Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rachel's CIY Move Wrap Up

This year was the first year I got to go to CIY MOVE with the church and I'm glad I did. I grew a lot in my faith in just the 5 days we were there. At every session I felt like I was the only one in the room and they made the sermons just for me because they all connected to my life and what I’m going through. 

The one main thing I took away form last week was “If you feel like you’ll let down Jesus, you can’t! Jesus is holding you up and he will never let you down!” That was one of the thing I went in to CIY feeling like “I wonder if I have let Jesus down?” I know now that I can’t let him now, even if I mess up really bad. When people don’t believe God is the light of the world and he is always there, he sees them and asks himself “How can you live like that, not trusting and not letting me hold you up. I am always there just trust and you will see.”
Also another big thing that goes along with letting Jesus down is fall short of what Jesus wants us to be and how we should act. We all fall short because we’re all human!! No one is perfect and no one will ever be perfect. Jesus knows that but we should try to be as close to perfect as we can and there will be times when you mess up or fall short. So don’t beat yourself up about it Jesus will love you no matter what you do!

The Aaron Pelsue Band, the worship band for the week, was awesome. But the first night Aaron Pelsue told all 1400 students that they don’t want to be treated like celebrities but at normal people and everything they do, they do it for the Messiah. The band was so much fun to worship with and they performed some great songs. My favorite song was Beautiful Things. The song says that even though we are not perfect but God will make us Beautiful.  
Rachel Menzel

Friday, August 3, 2012

Across Five Augusts

It was nearly five years ago today that I found myself in nervous anticipation as our wedding guests arrive. I was in a little storage room near the front of the church waiting for the wedding to begin. My dad opened the door and asked me how I was doing. What he said next was one of the things I remember the most from that morning. He said "Matt, you put that girl on a pedestal and do everything you can for her. If I hear that you ever take her off of that pedestal, then you need to be ready to deal with me." No sooner had he finished his sentence, and he had left. The minister and I exchanged glances, surprised by my dad's words.

I had thought that he had come in to give me kind words of wisdom, to encourage me to stay calm, or to let me know what a great decision I was making. After he left I felt like the mob had just told me not to do anything to mess this up.  Looking back on it, my dad was giving me some incredible words of wisdom. God was blessing me with the most incredible woman on the planet. He was giving me a ministry of the utmost importance (Loving my wife).  My duty was to love, serve, and sacrifice everything for her. What a privilege.

Tomorrow is Alicia and my 5th wedding anniversary. We started dating way back in 2001. Its been an amazing decade of time getting to know her, and the past 5 years have been such a wonderful adventure. In that time we have bought a house, invested  five wonderful years at our church, had our first child, have another one on the way, and each day we sail the uncharted waters of our marriage.

As I think back to our first five years of marriage, I am struck by a few truths and things that I think are just as valuable as my dad's wedding day advice:
- No matter how much you know about your spouse there is always more to learn. I think that is so exciting to know!
- God has placed you in the life of your spouse and wants you to sacrifice everything for him/her just like Jesus loved the church. It will always be worth it too. To think otherwise is not just dangerous, it's flat out crazy.
- God will find the most amazing ways to speak to you and love you throu your spouse. It's an incredibly humbling and wonderful experience.
- Marriage is such a great adventure that will take all your talents, time and energy, but just like any great adventure,  there is treasure to be found.

My wife has made so many sacrifices for me. She is constantly a blessing to me. I hope I have held true to my father's words and have kept her on that pedestal. I hope I continue to as well.

Just yesterday she told me that she loves her job in labor and delivery at the hospital. Before she took that job we prayed and sought advice because we knew it would be a huge challenge for both of us for her to transition to a new role at the hospital. It was a dream of hers to work on labor and delivery.  So after much prayer and preparation we went for it. I learned to balance my schedule more so that I could spend more time at home with Zeke, and take on added responsibilities at the house. She learned to change her sleep schedule, get even more done in less time, and how to get ahead on things like grocery shopping. We both learned how to communicate better, how to take advantage of every moment we had as a family, and how to fight to make time to continue to grow our relationship with each other.  Our journey is far from over, but through our pursuit of one of my wife's dreams, we found some of God's treasure in our adventure.

