Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Greece Mission Pre-Trip


Right now I am on a plane headed to Athens Greece (via Newark, New Jersey). This is the first of two trips this year to Athens, Greece with my church. We are adopting a neighborhood and will be the official “missionaries” to that part of Athens! Athens has 5,000,000 people with 4,000 professing Christians, meaning they are .0008% Christian. There are 76 neighborhoods and 40 are completely unreached with no church, home group, or any evangelical witness.

Robert and I will be scouting out two particular neighborhoods (Byronas & Anthousa), and praying for God to reveal where we will make our 3 year partnership. One of those neighborhoods has a park in the center of it, which would create a great opportunity to do sports camps and all different types of outreach events. The other is on the outskirts of Athens, in a more rural part of the town, but it has an old abandoned church in it, which creates all different kinds of dreams within my heart. Just think how awesome it would be for God to awaken that neighborhood to Himself and use that place as the central location of revival within the city.

Part 2: We are finally checked in to our hotel, not sure what to expect this week, but Robert & I are definitely excited about the opportunities. Please pray that God would give us pristine clarity for which neighborhood we should adopt. Also pray for our families while we are gone, and for a safe return home.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Turning 3-0ld!

30 is no big deal… yet! People keep asking me how I feel about turning 30, and I think it is no big deal. What bothers me is how my body feels after playing softball, yes softball. Now, I am sore for days, my feet and back hurt the next, and it only seems to get worse. Hopefully, there will be a resurgence of youth in my bones where instead of continued loss of quickness, I get faster. Instead of added bulk (ahem), I can loose weight. And instead of soreness, I can enjoy waking up as though not sporting activity took place the day or two or three prior.

With that out of the way, it is time for me to give big props to my lovely bride Christy! For my big day, she organized and threw me a surprise pool party. Many people wanted to know if I knew, but honestly I did not. In fact, I had to pull back from feeling sorry for myself as the weekend went on, because I thought that she might actually not do anything for me. However, we went over to our best friend’s house to swim, and lo and behold, a surprise party! It was awesome. So many of my friends showed up to celebrate, including my parents, her parents, & her brother, sister-in-law, and their boys. Thank you so much for everyone who showed up, I am so grateful to be surrounded by such an awesome group of people… and thank you Christy, I love and appreciate you very much!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Prescribed Relaxation


One of the things I am not crazy about sharing, but will share anyway for the 2 people who read this blog is that there was a time where I went to counseling for 10 months… YIKES! The thought of it makes my toes curl, but I will say that it is good to go to someone when you know you need help, and I was desperate for help.

During my time, my shrink continually emphasized the need to focus on relaxing. The point was to prevent burnout, ease tension, and have a routine outlet where all you do is have fun. For some this might be found in running or golf, others like fishing or hunting, and for my wife it is found in pedicures and scrapbooking.

To be honest, the quack was right… just kidding, the doc knows his stuff! It is my opinion that everyone needs to have a regular time of relaxation where they can get away from their stress and do something they enjoy doing. My challenge is going to be switching Friday mornings with my wife. She gets one, I get the next… every two weeks sounds about right!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Object Lesson Gone Wrong

When preaching, I love to use object lessons that help describe a point in the message, and help the hearers remember a truth about God’s Word. Today, a buddy of mine sent me a story of an illustration gone terribly wrong, but it is worth reading about. Here is the story about Jeff Harlow and how things do not always go they way we think they will in the pulpit… it is not funny, but he is laughing which means we can too!

