Archive for August, 2008

Barefoot Sunday

This morning at Grace Capital Church we were challenged by Pastor Peter Bonanno to live with less and to be content.  The practical challenge to us all at the end of the message was to leave our shoes behind as we walked out of the service.  Our shoes would serve as a symbolic desire to learn to be content with what we have and to live with less in order that others could have something.

As we ended each of our services this morning we left our shoes.  When it was all said and done over 800 pairs of shoes were collected to be donated to Soles4Souls.  Soles4Souls has a simple mission: To impact as many lives as possible with the gift of shoes.  There are 300 million children in the world who have never owned a pair of shoes.  This morning we helped make a small dent in that number.  

Now, most days bare feet in the church would be a rare site.  Let’s face it, feet are ugly.  This morning they were a beautiful site.  It was truly an inspiring moment as a steady stream of people in each service walked barefoot to the front of the sanctuary to drop their shoes at the altar.  As the service ended and people walked out the doors toward their cars to head home, there was a new found look of freedom on many of their faces.  I know for me, I may never know who will be placing my size 10 Vans on their feet.  I pray that they are blessed and that this small token of generosity will serve as a great reminder to me for years to come as I strive to be thankful for what I have as I try to live with less.

If you are interested, you can listen to Peter’s message here.  May you be challenged to find ways to live with less in order to provide for those who have nothing.  It’s not about being frugal, it’s about being generous!  

May this bring about great heart change for me and for each person that made the barefoot stroll out of GCC today.

Salsa Time

Yep!  It’s that time of year again…

Identity

It seems as though I’m having more and more conversations with people who are dealing with a current identity crisis.  Far too many people wrap up what they do into who they are.  Even worse, people are trying to be someone that they are not.  If we could only truly understand that our identity comes more from what God has done for us than what we are doing we would experience true peace, freedom, and happiness in our lives.

It seems as though people in positions of ministry get caught in this trap more than most.  Rather than living in our identity as a child of God we take on the identity of what we do.  We become humans doing rather than human beings.  When we step away from ministry from a time we don’t know what to do.  We lose sight of who we are.  We face an identity crisis.  I think that is why it is a good idea to live in the spirit of sabbath.  We need to find regular times of retreat where we can stop doing and continue exploring who we are.

It’s never too late to step into the identity of who you are.  Who God created you to be.  Quit trying to be someone else and embrace who you are.

Get A Free One-on-One Youth Ministry Mentor

My friend Tim Schmoyer over at Life in Student Ministry is making a great opportunity available for youth leaders.  If you’ve been in youth ministry for 2 years or fewer and would like to have a FREE one-on-one youth ministry mentor for 10 weeks, read the official Youth Ministry Mentorship page. The link to the application is there. It’s open to anyone who serves in youth ministry in any capacity, whether that be on a volunteer basis or as a full-time youth pastor.  This is a very exciting opportunity for new youth pastors/leaders to get some very practical advice and tools for longevity in ministry.  The Youth Ministry Mentor Team is made up of youth ministry veterans who desire to see more Kingdom growth through passionate youth ministries.

I myself am very excited as this is a new opportunity for myself to be involved in training and equipping a youth pastor through a mentoring relationship.  The application period is open for only 2 weeks. After Tuesday, September 9, no further applications will be accepted. So Read an overview of the mentorship and apply here.

Special thanks go to YouthBytes.org’s sponsorship. This program is offered free of charge to everyone who participates! They’re covering the cost of purchasing and shipping all the necessary books and resources you get as an accepted participant of the mentorship.

YouthBytes.org creates video curriculum for youth groups that contains some of the most outrageous stunts I’ve ever seen, all for the purpose of illustrating Biblical truth. Check out some of these crazy video clips to see what I mean.

Dreams

I’ve been reading Erwin McManus‘ new book Wide Awake.  In it he says this:

“What you care about

         is what you dream about.

                   Your passions fuel your dreams.”

That quote has been resonating within for the past couple of days.  I’ve been thinking more on what my dreams are.  What are the big, God-sized dreams that I have that I need God to get involved in for them to become reality?  I’ve got lots of dreams.  I have many God-sized goals for my life, my family, and my ministry.  Some of these dreams are just fluff that I know are not worth losing any sleep over at all, but there are those that I can’t let go of.  The dreams that I can’t let die.  The ones that I need to revisit and keep pressing in to make happen.

What are your dreams?  What are the things that you, and you alone, are called to do?  Are they big?  Are they so big that they must have the hand of God involved for them to occur?

Let’s dream.  But also agree to wake up and work hard to make our dreams a reality.

What I Did Do…

Refinished a 13 year old table.  Looks sweet!  Went from a pale maple with 13 years worth of scratches to a brand new looking table with antiqued black legs and red mahogany top with 3 layers of urethane.  Striving to get another 13 years out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

What I Didn’t Do…

Aside from not posting on the blog this week, the other thing I didn’t do was shave.  It’s getting itchy now so it will probably go away tonight…

Intentional Welcome

We’re doing something different this year in how we welcome the new 6th grade class into Impact.  In years past we have opened up Impact to new 6th graders after Kid’s Camp has finished.  At that time they would begin to attend whenever they chose to.  The flaw in that method was that we were not very intentional with how we welcomed the new students.  While we work hard to connect with each new student as they come to Impact, we did not do a good job at helping connect the new students into the whole group.

