Thursday, June 26, 2008

Layin Down the Law!

Perhaps I should do this at youth group when students talk during worship or while I'm preaching.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


It was one of those all-too-familiar bitter sweet nights at youth group tonight. I had a couple of kids blow off my assistant and check out early from a mandatory missions meeting. I had to call their parents. Sucked. Attendance was a low - normal for this time of year - so that is always a bit of a bummer. The message went fairly well, but I still had a few kids with the mindset that during the message is the best time to catch up on the week. Then, during worship, I was pulled out three times to deal with kids who were causing trouble. Two kids were teasing another kid in the bathroom, and the kid got upset. I had to address them. No sweat. It went well. I figured it was over. Nope. A few other boys decided that they needed to use the bathrooms on the opposite side of the building because they can't poop in the bathroom that they're supposed to (that was literally their excuse). Repeat offenders whom the janitors constantly bring to us. A few minutes later I was called out again because two boys had been caught climbing on the roof and on the steel of our construction site. Repeat offenders. Had to call their parents too.

Are you sure being a big-people pastor is not easier than this? Ahhh! Youth Ministry! Gotta Love It! Thank You Lord that your grace is sufficient!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tree House Fun

Today I was on vacation at home. It was a fun day painting the tree house with my daughters - a long anticipated project they had been asking me about for months. We completed the inside with girlie camouflage, and we're going to do regular camouflage on the outside later. I also went and picked up a picnic table for our new patio, and we had dinner outside. I have lost 6 pounds on my new diet so far, so pray I'll continue to stick to it. I'm shooting to lose another 30 pounds. Wow! What a long road back to the college days! Never again! lol

Monday, June 23, 2008

Back 2 Bloggin

Wow! What a crazy busy week! It seems like I didn't have five minutes to sit down and blog. Let's see ... here are some highlights.

Monday night my 10-year old daughter had a concert. She was in the tamborine piece as well as in the chorus. She has great rythm and a great singing voice and uses her talents to worship Jesus! She did so great!

Wednesday I had our last student leader meeting of the year. Very good discussion about teamwork. After the meeting we had youth group. I preached the final message in my year-long series on the one another's of the New Testament.

Thursday my wife and I went out for coffee with my Jr. High coordinator. She has just finished college and is now applying for teaching positions, so we spent some time talking about her future. In the afternoon spent more time with Josh the intern. In the evening we went shopping, came home, I grilled some chicken and made a salad for dinner. A couple of students came over, so we hung out with them.

Friday was my day off. It was the girls' last day of school, so I went to my 10-year old's award ceremony. I was so blessed! She got a character award and it stated on her certificate that she was always caring and seeking ways to include others. That's a huge value for me, so I was super proud that she has embraced inclusiveness at such an early age! Had physical therapy, got my windshield replaced (a couple of pebbles from a passing truck), came home, worked out, cleaned up. The girls then came home from school, so we went to the mall so Eun Ji could get a gift for her friend. In the evening we took Eun Ji to the airport to return to Korea. Very sad for us!

Saturday went to our missions teams' dance practice. Prepared for our worship team party. Spent the afternoon grilling, swimming, and sharing a special time with the worship team. Rushed home and cleaned up, then Ady & I went to see a former student in a dance performance. There were 60 dance routines over 3-hours. We stayed for 2 1/2 hours and saw him in 4 routines. He's an incredible dancer in their senior troupe. Afterward we went out for Applebee's where Ady shared that she wants to go back to school in the fall. It's so perfect for her, so I told her to go for it! More to come on that!

Sunday went to all 3 services at church, ate lunch, grabbed a quick nap, then it was off to our small group finale party. That was the highlight of my week! We had 45 kids for a pool party and BBQ! For our first year in small groups, that was a huge win to have 45 kids at the finale party. We jumped out quickly, but I knew we would dip and then settle in. We had up to 80 students during the first few weeks, then it dipped down to about 60, and we settled in to an average attendance of about 55-60 between the 6 small groups. I was thrilled with how they went. We have learned a lot, and will take the summer to evaluate and improve them for next year. Super excited!

OK, I have the next two days off, so I am really looking forward to some fun times with the family! Tomorrow (now today) sleeping in, going out for breakfast, probably going to watch Kung Fu Panda, and painting the tree house. Tuesday we're going to the Bronx Zoo weather permitting. Yeah!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dream Day

I invited my office staff as well as some adult leaders and students to come to my house all day for what I called our youth ministry "Dream Day." My entire downstairs is currently wallpapered with posters that are plastered with ideas. Today was not about committing to anything, but getting the dreams and visions out there so we could see them. Our next step is to pray and ask God what He is saying. We are looking for any common threads that run throughout the posters to see if there is anything God would be saying through that. It was a very creative and invigorating day as everyone began to dream bigger & hopefully God-dreams for the youth ministry. Very exciting!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hot, Muggy, Fun!

