Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gotta Trust

It's funny how sometimes we feel God is telling us something and we don't know how it will turn out. There are tons of Bible stories about this (we're kind of even mentioning one on Sunday at Fishers UMC).

But I thought about this last night. Every Friday night Lorie and I have decided instead of eating out we will cook some sort of fun meal at home. So last night we baked something that we've wanted to try for a long time, a recipe we found for Red Lobster biscuits (they are soooo good!). The recipe is quite simple, but it really doesn't make sense when you look at it. So Lorie was mixing the ingredients and it looked bad. Then we made lumps of dough (if you can call it that) on the baking sheet, and they looked worse.

For the next half hour, Lorie was worried the recipe was wrong. It looked wrong. The ingredients didn't make sense, and it was way to simple. However, a half-hour later, we tasted them. And they were perfect!

I think sometimes that's how we "trust" God. We say we trust Him with something, but it doesn't look the way we want it to, it doesn't feel right, it doesn't make sense, so we doubt and start to question. But if we'd just stick with it, the product at the end may be exactly what we need (and it tastes great too!).

T

Friday, August 27, 2010

Prayer In The Wilderness

I was reading in Luke a little verse I see all the time, how Jesus would go off to the middle of nowhere to pray (Luke 5:16). And it just kind of hit me different today.

I've read that verse before and in context it's talking about people coming to Jesus for healing, but He chose to sometimes leave them to pray, how prayer is important. Got it. Even told other people that. But I wonder if there's something to the wilderness.

The idea of the wilderness is it's a big empty space o' nothing. There is no one there but Jesus and God. And I wonder if there's a message in that. It seems like (at least for me) we try to fit prayer into where we are. In the car, out and about, we pray in the midst of distractions. I wonder if Jesus is modelling something different, purposely go to a place where there are no distractions so you can be alone with God. I've heard about this before, many people have what they call a "prayer closet", a place they have dedicated to God and when they are in that room they want to be left alone with God.

Just something to think about the next time you go to pray...

T

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Holy Pride

Another thought from Romans before I leave it behind for a while. This verse stuck out at me, one of Paul's farewell verses:

Romans 15:17 ~ So I am proud of what I have done for God in Christ Jesus. (NCV)

I guess it hits me because I literally work for Jesus, I'm serve at a church and I sometimes wonder if I am doing a good enough job. Have I put my best foot forward? Have I done the absolute best I can for God that I can? Am I able to one day look back on what I have done for God and be "proud" of what I have done?

But we can all do that. You don't have to work in a church to be proud of what you have done for Jesus. You can do that in your family, in your job, with the people around you, and yes, maybe even at your church for a few hours here or there. As Colossians 3:17 says, "And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father." (NLT). I have that verse taped to my monitor at church to help me remember to do my best all the time for God.

So live a life for Jesus you can be proud of. It will make looking back a whole lot better!

T

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Do You Think About It?

I was finishing up the book of Romans today and came across a verse that I'd never really thought about...

The end of Romans (chapter 14-15) speaks about doing what is right. It talks a lot about it doesn't matter so much what you do as long as you do it for God, do it with the right attitude. There's a famous verse where it says if eating meat causes your brother to stumble, don't eat meat. The idea is if you think it's okay to eat meat, that's good. If they think it's wrong to eat meat and choose to give that up for God, that's good. But respect each other's wishes on how to serve God and help them do what they think is right to the best of their ability. Then there's this little verse that I didn't really remember too well...

Romans 14:23b ~ Anything that is done without believing it is right is a sin. (NCV)

That's a heavy verse. Because now it asks if you've actually thought about what you are doing or do you just do it and justify it afterwards. Go back to eating meat. Is that okay? Either answer is right as long as you know why you have chosen to do that for God. Just doing the one you want then coming up with a reason later once challenged, that's what Paul is trying to avoid here.

It's a challenge for today. Why do you do what you do (kind of a good thought in light of what we have been talking about Sunday nights)? Is it acceptable to God? Why? Just some things to think about...

T

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Common Sense Chain

I think I figured out why I liked that mission statement I posted yesterday. It makes sense. I mean, think about it. If you are going to put in the effort to save something, you must love it in some way. You can't love something you don't know (at least not nearly as well as if you did know it). So, the goal at Animal Kingdom is to inform people, help them know about the animals in our world, in that way they will learn to love them, and once they love them, they will learn to save them.

It reminds me of one of my favorite verses in Romans. "But how shall they ask Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?" (Romans 10:14, LB). It's another common sense chain. Too often the church acts like we want people to just magically start trusting God. But how can they trust in God if they don't even know who they are trusting in? They can't trust if they don't believe in Him, they can't believe if they don't know who they are trusting in, and they can't know unless someone tells them.

It's almost Sherlock Holmesish...

T

Monday, August 23, 2010

Do You Know?

I was reading about Disney's Animal Kingdom today (I know, shocker) and came across a little tidbit I'd never heard before. It's one of the parks guiding purpose statements when they built it. It goes like this:

"You will only save what you love, and you will only love what you know."

Now, they were thinking in terms of conservation, but it really goes to the core of Christianity in my mind. Think of it in terms of who you have told about Christ lately. Maybe even Christ Himself and how you treat His people, His house, maybe even yourself, His temple.

Perhaps this attitude would help people share His love with others. We need to get to know people, and once we do, we will love them. And once we love them, we will want to save them.

Quite the purpose statement...

T

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How Did He Do That?

This is one of those stories I wish I could have seen.

Luke 4:29-30 ~ Jumping up, they mobbed Him and forced Him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push Him over the cliff, but He passed right through the crowd and went on His way. (NLT)

How does that work? Did they change their mind when Jesus changed direction? Did He kind of float through them and they were scared to touch Him? I don't get it. It's just one of those things I wish I could see and understand...

T

Friday, August 20, 2010

Belief Trumps Disappointment

I was reading a piece of Scripture today, one from the Old Testament that seems to be so important twice it is referred to in the New Testament (by Peter and Paul). It's from the end of Isaiah 28:16.

Anyone who trusts in it will never be disappointed. (NCV)

"It" being the cornerstone of faith, or in this case, the coming Messiah. Basically, Jesus. God promises that if we have faith in Him we will never be disappointed.

That seems so Sunday School answerish, but in reality it's true. For one because the Bible says it's true. But I wonder how many times we are disappointed with God, but in reality it wasn't God's fault at all, maybe it was ours.

Just something to think about and inspire hope. God is always faithful!

T

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oh Canada

I don't know what's going on, but I turned on the Colts game tonight, and I realize I recognize the field. They're in Canada! And then they have a punt return by a Canadian!

I think the Colts have found the key to winning, the cold white north (if they would ever win in the preseason)...

T

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh To Hear So Clearly

My apologies for not blogging yesterday. I made the mistake of lying down "just for a second"...

But today, I was reading through a passage I will be speaking on at NewSong in a few weeks. It's in Jeremiah, 13:1-11. it's fun to read, if you don't understand it, we will talk about it in two weeks at church :)

But for me, I just wonder what it would be like to hear God that clearly. Go and buy this. Do this with it. Months later, go get it. What would it be like to hear God so precisely...?

Ah, my usual meanderings with no answer.

T

Monday, August 16, 2010

How Hard Are You On People?

I was reading a magazine today that combined two of my favorite things, church sound and massive amounts of sarcasm. But with some good thinking behind it. Enjoy.

http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/06/3180/

T

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Why We Do What We Do

For all those interested, at Drink Deep (Sunday nights at 6:00 for Sr. High students) we will spend the next few weeks talking about why we do what we do at church. It's a great thing for people who are new to church or even for those who have been in church all their lives but could use a refresher course (and it will help you explain things like why we sing at church to your friends).

All Sr. High students are invited tomorrow night. See you there!

T

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Temptation Of Jesus

I was reading this story in Luke 4 today. It's one of those stories that gives me hope but also messes with me. On one hand, I see that not all sinful and stupid thoughts that enter my head are mine, there is a deceiver and he is trying to mess with me. I also see that there is a way to not fall into sin, Jesus managed to make it out, and each time He quoted Scripture, I think that's a key to fighting sin.

But then on the other side, I suck at it. I think of all the times I am tempted and how often I don't quote Scripture, I don't even do what I should. It doesn't make me feel very Sanctified (as we were talking about yesterday). It also makes me feel bad to know although it's not my fault, there is evil in this world that wants to work against me.

