Saturday, April 30, 2011

Laguna Beach Sunset

Took these pice last night. Beautiful!


Friday, April 29, 2011

Who Is Jesus to Me?

Jesus is the Word made Flesh.
Jesus is the Bread of Life.
Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the Cross.
Jesus is the Sacrifice offered for the sins of the world and mine.
Jesus is the Word - to be spoken.
Jesus is the Truth - to be told.
Jesus is the Way - to be walked.
Jesus is the Light - to be lit.
Jesus is the Life - to be lived.
Jesus is the Love - to be loved.
Jesus is the Joy - to be shared.
Jesus is Sacrifice - to be offered.
Jesus is the Peace - to be given.
Jesus is the Bread of Life - to be eaten.
Jesus is the Hungry - to be fed.
Jesus is the Thirsty - to be satiated
Jesus is the Naked - to be clothed.
Jesus is the Homeless - to be taken in.
Jesus is the Sick - to be healed.
Jesus is the Lonely - to be loved.
Jesus is the Unwanted - to be wanted.
Jesus is the Leper - to wash his wounds.
Jesus is the Beggar - to give him a smile.
Jesus is the Drunkard - to listen to him.
Jesus is the Retarded - to protect him.
Jesus is the Little One - to embrace him.
Jesus is the Blind - to lead him.
Jesus is the Dumb - to speak for him.
Jesus is the Crippled - to walk with him.
Jesus is the Drug Addict - to befriend him.
Jesus is the Prostitute - to remove from danger and befriend.
Jesus is the Prisoner - to be visited.
Jesus is the Old - to be served.

To Me ...
Jesus is my God.
Jesus is my Spouse.
Jesus is my Life.
Jesus is my only Love.
Jesus is my All in All.
Jesus is my Everything.

- Mother Teresa

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light

Today I finished reading Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of "The Saint of Calcutta". It was a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at one of the spiritual heros of our generation. A few things stood out to me in the book:
  • Mother Teresa's obsession with Jesus. She made a vow to God very early on not to refuse Christ anything, and she did her best to fulfill her vow for the entirety of her lifetime.
  • Her humanity. Believe it or not, she had conflicts, was misunderstood, was impatient, was sometimes short with people, etc. Yep, she was a lot like you and me. 
  • The incredible darkness and spiritual desolation she endured. For almost 50 years Mother Teresa lived with the agonizing pain of interior suffering and contradictions - what John of the Cross called The Dark Night of the Soul
  • Her faith in the midst of darkness. In spite of - or, as she came to embrace - through her suffering she was able to better help others.
  • Her humility and teachability. She was constantly seeking spiritual guidance and input and was willing to humbly embrace direction from her overseers. 
What a fascinating and inspirational woman!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mr. Liddell - Executive Iceman

Palm Springs Aerial Tram

Yesterday our family thoroughly enjoyed an adventure on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the World’s Largest Rotating Tramcar, which took us up 2.5 miles of cable through the Chino Canyon in just 12 minutes, ascending to 8,516 feet above sea level affording us breathtaking views of the Coachella Valley.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mother Daughter Lookalike?

Here's a picture of Adriana at the same age as Claudia is now. Is there any doubt they're mother and daughter?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Which Long Island Friends Did We Meet Up With In Palm Springs, CA?

Early last week I was talking with my friend Vinny Vetere when we realized that, totally independent of one another, our families were going to be in Palm Springs, California at the same time. So, on Friday we went over to the resort they are staying at with their friends the Nietos (not Pat from SCS), and all three of our families enjoyed an awesome day. Each of our families have two daughters, all with corresponding ages, so they had a blast being together, as we did as couples. First some of the kids led us in family devotions which was really great. We then spent the day at the pool. So fun!
(NOTE the snow-topped mountain in the background)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter According to Twitter ... AWESOME!

More 4 a.m. Birthday Present Pics

Here are pics when the sun was out. If you didn't read about my 4 a.m. birthday present, click here

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My 4 a.m. Birthday Present

On Thursday we had to go to the airport at 4 a.m. When we got up to leave, we opened the door and were greeted by this:

Some of my beloved students (the Bunn kids) decided to give me a birthday present. The picture I did not get to take was of my van which was completely covered with drawings and "Happy Birthday" wishes written all over it. We didn't have time to clean anything up, so until we return people will have to wonder why we are so eccentric as to use plastic forks as yard decorations, and we drove to the airport looking like we were going to a national cheerleading convention. So glad the people staying in our house will enjoy the wonderful landscaping. Also glad the art work washed off  the van as I confirmed later!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

News Out of Youth Specialties!

