Thursday, December 27, 2007

thinking bout my new pad

I've been thinking about my new house. Rick pointed out in a message recently that Jesus has gone back to the Father to get heaven prepped for us, believers, Christ followers.

I remember when I was a kid my cousin Jon was coming to visit us in Lynchburg, Va. I was excited about Jon's visit for a few reasons. First, Jon drove a sweet silver convertible sports car; I think it was an Austin Healey (sp?). Second, due to Jon's visit mom had baked an applesauce cake that I loved to consume as a child (and still do). Third, it was just going to be cool to have Jon at the house for a visit. Mom was busy getting the house ready but I just remember being really excited, I got that way whenever someone was coming to our house.

Even more exciting was when we brought Ty home. We had to prepare a nursery, gather all the things together that we would need to give Ty the space he needed. I remember how special it was when we first carried Ty into the house and put him in his bassinet.

As Rick talked about Jesus getting heaven ready for us to come home I turned it more personally. Jesus is in heaven right now building me a home and I will get to spend eternity in worshipping him face to face. Jesus is both the architect, he is designing the place, and the contractor; he's building the place. What will the place look like? I have no clue and my puny little finite mind probably couldn't begin to even grasp what my place will be in heaven will be like.

Does that blow you away? Jesus, if you are a believer in him, is in heaven right now getting a place ready for you! The creator is creating a home for the created. And I can't help but think that he is just as excited, probably more excited, about us coming to our new home as I was a child when someone was coming to our home. Jesus is excited about you spending eternity with him. Why? Because he loves you!!

Mom and Dads, when was the last time you told your son or daughter how much Jesus Christ loves them? Not because they earned it, not because they had to do anything to deserve his love but that he simply loves them because he is love. Here are some verses to read with your son or daughter about God's love for them: Romans 8:39; Ephesians 2:4; I John 3:1; I John 4:8 - 10. Perhaps you could break these verses up over the next week and read one together each day and talk about the verse together. Share what the verse means to you. Use open-ended questions to get your teen to talk. If they stare back at you with a blank look on their face, don't worry that's normal. Start small and be consistent and in time you will see that conversation will become easier for both of you. Think of something you can do special for your teen because you love them, not because they have done anything special or done anything to deserve something special, but just because you love him. Take him and some friends to a movie, take her out to eat at her favorite restaurant, take her to the ice skating rink in Currituck and skate together, play his favorite video game with him.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

250 more till party time!

250 more hits and you can join me right here on this blog for the first ever blog parteeeeeee!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

We had a great visit with Tricia and Nate in Durham last night and this morning. We got to go out to eat together (my hobby) and then opened our gifts (we did the draw one name thing). I scored big time! I got a Spider Man radio controlled helicopter from Gail. It is some kind of sweet! It was good to see Tricia and spend some time with her and Nate and the crew.

Currently I'm sitting in my living room by the light of the Christmas tree after attending the Christmas Eve worship gathering at church earlier this evening. Misha is channel surfing between It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. The smell of a pumpkin pie baking in the oven is wafting throughout the house. Sasha (our dog) is laying at my feet. Ty is all snug in his bed with visions of presents to open dancing through his head.

Does it get any better than this? It is the picture perfect Christmas Eve.

As we drove home tonight from the Christmas Eve gathering Misha asked Ty, "Do you know why we celebrate Christmas?" Ty responded happily, "Open presents!" I have failed as dad and a pastor! Just joking, the kid is 3 give em' a break! We then explained again the birth of Jesus. So again we asked him what we were going to do to tomorrow? Ty answered, "Open Jesus' presents!"

My favorite part of the movie, A Christmas Story, was just on. Ralphie told his mom that he learned a dirty word from his friend so Ralphie's mom called the other boy's mom. You can hear the kid getting yelled at and whooped over the phone. Ralphie just threw out a name, it wasn't even true. I love that!

