Wednesday, December 07, 2005

an unexpected Christmas gift

Yesterday I picked up a Christmas present for my wife. (I'd rather not say what it is in case she happens to read my blog.) But it was neatly wrapped last night while she took a nap on the couch. I put a pretty little bow on it and placed it under the small apartment Christmas tree we have on top of our entertainment center. All was done while she slept. So, she goes to sleep... no present... she wakes up (we went to a most excellent band concert last night) to go... there's a present.
As she walked past the entertainment center, something on the center caught her eye. (I didn't say a word about it... just woke her up to go... in fact, I was hoping she wouldn't notice.) As she walked past, she stopped... and slowly backed up... picked it up and then got this look of excitement and wonder on her face that was pretty priceless.
She has to open the present before tomorrow (Santa's rules) and I'm excited to see what she'll say about what's inside.

But the thought that occured to me during this exchange was, "I wonder what the response was of those who happened to be in Bethlehem during Jesus' birth to the birth of this Messiah and Savior." See the shepherds and the wise men (if they were even there... the wise men that is) had an advantage. A whole host of angels shared with the shepherds the meaning of this child who was born in a barn.
Most folks didn't have the advantage of a heavenly message service. I wonder if they were filled with excitement and wonder as they beheld the Messiah born in a feed trough. Maybe we'll never know. But for each of us, we have the opportunity this season to be filled with wonder and amazement anew.

just a thought for the season...


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

getting older...

Today is my wife's birthday. And no, I won't tell you how old she is... she's still young enough to kick my butt. Althought that was never all that hard anyway since she holds the check book and hands out the allowances...
But it's got me thinking a little bit about getting older today. I'm just 28. Now to me, that seems pretty old and mature. And I realize that some of you who may read this may think that's not all that old or I never act mature, you may have a point.
But as I get older, something that I've always heard is proving true. I'm not as young as I used to be. I hate lock ins... They are just a waste of good sleep. But one of the things that I am enjoying as I get older is that my job just keeps getting better. Church leaders take me with a little more seriousness (I did say "little"). Parents see me differently (and most of the time in a good way). Althought I'm still the same jeans and T-shirt wearing, gotee sporting, tennis shoe wearing, youth pastor I've always been. There's just something about getting older that makes youth ministry better.
Several older youth ministers (those in their mid to late 40's who shall remain nameless least I get accused of name dropping by others on my church staff who are jealous... Steve...) have told me that the older I get the better it will get. And in a lot of respects it is...

Then this morning I pick up the last copy of Relevant Magazine and there's this article that's pretty good by Jason Boyett... Which is the reason for this blog entry... (To check out more about Relevant... go here:
He lists 9 things that you should know before you hit 30. I thought I'd throw them in here... I haven't mastered any of them yet... but maybe I'm on my way to getting them down before the big 3 0.
1. Life is so not about you.
2. Credit cards are dangerous. (Man, did I learn that!)
3. Stuff will never satisfy.
4. Save now while you're young.
5. You probably should read more.
6. Pay attention to what you eat. (Don't do good at that one at all... especially with chinese day being today.)
7. Stop comparing yourself to others.
8. Get used to saying "no."
9. Maintain close relationships.

I think Jason's got some good things there in that list. And going with my thoughts for the day about getting older... I guess I still have some work to do.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

a fresh perspective on Matthew 7

As I was thinking about the incredible tragedy down in the Gulf Coast.

Jesus told those standing nearby:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
"But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew against that house, and it fell with a great crash." Matthew 7:24-27 NIV

As I was thinking about the hurricane devastation going on down south, these verses came to mind. As I was thinking about it, the word "house" took on a little bit of a different meaning. We tend to think about the word "house" in the context of a physical structure (i.e. wood, nails, plaster, shingles, etc) and we have good reason to think of it this way. But there is another context in which we use the word "house." We also tend to use it as a category describing our personal life, both physical and nonphysical items. For instance, when a person dies, we say his or her "house" was in order (i.e. they updated their will, took care of important conversations, etc).

What if (just ideas here) Jesus wasn't talking about a physical house in these verses, but the sum total of a person's life... physical and nonphysical... in his story about two men who heard his teachings.