“A pastor brought out a dirt bike during a church service to demonstrate the concept of unity. Now he's demonstrating the concept of healing. Jeff Harlow, the senior pastor at Crossroads Community Church, broke his wrist when he lost control of the motorcycle at the start of Sunday's second service, driving off a 5-foot platform and into the vacant first row of seats. He underwent surgery on the wrist Monday.” Jeff has already laughed a lot, so he's OK. I think his pride was bruised," said his wife, Becky. Becky Harlow said her husband had recently attended a motorcycle race in Buchanan, Mich." He had this idea that he would bring this bike out onstage and show people how the rider would become one with the bike," she told the Kokomo Tribune. "He was going to just sit on it and drive it out. He was just walking the dirt bike out onstage and somehow it got away from him. It was not intended.” No one else was hurt. Jeff Harlow had performed the demonstration at earlier services Saturday night and Sunday morning without incident.”

Monday, July 21, 2008

Family & Ministry Balance

I have a balance problem. My dream is to be a real Christ-follower, fabulous husband, wonderful father, exceptional minister, reliable friend, and tremendous athlete (no, I will not give up on the later). Anyway, my problem comes in managing each of those pursuits in a way that does not hinder the quest itself. To be more specific, my real issue is balancing my family life with my work life.

It is nothing for me to leave the house before 7:00AM and not return until after 8-9:00PM. During a normal 9-5 day, I feel guilty if I leave before anyone else, regardless of the hours I have put in days/weeks prior. To me, it is paramount to set the pace. With that being said, how am I setting the example in regards to valuing family? What does it say about me that I could spend 6-7 days or 60+ hours a week in the office? Perhaps my pursuit of wanting to be an exceptional minister has taken priority over being a fabulous husband and wonderful father… and I know that if my wife and kids are neglected, they will resent God and the church because of it!

In all of this, there is a reality that being home is not enough either. Like every other home owner, I have a yard to tend to, a house to help clean, and a prescription for down-time (this is not nearly as lame as it sounds, and it is legit – I will post on this later this week). So the point is that even if I get home at a decent hour, my time cannot be spent doing stuff, it needs to be spent with my family. They need to experience a genuine love for them and a desire to be around them. They need to know that they are missed when not around. They don’t need me gone all day on a regular basis – only the rare exception. They don’t need me coming home on the phone. They don’t need me running in the door, only to run out and do the yard. They don’t need me distracted with stuff when I am with them.

Recently I read an article online discussing this very topic. A guy named Todd Rhoades (MMI) put out a post called, “Practical Ways for Pastors to Love Their Wives and Families.” Within his article he had the following list:

• Come home at the exact time you say you will be home; and prepare your heart to serve your family, not be served.
• Share with your wife and kids some of the good things that are going on in the church, and then thank them for helping to make that possible.
• Give your wife flowers and a hand written card when she least expects it.
• Schedule a weekly time where you watch the kids and your wife gets out doing whatever she wants. When you can, give her a whole day off from the kids.
• Leave the church at church so dad can be dad at home.
• Pray for your family and with your family.

This is a great list. Ministry demands all sorts of hours and there will be times where situations are beyond my control, but for the most part this list is doable. The article where I got this list closed with this, “Above all, guard your family relationship. And take one or two of these ideas this week. They WILL make a difference in your family AND in your ministry!” It is my hope to be better at balancing the quest to be all I can be, I know it is essential to take care of my family or there will be no ministry to worry about!

Monday, July 14, 2008

iBible

Today I learned that there is a free downloadable Bible program for my iphone. It comes with some really great perks too. It has 15 versions of the Bible, a daily reading plan, an online contributions application (where people discuss verses), and search options. I have already downloaded the iBible and think it is great! For a description click on the screen below, to download your own iBible click here iBible App.


YouVersion iPhone Bible App from YouVersion on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bargain Shopper


Recently, a buddy in my church came in wearing a pair of Teva’s that looked perfect for yard work (I mean that in a good way). He told me he found them online at a website called hot-deals.org, a website that list bargains on various items. He also told me of a website called spoofee.com that does the same thing, and I have found myself addicted to it.

Although I have yet to purchase anything from it, Spoofee has a free goods section that is pretty unbelievable. Although I am not much of an outdoorsman, they have a fear year subscription to it. I have signed up for a free razor, travel soap, and other stuff.

