Monday, December 28, 2015

The Baby Is Born... Now What?

Christmas has happened! There was lots of food and presents and fun was had by all.

Now what?

For most it will be a return to normalcy. Take down the lights, stop listening to Christmas music, and once the leftovers are gone we will be eating the same food we did before. Ornaments are packed away. The greeting of "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" is no longer used. In a few days there will be no trace the Christmas ever happened aside from a few new toys.

Is that really how it should be?

I'm not saying leave your lights up all year round (although I know a few who do), but spiritually I don't think Christ came and died as a one time shot and then be done with it. I also don't think the point of church is to come be a Christ follower for one hour a week on Sunday and once we're done being holy go back to our normal selves by Monday (or by halftime).

What if spiritually we acted like it was Christmas all the time? Act as if Christ is with us? Live with that type of faith? What if we live like Christmas was real well past the 25th...?

Just a thought.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Everything Was A Choice

For Advent this year I am reading a sermon series by St. Bernard. It's fun to see a story I knwo so well from a different point of view.

One difference he made was the choices made by Christ at Christmas. I had never really thought about it, but God is very intentional. Nothing is done by accident. Every little tiny thing has meaning. Unlike all of us, Christ was able to determine how and when He was born. If this is true that means that He picked every part of His birth on purpose.

Jesus chose to be born during a census (it gets Him to Bethlehem).
Jesus chose to have Mary be pregnant while traveling.
Jesus chose to be born in a stable.
Jesus chose to be born at night.
Jesus chose that only shepherds would see the angels announcement.

You get the idea. Every single part of Christ's birth was done by choice. I wonder if because we don't get any say in how we or our children our born we assume it's the same with God, but it's not. He chose every little detail of His birth.

The bigger question is, what do those choices tell us about Jesus?

Think about it. Merry Christmas.


Monday, December 14, 2015

"Done Unto Me"

I read a very interesting quote last week from the Advent Sermons of St. Bernard. He says this:

"Be it done unto me, not preached to me, not shown to me but breathed into me."

Maybe the reason Jesus doesn't seem real to so many people, maybe even ourselves, is because we've settled for for preaching and showing, we haven't dove into the Spirit of God being "breathed into me" or "done unto me."

If you really want people to know that Christ loves them this Holiday Season (and beyond) don't just talk and show or point to other places to find Jesus. Be Christ to them. Love them. Sacrifice for them.

God wasn't content to use prophets to tell people He loved them, He became flesh and entered their lives. Will you do the same?


Monday, December 07, 2015

"We're not aiming for the truck"

This is one of my favorite movie lines of all time. I got to watch it this weekend as we try to expand our daughter's movie tastes beyond Frozen and the Muppets.

It's from Toy Story, most of the movie is about two toys trying to get back to their owner, a boy named Andy. And after overcoming obstacle after obstacle they are finally making it back, headed right for the moving truck. After all, that's what they should be aiming for.

The truck's back door is open, it's easy to hit.
The truck is closest to them.
The truck has all the other toys in it.
The truck has been their goal all along.

Until "we're not aiming for the truck."

One of the toys isn't aiming for the safety of the truck. They're aiming for Andy. They're goal isn't to get to the easy win, they want to be with the child who loves them. It's further, it's harder, and it's a complete surprise because it's completely unexpected. No one would try for that.

But they did.

How often do we settle for something easier than the One who loves us? He's in the car ahead, He's harder to get to, the window to reach Him is smaller. Instead we go to the safer zone, the one with all the other toys. It takes a lot less work and we're with all the other toys so why bother going for the car?

Because HE is in the car.

I don't know about you, but that's where I'd rather be...


(P.S. Happy Birthday Dad!)

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Real Power

I was reading this the other day:

Understand that the last days will be dangerous times. People will be selfish and love money. They will be the kind of people who brag and who are proud. They will slander others, and they will be disobedient to their parents. They will be ungrateful, unholy, unloving, contrary, and critical. They will be without self-control and brutal, and they won’t love what is good. They will be people who are disloyal, reckless, and conceited. They will love pleasure instead of loving God. They will look like they are religious but deny God’s power. Avoid people like this. ~ II Timothy 3:1-5 (CEB)

My first thought was to look at our world, the society I live in and compare. Are we selfish? Are we proud? Are we all these other things? That is until the last verse caused me to do a 180 on who I was looking at.

