Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Youth Projector Images

Just a few images I put together over the past few months for the youth group (used when the projector isn't showing anything else).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our Economy

This is what happens when "keeping up with the Joneses" becomes the American way.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Tour Of Our Home

As requested by Tricia (and many others, but most recently Tricia). . .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Youth Ministry Report: A Quick Summary of the Past Few Months

On Nov. 21st the youth attended a free concert, organized by Youth for Christ. The music was loud, but the bands were good, and they brought a good message.

On Dec. 6th the youth ministry team took the youth fishing. It was here that the youth learned that I don’t know how to fish and my wife did. Earl Peek organized this event and did an excellent job! We drove out to Wabasso, picked up some bait, and then drove to our location that was near there. The fishing was supervised by Earl, Sarah, Bob, and myself. After a few hours of fishing Earl cooked some hotdogs on the grill, while Bob led the youth in a very appropriate devotional about being “fishers of men”. After our meal we sat around talking and played a few games of bachi-ball. The youth seemed to have a great time.

On Dec. 13th we had our youth Christmas party. Lots of planning and work went into this event, and it went beautifully. The objective of the evening was to create a family environment and to share Christmas together as God’s family. Teresa, Earl, Sarah, Sarah’s mom, and myself prepared tons of food. The evening started with Amber Peek, one of our youth girls, leading us in prayer and asking God to bless our food and time. We then shared a large meal together. After the meal we then played white elephant (a gift exchange game). Then the youth gathered around as Earl read to them the Christmas story from portions of Matthew and Luke. Then Bill led the youth in singing a few Christmas Hymns. The youth then returned to the food for dessert while Teresa and I handed every youth a stocking; the contents were personalized, their name was decorated on it, and there were personalized Christmas cards from each member of the youth ministry team. The night was fantastic!

Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been very slow during the holiday months. There have been many weeks without us meeting due to early release days and holidays. We still have faithful students attending and even though the numbers have been few lately, they seem to love it. Relationships are definitely being built. Sometimes I feel like I’m running two youth groups at the same time. It’s a lot of work.

Over the past few months my teaching on Wednesday evenings have been about what it means to be a member of God’s family. Some of the topics were about loneliness, disagreements, the parts of the Body of Christ, stepping into other people’s shoes, and God’s family being a safe place. Hopefully what they heard will be learned and applied. In the next few weeks, leading up to Valentines, I’ll be talking with the youth about sex. If God designed sex then where better to talk about it then at church. The series is called “The Best Sex Ever” and it covers subjects such as: all the confusion there is about sex and how a sex driven world has lead to that, what God’s Word has to say about sex, sex is a lot bigger and better than what the world tells you, and what if you have messed up.

On Jan. 8th the youth ministry team met for the first time in the new year. At this time three major things occurred. First, I informed them of a training opportunity, in which Earl, Teresa, Sarah, and myself will be trying to attend during the first week of March. Second, we brain-stormed about upcoming events; they had tons of ideas I’m currently pursuing. And third, they were informed that they were going to be evaluated.

Each team member was evaluated one-on-one, and it was their job to initiate this meeting during the 2 week time frame I set. During the evaluations three major things were discussed: their observations of the youth ministry (What are we doing that’s working? What are we doing that’s not working? What impact are we having on the youth? How can I (Terry) help you do your job better?), the positives and negatives I’ve seen in them (along with some accountability to their walk with Christ), and their passions (Have they changed? Would you like to change what you do with the youth group? Is youth ministry still what you’re passionate about?).

My youth ministry team is truly awesome! I have seen them grow and mature in their walk with Christ and in their understanding of what it means to be a ministry team leader over the past year. We’ve also seen changes and growth in the youth that regularly attend. We’re not even close to where we want to be, but we know that in 2008 we got off to the right start and we’re pursuing God’s desire to use us to reach youth.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Free Stuff

So, last night on the news I heard that certain department stores were giving away free beauty products due to a lawsuit. I got online to check it out, and found out that locally Macy's and Dillard's would be participating. I arrived at the mall early, waited in line (which continued to grow as we approached the time the store would open). They had a list of products to pick from. All well known brand names, all full sized products, no samples. When it was my turn at Dillard's I picked the Lovely shower gel by Sarah Jessica Parker, because I have the perfume (Christmas present from Terry). Happy with my shower gel, I headed to Macy's, where I had to wait in line outside in the shade. Normally that would not pose a problem here in Florida, but as we are seeing well below average temps here this week, and the wind is blowing pretty hard, I froze! But, in the end it was worth it. I got J'Adore by Dior perfume, and it smells fabulous! I am very happy with my picks, and am sending Terry to the mall this afternoon for his fair share, which of course he will hand over to me. What fun when big companies are forced to give away free products to the general public! They are greatly appreciated!

Friday, January 16, 2009

When We First Got Frodo

He was a little fluff-ball.  We've nearly had him for a year and he's now 1 year old.  Here's a video of the first two weeks we had him.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Youth Video: Looking Back at 2008

This is a collection of photos from 2008 about the youth.

Monday, January 5, 2009

if You Want To Reach People. . . (Part 3 of 3)

(. . .continued from. . .Part 1 and Part 2. . .)

