Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year in Review Part 3

Bigger Picture: Bernie Madoff's life just kept getting worse. As evidence of his huge ponzi scheme became clearer everyone was dumbfounded by the size of it (ponzi just sounds like corruption). Thankfully as a recent college grad and a student minister I had no millions to have squandered by him.

In My World: Alicia took her NCLEX test. The test is just a big shiny way of the US deciding whether or not you get to be a nurse. Anyways the precautions to make sure people don't cheat just make the test more stressful. Everyone that Alicia and I talked to said they had a breakdown after they took it and they were sure that they failed. I bet you could make a ton of money offering counseling sessions outside of the testing facility on test day. Well, sure enough Alicia passed with flying colors and started working at Anderson Mercy Hospital like the next week.

In Student Ministry: ISAIAH 117!!! This was one of my favorite things from the past year. We had such a great time serving our community and just growing with Students. Everybody worked so hard. It was just such a God thing. The neat thing is that cool Kingdom of God coming to Earth kind of stuff is still happening because of Isaiah 117. If you are wondering what the ISAIAH117 CHALLENGE was/is go read Isaiah 1:17 and that will sum it up pretty well. Basically we spent a week trying to Glorify God by learning to do right in our community.

Oh and CIY Move was awesome too. Joe, Kyle, Lindsey, and Jess... Can you say SARDINES?

Bigger Picture: The Bengals made Cincinnati proud by capturing America's attention in this year's addition of Hard Knocks. During the show Chad Ochocinco blessed us with new catch phrases like Kiss Da Baby and Child Please. Which were really cool until someone besides Chad Ochocinco said them and then not so much. Still the best Bengals memory form August was Chad kicking not only an extra point, but also the ensuing kick off in a preseason game. SMH.

In My World: George Frank and his wife Cassi went to Ireland. It made Alicia and I very jealous. Don't worry we got over it.

In Student Ministry: The school year was just around the bend so we had a Student Ministry Movement seminar for our parents and ministry leaders. The Chicfila was definitely a highlight. My favorite parts of it though were having students there serving our parents and leaders, having time to talk and pray with the parents of our students, and getting a chance to share my passion for growing students to be Engaging Christ Followers. A lot of good things came out of that Saturday afternoon.

Bigger Picture: Parkside's river campus opened up. The whole process of the River Campus coming about was a God thing. It was real privilege to be a part of the process. It is great what God is bringing about in our lives, at Parkside, and in the Kingdom of God. I still love it when someone asks me, "How many Parksiders were at the River Campus this Sunday." (The correct answer is ALL of them at the River Campus are Parksiders).

Oh and how could I not mention Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift at the VMA's. I would offer up my thoughts abut when I first saw it, but I don't want to get dogged by Kanye on his next album. Come on though Beyonce's video was the best video of all time right? File that whole incident under "Things I Don't Care About"

In My World: I Rick Rolled the staff at Parkside. I thought it was all fun and games until I came out to my car and Bart had slit my tires. He didn't really, but he totally could have.

In Student Ministry: Rel Community and Friday Nights at the Crossing got kicked off for the school year. Our volunteers and group leaders have done an awesome job all year. It has been so incredible to see students come to the Crossing on Friday night and a few weeks later end up coming to Rel Community and joining a group . Its awesome to get to see people who are passionate about their relationship with Jesus share their story with students who are trying to figure out what life is all about. Its definitely one of my favorite parts of my job.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Year in Review: Part 2

Bigger Picture: Chinese officials discovered an extra 500 miles of the Great Wall in China (this isn't a joke.) They had originally thought it was 5,000 miles long, but after studying it and finding new parts of it they found out it was 5,500 long. Crazy huh? I can't remember the last time I misplaced 500 miles of wall.

Also, how can we not include the Swine Flu. When pigs stop oinking and start sneezing, we should all be very concerned. As it turns out we weren't even calling it by the right name. H1N1 is apparently how it wishes to be referred to. This would eventually lead to Chad Ochocinco referring to himself as H8N5. The NFL didn't need to fine him though because they had already sent him his monthly fine in the mail.

In My World: My dad and I got to go see the Reds Opening Day game for the first day. The weather was cold an rainy, and the Reds ending up losing, but it was an AWESOME Experience. We went to the Findlay Market for the Parade and got to meet Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez and Frank Robinson. There's nothing like an Opening Day in Cincinnati!

In Student Ministry: In April we took our middle school students up to Anderson, Indiana for an event called Believe which is entirely geared towards middle school students. We also met up with Ben Orcutt who goes to college there and goes to Parkside. We didn't get any sleep, but I don't think anybody wanted to either. Paul B. got to go onstage for a magic trick. Coy F. told everyone that he sweats blue sweat, we didn't believe him and then he started sweating blue (some things even science can't explain). To top all of it off we got to have some really great worship times, and we learned about the book of Jeremiah.

Bigger Picture: Everyone in the world stopped to watch and find out who would win American Idol. We all learned that night that Paula Abdul should not go back to being a performer. Adam Lambert lost and Kris Allen won. However the real winner for the night was Idol and Fox who made a TON of money on the social juggernaut that is American Idol. Is it scary that more people in America recognize the name Sonjaya than recognize the name Rahm Emanuel?

Oh and this is good stuff. Manny Ramirez fails a drug test and gets suspended for 50 games. The story behind the story you ask? The drug/hormone that Manny had in his system that caused him to fail the test is the same hormone that a woman has in her body when she is pregnant. It is literally the same hormone that most pregnancy tests look for to tell if a woman is pregnant or not. So you have to ask yourself, was Manny looking for a competitive edge or was he really wanting to have a baby? You just can't make this stuff up!

In My World: May was Graduation Month for my family. Alicia graduated from NKU, and my younger brother Josh graduated from High School. At Alicia's graduation a local author gave the commencement speech. It was hilarious (except he was serious.) Pretty much to some up the hour of time he rambled, he said that the world was falling apart and not only would none of them have jobs, but college doesn't really prepare you for life. It was great! Anyways, he was wrong and now Alicia is working at Anderson Mercy.

Alicia and I also got to go up to Detroit for a day to see the Rangers play the Tigers. We had a really good time and had great seats.

... and of course how could I not include Alicia and I getting a dog! We got a miniature Dotson named Hans. He is a great dog who like all dogs has an unhealthy obsession with squirrels.

In Student Ministry: We had a graduation breakfast just for our HS grads and their families. It ended up being a special time for everyone to celebrate the accomplishment. I loved the opportunity to congratulate them and to challenge them to grow their faith even stronger as they went off to school. Randy Shivers spoke at the breakfast and was very insightful. He was able to share so much because he had known most of the graduates since they were born. How awesome is that?

Bigger Picture: I remember getting back into the states at the end of June and seeing all of the news talking about the Riots and Protests in Iran. It was interesting seeing how Social Media like twitter and facebook had changed how we cover global situations like the one in Iran.