Do I simply look religious but am denying God's true power?

That's the whole purpose of Advent, remembering the true power of God that came into this world, and remembering that we are subject to the Son, that He has to be our everything or else it all means nothing.

It's a hard mirror to look into, but are you willing to? Does our faith have the True Power or do we simply look religious? That's a hard question to look at...

Happy Advent.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Giving Thanks

Do you ever think about that phrase? That thanks is something we actually give?

Giving requires effort and thought. It's rarely done by accident. It's purposeful. It is a sacrifice of some sort, I had it now I give it to you. Giving brings the focus off of me and on to the recipient of the gift.

I hope this week you will "give" thanks.

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. ~ Colossians 3:17 (NLT)

Happy Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 16, 2015

When It's Expected.

Last week I copied Seth Godin's blog about how when we expect something we fell entitled to it. Today I want to look at the reverse.

What happened in Paris over the weekend was shocking. Appalling. Horrific. And yet I have seen a lot of posts floating around the internet asking why Paris got all the news and the bombing in Baghdad did not, or the earthquake in Mexico, or ______ horrible tragedy.

And I've seen lots of reasons. Because Paris is white. Because they're an American ally. Because it's a first world nation. But I have a different theory.

Because it was unexpected.

This is a hard truth to face, but let's be honest. We expect turmoil in the Middle East, we expect war and bombs and because of that we don't see it as "news". We expect earthquakes to happen all over the world so when we hear about one it's "another earthquake." What we didn't expect was a suicide bomber to go to a football match in Paris after shooting up a restaurant, or another to go to a concert and start killing.

But here's the real danger, and it shows in our reaction. We become home-blind to the expected. If we had never ever seen a homeless person and for only once in our lives we saw someone standing on the side of the road with a sign asking for money so they could get home wouldn't we be shocked and want to help them? But after seeing hundreds of them and hearing the stories, how much are we stirred to dig into our pockets to help? Just because this is the 100th person we've seen doesn't make their story any less tragic or them any less in need of help, but we've almost become numb to it because we pretty much expect it now. So we do less, or nothing.

How many ways in our lives have we become numb to what we expect so we do nothing?
Everyone knows about Jesus or the one's I've told said "no" so I stop sharing the gospel.
I give to food pantries but there are still hungry people so what difference will my gift make.
I've invited this family member to Thanksgiving every year and they never show so I stop inviting.
My prayers seem to go unanswered so I stop praying.

We can't give up, especially when the failure/horror/tragedy is expected.


Monday, November 09, 2015

Entitlement vs. Worthiness - Seth Godin

I know this is a little after Halloween, but I read this and thought this is the perfect embodiment of what entitlement is and how it causes us to act. Thanks to Seth Godin for writing something so brilliant (he has lots of brilliance, you should see his blog).


Entitlement is the joy killer.
Halloween is hardly what it could be. Any other day of the year, hand a kid a chocolate bar and he'll be thrilled. Do it on Halloween and it's worth almost nothing.
When you receive something you feel entitled to, something expected, that you believe you've earned, it's not worth much. And when you don't receive it, you're furious. After all, it's yours. Already yours. And you didn't get it. Whether you're wearing a hobo costume or showing up as a surgeon after years of medical school, entitlement guarantees that you won't get what you need.
Worthiness, on the other hand, is an essential part of receiving anything.
When you feel unworthy, any kind response, positive feedback or reward feels like a trick, a scam, the luck of the draw. It's hardly worth anything, because you decided in advance, before you got the feedback, that you weren't worthy.
It's possible to feel worthy without feeling entitled. Humility and worthiness have nothing at all to do with defending our territory. We don't have to feel like a fraud to also be gracious, open or humble.
Both entitlement and unworthiness are the work of the resistance. The twin narratives make us bitter, encourage us to be ungenerous, keep us stuck. Divas are divas because they've tricked themselves into believing both narratives--that they're not getting what they're entitled to, and, perversely, that they're not worth what they're getting.
The entitled yet frightened voice says, "What's the point of contributing if those people aren't going to appreciate it sufficiently?" And the defensive unworthy voice says, "What's the point of shipping the work if I don't think I'm worthy of being paid attention to..."
The universe, it turns out, owes each of us very little indeed. Hard work and the dangerous commitment to doing something that matters doesn't get us a guaranteed wheelbarrow of prizes... but what it does do is help us understand our worth. That worth, over time, can become an obligation, the chance to do our best work and to contribute to communities we care about.
When the work is worth it, make more of it, because you can, and because you're generous enough to share it.
"I'm not worthy," isn't a useful way to respond to success. And neither is, "that's it?"
It might be better if we were just a bit better at saying, "thank you."

