Thursday, December 23, 2010

Patience Updated

If you don't know why I'm updating you on patience you might want to read THIS post first.
            The last weekend of October, I broke my I-Phone screen. My warranty on the phone was expired and so I was on my own to fix or replace my phone. I decided to brave the uncertainty of trying to fix it. What followed was a very boring, slow moving, and honestly quit frustrating story that taught me a whole new aspect of patience.
            As mentioned before USPS lost the first replacement screen I bought online. I didn't get the replacement part I needed until mid-November. Ironically the screen that was lost in shipping arrived the day after the second one they sent me did. I decided  that it was best to laugh about that one. 
            I replaced the glass screen and touch screen, but the LCD screen still needed to be replaced. The LCD replacement screen I purchased ended up being an offbrand knock-off that wouldn't work with my phone.  I returned it and was stuck with a faded and distorted screen. I would have to tilt my phone to all sorts of weird angles to read text messages. Friends would call me and ask me to explain my text messages. They would then tell me that what I thought had been a normal text message had ended up being a garbled bunch of nonsensical words because I could see my keyboard but couldn't see what I was typing.
            I found another company online that boasted only original manufacturer parts. I purchased an LCD screen from them and started to wait again. It arrived shortly after Thanksgiving. I nervously took my phone apart for what seemed like the 20th time and switched screens. I turned on my phone, and nothing happened. I tried a few different things and nothing worked. I switched the screens again and packed up all my tools and parts.
             I resigned myself that I probably wouldn't get my I-Phone fixed again. My mom saw that I had switched to another phone when Alicia and I were visiting. She asked me when my other phone would be fixed. I told that it probably wasn't going to be fixed. I followed that up by saying that I had learned that patience doesn't always have a finish line.
            Sometimes you wait patiently for something and it never happens. Moses waited for the Promise Land, but he never got to go in to it. Paul repeatedly mentioned in his letters to different churches that he wished to visit them, but wasn't able to for several reasons. John the Baptist sent his followers to Jesus to ask them if John was going to get released from prison, and he didn't get the answer he was expecting. He never was released from prison either. 
            Patience is waiting for something through whatever frustrations or problems may arise, and not getting upset or complaining. The truth of life is sometimes we wait, and what we are waiting for never happens. Everyone knows life does not go the way we always want it. Patience is being ok with the possibility that you might not ever get what you want. I think that leads to contentment too. 
            As I became more and more content with my phone situation I found myself not having to be patient anymore, because I was already OK with my present situation.  That was good.
            Last week, I had lunch with my friend. I saw he had the new I-Phone, so I asked him what happened to his old phone. He told me the buttons had stopped working so he replaced it. I asked what he did with his old phone. As it turned out he still had it and it was collecting dust in his basement. When he heard my story, he had no problem letting me see if his old screen would work in my phone. It did.
            So for the past 7 days I have had the wonderful surprise of owning a working I-Phone and all the wonderful capabilities that come with it. I hope my phone doesn't break again, but the lesson I learned during the adventure of my broken I-phone was definitely worth the wait.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Righteousness vs. Rightness

I have heard it said that early on in his political career, certain groups of Christians made Abraham Lincoln very uncomfortable. PBS's recent special God in America went into Lincoln's personal notes when discussing his uneasiness with the church. As the North and South became increasingly polarized it worried him that on both sides of the divide was the church. The North and the South were both made up of sincere and devout followers of God who both felt like the Bible agreed with them and their beliefs. The thing that scared Lincoln the most about Christians was their rightness

There is a difference, a huge one in fact, from righteousness and rightness. When Jesus gave his life for us all on the cross, he made available for us all the gift of grace. When we unwrap that gift we find that grace forgives our sin and makes us righteous in God's sight. Our criminal records have been expunged. We are upstanding citizens in God's Kingdom. What we won't find inside that gift of grace is rightness. The gift of grace doesn't come with all the answers or make all your answers the right one. 

Lincoln would later more fully embrace the Christian community after the death of his son. He saw how Christians had a peace and trust in God even in such turbulent times as losing a child. He would view the steps he took in the Civil War to abolish slavery as him playing a part in God's plan to bring justice on earth. Still, even after he came to that realization, he didn't think that the righteousness he received from God gave him rightness in any situation. He saw the difference and the danger of thinking that believing in God made you right in all situations.

I can't speak for you, but it scares me when people feel like God's gift of grace means that not only are they righteous, but they are also right about whatever they are talking about. There are some pretty adamant people out there who totally believe in what they are doing and think that God is 100% behind them. The only people it's not clear how wrong they are is themselves. (Do I even need to mention Westboro Baptist Church)?

Still, I don't think that most people struggle with that overall sense of rightness. Maybe I'm wrong about that. I know a lot of people who don't like being wrong, myself included, but I know most of us really have huge questions about life. We would love to know the answers even if we were wrong on some stuff.  The pitfall that I fall into with righteousness vs. rightness is that I forget about the amazing gift of grace I have received. 

Great gifts are meant to be shared. God's grace has changed my life and done incredible things in the lives of so many people around me. I make the mistake sometimes of not sharing God's gift of grace with other people because I know that I don't have all the answers. Even though I don't have all the answers I do have the most important answer and that is where the gift of grace comes from.  God has given us the most incredible gift; the hope of salvation. That gift doesn't give us free reign or make us right in every argument. It does however change our eternal situation and it is worth being incredibly passionate about. So be passionate about being made righteous by God's grace, but be a little less passionate about always being right.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Attempt to Brighten Your Thursday

Zoolander Eat Your Heart Out!

Possibly the Weirdest References to Cincinnati in a Movie Ever!
(From Keanu Reeves and Drew Barrymore too)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spending Time with Students

In the summer of 2006, I had an awesome opportunity to do a 3 month internship with Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas. The entire experience was a wonderful one. I learned so much from their staff and from all the students I got to meet as well. In fact, it has been incredible how I've gotten to see the Junior High Students that I invested in that summer, grow up, graduate and do some pretty cool things.

There are a lot of great, funny, and interesting stories I could share with everyone. Just ask PJ, Josh, or Jordan about having to change a tire. My first day at Canyon Ridge was jam packed too. It started with me taking a Red Eye Flight from Dayton to Las Vegas, and it ended with me throwing up in my summer host's house (Sorry Kerry) from a combination of jet lag and bad chicken from Red Robin (Yummmm?). Don't worry this isn't going to be a Vomit Play by Play Post.