C-Lite - In My City Ft. Efrain of Doubledge (Official Music Video)

P.S. See if you can count how many characters my buddy David Ham plays. lol!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thought of the Day: The Calling of God

My goodness and achievements don't qualify me for God's service, therefore neither can my sins, shortcomings, and failures disqualify me.

I am qualified to serve God only because of Jesus; and only because of Jesus am I not disqualified.

I Corinthians 1:26-31 - "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: 'Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'"

Romans 11:29 - "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Youth Pastor & Infant Son Tragically Killed in House Fire

Please pray!

GRAND RAPIDS -- Derek Taatjes, a youth pastor at Crossroads Bible Church, and his infant son, are the victims in the fatal overnight house fire on Mayfield Street NE in Grand Rapids, church leaders said this morning. Read the full article here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

PK Dizzle Video: 10 Ways to Enjoy SGT's Passion Play

It's that time of year again. Time for Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle's Passion Play. Be sure to watch this video before you go to get the most out of your experience.

Easter According to Twitter ... AWESOME!

Yet Another Cool Starbucks Encounter

Yesterday I had a bit of time to kill in between appointments. I was too far away from the office to return, so I decided to hit up my second home, Barnes & Noble. As I was sitting at my table doing some work I saw a group of people coming in with matching t-shirts and name tags. After staring awkwardly at a few of them, I finally made out what their shirts said: "Teen Challenge." Teen Challenge is a ministry that helps people struggling with addictions.

I then spotted a fella that looked familiar. He had ducked just around the corner of a bookshelf where I didn't have a clear view of him. After a minute my curiosity got the best of me and I got up to have a look. As I did so, we made eye contact. "Joe?!" I said. A smile came across his face, and I knew he was who I thought.

A few years ago a young man about 20 years old came to our church. He was a really nice guy and like all of us, he had a problem. But his problem could have cost him his life. Literally! He was addicted to heroin. After some small talk I invited him to lunch the next day. We had a good time conversing. I encouraged him and prayed for him. For a few weeks he came around but then he disappeared.

Yesterday we ran into each other at Barnes and Noble. I bought him a cup of coffee and Joe began to tell me his story. He's been clean for a few months now and has been in Long Island Teen Challenge for two months. He is being given a sense of vision and value, is learning the disciplines necessary to live clean, and most of all (in his own words) learning that God really loves Him and has a plan for his life. Recently Joe was baptized and is discovering what it means to depend on God and follow Jesus. He is in a year-long program.

I was so blessed to have this encounter with my friend Joe. I told him how very proud of him I was. I offered him words of encouragement, and I told him I know God is going to do great things in His life. Would you pray with me that Joe would know the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray that he will make it through the program, and most importantly that he will learn to live in God's love and grace and follow Him all the days of His life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We're Leaving Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle

Six years ago I was sitting in my home in Chesapeake, VA watching the closing date on my house rapidly approach. God had called me to step down from my position at our church without telling me where we were going. After lots of interviews and even turning down some job offers, I was on the house phone with a church in Chicago - the last on my list - when suddenly my cell phone began to ring. Not recognizing the number, and in the middle of a conversation, I let the caller leave a voicemail.

When I hung up my wife asked me how the interview went. “OK,” I replied. “I’m not sure. It could possibly be a fit. They’re talking about flying me out.” She then told me I needed to listen to my voicemail because a church on Long Island had called me. Long Island? I didn’t know anybody on Long Island, and I certainly hadn’t applied to a church there. The message said, “Kevin, this is Roger Erdvig. You don’t know me, but I heard that you are searching for a new ministry position, and I would like to talk to you about an opening we have for a youth pastor.” Within just two weeks or so we had flown to Long Island twice and two days after closing on our house we were en route to work at Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle. The rest is history.

