Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Wire Summer Calendar

One Correction: Our 9:15am Sunday service has moved to 9:30am.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Ring Makes All The Difference

I recently finished reading the book The Ring Makes All The Difference by Glenn T. Stanton. The book addresses one of the hottest topics of the day - cohabitation vs. marriage. In the book Stanton, who is a Christian, tackles the topic, not primarily from a religious standpoint, but rather from a scientific/sociological one. He does intentionally (which will be addressed in a moment) this with the benefit of research over a long period of time and across a very broad spectrum of people around the world from all kinds of backgrounds. We no longer have to wonder about the differences between marriage and the cohabitation, because the evidence is in.

In the book, Stanton points to scientific evidence, which I appreciated, because even if someone does not have a religious persuasion, the book can be helpful as the evidence can speak for itself. Stanton reserves any religious mentions (save one reference to the union of Adam and Eve) until the very end of the book citing that Christians need not be afraid of science because in reality, if it proves to be true, then it has its origin in God who is truth. 

My only comment is that I believe that relationships are more than a science - there is very much a spiritual reality to them, and ultimately decisions about relationships, in my opinion, need to be made with a deep conviction that goes beyond a formula. In other words, in comparing the realities of both cohabitation and marriage - both the pros and the cons - I believe it's important for people (especially if they consider themselves to be followers of Christ) to approach relationships not for what they can get out of them, but for what they can give to them. This is the way of Jesus and addresses the fundamental problem that leads to the breakdown of the majority of relationships, marriage or otherwise: selfishness. Stanton addresses this in the book, but I simply want to highlight that the success of relationships is based on two people coming together to serve one anther and grow together. One ought not read the book and say, "Well, this seems to be the lesser of two evils based on the evidence, so I'll just get married." In this regard the spiritual matters he addresses at the end are most important and foundational.

This book is a good read with lots of food for thought with scientific evidence to back up the claims. It also includes discussion questions for couples or small groups at the end of each chapter. It would be very beneficial for people in many different groups: Those who are young adults (and I would even say juniors and seniors in high school) so that they know the realities of moving in with a boyfriend or girlfriend before they find themselves confronted with that decision; those who are already living together, whether they have thoughts of eventually marrying or not; those who are separated or divorced; those who have children affected by blended homes (parents married or not); and people who have friends or people they want to broach the subject with in an informed way.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Little Slugger!

Natalia want 2-2 with a homerun, a single, and 2 runs scored last night! Sp proud of my big little slugger!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Serving At The Narrow Door

Last night our family and the Noble family represented our small group and went to serve at The Narrow Door. We prepared 224 boxes of food which will be distributed to the needy in our community in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Youth Ministry and The Family

Families don't exist to build better youth ministries; 
youth ministries exist to help families be better families.

Some Questions for Consideration for Youth/Children's Ministry Workers:
  • As you look at your calendar, are you asking families to revolve around your schedule, or are you seeking to create your calendar around families?
  • What events are you doing that are designed specifically to better connect kids with their parents?
  • Are there one or two events a year that you could tweak just a little bit and move them from events that separates parents and kids to events that actually bring them together?
  • How are you actively communicating with parents on a regular basis?
  • How are you soliciting feedback from parents?
  • How are you encouraging kids in terms of their relationships with their parents?
  • How are you equipping parents to be better parents?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meeting Wyland

Yesterday we had the opportunity to go to Laguna Beach where we enjoyed a break from the desert heat with our friends Jim & Elaine Flauaus from Virginia. We also visited one of our favorite art galleries - Wyland. If you've ever seen a Whaling Wall - a massive marine life mural (e.g. the one in Norfolk, VA pictured below), you've seen the work of Wyland. While we were visiting, Wyland popped down from his studio where he is filming a new 13-week PBS show. He was very friendly and asked us not to leave until he returned from taking a painting out so someone's car. When he returned he chatted with us and took a picture with us.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Middle School Student Leaders Running Entire Service Tomorrow ... Here's WHY

Tomorrow 8 middle school students (6th-8th graders) we've been mentoring this school year as student leaders will be running our entire program from top to bottom! Setting up, greeting, games, announcements, doing tech, leading worship, and even preaching! Our staff and volunteers are just coming to be cheerleaders! Why would we do such a thing? Here's the philosophy of youth ministry that undergirded our decision.

Belief in Students:
The Bible is full of young people who accomplished great exploits for the Kingdom of God. In I Timothy 4:12 Paul says to Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” Teenagers can be leaders here and now!

Students CAN Hear from God Personally:
Teenagers are in a moldable season of life where their physical senses are developing in new ways. In the same way, we believe students’ spiritual senses are developing, and they can hear from God personally. (I Samuel 3) Experiences will be offered which will help students learn how to tune their ears to God’s voice, and opportunities for them to share what they believe God is saying will be given.

