Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Boxing Day

It's not a normal holiday in the U.S., but being from Canada almost every year someone asks me what Boxing Day is, so here it is...

The tradition started in Europe after Christmas. Let's be honest, as much as this day is about the Birth of our Savior it's turned very much into a day of affluence, lots of gifts and a big dinner with way too much food. So the idea of Boxing Day originally was people would box up their leftover food on this day and give it to those less fortunate. Now it means sales... and more affluence...

What if we took this day back to where it came from? What if today instead of complaining about what we didn't get for Christmas (I know I can't be the only one), how about instead we focus on others and give back, blessing others as we have been blessed (hey, a wise Man born two thousand years ago said that...).

Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Be Careful What You Read

I have been trying not to do mid-week posts, sticking with the Monday thing, but this one was too funny and sad at the same time, and by the time I had a Monday free it would be really old news.

Apparently Bon Jovi died. Didn't you hear? Oh wait, no, he's alive. Someone had put on twitter Jon Bon Jovi died and instead of checking people started retweeting. And news people saw the tweets, and next thing you know it's reported Jon is dead. Hey, at least he had a sense of humor about it (he tweeted how heaven looks like New Jersey).

But what's happening is people are just believing anything on the internet and worse off, spreading it. Kim Jong Ill died this week. People were reading, Facebooking, tweeting, but not everyone was reading, they were simply spewing information. And like a bad game of telephone the message turned into L'il Kim was dead. Soon that was spreading over the internet...

Maybe we need to use a little more discernment, not believing everything that appears on a medium in which everyone has input on. After all, could I be making all this up...?


Monday, December 19, 2011

Your Perspective Changes On Where You Are

Today I was in The Wharf (our youth room) and my back started to hurt a little. This may have something to do with running around with students late last night, either way I lied down for a minute to let it rest. While lying in the Wharf, against the wall in such a big room, I opened my eyes and looked around. It was weird, the ceiling was on the bottom. It looked like the floor. Being black probably helped play tricks on my mind that is was beneath me, and a few squares of lights looked cool. But then the clouds and birds hanging, they looked to be floating a few inches above the floor to me. It was a little mind-bending.

It made me think about how my perspective changed because I moved. When the birds were hanging from the ceiling, it seemed right. When they appeared where my feet should be, floating there, things looked different.

A lot of times I tend to analyze a situation and look at the workd around me and I come up with conclusions, some of which fit my slightly sarcastic personality. And as I looked at the floating clouds I wondered if I were standing somewhere different would what I see look different. If I were in a better mood, if I had gotten more sleep, if I had a tasty lunch, if I hadn't been late for my meeting and driving like a maniac, how would I perceive things around me?

Since it's Christmas, try this with the Christmas story. We talked about it last night with the sr. highs, but we tried to strip away how we usually look at things. How would you feel about this story if you were woken in the middle of the night by screaming stupid shepherds? How would you treat your now pregnant best friend (who swears she didn't do anything wrong)? Even try going to a barn or petting zoo and thinking about what the stable may have really been like.

There's only one sure way to change your perspecgive on things. You have to move...


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lions & Tigers

Sorry this is late, I wasn't going to do a blog this week (I'm on vacation), but was reading today and this little tidbit just hit me for some reason.

Lions and tigers. I wasn't really reading about them, but they came up in this book as a poignant example of how we do things. Since both animals live in different regions, they generally don't see each other. But, if they come into contact, both are cats, both are territorial, and both will fight.

Now here's where it gets interesting. If a lion and a tiger fight, a tiger will win. Every time. The tiger is a better fighter than the lion. So if five lions fight five tigers it makes sense the tigers would win, right? Nope. The lions will win, again, every time.

So why is that? Because lions will fight together and tigers won't. Even if five tigers are together and they see five lions coming, they will separate and try to fight the lions by themselves. Lions are pack animals and work together, be it for dinner or for self-defense. And even the best tiger is no match for five lions.

The reason I was reading this and what got me thinking about this was the way the church works. We now have many churches all across the world. Even in my town, I put the word "church" and my zip code in Google, it turned up over 8,000 places on the map. What if we all stopped acting like tigers and started acting like lions? Even within my own church, what if all the people who say we have the same commission, the same vision, the same purpose, what if we started acting like lions? What could we do?


Monday, December 05, 2011

Don't Rest On Your Laurels

Sorry, this one is less spiritual in a way, but it was so bad yesterday it had to be shared.

My lovely wife has been trying to find a nice, tasty sit-down Chinese restaurant for a couple of months now. Nothing we have tried has come close to what she wanted. So after church we took a little drive and tried one she had seen a while ago. It looked good from the outside after all...

The inside however, not quite as good. They had a buffet (something Lorie's trying to avoid) that was not a proper buffet stand but chafing dishes on tables in the middle of the room. The menu was an old piece of paper laminated. We ordered off the menu and the waitress was annoyed, she wanted us to just get the buffet. The food was not good at all, one dish was even cold by the time we got it. We were not given plates to share our food. Even the place mats had typos and problems.

But here's part of why we tried this place. It was an A-List pick for the Indy Channel, it was named one of the top 100 Chinese restaurants and even won a Chinese food competition in 2007. This food (and service) should have been fantastic.