Thanks Alicia for going on life's great adventure with me!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Another Guest Post: CIY MOVE

CIY is a wonderful conference that challenges you by taking you out of your comfort zone. When our group first got there we stuck together and stayed in a group. As the week went on, though, I started to branch out and meet different people. From playing Frisbee with some guys from Texas to volleyball with some people from Jacksonville, Florida, the diversity of people there is astounding.
            The worship is another amazing aspect of CIY. The sight of a few thousand kids worshiping together is a sight to behold. The songs sung hit home because of their relation to the message that the adult leaders had been teaching about all day. They also did a really cool thing during worship where one group of people said a prayer that was projected on the screen while another group read a passage from the bible and the last group sang with the band, then they switched the groups.
            The lessons that were taught each day were well thought out and asked us to look inside of ourselves and see were we were at fault and showed us ways we could fix those things and make ourselves better people.
            The best part out of the whole thing was the guest speakers. Each one of them talked about the lessons of the day and while their styles were different they were all monumental. There was a part of Wednesday where you could choose one of several speakers to listen to and while most were videos several were live seminars. I went to see Jeff Walling and his talk titled “Love Your Enemies, What!” His talk was an incredible mix of seriousness and comedy that caught me off guard and made me think of how I treat others that I don’t like. All the speakers talked about serious topics that made you look deep down and see who you really were.
            On Thursday we had extended rec. time and our group went white water rafting. The experience was exhilarating. The day before we went, there were thunderstorms so the water was fast and high and the rapids were huge. There were a lot of class 3 and 4 rapids which are on the high end of the scale. I went out of the raft six times, four times on purpose and two times unintentionally. By the end of the trip I was thoroughly soaked and a little sore from when I had hit a shallow rock.
            On the last day, Matt, our group leader passed out small envelopes and told us that they were a challenge to each of us to be a kingdom worker. The envelope had a small card that had a challenge that, if we opened it, we had to complete it. I was a little intimidated by it because I was uncertain if I could complete what was on the card. Because of several things that my friends had said to me, I opened the envelope. The challenge on the card made me laugh because it was something I had wanted to do all year. My challenge was to pray three times a day. It was such a relief that I chuckled.
            Overall, the trip was a great “Mountaintop” experience and I can’t wait until next year to go back again. I recommend going to CIY whether you are confident or struggling in your faith. Meeting new friends, playing games and getting closer to God are things that are hard to put together but CIY does it perfectly.

-Coy Fletcher

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guest Post: CIY Move Wrap Up

For me, CIY Move was probably the best week of my year so far.  The messages really spoke to me, especially when they talked about how I need to spend more time with the Lord throughout my day and devote more time towards him.  

My favorite part in the sessions though was probably the worship.  The Aaron Pelsue Band did and awesome job of singing and playing, but it wasn't that that made it so awesome.  It was the feeling you get when you are standing in the front of the room, 30 feet away from the band, and look back to see the rest of the room.  1,400 people with their arms open wide, singing praise to the Lord of the heavens and Earth, is an awe inspiring moment.  It would have been hard NOT to feel God's love and prescence in that moment. 

The change in people's relationships was also a wonderful thing to see.  Not only their friendships, but also their relationship with the Creator of the heavens and earth.  At the end of the week, people wrote letters to each other.  A prayer I had in that moment was for God to "make me and others an instrument" for his will, and for him to speak to others through the letters I and other people wrote.  Multiple people actually shed tears at letters they had recieved, and that was another moment where I could feel God's prescence as if it were a tangible, physical thing.  One of my friends also came to know God at CIY, and will be being baptized soon, which is cause for rejoicing.  

