Thursday, December 31, 2009

Have A Happy New Year

My wish to you, make 2010 a great one!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Power Of Tragedy

Tonight I watched a tragic story (otherwise known as a movie, but lately I've been so much more into story than effects...). It had a horrible ending (as in I hated it) but it also showed reconciliation in the face of adversity.

It got me thinking about the power of tragedy. So many times people have drastic life changes not when things are going well, but when things go bad. Many people can either point to the time where they regained faith in God, or lost faith in Him, to a point of tragedy in their lives. And I started thinking, why is this? Why do some people grow closer to God or even turn back to God at times such as this while others blame God and leave Him behind?

Ultimately the only thing I could come up with is the tragedy itself does not make the change, it is merely a catalyst. We make the change. In the tragedy we look to where God is and sometimes we see him holding us, sometimes we see His love in others, and sometimes we feel completely alone and decide to continue on like that.

When tragedy strikes, don't blame God. Don't use that horrific event to make a life change, rather allow yourself to see God in it. I'm so thankful for people who are willing to come alongside those who who are in these awful times and wade in the waters of despair with those barely able to swim so they can see God loves them and wants the best for them even if that isn't visible in their circumstances (thank you Stephen Ministers!!).

In the coming year, I hope and pray you have no tragedies. But if you do, stand strong, don't fall...

An old favorite:

Isaiah 40:31 ~ But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (NLT)


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Simeon & Anna

These are two people that for some reason seem to be lost in the Christmas story. Two people who had more faith than those around them when it came to the Messiah.

Do you know who they are? If not, check Luke 2.

But my bigger question is this? How is it that in every cantata, play, drama, anything Christmas they never seem to get mentioned? The people who pronounced Jesus as the Messiah are missed?

Just something I was wondering, since their stories took place a few days after Christmas, I'd guess about 8 :)


Monday, December 28, 2009

The Gospel According To Lost?

It's a new book that's out. You can see it here:

Now, I love the show Lost. I like how it messes with my mind and makes me ask more questions than they give answers. But I am not going to buy this book.

I am tired of our "be the first" society. We know there's a buck to be made so we hurry to get things out first, not best. The show Lost, it's not done yet. 2010 is the final season. All the questions we have are culminating to the next episodes. But this person is writing a book without getting all the facts. They can't have them, the show is not done yet.

I would rather wait and make sure I have something quality. I guess that's what makes me different from a lot of society (who waits when you have credit cards?) but I would rather have something quality than quick.

And don't think I'm mad at this guy, he's only doing what everyone else is doing. Scene It Star Wars came out before the last movie was made, heck, Scene It Harry Potter after the third movie (when we knew there were seven books). The sad part is, the only reason it works, people buy it...


Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Whole Story

I don't know why this seems to always happen, but around Easter I always seem to be reading the Christmas story in the Bible, and around Christmas the Easter story.

Not knowing the mind of God, my best guess is that He constantly wants to remind me of the big picture. I am very thankful for this time of year, God showed up in all His glory to enter and be a part of our world. But there was a reason for Christmas, Easter. Jesus entered humanity so He could die and rise again for us. Without Easter, Christmas is nothing but a fancy show.

Keep the whole story in mind this season. There's also many years of teaching in between Christmas and Easter people seem to skip...


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Just wanted to get on quick and say Merry Christmas to everyone! Now, back to the turkey...


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Can You Leave It Behind?

A question for Christmas Eve, since many will be leaving Jesus behind for presents and many other things Christmas related. There's a story in the Bible of a blind man who heard Jesus was coming to town, and also knowing Jesus could heal him, he called out for Jesus. Eventually Jesus asked people to bring this bland man to Him, then this happened.

Mark 10:50 ~ The blind man jumped up, left his coat there, and went to Jesus. (NCV)

This mane left his coat behind. It doesn't seem like much in our culture, but think about it. He would have had one coat. He was a beggar, he was probably lucky to have it. And he doesn't know what it looks like so not only could someone have stolen it, if someone claimed it as theirs he would have no way to tell if they were lying or not. What was probably this man's only possession and necessary to keep warm at night, he threw away at the chance to meet Jesus. Meeting God face to face and being made whole meant more to him than what he owned.

This Christmas Eve, meet with God, and don't worry about the possessions. Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It Took A Second Time

This is one of those stories that always bothers me.

Mark 8:22-26 ~ They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, He led him out of the village. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up. “I see men. They look like walking trees.”
So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus. Jesus sent him straight home, telling him, “Don’t enter the village.” (MSG)

One of the first questions I want to ask God when I get to heaven, why did it take two times for this to happen. I refuse to believe that Jesus had trouble healing this person, so what was it? There's no other story where this happens. Some people even are healed by Jesus without Him knowing about it (the woman with the issue of blood touched Jesus' clothes and was healed, Jesus had to ask who touched Him). So why the intermediary "people looking like trees" step? Was the man's blindness healed, but he was near-sighted so Jesus fixed that the second time?

So many questions...


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Believe Therefore I Am

I woke up thinking about this, what if we treated everything in this manner. After all, some people think they are followers of Christ simply because they believe God is real. Let's see if that works in the rest of the world...

I believe President Obama is a real person, does that make me a Democrat?
I believe satan is real, does that make me a satanist?
I believe football is real, does that make me a NFL player? (if so, someone owes me a paycheck)
I believe Italy is a real place, does that make me Italian?
I believe there is a cosmos outside of our atmosphere, does that make me an astronomer? An astronaut?
I believe chickens are real, does that make me poultry?
I believe it is cold outside, does that make me cold?
I believe in Ecuador it's warm, does that make me hot? Or Ecuadorian? Or both?
I believe the jeans I am wearing are real, does that make me made of denim?
I believe Lorie loves me, is that what makes us married?
I believe Jesus was and is a real person, does that make me a follower of Jesus?

It doesn't work, does it? Believing President Obama is a real person doesn't make me a Democrat, if I joined the party or how I voted determines that. Believing there's an Italy doesn't make me Italian, me living there and holding citizenship in that country determines if I'm Italian. Lorie's love is great, but that's not what made us married, it was a ceremony in which I made a promise to love her and be with her.

Now go back to God, does belief by itself work? I don't think so. What made me a part of the things mentioned above were my choices, how I acted, how I lived, where I made commitments. That's how our faith should work too...


Monday, December 21, 2009

Go With The Flow

Earlier I was reading some of the writings of Lao Tzu (he's the guy who started Taoism). Pretty smart guy, it's all very poetic. But here's what I was reading. He was talking about well known sayings.

And this one also, 'Rolied as a torrent.'
Why roiled as a torrent?
Because when a man is in turmoil how shall he find peace
Save by staying patient till the stream clears?

To explain it in modern day terms, think white water rafting. When you fall out of the boat you are taught not to swim, not to fight the current, not to save yourself. Those things are all dangerous. You are taught to point your toes downstream and ride the current until you get to a safe, calm place.

Tzu is saying the same thing here for life. Sometimes when things seem overwhelming we want to kick and fight it and solve our problems when really, what we should do is be patient and wait out this time of trouble, not making any rash decisions in the midst of the problem.

Smart guy. Not basis of a religion smart (legend has it he was born an old man with white hair and a white beard after being immaculately conceived, I'm not so convinced...)


Saturday, December 19, 2009


I'm not sure if you knew this, but earlier this year Compassion hit a milestone, they had their 1,000,000th child sponsored. To see more, visit here

Keep up the good work, I hope soon we hit 2...


Friday, December 18, 2009

Prayer Of Dedication

Earlier this week Lorie and I were watching the original televised opening of Disneyland. As Lorie said, "It's like we're watching someone's home movie." It was quite fun, especially seeing all the things that we would be experiencing in the world of tomorrow, otherwise known as 1986.

But there was something that struck me. At the opening were all sorts of important people, including actor Ronny Reagan, but people along with Walt like the governor of California. And all of them stood for a moment while a pastor friend of Walt's asked there to be a silent prayer to christen Disneyland (done in silence so no denomination would be biased). Then the governor came forward and asked that God's blessing and love be on this place.

It just made me think, that would never happen today. Today we would never allow that, especially in a public place and on television. But what else is now allowed on television and accepted in public places? Just the other day a kid was sent home from school for drawing a picture of Jesus...

I don't know, maybe we need more public prayers and asking God to be a part of our world, even if it is a fantasyland.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Series Of Moments

it's a quote I heard the other day. "Life is not a series of endings but a series of moments."

it's true. Life never ends. There are things, pieces of your life, relationships, jobs, vacations, who knows what else that are not really a start or end to your life, they are simply a moment in your life. None of them have the power on their own to end our life, only the power we give them.

Some moments are harder, more fun, longer, more important than others, but our lives are made up of all of them. Maybe if we stopped looking at certain hard things as "the end of it all" and instead as simply a moment that is both occurring yet passing things won't bother us so much.

Just a thought.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Like To Be Disturbed

In my reading, this verse popped out at me and kind of stuck with me today:

Mark 6:20b ~ Herod was disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so he liked to listen to him. (LB)

I wonder how many people feel that way about church. They like it, but it disturbs them. They know what they should be doing, and they like hearing about what they should be doing, they just don't like being encouraged to do what they should be doing.