It got me to thinking about the Kitchen Nightmare / Restaurant Impossible shows Lorie and I watch. This would have been a good contender to be one of those restaurants. But almost every time, the restaurant on those shows was good at some time, then they got lazy, new management, whatever it was, and they simply thought they have good food because once years ago they had good food.

I wonder how often we do that in our spiritual lives. We rest, we get content, we relax. I read through my Bible in a year, so now I don't need to read it as much. I used to serve, but I don't need to anymore. I was in a Sunday School class or small group, but I've learned since then and don't need it anymore. It's like we reach that pinnacle, we feel holy, we are good little Christians, so we start to relax and before we know it our spiritual diet is sub par, disgusting even, but we still think it's okay because once way back when it was good. I hope that never happens...


Monday, November 28, 2011

Choosing To Share Christ

This weekend I experienced what is becoming a more regular occurrence in my life: Black Friday.

Lorie's family love this day. It's fun. Things are cheap. We party all night, and find some great deals in the process. I, however, hate shopping. With a passion. Years of walking through malls with my mother has calloused me.

But I try to make the best of it. When we were shopping I tried to be pleasant to the people working (after all, would you want to leave Thanksgiving dinner early to work an eight hour shift?), be nice to other shoppers, even have a little conversation while waiting in line. It almost worked...

There was one line I remember. I showed up and there was only one person in line in front of me. She immediately made it known she was first and to get behind her. Okay, no problem. Then the employee started checking people out from the register by our line. She laid into him, she was here first. If anyone showed up she scowled at them. It was so bad that after she paid and left we made a comment to the salesperson, who informed us he lived across the road from her, has for thirty years, and she is just as mean at home. The kids in the neighborhood can't stand her, they've been yelled at enough.

It's kind of sad, but it's a choice she made, likewise how we treated her was a choice we made. Too often we seem to think there are other factors, but really there aren't. In this season of Christmas, in the hustle and bustle of shopping, waiting in line, traffic, fighting over that toy, stress, the constant running around, if in all this you are waiting until you feel loving to be nice, sorry, it ain't gonna happen. We have to make the choice to be kind and considerate, even despite how we're feeling sometimes.

Paul writes in Philippians: I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect judgement, so that you will be able to choose what is best. (Phil. 1:9-10, GNT). We have to choose to do what is best. We choose to be kind while shopping. We choose to treat others with love. We even choose to share Christ's love this season.

Choose wisely...


Monday, November 21, 2011

How Much Is Too Much?

I had other plans for the blog today but our student ministry last night is still in my head. We did something a little different, I had students write down all the things they own, then all the things their family owns, then everything they had access to. I did my best to give lots of time (about half an hour) and asked they be as specific as possible (you couldn't say "clothes", how many pairs of socks, etc.)

My thinking was how can you be thankful if you don't think about what you have. The outcome is what surprised me. I was expecting people to be thankful (which they were) and think about those who are less fortunate (which they did), but we had one other major result. They simply shut down.

Some students stopped writing their list. Some asked me to make it stop. Some just completely checked out and went into their own little world staring at the floor. So I asked who was overwhelmed by making this list. Every hand went up. Everyone.

My goal wasn't to overwhelm people but make them think. The problem is, this is something we don't usually think about. The other problem is, we have so much stuff it's overwhelming. Some of the small group conversations turned to those who have less yet seem happier, even how many of their friends at school with more were more depressed. The simply fact of listing out what we have at our fingertips was so hard to do and so much to take in people mentally checked out, it was too much to handle.

I'm hoping people are thankful for what they have and they think a little bit more about it this week. But it's been making me think today. Do we simply have too much?


Monday, November 14, 2011

Too Content To Try

I was reading Seth Godin's blog today and really started to think about a section in it:

"It's difficult to change an industry, set a world record, land big clients, or do art that influences others. When faced with this difficulty, those with other, seemingly better options see the barrier and walk away.

Why bother? The thinking is that we can just pump some more oil or smile and gladhand our way to an acceptably happy outcome.

On the other hand, people who believe they have fewer options take a look at the barrier and realize that even though it will be difficult to cross, it's the single best option they've got."

Godin's blog is always very business related, but his logic always makes me think. People who have lots of resources don't tackle the one problem in their way, they look for other options. Those with less resources understand they need to solve this problem, there are no other options, and start to work on it.

The danger of having too many resources is eventually you stop dealing with problems, you lose focus of why you're even there in the first place.

And this got me to thinking about church, specifically mine. Do we have so many resources that when we hit a problem we should be solving we instead skirt the issue and try to think of another way around it? Take evangelism, something every Christian should be doing. But it's hard, it's time consuming, it may even be uncomfortable. So instead of me sharing my faith, I'll just use other resources, give money to the church to print a flyer and mail it. I'm still evangalizing, right? If we didn't have the resources to print a flyer, we'd have to go door to door, but since we have the resources, we're just solving the problem in a new inventive way.

The problem with skipping the problem and solving it the right way is you usually don't get the right result. Like above, instead of me sharing my faith and growing in Christ, instead of a person get a one-to-one message of God's love from a person who has experienced it, they get a pretty piece of paper they may never read and we get to sit at home without doing any real service or sharing. Who's growing now?

Maybe instead of looking at how we can use the things around us to get out of living our faith, we should be trying to figure out how we can strengthen our souls so we are doing the things we should be doing...