I don't know. The magic Sunday School answer is I wish I were perfect like Christ, and I'm not. I just hope I am doing all I can to be living up to His gift that He gave me when He died for me...

T

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sanctification

I was reading about this today. For those unfamiliar with this big word, a simple explanation is the process of being made holy. There are people who believe there are two steps to knowing Christ. One is salvation, the point where we surrender to God, ask His forgiveness and are made clean.

Now some people believe that sanctification happens right then and there. From now on you are perfect. Some people even believe that they do not sin after that initial point of sanctification. Any "sin" that happens happens because of a fallen world, not their choices.

Others believe that sanctification occurs later. That at some point later in your walk with Jesus you are made holy. You are again made perfect, just not at the point of salvation, and you again cannot sin, but this happens much later and some people never reach it.

The other view is that after salvation people are constantly in the process of sanctification. You will never be completely holy, but you will be striving for it. You will be doing what you can to live for God and in that way be continually sanctified.

It's funny, in reading Romans 6 I can see where all three of those views come from. But I think the key is your choices. The key is living like you are either sanctified or are in the process of being sanctified. I don't know which one is 100% right, but I know they both say that we should act in a way that we are holy. Romans 6:13 says "Do not offer the parts of your body to serve sin." (NCV). We should be making the choice to not sin, the choice to live as holy as we can.

It's interesting to think about. Personally, I would love to say I'm perfect and holy, but I don't think I'm there yet... :)

T

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Start Well

A little shout out to our students who are starting school today! You have many people praying for you and supporting you. Start the year well, do your best, and shine for Jesus!

T

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Website

I heard about this last night, laughed just a little. It hits too close to home.

http://thereifixedit.com/

Enjoy.

T

Monday, August 09, 2010

Inviting Spaces

Yesterday was our Back To School Bash, a last party before school starts (2 more days, yay!).

We had a fewer people than in the past last night, but there were a few highlights, one being almost $200 raised for our Compassion Children. But we had another one. Our new room. Last week we updated room 173 (the youth room) and have now dubbed it "The Wharf" (this week we are finishing "The Pier" where the Jr. Highs meet). We changed out the chairs, painted, changed lights, added smells and sounds, and the crazy part, it worked. Last night we had more people hanging out at The Wharf than in the gym with the "fun" things.

The question is why. Well, we wanted to make a place that was inviting, somewhere we knew people would want to come in and hang out. We do it in our homes. Almost every room has a living room or family room (or both), a room that is meant to be inviting to people, a room where the family and guests can come and just be together.

So... do we do this with God's house? Is God's Church "inviting" to you? To your friends? To people who have never been there? We try so hard to make sure our homes are inviting, presentable, clean, smell good, whatever it is when company comes, do we work together to do this for our Father's House where people come to visit?

Just a thought...

T

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Tomorrow

All morning is Fire & Water Sunday where we tell the church about what we do, followed by our Back To School Bash, a huge party and the unveiling of the new Youth Room (well, same room, new look). See you all there!

T

Friday, August 06, 2010

True Believer By Your Actions

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. We seem to have dumbed down the Gospel into "if I say I'm a Christian I am".

The other day I was reading Romans 2, and I started to look at it from a different light. Basically Paul is saying to the Jewish people they are not Jews because they had an operation performed on them. It's how they live that tells everyone (including God) they are His people. There are verses like these throughout the chapter:

Romans 2:13 ~ Hearing the law does not make people right with God. It is those who obey the law who will be right with Him. (NCV)

Romans 2:29a ~ A person is a Jew only if he is a Jew inside. (NCV)

What if we started believing this and living like this as Christians? As ones who say we know the true God personally, that we have met and talk with the Son of God? What if instead of worrying about telling everyone what we believe and making sure people hear what is in our heads, instead we started living what we believe and let people make their own judgements? I bet if we were living right the people watching wouldn't have a hard time guessing who God really is.

And I know, I'm not perfect either. I'm not preaching that we all should be perfect, if not, we aren't really God's. Grace is part of that. But I think we need to be making an effort. If we are truly doing our best to live for God, people will see it, those around us will sense it, and then another verse in Romans may come true.

Romans 1:12 ~ I mean that I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you. (NCV).

T

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Still Thinking About The Mission Trip...

Last night we had a post-trip meeting where we looked at pictures and talked about what we miss on the trip, what we remember, things of that nature.

What always interests me is when we start discussing the things we'd like to change. This goes far beyond the mission trip or the people in the circle for me, because it's fascinating to me how often people say they are going to change, and within a week old habits return (myself included here, why can't I do what I say I will?!).

Like a simple one for me, I thought I would try and get up earlier like I did on the trip. A few other people mentioned daily schedules and doing more in their day. It seems like a pretty simple thing to do, but somehow we seem to lack the self-motivation to really do it (summer vacation may play a hand in this one).

It all goes back to change and the things that have been going on at our church lately. If someone wants change bad enough it will happen. The problem is, comfort is soooo much easier.

So for those that went on the mission trip, don't give up. Aim for the changes you wanted less than two weeks ago. You can do it, we all can!

T

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Curse Of Knowledge

I've been reading about this and the experiment that proved it.

In 1990 two brothers at Stanford, Chip and Dan Heath, did a little experiment. They separated people into two groups. One group had to tap out the rhythm of famous songs, like "Happy Birthday" and "The Star Spangled Banner". The other group had to guess what songs were being tapped.

In 120 different tappings, only 3 were guess right. 3. 117 the listeners guessed wrong.

Now, that's a little astounding, but the Heath brothers took it a step further. They asked the tappers before to guess if listeners would recognize the songs. They tappers guessed 50% of the time the tappers would know it.

So why? Why the big difference. That's the Curse of Knowledge. The tappers already know the song, they can hear the melody in their head, they can't understand how no one else can know this. The listeners, they don't know it. All they hear is confused Morse Code.

It makes you think how often you assume someone knows something, but they really only know a tiny bit, and maybe don't even understand it. We think since we understand it, they just should too (Lorie and I have this discussion quite often when I don't understand why she's not following me, even though I'm six steps ahead in my head and forgot to include her, my bad).

Do we do this with faith? Do we assume people know God as we do, believe as we do, think as we do when it pertains to God? Do we have a Curse of Knowledge? Do we give people the message of the Gospel in confusing taps rather than a message that can be understood? Just something to think about.

T

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

II Acts

Why is there no Second book of Acts?

No I mean it, why not? It's really been frustrating to me. I've read the book a couple of times, just finished reading it again the other day. Paul is on trial, he has been sent to Rome to stand before Caesar. We know he goes to Rome, we know he's under house arrest but the people are nice to him, he can rent a house, he has visitors. And then, the end.

Really?? What about the trial? What about Caesar? What did Paul say? Was he freed? Who visited him?

I know there are stories and legends, but come on Luke, you left us hanging on this one.

T

Monday, August 02, 2010

Guiding A Horse

I was reading a short little diddy from a woman who trains horses the other day. She was showing what she has learned about leadership while bringing up these fine animals. The lesson I was reading focused on leading rather than dominating.

An example of this is when a horse is first born. Horses are prey animals (like my bunny, it means they run from everything because they think it's going to eat them) and a baby horse learns right away to run.

Now there are two ways to teach a horse not to run from you. One is to put a halter on it and force it to go wherever you tell it to. The problem is, it's a prey animal, it thinks you're forcing it to do something so you can eat it. so he wil buck, he will pull, he will fight. You have basically taught the horse that as the leader you are going to corner him and coerce him into doing what you want.

The other way works much better. You lead the mother. You befriend the horse. Soon the horse learns to follow because mommy does and eventually will follow you because he has learned to trust you. This trainer writes that this is the hardest part for people to do, to lead without pulling, to lead on faith.

And I started thinking this is so true in many areas. Leadership, obviously. But do we do this in faith? We don't lead, we put a halter on right away and teach someone they have to believe what we believe, how we believe it, act the right way, and if they deviate at all, coerce them. It's almost like we're scared people won't have faith in us or God if we have faith in them. So we force faith...

Something to think about. I know for me, I work with high school students. Try forcing a teenager to do something, even something good for them, even something they like, and see what happens...

T

Friday, July 30, 2010

West Virginia Pictures 5

Our last day of pictures. To see more, make sure to be at Fire & Water Sunday at Fishers United Methodist Church on August 8th. See you there!













Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

West Virginia Pictures 3

All photos today are courtesy of the Henke poys. Thanks guys!













Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

West Virginia Pictures 1

Sorry it took so long to get these up today (I'll be quicker tomorrow). I will try to put up a few pictures every day, here are some for Monday.

T













Saturday, July 24, 2010

We're Home!

We made it back safe and sound. My apologies for coming back late, construction and miscommunication does not mix well :)

Thanks to everyone who supported us and prayed for us while we were gone. It was amazing to see how many people were reading the blog and keeping up with us. But we're not done yet! A few things:

1. Be reading Liz's blog! The FIRE group goes on their mission trip tomorrow. She will be posting updates of her trip too (and I'm sure she could use some love and support as we did).

2. I plan to post pictures on this blog all next week of our time in West Virginia. Due to size I hope to put up a few each day for the entire week, so be checking back often to see what we were up to!

Thanks again everyone. See you at church tomorrow!

T

West Virginia: Day 6

It has been a great day. Friday is usually my favorite, and not because we're done with our trip, that's a little saddening. It's become the new day in which we take a few extra hours and talk about the trip in a big group (which doesn't happen during the week). We share stories, talk about what we learned, how we grew, and how we saw others grow. Here are a few stories from out students about the trip.

Nikki Johnson-
Well, the days didn’t always start out with delicious waffles, but how does a peanut butter pie sound? What about home-made fried chicken and bread? When you think about it the “Megantic Mountain” group site at Ida and Willie’s house didn’t seem like much of a work site. Though we did scrub mold off of three houses and built an awning on Ida’s deck, it was more of a “relational” trip than that of the hard labor.
By the end of the week we were all considered Kin to Ida and Willie. We were invited to wonderful meals every day, a clean shower, and they even said they would send us birthday cards every year. The days consistently started out with a “Why hello, Nikki baby “and I was often called her Nikki. I definitely learned that you don’t need to be family to someone to be like a family. The thought and care you can put into making someone’s life better can be way more important than the actual work. According to Nora, Youthworks gave her a life back, and according to Jack, Youthworks gave him his wife back. Every little thing can save a life. Oh, and we saw a cat get his tail shut in a van door today.

Isaac Schaffer-
So, on our last day of the mission trip we visited Morgantown and hung out at Zak’s old church. At night we all circled up and had a long group talk. We shared our thoughts on the people we served, the people we served with, and the people who served us. The talk lasted for about two hours and we could have kept on going but we needed sleep. Troy asked us to give shout outs to members of our church for making an impact on us or others. Me and many others were given a shout outs for working so well with the other church.
At the beginning of the week many kids from our church were worried about how the other churches kids would act. On the first night many of the other kids from Wisconsin said they were surprised at how hard we wanted to work and how they didn’t want to work very hard. After the first few days we bonded very well with the kids from Wisconsin and it turns out that they are very hard workers.
Kevin, a guy in my group teamed up with me and we took care of a crazy kid at Kids club named, A.J., and his nickname was wolverine. We played zombies and school with him and did whatever he told us to do. He was always bouncing off the walls and being crazy to get attention. I started playing a drum beat and wolverine started rapping words that made no sense. Kevin sang like an Indian on top of it and we made a great rap group. It was really good to see wolverine occupied and having fun without being bad. In the end our church and the church from Wisconsin bonded very well and we made a great team.

Bobby Herron-
The mission trip, though extremely relational and deep, centered around actual works projects for my group in particular. Most of the other groups explained how most of the trip revolved around building relations with the townspeople of Williamsburg and the children, and my group, the Notre Dames, certainly did this. Ali, Kendall, Mark, Jason, and members from the other church were blessed to be able to work with two wonderful elderly people, Ernest and Caroline, as well as their grandson, Mathew. As we built them a brand new deck, our relations with the other church and Ernest’s family grew deep.
The week in Mingo County was marked by the growing of friendships and the mutual blessings between the youth workers and the residents in Mingo County. All of this was discussed today when our church gathered at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Morgantown, West Virginia. We shared our joys and the progress we saw within ourselves and the people we served, which included roughly two hours of discussing the amazing things we saw changing in people and the movement of God within our lives. From this trip we will take with us the memories and the motivation of seeing God at work through friends and family and use this to continue to serve like Jesus in the future.

We really have had a great trip. It was so impactful we even made the local paper (there's a good picture of Bobby Herron and Mark Ogle building a deck)! We are thankful for all your support and can't wait to see some smiling faces tomorrow when we get home. Until then.

T

Friday, July 23, 2010

West Virginia: Day 5

Sorry to be brief, it has been a long day, good-byes to those we worked with, a long time in prayer and foot-washing, but a really, really good day. And here are some friends to talk about it.

Aaron Henke-
This was quite an interesting week. I finally got to do a work project for the week. My group was in charge with painting a house. I thought that my painting of the house would be the way I would show God’s love for the people of the community. It turns out we learned more about God’s love. Marvin (the home owner) told us a story in the rain after lunch about his guardian angles. He was on a trip to Florida with friends. While there he got caught in the undertow. Right when he was going to give up, two boys on surfboards came and helped to shore. When he returned to his friends, his friends did not believe anyone helped him and they could not find the two boys.
Everyday on this trip we talked about how we need to focus on God’s wants and not our wants. I really wanted to finish painting this house. Once we got the first coat on many people felt we did not need to continue working. I had seen many spots that needed retouching. I had talked to Dan Spall about what to do. He told me that I showed finish the house. That night I dreamt about painting the light blue on the house. I think God slapped me in the face about what I was supposed to accomplish for the final. We were able to finish the house and made it look really nice.

Ginny Herron-
Yo! Today was a great day. I was in the Adirondack crew, soo basically that means me and the Piedmont crew got to hang out with kids all week! Which in all honesty wore most of us if not all of us out. We also visited a nursing home twice, today being the second time.
Around 9 we left for the nursing home. Once there we all split up into pairs or groups and talked with the elderly people. Me and Allison talked with two super sweet ladies, Virginia and I think Joyce. Virginia said she didn’t feel great but she smiled at us with a big smile and made us feel right at home….. Joyce walked around with us and shared some of her past. Around 10 we all headed to the activity room and Kevin, Andy, Jordan and Paul played music! Laura and me sang. They seemed to enjoy it,as well as all the youth talking around them to them.
Then we went to kids club! The theme today was superheroes. One group acted and David and Goliath. Four square was played pretty much ALL DAY by adults and little kids alike. A water balloon fight was also part of the agenda. Kickball happened as well.
Tonight was the footwashing. Emotional and great as usual. Can’t wait to see y'all Sunday.

Alec Balasko-
I’m back again to blog about my week. This week has been very strange, very fun, and very tiring. We had drama, but we all got along…mostly. We are all at least a little bit tired from this week. The humidity and hotness of Mingo County has done a number on us.
This week I worked at 2 different worksites. For the first 2 days I was at Faye’s house helping her weed gardens, clean windows, and clear basements. When we arrived we were greeted by Faye smiling and shaking all of our hands. We immediately got down to business. We split up into 3 groups. One group went into the flowerbed to start weeding, one group started washing windows, and the other, my group, went into the basement to start clearing things out. When we entered the basement it was like we had gone back it time. We found many very cool items in her basement including an old Maytag washing machine from the 50s.
The second day we returned to Faye’s for much of the same, but this time we had a lot less work to do. We spent the majority of that day sitting. Luckily, the next day we went to a site where we actually had something to do!
On day 3 we went to Dona’s for the first time and we immediately got to scraping paint off of the front porch in order for us to paint it. On the first day we got the front deck all painted and he back deck all scraped. On the 4th day we arrived and immediately Dona wanted a picture. We all got on the newly painted deck and she took and picture then Dona ran inside to call the newspaper. We were able to finish the back porch and paint some furniture for the front porch. It was a great last day.
All in all this was an interesting but fun mission trip. We learned a lot and we are hoping to return with our lessons and apply them to our life back home.

It's been a great week. If we have internet you will hear from us tomorrow. If not, see you Saturday!

T

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

West Virginia: Day 4

It's the middle of the week! What some people have said is the hardest day seems to have been one of our best. We managed to get a lot of projects done, Kids Club was the calmest and most fun it's been all week, and we went to a nice small town country Baptist Church for our evening activity where we heard about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as well as lessons about how we should be doing things for God and not for others. But to give you an idea of what we have been doing, a few students have some to share...