Isn't it funny how god's Word can have that effect on our lives? We like it but are disturbed by it at the same time. Maybe that's the power of it, that the Word of God inspires us to be better, which we like but at the same time is also hard.

I don't know. Food for thought.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thank You Ladies

Today I want to give a big thank you to the ladies who help put the Sanctuary back to normal every Monday!!

for those that don't know, we have a group of volunteers who come in every Monday and take attendance sheets, fix hymnals, even take the time to check all the pencils and sharpen any that are dull or broken. Thank you so much!

To me these people are vital for two reasons. One, they do the little things that most people seem not to worry about. Actually, I take that back. No one worries about the little things when they are asked to do them, but they seem to care a whole lot about little things when they aren't done for them.

Which brings me to two, these ladies do it well. They know the importance of doing all things well, especially the little things. Too often we get sidetracked looking at the big picture and wondering how we can make it better all the while ignoring the fact there is no big picture, there are only small components that make up a big picture. If we all focused on doing the little things as well as these ladies do, our church, our world would be a better place.

Thanks again, I appreciate all you do!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Our World

Every once in a while I get a glimpse into our world and wonder "what the heck?"

On Saturday I had the fun job of cleaning and restoring our computer (it got a virus that just did not want to go away). So I did what needed to be done and had to update Microsoft (that little yellow shield in the corner). Of all the updates, most of them, I'd say over 2/3's, were security issues.

Imagine what kind of computing systems we'd have if the software programmers didn't have to spend all their time creating security programs because of people who have nothing better to do with their time than try and mess up computers? How fast/easy/prolific would our programs be if they didn't spend so much memory warding off intruders?

But then again, wouldn't the world be a better place if people simply looked out for people instead of themselves (and thereby harming others)?


The Princess And The Frog

It's the new Disney movie, so of course Lorie and I went and saw it yesterday (we like going to see movies at 2 in the afternoon, there were 8 people in the theater including us).

It was pretty good. Again Disney spun a story that most people know, and I really wanted to go back to Louisiana and get some food after the movie. But all in all it was good.

What amazes me though is how thorough Disney is. After the movie we went and did some Christmas shopping. We decided to stop at the Disney store and see if they had anything for Raymond, a character in the movie. The entire front of the store, all Princess and the Frog stuff. All of it. You could get anything you want for the movie. One girl at the showing before us was even dressed as the princess in the costume that just came out.

I don't know, I just kind of wish the church would operate like this. We have a great story to share, one the is life changing. Disney took a story, presented it well, then gave you the ability to take it home with you. Isn't that what we should be doing?

By the way, I wanted to talk about the movie, but I won't ruin it for anyone. I'll just say it was worth the $6 (another advantage to 2 in the afternoon).


Friday, December 11, 2009

Do You Know The Real Story?

This morning I was reading the original Grimm's version of the fairytale "Cinderella". It's a story most people know, but they know the newer version from which the Disney movie was based off. It was a nice little story, no fairy godmother but a bird living in the tree on the grave of Cinderella's dead mother who gave wishes. And I really liked the part where the wicked step-sisters try to put on the golden shoe the prince used to find his bride, one cut off her toe, the other her heel to try and make the shoe fit.

As I was reading I was thinking about how we so seldom know the real story but we know the version that eventually gets to us after it has been repeated and passed down many times. After all, in our age of "dramatic licence" very few stories are now told as they once were (Disney's "Hercules" is one that always gets me. Kids only know the movie story, they have no idea how awesome the original Greek version is). No, we don't read the original anymore, we listen to someone else tell it, who had listened to someone else tell it, and so on.

The reason I think about this now is Christmas. The story that is told at this time of year is the most often told, acted out, watched, story in the church it seems. But not often read. Last Sunday the Sr. High students had to write out the story from memory and see how well they "really" knew it. We had some parts missing, some parts were added, but hopefully it opened up their eyes to how well they know the true story.

So my challenge this Christmas is to enjoy the movies, the plays, the Christmas sermons, the musicals, and the many other ways you will witness the Christmas story this season. But after it's all said and done, go back to the original. You may be surprised at the true story...


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Where Are We At?

I was reading the parable Jesus told of scattering seeds. It's one I've read a lot of times, but I saw something different today.

Too many times I hear this parable explained wrong (at least I think so). If the seed is God's Message planted in people (which Jesus says it is) then that means all the seeds/soil are people who have at least heard the Gospel, I think they have at least accepted it. So the story is not about four random people who hear about Jesus and only the last one are Christians, all four would be people who at some point gave their life to Christ. The fourth one is the one producing fruit.

Looking at the four then, which one are we? Which one is the church? The first one was the Good News in someone's life, than satan comes and takes it away. If satan took it away, they wouldn't come to church, so that's not us.

The second soil is people who accept the Good News with great joy, but then give up after a short time because the teaching doesn't go deep into their lives. I think there are some people in the church like this, but it's not the majority. In our church at least, many people have been there many years. Maybe they have given up but still show up on Sunday?

Skip ahead. The last seed found good soil, planted roots, grew and produced fruit (it says 30, 60 and 100 times more than the seed). I think there are some people producing fruit in our church, but not many, and not like this. If each person in our church produced one fruit, our church would double, and that's not the case.

So that leaves option three. Mark 4 says the person in this area heard the teaching and accepted it. I think many people in our church are there. But it also says that they didn't go any further. The teaching doesn't grow, it doesn't produce fruit. Instead of focusing on the teaching or the gospel these people focus on the world and all the worries of it. So the third group would be people who believe in Jesus Christ but they aren't doing anything to grow and because of that no one is asking them about their faith and they aren't producing fruit. It's sad, but I think the church in general is at this stage.

But there is hope. As we will be talking about at the Winter Retreat, you can fix soil. You can work soil and add nutrients and make it better to grow food. It just takes work and time. The question is are we willing to make that investment...?


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

It's Not The List

This Christmas I've noticed something I have not noticed this before (not that it hasn't happened before, but I'm more attentive now). People are obsessed with lists. It's all about getting the list of things someone wants for Christmas.

Now I know I did this too. I remember sitting down with the Sears Wishbook (remember those) and circling what I wanted or I remember giving my list to mom so she could farm it out to everyone.

But I was really thinking about this, is that the spirit of Christmas? It's supposed to be a gift, something special from me to you, not a thing on your list so you get what you want.

I still don't know what the balance is for this. I mean, on one hand if I know you and love you, I'd know what you want. Then again, I know I'm crappy to buy for and I have other people in my life like that too, I want to give them a gift but I have clue what the heck to buy!

I don't know. More pondering, but I hope that when we give gifts this Christmas it won't be to scratch something off the list but to actually give a gift.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Are We Doing Church Right?

This is not talking about serving or our hearts, discipleship, etc. I am wondering about Sunday morning services, that one (or more) hour of spending time with God. Specifically that thing we call a sermon...

Here's where I got this. Sunday night at our Student Ministry Drink Deep we talked about the importance of story. How storytelling and understanding stories is important to our faith (in this case the Christmas Story). And in this we went through the history of storytelling.

For thousands of years, storytelling was the thing. It was the only way in a community to convey a message, mainly historical, that we connect to in some way. So the Sunday morning sermon made sense. You would get the people in the community together to hear a story about God and have it explained somewhat. For the longest time, books were precious and rare, they had to be written by hand. Even after Gutenberg, still only the rich had books, and only those few who were literate. The idea of gathering together to hear a story was important.

But in our culture, is it? Everyone can read the story for themselves now. Forget reading a story, we can watch a story now! We have plays, TV, movies, we get to see high quality stories in HD all the time. Why would you want to essentially move backward and listen to someone talk and tell stories when we can go see them ourselves (with way cooler special effects)? Why would someone not raise in church, not knowing the importance of the stories want to suddenly want to join that?

I wonder if storytelling in the church will change? Obviously we can't put on a play every week or make church a TV program (where's the sense of community in that?), but what are we going to do? How is church going to keep up? (Even that's a foreign thought. For the last two thousand years the church was the leader in arts, architecture, design, education, etc. What happened there?)

Questions to ponder. No answers. If you have ideas though, I'm open...


Monday, December 07, 2009

Slow People!

I mean this title two ways.

First, people, slow down! It snowed here in Indiana last night. It's awesome. everything is pretty. It's just that right amount of snow for the first snowfall, the tips of the grass are just peeking through. Everything is beautiful, except the entrance to my neighborhood.

While I was shovelling my driveway I saw three people do this. Our neighborhood is on a hill. So what people are doing to get out is they gun their car and go as fast as they can to get to the top then stop suddenly (at the stop sign). Then they gun it again, except they don't go anywhere, they simply spin their tires, creating ice!! They do that until they slide down almost two houses, where they reverse back six more to the bottom of the hill and try it again. People, stop it! You're making it harder for you and everyone else. There was a lady at my driveway when I pulled out so she went down the hill behind me. I simply went up the hill without touching the gas, using fuel injection, nice and slow. And surprise, surprise, I made it. Then I slowly went onto Cumberland Road (our major road nearby) and again, surprise, I made it.

