my thanksgiving list

so i'm gonna try something new to help me connect with thanksgiving this year - i'm gonna "free write" for 10 straight minutes anything and everything that comes to mind that i'm thankful for right now. no editing or correcting after the fact... just writing everything that comes to mind.





life, joy, shanna, technology, our home, heat, a furnace that works, a roof that keeps out rain, 2 cars that run, lakeshore, a GREAT church culture to serve in, our friends, parents who help and serve without thinking, the new baby on the way, that the nursery is done, my marriage, that we're still together, friends, shoes, clean drinking water, health, that my teeth don't hurt even though i haven't been to the dentist in a LONG time, success, prosperous year, that our bills have been paid, enough food to eat every day this year, that i've never gone hungry, for mozambique and our friends there, for our students, for our adult leadership team, for pastor vince, Christ and his sacrifice for my sins, that he opened my eyes and drew me to Himself, confidence and stability, the leadership summit, mariska, a healthy pregnancy so far, God's sovereignty, good relations with parents in our ministry, flower city work camp, college loans paid off, my salary, shanna's photography skills, date nights, our yard, lawnmower that works, that i can breathe, for my youth group growing up, for BBC, francis chan, doug fields, josh griffin, todd bush, colin smith, bill higley, joe schlaegel, bill hybels, frank deluccio, the rest of the church staff, good neighbors, a quiet and peaceful street, awesome view from our living room, for the OBX vacations, for the cabin in VA, common ground services, new building at LCC and youth rooms, coffee, mark, mom, dad, mom2, dad2, alaina, brandon, grant, anna, leigh, joseph, aneila, and all the the other family members, for a slower pace in life, more balance and better decisions, for spiritual growth this past year, for the website done, for the chance to go to SYMC in march, christ's unconditional love, the hope in the future, that one day He'll come back, and that one day He'll make all things right in this world.


new church building

just got absolutely blown away at something - check this out!!! it's pictures of the new church building for the Savane church plant in mozambique. i had the privilege of preaching there 2 years ago on our first trip, and it was still the grass building when we visited. i still remember hiking out in the tall grass with the church leader after the service as he showed us the plot of ground they were hoping to build on in the near future. how amazing to now see the completion of the building and the continuing of God's work there in savane!

we have so much to be thankful for!


francis chan on a balance beam

saw the video below posted on f-book by my cousin hannah - so powerful! and i think it touches on a lot of what shanna blogged about yesterday. enjoy!



WORRY; verb
  1. be worried, concerned, anxious, troubled, or uneasy; I worry about my job;
  2. be concerned with; I worry about my grades;
  3. disturb the peace of mind of; afflict with mental agitation or distress;
  4. be on the mind of; I worry about the second Germanic consonant;
  5. lacerate by biting; the dog worried his bone;
*Definitions by WordNet

I've been thinking a lot about worry lately...  since we've found out about our pregnancy I've been worrying like crazy.  Not that I didn't have worries related to our adoption; I did.  But, there are so many things with this baby that are within my "control" (haha!).  Such as, what foods I eat or don't eat...  if I exercise or not... choosing to deliver naturally vs. all those wonder drugs...  

Then I realized this worrying could potentially NEVER END!!!  In fact - extreme intensification is to be expected.  I'm irreversibly, unconditionally in love with this little human being.  And loving someone means worrying about that person, right?

BUT - the sticking point for me is this: it shouldn't be par for the course!  Worry is sin.  So, why do we laugh it off and pretend that it is okay?  Why is worry an "acceptable" sin.  We tout the evils of drinking - but where in the Bible does it ever say, DO NOT DRINK?  (don't get drunk - yes! Don't drink - hardly.)  And yet, it clearly says, DO NOT WORRY (Matthew 6:31, 34 and Luke 12:22, 21:13) or Do NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING (Philippians 4:6).

Then, I began to wonder what other "acceptable" sins do we have?  How about self-image issues?  For a woman to admit contentment or pleasure regarding her physical appearance seems irreverent and insensitive to all women around her.  Every woman around her feels she's just boastful and arrogant.  And gossip...  don't even get me started about gossip!

Ugh.  The worst part of all of these issues is that I have found them acceptable - even pious at times!  And it has been that way for so long, that the roots of this junk is wound in and around everything inside of me.  There is no yanking it out without pain and awkwardness and even derision.  

And, I'm already worrying about it.  Frustrated that I know I'm going to fail!  (Because, I'm a perfectionist, don't ya know!)  I won't even make it through the rest of today without worrying about something...         


youth ministry still changes lives

i recently read a gripping article in the latest issue of GROUP magazine about a man named Chris Keith. if you need a reminder of how youth ministry really does change lives and gives hope to hurting young people, read on. i'd love to get him to speak to our teens some day and share his story...

you can read the full article originally posted by CNN here. here's an excerpt, but head there for the rest:

When Chris was five years old his distraught father attempted to kill him, shooting him in the head after he'd already suffocated his mother and shot his brother to death. After Chris appeared to be dead, his father then committed suicide. Even though medics on the scene declared everyone in the house dead, Chris somehow survived his terrible wounds. Later, during his recovery, he was told by relatives that his family had died in a car accident and that he was the only survivor. When he was 12 his grandparents took him to a counselor to reveal the truth to him. In the process they pulled out newspaper clippings that described the crime.

He carried one of those newspaper clippings in his wallet, and slowly retreated from friendships. He was a loner all through middle and high school. When he was 14 he summoned the courage to show the clippings to his youth minister, who cried as he read what had happened to Chris. "It was amazing to me because I had never seen a man cry before," he says. "It made me realize somebody cared about me." Just as the youth pastor was finishing the article, Chris' best friend walked in - he handed him the article and watched as he read and cried.

Chris says his youth minister and his best friend, as well as his grandparents and his church, helped him navigate his anger, grief, and doubt.


overused statistics

warning - rant coming!

i'm so sick and tired of hearing the statistic of teens who are plugged into church / youth group as a teen and then they vanish from the scene after graduation. if you've been around the youth ministry world for long, you've heard it a thousand different times (and the percentage usually gets higher every time). i agree... it's a major issue we need to address and fight. and that we all can do things to better equip our students for the big transition into young adulthood. our youth ministries need to evaluate and tweak their transition initiatives more, and our adult ministries need to stop talking about being more relevant to the emerging generation and actually be it.

but i'm a little troubled by how many are using this statistic.

more and more seem to be using it to sell a product... whether it's a book, or a dvd set, or a small group curriculum...it's all about the product in the end. just today i got a letter in the mail promoting 2 new christian video games, and in paragraph 2 they inserted the classic quote from josh mcdowell and the age old statistic. maybe i'm just naive and ignorant, but i hardly think an alternative video game will keep our 20-somethings coming to church.

more and more seem to be using it to sell a paradigm... that the whole way we approach and do youth ministry is wrong. attractional vs. missional... family ministry vs. youth ministry... large group preaching vs. experiential learning. yada yada yada ...out with the old and in with the new.

again, i do believe we need to consistently evaluate and tweak our ministries so that we can position our students in the best possible way. but i'm just tired of people flinging this statistic around to get something marginally related to go their way. stop it, people!