Monday, November 02, 2015


Have you ever had someone give you a generic request that embodies everything and you have no idea where to go with it?

"What do you want for dinner?"

Great. Thanks for narrowing that down. Where do I go from here? Frustrating, isn't it?

Is that how you pray?

When you talk to God are you specific in what you would like or do you pray the generic "bless ____"? Bless how? Yes, God makes the final decision, but maybe part of the reason talking with Him is so hard is because we're giving such over-arching, covering everything in three words prayers that God isn't able to answer our request because there actually isn't a request in there.

Even in the most obvious of situations, Jesus asked for specifics. In Mark 10 a blind man stands before Him and Jesus asks, "What would you like me to do?" Why would Jesus ask? What does that tell us about what Jesus wants from us in our requests?

Try it for a few weeks. Be honest with God. Be specific. See what happens.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Fast Acting Relief

We live in a society where we are stressed out, sick, troubled, tired, all sorts of things just weighing us down. And we want these pressures to stop, but we want them all to stop now. There are millions of quick fixes to all these problems, they usually only last a short time or don't work at all and so we jump to the next one or take more and more of whatever it is to help us.

Last week I found this quote by comedian Lily Tomlin:

"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."

It's probably the simplest and at the same time hardest thing to do, but you'll be surprised how well it works. I also read (and can't find, sorry) someone mentioning that the biggest weapon in satan's arsenal at the moment is hurry, if we can keep ourselves so stressed out and rushing around we won't have time for all God has for us.

Relationships take time, they're slow. Our relationship with Jesus is no different. Want to feel better? Want Jesus to be more real in your life? Try slowing down.

Monday, October 12, 2015

"There's Explaining And There's Showing"

A little while ago Lorie and I finally got around to watching the latest Hunger Games movie. We wait until we get to see it for free on TV.

But I wrote down this quote from the beginning of the movie. Katniss isn't "all in" for the war that's coming and one of the superiors suggests taking Katniss to her home so she can see what was done. It had been destroyed, and she had heard the stories about its destruction, but she needed a little nudge to join the fight. And that's where this line came in.

There's explaining and there's showing.

Here's my question, how many of us are explaining our faith? We tell what we believe, we talk about it, and we don't understand why the love of Jesus falls on deaf ears. Maybe it's because there's a difference between explaining and showing. What if you instead of explaining Christ to those you want to share Him with you showed them Christ? Serving them, loving them, giving to them expecting nothing in return.

We as the Church really need to stop explaining and start showing.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Jumping To Conclusions

Part of our ability as human beings to learn and grow is taking information and transforming it into something tangible. Information - when I stick my finger in this light socket electricity comes out + electricity hurts = don't stick your finger in the light socket. Pretty basic stuff.

What always amazes me though is how often we take a little bit of information and jump to a conclusion that is way off, sometimes not true at all. A perfect example happened today at NASA. Because we all want to believe we are not alone in the universe so much it takes very little for us to jump to that conclusion.

I want to point out though, NASA, the people who found the information, dissected it and explained it did not jump to that conclusion. They found evidence the ridges on Mars were likely carved out by a briny water of some sort. That's all they said. However, the very first reporter to ask a question: "Does this mean there's life on Mars?"

Generally if someone has to work for the information more they respect it, they look at it, the read it completely, they get a different result than if they just Googled it. We've all seen it, look it up online, forget it and don't care anymore.