Kari Lorentson-
I’m on the Uplands group and today we had a super productive day. My group is painting a house and today we finished the entire first coat so tomorrow we will be able to finish any touch ups. A few of the girls on the team also had fun with the homeowner Pam by helping her wash her dog!! For the evening activity, everyone went to a church service which was awesome! Andy and Zak shared their musical talents by leading the congregation in a praise song. Afterwards, members of the church invited us downstairs for some great food and fellowship!

Dan Spall-
This week seemed to start somewhat slowly for a lot of us with respect to growing and understanding God. But in many ways this mission trip has been different from other mission trips in how we have to balance being Christians and doing service. In the past, it’s been either do work or talk with people. Now we are doing both. Today that truly clicked in many of us, and it has been incredible. We are all hoping that tomorrow will bring with it the chance to continue with this new understanding, and use it to its full potential. We’re running out of time here in West Virginia, and every second counts because every second is God’s.

Sarah Wade-
Today, my group, the Megantic Mountains, went back to Ida and Willie’s house. We are trying to stretch out our time because the people are so amazing. Ida lives right next to her sister and daughter. We have washed her house and her sister’s the past two days. Her daughter’s came today. More importantly, we spent time talking to the people. They tell us that we are such a blessing. We also experienced chocolate delight today, and it was like something I have never tasted. Our group took a picture with everyone we have helped and we went to Walmart to get the picture developed and put it in a frame. We are giving one to Ida and her sister and writing a message to them on the frame. It is honestly true that we get just as much out of this trip, if not more, than they do.

Our students (and leaders) are doing great! Thanks for all your prayers and support, we really appreciate them. We'll have more updates tomorrow. Until then.

T

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

West Virginia: Day 3

Well, day three has ended. People have been finishing work projects, the crew working on kids club also went to a nursing home, and we also witnessed the awesomeness of a bluegrass concert and dancing. I wish we could post pictures and videos, but that would take too long (sorry, we will have some up next week). But as to stories, here are a few from our students:

Daniel Ogle-
Today I started it off with a little hesitation because we were going to a nursing home and I'm not that much of a conversation starter. I ended up talking to a lady named Gertrude most of the time and I am looking forward to go back Thursday to visit some more with her. Then I headed off to kids club and ran into wolverine a few times (a kid named AJ who is basically wolverine). I have had the most time bonding with the kids playing sports with them in the parking lot and I can tell its going to be hard to leave. Thanks for praying for us.

Ellen Randall-
You know its going to be a good day when it starts with waffles! My worksite is in Delbarton, a small mining town about twenty minutes away. In Delbarton, my group is painting a house for a very lively couple named Pam and Marvin (but he prefers us to call him Bo). Bo picked a very bright blue for his house… and even that color lights up my day. It’s really great to be working for Pam and Bo, because they are both talkative and friendly. Pam is deaf & her ability to lip-read AMAZES me! She is so patient and wonderful with all of us & we are all so blessed to be working with her! Bo also loves to talk to us and has some pretty amazing stories! The couple also has a love for dogs, which is something that I’m lucky to share with them. The painting, by the way, is going great! I also got over my fear of ladders after falling of a one foot stepping stool and breaking my foot a couple years ago. We’ve had a great evening of square dancing, which has made me very tired! It’s been a great day, but I am now ready to crash on my air mattress!

Chloe Bultemeyer-
Today was my second day on my first official mission trip and it was well… interesting. It started out great when I woke up to the smell of waffles. But the best part of the beginning of the day was when I talked to Ida, the person’s house we are working on. When chatting with her, I found out that there use to be a house where her house is now and her and her husband, Willy, got married at that spot! I think that’s so cool. Surprisingly, I offered to go with 5 guys to the lumber yard to get some wood and I didn’t get a splinter when I picked up a long piece of wood. The 5 guys I went with were pretty awesome. When we got to Ida’s house, I went to working on her sister’s house who lives next to her. A little into working Ida calls into eat and it was some of the best home made food… no offense to my mom and dad. After s we were working it started to down pour but I was a trooper and kept working on a ladder. This evening after a dinner of TACOS and showing, we went to a bluegrass concert. And I actually enjoyed it! I had so much fun! My new friend Haley is from Wisconsin and she is great and being in West Virginia is awesome as well as BEAUTIFUL. However, I have started talking in a mix of a country and Wisconsin accent… Dancing has worn me out so I am heading off for bed but I want to thank everyone for praying for us because it is great to know we have people at home supporting us. See everyone one Saturday.

Thanks everyone for your prayers and support, we'll have more updates tomorrow!

T

Monday, July 19, 2010

West Virginia: Day 2

Day two here at West Virginia, we had our first actual day of serving, four work crews and two crews together working at a Kids Club. We also had a fun evening of learning about the area and visiting a coal mine museum. But, I'll let other share on this.

Dustin Meeks-
The very first day of the mission trip was one full of surprises Troy true to his word put everyone out of their comfort zone especially himself (kids club+ Troy = hmmm). I was posted to a work project in the nearby town of Belfy, Kentucky. Now if you know me (Dustin+ Work Project = hmmmm?) so I was pretty nervous, but after being lost for half an hour I was greeted with an exciting surprise Fay the elderly woman who’s house we were going to work on was an incredibly nice and adorable person. I was assigned to help her clean out her house full of mementos of her life and her sixty year marriage which was abruptly ended last year with the death of her husband. After only an hour of work in the cool damp basement Fay was a little tired and so we retired upstairs to her affectionately cared for kitchen that reminded me so much of my own Grandma’s kitchen. Being the sweet women that Fay is she quickly set to work making all of the members of my work crew the greatest hot dogs ever. She made a homemade queso and her own special chili and she shared the secret to the perfect chili queso dog (Honey Mustard) who knew. I then proceeded to talk with her for two hours instead of working. So I felt bad that I wasn’t working at our work project but I had a conversation that changed my life. Fay is a collector of things and while my job this week is to help her declutter her home of unused things I have come to appreciate her love for knickknacks and gewgaws ( I love that word). She has a collection of Everything old and nostalgic. She was so easy to talk to and I know that she is going to be the method by which God will speak to me this week.

Thanks for your Prayers,

Mark Ogle-
Today was a great day to serve. I was put in a group that suited my abilities well. We were assigned to build a deck for an elderly couple and their grandson. The husband worked in the coal mines for decades and ruined his lungs in the process. He is confined to a 50 foot line of oxygen in his home. The ramp is basically to give him quicker access to get to a hospital if need be. The family welcomed us with warm Christian hospitality and Coroline made spaghetti for our group. I saw two open bibles in the family room with notes and heard references to God throughout the day with them. It feels great to be serving people of great character and faith.
Creating a deck with no plans in 90 degree weather didn’t help. The group worked well together despite this. The screws were very short and we had some difficulties with supplies but we got some solid work done on the deck. I can’t wait for tomorrow to go back and continue a job for other caring people.. I’m learning a lot from their faith. Evangelism isn’t a job on my list this week.

Jessi Tillman-
Today started off well…if you can say well for an overly tired teenager. I am part of the Upland group and we are at a work site. The home belongs to Pam and Marvin….Pam is completely deaf. So getting questions answered and understood was just slightly hard for me personally…but everything went really well. When we first got to the site, Tom (the site director) told us what we were doing and left. So, getting started on what was a little confusing. But we started off my scrapping off paint from the siding and the shutters. This is a painstaking job, especially when you have no masks, short ladders, and cranky teenagers. After scraping most of the shutters, we took a lunch break. Natilie and Taegan and the other leader from the other church, Ann. Went in to use the bathroom. That broke and water was flooding the bathroom. Pam helped them fix it, but when they thought it was fixed, the lid blew up again. That happened twice. After a glorious lunch of sandwiches and cheez-its, we started to paint the trim. It was the coolest color of blue ever. And Pam seemed pretty excited about the color, and so was I. We got some of the trim done, and we hope to finish that up by tomorrow. The museum today was really interesting. Again, when I have left home this year, I have learned something new, like the Hatfield McCoy feud or the massacre that happened in the town that I can’t pronounce or spell. Our church and club times followed, and I really got to learn about some of the cool things Jesus has done. I can’t wait to see how the rest of this week goes!

