Friday, May 30, 2008

Michael Pfleger

Here he is ......

In the video, he jumps on a soap box and then "slams" and makes fun of Hilary.

If your comments (if any come) want to deal with politics, please feel free. However, I am not dealing with the political aspect. I am wanting to deal with the spiritual/religion aspect.

How in the world, did we arrive at this place ?

Why would those outside of Christ want anything to do with church when they see this?

I thought Christianity and church was suppose to be a place for love and mutual support and encouragement. I thought that this is what we are suppose to be doing/displaying:

Galatians 5:22-27 (New International Version)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

This (the video) hardens my heart and it makes me sad.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Phone Call for the Amish

As I was traveling on the bus and heading to Indianapolis, there was an Amish gentlemen named Henry that sat behind me. We had a few good minutes of conversation. They have lived in the area for about 30 years. I was a little surprised because "I assumed" that they had lived in the area with family for generations. That is the great thing about having conversations and not assuming; you can learn information.

In a sense, it felt weird to have an Amish fellow on the bus. Now, it is not against the "rules" for him. He is living within the community standard. He is not allowed to operate the vehicle though.

As we were traveling; he asked me a question that perplexed me (in a sense). The question that he asked me was the following:

Do you have a cell phone ?

I told him that I did have a cell phone and I then told him the story that I just picked this one up yesterday because of the old phone being destroyed by the water. We talked more .....

He then asked me the following questions:

Can yu call my driver and tell him to pick me up in Indianapolis at 4 am ?

I looked at my watch (it was 1:15 in the morning). I tried to clarify, to make sure that I heard correctly. You want me to call your driver at 1:15 in the morning and ask him to pick you up at 4 am at the bus station.

He looked deep into my eyes and said, "yes, young man, I would appreciate it if you could do that for me" and handed me the gentleman's number.

At 1:30 in the morning, I called Gene. It (being a cell number) went straight to his voice mail - that was not activated.

I hung up the phone and told Henry that it was a no go.

We traveled down the road and made a stop in Richmond, Indiana. As I got up to stretch, Henry asked me if I could call Gene at his house and ask for the favor.

I looked at him in bewilderment and said yes.

At 3:15 am, I called Gene and woke him up. Poor Gene. He was completely foggy and tyring to grasp this perfect stranger calling and asking him to pick up Henry in 45 mins from the bus station.

Now, the funny part (to me) was that I a standing outside at 3:15 in the morning and Henry is talking to me and I am relaying the message to Gene and then I relayed Gene's words to Henry. Back and forth, we went. For you see, Henry could have someone else use the technology but he could not.

After 5 minutes, Gene could not do it, but he will come up with a solution.

At 3:40 in the morning. I get a phone call from Gene with the following instructions:

Jeff, tell Henry to switch buses in Indianapolis. He wants to head south and get off in the Louisville, Kentucky station and his driver Annette will be waiting. Henry was a sound to sleep.

A few minutes after 4 am, we arrived in Indianapolis and I gave the message to Henry. As we walked into the station, Henry and his wife headed to the ticket counter to try to grab the south bus to Louisville.

During the conversations, I picked up on a little about the Ordnung.

Ordnung are Amish rules of living. Ordnung is the German word for order, arrangement, organization, and system. Every Amish church is its own governing authority and has its own set of rules; therefore, it follows its own Ordnung. These rules are largely unwritten. Because the Amish have no central church government, each community administers its own guidelines and each local assembly is autonomous within itself. Therefore the Ordnung may vary from congregation to congregation, from church to church. The church members' lives are ordered by this code.

Anyways, this was one of the interesting experiences that happened on the trip.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jacob Sings the National Anthem

Jacob was chosen to sing the National Anthem at his schools closing green sale assembly. This is his first time singing in public and did it in front of about 350 people.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This Looks Good ..... But ......

Baskin-Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake

Yummy. It does look good ..... BUT look at these numbers

Baskin-Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake

2,310 calories
108 g fat (64 g saturated)
266 g

Let's look at America's Worst Drink in numbers:

73: The number of ingredients that go into this milkshake.
66: The number of teaspoons of sugar this drink contains.
11: The number of Heath Bars you would have to eat to equal the number of calories found in one Baskin Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake.

The above facts are the reason that I was at 215# last year. For me to drink this or have other fatty foods were 'no biggie'. I did not think about the calories or fat grams in the food.

Did you notice the calories and fat grams in that thing ???

What about the SUGAR ??????


A Perfect Day ?

Yesterday was a perfect day or at least as close to perfect as a day could get.

To start things off, the weather was absolutely stunning (for us). It was in the mid to high 70's with blue skies. For most of the day, there was a slight breeze and a few sprinkles throughout to keep it cool but not force you to go for cover.

With it being Memorial Day, we walked down to Liberty and Columbus to watch our towns parade. Walking down the the parade was another example of why we love living downtown.

After the parade, we walked back home and we hung out in the front yard. we did this for two reasons, one we are able to "throw" pop-ups better in the front yard; but we also get to see people. Sometimes, we disconnect ourselves so much. thus, we find when we are in the front yard, we can see/talk to more people. We also wrestled and boxed, I will try to get some videos up of that.

I then walked over to the church to say hi to the boy scouts. They were having a fund raiser at the warehouse. I gave them a donations but did not eat the food; so I can't give a review about that. There was going to be plenty of food the rest of the day, so I did not want to eat.

After that, I walked home and we stopped by the store to grab some things for our night cookout. We packed them in the car and then went off to a grad party. We were there for about 3 hours - out in the backyard enjoying great food and great fellowship out in god's creation. It does not get much better than that.

We then headed home because we (Stacey) needed to finish dinner for a family that was recently in the hospital. While she was doing that, we played outside. When she got home, we were prepping for a wiener roast and s'mores over the new fire bowl that was put together.

The fire started at around 7:30 and it took awhile to get it going - we laughed that it looked much better at 9:30 when we were ready to put it out then when we were cooking. The great thing about the night - was the people - the kids (actually).

For those who do not know or have lost track :), we have three kids. During one portion of the night, we had 13 kids in the yard. Some were roasting hot dogs, some were catching their marshmallows on fire and some were just hanging out on the swing.

The night was planned has us 5 but it was so much more and better with so many faces hanging around. Our next door neighbors were having a party as well - theirs were planned. I went over and told them that we had plenty of s'mores ingredients left. I "demanded" them to come on over and make some. they came on over and as the kids departed for their separate homes, we sat there in the 'darkness' with the fire going talking and having conversation.

We have said hi's in the passing and waved numerous times and smiled quite a few but this is the first time that we sat down and really talked - they were wonderful. It is amazing what a fire bowl and food can do.

