November 30, 2009

New Series: A Christmas Story

This sunday we are starting a new series named "A Christmas Story". In this three week series we will see the story of Jesus's birth from three different vantage points. Like pieces of a puzzle fitting together, these three stories will give us a unique perspective of the greatest birth in human history. The birth of Jesus. So come check it out the next three weeks at GraceSTUDENTS!!!

November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Here's wishing you and your family a wonderful thanksgiving from GraceSTUDENTS!!!

Give thanks to the Lord and call on his name, make known to all the nations what He has done. Sing to Him, sing praise to Him. Tell of all His wonderful works. Glory to His holy name!!!

I thank God for all of you. I thank Him for the opportunity to serve alongside of you at Grace Fellowship. I thank Him for parents and students. I thank Him for great family and friends. Thank you GOD!

November 19, 2009

my dear twilight fans...

And who doesn't love college football?

Do you ever have some days that just go wrong before you seem to get started? If you are feeling down just think about this guy. At least you didnt get rejected in front of 100,000 people by a banner.Right? Enjoy!!! 

November 16, 2009

Dark night of the soul

Pain... Anguish... Despair...

You can't live life on this earth without experiencing a season of discouragement and disappointment. Stop... Read that last sentence again. Did you really re-read it?

No matter if you are in your groove now. No matter if you are making money, taking names and loving life. You will hit a wall. You will. Some people will deal discouragement on a small level and some of us deal with it as full-blown despondency.

It has taken me a little time to get used to that truth. Especially as a follower of Christ. Mainly because I usually think that God's will should exclusively end up in my "happiness".

In my psych statistics class we heard a phrase so much that it was burned in my mind... "Correlation does not imply Causation". What does this have to do with God's plan and happiness? Well...

I used to think that the closer that I am to God, the "happier" I would be. But I have been challenged lately. Now don't get me wrong. Many times as I follow God I find great happiness. But that is not always the case. The point Im trying to make is that sometimes i follow God very hard and still remain in a dark, lonely and discouraging place.

I would even go as far to say that God actually gives us times of discouragement to seek Him and serve Him through hard times because serving through discouragement builds Godly character that cant be built any other way. I am walking through a time like this now. I write this to encourage you that are in a hard or discouraging time right now. God will use this for the good if we can trust Him with our trials.

For further reading check out Romans 5:3-5  Stand firm friends. Pray for me to stand firm as well.

November 15, 2009

New series, ThanksGIVING

We just started our new series called "ThanksGIVING" in Grace Students. We started off with Ben K preaching a great message from Matthew 25. If you were there you know what Im talking about, he rocked our faces off!

I want to encourage students to make it for the next two weeks in this series. We are talking about true thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is an action, not just a feeling. If we give thanks to God then we give our lives to God. This is a deep and hard truth, but true thanksgiving is a big deal.

I think this series will help us truly have thankful hearts this year and give back to those God has put in our path! So don't miss this series!!! See you Sunday!

November 11, 2009

Kung Fu: Do what you do to me

I am a product of the late80's / 90's. But I do vaguely recall the kung-fu frenzy of the early eighties. The only reason I knew what was up as a four/five year old is because i had two uncles who were in their teen years and they were 'bout it 'bout it on some Saturday Kung Fu Theater.

Anyways, I have always been captivated by kung fu/wushu movies. I love them. I could watch them 24/7. Many are predictable, and the voice-overs can still prove to be pretty indecipherable, but I still love them. Does anybody share this strange liking? Or am I han solo on this one?

I always wanted to learn wushu. Ever since my uncles whittled nunchuckas in their shop class and "practiced" what they watched on TV. Then, like my uncles, we realized kung fu masters don't make much money in real life. Bump that.

November 9, 2009

Snips and Snails and puppy dogs tails? Really?**

I have no kids. No teenagers. There I said it.
But, what I do have is at least 12 years of experience working with countless adolescents from church and school settings. And I know all parents are down with getting any info they can on dealing with middle school boys. So here are a few things that I've observed and like to throw in the mix for you.

1. Guys will be guys.
Teenage guys have mad energy. They just need to move, be crazy and have fun. I know this is a big "doy!", but I have seen many parents fight against letting their student be a typical teenager. He's a boy, who is growing, learning, struggling to be a man.
The teenage years should be (with Godly supervision and encouragement) a testing ground of sorts. You can't expect a kid with a super surge of hormones, growth spurts and cognitive growth to just be a sweet little angel. Uh Uh. Ain't gonna happen.

2. Guys need community.
Guys like to run in packs. I had a roomate in college that I used to make fun of because where he grew up they had a group of friends called "the wolfpack". I still tease him about the name, and no I won't change my mind. But seriously, guys have this brotherhood mentality from early adolescence on. They need a tribe of guys who will validate them as masculine. They need to experience a heart connection with other guys that they can't get at home.

3.Guys need real leaders.
In my experience there is no better time then in adolescence for fathers and older men to come alongside of guys. A mentor is there to impart wisdom, character and encouragement to a young man. Guys need mentors who will walk the narrow path with character and faith and will show them how to do the same. (PS we still need guy leaders in GraceSTUDENTS, so man up!)

4. Guys need to be loved.
The only way a teenager can learn to love is to be loved.
I have a quick rant to fathers. You may feel that you learned tough love from your strong, silent type dad, but to replicate that type of love to your son is NONSENSE. Tell your boy you love him. Spend real quality time with him. Be a real man and give him a hug and let him know intimacy with his dad is a good thing. Kids are learning so much about love at this stage in life. So I implore you to love on your teenage sons. They will learn how to love God through their relationship with their parents. Trust me.