Another great day of learning about God through serving and showing His love to others. More stories tomorrow, for now it's off to bed (I'm going to sleep good tonight...). Thanks all for your support!

T

Sunday, July 18, 2010

West Virginia: Day 1

We have made it safely to our new home for the next few days, Williamson in Mingo County West Virginia. Our hope is to have a few students let you know what we have been up to every night, so without further ado, here are some stories of the day.

Kendall Knoke-
We have only been in Williamson for a few hours, but I already have a really good feeling about this trip. The Youthworks staff is great as always, and there is a huge church group from Wisconsin here. I have been able to interact with them a lot so far, and I look forward to getting to know them more. We were able to stop at a state park on the way here because we had extra time, and it was a great time being able to do some hiking and just have a great time with each other and NATURE!

Alec Balasko-
After being in Williamson for our first day we can already tell that this is going to shape up to be a great trip. We learned that one of the novelties of this town is the people, whom we cannot wait to meet. We have a great Youthworks staff and I believe that they are going to make the trip even more fantastic. We are looking forward to getting to work with many work projects and kids clubs tomorrow as we begin our experience in Mingo county, WV.

Dan Spall-
This first day has been a promising start to our opportunity to serve. Being ahead of schedule on the way here, we were able to stop at a state park and appreciate nature in a way that we cannot fully experience in Indiana what with the great mountains. The enthusiasm and excitement for service seem to be greater than I can remember in years past. We’re all ready for this week and cannot wait for tomorrow to begin.

Thanks for your prayers and support, and we'll talk to you tomorrow!

T

Saturday, July 17, 2010

We Leave Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 7:00 we are leaving for the wonderful state of West Virginia to do some mission work, 38 of us from the Sr. High Ministry. Please pray for us and support us, we will be leaving posts here every day to let you know how things are going (computers and internet availability willing).

See you in next week!

T

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Church Is Like Family

The other day I was doing something I almost never do, reading random blogs. It's a dangerous game because you never know what you will get...

But in my adventures I came across this video by accident. Loved it. Give it a look.



T

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Wonder What It Sounded Like

Last Sunday we had our "Vicis Per Deus" prayer night at Drink Deep and The Refinery. It's a different night, we have stations where you can pray in different ways. One station was a compilation of Jewish prayers. You could sit and listen to the prayers being sung as they have been for thousands of years and read the translation of what they are singing.

I was thinking about that today when I was reading Luke 1. In it is Mary's song called The Magnificat, the song she sang when she learned she was pregnant with the Son of God. And it got me thinking, what did that sound like? What was the tune, the mitre, the emotion, what did it sound like?

And that lead me to thinking about the Psalms. A few of them I have heard sung, but what did they sound like thousands of years ago? Or the song of Moses or other songs in Scripture that were sung to remind the people of God's amazing feats?

I don't know, being a musician I kind of wish I could hear those sometimes.

T

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Can You Change With New Information?

We live in a world where information is always changing. Not to mention, we are all human, and sometimes we act (or even need to act) before we know the whole story. The question of maturity comes with can we change our minds and our actions when the information changes?

The real question is can we do this with faith? Too often we treat faith like somethine we decide, we are in control of who God is. Only we can choose what we believe, but we cannot choose what God is like or anything about who He is.

I was reading today about a man who had problems with this. He was a Roman governor who knew about Jesus and His teaching, but apparently not all of it...

Acts 24:24-25 ~ After some days Felix came with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, and asked for Paul to be brought to him. He listened to Paul talk about believing in Christ Jesus. But Felix became afraid when Paul spoke about living right, self-control, and the time when God will judge the world. He said, “Go away now. When I have more time, I will call for you.” (NCV)

The funny part, this guy sent Paul back to prison for two years. That's how badly he did not want to hear about living right, because that would require him to change his actions.

We have to do all we can to be learning about Jesus, to find out who He is and all His teachings so we can know Him and live properly. And that sometimes mean we will learn something new to us, something we weren't living by before. The question is, what will we do? Will we change, or will we be like Felix and bury our heads in the sand hoping ignorance will be an okay arguement for our lack of change?

T

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Check It For Yourself

It sometimes amazes me how much people trust what we at churches say. Or they go the other way and just flat out don't believe us. The funny part is this blind trust or outright denial generally have no basis whatsoever.

Have you ever, after a Sunday morning, gone home and looked up what the pastor talked about in the Bible to see if what they were saying was true? Seriously, checked to make sure they said it in context? What about when the pastor says something that challenges what you believe, stretching your faith in a different direction, do you blindly believe, fight against it because it doesn't line up with what you believe, or do you actually check the Word of God to see which one is right?

I had a professor in school who had a group of students check up on him all the time. If he mentioned a piece of Scripture, they checked to make sure it was there, it said what he told them it said, and read around it to make sure it was in context. What a novel idea! And even more, he encouraged it! After all, if he was teaching something that was right, what worry would he have?

The same thing happened with the story of Jesus. The disciples went throughout Europe going to synagogues opening Scripture and explaining that Jesus was the Messiah using the Bible. As far as I've seen, very few people like those in Berea (Acts 17) actually checked to make sure what the disciples were quoting from the Bible was true (after all, this was a long time ago, Bibles weren't on every corner bookshelf, and you probably didn't carry that huge scroll to synagogue with you).

So go for it, make sure what you're being taught is true. You might be surprised...

T

Monday, July 12, 2010

One Way To Be Like God...

As we talk about at church all the time, we are supposed to follow Christ's example in how we live. Well, the singer Prince claims to be doing just that. He told the Daily Mirror (a paper in England) he is taking all opportunities to be God-like, and one of those will be giving away his new album for free in European newspapers. Why?

"God is a generous and loving being. It is written that we should act like God." --Prince

There you have it, one way to be like God, record a CD and give it away for free. Although, I wonder what the content of this "God-like" CD will be...

T

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Can You See Faith?

I was reading this story the other day. Paul was preaching the Good News when he saw this man:

Acts 14:8-9 ~ In Lystra there sat a man who had been born crippled; he had never walked. As this man was listening to Paul speak, Paul looked straight at him and saw that he believed God could heal him. (NCV)

I wonder what that must have been like. Did Paul "see" this because the Holy Spirit let him? Or was this guy so fascinated and the look on his face was so convincing Paul knew the man had the faith to be healed?

Either way, it looks like part of healing doesn't hang on the person saying "you're healed" believing as much as it seems to be on the person who is being healed. Maybe that's the real reason we don't see miracles like we used to. It's not God, it's not even the church, it's the people the church is speaking too. Just a thought...

T

Friday, July 09, 2010

Was It Attitude Or Actions?

I've been reading in Acts lately and I keep thinking about how people seemed to just flock to the disciples. The message of a loving God caused people from all over to swarm the believers and ask for more.

It lead me to thinking why that doesn't happen today. Is it because it's an old story now? I don't think so, the gospel is still as valid today as it was then. But then there were miracles, people healed, people struck blind, all sorts of things that no one could argue with.

And although I see that, I wonder if it had more to do with the disciples attitudes than the miracles they performed (or more specifically, God performed through them). After all, they were living this out in a way I don't think we see any more. They had faith to believe they could do miracles. They preached the message of a loving God to anyone who would hear. They went to jail and some even died for this message. We don't want to bring it up because it might make someone uncomfortable.

I don't know, we have a lot of tricks we could use today, things that could seem like miracles. But even if someone were to receive their sight after being blind, would we believe the healer if they treated it like, "meh, whatever"...?

T

Thursday, July 08, 2010

It's In The Name

I was reading Mark the other day and noticed something that somehow had not occurred to me before.

It's the story of the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before Jesus is betrayed. I think I've read/heard this story a million times. I was reading about when Jesus prays by Himself and the disciples fall asleep. Heard that part before too.

But then I notice one little difference. Jesus calls Peter "Simon". See, a while back Jesus had changed Simon's name. He decided to call him "Peter" which means "rock" because He was going to use Peter to build His church (see Matthew 16:18). But here, Jesus calls him Simon. Why?

I think it's because Simon went back to his old ways. Here, all Jesus needed was prayer, and lots of it. But that was too much for Simon, he was tired. He was reverting back to his old ways, letting someone else do it. And Jesus calls him out on it by calling him Simon.

I wonder how many times we revert back to our old selves. After all, we are supposed to be new creations, having a new life (See II Corinthians 5:17). But sometimes we go back to living with the same values, habits, whatever it is from our life before Jesus (I know, I do it too).