Michael Jackson unexpectedly passed away as his upcoming tour was almost here. I actually found out about this on Twitter before I saw it anywhere else. Didn't we all think it was a joke at first? I kept waiting for everyone to say it was fake. So Jackson jokes and Neverland punchlines went on a hiatus, and everyone who wasn't a Jackson fan turned off their TV's for the entire month because really and truly their was nothing else being talked about on TV.

In My World: June was a whirlwind. Alicia and I were part of a group that went down to the Dominican Republic for a 11 day mission trip. It was an awesome experience and I was so glad Alicia was able to come along.

I actually can't remember anything else that happened in June. The trip was a really big time consuming thing for me. It was the first trip I had led that was outside the US. It was a great trip. We took 36 people and it really was incredible. I am almost positive that nothing else in my world happened because it was so busy with the trip.

In Student Ministry: As you can see above the Student Ministry went to the Dominican Republic. Here are a couple of things that I thought were highlights:
  • Hearing Justin White share his testimony.
  • Having one of the HS Girls find a HUGE tarantula in her bunk on the last day we were there.
  • Paul Bledsoe's Waffle Iron Joke (Ask him and he'll tell you it).
  • Building the house for the camp there.
  • Getting to see our students work extremely hard, and be Jesus' hands and feet even when they were tired.
  • Getting to play softball against the Dominican's (Brogan went yard to deep center, and then his dad Greg popped up to the pitcher)
  • Everyone getting home safe and sound.
Playing Softball.
Paul Bledsoe reacting to our bus breaking down.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Year in Review: Part 1

Bigger Picture: Barack Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States. We all stopped to watch. Then everyone stopped chanting, "Yes We Can!" and started wondering, "Can He?"

In My World: The Buckeyes lost a heart-breaker to Texas (I could cry right now just thinking about it). I also read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Solid Book.

In Student Ministry: We found out that Brian Roberts wasn't the worlds best skier. I am sure something spiritual happened, but Brian almost dying his first time down the mountain kind of qualifies right?

Bigger Picture: Everyone was very very unhappy when the Pittsburgh Steelers did this...

I still don't believe in Steelers fans. They are either non-human or just confused about football. Anyways they barely won and Ben Rothlisberger went to Disney world.

On a whole it wasn't a good month for sports either. Everyone found out that A-Rod did Steroids and Michael Phelps got suspended for another kind of drug use.

In My World: I had a question for the Forest Hills School District. When I called to ask, they put me right through to the Superintendent John Patzwald. I was so shocked and surprised by their amazing service that I immediately voted for every School Levy in Anderson Township for the next 20 years.

Alicia and I went to Montgomery Inn and it was good. We also got to talk a lot about the future, having kids (No, not right now, but we can still be excited right?), and how blessed we were to have each other.

In Student Ministry:Dixie Hazelbaker and the rest of the Rel Community Group Leaders put on an awesome Super Bowl Party. My favorite moments were Kyle Bianco and Company's Halftime Dance and this commercial

Bigger Picture: People all around the globe celebrated Earth Hour by turning off all unnecessary lights and electronics for an hour on March 28th. An hour later they all turned their computers on and blogged about it while they caught up on their TV shows.

Terrell Owens signed with the Buffalo Bills and everyone all of a sudden realized that he wasn't relevant anymore.

In My World: The Buckeyes got upset early from the NCAA Tournament by Siena. That hurt. I also read Mission Black List Number 1 which was a Interrogators account of how we caught Saddam Hussein. Incredibly interesting book.

In Student Ministry: We had an awesome High School Retreat that focused on what makes us, well us. Not only was it a blast, but we also had some great time to reflect and think about how we want people to remember us. We learned from Epehesians 4:10-16 that God has a plan for each one of us.And who can forget the Hug Chug Contest?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Caption Contest

Alright, post a caption to this photo as a comment on the blog. After a few days I'll pick my favorite. Winner gets a free Rel Community or Isaiah117Challenge T-Shirt. Bonus Points to whoever can name the person in the picture too. Have a great Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Philippians 3:12-14

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I think one of the reasons I like this passage so much is because of its comparison to an athlete competing. You can ask my mom, my dad, Alicia, or any of my coaches. I am a competitive person. I HATE it when I lose. Especially when I think that I could have won.

Focus was something I always had to work on and practice. It was and is easy for me to get distracted. I never had that singular focus on the playing field. Athletes who are able to just zone everything out amaze me. They want to achieve something so badly that everything else just doesn't matter.

That kind of focus is what Paul is talking about in chapter three. Earlier in the chapter he says that everything else besides knowing Jesus is nothing more than a pile of trash. The word he uses in Greek for 'pile of trash' is probably more accurately translated as 'pile of animal excrement, (and thats putting it gently). Paul is talking about his absolute desire and focus on knowing Jesus.

He pushes on towards the goal. He doesn't live in the past. He lives in the present in order to obtain the future. He is bound and determined to know Jesus and be with Him.

Recently I have been asking students what they want their legacy to be, or how they want to be remembered. One of the coming things that has come up is how hard it is to actually be remembered for what you want to be. It isn't often that everyone says the same thing about a person when you ask them. Especially when you want to be remembered for doing something with excellence.

No achievement comes easily or overnight. It takes everything you have to accomplish something that lasts or is remembered. Not even Mercury Morris, Don Shula, or the rest of the 1972 Undefeated Doplhins would say that their accomplishment was easy. They would probably say it was the hardest thing they had ever done in their whole lives, but it was also probably the most memorable.

Paul talks about striving to be like Jesus and to know Jesus. We need to be focused on that goal and not distracted by anything else. It won't be easy in fact it will probably be the toughest thing we try in life, but the prize is worth it. Everything else pales in comparison to the hope of knowing Jesus.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brian Kelly, Money, and Priorities

This Christmas season families have gathered together and have begun warm conversations about this year's advent conspiracy. No, I am not talking about the Advent Conspiracy or Kids Against Hunger that we are doing here at Parkside. I am talking about the Advent of Brian Kelly going to Notre Dame. Is it a done deal yet? Who Knows.

This isn't a knock on Brian Kelly blog, or a knock on all of us for being so captivated by the whole coaching situation. I have been checking my twitter constantly to see if C. Trent Rosecrans has any new info or if Brian Kelly himself has announced anything on his twitter page. I don't want Kelly to go, because I like Kelly and I don't like Notre Dame. Still, that is all beside the point.

Yesterday Lance McCallister was talking on WLW about why we can't blame Coach Kelly if he does end up taking the ND job. One of his arguments was who wouldn't switch jobs for twice the amount of money. Especially if its a job you have dreamed about since you were a kid. Lance is totally right and it made me think about something we all do.

I am sure most of you have heard some translation of the quote, "The end justifies the means." or "The end does not justify the means." It speaks to how we achieve our goals or how we make decisions about our career path/life direction. All too often I think people have the wrong philosophy when it comes to decision making. They erroneously think that they have to choose one thing or another. They wish they think they could spend more time with family, but their job is just to busy. They want to give back to their community, but the just don't have any free time. They hate their job, but it pays more than anything else. We are what matters most to us. Our priorities make our decisions, and our decisions make us.

