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?