So then, if we truly want someone to know God and be loved by Him, do you think it's better to share the information and move on, or give them something to wrestle with?

Btw, still no aliens.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Leaving Early

There is something I will never understand about people at sporting events...

When they leave early.

You never know what will happen. Basically, you as a fan have given up (even though you're not even playing). You have told the team you have lost faith. You have decided their fate is sealed and the game is done. Even though it isn't.

I still remember my pastor from the first church I interned at, he took me to a football game (he was a nice guy). It was a Sunday afternoon, we had church in the morning and church in the evening. It was a tight squeeze. And with not too long before the evening service the home team was down. He made the call it was time to go because there was no way we'd come back.

As a kid who had to travel 3 hours to see a professional team play, I couldn't fathom that. It was a greater sacrifice to see the game for me growing up so we stayed, no matter what. We sat through rain delays, 9 run innings by the visiting team, anything because it was a huge commitment to make it to the game. Unlike this pastor, who lived in town and saw games all the time.

The craziness was, on the way to the car in the parking lot some tailgaters had the game on. While walking, the home team scored a touchdown. He said, "we're going back" and we ran back inside to see our team eventually win. We almost missed it because he had given up (he just didn't give up early enough, thank goodness).

Those are the games we talk about too, the big win after everyone thought it was done. That's when the most magical moments in sports seem to happen. And yet, how many times do we miss magical moments, not just in sports, but in life, in faith, because we gave up too soon?

(As I was writing this, all I could think about was the show "The Goldberg's" when the dad wants to leave a hockey game early because the game was "over". He was right, it was over, the home team was wining and would win, but they missed this happening:

Don't leave early. Keep the faith.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

American Ninja Warrior

This show is awesome. I never really watched it until this year, just a little here and there, but it's basically an obstacle course for ninja wannabe's. Fun to watch, some you cheer to do well, some you cheer to faceplant in the water below...

Last night history was made for the show. For the first time in it's seven year run someone finished the course. Think about that for a second. This has been going on seven years and for the first time ever someone finished (actually two guys). That's how hard this is and how much dedication it takes to make it.

Throughout the season you see this dedication. People build home ninja courses, there are ninja gyms with courses in them you can join, there are even a few people who have quit their jobs so they can train full time so they can be American Ninja Warriors (now that is a supportive spouse).

The thing I kept thinking about: it takes work to be amazing. I started wondering what our faith would look like if we put this type of effort into it. How holy would you be if you "trained" every day, maybe quit your job and did it all day every day? The problem is, it's easier to be the guy on the couch eating barbecue chips watching ninja's fly than it is to try and become a ninja.

But imagine how awesome it would be that you could be officially announced as an American Ninja Warrior...


Monday, September 07, 2015

Dig Just A Little More...

In the news today, Neolithic stones like the ones at Stonehenge have been found nearby. Only there are a hundred of them forming a gigantic semi-circle.

You can read more about it here:

What really got me was the first sentence. They were discovered a whopping 3 feet under the earth.

3 feet.

Think of how many people for hundreds of years had no idea there were these massive stones right under their feet. 3 feet below them. So incredibly close but with no idea they were there. Millions of people were satisfied with just Stonehenge and those few stones where there was so much more to be known and discovered.

It's amazing what could have been found with just a little digging. I wonder how many people are content with what they believe about God or their relationship with Jesus when all the while they are so incredibly close to a break-though, something more that could completely change them forever. But they don't know because they won't do just a little digging.

What if you did a little digging into your faith, what would you find?


Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Jesus Outside The Gospels

So often we think of the Gospels as the story of Jesus, which is true. But in realty the entire Scripture points to Jesus...

It always amazes me when we tell stories like Ruth or Mephibosheth and people don't see how they point to our Savior. We just don't know the Word of God well enough to see it always. Until now.

There's a great new Bible that just came out that helps us see Jesus in the Old Testament. I'd highly recommend it.

Give it a try, you may be surprised how much more of Jesus you see.


Monday, August 24, 2015


It's the question that kills the soul.

We talked about it last night at Drink Deep (our time together with sr. high students). When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, the first two times each temptation starts with the word "if". The one word that can immediately cause doubt and open up a world of hurt and other questions.