I am no where near close enough to the Brian Kelly situation to be able to suggest I know what the best choice is for him, but I do have a challenge for all of us. Matthew 6:21 says, "Where your treasure is there will your heart be also." What we value most is our treasure and that treasure will be/is our priority." Are we making decisions that reflect our priorities are in line or out of line? If you want to spend more time with family, then do it even if it means you have to make sacrifices. If you want to follow your passion even if you get paid less for it then wipe the dollar signs out of your eyes and follow that passion. If you say you care about helping others then ante up even if that means giving up free time or whatever else.

If you say something is important to you, then make sure it is reflected in your decisions and your life. Because if you say something is a priority to you, but you never sacrifice for it then I have news for you. It's not a priority.

Oh and if you want to be the next UC Head Coach go ahead and turn in your resume because I think Brian Kelly is long gone...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Going to the Dentist

I am about to go into the Dentist Office to have a few cavities. If you know me you know that I hate needles and having to do things like getting cavities filled. So to try and make the situation a little more relaxed I put together a playlist that kind of pokes fun at the situation. Hopefully listening to it during the whole process will make me more relaxed to. Here it is:
Crooked Teeth by Deathcab for Cutie
Armchairs by Andrew Bird
Fitz and Dizzyspells by Andrew Bird
After the Last Tear Falls by Andrew Peterson
Keep the Car Running by Arcade Fire
My Body is a Cage by Arcade Fire
Crying Won't Help You Know by Ben Harper
Ain't No Reason by Brett Dennen
The First Cut is the Deepest by Cat Stevens
Real Men Cry by the Elms
I feel it All by Fiest
Smile Like You Mean It by the Killers
What I've Done by Linkin Park
Getting Better by Mates of State
Run My Mouth by Ra Ra Riot
Trouble by Ray LaMontagne
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel
Keep the Customer Satisfied by Simon and Garfunkel

Thats the playlist for this visit. Any thoughts? Any songs you think that I should add for any future visits?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Great Article on Teens' and Childrens' Dependence on Electronic Media

Here is a wonderful and insightful article that talks through some info on Teens and Children using electronic media. I thought the writer really had some great stuff to say.

Oh and another Youth Minister friend of mine posted the audio from me singing O Holy Night for Karaoke a while back. Take a listen and let me know what you think...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sweet Sixteen Party Turns Sour

The article below is about a 'riot' or 'disturbance' that happened last night at a Club in Cincinnati. The whole situation doesn't surprise me at all. Read the article first and then bounce back to the top to see my thoughts. I think what is interesting was seeing how the adults talked about the whole situation in the article. Here are my thoughts:

  • Why in the world is a 16 year old girl's parents renting out Metropolis for their daughter's b-day party? (Metropolis' Website) I mean take one look at the website and tell me that is the kind of place where you want your baby girl to celebrate her coming of age. This is just one example of a bigger problem. It's not normal to rent a club for your daughter that just happens to also have Chippendale Performers there at a different time in the year.
  • The thing I am least surprised by is the crowd showing up. You can't keep anything a secret with current technology. Even if students weren't inviting their friends by text, you can bet a lot of them were updating their Twitter's and Facebook statuses letting people know that they were at Metropolis (which any other night would be an 18 and up club).
  • Another thing that didn't surprise me is that parents just dropped their students off at Metropolis and just left. It might surprise you to hear that a parent would take their teenage son or daughter to a club and leave them at the door, but from my time in student ministry, parents dropping students off like this is more normal than I'd like to admit.
  • Finally, 2 things that I think are really telling. First off, the line in the story saying that the teens were worse to deal with than the adults. I laughed out loud when I read it. In America Teen's are the big spenders and make most of the big spending decisions in their families today. Why does it surprise us to find out their are difficult to deal with in these situations? Why in the world would they feel so entitled (a little sarcasm in that last line).
  • The last thing that was so telling was that the owner of Metropolis REFUNDED the parents money for the evening. In his opinion the family was the victim that night and their night was ruined. I really don't think the club should have ever rented out their facility for an underage event no matter how big the check was. Still, how did the parents ever think this was a good idea?
Read the article below and realize that this is just one example of what is happening on a much larger scale all across the US. We are enabling our students to 'play' grown-up way to early in their development, and feeding a huge sense of entitlement as well. Pretty interesting stuff.

Article from

FAIRFIELD – A Sweet 16 party at Metropolis night club turned sour Tuesday evening when an estimated 1,500-2,000 teenagers showed up for the private party meant for just 80-100 people.

Those invited to the party began telling their friends through text messages and Facebook posts that the club was holding a free teen night, said Fairfield police Sgt. Don Garrett.

“It got out of control fast,” Garrett said. “I don’t think they expected the electronic deluge.”

Club security turned the teens without invitations away. Many, stranded without rides, hung out in the parking lot. Others became belligerent, police said.

Crowds of teenagers were mulling around the parking lot about 8:15 p.m. when gunshots were heard somewhere in the crowd.

The few police officers scheduled to patrol the party called for backup. At some point pepper balls were shot at the ground to corral the crowd, which began rushing into the mall, across busy Winton Road, even running over the highway overpass to the shopping centers across busy Interstate 275.

In the mayhem, one teen fell over the side of the parking garage to the lower level, but was not seriously hurt, Garrett said.

After rushing from Cincinnati Mills, large groups of teens began hanging out in parking lots at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chipotle, Old Spaghetti Factory, BW3 and gas stations. BP turned out its lights to deter the teens from hanging out around the station.

Hundreds of people walked the area on both sides of Winton Road, which runs past the mall.

Police from countless agencies continued looking for a possible shooter and afraid that fights could begin rushed to and from large crowds.

Several officers carried pepper ball guns and police canines sniffed out the area.

The last large group was dispersed just before 10 p.m. at the Kroger store on the corner of Winton and West Kemper roads.

Club owner Mike Strait was shocked by the evening and said he had already reimbursed the family that had rented this club for their daughter’s party.

“It’s harder to deal with them (teens) than adults,” said Strait, who has owned Metropolis since May 2005. “When they were told it was a private party, they were not happy.”

There were no injuries and it appears there were no arrests.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Morning

This was an incredible weekend for me for a lot of reasons. First off, my dad and I got to do something incredible. We got to go to that town up north and watch Ohio State beat Mich.again. There are so many stories from that alone that I would love to share, but I am sure none of you are all that interested so I'll keep my thoughts on it brief. I simply LOVED having the time to take a roadtrip with my dad. We had so much fun running all over the place and frankly just being childish. It was great. I'll never forget it.

The Game was not the only incredible thing I got to be a part of this week though. I also got the chance to see God do some pretty incredible things this weekend in Student Ministry. On Friday night we had some Turkey Bowling at the Crossing. I head it was a blast and we got some great video (I was with my dad up north so sadly I bowled no turkeys...). The coolest thing from the Crossing on Friday was some conversations our Volunteers had with Students. Our hope and prayer for the Crossing is that it will act as a bridge for students. That they will build relationships with us and other students that will introduce them to Jesus. We hope that for a lot of students that the Crossing is the start of their Faith Journey. Our goal is that they will end up connecting with one of our groups at Rel Community on Sunday Nights. This past Friday night 4 students talked with different leaders and sounded very eager about coming on Sunday Night (And They Did!)