We hosted our winter retreat reunion today (technically yesterday). It was a hot and muggy day, but it sure was fun to hang out with our friends from some of the churches who were with us six months ago. Our theme this year has been "Connecct" so we called our reunion "Re-Connect." We had a cookout, a talent show, field games as well as open gym, and a time of praise and worship with song writer and worship leader Mike Kim. He and the band were terrific! We look forward to linking up again in the near future. Highly recommended for any of you out there looking for a great worship leader for your next event. For more pictures as well as a hilarious video of two of our boys doing Miley Cyrus' song Nobody's Perfect, go to our youth group blog here:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spelling Bee Humor

My buddy Todd had this on his blog, so I'll give him props for it! Enjoy!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Starting a New Diet

This evening we had fun hanging around the pool with our friends Don & Lily at their home. While the kids were swimming we as couples decided to go on a diet together. Don & Lily are both fitness trainers and in good shape, so it's probably more for us. (Thanks for descending to our level to help us out guys!) Lily is going to come to the house and go through the cupboards with Ady, probably getting rid of most of what is found. Then we're going to go to Trader Joe's together and do some grocery shopping. Even though it means sacrifice (e.g. giving up my steady diet of government cheese (RIP Chris Farley!)), I am excited about embracing a deeper lifestyle change! Having their expert advice is going to be so helpful. I made a major move 3 years ago and lost 40 pounds, but I plateaued, and I need someone to push me to get to my ultimate goal of weighing 170 lbs. If I reach it, I will have lost 60 lbs. and will be back to my college weight. This is probably my last hurrah opportunity. I'm getting old! lol

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Book of God

I just finished reading The Book of God by Walter Wangrin Jr. It is over 600 pages, so I chipped away at it over the last year. It is a wonderful and creative presentation of the Bible as a novel. It really awakens the imagination while staying true to the essential truth of Scripture. It was a lot of fun to inhabit the biblical story. If you're looking for a fresh way to explore God's story, give this book a read. I am looking forward to reading another novel by Wangrin called Paul which is a novel about the life of the Apostle.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Awesome Family Night!

Tuesday nights have been our designated family night for the last year now. We intentionally do something special together as a family. Tonight (or last night ... it's now 1 a.m.) we did something very fun. I have made good friends with the owners of a local pizzeria. I was in there for lunch today and I was suddenly struck with an idea. I asked Manny (one of the owners) if it would be possible for me to bring the family over for dinner and if he would allow the girls to make their own pizzas. He said it would be no problem. So, we took the girls down, telling them nothing more than they were going to have to work for their dinner. I was teasing them that they were going to have to do dishes. After washing up and sitting at our table, Manny and his wife Stephanie came out with dough, sauce, and cheese. The girls got so excited! They couldn't believe they were going to make their own pizzas. It was such a blast! A fun, creative, experiential family night that we will never forget. That's Manny & Stephanie in the pictures. They're the best! If you're local or ever on Long Island, be sure to go to Aegean II in Smithtown - incredible!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"I Don't Feel God"

I wrote this article for our church newsletter, but I thought it would be a valuable thought for you as well. May it be of help and encouragement to you.

“I really felt close to God at the winter retreat,” he said. “But now I’m struggling,” he continued, “because I don’t feel Him anymore. I’m trying, but it’s just so different. Why can’t I feel God like I used to?”

These were the words that a young man spoke to me as we were sitting in my favorite pizzeria enjoying our slices. His words were not unfamiliar to me. I hear them from students on a regular basis. I hear them from adults during altar ministry on Sunday mornings. There is something inside of us that longs to feel God.

As I write this it is Monday morning. Like most of you, Monday mornings are not my favorite time of the week. When the alarm goes off I instantly go for the Snooze button. That’s why I set my alarm two hours before I really need to be up. I do this so I can snooze away and trick myself into believing that I got some extra sleep. Some days I feel like getting up and going to work; some days I don’t. But I get up and go to work.

I have an amazing wife. We have been married for twelve years, and we have a wonderful relationship. Most days we make each other laugh and enjoy one another’s company. However, at the risk of shocking some of you and shattering your stereotype of a pastor, I’ll be real and say … Sometimes I feel like being married; sometimes I don’t. But I stay married.

