.. and all through our pad,
No kid was stirring, so the parents were glad
The stockings were waiting for santa to load
And I praised God were were past toy building mode
The dog was cuddled up all tight in a ball
While visions of rabbits danced in the hall
And mom on facebook, and dad on his blog,
We had nothing to do, but several hours to log
Out on the lawn there was a deer all lit up
As I sat by the window, my kahlua coffee to sup
It's clear that December is full of the good and the bad,
Sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we're sad
Today was a mixture of both types of those things
One of those days where I wish I had wings.
Wings to fly high up in the sky
Ask God to clear up the why
Why do good people suffer? What should I do with the past?
Why do I work so hard for the things that don't last?
I'd ask God this and a long list of more
but honestly, all of it makes my thinker get sore
So on this Eve of that day God came here
I'm reminded how desperately I still need him near
When God is distant, my world goes amuck
My heart needs God's HOPE, or I'm eternally stuck.
Merry Christmas friends.
In the midst of your busy and crazy lives, for those who will laugh and for those who will cry, I'm praying that this year we all experience some God given joy and a peace on earth that can be only found in GOD IS WITH US moments. Oh Emmanuel, we still need you. I surely do.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
.. and all through our pad,
Thursday, December 22, 2011
I'm not a fan of fake stuff. I don't like fake Christmas trees. I don't like fake coffee. Fake trucks- you know the ones that are lifted and go to the mall instead of the woods- lame! Fake sugar is in everything- and it's lame too. Fake flowers. Fake friendship. Fake faith. They all are overrated and way too common.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
We had our small group Christmas Party last night. We played way too many games and had too much fun and ran out of time to do our "bible study portion" which we planned to spend 20 minutes on. I'm lame, but it was fun. In case you want some last minute ideas. Here you go:
We had dinner together and played:
- a christmas pictionary game
- a snowflake building contest
- a christmas coloring sheet contest
- a team build your own gingerbread house contest with graham crackers/frosting
- and some christmas mad libs .
After all of that, we read Luke 2:1-20 as small groups and then I asked just one question. But I had 5 planned. Tonight at our dinner table and today in my one-on-one with Tyler before school over breakfast, I used some of these study questions... which have proved to be fun discussion starters on Christmas. So feel free to rip them if you can use them with your own youth group or even family. 2 just for for fun and three a little more serious.
- Assuming God could not use an angel to tell Mary she is pregnant with God's son, come up with another crazy way for her to find out.
- If you could be a superhero angel, what would your wings be made of and what would your super power be? Oh… and what would be your first pronouncement to the people of the earth?
- This story says that the shepherds were amazed. What has been the most amazing thing you’ve experienced in your faith to date?
- What do you think Mary treasured and pondered in her heart? What do you think she was feeling and doing and trying to soak in at this point? What do you feel this time of year?
- Think about the phrase, “peace on earth to those on whom God’s favor rests”. What do you think it means? What does it say about peace and what determines whom God favors? How do you know?
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Ever wished you could have some great ministry resources at iTunes prices? Like if you could score a message series or a resource for say... uh.. .99 cents then you'd do it!
Well dream no more! My friends Josh Griffin and Matt McGill have launched just such a gem. It's called Download Youth Ministry.
I dug the site, loved the idea, and thus tossed a couple resources their way to join in on the fun. If you want a steal of a deal on stuff that's worth WAY more than the couple of bucks it'll cost to download, then this is your place.
I uploaded three resources to get the ball rolling on my contributions. More to come.
A TEACHING SERIES:
Every youth pastor I know plans retreats. They give their time and effort and some of their best creative energy into retreat planning because they know that retreats can and do change lives. Despite the fact that they always cost additional time, money, and often require huge planning steps of faith- they still do them because they are inherently risky and fun and unparalleled memory making ventures.
But here's the rub though.... not many of those same youth pastors plan great trips for their family.
For years I too put more effort into planning summer camp than a summer vacation. I justified this as part of my job and brought my wife and kids with me anytime I could. I still do that cuz I want both my own kids and my students exposed to the intersection of ministry and family. But recently, especially as my kids have gotten older they started complaining that the stories they heard me tell about our youth group retreats were things they wanted to do too. Telling them "just wait till you're in high school" was not going to cut it either. So over the last few years now, I've become increasingly convicted that if I'm not willing to do this for my own family, I should not be doing it for ministry.
I mean really: Why in the world would I give my most creative energy to the students I work with for a season at the expense of the family I'll be connected to for rest of my life?
Answer? Because retreats are a lot of work and if you do them both for ministry and your family, your life will get doubly complicated. Life is flat out easier in ministry and in my home when we just sit around. Problem is it makes no memories worth bragging about either. Having planned my share of both family and ministry retreats now... I can say this about them:
- Family and Ministry Trips both cost money I don't easily earn.