The first thing that I did at Canyon Ridge after meeting some of their great staff and getting a tour of everything, was I made some phone calls. The Student Ministry had a summer party party coming up and so they wanted me to make some calls and remind students they should come. I felt like a telemarketer. I was making cold calls and hoping no one said, "Matt from Canyon Ridge? I know Duncan, and I know Peak, but who are you?" (See Acts 19:15-16) Thankfully that didn't happen, but something even more intimidating did. I called a number and asked if the student's name I had listed was at home. I got an answer I didn't expect, "Sir, how did you get this number? The teen you named has been moved recently by Children's Services. The case is still ongoing."

After a silence that seemed to last a lifetime. I fumbled around trying to let the person know that I didn't know how I got this number, and that I was only an intern at my first day of work. I think the person on the other end could tell I was flummoxed, because they graciously let me say goodbye. I was petrified. I honestly couldn't tell you about any of the other calls I made the rest of that afternoon. Looking back on that story now a huge lesson pops out to me.

It is easy when you work with Teens in Student Ministry, or as a Teacher to forget all the things that go on in student's everyday lives. As dumb as it sounds its really easy to get sucked into this virtual reality where we think that really the only thing going on in our students' lives are the things they tell us about or do with us. We forget that they have Grandparents in the hospital, college applications that are being completed and filled out, games to play in, and homework to do.  We will make a phone call or visit a family and be floored to find out something crazy has happened. Really though, students spend around 2 hours with us each week, what about the other 166 hours? We can't honestly think that students go home and twiddle their thumbs until the next Student Ministry event. A lot of us tend to run our ministry/lives that way.

One of the hardest things for me in my Life Group of friends and other couples that meet every week is for me to remember to check in with them during the week and spend time with them during the week. They are really good friends who I really care about. I'll even make plans to call, text, or hang out with them, but before I know it, its been a week and I haven't talked to them at all.

It is just easy to forget that students have as much going on as we do. Sometimes we are surprised to find out the pain they are going through or the struggles they have going on week to week. It is hard to keep that in the forefront of our mind. Maybe we need to spend more time listening, so we get a chance to hear about all that they have going on from week to week. I'll have to tell you the story of me yakking some other time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Patience is a Virtue, But I Don't Have The Time to Explain It.

You have run into the store to pick up something really quick. You find it right away and head to check out. The self-check out line is too long.  You glance over to the Express Line. It's packed too. You start to walk down the row of checkout lines, when an attendant says, "I can help you here sir." How awesome is that? A new line is opening right in front of you. Perfect. You'll be out of here in no time. Then it happens. "Sir?" The attendant asks, "Did you see the price for this item? It doesn't have a tag." 

Then everything falls apart. You do your best to not fidget or squirm as your patience fails you like a poorly packed parachute. They do a price check, but Sam from produce brings the wrong item. You are seriously asking yourself whether or not you should just forget that item and come back when you have more time. Because it is taking all together too long.

You finally get to your car and find your heart rate returning to normal. As you speed home, and check your email on your phone as you go, you think to yourself, "That whole trip to the grocery store only took 15 minutes. Why was I upset that I couldn't do it in 10? Do I really have the patience of a 3 year old?"

Welcome to my life the past few weeks. I promise I have not been harassing Grocery Store Attendants. Although I can't make the same promise about checking my email. The lesson that I keep having brought up to the forefront of my life is patience.

Almost 3 weeks ago now, tragedy struck my life. I broke the screen to my I-Phone leaving Target. The ironic thing was that I just bought a new case for my phone at Target when it broke.  You can ask my wife though, I reacted with poise and grace.  I took it like a man. In fact, she didn't even know I had broken it until almost a half hour later.

I knew my insurance on the phone was expired, but I still wanted to talk with AT&T about my options.  So while we were still out driving around I talked on my damaged phone with Customer Service and learned that they really didn't have any viable options under $200. Unless I waited until February. That was NOT the answer I was wanting.

And as if our evening wasn't exciting enough, I had to put Customer Service on hold for a minute. Actually I told them I would have to call them back. Because our car was spinning out of control getting onto 275. Yeah that's right. Alicia had hit some oil or something, and now my pregnant wife was screaming and clutching the steering wheel for dear life. "Yeah, Tony, thanks for all the info, but I'm going to have to call you back. I might be dying shortly." 
Thankfully we stayed on the road, and the car was fine. Once the traffic eased up on the on-ramp, we quickly turned the car around and headed home.

After we got home, I began checking out my options. Did I need to give up my I-Phone and settle for a phone that only made phone calls? Did I just need to live with a cracked screen until February? I got some advice form some friends and watched a bunch of Youtube videos of people replacing their screens.  After convincing myself that I was capable of such a feat, I found a great deal on Amazon for not just a replacement screen, but all the stuff I would need to replace the screen. I went ahead and got it and the waiting game began.

The waiting game is still going on. USPS lost my delivery. The company I bought it from didn't even realize it until Tuesday. They were real nice about it though and refunded my  money. My screen was still broken though. Thankfully after talking with them, they decided to give me a new screen for free because of the inconvenience of waiting for 2 weeks only to find out it wasn't coming. Still, I won't get my screen any sooner than this weekend.

My first thought after all of this is thankfulness. How blessed am I, that the things I have to learn to be patient about, are grocery store waiting lines and broken I-Phones. On top of that God has blessed Alicia and I with the biggest patience grower ever: We are going to have a baby! Pregnancy is a 9-month lesson in delayed gratification.  The patience I have to learn is over silly stuff. Small insignificant things that don't matter in the long run. Hopefully I grow and go further in my walk with God as a result. Maybe I can get my phone fixed too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Our Game From Sunday Night and other Random Stuff

Fruit Punch Rally
Sunday night we played an incredibly messy game that involved a lot of fruit, students eating spoonfuls of cinnamon, and well just check out the video...

Fruit Toss Game at Rel Community Nov 7, 2010 from Parkside Students on Vimeo.

Aubrey Bledsoe 
One of our families here at Parkside had a really awesome weekend. Aubrey Bledsoe, who graduated last year and also was a part of our team that went to the Dominican Republic last summer, was named the MVP of the ACC Women's Soccer Tournament. Her team (Wake Forest) won the Tournament too. The interview she gave was cool. How awesome is it to achieve something like this as a freshman! Aubrey everybody here is so proud of you and we are cheering you on in the NCAA Tournament!

Other Things Worth Noting:
Jon Foreman's Latest Article
Every now and then the front man from the band Switchfoot will write an article. Jon wrote this one about who decides what is cool and what isn't. The article is a good read on how we decide what we like as a culture, and how silly we are at times about what we think is 'hip'. I hope the next thing Jon comes out with though is either a new album or a book. He is such a creative person with a great ability to express himself.

