Saturday, March 30, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's Friday ... BUT SUNDAY'S COMIN'!

My Incredible Acting Debut ... 1991!

Thanks to Susan Parsons for posting this video of "One Spotless Lamb". Kids in our youth group went on tour in the spring of 1991 performing this play in churches around the northeast. I make my debut at 1:13 with my (still) best friend Ruel Smith. We bust out some sweet dance moves at 2:13. Yep. That's him in the front and me in the back. All I remember was how hot it was in there and praying that Ruel didn't eat tacos the night before. lol!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Love Long Island Day 3

Today we went to Farmingdale to work at Hope For The Future - a ministry which works with street people and those in need. We arrived an hour before they opened, so we contacted God4Me Christian bookstore which is just around the corner and offered to come over and serve there instead of just sitting around. Our students folded clothes, broke down boxes, and did some organizing. To thank us, the bookstore gave each of our team members a CD by Lincoln Brewster (who's really awesome by the way!). We then went to Hope For The Future where Pastor Diane Dunn gave us an orientation and told us about the ministry, then got us to work in the warehouse. We unloaded a food truck, sorted the food, and organized it. After a brief break for lunch we put together bags of food which were distributed this evening to those in need. It was a fantastic day. Our kids worked hard and were inspired by Pastor Diane and her passion for Jesus and loving His people. So proud of our students! See all the pics here.

Love Long Island Day 2

This morning we took a team of 16 and drove out east to Bellport where we partnered with Lighthouse Mission. We toured their facilities, worked in the warehouse for about an hour, then went out and helped with their food truck/street outreach. In addition to setting up, serving, and tearing down, our team had the great privilege of praying with many of the 100 or so people who were there to receive food. It was such a joy seeing our students engaging in conversation, sharing their faith in Jesus, and lifting the needs of people to God in prayer. So proud of them! See all the pics here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Love Long Island Day 1

Today 17 Sr. High students joined us for Love Long Island Day 1. We went to the EOC in Manhasset where we worked to clear space and assemble and install shelves for the new Shelter Rock food pantry. Our team was able to get everything ready for inspection and hopefully very soon we will approved to begin receiving and distributing food to those in need in our community. We also walked the neighborhood of the EOC and  picked up 15 industrial sized bags of trash, beautifying the area and showing that we care because God cares. So proud of our students! See all the pictures here.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Garrett's Fight ... An Inspirational Story!

I saw this story on ESPN last night. What a fascinating, inspirational young man! I love seeing him teaching little kids at the end. Every life has value and potential. Never count people out!

You're Invited!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Family Trip to See Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus

Today I enjoyed a day off with the family. We went to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to watch the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus. So fun! See all the pics here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Got Questions? Bring Them to Shelter Rock ...

You are cordially invited to join us on Wednesday, April 3, 7:30pm at the Shelter Rock Manhasset Campus for a special evening with Cliffe Knechtle of Give Me An Answer Ministries. Cliffe specializes in visiting college campuses and where he gives straightforward answers to difficult questions posed by skeptics and truth-seekers. Cliffe has had opportunities to speak on the “reasonableness” of Christianity at many of the top universities in the US, including Harvard, MIT, UCLA, and Stanford. To learn more about Cliffe, visit

Our student Delta small groups are attending this rather than meeting in Port Washington and Manhasset that evening.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Was This Book Good or Did It Stink? My Review of "Criticism Bites"

Well, Brian Berry has written a book called Criticism Bites. Was it good or did it stink? How will he handle my review? Will he have to heed his own advice?

Yes. BUT ... his advice about hanging onto notes of encouragement to help him keep things in perspective when he's facing discouragement. This book was fantastic! I really enjoyed it and wish it had been around in my earlier years of ministry.

As Brian shared personal stories and lessons he has learned in his nearly twenty years of youth ministry I felt such an affinity with him. Many of his stories closely resembled my experiences. The criticisms he has heard and the emotions he has felt sounded so strangely familiar. As C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one”

Youth workers need community. So many people throw in the towel because they feel all alone. The reality is that while the youth ministry field is a unique culture to work in, those who find themselves therein share many of the same challenges. And the biggest challenge is usually criticism - and youth workers get hit with it from so many different angles. We get it from students, from parents, from volunteers, from pastors, from custodians, from older generations ... It's hard enough to try and make one of these demographics happy. Impossible to make them all happy. The truth is that no matter what we do, we will have our critics. I've had and have mine. You do too.

This book is a tremendous encouragement to those in the trenched of youth ministry. I would even go further and say ... this book is valuable for everyone! Criticism bites everyone, not just youth workers. The best thing about the book is not that Brian has a big boo hoo, poor me, feel bad for me that I am unfairly criticized catharsis. Rather, he shares his stories and then distills truths and principles for dealing with criticism in healthy ways.

I highly recommend this book to all.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Night" by Elie Wiesel - A Book Review

Gripping. Terrifying. Tragic. A Must-Read!

Last week I read Night by Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel. The book is a powerful first-hand account of the Holocaust. It was difficult to read, and yet difficult to put down.

