Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Little Boy @ Funeral

This evening I attended two funerals for folks from our church. At one of them, my friend Maryann told me the following which had just occurred with her young nephew - perhaps 5 or 6 years old.

He was being a little loud, so his aunt told him, "Listen, people are coming in now and you need to be respectful." The little boy turned to his 9-year old cousin and asked, "What's respectful mean?"

He then walked into the viewing room and upon seeing his grandfather in an open casket asked, "What's he doing here? I thought he was in heaven!?"

What a beautiful, innocent, light moment in the midst of loss and sadness.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Let's Ride Road Trip Days 6 & 7 - Thursday & Friday


This morning we showered at the YMCA in downtown Wilmington. As a way of saying "Thank you" the team donated $100 to the club for their food drive. We then packed up, ate breakfast, and drove about 30 minutes to Philadelphia where we visited Liberty Center. We also ate Philly Cheesesteaks for dinner. Our theme today was Freedom, and we spent a lot of time talking about the freedom we have in Christ. After that we drove to Delran, New Jersey where we stayed at Calvary Temple where Giovanni did his internship for college. In the evening we had a personal concert by the band Dinner & A Suit and then ate a wonderful Italian dinner.


We got up at 7:30 a.m. today, loaded the trailer, cleaned up, and then had an hour of sharing as a team. In an attempt to keep the blog somewhat short, I have been simply recounting our travel times. What I have not said a lot of is what has been happening in the vans during all of the driving hours. There has been some intense discipleship happening, and that's really the meat of this whole thing. Each day we had a theme. The students read and memorized Scripture verses each day and engaged in conversations pertaining to each day's topic. The places we have visited have been carefully selected to give the students [and leaders] a visual experience designed that will reinforce their spiritual learnings. It has been an incredible time! Our theme today is Rest, so rather than doing something else, we simply drove home, reading and learning about the biblical idea of rest along the way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Let's Ride Road Trip Days 4 & 5 - Tuesday & Wednesday


This morning the boys woke up 6:00 a.m. and we headed to the YMCA for showers. When we returned we loaded the trailer and were off the CBN to watch a live taping of the 700 Club. After the show Pat Robertson and Terry came over and took a picture with our group. After that I picked up information packets from Regent University for everyone. Regent is where I obtained my Master’s degree and is a fine Christian University. We then drove to downtown Norfolk, VA where we visited the Life Enrichment Center which is a tremendous ministry started by Pastor Kevin Turpin who is one of the pastors at New Life Providence Church. Yep, we had two PK’s on staff! lol! After a tour and a Q&A time we walked down and visited the USS Wisconsin which is retired at Nauticus. Next we drove to two of the schools that Pastor Kevin does community programs in. We were able to donate all of our canned goods to help the families of the children, 70% of whom fall below the poverty line. We also gave the LEC a large bag of children’s books. Following our visit to Norfolk we drove the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel and stopped along the side and enjoyed lunch and a gorgeous view. We then drove to Hampton, VA where we got settled in at New Covenant Church. My uncle Mark Johansson is the pastor of the church and we had a wonderful evening of singing, playing in the gym, and eating John Long food. We also had a wonderful conversation for about two hours with my awesome grandparents Bob and Maxine Mahaffy. Our theme for tomorrow is Legacy, and I wanted the students to be able to glean from one of the most significant couples in my life. It was a real treat for us to interact with the previous generation and to recognize that we too can leave a great legacy for those who come after us.


This morning we went to an aquatic club and enjoyed an hour of swimming before getting our showers. After loading up the trailer and cleaning up the church, we presented a gift of $400 collected from the team to the church to assist them in their community outreach initiatives. They were very grateful, and we were proud of our team for pulling together and leaving a great seed for evangelism that will happen long after we are gone. Next we drove to Williamsburg, VA and spent about 4 hours touring one of the greatest historical restoration projects in the nation. It was really fascinating, and having John Long along as our tour guide was awesome! We then drove to Wilmington, DE, arriving at 10:30 pm. The team is getting settled in and John is making us dinner. Midnight supper! Sounds good! We have also donated 80 blankets and 100 Bibles to the church for their street ministry.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Let's Ride Road Trip Day 3 - Monday

