Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sabbatical Sandwich

One benefit of the sabbatical is I'm at home and in my kitchen each day at lunch (been doing most of the cooking for our family).  I feed the twins and then feed me.
Here is my recipe for a sabbatical sandwich:

1 sub roll
2 slices of bologna 
2 slices of pepperoni (sandwich size)
2 slices of salami
2 slices of provolone cheese
banana pepper rings
lettuce (I use the spring mix)
Boars Head sub dressing
parmesan cheese
garlic powder
oregano
butter

Slice sub roll in half long ways and then place face down on a cookie sheet and place under broiler to toast the outside of the roll.
Butter inside of the roll and sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano and Parmesan.
Place under the broiler again to toast the inside of the roll with all the goodies on it.
On the bottom of the roll stack bologna, pepperoni, salami and then place provolone on top.
Place under the broiler again to melt the cheese and heat up the meat.
Place lettuce and peppers on top of the cheese.  Pour the Boars Head sub dressing over top of the lettuce.  Place the top of the sub roll on the sandwich and then consume the sandwich.

"A sandwich is a sandwich but a sabbatical sandwich is a meal"

Follow the sandwich with a brisk walk around the neighborhood.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Isaiah 6

During my sabbatical I'm reading through the book of Isaiah.  I'm not posting on each chapter just on the things that strike a chord with me.  

The Vision - v. 1-4  The same God that Isaiah saw sitting on the throne still sits there today and seraphs still fly around saying to each other, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory."

The Reality Check - v. 5  Isaiah recognized he was a sinner.   I'm a sinner, we are all sinners.  I'm not worthy to approach holy God Almighty.  My sin separates me from  Him.

The Cleansing - v. 6-7   Isaiah experienced atonement for his sins.  I experienced atonement of my sins when Jesus Christ died on the cross for me and I came to the realization that apart from His atonement I had no hope for a relationship with God.  Note that the atonement wasn't the result of anything that Isaiah did but totally on God's part.  Same way with me today.  I could do nothing to earn atonement.    Atonement = reconciliation with God

The Call - v. 8 We have a call today:  Matthew 28:18-20  Isaiah heard the call then came . . .

The Response - v. 8 Isaiah said "Here I am.  Send me!"  I almost picture a kid in class raising his hand shouting, "Me, me, pick me!"  Isaiah sounds excited.  What is my response to the call? How am I reacting to Matthew 28:18-20?

The Discipline - v. 9  God spells out the message that Isaiah is to share with His people.  The discipline is about to come down on them.  Not to make them miserable or make life hard on them but to bring them to the point that they return to God and do what is right.  I don't know anyone who likes discipline.  I know I don't.  I also realize there have been times in my life that God has had to discipline me as a loving Father to restore my relationship with Him to where my relationship with Him should be.  Discipline is the result of love.  I discipline my kids because I love them.  

The Result - v. 11 Isaiah asks, "How long, O Lord?"  God answers Isaiah and spells out the result of this discipline.  It will be a time of "cleansing".  God had to take some pretty drastic measures with Israel to get their attention.   The result of  God's discipline my life should always result in cleansing, fixing, getting back to where I know I should be with Him.

The Remnant - v. 13 God would not totally wipe them out.  There would be a remnant, "the holy seed will be a stump in the land."  There are times in Christianity and the Church when God does a little bit of house cleaning.  The churches that respond well to the cleaning usually have a remnant that remains and grows stronger.  The churches that are "stubborn" or rebellious, usually become ineffective, dry up and die.  There is no "stump" left.

How have you reacted to the Reality Check?
How have you experienced  The Cleansing?
How have you responded to The Call?
How have you grown from the Discipline of God?

Monday, February 23, 2009

What Percent of Your Church Ministers?

The percentage in most churches of those that minister is 20%.  Twenty percent of the membership in a local church is doing eighty percent of the ministry.  We are blessed at Nags Head Church, I think as the result of years of teaching from the Bible about what ministry is and who ministers are, and we have over 90% of our membership involved in ministry in the church. 

There has been some confusion in the church.  For years many believers have grown up in churches where the ministry is to be done by the "ministers", meaning the paid pastor.  But this is far from how the Bible teaches that ministry is to be done in the local body of believers.

This morning I read a great article that addresses this issue.  If you are in church leadership you need to take a look-see at this article, especially if your church is under the impression that the ministry is to be done by the pastoral staff.