But then, people, stop driving slow! So you try to burn rubber on the snow covered streets, but you go 10 miles an hour on the roads that are paved? As a famous rapper once said, "Move! Get out da way!"

Driving in snow is simple, trust the Canadian who got his learners permit in November. Go slow when there is snow. When it's plowed, drive almost normal (I don't say normal because here in Indiana it's like everyone is a part of the 500...).

But all in all, I enjoy the snow!! I'm happy my wife is happy (she's been wanting snow for so long, part of decorating the house early for Christmas).


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Too Famous

A verse I came across while reading:

Mark 1:45 ~ The man left there, but he began to tell everyone that Jesus had healed him, and so he spread the news about Jesus. As a result, Jesus could not enter a town if people saw Him. He stayed in places where nobody lived, but people came to Him from everywhere. (NCV)

Could you imagine never being able to enter a town because you would be mobbed? I take for granted living in a suburb where I can drive a few minutes and have everything at my fingertips. What about Jesus? He couldn't even stay in a rown like that. Did He have to pack food because He would be staying out in the middle of nowhere? I mean, what did that look like, to be so cut off from everyone when He wanted to rest?

And yet, He still couldn't be alone because people would follow Him out there!

I don't know, maybe being popular can make you more lonely than we think...


Friday, December 04, 2009

How Important Is Christmas?

It's something I've been thinking about today. We have four different stories of Jesus' life, all of which work together to paint a bigger picture of what His life was like and what lessons He taught.

In those four stories, only two of them mention His birth. Did the other two figure the first two got it right so why bother? The miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000 is in all four stories, and they're all pretty much identical. We read of Jesus' baptism by John four times. All four stories spend an in depth amount of time on Jesus' death and resurrection, and every single one mentions something about His life after He was raised from the dead, yet only twice is the Christmas story or the birth of Jesus told.

And there are some amazing things in there. For a couple of hundred years we have no account of an angel talking to a person, yet here it happens multiple times. Other than at the tomb or mentioning spiritual warfare this is the only instance of many angels together, and outside of heaven it's the only mention of angels singing together. Before the sun and moon stood still but never was there a star moving giving direction to travellers to find God. And let's not forget the virgin birth, that hadn't happened before or since!

Why didn't God put it in all four gospels? Why not give a little nudge to Mark and John, "Hey, just put a little something about My birth"?

Or to go deeper, does this mean Easter is twice as important as Christmas (more so if you go by actual number of words used)? What would our world look like if we put twice the effort into our Easter services as we do in our Christmas services? Spent twice as much time/money on advertising Easter as we do Christmas? Had twice the songs to sing and twice the radio stations dedicated to them 24/7 (Lorie's got one on in the other room)? Decorated our houses twice as much for twice as long to represent something so important?

Just thoughts...


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Only When I Struggle

This morning I did what I do almost every morning. I came downstairs and said good morning to our little bunny Clover. You have to say good morning to him because every morning we give him a piece of papaya (it helps with his digestion) and to him it's a treat that he suffers a small addiction to, so if you forget, he will remind you by banging his cage, throwing his ball, anything that makes noise to get your attention and remind you he needs his papaya (I think our bunny has a couple of addictions to his treats...)

After doing this I picked him up and held him and pet him and had a little bit of bunny bonding time (as Lorie calls it). Clover likes being held, but he doesn't like being picked up or put down. When he doesn't feel the comfort of being held tight he gets a little worried. And this morning I found myself saying, "It's okay, I've never dropped you."

But that's not true. I've dropped him. Lots of times. One time I even broke one of his claws and Lorie was worried because he was bleeding and all sorts of trauma ensued. But I said it. And as I was thinking about it I realized something. The only times I drop Clover is when he freaks out and struggles. If he lets me pick him up or put him down, he's fine (like today). But if I start to put him down and he feels scared or a sense of I don't have him, he tries to get to the ground his own way, which doesn't work the best.

I started wondering how often we do that with God. He is holding us. He has us in His hands. But then He moves us ever so slightly. We need to be moved, but it's uncomfortable for us, so what do we do? We kick. We struggle. We claw our way out of His hands. And then we wonder why we hit the ground and we wonder how "God could have hurt us". It's not God. It's us. We have to trust that when things aren't going the way we think they should He is still holding us and we have to keep trusting in His hands. Otherwise we hit the ground...


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Does It Go Both Ways?

I was reading this passage this morning, and something jumped out at me. See if you can pick it up.

Matthew 27:3-7 ~ Judas, the one who had given Jesus to his enemies, saw that they had decided to kill Jesus. Then he was very sorry for what he had done. So he took the thirty silver coins back to the priests and the leaders, saying, “I sinned; I handed over to you an innocent man.”
The leaders answered, “What is that to us? That’s your problem, not ours.”
So Judas threw the money into the Temple. Then he went off and hanged himself.
The leading priests picked up the silver coins in the Temple and said, “Our law does not allow us to keep this money with the Temple money, because it has paid for a man’s death.” So they decided to use the coins to buy Potter’s Field as a place to bury strangers who died in Jerusalem. (NCV)

Do you see it? I wonder how some people can have two distinctly opposing stances on the same issue and somehow reconcile it in their minds. You have a group of people who believe it is okay to take money from the Temple to pay someone for murder, but they don't think it's okay to take that same money back after the murder. So, the money's not tainted when you want to use it for murder, only after the murder's been done? Wait, that doesn't work either, Judas brought the money back before Jesus died. Hm...

If this is how people of faith operate, no wonder outsiders think they are hypocrites and don't want anything to do with it. We need to do what we can to be lining our faith up with our actions. After all, people can't see our hearts, only the reflection of our heart in our actions.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

What Do You Get For...

It's a common question this season. I've been asking others, people have been asking it about me (and for some reason I continue to get socks...).

The other day I was talking with a friend and they are having a hard time buying for someone. But it was the question that intrigued me.

"What do you get for the person who pretends they have everything?"

It's a good one. Here in America I wonder what you get people that already have all they need, but this person took it a step further. What do you get people who are portraying the American dream, living in such a way to make you think they have everything?

More of that Christmas spirit drifting away in me... Sorry...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Shopping

Sorry it's been a few days. We were gone for Thanksgiving and then with my birthday on a Sunday, it was a busy weekend.

But over the weekend I noticed something. Black Friday. The holy day of shopping. Lorie's family always does the same thing, they buy the $4 paper with 2000 ads (how many trees do we kill for this) and find the best deals.

And all these deals worked. There were people out shopping in the wee hours of the morning (my father-in-law was up at 2:00). And they shopped. But something I've picked up from talking with people. A lot of people were not shopping for others. The computer and TV deals were not for gifts, they were for themselves.

Think we're losing a bit of the spirit behind Christmas? First it was present over Jesus, now it seems to be me over others. I hope it's not a trend...


Friday, November 20, 2009

Afterthoughts Of Religion

Tonight I was watching a great TV show. I know it sounds weird, but I basically judge a show on its willingness to kill main characters, it lets me know the story is more important than an actors contract. But I digress.

In said show someone died, someone important, and it was hinted that at the funeral they played "Amazing Grace". And I started thinking. Unfortunately, being in ministry I've been to a few funerals, and at almost every single one they have played that song.

But why? Why that song? I know it's pretty and all, but it's a song of life. A song of hope. But then it struck me. Because we've done to this amazing hymn what we've done to so many things in Christendom. It's a religious afterthought.

I'll explain. There are many people who say they are Christian. They don't live like it, they don't even really believe it, but for some reason, upbringing, heritage, even just being American, they feel they are "Christian". But deep down inside they know they are not. And the problem with death is it's final. There's no turning back. And I think the people around them know this too. So what do you do? Try to cram as much religion into the last moments and memories of their life so we feel they at least did something. Last rights, last prayers, sing amazing grace, a eulogy that mentions Jesus, something, anything.

The problem is following Christ cannot be an afterthought. You can't wait until the last minute (or later) and try to influence God or others about where you stand. Playing Amazing Grace at your funeral doesn't make up for all the times you should have been exercising Amazing Grace to others, or even accepting that Amazing Grace for yourself.

Let's not wait until the last minute for God. Let's not try to cram as much Jesus into the last moments of our lives to somehow make up for all the years before. Many times Jesus tried to explain that God is the God of the living, not the dead. So let's give Him our lives, not our deaths.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sheep And Goats

Last night I was reading the section from Matthew 25 about the sheep and the goats. I don't know what it is about this section, but I feel in the last couple of months I've heard it so much I've memorized it (I actually had to slow myself down and read it, I found myself wanting to skim).

But it really makes me think if we view strangers as God. How would we treat people if we thought they were going to give a direct report to Jesus on how we acted around them? Even people at church, if they have a relationship with Jesus the Holy Spirit dwells within them, how would we act towards them if we saw it as a direct action towards the Holy Spirit Himself?