One of the girls from the Crossing even came on Sunday morning and had a great time connecting with our girls in their Sunday morning group. It was great to see! On top of that our sign ups for CIY Believe started and our parents are in charge of the table for Sign Ups. They did a great job and were a huge help. That also freed me up to have the opportunity to chat with a couple of students about making good choices in their Faith Journeys. It was a great morning.

Finally the last thing we need to Praise God for about this weekend happened on Sunday night. We knew that 4 students had said they were going to come to Rel Community that night so we wanted to be sure to pray for them before Rel Community. Let me take a moment to say that we have great group leaders at Rel Community who are super committed to their students. They show up 30 minutes before RC to go over things for the evening and to spend time praying for the students and their groups. Well yesterday in our Pre-RC meeting time we prayed that God would already start working on the students who would be coming to Rel Community for the first time (Little did we know what God had in store for us!).

We finished our prayer time and headed over to the Crossing to greet the students as they arrived. Not only did the 4 students we had prayed for show up, but 8 other students came to the Crossing for the first time. Praise God! He answered our prayer in such an amazingly abundant way. The most incredible part though was how quality our group times were. We talked about Psalm 46 and how God is the Refuge and Strength for those who trust Him.

I just wanted to celebrate with all of you some of the cool things God let us be a part of this weekend. Please be praying for all of the students that showed up for the first time. Pray that God would be working in their hearts, and growing them. Pray that we see them again at Rel Community soon and that they would all experience the LIFECHANGE God has for them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday Morning

Howdy, I hope you are having a good Wednesday, or a good whatever when you are reading this.

Moving Offices
Aaron and I are moving our offices today. Last week Student Ministry and Children's Ministry sat down and decided to end our 2yr. Gang War. The papers have been signed a cease fire has been called. Since then we have realized just how cool Clayton and Paula are, so we are moving into their offices. Maybe I'll take some pictures and put em up once we are moved in, but we are siked because today is moving day! It will be great to spend more time working together to make a difference in children's lives for the Kingdom.

New Switchfoot Album
Hello Hurricane dropped yesterday, and it hasn't been off my ITUNES since. You definitely have to check out the title track and Sing It Out. The passion of Sing it Out is just great. I love the lyrics.

This Saturday @ 3:30 the outright Big 10 Championship is on the line. I am worried about it though, because everything points to a Buckeye Win which means a lot of bad things could happen. The Buckeyes could have a letdown from last weeks great performance. They could be looking past Iowa to THE GAME against Michigan next week. Hopefully I am just a worryer, and the Buckeyes won't forget what is on the line, or that its the Seniors last game in the shoe.

HS Playoffs
Anderson and Turpin both won their 1st round playoff games, but this week both of them have a major task ahead of them Trotwood Madison and Middletown both have a lot of speed. It will be interesting, and I hope they both have great games.

Proverbs 3
I read Proverbs 3 this morning. Here is something I found both challenging and encouraging:

19 By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;

20 by his knowledge the deeps were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

21 My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment,
do not let them out of your sight;

22 they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.

23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble;

24 when you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

No Shave November
Alright its been a week since the shave here is the update.

Yesterday Frank John (10th Grade) came into my office. Last week I had a full beard when he say me and yesterday he just stared at me and said, "What did you do! You had something so magnificent and wonderful and you just decided to shave it off?" - I don't think he is too big of a fan of No Shave November so far.

13 Cavities
Thank goodness my mom doesn't read my blog because if she did she would be mortified right now. I just have to share something catastrophic from my life. I went to the dentist yesterday. They said I had a few cavities. 13 to be exact. I felt like I should be getting fitted for dentures right then and there. The first 18 years of my life= No Cavities. 18-22 yrs old=3 cavities. 22-24= 13 cavities. Is there a Biggest Loser for people with Obscene dental issues? They asked about my dental hygiene habits (I do everything but floss), and after that they tried to make me feel better by telling me sometimes our bodies just change. I am terrified! My teeth could have at least done me the favor of telling me they were going to heck in a handbasket.

Why Small Groups Can Be So Tough
One of the HS Guys I am mentoring started helping with one of our Middle School Small Groups this past week. He did a great job and it was neat watching him connect with the students. We were talking afterwards about how interesting small groups are, especially with Middle School Students. They say some really interesting things (ie- Zach saying, "I brag to my pillow every night, 'I have arms and legs and you are just a pillow for my head to rest on.' ") Still they also have great insights and depth to them.

We were talking about different aspects of our group and one thing we focused in on was positive and negative reinforcement. Its easy to just give attention to the students who act out in negative ways. Its easy to say be quiet etc. Its harder to reward students for great answers or great questions or just for sharing. During this school year though we have already recognized the growth in some of our students from that positive reinforcement. If you make a habit of rewarding students for contributing and participating they will start doing it more and identifying themselves in new ways. Its not the easiest thing to do but it makes a huge difference.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Student Ministry Podcast

Hey guys, Steve and Aaron recorded a great Student Ministry Podcast yesterday with RJ Walker. RJ is a soldier serving in the US Army near Tikrit. He had a week leave and swung by to do the podcast with us. RJ is a solid guy who grew up attending Parkside. The podcast is a great conversation about being a Christian in the Army, and just talking about RJ's experiences.

Go to Parkside Student Ministry and click on PSM Podcasts or just go to ITUNES Podcast directory and search Parkside Student Ministry. Its a great Episode.

RJ is heading back to Iraq on Sunday and we need to be supporting him in our Prayers. I also have his address there. Let me know if you would like to send him a card or a care package and I'll pass it along to you.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday Morning

My favorite band growing up and still today is Switchfoot. For a lot of reasons that I won't bore you with, I just absolutely love these guys. They have been churning out song after song the past few years since getting free from Columbia Records too. They have a new album coming out Nov10th called Hello Hurricane. They started streaming the entire album for free yesterday on myspace. To listen to it click here.

My favorite tracks so far are the title track (Hello Hurricane), Yet, and Bullet Soul. Its a great album. Here is the video from the first single Mess of Me.

HS Retreat
We just reserved the weekend of March 12-14, 2010 for our High School Retreat at Woodland Lakes Christian Camp. We are hoping to find a couple of other churches that want to team up and go together.

Now comes all the fun, exciting, and hard work to make it a solid weekend for our students. Time to start really focusing on the questions like: What is going to be the focus of the weekend? How do we want to challenge our students? How can we give them tools to use and takeaway? God how can we prepare for what you have for us that weekend?