Ed, Group's church leadership unit has a vision of 80/20 by 2020. We want to flip the 80/20 rule so that by the year 2020 eighty percent of regular church attendees are actively serving in some ministry. Unfortunately, our State of the Church '09 study indicated that currently it's more like fifteen percent of the people who are active in ministry right now. Why do you think that is?

Part of it is that we have to recognize that we've created the system that we loathe. I don't think the reason 15 percent serve is because 85 percent are lazy. We've created a system that glorifies the clergy and marginalized the laity. We got the outcome we created programs for. We've become "clergified." There's a 3-tiered structure: laypeople, clergy and missionaries.  (Read the entire article here)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Adoptive Families Needed in NC and SC

Adoptive Families Needed Immediately for Children
Christian Adoption Services is in need of families in the domestic infant program.  If you or someone you know is interested in learning more information about the agency and adoption, then please visit our website (www.christianadopt.org) to learn more about our upcoming information meetings.                                                   
Families need to be:
v   Over 25 and under the age of 43 (up to age 45 on a case by case basis)
v
  Christians in faithful attendance at their local church
v
  Living the state of North Carolina or South Carolina
v
  Married for more than 2 years


Isaiah 2

A couple verses I'm rolling through my mind as I read through Isaiah during my sabbatical.  These verses bring up some self evaluation questions in my mind:

Is. 2:5
Come, O house of Jacob,
   let us walk in the light of the Lord.

The following verses (6-8) are about how Israel had embraced superstition, witchcraft, joined up with pagans and they had pursued material gain and they are worshipping idols that they had made with their own hands.

How do I walk in the light of the Lord?
Have I embraced things in our culture that aren't pleasing to God?
Am I worshipping idols that I have created and built up in my own life?

Is. 2:23
Stop trusting in man,
    who has but a breath in his nostrils.
Of what account is he?

Who do I trust in ?
Why would I trust so much in men?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I always wanted a daughter.  Now that I have one . . .

I'm also thinking about her teenage years and those boys that will come callin. . .

Got any good captions for this one?
(this picture is meant to be humorous.  Andy does not in any way condone violence or the use of firearms other than shooting a tasty critter, or protecting the home)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sabbatical Day Two

Took care of the twins.  
"Fred and Wilma" weighed in at the doctors today.  "Wilma" has put on 3lbs and is up to 7.4 and "Fred" is up to 8.3.

Did some laundry.  Cooked supper.  Read chapter 2 of Refuel and Isaiah 1.  

Good relaxing day today.  Looking forward to sleeping tonight.

Isaiah 1

During my sabbatical I'm going to be reading and studying the book of Isaiah.

Isaiah lived between the years of 840 and 420 B.C.  He was the first of the major prophets.  Isaiah's name, yeshayahu means "Jehovah Saves".  Tradition says that Isaiah was sawn in two by Manasseh, the king of Judah who reigned after Hezekiah.

Some of the notes I made in the margins:
>4 kings reigned during the vision that Isaiah saw
      -Uzziah
      -Jotham
      -Ahaz
      -Hezekiah
>Verse 3 points out that sometimes animals can be smarter than we are.
>Israel continued to rebel and continued to be disciplined, over and over
>The result of their rebellion
-cities burned
-fields stripped and food stolen by foreigners
-totally desolate
>V. 9 points out the mercy of God.  "Unless the Lord Almighty had left us some survivors we                                                                      would have become like Sodom, we would have been like                                                                    Gomorrah"
>Sacrifice means nothing when you are not in sync with God (v.11-14)
>God was tired of their religious acts and rituals because their hearts were far from him
>God ignores their prayers because of their rebellion
>Some good things we should do today in the church:
-Stop doing wrong
-learn to do right  (I think it's interesting the word "learn" was used)
-Seek justice
-encourage the oppressed
-Defend the cause of the fatherless
-plead the case of the widow
>We have a choice to make.  We can be obedient and be blessed or resistant and rebellious and be devoured.
>"Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts.  They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them"  Sound like D.C.?

