Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas stuff

Well, I'm feeling a lot better than earlier in the week. I'm getting a lot more colds and stuff and I think it's just life in WV. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Anyway, I'm mostly over the headache, sore throat, and snotty nose and congestion so I'm happy about that. We just had the Christmas program at school last night. It went very well and I guess when you put a little pressure on the kids they actually do better than you expect. As the "spotlight technician" I had the best view of the whole thing and enjoyed my little contribution. Glad it's done though. Today we're having the youth ministry Christmas party at our house. I'm headed out in a second to take Sierra to the church for practice for the church Christmas program tomorrow night and then straight to Walmart to pick up the food and supplies. We'll watch the movie Elf, eat a LOT of good food, play some holiday-themed games, and have a gift exchange. I told the kids to bring a gender-neutral $5 wrapped gift, and then we'll draw numbers to pick the gifts. You can steal someone else's gift but a gift can only be stolen once. Anyway, i think we'll have a good number come so I think the party should be a good one.
Tis the season to be jolly and I actually am in the Christmas mood right now. Can't wait for next week.
Read Luke 2

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

quicck update

Ugh, feel horrible...nasty cold...won't go away...must make it until I get home...
I'm very tired and the busy holiday isn't helping at all. School Christmas program rehearsals are killing me and then I have a big Christmas party with the youth group at my house this Sat. afternoon. I still have to plan some things for that.
Need to go running but now that my head's throbbing, that's out the window today. And i have Next Step tonight so I get to come back.
I was out Christmas shopping last night and Sat. night. Lots of money spent, but lots accomplished.
Had last Friday's basketball games cancelled for a snow day, don't know if I can make them up or not. Away game this Thursday but I am making the executive decision to not go on this one.
We're having our Christmas morning next Tuesday with the kids and then that afternoon leaving for Michigan to see the families. Should be a busy holiday but a good one.
Remember the true meaning of Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Quick stuff

Wow, December already. Can't believe it's the holiday season, but hey, it's the most wonderful time of the year!! I really do love the Christmas season and all that goes along with the holiday.
I am extremely busy right now and don't like it as much as when I was only really busy. The AD thing is wearing me out but thank God, the worst is over for now. The schedule's complete, first games in the books and the tip-off tournament (which I have to go on) is tomorrow.
Random thoughts:
1. I don't like the whole bail-out idea that government is in love with now. I like checks in the mail but there has to be a limit somewhere.
2. The girls basketball team lost pretty badly this Tuesday and the guys won pretty easily; which should be the story of this season. We'll see. I have to go see a baskeball game in a couple minutes that one of my girls in my youth group is playing in. Will be a daddy-daughter date.
3. I need to decorate my office more than just 200 multi-colored lights hanging askew overhead. But I'm not creative enough and I'm too cheap to really buy a bunch of neat stuff. Hmmmm, youth group decorating committee?
4.Preaching in tomorrow morning's school chapel and using the Casting Crown's song Slow Fade as the introduction. I want tto show the kids that some of them are on their way down the dangerous slope away form God. Using Psalm 1:1 and the story of Lot in Gen as text.
5. Can't wait to watch The Office tonight. I never would have thought I would say it, but I'm hooked on a national TV network TV show. (How embarassing!)
6. Will get back to this blog when I can

