Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Youth Trip Part 1

Promote
We promote events at youth group, through Parent newsletter and e-mails, web site.
Sign Up
We don't use sign up sheets. We use an event envelope for a few reasons:
a. there isn't the signing and then scratching out of names which then causes other students to do the same.
b. the registration fee is turned in with all the important data info.
c. I no longer am involved in the process other than knowing who is going, etc.
Prepare -
Arrange transportation.
Recruit drivers.
Line up youth leaders.  A ratio of 1 adult per 10 students is good, I like 1 to 6 or 7.
Arrange hotel/cabin/beach house.
Arrange meals/meal money.
Make a check list of what is needed for the trip.
Collect Medical Releases.
Assign another youth leader to collect prescription medicines and be the "nurse".
Track registrations/payments/medical releases on a spreadsheet.
Fuel up the vans.
Pack the first aid kit.
Get the groceries (if needed and recruit cooks well in advance if needed and let them plan the meals and grocery list on a budget)
Leave on time, even if you leave someone behind.
Return on time, don't make parents wait for a long time at the church.



Sunday, December 28, 2008

Great Advice for Life

This morning I read Psalm 26, there are some great words of wisdom to be found here on living life.  These would be some great words of advice to instill into our students whether we are parents or youth leaders:

  • Integrity must be a priority
  • Trust God without wavering
  • Be open before God
  • Live a life of truth
  • Don’t live life with the wrong crowd
  • Don’t hang with those who pretend to follow God
  • Avoid bad company
  • Love to worship God
  • Think about your redemption and God’s mercy

These are keys to an unshakable life.  No promise here that life won't be tough but how will you stand when the tough times come?

Parents - The books of Psalm and Proverbs are great books to read while your family has breakfast together in the morning before heading off to school.  If you don't take the time to spend with your teen before the day begins give it a 30 day test run, this may require you to get up 15 minutes earlier, and see if this makes a difference in your family's life.  Sure your teen may groan and grumble for a week or two but after time it will become part of their routine. Read to them, let them read, pray for them before you head to work and they head off to school.  If you drive them to school this is another great time to talk about what you read that morning.  

Friday, December 26, 2008

Winterfest

We are going.  Several years ago we started attending this event.  In the "early" years we had as few as 4 go with us.  Each year our group has grown.  This year will be our largest group yet.  We are stoked!  There are lots of great music artists and speakers at Winterfest.  I'm even more stoked about the team of adults I have going with me, there will be 7 adults going to keep an eye on the young 'uns.  In general I think a ratio of 10 students per adult is good, but I think 7 to one is even better.  

If you haven't heard of Winterfest you can check out their site.  We have met their groups that travel as far as Houston, Texas to attend.  There will be about 8000 of us rockin in the new year together.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Luke 2 

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 
 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

This verse has been rollin around my noggin now for a few weeks.  Why would the angels say, “on earth peace”?  

At the time the angels sang this to the shepherds there certainly was not peace in that region of the world.  Rome was an occupying force.  The government had been taken over and now the Jews had to submit to an invading government.  No peace to be found there.

Were the angels delivering a message to the shepherds that the messiah would bring peace to their lives?  Shepherds were on the bottom rung of the latter of society.  It is doubtful that they would live peaceful lives due to the birth of Christ.  We know that Jesus did not bring peace to Israel.  His teachings caused division and even shook up the religious leaders.  Jesus life ended in a very non-peaceful way, the cruelest way to be put to death, on the cross.

The arrival of Jesus Christ, God born in the flesh, was the arrival of peace.  Not a peace from strife in the world.  Not a peace from war.  Not a peace between men.  The peace the angel declared was peace coming as the sacrifice for our sins that makes peace between God and us possible (not automatic).   Jesus is the peace.  Peace on earth, Jesus on earth.

This Christmas I pray you know this Peace, the peace that Jesus brings.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Contagious Tonight

Tonight we met at the bowling alley.  Nothing says Christmas like a game or two of bowling.  We had a great time.  We had a whole bunch of students and our youth ministry team was out in full force they gave us a few more lanes than we had reserved.  Lots of bowling, hanging out, picture taking, time spent in the arcade.   The lesson tonight was on fellowship, it was a "hands on" lesson.  We had a few guests so it was a great way to introduce them to the youth group.  We then went to Taco Bell and came down on them like a plague swarm of flies.  The Taco Bell staff was a bit overwhelmed, but they did well.  I had a good 20 minutes or so in line to build relationships with students.   Always call and confirm with the fast food restaurant to remind them that you are coming with a big group.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Youth Ministry Is and Isn't

Youth Ministry Is:
  • A team effort
  • Parent ministry
  • Fun
  • Hard
  • Heart breaking
  • Joy filled
  • Vital
  • A blast
  • A bummer
  • Tiring
  • Energizing
  • Relationship building
Youth Ministry Is Not:
  • Possible with a contract mentality
  • A holding tank for future "pastors"
  • The magical pill to grow your church
  • Possible with one lone youth worker and no support
  • Best when being micro-managed
  • To be handled like a corporate office
  • A baby sitting service
  • A travel agency with an activities director
  • All fun and games
  • Possible while under  unrealistic expectations
Anything you can add to this post?

Communication

I try to overcommunicate.  Even when I overcommunicate I apparently don't always communicate.  Does this communication make sense?  
Here is the communication line for youth events at NHC:
1.  Announced weekly at youth group.
2.  Printed announcement on student's hand out
3.  Communicated in the monthly Parentline newsletter calendar
4.  Placed on the events page of our youth web site and church calendar
5.  Parents and YM team get a weekly e-mail with the info and links to the web page
6.  Depending on the event we make posters.
7.  Communicate on Facebook with our groups and events
8.  Special reminder e-mails 

99.9% of our communication is done online because the majority of parents have e-mail and web access.  This saves a small forest.  