1 Peter 4 and 5
4:7The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Growing up my mom always prayed that I would be self controlled because I was a pretty hyper kid. When I read this yesterday it jumped out to me. I need to be self controlled so that I can focus and pray. Verse 8 is just awesome because it makes you think about how Jesus' amazing love covers us. Redemption is a beautiful thing. 5:2Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock This is a challenge to us as leaders, and a call to be challenged to Christians who need to step up and lead. We need to be eager to serve, to shepherd, and to be examples to others. That's discipleship, and true discipleship lasts.
5:5Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."a]">[a] 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
This passage is especially poignant coming on the heels of verses 2 and 3. There are so many levels to true humility and God has a way of teaching them to us. We need His grace and that should humble us. If we are humble it says that He gives us Grace. I am so glad that he cares for me.

Yesterday Clayton (the children's minister) asked me if I was going to do No Shave November. I told him I was up for it, but I really knew that Alicia would be the one to decide that for me. Luckily she told me I could if I shaved at the beginning. So I shaved late last night and I wont shave again until December 5th (30 days). Here is the picture from day 1. Today I look like a 5th grader. Hopefully by the end of the month I'll look like I am at least 17.

Logos has some incredible Bible Software. It can be pretty pricey, but its definitely quality. Especially if you want to dig deeper into what theologians etc have to say about passages without having to do tons of research. The reason I mentioned it is that they just came out with an IPHONE application that is FREE and it is pretty quality too.

Alright that's it. Go Phillies let's make it to a game 7!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another Wednesday Morning Thoughts and Ramblings

If you want to waste 2 hours of your life

Here is something cool to check out on youtube. Pick out one of your favorite youtube videos and then take watch out of the url and replace it with warp.swf and then hit enter. Its pretty cool what happens. Let me know if you try it.

Work, Life , Parenting: The Ultimate Juggling Act

I went to the Anderson Town Center for the first time last night. It is an incredibly beautiful building. The theatre is gorgeous. The Area Chamber of Commerce held a seminar on parenting. I thought it was a tremendous and even courageous effort on their part. I have it said that Parents just don’t go to things like this (its hard because their so busy). I know its true, because in Student Ministry we have to make a really big effort to get a good parent turnout for a seminar or a panel. All that to say I really applaud the Township for putting something on like this. The speakers, Sharon Guard (Anderson Hills UMC), Dave Brewer (Beech Acres Parenting Center), and Sherry Gibson (Fifth Third Bank) all had good things to say. Alicia asked me afterwards what I took way from it. My first response was that parents don’t have time for things like this (Sadly the event was poorly attended). This morning though I went back and looked at my notes and here are the nuggets I came away with:

  • Take every opportunity to point out your child’s strengths
  • Don’t miss life’s wake up calls.
  • Children and Student Ministers get 40-50 hrs a year with the average child. Parents get 3000 with their child.
  • You have got to make sure your family is having regular meals together

Thanks again to the Anderson Town Center for putting this together. I really appreciated them putting the emphasis on Families.

Yankees vs. Phillies

The World Series starts tonight! I am excited. As much as I detest the Yankees, I am not super upset they are in it either. I will only get upset if they when. There are a couple things I am really looking forward too. First I am looking forward to the former Cleveland Indian’s Aces Matching Up. How did the Indians not win a Series with Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia as their 1 and 2? Also, I am hoping that A-Rod gets into like a 1 for 25 rut (Am I bad person?). Finally, I am looking forward to seeing two incredibly potent offenses facing off against 2 pitching staffs that are good but not great. It should make for a great series with close games. I am calling Phillies in 6 games.

1 Peter 2:1-3 (NLT)

1 So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

I read this today during my devotions. I talked with my guys this morning at breakfast of how being grateful affects your life. Its easy when you have all your physical needs being continually met to feel like you really don’t need or crave anything. It’s a simple thought, but we can not let the taste of God’s Kindness fade in our memories. If we do we will slide back into old habits and behaviors and forget just how much we crave spiritual nourishment.

Check out Clayton’s Blog

Our Children’s Minister Clayton Hershner is great guy. He has been sharing some pretty heartfelt stuff and cool stories on his blog. Check it out.

Middle School Retreat

The retreat was a blast and it was amazing to watch our students connect to God and each other. Look for a blog entry with photos and stories sometime in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Morning Thoughts and Ramblings

On Wednesday mornings I get into the office pretty early from a regular breakfast meeting I have with some students. I tend to get into the office before everybody else does on Wednesdays. It can be pretty boring here during that time frame. So this morning I figured I would just ramble for a while. This will probably be pretty disjointed, but maybe there will be some good stuff in here somewhere.

Angels vs. Yankees
Did anybody else see the awful call the 3rd base umpire made last night? The Yankees blew out the Angels 10-1 so it didn't end up mattering, but it was honestly the worst call I have ever seen an umpire make. I didn't think we needed instant replay in MLB but now I am not so sure.

Middle School Retreat
We are going to be recording a podcast later today that will talk some about the Middle School Retreat and some other things we have going on. I am so excited the Retreat is finally here. We have spent so much time planning and getting ready. Pretty soon the students will be showing up, getting on the charter bus and heading off to Butler Springs Christian Camp.

The Present Future by Reggie McNeal
We have been going through this book as a staff. It is an excellent book talking about the current predicament we are facing in the North American Church. Simply put, not many of our churches are relevant any more. Its a scary thought, and a challenging one. Here is a quote from the book that jumped out at me from the fourth chapter entitled, "New Reality #4: The Return to Spiritual Formation." Reggie McNeal is talking about how we have gotten things mixed up. We teach people how to be a good church member instead of having a real relationship with Jesus. Here is what he says, "Instead of dumping a packet of church club member stuff on them(new visitor/believer), why not interview them about what they would like to see happen in their lives in terms of their spiritual development and personal growth."

I agree with him. Sometimes when somebody asks the right question we give them the wrong right answer. Does that make sense? Let me explain. From time to time someone will come up to me or somebody else on staff and say I want to become a member or I want to start a relationship with Jesus. All to often my response is more about the process than it is the relationship. My response will include something about a new member packet etc etc etc instead of telling the person that they way to join Parkside's family is to get involved and connected to other believers, and the way to get to know Jesus is by talking to Him often and reading the letters He has written us. Good Stuff. Challenging Stuff.

Child Abuse and Neglect
I read an article this morning in the USA Today that talked about a report on Deaths caused from Child Abuse and Neglect between 2001-2007. That number is 10,440. That number overwhelmed me. That number is over twice the amount of US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan COMBINED. The US death rate is also more than double the rates of France, Canada, Japan, Germany, Great Britain and Italy. The sad thing is that most people don't notice when kids die this way.

We can't forget that a huge war is going on within our own borders, and even within our own neighborhoods. Abuse and Neglect don't discriminate. They affect every type of family rich and poor. The tighter knit a community is, the less likely something is going to go unnoticed.

Andrew Osenga
Growing up one of my favorite bands that nobody had really heard of was a band called the Normals. They were great. I loved their musical style (maybe you would call it acoustic rock, or edgy folk???), and it just seemed like their lyrics matched things I was going through stride for stride. Well, yesterday I accidentally discovered that their front man is still putting out music. In fact he has two EP's that you can download absolutely free. They are great too. I have been listening to them nonstop. They are so good I might just buy his other albums too. Who knew I guess people still buy albums.