Monday, November 07, 2011

Cutting Corners

Over the past few days I've been reading about some of the worst fires in U.S. history, theaters, textile plants, etc. I know, a little weird, but interesting. The part that drives me nuts (and why I think I keep reading) is all the fires could have been avoided.

All fires start with an accident. That just happens. There's nothing you can do about that. But how the fires escalate and people die, that's a different story. Fire exits lights that were not installed, fire escapes that didn't have the bottom ladder because "it cost too much", fire hoses that were not inspected or kept up, some places even had fire doors nailed shut to stop people from breaking in. Over all it all conclusions lead to the managers/owners of these buildings trying to save money, cutting a corner here and a corner there. Too many cut corners and eventually you have a building full of holes. Really, if you knew it would save a life, would you have changed the light in the fire exit sign?

Too often, that's how things go wrong in our lives. I know, Lorie and I are sick right now. Our house is a nightmare. When you're sick it's easy to cut corners. Leave this out one more day. Do dishes tomorrow. But eventually it all piles up. And it got me to thinking where else in life we cut corners, thinking it's okay or that will never happen to us. I can skip exercising, I won't be the one to have heart failure. I don't need to do that reading, my mind won't start to turn into mush, I'm really smart! I can read my Bible and pray tomorrow, God will still love me. And soon enough, corner after corner is cut, an exception becomes a habit, and then where are we...?


Monday, October 31, 2011

Communication Breakdown

Last week many of us got to see an amazing communication breakdown on national television. It was during the World Series. Did you see it? (neither did I, thank you SportsCenter).

But here's what happened. St Louis needed to start warming up their relief pitchers so they called the bullpen, which is on the other side of the field and behind a wall, coach La Russa could not see what they were doing, he could only communicate by the bullpen phone.

The problem was, the Texas fans were so incredibly loud, the people in the bullpen couldn't hear the phone or the instructions. So a few minutes later when La Russa wanted a reliever to come in, he wasn't ready. He hadn't even started warming up. They were warming up the wrong pitcher. So they kept the current pitcher in a little longer. Bad move. The next batter got a hit, not just any hit, it scored two runs and put Texas in the lead (and eventually was the game winning hit). All because of bad communication.

Now where the problem was, who knows. Was it the phone? Was it the person on the other end just couldn't hear? Did they hear the right name but tell the others in the bullpen the wrong name? We'll never know. But it does make me think about the church. How good are we at communication? Are we sending a message of a loving God who wants to be a part of our lives to the people on the far end of the field? Are we even getting that message across to our own team?

Just something to think about.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Do You Really Want Change?

I was reading a blog this morning by a pastor named Shaun King. He talked about his experiences trying to lead a church through change, and I don't think I can add to his words any better. Here's an expert of what he said (the full post can be read here).

People L.O.V.E to hear about radical change. They just don’t love making it.

Political campaigns based on radical change win. Books written about radical change sell. Sermons on radical change boost Sunday morning attendance. The idea and thought of change is exciting to people, but mistaking that excitement for an actual willingness on behalf of those people to change now or later could be a miscalculation. I found out the hard way.

In March of this year, I announced I was preaching my last sermon series of all-time. For the next 8 weeks, I preached the most radical, game-changing sermon series ever entitled “Disciple.” Our average attendance was its highest ever. Our average offering was the highest ever. Excitement was its highest ever. Man, I was pumped!!

Then, almost literally the day we jumped into change, all types of stuff started falling apart. People left in droves. Scores of people started falling through on leadership commitments they made. Systems starting failing. Attendance was down. Offering was down. Excitement was down.

I had no idea that zero correlation exists between how much people love hearing about change and their actual willingness to make it.

This started me thinking about my own life, especially all the things I keep saying I want to change. Do I really want it... or just like the sound of it... After all, change means work...


Monday, October 17, 2011

Is Your Faith Co-Dependant?

Last weekend I was talking with my brother-in-law, just shooting the breeze, and we got onto the topic of cell phones, hew they have completely ruined our lives. Not in the way most people think about always being called, but how people have lost the ability to make decisions and whenever they are caught in any sort of quandary they pick up their cell phone and call someone else. They don't take any time to try and solve the problem themselves, that's too much effort. Quick, call someone. Look it up on Google. Text a friend. We don't like to solve problems ourselves...

I've noticed this more and more just in life. Something doesn't work, ask the person next to you what to do. I've had a few issues in the last couple of weeks where something electronic doesn't perform right, and immediately I'm asked to fix it. I don't know what these people expect, I don't have any more magical powers than they do over electronics. I had one a while back, all I asked "Did you check to see if it was plugged in?" I was answered with a blank stare. They hadn't even checked the basics.

Sometimes it's not even something went wrong, people just don't want to take the time and effort to make a decision. The other day I was thanked for picking a restaurant. Is it really that hard to decide what we want to eat for ourselves?

So today in my wanderings I started wondering, do we do this with God? Is our faith entirely made up of what others tell me to do? I've noticed people will join a Bible Study once they are invited to one they like. The sad part is if that doesn't happen, generally the next step isn't do the work to find one themselves or even start a Bible Study, it's simply not go. Either find me the place to learn about my faith for me or I won't go. How many people do you think would not be at Church Sunday morning if someone else didn't encourage them to go? Even some of the holiest people I know still needed someone to wake them up.