Former Buckeye Michael Redd's Testimony
Michael Redd was/is a phenomenal basketball player. I can still remember him leading the Buckeyes to the Final Four when I was in Middle School. He was a great player on a great team. He would go on and have a great career in the NBA and even when a Gold Medal. This article from the OSU student newspaper The Lantern, is all about the Michael Redd that most people never got to see. It is cool to see how Michael first met Jesus and how he has totally reorganized or wrecked his life to share Jesus with other people.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Unbound Movement Free Trade Market

This weekend, my wife Alicia, a student named Evan, and I went to the Freedom Center downtown to check out a Fair Trade Market that was put together by the Unbound Movement. For those of you unfamiliar with the Unbound Movement, it is a movement (obviously) started by a group of students and leaders at Crossroads Church to end modern day slavery.  Needless to say we checked it out on Saturday and it was an incredible experience.

On the 3rd floor of the Freedom Center they had an Experience Station set up to let participants get an idea what it was like to live as a modern day slave. The experience was called Restevek (which is what child slaves are called in Haiti). Overall it was sobering to see the things that they are required to do, and their quality of life is just horrendous. It's not something we want to think about, but its real and its happening all over.

Our student ministry has really been trying to teach students about what it means to seek justice and learn to do right in their community and world. Isaiah 1:17 says, "Learn to do right, seek justice, encourage the oppressed, plead the case of the widow, defend the case of the fatherless." We all need to take verse like that to heart and apply it to who we are and how we live. The Unbound Movement is a great example of that.

We took our Flip Camera and did some quick interviews with some of the different organizations at the Fair Trade Market. For those of you not familiar with what Fair Trade is let me try to sum it up. The idea of Fair Trade is to pay workers a fair amount for their work, especially in impoverished areas where they are normally incredibly underpaid. So check out what these groups had to say, and then check their websites out, because they are doing some pretty cool stuff and really applying what the Bible says about seeking justice.

 La Terza Coffee
Their Website

Chuck from La Terza from Parkside Students on Vimeo.

I used some of my birthday money to get some of the coffee that La Terza makes in the Dominican Republic. I didn't get a chance to brew any of it yet, but the sample I got on Saturday was great!

10,000 Villages
Their Website

Connie from 10,000 Villages from Parkside Students on Vimeo.

Alicia and I bought some soap from 10,000 Villages. They also had an incredibly cool Marriage Sculpture that would make an awesome wedding present. Connie goes to University Christian Church to which has a long history with Parkside. Pretty cool stuff!

Trade As One
Their Website  

Kevin Madsen who works for Trade as One, spoke for one of the breakout sessions, and we have a video for it that we are still uploading and I'll try to get it on the blog later this week. We ended up getting a lot of stuff from Trade As One's display area. They are real focused on their Fair Trade Products being quality things that you would already need. We got a awesome mint chocolate bar that was made in Bolivia, and we got some of our friends some surprises too. They had some really cool stuff and their website has a pretty cool video that tells a lot of their company's goals and values.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Student Ministry: Free Middle School Group Devotion

Our Church got together with a few other churches this past weekend and had a Middle School Retreat out at Woodland Lakes Christian Camp. One of the resources we put together for the retreat was a group devotion time for Saturday morning. 

The retreat was focused on helping students realize what an authentic faith looked like, and ways they could develop their faith. The devotion itself focused on spiritual gifts. Our goal was to help students realize one of the ways God had uniquely gifted them, and help them think about how they could use that gift for God's Glory. We also included a devotional time for group leaders to spend praying for their students. Our hope was to plant a seed in students' minds to be thinking about the rest of the day, and also to have group leaders fully engaged with their students by starting the day off praying for them.

I wanted to share the devotion with all of you. Especially those of you who are involved in Student Ministry so that you could use it, or take away some ideas from it for your students. Let me know what you think of it, or if you use it some time, how it goes. Id' also love to hear your thoughts about how this style of devotion time could be strengthened or improved. 

Feel free to use it for whatever you want:
Devotion Overview and Instructions

Hand Outs and Leader Guides
(Hand outs are to be printed front and back)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Please Pray For Our Students and Leaders This Weekend

Prayer Guide:
One of the biggest parts of anything we do in Student Ministry is Prayer. This weekend we have a great group of students and leaders heading up to Woodland Lakes Christian Camp to have a blast and go deeper in the spiritual walk with God.  Let’s all take an active role in this retreat by spending time both now and this weekend praying for our students, leaders, and the other churches attending this retreat.

In Ephesians, Paul talks a few times about praying for other believers. Here are a couple of examples:

Ephesians 1:16
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

Ephesians 6:18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Here are a couple of things we can be praying about:

1. Our Students- pray that they would be attentive this weekend. That God would give them open eyes and ears, and soft hearts. We want them to be comfortable enough to talk about their faith and the questions they have. We also want them to feel challenged to share God’s love with those around them.

2. Our Leaders- they are giving up a lot of sleep and one whole weekend to invest in our students. Pray that God would bless them with whatever energy or focus they need to be present in every moment this weekend. Also be praying that they are filled up with God’s Spirit so He can overflow into the lives of the students around them.

3. The Speakers and Worship Leaders- Pray that they would lead us deeper into our commitment to Christ. That it wouldn’t be a show or a look how cool I am moment, but instead it would be a sharing of God’s truth and a celebration of all He has done for us.

4. Our Students lives after the Retreat- Pray that the things they learn and the changes they want to make last. It is hard after a retreat like this to explain what you learned or what you want to do. You go back to school and try to tell your friends about it, and its just difficult. As they get back into the swing of day to day life it’s difficult to keep things fresh with God sometimes too. Pray that God’s Spirit equips them for the journey ahead.

5. Our role as parents and leaders in students’ lives- We all have a huge role in what we just prayed about for our students. It’s hard for them to make the decisions they make at a weekend retreat stick sometimes. It is our job as parents, leaders, and friends of these students to not just encourage them in those good choices, but support them in achieving them. Pray that we would clearly see our role in that process and that we would serve in that role with a passion.

Don’t forget to thank God in advance for all the good he has done in our lives, and the good things we haven’t even realized He is going to do through us.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This Week at Rel Community: A Prophecy Fulfilled

This year at Rel Community our groups have been going through the Bible and sharing stories with each other about God's great story of redemption. So far we have looked at Adam and Eve and how even after their mistake God took care of them like a Father takes care of his children. We talked about how God created us all to be friends with Him and know Him in deep and real ways. We learned about the story of Abraham and Isaac. How God saw Abraham's faith and provided for him.  The big lessons we have learned so far are that God's first plan was always for Him to send His son Jesus to die for us, that bad choices have consequences, and that God loves us and gives us hope even with all the mistakes we make.

