Thursday, December 31, 2009

Books I Read in 2009

  1. 99 Thoughts for Youth Workers by Josh Griffin
  2. A Walk Through the Bible by Leslie Newbigin
  3. Adventures in Missing the Point by Tony Campolo & Brian McLaren
  4. Book Manuscript by my main man Scott Wozniak
  5. Christianity & Social Order by William Temple
  6. Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton
  7. Dad's Everything Book for Daughters by John Trent
  8. Darwin In A Nutshell by Peter Whitfield
  9. Devotional Classics Edited by Richard J. Foster & James Bryan Smith
  10. Everything Must Change by Brian McLaren
  11. Foreign to Familiar by Sarah A. Lanier
  12. God Has A Dream by Desmond Tutu
  13. In The Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri J.M. Nouwen
  14. It's Not About Me by Max Lucado
  15. Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin
  16. Love: The Words & Inspiration of Mother Teresa
  17. Martin Luther by Edwin P Booth
  18. Miles to Cross by Mike Howerton
  19. Myth of a Christian Nation by Gregory Boyd
  20. Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  21. Peace Child by Don Richardson
  22. Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life by Tony Dungy
  23. Refuel by Doug Fields
  24. Reverse Mentoring by Earl Creps
  25. Sabbatical Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen
  26. Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire
  27. Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer & Eric Geiger
  28. Streams of Living Waters: Celebrating the Great Traditions of the Christian Faith by Richard Foster
  29. Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
  30. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson
  31. The Case of Roe v. Wade by Leonard A. Stevens
  32. The Chris Farley Show by Tom Farley, Jr., and Tanner Colby
  33. The Coming of God by Jurgen Moltmann (only read 1/2)
  34. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
  35. The Divine Hours Pocket Edition by Phyllis Tickle
  36. The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas by Mahatma Gandhi
  37. The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing & Why by Phyllis Tickle
  38. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  39. The Horse & His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  40. The Illustrated Guide to World Religions by Dean Halverson
  41. The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey
  42. The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy
  43. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  44. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  45. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  46. The Love Dare by Stephen & Alex Kendrick
  47. The Meaning of the Millennium Edited by Robert G. Clouse
  48. The Millennium Myth by N.T. Wright
  49. The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission by Leslie Newbigin
  50. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
  51. The Prodigal God by Tim Keller
  52. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  53. The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter & Matt Smay
  54. The Words of Gandhi
  55. The World as I Remember It by Rich Mullins
  56. The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen
  57. UnChristian by David Kinnman & Gabe Lyons
  58. Walking by Henry David Thoreau
  59. When Generations Collide by Lynne C. Lancaster & David Stillman
  60. Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
  61. William Booth: Soup, Soap, and Salvation by Janet & Geoff Benge
  62. Also read several books with my daughters: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Jungle Book, The Secret Garden, Pollyanna, Anne of Green Gables

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christianity & Social Order by William Temple

I just finished reading a little book by William Temple (1881-1944) called Christianity & Social Order. Fantastic! In the book he lays out principles to guide Christians in their involvement in social life. Talk about a guy who was ahead of his times! Challenging and well worth the read!

Faith

"The Christian churches today largely define faith as knowing, and even being certain about your knowing, when in fact it means exactly the opposite! Faith is being willing not to know, and still being content, because God knows." - Richard Rohr

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ignorance

"Ignorance does not result from what we don’t know! Ignorance results from what we think we do know—but don’t! Most ignorant people are, in fact, quite certain." Richard Rohr

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Nativity Story Movie










Thursday, December 24, 2009

Waiting to be Rediscovered & Explored

"The deep hidden stream of Christian meditation, mysticism, adoration, thanksgiving, wrestling with the anguish of the world in the presence of God, and celebrating the joy of the world in the presence of God, is waiting to be rediscovered and explored." - N.T. Wright The Millennium Myth, p. 84).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Snug Wow!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

OUR 2009 FAMILY CHRISTMAS CARD!

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Snow Day Study

Today our church services were canceled due to a snow storm that whacked us overnight. This was a common occurrence for our family growing up in upstate New York, and when it would happen, out family would have our own little church service. I thought I would pass along a short Bible study for you to do at home today by yourself or with others. May you know the love and peace of the Lord today!

- Kevin


Read Luke 1:26-37


"26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail." 38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me according to your word." Then the angel left her."


Study Questions:

What are the descriptions given to Mary about her child? (1:31-35)

What are some of the characteristics of Mary that you see in this passage?

Read the account of Gabriel’s prediction of John’s birth to Zechariah in 1:5-25. How was Zechariah’s response to the angel similar to Mary’s? How was his response different?

When Mary questioned the angel (1:34), he answered her question. When Zechariah questioned the angel (1:18) he was made unable to speak. Why? (1:19-20)

After the angel had answered Mary’s question, what was her response? (1:38)


Thoughts:

In His sovereignty God chose Mary for the important task of giving birth to His one and only Son, Jesus. A study of her life will reveal important insights into her character and some clues as to why she was a candidate to be used by God in such a special way. For the sake of our purposes today we want to take a few minutes to focus on four aspects of Mary’s response and posture in this particular scene.


