Wednesday, February 29, 2012

3 Great Giving Opportunities At The Wire/SCC This Weekend!

As we head into the final weekend of our "Going All Out" spiritual growth campaign at Southwest Community Church, here are 3 great opportunities to give and help our community.

1. Fill the Tub. Every week at The Wire we ask students to bring in cans of food to help our local food pantries. Our goal it to have our tub filled with food this weekend so we can join with our church in filling our box truck with food.
2. Fill the Bottle. We also have an oversized baby bottle we need to have filled up by this Sunday. Bring your change, cash, and/or checks and help us fill the bottle. Once again, we will combine our bottle with the bottles of the larger church family. Our goal is to raise $100,000 for the Crisis Pregnancy Center which is literally saving the lives of unborn babies.
3. Fill the Truck. Finally, this Sunday a semi will be parked on our church property to receive donations of furniture, household items, and clothing to stock up our community thrift stores. Look around your house and find things you are not putting to use and bring them so that we can get them into the homes of people in our community who are in need.

Two Sides: Finding What Fits Your Youth Ministry ORDER TODAY!!!

It's HERE!!!!! Check out this GREAT new youth ministry book by my buddy Darren Sutton that I contributed to with several other awesome youth workers from around the country.

Imagine a world where everything in youth ministry is black-or-white, where simple solutions are always evident, and where one size truly fits all.

Would you like a unicorn with that?

Here's the reality of youth ministry: Gray often is the dominant color, differing opinions abound, and the way forward isn't always clear or certain. But just like a wise sage, Two Sides: Finding What Fits Your Ministry will help you through the journey of discovering the right, best answers for your ministry.

You'll gain insights from veteran youth workers who have wrestled with these debatable gray areas. For example, should we write our own curriculum, or used pre-written material? Should small groups be separated by gender, or combined into co-ed groups? Should I be accountable for regular office hours, or follow an adaptable schedule because of youth ministry's crazy hours?

In these and other areas, no answer is right or wrong—the "correct" answer is the one that best fits your specific setting. This book will engage you in considering both sides of the matter, thinking through some important questions, and then determining your own side of the issue.

Click HERE to Order Hard Copy or Download (download includes: PDF file, .epub file for iPad, .mobi file for Kindle) Today!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lincoln Brewster in Concert THIS SUNDAY @ Southwest Community Church!

Invite some friends and Purchase Tickets here for just $5!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Our Little Softball Player

Yesterday was picture day for our youngest daughter's softball team. She's the only girl on her team who's never played before, but her coaches said you would never know it. She can really hit a ball! Proud of our little athlete! 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America

I recently ready The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons. The book takes a fresh look at the emergence of a church which is not seeking to separate from the world or blend in with the world, but seeking to restore the world to what it ought to be according to God's original design. It offers tremendous hope that the gospel is being reclaimed by people planting themselves deeply into culture rather than parachuting out of it - proclaiming the good news as they use their gifts and talents to show God's restorative power in all aspects of life - not just in what is traditionally thought of as "vocational ministry." I highly recommend this book!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thousand Pines Winter Camp 2012 Pics

This past weekend we took 45 students and 5 adults to Thousand Pines for Winter Camp. Our theme was Light and we learned about how God is light and calls us to reflect His light in our world. It was g great weekend and we had a lot of fun playing paintball, sledding, doing the ropes course, climbing the rock wall, doing the zip line, having snowball fights, etc. We had a super fun time! See all the pics here

How Can I Help Students When They Return from Camp (Whether I Go to Camp or Not)?

I’m NOT Going to Camp as a Chaperone.

Even if you don’t personally go to camp, you can play a significant role in helping students when they return. Here are 3 simple things you can do:

A - Ask them to share their stories. Here are some good questions to ask:
  • What was the most fun thing about camp?
  • Who did you get to know for the first time?
  • Who did you get to know better?
  • Who was your leader?
  • What was one tough thing that you had to deal with?
  • What’s made you laugh the hardest?
  • What was the theme?
  • What’s something you discovered about God for the first time?
  • What was the most significant thing learned?
  • What big decision(s) did you make at camp?
B - Be affirming.
  • Laugh with them.
  • Cry with them.
  • Thank them for sharing their experiences with you.
  • If they have something that they complain about, refocus them on the positives.
  • Say things like ...
  • I’m proud of you!
  • It sounds like God was doing some good things in you.
  • I’m glad you were able to make some friends/deepen your relationships.
C - Challenge them to keep growing.
  • Camp is a great experience. It’s fun to get away from our parents, our every-day lives, and be together with our friends to experience God in a unique way.
  • But, remember, camp is meant to move us forward in our relationship with God. How are you going to live out the decisions you made at camp now that you’re home?
  • Say things like ...
  • Make sure you tell your parents about what God did in your life at camp.
  • Who are some of your friends that can ask you questions and help keep you accountable for living out your decisions?
  • When will you tell them and invite them to hold you accountable?
  • I’ll be praying for you and checking up on you to see how you’re doing.