So from all of us here in the pumpkin pie smelling Lawrenson home we wish you a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Two totally random thoughts

  • When the hit counter reaches 1,000 we will have a blog party right here on this very blog site.  Who will bring the Chex Mix?
  • In the spirit of Hanukkah I had Matzo ball soup for lunch today.  Now first of all I love Matzo ball soup.  It is great on a cold day or when you are feeling puny.  When I was in the store the other day I picked up two cups of instant Matzo ball soup.  I thought that would be great to have here at the office for lunch.  First of all there were only two Matzo balls in the instant soup cup, so I made both.  Second it was probably the nastiest thing I have ever eaten (and I've ate dog before).  The Matzo balls were like Styrofoam.  So just a word in passing and note to self, "Don't eat instant Matzo ball soup!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's a most wonderful time of the year

Ty is such a blessing and adds a certain level of excitement to the Christmas season in our home.  He loves to see the Christmas lights and sing Christmas songs, he is not much interested in his gifts under the tree, he hasn't even messed with them.  But the boy is thrilled about Christmas.
Five years ago I would have never guessed or even could imagine having a son to celebrate Christmas with.  As Ty and I "watch the snow" (it's imaginary) fall I'm amazed that I'm Ty's dad.   God gave us an incredible gift when he gave us Ty as a son.  Ty is a gift, we didn't "deserve" to be his parents, God didn't have to bless our home with Ty.  With this incredible gift came unbelievable responsibility, we are responsible to raise Ty to know God, to teach Ty how to love others, to disciple Ty.  With this incredible gift and unbelievable responsibility comes tremendous potential.  There is no telling what Ty will do with his life at this point, he could be president, he may be a doctor or a pro-baseball player, or the manager of a retail store.  Fact of the matter is there is potential and we as parents have a huge role in helping Ty discover God's purpose for his life.
Parents what are you doing to with the incredible gift God has given you in your children?  What are you doing with the responsibility?  What are you doing to help your son or daughter achieve their full potential, to be who God wants them to be?
Christ followers God has given you and incredible gift in salvation.  With that gift comes tremendous responsibility in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others.  Can you even begin to understand the potential your life has when you live out God's purpose for your life?
It's a wonderful time of the year, a time to remember the gift, Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Communication shift in discipline

I'll never forget an event I watched unfold at Bush Gardens amusement park in Williamsburg, Va.  Now Bush Gardens, like most amusement parks, is supposed to be a place of fun and enjoyment, not stress and strife.  I was standing waiting for some students to check in with me and a family walked by, mom, dad, son and daughter, the perfect picture of the American family with one exception, mom and dad were yelling (I'm not exaggerating) at their two kids.  The son and daughter looked so happy to be spending this quality time with mom and dad.  I can't remember what they were yelling at their teens about but I do remember it was over something silly like a cheeseburger or something that really didn't matter in the grand scheme of things.

Now I don't know about you but when someone yells at me I do one of two things:
1.  Ignore them
2.  Yell back
These are my natural reactions and I'm sure that is the way most of us would respond.  I know that there are some folks that would respond by shriveling up and crying, those would be your more sensitive types (that's not me), but that is their natural reaction.  But what do you think these two teens were doing while mom and dad railed on them verbally in front of a few hundred strangers?  They were ignoring their parents.  They had shut down.  Mom and dad were wasting their breath and made themselves look like they were very inadequate when it came to their parenting skills.  I told them as they walked by, "Enjoy your day at the park."  I don't think they heard me because they obviously forgot where that they were in public.  (I couldn't resist)

Something I have discovered is that most parents that yell, I don't mean raise your voice to get a child or teen's attention, were yelled at as children.  Those of us that live here at the beach have seen these families at the Food Lion many times, they all stand in the cereal isle yelling at each other about cereal.  

First of all if you are a yeller you need to stop.  TODAY!

Second I think we as parents need to realize that as kids grow our communication style must change.  Ty's three so most of our conversation is me telling him what he needs to do, especially when it comes to matters of discipline.  As Ty grows older I'll need to communicate differently.  When Ty moves into his teen years I need to have conversations,  two way communication.  Are you communicating with your teen or constantly lecturing them?  I guarantee if you are lecturing them they are shutting out 99.9 percent of what you are telling them.  The trick is working in the same topics you would use in lecture form into topics of conversation, use questions and listen to opinions.

There is a great article on about this very subject.  Read and enjoy!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Get your sushi rollin'

Today is Ashton's birthday.  Ty was invited to the party.  One of the bonuses of being Ty's father is that the parents were invited as well.  While the kids played I learned to roll sushi with Wayne, and Larry B. also joined in on the fun.  Rolling sushi is much fun and then eating the sushi with chopsticks was much fun also.
So to Ashton I say, "Happy Birthday!"
To Wayne and Larry I say, "keep the sushi rolling!"
I now have a new hobby to add to my list.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Life Lessons from the Necco

Why do I love these little wafers of happiness?
I don't eat much candy but I love the Necco. 
Rick brought me a roll this morning, it's almost gone.  Sugar Rush!