  1. Greatly Troubled. When Gabriel spoke to her, Mary’s first reaction was one of disturbance. Most of us would have been freaked out simply because we were seeing an angel! But Luke says that Mary was agitated – filled with inner commotion and turmoil – not because she had seen an angel, but because of what he said and the nature of his greeting. Interestingly, he had not even gotten into the details of his message yet. All he had said up to that point was “Hi Mary. You’re highly favored! God is with you.” That was enough to throw Mary into a troubled state.
  2. Um, I Have a Question! After an attempt at reassuring her, Gabriel goes on to tell Mary the meat of his message: that she is going to give birth to the Messiah. The second thing she did was ask him a question. “Um, Mr. Angel, sir! That’s really nice and all, but I have a question – it’s kind of an “In the Know” thing: How can this be? I have never even been intimate with a man before, and I think that’s kind of the way things work.” Gabriel then goes on to tell her that the Holy Spirit is going to cause her to become pregnant in a mysterious way.
  3. Master and Servant. After getting this cleared up … sort of (I would still have some serious questions, wouldn’t you?!) … the third thing we notice is Mary’s statement: “I am the Lord’s Servant”. The Greek word used for Lord is kyrios and was a term of reverence and respect. It was a title given to God recognizing His supreme control. Mary viewed God as her Master and properly saw herself in light of this reality – as a servant whose sole purpose was to fulfill the desires of her Master.
  4. I Submit. Fourth, and finally, Mary says, “May it be it me according to your word”. Gabriel came bearing the word of the Lord, and Mary’s response demonstrated that she was fully submitted to the plans and purposes of God.


Like Mother Like Son

When Jesus was confronted with one of the most difficult moments of His earthly life in the Garden of Gethsemane on His way to the cross, He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Like 22:42).

God chose Mary for the special task of bearing His Son because of her readiness to fully embrace the will of God. Is it possible that Jesus had the character to fully embrace the will of God – not just because of who He was the Son of God, but also because He saw it modeled by His mother while He was growing up? The Bible doesn’t say, but it is interesting for us to ponder this possibility.

Conclusion

The reality is that God is looking for people who are willing to walk in total submission to His will. Are we going to have concerns? Yes! Will we have questions? Absolutely! But like Mary and Jesus let us embrace an attitude of submission to the will of our Creator. Let us surrender to the One who created us and truly and ultimately knows the reasons for which we were given life. Let us follow Him - walking in faith, trusting that He knows best.


Reflection Questions:

What are some of the fears you have when you think about submitting to the will of God? Explain.

What is at risk when you say “yes” to God’s will?

What is at risk when you say “yes” to your will?

If you're in a group, share with one another areas of your lives that you are not fully submitted to the Lord in. Then take some time to pray for each other.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

SURPRISED!

Today I was out doing yard work preparing for the snow storm when my wife arrived home from a wedding makeup job. She asked me to come inside - that she had an emergency. When I came in I was shocked to see my mom and dad sitting on the couch! They had decided to fly out to spend Christmas with us, and I think that's the first time my wife ever kept a secret and surprised me like that. So fun! The day was capped off in perfect fashion ... watching the Cowboys beat the previously undefeated Saints with my dad. Thank you Jesus for a great day!
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Devotional Classics

Today I finished up a tremendous collection of devotions that I've been working through for a few months in a book called Devotional Classics edited by Richard Foster & James Bryan Smith. I read it for a class in seminary many years ago, but, as with many books one reads in college, while it was good, sometimes I was rushing through to get it done in time for class and didn't fully value the content. I am so glad I dusted it off and went through it again, this time at a more leisurely pace so I could absorb it into my spirit! It was a much richer and more meaningful experience for me at this point on my journey. I highly recommend getting it and working your way through it with your morning cup of coffee. Well worth it!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Master vs. Father

"God is not so well pleased with being our Master as he is with being our Father; he is not so pleased with our being his slaves as he is with our being his children. This is what God truly wants. This is why he did all that he has done, not sparing his only begotten Son, that we, as adopted sons and daughters, might love him as a Father. God's exceeding desire to be loved comes from loving exceedingly." - John Chrysostom (345-407)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Conspiracy

I saw this on HLN News this evening and it so resonates with me! I hope it will with you as well.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

C-Lite - "No Tombstone" Featuring Sheena Lee

Hey guys! Check out this music video directed by my good friend David Ham. We will be having the artists featured in the video at Planet Impact in the coming months, so look forward to it! - PK

2 New Christmas Videos from After Edmund w/ New Manager Jim Bob

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Chinese Buffet

This is one of my favorites! There is one curse word in it, so be forewarned. It's too funny! Enjoy!

World AIDS Day Speech

After my message at Planet Impact last week, many of you have asked for a copy of the World AIDS Day speech that I delivered on December 4th which I made reference to. I need to mention that I am indebted to World Vision for many of the statistics given in the opening. The description of God is adapted from an e-mail forward I received many years ago (no original source was given). OK, here it is ...

World AIDS Day was started in 1988 in order to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic. Tonight we gather to celebrate 21 years of raising awareness and focusing attention on AIDS and its affect on our world.

Over 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV and AIDS.

