We saw DC Talk sing the song a few months later…and saw the video where they reverently met him.
  • I was sitting at a concert during GMA Week in Nashville in ’95 and a man behind me asks if I’d watch his jacket while he stepped out to take some medicine. It was Larry. I was in shock. We talked all through the show…Rebecca St. James debuted “God” that night.
  • That night he was asking a mutual friend about taking a cab to the Dove Awards. I asked if he needed a ride. He did. I took him. How cool? I woke him up with my 3 p.m. confirmatioin phone call.
  • We talked for the 30 minute drive to the Grand Ol’ Opry. Got McDonald’s. We got there and we went to the security desk to get back stage. I had press credentials…he didn’t. They weren’t going to let him through. I told the security guard, “This guy started this industry…you can ask anyone here.” She leaned in and asked if I was serious. They let him through.
  • Back stage he introduced me to the hordes that were walking up for hugs and hellos. “Have you met my good friend Matt?” he often asked. Seriously. It was amazing. Among the those that night, guys ranging from Toby Mac to Andre Crouch.
  • A few months later he played at my church. He played the Dave Weston piano. Incredible night.
  • He called a few times after the show. I had a message on my answering maching, “Hello, Matt, this is Larry Norman…”

Forgive my name dropping…but that was one cool guy and I was freaked out I got to know him if even for a bit.

He loved his fans…never sold out. Was a little quirky (understatement). Had some extreme opinions. Loved Jesus.

Rest in peace my righteous rocking friend.

College students still stay up late and like Chili’s

I learned some things this week.

Seven days ago I was in Phoenix at the Master’s Commission Conference, I then went to Dallas (Waxahachie) to spend time with students at Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Yesterday I was in chapel at Evangel. Busy week.

I’ve spent a lot of time with college (age) students lately. Here are a few things I learned…

1. I’ve heard it said that “this generation is overpreached and underchallenged.” I think today it’s more like “Challenged but underfacilitated.” Yesterday a student told me, “I’ve wanted to do something like a Convoy of Hope Internship for a long time but didn’t know how.”

2. Still…some are bored with the thought of missons. They like the concept and agree it’s a good and necessary thing, but aren’t sure how it applies to them if they’re not “called.” I guess perhaps that’s not necessarily news, but I saw it this week. How should the “normal” person who doesn’t preach or feel led to fill a passport connect with missions?

3. There is passion when there is buy in. I saw some people near me in Phoenix who are passionate about Guitar Hero. They don’t worship it, but they sure like it and spent a lot of time passionately playing. They’re a part of something cool. I don’t want to create a missions video game or anything, but it got me thinking…

4. Chili’s has good Fish Tacos. I enjoyed them with some very cool students from SAGU.

It was also fun seeing a friend who works hard. I worked with Pastor Ornan in the Dominican Republic…in a pretty tough place. He was in Phoenix last week and told me how much Convoy of Hope helped his church last March when I was there, and broke the news that he’ll be building a new church soon…cool.

An overview of our interns in 2007

I’m not living in yesterday, but wanted to share a quick overview of our interns in 2007…


Convoy of Hope JoshWe launched with two interns this spring. After one went home with a pre-existing sickness, we finished with one. Josh is a great man and I was proud to see him pave the way. He and the field guy, Sean, worked hard in the Gulf doing Katrina relief and then in Uganda helping refugees.

Our summer team grew to eight and they worked very hard in El Salvador doing outreach and building bio-sand water filters at schools across the country. The team also worked in Indianapolis, IN at an outreach that helped 4,500 people.



P1090107And finally, our fall team of nine is in the midst of incredible ministry. They worked in Charleston, SC, and the Philippines (I just returned), doing outreach and helping meet physical needs with feeding programs, school kits, and more. They returned late last year from N. Asia where they helped rehab a school and a community center, also connecting with local students who are learning English. 

Catching the chicken

Hey…I just got a Facebook page.  Didn’t really know what it was until last month.  Fun.  Still will post blogs here.  I like the fb thing though.  Would love to connect there…

I returned last week from N. Asia.  What a trip.  The team is doing well and just finished with some hard work.  They’re actually sleeping as I write this, after just touring the Great Wall on their way out of the country.  They’ll be home Friday.

Here’s a short video from when I was there.  After a long day of work, we had some fun as many chased a chicken.  Caleb sure makes us all smile…

I made sushi

I love sushi.

I suppose it was my friend Danny Goodin who turned me on to sushi.  We’d eat at that cheap all-you-can-eat sushi place in Pompano.  He’d throw it down.  I was impressed.  Lots of great times with Joe and Mishael, Jason and many other friends at that spot during those years. 

Here’s a plate full I enjoyed in those days…

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During that time, my friends Ryan and Jen bought me a sushi preparation book/kit.  I put it on a shelf for display…it looked neat.  Then I moved.  Last week I was cleaning the garage (fun vacation day) and found it.  It got me thinking…

I read the book, went to that asian store in Springfield, asked a lot of questions, bought the right stuff and came home to give preparing sushi a try.

Not ready for raw stuff…they say the hardest part is the rice.  I can see why. I figured I’d make that my first focus, and not waste good fish stuff on it yet. Worked on it both last night and tonight.  Last night’s was better.  It’s trickier than I thought and at the same time the process was much more approachable in terms of a non-cook like me accomplishing anything.