Lastly, bad news comes better when it comes softly. How can we soften the impact of the bad news? Love (John 13:35). Jesus makes it clear the world will know there is something different about us through how we love one another.

Love is the key. Unconditional, no strings attached loved. The message the church is supposed to be carrying is the Gospel. Love opens the door for the Gospel.

But let me give you a bad example of "love" just to make sure we're on the same page: give someone money to help pay their rent and then guilt trip them into coming to church the next week. 

You know the difference between love and manipulation? I say it’s measured by the strings that are attached. Too many people think the church is selling something and we have to be a church that changes that. We should never give to the needy because we we’re trying to get people to come to our church. We should never hold festivals or events because we’re trying to get people to come to our church. I guarantee that if we love people unconditionally they will come. People are drawn to genuine, authentic, love.

We must realize that we are faced with a culture that does not understand the Good News, the Gospel of Salvation. The bad news can put it into context, and then it makes sense. But most aren't ready to hear bad news and that's one of the many places love comes in.

You want to reach people. . .love them. . .with no strings attached.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Years' Resolution

I always thought these were pretty cheesy.  I mean, I recall throughout high-school and college having many friends who made these resolutions, but really didn't follow through.  I've heard the number one New Years' resolution in America is to loose weight and to get fit, both of which I'm willing to bet are also the top failed resolutions.

To me New Years' resolutions have always been a joke, something that may sound good, but there really wasn't any real intent behind it, no serious motivation.  I mean, let's face it. . .commitment isn't really a part of today's American culture.

But what if those who are followers of Christ decided to take it seriously about their relationship with Christ?  What if New Years' resolutions were seen as a time to seriously reflect, reform, reconsider, reevaluate, and make necessary changes? What if we stepped out of American culture and was committed to letting God transform us into a new person by changing the way we think; and then we would know what God wants us to do, and would know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. (Romans 12:2)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

If You Want To Reach People. . . (Part 2 of 3)

(. . .continued from HERE. . .which you need to read first)

Here's an illustration to sort of show my point. . .

You go to a doctor. You hadn't been in a long time and so you're getting a full evaluation of your health, complete with all kinds of test no one wants to do often. They get all kinds of samples from you. When they're done they ask you to come back in a week and the doctor will discuss with you the result. You're expecting the doctor will make recommendations to your diet, exercise, and that sort of stuff.

You return a week later. You're placed in a small room where the nurse tells you the doctor will be with you shortly. After a brief wait the doctor comes in reviewing what is obviously your file. After staring at your charts for a while he finally acknowledges you by saying, "we've got your results in and we're going to start you on a series of injections next week that are going to save your life. On your way out please make an appointment at the front desk. . .Oh. . .and by the way, you should expect hair loss, rather extreme vomiting, and feeling pretty horrible for the duration of these injections. . .about 90 days worth." Then the doctor leaves to see another patient.

I'm sure you will agree with me that if you ever encounter a doctor like that then you're going to start looking for a new doctor immediately for a second opinion. Instead of feeling like someone has genuinely tried to help you, you feel scared, very confused, and very offended by how you were treated.

Now let's look at the same situation but the doctor approaches thing very differently.

You return a week later. You're placed in a small room where the nurse tells you the doctor will be with you shortly. After a brief wait the doctor comes in reviewing what is obviously your file. He greets you and lets you know that most of what the tests revealed was good, "but in the course of examining your blood they discovered something unusual." He begins using a lot of medical terminology yet he's keeping it simple enough that it still makes sense to those of us not in the medical field. "After more tests we concluded some mutated cells were cancer, but you are extremely fortunate." He then continues to explain how the cancer had been discovered at the earliest stages and if we begin chemo treatments right away the probability of defeating this is extremely high. But he pauses and let you know this is will be a tough process and explains the possible side-effects of chemo and directs you to some information that will help you prepare for the months to come.

What made those two doctors different? The good doctor knew that the bad news had to be explained clearly so that the good news made sense. We who are carriers of the Gospel must do the same. It’s sort of like better “bed-side manners”.

(. . .to be continued. . .)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

If You Want To Reach People. . . (Part 1 of 3)

There’s a key to sharing the Gospel (the "Good News") with people. 

First we have to understand what exactly is the Good News of Christ, the Gospel (read 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  It's extremely important to know what the Good News is NOT.  The good news is not a certain church a person must attend, a certain translation of the Bible, what you should wear to church, and it certainly is not "they're going to hell".  If you confuse this message for people by attaching things do it that don't belong then you didn't share the Gospel, but rather your own opinions and thoughts on the matter.

Secondly we have to understand that the Good News is foolishness without bad news (read 1 Corinthians 1:18).  This means the Good News sounds stupid, doesn't make sense, and is utterly ridiculous all by itself, but the bad news, when told correctly, suddenly makes the Good News make sense.  It becomes clearer.

How a person responds to the bad news greatly impacts how they respond to and understand the Good News; and the Good News without the bad news will most likely produce a false convert. Why? Because you won’t come to the rescuer unless you know that you need to be rescued!  You can't come to the savior if you don't realize you need to be saved.

(. . .to be continued. . .)