As I have listened over the last couple of weeks to the comments of people on TV or on the radio, two phrases seem to repeat (and I have no doubt to the degree of passion and truth and seriousness with which they say it), "I've lost everything. I have nothing left."

Thinking about the story of two people that Jesus told above, I have no doubt that those who were affected by the hurricane lost everything physically. But there are some things that can not be taken by a hurricane, storm or any natural disaster. The rock still remains even after the flood. Faith, hope and love still remain (according to 1 Cor 13) no matter what. Those who don't have faith, hope and love in the Rock (Christ) did lose everything. Those who have their "house" built on the Rock (Christ), still have their "house" of faith, love, perseverance, confidence, hope, courage, etc.

When the storms of life come, and Hurricane Katrina certainly makes it evident that they will, where is your foundation built? Self, home insurance, physical strength, brick structures, etc? Or is your house built on the Rock of Christ Jesus?

After the storms go through, the wise man and the foolish man from the above story may on the outside look the same, in that they lost their house, cars, clothes, personal belongings of this world... but on the inside, things are very different.

I'm praying for those down South. If you are reading this and don't have your foundation on the Rock of Christ, feel free to email me... I'd love to talk with you about it (


Sunday, September 04, 2005

new blog spot

Hey all,
I've started this new blog. The purpose here is so that those who read can also post. So, I hope you enjoy. Stop by and feel free to comment away.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

better from above

Last night, Jackie and I drove up to Willow Creek Community Church to catch their mid-week worship service called "New Community." One of the main reasons that we wanted to do that is their teaching pastor Mike Braeux (sp?) was teaching. And even though I can't spell his last name, he's one of my favorite speakers.

On the trip up, which is a fairly simple trip, I came to an intersection that looked like the right intersection. We needed to make a right turn and so we did. Seemed right. Only later, would be realize it was wrong... about 2 miles later. What seemed right wasn't. No problem. We just turned around and headed back the road and continued for one more block and then made the right that we needed.

But as I reflected back on that simple mis-turn, I thought of a couple of things in relation to my relationship with God. First, its easy to make a simple mistake that gets you way off course. Second, the turn seemed like the right one, even though it was the wrong one. So, what seems right can be very wrong and despite the fact that it feels right, that doesn't change the fact that it isn't.

Third, from above, the turn that I made must have been so very and obviously wrong. God has a different vantage point on our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 teachs us that God has a plan for our lives... not a plan to harm us... but a plan to give us hope and future. God has a great view of our lives from above. Often, we think we've got the best view... we know where we're going... and exactly how to get there. But much like my driving last night, we think we know where we're going and how to get there and even though it seems right... it's not.

It was nice last night because I could pick up my cell phone and call a friend to ask for advice on where I should have turned and got right back on track. The same is true with God. God can help me get back on track... by prayer... by reading the Bible... by good friends who can give me Godly direction and advice.

Often, we won't seek the help.

Just a few getting lost thoughts...


Thursday, August 04, 2005

so much pressure

so much pressure...

Well, I'm not really sure what to make of this. I started this little blog thing a couple of weeks ago and I had no idea it was going to be as popular as it has become. At this point, 44 folks have taken a look at my little blog here. I'm not sure who you are, and that's cool... But I'm hoping that I don't dissappoint.
But now I feel somewhat pressured to give a good blog entry... I'm not sure that there will be as good of an entry as Monday's... but we'll give it a shot from time to time.

Last night we (myself, some of the staff and leaders in the children's program at FVCC) went up to Willow Creek to check out a program. And the question that I'm finding myself struggling with this morning (and last night) is: Are we doing enough to encourage families in their walk with God and their encouragement of their children's walk with God?

The statistic is something like... the church gets 40 hours of a child's life a year... Parents get 3000 hours of child's life a year (not counting sleeping, school, homework and sports).

And if we aren't encouraging them enough, how do we do a better job encouraging them? Is it a program? Is it a handout? Is it less programs and less handouts? I'm not sure.