Quote of the Day
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Middle School Retreat

Before I talk a little about the Middle School Retreat. I have to hold true to my word and update all of you on our 'Office' Fantasy Football League. I lost again this week. Dixie Hazelbaker beat me which is bad enough, but her team name is the Tinkerbells. Yeah that makes it hurt even worse. Anyways she has 2 wide recievers combine for 60 points. That makes it kind of difficult. Now I have gone from 2nd place all the way down to 5th. Yeah not a good week in Fantasy Football for me. Oh Well.

Now to talk about something I am really excited about. This year's Middle School Retreat is going to be special. We are going to Butler Springs Camp with 3 other Youth Groups October 23-25. This is the last week to register for it too. I am not trying to make a blog advertisement about the Retreat. I just want to communicate the passion all of the churches have put into it and our hopes for the impact it will have.

The focus of the retreat is pretty simple. The idea is that your direction determines your destination. We kind of stole the idea from Andy Stanley and a book he wrote recently. In Middle School identity and autonomy are a big deal for students. They are really deciding who they are, and what groups of people they feel connected to. That is a stressful and turbulent process. As we planned the retreat we felt like the circumstances of Daniel were a great example of that truth. Daniel and his friends were taken captive by the Babylonians as youths. Their circumstances determined where they lived, their jobs, and they were even given new names. The thing that was exceptional about Daniel and his friends, was the way they didn't allow those circumstances to seperate them from their faith or from God. They stayed focused, kept their faith in God.

Besides digging into some awesome Biblical truth we have some awesome things planned for the students. The late night games we will be playing on Friday night will be memorable. Saturday promises to bring even more fun during the afternoon sessions. The closing session on Saturday night will be an awesome time where each student gets to take all the knowledge and truth they have heard and get involved. I am pretty excited to see what that will look like.

I am going to go try and make my fantasy football team better so we don't lose to a Disney Character again. If you have any thoughts or questions about the Middle School Retreat let me know. Don't forget to be praying about the retreat too. We need to spend a lot of time praying that it will be relevant to our guys and gals.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fantasy Football Update: I Got Schooled

Chad Johnson would say that my fantasy football team, "Kissed the Baby" this weekend. Frankly we just got outplayed. Here is the scoop:

I went up against Brian Bruemmer this week our graphics/website guy. I was favored by 10 points but ended up losing by ten. My players consistently underperformed and his consistently overperformed. Hopefully I fair better this week (I am playing a team named Tinkerbells. If I lose to them, there is no coming back). Well, congrats Brian.

Here is how the rest of the league did:

Jim Wood def. Andy Sims
Todd Hazelbaker def. Dixie Hazelbaker
John Reeves def. Matt Beighle
Gregg Maloney def. Randy Shivers

Here are the current standings

1. Todd Hazelbaker 2-1
2. Matt Robinson 2-1
3. Andy Sims 2-1
4. Gregg Maloney 2-1
5. Jim Wood 2-1
6. Dixie Hazelbaker 2-1
7. Matt Beighle 1-2
8. John Reeves 1-2
9. Brian Bruemmer 1-2
10. Randy Shivers 0-3

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Work, Life and Parenting: The Ultimate Juggling Act

The Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce is holding an event for Parents this October 27 at 7PM. It is called Work, Life, and Parenting. I have talked with one of the planners and they are very excited about all they have lined up. Here are some of the people that will be sharing:

  • David Brewer, Beech Acres Parenting Center
  • Sherry Gibson, a senior Executive in the banking industry
  • Sharon Guard, Director of Family Ministry at Anderson Hills United Methodist Church

This looks like it will be a very beneficial thing. I am not even a parent, but I am planning on going. I think it will be valuable. Maybe you should check it out too. If you are interested let me know. Afterwards if any one is interested we can all go grab some Graeters or some dessert somewhere else and talk about what the speakers said.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Youth Ministry 3.0

I am reading a book right now by a guy named Mark Oestreicher who is the President of Youth Specialties. The book is a brief history of Youth Ministry, and then a brief look at where he thinks Youth Ministry is headed/Where it needs to go. Oestreicher does a great job of retelling the progress we have made in Student Ministry in the past 50 years. He also is very transparent about the mistakes he feels like he has made during his tenure in Student Ministry.

One of the sections in the book that stood out to me the most was a chapter entitled, "So... How Do We Get There?" In this chapter Mark offers up his thoughts on how Ministries need to adapt and grow how they minister to students. The part that really impressed me was when he talked about being communional (which is way to hard to say). He isn't talking about communion, he is talking about the process of really and truly doing life together. The reason he didn't simply say community, was because he didn't feel like that word summed up all that he was trying to say. Being Communional is not something that happens easily. Here is what he had to say.

Communion is Small
It bears repeating that communion rarely, if ever, occurs in a large setting.

Communion is Slow
It is not rushed. It doesn't happen over night- in fact it's annoyingly patient. Communion doesn't happen on our timetables at all, and it will internally resist all forms of quantification.

Communion is Simple
Not simple to create, but simple in its DNA. It's not flashy. It doesn't flourish with booster shots of technology.

Communion is Fluid
It won't be boxed or sold as a resource or presented as a 40 day plan. It shies away from being defined. It beautifully morphs into variant vibes, seasons, and shapes.

Communion is Present
It demands face time. It hungers for listening. It salivates for shared experience. It lives in the here and now.

(Excerpt from pg 106 of YOUTH MINISTRY 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher)

One of our big adjustments to Rel Community this year goes along the same lines. Last year we tried to put 3 adult leaders with every 12 students. They would meet together and we would tell the leaders to shepherd and mentor those 12 students. This year we still tried to do the 3 leaders for 12 students, but instead of just saying, "Be sure to saty in touch with this 12 students.", We went a step further. This year in each of our groups we are matching 1 leader up with 4 of those 12 students. It is a whole lot easier for a group leader to mentor and develop Rel Community with 4 students instead of 12. They still have group time with all 12 students, but during the week each leader just has around 4 students that they need to be sure to check in with, pray for, and encourage.

I am sure that this change will take some time to start working. I have already heard about some cool things coming out of it. What Mark Oestreicher said about communion being a tough thing to develop is true though. In student ministry our group leaders plant and water a lot of seeds with the hope and prayer, that it will lead to making a difference in a students life. They work really hard, wuth no guarantees that their work will pay off. That's why I appreciate our group leaders so much. They have faith that God will cause lifechange in students lives, if they keep pouring into those students.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Andy's Sermon

I thought Andy said some really relevant things to us all in the Gathering Place this Sunday. For any of you that weren't there Andy talked about Christians being the salt of the earth. What he meant by that (It comes from a passage in Matthew 5) is that we are supposed to bring flavor to the world. We are supposed to be different.

Take some time to have that conversation at your dinner table with your family, or at the lunch table with your friends. What makes you different? How do people know you Believe in Jesus? Are we really any different? Are we relevant, or just a bunch of ignorant hypocrites? What does it mean to be salt? How does Jesus want us to be different? These are all vital questions to be asking ourselves. I don't ask myself them enough.