This week we are going to look at an Old Testament Prophecy that Jesus fulfilled in the New Testament. It has our redemption written all over it. Sometimes we lose sight of how incredible our God really is. We lose touch with the 'Good News' that really is the best news ever. This prophecy in Isaiah 53 and its fulfillment in John 1:29-34 really reminds us of God's greatness and puts into perspective the redemptive work Jesus did for us at the cross. Jesus is the person that Isaiah was prophesying about in Isaiah 53. Take some time today to read both of these passages. Reflect on God's good plan that is our good news. This is a true story that is worth telling people about.

Isaiah 53 (The Message)

 1 Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?  2-6The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
   a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
   nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
   a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
   We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
   our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
   that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
   that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
   Through his bruises we get healed.
We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.
   We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,
   on him, on him.
 7-9He was beaten, he was tortured,
   but he didn't say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
   and like a sheep being sheared,
   he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
   and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
   beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
   threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he'd never hurt a soul
   or said one word that wasn't true.
 10Still, it's what God had in mind all along,
   to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
   so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
   And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.
 11-12Out of that terrible travail of soul,
   he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
   will make many "righteous ones,"
   as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly—
   the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch,
   because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
   he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

John 1:29-34 (NIV)
Jesus the Lamb of God
29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' 31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel."  32Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Name that Person!

Alright. It's Wednesday and we need to have some fun, so let's play a game. Can anybody tell me who this is a picture of? Better yet, can anybody tell me who this is AND write a funny caption for the photo? 1st person to correctly name the person pictured above wins a T-shirt, and best caption for the photo wins a T-Shirt as well. Hope this makes your Wednesday a little better. I bet it will.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Conversation with My Tomato Plants

As the weather is getting colder, our garden has begun to shrivel and disappear. The interesting thing is that our tomato plants are still producing a lot of tomatoes for us even though the plants themselves are looking pretty shriveled and wilted.  All the water, sun, and warm weather the plants received the past few got stored up in the plant and transformed into growing those tomatoes. Even as the plant begins to die, the fruit is still being produced. Still the plant is no longer connecting to that warm weather, sun, and water like it was a few weeks ago. The tomatoes will eventually stop showing up and the plant will disappear.

Being a follower of Christ has its comparisons to our garden.  No, I’m not saying that although you are bearing fruit now, as soon as it gets cold you will die. I’m saying that God has created us to be His followers, and to share His love with others out of the overflow of that same love in our lives. It is so easy for us as Christians, to put your head down and do the best we can. In that process, we accidentally forget the most important component of leading other people closer to Jesus. We have to be connecting to Him regularly in the first place. The longer we go without connecting to Him and filling up with His love and His Spirit, the more and more we run the risk of running out and ending up a lot like my tomato plants. We will keep growing fruit for a while, but we will find ourselves a few weeks down the road burnt out and tired of life. We can’t forget to keep spending time with God. If we aren’t living and connecting with Him, it ultimately won’t matter how ‘good’ we are at 'being' Christians. Without His Sun, water, and warmth in our lives, we won’t get far. Don’t forget to do this. Connect to Him so He can overflow into lives of people with whom you come in contact.

Further Reading: John 15

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teenage Dreams

 A couple of weeks ago I sat in on one of our Middle School Groups. If you didn't know already, I love Middle School Students. Everyone says you couldn't pay them to go back to Middle School, because it is such a stressful and traumatic time for so many people. I had my own share of unfun stuff during that time of my life too. The reason I love Middle School is because students are still learning how to be fake. By the time we are adults we have learned the cheap art of fakeness. Most High Schoolers have mastered it too. The sad thing is that fakeness keeps our friendship shallow, and inhibits our growth. That's why Middle School students are great, because they are real. 

In the group, we were going around the room telling each other our name, and our favorite song at that moment. Hands down, the favorite song for the girls was Teenage Dream by Katy Perry. I'll admit Katy Perry's music is really catchy and it's not to hard for them to get into your head, but I have a huge problem with this song. I'm not going the 'Music these days is trash' route either. I think the lyrics in this song are just a bunch of lies that are so easy for girls to believe. So before I approach soapbox status with this blog post let me tell you where I think this song really misses the mark, and what I think the truth is.

Lie Number 1:Any guy who is thoughtful or caring, obviously has my best interest in mind.
Lyric:You think I'm pretty
Without any make-up on
You think I'm funny
When I tell the punch line wrong
I know you get me
So I'll let my walls come down, down
The Truth: This one trips people up all the time. Someone comes along and starts giving you the time of day, and all of a sudden you think that they are the love of your life. Think about it for a second though. Just because someone gives you what should be a common courtesy, doesn't mean they have earned any special privileges. Honestly, women don't need make-up to be pretty, and personally aren't you telling a girl that you think she is less pretty without make-up if she is STILL pretty even without it?

Girls, I wish it was simple as taking a guy's words and actions at face value, but it isn't. This doesn't mean you can't have real friendships or let people get to know you, but true friendships with guys don't make you sacrifice your values or morals. You can let someone get to know you, but that doesn't mean turning the security system off.

Lie Number 2: A Boyfriend will fix my problems and make me happy.
Lyric:Before you met me
I was a wreck
But things were kinda heavy
You brought me to life
The Truth: We were all created to live every day connected with God. We try to substitute so many other things for that connection, and relationship with God. Jesus is the one who is supposed to be our Savior and make our life complete. No thing, idea, or guy can fulfill that role. So a guy might make your life nicer or more enjoyable, but it's dangerous if you are dating in hopes that your guy will solve all your problems. If you are doing that, you are putting a band aid on a problem that only God can fix. The second your guy hurts you or lets you down, you are left in a place worse than you started.

Lie Number 3: Love means physical intimacy.
Lyric: Let's go all the way tonight
No regrets, just love
We can dance until we die
You and I
We'll be young forever
The Truth: This is a big one! If some one really cares about you, they aren't going to ask you to do something that isn't right or that isn't in your best interest. Physical intimacy in a dating relationship is so dangerous. It is full of regrets and it definitely doesn't equal love. If you love someone you are willing to make the right choice even if it is difficult. God says we should what until we are married to have that intimacy with our spouse, and that's not because he doesn't want us to have fun. It's because we are entering into a world of potential hurt, pain and regret if we start messing around with physical intimacy.

Lie Number 4: Teenage Dreams should involve sex, alcohol, and motels.
Lyric: We drove to Cali
And got drunk on the beach
Got a motel and
Built a fort out of sheets
I finally found you
My missing puzzle piece
I'm complete
The Truth: Who said that being a teen means making bad decisions, having sex, and drinking alcohol? Being a teenager can be really stressful. You have a lot of things to worry about each day. You have homework, maybe a job, maybe sports, drama with friends, college applications, and drama with your family to worry about. It isn't necessarily an easy time in life. Still, premarital sex, and alcohol will do nothing but complicate your already stress filled life. They aren't going to make life any simpler. You might feel like they do in the short term, but in the long term that is NOT the case. They put you into dangerous and compromising situations that don't just affect you. Go ahead and search for some news stories on teen drinking or teen pregnancy. You aren't going to find stories of teens discovering the stress free life.