I AM Going to Camp as Chaperone.

3 Weeks = 3 Personal Touches

We believe Camp is a tremendous time for students to encounter God in a special way. We also know that it’s easy to go home and for the passion to dwindle and to forget what we learned. During the first 3 weeks after camp, here are 3 simple things we would ask you to do to follow-up with the kids in your group:
  1. A Note of Affirmation - Write each of your kids a note highlighting something you saw/enjoyed/learned about them at camp.
  2. A Conversation - This can be a phone call or a chat with them after service. Ask them how they’re doing, how they’re living out decisions/things they learned at camp, and how you can pray for them. (Oh yeah, and maybe even go ahead and pray for them right there!)
  3. A text or Facebook Message - Drop them a line letting them know you’re thinking about them and praying for them, and encouraging them to continue living out what they learned at camp.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

3 Reasons We Don't Allow Kids to Bring Electronics to Camp

There are 3 big reasons we include certain items on Do Not Bring lists for various trips we take. The first one is sheerly practical. The second two go deeper to our values.
  1. Many of the items are electronics such as iPod’s, cell phones, laptops, and other electronics which are usually expensive in nature, and we don’t want students to lose them, have them broken, or stolen. 
  2. Many of those items are (ironically) anti-social in nature, and they work against our values of true, face-to-face communication and genuine relationship building. We want kids to have the ear buds out, the cell phones away so they can focus on getting to know each other beyond just "Hey" and "What's up?".
  3. Finally, the concept of retreat is a spiritual activity that dates all the way back to the Bible. We believe that short-term, intentional disconnect from our day-to-day lives and activities so we can more intensely focus on and hear from God is a super important practice to embrace in our fast-paced, noisy culture. The temporary sacrifice of some of our "noise toys" is worth it to experience deep connection with God.
What are your traditions regarding bringing or not bringing electronics on certain trips? How do you communicate those "rules"? What has been the response of kids and parents? How have you handled negative responses?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Family Day ... Indian Canyons Hike

On Monday the girls didn't have any school, and Ady and I didn't have to work, so we decided to have an all-out family day. We started with brunch at IHOP followed by a visit to Indian Canyons in Palm Springs where we hiked 5 miles of trails. The scenery was gorgeous! We followed a stream along the canyon with palm trees lining the water. After our hike we went to the movie theater and watched Journey to the Center of the Earth 2, then went out for dinner at a local pizza place. A very fun time as a family! Click here to see all the photos.

Notice the rainbow in the sky!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Waters Were Divided ...

I was reading my Bible today and came upon one of my favorite stories - the story of the Israelite's Exodus from Egypt. Having made a major personal exodus in the past year, the verses have special significance to me as I read this time around. Below is the story followed by the commentary provided in The Life With God Bible. May your faith be provoked as mine was.

Exodus 14:10-22 - "As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the LORD, 11 and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? 12 Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”

13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! 16 Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will charge in after the Israelites. My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. 18 When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the LORD!”

19 Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. 20 The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. As darkness fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the night. But the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other all night.

21 Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the LORD opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. 22 So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!

The Life With God Bible Commentary:

"It is in our nature to make plans. There is nothing wrong with that. Moses planned to lead Israel out of Egypt to Canaan. Paul planned to take the gospel to Spain. The only thing that we must not do is make out plans our god. We must hold them lightly in our grasp, for we do not know if everything will work out as we expect. Our choice is either to trust our plans with all our hear or trust our God. Not only do the best laid plans of mice and men often fall to pieces, as Robert Burns knew, but often enough God prompts us to act without any plans in place and no guarantee that everything will come together as it should. Are we free enough to act without plans if the need arises? No one knew what God was going to do to rescue the Hebrews from pursuit by the Egyptians. They could only trust that he was going to do something. Like us, they did not do very well when they saw that nothing had been prepared in advance - there was no bridge, there were no boats, only water in front and chariots and iron behind. Suppose they had known beforehand that God was planning to guide them toward an uncrossable body of water? Suppose they had insisted that, before they left Egypt, scouts sent in advance report back that the route was clear, the Red Sea parted and waiting? They would have remained slaves. The water was only parted once they had acted in faith and followed God. They could not count on any plans because God gave them none. He only gave them himself. God was the plan." (Emphasis added.)

Sh*tuff Christian Girls Say

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Oops ... Wrong Team!

For any of you who don't know football, Sanchez plays for the Jets, not the Giants.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Rock Painting

Inspired by views from our home in La Quinta, CA.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Go to Camp" Direct TV Parody