This morning we were on the road at 9 a.m. and drove to Kill Devil Hills, NC where we visited the Wright Brothers Memorial. Our theme today was: Vision. We had a fantastic time learning about these great dreamers who were the first people to fly. It was a beautiful day with weather probably in the 50's. After our visit we drove to my favorite Carolina BBQ restaurant Southland on the North Carolina/Virginia border. We then drove to New Life @ Providence Church in Virginia Beach which is the church that Adriana and I used to serve as youth pastors. It was great to see several of my former students all grown up and have the opportunity to introduce them to my new students. This evening the girls all went to the YMCA and got showers. The boys get to go in the morning at 6:30! lol! We then prepared lunches for tomorrow and had a good time of sharing as a team. It's 1 a.m. right now. I'm doing some laundry for the team. Their smells were getting to me! Just kidding! lol!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Let's Ride Road Trip Day 2 - Sunday

On Sunday we were all up and at 'em by 7 a.m. The boys loaded the trailer while the girls made 80 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packed brown bag lunches for the team. After some cereal for breakfast and distributing some Valentine's Day Blow Pops, we got on road at 9 a.m. on the button which was right on schedule. We drove to Washington D.C. where our first and main stop was the Holocaust Museum. Our theme for the day was Worth. The museum quite an emotional experience, and it really got everyone thinking about the value of human life. After several hours in the museum we walked the area taking in sites such as the Washington Monument, the White House, the Capital Building, the Vietnam Wall, and the Lincoln Memorial. While the team waited at the Lincoln Memorial, Danny, Giovanni and I took a taxi back to the busses and drove to pick everyone up. We got on the road around 6:30 p.m. We stopped in northern Virginia for dinner at Wendy's, then did some grocery shopping for lunch supplies. After that we drove to Prince George, Virginia where we stayed at the IPHC Conference Center. The IPHC is a denomination similar to the Assemblies of God. I worked for the IPHC for a couple of years, and we are grateful for good relational connections! The facilities are really nice ... the nicest we will be staying at for sure. From here on out ... Air Matresses! lol! After unloading and sorting out our stuff, the team donated dozens of bags of clothing to Pastor Mario, a Spanish pastor who also works here at the retreat center. The ladies made lunch for tomorrow and we a great team meeting, debriefing our learnings. We got to bed around 1:30 a.m.

(Right now it's 8:55 a.m. We're gearing up to head down to Kill Devil Hills, NC where we will visit the Wright Brother's Memorial. We will then drive to Virginia Beach to spend the night.)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Let's Ride Road Trip Day 1 - Saturday

We had a fine ride from Long Island to Valley Forge and made good time. In addition to the below, they also had fun playing games and getting to know one another during the ride.

Our theme for the day was Sacrifice.

The teams read Isaiah 58 together in the busses and discussed fasting that pleases God.

Their memory verse was John 15:12-14 which they had to quote for their leaders before dinner.

Their first challenge was the everyone had to fast lunch. This was a stretch for our students, but they all made it!

Our first stop was the Valley Forge National Park. We spent about two hours learning the history and visiting some of the sites.

We then drove to Valley Forge Christian College where we unloaded and got into our rooms, then headed for a much anticipated dinner.

After dinner we had a presentation by Pastor Phil Baker (former SGT Youth Pastor) and a couple of students about the school.

At 7 pm we went to a small hispanic church and ran the entire service. We had a full worship team and I preached while Adriana interpreted. We then presented the church with a gift. We gave them all of the money we would have spent on lunch, plus each person pitched in $10 for a grand total of $700! (See Isaiah58 and how this relates to fasting.)

We got back to the school at 10 pm, had a team meeting, and are now in our rooms getting ready for bed. It's been a good, full day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Where Change Begins

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table." - Ronald Reagan

Thursday, February 4, 2010

LA Megachurch Hopes to Win Super Bowl Ad Contest

I really love and respect Pastor Erwin McManus. Check out this video his church created which is a finalist for a spot in the Super Bowl. An article below talks about it. Enjoy!

"LA egachurch hopes to win Super Bowl ad contest"

By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press Writer – Mon Feb 1, 9:25 am ET

LOS ANGELES – Pastors have long competed with the NFL on Sundays, but this season a hipster megachurch is turning the tables with a 30-second ad that could muscle its way into that all holiest of sporting events: the Super Bowl.
Mosaic, a 3,000-member megachurch, is one of six finalists in the Doritos' "Crash the Super Bowl" challenge with a lighthearted spoof that plays off the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If the church's ad, titled "Casket," is among the top three vote-getters in an online playoff, it will air on Feb. 7 during the Super Bowl. If the commercial ranks in the top three most-popular ads among viewers, it could win its creators either $400,000, $600,000 or $1 million.