Just pondering. And I know, it applies to me too :)


Friday, November 13, 2009

The Circle Of Weight

I read this today, it just made me laugh.

In 2002 Jenny Craig, the weight-loss company, was bought out... by Nestle. So a weight-loss company is owned by a chocolate company.

I guess it makes good business sense. You sell one product and someone gains weight, so you can sell them another product to help them lose weight, but it tastes bad so you sell the chocolate again... but isn't there some moral dilemma here?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance / Veterans Day

It kind of makes me sad how little we remember war and those who fought here. On one hand it seems a little over-the-top to me how Americans are so uber-patriotic and how war and the armed forces are promoted. But at the same time, how did we honor our veterans today? The high schools got to sleep in. That's the only thing I noticed.

It made me think back to growing up in Canada. In my little town there was a parade, we were all taken out of school and had to stand downtown in the cold (it is November in Canada), everyone was wearing a poppy to represent Flander's Field, and those who served in war for our country walked proudly downtown while everyone stood silently and reverently.

Everywhere I've lived in Canada did something like that. Maybe downtown Indy's too far to go for us in Fishers but when I went to one of the high schools for lunch (I didn't get to stay, no other youth pastor showed up) you would never have known what today was. It reminded me of the George Santayana quote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Not many signs of remembering while American troops are in how many wars at the moment...?

Something to ponder.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hollow Noise

Again, sorry it's been so long, but I should be back in routine now... hopefully...

Lorie and I are finally moved out of the parsonage. We had everything out before, but we wanted to go back and clean properly (it was a little hard to do at 2:30 in the morning) so we did it the other day.

While there I noticed something. It started in the garage, but it was also in the entire house. There was an echo. There was a hollow sound. It seemed like everywhere in the house you were in a cave. Now I hadn't noticed that while all our stuff was there, the physics reason being the sound was being absorbed by furniture and the like. But it made me think a little. Emptiness sounds hollow.

I know that doesn't seem like a great epiphany, but I started to wonder how it fit into our everyday lives. Have you ever talked with someone whose words just sounded hollow? Or more to the point, have you sounded that way? Just shallow, hollow conversation with no substance (generally about oneself)? Perhaps there's a reason to it, perhaps they are empty on the inside.

Do I mean this in a degrading way? No, not at all. But if someone does not know the true meaning of life they will inevitably try to find some other way to fill the void. All too often, it doesn't work and life sounds hollow. If you know someone who sounds hollow, instead of getting annoyed or even trying to avoid them, what about trying to fill the void? Telling them they are loved for who they are, telling them there is Someone who is willing to love them even more? And if you think it's you, maybe it's time to refocus a little and get priorities back on Who they belong.

After all, John 10:10 tells us that God wants us to have an abundant life, or as some translations put it, life to the full. Let's all do what we can to have a full life, and more importantly, help those who don't know there is a God that loves them be introduced to Him so He can start to fill their lives too.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Apologies

Sorry I haven't been blogging lately. For those that don't know, Lorie and I moved last week and that has taken up the bulk of our time (not to mention finding the things we need in boxes, so much fun). Add to that our Real World Retreat next week, preaching next Sunday and the pumpkin patch and I'm a little behind, so next week I should be back on blogging.

Thanks for your patience!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Lessons From Cooking - Part 3

Sorry it's been a few days. Moving + pumpkins = no time...

Anyway, another lesson from cooking. Do it right the first time.

I know that can't always happen, mistakes are just part of living life, but there are times where we choose the cheap/easy/quick path instead of taking the time to do things properly the first time.

The problem with doing that with cooking, generally there are no second chances, either you don't have time to start all over or you don't have extra of every single ingredient. Instead of skimping on an ingredient thinking it's not important then having a bland meal later (or worse, whatever it was sprinkled on top), why not just do it right the first time?

It's kind of like the last one, follow directions, but anyone can follow directions and still do a sloppy job. If we do it right the first time, try our best at least, it makes things go much smoother.

I was reading this morning from a guy who was re-doing his house. This guy is a park planner so he knows about making sure everything is thought of and taken care of. When he got to remodelling part of the house the contractor not only gave him a quote, he gave him a discount! Why? Because he had already thought of everything and had the plan done. The contractor told him stories about people who have a "rough idea" then in the midst of the construction change their mind or try something different (and those same people can't understand why the cost of their project is higher than originally anticipated).

So instead of doing things so-so then trying to do them well after, or worse yet, fix it, just do things right the first time. It works way better in cooking, trust me (I've made a few mistakes).


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lessons From Cooking - Part 2

Another valuable life and faith lesson from the Food Network:

Follow directions.

This weekend my brother-in-law Steve and I were doing work around the house, and he made the joke that real men don't use directions. That was until we couldn't get the microwave to fit or the water to the fridge, the wiring for the fan to work, etc. Usually, if for any reason you are given directions, they probably have a purpose.

Cooking is all about directions. Add the right things at the right time in the right amount then cook for the right period of time at the right temperature. If any one of those is off, forget it. You get burnt mush (trust me, I know).

God has given us directions for life. Not just general good ideas, directions. When I'm cooking and it says to add more milk than I usually do for mashed potatoes (which happened the other day), I can either look at that as a suggestion, or as you need to do it even though it doesn't make sense because someone smarter than you wrote it down. Luckily I did it, even though I didn't understand why until 40 minutes later. With the Bible, the rules for living are not suggestions. If you do them, life turns out better because Someone wiser wrote it down for us. He made the recipe for a good life.

There's a verse in Joshua I hear all the time about reading your Bible. But so many people skip the second part:

Always remember what is written in the Book of the Teachings. Study it day and night to be sure to obey everything that is written there. If you do this, you will be wise and successful in everything. ~ Joshua 1:8 (NCV)

We are to study the Bible why? To do what is written in it!

You don't have to follow the directions, but if you don't, be ready to eat some burnt mush...


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lessons From Cooking - Part 1

A little while ago Lorie and I moved out of the dark ages and upgraded from our rabbit ears for the TV. Since then one of our favorite networks has been the Food Network. I don't know who likes it more, me, or Lorie because it gets me to cook. But in watching I've learned a few things I wish more people would get about their faith. Like:

A little goes a long way.

I know I've been harping on this for such a long time, but if people would realize just doing a little would help out so much, I think we would be doing more. Like in Hope Lives, our sermon series on World Poverty we just finished, if all the first world people would give $10, world poverty would be gone.

Well, in watching cooking I've noticed how just a little bit makes a big difference. A little bit of a certain spice. A little less water. Hey, even doing the little things like taking an extra 20 seconds to make a nice design on top of a cake, that little bit goes a long way.

It's the same way with God. A little can go a long way. Do things a little better, a little more prayer, a little more time with God, a little bit more patience, just a little bit can make a huge difference.

Jesus understood this. After all, you only need a little bit of yeast to make bread rise. As long as it permeates the dough...

“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and hid in a large tub of flour until it made all the dough rise.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 13:33, NCV)


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dogma Breeds Extremism

It's a quote I read today from Pete McGrath, one of the people in charge of show quality standards at Disneyland Paris (what, you don't read books about French theme parks?) Anyway he was talking about how he builds a show for Disney and how flexibility is most important. Without flexibility, you get stuck in doing things the way they've always been done. He even balances it out by saying "One can have extreme thoughts and inspirations if they are tempered with flexibility."

I don't think he was using the term Dogma in a religious sense. The term can also mean "a settled or established opinion, belief or principle." But I think too often we've turned that into religion. Religion sometimes seems to be more about doing it the way it's always been done, not about new and fresh ways to convey the same (or sometimes extreme) message.

Yes new is harder, different, and involves change, all things people say they hate. But generally, once started, it's amazing how often someone finds out there is an easier, better way once they break from the old mold.

So what do you need to do differently to still discover the same God and convey the same message that He loves you to someone?


Monday, October 05, 2009

If Dan Brown Had A Youth Pastor...

Dan Brown is the guy who wrote "The Da Vinci Code" and all sorts of other fiction that for some reason causes people to think the Bible isn't true (I mean, after all, if someone writes a fictitious story that goes against the Bible, we should question the Bible and believe the fiction, right?). Anyway, this is a quote from Brown talking to Parade Magazine about how he gravitated away from God.

I was raised Episcopalian, and I was very religious as a kid. Then, in eighth or ninth grade, I studied astronomy, cosmology, and the origins of the universe. I remember saying to a minister, "I don't get it. I read a book that said there was an explosion known as the Big Bang, but here it says God created heaven and Earth and the animals in seven days. Which is right?" Unfortunately, the response I got was, "Nice boys don't ask that question." A light went off, and I said, "The Bible doesn't make sense. Science makes much more sense to me." And I just gravitated away from religion.

Now the questions about creation versus evolution will go on and on simply because we don't know enough about either one (trust me, for some reason it seems that's all I read about the past year), but look at how old Brown was and who he was asking. An eighth/ninth grader asking a pastor who apparently didn't seem to care that much...