How does your youth ministry communicate?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Leadership

Listening to Leadership Development: A Working Model with Steve Stroope.
Some great stuff on this Defining Moments audio training from the Willowcreek Association.

As I was listening I was reminded of my past church experience where there was a committee on committees that annually calls church members and recruits them to do their time.  A person may be called out of the blue, as the C.O.C. goes through the church phone book, and asked to serve on the children's team.  The member may have no passion or desire to work with kids but say, "yes" out of guilt.  Probably most people don't know how to say "no".  I have learned how to and am good at it.  The member agrees to serve and then more than likely gets zero training. The person then serves for three years because that is the term  of that committee position.  As Steve Stroope said, "We don't want anyone to get too much power."  Those poor people who are actually serving where God has shaped them have no hope of longevity in serving where they find joy and are passionate because they can only serve for 3 years.

I hear criticism from church folks at times.  They can be critical of a leadership approach where some great leadership skills and tips come from the corporate world or even from some of the "mega" churches.  Yet many churches model their leadership after the structure of our government.   Hmmmmm....which one works best?

I think Moses was given some great advice from his father-in-law to spread out the leadership, you can't do it all.  Many committees (at least the ones I have experienced personally both in the church and small town government) do nothing more than talk about getting something done.  Teams work together to accomplish the task.

The lesson I've learned today is never lead alone.   As a leader I should have someone working along side of me learning to lead.  Every leader of every team needs to have an assistant leader.  This is the process building up the leadership team in the church.  Leadership Development is vital to church health.  Many churches in America have no strategy for leadership development and as a result their growth is stunted because for one pastor to try to lead a whole church is not Biblical.  There are lots of great leadership models out there.  Find one that is working and customize and adapt it to work in your church setting.  Jesus led twelve and through that process those twelve became leaders.  We should be doing the same.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Big Day in the Neighborhood


Every day I drive past the spot where Orville and Wilbur Wright achieved and successfully pulled off the first flight.  The day was December 17, 1903.  So if you fly the friendly skies today take a moment and think about the imagination and creativity of these two brothers from Ohio. The next time you have an idea and someone says, "Impossible!", think of the Wright Bros.  So happy anniversary to these two bike makers.



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

10 Tips for Surviving Christmas Without Going Broke

I found this helpful article at Homeword.com: (homeword is a great resource for youth leaders and parents)

The consequences of the recent economic crisis have hit many families hard. Sure, there have been economic downturns before that have affected many. But, in my years as an adult, I have never seen such widespread financial impact and uncertainty.

I am reminded that in Christ, there is no reason to be afraid. As Christ-followers, we know that God is still on His throne, and we have much for which we can be thankful. As we enter in upon the Christmas season, all of the economic bad news ought not to affect our celebration that “Unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given.”

But this Christmastime, perhaps more than any other in our lifetimes, we need to be wise in our approach to our Christmas celebrations and traditions, to ensure that we take economic realities into consideration and put our families in the best posture to weather the difficult financial times we might well face in 2009.

Here then, are some practical ideas for surviving the holidays without going broke.  READ MORE

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Party at Contagious Youth Tonight

Tonight we partied with purpose.  We took our annual Christmas party and combined it with an outreach night.  Students were encouraged to pray for 5 friends and invite them to come tonight to the party.  We had a blast!  We ate well.  Thanks Slice Pizza!   We all brought inexpensive wrapped gifts and played a game of Dirty Santa, you know the one where you can take each other's presents, a good Christian game.   Lots of chocolate candy tonight.  We had enough chocolate to cause acne problems for a year for an entire youth group.  Pee Wee the chocolate penguin seemed to be a big hit (Walgreens for $5).

I explained the purpose of our party in an earlier post.  I even asked readers to join me in praying for this night.   The purpose of this night was to share with students about the Christ of Christmas.  Jesus Christ is God's gift to us, the best Christmas gift anyone could accept.  Thanks for praying and I'm glad students brought their friends and invited friends.  Tonight a young lady put her trust and faith in Jesus Christ as her Savior.  Her and her friend were both given a Fresh Start book to go through together, friend discipling friend, pretty cool.

Our purpose is to reach students to discover life in Christ.  Tonight we accomplished that through friendship, pizza, fun, and sharing the best Christmas gift ever. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Big But

Psalm 13
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts 
 and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. 
 Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
4 my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," 
 and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.

Ever have those times when everything is going wrong, when it seems like you are stuck in the middle of a storm and can’t see the end?
Do you have those days when it seems everyone is against you?
Does God every feel like he’s a million miles away?

I can’t stand those times. I get a  frustrated, stressed, freakin out when I’m in those places of life. But that’s life!  It’s not lived on the mountaintops; life is lived in the valley.

Who knows this better than King David? David lived life in the valley. Most of his life was a struggle. Kid stuck with watching the sheep while his brothers went on an adventure.  Stood alone before a giant because no one else had the guts or the faith.  Spears chucked at him by the king while playing his harp for the king. (That ought to make some worship leaders nervous) Was pursued by a jealous king who wanted to snuff David’s life out.  Struggled with sin, adultery, murder, and the pain of life that all of that mess with Bathsheba resulted in.  David knew what it meant to live life in the valley.

So when the tough storms of life come, when the world feels like it is squeezing in around you remember the big “But”.  Did you see it? 
Verse 5 and 6:
“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.”

Know your position – God loves you.
Check your attitude – Rejoice in salvation and sing to the Lord.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Red Robin

I have seen the Red Robin commercials on tv for quite some time now and had a friend talk about the goodness of the Red Robin.
We went up to Va. today to do a little Santa run and stop at Sams Club. While there we hit Red Robin for lunch.