Last year 2.7 million people were newly infected with HIV.

Every day more than 5,700 people die because of AIDS – that’s more than 2 million people a year.

Those hardest hit are often children. More than 2 million children worldwide are living with HIV.

More than 15 million children have lost one or both parents because of AIDS.

By next year the global number of children orphaned by AIDS is expected to surpass 20 million.

Rising mortality rates and falling life expectancies due to AIDS mean that much of the progress that has been made fighting poverty in recent decades is being lost.

For example, in the hardest hit areas – particularly in Africa, an emerging middle class is being pushed below the poverty line by the loss of income and exorbitant medical bills. Few can afford to see a doctor, and even fewer can afford AIDS medications.

When children lose parents to AIDS, grandparents often become guardians. If the grandparents are gone, the older children must drop out of school to look after their younger siblings.

While AIDS has devastated millions of people – some of whom were friends of those of you gathered here tonight – I come this evening with a message of hope. I believe there is One Person who can give us hope in the fight against AIDS. It is not President Obama. It is not Bill Gates. It is not even Bono. The Person I am referring to is ...

The First and Last, the Beginning and the End
He is the keeper of all creation and the Creator of all
He is the Architect of the universe, and the Overseer of all times.
He always was, always is, and He always will be …
Unmoved, unchanged, undefeated, and never undone
He was bruised and offers healing
He was pierced and eases pain
He was persecuted and offers freedom
He was dead and offers life
He is risen and offers hope
He reigns and offers peace
The world can’t understand him
Armies can’t defeat Him
Schools can’t explain Him
Leaders can’t ignore Him
Herod couldn’t kill Him
Scholars couldn’t confuse Him
People couldn’t hold Him
Nero couldn’t crush Him
Hitler couldn’t silence Him
Oprah can’t explain Him away, and
AIDS does not intimidate Him
He is light, love, liberty, and Lord
He is goodness, kindness, gentleness, and God
He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure
His ways are right
His Word is eternal
His will is unchanging, and
His mind is on you and me
He is my Savior
He is my Redeemer
He is my best Friend
He is my Guide
He is my Peace
He is my Joy
He is my Comfort
He is my Lord
He rules my life!
I serve Him because His bond is love
His burden is light
His destiny for me is abundant life
I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise
The power of the powerful
The Ancient of Days
The ruler of rulers
The leader of leaders
The overseer of overseers
The Sovereign Lord of all that was, that is, and that is to come
His goal is a relationship with you and me
He will never leave me nor forsake me
He will never mislead me or forget me
He will never overlook me, and
When I fall, He lifts me up
When I fail, He forgives me
When I am weak, He is strong
When I am lost, He is the way
When I am afraid, He is my courage
When I stumble, He steadies me
When I am hurt, He heals me
When I am broken, He mends me
When I am blind, He leads me
When I am hungry, He feeds me
When I face trials, He is with me
When I face persecution, He shields me
When I face problems, He provides for me
When I face loss, He comforts me
When I face death, He carries me home.
He is everything, for everybody, everywhere, every time, in every way, for all time
He is God
He is faithful
I am His, and He is mine
God is in control, and I am His child
That means I will do not fear, I am not afraid
I trust my Father, and all is well with my soul
I love the Lord, and I thank Him for Who He is and all that He does in my life
Therefore I am here to tell you tonight that God is the Source of all Life
Whoever you are, wherever you are from, whatever you are going through, God IS!
He is the reason you are here, alive, and breathing at this very moment
Without Him we are nothing and can do nothing
But with Him we can do all things ...

Including not just slowing AIDS down, but putting a stop to AIDS once and for all!

So I ask you tonight, who or what is the leader of your life? Who or what is your confidence in for solving the AIDS crisis? If your answer – and I mean actually, not just verbally – is anything other than God Himself, then I want you to know tonight that your hope is on shifting sands.

I believe with all my heart tonight that the peace and fulfillment that you long for in your life, and the hope for ending AIDS is not to be found in programs or prescriptions – it is to be found in the Person of Jesus Christ who is the hope of the world! Tonight I challenge you to commit your life to His care and His lordship, and discover for yourself the joy and purpose that you were created to live with.

Let us pray.

God of healing and compassion touch those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS. Through your Holy Spirit comfort those who are grieving the loss of loved ones who have died from AIDS. Guide them into your truth and help them find hope and strength and purpose in you alone. God of mercy, help those who have sinned against you to repent and receive your free gift of grace, forgiveness, and eternal life through Jesus Christ. God of wisdom, help us to find a cure for this disease. God of love, help us to do our part to build a world of care and compassion. Help us to seek first Your kingdom – to love you with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Amen.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Serving Granny Frannie

Yesterday a group of 15 of us from Planet Impact went to the home of our favorite adult youth leader, Granny Frannie, and completely cleaned her yard, removing leaves and debris. We also presented her with a check for $150 which students from our youth ministry collected in a special offering for her. Granny loves our students and it was a joy to be a blessing to her during this holiday season. Many thanks to Tim Mee for heading up our efforts, and to all who came out to assist us. We had a great time working together, serving Jesus.
Granny was recently inducted into the Suffolk County Women's Hall of Fame for her lifetime efforts for civil rights.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Boy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Satisfying This Tiny Heart"

"Real joy and peace do not depend on power, kingly wealth, or other material possessions. If this were so, all people of wealth in the world would be happy and contented, and princes like Buddha, Mahavira, and Bhartari would not have renounced their kingdom. But this real and permanent joy is found only in the Kingdom of God, which is established in the heart when we are born again.