We are looking forward to more spontaneous nights and the kids have already promised us (me) that when the fire is going; they were going to invade. I told them that is perfectly fine and they smiled in a sense of shock.

This morning on the way to school, we passed a few of them and greeted them with hi's. One of them waited at the corner for my boys to get there so they could walk into school together.

Yup, yesterday was almost perfect, if not perfect. Anyone up for hotdogs and marshmallows ?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Under The Overpass

Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski is another book that I just finished. I read this book at the bus station in Columbus. I was completely blown away by the book and the stories that were told. In the front cover, I have numerous pages marked and stories that I want to remember. Some of them may be future blog posts but it is more of a reminder for me to care for the unfortunate and for those who are broken and hurt. For those who are discarded, for me to be reminded to help them in some tangible way.

Here is a preview of the book via video with Mike.

As he was telling his stories (they chose to be homeless for 5 months in 5 different cities), my heart was breaking. For you see, in numerous places they were turned away from the church. In churches, people would not sit by them, they were thrown off some of the churches property and more.

Why have we (churches) put up so many walls ?
Why do we constantly keep people out ?
Why do we not love people for who they are and where they are at ?
Why do we spend millions on building and we can spend it on people in need ?

So many more questions could be raised.

Some of the interesting things that stood out:

- he shared how most of the messages that he heard in homeless shelters were on hell
- can we say we know our creator when we forget the homeless (created in His image)
- powerful reflection on Colossians 3:12-14
- scripture (feed, clothe script) was placed for us to live, not just preach. If we
actually did it, there would be people who do not go hungry

Bonhoffer Quote

The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people from everyday Christian life in community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ; for in the poor sister or brother, Christ is knocking at the door.

There is so many nuggets of truth in the book. I strongly URGE you to grab the book and read it. Here is one finalsentence that really spoke to me - where I am at ...

Love can't cover wrongs if we let frustration and failure keep us apart.

I am not just asking you the following question, I am asking this to myself.

Are we really living out the Scripture ?

There are so many things that we could be doing to help others, but we are so self-centered and focus on our needs, our comfort and me me me me

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Shack

Well, I have been putting off this book for a few reasons, but I decided that it was time to read the book. I read it this past weekend at greyhound bus stations and at my in-laws house.

I have had slight pressure to read the book for awhile and I have read many reviews, blog entries and dialogue in debates on the book and the contents of what might be in the book (subject matters covered).

But, I had put it on the 'wait list' because I had plenty of books to read, I am not a huge novel fan and the book is my wife's not mine. HOWEVER, I told her that I would take the book on my trip and be done when I got back.

I did finish the book. It was tough to get into the book for me. I knew this was going to be the case for me. Emotions over came me. I am sure that numerous people thought I was losing my mind as tears were streaming down my face in the bus station reading a book. I am not sure if I have ever cried reading a book till this one. Movies, yes ... books, no. Well, this one brought the tears for me.

As mentioned, I have not read too many novels lately, but this one is the best novel that I have ever read. It truly was brilliant and the writing is truly a masterpiece.

There are plenty of nuggets in the book. There are statements and conversations that occurred that I will hold tight to me.

After finishing the book, I can see why there would be some that would be very uncomfortable with the book and how it portrays the "trinity". However, it is a novel and it is a book to break open your thinking on God and the book does that in many levels.

The one aspect that rings true and there has been tons of conversations on the web is about the "power" of the trinity and if it is hierarchy. The book does a great job answering and sharing his thoughts on the subject and I love the relationship and the dance that takes place.

One of my many favorite lines is the following:

Don't confuse adaptation for intention or seduction for reality.

This sentence comes out of the conversation about relationships, hierarchy and power that comes from it. It is a fascinating thought to grapple with.

Another great line came in the midst of a conversation and here is the line:

My church is all about people and life is all about relationships. You can't build it.

Those words are words that we need to cling to. We really need to go simple. We need to be about people, their lives and the relationships that make them up.

Mack (the main character) also has a great conversation with the Father and here are some of the Father's words:

I don't just want a piece of you and a piece of your life. Even if you were able, which you are not, to give me the biggest piece, that is not what I want. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day. I want to be the center.

This thought is crucial and is the center element of The Passionate Life. We can not ask God to be "part" of our life. This is where we screw things up greatly. We need for Him to be the center. We need to live Him out. Do not make Him, church, religion part of your life (carving out time/segment).

I did not want to give any information regarding the story line because I want your journey to be unique. Go and grab the book, take a read. Enjoy. You may need to battle some of your theological stances, but do it and see what you think of God.

In the end of the book, the tears came again and the book was tough to finish. But I am glad that I did. Being a daddy and having a little girl ........


that is the number of books that I have read in the last 10 days that I need to write about and to my wife's best friend ..... yes I did read it

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I Feel Like S**T

No .... not me. I am feeling pretty well; thanks.

But those are the first words that I heard out of her mouth.

I was sitting on the bench is Columbus waiting (long wait) for the next bus to come in. This young girl walked in and she looked distraught and "out of it". I smiled at her and asked, "how are you doing?"

Her response, "I feel like s**t but thanks for taking the time to ask". Over the next 3+ hours, we had conversations on and off while we waited for the same bus.

My heart broke for this young girl (17) as she told me why she was feeling so down and out and why she was excited but nervous about her journey home to see mom and dad. Her life has been a train-wreck.

Her home life is not a bed or roses (in her opinion) and she thought it (life elsewhere) would be better a few states over with her boyfriend. She realized that was not the case and was headed home.

One of the things that intrigued me was her brute honesty on what she was feeling and her willingness to share it. It actually got me thinking about how individuals react with one another and had me asking, how do people make decisions on being open or closing themselves up (building walls).

I actually rode with her all the way. When I exited the bus on my final destination, she was not quite at her destination. I hope that when she walked off the bus, it was into the arms of welcoming arms. She believed that is what was going to happen.

On a side note, when we had our lay-over in Indy, she saw me on one of the benches and she asked me if I was planning on staying awake. I said yes, as I am reading a book and want to finish it. She asked if I would "keep an eye on her". She was going to "sleep" across the walkway on the other benches. She was terrified of what might happen to her. I agreed.

Well, we were on the "Amtrak" side of the terminal. It is both Amtrak and greyhound. This party came in (mid 40's ?) and one of the gentlemen sat close to her. I don't think that he knew she was there. She had her suitcase on the bench and a coat thrown over her - I think he thought it was a suitcase and a duffel bag. Well, he was loud - talking to his party across the walkway and with his voice - she flipped herself over. He "jumped" a little and went to the other side of the walkway with his friends.

His words to his friends, "she must wither be homeless or a greyhound rider"


The same party as they were getting up to leave, left a purse and a billfold. I noticed them. I grabbed them and took them over to them as they were boarding. They grabbed them from my hand .... no thanks at all.