My review:
1. Red Robin is way over priced, by about $3. My cheeseburger was $9.75! Had I known the prices I would have never stopped. (my tea was $2.75, I buy tea bags so I know how much I'm getting ripped here!)
2. The burgers were good but not worth the $
3. I had a Banzai burger. A teriyaki burger with cheddar and grilled pineapple. It was good.
4. They serve the unending steak fries. The fries were good. I'm glad they were unending because there were about 6 in my basket. (which brings me to #5)
5. For a 13 dollar meal (after drink) I don't want it served in a Dairy Queen basket. Put it on a plate!
6. Unless someone is treating we won't be back as a family because of the cost.
7. The atmosphere was good and the staff was very friendly. A huge plus which made the $33 hamburger lunch a little easier to stomach.
8. Child's meal came with a drink, coloring book and balloon. Worth the $6

Give me a Mama Kwans burger or Run Down burger and fries any day of the week. They are better and about $3 cheaper.

If you are taking a youth group on a trip and think you are going to pull in and grab a cheap burger lunch with the students think again. The average youth group (12) would cost around $160 to feed. I can fee 40 pizza on that much money.

Party with Purpose (Bump)

Reaching students to discover life in Christ is the purpose of NHC's youth ministry.  Everything we do as a youth ministry is planned around this purpose.  In our purpose "Reaching" is our outreach aspect of why God has us here ministering on the OBX of NC, and the world.  "Discover life in Christ"  covers discipleship, fellowship and worship.

Sunday night we are going to party with a purpose.  Students were challenged a couple weeks ago to write down the names of 5 friends who need a relationship with Jesus Christ and then to pray for those 5 friends.  It doesn't stop there though, students were also challenged to share their faith with these 5 friends.  

Sunday night we are combining our annual Christmas party with and outreach emphasis.  I will share with the students about the Christ in Christmas. Plainly and clearly the good news of God's gift will be explained.  Then students will have an opportunity to trust Jesus as their Savior if they are ready to take that step.  IF our students have followed through with their end of the challenge there should be some guests here at the party who will hear about this life changing gift that is waiting for their acceptance of the gift.

You can join this event with us even though you may not be a student in our youth group.  We are asking adults to join us in prayer for and during the party this Sunday evening, December 14 from 5 to 7pm EST.  


More Christmas Cheer

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Call Your Senator!

I'm just a little miffed that the government is bailing out all these big corporations who have done business poorly.  Who is gonna bail me out when I spend more than I make?

In case you haven't heard the senate is trying to tuck a pay raise for judges into the automaker bailout.   I'm not sure what judges have to do with the production of automobiles.  Anyone?
They want to give the judges the COLA, cost of living adjustment.  Many americans will not be getting a COLA this year  because of the economy.  The only COLA I'll get in 2009 is the one with Coca in front of the COLA. (and I'm not complaining about that because how can I take a raise when we have people in our church who are really hurting because of the economical situation in our nation right now)

If the government wants to give judges a raise they need to do that separate from the bailout. They had their chance in November but sat on it!

I'll be making a few phone calls to those who represent me in DC.

Friday, December 5, 2008

2009 is Coming!

It is time to put 2009 down on paper.    Not wanting to simply fly by the seat of my pants I will get to work planning next year’s lessons, events, activities for the youth ministry.

My Plan:

  1. Look for balance in all we do.  Balancing connecting, serving, following, reaching and worship. 
  2. Make sure our events and activities have a purpose as the base.
  3. Keep events and activities that cost students and their parents money to a minimum due to the economy. 
  4. Map out the scope of our learning for the year:  seek the YM team’s input and the student’s input.
  5. Lay the year out in one big calendar and plan keeping school calendar in mind and also spread out the events that do cost $.

My Goal:

Have the calendar planned out by the end of December.  Around our area we will get invites from other youth groups for an event a month or two in advance max and sometimes literally just days before.  I learned a long time ago you can’t do it all.  I have heard of some youth groups that are doing 2 to 4 activities a month outside of their regular weekly youth group gathering.  Planning in advance also comes in handy when invited to events that don’t fit the scope or direction the youth ministry is heading for the year. 

I’ll post more as our calendar comes together. 


Merry Christmas!

A New Dance
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I love Christmas!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  My beautiful wife came down yesterday and finished decorating my office door.


I added a personal touch.

Merry Christmas!

The Big 3

I rarely dive into the political ring and debate. But when I see our government throwing money out the window I get very uncomfortable because somehow it will have a negative impact on my wallet and my son's future. We are giving money away that our kids will be paying for and if they keep shelling it out our grand kid's will be paying for.

The Big 3 apparently were taking a little drive to DC today in their economy cars. Nice try big boys but I think most Americans see past your publicity stunt. Your road trip did nothing to stimulate the economy. You should have taken a coach class commercial airline trip and pumped some money into the economy that way. Upon arriving in DC you could have caught a cab and again put money into the economy. Instead you choose to take a ride in a car you made and put $130 of gas into the car and that money for the most part is padding the wallet of someone living overseas. You did nothing to stimulate the economy.  And you only did this because of the outcry of citizens when you took your last trips in your private jets.

If a business owner operates a business poorly they go out of business. That's hard but it is a fact of life in our capitalist society. Why should the government bail out the auto makers when there are hundreds of other business going bankrupt or shutting their doors? Next will we bail out the airlines? Then what big business or industry after that?  I heard a lot about Main St. during the presidential campaign.  Apparently Main St. has been kicked to the curb.

Banks were bailed out and what have they done with the money? They have been sitting on it. Why don't the banks take that money and loan it to the auto industry? That would stimulate the economy but then again that would be a risk for the banks.  I don't see Toyota or Honda lining up looking for a hand out. Why? Because they are running their business better and smarter. 

Our government is in serious financial trouble because the government doesn't know how to do business.  I think our government are the last ones that should be making financial decisions.  The same politicians that are squawking about the money being spent in Iraq and the war on terror are the same ones wanting to dish money out to incompetent CEOs.  