"The secret and reality of this blissful life in God cannot be understood without receiving, living, and experiencing it. If we try to understand only with the intellect, we will find our effort useless. A scientist had a bird in his hand. He saw that it had life, and, wanting to find out in what part of the bird's body the life was, he began dissecting the bird. The result was that the very life of which he was in search disappeared mysteriously. Those who try to understand the inner life merely intellectually will meet with a similar failure. The life for which they are looking will vanish in the analysis.

"In comparison with this big world, the human heart is only a small thing. Though the world is so large, it is utterly unable to satisfy this tiny heart. Our ever growing soul and its capacities can be satisfied only in the infinite God. As water is restless until it reaches its level, so the soul has no peace until it rests in God."

(Foster & Smith, Devotional Classics, Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1933?), p. 310)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ultimate Praying Championship

Got this from a friend. There's one swear word in the middle, so ... sorry about that. It's still super funny, though. Enjoy!

A Leadership Liturgy of Praise 2009

I put the following together as a way to recount and honor of the wonderful team God has given me to work with in youth ministry, and how they have served the Lord this past year. May it bless, encourage, and inspire. - Kev

I was reading in Judges the other day in my Holman Christian Standard Bible, and something struck me because of the way it was worded in this particular version. In Judges 5 we find the record of what is known as The Song of Deborah. Deborah was a married woman, prophetess and judge in Israel (4:4). It was customary for songs to be written to celebrate victories, and in this passage, Deborah describes the Israelite victory over Sisera and the Canaanites. What I found particularly interesting was that the first words out of Deborah’s mouth had to do with leadership and volunteerism: “When the leaders lead in Israel, when the people volunteer, praise the Lord” (5:2). A few verses later she says, “My heart is with the leaders of Israel, with the volunteers of the people. Praise the Lord” (5:9)!

I really resonate with Deborah’s words. I love when I look out over the landscape of Planet Impact and I see leaders leading and people volunteering. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: Without caring, committed adult leaders we could not have a successful youth ministry. You are the ones who make great youth ministry possible. I want you to know afresh that my heart is with you. I am constantly thinking of you, praying for you, trying to come up with ways to bless you, encourage you, and equip you to be even more effective in loving and leading students to Jesus.

As I look back over this past year, I can say that we have battled and it has been a victorious year for us. Since I can’t sing to celebrate our victory, I have decided to write something of a poem or even a liturgy of praise to God for your faithful service unto the Lord. Enjoy!

Julianne takes girls to Starbucks and talks to them about life and hair.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Don runs wires all day for Verizon, then races to the church on Wednesday afternoons so he can mold young musicians into true worshippers of God.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Janis has a passion for seeing young people discover freedom and healing in Christ and pours herself into them by serving as a teacher for Life Hurts, God Heals.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

David desires to see students worshipping God with reckless abandon and works hard to create environments wherein they can experience God’s presence in a powerful way.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Joey sets up his DJ equipment and entertains students at our Serve and Swim parties and Invite Nights.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Teresa is an encourager and gets up early to go and support students attending See Ya At The Pole at Connetquot High School.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Ines brings her entire family to church on a Saturday to serve lunch to the elderly at the Senior Saints’ Luncheon.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Jean engages with students in lively discussions in small group.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Ren starts Planet Impact TV and gets the Internet buzzing about our youth ministry.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Bob Kogut loads up his truck with tools and materials and works hard to make our Winter Retreat vision come to life.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Stan works alongside our friends from London at Hobbs Farm, pulling weeds so food can be grown to feed the poor.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Tommy Labarbera sets up cones and directs traffic on Sunday mornings and plays sports with students on Monday nights.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Carlo builds relationships with students in his small group and facilitates discussions that cause students to grow in Christ.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Kim meets with girls in small group to talk about godliness and purity.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Lily goes to the city with a group of students to attend a concert. Along the way she laughs with them and talks with them about their lives.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