I don't know. Maybe youth pastors around the world are inspiring people like Dan Brown to be people who help others embrace Jesus rather than question Him. Food for thought.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Faith Can Be Unstoppable

For a while the NHL has been doing commercials showing teams and their players asking the question "Is this the year?" This year there's a new one.

The tagline is what caught me. "Faith can be unstoppable." It's amazing to me how a sports ad agency gets it, but we seem to struggle with that idea in the church. After all, we should have more faith than anyone, and the Source of our faith is greater than anything. So if that's true, what's stopping us?

I know you know it...

"I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." ~ Jesus (Matthew 17:20, NLT)


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hidden Dangers

For those that don't know, Lorie and I bought a house. We're excited, but at the same time I'm having way too much fun (sarcastically) because there is a ton to fix up.

Today we had our air vents cleaned. It was necessary, especially with everything else that we've found wrong with the house. But today we got a little wake-up call. The cleaners found mold in our air ducts. Not a little. Not mild, weak mold. There were near toxic levels of mold all through our vents and in our heater. They showed us on a "mold meter", light green being safe, purple not good. We were past the darkest level of purple on the meter...

But it made me think about our souls. I'm working on a series we will be doing in Sr. High in November about slowing down and taking time for our inner being, our soul created to be in communication with Christ. And if we aren't paying attention, if we are too busy rushing around, we won't notice when our soul starts to get in trouble, just like the house vents. And just like the house, it's not something you can see. No one knew about the mold problem, even the inspection was unable to see it. No one can see into your soul. Only the Person who can clean our soul knows, and we need to be in touch with Him so we can have our souls in the best condition possible.

Psalm 31:6b-7 ~ I trust in the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.

Oh, and get your vents cleaned regularly...


Monday, September 28, 2009

Can They Help You?

In the past few weeks we've been doing the "Hope Lives" study at church, a look at global poverty and what we can do to help.

I was reading last night and came across this quote, which kind of fits in with the series:

“Keep in mind that the true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good.” ~ Ann Landers

It's completely true when it comes to this idea of world poverty. If you choose to help these people, there is probably little to nothing they can actually give to you to help you. But I think that is why it's so important to God to help them. It's a true test of our love for our neighbor, how we can love and help people who can't help us back.

Something to think about...


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Replacing People With Technology

I've heard this argument before, that in our new technological age we are replacing intimacy and relationships with real people with the Internet. Some have said it's because of time spent alone on the computer, where as I always wondered how that was different from reading a book alone...

But today someone told me something that made me look at this in a new light. Think, what do people do on the Internet? The two most accessed Internet categories - pornography and dating sites.

That kind of tells me two things. We long to be loved, but we don't know how to do it anymore. And let's be honest, which is easier? Risking rejection by asking someone on a date, getting dressed up, spending the night out and paying for dinner... or sitting at a computer... ?

But then again, when has easier ever been better...? T

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Take Things Calmly

I didn't know this until the day after, but yesterday (Monday) was the International Day of Peace. Maybe we should try going for an international year, or century...

But anyway, in my reading about peace I learned a little fact today. I had always heard that when someone is angry they are more likely to have a heart attack (or stroke). But did you know it's 14 times more likely?? And that danger zone lasts two hours after your angry as well.

So if you feel angry, try to calm down, not just for the sake of others, but your own as well.

James 1:19-20 ~ My dear brothers and sisters, always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily, because anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants. (NCV)


Living Out Your Purpose

Last week at youth we talked about being free to live your life as God intended. How there are people / things / all sorts of stuff that will stand in your way. It's funny how after talking about that, I came across this quote yesterday:

"The sign said, 'This door to remain closed at all times.' Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that defeat the purpose of a door?" ~ Danny McCrossan

I wonder how many signs we've put on our lives (or allowed people to put on our lives) that stop us from really living out the purpose God intended for it...

Just a thought.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Work Harder

Last night I was reading a little about genetics and behavior, the idea that some of who we are and what we do is designed in our DNA.

Now before I get to into this, I should say all of this is still being worked on. Scientists have not isolated an "anger" gene or anything like that. There's only one way they know to test this and it's very hard; through twins separated at birth and brought up in different families. If two people with the same genetic makeup start to act the same despite living in different surroundings, then it could be because of their genetic make up.

Basically, it's the idea that you are designed to act in a different way. Some people could have a gene that makes them get angry easier. There could be a gene that gives you more (or less) patience. But it could also be bigger. There could be a gene that determines what kind of person you are attracted to, one that pushes you toward crime, one that makes believing in God easier or harder...

The "what if's" are endless. But the person writing what I read is a Christian and he thinks we tread in dangerous water if we get too into this, and so do I. Before we thought it could be genetic, if someone was angry all the time did we just allow them to be angry? No. They simply had to work harder at controlling their anger than others.

We all have traits, good and bad, that are learned, genetic, chosen, whatever. For the good ones we are thankful. For the bad ones, we don't simply act on them with the excuse "it's in my nature". Instead we need to work harder at them to to the right thing. Doing what is right in every circumstance is easy for no one, everyone has areas they need to work on. So how about we start being the best we can be without excuses? Doing the hard work that needs to be done?

That is, if your DNA will let you...


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Knowing It All

We had an interesting discussion at Downpour (Bible Study) tonight with the Sr. Highs. It focused a lot on the resurrection of Christ, which is always good, but eventually we circled back a little to evangelism and sharing our faith.

Here's the interesting part. Almost everyone who participated in the discussion talked about how they don't really feel comfortable sharing their faith because they don't know what to say if someone asks a question they don't have the answer to. They don't feel comfortable because they don't have all the answers.

Now there's two things that make me think with this. The first is why they feel the answers are important. When asked, none of the people in the room thought the reason they started a relationship with Jesus way back when was because of theology. They didn't have the answers when they started their faith journey, instead they came to see and know Christ through the actions and love of others. So if they didn't need the answers when they started their journey, why would the people they share Christ with be any different?

But also, they have now been following Jesus for quite a while and they still don't have all the answers. And they're still okay with that and they are still following Christ despite that. So if they don't need the answers now years later to believe, why do they think their friends need the answers to start believing?

I don't know, it just seems like for our own faith, we are happy seeing and living it out, but when it comes to sharing our faith, somehow now we need all the answers. Matt told a story about a friend of his who upon coming to know Christ brought 20-30 people to know the same Jesus he just met by simply saying, "I admit I don't know everything, but I know this. He loves me! Let me show you."

I think we need a little more of that than theological head knowledge...


Thursday, September 10, 2009

And People Are Hungry...

For the month of September (and some of October) our entire church is doing a series called "Hope Lives", a look at global poverty and how we as a church can still have hope and be the change necessary in this fight.

Yesterday I was reading (as I sometimes do) and came across a horrible statistic that got me thinking in light of our series. In America, we throw away 96 billion pounds of eatable food a year. Just think about that for a second. Not rotten food, just extra food (more specifically, categorized as "edible surplus food"). 96 billion pounds (or an average of 300 pounds a person). 96 billion pounds.

I don't think anyone would argue that we are not only comfortable in America, we have too much. But really? We have so much food we throw it away, the leftovers we don't feel like eating in the fridge, the food at a restaurant we don't want on our plate along with the extra they bought and cooked hoping for customers (in our quick microwave society, we don't want to wait for it to be cooked to order), food in grocery stores that just sit to expiration...

Can you fathom that? 96 billion pounds. Hey, I wonder what most people in the world would think just to walk through a grocery store here, but what if they knew how much we threw away?

Let's do our part to feed the world, not the garbage pile.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Necessity Of Prayer

In a few weeks we will be talking about Nehemiah in church. But as we're talking about him, I've been doing some reading and part of what we will be talking about is the necessity of prayer. When Nehemiah prayed, he was needing God's help.

And it got me to thinking, do we pray here in America because we feel we need something from God or because we want to feel good? When we pray because we need God to do something or would it just make our week a little better?

Here's an example. Grace. Almost every good little Christian says grace. But why? Do we really ask God to bless our food because we feel it needs a blessing, we feel that without God intervening the food is dangerous, or are we asking simply to be nice to God, make Him feel included?

What about our other prayers? Are we asking for God to heal whoever because we are pleading for His divine intervention, if that person isn't healed it hurts us? Or would it just be nice if God helped? We don't believe He will do it, but it'd be a nice little bonus if He did.

I don't know, it's making me think a little more about my prayers and what I really need from God or just think it would be nice...


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

We Know What It Is!

Sorry it's been a few days. Lorie and I have been sick and out of town, a great combination.

Anyway, the big news of the day for us. We have a little garden next to the house and as I've mentioned here before we have this one plant that is absolutely huge, a big vine with yellow flowers, and we have no idea what it is. Today we found out. There was a tiny little fruit on it, about the size of a gumball (it took me a while to find a comparison, my youth pastor mind kept going to empty water balloon). Small, but it looks kind of like a watermelon...

It is a watermelon! We have a watermelon vine that is taking over our garden. Only one small problem, we didn't plant any watermelon!!!

So how did it get there?