Ahhhhhhh, lovely people. I hope that their cross necklaces and cross earrings was just jewelry and not a statement for their Christianity.

I'm Baaaaaaaaack

I am back in town. It was a quick trip - 72 hours.

On Wednesday evening, I hopped on a Greyhound and headed to Illinois to help my in-laws move. The trip on Greyhound was very interesting and entertaining. This was the 5th time (I think) that I have done Greyhound and each time, I am amazed at what you see and what you hear. At times, I think that it would be a great book. Make numerous trips and write about the experiences. I may share some of them with you. Including the Amish family story, James the homeless man and Emily the runaway and more.

Of course, it does help (stories) when you have lay-overs. I had two of them. The first one was in Columbus from 9pm to 1am and the other was in Indianapolis from 4am to 9am.

I got off the bus at about 10:30 (18 hours) and went straight to the in-laws. We took a small sit down rest, lunch and then time to load the pick-up truck.

They were to have double-closing on Friday. Before the closings, we packed a second truck (Stacey's items). The house they were selling and the housing they were buying. Thus, when we packed the truck up; we parked it at their new house so we could unload it after closing.

Well, there was a snag in the closing. They could not close on either of the houses. This morning, we unloaded the truck into their old house garage that they are hoping will not remain that way. After we unloaded the truck, I went and grabbed my truck - with Stacey's leftover items form the house and drove it back to town (6 1/2 hours).

I got in town with 5 mins to spare for Isaiah's soccer game. After the soccer game, we went out to dinner and then I went to unload the truck to the storage unit.

Quite abit of action in 72 hours .......

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

An Adventure ......

I am off on an adventure in about 5 hours. When I get back from the adventure (Saturday night), I will share it with you. My posts have really been sporadic and far in-between lately. Hopefully, I can get back in the groove in a few weeks.

there are several things on my plate right now and I am trying to keep them spinning. Hopefully, they will remain up and I can begin to move the process along so they are not just spinning but we are moving to the final destination.

Vague, huh ? I hate that.

In the next few weeks, we have confirmation, seniors graduating, parties, Big Stuf camp, church conventions and planning and prepping for new ministries that are coming down the pipe. Hopefully, I can flush them out here and get some input.

With me being gone, catch me on my cell.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution

On a few blogs that I have been reading lately, there has been a discussion going on about intelligent design and evolution. The discussions have been asking if evolution is 'outside' of Christian discussion or if they can co-exist. Many have been standing firm that Gen. 1-3 MUST be taken seriously. Your salvation rest in 'literal' translation.

Well, I decided to enter into the discussion. Okay, I have not really. I saw a bumper sticker though that made me chuckle a little in light of the debate. Here it is ...

If this offended, I apologize.

Pruning in Ministry

One of the sessions that I went to at the Orange Conference was called Orange Fruit. For you to get fruit, you must prune. Pruning is difficult and time-consuming.

Listed below are some of the notes that I took and the points that I highlighted and think will be beneficial for myself and hopefully you if you are in a season of pruning.

1. If you don't prune - you will never experience an abundance of fruit.

Danger: An unpruned ministry looks impressive.

2. There is tremendous skill involved in pruning. Here are some guidelines:

- programs robbing resources
- programs accomplishing identical ministry
- old versions when new versions are released
- people who are not on board
- prune quickly, plan slowly

3. The gardener does not expect to see fruit immediately after cuts are made.

Note: It takes time to see fruit. Do not abandon strategy too early. You must
allow time for strategy to take lace.

4. You must not only prune the unhealthy but the healthy ministries as well.

Scripture Foundation: John 15:2 - Every branch that DOES bear fruit gets pruned.

5. Pruning is Cutting and Cutting Hurts

Word of Caution: You can add without attracting attention; but you can not
subtract without attracting attention.

Closing Thought:

Before you prune, you must find out the following:

- whose idea was it originally ?
- who currently considers this their baby ?

Creating Community

Creating Community: 5 Keys to Building a Small Group Culture was written by Andy Stanley and Bill Willits. The books title is self-explanatory on what the book is about. There is "no hidden agenda". The book does an excellent job on explaining their reasons for having 'small groups" be their driving force.

The book was prompted to me after attending the Orange Conference. Our senior pastor encouraged myself and the children's director to take a look at the book and for us to give discussion on the book. We talked about the book in depth this past week and more discussion is going to occur on the book during staff meetings, I am sure.

There were numerous things in the book that stood out to me. I will share a few of them with you below. If you are wanting/hoping to have individuals in your church involved in community, I suggest that you take a look at this book.

The book comes to be because they asked three questions as they were beginning to develop their church. The three questions are the following:

- what do we want people to become?
- what do we want people to do?
- where do we want people to go?

For them, their answer as that we want people to go and be part of a community group. Thus, they developed steps within their church to connect individuals with each other and their community groups are essential. They believe they are a relational church and the groups are the driving force. With groups being their driving force, this book is a natural overflow.

In the book (pages 65-67), they describe spiritual maturity and they do it in the following manner:

Spiritual maturity as a continual progress in three vital relationships: a person's relationship with God, with other believers, and with unbelievers. The breakdown looks like the following:

- intimacy with God
- community with insiders
- influence with outsiders

I think that it is absolutely vital that we challenge individuals to live in the context of these three relationships for their health and the health of the church.

At times, the book is not 'earth-shattering" but the nuggets of truth that they give you are very helpful and re mindful. For example, these simple but profound words on page 78:

Becoming crystal clear on what you are trying to do is critical for any group or organization. Without clarity an organization becomes pointless. Getting clear begins when we answer three important questions:

- what do we want people to become?
- what do we want people to do?
- where do we want people to go?

** the reminder **

On pages 93 - 98, they describe their strategy and why their strategy was small groups. Here is their thought on strategy and the reasons their strategy was small groups:

A great strategy is simple to understand and easy to implement.

Why Groups for us (North Point) ?

1. Groups Support Our Evangelism Strategy
2. Groups Decentralizes Church Leadership and Care
3. Groups Enable More People to Serve
4. Groups Help Develop Authentic Community
5. Groups Offer Maximum Flexibility
6. Groups Allow Us to Be Better Stewards
7. Groups Remove the Primary Limits to Growth

There is much more in the book, but I will wrap it up with the following (pages 164-167) statements. They believe that for groups to succeed, they must be set up well and here are five things that you must do:

1. Make it Simple
2. Make them Visible
3. Value them
4. Give Them Resources
5. Leadership must Model

Now, they are not saying that small groups ministry is the way that every church should do ministry. What they are suggesting is that you need to answer the questions about what/how/the win and implement a strategy (steps) to accomplish it.

Great Book, Thanks !!!!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Best Way To Christian Apologetics

Apologetics ..... A fun topic, huh ?