For Erwin McManus, Mosaic's lead pastor, the ad competition represents a chance to make his faith relevant to one of the largest TV audiences in the nation when viewers least expect it — and are least likely to tune out.

Another more serious religious message planned during the game has caused a stir: A pro-life ad paid for by the conservative group Focus on the Family is expected to feature University of Florida football star Tim Tebow speaking about how his mother gave birth to him despite doctor's recommendations that she should have an abortion.

But the LA church, a congregation full of hip twenty-somethings who mostly work in the film industry and make short films for a hobby, is taking a different tack. They were careful to stick to the quirky, slapstick-style humor that's expected by Super Bowl fans.

"We're not trying to use Doritos to propagate a message, but I think we want people to know that we have a sense of humor, that it's OK to laugh," McManus said. "So much of what comes out of the faith community seems so dour and somber and we want to say, 'Hey, we're real people. You can be a person of faith and really enjoy life and laugh."

With its talent base in entertainment, the church is at the vanguard of a growing Christian movement focused on injecting faith-based themes into the plot lines of mainstream TV shows, Hollywood movies and video games that aren't explicitly Christian, or advertised as such.

Movies like "The Passion of the Christ" and "The Chronicles of Narnia" several years ago marked early successes, but the recent blockbuster "The Blind Side" — which wasn't perceived as an overtly Christian film — really made Hollywood take note, said Phil Cooke, a Christian producer, filmmaker and author.

The Doritos spot, while just 30 seconds, is part of that bigger push, Cooke said.

The tongue-in-cheek ad opens on a funeral scene and then cuts to a young man alive in a closed casket. His body is covered in Doritos and he is watching the Super Bowl on a tiny TV while chomping on chips as mourners sob outside. Two friends, who are in on the prank, snicker that by faking his death, their friend will get a week off work and an endless supply of his favorite snack.

But the man gets excited when his team makes a big play and jostles the casket, which tips over to reveal him inside with a pile of crushed chips.

After an awkward pause, his buddy jumps up and nervously exclaims to the shocked assemblage: "Aaaah! It's a miracle!"
If it wins, Mosaic's ad could do more for the church after Super Bowl Sunday than it does in the 30 seconds of air time. Fans remember and recount their favorite commercials long after the clock runs out and the buzz around Mosaic's ad could amp up because of its genesis, said Mark Labberton, a professor of preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.
Super Bowl ad prices have dipped slightly this year, with CBS selling them for between $2.5 million and $2.8 million per 30-second unit this year, down from an average of $3 million last year on NBC, according to TNS Media Intelligence. The prices are so high because the game is the most-viewed show on television each year, with viewers tuning in to watch the commercials as much as the game itself. Last year, nearly 100 million people tuned in, according to Nielsen.

Mosaic is "saying we're actually going to enter the scene ourselves, we're going to become a player ourselves and we're going to contribute to the landscape of how people talk about the Super Bowl," Labberton, the professor, said. "It could well become one of the most talked about commercials of the year."

By Sunday afternoon, the ad had received almost 92,000 views. The finalists won't know if they've won until they watch the Super Bowl, said Chris Kuechenmeister, spokesman for Frito-Lay.

"Nobody's going to fall on their knees and accept Jesus as a result of this spot. But advertisers on Madison Avenue spend millions on a Super Bowl spot because they know it influences people," said Cooke, the producer. "It might not get someone converted, but I think it will get someone to say, 'Maybe there is something I ought to investigate.'"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tebow’s Super Bowl Ad

Check out this interesting add my a Pro-Choice writer for the Washington Post. Very interesting!

"Tebow’s Super Bowl Ad Isn’t Intolerant; Its Critics Are"

By Sally Jenkins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I’ll spit this out quick, before the armies of feminism try to gag me and strap electrodes to my forehead: Tim Tebow is one of the better things to happen to young women in some time. I realize this stance won’t endear me to the “Dwindling Organizations of Ladies in Lockstep,” otherwise known as DOLL, but I’ll try to pick up the shards of my shattered feminist credentials and go on.