Our best guess is this. We have been composting since we moved into the parsonage. And we have eaten our fair share of watermelon (although we usually get seedless). The best guess we have is last year a seed got in the compost, it stayed dormant in the winter, and when I spread the compost this spring, we got watermelons. And since it was in the garden we didn't think it was a weed so we didn't pull it. But yes, we got a watermelon vine by surprise.

And it got me to thinking (as random things usually do) how this can happen to us in our garden of life (cheesy, but follow me). Every day we continually plant things in our soul, what we watch, what we listen to, who we talk with, etc. and if we are not careful, tending to our soul, stuff that snuck in will manage to grow. And take over. And become a huge plant that sucks the nutrients needed for our more important plants (one of our cucumber plants is dying because it can't get sun thanks to this huge vine).

So be careful what you put in your soul. Even the stuff that gets in by accident can take up root if you're not careful...


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Unseen Heroics

Something I've been thinking about.

In Ephesians 6 we're told about how we're in a spiritual battle, one that isn't really seen or heard, but one that we are in nonetheless. But when we can't see or hear it, do we still fight it or do we forget about it?

This hit my head when I was watching football and the Matrix (I told you, it's on TV all the time lately). So many people have this longing to do something great (if you were at Fishers UMC today you heard all about that). People want to do something great. Be the one. Catch the end-zone pass when the clock runs out, or return a 2-point conversion (that was crazy yesterday). People want to be something great.

And here, we have a chance to. The difference is, there's no screaming crowd, there's no crazy theatrics, there's no adrenaline, there's just simple things like prayer, serving, putting others first, giving, study of the Word of God, living a life of worship. And I was thinking if that negates how great those acts are. In essence, no, it doesn't. But without the emotion or the black and white of a scoreboard, it sure feels like we're not doing anything big at all.

I think that's what makes it even more important! God wants us to live holy lives of worship for Him without the hype, without the craziness, with only you and Him. When it comes down to it, it's a lot easier to be the hero of the day with fans and adrenaline and chalk-lines, but can you be the hero of the day in the silence of your own heart?


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Knowing The Path And Walking The Path

The Matrix movies have been on TV the last few days, the sequels aren't that great, but I love the original. All sorts of things to think about in it that make your head hurt, and stuff blows up a great combination.

Anyway, there's a little line near the end where Morpheus tells Noe there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. And boy does that ever apply to faith.

I think deep down inside, whether people believe in God or not, they have a pretty good grip on what is right and what is wrong. For most people you don't have to teach them that murdering is wrong, most people just get it. But then, if we know right and wrong in our heart, why do we still do stupid things?

We're not alone in it. I do it, Paul did it, and everyone else who lived in the two thousand years in between (and those outside) had the same problems, but the line is still true today. Many people know the path but choose not to walk it. And for people who believe in God we should be holding ourselves to a much higher standard in that regard. The path we have chosen is higher and harder, but that means we have to walk higher and harder, not just walk when it's convenient...


Monday, August 31, 2009

Give God Your Best

It's a theme I harp on with the students and at NewSong. If God really is God of our lives, then we should be giving him the very best that we can in every way that we can.

The question always is, "What's my best?" Obviously none of us are perfect so we can't give God perfection. But we should be giving the best we can. How do we know when we are actually giving our best?

The example I've always used is with music. If you were told you were to give a concert somewhere in town, how much would you practice? How well would you know the music? How hard would you work to be ready for that day? Then that's how hard you should be practicing for God and for Sunday. It seems like a lot, but doesn't God deserve it?

Obviously that goes for more than just music. What about what we give, how we serve, when we teach, when we do anything for God.

I was reading Malachi earlier today. It's a book that makes me wonder what we really going on in Israel at the time, because a lot of it is about cheating God. And here's part of the first chapter...

Malachi 1:8 ~ When you bring blind animals as sacrifices, that is wrong. When you bring crippled and sick animals, that is wrong. Try giving them to your governor. Would he be pleased with you? He wouldn’t accept you,” says the Lord All-Powerful. (NCV)

Malachi is saying that when you give something to God, in this case an offering, but it can mean anything, time, effort, gifts, talents, think about as if you were giving it to someone else who is important to you. If you would be embarrassed to give your gift to them, why then would you give it to God, Someone way higher?

Just something to think about as you live your lives for Jesus. Are you giving Him all you should?


Friday, August 28, 2009

Food And Fireworks At Our Fingertips

The other night I was working my way through some pictures Lorie and I took months and months ago (I know, we're ahead of most people, looking at pictures we took!) and it was fun but there were so many.

The big bulk were fireworks. My lovely wife really, really, really enjoys fireworks. And now that we've entered the digital age, our attitude for taking pictures is take as many as you can, you can always delete the bad ones. so there are literally 9no lie) hundreds of pictures of the sky filled with color. And some are pretty good, she's good with that camera.

As I was doing this, I got a little hungry and ended up going to the kitchen to get something to eat. Looking in the fridge I was at first thinking there was nothing to eat. Then I stopped. Our fridge is full. And what we don't have we can get at Kroger a block away.

And it got me to thinking how lucky I am to experience things that most of the world will never get to. Just in this one night, I got to eat fresh food, much of which the rest of the world has no access to, while looking at pictures of fireworks. How many people in the world have never had the chance to see the sky painted with light and sound?

In a few weeks our church is doing a church-wide study campaign called "Hope Lives" in which we talk about global poverty and how we as the church can help, living out God's love as His hands and feet. In the book for the study it talks about how we have so many opportunities we have that no one else has. What drives me even more nuts, most people aren't appreciative of them, and some never even take the chance to take hold of them.

When I lived in Grande Cache, I was lucky enough to live in the mountains, able to walk up a mountain in a day and see rock and forest for a hundred miles. And yet, in that town, there were people who did not appreciate God's beauty. They had lived there twenty years and never taken the time to climb a hill...

Don't take it for granted. Be thankful for all you've been blessed with and take advantage of it!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Do What Is Right

Still reading in Zechariah, it's a fun book. I've hit a section that is also in Hosea and other prophets, almost a theme if you will.

The people have been behaving badly, shocker. They are doing things that upset God and caused their own destruction. Now all these people and prophets want to make God happy. So how do you do that?

Zechariah 7:2-3 ~ The Jews of the city of Bethel had sent a group of men headed by Sharezer, the chief administrative officer of the king, and Regem-melech, to the Lord’s Temple at Jerusalem, to seek his blessing and to speak with the priests and prophets about whether they must continue their traditional custom of fasting and mourning during the month of August each year, as they had been doing for so long. (LB)

So there are all these problems and the Jews (and priests) want to ask God if they should keep practicing religion as they should, would that make God happy? The answer:

Zechariah 7:8-10 ~ Then this message from the Lord came to Zechariah. “Tell them to be honest and fair—and not to take bribes—and to be merciful and kind to everyone. Tell them to stop oppressing widows and orphans, foreigners and poor people, and to stop plotting evil against each other. (LB)

Hmmm. Really? This group of people are lying, taking bribes, acting mean and violent, treating widows and orphans badly, being horrible to foreigners, or worse, poor people and laying out plans to do unspeakable evil to each other. And they wonder why God isn't happy! I mean, He should be, despite all this we are going to church on Sunday like we should, right?

Living for God is so much more than an hour on Sunday. How about we actually start living the other 167 hours in a week like God wants us to live? Not just in a religious "read your Bible" way, but actually living out the love of God every minute of every day!

After all, if you were God, what would you want more? People living for you, or people directly disobeying you, but sucking up one hour a week since it's their duty to...?


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The What Now?

I was watching an archeology program on the holy land (I know, I'm a party animal) and throughout the show they tell little trivia facts about what they're looking at. Right up my alley. Then this one comes up. The Bible is the most popular book in the world. It's also the most shoplifted book in the world.

Now I had to think about that for a second. Forget the fact that most churches will probably give you a Bible for free (we will), people are stealing the Bible more than any other book. The book that teaches people not to steal is being stolen...

Now on one hand that worries me, as obvious above. But really, someone who is going to steal a Bible is probably someone who needs to read the Bible. I had a friend, Andrew, who's backpack was stolen one day. The thing he regretted most was his Bible being in there, all the notes, it was a gift, etc. But even he said, "Well, maybe God thinks they need it more than I do."

So here's my idea, let's stop the shoplifting and start the giving. It could make a world of difference. After all, imagine what our churches would be like if everyone in them were so hungry for the Word of God they would actually risk jail time to get it...


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Small Things

There's a verse in Zechariah I have heard so many times, I'm sure you know it:

Zechariah 4:6 ~ “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘You will not succeed by your own strength or by your own power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord All-Powerful. (NCV)

It's a great verse, gives hope, trust in God, all great things. But the reference is so much bigger. This was God talking to Zechariah about rebuilding His temple, a huge undertaking for people who are basically enslaved by other nations. God has a big dream that Zechariah can't seem to see. But then a few verses later, God says this:

Zechariah 4:10a ~ "“The people should not think that small beginnings are unimportant." (NCV)

How often do we do this? We make big plans, have all these big dreams, but when they don't seem to succeed in a week, a year, five years, we give up. There are very few big things that did not start small. Patience and persistence are needed.