I don't know, I don't think someone should have to find me a place to serve, if I'm supposed to be serving (which I am), I should be finding that. If I'm supposed to be reading my Bible, I shouldn't have to wait for someone else to give me a devotional as a gift. If I'm supposed to be praying, I shouldn't be waiting for someone else to plan a prayer night and then invite me. The fundamentals of our faith can't be dependant on others, shouldn't we be doing that ourselves?


Monday, October 10, 2011

The First Time

Sorry it's been a few weeks. I had every intention of writing, but between a conference in Colorado, vacation in Disney and my grandmother passing away it's been a busy few weeks...

But I was thinking about something today that just keeps going over and over in my mind. Lorie and I went to Disneyworld for a week and it was great. We love the Magic Kingdom (and the other lands surrounding). So today I was trying to figure out which rides I like best.

There are always favorites that I run to, Soarin', Mickey' Philharmagic, Star Tours, but there was something that added to the fun this time. Both of those rides, on the last time we rode them, there were an abundance of first-timers, people who had never been on the rid before. It was great! The "oo"s and "ah"s, the screams and giggles, you can just tell when there are people experiencing this for the first time. And their excitement adds to your excitement, it feels great to be share something like that with them for their inaugural run.

And it got me thinking about church. Why isn't church that exciting? Why isn't church that much fun? Yes, on a typical Sunday morning the sermon does not need 3-D glasses, the sanctuary does not swivel right and left, and they don't pump in smells to take you to another place (well, our NewSong service does!) But I think it's more than the bells and whistles. Have you ever been to church with someone excited to be there for the first time, who is sharing time with Jesus and seeing Him, worshipping Him, experiencing His love for the first time? It makes it all the more exciting. At NewSong two weeks ago we had someone show up out of the blue (it was actually an accident, she slept in and missed the church she was going to visit), she loved it so much she became a member of the church that afternoon. The next week, she was in the front row, singing loudly, volunteering for communion, big huge smile on her face. Church was fun experiencing it with someone new...

So what do we need to get that excitement every week? Better yet, are we inviting new people and letting them have this experience for the first time...?


Monday, August 29, 2011


For the last little while I have been reading through the first five books of the Bible (insert fancy Jewish name here). A lot of people don't really like most of these books, they are full of lots rules about bacon and sacrifices. But in the midst of them are all these crazy stories.

And I started to notice a pattern. There is always a common denominator, someone whining. We want to go back to Egypt. Moses isn't a good leader. We have nothing to eat. All the stories begin with people complaining. But the similarities end there.

For the first part of the Israelites in the wilderness, every time they complain, God provides. There's no water, water from a rock. There's no food, manna and quail from the sky. God is totally helping these people out.

Then there is a change. The golden calf. Rebellion. The people sin in the most awful way so God tells the people they will wander through the wilderness for 40 years until everyone over 20 has died. And the people, they keep on complaining. But from this point on, the complaints are met with dire consequences. Leprosy, fire from the Tabernacle, snakes, the ground opens and swallows people up, from this point on rebellion and complaining is met by tremendous acts of God, such crazy things that only God could have caused them.

All these stories have gotten me to thinking. We like to wait until things go away. Let's be honest, it's human nature, if we don't have to deal with something, we stall until hopefully the situation resolves itself. But God gives us a different example to follow. Even though He could simply wait for them all to disappear, that was the plan in the wandering, God doesn't. When something needs to be addressed, God addresses it (in a way that can only be attributed to Him).

So the question I've been asking myself is, are there things I need to address? Are there situations in which I'm passively waiting and causing more trouble when I should be actively helping? Good or bad. Maybe it's a good thing, but that takes work, and we all love extra work. But if it needs to be done and done soon to save headaches, why not do it now?


Monday, August 22, 2011


As many of you know, I like math. Simply because you can proven anything with math. Some people thought it was fun last night when we were talking about how Stephen Hawking uses imaginary numbers to prove his findings.

Anyway, last night we laid out our theme and goal of the year: Everyone Involved, Everyone Inviting. That's what we'd hope everyone in FIRE & WATER is doing, being involved in some way be it through serving, Bible Studies, even just taking part in the discussion on Sunday nights, and everyone would be inviting someone they know to be a part of what we do and get to know Jesus for themselves.

In the midst of our discussion I threw out a math fun fact I heard years ago. If a freshman student were to invite just one person to church, but really help them feel involved for the rest of the semester, then the two of them each do the same thing for the spring semester, by the time this student graduated there would be 255 people in a relationship with Jesus because of them. Really only witnessing to one person a semester, but focusing on growth not numbers.

Well, here's some more fun. We at FIRE & WATER have what we call the Insider Club. Basically you sign up and you get text alerts, prizes, permission forms early, etc. But the idea is that these people are the ones who would be more involved. If that's the case:

If each Insider did what was mentioned above, focus on befriending one person a semester and duplicating that relationship, by the end of the school year we would have 93 new people in our ministry learning about Jesus. If seniors invited seniors and they graduated, but all remaining people kept this up, by graduation the next year, we'd have 300 new people learning about Jesus. The class after them, 567 (those keeping a running total, that'd be 960 people who would have been introduced to Jesus). And so on.