We have to do all we can to choose to live to be like Peter, and leave Simon behind.

T

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Those Who Belong

I mentioned how last week I was reading Acts. It's funny how in Acts 9 and 10 you have two completely different stories, but both have the same theme.

Acts 9 talks about Paul, his experience haring Jesus' voice while on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians. He does a complete change and decides to promote Jesus as the Way of life. But when he gets to Jerusalem, the Christians there are weary, they had just had a friend killed for preaching about Jesus and Paul was there. But a man named Barnabas convinces the people not to look at his past but accept Paul for who he is.

Then the story changes. Acts 10 involves Peter, Jesus' right hand man and the founder of the Church. God speaks to him to go talk to a man named Cornelius, a Roman officer. Peter sees a vision from God declaring all food clean, which has a hidden meaning Peter gets that people are clean too, no matter what race or gender or whatever, they should all be able to learn about Jesus.

It's funny how two completely different stories deal with the same thing, looking at a person, then choosing not to judge them but know God loves them too. How often do we do that still, see someone not wearing the right thing at church, looking like they don't belong, maybe even not knowing how to act, and we judge them "unfit for Jesus". We're all unfit for Jesus, that's the beauty of His love...

T

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Why We Do It

I'm sure you've noticed in my blogs lately there have been a lot about change and why we need to change, how people are against change but don't know it...

What made me think about this the other day was cheese (yes, cheese). I was reading about cheese, the most awesome food in the universe (you can make anything better by adding cheese) and how it's popular all over the world... except China.

That's right, the only nation on earth that does not embrace cheese seems to be China. But what's really interesting is the reason. The people who attacked China, like the Mongols, they like cheese, so for many years eating cheese was associated with being friends with the enemy.

But that was hundreds of years ago! And now, Chinese cuisine still does not include a lot of cheese. Because of other people who ate it hundreds of years ago.

How many things are there in your life you stay clear from because of someone else years ago (and you've just never really thought about it...)

T

Monday, July 05, 2010

Hearing God Directly

Sorry to take a week off without warning. Between hard drives crashing and lack of sleep, it just kind of happened. But we're back :)

In my reading last week I came across this:

Acts 10:19-20 ~ While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Listen, three men are looking for you. Get up and go downstairs. Go with them without doubting, because I have sent them to you.” (NCV)

Now I know all the history of the English language, these would not be the exact words God said to Peter, and there were no quotation marks back then so it would have been a more generalization. And I used all these arguments in my head until I looked at the words "three men".

That's pretty specific. Three men. Word for word or feeling, Peter knew from God there were exactly three people, they were men, and they were downstairs. I wish I were that in tune with God. Hopefully I will be someday. But the other side of that is Peter. He knew God. He talked with God face to face in the person of Jesus. I hope I can get to that place too...

T

Friday, June 25, 2010

Caught In An Old System

Today Lorie and I went to see a movie, I won't give away what it is or what happened, but it was funny. Too often now I seem to see religious over-tones or something that fits in what I've been thinking a lot about lately.

But in this movie, it was weird. We've been looking at church a lot lately and in this movie there were two groups of people, one that wanted things to be the way they were and another that wanted to totally abandon the old for a radically new way of life.

I wonder how often we do this at church. One group wants things to be the way they were, recreate our "God moments" from a different era, but we can't see that things are changing. The other group, get rid of the old way completely and keep nothing.

Why can't we find a happy medium...? Or is there one...?

T

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Change Agents

The last few days I have been reading some stories in the Bible that all share something in common. God needing to shake people up for change.

On Sunday we talked about David's Last Stand (II Samuel 24) and how God gave David what seemed like horrible choices for punishment. But really, they were not meant as punishment. David needed to offer a sacrifice, he needed to change what he was doing and it took an angel of death to convince him to change.

Another story, Stephen in Acts 7 (and into Acts 8). Jesus told the disciples to take His message, the Gospel, to the ends of the earth. And they were still in Jerusalem. They hadn't talked to anyone outside the city about Jesus. It took Stephen's death by stoning to scare the disciples into leaving and getting the Gospel out to where it should be.

Very few people like change. Even less like change that is dictated by someone else. And I think God knows that, but He also knows it's necessary, so many times He allows or even causes things that make change inevitable. Unfortunately, many times those hurt. But they are needed.

The next time you need to change, do it before an agent to cause changed comes in. And if a change agent comes, recognize it and move forward :)

T

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Following The Law A Little Too Close

I was reading about a bar in my old stomping grounds of Edmonton this morning. Only this bar is a little different. It's for former alcoholics. To help them stay off the bottle, this "bar" is a place to give the same sense of fun and friendship that many people find at a bar, only it is 100% alcohol free.

Now, this sounds great, but they had one problem. People who go to bars generally smoke. So this bar allowed smoking. That is until the government found out. Edmonton is a smoke free city, the only place you are allowed to smoke is bars, bars being classified as places with a liquor lisence.

So this alcohol free bar was not allowed to have smoking. They thought it was needed though to help people trying to quit drinking so they asked how they could get a smoking allowance. For this, the law had to be followed strictly, they could only allow people to smoke if they had a liquor lisence. So yes, the alcohol free bar for former alcoholics in Edmonton now has a liquor lisence...

Do you think we're following/enforcing the letter of the law just a little too harsh on this one? But then again, do we do that in churches too, especially to those who are new and still trying to change for the better...?

T

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It'll Never Happen To Me

Sorry I wasn't on yesterday, Lorie and I were sick. I didn't have the energy to climb stairs, it stunk.

Yet, last night at 4 in the morning (yes 4), our house alarm went off. Apparently our house thought lightning was too close and decided to Wake us up with an ear piercing scream.

So of course I went out in the pouring rain at 4 in the morning, still kind of sick, and made sure our house wasn't on fire. It wasn't. But the tree three houses away, it was struck by lightning.

And that may seem far away, except when the alarm went off last time (see previous blogs), it was our neighbor's tree that was hit by lightning (branch broken, black bark, all the fun stuff).

Too often when it comes to things like lightning, we think it will never happen to us. But just when we start to think and act that way, it comes pretty darn close...

T

Friday, June 18, 2010

Success Isn't Sprouts

Something interesting I read today. It was from a youth leader talking about sharing Jesus and spiritual growth, they said that planting seeds is a success, even if they don't sprout.

I like that. Too often we focus on seeing fruit right away. The problem is whenever you plant anything in life, it takes a while to grow and show leaves. No seed grows into a tree overnight. All we can do is plant seeds, that's our success.

So don't be worried if you don't see plants all over, keep planting seeds. It takes a while for the garden to grow...

T

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Real Alarms

Yesterday I mentioned the alarms going off at church on Monday. Well, I noticed something when that happened...

We have many groups who meet at the church during the evening, that night a counselling session, a business meeting and two basketball games. Then the alarm went off. And nobody left.

It's funny how as children we are taught what to do when an alarm happens. Then as we grow older, we are so used to false alarms that we don't do anything unless we see smoke or we have someone tell us it's for sure real. At the church Monday, no one even checked, they just kept going as usual. One group even told Lorie when she told them we couldn't confirm it's a false alarm and they need to leave, "Well, we're almost done so we'll just finish up."

Have we become so accustomed to false alarms that we are not ready for real alarms? Do we have so little knowledge of how to find out if an alarm is real we just decide "meh" and don't look? Do we do that in life with real alarms, instead of checking, assume it's false until we see smoke or something is already burnt?

Just more questions...

T

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

False Alarms

So part of the reason there was no blog Monday was the craziness of the day. Yes, we had VBS, but there was a little more...

That afternoon Lorie and I were trying to rest from the Sud nay set-up and morning fun (I was out cold). Then a storm swept in. Then the rain fell hard. And then, oh and then, we had lightning strike really close to the house, so close it set off our fire alarm.

Now, we had never heard out fire alarm, just the smoke detectors. Lorie and I have now learned there is a difference between the two. And it took many calls to ADT to figure out how to fix this ear-piercing crazy alarm (Clover was scared).

That night we came to church to fix a few decorations we noticed fell during VBS. Again it started to storm. And rain. And lightning. And fire alarm. So for the second time we had to sweep a building (this one much bigger) and find the cause of the squealing.