Further Reading:   
1 Corinthians 15:33
Ephesians 5:3-4
Proverbs 4:23-27
Matthew 10:16
Philippians 4:7

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Articles Worth Reading and other Misc.

Here are some articles that caught my eye the past few days:
Growing Gap Between the Rich and the Poor
Channel 9 included this article on their website this week. The recent census shows a record gap between the rich and the poor. Some interesting information from the census was also included in this email. It's a good reminder that God has given us what we have so that we can bless others. Just like he told Abraham in Genesis 12:2

Saffron Coffee 
This is an article about a group Parkside has partnered with in Laos, that helps farmers who used to grow opium learn to grow Coffee. Pretty cool concept and pretty good coffee!

Family Dinner Helps Teens Avoid Drinking and Using Drugs
This article is from Time magazine.  I hope you don't find it surprising that the teens from families that spend more time together are less likely to try drugs or alcohol. It's definitely worth it to make some sacrifices to be able to eat as a family.

UFO's Studying our Nuclear Weapons?
This one comes straight out of left field. A group of former Air Force Officials held a press conference where they all stated that they think that Aliens have come and studied our Nuclear Missiles. They even go as far as to say the Aliens temporarily disabled them. Somebody call Will Smith before this gets out of hand!

Previous Blog Entries:
Youth Ministry 3.0

Last Year's Middle School Retreat 

Part One: Are We Talking About the Same Person?

Part Two: Do As I Say Not As I Do

Oh and this is just a little tag on, but I am speaking this Friday at Miami Valley Christian Academy. They asked me to speak about what it means to seek God. Any thoughts on that topic and what it means?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Check out this article from CNN.COM that is a collection of little white lies that parents have told their kids. No worries this isn't some set-up for a convo about white lies. Everybody loves shows like Kids Say the Darndest Things and this article is just kind of the Parent version of that.

Pretty funny stuff too:
White Lies We've Told Our Kids

I think my favorite from the article is:
Before moving into our house, I told my kids that we paid extra to have it sprayed for ghosts.
--Amy Talcott Kennard; Peoria, Illinois

How about you Moms and Dads? What are some of the 'white lies' you have told your kids? The best comment on this post after a week will get a free Rel Community or Isaiah117Challenge T-Shirt.

(Just to get you all thinking, when I was a kid I wrote a letter to my favorite singer. My mom wrote a fake letter back pretending it was from the singer's mom. I totally believed it was really his mom too. I fell for it hook line and sinker...)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Cool and Convenient Tool For Student Ministers

For a little while I have been trying out this thing called SNAPIT by Digeus, which is a program for your computer that makes saving images from your computer screen really easy and convenient. Here is how it works. You open the program and it is a small icon on your toolbar. When you want to save an image from your computer screen you press the Print Screen button on your keyboard. Then you simply highlight the area you would like to take a picture of on your screen and it automatically takes a picture of that portion of your screen. Here is an example.

Here is how your computer would normally take a picture of your screen:
Normally if you want only a specific part of the screen captured you then have to crop the picture and it ends up pixelated. The whole process can take you a few minutes too.

Here is how you can do it with SNAPIT... I took this picture from the same screen pictured above:

Pretty cool huh? It's quick, easy and a better quality with just cropping the image. I love how quick it is and how simply it is to use. I've been having fun goofing off with it too.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We Are Having a Baby!

I am so glad that I can finally let all of you know that Alicia and I are going to have a baby! We have waited as long as we could before we let everyone know. We wanted to be sure that our families knew first, and that we had made it through most of the first trimester.

So here is the info. Our baby's due date is April 1st (No fooling I promise!) and just this past week we got to hear the babies heartbeat. We are really excited! Thanks for celebrating this with us, and for praying that this child will be healthy and do great things for God.

It's pretty crazy to think that I am going to be a dad. Is the world ready for that?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Part Two: Do As I Say Not As I do

Last week I asked everyone to read an article by CNN's John Blake about Teens becoming Fake Christians. The article was the result of a study done by Princeton professor, Kenda Creasy Dean, about the shallowness of teens' faith, and their general inability to talk about their faith/beliefs. In my opinion the most notable finding of the study was that most teens who profess a faith in God, practice something that Dean calls 'Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,' which in short means they believe God exists, wants them to be good, and be happy. Somewhere Christianity has been misconstrued to teenagers, because following Jesus is so much more than just 'being good' and he didn't die just so we could 'be happy.'

At the end of my last post I challenged everyone to join the discussion about where the disconnect was, and what we should be doing about it. Some of the causes we came up with were that America's 'What's in it for me?' Culture, the medias constant advertising barrage, self-centered morals, and a lack of genuine Christ followers.

I have a nephew who is nearly 2 years old named Ryan. Alicia and I got to visit him just last week at my parents' house. Right now Ryan is at a stage where he will do absolutely whatever you tell him. We had our miniature dachshund, Hans, with us and he started licking Ryan's face. "Ryan," I said, "When he licks you, you should give him kisses back." Sure enough, Ryan leaned in right away and started trying to lick Hans. The moral of the story isn't just that I'm a bad Uncle either.

Its not just toddlers who mimic what they see or do whatever they are told. Ryan, will grow out of the stage where he quickly does whatever is suggested to him, but he won't outgrow looking at the people around him to see how he should act and behave. His parents, family, and friends will constantly be shaping his beliefs, and his actions.

One of the passages that Clayton, Paula, and I are always coming back to is Deuteronomy 4:9 where God challenges His people to not forget His words, and to pass them on to their children so that they might now what is right. Ephesians 6:4 echoes that challenge and tells fathers to train and instruct their children in the Lord. Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 11:1 , "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."

Students from early childhood to their late teen years look to the action, behavior, and culture around them to form their own behavior and beliefs. We clearly see in the Bible that God not only recognizes this truth, but created it for us to use to raise up children to follow God and be an active part of God's Kingdom.

John Blake told us on that most Christian teens' faith is shallow, and they really can't even express what they believe. We can clearly see how as a child grows up their beliefs and actions are shaped by the people in their lives. So the questions I want you all to answer this week are simple. Are we doing anything as God's church worth following? What's it going to take for teenagers to discover a real faith built on a deep foundation?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Part One: Are We Talking About the Same Person?

We have all seen it before. We will be watching some sitcom on TV. Two of the characters will have a complete conversation about two COMPLETELY different people. The comedic effect? Both characters think they are talking to about the same person. The conversation goes on to the point that your sides hurt from laughter. Finally, they realize that something isn't quite right. In unison they exclaim, "Are we talking about the same person?"