After I left Move, I had gained much that carried through to my regular life.  I had become better friends with a large group of Christian friends, and had also had a sort of renewal with my faith.  I had realized I was not spending enough time with my Lord.  If I spent more time playing video games than reading my bible every day, then something was wrong.  I encourage everyone to take up this opportunity to get to know God, or better understand him, next year when it comes time for CIY again.  I look forward to next year, and know with His help, it will be as good as or better than this year!

-Will McBeath, Parkside Intern

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 2 at CIY MOVE

Yesterday (Tuesday), was a packed day! It was a great day but it was jam packed. Let me real quick try and catch you up on all the great stuff that's been going on here. I the morning we watched a film called Sons and Daughters all about God being or heavenly Father and how he wants each of us to speak into the lives of the Fatherless around us. It was incredible! Then after lunch some of our guys entered the basketball tournament. They made it to the final 4 before they lost. We knew it was going to be over when the other team threw down a reverse dunk (ouch). Later in the afternoon we had some hang out time, and then we all put on our cowboy outfits. We had so much fun acting like cowboys, Will dressed up like a horse, and tanner and dana dressed up like cows. It was hilarious. We definitely turned some heads at dinner time. Finally in our evening session yesterday the speaker talked about trusting God and embracing Him as our heavenly Father. She said we could never let God down because we weren't ever holding Him up. He is the one holding us up. It was a great truth for our students, our group time last night was full of some really good sharing. It's been great to hear students opening up, asking questions, and encouraging others in group time. Please keep up your prayers for our students and leaders. Have you read Matthew 5-7 yet? Read it and pray through it with us. Please dedicate time throughout the day to lift up our students to God. Pray that God's word is stored deep in ear hearts and that they would take His truth with them for the rest of their lives! It's been great. I can' wait to see what today holds. Matt

Monday, July 16, 2012


First off just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has been praying for us. Our trip today was as perfect as can be Praise God! Even the area where we heard traffic could cause hours of delays ended up only being a five minute delay. We had a lot of fun on the road too. Well it is hot, but that just means we sweat a little bit more during on the fun. Worship was awesomes tonight. Everyone got their heart rate going as we were jumping p and down praising God. It's going to be a great week. Keep praying and read Matthew 5-7 if you want to keep up with what we will be learning about all week. Tonight our speaker spoke through a video that he recorded at a Bull Riding School. The whole point was that we can't follow Christ just a little bit, but we had to go all in. Just like you can't kind of ride a bull. You have to jump on and go for the ride. Following Jesus is dangerous and crazy, just like riding a bull. Go ahead read Matthew 5-7 and tell me you don't think it would be dangerous for you to completely live out that passage. Thanks, Matt

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Great Graduation Speech

Two of my favorite guys on the internet are Rhett and Link. If you haven't heard of them, they are two self-proclaimed "Internet-tainers" who make a living making videos for youtube. They are great at it too.

Anyways, Rhett and Link got invited back to their High School to give the commencement speech. I included the video below. Yes it is 18 minutes, but it is funny, honest, and one of the more insightful grad speeches I have heard in a while. Whether you are graduating this year or are just crashing grad parties check this out:
Rhett and Link's Song and Speech

Here is another blog I recently read about miscues in Student Ministry. Very Insightful:
Adam McLane's  5 Common Misreads on Teenagers in Youth Group

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Grundy Mission Trip: Final Update!