I just wrapped up talking with a senior who is going to be getting baptized soon. He really showed some maturity in our conversation. He is going to use his baptism as a chance to tell and show all of his friends, just how important Jesus is to him. He sees his life as an opportunity to reveal God's glory to other people. I think he is starting to truly understand what it means to be salt, and that is what being a worker in God's Kingdom is all about.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ever Felt Like You Needed a Translator?

How many conversations have you had, where one party feels misunderstood, and the other party is convinced that the other isn't speaking English?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Free Chick-Fil-A

I have the perfect place for all of you to eat as a family this Labor Day... That's right free food from Chick-fil-a! If you wear any sports logo into any location after 10:30am on this coming Monday, and you will get a free Chicken Sandwhich.
I'll definitely be going there for at least one meal that day.. who knows maybe too. Take advantage of this awesome FREE FOOD MOMENT!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Are You Read for Some Parkside Fantasy Football!

Ok so Brian Bruemmer (Website/Graphics Guy) and I were talking around the water cooler a week ago (ok so we don't have a water cooler, but we were really talking). We decided that it was time that Parkside Christian Church had a Staff Fantasy Football League. Ok so if you think that Fantasy Football is dumb just stop reading this post right now. All we are trying to do is bring the office closer together and have a chance to trash talk in the office (thats a spiritual gift right?). Well our draft was today during lunch. I thought some of you might be interested to see how things turned out for my team so here is the 411.

I was slotted with the number 2 overall pick and was lucky enough to get Adrian Peterson with that pick. Here was how the rest of my draft went.

The Home Schoolers (That's my team name. Yeah, I was Home Schooled)
1.(2)Adrian Peterson RB
2.(19)Andre JohnsonWR
3.(22)Randy MossWR
4.(39)Ryan GrantRB
5.(42)Philip RiversQB
6.(59)Thomas JonesRB
7.(62)Anthony GonzalezWR
8.(79)DeSean JacksonWR
9.(82)Matt RyanQB
10.(99)Willie ParkerRB
11.(102)Lance MooreWR
12.(119)Robbie GouldK
13.(122)Visanthe ShiancoeTE
14.(139)Kevin BossTE

I think I did pretty well. Andy, Bart and Randy had a good draft too though. I won't play them for a few weeks though. Every Monday I'll try to give you an update on how the Home Schoolers did in Fantasy Football over the weekend. I think it will be fun.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rēl Community

In just a week and a half Rēl Community is going to be starting up again on Sunday nights from 6-8PM. We are getting really excited about it too. Sign ups for the groups are going great, and its just time for everybody to start getting together again.

Some of the groups got together some over the summer, and others just touched base with each other. I think it is safe to say though that all of us are looking forward to getting back together. I've missed the dodgeball, and all the wierd challenges we had. I am excited about meeting new students, and planning events in our groups. I think one of the things I missed most about Rēl Community over the summer was just not getting consistent time to talk about different Bible stories, or about things we had all been going through with our group.

Thankfully we don't have much longer to wait (I am excited about the T-shirts that we will have this year too). We need to keep praying that God challenges us this year to grow in our faith. Its not just about showing up its about committing yourself to take that next step whether that is working on something in our own lives, or inviting a friend to group with us. September 13th is just around the bend and I am excited about Rēl Community finally being here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Family Web Monitoring Service

Every now and then I come across something that catches my attention because it is different. The new web filtering software from Norton Anti Virus that they have made for families definitely qualified as different.

It's called OnlineFamily.Norton and here is what makes it different. Most web filters prevent people from accessing certain types of material (violence, videos, music, adult content). The filter acts as a fence that keeps children safe. The sad thing is that the filters tend to be hit and miss. Not only will they not stop things that they should, but they also tend to block a great deal of acceptable material. Norton has taken a little bit of a different angle. Their web filter won't necessarily block anything, but it does keep a record of all the sites that have been viewed as well as how long different users spent online. Thats still not what caught my attention.

Parents are given control over how much time students are allowed to be online for homework or for fun, and also lets them set parameters for what type of content is ok to access. When a restricted website is accessed, the filter will notify the parent by email, and let the student know that a guideline has been broken. At that point the student can include the reason the rule was broken in the automated email that will be sent to the parent. The whole goal of the software is to all parents to be aware of what all their son our daughter is into. I think they are doing it in a unique way. Check it out because it looks like a great resource.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Millennials Multitasking Capabilities

Stanford recently published their findings from a study they did on a group of 100 students. The study focused on whether or not America's youth can do more than one thing at a time and be more effective. For example, on most days in the office I will be listening to music and working at the same time. Studies have shown that I can't focus on both the music and my work at the same time. I end up switching back and forth from actually listening to my music and reading emails or whatever I am doing at the moment.

The reason Stanford did the study is that there has been a line of thought that young adults and teens might have developed the ability, because many of us are always texting, checking out facebook, and watching TV at the same time. The results they found though, showed that nothing has changed. We still can only focus on one thing at a time.

So as school starts back up and people just keep being so busy, we need to make sure we approach things one at a time. Its pretty hard to have a conversation with the TV on or while updating your facebook status. Stanford's study really brings home the truth taht in order to achieve something we are always going to have to be focused on it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Great Article in the Paper today

I read an awesome column by Paul Daugherty today from click on this link to check it out yourself:

Who You Are is What Counts

Paul shares a story that has just been put into a book about a guy who goes from being a 7th grade teacher to playing in the Super Bowl in the course of 7 weeks. The crazy thing is that its totally true. On top of that, winning the Super bowl is not even the point of the story. The book is written by author Jeffrey Marx and is about Brian Kinchen who won the Super Bowl with the 2003 Patriots. Here is an excerpt from Daugherty's column that explains more what the book is about-

The Long Snapper’s weight comes from the other game Kinchen plays, the one with his spirit. He joins the Pats thinking a return to the game will validate his life. He leaves after the Super Bowl with a new definition of success. It’s not at all what he believed it to be. Said Marx Monday, “We as a society have arrived at some fairly destructive definitions of what it means to be a successful man: How much money you have, what car you drive, how big your house is. This book is an exploration of the real differences between success and significance.’’

I have not yet read this book, but I am definitely going to check it out. I have read another book by Marx that goes along the same lines. Its entitled Seasons of Life and is about a former Baltimore Colt player who goes on to be a minister. The book focuses on what it truly means to be a man. I loved it. I know several High School Football coaches who use the book with their players every year. I think it also reminds us of the role we all play in the Kingdom of God.

We all have tasks that we do here on earth. We have hobbies and passions too. However that isn't what we are truly doing. I have heard a professor describe tasks, sports, hobbies etc as a bunch of head fakes. We play sports because they are fun, but they teach us character. We do a task to get things done or make money, but we learn valuable lessons along the way. What Marx has said several times in Seasons of Life, and Daugherty references in his column is pretty much the same thing. When we start getting our identity or meaning from a headfake (sports, job, hobby) we are truly missing out.