In talking with some people involved in all this, I learned that storms set off a lot of alarms. Be it the thunder shaking or whatever, false alarms often come up during storms. It made me wonder if we do that. Do we see storms coming in our lives and instead of preparing or acting as we should, we send up false alarms and end up causing way more stress and drama than necessary?

Just a thought.

T

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vacation Bible School

My apologies for no blog yesterday, we are having fun this week blasting off into space with Vacation Bible School.

To see pictures of what we are doing, visit http://www.fishersumc.org/templates/System/details.asp?id=41317&PID=558918.

T

Friday, June 11, 2010

Where Did The Time Go?

Yesterday I was reading about the oldest boat we know of, it's from 7400 B.C.

And it got me thinking, how come we have stuff that's not that old (like 10,000 years or less), stuff that's really old (50 million years old), but there are so few things from in between?

Think about it, when was the last time you heard of something being discovered that was about 200,000 years old? A million years old? It's always relatively new or ancient. I wonder why that is...

T

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Too Much Grace

Sorry I didn't blog yesterday. We were at church late last night talking. Which is the reason for today's blog.

Last night at Downpour (Bible Study) we were talking about grace and justice. Somehow we got to talking about Jesus' last night before His death and how we would not understand it the way the people at the time did.

Then we started talking about grace. How we are forgiven no matter what. And the question came up "do we take advantage of that?" After all, in the old Jewish system, people were probably a lot more likely to try and not sin, since it cost them something every time (a sacrifice). Since grace really doesn't cost us anything, do we live up to where we should or to what we will get away with?

Think about that the next time you're driving... :)

T

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Which Is More Important

Liz quotes me all the time, this time I'm going to quote her.

This morning in staff meeting we were talking about how people handle change (apparently putting an extra coffee station in the Narthex caused heads to explode...). Then Liz said this:

"When is going for your future more important than holding onto your past?"

It's a good question. We like to focus on what we have and not changing it, but in reality, the only way to have a future is to in some way let go of the past. Just something to think about.

T

Monday, June 07, 2010

CSI Effect

A while ago, there was a problem known as the Perry Mason effect. It came from people watching the law show Perry Mason and it's very predictable ending. Every show would end the same way, some last minute piece of proof or some dramatic speech by Perry Mason would cause the defendant to break down on the stand and confess. Pure Hollywood drama.

Until people who watch the show started to act this way in court. They wanted that last minute drama, they wanted the confession and when it didn't happen, they would not find the defendant guilty. They felt from their TV show they needed that "ah ha" moment.

Today's culture knows little about Perry Mason, but they know CSI, one of the most popular shows ever on television. And like Perry Mason, they have changed the court system. In the interest of drama there is always some undeniable piece of proof that appears thanks to the CSI team that causes a conviction.

And now that is expected in court. The jury, these savvy CSI fans, want that hardened piece of proof found by the CSI team. Fourteen witnesses saw the crime, who cares? Where's the DNA evidence to put them at the scene? It is becoming harder to convict a person by jury because the jury wants that 100% undeniable piece of "hard" evidence.

The question is, do we do this to God? Are we waiting for some emotional appeal that moves us to do good for Him? Do we need some piece of "hard" evidence before we believe, witnesses and circumstantial evidence are no longer good enough? Have we turned believing in God and following Him less about faith and more about a waiting game for something to convince us? Something to think about.

T

Friday, June 04, 2010

Can't Have It All

Today Lorie and I were watching "The People's Court" (I like court shows, I know...) and there was a woman on who was suing her ex-boyfriend for money during the relationship.

Here's why. He had a job, she didn't/ But she felt there was no reason she had to "go without" and still wanted fancy dinners. So they lived off his job, then her savings, then they were both homeless borrowing money from her mom, and she still thinks she deserves the nice things in life!

Sometimes, bad things just happen, but just because someone has a nice car doesn't mean you "deserve" one. I don't know why people feel so entitled to things, because they have life this good I "deserve" to have life this good.

It's funny, it seldom works the other way where people see someone below them financially and think "I don't deserve this good life, I should share with them"...

T

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Class Acts

The sports news last night and today were all about one thing. A blown call last night at the Tigers' game.

Now being an umpire and a player, I feel bad. Galarraga was about to throw a perfect game. It all hung on one call that we very wrong. And unfortunately that's what happens in life, mistakes are made and sometimes calls are wrong. But what I love is how they handled it.

Galarraga had every right to be mad. He was not only the pitcher losing the perfect game, he was the one making the play at first. But he didn't yell. He didn't get mad. He was in shock, but he smiled, went back to the mound and finished the game.

Jim Joyce, the umpire who missed the call was then yelled at twice (the Tigers coach came out after the play and after the game). He stood there and listened, he never responded in anger. He then went to the clubhouse, immediately asked to see the tape, and saw that he was wrong. Once he knew he was wrong, he didn't try to cover it up, he made a statement that he had made a mistake, he understood the gravity of it, and he was truly sorry he couldn't fix it. He also went to Galarraga personally and apologized.

And after all that, Galarraga and members of his team said it. Mistakes are made. It happens. It can't be taken back, let's play the next game.

Now that is class. I'm as competitive as the next guy, but sometimes mistakes just happen. Living life doesn't mean you live devoid of all blown calls, you can't. Living life is learning how to deal with the blown calls and live on. It's very rare lately that sports people live up to their position of role models, but here I think everyone did a great job!

T

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

First Impressions

I was reading today about the importance of first impressions, something I think we've all heard about to some point. But I was reading about it from a different point of view.

When we talk about first impressions, we usually think of two things, either what they think of me or what I think of them. But what about a third point of view, one that happens but we don't talk about, that of the third person involved?

Like at a restaurant, if your waiter or waitress is really mean to you or spit in your food, you don't just get a first impression of them, you get a first impression of all the things associated with them. Like in this case, the restaurant. You now have a bad impression of the restaurant, even though the restaurant never actually did anything to you.

For me, yesterday I had to phone HP, they made a mistake with the new church computers. Not a problem, that happens. But when I called and talked to one guy for 30 minutes and he still didn't get it, I was getting really upset with HP. But it wasn't HP, it was this guy. I called back and got someone amazing next, problem solved in 10 minutes (free shipping and everything). If I hadn't been thinking bigger than my phone call, I would have been mad at HP forever.

Remember, you don't just represent you, your first impression may tell someone about your family, your school, your work, your sports club, even your God. Just something to think about...

T

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Close To The Kingdom Of God

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately, how we don't like to give our lives to God, but we'll emphasize sacrifices. I will go to church and give a little money, but don't ask me to be be godly at work, that's a little much.

At one point Jesus was talking with a religious leader and talked about the greatest commandment (love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength). People like that, it sounds nice, but what does that mean? I like how the teacher responded:

Mark 12:33 ~ "One must love God with all his heart, all his mind, and all his strength. And one must love his neighbor as he loves himself. These commands are more important than all the animals and sacrifices we offer to God.” (NCV)

It's more important to live a life that is godly than to give God the "requirements" of Sunday morning. What if we all lived like that? After all, Jesus' answer to this statement: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:34). That's how you get to heaven, or better yet, bring heaven to people here on earth.

T

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

When I first moved to the United States, this was a holiday I didn't get (we don't have it in Canada, well, kinda). I think it's great, but I have two questions:

1. Do you know what it means? Do you know what this day is for? When I started asking the Americans I knew what this holiday was all about, very few could tell me. Don't you think you should know what you're celebrating?

2. How are you celebrating? Are you simply taking the day off work and grilling? That's fine and all, but isn't the point of the holiday to honor the families of those who have lost their lives protecting our freedom and liberties, even our lives? how does a meal with family and friends celebrate that?

I don't know, it seem funny to me how we just love holidays but we don't really care for the meaning behind them (what if we told everyone who is not a Christian to go to work on Christmas? I mean, I work on Kwanzaa). More things just to get you thinking...

T

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Promotion Lock-In

This weekend was our Promotion Lock-In, a chance for us to all meet and talk, get to know wach other since we have new freshmen coming in next year.

Thanks to all who helped make this a fun weekend, and for all of you who showed up, we hope to see you back!

T

Friday, May 28, 2010

What Would It Look Like?

There are occasions where I read something in the Bible and wonder what it would look like to see that today. For this one, it's a prayer, and I wonder what the church would look like if we all prayed this prayer consistently.