It's not about numbers, but it is about something we're all called to do:

Matthew 28:18-20 ~ Jesus told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” (LB)

If we were all focusing not on numbers, but making disciples, the only number we'd have to worry about is the maximum people the fire code allows in the room...

Something to think about.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Keep The Good, Toss The Bad

Yesterday was our annual Youth Sunday at Fishers United Methodist Church. Lots of fun, a few people told me they enjoyed it, we heard from students about their mission trips and experiences in the Fire & Water program and we even handed out a few prizes (that one guy is going to love his Disney princesses Frisbees).

Unfortunately we had one person who was not amused. That's okay, it happens. But this time, instead of just accepting this happens once a year and being happy for our students, she decided to go ahead and tear a strip out of Aaron, our student MC for the morning. Nope, she didn't go after Liz or I, she reamed out a student. How dare he turn the sanctuary into a cinema.

It reminds me of a few years ago when our students went to do some yard work at a local nursing home. We showed up, and there was nothing to do. They had forgotten we were coming. So our group of hard working students ready to get dirty became a choir to sing songs to the elderly (we had a guitar, two students were going to sing originally, the choir suddenly became bigger). They weren't prepared, some didn't know the words, some didn't know the tune, but they sang for these people. And one woman was mad. Again, instead of going to an adult she went to the students and told them off, her mother deserved better than these people who didn't know the songs or have beaming smiles on their faces.

Luckily we had a great leader with us. Rich took the students aside as we were heading into the van to return to the church and explained to them this is part of ministry. Some people won't be happy. The group of students could choose to remember the lady that yelled at them, or they could forget her and focus on the fact they came to a nursing home and sang, even unprepared, to a group of people who don't see many young faces. And most of them enjoyed it, all but this one woman. Don't let her ruin your memory of tonight.

So that's what we need to do whenever we minister. We won't make everyone happy. That's just life. But yesterday, for some people, for the first time, church was fun. We let people know about the mission trips they helped support. We had two sisters talk about how they used to not really come to church and how being involved in this ministry has changed them and their family. We taught the church a new worship song. We worshipped in a different way, and we even gave away a Disney princess Frisbee. That's what I'm going to remember.


Monday, August 08, 2011

How Long Before You Belong?

For some reason the blog has revolved around our discussion at Drink Deep. But it's because our students are so stinking smart!

We were talking about how to be inviting, how to help people get to church, be it at Drink Deep (our Sunday night program) or something else at church. And we came to a realization. We have a lot of people who have invited people to church, and their friends come to our event. Once.

Follow-up really is not high on what we do well as the Church as a whole. We bring someone new to church, then what? They go home, we go home and we for some reason expect them to want to come to church again, by themselves. As if for some reason after being to church once they feel apart.

So we picked on a student last night. She's been coming a year, invited by her now boyfriend. After a little discussion we figured out how long it took for her to feel like this was her church, her ministry, she felt like this was her family. Nine months. It took her coming consistently to Sunday nights, Bible Study, NewSong on Sunday mornings, all this took around nine months

And the kicker, what made her feel really feel like this was home as when she started serving at the food pantry, when she started giving back and serving. So many studies say someone will feel more involved when they are actually being a part, putting their new found feeling of this being home into action.

Just some things to ponder when it comes to having someone feel more at home in whatever setting you're in...


Monday, August 01, 2011

New Eyes On An Old Story

Last night we had our regular Sr. High meeting called Drink Deep, but being summer and still a "free and easy" type night, I simply told a story. It's one most people have heard if they've grown up in church but they've heard the children's version, not the one with sex and killing. The story of Golden Calf (the idol Israel made after God freed them from captivity in Egypt).

Now, I kind of had a thought to this story, I was planning on talking about how quick Israel was to forget what God had done and how we usually are quick to forget too. Instead of remembering the good in our lives we usually remember the bad. So after our wonderful mission trip this applies to our students remembering the good God did and keeping that with us, using it to fuel us to do good things for God in the coming school year.

That's all well and good, but not good enough for our bright minds. During the discussion time a few groups started going down a different trail of thought. Too often stories like this perpetuate the idea of a vengeful God, one that shows no mercy, and how does that relate to our New Testament grace. And they started thinking about how we really don't view sin as bad as God does, it's still as awful and deserving of a horrible punishment, but since we're forgiven we don't see it as that bad, it doesn't really hurt us. I think Pastor Josh's sermon at NewSong got them thinking.

So there's the big question for today, how bad is sin? Is it a slap on the wrist or worthy of boils and death? And does our lives and how we react to sin reflect that reality? Just food for thought I've been chewing on thanks to our amazing students...


Monday, July 25, 2011

Regular Blog Back Up - Thoughts On The Week

So I have decided to resurrect the blog, we'll see how it goes. It's kind of hard to tell since I reviewed the report on who is visiting this blog, it said last week no one visited. That's impressive seeing as we had people leave comments without visiting. More impressive was the week before I had 5 people, 4 from Brazil. Me thinks Google's having some problems...