Friday, November 28, 2008

athletic director

Thought i would let you know how the whole athletic director thing is going so far. I was never thrilled with the idea of adding another "hat" to my collection of responsibilities but i enjoy athletics and wanted to do my part and fill in where needed. I am still trying to not be too busy with school stuff and keep "youth pastoring" first, but it is difficult in a church that has a Christian school with it and this makes it worse. Since agreeing to be the AD last week, i have been busy trying to familiarize myself with the scheduling, the different schools, details, etc... The first basketball games for guys and girls start this coming Tuesday and I have still been trying to fill in gaps in the basketball schedule for both guys and girls. I told both coaches I would try to even out what I could but no promises. It is harder than I thought to contact other schools and especially the ones in charge of scheduling games. Plus, I don't know how far away schools are from us and how good or not-so-good they are. For example, just yesterday i scheduled a home-and-away with a team down south from us. I was pretty pleased with myself until I heard from some of the teens that they are triple A while we are single A. In other words, they are totally out of our league. So now I will have to call back and try to think of a good excuse/reason to cancel the two games without saying the words "if we play you your JV could beat our varsity team". "Trial and error" seem to be the phrase that comes to my mind so far. But I have definitely been on a steep learning curve which means that i have to be learning something, right? It will take some time but I will eventually be much more familiar with the schools, teams, normal order of process, and all that jazz. I still have to schedule a couple fund raising events and plan the sports banquet, but that all comes later, and I'm just primarily concerned with finishing the basketball schedules and keeping track of paying the refs, making sure we have the gym when we need it, pacifying the coaches, putting together the half-done stuff that got dumped on me, and more along those lines. In a couple years, it will be all easier and much more clear. But for now, I find myself even worrying about this stuff, which is not like me at all. God help me (as i know He will) and give me wisdom and good decision making!

Monday, November 24, 2008

gym night

Had a great time at the gym night last night. There were some new kids there and some that normally don't come. We had pizza delivered which was a great move and just had the teens pay 3 bucks which covered the pizza and drinks. The games were awesome: a couple different relays using those plastic dolly things with the four wheels and the flat surface, and a different version of dodgeball that the kids really enjoyed. It was a great night overall and I ended with a little challenge about being thankful for fun and friends as well as the "bad things" God gives us. I liked just watching the 22 kids play around and thinking of the potential that is there.

Office novelties

I thought I would describe some of the random things I have around my office and what they mean...or don't mean.
1. a West Virginia basketball poster sitting in the corner still rolled up: given to me by a junior higher who keeps trying to recruit me to be a WV fan so he gives me all this WV stuff. I really like getting stuff but it doesn't mean I'm going to go to the dark side.
2. a Navajo Indian blanket laid on the floor like a rug: given to me by an old work associate, the kids like it and I think it looks a lot cooler than folded up in the corner where it was.
3. various U of M stuff hanging around on the walls: though it was an ugly year to be a Michigan fan, my loyalty still lies with U of M and I represent with some various hats, posters, and a pillow all displayed in maize and blue
4. my guitar and guitar poster: all good youth pastors know how to play the guitar, right? So I taught myself the basics and enjoy being able to play praise and worship songs in youth group. It's much better than me having to lead accapella (spelling?).
5. World's Best Youth Pastor mug: probably came into being with The Office craze, but a student gave it to me and I did not buy it for myself, contrary to popular rumor, and I like to think they were being truthful with their gift. I know better, though.
6. Pictures of family: All youth pastors have to have the obligatory pictures of family and I proudly display mine on my desk and on the heating vent for all to see.
7. a miniature pool table with pool sticks that kids like to fight and knock stuff over with: it was left here by a previous youth pastor so I kind of inherited the problem but I can't get rid of it as it brings many hours of amusement for the junior highers.
8. my huge orange coffee thermos mug: it's orange, huge, has a handle, holds coffee, and it's famous around the school. Need I say more?
9. bulletin board: with athletic schedules, youth group calendar, pictures of teens, a birthday ribbon, my Fox 40 whistle, a weird shaped mirror, and funny pictures I printed off the internet for the teens to see.
10. dry erase board: with activity ideas for the future, lesson subject ideas, stuff to do/remember for the mission trip to Mexico, and various reminders, topped with four dry-erase markers and an eraser
11. a real live Mexican sombrero on the wall: given to me as a gift from a family at my last church, it's another youth pastor must-have.
There's lots more to mention but I'll stop there. Maybe I'll mention some more later. I know you won't be able to wait.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mafia and religion