This year, on Wednesday, August 27th, we will be having what we are calling, “Push-Up Day” at Impact.  I have sent out letters to the parents of each of the 6th graders that this will be the first time that they will be welcome to attend Impact.  We also just sent out invitations to the students this week.  While this may seem cheesy or a gimmick, I chose to purchase a case of push-pops this year and mail one out along with the invitation to Impact to each of the new 6th graders.  The invitation just simply stated, “We are excited to have you join us at Impact on August 27th!  Please enjoy this push-pop in honor of your “push-up day” at Impact.

The push-pops may seem like a gimmick but I really want to make the new students feel like we want them at Impact.  Oftentimes as a new student at Impact it can be intimidating.  We have a large group of students and if you are the young one and don’t know who may be there it can be a scary place to be.  Push-pops may not remove all of their fear but our prayer is that it will help them know that we have them in mind.

Something else that we are doing this year is to have Big Brothers / Big Sisters for the new students.  Each of the new 6th graders will have a student leader from Impact that will meet them at the doors on August 27th and show them around the building.  These leaders will spend the whole evening with the new students, introducing them to their friends and helping them connect with others on their first night.  The cool thing about this approach is that each of our student leaders will be praying for the new student that they will host long before August 27th.  I believe this will increase the compassion and empathy that the student leaders will have for the new students.  Each of these student leaders can remember back to their first time at Impact, when they may not have known anyone, and desire to make this first impression of Impact a positive, welcoming experience.

I’m excited for this new class of 6th grade students that will be joining us this year.  We have a total of 26 new 6th grade students that we know of right now that will be connecting in a deeper relationship with God and entering into new relationships with other students at Impact.  When you think of it, please be in prayer for Push-Up Day at Impact.  This has the potential to begin many great relationships that will last for years and will serve to be a great support system and encouragement throughout their middle & high school years.

You Choose

About a week ago we had a photo shoot for our staff at GCC.  I can say quite honestly that I have never been very photogenic.  I usually have a crooked smile, closed eyes, and accentuated balding.  I guess the difference is in the photographer.  We met up with a couple from our church that take amazing pictures, Matt & Liz Hinkley at Hinkley Photography.  Since having my pictures taken by them I have been following their blog and checking the shots that they take – incredible stuff!  If you ever need pictures taken for an event or just some family shots, do yourself a favor – skip out on Sears and Walmart and connect with Matt & Liz.

Now, I need your help.  You choose.  Which picture should I go with?  I’m thinking of revamping the header on my blog and I need to update my picture on the GCC Staff page.  Let me know which one I should go with.

1. 

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

Just leave me a comment with the number that you think I should use.  While you’re out on the web – swing by and say hello to Matt & Liz.  This couple was a blast to hang out with and made having pictures taken a joy.

O2 – Breathing New Life Into Faith

I picked up a new book last week by Richard Dahlstrom.  Honestly, I knew nothing about the author and had never had anyone recommend the book to me.  Very honestly, the cover art on the book just caught my eye as the titling “O2” intrigued me.  After reading through this book I can say that I enjoyed almost all of it.  One section really stood out to me.  Dahlstrom talks about Jesus and His message of the kingdom.  Most times we talk about either personal transformation or social justice and there seems to be a chasm between the two rather than them being connected.  Allow me to quote Dahlstrom from page 74.

Maybe the pathway to peace will entail a reduction in my own standard of living so that instead of a few of us in the world multiplying storage sheds for junk we don’t need, wealth is more evenly distributed.  Putting an end to human trafficking will require that people stop treating each other as sexual toys.  Furthering the cause of racial equality will mean that I need to step across the chasms that so easily divide me or my faith community from others.  I must become proactive in entering into the chaos, truth telling, and hospitality that are vital for reconciliation to really occur.  In other words, Jesus’ kingdom won’t come because society changes or because laws change.  It will come because we change – each of us in ways that are threatening to our status quo.

This is the challenge that I am trying to live by more and more.  It’s the reason why I joined the Junky Car Club.  I love the motto for the club, “living with less so others can have more”.  I’ll keep driving my junker in order to make it possible to be more generous to those who have so little.  Just this simple idea of not upgrading my car – even though it is dying – so that I can be free to bless those who have financial needs has given me such joy and peace.  I’ve actually been keeping my eye open for another car that will replace my existing car but I have set a budget of $2000 for the car so that I can pay for it outright and continue living without a monthly car payment.

As I embrace the world around me with financial support I feel that much more connected to the needs that exist.  Rather than cheerlead for the causes that have great needs, I get to put my money where my mouth is and as I do I feel my faith grow as I learn to depend more on Him to provide for my needs as I help t provide for the needs of others.  I am so digging this…