 Here is my idea for stimulating the economy and helping the auto industry at the same time:
1.  Take those billions of dollars and instead of giving them to the auto industry give those bucks to citizens of the US that need a new car and then we (cause I need one, been driving on a blown engine for two years) could go and buy the new car.  This would put money into the pockets of the auto industry and help Americans.  

2.  Force the banks that are getting bailed out to make loans to people who qualify.  

3.  Give the money to the citizens instead of the big corporations, who obviously don't know how to handle money, and let the citizens pump that money back into the economy.

I guarantee if the US government gave me 25 grand I would buy a new car and if they gave me a stimulus check that I would put that money back into the economy.  Surely some politicians in DC have brains and will stand up and do the right thing.  Why are we letting attorneys turned politicians make financial decisions?  Why not find some people that understand business and the economy to make the decisions?

OK.  I have not vented for a while so I feel much better.  And if you took time to read this you amaze me.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Summer Camp

Crazy but yes we must start thinking about summer camp in December. Camp is only 7 months away. I'm sure Student Life is feverishly working away putting together yet another fantastic camp experience for our students. Parents should probably start thinking about a camp savings plan, allowance, lay-a-way or something. This year our camp theme is FLIP.

Focus in Check

Free Training Articles

Free training articles in the Simply Youth Ministry weekly newsletter.

If you are in youth ministry and don't get this weekly, sometimes twice a week, e-mail newsletter you are missing out on some free training.  Each issue has a few articles for youth ministry.
This week's articles are:
When Expectations Meet Disappointment - Matt McMage
How to Handle Potential Suicide - Megan Hutchinson
Focus in Check - Andy Lawrence (amazingly this guy looks a lot like Andy Lawrenson)

I usually read the articles and forward them on to our youth ministry team.  It's a good way to get in some quick training simply by reading.

Staying in the Loop

One of the best things I've learned over the past several years is that it is great to give ministry away.  Of course a few will think, "Yea, then you don't have to work!"  Come on let's be fair, everyone knows that youth pastors work two days a week.  We gotta pace ourselves!

Why give ministry away? (Several reasons I can think of)

1.  Others get off the bench and in the game

2.  It helps others to discover and use their SHAPE

3.  Everyone member is a minister (not just the paid guys)

4.  It builds the church up.

5.  Allows me to concentrate on what I'm good at.

Last night I met with three "coaches" from our church.  These coaches have stepped into leadership positions in ministry leading our children's, nursery and kiosk teams.  What these three coaches do used to be done by me.  The teams they coach have grown and are much more effective now that these coaches are in place partly because they are getting the attention they need from a coach who has a passion for their ministry.  Plus they are great at what they do.

The meeting was our first official meeting with all three together.  We will be doing this monthly as a "staff" meeting to keep me in the loop and up to speed on what is happening and what is needed.  Let me close by adding that these coaches aren't paid positions, these three are members of our church who have found their place in ministry.

What can you do to give ministry away?  What ministry are you serving in at your church?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blog Party!

At some point today the party begins.  Today theaddyouthpastor.com will cross 200,000 hits.
So let the blog party begin!  I have one request.  At least one person from 47 states has viewed this blog.  I lack three states!  If you know anyone in Wyoming, New Mexico or Vermont please pass along the url for my blog.  It would be cool to see each state on my map have at least one hit, it's sort of like a hobby or collecting things.  Someone from the United Arab Emirates has hit the blog for pete's sake yet we still lack a few states.

If you haven't been here before for the blog party (an invention of mine) the party is simple.  You just go to the comment section and let us know what food you have brought to the party.  I'm bringing a healthy helping of buffalo wings.  What you bringin?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Relational Discipleship

Each week at 4:45 on Sunday afternoons our YM team meets for 15 minutes before Contagious to run through what to expect that night. We also pray and discuss any important stuffs pertaining to what we do in ministry. Last night I encouraged the team to remember that they are the youth ministers, the shepherds. This morning I went on an article hunt. I'm e-mailing this to our team and we will discuss it on our secret facebook group page. Oh, yeah, we are high tech. ;)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tonight at Contagious

Tonight started off with our "pre-game meeting" with our family group leaders.  The leaders now have a binder with their students' info sheets which gives the leaders contact info, family info and also a glimpse at the student's story of how they have trusted Jesus as Savior.  I reminded our leaders that they are their family groups youth minister, their shepherd.  This week I'll dig up some good articles the emphasize this approach and e-mail them to the team.  I think we will ruminate on this for a while.

Students were spread all out in the big lobby hanging out.  I saw youth leaders investing in the lives of students by building relationships.  Some were playing Apples to Apples, Boggle, Ping Pong and Farkle.  I was up on the balcony chilling on the sofa with some of the high school students and then I joined in a game of Farkle.  The snack line up: nachos, chips, oreos.

Tonight we talked about our mission, to share the good news of Christ.  Students were encouraged to share:
1.  With their life
2.  With an invitation 
3.  With their story
We also gave the students time to share their story with each other in their family groups. Hopefully giving them an opportunity to build up some courage to share their faith.

I hear that some of the high school students went and hung out at McD's after youth group tonight.  I think that's cool.  The more relationships they build in the church the more likely they are to stick around.  




Today is Sunday

All across this great land of ours it is Sunday.  This means thousands of families will be getting up and getting dressed and heading to their church.  Some will go to truly worship and some will go out of a need to fill their religious duty for the week for various reasons.

In beds, all across this great land of ours, there are teenagers who don't want to get out of bed and go to church with the family.  Stayed up too late, friends won't be there, just want to sleep in, want the house to themselves while the rest of the family is gone for various reasons.

In homes, all across this great land of ours, there will be parents who throw their hands up in surrender to their teen's demand to stay in bed.  Tired of the fight, don't want to force "religion" on their teen, "don't want to drive their teen away", just don't feel like dealing with it for various reasons.