Did you know that the New England Confectionery Company is the oldest multi-line candy company in America?  Necco had its beginning in 1847, that is 161 years of wonderful sugary waferness!

Did you know that the Necco wafer is made from a dough?  Don't like the Necco?  You don't know what is good.  Like the sweethearts at valentine's day?  Same thing, made by Necco, same dough with a few different flavors, cut thicker and in the shape of a heart.

Pink tastes like Pepto Bismol to me but I like Pepto.  Then there is green that tastes like a cleaning product but I like it.  Orange taste like vitamin C.   Clove, purple, that's the one that throws people off.  There are 8 flavors:  Wintergreen, licorice, lemon, lime, chocolate, cinnamon, clove, and orange.  Personal note: the only flavor I can't stand is chocolate.  I don't even understand why it is in the roll of wafers, but I eat it anyways because after all it is a Necco.

How does all of this apply.....

When you are passionate about Neccos you know the facts.  How well do you know the facts about Jesus Christ?
When you are passionate about Neccos you can't get enough.  How passionate are you about Jesus Christ?
When you are passionate about Neccos you eat the whole roll, even the flavors that you don't understand.  Do you understand accept everything about God, even the things you don't understand?

To wrap up this post about those little discs of sunshine in my life....
Other candy Necco makes that are incredible: Mary Jane, that chewy little peanut butter morsel of goodness.  Clark bar, enough said there, chocolate, peanut butter.  Sky Bar, chocolate candy with 4 molded centers of vanilla, caramel, fudge and peanut.  Mint Julip and Banana Split chews.  One of the all time bests - Candy Buttons!  

Final note: For those that read this blog that are Jewish, Necco candies are Kosher!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Part Two)

(See Previous Post)

How do we fix years of unhealthy feeding?  In the 60s and early 70’s some bright person in the government figured out that bears and humans don’t mix so well.  Too many people were hopping out of their Plymouth for that perfect photo opportunity with a bear only to become a tasty snack for Mrs. Grizzly.  So those that studied the bears and their interaction with human encroachment came up with steps to work towards less human and bear interaction, mainly involving removing human food sources.

So how does the church undo years of poor feeding habits?  Steps need to be taken to help parents disciple their children.  How do we instill confidence in parents in this aspect of godly parenting?   Any ideas?  I can think of a few:

  1. Create discipleship groups to disciple parents that were never discipled, teaching parents how to be self-feeders.
  2. Give parents tools to disciple their children and teach their kids how to self-feed.
  3. Point parents in the direction of excellent resources, books, web sites, newsletters, magazines.
  4. Form affinity/accountability groups for parents by grouping them according to their children’s ages.
  5. Create systematic discipleship plans parents can use.
  6. Youth and Children pastors could let parents know what is being covered in youth group/kids’ church and then parents could use that as a springboard to discussions and Bible study at home during the week.
  7. Pair up younger parents with older parents that have done a good job at discipling their kids.
  8. The church needs to re-think what we have been doing all these years.


If you have any good ideas or know of resources I would love to hear them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

When bears are fed, they quickly learn unbear-like behaviors.  Sadly, this often leads to the death of the bear.  Once a bear comes in contact with human food they return again and again.

Game rangers try to deal with problem bears.  They use things like pepper spray, rubber bullets and even specially trained dogs.  If these tactics don't work the bear is trapped and then relocated.  Black bears are given three chances.  If the bear returns to the problem area they are usually killed.

In the Montana region of Yellowstone deaths to grizzlies caused by human feeding is more than a third of the annual mortalities of grizzly bears.  (For More Info)

Here is the problem.  God created the grizzly to feed itself.  Bears in their natural habitat graze on vegetation, they also kill smaller animals like elk calves and fish and even eat some carrion. The bear was created  to feed itself not be fed.  When a bear begins getting fed by a human the end result will be poor health and even death.  The bear is taught to be dependent on someone else to provide food and to not feed itself.  Man can create an unhealthy bear by giving the bear the food.

We have created an "unhealthy bear".  The church has taught Christians to not be self feeders. As Christians we need to learn to feed ourselves.  The result has been immature, unhealthy believers.  Even more damaging is that this has gone on for generations and now Christians accept this as the "norm".  