This is our last update from Grundy Mountain Mission. It has been such a special trip. We aren't ready to leave tomorrow morning. Thank you all so much for your prayers. We have been strengthened by them for sure. We can't wait to get back and celebrate and share our experiences with you all, but until then here is an update form one of our students:
Hi everyone! I’m Beth Noble and I had the opportunity this week to go on the mission trip to Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Virginia.  This week has been an awesome experience full of all kinds of work projects, fun, and a little bit of sleep.  Tonight during our group time, we gave out “awards” to people that we saw God through this week.  It was a great way to finish up the trip and what would I mission trip be without a few tears, right? So looking back at the week I really think I saw God not only through all the people on our team, but through the kids attending the school here.  They live here with no phone, no Facebook, they only get three meals a day (no snacks), they don’t get to see their families very often, and they still are filled with such joy.  They go everyday without the things we feel we can’t survive without.  They welcomed us with open arms and they showed us so much love all throughout this week.  They became good friends to our whole team no matter our age.  They truly have a love for God and it shows in daily interactions with them. 
Also, I saw God through our team.  We had a bunch of younger kids come along with their families and some of our students helped out a lot with taking care of them, which was really neat.  Some of our high school boys took the leadership roles in the work projects by helping out with the lifting and harder work.  Like every trip, not everything went as planned.  Some people got sick, some got hurt, but they got up every single morning and went out with a smile on their face and got the job done.  Not only was the job done well, but they went above and beyond expectations despite how they were feeling.  There were a bunch of ways God’s love was shown throughout the trip and I am so thankful I got to be a part of it.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Grundy Mountain Mission Days 3 and 4

Update Day 3 and 4
 Sorry everybody but the internet was down in our area yesterday so this update is for yesterday and today. Here are updates form some of our students and leaders about what they have been doing and where they have seen God. Enjoy and keep up the prayers!

Braden Sotkiewicz
Today I had an awesome experience getting to work the technology stuff for VBS. This in itself was fun and all but the really great thing was that I was behind everyone and got to see all of the kids standing together and worshiping God.

We have all been working hard in our projects here to help their school look better. All of the students that came with us from Parkside have been working so hard its almost surprising how great people are in their work. We only have one more day of work left so we are all very worn out but still ready to work.

Tanner Sotkiewicz talked to the group about how his first Cross Country season was amazing. He talked about that he started off the season not being able to keep up with anyone at all so he stopped the summer practices after just one day. He then started running again when the actual season started and began to break his own personal records. After about half of the season it turned out that he had qualified for the varsity cross country team which you could tell just inspired the kids to work hard and keep up with what they start with.

Lindsay Smith and Michael Adkerson
Today was a much sunnier day so we were able to have our second day of soccer camp out at the field down the road. There was an incredible amount of teamwork shown on both sides in the relay races that we started off the camp with. From there, we worked our way up through drills to an all-out-game where the Mountain Mission students made it obvious how well they work together. We are praying that tomorrow shows just as much improvement and god’s hand at work.

Debbie Nimmo
This morning we started off with an awesome devotion by the Sotkiewicz’s before heading out to do our projects.  It’s been so cool to see so many people, ages 14 months (Zeke) - ????,  all working together with  such amazing attitudes and amazing hearts…I’ve yet to hear any complaining. J From there we moved on to VBS.  Watching our students jumping up and down to “Oh Happy Day” with all the students from here was such a God sighting…. I’m still smiling at the thought of the energy that filled the room! We learned about the story of Esther and how she showed courage by speaking up for her people.  It was so cool to hear our student leaders share their stories of  the times when they have been courageous and have stood up for their friends, even when it wasn’t easy.  In turn, the Grundy students were anxious to share their stories.  We came to pour out love and blessings on these students, and yet spending time with them each day has been such a blessing to both, me and my family!

Here are some pictures!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Grundy Mountain Mission School: Day 2

Today was incredible thanks for the prayers! We had such a great time and everyone did such a great job. Hopefully I won't forget anything in the update, but it was a very jam-packed day so forgive me if something slips my mind.

The Sotkiewicz family arrived here safely this evening. Now we have our whole team here. Julie, who is sick, had a good day today and was such a trooper. All the urgent care facilities here around Grundy will open back up tomorrow so she will be able to go get medicine and hopefully get to feeling better right away! Please continue to pray that she has a speedy recovery and that no one else gets sick.