Just today I was reading about a church out in California. A rather large church, around the 20,000 mark. Thirty years ago guess how many they had? 3 (4 including the pastor). It was two couples. That's it. Now these people are impacting thousands, maybe more. And I know of many churches that started that small, some even here in Fishers.

Don't worry about things being small. As I recall Someone saying, even a mustard tree starts out as a tiny seed...


Friday, August 21, 2009

What Vegetable Are You?

This summer Lorie and I tried our hand a little garden in our backyard. It's not huge by any stretch of the imagination, but it's there. We've got a few cucumber plants (which Lorie loves) and some parsley (which Clover loves) and then we've got this other one. I say that because we have no idea what it is. It's got some nice little flowers on it, and it looks pretty, it's the biggest one of all, but we have no idea what it is. It has no fruit. At least with the other things, we can see what's growing on it (it's hard to miss the cucumbers), but with this, ???

It got me thinking to our faith. There are a lot of people out there who say they are Christian. And they might be in the right garden, they may even have the biggest vines (as our plant has), but without fruit, what are you?

And after all, we know what Jesus thinks about plants without fruit...

Matthew 21:18-19 ~ In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, He was hungry, and He noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then He said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up. (NLT)


Thursday, August 20, 2009

You Have To Ask

Still reading in Mark, I hit the story of a blind man named Bartimaeus. Here's the story.

Mark 10:46-52 ~ Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, He stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.” So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, He’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus. “What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road. (NLT)

Now, are you going to tell me that Jesus didn't know what the guy wanted? Forget that Jesus is God and all knowing, everyone knows what this guy wants. Jesus has been healing people for a few years now and there's a blind guy yelling down the road (obviously not following Jesus, he's blind...) for Jesus to have mercy on him. What could he want...?

And then Jesus asks the guy, "What do you want Me to do for you?" Everyone knows, so why did Jesus ask? Because God wants to be asked. He wants to know exactly what we want and by asking we give Him permission to do what He needs to do.

We need to do our part. A section many people know:

Matthew 7:7-8 ~ “Ask, and God will give to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will open for you. Yes, everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And everyone who knocks will have the door opened." (NCV)

Notice it starts with you. You need to ask, then God gives it to you. You have to search, then you will find. You have to knock, then the door will open. That's how the world works. You have to be proactive in what you want from God and ask Him.

So if you're trying to figure out why something in your life isn't happening, have you asked God? Not have you thought He wants to do it anyway, not have you assumed God likes the idea, have you actually asked? It might make a world of difference.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rich Christians?

At Drink Deep, our Sunday night Sr. High program, we are talking about Stewardship for the rest of August. The idea that God owns everything was our discussion last Sunday and this Sunday will be money and giving. I know, popular topics for Christian living here in America. But I think it's more important here and now than anywhere else. Why? Because we have the riches, I just don't know if we have the heart...

I've been reading through Mark lately, and in that wonderful little gospel there's a story of a rich man who comes to Jesus saying he wants eternal life, and what must he do to get it. Jesus says to obey all the commandments, which the rich man says he has done (yeah, right! Have you read all of them? There's 613 in the Torah, and he hasn't broken one? Anyway...). So Jesus adds for him to sell all his stuff and give the money to the poor. Instead of an, "Okay Jesus, let's do it!" the man walks away sad. He can't part with his things.

Sound like America? We can't part with our stuff, that's no secret. Lorie and I went and looked at a house the other day someone was selling, the former tenants had destroyed it because they didn't like the idea of the bank foreclosing on them. I mean, how dare the bank say I can't own something I didn't pay for!

The reality is we love our stuff. More than Jesus sometimes I'm afraid. And I'm not saying that for shock effect. Even in our own church there are many families who have given absolutely nothing to God. Not a single cent. Are you telling me in Fishers, a town in one of the richest counties in the world, we can't afford to give anything to God? Yeah right. I think Jesus said it best:

Mark 10:23 ~ Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” (NLT)

It's hard because the rich have more to give up (or so it seems, because they have so much that they think is theirs anyway).

I don't want money to stop me from getting to heaven. I don't want something I own being a hindrance to my spiritual growth, to my relationship with Jesus. Do you?


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Better To Throw Yourself Into The Sea...

More from Mark. But I will set this one up a bit.

If you've been reading this blog, a few weeks ago you would have seen some stories from students working in Toronto on our summer mission trip. I know some of you have because you've been nice enough to mention to me, or even mention in a sermon, about my mad dancing skills from the Kids Club I worked at. Well, there's a reason I do that, here's the verse:

Mark 9:42 ~ “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck. (NLT)

Here's the basic truth, I'm not the biggest fan of working with small children. I like them, just the more of them there are, the more the voices in my head start talking about violence. But there's a reason why I do it if asked or if I'm needed. This verse.

See, my dad was a Kindergarten teacher, he worked with kids all the time. So I spent some time growing up helping him, helping at Sunday School, and since he did it and people knew I helped, also with the youth group doing puppets, singing kids songs, etc. I got kind of burnt out on it and wasn't that big of a fan of kids. But then there's this verse.

Look at it closely, see what Jesus is saying. Basically, from the Troy International Version, "Teach these kids about Jesus. If you don't, you better kill yourself because you don't want to know what I will do if I get my hands on you. - God." That's what He's saying, if you cause a child to sin, kill yourself before God gets a hold of you. Now, I've read Exodus and God can be very imaginative when He wants me to suffer. I don't want that...

The reason I will dance and act stupid with kids, God puts such a high price on children and their soul. So if that's what God thinks, who am I to not give everything to the same cause He has? (As a little plug, Pastor Aaron is looking for leaders for our new children's program, Awana. Maybe it's time you helped out some little souls...)


Monday, August 17, 2009

On The Same Team

I've been reading through Mark lately and happened upon this passage:

Mark 9:38-40 ~ John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.” “Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us. (NLT)

Isn't it sad that churches fighting each other started before Jesus even left and is still going on two thousand years later? That's basically what's going on here. One group of followers of Christ is upset at another group of followers of Christ because of what they are doing for the Kingdom of God.

That may sound harsh, but it still happens (and quite honestly, it needs to stop). Yesterday we had someone at our church who would not participate in communion because they only do it at their church. Um, aren't we all doing the same communion, reenacting and remembering the same last supper with the same Scripture being used from the words of the same Jesus?

We are all on the same team. Part of why I like being a youth pastor is most youth pastors get that. Teenagers aren't as "tied down" to a church as adults or children. They will go to different churches. And that's okay with me. Part of the reason I like to get to know the other youth pastors in town so I can say, "I know Pastor ___, he's a good guy," and it puts the parents at ease and allows the student to know it's okay to learn about God outside of the four walls I work in (I know, shocking, but it can happen).

Church, let's all get on the same team. There are enough other battles to fight without adding more among ourselves...


Friday, August 14, 2009

Your Own Jesus

Mark Hall (lead singer of Casting Crowns) has a new book out entitled Your Own Jesus. I understand his thinking behind the book and agree with it, the idea that many people do not know who Jesus is for themselves, they have merely inherited their faith from their parents, friends, pastor, whoever. It's true, we need to know who Jesus is for ourselves, we cannot rely on someone else to have our faith for us. All for it.

But I disagree with the title. This has been coming up in conversations lately with me, the idea of our personal relationship with Jesus. My own Jesus. Frankly, I don't have "my own Jesus." I don't decide what Jesus is like and make Him out to be who I want him to be. He is who He is no matter what I believe (remember, "I Am That I Am"...?).

I think in a way we've made Jesus too personal. It's like my relationship with Lorie. Do I have a personal relationship with her? Absolutely. Is my relationship with her entirely personal? Not at all. She's my wife. We were married in a room full of people. I wear a wedding band wherever I go. When we're out in public (generally) it's quite easy to tell she's my wife. Even when she's not with me, my ring, how I talk with people, it's pretty obvious I have a spouse somewhere.

My relationship with Jesus is not entirely personal. Yes, I have time alone with Jesus and personal belief's, but I'm a youth pastor. I stand up in front of people to talk about Jesus. When I walk into the high school, people know I know Jesus because of my job title. My relationship with Him is not a personal little secret. And most of the things I believe about Jesus are not personal. I didn't make them up or come up with them. I discovered them, I chose to agree with them, and I choose to live them out.

What about you? Is Jesus your personal Savior in the fact that He saved and has a relationship with you, or is He personal as in your personal little secret that you can control and decide what He is like? Are you living in a way people can see Jesus in you...?

Matthew 5:14-16 ~ “You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden. And people don’t hide a light under a bowl. They put it on a lampstand so the light shines for all the people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven." (NCV)


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pray For You Constantly

I remember hearing the story of a missionary who had been overseas for years and came back to North America. While back he was asked to do all the normal missionary things, go speak at churches, conferences, drum up support, etc. Since he had been overseas for so long they arranged for a driver for this man.

Now the driver noticed something about this missionary, he was always mumbling. Not to other people, he spoke quite eloquently to them, but when he was alone in the car he was always mumbling to himself. The driver didn't think much of it at first, but as he drove him more and more places, he realized this man never stopped. Always, always mumbling.