Now we as parents are passing this on to our children as we expect the church to disciple our children and teach them the Word.  The problem is this, God's plan is that parents teach their children, the church should be equipping parents to be self feeders and pass this onto their kids.  We have instituted Sunday School, Discipleship, Training Union, and other programs, which in and of themselves aren't a bad thing and they are actually good, but we have become dependent on those programs to feed us and our children.  We have become the "unhealthy grizzly".

Monday, December 10, 2007

Parents Involved

Here at the beach there is this idea that parents aren't involved in their children's lives.  Now of course we know this is a generality but go to any ball game and there will be many students competing and their parents won't be in the stand.

Several times as a youth pastor I've attempted parent events only to have a handful out of the potential of 60 show up.  

Last night NHC hosted an abstinence rally that was sponsored by Creative Choices Crisis Pregnancy Center.  The turn out was great.  Mostly I was impressed by how many parents attended this event with their children.  It was truly an encouraging moment for me as a youth pastor.

To the parents that attended last night I want to send a ginormous  thanks!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Your child could be a millionaire

I was sitting on my sofa minding my own business when the folks on Fox News channel were interviewing a guy that has written  book for parents to help parents teach their children about money.  He made an interesting statement, "Parents spend all that time, money and energy teaching their kids ballet, athletics but none of my adult friends today are ballet dancers or on a sports team.  We should be teaching them about something that they are going to have to deal with the rest of their lives".  He gave a few tips, I could only catch a few of them:
  • no allowance - kids shouldn't make their bed for money they should make their bed because they are part of a family and we work together in our home.
  • stop projecting money fears onto kids - kids don't need to hear their parents money woes 
  • don't gripe about your job in front of your kid - they don't need to be taught to fear that adulthood is going to be boring and no fun
From the author or the new book, Young Bucks.  It even gives ideas for kids to start their own businesses as children to earn their money.

I might add that it is wise to teach them now about giving back to God by tithing, teach them obedience to God now so it will be instilled them when they become and adult.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Fun Family Day

Today was a day off.  We got up and headed to the McArthur Center in Norfolk this AM.  Now going to the mall is high on my least favorite things to do list.  Today, we went with a mission. When I know what my mission is it makes the pain of the mall much easier to handle.

Mission #1 - Ty had to visit Santa.  He really enjoyed the visit.  He didn't say much to Santa other than "hi" and "thank you".  He was a bit in awe.  Plus he scored a cool puzzle as a gift from jolly old Saint Nick.  (see above photo, I think this was the real Santa!)

Mission #2 - I've converted!  I went into the Mac store today and got a Macbook.  It is from this new little lap top that I post to my blog tonight.  My other lap top is slowly dying.  It is an HP and the power connector is lose and in order for the screen to stay upright I have to use duct tape.  Plus the old HP is 4 years old and moving slow.  So now to the task of learning how to use the Mac and moving files and all that fun stuff from the HP.

Mission #3 - Sams club to pick up soda pops for the Pepsi fridge in the lobby. (I know it is my day off but a youth pastor's work is never done)  The money we have made from the sell of drinks is going into the youth scholarship fund and will help students go to Student Life Camp this summer.  By summer we should have a good amount to be able to help several students with the expense of camp.

Mission #4 - Target!  That place is awesome.  I enjoyed a mint mocha, Misha enjoyed an egg nog latte,  while shopping for Ty's Christmas gifts.  It was fun keeping him distracted in the cart while Misha placed gifts in the basket.  He still has no clue that in the back of the car were several gifts.  He's gonna have so much fun Christmas morning.  I can't wait to play with the toys!  I also purchased the gift for the family member name that I drew.  
Ty made a man laugh in Target when he said, "Daddy I need toys."

Mission #5 - I cooked tacos tonight for dinner.  They had all the right spices and flavors.  Ty ate two helpings of refries, he loves beans.  Like father like son.  

Oh, speaking of beans, Ty announced real loud in the mall today, "I tooted!".  Misha said he is just like his dad.  I'm so proud of him.  I tooted in the mall as well. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My 3 year old has a job

I just called home. Misha asked Ty if he wanted to talk to daddy. Ty said, "No, I tired, I have to play." I then realized my son's main responsibility in life is to play. That's his job, it's what he does and he does it really well. Oh to be 3 again!
Just so you know he did get on the phone with me for a minute. He squeezed me into his schedule then he had to run. He had to play.

Crisis Moves Us

Sometimes it takes a crisis to move us closer to God, to deepen our faith walk. I spent some time this morning talking with a young lady that is moving through crisis. She expressed that she was glad for this crisis, it is this crisis that has "opened" her eyes. Because of this crisis she is moving back into a right relationship with God. The crisis in her life is the result of choices made.