This past week an article written by John Blake from CNN was put up on their website and went all over internet in an instant. There is no question in my mind that it was the biggest piece written about the faith and beliefs of teenagers all year. Blake discussed a topic that has been the main point of discussion in nearly every Student Ministers' circle I am a part of. We are all talking about the growing reality that when we talk about God with students, we might not be talking about the same person. The same is true when we talk about living your faith in your everyday life. We keep asking the question, "Are we talking about the same thing?"

I have included some quotes from the article to hopefully get you interested in reading the whole article on CNN's website. I would love for you to take the time to read the article and post your thoughts on this blog. My next post or two will be my thoughts on this growing reality. As Christ followers we need to look at what is causing students to be 'pseudo' Christians, and what God is calling us to do in response. So go ahead and read the article and let me know your thoughts.

Quotes from CNN's article Almost Christian by John Blake
  • ...more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.
  • (Kenda Creasy) Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of "Almost Christian," a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.
  • The study, which included in-depth interviews with at least 3,300 American teenagers between 13 and 17, found that most American teens who called themselves Christian were indifferent and inarticulate about their faith.
  • Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."
  • Dean, a United Methodist Church minister who says parents are the most important influence on their children's faith, places the ultimate blame for teens' religious apathy on adults.
  • "If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation," wrote Dean, a professor of youth and church culture at Princeton Theological Seminary.
  • She says parents who perform one act of radical faith in front of their children convey more than a multitude of sermons and mission trips

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Albert Sabin's Birthday

Albert was born on this date, in Poland, way back in 1906. He would later come to the US and discover a polio vaccine while working at Children's Hospital here in Cincinnati. The vaccine would go on to be used by 200 million people in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Polio had killed 58,000 Americans in 1952 and was a devastating disease. Sabin's vaccine would lead to polio being eradicated completely in the United States.

Sabin would go on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan in 1986, which is the highest honor for a civilian to receive. Sabin refused to have his vaccine patented. He could have made countless riches off of the vaccine, but instead insisted that it be freely distributed to as many people as possible.

I don't think that I will ever create a vaccine that prevents disease. Although I do make a mean Strawberry milkshake. Albert Sabin was an incredibly gifted doctor. He used his talents to bless people and help them, not to get rich and retire young. Don't be confused and think that the American Dream is get rich and retire young. That dream ends with you feeling empty and unfulfilled. The challenge God has given us in this life is to use the talents He has given us to the best of our ability. We have been blessed with those talents to bless others and share God's goodness with the world. Don't forget that we have been blessed to bless others and not just enjoy it ourselves. You may not feel uniquely gifted to help others in any big way, but God has created us all differently for a purpose. Use your passions and abilities and through hard work you will find a way to bless those around you with what God's blessed you with.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive and inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

Previous Blog Posts
Our God is Near, Our God is Here

Watching Game Film

The Common Man's Olympics (It's that time of year again, let's come up with some new events)

Monday, August 23, 2010

I love Disney Music

I have a huge admission to make. I am 24 years old and the radio station I listen to the most on my Pandora account is called Disney Movies. Go ahead and make fun of me for it, but on the last Student Ministry trip we went on my van spent at least 2 hours of the trip shouting out the words to songs from Aladdin, Tarzan, Mulan, Toy Story, the Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast just to name a few.

You can ask anyone else who works in the Family Ministry Department here at church too. I listen to Disney music probably at least once a week in my cubicle. Which means that everyone else in our little area has to listen to it too. Just to brighten everyone's Monday I thought I would pass this embarrassing truth on to all of you.

And hopefully, to get some conversation going, I am going to put up my list of top 5 favorite Disney Songs. You can let me know what songs I've left out or what your top 5 favorites are. Have a great Monday!

1. Hakuna Matata from the Lion King
2. You'll Be in My Heart from Tarzan
3. Prince Ali from Aladdin
4. Kiss the Girl from the Little Mermaid (I actually have never seen the movie though)
5. I'll Make a Man out of You from Mulan

Honorable Mentions: A Whole New World from Aladdin and I Just Can't Wait to Be King from the Lion King.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Battle of Shiloh

The word Shiloh is Hebrew. It means peace. You may recognize it as the name of the place where Israelites would come and worship at different points in the Old Testament. In those stories the Ark of the Covenant was even there. In the book of 1 Samuel, Samuel himself called the Israelite people there and told them what they needed to do to turn back to God.

The Battle of Shiloh didn't happen in Israel though. It happened in Tennessee in 1862. On April 5th, 6th, and 7th Confederate and Union forces clashed in what was, at that point, the costliest battle in American history. In fact, the over 23,000 casualties suffered in the altercation were more than all the American casualties suffered in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Mexican-American War combined. That's a lot of carnage. It was after this battle that Union General Ulysses S. Grant came to the somber realization that the Civil War would be a long, grueling, and costly war.

The ironic thing about the Battle of Shiloh is that it happened on a patch of land named Shiloh. A lot of blood was shed in a place that has a name that means peace. That's what typically happens with war. World War 2 ended up having devastating effects on the beautiful and historic towns throughout Europe. Those places were never intended for warfare. Still most of our altercations, in war or in life, don't happen on battlefields.

Our costliest arguments happen in living rooms, classrooms, offices, and ball fields. Most of the time they don't happen with people we would label as enemies either. In fact, its quite the opposite. The casualties end up being siblings, parents, coworkers, and friends. That's not what I find most ironic either. What seems even more ironic to me is that as the casualties pile up in our arguments and fights with those around us, we tend to forget what started everything in the first place.

Something sets us off and we start to harbor a grudge. Then we start holding onto other things that happen that cause us grief. Next thing you know we aren't fighting fair, and we are doing whatever we can to pour salt in the wound of our enemy. Even though we can't remember why they are our enemy to begin with.

Shiloh means peace. It's easy for hate to split people apart and make them forget. We are called to love, even in situations when it's the last action on our mind.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I Love to Hate Michigan

I'm speaking this week at church as part of a series called, "6 Things I wish Jesus Never Said." This week's topic come from Luke 6 and Matthew 5. In both those passages Jesus tell us to love the people we love to hate. The phrase is actually, "Love Your Enemies." That is one of those phrases that gets tossed around like crazy. It's right up their with treat others like you want to be treated or tun the other cheek. We say things like that so much that I'm not sure if we even get what they mean anymore. Well we get what they mean, but those statements don't have as much impact as they did the first time we probably heard them. Because seriously, who loves the people that make life difficult?