For a while now my wife and I have felt God was moving us on from SGT. Back in November I had some conversations with Pastor Zarlengo about the restlessness in my heart, and I decided it was time for me to resign from my position. For the sake of my family and seeing that the senior class (the kids who were in 7th grade when I arrived) had the experience of only having one youth pastor during their youth ministry years (A rarity! The average American youth pastor lasts less than 2 years), I committed to finishing out the school year.

I want to thank my leaders, students, and the SGT church family for the incredible friendships and memories you have provided us with. Some of my most cherished memories are: raising up an incredible team of caring adult youth leaders, getting our students outside the walls of our church and seeing so many of them step up as servant leaders in our own community, beginning youth small groups (today there are 14 different small groups), leading 11 missions trips, winter retreats, connecting the youth of SGT to the Long Island youth network in a deeper way, all of the one-on-one conversations, and the opportunity to grow as a husband, father, and leader through all of the ups and downs.

At the time of this writing I am exploring a few options, but I am still not certain exactly where we will end up. Here we go again! I would appreciate your prayers as we seek to walk the life of faith and enjoy the adventurous life of following Jesus. We look forward to staying in touch.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ninja Baby

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Communication Principle

Communication Principle: 
It's more difficult to break the habit of not communicating than the habit of communicating.

No matter what's happening, keep talking. If you are married and going through a challenging time, keep talking. If your child is going through something, keep them talking. If a friend is hurting, keep them talking.

When you're afraid, keep talking.
When you're happy, keep talking.
When you're mourning, keep talking.
When you're sad, keep talking.
When you're confused, keep talking.
When you're excited, keep talking.
When you're angry, keep talking.
When you've made a mistake, keep talking.
When you're embarrassed, keep talking.
When you're _________, keep talking!

We have to deal with things. We have to work through things. Keep talking. Keep listening. The key to processing life is to keep communication flowing.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Should the Church be Led by Teachers & Scholars?

A great article by Donald Miller.

"The church in America is led by scholars. Essentially, the church is a robust school system created around a framework of lectures and discussions and study. We assume this is the way its supposed to be because this is all we have ever known. I think the scholars have done a good job, but they’ve also recreated the church in their own image. Churches are essentially schools. They look like schools with lecture halls, classrooms, cafeterias and each new church program is basically a teaching program.

"The first disciples were not teachers, they were fishermen, tax collectors and at least one was a Zealot. We don’t know the occupation of the others, but Jesus did not charge educators with the great commission, he chose laborers. And those laborers took the gospel and created Christian communities that worked, that did things and met in homes and were active. They made speeches, for sure, but so do businessmen and politicians and leaders in any number of other professions. Educators make speeches and do little else, except study for their next lecture. I wonder what the first disciples would think if they could see our ..." Read the full article here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Awkward Questions About Jesus

Marketing God to Teens

"Through powerful, targeted marketing techniques, secular companies are vying for the attention and allegiance of the teenage demographic. By contrast, church attendance amongst young people in the West is in steady decline."

Those are the words of Ryan J. Doeller, author of Marketing God to Teens: Branding without Dismantling. Motivated by his desire to see youth re-engaged in the community of faith, Doeller studies marketing done by companies that are successful in reaching youth with their products to see what they are doing that is causing their success. He looks at the church and asks why so many young people are leaving. He then asks if there are things the church can learn from these successful companies and apply in the church world to better understand teens and reach them with the gospel.

Of course, this debate is a loaded one. Central questions are: Should the church seek to mimic the world? If so, to what extent? If so, what is our "product"? Jesus? Relationships? And what does that say about Jesus? Relationships? Our view of the gospel? Our motivation? Is there a fundamental difference between the church and a company? What's negotiable? What's not? Where is the line?

Doeller makes a few practical suggestions, but the book is more research-oriented and reads more like a graduate level thesis (think George Barna). Marketing is inevitable, but there are different opinions on why, how, and what. Doeller makes some suggestions in an attempt to answer those questions. Don't be surprised if you have mixed responses, don't be surprised if each side of the debate has legitimate points, and don't be surprised if you find yourself torn. When you talk corporate world and church world there is continuity, contrast, and a lot of tension. Read together by a team the book could lead to some vigorous discussions and biblical exploration.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I've Seen Lots of Church Offerings in My Life ... But This ... Is ... AWESOME! LOL

Hilarious Parody of Love Wins

I don't care who you are or what side you're on ... this is just funny! Rob Bell is a big fan or art. I think he might even laugh at this one. lol!