John Long goes on his 80th missions trip, cooking for the team so they can minister in health and strength.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Patrice oversees registration and serves as a liaison with Tuscarora, ensuring that everyone is taken care of at the Winter Retreat.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Adriana talks to girls on the phone and has them over to her house for conversations about the things of God and to help them discover their identities in Christ.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.
Frank and Diane sit with students to discuss life and faith on Sunday mornings. They also give friendly smiles and answer questions for people on Wednesday nights.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Josh works with students on the Tech Team on Wednesday nights, helping them develop their talents for God’s glory.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Tommy and Naomi show up to Lauren’s Sweet 16 to encourage her and speak blessing into her life.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Tim gets a group of students together and spends a Saturday blessing Granny Frannie by cleaning her yard.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Carmen loves on students during Life Development, patiently interacting with them about important topics.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Mama Muller sees students in the hallways and makes them feel loved and cared for with her contagious smile and warm hugs.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Nico serves as a small group leader, letting students know he cares about them by being a good listener, asking questions, and offering life perspective.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Bradley has an eye for students on the fringe. He greets them and makes them feel welcome on Sunday mornings.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Rolf welcomes students to youth service and ensures that they are kept safe by helping with security.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Richard serves pizza with a smile and makes it possible for James to be a part of our youth ministry by driving him home each and every Wednesday night.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Mike becomes a staple of the youth ministry announcement videos, keeping students informed about what’s happening.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Amarisa is a willing servant and gladly helps people at the Resource table on Wednesday nights.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Granny Frannie lets students know that she cares about them and wants to see them live well and make right choices, and she inspires all of us to invest our lives in the next generation.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Giovanni shows confidence in Justin who now leads a group of his peers on Wednesday nights, handing out goodies to everyone for Cuz We Feel Like It.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Bob Zuber identifies, encourages, and gives students with technical abilities the opportunity to grow in their giftings as He serves the Lord with gladness, faithfully modeling servant leadership.
When leaders lead and people volunteer, praise the Lord.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Great Christmas Gift!

Give your friends, volunteers, small group leaders, teenagers ... OK, anybody a gift that will entertain them as well as help them engage in better conversations this Christmas! Order a signed copy of my book What Would You Do? for only $8/copy (retail $10.99) and receive FREE SHIPPING! (Bulk pricing also available!).

Ordering Information:

Make check payable to Kevin Mahaffy and mail to: 58 Brooksite Dr.Smithtown, NY 11787

If you would like the book addressed to someone specific, please include information along with check.

Contemplation & Action

"Sometimes it is action itself which leads us to our best contemplation. If we contemplate too long, we sometimes avoid the necessary action." - Richard Rohr

Monday, December 7, 2009

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Return to the Doghouse

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Helping People Deal With Loss

Last week we had several tragedies in our community in the days before Thanksgiving. On Tuesday night an 11-year-old girl was killed crossing the street right in front of her mother in a hit and run accident on Main Street. On Wednesday afternoon a 15-year-old boy was killed crossing a major road on his bike just two miles away. Two college students on their way home for the holiday were killed in a car accident. Such horrible tragedies intensified by their proximity to Thanksgiving. Some of my students were friends with the 15-year-old boy who was killed, so I thought it would be appropriate for us to take some time as a youth ministry to talk about how we deal with loss. Here are some thoughts.

We all live with the reality of loss. Whether it's a family member or a friend, at some point all of us are going to deal with the pain of losing someone. In those times our faith is put to the test. Faith can be understood as putting all of my weight on. What or Whom are we putting our weight on during times of crisis?

The end of life is a reality all of us will face. Whether through death or the return of Jesus, this life as we know it will come to an end for everyone. (Job 1:21; Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)

It is OK to grieve. Having questions, doubts, fears, frustrations, even anger are all normal during times of loss, and we need to give people permission to grieve. Hey, even Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

Griveing is not a lack of faith. Christians do not grieve as those who have no hope, but the DO grieve. (I Thessalonians 4:13)

Go to God. A look at the Psalms will reveal a guy (David) who wrestled with God, who poured out his emotions and frustrations, but he did it in the right way. He didn't hit things or cut himself or vent with rage on other people (that we know of), he poured out his heart to his Creator. (Psalm 23:4)

Receive from God. He knows what we're going through and in His love, He did not leave us to walk through tough times alone. We need to help kids receive the help and the grace that God has provided through His Holy Spirit and through His Church. (Isaiah 53:3, Hebrews 2:18; John 14:26; John 15:26)

Trust in God. Help students know that even when things don't make sense and they don't have all the answers, they can trust in God because His very nature is love and He is trustworthy. (Isaian 55:9; Proverbs 3:5; Philippians 4:6-7)

The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live. When our time comes to an end, we are going to be asked whether we were known by God and we are going to be judged based on whether we were living for His purposes. Students should be challenged to evaluate their lives and respond to the good news of salvation through Jesus (Hebrews 9:27; Matthew 25; II Corinthians 6:2)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Corinthians 13 for Youth Leaders

-By Dave Boyd

And now I will show you the most excellent way.

If I give amazing talks every Wednesday with three points and a funny story, but have not love, I might as well be talking to myself.

If I possess deep insight into the lives of teenagers, and surprise the elder board by my depth of Bible knowledge, but have not love, I will not make a difference.

If I have a fired-up faith that can wake kids up (even on Sunday mornings) but have not love, I will not be used by the Spirit to bring revival.

If I give up my ambition for fame, and I learn to be content with my salary, and if I sacrifice my body to all-nighters, week-long mission trips, and a steady diet of fast-food and pizza, but have not love, it won't get me anywhere.

Love is patient, giving us peace even when teenagers are late getting back to the bus.

Love is kind, enabling us to speak inviting words in a world filled with sarcasm and satire.

It does not envy our students who drive a better car than us, nor bemoan how we suffer for Jesus.

Love is not proud, and does not worry about our image among the church's big givers or influential leaders.

It is not rude, but listens and values others.