For those of you who are not quite sure about apologetics, I will show you what good ole' Wiki says. It does a fine job and it is in-depth but not too lenghtly:

Christian apologetics is the field of study concerned with the systematic defense of Christianity. The term "apologetic" comes from the Greek word apologia (απολογία), which means in defense of. Therefore, a skilled person involved in Christian or Bible Apologetics is a defender of Christianity. Those who engage in Christian apologetics are called "Christian apologists". Christian apologetics have taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul of Tarsus, including writers such as Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, and continuing currently with the modern Christian community, through the efforts of many authors in various Christian traditions such as C.S. Lewis. Apologists have based their defense of Christianity on favoring interpretations of historical evidence, philosophical arguments, scientific investigation, and other disciplines.

This Classical Greek term appears in the Koine (that is, common) Greek of the New Testament. The apostle Paul employed the term "apologia" in his trial speech to Festus and Agrippa when he said, "I make my defense" (Acts 26:2). In the English language, the word apology, derived from the Greek word "apologia", usually refers to asking for forgiveness for an action that is open to blame. Christian apologetics are meant, however, to argue that Christianity is reasonable and in accordance with the evidence that can be examined, analogous to the use of the term in the Apology of Socrates, written by Plato.

Alright, there is the definition and let us push that to the side and let me share with you what I believe is the best "cause" for apologetics.

John 17:20-21 says, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Jesus prayer was that all his followers would experience this kind of meaningful relationships with each other that the Trinity has always experienced. Jesus is saying that the credibility of His life and message in the eyes of unbelievers is dependent upon the way we as followers relate with one another.

In the words of Francis Schaeffer:

Our relationships with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful-Christian community is the final apologetic.

Casual connections are not life giving. We need to be in relationships that are life-giving. Another wonderful individual who speaks on community is Randy Frazee and he sums it up wonderfully in this statement:

The development of meaningful relationships where every member carries a significant sense of belonging is central to what it means to be the church. This is a God-ordained gathering that is so strong that "even the gates of hell will not overcome it".

God has called the church to create environments where authentic relationships (community) can take place.

What type of relationships are you in ?

I believe that if we were truly living in christian Community, those outside of Christ would be flocking to us to experience what they can not hold onto or grasp and would be crying and yearning for it.

now, just to be fair. There are those who say to the above: that is hogwash. That is not true apologetics. They would argue that we need good apologetics and they would then list off eight reasons why. Here would be their reasons:

The first and most obvious is because we are commanded to defend the faith.

Second, we need apologetics because it helps Christians know their faith.

Third, apologetics is an attempt to keep people out of hell.

Fourth, we need apologetics to counter the bad image that Christianity has received in the media and in culture.

Fifth, we need apologetics because there is a constant threat of apostasy in the visible Christian church.

Sixth, another reason we need apologetics is because of the many false teachings out there.

Seventh, the rise of immorality in America is a threat not only to society but also to Christianity.

The eighth reason we need apologetics is because schools are not friendly to Christianity.

They would conclude by the following:

The fact is that Christianity is under attack in the world and we need to fight the good fight of the faith without shrinking back. We need apologetics to give rational, intelligent, and relevant explanations of Christian viability to the critics and the prejudiced who would seek to undermine the teachings of our Lord Jesus. If there was ever a time that apologetics is needed, it is now.

To this, I would say, you are absolutely correct. Apologetics is greatly needed and it needs to be done with Christians embedding the two greatest commandments into their lives: Love God, Love Others

A Week in Review

Posting has not really occurred this week. It has been a hectic week and posting has not been on the priority list.

On Monday, I was doing my normal prep for the week and doing reading. To be honest, Monday was a little of a blur as I was a little scatter-brained with what was going to occur during the week and prepping for my absence this weekend. I do remember that I was going to take Bethany to grandma and pa pa's but, we blew a tire on the way (all were safe).

On Tuesday, I took Stacey up to the Cleveland Clinic for outpatient surgery. She did good in the surgery. The meds are not being too friendly to her though. On Tuesday night, I took the boys to swimming and soccer. Stacey was at home recovering with phone beside her.

On Wednesday, I got the kids to school, Stacey was settled in and I went to a 6 hour staff meeting (off church grounds) to discuss numerous aspects of church life and areas that need changes. This has resulted in quite a few job shifts for me. It will be interesting. After the meeting, I went on a two hour drive with the boys to pick up Bethany. After picking her up, we went to the pool. Jacob had his private swim lesson - prepping for the swim team in the future (he is good). While there, I had to dive into the pool (fully clothed) to rescue my daughter.

On Thursday, A full day of running around in my prep for going to Alabama. In the midst of all that prepping, I went to lunch with the kids at school, went to swim practice and had an evangelism team meeting.

Today, I am at the office trying to gather my thoughts regarding the staff meeting and putting it down into understanding for Church Council on Monday. I cancelled my trip to Alabama (to help Stacey this weekend). This morning, we have Meals on Wheels, errands to run, try to get Bethany to the chiropractor and then Stacey has adoption training (I already took this class).

Reading over that, makes me tired. I need to hit publish and finish typing my report for Pastor .... more later. I promise.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Crazy Love

Francis Chan is the author of Crazy Love. He is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California. I recently had the opportunity to hear him speak at the Orange Conference (which I still need to blog about) and after the message, I made sure that I picked up the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and there are aspects of the book that will challenge you greatly. If you want to read a great chapter on Lukewarm Christianity and plenty of Scripture to chew on, pick up this book and read chapter 4. I would almost say that the chapter is worth the price of the book.

I do want to warn you though. This book will challenge you to show the love that Christ wants you to show and will challenge you to live the life that he believes we are suppose to live as a church - you will be challenged and you will be convicted.

Here is one "breakdown" in the book that I chewed on for awhile:

Philippians 4:4-6
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Thoughts From Francis

When i am consumed by my problems - stressed out about my life, my family, my job - I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than god's command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a "right" to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.

As I mentioned, chapter 4 on Lukewarm Christianity is an excellent chapter. I could pull out most of the scripture and his thoughts and chew on it for awhile. however, I will give you a glimpse of one of his "lukewarm analogies".

Lukewarm People do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don't have to trust God if something unexpected happens - they have their savings account. They don't need God to help them - they have their retirement plan in place. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live - they have life figured and mapped out. They don't depend on God on a daily basis - their refrigerators are full and for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is that their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God (pg. 76)

Life Change ??

How would my life (your life) change if I (you) actually thought of each person I (you) came into contact with as Christ.

I think that we look at Matt. 25 and see it has a great story. But, I don't think that we truly live our lives (me included) as everyone we are in contact with is Christ and that is what we should be doing. Christ is connecting the two commandments together ( love God / love others ). By loving the least of these, we are loving God himself.