Our day started off with our first set of lessons for VBS. We did it all as a part of their normal Sunday School. Our theme for the week is Courage: Doing what you should do even when you are afraid. Our students jumped right in and showed a great amount of courage too! They did a great job of leading the songs, sharing stories and leading small group time with all of the children. It was so cool to watch them in action. I can't wait until tomorrow so that I can upload some pictures of our team (I don't have the camera with me tonight, sorry!) Everyone did a really great job.

In the afternoon our guys played pick up basketball with their High School Guys. It was so much fun. We held our own and even won a few games. Needless to say we are all tired out from the games, and a few of us have blisters on our feet from all the action.

In the evening our students led the Mountain Mission Students in a prayer time after dinner, and then held an open gym for their Middle School and High School Girls.  Much fun was had by all.

Please continue to pray for our students, families, and the rest of our team. It has been such a special mission trip already and we hope that God lets us continue to serve and be a blessing. Tomorrow we will be working on several projects around the campus, having part 2 of our VBS, and starting our soccer camp as well. Thanks for the prayers. Tomorrow I'll also try to get some of our students and leaders to give the update on the blog. Keep up the prayers!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Grundy Mountain Mission School Day 1

Hey everybody! Thanks for all of your prayers and support. Our team made it here safe and sound this afternoon. We had a small bump in the road with some car sickness, and one of our adult leaders isn't feeling well, but God definitely is watching out for us on this trip.

We are so excited because tomorrow we will be getting to start our VBS during their Sunday School hour, we will get to hang out a lot with the students, and run through all of our materials for the rest of the week. You can be praying for us that God would keep us all healthy and safe. That he would help our adult leader who isn't feeling well have a quick and speedy recovery. On top of all of this pray that our team will reveal and celebrate God's glory with passion. We want to lift Jesus' name on high and share His goodness with everyone we meet.

I am so proud of our team already. They are doing a tremendous job. Everyone did a great job traveling. Our little guys and gals were such troopers, and our students did a great job of being flexible to their schedules.  When we arrived they did a great job of representing both Parkside, and God's Kingdom with how they acted. During dinner because of a kitchen accident they ran out of food, and not all of our team was able to eat as much as they wanted. Still nobody complained, whined, or even looked upset. Praise God how cool is that!

Tonight we also got to have an open gym with the Middle School Boys from the Mission. It was such a blessing. They are so well behaved and we had a blast playing basketball with them. Please continue to pray for us. I'll do my best to update the blog daily and who knows I might even find a way to get some pictures on here or on the church's Facebook page. I'm so excited to see the special things God lets our team be a part of this week!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Worship in a Box

This past weekend in Student Ministry we had our Worship Services in a box.  It's not the conversation that you think is coming either. I've heard a lot of ministers talk about their Sunday morning services as, "Worship in the Big Box." As our Student Ministry team got ready to do a series on Biblical Worship it gave me an idea. We wanted to show students why our Sunday services look like they do. Why do we sing? Why does someone speak? Why do we collect money? Are we really eating Styrofoam wafers during communion?

So instead of getting everyone into a 'big box' and teaching them about every element of our worship service, we put all of the elements into a little box and gave them to our small groups to go outside and explore. Our students and leaders loved going outside and having their own special worship service with their group. 

One of the most memorable parts of the Worship Field Kit was how we 'took up' the offering. When each group opened their box a helium balloon would pop out and just float there, tethered to the box. When it came time for the offering, someone in the group would read the prompt. This is what it said:

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NLT)
"“17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.”"
Uh-oh we are talking about money. Why do we collect money during a worship service? Are ministers just too lazy to get a real job? When we give our lives to Jesus we are also giving him everything we have for Him to use as he wants. That'’s why we ‘sacrifice’ and give our money as an ‘offering’ for Him to use. We can give other things besides our money too though. We can also give our time, and use our talents to serve him.
I bet you have been wondering why there was a balloon in your field kit. Hopefully you haven’t popped it or let it fly away yet. Part of giving an offering is trusting God to use what we have given for His Glory.  Hold onto the balloon we are gonna use it in just a second.