So the driver decided to listen to the missionary's muttering voice. And you know what he heard? Prayer. This missionary was praying all the time.

One of the first verses I tell people to memorize is I Thessalonians 5:17. It's short yet powerful. "Pray continually". Now it seems like something easy, but have you tried to literally pray all the time? My mind is so scattered I don't know how anyone can do it. But Paul did it. This is how I Thessalonians starts:

I Thessalonians 1:2 ~ We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. (NLT)

Paul was praying for the people of that church constantly. Tell me, what do you think would happen if you prayed for your church constantly...?


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Follow The Food

For those that don't know, Lorie and I have a mini-zoo in our backyard. Basically it's a bird-feeder and corn (and the odd peanut), but we've gotten attention from the locals. There are at least four chipmunks around our house, a family of squirrels, another family of rabbits living under the bushes next door, raccoons and countless birds. It's fun to watch them in the mornings.

For the past few weeks, we haven't put any food out. With me gone on the mission trip, Lorie in Illinois, our trip to Toledo, etc. we just didn't put anything out for them to eat. And of course, they all vanished. So a few days ago we finally restocked everything and this morning, of course, over a dozen birds and a few four-legged friends were outside. It's very simple to find animals. Follow the food.

A basic principal of life. Animals live around, hang around, stay around where there's food. And it's no different for us. There's a reason that most older cities are on some sort of water (how many American cities have a river running through them). We like to be where our needs are met, where the food is.

I think the church is the same way. (As I type this, a squirrel just came to the deck doors looking for more food). People need their souls to be fed. How that looks is different for everyone, and sometimes churches need to feed people their vegetables even when they don't want to eat them, but all in all, I hope that our church is feeding people. We can't be simple entertainment, there should be sustenance, followed by growth.

After all, even Jesus used food as an analogy for His role in our lives...

John 6:35 ~ Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever." (MSG)


Saturday, August 08, 2009


Last night I was watching MLS (that would be soccer) on ESPN and it got me to thinking. I remember playing soccer (and we've done it at church before too), but when you get pros together, they play a certain way. The good ones anyway, they pass.

When you watch amateurs, the bad players kick away, the good players hog the ball (they don't trust anyone else to have it, and with good reason sometimes) but with pros, they're all good, they all know it, so they trust each other enough to pass the ball.

It reminded me of an Oiler game I went to years ago. A friend of mine, Cherolyn, won two tickets, and because she had left early I picked them up for her, and managed to go with her because of it (thanks Cher!). Gold seats, they were awesome. But I remember sitting with her at the game, they were playing the Kings. We were close enough to hear Robitaille swear. But what I remember is it was her first ever time at a pro game. You can watch it on TV, but it's not the same with so many things going on behind the play. And within about thirty seconds she said it. "I can't believe all the passing."

It's a lesson I think people who follow Christ can learn. Even Jesus passed. He could have done everything, but He didn't.

Matthew 16:15-19 ~ Then Jesus asked them, “And who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because no person taught you that. My Father in heaven showed you who I am. So I tell you, you are Peter. On this rock I will build my church, and the power of death will not be able to defeat it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; the things you don’t allow on earth will be the things that God does not allow, and the things you allow on earth will be the things that God allows.”(NCV)

What would the church be like if we had more passing...?


Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Bigger View

I'm sitting here working on our next session of Drink Deep coming up this month about Stewardship. I really hope you all aren't sick of hearing about it, seeing as we did a little about giving in July on Sunday mornings.

But I'm just thinking about how small our view of God is sometimes. God owns everything. And we as good little Christians say that, and it sounds good, and I think we believe it. At least to the point our tiny little minds can handle. Think about it for a second. God owns everything. That chair you're sitting in, God's. The money you used to buy that computer you're using to read this, God's. That oxygen you're breathing, God's. Every tiny quark in the universe belongs to God.

If we were to look at the church today, are we living with the mindset/lifestyle that everything is God's? From how we treat just the church building, do we see it as God's house, or is it "our" church that we built with "our" money for "our" Sunday morning worship?

I don't know, I think "Hope Lives" will be fun next month (be watching church newsletters, etc. for more information on that :)

Psalm 24:1 ~ The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (NIV)


Monday, August 03, 2009

When You Feel Alone...

Isn't it funny how in this world we live in that is so incredibly inter-connected, you are never away from anyone thanks to cell phones, email and facebook allow us to keep in contact around the clock, we have world news at our fingertips, most have neighbors not far from their home, cars allow us to travel further for work than the average person would travel in their entire life 500 years ago (and thanks to airplanes we can travel across continents and oceans in hours)...

And yet people still feel alone.

Today I read about people who were "alone". In the Amazon (Brazil) there is a tribe of people called the Metyktire Tribe. They have been living in the rainforest unknown to many people for a long time. How long? They met their first ever person from outside the tribe in May 2007. Think about that! Just two years ago these people believed there was no one else on the planet outside of their little tribe!

Can you imagine how overwhelming that must have been? "Hey, nice to meet you. I'm one of 6 billion people here you didn't know existed." Think of all the times they could have used a doctor, education, electricity, who knows, anything that we take for granted everyday (I say that while sitting in a padded chair at a computer with the A/C on, and they were in the rainforest...).

I think for many people, we realize we are not alone, but we don't know who to trust, and that leads us to be alone. Thank God there's Someone who will never leave us (or forsake us).


Saturday, August 01, 2009

How Little Control We Actually Have

Sorry, not going to be wordy today. In the past week a couple of things have really hit me, and the hardest part about them is there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. As someone who likes to fix things, that is really, really hurting me. I've always believed there is a solution, and there always is, it's just not always one that I personally can get to.

One of those old memory verses from Sunday School is running through my head (thank you for making me memorize Scripture when I was 8). Proverbs 3 says we have to trust in the Lord with all our heart. And with where I am today, that's all I can do, trust. He's the same God who cares for every hair on my head, He's the same God who parted the Red Sea for His people, He's the same God who sacrificed His Son for me.

Sometimes, all we can do is trust...


Monday, July 27, 2009

The Mission Trip Continues

Although we had a few students write what happened on the trip, obviously I could not get everyone on my laptop. For more stories visit our discussion board at to learn more and hear more stories from the students.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Toronto Days 6 & 7 (Friday & Saturday)

Sorry there was no blog last night, we didn't have Internet.

But it was a great day. We were up at 6:00 (ugh) and on the road by around 8:30 after cleaning up the work-site, saying good-bye, etc. Then it was off to Kincardine.

And what a great day. It rained off and on all the way there, then sunshine! We had a few good hours on the beach, people jumped off the pier, played watermelon football, and a few people got a nice little tan. Nice and relaxing. And I ran into people from town I hadn't seen in forever (we found one by Kayla & Kristen playing with their kids).

Then we went back to the churches, had dinner, and decompressed. It was nice to have a fun day and then finish it off talking about the trip after having a few hours to think about it.

Today we slept in (yes!) and were on the road around 11:30. We made it through the border faster than I could have ever expected! We didn't even get out of our vehicles!! He did it all at his kiosk, we all met at the Rest Area a 1/2 mile away, and we were on our way home. No problems, no anything. We even got home an hour early.

So thanks to everyone who came. I hope you all enjoyed reading about it. Hopefully the students will be telling more of their stories on the discussion board at so check it out there.

Until my next thought (it may be a while, the brain is a little fried).


Friday, July 24, 2009

Toronto Day 5 (Thursday)

Today was a little bitter sweet. It was the last day which means we have lots of fun, but it also means that we have to say good-bye. For our group, we had a massive water fight, and I don’t mean a little one. We were all soaked, extremely soaked. We did it because it was raining. So we were cold and wet, playing in water. But we had so much fun and had a good time with the kids. We’re really going to miss them.

I finally had a day off this afternoon, between showers and writing happy fun notes, I really haven’t spent a lot of time just hanging out. Today is why I do them early, so I can have time at the end of the week just hanging out. It was lots of fun.

For the evening activity, it was about to rain again, so we went out to the park behind us, took pictures, played football, played group rock, paper, scissors (ask about the group hug), lots of fun. After, Shawn and I beat people in Euchre.

Then we had our last group time which involves the foot-washing ceremony that is a tradition every year at Youthworks. And once again it was great. Our guys and gals, for some unknown reason, they just know how to pray, they know how to be still, they love each other and have no problem running up to each other and hugging and praying and crying with each other. At midnight the Youthworks leaders finally asked if we could go to sleep, not that they wanted us to stop praying, but they wanted to make sure everyone gets up at 6:30 tomorrow (Bah!).

So that is why there are no students blogging tonight and why there are no pictures and why this is so late. It’s almost 1:00, everyone’s finally in bed, and I have no problem with that. They have had a great week of serving, the staff here keep saying thank-you to them for all they’ve done, they’ve prayed with each other. Tomorrow we are off to have a day of relaxing and fun which they have more than deserved. Hope to get you some news about it then. See you in two days!