My older boys are crazy about NASCAR. It all started years ago with Will’s love of cars. Most of his first little cars were Matchbox or tiny replicas of various makes and models, but a few were official NASCAR cars, painted with the numbers, sponsors, and driver signatures. These official cars quickly became his favorites; he didn’t even want to play with the others. A seed had been planted, and then when Will and Nate were four and two we took them to the Pixar movie CARS, then later that same month we moved to Florida, where every third vehicle is decked out with NASCAR paraphernalia. It was the perfect storm and NASCAR fever was already burning in their little hearts. But their fan hood was cinched forever when we made the pilgrimage to the mecca of racing: The Daytona International Speedway. It was only an hour from our home, and we thought the boys would enjoy the museum, seeing the real life cars, and a ride on the track (it was in a tram, not a stock car). Well, they enjoyed it alright! They ate it up with the fervor of teenage girls at a boy band concert. By the time the tour ended at the checkered flag stage, they were both seriously hooked. We walked away wondering if the pilgrimage was such a good idea after all.
My husband was raised with a much greater emphasis on manners than I was. I don’t remember ever saying “yes, ma’am” or “no, sir” growing up. My dad was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force but somehow he didn’t stress formal manners at home. We lived in southeastern Michigan where it seemed no one observed formalities of any kind–I certainly wasn’t the only one neglecting to use ma’am and sir.
Last week I had the privilege of attending the National Prayer Breakfast, which of course is a lot more than just a breakfast. There are so many highlights that I’d like to share that I’m going to list my top ten; otherwise this post would take up too much of my time and yours.
- The breakfast was opened with the Lord’s Prayer in Cherokee, and those humbling words of submission have never sounded more beautiful.
- The sincerity of Tony Blair’s faith paired with his polished British wit made him a VERY hard act to follow. Read his address here.
- Every week many Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House put aside their political differences and pray together on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, respectively. It is not reported in the news. It is not meant to be public. But if you have the opportunity to hear the faithful members talk about how much these weekly prayer breakfasts mean to them, you cannot help but be encouraged. I loved seeing Democratic and Republican members interact and talk about their prayer breakfasts. They may not agree on everything, but they love each other as brothers and sisters. John 13:35 says that disciples of Jesus will be known by their love for one another. Some members of Congress are living this out better than many church communities.
- If you ever, ever have the opportunity to hear Casting Crowns live, seize it. Listen to a sample of their music here.
- There were something like 4000 people in attendance for the event, representing all fifty states and over 170 countries. I thought it was pretty cool to sit in the same room with the President of the United States and the First Lady, but even cooler to think, that in a sense, the world was gathered for prayer and breakfast.
- The National Prayer Breakfast has been a tradition since Eisenhower was President, which makes last week’s event the 57th of its kind. The President of the United States has attended each year, but I would guess never to a warmer reception than President Obama received Thursday.
- The National Prayer Breakfast is not a Christian event, but it is a Jesus Fest. Jesus was proclaimed over and over at all of the meals and events. I heard people from Fiji to Finland to Egypt to Pittsburgh praise the name of Jesus and His message.
- On Wednesday afternoon I was down at the Washington Hilton and had some time to kill before dinner, and since my life is divinely orchestrated, I happened upon a little gathering for Prison Fellowship Ministries. I heard Chuck Colson speak about prisoners in Sudan embracing the gospel message. I heard about the growth of Prison Fellowship in the Middle East, and about PFM’s Centurions Program, a distance learning, in-depth program which aims to help believers authentically live out biblical truth. Learn more about PFM by clicking here.
- William P. Young, author of The Shack, was also at the Prayer Breakfast. I heard him speak about how the first million copies of The Shack were mailed out through his buddy’s garage, and how he spent less than three hundred dollars on marketing. He also touched on some of the criticisms of his book. I have a hard time relating to people who can become enraged over a work of fiction. It’s not that I believe that Mr. Young nailed every single detail, it’s that I don’t think it matters. If people are spurred to think, to talk, to wrestle with some of the very deep theological principles that are addressed in The Shack, then what is the problem? But I love talking about it; and blogged about it last summer. (Click here to read it).
- On Thursday night the event ended. After dinner, speakers, and more Casting Crowns, the Kendrick brothers gave away hundreds of copies of their DVD Fireproof and their book The Love Dare. And then one of the brothers closed in prayer. He asked everyone who was willing and able to kneel, and two thousand people got down on their knees.
It used to be that people didn’t talk openly about sex or how much money people make or how much a woman weighs, but now sex is a primary topic of conversation, and many people’s salary and measurements can be found online or even in line at the grocery store. Since I did some last-minute Super Bowl shopping yesterday, I stood at the checkout counter long enough to learn that Jessica Simpson’s weight gain is the most important thing going on in the world.