I just got finished playing a game called "Mafia" with some eighth graders. I just taught it to them yesterday and they begged to play it again today. This game entails a lot of lying or telling the truth, but the thing I pointed out to them as they were playing it today is that it doesn't matter as much as to who you are (Mafia or a townsperson) in the game, it matters as to who you get to believe you. And immediately I thought of a connection between that obviously fictional game and the religions of the world. They are all in some manner or other "fighting" for as many "believers/converts" as possible. Look at just the "religion" of Christianity (mine). I could spend an hour trying to think of all the mainline and obscure demoninations and segments of Christianity and still wouldn't be able to think of them all. And yet we lose the fact that we should all be serving the same God and working to bring people into His Kingdom and knowledge of the Savior. Instead, we fight and argue over whose denomination or "sect" is better. Unfortunately, in this world today it isn't so much about who is working hardest to bring people to know Christ, it is how many you can get to believe you whether or not you are right or not. We just want the biggest churches, the best fellowships, and most scary, the most people to come to "our side". I believe that in heaven, we will see that probably all of us were wrong on some little issues or practices that we held as "so important" or "vital to our faith/denomination" because us as humans see things somewhat skewed through our limited understanding of God's perfect Word. I wish we would as a whole get back to the basics of the Gospel: reaching people for Christ, and seeking to know Him more as we serve others in our time we have on earth. Playing Mafia is temporary and just a silly game. Playing religion is much more permanent and much more serious.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Monday I got to meet with a couple area youth pastors and we were able to brainstorm and come up with a couple activities to do with our combined youth groups and some other churches. It was a good time as I don't normally get to talk a lot with other yp's.

skatin' around

What a day. Having to wait two extra hours in a smelly car repair place while I'm waiting for these two jokers to figure out that all they have to do is put a brake spring on the right way and I can go home was what i dealt with today. Got home late, missed dinner (my wife was kind enough to reheat it for me), and had to relax for a bit so I could cool off. Before I went to the brake shop my day was pretty good. Had school revival chapel in the morning and stayed busy with meetings and study. Now that I'm the athletic director for the school, I met with both coaches today and got their imput on some things.
Last night I had a rollerskating activity planned at the local skating rink. Of course, as my luck would have it it was also the day God decided to send snow all afternoon and evening. Well I showed up anyway to see if anyone would come. Remember, if we were in Michigan or New York, it wouldn't be an issue. People are used to driving in snow. But West Virginia is kind of "half-south" and people have to get used to the winter stuff on the roads. But three boys actually showed up and so we went to the rink. We were the first and only people there so they let us skate around and knock each other over and stuff for about 40 minutes for free until they decided to close up shop and kicked us out. So we still had 2 hours to spend. We went over to another WV institution, Walmart, and walked around. I beat everyone else on the Rockband drums, and then we walked around the Christmas stuff they have set up. Then we went to Starbucks and used our unspent skating money on frappachinos. We joked around and talked and I really enjoyed just hanging around the guys. It was a fun change to an activity that kind of tanked. But I'm learning quickly that problems gravitate toward youth activities. Whether snow or football games, something is bound to come up. I'll get used to it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Funeral or a party?

Well, life again shows me that there is nothing that changes but change. Last Saturday night I found out that my grandfather up in Michigan passed away. So that meant leaving Monday after school and driving up with Kiersten to see the family and do all the funeral stuff. Sunday night for youth group I was able to hit on a little of Ecclesiastes mentioning that a funeral is better than a party because it leads to serious thoughts and personal change, whereas a party is all fun and not much life searching. Most of the parties and fun activities I have been too don't lead to too much life-changing decisions and i think that's what Solomon was trying to say. We would all rather be at a party than a funeral but for serious life improvement, a party doesn't cut it. Anyway, that was in my head all week as I spent much time with a grieving family at the viewings and then the funeral. It's unfortunate that it usually takes someones death to be able to see lots of family. Maybe my family is different, but there are the family I always see, the ones I see every year or two and then the family I never see except for times like these. Sorry, random thoughts about life (death?).
I have tons of stuff going on this Sunday. I have Next Step at 5, then youth group, then I have a meeting for the mission trip after youth group. Being gone for most of the last two weeks, I have much to catch up on. I know it seems like we like to say we're sooo busy and never have any time to relax and we all think that somehow that's a good thing. I like to say to people that being so busy keeps me out of trouble but it doesn't. I wish it was more of an accepted thing to not be busy. I don't know how possible that would be but it sounds good. Anyway, then Monday there is a rollerskating activity in the evening (not to forget two meeting earlier in the day) and hopefully, after that, the week slows down a bit.
Monday morning I'm meeting with some other youth pastors and youth sponsors to go over some fellowship activities and ideas. I'm looking forward to that as i don't get a chance to talk much with other yp's and bounce ideas and stuff off them. Should be a good meeting.
I'll try today and tomorrow (Saturday) to spend lots of time relaxing with family. I definitely need to get the brakes on the van replaced. We'll see how much "football time" I really have tomorrow.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Stuff going on