- Family and Ministry Trips both cost a lot of time.
- Family and Ministry trips both require planning, preparation, and hours of clean up too.
- Family and Ministry trips both have me asking, "Why did I do this to myself, I should have just played it safe and done none of this" in the preparation stage. They are also both quickly followed with, "I wouldn't trade this for the world moments"when they're done too.
So from one parent/pastor to another, go ahead and plan that family trip with as much gusto as you do your next ministry trip. You and your family will be so glad you did. Hearing my kid brag about our family trips makes it all worth it.
Friday, December 02, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
My family did the "normal" stuff for us again this year. I bbq'd the bird. My mom and Shannon's mom made the "side dishes" and desserts. TJ finished the whole leg for the first time. The "blessing pot" was passed around (I'll write about that next time) and our post-meal dominos game was fun. Bottom line: our table was full and we are all thankful for so much. Seriously, I am beyond blessed.
WAY BEYOND BLESSED...
One random reminder of that fact is oddly enough, the pile of legos that is in the "playroom" at our house. I've had some of the pile for over 30 years and the rest is stuff my kids have steadily addd to on their own via gifts for the last 10 years. It's grown to be a GINORMOUS pile of legos that probably weighs close to 80 pounds. It has parts from space ships, planes, star wars, cities, police, castles, cars, and so much more. Really, it's gotta be at least 100,000 bricks and such.
Well, while in Disneyland earlier this month for Shannon's b-day we poked around in Downtown Disney and went into the Lego store to poke around. While in there, I found myself inexplicably drawn to the pile of bricks in the corner that were in bins sorted by color and style. It was like magnetic for me and it really bad made me want to fill a ginormous cup with parts and pieces and just buy bricks by the pound like I was 10 again. I did not do that, but what I did do was think, "I bet if we organized our bricks at home like this, we'd have a great time playing with them." I bet I would have a great time playing with them.
So, last night Jake and I started sorting bricks in search of new inspiration. We commandeered a rolling bin from my wife that was not being regularly used and started sorting away into it. The result was awesome (we're still only 1/3 of the way done though) and it also came with 3 reminders:
DANG. WE'RE BLESSED. THIS PILE OF TOYS IS HUGE!!!
Seriously, we still have pieces I've had since I was 8. I used to carry them around in a green pillow case with a draw string. Now the pile is simply too big. I don't even want to add up how much money we've spent over the year building this set of bricks. It is A LOT though whatever it is.
Clean your office and you'll feel more productive. If you organize toys... old toys become new. When you clean your car, you want to drive it more. I mean even when you clean your own body, you feel better. If your life lacks some inspiration, trying re-imagining a space you're in. We cleaned up the pile and made it into style and shape piles and the result was a forgotten pile of bricks became a blank slate of newness to enjoy. Cleaning stuff up is simply inspiring for everyone.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Several years ago, we set a goal in our youth ministry to sponsor one kid on every continent that we could sponsor a kid on as a youth ministry. We're not there yet, but so far, our Encounter High School Ministry sponsors 5 kids or organizations monthly by asking students to bring $1 a week to our weekend services to help us sponsor them. Here's who we've been sponsoring for quite some time now:
- A boy named Marvin in El Salvador through World Vision
- A girl named Ruby in India through World Vision
- A girl named Luyando in Zambia through World Vision
- A boy named Hector in Tecate, Mexico through HIS Ministries.
- An orphanage called Welcome Home where I adopted 2 kids from in Uganda
WE VISITED HECTOR.
We made a day trip to Mexico on 11/11/11 to visit Hector and some of his peers at a Day Care center in Tecate where he goes daily and through which we sponsor him. In the process, we played with him, loved on him, put a name to a real face with some of our students and Hector, and we brought he and his family some food & household basics: rice, beans, flour, sugar, potatoes, avocados, salsa, salt, oil, pots/pans, dish soap, and laundry detergent. In the process, we found out that Hector's Dad whom I've met before recently left his mom for another woman and kicked Hector's mom and he and his siblings out of the house. They are now living full time at the daycare center. Words cannot describe how huge an impact this partnership is having with our students and Hector's family. Maybe these pictures might help.
WE ALSO HELD A "NO MEAL, ONE DAY" FASTING AND WORSHIP NIGHT.
We partnered with One Meal, One Day - an event that Compassion International puts on and we invited our students to skip a meal (or all their meals for a day) and bring the money they would have spent on food that day to youth group for a worship event so we could sponsor the poor around the world.
The result? Students fasted and prayed and gave $354 toward the Famine in the Horn of Africa and pledged enough money each week for us to add another child to our sponsor list. I'm so excited to introduce our students to a girl from Thailand that we now sponsor through Compassion International. Her name is Keke. May God use our youth ministry to completely transform her life as we partner with Compassion.
Here's some pictures to tell this new story.