Today, all acros this great land of ours, there will be senior pastors who wonder to themselves, "Where are the teenagers today?".  The senior pastors will question the youth pastors later this week in staff meeting, "how come you can have 50 kids on Wednesday night but we don't have 10 on Sunday morning?"  The youth pastors will feel  pressure, some will even lose their jobs.

Why don't they come to church?  Some parents have given up on parenting and shepherding their child's heart.   I think that the problem lies in the church service.  Most students aren't spiritually mature enough to get the "it's not about me" attitude, mostly because they aren't seeing this lived out by the adults in their lives and in their church.  Who is the church service geared towards?  In most churches the service is definitely not geared towards students.  Students don't listen to organ music on their iPods.  Many sermons aren't even designed to be applied by students.  Forty-five minutes is a long time to sit and listen to a "lecture".  

These are my thoughts on teens and Sunday church attendance.  What are yours?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Cry of the Orphan

I'm Thankful

I'm thankful to God for:
  • making it possible for me to know Him through faith in Jesus Christ
  • my beautiful, awesome wife
  • my incredibly cute son, my squooshy boy, a gift from God
  • my parents
  • my family, even my brothers, all of them
  • that we have Tricia and Gwyneth with us, you go girls!
  • my home, it's nice to have a roof and a warm house
  • my dog, she's a loyal friend and likes me no matter what
  • living in America
  • our men and women in uniform defending our freedom
  • my church family, Nags Head Church rocks!
  • the ministry God has placed me in
  • the pastors at NHC
  • the nursery team
  • the children's team
  • the youth team
  • Maui, Maui No Ka Oi
  • Outer Banks
  • friends, both new and old, by old I mean known them a long time, which makes them old
  • food and clean water (many people today won't have either)
  • only one class to go to get my graduate degree
  • ice cream, let's not forget ice cream, especially coconut macadamia nut
  • great Mexican food, especially rice and beans, can't eat one without the other
  • Hawaiian food, local grinds are some onolicious brah
  • the ocean
  • Did I mention my wife and son?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Grace of God

Often I’m blown away by the grace of God because he has given me what I do not deserve.  Then I stop and think about my life and I wonder how He can love me and see me as blameless.  I know I have sinned but God views me, Andy, His child, as blameless.  When God looks at me he doesn’t see my sin, He sees His Son and God knows that my sin debt has been paid. 

King David stated in Psalm 26 that he leads a blameless life.  Huh?  David committed adultery, murder and a few other sins I’m sure but he was a “man after God’s own heart”.  I think David grasped the grace and forgiveness of God.  David gives us some great things to teach our children in Psalm 26. 

  • Trust God without wavering (v 1)
  • God search my heart and my mind (v 2)
  • Walk always in God’s truth keeping His love in mind (v 3)
  • Be careful whom you hang out with (v 4, 5)
  • Give God praise and talk about the great things God has done (v 7)
  • Love the place where God dwells.  For us today as believers that would be our very lives. (v 8)
  • God has redeemed us and shown us Mercy (v 11)

 

 

Gobble Gobble!

That’s right, it’s about God.  Yet another holiday with God as the basis of the holiday, much like Christmas.  Watch TV during Thanksgiving and we will see lots of people dressed like pilgrims and Native Americans.  Watching the news this morning I saw that there are parents protesting their children’s school because of the making of the paper pilgrim hats and bonnets as well as headbands with feathers. 

Now I grew up my entire elementary school life, which is a year longer than most Americans because I failed K5, making the construction paper hats and headbands.  One year I even dressed in a complete native American costume.  Look at me, it didn’t distort me or cause me any permanent damage. . . OK maybe I’m not the best example.  But I do know that Thanksgiving isn't a negative towards our Native Americans.  The Native Americans played a huge roll in helping the pilgrims survive, a relationship that was great for 50 years.

I hear a lot of “What are you thankful for?”, “I’m thankful for ______.” on TV but I don’t hear “I’m thankful to God for ________.”  Again another holiday moving away from God and becoming consumer centered. 

This year let’s make sure our kids understand that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks to God.  The pilgrims recognized God, so should we:

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

From the most detailed description of the "First Thanksgiving" comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621.

Side Note:  I don’t ever remember being taught that Squanto, the native American who helped the pilgrims, already spoke English.  Taught English by other European settlers and trappers and also was sold into slavery, sent to live in Spain and then was freed by his master and allowed to return to America.  I learned this watching the Peanuts Thanksgiving special last night.  See, cartoons are a great source of education and knowledge.

 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"It's My Life!"

“It’s my life!” How many parents of teens have heard this phrase shouted in their home? Yes, I see that hand. How many of us have been guilty of saying that to our parents? Yes, I see our hands.

It is important to share with our kids that indeed it is not our life. We have been bought with a price. Jesus redeemed our lives when He went to the cross and died for our sins. Jesus paid the purchase price so who owns us? Right. This life I have is not my own, I belong to God.

How do we teach this to our kids?
Live it out ourselves. They must see in our lives that we recognize that our lives belong to God. Our hypocrisy as parents can cause great spiritual damage.
Discover together. Show them from God’s Word. Read with them. Note I didn’t say “pound them I the head with the Bible” or “preach” at them.
Recognize this lived out in the lives of others. Point your teen to someone who is living this fundamental of faith out in his or her life.
Discuss together God’s right to our lives. How would recognizing this change our decision making process?

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long
Psalm 25:4

Friday, November 21, 2008

Faith of a Child


Matthew 18:3  

3And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Yesterday I got a phone call from my 4 year old son.  He asked me, "can we put up the kwismis twee?"  Of course being the man of steel I said, "No way, it's not Christmas Eve yet!"  Actually I said "yes".