Another chapter (to me) that is absolutely amazing his the chapter he does on obsession. He talks about the lives of people who are "obsessed" with Jesus. Here is one of the many great statements:

People who are obsessed with Jesus aren't consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people care more about God's kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress. (pg. 131)

The book is fantastic, secure yourself a copy. Take a look at their church community and see how they are living it out. Be encouraged, you can make a difference. Live out crazy love. But, if you do, be prepared. People are going to think that you have lost your mind.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Are You Going to Hell ??

On Friday, I was able to witness a fellow Christian "witnessing" to a young man (late 20's). After the witnessing by the fellow Christian, I looked at the man across from me and apologized. Let me share with you the scenario and where my heart aches.

We were up at the Cleveland Clinic on Friday. We had just finished up with Stacey's meeting with the surgeon. The surgeon had decided that she needs another procedure and for he to be put under anesthesia for the 7th time in 14 months, we had to go downstairs and have lab work and pretesting done.

Thus, we did the lab work and went to grab a bite to eat before we went to the pretesting. It was all going well, the meeting, the lunch, the lab and then ......

We went down the the pre testing waiting area. We sat down on a sofa. Directly across from us there was a couple that was sitting on a sofa waiting as well. There was a coffee table in between us.

The guys was a big guy. He had colorful tattoos on his arms. On his left arm, he had a full sleeve tattoo that was very colorful and patriotic. On his right leg, he had a very large American force tattoo. He had no left leg and had a very nice Titanium Prosthetics leg. The guy also had on a "message" t-shirt.

The t-shirt had a picture of the Taliban on it. Above the picture was the message Jesus Loves You. On the bottom of the pictures were the words: Problems Remain

When we sat down, we shared acknowledging hello's.

Stacey and I was reading and the other couple was sharing conversations and laughs.

A few moments later, a guy came by us, saw his tshirt and said, "I am a Christian, I want to give you someting." He reached into his folder and pulled out a pamphlet and gave it to the young man and walked away. The young man looked at it for 2 seconds and threw it on the coffee table and uttered the words: he must have not read the full t-shirt.

Stacey picked up the pamphlet (it was a, are you going to hell brochure) and briefly read it and mentioned: "I can't believe people still do this". She handed it to me and asked, "should we get rid of it so no one else has to see it". I said yes. I grabbed it and crumbled it up and threw it away.

As I sat down, I apologised to the young man. I said, I am sorry that he gave that to you without talking to you or hearing your story. He said thanks and remarked out he is tired of people trying to "sell Jesus" to him.

The gentlemen who passed out the brochure was passing out more to others without conversation. I am thinking that he was doing it and justifying his thoughts and actions by saying, " I am planting a seed ".

Not too much later, the wives left and I was there with him (Alan) and had the following conversation.

Jeff: Hey, once again, I want to apologize for the guy coming up to you and trying to sell Jesus. Sometimes, they can really be forceful.

Alan: Thanks for the apology but it was not you that did it.

Jeff: By the way, my name is Jeff. Earlier on, you mentioned that he must not have read your t-shirt, what does it mean to you.

Alan: My name is Alan. The tshirt to me represents religion and the fact that the problem is not going to go away - the problem being the middle east by screaming Jesus Loves You - won't do a thing. The things that are occurring in the name of religion over in the middle east is scary.

Jeff: So, have you spent time over in the middle east serving ?

Alan: Yes, I was over there. That is how I lost my leg.

Jeff: Thanks for serving. Thanks for your dedication.

Alan: Thanks, I appreciate it.

Jeff: The apology earlier, I meant it. At times, I wish that we did not give God a bad name. I really wish that we created places where we would show love.

Alan: *nodded head*

Jeff: Sometimes, I wish that I had the Dear God shirt on ......

Alan: What is that ?

Jeff: Dear God: Save Me From Your Followers

Alan: *laughs*

Jeff: Well, I hope that the appointments go well. I hope and pray that you will encounter Christians who care about you and love you for who you are and *smile* that not many more Christians will help pollute the enviorment by tracts going in the trash.

Alan: Yah ..... we will see .....

Time was up .......

I have got to tell you, I am at a point in my life where I am tired of Christians throwing tracts into the faces of people. If you are a person that is a tract person, may I request one thing of you:

Take time to know the person. Even if it is a few minute conversation. If you would have sat down and talked to Alan. If you would have known why he had his shirt on, why he was in the hospital, the hostility that he had towards religion; maybe you could have had a conversation and presented the gospel message that you thought he needed to hear..

I know that there are many who believe that this is the biblical way. I know that there are a lot that says, "How does that hurt Christianity?" Well, let me tell you, for Alan, another few rows of bricks were build between him and Christianity.

I truly believe that we have the greatest gift to give; however, I do not think that we know how to give the gift. Of course, I think that is because that we truly do not exhibit the life that Christ wants us to live.

Which beings me to a post that I wanted to do in the near future on a book that I need to review. I have read about five books in the past three weeks that I have not posted on .. of course I have not done my orange posts either or .... the list can go on, I am in a funk :)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Needs of People in Myanmar

Just a Note:

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- International Disaster Response of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) provided $100,000 as an initial response to help meet the basic needs of survivors in Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis battered the Southeast Asian country May 3.

"The Myanmar government reported that nearly 22,500 people died and close to 41,000 are missing," said Dr. Belletech Deressa, director for international development and disaster response, ELCA Global Mission. These figures are only an estimate, since access to the areas most affected is limited, she said.

"United Nations officials have reported that close to 1 million people are homeless" and "that, while the greatest needs are for food and shelter, the price of food and other essential items are skyrocketing. The full extent of the destruction is still being ascertained as information on damage and need-assessments is slow coming," Deressa said.

"There are very few nongovernmental organizations or humanitarian agencies in the country due to government restrictions," said Deressa. The ELCA sent the funds to Church World Service (CWS), an international humanitarian agency with a license to work in Myanmar, said Deressa. The ELCA participates in and supports the work of CWS.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is offering experienced personnel to assist with disaster response operations, said Deressa, adding that Action by Churches Together (ACT) is working on an appeal for funds.

Coordinated by ELCA Global Mission, International Disaster Response channels its funds through international church organizations and relief agencies. Funds provide for food, medicine, drinking water, emergency shelter and other materials for survivors of disasters.

ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergency situations worldwide. It is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the LWF, both in Geneva. The ELCA is a member of the WCC and LWF.

Editors: When listing organizations receiving funds for aid to survivors of major disasters outside the United States, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, please include: ELCA International Disaster Response, PO Box 71764, Chicago, IL 60694-1764, 1-800-638-3522

Prayers for Stacey

Hey there. I just wanted to let everyone know that Stacey and me are making a trip to the Cleavland Clinic tomorrow morning. Her appointment is at 9 am.