If you have known me for more than 5 minutes you know I am a massive Ohio State Buckeye fan. If you know anything about Buckeye fans, then you know we HATE the Michigan Wolverines. So much so that whenever I travel into Michigan I wait to fill up my car until after I get back into Ohio. Sometimes I even question the eternal plight of fellow Christ followers who root for that awful team up North. Don't worry I don't say all of this to lead anybody to believe that we are called to love Michigan fans. I tell you all of this just so I could show you this awesome video that has a little fun with our 'love to hate' relationship with Michigan.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Last Day of this Year''s Isaiah 117 Challenge

Yesterday was a ton of fun. Our team that is building a deck totally hit their stride, and the Mvca football teams and two of our other groups knocked out a ton more work at the Mount Washington Cemetery. We also had one other group that helped at the East End Outreach Center and they did an awesome job too.

Afterwords, we all got to head over to the Robert's house and go swimming and eat some awesome food. When it finally came time to leave nobody wanted too. It was a blast. I think it was the perfect way to relax after a hard day's work.

Clayton, our Children's Minister, came and talked with us last night as well. He asked us what dream we were chasing. He wanted to know what excited us or what we were passionate about. The answers were pretty cool. The covered the whole spectrum from playing drums, having a bakery, knowing Jesus better, serving God each day, painting and a lot more. It gets me excited to think about the many ways God can use each of our talents and abilities for His glory.

Please don't forget to continue to pray for us, that we would finish strong today and continue to be safe.

Thanks to everyone who has been supporting this group in prayer. It has been an incredible time for us all. The only thing that would make it better is if everyone who has been praying for us could come out to the Community Picnic that we are throwing tonight at 6pm at the East End Community Garden. We would love to have you be there.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I117C: Day 2

Yesterday was one of the coolest days. Our groups headed out to two different work sites. One was to work on someone's house and the other work site was Mount Washington Cemetery. Both of our groups jumped right in got sweaty and worked really hard.

Julie, the caretaker for the cemetery, called me at the end of the day to say how impressed and blessed she was by our students. Not only that, but at both sites our students got to meet and get to know people from the community. They have been inviting people left and right to our Community Picnic on Wednesday. Keep praying for our students and leaders that God gives us energy to be working for His Kingdom and that he keeps us safe.

We also did something really neat in the evening too. We had just gotten back and cleaned up from the work site, and we got everyone together. We spent just a few minutes about how everybody's biggest need is Jesus, and how finding ways to show Jesus' love to people is sometimes easier than others. At the end of that group discussion we surprised the students by telling them that for the next part of the evening we were going to head out into the community and just find ways to show God's love to people.

God did some pretty cool things during that time too. One group visited people in the hospital to give out ballons and pray with patients. Another group made dinner for one of their neighbors. A couple of other groups handed out Gatorade and water in different parks. One of those groups stumbled upon a young soccer team who didn't have a snack for after the game. It was perfect! One group headed out to help get somebody some groceries. When they arrived at their place the person wasn;t home. Instead of giving up they prayed that God would lead them. As it turns out the guy they were looking for was real close by and had a flat tire! They changed it and gave him his groceries. How cool!

To celebrate we all met up afterwords to swap stories at Skyline. One of our groups that had served at Outreach that evening invited the Outreach volunteers. The servers at Skyline did great! We loved it because we practically took over Skyline and all we were talking about was the cool stuff God had let us be a part of that evening.

Thanks everyone for the prayers. Please keep them up. Today the MVCA Football team is coming out to help us at one of our worksites. Another one of our groups is still working on finishing a deck for a couple. Pray that God keeps us all safe, but also that we get opportunities to have conversations with people in the community. We want a chance to hear their story and share with them how God's story has changed our lives in so many ways. Thanks!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Isaiah 117 Challenge Update

We have a great group of students this year for the Isaiah 117 Challenge. Yesterday they all arrived and we spent the evening hanging out and getting to know everybody. Jamie Ward came in for a few hours last night to share with us what it means to be a servant in God's Kingdom. All in all it was a great first day. Everyone is in their sleeping bag snoring away right now, but in just a couple of hours they will be out into the community working hard.

Jamie walked us through the first chapter of the book of Isaiah. We learned how the people of Israel had forgotten about the God who had created them. Everything around them was a mess, and they were just pretending like it wasn't. Jamie made a great comparison and said if Isaiah chapter 1 had been written today to us it would say, "You all come to church every week and pretend like everything is fine. You do a great job doing church, but you are missing me (God) in this whole thing, and you aren't helping anybody around you!" Pretty much the Israelites were being Sunday Christians. The type of people who come on Sundays, but thats the only time they ever think about God. That's a really easy trap to fall into, and most of us are guilty of it at times. Jamie really challenged us with verse 17 from Isaiah chapter 1. It reads,
"17 learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow."
The challenge of that verse is that it needs to be a way of life not a one time act.

I will try to keep everyone up to date on our adventures. I am so excited at what God is going to do this week. Please be praying for our team as we will be in the sun most of the day. Also be praying for us that we would truly learn what it means to be Kingdom Workers for God and not just Sunday Christians who ignore God 6 days a week. We are going to really try to grow and get beyond ourselves this week. Join us in our challenge and cover us in prayer. Thanks!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Morning Check-In

Reds vs Cards Series
This Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday the 1st place Reds will be facing their Division rivals the Cardinals. I fell in love with baseball watching the Reds win the 1990 World Series as a kid. I remember during the Strike Shortened Season that the Reds and the Astros kept going back and forth at the top of the division. It was fun to watch. This year the Reds and the Cards are doing the same thing. For the first time in my life I have gotten to see the Reds in GABP while they were in first place, and that atmosphere is electric! I am so excited and nervous about this series. Hopefully the Reds can take 2 out of 3 games.

Samson and Focus
This summer our High School Guys Sunday School Class has been going through the book of Judges. Samson's story starts off in Judges 13. People here the name Samson and they think about his strength, but we spent most of our time talking about his focus (or the lack thereof). We dug into the first half of his story.

Samson's parents hadn't been able to have children before him. The Angel of the Lord appeared to them and let them know that their child would have a specific purpose in life. The term the Bible uses for this is Nazarite. To be a Nazarite would mean that you would abstain from alcohol, cutting your hair, and from being in the near vicinity from corpses of any kind. To take the Nazarite vow was to commit yourself to a specific purpose and setting yourself aside.

The interesting thing about Samson is that he didn't do to good of a job with his whole Nazarite Vow thing. He lacked the focus to accomplish the job at hand. It makes you wonder what he could have accomplished as Israel's leader if he had made better decisions. If you read his story though he comes across as a brash, smug young man who was pretty stuck on himself. Not only that he tended to fly off the handle pretty easily. His fellow Isrealites didn't even support him, in fact they turned him over to their enemies at one point.