But one thing I am sure of is that parents and families are central to God's plan to reach out to the world. He (God) entrusted families with raising up and challenging kids/teens to a passionate relationship with God. "Hear, O Israel (and all of us): The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commmandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads (which sounds painful). Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." Deut 6:4-9
The point: It's parents' responsibility to share God and his love for us with their children. It's the church's responsibility to aide and encourage parents. Which brings me back to my orginial question... How do we best encourage parents?

More thoughts to come...


Sunday, July 31, 2005

vacation was good

vacation was good...

Man. Vacation was good. It's great to just sit and relax with nothing to do, no schedule to keep and no phone calls or emails to make/write.
I feel very refreshed and relaxed and ready to tackle whatever comes my way.

I totally have a fresh appreciation for the event of Jesus calming the storm found in Mark 4. On Monday, we were hanging out at a beach on Senaca Lake called "Boater's Cove." While we were back in there, it's about 3/4 of mile from the camper we were staying in, the National Weather Service posted thunderstorm warnings for the county to our Northwest.
We didn't think much of it and kept on swimming. About 30 minutes later, they issued storm warnings for the county we were in. That was enough. We grabbed up our stuff and threw it on the boats, we had both a ski boat and a pontoon (sp?). Myself, my wife Jackie and my mom were on the pontoon. My dad, sister Addy and her husband were on the ski boat.
As we came out of the cove with the pontoon, you could see the wind blowing water through the air and huge waves rolling ahead of the wind. It was a really scary sight. There are a few times in my life that I have been scared... I was about to have another.
We began to take on some of the wind and the waves. The waves were crashing into the front of the boat and water was pouring onto the deck of the boat. It's a good thing that it was a pontoon and was flat, the water mostly ran off as fast as it ran on. The wind was pushing waves that were probably 6 to 8 feet tall.
Up ahead of us on the lake, we were attempting to get back to the camper, there was another pontoon attempting to do the same. As I caught a glimpse of it, I got really scared. There was a pontoon boat, completely out of the water, up in the air with only it's motor in the water. This boat was at least 10 or 12 feet in the air. That's when I started to get scared.
I told my mom, who was driving, that she should go diagonal over the waves, as she had been attacking them head on and to head for a bay. There wasn't much of a way we were getting back to the camper. After much wind, water and waves, we finally made it into a bay where we endured remaining rain, wind and waves. We waited it out and then headed back to camp. But for a few minutes, I wasn't sure if we were going to make it or not.
On the ski boat, my dad said the waves would crash over the front of the boat and when going over them, the wind would push them up and sideways. At one point, a huge wave crashed over the front of the boat and smashed out a section of the windshield. They, too, made it across the lake and into the beach area where they rode out the storm.
These words became very real to me: "A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, don't you care if we drown?'"
I certainly felt like I was going to drown. It was so bad on the other boat, that my dad made my brother-in-law and sister put on lifejackets.

Scary experience. Totally memorable. Definately humbling. I feel like we were blessed with life that day.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

in the beginning

In the beginning...

There's a lot of power in those words... "In the Beginning."
We find them at the front of the Bible. And they bring with them an element of creation and excitement. Once something has been created, one would expect it to continue.
That's my hope here. I have made several attempts at this journalling thing (a collection of thoughts, reflections, dreams, ideas, etc) about my daily life. And this is the latest attempt.
But I have a couple of things that I'm going to put with it. First, I'm going to put it in my signature on the Ooze (a website full of friends). Second, I'm going to put it in my email signatures. My hope is that some would see it and hopefully help keep me accountable for posting.

We'll see what happens. This message might not only be the first, but the last... we'll have to see.

For now, it's a beginning...


vacation tomorrow

vacation tomorrow

Tomorrow starts a week's worth of vacation.
It's always funny to me. And I'm not sure why I still do it, but we all do. We work twice as hard all week to get ready to go on vacation and then work twice as hard once we get back to get caught up on our work, whereas if we would have just stayed home, we would have saved a lot of work. For some reason, vacation is supposed to be relaxing, but it ends in more work.
But we all do it.
And next week, or starting tomorrow, so will I. So, miss me while I'm gone. I will be missing you!