OK, back in the saddle of "normalcy" again. I had a good time with the three teens that actually made it with me to the Leadership Conference. The conference was not what i thought, but it was good and challenging. There were about 65 or 70 teens there and everyday was full of mostly services and leadership stuff. The speaker, Paul Whitt, was very good and the kids really liked the leadership training. If we go next year, I definitely want more kids to be able to go, but it's not a good thing to force them to go as some other schools made the juniors and seniors go and you could tell they did not really want to be there except for the fact of missing school for 3 days.
Some sad news; it sounds like my grandpa up in Michigan will not make it too much longer. I'm trying to decide when I should go up, before he goes or just for the funeral. This will be the closest family death I've had to deal with in my life. Makes me think of the uncertainty of life.
It also looks as if I'll end up being the school's athletic director. I'm not sure that I'm thrilled about that as there are a couple people who are definitely more qualified than me, but they don't want to or can't do it, and this would be another new experience for me to tackle. We'll see. It will definitely have its challenges as I'm finding out more and more about what all entails the athletic program and the history of our playing certain other schools.
Looking forward to a Saturday to mostly relax. The rest of November should be pretty busy with youth ministry stuff and school stuff. And Thanksgiving and the holiday season are almost here too. Look out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

ready or not...

So, last day before the election and here goes nothing. I early-voted last week since I'm going to be out of town tomorrow, so I got that out of the way.
A couple thoughts and personal opinions...
1. Neither of the candidates are who I picture being a good president.
2. I will be really glad when this crap is over for another four years
3. I don't trust anything either political camp says and don't really trust politicians in general any more than I could throw them.
4. Sounds like voter fraud and messing with voters tomorrow will be a big story. It pays to not be dumb.
5. Why are the issues now all of a sudden Joe the Plumber's opinions, the stock market, and who will bring the troops home faster? Even though both say that Afghanistan is where it will be at.
6. I want to not care at all but i do.

Hitting the road in a couple hours to the Leadership Conference (see previous post) so I will be back this weekend.
Either vote, or don't say a word when things don't turn out as you had hoped.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Stuff going on

OK, so I'm really excited because I finally get to go out of town somewhere. I wish my wife could go with me but there's the whole "kids and teaching" thing. oh well. Tomorrow after lunch I'm taking three students to the Student Leadership Conference in central WV. We'll be there until Thursday morning. I started with about 15 interested kids, then went to 7 who wanted to go, then down to 5 signed up and now because of sickness and other stuff I have three. We'll see when I pull out of the church parking lot tomorrow if I still have three going. Here's hoping. I'm trying not to be negative because I originally planned this to be a side trip thing for the Next Step class. Then I found out none of the public school kids can miss any days and most of the Christian school kids couldn't either or didn't have the money. I tried to make it more affordable for my youth ministry kids be paying for half of the cost if they were part of my youth group but that still didn't help much. But hey, God knows and i hope it's a great week for the teens who are going as well as for myself. Talk about changing the whole goal of an activity but as a youth pastor, I'm learning that comes with the territory.
Had fun at a party Saturday night. A family from the school who has 6 kids had a harvest party and invited pretty much all the Jr. and Sr. High students and teachers. I had fun running around with the kids and goofing off as well as playing with the bonfire. I know I was a pyromaniac in a previous life. Then today at church we were supposed to have a group from Northland Bible College be here in the evening, and they showed up for S.S. this morning. So my family and I took the six in the group out for Chinese after the morning service and then I came home and finished watching the new Indiana Jones movie because it had to be returned tonight. Then choir practice and the special service with the Northland group, and afterwards we had pizza and drinks and stuff while the teens hung out with the college kids. There were around 25 kids and I was glad to see a couple returning visitors and a couple kids come back that had missed a bunch of weeks. We played a game and then I just came home a little bit ago and packed for the trip.
I would like this week to be 1. a chance to get to know better the three teens who are going, 2. a good relaxing yet challenging retreat, 3. a time to challenge my ideas and info about leadership, 4. a challenging time for the teens, 5. the start to a closer walk with God in these teens lives and in turn, in this Christian school. I would really like to get some good, practical stuff to pass on to the Next Step kids. We'll see. God is in charge of my ministry and I need to trust Him to do what is best.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend in Review