It's funny that the first temptation also deals with doubt. "Did God really say...".

Too often we see temptation is being convinced, swindled, pushed into doing something wrong. Maybe it's way simpler than that. Maybe it's just someone adding confusion. Asking "if".

There's only one way to truly combat anyone who asks "if" or "did _____really say/do". To know the truth wholeheartedly and hold onto that truth with all you have.

Find the Truth, and don't let go.

"Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from Me. " John 14:6 (MSG)


Monday, August 17, 2015

The One Thing I Know For Sure About Jesus Is:

This past Sunday was our FIRE & WATER Student Ministry Sunday, a day where we share stories and let people know who we are and what we are doing as jr. and sr. high students.

It was slightly different this year in the way that I spoke at the end. I did a little experience with the congregation that our students took part in at our Winter Retreat. Fun for all. But then at the end I did something that we do every week. Whenever we meet (as often as I can) we end our time with the question above. "The One Thing I Know For Sure About Jesus Is:" It's just something we do to help students and ourselves be sure we are learning about Christ and looking for Him in all that we do. We are always learning more about Jesus, who He is and who we are in Him if we take the time to look for Him.

What I didn't realize is how that would make a bigger impact than the actual experience we did. That statement is why people stopped and talked to me after service. In our staff meeting that question and the idea of making sure we have something to take away from our worship times together came up. Out of everything we did Sunday, that little question and the two minutes it took to think about seems to have had the biggest impact (at least with those who have talked with me).

Here's the thing, we can do that anywhere anytime. We don't need the pastor to ask us that on Sunday, we can talk about it with our families or think about it ourselves. Every night before we go to bed we can ask ourselves where we have seen Jesus today and what we can learn about Him. Every time we read our Bibles or serve we can end our time with contemplating this idea.

So what about you? What's the one thing you know for sure about Jesus?


Monday, August 03, 2015

Biblical Common Knowledge

For those that don't know, I love old books. I read a lot of older titles, not a ton of new fiction. I'm currently almost done with Moby Dick (they're going to get that whale!).

But in this book, like many of the other older books, there is a certain literary style that still gets to me. They quote and/or reference Scripture. A lot. But what's more amazing is they don't say, "this is in the Bible at ____". They just assume that the reader knows exactly what they are talking about.

Like where I am in Moby Dick. They quoted an obscure story in Daniel. All they said were a few sentences. No reference to Daniel or the Bible or chapter and verse, just told it as part of the story thinking everyone reading would understand what is going on.

It makes me wonder how well people knew the Scriptures just a few decades ago, or how little we know them now. What if we actually knew and understood the Bible like that? What is it about today that makes it so hard to read the Bible? So many other options and distractions?

What if we knew the Bible so well that like these authors we were able to weave it into everyday conversation and story-telling...


Monday, July 27, 2015

Philadelphia - God's Timing

So all week you've read stories about the mission trip from students. Today, mine is a different point of view. Some of you have heard this story, but it bears repeating.

Too often we see God's instruction as straightforward and somehow we're missing it (god wants you to go to Africa, but you're not listening). What I've learned is sometimes God has to send you left to go right, kind of like setting up a chessboard. You have to get everything in place before you can start your moves. Like when I moved here, when I was unemployed and asking God what to do the former youth pastor was still at Fishers UMC. God sending me here would not have made sense.

On this mission trip, I thought I knew what God wanted. We were supposed to go to Atlanta. It was a plan, it made sense, it felt right. So I booked us to go to Atlanta. And everything was perfect, until January. In the beginning of the month I received a call from Youthworks (the company that plans our mission trips) saying they needed to talk to me. Because of the craziness of the holidays it took me a week to get back to them. When I finally did, the conversation was my worry; Atlanta was closed.

They couldn't get enough people to go to that site so they closed it. So now, months after most trips are completely booked, I need to find a trip half open (they max at 65-75, we take 30) on the week that we have planned. And it needed to fit my criteria of being an urban site (we try to give students a balance of serving opportunities over the 5 trips they can go on in sr, high). The list was slim, many of the sites were too far away or we had done recently.