T.E.A.M. Leadership:
The best people to reach students for Christ are other students. It is imperative that we empower students by giving them opportunities to live out their faith and explore their giftings. II Timothy 2:2 says, “And the things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these pass on to reliable men who will be able to teach others also.” This verse is at the crux of the call to being an adult leader in the youth ministry. It is critical that student have people who have gone before them to mentor and coach them as they are growing and maturing. And it is crucial that leaders be willing to step aside so students can step up. I call this T.E.A.M. Leadership (Teen Empowerment, Adult Mentoring). The two must go hand in hand.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Does God Answer Prayer? Great Nooma Video: Open

Does God answer prayer? Some, but not all? Sometimes, but not all the time? Or does God always answer prayer and it's just that sometimes God says no. Could prayer be bigger than God listening and answering? Maybe we need a fresh perspective on how we approach the things in life that compel us to pray.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fragments: God's Pattern in Life's Pieces

Today I finished a year long journey through a great little devotional book called Fragments by Youth For Christ/USA President Dan Wolgemuth. The word that comes to mind when I think of his writing is compact. He was able to pack so much into each devotional punch that kept me thinking all day long. I highly recommend this book. You can also enjoy his writings digitally on his blog called Friday Fragments.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

3 Things My Wife Does Well As A Mom

It's Mother's Day, and like most people I am reflecting on my own Mom. I am grateful for the wonderful mother that she was to me growing up which she continues to be to this day. I am also thinking about the incredible wife God has blessed me and the legacy of being a great mom she is continuing with our two daughters. Here are 3 things my wife does really well as a mom:

Makes sure she's present. Like many moms, my wife is a working mother. Nevertheless, she never lets work get in the way of her primary calling as mother. She does whatever she has to do in order to be there for her daughters' special events, games, and activities, no matter how small they might seem. Sometimes it's a sacrifice, but she knows she has a very small window of time to enjoy this season of life with her girls before it's gone. Our daughters know that they can always look over and see mom in the stands.

Ongoing conversations. One of my favorite things as a husband and father is observing the great relationship my wife has with our daughters. The hallmark of their relationship is consistent, ongoing conversation. She always knows what they're going through, and there isn't a topic that the girls can't come and talk to her about. No topic is too small, too big, too embarrassing, or too far out of bounds for them to talk about. The lines of communication are open and the dialogue is honest.

Makes sure she points to Jesus. Finally, the ultimate thing I appreciate about my wife as a mother is that she is God-centered and constantly points our daughters to Jesus. In every situation she tries to ask our daughters questions that will cause them to dig deeper and ask more spiritually significant questions. Why is God allowing you to go through this situation? How does God want you to grow? Who does God want you to reach? What is God doing and how does He want you to be involved? etc.

Happy Mother's Day Adriana! Thanks for being the mother of our children! I love you!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

More Family Connection Events for Middle Schoolers

This Friday we'll be having a Mom-Kids Fun Night for middle school students and their moms. We'll also be having a Dad-Kids Fun Night on Friday, June 1st. We love providing opportunities for families to connect and have fun together! As youth ministries we only have kids for a few years, but they have their families forever, so we believe anything we can do to partner with families and nurture those relationships will have more significant, long-term impact.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Free Youth Ministry Book Download

When you think about the state of youth ministry today, are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you cheer or fear? Is the glass half full or half empty? In this honest, frank, blunt examination, veteran youth worker Mark Oestreicher offers a fresh perspective on what’s working in youth ministry today—and discovers that perhaps things aren’t as broken as some of us might have thought.

Theologically and anecdotally, we can uncover plenty of encouraging signs in the realm of youth ministry, according to Oestreicher, whose youth ministry experience includes time as an in-the-trenches youth worker and as a publisher of youth ministry books and resources. A Beautiful Mess features insights on the issues and opportunities facing youth workers, including the trend toward longevity in ministry, the power of smaller churches, the work of the Holy Spirit, the rewards of authentic relational ministry, the need for integration instead of isolation, and the centrality of faith and humility.

This book will help you experience the freedom of your calling, rather than the stress of expectations. You’ll discover an abundance of reasons to remain optimistic, intentional, and faithful as you engage in the lives of today’s teenagers.

FREE DOWNLOAD for a limited time only!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Francis Chan Balance Beam

I love this! Tremendous challenge! Related post: Surrendered and Untamed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Leave Your Baggage At The Door?

Have you ever been in a church service where the challenge was given to "leave your baggage at the door"? The idea is that whatever you've been going through, whatever's weighing you down, leave it outside, because we're not here to worry about our problems, but to focus on Jesus. I've used the metaphor before myself.

I've been chewing on this concept lately. I'm wondering if, however, it's not really a challenge to help people to focus on Jesus, but one that is in some way selfish. Is it possible that it's really a way of saying, in essence, "Leave your stuff at the door, put on the facade, mask your problems and your pain ... so that we don't have to see the real you and deal with your real pain."

Is not the call of Jesus to come to him with our stuff - to bring our problems right into his lap? "Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Jesus didn't say, "Leave your problems at the door, then come see me." Or, as I like to say, Jesus didn't say, "Clean up then come up." He said, "Come up, and I'll clean you up." And isn't the Church the body of Christ on earth? And if that's true, should we not invite and welcome to come on in, baggage and all? Is that not the path to healing and restoration? It's messy. It's harder. It's the cross.

Check out these two video clips. If you have time to watch them in their entirety, they're powerful and inspirational! If you just have a few minutes, just watch 6:20-7:08 and 10:37-11:00 of the first video, and 2:50-6:08 of the second one.

Thoughts? Comments? (By the way, please write your name if you don't have a Blogger account.) Enjoy!