Making sushi may come second hand to some of you, but to me, it seemed like something that can only be purchased in nice expensive restaurants or from food bars where it’s been sitting out for what appears to be days.  I guess there’s those guys behind the counter that put it together, but…a guy like me couldn’t do it.

I made my first California rolls tonight…figured that was a good place to start.


It tasted good.  Almost like what you get at that sushi joint.  Another angle of the treat…


Not pretty…gotta work on presentation, I know.

Next…we’ll add some actual fish, smoked eel (it’s in the freezer just waiting), masago (the little orange fish eggs) and who knows what else.  I’ll try hand rolls, the (harder to make) rolls with rice on the outside, then maybe even the normal fish on a ball of rice stuff.

Not sure I’ll be the guy to use much raw stuff though.  We shall see.

It was fun.  Thought I’d share. 


PS:  The team is on a plane heading to mainland Asia now.  They amaze me.  That’s much more important than my sushi story…

We tried balut…

I haven’t blogged in a long time, but when you eat balut, you just want to share the experience.

I just returned from Manila where I worked with our Convoy of Hope Intern team.  We had fun.  Among the fun times…eating balut.

If you don’t know, balut is a partially formed duck fetus, still in the egg and boiled for your enjoyment.  It comes in various levels of development, but ours had the beak, feet, eyes, feathers and more.  Not all ate it, and we could understand why.

Here’s what they egg looks like…


Shannon went first…you can see the video below.


Others followed.  Here’s what the duck looks like out of the egg…


Unbelievable.  We ate that.  With great pride, Nate, Liz and Erin stayed away.  Kevin too…we respect that.  Here’s what they thought of the situation…


That’s the story of eating balut.  When with future teams, I’ll be able to say, “I’ve had that…thanks though.”  Here’s video of Shannon’s tasting:

Good crawfish and a day at the park

I just returned from E. Texas where I worked on Saturday with a Convoy of Hope outreach in the park.  Read to see more about the day. 

Over 1,100 people came to the event in the city known for it’s oil refineries, and really good crawfish. 



The pound I ate tasted wonderful.


 It’s also home to a Buddhist Temple that used to be a church. 



At the event, I met Rodney who had served behind bars for 17 years.  He told me that the event Saturday was what was needed to spark a change in his life. We talked for about 20 minutes, and I introduced him to key people in the area that can walk with him though the next steps.   Great conversation. 



The family and I are off on Thursday to see our friends Travis and Joy ( who have just made a fun announcement on that site that has to do with the number 3, and then to see my nephew for the first time.  He’ll be dedicated on Sunday.


Life is good.


The Office ending on Thursday was shockingly beautiful.

The Dominican Republic was wonderful

On my first international adventure with Convoy of Hope, I worked with Doug Corbett to lead a team to the Dominican Republic.  Wonderful time.  I thought I’d add a photo or two for your viewing pleasure…


I had fun with Emmanuel, and was able to pass on some shoes from Convoy of Hope.  He loved these…

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Handing out food overseas was fun…




We even did some Book of Hope distribution in a school…like the old days…



Families responded well…

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It was fun.  I look forward to next time.

New Orleans…still in huge need

I was in Louisiana last month…and wanted to mention a few things.  That city is still in huge need.  We were in the 9th Ward, where the flooding was beyond severe.  Here are some houses…

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You can see the spray pain on the walls where they went searching for people…the houses you see here had water nearly to the roofs before it started receding.  The house here mentions that they found a deceased dog “1 dead K9” it read…

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We had fun working with some local churches for the God Cares event.  Over 1100 people came, and over 20 adults decided to follow Jesus that day.  It was crazy hearing their stories of how they waited on roofs, on the side of highway bridges, in their attics for hours-days to be rescued.  God’s doing something huge in New Olreans, but there’s still a lot…a lot…a lot to be done.  If you’re interested in working in the area, let me know.

People wated on the bridge you see here, as water flowed through like a river.  We used it to share hope at the event in March. 

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Two great stories from Gautier…

So last on April 16, 2006 Lisa and her 4 kids, along with her ex-husband Damien moved out of the cruise ship they lived on (post Katrina…it wasn’t anything near paradise) and back to Gautier.  Don’t know the struggles they’d had, just know the marriage was over.

The SAME DAY, there was a Convoy of Hope Outreach in the city.  They went.  Skeptical.  Needed the food.  Needed the break.  Fun stuff for the kids.  Went to the connections tent, and Lisa heard about Jesus.  Felt love.  Accepted Him.  Her life changed.  Damien did the same.

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They got involved in The Refuge, a church in Gautier, and learned more about Jesus.  They loved this new normal.  In front of the church…Damien (re)proposed.  Healing.  The officially got married, and will have a ceremony on May 19 to do so publicly.

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I watched the family worship on Friday…they were all focused on Jesus, tears pouring.

On Saturday, Damien helped at the outreach in 100 ways, as did the two older boys, and Lisa…helped in the connenctions (i.e. prayer) tent.  She prayed with people for hours, and was able to share this new life she had, from the perspective of someone in that seat a year earlier.

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Wonderful people.  I want to get to know them more.  When the story is typed up with quotes, and more details, I’ll link to it here. 


Last Monday (April 16) Leroy died.  Seriously.  They found him unconscious in front of his FEMA trailer, with NO VITAL SIGNS!  They called paramedics, and prayed for him like crazy.  The pulse returned (after more than a minute) and he’s now dancing with joy at the life he has.  Literally…dancing…in this photo.

God is good…

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