In surviving the concentration camps and having the courage to share his story Wiesel has helped to keep the horror of the Holocaust necessarily before future generations. Necessary because, as George Santayana famously said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

I leave you to ponder some quotes from Wiesel's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1986 (which is included at the end of the book):

"If we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices .... We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormentor. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe."

"Violence is not the answer."

"One person - a Raoul Wallenberg, an Albert Schweitzer, a Martin Luther King, Jr. - one person of integrity can make a difference, a difference of life and death. As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our life will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs."

"We know that every movement is a movement of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them."

"Our lives no longer belong to us along; they belong to all those who need us desperately."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Skit Guys "Get" What Youth Workers Deal With

It doesn't matter how many times I see it, this Skit Guys skit called "The Chair" always blesses and encourages me. They truly capture the many different types of people that we have to deal with on a regular basis.

Sending Love to Our Volunteers

Yesterday I popped a copy of 99 Thoughts for Volunteers by my friend Danette Matty in the mail along with a little note of encouragement to all of our student ministry adult leaders. Just a simple way to say "Thank you!", to encourage them, and to provide them with practical training.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Look What We Woke Up To ...

This morning our 11-year old Natalia brought us breakfast in bed. What a treat! 

Ministering to Gay Teenagers - A Book Review

"The truth is that gay students already come to our ministries or are connected to our churches one way or another. The challenging part for youth workers, then, isn't facing the questions but rather implementing the answers."

The above quote is from Ministering to Gay Teenagers: A Guide for Youth Workers - a very helpful little book by Shawn Harrison. Now a youth pastor in Ohio, Harrison shares from his own personal experiences as a gay student in high school, the journey his life has taken him on as he has responded to the call of Jesus, and the lessons he has learned along the way.

What I loved about the book is that Harrison doesn't avoid truth, nor does he get bogged down in debate. He states: "The church should not compromise truth, but it should not withhold grace either." Rather, he offers very simple and practical advice for youth workers. He challenges us to do some personal soul searching, gives very simple and practical advice for how to pastor gay students, help parents and families, and lead courageously in the context of the student community. I highly recommend that every youth worker read this book that is less than 100 pages.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mission: Love Long Island

Cost: $25 Includes t-shirt.
Must Register at by 3/17/13

FREE Training Webinar for Parents

Dr. Jim Burns leads a free Q and A webinar for on Tuesday, March 19 at 2 pm (central) It's a chance for you to ask your questions about parenting teens. Register here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Pretty Girl & Me All Dressed Up

This evening was Dress Up Night for our Sr. High Small Group Dinner. Here's me with my 15-year old daughter Claudia. She's so pretty!

Falling Plates

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Road of Life

At first, I saw God as my observer, my judge keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited Heaven or hell when I died. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn't know Him.

But later on, when I met Christ, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal.

I don't know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains and through rocky places at breakneck speeds. It was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!"

I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I'd say "I'm scared," He'd lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me gifts to take on my journey, my Lord's and mine and we were off again.

He said, "Give the gifts away, they are extra baggage, too much weight." So, I did, to the people we met and I found that in giving, I received and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it; but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ. And when I'm sure I just can't do anymore, He just smiles and says..."Pedal!"

- Author Unknown

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dog Playing Piano and Singing ... AMAZING VIDEO!

Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood

I recently finished reading Stepping Up by Dennis Rainey. Our Men's Ministry has been using the DVD curriculum and discussion guide based on the book. My ministry responsibilities have caused me to miss several weeks of our gatherings, however, during the weeks I was able to be present, the DVDs and discussion were excellent. My suggestion to our Men's Ministry was to have a longer time during our gatherings for the discussion questions.

The book was a good read, a great picture of how men can be influential in each phase of their life, and a challenging call for men to embrace their God-given calling to step up as leaders. My only minor critique is that when there is talk of parenting it focusses almost exclusively on raising boys. As a father of daughters I would have liked some content geared toward fathering girls.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rock Sr. High Bowling

To see all the pics, click here

Friday, March 8, 2013

Jr. High Students Serving Our Community

Here are some pics of our awesome Jr. High Students serving at La Jornada in Queens 2 weeks ago. They prepared food and sorted food for distribution for those in need in Queens. So proud of them!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Who Did This? GUILTY DOG!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

Simply Youth Ministry Conference Day 4 and Team Feedback

Today we wrapped up the Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2013. It was such a great weekend. I was so happy to have shared it with some of our awesome adult youth leaders. I am grateful to Shelter Rock Church for caring enough about our students to invest in high quality training for our volunteers. Over lunch today we shared our learnings with each other. I then asked each person to summarize how they were feeling after the weekend. Here are the words they used: Refreshed, Ready, Knowledgeable, Full, Reoriented, Amazed, and Home. They also expressed how they want all of our team to go to the conference next year. We are going t take a week to unpack and summarize our learnings, then on Sunday we are going to have a volunteer lunch and each person will share with the team members who were unable to go so that we all benefit. 

Team with Josh Griffin

Danielle and Julia with DJ Promote

Ady and me with DJ Promote