Acts 4:29b-30 ~ "Lord, help us, your servants, to speak your word without fear. Show us your power to heal. Give proofs and make miracles happen by the power of Jesus, your holy servant.” (NCV)

This is what the apostles prayed right after starting the new church in Jerusalem. What if our church prayed that prayer? What if we expected God to back up what we say He would do? What kind of difference would that make in how we talk about Him?

Just something to ponder, maybe even pray...

T

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sense Of Loss For People We Don't Know

Okay, that title sounds way better than the post will be, but this is something Lorie and I were talking about the other day. TV.

Whether we like it or not, we form one-sided relationships with people on TV in the shows we watch. And it was funny because we were realizing how invested we've become now that some of those people are leaving. In the last week we've lost Jack Bauer (24), the people on Lost, the Canadiens are out of the playoffs and last night we said good-bye to Simon Cowell (I don't watch a lot of American Idol, but Lorie likes it and the only way she can get me to stay is emphasizing him, we get along).

It's just funny how these things/people we never really knew can be such a big part of our lives. Now I'm going to have to do other things like go outside... or read books...

T

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

First "Love"

We haven't done anything theological on here for a while, so I thought I would give it a shot.

I once heard a speaker talk about the importance of when a word first appears in the Bible. His example was the story of Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac where the word "worship" first appears.

So today I thought I would look up the word "love" since it is one of the most used words in the Bible. Ready for this? (I wasn't). It happens in the same story!

Genesis 22:1-2 ~ Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.
“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” (NLT)

The first example of the word love in the Bible comes from a Father's love for his son, a son he would have to sacrifice. Much like our heavenly Father had to sacrifice His Son. Many times this story is referred to as an example of the Jesus story, and here, I think it shows a lot about God's character and His love for His Son, and how hard it must have been to allow His Son to be sacrificed for us.

Wow, I didn't expect that one...

T

Monday, May 24, 2010

Does That Describe Us?

Last night Lorie and I watched the finale of "Lost" (I liked it, Lorie's on the fence), but I read this today about the show which is a something to think about.

Ultimately, 'Lost' was a show for the anxious, uncertain, post-Sept. 11 nation we have become. We've had to accept ambiguity as a fact of life, and we seek answers and closure, though none may be forthcoming. We're leery and skeptical about science but riddled with doubt about faith. To the extent that 'Lost' was about the journey and not the destination, about the drive to solve riddles rather than the solutions themselves, it was the show that best explained us to ourselves. (tvsquad.com)

Do you think that's true about us? We are anxious, we are uncertain, we are worried about things beyond our control, we don't like ambiguity but rather answers and closure, skeptical about science and doubtful of faith? Just something to ponder... (no answers from me either!)

T

Saturday, May 22, 2010

No Way

Okay, so if you read this you know how I like odd numbers and spending habits of Americans, it just makes me laugh and think about what is really important to us. Well, here's a new one.

Pets. Now, I have a pet. He's a bunny. I like him. But as much as I love him I also understand he's a rabbit. Yet here in America, a new study has found that we (just the United States) spent $47.7 billion on pets last year.

47 billion?! That's enough to end world hunger twice! With change! Just one country.

(If you want the study, it's at http://www.gadling.com/2010/05/19/pet-travel/?icid=main|hp-desktop|dl6|link5|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gadling.com%2F2010%2F05%2F19%2Fpet-travel%2F).

Just something to think about...

T

Friday, May 21, 2010

Invasive Species

Wednesday at Downpour (Bible Study) we were talking about how people can be an influence, for good or for bad, on those around them. And in the discussion we started to get into how this works in nature.

Well, I happened across this (http://www.invasivespecies.gov/). Check it out if you have the time, it's a list of species that were taken out of their natural elements and now are causing havoc in their new home (even here in Indiana we have a few, they are listed on the site).

Enjoy, something to think about...

T

Monday, May 17, 2010

Actions Based Upon Consequences

Sorry it's late in the day, just the way my day has been today...

I was thinking today about one day on my trip to Africa. We had gotten up really, really early in the morning because we were basically on Safari, we were looking at animals in the Hwange Game Park. The "park hours" on the sign were 6am to 6pm (or basically, sunrise to sunset). In talking about our trip, we had to plan where we would stay when not in the park and one of our group asked, "What happens if you don't make it back in by 6?"

"You make it back by 6."

"But, what if you don't make it back in by 6?"

"No, you don't understand, you make it back in by 6."

And it went back and forth like that a few more times. Basically we were asking what the consequences were for being late, what would the punishment be. And their attitude was a little different. You don't worry about the consequences, you worry about the rules.

It seems to me in America we don't really care what's right or wrong so much as we care about what being wrong will cost us. If we can pay it or live with the consequences, then it's not really "wrong". What if we actually lived the way we were supposed to without worrying what would happen either way, right or wrong, we simply followed the rules simply because we were asked to and understood they were in everyone's best interests? What would happen?

And by the way, the best we could figure, the consequence for not making back in to the rest stops in the national park was the door was locked, you did not get in. That may not seem so bad, until you hear a lion roar in the night... Maybe their rules had some reason behind them...

T

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Get Your Hands In There

For the last year we have been discussing serving (or our word for it, equipping) at Drink Deep on Sunday nights. I read something today that kind of fits with that:

Hearing something five hundred times is not as good as seeing it once. ~ Chinese Proverb

It's true. You can describe something until you're blue in the face but when it is seen it is better understood.

I think God's love is a lot like that. Church people love to talk about God's love, but people aren't listening. Not because they don't want to or the message is bad, but nothing beats being shown "I love you". We need to let peopel see that God loves them, it's a lot less work than telling them five hundred times.

We're talking about this Sunday night, come on out and be a part!

T

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sleeping? Really?

Sorry, I meant to blog about this last night, but I fell asleep... which is fitting...

Okay, so I like sports. I have no problem watching, playing, cheering for sports. I think they are a little overpaid, but that's just be. Then I saw this.

Ken Griffey Jr., a professional baseball player for the Seattle Mariners fell asleep the other day during the game. And I don't mean he was on the bench and was a little bored. They looked for him to pinch-hit, had to search for him, and found him asleep in the clubhouse.

Now come one! I feel a little sorry for the guy, but you get paid millions of dollars to hit a ball. You should be able to at least watch the game of the team that employs you, let alone hit when they want you to. What kind of message does that send to young players, what kind of work ethic does that teach?

Sorry Griffey, I think you're a nice guy and I'm sorry you're so sleep deprived, but if you're sick, stay home. If you are paid to be at work, you should be awake like the rest of us :)

T

Friday, May 07, 2010

Mommy

Sorry, I won't be at the computer this weekend, my mommy's coming to visit! That means I'll probably be at Target. See you there!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Motion And Action

It's a quote from Hemingway I read Tuesday (yesterday was Fish Fry day, I was inundated with fried fish and chicken, sorry I wasn't blogging). But here's the quote:

"Never mistake motion for action." ~ Ernest Hemingway

I wonder how many times in our lives we have gone through this. I'm doing something, so it must be right. I'm not sure if I'm driving the right way, but I'll keep going. We have no other ideas, so this must be the right one. As someone who has done the wrong thing too many times, driven the wrong way but kept going and gone with the only idea I had only to discover not going with it was way better, let's do our best not to jsut go> Let's go where we should be going.

Just a thought...

T

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What Else Could There Be?

Sorry I didn't blog yesterday, I was going to and got sidetracked. No really, I heard yesterday that Americans spend 11 billion dollars a year just on air conditioning (it works out to be 5% of all our energy costs). Crazy right?

But today I was reading my Bible and I've been spending time in the Gospels a lot lately (not a bad thing). And there's one verse that I always wish wasn't quite there or explained more. At the end of John 20 it says, "Jesus did many other miracles in the presence of his followers that are not written in this book." (John 20:30, NCV) and then in the next chapter, "There are many other things Jesus did. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not be big enough for all the books that would be written." (John 21:25, NCV)

It just makes me wonder, what else did Jesus do? We think it's pretty amazing that He raised three people from the dead, but those are only the ones we know about. Did He really raise 400 people from the dead? We know He did the loaves and the fish thing twice, did Jesus really do it all the time when people were hungry?

And it makes me think how much easier it must have been to believe Jesus was God, and how many were that much thicker in the head to not see it. Just seeing what we have written should convince everyone, but more? What else did Jesus do?

It's on my list of when I see God questions...

T