Then he made a funny noise. "Huh...". It turns out that Philadelphia had been completely booked for our week by a single church (all 70 spots), but they had cancelled two days ago. Meaning it was wide open and we could go. Philly is one of their most popular sites. If I had tried to book at the beginning I may not have gotten it. If I had been in the office to answer the original call the other church would have still held that entire week. God worked it out for me to schedule the wrong place and be too on-the-go to answer the phone just so everything could work out.

And it did. God wanted us there not just for us but for the other churches. Neither of them had ever done a mission trip, ever. One student had been on a trip with another church, that's it. The adults had never done it before. Even the Youthworks staff, out of the 4 of them 1 had been a leader on 1 previous trip. Between the 4 adults that went from our church, we have done about 30 trips. For some reason we had all veterans on this trip. We were able to do more than just help our students, we were helping the other churches too.

God works things out, usually in ways we don't expect. I can't imagine going somewhere else after this trip and if you talk to students, neither can they. It was where God wanted us to be. So be encouraged, you may not know what God is doing simply because He's setting up the board to do something amazing. And if you want to hear more stories, make sure to be at FIRE & WATER Sunday on Aug. 16.

Thanks for your prayers and support on the trip and all times before and after.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Philadelphia - Day 6

This will be the last blog from students. We have arrived at our overnight stop, we talked about the trip for a few hours (it's always great to hear their stories and where they saw God this week), we ate dinner and now we're about to go to sleep. I will do a recap on Monday, but until then if you would like to hear more stories make sure to be at Fishers United Methodist Church on Sunday morning for stories shared during the "Christ in the world around us" time (I know there will be a few in the gym at 11:00). Thanks for all your support and prayers and we will see you tomorrow.

For part of my week I got the opportunity to volunteer for Children’s Mission, an organization that helps tutor kids who are falling behind academically. At first I was extremely doubtful of my abilities to be able to relate to the kids and teach them in a way that they would both understand and be entertained by. But as the week moved on the experience turned out to be more fun than stressful. The kids were extremely energetic and fun and excited to learn. Even though after three whole hours of tutoring the kids not surprisingly were struggling to pay attention, they still kept a positive attitude throughout the whole thing. This helped me realize that as I go home that instead of complaining about the amount of schoolwork I have I should just be appreciated that I have the opportunity to learn. -Hannah

This mission trip is a blast, we left early this morning after cleaning up the school we stayed in. We drove for five hours to the church we are currently staying at, we unpacked and went to lunch. For lunch we got real food instead of the organic food they had been feeding us.  I am not a picky eater by any standards and I did not like the food they were feeding us.  The reason I didn’t like the food was they tried to make it so healthy it was just terrible. So it was pretty great to have a normal lunch. -Alex

It’s been an amazing week. I spent 3 of the days helping out in various gardens around the city. I figured it was going to be hot and boring. However, it turned out to be a lot of fun. The others in my crew were extremely positive so that really seemed to help me. I went on this trip expecting to spend a lot of time with people in the community. I learned that that isn’t the only way to be the hands and feet of Jesus. By helping out in the gardens, people will get fresh food that is not readily available to them right now. As Troy said, Jesus wants people to get to eat. We have spent tonight talking about our week and playing cards, mafia, and sardines. It’s pretty awesome to hear all the stories, and I know we will all be excited to share them when we get home. -Logan

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Philadelphia - Day 5

Today was our last day of working here in Philadelphia. Lots of good-bye's, our last showers until we get home, a community cookout, a party, and a time of reflection and serving through footwashing, it makes for a very emotional roller coaster of a day. To see more of how the day went, check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to get updates and pictures. Thanks for all your support and prayers. And here are three snippets of what happened in the lives of students today.