As statements at Super Bowls go, I prefer the idea of Tebow’s pro-life ad to, say, Jim McMahon dropping his pants, as the former Chicago Bears quarterback once did in response to a question. We’re always harping on athletes to be more responsible and engaged in the issues of their day, and less concerned with just cashing checks. It therefore seems more than a little hypocritical to insist on it only if it means criticizing sneaker companies, and to stifle them when they take a stance that might make us uncomfortable.

I’m pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I’ve heard in the past week, I’ll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the “National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time.” For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.

Tebow’s 30-second ad hasn’t even run yet, but it already has provoked “The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us” to reveal something important about themselves: They aren’t actually “pro-choice” so much as they are pro-abortion. Pam Tebow has a genuine pro-choice story to tell. She got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her beauteous Heisman Trophy winner son, a chaste, proselytizing evangelical.

Pam Tebow and her son feel good enough about that choice to want to tell people about it. Only, NOW says they shouldn’t be allowed to. Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikinis selling beer is the right one. I would like to meet the genius at NOW who made that decision. On second thought, no, I wouldn’t.

There’s not enough space in the sports pages for the serious weighing of values that constitutes this debate, but surely everyone in both camps, pro-choice or pro-life, wishes the “need” for abortions wasn’t so great. Which is precisely why NOW is so wrong to take aim at Tebow’s ad.

Here’s what we do need a lot more of: Tebows. Collegians who are selfless enough to choose not to spend summers poolside, but travel to impoverished countries to dispense medical care to children, as Tebow has every summer of his career. Athletes who believe in something other than themselves, and are willing to put their backbone where their mouth is. Celebrities who are self-possessed and self-controlled enough to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence.

You know what we really need more of? Famous guys who aren’t embarrassed to practice sexual restraint, and to say it out loud. If we had more of those, women might have fewer abortions. See, the best way to deal with unwanted pregnancy is to not get the sperm in the egg and the egg implanted to begin with, and that is an issue for men, too—and they should step up to that.

“Are you saving yourself for marriage?” Tebow was asked last summer during an SEC media day.

“Yes, I am,” he replied.

The room fell into a hush, followed by tittering: The best college football player in the country had just announced he was a virgin. As Tebow gauged the reaction from the reporters in the room, he burst out laughing. They were a lot more embarrassed than he was.

“I think y’all are stunned right now!” he said. “You can’t even ask a question!”

That’s how far we’ve come from any kind of sane viewpoint about star athletes and sex. Promiscuity is so the norm that if a stud isn’t shagging everything in sight, we feel faintly ashamed for him.

Obviously Tebow can make people uncomfortable, whether it’s for advertising his chastity, or for wearing his faith on his face via biblical citations painted in his eye-black. Hebrews 12:12, his cheekbones read during the Florida State game: “Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” His critics find this intrusive, and say the Super Bowl is no place for an argument of this nature. “Pull the ad,” NOW President Terry O’Neill said. “Let’s focus on the game.”

Trouble is, you can’t focus on the game without focusing on the individuals who play it—and that is the genius of Tebow’s ad. The Super Bowl is not some reality-free escape zone. Tebow himself is an inescapable fact: Abortion doesn’t just involve serious issues of life, but of potential lives, Heisman trophy winners, scientists, doctors, artists, inventors, Little Leaguers—who would never come to be if their birth mothers had not wrestled with the stakes and chosen to carry those lives to term. And their stories are every bit as real and valid as the stories preferred by NOW.

Let me be clear again: I couldn’t disagree with Tebow more. It’s my own belief that the state has no business putting its hand under skirts. But I don’t care that we differ. Some people will care that the ad is paid for by Focus on the Family, a group whose former spokesman, James Dobson, says loathsome things about gays. Some will care that Tebow is a creationist. Some will care that CBS has rejected a gay dating service ad. None of this is the point. CBS owns its broadcast and can run whatever advertising it wants, and Tebow has a right to express his beliefs publicly. Just as I have the right to reject or accept them after listening -- or think a little more deeply about the issues. If the pro-choice stance is so precarious that a story about someone who chose to carry a risky pregnancy to term undermines it, then CBS is not the problem.

Tebow’s ad, by the way, never mentions abortion; like the player himself, it’s apparently soft-spoken. It simply has the theme “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.” This is what NOW has labeled “extraordinarily offensive and demeaning.” But if there is any demeaning here, it’s coming from NOW, via the suggestion that these aren’t real questions, and that we as a Super Bowl audience are too stupid or too disinterested to handle them on game day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Church of Facebook