It is not self-seeking, realizing that your ministry is not for or about you.

It is not easily angered when the boys don't follow the rules of your new game.

When looking at people, it does not remember their past criticisms, but only sees the best in others.

It always protects those who have never known safety, it always inspires trust by living a life of integrity, it always holds out hope for those who have lost their way, and it will never give up on those who stray.

Love never fails.

Stunning talks will be forgotten, and exciting activities will pass away. Even the most amazing retreat will move from reality to photos.

Love, however, is the gift that is not forgotten, always needed, and forever impacting.

When I began in youth ministry, I was a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But now I have become a man, putting childish ways behind me.

I will choose the way of love.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Broken Down

Sorry I haven't been blogging lately. My hard drive crashed again, and my computer is still being worked on. As soon as it's back up and running I'll be posting regularly for your reading enjoyment. Well, OK, for my sanity. lol

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Nieces in Virginia Beach After Storms




From my sister via my dad: A huge storm hit VA over the past couple of days. Today, April took the girls out to clean up sticks in the back yard. Here's what happens when you turn your back on three little girls and some mud puddles.

Devotion to Christ in Ordinary Life

For the past couple of months I have been using Devotional Classics edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith to guide my quiet times. I read it while in seminary, but it is even more rich today. Here's an excerpt from today's reading quoting William Law (1686-1761):

"It is very observable that there is not one command in all the gospel for public worship .... Frequent church attendance is never so much as mentioned in all of the New Testament. But the command to have a faith which governs the ordinary actions of our lives is to be found in almost every verse of Scripture."

"Isn't it strange that people place so much emphasis upon going to church when there is not one command from Jesus to do so, and yet neglect the basic duties of our ordinary life which are commanded in every page of the Gospels?"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Home Sweet Home!

Well, 30 hours after driving to the airport in Tanzania I arrived home safely with all of my luggage and was so glad to see my wife and daughters! We had a joyous reunion and it felt so good to be home! This morning I was back in the office and it was good to see that my assistant Giovanni was able to hold the fort down and hear of the good things that happened while I was away.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. I had an absolutely wonderful time ministering alongside of my grandfather. What a tremendous privilege and testimony of God's faithfulness! If you haven't already done so, scroll down to read full accounts of our ministry adventures and to see some picture slideshows.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tanzania Saturday & Sunday

Yesterday morning we drove about an hour and a half up into the mountains to Mt. Meru. We visited the small church of our friend Kitomari. We had a lovely time of fellowship over chai, boiled eggs, and apples before the church service. I spoke in the service, and afterward we went back to his home and enjoyed a meal together. After that we drove to the town of Tengeru where we were staying the night with the Fessers - Elim missionaries from Canada. We had a wonderful time with them during the evening, also meeting their son, his wife, and their 3 children. I caught a gecko for the children and had fun showing it to them. Of course I hung it from my ear for them. lol! This morning we drove about 45 minutes to the city of Arusha which is the most progressive city around. There we attended the church of Noeli who was one of my grandparent's workers when they were here. He has quite a good sized church with about 250-300 people there. It was a wonderful service complete with three choirs and a trio. I preached, and after church we had a nice meal with Noeli and his family. We then drove back to Tengeru and visited a church that my grandfather pastored for about 10 months back in the late 80's. There we got to see the pastor and the assistant pastor, Ndelileo who was my grandparents' other worker. It was so good to see him as well! After a brief stop back at Fesser's we drove back to Moshi and are spending our last night at the home of the Street's. Tomorrow some leisure and tomorrow night at 10:30 p.m. we begin our flights home. Can't wait to see my babe and babies!
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Friday, November 6, 2009

Video Greeting from Tanzania

Tanzania Monday - Friday

Well, after a week of teaching at Kilimanjaro Christian College and only two brief opportunities to check e-mails at internet cafes, we have returned to the home of the Street's where I have internet access. There is really too much to tell, but let me just highlight a few things.

We had a wonderful time teaching 22 students, most of them pastors (one man is a bishop with 42 churches under his leadership), Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. My grandfather Dan Larkin told me that we would split the teaching down the middle - he would teach one book and I would teach two. I said, "That's not half." He said, "I decide where the middle is." lol! I have been learning Larkinomics. On Thursday night we had a banquet for the three students who had completed their courses. The power is turned off on a daily basis here in shifts throughout the city in order to conserve energy. It's usually out once or twice a day for an hour or more. As soon as we began the service the power went out, so we did the first hour of the program in the dark with just a few flashlights and a couple of lanterns. Thankfully it came back on while we were eating and we were able to see the rest of the program. It was very nice, and grandpa and I were honored to sit at the head table and were asked to give a charge to the students. We were presented with those confetti neclace things as part of the evening ceremonies.

During our time at the school I was also able to present the pastor/head of the school, Lazaro with the keyboard which a gentleman from our church donated to meet a need they had. They were very blessed! Thanks Bruce! Grandpa and I were also able to get together and purchase a refrigerator for Lazaro and his wife Eli. This will help them tremendously as they can buy food in larger quantities at a cheaper price, they can freeze food, and they can keep leftovers and stretch their food. What a great, practical investment that will be a great blessing to them!