She has been in pain for a few days and she has tried to ride it out. However, I forced her to call the doctor. After a few conversations with the nurses and the surgeons, they wanted to see her tomorrow morning.

So, if you happen to surf by my blog before her appointment, we would appreciate the prayers. We are hoping that we will be able to do it (healing) with medication, but another surgery may be discussed.

Of course, we have no clue but we will know more in about 15 hours. I will give you all an update when we get back into town.

Preservice Training: Culture

As I was going through my notebook, i noticed that I never mentioned that I attended our preservice training class number six. Number six was on culture and once again, I headed over to Columbiana County for the class.

The class was very interesting as we took a look at our lives and the lives the children have lived in and what will happen when the two cultures collide. We did some role playing and tried to answer: what would we do if .......

There are a few things that "stuck" with me in class. Things that I need to keep in my brain and remember. They are the following:

- be an advocate
- each child will have different perceptions on reality
- we need to give them support
- we have the opportunity to show them another way of life
- you will see generational foster kids
- breakout of the stereotype mentality
- we need to redirect behavior
- you will be shocked and awed with some language and actions; be prepared

As I sat there and listend to the stories, my heart break. I want to do more. our current house can not handle many kids. In so many ways, I want to get a bigger house, so we can offer our home to more foster kids and possibly adopt more as well. However, I am not sure how this will be possible.

If anyone out there wants to help us achieve this dream, let us know. We really are ooking at this as a mission/ministry to our community.

BTW, Stacey and me both will be in class together this weekend. class # 1 tomorrow and class # 2 and 3 on Saturday.


There has been quite a bit of news coverage on Autism over the last six months. Before that (it seemed) that it was an issue that was hush-hush. I really am not sure why. Lately, there has been national coverage on this issue. However, I like to hear the local stories and what they are doing.

Well, this past week, I reconnected with a family ( the south family ) via email and they shared with me their story and the news story that was just done on their family and gave me a link. Below, you will see the story. Dawn taught confirmation class and Mike was very instrumental in the missions efforts in our community and relief help for Katrina.

Here is one of the web pages that you need to have bookmarked if you want to learn more about it. I think her words to me are very important for people to hear:

A local news station here just did a news story on him and early intervention. I had been wanting to talk to the news stations for a few years because I really feel the need to let people know about early intervention and state funding speech and occupational therapy, etc. Alot of people don't know that the state pays for these services. I think Taylor is a walking testimony of what early intervention can do.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

My Weight Loss Journey

Over the past year, I have been on a journey to lose weight. At times, the process has been hard and even difficult because, I LOVE FOOD.

However, I made a decision that I was going to lose weight, eat healthier and adapt a wellness lifestyle.

To share the story and the journey, I will need to take a few steps back and let you know what occurred and where I was that prompted me a change needed to occur.

Ever since the turn of the century (200-2007), I was constantly weighing in at 190-200. The weight would fluctuate but it remained constant. Every time my weight inched towards 200, I would adjust the diet a little to make sure that I was not over the 200 pound mark. To me, that was the "magic" number to avoid.

Well, last March (2007), my eating habits became a little more unhealthy and I was very stressed out. I started to gain weight and I really was not concerned about it much. I just wanted to survive what was going on. I wanted to make sure that my wife was healthy and that we found a town and church that we could work in that would help us create a healthy enviornment for our family.

God open the door for us to come to Zion in Ohio and we have been absolutely blessed. When we agreed to come to Ohio, I decided that I needed to make a few changes. Before, we made the official move, we were in town to secure housing, there was a conversation that occurred.

I was at the ALIVE musical festival and I was talking to Bernie (interim ym at Zion) and was having a very tasty but unhealthy meal and I said, "when I move into town next week, I am going to change my lifestyle.

We went back to Lafayette to finish packing and move week was stressful and fast food and pizza most nights. Cooking and messes were not priorities - packing was on the list. Anyways, at the end of move week, I stepped on the scale.


argh !!!!!!!

For those who do not know, I am 5'9" inches. I should not weigh that much. We moved to Ohio and my journey to lose weight began.

In July and August, I did not do too much different. The thing that did change was going to more of a routine for eating and not stress eating.

In September, my walking and drinking water came into play. We live downtown, so I began walking and walking alot. I would walk the kids to school and then church. I would make that trip a few times aday.

By Christmas, I had lost 22 pounds and was down to 193 pounds. I was happy that I was under the 200 pounds mark and for me, it was great because I did not seem to be altering much of my lifestyle.

As the calendar flipped and we entered into 2008, I decided that I was going to take the wellness challenge and really focus on five different aspects of my life. The one aspect that ties into my weight journey was my physical well-being.

5 Aspects of Well Being

Spiritual Well-Being
Physical Well-Being
Emotional Well-Being
Social and Interpersonal Well-Being
Vocational Well-Being

Thus, in January, I decided that I would increase my walking. I would increase my water intake. I would eliminate late night eating (as much as possible). I would choose smaller portions of food and when out eating, I would choose chicken over beef at times (REALLY HARD) and when we go for the pizza buffet - limit pizza and eat more salads. The other aspect is training. I have been working on abs to help with my back and neck problems - so exercising came on the table.

Well, I have hit a milestone. This year, I have lost 28 pounds. Add those to the 22 pounds that I lost last fall and ....

I have lost 50 pounds !!!!
I now weigh in at 165 pounds .....

I think losing 50 pounds is a pretty good accomplishment. The great thing for me is that it has been a constant loss. No spikes and not "huge" weeks. It has been slow and steady.

Last week, I emptied out my cloet and need to go and buy some clothes that fit. I did make a few purchases last week. In a sense, I do not have much of a before or after look. However, I will find a few inthe archives when I was at my heaviest and I will take a few now pics to put up. Maybe, I will even go and put on some of my old pants to show the waist loss.

Now, I am off to walk 1.5 miles up to the free clinic to work and then back 1.5 miles to pick up the boys and then to walk home. I am so glad that I feel comfortable enough to walk that far. Last year at this time, it would have not happened.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Orange Fruit: Orange Preconference Workshop # 3

This seminar/workshop was based on John 15 (the vine). The seminar was based on when/how to prune. One of the interesting statements that jump-kicked the seminar was the following:

An unpruned ministry looks impressive

This is such a true statement. A church could have something on the calendar every day of the month and cover every topic at hand. You could take out a pamphlet of their ministries and go ... wow, look at all they have. It looks impressive but there is no goal/strategy in place and the organization is running in 100 different directions ....... not good.

Here are 5 principles on pruning:

- if you don't prune, you will never experience an abundance of the ftuit.
- there is tremendous skill involved in pruning
- there is tremendous timing involved in pruning
- you must prune not only unhealthy ministries but healthy ones as well
- pruning is cutting and cutting hurts

Let us break these down a little further:

If you don't Prune .....