Accomplishing any goal takes focus and sacrifice. You have to be willing to give up things that you enjoy that could get in your way. You can see what your priorities are in life by looking at what you sacrifice the most for. Whatever that is, it is the thing that you are most focused on, and chances are the thing you will obtain or achieve during your life.

Indoor Soccer
A friend of mine invited me to fill in for someone on his indoor soccer team last night. I told him I could help out, but that I hadn't played soccer since elementary school. It was a lot of fun too. I will admit that the only shot I got I almost whiffed on, but I also did some stuff right (I got to head a ball too which made me feel pretty legit). Chances are though I will never get invited back because of my newb status. We did however beat the top team in the Rec League.

Isaiah 117 Challenge
It is hard to believe it, but the summer is nearly over and that also means that it is almost time for the Isaiah 117 Challenge. In case you haven't heard me say it before, the I117C is one of my favorite parts of the summer. It is such a relational service project. I love getting to know the new students and watch our students step up as leaders and kingdom workers. The I117C starts this Sunday, August 15th and goes all the way to Wednesday, August 18th. We end it with a community picnic too and everybody is invited. This year's picnic will be at 6:00pm on Wednesday, August 18th at the East End Community Garden at the intersection of Strader and Wool Street. The more the merrier so be sure to be there!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Interns Strike Back

This summer at Parkside we have had two High School interns roaming our halls and offices. They have been everywhere from Chicago to pick up furniture, New York for a mission trip, all the way down to Tennessee for a conference. They have led our staff in devotions, accompanied us on hospital calls, and lots of other things.

Jess and Brian have both done a great job this summer. They have been willing to do whatever task is at hand, and have had a good attitude about it even when it is something that stretches them. They really have gotten a chance to see the full spectrum of ministry here at Parkside. They have even gotten to see a side of our ministry staff that few get to. That side is the side that got most of us detention when we were in High School. I have included pictures below for your enjoyment. This was when we taught Brian and Jess how to seran wrap a car. The car belongs to our Children's Minister Clayton. We didn't want anything to happen to it or scratch it so we thought a few protective layers of seran wrap would be good.

Jess and Brian Admiring their handywork.

Jess putting the finishing touches on the job.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Timothy's Mentors

Last week at CIY Move one of the things they focused on was finding a spiritual mentor. The talked about both sides of that relationship. Specifically, how God has called all of us to be investing in someone's faith, and having someone else invest in us spiritually as a mentor. It is a sharpening process that turns us into disciples who can actually make other disciples (which is what we are all called to do).

One of the great examples of this is Paul and Timothy's mentoring relationship. Its awesome that we have 1 and 2 Timothy to look and see how Paul encouraged and helped Timothy grow as a servant of God. If you haven't taken a look at those two New Testament letters, take some time this week to check them out because it will begin to paint a picture of what mentoring could look like for you.

The thing I would like to point out to you is something that was recently pointed out to me. Paul was not Timothy's only mentor. In fact the way that Paul describes it, he was at least 3rd in line in the mentoring process. Check out 2 Timothy 1:5. It says, "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." That is Paul talking there about the foundation of sincere faith that has been developed in Timothy by his mom and grandmother. They played the active role of mentors in Timothy's life.

I was talking about this with a student the other day, and I mentioned that even though it describes two family members being pivotal in his faith development, his dad didn't play a part in that. Acts 16:3 tells us that Tim's dad was a Greek. That doesn't give us the whole picture of Tim's family, but it lets us know that everything wasn't roses for Timothy. He didn't come from the perfect situation. However he did have family members who made sure to take time to pour into him. His grandmother and mother played an important role in shaping Timothy into the Kingdom Worker that he became.

Paul's mentoring relationship with Timothy was still an important one. Timothy was able to watch and learn as he followed Paul around. He would have gotten the chance to see how Paul spent his free time, and the things that Paul valued, which today we can see in all the letters that Paul wrote in the New Testament. Timothy would have gotten the chance to grow and learn through trial and error about sharing the story of Jesus. Being able to learn life alongside someone else is an amazing opportunity.

What I don't want you to miss though is the role that Timothy's family, even though it was far from perfect, played in his spiritual development. They placed the foundation of Christ in Timothy's life. God has positioned parents and family members in a place where they are uniquely gifted to do that best. Deuteronomy 4:9 is just one example in the Bible where God instructs parents to teach their children about God and His word so that they will be raised up in the way they should go. We all need spiritual mentors in our lives, and every child needs family members to be those mentors.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CIY Move: Day 5

Yeah ok so I slept in a little bit today. Our group still made it to breakfast on time, but I am definitely not posting as early in the morning as I was yesterday. Man, yesterday was jam packed with fun, excitement, and God challenging us! Thanks again to everyone who is praying for us.

God has really been doing some powerful stuff in our lives down here at Lee University this week. Our students are willing to step up to that challenge as well. Last night in our group time one of our students had an announcement for everyone. Last year at CIY Move she had accepted a challenge to receive a Kingdom Worker card with a random challenge to do something for Gods kingdom. The speaker that night said that you should only open it if you were willing to accept the challenge to try and do it. That scared our student a little bit, so she held onto that card and left it unopened for an entire year. Last night during one of break times she was praying and she knew it was the time to open it. So she did and she has been planning how to accomplish her challenge ever since. On top of that, another one of our students is ready to take a challenge because of it too.

The theme yesterday was influence, and asking how we could use our influence to bring God glory. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul took a young believer named Timothy around with him for a while on his journeys before eventually Timothy became the minister of the Church in Ephesus at a young age. That is an example of how someone influence someone else to grow and be involved in Kingdom work.

Yesterday I shared with you about our group time and how our students talked about mentoring and how we had a student who shared about mentoring another younger student. It was a really neat conversation to be a part of and it really inspired some of our students to start thinking about how they could serve and pour into other people.

Last night in our group time several of our students said that they wanted to start volunteering at one of our Middle School Outreach events called the Crossing, so they could find a middle school student to start mentoring. It was so awesome hearing here passion and excitement about sharing their faith and life experiences with younger students. Adults and parents back home be praying too, especially if you volunteer at the Crossing already. These HS students who are looking for middle school students to mentor at the Crossing, are going to need mentors themselves. Just imagine the impact they can have if the Holy Spirit works through one of your lives to help sharpen them as they try to help the middle school students they come in touch with. It is an opportunity we can't miss.

Today is all about endurance and we will definitely need it. We are going rafting this afternoon, and the rest of the day is just as busy. We will have a blast, but please continue to lift up our students that they would stay focused, continue to connect with God, grow as they are challenged, and that all that happens here becomes a permanent part of the foundation of their faith.

Thanks! Enjoy the Pictures!