Today was the last day of service in Philadelphia. Most people were tired and ready to go back, do the daily worship, and then fall asleep. However after the showers, the Youthworks staff directed us to a local park for a cook-out that they had prepared with help from a local church. While the food was simple, there was an abundance of activities going on. Everywhere there was a mix of students and Philadelphia citizens enjoying dinner. While some students were playing cards or eating in their own little groups, some talked to the locals and had conversations. I had to give some small directions to some locals, but it wasn’t until one dad approached me that I actually started interacting with the people. He asked some other students and me to join his son in a game of wiffleball. After we picked the teams, the youngest came to bat first. The children were at most under the age of 10. We had quite literally a ball. The weird mix of serious teenagers and carefree children made an interesting game. At one point Zane fell down and wiggled to get away from the 8-year old with the ball. Little kids were given the rush of excitement while the students smiled as they saw locals enjoy a game that was hard to organize in this kind of city. The whole park was roughly the size of a city block, yet it was filled with dancing, music, Frisbee, wiffleball, food, and interactions. The term of naming Philadelphia the city of brotherly love had never been so right. I’m glad we could end off the Youthworks week with a good impact on the local community. I hope we can have a larger effect on our future mission trips and show how much we can help this world. –Connor

This trip seemed to be the week of gardening; every day had something to do with food or plants. It hasn’t been as relational as past trips, but I have enjoyed the manual labor involved and the fact that I wasn’t the only one sweating while working. This trip has been very different in other ways. We usually have a snack waiting for us when we return from showers. That wasn’t there this year. We usually have another snack before bed. Again, not this year. Being only provided with organic and unusual foods, I was hungry a lot of the time. Most of it I ate, but there were some that were just too different. Tonight being the footwashing ceremony, I was expecting the other churches who had never experienced it before to not really get why it’s such an emotional and tearful time. I was wrong and they cried just like a lot of us. Overall this trip has been fun and worthwhile, with little mishaps and surprises that were very bad. –Matt

Today I got to experience a children’s mission. It is a place where children who are behind in school get caught up to grade level. I was in charge of the first graders, and as rambunctious as they were, they were adorable. We learned how to count and add and spell things like “cat.” Although it did not go as well as the previous day, the children still seemed to be learning the material. They were even sometimes excited to learn, and considering it’s their summer, it impressed me. After teaching the kids we had lunch. The motto at the site was work hard, then play hard; and we certainly played hard after lunch. This involved running through an open fire hydrant spewing water everywhere, and it was followed by a lot of jump roping and piggy back rides. We then packed up to leave the site, and before we left we got hugs from all of the children. Many of the children looked like they were ready to cry because they were going to miss us, but they were strong and waved the bus away. It was a wonderful experience, and I’m very glad I got to know them – Tyler

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Philadelphia - Day 4

Our trip is half over! And to be honest, it shoes, we have done a lot of work, so much that many of us have been reassigned to new projects for today. Thank you again for all your prayers and support, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see all sorts of fun pictures and quick little stories throughout the day. But for now, here are three stories from our students serving here in Philly.

Hey. We made it to Philly. Yay. The first 2 days we worked in a garden. I didn’t pace myself well the first day so I felt like throwing up but hey, pain is gain. Today we worked with children. Our job was to tutor the children because they are way behind in school. Oh Boy I had to work with the kindergarteners. WE had to help them count and write letters. I thought it would be fairly easy. NO I was very wrong! One girl started to count 1..2..3..7..20..100. It was very frustrating. When I tried to help them they said they could do it all by themselves and then started to count wrong again. I had to crack the whip on some of the children a couple of times. We tutored them for 3 hours and then it was song and reading time. I passed out on the chair while Mattheus read a very boring book about gorillas. You should have seen me. I had my mouth wide open. Then it was play time. I tried to Double Dutch which didn’t turn out to be amazing. One little girl asked me if I was African which was a first.  When we were done working for the day we went to see the Liberty Bell and The Independent Hall.  I also got a Philly Cheesesteak. I ended up giving half of my Philly Cheesesteak to a Hobo because I knew I couldn’t eat it all.  In return he taught me how to correctly hitch-hike. 
We had a very interesting dinner. We had to sit in assigned seats. I ended up sitting with Lauren, Isaac, Evan, Brady, and Troy. I ended up asking lots of questions about God , Jesus and His angels which led around to the book series The Immortal Instruments which is all about Angels and their children. I’m sorry if anything is spelled wrong or the grammar is wrong. Its almost 11 at night and I’m really tired. –Emily