Well, it was going to be a busy weekend in the youth ministry but God used the weather to change things. (Proverbs reminds us that we can plan things exactly how we want but God brings everything to pass how He wants.) Anyway, I had a trip up to PA planned to go to a corn maze/hay ride/farm trip thing. But it rained all Friday night and into Saturday morning so I had to cancel it Sat. morning. That was a bummer because everyone was looking forward to it, including yours truly. But the worst part was when I called the corn maze place and found out that this weekend was the last shot at the activities. So i couldn't even reschedule which is what I was going to do. So I watched football and spent time with my family which was good, but Michigan lost again, which wasn't good. Oh well. Then Sunday came and I had a pretty good, interesting lesson on obedience in respect to Noah in Genesis. Youth group in the evening turned out great. We had 23 in attendance which was the most we've had since the youth group meeting right before the Cedar Point trip in August. Plus, we had a couple new girls visit and they seemed excited about what was going on. In fact, they came to the afterglow afterwards when I invited them. But back to youth group. We had prayer and split up into smaller groups to pray and share requests. Then we sang a couple songs (I'm getting better at the guitar thing, believe it or not) and I challenged the kids again this week on the idea of our lives and why we are here. I made the point it is only for God's pleasure and glory that He created us and we need to live for His glory only. Who do we worship? It comes down to ourselves or Christ. Then I gave them 3 examples of how to tell who they were truly worshipping. They need to examine what they spend their time, money, and thoughts on. I hope the points took hold because I could see some of the wheels turning in their heads. After youth group, we went over to a family's house for the afterglow. We had snacks and drinks and then everyone ran around outside or sat around the bonfire roasting marshmallows. I had a great time of just fellowship and "hang out" time with the teens. And here's a bonus, I even had them back to the church before 9:00!!
It was just a good weekend of ministry even though an activity got cancelled. Now I'm finishing details and plans for the Student Leadership Conference that I'm taking some of the teens to next week. I think it will be great for the youth ministry. Our second Next Step is tomorrow night. I hope it's as good as the first.
And I early voted today. Talk about feeling like a good citizen but helpless at the same time!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ups and Downs

I just started our youth ministry's first discipleship/leadeship program I am callling "Next Step". Our first meeting was last night and I had eight people show up, a pretty nice surprise for me. The teens were excited, if not somewhat apprehensive about what i was doing, but I feel they caught my vision of desiring more leadership in the group and spiritual growth. It was a better than expected start in the wake of a big, disappointing shock I had earlier yesterday concerning another teen and her life choices that she will be paying for big time. Just another example of the roller-coaster ride of ups and downs we youth pastors have.
The new class started well for which i am incredibly thankful, and we'll see if it stays strong. Here's hoping for my teens sake's it does.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Okay, i can't resist. I absolutely hate forwarding emails I got from others, especially when so much is made up or untrustworthy. But I received this email about Obama's stance on the flag and the national anthem and researched it. And yep, it's documented as true. So here's an excerpt of his interview on "Meet the Press" back on Sept. 7 '08.