Robbed Hell - C.A.S.T. Pearls Presents from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mistakes Contribute to Success

"Picaso threw a lot more paintings in the trash than he hung on museum walls." 
- A coach to former NBA player Kevin McHale.

Mother Teresa on Success

"I don't know what the success will be - but if the Missionaries of Charity have brought joy to one unhappy home - made one innocent child from the street keep pure for Jesus - one dying person die in peace with God - don't you think, Your Grace, it would be worth while offering everything - for that one - because that one would bring great joy to the Heart of Jesus."

- Mother Teresa responding to Archbishop Perier's request to outline her plan for her desired mission in Calcutta, June 5, 1947. (Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, p. 77)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Helping Students Grow ON THEIR OWN!

Last week I posted a blog with my Top 10 Learnings from 10 Years in Full-Time Youth Ministry. #3 was: Youth ministry isn’t really about teenagers; it’s about helping to shape godly adults. I truly believe that my calling as a youth worker specifically, and as a Christian adult more generally, is to help raise up the next generation of Christ-followers. This means that I constantly keep before me the reality that I will not always be in my students' lives - at least not with the intensity that I am during their teenage years. Therefore, my desire is to equip them with tools to succeed in life after we part ways. (By the way, this is true as a parent as well. While I'll always be in my daughters' lives, the nature of our relationship will change through time. They will head off to college. They will get married. They will have their own families.) I believe the measure of my success as a youth worker (and as a parent) is what my students (daughters) will look like in 10, 20, 30, 40 years.

One of the best tools that I have found to help me in this endeavor is Simply Youth Ministry's H.A.B.I.T.S. We want students to develop certain habits that will help them be able to grow - and these are the three important words: ON THEIR OWN! Along with identifying 6 habits we want them to work into the fabric of their lives, the production pack includes tools that have been created to help students develop each habit.

To purchase this great resource, use the 10% Off coupon at the top of my blog. Give your students something that will transcend your few years in their lives. Help them become life-long followers of Jesus by equipping them with habits for life.

What's Within You?

Received this quote from my Grandfather the other day. Selah.

"Unless there is within us that which is above us, we shall soon yield to that which is about us." — P.T. Forsyth

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Swagger Wagon

What You Need to Know About Grace

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lighthouse Mission Outreach

Today a small group of students from Planet Impact went to the Lighthouse Mission in Bellport to help with the Kids' Club. Over 100 kids showed up, and it was such a joy to help out with the lesson, crafts, and serving lunch. We had a blast letting God's light shine through us. May God's love leave an indelible impression on these kids - many of whom are living in very difficult circumstances. Thanks to Pastor Jim and Andrea Ryan and SGT volunteer Deborah Maffettone for inviting us to help out!

Twin Baby Boys Have a Conversation

1,764' Climb to Start Work Day VIDEO (Butterflies in Stomach About to Happen)!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Woman At The Wella (Remake of Rihanna's Umbrella)

EPIC MULLET GUY Covers Rebecca Blacks Friday

My Top 10 Learnings from 10 Years in Full-Time Youth Ministry

Ten years ago today I entered my office and began my first day of work as a full-time youth pastor. For years I had served as a volunteer, but this was day one of vocational ministry. As I have been reflecting on my first ten years, many faces and memories flood my mind. I have learned many things along the way - just as many through "failure" as through "success" - but through some time of processing I have come up with a list of the top 10 things I have learned. Here's my list:

10. Join a network of diverse youth workers for encouragement and sharpening.
9. Just as much learning happens along the journey as when you arrive at the destination. Capitalize on the teachable moments along the way.
8. The first people to run to you when you arrive are also usually the first people to leave you.
7. Exercise - both physical and spiritual - is essential to being a healthy youth worker.
6. Small groups make a big difference.
5. Keep moving. Some days it’s just about putting one foot in front of the other.
4. Longevity leads to credibility.
3. Youth ministry isn’t really about teenagers; it’s about helping to shape godly adults.
2. If you really love students, invite and invest in adult youth leaders.
1. Your family is your #1 ministry.