Just so you know, on July 11 you can treat your kids to a fun evening a free meal by dressing them up as a cow and taking them to Chick-fil-A. Also, you can go to Taco Bell and ask for a free Frutista drink and they will give you one. Although some might look at this as ridiculous, they really do have some pretty cool stuff you can get for free or dirt cheap so check it out.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

June Mission Trip

video
On June 27-28 our church went to Abundant Grace Community Church in Dallas. We had 36 people go, which was great. We painted, grilled hamburgers & pizzas (yes, pizzas), had games for the kids, and passed out flyers. This was Chloe's first mission trip, and even though she may not remember it, I always will. It is Christy and my intent to model our faith instead of simply talking about it. We tried to have her tell everyone who came through the line that Jesus loves them... we pray for her to accept the love of Jesus too!

One of our guys had the opportunity to share Christ with a man who had been jumped just days prior. During their conversation, Robert noticed this man tense up. In the midst of their talk, a guy who had broken into his apartment, beat him up, and stole his stuff sat down directly across from them. This is where I would love to tell you how everyone received Christ and the man's possessions were returned, but the reality of it is the bully-man simply ate his free meal and left without acknowledging anyone.

This community is hard, so is the work that Pastor Bob does, but it is good work. Overall, our group felt blessed to be able to serve this community church. Our final trip is August 1-2 where we will help throw a back-to-school bash! We have already collected $600 to purchase 100 backpacks that we will give to the community children, along with some supplies. We are really looking forward to a continued partnership with Bob and Abundant Grace!




Monday, July 7, 2008

Freedom Weekend

Freedom Weekend for us this year was great. My kids got to see all their cousins, aunts & uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents this weekend. My old boss had me fill in for him at Davis Boulevard Baptist where I preached a sermon called, “Free To Be Set Free.” For me this year, it was a time of family, grilling, and relaxation.

It definitely is great to live in the land of liberty. As we were lounging around tonight we saw an episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition where they highlighted a Marine who lost his leg in battle, and came home to his four kids who were all abandoned by his wife/their mother. His sacrifice for our country is a reminder of the great sacrifice our freedom requires.

On a weekend of patriotism and celebration, it is important to recognize that FREEDOM ISN’T FREE. There is a heavy price tag on our American freedom. Many men and women are serving our country daily to protect the privileges that are so easy to take for granted. We need to pray for them and lift them up daily. While thinking about freedom, we need to also remember there was an even heftier price tag on our Spiritual freedom found in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. In Christ we are free indeed… may we never take that for granted and always pursue fresh growth in our relationship with Him.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Redeeming Jesus?

Recently a summer intern at our church shared about a ministry he is involved in at college. He said the premise of their work is to, "redeem the name of Jesus." Although I really like what they do (basically anonymous servant ministry), I have a fundamental problem with the idea that we - you, me, anyone - can or needs to redeem the name of Jesus! Is it not misguided to think the name above all names needs redeeming from mere men? Is it not a bit off to think that the Creator of everything is in need of our help? Is something missing with this thought?

Do not get me wrong, their work is awesome and I love the passion this guy has for the work he embarks upon. And to think of a bunch of college kids making an intentional effort to serve others is also great... did I mention this group is made up of college kids!

My issue is that I think the name of Jesus is safe, it is beyond our reach, and not in any sort of jeopardy. What needs redemption is the name of Jesus' followers. In a book called Unchristian, the authors basically state that those outside of the Christian faith see Christianity as something different than what Jesus originally had in mind. They also see us (believers) in regards to what we oppose, instead of what we are for; this is a serious issue for a later post.

So for my friend the intern, I am challenged by his work and praise him for it, BUT... it is not Jesus that needs redemption, it is His followers. May we all work on redeeming the name of Christian. May we work at serving, loving, sharing, giving, and caring. Let us light and candle and not curse the darkness for the glory of the Lord.