Obama Explains National Anthem Stance Sun, 07 Sept. 2008 11:48:04 EST, General Bill Ginn' USAF (ret.) asked Obama to explain why he doesn't follow protocol when the National Anthem is played. The General also stated to the Senator that according to the United States Code,Title 36, Chapter 10, Sec. 171... During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform are expected to stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. At the very least, 'Stand and Face It' Senator Obama Live on Sunday states, "As I've said about the flag pin, I don't want to be perceived as taking sides, Obama said. 'There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression. And the anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all. It should be swapped for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song 'I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing.' If that were our anthem, then I might salute it. We should consider to reinvent our National Anthem as well as to redesign our Flag to better offer our enemies hope and love. It's my intention, if elected, to disarm America to the level of acceptance to our Middle East Brethren. If we as a Nation of warring people, should conduct ourselves as the nations of Islam, whereas peace prevails. Perhaps a state or period of mutual concord between our governments.. When I become President, I will seek a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, and a freedom from disquieting oppressive thoughts. We as a Nation have placed upon the nations of Islam an unfair injustice. My wife disrespects the Flag for many personal reasons. Together she and I have attended several flag burning ceremonies in the past, many years ago. She has her views and I have mine. Of course now, I have found myself about to become the President of the United States and I have [put aside my hatred]. I will use my power to bring CHANGE to this Nation, and offer the people a new path of hope. My wife and I look forward to becoming our Country's First Family. Indeed, CHANGE is about to overwhelm the United States of America."

There you have it. While that doesn't completely discredit all Obama wants to do for America as president, it definitely outlines one of the reasons why I feel Canada is going to have a huge population influx after the election! What a guy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I'm in the middle of reading a book by Jerry Bridges called Trusting God. It is very good, yet simple, which I like. It covers much about his belief and the Bible's proofs that God is sovereign over all things including health, nature, government (do we ever need that!), nations, and personal lives. It has made me think much over what we refer to as "chance" and what is really God working in everything. Even in the rough times of life, we can trust in what Jeremiah says, "For I know the plans that I have for you,... plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." (NASB) Through good and bad (which is what we are usually more concerned with), God is there; still good, still in control, still actively working out His will and desire for us. I was reading some other blogs about this same topic (so I can't take full credit for these thoughts), and they got me to thinking more about this, and it's neat to see how all different types of Christians can come to the same conclusions about God. And it's just by reading what His Word says. I like that I can challenge my youth group to not only fully put their trust and life in God's hands, but to know that He is actively working in them even now. I was counseling just the other day with someone who is struggling with cutting and thoughts of suicide. They need to know that God has a plan for their life and He is working and preparing them even in their "life crisis" and emotional pain they are going through now. Teens today unfortunately don't think about their future and what God has for them, they are concerned only with now. If they do think about the future it's only about what job they want to have to make the most money they can to have the most toys and stuff they can. If we could only point them to God's omniscience that ties together with his absolute love and mercy He has for us, which equals His sovereignty in our lives. But that requires trust which is a subject many teens, and adults, come far from truly understanding or even thinking about.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Cool true story: I enjoy anything to do with sports and that includes reffing/umping/coaching/etc... I've been able to ref a couple girls highschool volleyball games lately and so i thought I should at least go buy an official ref shirt. I went out last week with my girls to find one and none of the sporting goods stores we went to had any. (Apparently they haven't made their way to WV yet! Sorry, dumb WV joke.)) I would have to special order one. So i decided to hold off and just wait until i could order one online down the road. Not a big deal, but I was kind of bummed that I couldn't even find any. Well, today at school, they had sorted through some old sports uniforms in some boxes and I came across 4 ref uniforms. In my size. In great condition. I was told I could take one for free and not have to return it. That is not an earth-shattering miracle or "coincidence" or anything, but to me that was just another instance of God providing something for me and not letting me find what I wanted the other night so He could provide one for free. I hadn't even considered it to be that big a deal and so i hadn't prayed about it, yet God wanted to bless me. Jehovah-Jireh means "the Lord will provide" and He proves that to me so often that I wonder how many times I've overlooked His providing in my life. I have so much and receive so many things, physical items and otherwise, that I'm sure I miss His blessings probably even daily. This neat little story in my life which I'm sure I'll probably forget eventually just reminds me again of what a great, awesome God i get to serve.
One thing I miss about college life was the constant dependence on God for all things financial. I felt so close to God having to depend on him for money for tuition all the way down to quarters so i could do my laundry, and it was great seeing Him provide in various ways. I miss that sometimes in the "real world" when I have maybe more money available then I did back then and I feel i don't have to depend so much on Him, though I should. This ref shirt story is a good challenge and reminder for me and I hope it encourages you to not only trust in God to provide but to keep your eyes open so you can actually see when He does. In Matthew 7 in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus points out that God provides for the flowers and the birds so how could He not know our needs?