But every Monday I will be doing my best to have a new blog up here, just things in my head. So for this week it will be last week missions trip. It was a great week, but here are some highlights for me:

-Showing up on time to the worksite (that doesn't always happen).
-Being with two adults who had never been on a mission trip (ever) and having another former student be a leader.
-Heat stroke.
-A great Youthworks staff.
-Hearing students talk honestly about how they try to fit in rather than Be Different for Jesus (our theme for the week).
-Having incredibly quiet people in my small group every night and seeing them join into conversation.
-Getting smashed in the face with a ball (more than once).
-Seeing how much our students love little children.
-Having another adult notice how our students raise the bar pretty high on how a house should be painted or a wheelchair ramp should be made.
-Discussing with more than one student how we can have the same spiritual awareness (hearing the voice of God) we have on this trip if they put themselves in a place to be spiritually aware (listening for God, praying and doing devotions regularly, serving, etc.)
-Seeing students faces when they saw the original lyrics to How He Loves (with the sloppy wet kiss).
-Praying with students and watching them pray with each other at the footwashing ceremony (went over two hours).
-Debriefing and letting students find dollar-store trinkets that represent their trip (also over two hours).
-Riding in the back of the van/bus (this is the first trip where I did not drive at some point).
-Henke spaghetti.
-Getting to know two other churches (we bonded really well this year).
-Taking a tour of Osage and seeing the house I painted six years ago, and seeing faces and talking with people I have not seen in six years.
-Sonic tater-tots.
-Hearing amazing stories of how our students touched the lives of others and how their lives were touched.

What about you all? Anything that sticks our?


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Osage, OK - Saturday

My apologies this didn't get posted until today. I'll do a quick recap, hopefully that will explain why.

Thursday is always a busy day. It's our last day of working with the community followed by a community cook-out. The town is invited to have burgers and hot dogs with us (we have a nice meal together). It's followed by our evening worship time and a foot-washing ceremony that with all the prayer and community that happens with it goes quite late (ours went until 11:30). Since we have to be up by 6:30 on Friday (and vehicles packed by 7:15), most people go to bed pretty quick. It would have been a good idea...

Friday we head "home", for us we stop a little bit before half-way and stayed the night at a church. We eat dinner together then process the week, we ended up talking about 2 1/2 hours. When finished with that, we're all tired from the week, it's our only relaxing day, so it's sleep, then up early and driving home.

Although it was busy, we had two students who wrote about their week of serving.

This week has been so unbelievable. I learned this week that God’s love is life-changing, and it makes you different. I also learned that you cannot blend in and be just one in the crowd if you really love Jesus, because that love makes you different. It makes you special. This week I worked with kids for my first time ever and boy what an experience, 30 insane kids against 16 kids and 4 adult leaders. Our first day was most definitely the most difficult, since the kids were coming off of the weekend and we were all new faces. So we spent the day trying to get kids to participate in our activities instead of running around screaming, hitting each other, hiding under tables, and throwing things at us. But by the second day, the kids started to get to know us and really listen and calm down… just in time for us to switch worksites. The rest of my week was all working all day in the 105 degree sun, but I loved it. Most of all what I hope to bring home from this week is that Jesus was different and tells us to be different from the average man, because to love Jesus wholeheartedly makes you different. You can’t hide it, God’s love will always shine through.
-Alec B.

Oh my goodness I can’t believe what has changed me motive me to learn more about Jesus. On the first day of the mission trip I went to a work sight for my first time and the owner, Connie wanted us to make a wheelchair ramp so Bobby Herron and Pierce Scott started to plan on the ramp as Helen Eastes and I started to pull weeds and paint some parts of the house. Tuesday was our last day at the work sight and the ramp was turning out beautifully. Bobby and Pierce, Spencer Tillman and Dan Henke and some other boys from Arkansas who were also in our group, didn’t now how was going to turn out. As for Helen and I we hope that the next group was going to finish painting the shed of the house. Wednesday I went to Kid’s Club and the kids were CRAZY!!! But they were sweet and kind and have love for Jesus. Thursday was probably one of the hottest days at Pawhuska, OK also the saddest day because soon we have to go back to your old lives and leave our new friends. And oh yeah almost forgot the ramp is almost done and Connie loves it! One main lesson I had learn God forgives, why shouldn’t we? Even if it is hard to forgive. Also being a Christian you have to be different so people can always see God’s light and love in you.
God Bless,
-Emily Buckler

So we're all home safe, we've had a wonderful week and we all have lots of stories to share (there will probably be a whole bunch during God At Work during the NewSong service tomorrow). Thanks to everyone for your prayers and support. Find us at church tomorrow and ask us about our week! And, pray for Liz and the FIRE (Jr. High) mission trip that starts tomorrow as well, you can read her blog at Thanks again to everyone!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Osage, OK - Wednesday

It's the middle of the week, we're half-way there. It's an interesting day because we change ministry sites, those working on building/painting projects move to the kids club and vice versa. It's a weird feeling, almost like you're starting all over again. And again, we have some students to tell you all about it.