I got home and immediately started bringing boxes up from downstairs.  After we ate supper we started to put up the tree and decorate it.  My son said, "If we put up the Christmas tree it will snow."  He was pretty sure of it.

Living on the OBX we rarely see snow, maybe a flurry or two.  One long time resident told me today he had never seen snow in November.  This morning I rolled out of bed and walked into the living room, looked out the window and it was dumping snow!  I ran and woke Mish up and told her it was snowing.  I then went in and scooped up the little man.  Brought him into the living room.  It brought my heart great joy to see him smile and say, "It's snowing!"  Then later he added, "God made it snow."

I must admit that often I don't have that kind of faith, the faith of a child.  My son reminded me about faith and I'm glad he did.  Sometimes we forget that God is a God of miracles.  Did God make it snow because a little 4 year old boy thought it would?  I don't know, I'm not God.  Did God make it snow to remind me about faith?  Quite possible.

I've heard people say that having faith in God is a blind faith.  They mean it in a negative way.  They are exactly right.  If it wasn't blind it wouldn't be faith.  Faith is trust in what you can't see.  I have faith in gravity.  I can't see gravity but I know it is there.  Same goes with my faith in God.

Do you have the faith of a little child?

Great Christmas Gift Idea



LIVE Bible
 LIVE isn't a book your teens will just read...they'll live it.That's because as teens dive in, they'll come face to face with hundreds of opportunities to do something about what they're reading. To respond. To grow. To roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. Sometimes they'll apply what they're learning alone. Other times they'll find someone to help. But always they'll stretch themselves, finding ways to infuse their faith into life at school, at home, and with friends and family. LIVE delivers easy-to-understand NLT text and hundreds of relevant opportunities to respond to God's Word right on the spot. Illustrations are by teenagers, for teenagers. Brief devotions and challenges peppered through the Bible invite honest, open responses.  This youth Bible takes "interactive" to an entirely new level! Teenagers who use the LIVE Bible will find: Introductions to 16 real-life, remarkable people from around the globe. Room to respond in their Bibles. To question. To think. To express themselves. Jesus sightings. Teens will see the thread that runs throughout the Bible from Genesis straight to Jesus. Straightforward, means-what-it-says NLT text that makes for great devotional reading and solid study. Clear, concise, and accurate. An invitation to join the community. Upload their faith expressions to www.group.com/roughedit--We'll post their photos, poems, sketches, whatever images honestly reflect how God is speaking to them. Think of it as an online gallery showing how God's revealing himself through teens like your and teens, well...not like yours.  $18.99 for a soft cover, $21.99 for a hard cover, $16,99 for soft cover in bulk (10 or more), $19.99 bulk hard covers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Holiday at the Hut


Featuring the Ugliest Christmas Sweater Contest!

Baptism Celebration Video

I blogged a few days ago about my worship experience at Blue Ridge.  I did some looking today and found the video from the celebration.   I only wish there was video of the folks getting baptized.  The video is the testimony portion which is powerful and encouraging.

http://www.blue-ridge.org/Podcast/Video/tabid/167/Default.aspx

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like . . .

Every year we have a youth group Christmas party.  Every couple of months we have an outreach night.  Outreach night is focused on sharing that a relationship with Jesus Christ can radically change life both here and now and in eternity.  This year we are combining the party and outreach night.  Our prayer is that we see some students accept the best Christmas gift ever.
In the past the Sunday night right around Christmas break would have really low attendance.  Last year we decided that since there would be a small group of students we would go bowling.  Ended up that we had just as many students as usual and a few guests.  Hmmmm...the experiment worked!  So now this will be an annual event.  Students and their family group leaders will gather for a couple hours of bowling together.  Following the bowling we are going to Taco Bell for some festive holiday tacos.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Latest Youth Ministry Craze


. . . well maybe not a craze.  It's my latest invention. . .well maybe others have done this but I haven't seen this done so I'm going to lay claim to it.  

Each week at Contagious our students sit with their family (table) group.  A family group is a small group of students sitting around a table with the same adult leader each week.  The Bible study segment of our night is interactive.  Students take notes on the hand outs and also participate in discussion questions either at the end of the lesson or scattered throughout the lesson.  
 
We were going around each week and making sure each table had pencils, hand outs, etc...
Then the stroke of genius!  Now each family group has their own box.  I pre-load the box earlier in the week then the family group leader grabs the box off of the shelf and puts it the box on their table.  The boxes are labeled/decorated so the students can quickly recognize their table when they walk in for the Bible study time.  Soon I'll be adding a contact card that has all the family group members listed and their phone, email, mailing info. etc...  along with 3x5 cards and the family group leader will assign students from the group to contact absentees/guests.

We just started this system to we will see how it works out.  So far so good as long as the ladies don't send the men in to look for the boxes.  Men can't find anything, and I know, I am one of them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blown Away Today


This weekend our family was up in Lynchburg, VA.  I had a few students to take to College For A Weekend at Liberty U.  

Today we attended Blue Ridge Community Church with my brother and his family.  Originally we were going to go to Thomas Road just to check out a service in their new place.  My brother told me that they would be having their baptism service today and then went on to tell me it is one of his favorite times at BRCC.  I later picked up that he was going to attend both services.  Later I heard my niece say a few times that she didn't want to miss the baptism service.  I'm not a smart man but I knew something must be up at BRCC and the baptism service.

The worship gathering started off with some great music and even a David Crowder (love his music) tune.  Then Pastor Woody Torrence  got up and made a few comments about what was going on at their church.  The baptistry was a modified cattle trough sitting in the center of the stage.  The baptisms started off with a man giving his story of how his life was a wreck and spiraling out of control until he put his faith in Jesus Christ.  A powerful testimony of God's work in his life.  Then something happened that blew me away.  As he stepped into the baptistry out of the congregation came friends and family, people who had invested in his life, his small group, his new brothers in Christ, his family.  They filled the stage, I would guess around 40 people in all stood around the baptistry as he was baptized.  It was incredibly moving moment and powerful to witness God at work in this man's life.