If you are parenting teenage boys know that my heart and prayers go out to you. If you ever need someone to bounce things off of, or just need encouragement I'm here!

** a great resource to check out is "Teenage Guys" by Youth Specialties.

Monday Morning Musing 11/9

First of all... It's stinking November. I mean it was like July three weeks ago and now we are in November. How did that happen? Nine whole days into November. Anyways, sorry about that.

1. Sunday was massive!!! Like great teaching, great worship, great time together, like massive. I hope and pray that we remain encouraged throughout this week to worship and serve boldly. Go and be the church Grace!

2. Our Road Signs series ended well! Brent Upham shared his testimony and it was just awesome to hear a story about what Grace is doing in the lives of people. So awesome!

3. As usual our student leaders were all on point! Great job guys/gals! I love working alongside of you on this mission to help students take their next steps toward Christ.

4. Looking forward to our new series "thanksGIVING" which will talk about us taking our thanks to God to another level by serving and giving to those who are in need around us everyday.

5. love you guys, remember to worship GOD, build relationships and influence your world!

November 8, 2009

Im the best... no really I am.

Today I was mystified by a certain individual. I was just amazed at how much of an air of superiority they walked around with. This person had no regard for anyone else around them. It was like the world was made especially for them. Now as a psychology major, I know it is usually a deep seeded insecurity that drives this kind of behavior, but that doesn't excuse it. It just doesn't.

I saw this video and it reminded me of that person, maybe it will make you laugh. (or maybe it won't) But I sure did.

James 4:6 says "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." These aren't just words, but a concrete truth. If you love yourself so much that everyone else seems inferior, then you might be on the verge of fighting against the Almighty. Just think about that the next time you run into this person. Oh yeah, you know who they are... If you don't... Well then maybe you can figure it out. ;)

November 4, 2009

just walk across the room...

Recently I have been challenged to reach out and tell more people about Jesus. I mean really impact my spheres for Christ. It is so funny because this has been on my heart and just recently Mike challenged us as a staff to have spiritually meaningful conversations with people we might not normally do so. Wow. Talk about a challenge!

Why is it important? Take a walk with me...

See, there was this young man who moved away to college and was assigned to one of the craziest dorms on campus. He did have a few friends from home at the same school but, all they liked to do is party. So the first few weeks went on like a blur between partying, eating, partying and oh yeah a class or two here and there.

But then someone who lived on the floor above this kid decided to befriend him and walk with him even though they did not have a whole lot in common or even believe the same things. But that didn't matter because he didn't care, he just wanted to be his friend. Later on that fall the two became better friends and day by day they would talk about things that really mattered and one day this guy shared the gospel with this crazy kid. And guess what? It changed his life forever.

My friend Mat walked with me and talked with me. He didnt have to. In fact I dont know if I would have come up to me because I was pretty messed up. But my friend Mat walked across the room and became my friend. Despite the fear he might have had, or anxiety, or fear of rejection he came to me and became my friend. This altered the course of my life forever. If you are scratching your head still, I was the crazy kid who drank his first semester away, I was the kid who someone had the guts to walk across the room and talk to.

You can walk across the room. You can reach out and talk with people you might not normally talk with. God has placed someone in your path right now that you can talk with and minister to that does not know Christ. If you feel like you dont have that person, pray. pray. pray. We need to be burdened for people around us again, because hell is a real place, but so is heaven and God is real. Reach out!

For more resources you can check out this book or look here, here, here for resources.

November 3, 2009

why Grace?

Hey my peeps. I just wanted to shout out at you about a place I call home. I want to qualify this blog by starting off saying I know that the church is not an organization or a building but the people of God. We are the church (if you are a Christ follower). No ifs ands or buts...

I love the Church period. But I also love being a part of a local body in Orlando who I feel is making an impact in central Florida. I just want to take a moment and tell you why I love what I do and why I love being a part of Grace Fellowship Orlando. Kimberly and I were going to Grace long before I came on staff. I love it then like I love it today.

What impressed me so much about Grace was how missional it was. I see tons of new faces come in the door all the time. But not only was I seeing that, but I was (and still am) seeing people's lives change from night to day, from darkness to light. Seriously. BIG life change in people. Both de-churched and unchurched people alike were encountering God (and still are) on a weekly basis.

I love that Mike (senior pastor) doesn't allow Christ followers to be satisfied with being bench warmers. We were all designed to play! If you are around Mike long enough you will learn that he is going a million miles a minute and he will not spend one moment unturned for the glory of God. That is a leader that inspires me. But he does it as he follows Christ. We are all challenged to that end as staff members. Love God. Love your neighbor. Don't waste your life!

I love how Grace has helped change me from the inside out. Through the messages both Kim and I have been changed as a couple. We have been moved to love our neighbor as ourselves and live as agents of change in our spheres of influence. I see student's lives change on a weekly basis. And I also get to watch as families reconnect to God, and it makes me smile!

At Grace Fellowship you can be sure that you will be challenged to live sent. You will hear a message (from any of the ministries) that following Christ daily is an imperative and living out our faith is the directive. We don't get it perfect and we sure can do some crazy/goofy things (i.e. wrestling mask ) and also some inspiring things (i.e. Easter at eola )

But it all is so that people, no matter if they have been following Christ for 50 years or have just encountered God today, can take their next step toward Christ! Grace exists to lift up the name of Jesus not Grace Fellowship. There are many great local bodies out there in Orlando, but this is a little bit about why I call Grace "home"!