Refuel Book Report #2

Chapter 1 report

I'm reading through chapter two of Refuel.  The chapter is entitled Ditch the Guilt.  The idea is that many people feel God is angry or even disappointed in them, that's their view of God which of course directly effects their relationship with him.  Having a quiet time, spending time with God shouldn't feel like you are having religious requirements and laws heaped on your shoulders. Doug Fields says in chapter 2, "I don't want to crush you with impossible religious demands."  Sad thing is that many people feel this way about their faith and relationship with God.  Perhaps they are more into religion than relationship?  I know there were many things taught to me in the "name of God" growing up that just weren't true.   Hey, blue jeans aren't of the devil, playing cards won't send your life into a sinful tailspin.  I did hear a lot what God was against and not what God is for.

My favorite paragraph thus far in chapter 2:
"To minimize the guilt and maximize your connections with God, I'm convinced that you have to fight against compartmentalized faith.  What is that?  A compartmentalized faith is a pick-and-choose lifestyle in which a person basically wanders between Christlike life and Christless life.  Typically such a person chooses to live God's way when the church lights are on and Christian friends are looking, but behind closed doors,  when no eye can see him, all bets are off."

More on chapter 2 later. . .

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sabbatical Day One

Day one is about officially over for me.  It's almost 11pm and I'm about to hit the sack, wake up again at 3 and feed babies then go take my friends Byron and Doug back to the airport at 4:30am.  I'm hoping to catch a nap when the babies nap tomorrow.

Today was a very enjoyable day for me.  I got to ride with my family to church for the first time in several years.  We took the twins to church, this was their first public appearance.  I did have to get up and go into the lobby during the sermon because I was feeding "Fred" and he was grunting rather loudly.  It was great to go to church without any responsibility this morning other than get my family their and worship with my church family.  I don't know how many people in churches realize that there are many church staff and volunteers that rarely get to ride to church with their family.  It was great to get to do that today.

Church service was rockin as Exodus led worship in music.  Rick delivered another great sermon from the life of Moses.  I'm enjoying this series.

So day 1 was pretty uneventful.  I look forward to seeing what day 2 has in store for me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wiped Out

Their is a combination of tiredness going on in my body right now.  We just wrapped up The Call 09.  I'm tired from lack of sleep for the past month (which has been wonderful because I love my babies) and from speaking 4 times yesterday and today at The Call.

Thanks so much to Denise and THE team for doing such an incredible job.  It seemed to flow super this year.  We had so many from the church get involved.  Even the clean up.  IF you are a youth leader and you aren't getting people involved in ministry you will know it as you are dog tired and sweeping and cleaning and wrapping everything up by yourself.  (a horrible place to be)  Our folks at NHC knocked it out of the park once again.  I love our church and every one's willingness to serve

I officially start my sabbatical tonight.  I'm feeling a bit weird because it will be definitely out of the norm for me.  I'm looking forward to getting refreshed and refueled and spending extra time with my wife and kids.  I'll be blogging about my sabbatical.

Meanwhile you can jump to The Call's blog for news and info about The Call.  We will update again later.


The Call Blog

I have posted a few updates at The Call's blog.  Check them out.  Great news from last night!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Call Countdown

Talked with Travis, of Exodus, on the phone today making some plans for the weekend's worship gatherings at The Call.  I'm really looking forward to the event, it's gonna be great!

I'll be talking Friday night about God's Love.  Here's a sneak peek:
God Loves You, That's His Nature
I John 4:7
Psalm 139:13-16

God's Love is Evident
I John 4:9,10
John 3:16

God Loves Us Even Though We Sin
Romans 5:8

God's Love.  How Will You Respond?
Ephesians 2:8,9

Saturday I will unpack John 4 and I'm really looking forward to those messages.  Sneak peeks on those coming soon!

The break out sessions for both the youth leaders and the students will be relevant and useful.  It is going to be cool to watch how God uses this weekend in the lives of students and their leaders.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Refuel Book Report

I have finished chapter 1 of Refuel.   I know that I'm not the only one that struggles with consistency in having time alone with God on a daily basis  in prayer and in reading the Bible.  Refuel is a great book that deals with that very topic.  I know if you have the book or get the book you will say, "Andy sure is a slow reader."  The book is a small book.  My plan is to take it very slow and to really think about what I'm reading and not rush through this book that I could easily read in a day.

Here are a couple of things that Doug Fields wrote in chapter 1, I'm a Spiritual Loser, that stood out to me or made a connection with me:

"I've become very aware that if I don't connect with God on a regular basis, I run out of passion and become spiritually empty."