- an unprune ministry looks impressive
- there is tons of visible activity in an unpruned ministry but is there life change?

There is tremendous skill ....

Guidelines to Pruning

- programs robbing resources
- programs accomplishing identical ministry
- old version when new version is released
- people who are not on board
- prune quickly but plant slowly

Tremendous Timing ....

- the gardner does not expect to see fruit immediately after cuts are made
- it takes time to see fruit
- do not abandon strategy too early; allow time for strategy to work

Not only Unhealthy ....

- John 15: 2: Every branch that DOES bear fruit gets prunned
- reread, it is often overlooked

Prunning is Cutting ....

- pruning (cutting) will hurt
- You can add without attracting attention, but you cannot subtract without attention

I think the pruning guidelines were the ones that will effect me the most and the things that I will chew on. Over the next six months, there will be prunning, some subtraction and some adding. It should be an interesting time in the field.

Words of Wisdom

Before you prune anything, you must find out the following rwo things:

- whose idea was this originally
- who currently consider this their baby

So, what do you think ?

There was much more in the seminar but those broad strokes should give you a picture of the workshop.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Justice for Women

The ELCA is committed to challenging and eradicating sexism in this church and in society. Central to this challenge for Lutherans are the twofold theological bases of creation and baptism and the christological basis of Jesus Christ's life and death.

The director for Justice for Women calls and assists this church "to realize the full participation of women, to create equal opportunity for women of all cultures, to foster partnership between men and women, to assist this church to address sexism, and to advocate justice for women". To this end, education and advocacy are the central components of the Justice for Women comprehensive plan to effect justice for women in church and society.

Kingdom Grace is always one that makes me think. Her posts are always well thought out and thought-provoking and a goldmine of information.

Today, she has hit on the topic that I am going to write about and share about and specifically how it plays out with the ELCA. I really am not sure how to tackle this issue and to be honest, I feel like I am tip-toeing over hot coals on this issue. The reason for this is many. One, I grew up with a very conservative view and role of woman in the church. I am a male and can not comprehend all the obstacles that they have and still are trying to overcome.

So today, I am journaling the thoughts out a little for awareness.

Here are some of the commitments that the ELCA is trying to live out:

The Church Council also affirmed commitments for implementation of the strategic directions. The churchwide organization must and will:

1. Encourage, welcome, and depend upon the lively and creative exchange of resources and ideas throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;

2. Recognize and encourage the vital contributions and deepening relationship with institutions and agencies of this church and with Lutheran, ecumenical, and
interfaith partners;

3. Confront the scandalous realities of racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, age, gender, familial, sexual, physical, personal, and class barriers that often
manifest themselves in exclusion, poverty, hunger, and violence; and

4. Pursue ardently the ELCA’s commitment to becoming more diverse, multicultural, and multigenerational in an ever-changing and increasingly pluralistic context, with special focus on full inclusion in this church of youth, young adults, and
people of color and people whose primary language is other than English.


Here is a working definition of the three "bolded" words:

sexism: "The belief that males are superior to females, and the concurring stereotypes of characteristics assigned to each sex. The lesser value given to females is expressed and reinforced through social structures and personal attitudes."

creation: "Sexual equality in the divine image in both accounts of creation in Genesis (Gen. 1 and Gen. 2-3) is highlighted by recent careful biblical exegesis, contrary to previous interpretations that argue for an order of creation that places males above females."

baptism: "Baptism clearly marks out equal female and male participation in the life of Christ and therefore in the church."

Church in Society


This unit shall assist this church to step forward as a public church that witnesses boldly to all that God has created, seeking to promote justice, peace, and the care of the earth. It will seek to discern, understand, and respond to the needs of human beings, communities, society, and the whole creation through direct human services and through addressing systems, structures, and policies of society.

EXISTING PROGRAMS to be included:

Advocacy; disability ministries; environmental concerns; studies; pertinent portions of the ethnic strategies; support for social ministry organizations; domestic disaster response; social ministries for congregations; congregation-based organizing; coordination of the World Hunger program, support for domestic hunger ministries, and hunger education and interpretation; ministry among people living in poverty (MAPP Committee); and justice for women. This work is currently located in the Division for Church in Society.


1. This unit’s work for justice for women will call this church to realize the full
participation of women, to create equal opportunity for women of all cultures,to foster partnership between men and women, to assist this church to address sexism,
and to advocate justice for women.

2. A full-time director position for the churchwide organization’s work for justice for women is located in this unit. This director will present a comprehensive plan and ongoing evaluation of the churchwide organization’s work in this area. The plan will be developed collaboratively by churchwide staff from all units and partner
organizations and be presented, along with an annual evaluation, to the Church
Council (annually), as well as to the Churchwide Assembly (biennially). An advisory
committee will give advice and counsel to the director for work on behalf of women
in church and society. Administrative and budgetary oversight for this work will be
provided by the unit’s executive director. The director for justice for women will
convene and guide a churchwide internal alliance related to this arena of work.

I think these words from last year is a good summary of what a lot of woman are feeling (once again, this is a shot in the dark because I am not a woman):

The Rev. Rebecca S. Larson, executive director of Church in Society, told the assembly, "We commit this church to courageously address the scandalous frailties that address the human family and this world. One of the scandalous realities is
the glaring absence of justice for women."

What can we as individuals and what can we as churches do to help "justice for women"?

Orange Roots: Preconference Workshop # 2

The second pre-conference workshop that I attended was called Orange Roots. This workshop was trying to lay the foundation that we need to have orange roots. This workshop was also an excellent workshop and I am glad that I picked this class.

Five Elements of Orange

- Integrate Strategy
- Refine Your Message
- Elevate Community
- Reactivate the Family
- Leverage Influence

With these being the "core elements" of Orange, I will break them down a little bit more. Here they are ...

Integrate Strategy

Leaders of the church and parents of the children and youth need to be leading with the same end in mind.

Refine Your Message

We need to craft core truths (values) that are engaging, relevant and remembering.

Elevate Community

Everyone in the church community is connected to one another

Reactivate the Family

Parents are actively participating in the spiritual formation of their kids

Leverage Influence

We need to create opportunities for individuals to influence the lives of those that they are in contact with.

If we want to place "family first", we need to make some family first investments. There were five investments that were given. Here are the investments:

1. Hiring Staff: Who you are determines where you will head. We must be orange internal if we ever expect to be orange eternally.

2. Financial Resources: Matthew 5. Where your treasure is where your heart will be also. Show me your budget. Where you spend the most money is where your heart is at -ministry value.