When I moved here from Oregon last year, things were a little bit tougher than expected. My family and I had been “church shopping” for a few months and found little success, but when we found Fishers Untied Methodist Church, I think we all found a sign of relief.
As I started to go to their youth group, I felt like I was a member almost instantly. This youth group is filled with amazing people who have done amazing things. This youth group has changed the lives of many people including myself.
This mission trip to Pawhuska, Oklahoma is my first mission trip, and it won’t be my last. This week has been one of few weeks where I have truly felt a strong connection to God, and I am looking forward to the weeks to come.
-Jacob Stebbe

Today was the day that everyone switched sites, and I went from a work site to kids club. All the kids were incredible, they were so great to be around and so eager to be played with. They were all so accepting and outgoing, and the second you acknowledged them they would run up and ask to play. All kinds of crazy things were happening, but one of the best was when we were doing crafts and using paint, which the kids were very into. Two of the people in my group were so willing to do whatever it took to make the kids happy that they let them paint on their faces and shoes. They were completely covered, but it was an incredible thing, they were just so willing to do whatever it took.
On the first day when we were driving to Oklahoma our entire van was making bracelets with thread the whole way here. I had two of the bracelets we had made on my wrists when we went with the kids, and there were two little girls who saw them and absolutely loved them. They pulled them off my wrists and asked to have them, and they were so excited when they got to wear them. Tonight I plan to find the rest of the bracelets we made and take them to the rest of the kids, and I am so excited. The idea that we can have some kind of influence that will last, even if it’s just a little bracelet, is amazing.
-Katie Kincaid

Today the sports camp went to a local nursing home to spend time with the residents and talk with them. I think we were able to bring joy to the residents, some were very excited to see us and talk with us. One guy, Doy (that’s his actual name), was really open about sharing his family photo albums with us. He would show us his grandkids and his own kids with their families. He had a lot of photos of them. They don’t get to visit very often because they’ve moved far away from the area. Well, the highlight of that trip to the nursing home was the bingo game. I “lost” a lot of games. Really I won two games. I didn’t want to say I had won because I wanted the older people to win and have a good time. Little did I know that Doy also wanted us to win so he did not say he had won. It was awesome to see the caring of people and wanting people to enjoy themselves.
-Aaron Henke

It's amazing how what we see as little things can make such big life changes, not only in the people we are ministering to, but also in our students. Tomorrow will be full of surprises and endings as we say good-bye to some people we have made some real relationships with. Thanks all of you for your support and we'll see you soon.


Osage, OK - Tuesday

Well, it's finally happened. It took seven years but today for the first time on a mission trip (with me anyway) we had a student leave and head home. Sarah has not been feeling well the past few days, so our prayers go out to her that she would feel better and have a safe trip back to Fishers.

But for the other 35 of us, things are going great. For most of us today was our last day at our sites, we switch tasks tomorrow. To hear how the final day went, here are a few stories...

It was a good day in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. My group the nonconformists picked weeds in the morning and had lunch and then went over to the kids club to start the sports camp. Today was soccer and we had very few kids but they enjoyed our company I think. Or maybe they enjoyed us because they could throw water at us all day. It was much appreciated by me because it was slightly less than 100 degrees. (much cooler than yesterday though)
During our club and worship time today I was really paying attention and felt easy about my life for the future. Nervousness, excitement, and the unknown have been on my mind this entire summer and I haven’t really given God a shot to help. I think tonight the light bulb illuminated and with the help of Ben (a youthworks staff) and our small group talking about changes in our faith, and I realized it was ok and God will lead me where he wants me and I like that feeling. I have everything I need to ACT better and be a better Christian in college because of the fresh start in my social life.
I know that this is kind of personal but I think this it’s a common trend here. People are learning about there selves and how to get better through the experiences Pawhuska has to offer.
A shoutout to chris neiland for his amazing cure of a struggling boy at kids camp who was visible upset about being there and wouldn’t get up or even talk. I tried so many tricks but chris acted like a bear and it worked like a charm.
-Mark Ogle

Today in Pawhuska, OK, half of the Nonconformist group weeded the church flower beds in the morning while a few other people went to a food pantry. I helped weed the church, and the progress we made was fantastic! During the afternoon, our group was in charge of OSC which is Outrageous Sports Camp. Today the sport that we focused on was soccer. Being a soccer player myself, I really enjoyed being in charge of the drills for soccer. We also had a blast scrimmaging, and we ended the afternoon with water games to cool ourselves off.
During Jesus time today, the kids definitely affected Kayla Snyder and me because we truly realized how important it is to take time to listen and include other people without judgment. Many of the children that we worked with have difficult home lives, and OSC has provided them with a fun, safe way to enjoy the summer.
This mission trip has already been such a positive experience. God has truly been working through all of us to make a difference in this community. I am excited to see what the next two days of work bring to all of the groups as we change our work sites tomorrow.
-Kari Lorentson

For me this is one of the most important trips because it is my last trip. I was glad when I found out that I would be able to work with kids and on houses. For the past 2 days I have been working with kids, they are amazing! It took a day for them to warm up to us but today they would actually sing the songs with us and participate in the activities. Before we went to kids club we went to a senior citizens home. Andy, Alec and I sang songs for them. We had a woman come up to us and tell us how much of a blessing we had been, and that it was so amazing to see young people praising God.
For me this trip means both the beginning and the end, it will end my trips with the church but I hope that it means God will be giving me new challenges and projects. That when I go to college that my faith will grow and I will continue to follow his path. This trip has been such a blessing for me and has helped me to open my eyes and see amazing things.
My hope for the next few days is that our groups grow closer together and that we leave with new friends and new memories. We have been able to work with the other churches and they are just as glad as us to be here and they want to work. Which is more of a blessing then some people realize. I just hope that we can create friends for life here in Pawhuska and make a difference in peoples lives.
-Taegan Edwards :)

Looking at our work projects today with the eyes of "how can I be different?" and thinking about the difference between words and deeds has really hit home today. We're half-way there, thank you for all your love and support!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Osage, OK - Monday

It was our first full day of working, the final church made it today (their van broke down in St. Louis), and we got a tour of Pawhuska (the town) tonight. It's been a roller coaster of a day, as you will hear.