The service went on as one after another were baptized and a second man shared his story which was just as powerful as the first of how God had totally transformed his life, a life on the brink of suicide.  Each person that was baptized was joined by their "family" on the platform.   

I have gone to church my entire life.  I have seen many baptisms.  There are a few church services that I can say were truly powerful moments.  Today is easily in the top.  This was the most powerful worship gathering I have worshipped in for a long time.  BRCC didn't tag on the baptisms to a service.  The theme, the central focus of the service, was the baptisms and the evidence of God's life changing work in normal everyday lives.  I was blown away today.

On the kids side of things.  Blue Ridge Community Church has it together.  A safe, secure check in process.  A children's ministry security guy walked us every step of the way, even waited in line to go back to the children's wing because we were early and he walked us all the way back to the room.  He spent time talking with our son and with us an obviously had a passion to serve in the ministry he is in.  My son's favorite part of the day, "dancing at church", and he told us, as he does each week, exactly what his lesson was about.  BRCC gets it.  Greeters in the parking lot (one of the things the guy who gave his testimony first shared was the friendliness from the moment he stepped out of the car), greeters at the doors, casual, fun and welcoming.  I love visiting Blue Ridge when we are in the Burg because it feels like home when we are there.  

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What are the Odds?

We took the little man to the indoor playground at Thomas Road Baptist Church yesterday afternoon to burn off some energy (picture Chuck E Cheese inside of the lobby, it's pretty much awesome).  While there Mish called her room mate from her freshman year at LU,  roomie #1 still lives in Lynchburg, and let her know where we were at.  Roomie #1 said she would join us there in a few minutes.  While waiting for  roomie #1 to show I saw a lady in the playground area with her kids and immediately told Mish that she looked like there other room mate from their freshman year, roomie #2.  Mish said "hi" to her and it was her,  they did that whole squealing like 18 year old girls, both shocked to see each other .  Then  roomie #1 showed up.  Roomie #2 lives in Georgia and just happened to be up at LU to let her oldest son check out LU.  What are the odds that the three would get together in the playground at TRBC after 20 years by chance?
It was really crazy and I took credit for the whole event.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Old Stomping Grounds

There is something fun about returning to the old stomping grounds.

Last night I drove the big blue van of happiness onto the campus of Liberty University.  That place has changed a lot since the 20 something years ago when I stepped onto campus as a student.  I was able to point out some random LU trivia to the students I was hauling there for College For A Weekend.  

"To the right you will notice the prayer chapel where my we got married.(Mish is with me)"
"The Demoss Hall didn't use to be this tall"
"Let me tell you about David's Place . . ."
"Dorm 3, The Pit, was my dorm.  Now it's a girl's dorm.  What have they gone and done?"

It's been fun watching LU change over the years.  I'm certainly glad they aren't stuck back in the 70's.  At times I even wonder if I attended in the wrong era.  

So when hitting the old stomping grounds of life, church, etc.  Be glad for change, otherwise we would still have ladies wearing beehives on their heads.  (to those churches that still sport the beehive, please don't take that last statement personally)  Don't get stuck in the past, look to the future and be happy for change.   The word "change" is causing many SBC church members to shutter in their shoes.  It's OK.  Enjoy memories of the past but live the present and look to the future.  Like LU has moved on from the 70's to the present hopefully your church has done the same.

These are this morning's random thoughts from a guy who realized last night that he went to LU when the students there now weren't even born yet.  Yikes!

Now I need to plan my trip to the Texas Inn, but first breakfast with Jonathon Falwell.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Students in Ministry

Currently at NHC we are going through 40 Days of Purpose.  This is our second time, the last time was about 5 years ago, and we have had many new members since the first 40 DOP so we are doing it again. 

Part of 40 DOP is to read through The Purpose Driven Life, each day is a devotional reading.  Today I read Chapter 29, Accepting Your Assignment; this week's focus is all about ministry.  Due to some lack of teaching by the church in the past, or incorrect teaching, many people have this institutionalized view of the church and that the "minister" is the pastor.  The church isn't an organization the church is an organism.  In this view of the church being organic each member is a minister.

I especially liked this paragraph from page 231:

The last thing many believers need today is to go to another Bible study.  They already know far more than the are putting into practice.  What they need are serving experiences in which they can exercise their spiritual muscles.

Dads and moms, what are you teaching your teen about ministry?  Do your words match your actions?  Do they see you going to Bible study after Bible study and putting what you are learning into action?  What ministry are you involved in at your local church?  Remember more is caught than taught.  Your teen needs to see your sleeves rolled up and serving in ministry.

I'm pretty stoked because at NHC we have many students from our youth ministry serving in ministry in the church.  I think we will see many more catch on in the near future as they see their friends growing spiritually because they are striving to be spiritually healthy and balanced by using the gifts God has given them in service.  Parents, what are you doing to encourage your teen to discover and use the gifts God has given them as believers?  Ministry is a vital part of discipleship, following Christ.  

 Some churches teach that students are the future of the church.  I believe they are the church in the here and now and because of that they need to be serving and using the gifts God has given them.  When we hinder students from using their gifts we hinder their spiritual growth.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Finish Line

Today my wife ran and finished the OBX Half Marathon, 13.1 miles and averaged 15 minute miles.  You go girl!

But let's not forget I got my son dressed and ready for church which is a major accomplishment as well.

My Hero

My wife, my hero, is currently walking in the OBX Marathon.

This means it is up to me to get the little man ready for church.  Good thing she left the clothes out for him to wear. ;)


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yard Skimmin

No School today due to tidal flooding.  We got some kind of windy storm going on here.
Two young men from the youth group decided they would make the most of their day and expand their education while at home.  I think the full suit is a nice touch.