Christmas time makes me think of another crisis. Imagine what it must have been like for Joseph to receive word that Mary was pregnant and he knew he wasn't the father. I would call that a crisis. What would the family think? How would they be looked on by the community? Lots of questions would have rolled through my mind if I was Joseph. Joseph's crisis was a God given crisis.

Whether a God given crisis or a crisis that is the result of choices the crisis can move us closer to God. We can also make the choice to allow crisis to move us away from God. I believe God often uses crisis to get our attention and turn us in the right direction, towards him.

We probably all know someone that seems to be in constant crisis. Are they continually making poor choices? Possibly. Are they ignoring God's movement in their life? Possibly. I've seen Christians hit rock bottom. They have turned from their faith and turned their back on God and then find themselves in a horrible situation but still don't surrender.

The prodigal son, he had to hit rock bottom. He was looking at pig slop (Nasty!) and considering eating some of it. It was only when he encountered crisis that he turned and ran home to daddy.

We, as parents, have to teach our kids how to handle crisis. What do we do when crisis hits? They are watching and more is caught than taught. Our children need to learn that crisis can be the result of choices made, usually poor ones, but that they can also come from God. Ultimately we need to teach them that crisis gives us an opportunity to strengthen our faith in a God who is control, sovereign.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Parent discipline or discipleship?

If you took the time to perouse my previous post then you know where my mind is right now, actually I've been thinking about parents discipling (not disciplining, although I'm all for discipline) their kids. "Here church, teach our kids the Bible", this is the attitude the church has created.

What is discipleship? Discipleship is an intimate, personal relationship designed for growth and learning through imitation, dialogue and observation.

Read this:
"We have to be there. We have to show up on the job. If a parent is not available or is emotionally tuned out, or burnt out, that parent is actually contributing to the emergence of an immoral child. A parent may feed and clothe his child, buy her expensive toys, enroll her in lessons and sports, but if he fails to pass on a sense of right and wrong, he is guilty of moral neglect.
It’s our job to provide a role model, not a perfect one, but a real one. It’s our job to disciple our kids."

Here is a great article about what I'm rolling through my mind. If you are a parent you need to read this.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

2008 Calendar

I'm working today on the Youth Calendar for 2008. My goal is to have a hard copy of a calendar that has all the information a parent could need or want for 2008 as they make plans to encourage their teen to get involved in the youth ministry of NHC.

The more I think about our youth ministry and where it is at in 2007, the more I realize it is time for an adjustment, changes. Not changing simply for the sake of change but changing to make an impact in the lives of students. Why? If 80% of Christian teens are walking away from their faith and church upon graduating from high school something has gone severely wrong.

For years the church has said, "Bring us your children and let us teach them the Bible". The result of this mindset, I believe, is the statistic mentioned above that is alarming us today. Students should be discipled and taught the Bible by their parents. That's what God instructs us to do in Deut. 11:19,20.

I think it is time for youth ministry to shift and become youth ministry through the parents. How is that going to happen? I guess that might take some time to figure out.

When was the last time you read the Bible with your teen? Just wondering.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Kwismas Twee!

Big day in the Lawrenson household. I went into the storage room and got the Christmas Tree out and brought it upstairs. I then climbed up the ladder into the attic and passed down all 50 boxes of Christmas decorations to Misha. Ty helped decorate the "Kwismas Twee", two broken ornaments later, he has hit the sack and I, well, I'm enjoying the comfort of my reclining sofa and watching my beautiful bride hang the rest of the ornaments on the tree (it's my tradition).
Misha is now hanging our "first Christmas together" ornament, I'm tearing up a little, not because it was our first ornament but because the buck on the ornament is an eight pointer.

Other big news! Our house is officially listed. Yes, you could be the proud owner of a lovely pimped beachbox with a bonus room, open floor plan, laundry room, storage room, two car garage, large lot with fenced in backyard, freshly painted interior, light and airy. Swingset is negotiable. For more info contact Cathy at Village Realty :).

We are also looking at putting in an offer on a home, a big "fixer upper".

Merry Kwismas! Last night's Lord's supper and Christmas dinner was kickin'.

Made the Top 40 Youth Ministry Blogs

My blog made #30 out of the top 40 youth ministry blogs according to I don't know what that means but "thanks!&quo...