Today was an exciting day for me! I got to work with KIDS. And since I love kids I had a great day. Before the kids showed up at Kids Club at 12:30 we had 3 hours to plan. I volunteered to work outside the whole time and do sports. We created a scavenger with words from the parable of the week. Then we played Drip, Drip, Drop. The kids loved the scavenger hunt. However, their favorite part was getting wet. We ended up just throwing water at each other. There were little kids that got attached/ warmed up to us pretty quickly. It was cool. Later today we went to The Swinging Bridge. It was high up and I was freaking out. If you know me, my freak outs are crazy! But I did make a new friend today from the south side of Indy and we clicked instantly.
-Chloe Bultemeyer

The first day on the mission trip is almost always awkward the staff is new to us and there are people from weird parts of the U.S. like Arkansas or Wisconsin. But while we have a group from Arkansas all of our people have a friendship with someone from another church already it is kind of like 60 of me talking to each other. Everyone is that outgoing. Today I worked at a house painting a garage but it was in the shade so who can complain. We had a great time even though we were working in a group of three. Yeah small group huh! In the South they have a hardware store called the Meek’s hardware store. I kind of freaked out when I first saw it. There was an adult from the Arkansas church who was wearing a Meek’s hardware shirt, and Mrs. Patterson told him that I would think that is cool so he went upstairs changed his shirt and literally gave the shirt off his back. What a Day.
-Dustin Meeks

The first day of actually being on a worksite was very successful. I was assigned for kids club the first two days of the week. We arrived at the church to plan out our day. I decided to volunteer for the reading station to switch it up (I would be more comfortable outside playing games all day). Club started out with me being assigned with Mr. Buckler to watch a special needs child named Tristan. We kept him outside because he is not into the musical part of club. We spent most of our time playing Frisbee were he would always throw it and almost always was uncatchable. Of course I was out cause I didn’t catch it. He also kept laughing at Mr. B. Reading station then started and we had a time to introduce all the kids names (a bunch of kids seem to have the name “I don’t know”). Reading station went way better than I expected. Before I knew it the kids were leaving. We had a very fun evening activity on the shaky bridge with a dance off between me and Bobby. We also went to Look Out Mt. (which was really a hill). We took in the Osage views and headed back. I am looking forward to go back to kids club tomorrow and the nursing home tomorrow.
-Daniel Ogle

Thanks all for your support and we hope to give you more news tomorrow!


Osage, OK - Sunday

Thank you to everyone who is praying for us and supporting us. We're glad to be here and I've already met up with people I remember from our last trip to Osage. But instead of me monopolizing the blog, here are some other stories...

We are in Osage County, on the reservation of the Osage Nation, in a town called Pawhuska. Our youth Works staff has been awesome and very inviting. We have met some real Razorbacks from Arkansas who are as excited to be serving as we are. We had an uneventful drive, which is always a “good thing” and have enjoyed the pulled pork, mac-n-cheese/bean dinner. Salads and fruit were highly encouraged. The camps are all set up and the mattresses are holding most of their air. We had our first club meeting and discussed how we might work to be different in service to our Lord and Savior here in sunny Oklahoma. Time to brush and floss and get rested up for our first day!!
-Jeff Eastes

We made it safely. I guess that’s a plus haha! Although after about 15 minutes I had managed to rip half of my fingernail off…. Haha, its fun, that’s just gonna be how our trip is gonna start. The first church we met has been very open and easy going, I have a good time getting to know them, however the other church has just been a problem from the minute we met… Just kidding, they haven’t made it yet, they broke down in St. Luis so we’ll find here soon.. Well not much more to say at the time!
See ya soon!!
-Andy Patterson

The car ride here was pretty awesome. We traveled out of the corn belt, through St. Louis and through the Ozarks along Route 66. Everyone seemed to get along. When we arrived we saw the beautiful cathedral that we are staying next to with an awesome collection of stain glass windows from 1907. It is air conditioned and has plenty of space for sleep and moving around. The other church is from a very small town in Arkansas, which is a sharp contrast to us suburbanites from Fishers.
-Landon Knoke

Again, thank you so much for your prayers. Students and adults will be updating every day so check back often. See you in a week!


Monday, July 11, 2011

"Be Different" Mission Trip

It's been a long hiatus but the blog is going to be back up and running. The plan is to have a weekly blog, but before that we want to give updates on how our mission trip goes next week. We will do our best to have an update every night (depending on internet/wifi), so be checking back here next week to hear how we are doing. Your prayers and support are appreciated!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fire & Water Student Ministries

My apologies for not updating the blog. It will be updated for the mission trip coming up then will have a new article each week after that.

Until that time, there are still many other ways to get involved at Fire & Water Student Ministries other than this blog. Here are some other websites to visit to find out more about us:

Our website
Our downloadable brochure