"Please stop comparing.  You're not Mother Teresa or Martin Luther.  Neither am I.  You're you!   God designed you to be in your faith too.  I'm not sugesting that you can't have an intimacy with God similar to that of other heroes of our faith; of course you can.  But I'm asking you to quit comparing, and instead be challenged to learn how to be spiritually refueled in realistic ways that fit with how you're wired,  You can to this!  I know you can.

I certainly can relate with the first statement.  Sometimes I allow myself to get so busy (don't make excuses for your busyness) that I fail to take time, some time, any time, during the day with God.  It is also a danger for those that teach for a living in the church to get so wrapped up in reading and studying for a lesson or sermon prep that we forget how important it is to just spend time in the presence of God.

I love the second statement that I put in "bold".  We are all wired differently.  We learn differently, some are morning and some are night time type of people.  What's wrong with praying in the car? (please make sure your eyes are open if you are driving)  Doug wrote about the reading the Bible through in a year plan.  That's nice and I'm proud of those who can do that.  My mind just doesn't function that way.   I started to attempt that again this year and have already failed.  

This week is going to be a very hectic one.  We have The Call on Friday and Saturday.  Due to circumstances beyond my control I have become (reluctantly but realizing this is what God wants) the speaker in the main sessions.  This means I have two more messages to prep this week as well as one break out seminar for leaders.  I also have the other stuffs that go along with prep for the event, good thing we have a ministry team for The Call, it's going to be a busy week.  The danger is that I don't spend time with God, just me and him, then step up to speak to hundreds of students and be "empty, have no passion". 

So why am I sitting here typing this?  I gotta go get some refueling!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Twins Update

"Fred" and "Wilma" are doing great.  Growing, packing on the ounces.  "Fred" is weighing in at 5 lb 12 oz and "Wilma" is 5lb and 5 oz.  They are sleeping well only waking once during the night.  They both have a lot of "alert" time during the day which we enjoy.  It's fun holding two sleeping babies at one time!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Refuel

Refuel

If you've always struggled with the stereotypical quiet - time, don't give up hope! You've been told that you're supposed to spend time with God. You've valiantly set your alarm clock an hour early or worked partway through some ambitious study guides, but sooner or later your busy life creeps back in and steals your resolve. Why do you consistently fail at your quiet times? Maybe it's because you've bought into somebody else's unrealistic, unsustainable idea of what time with God ought to look like. Lose the guilt. Drop the unrealistic expectations. You can connect with God stay spiritually full. Doug Fields, pastor at Saddleback Church, offers a simple, uncomplicated plan that you can carry out. All you have to do is: STOP, BE QUIET, MAKE A CONNECTION. Simple. But not simplistic. If you can practice these habits throughout your day, you will enjoy a new depth and fullness in your spiritual life. Book includes group study guide and questions!

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book simply click on the pic of the book.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Call 2009 (Bump)

The Call is the only Purpose Driven Student Conference on the east coast.  Each year we focus our them on one of the 5 purposes.  This year we will zoom in on evangelism, sharing your faith.  Our theme verse is John 4:35.

Worship in music will be led by Exodus from Liberty University.  These guys were here last year and rocked.  They related great with the teenagers.  

We have a great line up of relevant break out sessions for both the students and youth leaders led by some of my best friends, we are bringing in 3 great youth pastors (and me) and my little nephew to lead some sessions.  
You can listen to a couple of last year's sessions here.

For the Students:
Following and Growing
The SHAPE of your Life
Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept it.
Plug In

For Youth Leaders:
Purpose Driven Youth Ministry
Campus Ministry
Do You Techno At All?
Engaging Students in Worship
Teaching Teenagers about God, Jesus and other Spiritual Stuff

In the past we have brought in a main session speaker to challenge the students.  This year since we flew in the talented and gifted to lead break outs we are letting them share.  I'll be delivering the message on Friday night about God's life changing love.  Saturday we will unpack John 4:35. 

Each year our church turns out in force to staff this event.  We have a great team of caring adults that show up to serve in registration, product sales, concessions, greeters, set-up and clean-up.  It is a fun time for the adults who don't usually serve in youth ministry to get involved in serving and rubbing elbows with the students.  Last year we had 300 from 27 different youth groups from 5 denominations.  I expect we will pack out again this year.  We only charge $25 to help cover the expenses and a couple of local hotels give groups a break on the price of rooms.