I have a relationship with Jesus. Part of any significant relationship is spending time together. That’s why a regular, personal time with the Lord is important. I’ll confess that sometimes I feel like I get something out of my quiet time; sometimes I don’t. Also, as I am sure you can identify, in the business of life there are plenty of other things fighting for my time. Some days I feel like having a quiet time with the Lord; some days I don’t. But I have a regular quiet time with the Lord anyways.

Here’s the point: If I lived my life based on my feelings, I would live on an emotional roller coaster. I would probably be unemployed, divorced, and living distant from God. However, I go to work every day, I stay faithfully committed to my wife, and I continue to spend time with God, not because I always feel like it, but because of a greater purpose.

The truth is that many of us treat Jesus like a drug. We get our Jesus-fix by attending weekly services, going on retreats, participating in church events, possibly going on missions trips, etc. and we are filled with great feelings when we do these things. But after a while the feelings wear off, and we live depressed, disillusioned lives. So what’s our solution? We go looking for another fix, of course. Our entire spiritual life is up and down, on and off. There is no consistency, and we often grow frustrated, and sometimes people just simply quit. Why is this? I believe it’s because the life Jesus invites us to includes our feelings, but is not to be based on our feelings.

Feelings are not inherently wrong. In fact, they’re quite good. God created us in His image. He feels, and He made us with the ability to feel. I enjoy the feelings I get when I am on a missions trip serving Jesus. I enjoy the feelings I get when I am singing and dancing before my God. Like you, I long for that sense of closeness. However, I have learned that I cannot measure closeness by my feelings alone, because my feelings are terribly inconsistent – they come and go, and they change based on circumstance. Yet God is consistent – He does not change, and He is always present. So what we are actually referring to when we speak of “feeling” God is our ability to perceive His presence. Understanding the place of feelings in our spiritual lives is very important. We need to acknowledge our feelings, but our feelings cannot rule our lives. Feelings are a part of us, but they cannot be the foundation upon which we build our lives.

When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane He said to His disciples, “My soul is sorrowful” (Mark 14:34). He then prayed, “Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Here we see Jesus, the Son of God, authentically acknowledging his feelings. He doesn’t feel like doing what His Father is asking Him to do. He doesn’t feel drinking the cup of death. He doesn’t feel like going to the cross and dying. Yet He moves forward anyway. What caused Him to keep moving obediently toward death? It was not His feelings! It was His faith in the Father, and His commitment to the purpose of God.

Jesus invites us to follow Him down this path. He says, “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses His life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39). The cross is not something very attractive to our feelings. It is contrary to everything we want to do. The cross means death. It means dying – surrendering our dreams, desires, and plans. I don’t feel like dying. But Jesus invites me, and He invites you, to come and die that we might discover true and everlasting life. The thing that enables us to respond to the invitation of Christ is not our feelings; it is our conviction and commitment to the purposes of God. We are called to be followers of Jesus. Sometimes we will want to follow Him, sometimes we won’t. But we must keep following.

I constantly challenge our students, and today I challenge you, to live your life for a greater purpose than feelings. If you have built your relationship with the Lord on feelings, you have built your spiritual home on shifting sands. Feelings come and go, but faith must remain consistent. My grandfather used to tell me that it’s not how high you jump; it’s how straight you walk when you land. He wasn’t negating the jumping. Rather, he was emphasizing the more important thing – the walking. The steps we take when we don’t feel God are the true test of the moments when we do feel Him.

Faith says: When I don’t see God, I will keep walking. When I don’t hear God, I will hold fast. When I don’t feel God, I will continue to live for Him.

Sometimes you will feel God, sometimes you will not. But like David you must say, “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). Choose to live for Jesus because of conviction not because of circumstances – by faith, not by feelings.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Received this today. Thought it was quite funny. My wife laughed hysterically.

Men Are Just Happier People-- What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental $100. People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time.Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. One wallet and one pair of shoes-- one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25minutes.No wonder men are happier.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Just finished watching the movie Bella starring Eduardo Verastegui. It's a tremendous drama that addresses issues such as true love, kindness, the importance of family, the value of life, abortion, and adoption. Eduardo Verastegui is a great actor from Mexico and a devoted Christ-follower. We had the privilege of hearing his testimony and his vision to produce movies that help to transform culture at Battle Cry in Virginia in 2007. Wonderful movie with many great clips that could be used in messages. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements. Highly recommended!