Waxing poetical about the political

OK, hopefully this is the one and only time I wax poetical about the political for 2008. I dislike getting into politics, though I have to admit it's a guilty pleasure for me to watch the debates and follow election news. I don't like to go crazy about debating politics in general, mostly because I feel most people know who or what they are voting for and don't need/want me to try to change their mind. Maybe that's just me but I believe it's the norm. People rarely wander from their comfort zones, even in reference to who they usually vote for and what beliefs they support.
So around May or June when it was clear who the party nominees were going to be (even before Hillary and Obama finished duking it out), I had a feeling that McCain had no chance. Too many right now are against Bush (not touching that one with a ten-foot pole!) and anyone who is similar to Bush in policies that I think McCain had lost even before he started. If you believe the polls, which i usually don't (John Kerry doesn't either after 2004), they back up my assumption of a democrat for president this year. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I will be. While I don't consider myself a Republican, I do consider myself to be conservative, so i usually end up voting for a Repub., though I have voted for Dems. and other parties before. I don't like to vote by a party because they both/all have problems and good sides. I vote with consideration of the issues and topics but mostly for those who are morally closest to my personal Judeo-Christian beliefs. I care more about how important human life and Biblical principles are to a candidate than what they will do about Russia. (Though foreign policy and national policies are important; especially today.)
So while I personally feel that Barack had this wrapped up a few months ago, I want you to be reminded of Proverbs 21:1 "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever He [the Lord] wishes." (NASB) No matter who the next president is, he will do exactly what God allows and wishes for this country. That is why at the beginning of this blog I said that I dislike "getting into politics". Because we all get up in arms over something that may happen politically we don't like, when in reality, who cares who is president? That person is still controlled by the Lord whether they want to be or not. Good or bad (in our opinion) still comes from our Creator and Sustainer. Many verses throughout the Bible, including many in Psalms, prove this point over and over again.
What are my personal views on the two candidates? I will vote for McCain, though somewhat grudgingly. He doesn't seem to be a true leader and stick to his guns with all the "maverick, across-the-aisles stuff" he brags about. How will he do what he thinks is right if he desires to please everybody...or upset everybody? I like his v.p. pick, though she is raw and inexperienced and seemingly unknowledgeable. (I know, the media bias is getting to me.) Yes, I completely believe that the media has pretty much already elected Obama for us, but what do you expect from a liberal media? I feel the president should have experience in leading and making decisions for others. Which is one reason why I won't vote for Obama. He is as inexperienced as Palin, in my opinion, and I see a lot of socialist leanings in his plans for America. He is even more two-faced than McCain (I mean they say one thing to one group of people/supporters and another or even opposite thing to a different group. I know, I know; that's politics as usual). And his wife scares me as much as Hillary does.
I just had these thoughts and personal opinions simmering in me for a while and I wanted to vent a little and hopefully cause some of you to think. I don't expect you to agree with everything, my wife definitely doesn't, but if you simply think then this post was successful.
OK, no more politics for a while. I promise!!! (until maybe after the election in November.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