The purpose of this event is to challenge students and their leaders to live life on purpose.  My prayer is that we again see students trust Jesus Christ as their Savior this year as we have in past years.

If your youth group is close enough to come to The Call we would invite you to check it out, we even offer online registration.

Please lift up The Call in your prayers, we truly desire to see student's lives changed.







Sunday, February 1, 2009

There are those moments in youth ministry. . .

Tonight was great from a youth pastor's point of view.  There are those moments in youth ministry that make a youth leader stop and say, "I'm right where God wants me."  I joined some students up on the balcony to hang out and eat pretzels with them.   I think there were 7 or so sitting up there.  Then the next thing I know they are praying together.  Come to find out they have been doing this every week for some time now.  They were gathering over by the door to the unfinished youth room but have moved to the comfy sofas.  Totally student initiated, totally student led.  I was blessed and humbled to get to join them in prayer tonight.

It's Super Bowl Sunday night.  For those of those who couldn't give a flip about football we really don't care.  For me half time show is better than the game.  Over half the students came to youth group tonight.  We had a great time hanging out during hang time, playing farkle, ping pong, Apples to Apples.  Several students wrote notes to soldiers in Iraq.  Lots of pretzels, chips, cookies were consumed.  Youth group Super Bowl parties drive me nuts because the majority don't watch the game.  We probably could have had a Super Bowl Party and not even showed the game and would have been just fine at least half probably wouldn't have noticed.
We had the largest group we have ever had on Super Bowl Sunday for youth group even without a party.  (we used to do youth group on Wednesday nights so this was the first Super Bowl Sunday for us to have youth group)

Our lesson was about faith tonight.  I'm pasting the outline below.  I also encouraged students to pick up a copy of The Case For Faith by Lee Strobel.

Ephesians 6:13-16

DEFENDING MY FAITH (What are fiery arrows?)

  • Fear
  • Lies
  • Temptation
  • Doubt
  • Confusion
  • Words

 DEFINING MY FAITH

 Belief - Accepting something as truth

Faith – Giving your life to what you believe

2 Corinthians 4:18

·       Faith requires action

James 2:17

  Romans 5:1-2

 Faith gives me . . .

·  PEACE

 CONFIDENCE

JOY

SECURITY

DEEPENING MY FAITH

If I’m investigating my faith, I should:

 Start small

Luke 17:6

 If I’m struggling with my faith, I should:

 Ask for help

If I’m sold out in my faith, I should:

Remember God’s faithfulness

1 Samuel 12:24

  

Old School

Back in the day we would do events after Sunday night church called Destination Unknown.  The idea was you gathered together as a group after the service and then went somewhere but you didn't know where you were going, the youth leaders had that all lined up.

Last night we went old school.  We met at the church at 4pm and then loaded up in vehicles and headed out.  The girls went to Cloud 9 a jewelry making shop in Nags Head and they got to make necklaces.   From what I hear they had a great time and from what I saw they did a great job creating their own jewelry.  I was impressed with their bead working skills.  The guys went to Nags Head Bowling.  We had a great time hanging out and competing lane against lane.  Lots of fun.   After our adventures at Cloud 9 and the Bowling center we met back at the church for supper together.  Some parents hung out at the church while we were having fun and cooked a full on spaghetti dinner with salad, bread and cake.  I wasn't there in the kitchen but I'm pretty sure the parents had a good time of fellowship as they cooked.   It was very good.  We dined in the big lobby and ate on 44 feet of table.  It looked like a king's dining hall.  Lots of fun!  

The parents did a fantastic job!  Which brings me to the point of this post.  Last night's event was:
1.  Inexpensive (important right now with the shape the economy is in)
2.  Lots of fun (you don't have to go to an amusement park to have fun)
3.  Impossible without the involvement of parents (youth ministry is parent ministry)

Youth Ministries need to realize the value in teaming up with parents and getting parents involved in events, activities and in the youth ministry as a whole.  Our parents knocked it out of the park last night as they drove students and prepared the meal.

Destination Unknown is very easy to plan:

  • Decide where you will go 
  • Cost of the event for the students (will you pull money out of the budget)
  • Contact the location of the event and make plans with the management (well in advance)
  • Promote the event with the parents well in advance
  • Invite parents to join in and help, weeks ahead.
  • Promote the event with the students for at least two months in advance.
  • A Destination Unknown would be a great event to have a ministry team put together and pull off.

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...