What's Happening at NHC!

Parents - Exellent Article

Walt Mueller writes some really helpful and insightful stuff on the youth culture.

when what they see is what they are
walt mueller

Fifteen-year-old Kami doesn’t like what she sees in the mirror. She isn’t alone. Adolescence is a time when our kids need to be encouraged and built up. But by setting standards for beauty and body image that are largely unattainable, the media can mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually rip our kids apart.   Read More Here

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Two Cents Worth




My Voting  Experience 2008
by Andy Lawrenson
  • Arrived at the voting poll location at 9:01AM
  • Only 12 people ahead of me
  • Lady behind me an obvious smoker
  • Lady in front of me moved since last election and had to fill out a change of address form
  • Gave my name and address verbally to the election officer
  • Noticed the cookies and muffins and coffee for the election workers behind him
  • Thought to self, "This wouldn't be a bad gig, I'd get coffee and muffins!"
  • Then I changed my mind 
  • They had the A/C off, it was 80 degrees
  • Signed a form
  • No Identification was needed
  • Any guy could have said he was me and voted in my place
  • Was handed my ballot
  • Went to my little booth to vote
  • Black pen was tied to the booth
  • Left handed people are being discriminated against in this voting process
  • Pen was tied to the right hand side of the booth with a string
  • Difficulty filling in black circles with black pen due to discrimination
  • Had testing flashbacks from my school days
  • Felt relieved because I knew all the answers (ie. voted for the right people)
  • Election judge was taking ballots from voters and putting them in the counting machine
  • "Not with my vote Buddy!" slid my ballot in all by myself
  • Got a sweet sticker (see picture)
  • Told the election official that Starbucks was giving out free coffee
  • She announced to the whole room
  • Also Tropical Smoothie is giving 10% off; Ace is not charging sales tax to voters
  • I was the 209th voter in our precinct
  • Back in my pick up at 9:22AM
  • Still thinking about the muffins
  • Not thinking about the muffins anymore
  • Found a muffin in the church fridge

How Concerned or Involved are you?

Sunday night we had a new family bring their teen to youth group.  Awesome!  Even cooler than that was the parents sat down with me before hand to find out what we were about and what we did at youth group.  That is rare.  I think most Christian parents just make an assumption about their church's youth ministry without ever talking with the YM team.   I can only think of a few times, in the 15 years I have been doing youth ministry, where parents actually asked if they could stick around and see what we do.

I encourage you to hang out at your son or daughter's youth group one night (discreetly so as to not cramp their style) and see what your church's youth ministry is all about.  Perhaps if this were done more often parents would not ground their kids from youth group because most will discover that there teens are actually learning from God's Word and not just playing Pudgy Bunny.

This whole thought leads me to this question:
How important is it to you as a parent that your teen be plugged into a church with an active and healthy youth ministry?  Why or why not?   
Something to think about.  

Go Vote and Get a Cup of Coffee

Go vote today!  Starbucks is giving away free coffee to those who vote today.  Simply walk in and tell them you voted and you get a cup of their coffee.  (on a side note I don't think they have the best coffee but free is free and you don't get free everyday)

My spousal unit voted when the polls opened and was there at 6:15.  She was voter number 9.  When she came out the line forming and long and around the building.  

If you are here in the mid-atlantic take your umbrella!


Monday, November 3, 2008

". . .A Moral Issue" (Bump)

I posted this following the last debate and with election tomorrow it is on my mind again today.

Last night I watched the debate, thankfully it was the last one and I can’t wait for the election to be done with for several reasons.  I would have to say that of the three debates last night was my favorite but the one I liked best was the civil forum hosted at Saddleback.  The moderator last night did not hold back any punches and I believe asked tougher questions than the other two debate moderators had.  But my post today is not about politics. 

Senator Obama said last night, “abortion is a moral issue”.  Please allow me to take Senator Obama’s statement and take a logical run with it.  We all know that there are two sides to the issue of abortion.  There are those that believe a mom has the right to end the life of the fetus.   There are also those who believe that ending the life of a fetus is basically murder, the ending of a life.  We also know that there can be endless debates about this issue. 

So take Senator Obama’s statement on abortion on a walk down the trail of logic.

Since abortion is a moral issue that means that one view of abortion has to be moral and one has to be immoral. 

Where do we even get our ideas on what is moral and what is immoral?  

Now if  we are the result of some random act of collision out in the void of darkness millions of years ago and have evolved into who we are today with the all the incredibly intricate functions and systems our bodies have then morals are what we as humans have made them to be.  Problem with this is we know that humans aren’t perfect and that we don’t always make the best choices.  Right and wrong would be what we made up as humans.  The only thing I can think of  if this is the case is that we are in a world of hurt because there is no absolute standard.  Take that line of thinking logically and that means what is moral for you may not be moral for me.  What is immoral for me may not be immoral for you because there would be no moral absolutes.  This view of morals leads to a huge mess in society because there is no standard.  One person could view stealing as immoral and another may see no problem with stealing.  Where does this slippery slope lead us?  (by the way if evolution is true how come we aren’t still evolving?  Just curious because I could certainly use eyes on the back of my head and extra set of hands)

If we were created by God, and not some random collision in the outer void of darkness millions and millions of years ago,  then our morals would come from God.  God would set the standard.  God’s standards are found in His word, the Bible.  If this is the case then God lines out what is right and what is wrong.  There would be moral absolutes, standards to live by.  If this is the case I see more order and direction in how we should live as humans and operate as a government.  If this is the case and if as Senator Obama says, “abortion is a moral issue” then we need to look to where we get our morals.

Psalm 139:13

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.

Ecclisiastes 11:5

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

Job 31:15

Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?

New Site is up and Running

My new web site which now hosts my blog posts is up and fully functional. You can check it out at andylawrenson.com . There is also a mon...