So far all I have really done is kill plants. Severe weeding day one and day two and on day three we cleaned out plants that were too far into season to be beneficial. I wish I could do a little more work in the actual community but honestly the gardening has been very relaxing, minus the heat. Tonight we went to probably the most amazing church service I’ve ever been to! The passion and the energy the people had was amazing to see. I don’t think I could ever forget that if I even tried. The feeling of God all around us was almost surreal. The pastor had such a good message! The time scramble is pretty tight and lights out is in exactly 5 mins. Philly is great city and I’ve had such a great time!
See y’all. –Adam

Today I handled 10,000 pounds of food! WOW! Divided it was about 7,100 pounds of donated foods, 1,600 pounds of moldy grapes, which we composted, and the rest was cabbage. When handling the various donated foods we were checking expiration dates, that was kind of hard being that they were so tiny. The grapes had to be dumped out of their packing and then dumped into the smelly compost pile, it was very ripe. I had to shovel one load into the compost pile, and it was very scary… Especially since I almost fell into the pile, one of my feet slipped and it was very scary… the cabbage had to be peeled in the forty degree freezer… I was thankful that I brought pants and a sweatshirt. One of the best parts of my day was showering, I kind of smelled like cabbage and moldy grapes. We ended the day with a church service at the nearby Baptist church. They did things very different than us there; they were very vocal throughout the service. It was nice to see a different type of service than our own. It is late, goodnight! See you all Saturday! -Rachel

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Philadelphia - Day 3

It's hard to believe our time of serving in Philly is half done! Thank you all for your prayers and support, here are three more stories from some of our students today. And if you would like to see pictures or other little snippets follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I'm assuming that you all have seen the movie Rocky, I am also assuming you’re familiar with the famous steps. Well today we all got to go visit and run up those very same steps (and take some pretty awesome pictures with the Rocky statue). There were races and lots and lots of sweat as we conquered the steps and it was pretty exciting being able to experience the same ones. However, the steps weren’t the only thing I participated in today. On this very hot day in Philadelphia, I worked at Germantown Garden, a small garden run by a very kind woman named Amanda. She not only handed her fruits and vegetables out to neighbors, family friends, and local organizations, but she ran a small produce stand at least twice a week to make some extra money. Unfortunately, the loved garden and vegetable stand were not able to support Amanda as needed, so it was necessary that she get a full time job, resulting in a substantial amount of work NOT getting done in her prized garden. We were privileged to be able to help her with the immense task of tackling the jungle of weeds. It was truly amazing getting to see the fruit of our labor as the garden finally started to look like a clean, fruitful piece of land. Although the heat never stopped and the exhaustion set in, feeling God work through us on this day was truly an amazing feeling that I am glad to have gotten the opportunity to do. -Lauren

Today I worked at a garden called Blessed Roots where we spent the day pulling roots out of plant beds then planting some new plants. When we first got there we couldn’t see the plant beds at all and assumed that the plants were planted in the ground. By the end of the day every root was gone. The garden had been completely cleared and ready for new plants. It was amazing to see how much we could get accomplished in just a short amount of time. The best part was that we were still able to enjoy ourselves by doing things like singing and taking occasional breaks to play with the cute little snakes. Despite the fact that we were doing exhausting work in the sun everyone still had a positive attitude without complaining, making the day much more enjoyable and allowing us to get more done. -Katie

Over the past two days I have been able to learn so much about why agriculture is so important and beneficial to the people in Philadelphia. I have enjoyed getting to see the gardens and weeding them, knowing that my little action of pulling out a few weeds will have an impact on the community, and help the farmers and groups ahead of us to be ready to plant more. Today I worked at a garden, where my job was weeding small flower plants. At first I was very confused why they had flowers if they were planning on growing food, but then I learned all the flowers grown there were sent out to various farms around the city. The flowers were then used at the farms to attract certain insects that would get rid of the pests that would keep the food from growing. Getting to eat all locally grown or organic food has been a very different experience but I have enjoyed it a lot so far. Its been fun to try food that I would normally eat at home like pizza, sandwiches, and waffles, but it’s a whole new taste that I have found to be really good so far. The trip has only been two days but it’s been a lot of fun and a whole new experience that I’m extremely thankful I’ve gotten to be a part of. -Kaili