Who in the group has a single dollar that they are willing to give to God to use? Put all of the money in the offering envelope in box. Seal the envelope and tie or tape the offering envelope to the balloon ribbon. Have someone who gave a dollar pray that God would use your offerings to bless someone in need. After the prayer, release the balloon. Its ok if it doesn’t fly away. If it stays on the ground just leave it there and trust God that someone will find it who needs it.

It was one of the coolest Offerings I've ever seen collected. Throughout the evening in the park beside our church, groups of students would bring their balloon with the handful of dollars they had collected, pray that God would use their gift, and then release their balloon. None of us know where our Offering Balloons ended up, but we all know that God is going to use what we gave.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Tip to Surviving March Madness

We all know what it feels like right? Our facebook or twitter feeds get swamped with generic, raving sports comments and statues like:

  • As much as I love Ohio State basketball, I have so much respect for Robbie Hummel and the career he had with Purdue!
  • My bracket's made an epic climb from bottom 20 percent to top eight percent.
  • A good run, Xavier. Now we are down to rooting for IU and whoever is playing osu or uk, assuming they win.
  • I hate referees. This week has seen some bad officials...
  • How do you move the ball so well for 39 minutes and then make THAT your last shot??

Here is my solution. Instead of going crazy, getting annoyed, and unfollowing people you may generally like, simply play a fun round of Sports Status Mad Libs. Take the following statuses and tweets above (all of them are real by the way). First remove all the names of teams and players from them:

  • As much as I love _____ ______ _______, I have so much respect for ______ _______and the career ____ had with ______!
  • My _______ has made an epic climb from bottom 20 percent to top eight percent.
  • A good run, ______. Now we are down to rooting for ______ and whoever is playing _____ or ______, assuming they win.
  • I hate ______. This week has seen some bad ______...
  • How do you move the ______ so well for 39 minutes and then make THAT your last _______??

And then insert whatever you think makes for the best laughs:
  • As much as I love Justin Bieber, I have so much respect for his Christmas Album and the career he had before people actually listened to it!
  • My toilet has made an epic climb from bottom 20 percent to top eight percent.
  • A good run, Nickelback. Now we are down to rooting for U2 and whoever is playing Boys 2 Men or N'SYNC, assuming they win.
  • I hate cheddar. This week has seen some bad cheese...
  • How do you move the furniture so well for 39 minutes and then make THAT your last arrangement??

From that point on whenever that friend starts spouting off about the greatness of their team your mind will immediately begin replacing the names with whatever you came up with earlier. Hilarity will ensue. Hope it makes the awesome month of March just a little bit better for everybody whether your bracket is busted or not.

*- I am one of those guys who from time to time will fill your timeline up with sports related tweets and for that I deeply apologize.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

#7daysofservice Challenge

As we enter into day 2 of the #7daysofservice Challenge, there are two verses I want to share with you. The first is Mark 9:41. It says, "Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward." Jesus is teaching his disciples about a variety of things and he includes this little nugget of truth. If you do something in my name, no matter how small, it won't go unrewarded. Essentially if you serve others in the name of Christ and His Love, you won't return empty handed. Serving others for God's glory is life-changing for both the doer and the recipient. That's how God's kingdom works.

The second verse is from 1 Corinthians 13:3. It reads, "
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." Isn't that interesting? You can give up everything you have to those in need, and go through immense suffering, but if you have no purpose in those things then you gain NOTHING. Without God's love, our acts of service leave us without meaning. The biggest act of serving someone else can leave you feeling down and disappointed if you do it for the wrong reasons.

Let's keep both of these verses in mind as we serve others this week (and every week for that matter). God does not want us to simply serve our fellow man. He desires for us to connect to Him, fill up with His Love, and share that love with others. If we serve those around us in the name of Jesus, that is when God can start doing incredible life-changing things through our actions. That kind of service is a reward that lasts an eternity!