On Wednesday we visited the church of our friend Unity, who was one of our interpreters when I was here in 1991. He really took to me back then and we were so excited to reunite. I spoke in his church to a small group, mostly young people. This was one of the most interesting things of the trip thus far ... After the service as we were greeting people, a girl came up to me. I told her my name was Kevin and she said, "I know." Surprised, I said, "You do?" She said, "Yes, I have a picture with you hanging on my wall." Obviously from 18 years ago, I asked her how old she was and she said she was 20. She has kept a picture of me holding her as a 2-year old baby for 18 years! Crazy! When we went to Unity's house, he brought out a frame with many pictures in it as well, and in it still, is a school picture I gave him of me when I was about 14 or so. So funny!

Well, those are just a few of the many stories. This weekend I will be speaking in two more churches of people I met when here before. Looking forward to seeing them. Monday night we start for home. Can't wait to see my family! Miss you girls!

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tanzania Saturday Night & Sunday

Last night (Saturday) as I was walking back to my room I heard a noise in the bushes. I shined my flashlight over and saw a little hedgehog. He balled up when the light hit him, so I ran up to my room and grabbed my camera. When I returned he was still there, so I called some of the others to come out and Anne picked him up. He was puffing and making his defense noises, but after a couple of minutes he decided it was safe and came out. So cute!

I was super tired and I crashed hard. After 4 hours of deep sleep I woke up at 2 a.m. but thankfully I was able to fall back to sleep again and slept until 6 a.m. - a good 8-hour sleep. This morning after breakfast we drove about 45-minutes to church, picking up several people along the way. We had 4 people in the back seat, and the trunk of the truck full as well. After dropping us off, Steve then made another drive throughout the town picking up another load of people. We had service under the straw shelter outside of a small mud hut - their church. We had 100 people under this overhang which is the size of my office (not including the closet). They would easily get 300-400 people in our new youth center. lol! The service started off with singing from hymnals. Songs were selected by the people according to what they wanted to sing. Then some led out in other songs. They sang until no more songs were suggested - there was no song list. Then guests introduced themselves. The audience was Masai and Chaga peoples. I then preached a message which was interpreted into Swahili and then interpreted from Swahili into Masai. After that I prayed for the people. Then Steve, the missionary here, gave another challenge to the people and then a town-hall-like meeting ensued. People in the community have been letting their goats into the church yard and they have eaten everything. They talked about the problem for an hour. THey also brought up an issue with people volunteering to work on the church property, but only two people showed up of all of the people that had volunteered. And I though it was only in America. lol! After church we mingled with the people for another hour before driving back home and having lunch. I then caught a brief nap. We're now visiting with some Irish missionaries, and soon we will be going to the Bible college where we will be staying through Friday as we teach our class. I most likely will not be able to post during these days, so ...
Until next time,
Kev
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Saturday, October 31, 2009

More Pics from Chill Day

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Tanzania 2

Last night I went to bed at 1 a.m. I woke up in what I thought was the middle of the night only to discover it was only 2 a.m. Try as I might I could not get back to sleep. I tried different sleeping positions, I tried reading, I tried everything, but to no avail. At 7:30 a.m. I finally got a shower and went down to the house for breakfast. We had grapefruit, papaya, and toast with Anne Street’s home-made butter and jam. After breakfast we met a woman named Vicki from California who is boarding with the Streets, then grandpa and I went into town with Steve to get some supplies - a little rice, some wood, and some phone cards - and to run to the bank. When we returned I caught an hour-long nap and felt a little bit human again. A young missionary named Dusty from Georgia joined us for lunch. After lunch I checked e-mail, had some coffee with Anne & Steve, and took some photos of their property including a beautiful jacaranda tree and some of the lizards running around including a very colorful one called an Agama. This afternoon has just been chill as we’re still trying to get over jet-lag. I feel so fried and I am hopeful that tonight I will finally crash. Tomorrow I will be preaching at the Street’s church.
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Arrived in Tanzania Safely

Hello everyone! We have just arrived at the home of the Streets (missionaries) and have just settled in our rooms and are now having some coffee and cookies with Steve and Anne. We had a long trip here, but it was good. Thanks to a family connection we were able to fly business class from Detroit to Amsterdam. Grandpa got some sleep, but I only got an hour or so. At the airport we caught another brief nap before our flight to Kilimanjaro. On that flight I was able to get in about 4 hours of sleep, but I was jammed in the middle seat and it was really tight. Anyhoo, all in all it was long but good. It was 26 hours from the time I left JFK to the time we landed in Tanzania. We took about an hour to get our visas, immigration, customs, etc. but we got all of our luggage OK and about a half hour later we were at the Streets. Miss you all! Love ya Ady, Clau & Natis! I'm going to take a shower and get to bed.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Tanzania 1
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Goodbye" and Travel Days

This morning I said goodbye to my family and am on my way. I am presently sitting in the Detroit airport with my grandfather awaiting our flight to Amsterdam and then on to Tanzania. Missing my girls already!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Africa, Here We Come!