I am going to try to track down this new book, because it looks pretty good. Below I have included links to both of Marx's books I have mentioned. Go buy them form amazon and read through them yourself or with your son or a group of guys. Too many of us get so wrapped up in the task that it becomes who we are. The task isn't what matters. To borrow a phrase from Paul Daugherty, "Its who we are that counts."

Seasons in Life by Jeffrey Marx

The Long Snapper by Jeffrey Marx

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Psalms of Repentance

Here is the list of Psalms I was talking about today during my message:

Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143

Take a look at Psalms 102. I feel like I can really relate to the guy who wrote this. Especially with the way they labeled the Psalm. I have definitely felt afflicted before.

Psalm 102

A prayer of an afflicted man. When he is faint and pours out his lament before the LORD.
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry for help come to you.
2 Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.
3 For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers.
4 My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food.
5 Because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones.
6 I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.
7 I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.
8 All day long my enemies taunt me; those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
9 For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears
10 because of your great wrath, for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass.
12 But you, O LORD, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.
13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.
14 For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity.
15 The nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
16 For the LORD will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory.
17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.
18 Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD :
19 "The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death."
21 So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem
22 when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the LORD.
23 In the course of my life [a] he broke my strength; he cut short my days.
24 So I said: "Do not take me away, O my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations.
25 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.
27 But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
28 The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you."

Let me know what your thoughts are as you read through these Psalms. Touch base with the blog during the week to talk about what you have been reading. I'll go through these as well. I'll also be updating people on how our local mission trip is going. It starts this afternoon. We have an awesome group of students coming to give of their time and talents to share God's love. Be praying for us as we serve Him!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Drawing to a Close

Today is our last full day of work. Tomorrow we will go the beach and to the market, and then Saturday we will return home. We all can not believe thatthe trip has gone this fast, but we are all looking forward to getting home and seeing all of you.

Bill thanks for the update on the Reds. Hopefully they pullout another one against the Braves today.

Thanks for all of the comments as well. I will pass them along. We have loved hearing from all of you. Everybody loves it when I come back from updating the blog, because they know there will be news from home. Let me try to take a few minutes to update how things have gone since I last touched base.

I think a good way to some up the past few days would be to talk about a couple other missionaries you might be familiar with. Hudson Taylor, served in China, and David Livingston, served in Africa, both spent a great deal of their lives in the mission field. Giving all they had to growing the Kingdom of God. They endured much and had more than their share of trials, but in the end of their lives both of them said, that they had never had to sacrifice. What they meant was that there was never a time in which they felt like they were truly sacrificing something to follow God. In essence, serving God no matter what the circumstance was altogether more valuable than anything else they could possibly do.

Our group has truly sacrificed a lot of comforts, and energy. They have also worked incredible hard inspite of being tired or worn down. However I bet if you asked any of our group if they felt like they made a huge sacrfice to go on this trip and "suffer" for Gods Kingdom they would say that it wasnt a sacrifice and that they would do it all over again without hesitation.

The VBSs have gone great and we hope parksides has gone well too. Yesterday we were at a place call Macoris. Some of the church workers told us how dangerous the neighborhood was at night. It was so sad to listen to them tell us how many of the kids in the room no longer had fathers because of neighborhood violence. It was our privilege to love on those kids and show them their Father God loves them as well. Ethan led the game time and Hannah E. helped. They did a great job with the spanish as well. Everyone got involved in just sitting next to students and doing the activities with them.

The house at camp is coming along as well. We have the roof framing up and it will likely get roofed today. Hopefully we will also be laying the concrete floors and finishing putting stucco on the walls. Its been neat and rewarding for the students to see the house come together.

We appreciate all of your prayers. Hope we can not wait to tell you all the cool God stories that are happening down here. We see God in all the things we do and all the places. Everybodies prayers have surrounded us in incredible ways. Please keep praying that we all have patience. This is the time of the trip where everyone is worn down and small things can quickly become big things. Pray that in all things we do not forget our purpose in being here. We are here to reveal Gods glory and grow His Kingdom. Pray for continued safety and also praise God for the many ways He has gone before us and kept us safe.

Let me try to share a few quick little things before I go back to the camp...

Everybody who had stomache aches recovered a couple of days ago and are back up to full steam

The Dominicans have taken to calling Mike EL TIGRE. Which is a big sign of street cred and is a cool story too

Today we do our last VBS and it is at the camp we are expecting almost 200 kids

We might be playing capture the flag tonight to teach the Dominicans a new game.

Everyone is healthy, but definitely tired. The bugs havent been horrible just big spiders, and suprisingly no one has gotten sun burned too badly.

To wrap this up you all need to know just how tremendous of a job our adult leaders and students have done. I have been su impressed with their attitudes and just how consistently they have all brought their talents to the table. I can not wait for all of them to get the chance to tell you all the great things God has done on this trip, and what He has let us be a part of. You all should definitely be proud of this group you sent down to Salcedo and the Dominican to Reveal Gods glory.

Thanks for all the Prayers and Sorry I dont have more time to tell more stories.

Dios Te Bendiga

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Un Otra Nota

Hey guys another update! I was going to update yesterday, but the internet is down at the camp so there might be a few less updates as a result, but I will try to be here as often as possible. The comments were AWESOME. I cant wait to take them back to the group, but PLEASE give me some good news about my Redlegs.

Denver, Blaire and McKenna are here with me. They told me to say hello and that they are having a lot of fun. Does anyone have a copy of the new Jonas Brothers CD for McKenna?

Alright on Sunday we played softball against the Dominicans. We went up 5-0 and lost the game in the last inning. We figured it would be good sportsmanship if we were true ambassadors and let them win. The second game we decided to make it even more lopsided and we lost 10-0. (do you believe us lol)

The youth service on Saturday night was incredible the dominicans worship was awesome and all of our students hit it out of the park. Church on Sunday was neat too. Steve did a great job preaching.

The house we are working on is coming along. When something needs 4 nails the dominicans onlyt use 1... maybe we put the roof on today and maybe do the floors wednesday or thursday.

Yesterday we had a group go do VBS a couple hours away. The ride was long and tiring but VBS went great and was a lot of fun. Hope thanks for praying so hard for us (everyone else too) the van got a flat tire and was able to coast into a tire shop on the way there. Yea God!

A couple more notes before our time runs out. Be praying a couple of us have stomache aches, but nothing serious. We are all tired and very sore, but no one is complaining and everyone is complimenting our gorup on their great attitudes and passion to serve. We have seen GOds glory all oevr the place, and we are doing our best to reveal His Glory as well.

We have seen a few tarantulas as big as a persons fist. When we find them Mechor takes gas and sets them on fire. Que Beuna! We also found a beetle the size of your ear and we put it in Brogans bed. Que divertido!

Alright I am running out of time. Be praying for VBS tomorrow and Thursday. Pray for our renewed energy and the people we will be serving. Safety is another good thing to pray for. Keep the comments up we can feel your love and prayers wherever we go.

There is also a frog loose in the girls room hopefully they find it... maybe it is a dominican prince. We had an awesome campfire last night as well it was something new for the dominicans.

Vaya Con Dios,

PS: Denver tiene un gato en su pantalones!