3. Weekend Scheduling: If you give your family programming the crappiest time slot; then family isn't first.

- does not compete
- family convient
- space

4. Ministry Programs: It's better to grow slowly in the same direction than quickly in many directions.

5. Teaching and Pracing: Grace and Truth and emphasizes core values

More On the Five Elements ......


- Plan of Action with end in mind
- Ask: Where do we want them to end up ?
- Strategy is about steps to your answers


- what do we want them to know
- teaching = answer to that question
- we can't teach everything (core truths)


- connect children and students to a leader and peers
- place another adult voice in their lives
- culture can't compete with church on community


- rethink ministry
- more for family and less for individuals


- less teaching and more experience
- spectator to participant = growth
- volunteers: invite do not beg

A note from church leaders to church attendees:

We will give you what you need not what you want

Friday, May 02, 2008

Start Simple: Orange Preconference Workshop # 1

This workshop was excellent and this is a place where I have seen numerous church "fail" or not be all that they should be. Too often, we make ministry too difficult. One of the underlying themes of the workshop could be named in the following manner:

You can accomplish more if you do less

We, as churches, are very good in programmed based ministry and filling up the calendar. One of the things in the workshop that stood out was the following:

There is a gravitational pull in ministry that moves every community toward:

A Note: I think most churches do the first part and I think the last part is where we should be> Here they are:

1. Complexity when the wiser move is toward simplicity
2. More when the better default might be less
3. Yes when the more prudent answer is often no
4. Whatever when the better path is strategic

I am going to come back to "whatever" approach later because I believe that it is a vital concept to understand and grasp as we move individuals through a church enviorment.

How to Start and Stay Simple

Begin with the End in Mind

- where do you want people to end up
- how will you move them there
- what will you be doing and not doing

Think Steps not Programs

- make the things that you do easy, obvious and strategic
- move people along a spiritual journey toward an actual destination
- steps bting clarity to people
- do less not more

Get Great at Saying NO!!!

This has ro be one of the hardest thing to do, say no. I am getting better at it, but I still fail in this area. There was a great sentence that came out in the session. The sentence is the following:

Most of us are unconsciously willing to let our organizations suffer to avoid personal pain.

Let us unwrap it by the following scenario:

How often do we say yes because:

- we want to please people
- we want to be liked
- we are afraid
- we are unclear on our strategy

There was so much more to gleam from this seminar but I will end it here. If comments flow, maybe I will unpack a little more from this class. I will be giving info from the other worhshops as I allow my mind to grasp them.

Loving Father: Opening Session

Monday was a very long day. We went to the pre conference classes. After the classes, we went out to eat (O'Charley's) as a staff and then headed back to the hotel. With it being a long day and a late night (8:00 - 11:00), I was the only one that went down to the General Session and it "rocked". the worship was fantastic but the message from Reggie was a great message and a message that I needed to be reminded of. I think that this is a message that we need to examine very closely.

He used the story pf the Prodical Son as the backdrop for his message. If you are not familiar with the story or you want a refresher on the story, click here.

One of the foundational aspects of the message is the following: We, as a church, need to treat every prodical in a way that a loving father would treat his own son.

During the message, a few comparisons came out. Here are the comparisons:

Comparison Number 1
Loving Father: Preoccupied with whoever is missing
Older Brother: Concerned about ourselves

Comparison Number 2

Loving Father: Responds from the context of forgiveness
Older Brother: Responds from the context of shame

Comparison Number 3

Loving Father: Throws Parties
Older Brother: Throws Fits

Comparison Number 4

Loving Father: Confronts older brother thinking
Older Brother: Criticizes the loving father

Comparison Number 5

Loving Father: Keeps light on
Older Brother: Turns lights off

I believe that it is vital for us to create a community in the church where we are living out of the loving father. However, I have seen and witnessed too many people and too many churches who operate out of the older brother mentality.

As a church, we must treat the "prodigal" as a loving father. This is the number one thing in our lives. Our generation needs a loving father. They do not need an older brother.

A word of caution. If you are going to adapt the loving father approach; you will need to develop a "strong hide" because you will be criticized. But, we need to hold firm and let the older brothers know the following:

Criticize all you want, we will continue to welcome and love the sinner.

Live out the principles of the loving father. I believe that they can be summed up in the following two words: forgiveness and joy.

So .....

which one are you ?

which church do you belong to ?

which one of the comparisons are the toughest for you to swallow ?

The Orange Conference

This past week, I went down to the Orange Conference in Atlanta. The conference was held in the NW section of the city (Duluth). The conference was held at the Gwinnett Conference Center and the Arena.

Over the next week or so, I am going to blog about the trip. The entries will cover the general sessions, the pre-conference academy classes and the breakout sessions. I will also be blogging about conversations while we we were there and the implications that they might have on us at Zion.

The trip began Sunday afternoon after church. After church, we drove up to Cleveland and waited for the plane to board. The trip to Cleveland was excellent and relaxing and getting through the airport was hassle free. We flew into Atlanta and "blitzed" through the airport. our baggage was already there when we got to baggage claim. We went over to Enterprise and picked up our vehicle and went to the hotel. We only had one small glitch getting there. We unpacked our bags into the very nice hotel (Wingate at the Mall of Georgia) and went up to register. The wait for registration was not bad at all. they did a fantastic job. The convention center is amazing place to have a convention. After we registered, we went out to eat at Mimi's Cafe. This is a fantastic place to eat. If you have one in your neck of the woods, go check it out.

We then went back to the hotel to rest up for the first day of the convention.

Convention Facts

- 4500 leaders attended
- 45 different states were represented
- 10 different countries were represented
- 46 different denominations gathered

Orange Philosophy

There are a lot of things they would probably never agree about, but there is one thing that they all emphatically believe .... 100 years from now the only thing that will matter in someone’s life is their relationship with God.

Orange From Carey

Carey had an interesting take on the Orange Conference. Here are some of his words:

Orange is about helping church leaders to work together with parents to raise our kids morally and spiritually. I also think it's a huge front door that God is opening into communities world wide. Think about it: the average parent who doesn't go to church rarely lies awake at night wondering what a lead pastor is going to speak about next, but the average parent who doesn't go to church lies awake at night wondering whether their kids are going to be okay. If we come alongside parents and simply say "we care about the same things you do", it opens conversations that might never happen otherwise.

Why Orange

Orange is about combining influences. We in the church need to do this. We can not do ministry in silos and we can not separate the family. Here are two examples:

Youth Ministry (Red) Children Ministry (Yellow)
The Family (Red) The Church (Yellow)

We need to combine these colors and make Orange, it will make a bigger impact. A lot more to come, the convention was AWESOME.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Back in Town

I am back in town. It was a great week in Atlanta. Over the next week, I am going to blog about the conference, the books that I read, implications to ministry and much more. I hope that everybody had a great week.