Tomorrow morning I am off to Tanzania, Africa for a time of ministry with my grandfather, Dan Larkin. We will be teaching at Kilimanjaro Christian College which my grandfather founded almost 20 years ago. I was there as a 15-year-old kid on my first international missions trip in 1991 and we helped to construct the college laying the foundation, making bricks, and building the walls to about 6' high by the time we left. It is a great joy and privilege to be able to journey back there 18 years later to train Christian leaders -- and to be able to share such a great experience with my grandfather. I will do my best to keep you all updated as I have internet access. Thank you for your prayers and support!

If you would still like to make a financial donation to my trip, you may do so by making a check out to Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle and mailing it to:

Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle
Attn: Kevin Mahaffy
1 Higbie Dr.
Smithtown, NY 11787

Monday, October 26, 2009

U2 Concert

Watched the live concert feed on YouTube. It was absolutely amazing! Watch the full rebroadcast here.

FREEBIE: Adult Youth Leader Application Packet

Here's a FREEBIE for you! It's a copy of our Adult Youth Leader Application Packet. It's what we give to prospective leaders. It includes an overview of our ministry, resources, and application materials. Feel free to adapt it to meet your ministry context. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Very Cool Online Product Catalogue ... MUST SEE!

HEMA is a Dutch department store. The first store opened on November 4, 1926, in Amsterdam . Now there are 150 stores all over the Netherlands.

Take a look at HEMA's product page - just wait a couple of seconds and watch whathappens.

DON'T click on any of the items in the picture, just wait.

This company has a sense of humor and a great computer programmer, who has too much time on his hands.

Planet Impact Announcement Video

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"What Your Child Needs You to Be Above All Else"

Do you ever watch The Dog Whisperer? I love that show! One of the things that Cesar Millan says is, “I train people; I rehabilitate dogs.” His premise is that more often than not when dogs are having behavioral problems, it is not because they want to misbehave, but because the owners are not being the pack leaders the dogs need them to be. Is there not a grain of truth in that for us as parents? While our children are certainly not dogs, consider this. I sometimes hear parents say things like, “My kid is out of control ... I just can’t ... We’ve tried everything ... We don’t know what to do.” While issues surrounding parenting teens are complex, I believe sometimes we need someone like The Dog Whisperer (someone actually wrote a book a few years ago called The Teen Whisperer) to come along, ask us questions, and help us see things in a new light. Sometimes we need to look in the mirror and ask if we are doing all we can do as parents to give our kids the structure they need before we blame our kids and throw up our hands in despair. Perhaps you have heard the following story in the news the past few weeks ...

“When their teenage daughter Emma went into a goth phase a while back, Debra Kelley and Mark Niederbrock thought long and hard about what to do and decided to accept her adolescent rebellion rather than fight it.”

“Emma ... was just going through a rough period. Thus they allowed her to invite Richard “Sammy” McCroskey to fly out and spend a few days. Fearing that Emma might run away with McCroskey if they forbade her from attending a horrorcore mash-up called the Strictly for the Wicked Festival in Michigan, they drove the teens 1,300 miles there and back. ‘Debra thought at least if we take them there we’ll make sure they’re safe.”

“‘Debra and Mark were greatly concerned,’ says [a friend] ... ‘But they concluded ... that ‘you either go along with kids or watch them walk out the door.’ Now friends wish the couple had pushed back. On Sept. 18 police discovered the bodies of Emma, her parents, along with that of a friend ... at their home in Farmville, [VA] ...” allegedly murdered by McCroskey. (“Real Life Horror” People Magazine, October 26, 2009, pp. 119-121, (Underlines added.))

When I first saw this story on the news a few weeks ago, I was filled with many emotions, but one feeling that I did not experience was surprise. Unfortunately, as the story unfolded, I saw the recipe for disaster - a pattern that I see too often in too many families today (not yours, of course). Obviously, the tragic way this story ended is a rare exception, but take away the gruesome murders and you will probably recognize the story. Parents think child is cute and don’t discipline. Child hits adolescence. Child makes threats to get what they want. Parents panic. Parents give in. Child takes over.

I believe at the core of this scenario is one central issue: Lack of leadership! Parents giving in to the pressure of manipulative children who use their parents’ fears (ex. “I’ll run away!”) to get what they want. When I stand back I ask: Who is running this house? Too often the answer comes back: the child. This is not how God intends our homes to operate. Too many parents today want to be liked by their kids. Sorry! Being liked is overrated! Don’t waste your time trying to get your kids to like you. Seek, rather, to be a person with the fortitude to make tough decisions and stick by them, and the godly character that your children will respect. Your kid doesn’t need another friend. They need a leader! They need courageous parents!

So many of you do such a wonderful job of being the leaders of your homes. I always want to acknowledge that truth! You set such a great example, not only for your children, but also for other parents like myself. This is by no means meant to be a “beat-you-up” kind of article. On the contrary, my hope is that all of us would take some time to assess ourselves as leaders. Let’s not simply look outward; let’s look inward and ask if we are standing in the rightful, God-ordained place of leadership that God has called us to as parents. Are we being the leaders our children need us to be? Adriana and I are constantly asking this question of ourselves as we seek to raise our children for Jesus. Sometimes it’s easy. More often than not it’s very tough. But one thing I know: Leadership is always necessary.