interesting saturday

So i had a pretty interesting day today. First, i got up early to go with a family from my church to their farm. It's a couple of counties away and in some beautiful West Virginia land. While i certainly do my share of making fun of WV, i have to admit, this state has some of the most beautiful hilly and mountainous scenery i've ever seen. Anyway, on the way to their land I had some good conversations with the parents and i really appreciated getting to know them better. I know the kids pretty well since they are active in my youth group, so it was nice to get to know the parents more. I did some hiking and exploring around their farmland with this family and got back early this afternoon. It was a fun and strenuous morning that took the place of my usual run. Then I was with my family and took a nap until the youth group gym night. This was our first one for the school year and it went surprisingly well. All the kids loved it and though it wasn't heavily attended (not surprised because most of the teens couldn't make it), i had a really good time just playing games and goofing off with them. For all the trouble teens can be, i really enjoy the times I can just be real with them and see the potential they have. It was a fun night playing kickball, basketball, ultimate frisbee, hitting a volleyball around and just being a kid. (Maybe that can replace my Monday run!) For your information, i try to run 5 or 6 miles three times a week-not because I love to run, i actually dislike it a little, but for the health and exercise benefits. I refuse to lose the battle of the bulge, at least this early in life and hopefully not ever.
Tomorrow is the church's anniversary Sunday, my first with Emmanuel, so it should be a big day tomorrow. There's not an evening service because of the anniversary activities, so Sarah and I got a babysitter and we'll do some shopping for Kiersten's birthday. She turns three next Wed. Wow, does time fly. And the kids are still young, too.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Seemingly hopeless

Bothersome thoughts of a youth pastor:
I look at this world and the countless distractions it has to offer (jobs, money, fame, popularity, selfish desires, fun, distractions, media, just to name a few) and I wonder how on earth any teenager who wants to live for Christ can do so successfully. It seems hopeless that I as a youth pastor could make any impression at all in their lives that can compete with the world. But of course, I can't. John 3:30 says "He must increase, but I must decrease." Jesus Christ is the only one who can truly make a difference in these kids lives. I am just the tool he may use to work with. Just like a hammer lying there on the workbench is useless until it is picked up and swung effectively, we are (I am) useless without God's sovereign "swinging" in my life. I know this but I so often forget it and try my own ways of getting teenagers attention and time. My activities and discipleship classes and other things i plan are already losing to the busyness of the teenager today. Sports, band, clubs, family time, parties, going to movies, etc... all are a big part of today's teenagers life. But once again, God knows this; nothing takes Him by surprise and I must simply be the clay in His hands for me to be used effectively for Him.
One of the songs I've taught my teens and learned to play on my guitar is In Christ Alone. All our hope is solely in Him because of what He did and continues to do for us.
Seemingly hopeless? Yup, but thank God things aren't always as they seem.

More family

Here's my buddy and my son Joey.

My favorite wife

Us on vacation at Virginia Beach this summer. The girls looked wiped out emotionally.

Pictures of family

Here are some pictures of my beautiful daughters, Sierra and Kiersten.

First Blogging Attempt

OK, so I thought I would give this blogging thing a shot. I can already see its usefulness, and the way I personally can use this to air out my thoughts and opinions (Warning!). I don't know if I'll really get into this thing a bunch, but if i know myself at all I'd say that I will enjoy this blogging stuff-- even if it's only for the venting and the incorrect assumption that the world will care about what i think and say. Though never an English or writing aficionado, I have always enjoyed being able to honestly communicate with the written word. I first realized this when I had to write a little piece for the wedding brochure (can't think of the proper word for the handout all the guests get) about each of the groomsmen in my wedding. I found that I really enjoyed being able to write with humor, wit, and simple honesty. And I look forward to being able to communicate mostly clearly, with plenty of sorry humor, and with thoughts that will challenge you to simply think. After all, it is still legal in 49 states to be able to use what brain you have to think. (Sorry, Californians) So without furthur ado, here is my first official blogging attempt. What do you think?