December 28, 2009

new year, new series

Coming January 10 we are going to start our new GraceSTUDENTS series, "Rise UP and GO". I am pumped about what you are going to learn this series and pumped because it's a new year to set our hearts on Christ and making Him known in this world!! Don't miss it!

December 21, 2009

my first real Christmas

It was nearly 14 years ago that I first became a Christ follower. I didn't grow up in the "church" or have a concrete faith system. But in my freshman year at college I would encounter the best moment of my life.

I hope that today, you have a wonderful and joy-filled day. I hope that you also take a moment alone to give thanks to God, that he was willing to put on skin and become our friend.

Thanks so much for reading this blog and journeying with me! Have a very Merry Christmas!!!

December 19, 2009

Christmas Spirit ;)

This is one of my favorite Christmas diddys of the past. And since Glee is all popular and mashups are all the rage.... well I guess these guys were cool before their time. Enjoy!

December 17, 2009

Growth Spurt! Part Two

this is part two of an earlier post...

3. We cannot do it alone. I don't know why many leaders suffer from the "hardheadedness" syndrome. Read it. Say it. "I cannot do it alone." Think on it. Don't be a ministry hog. Share the blessing. Enough said...

4. Anything good takes time. Can I be transparent for a moment? A while back part of me wanted to be the "student pastor guru" that gets book deals and goes around the country telling people how to do a student ministry. I thought, "If I can blow something up in 2 years, I can prove to people that Im worth listening to."

I was egotistical. Not one ounce of that dream was about God... I know... I was a poseur. Years later I have learned that God is the one who makes true growth. So what if that takes 10 or 20 or 100 years? We need to wait/trust/lean on the LORD and not push forward out of our own power. If I ever write a book about student ministry it will be titled, " Hey you! Listen to God, dummy!" ;)

5. Be flexible with your plan, but don't be flexible with the mission. I have had all these, great ideas and plans starting off. But, since then listening constantly (to God speaking, wise teammates, my wonderful wife, and my pastor and others) has helped keep a good amount of fluidity in our student ministry. But one thing we do not compromise on is the mission of helping people take their next step toward Christ. That's what Grace Fellowship is about. We want to reach those who haven't yet stepped foot inside a church. From this we will not back down.

Growth Spurt!

I spent much of today cleaning up old files in the hard drive and organizing everything for the new year and came across alot of old stuff. All I have to say is we sure have grown! You don't see it while it's happening but when you look back at things you can really see how much things have changed.

I have been so thankful to work at a place that I love. I enjoy the staff I work with and I love all the parents and students I work with as well. I can't believe how much God has blessed Kim and I this past year, in every way imaginable.

GraceSTUDENTS has grown in many ways. Not only are we twice as big as last year, but even with that we really are getting to know one another well. I think the students are getting to know the leaders and I really feel like the leaders are pouring into students lives and knowing them as well. I think our volunteers are beginning to understand the vision of how important student ministry really is!

This past year we have really been seeing great things that only can be seen with the investment of time. I am praying that the Lord will allow us to minister with you guys for years and years to come, and I can't wait to grow old with Grace! I think God has taught me a few things that I'd like to share with you about growth.

1. We must stay connected to God. Ministry is just a job when you do it on your own. I cannot say I have been perfect this year in putting God before "the work", but I am closer than I was this time last year. Only when I am connected with Him can I see the vision that He has for our ministry and city.

2. Discouragement happens. Just like the spring turns to summer and then fall, discouragement will happen upon all of us. I don't know why this is, but it just does. I have a family history of depression so it makes it even tougher, but it is very wise to understand that these times will come. I was listening to a speaker who said a spiritual healthy heart is more prepared to deal with discouragement. This is another reason why #1 is so important.

3. If you want to grow in leadership, you have to pay the price of responsibility. I have always wanted to be a leader, but didn't realize that with great leadership comes an even greater responsibility. Let's face it, it's easier to keep the bar set really low. No one gets mad at you, but nothing ever happens. I read a great quote by Charles Stanley , " Discipline not desire determine's a person's destiny". Leadership increases when a leader decides to own his/her life, vision and decisions. There is no such thing as passive leadership.

I actually have more but Im gonna break it up into another blog, so be on the look out for Growth Spurt! Part Two!

December 16, 2009

thought for the day... this from a student pastor that i follow...

"Disciples of Christ read His Word and are TRANSFORMED by it….

Religious professionals read His Word and are merely INFORMED by it…"

Application > Interpretation

Think about this as you sit down and read God's Word. Is it changing you???

December 15, 2009

truth in advertising....

A restaurant has some mettle if it's willing to propose that it has the best "whatever" in town. Now this is okay if you are in a town that has a blinking yellow light at its only intersection and a general store for its town center. You can claim that you have the best orange marmalade preserves in this town if you want. No one has to know that it is the only orange marmalade preserves available in town, they just need to know it's the best.

Because when stacked up against, well.. air, yours is most likely the best. No worries to you restaurants in one-horse towns. You can probably claim to have the best whatever in town that you want, because it is the best (albeit the only) in town.

My beef is with establishments in the city that claim they have the best (you fill in the blank) food in town. I think you better have some serious grub, especially if you are in a city as big and diverse as (where I live) Orlando. Will I experience what you are claiming about your food??? I think it is only fair, if a restaurant claims they have the best in town, that they should be able to back it up. (i.e. the proof of the pudding is in the eating)

Now, I guess restaurants can't go around advertising themselves as "some of the most average" food in town or even "quite possibly the best second-tier" food you will ever eat. But don't B.S. me. Don't advertise your food is "the best" when it is average "at its best"

But as I thought about this I wonder if we can say the same thing about churches. I mean do we really mean what we advertise?

When your marquee says, "passionate about people", is that really what you are cooking? Does your mission statement say, "Caring for the city", when what the meal you are really serving is "Caring only for the insiders". I'm not saying I'm immune, because do I really believe that someone who came into our church (Grace), experience our moniker? But I think we seriously need to ask ourselves this question if we want people in our city to respect what we advertise.

Again, I'm not saying to adopt slogans like, "Jesus loves you..., but then again He loves everybody" or "You have three weeks to shape up, or you need to leave". But we need to get real with ourselves when it comes to our vision and mission. I mean do we just "say" that we are the light of the world and salt of the earth. Or are we illuminating dark places and creating a savory aroma of Christ in our city??

Big question to ask, but if we ask it of other things, why cant people ask it of us?

December 13, 2009

We are going to be heading to camp BigStuf in Panama City this year!!! We will have details coming up soon so keep on the lookout for date/time/cost and RSVP deposits due!!! yeah!!!

December 10, 2009

would you like to Value-size that?

I spent a little time on the internets and found various definitions of the word "value". I thought the best place to get a definition was business/economy websites (so I can get another angle on what they think this word means). Man, was my head spinning!

I am a very right brained/creative-esqe person, so all this math talk and accounting jibber jabber messed me all up. I finally find a more tame definition that I could understand on a well known economist website... "An amount, as of goods, services, or money, considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return."

value = a determined amount of worth something has.

I think I have lost the understanding of the term "value"(or "cost"), because I have grown up in the age of consumer debt. (i.e. the credit card) I mean, as soon as I hit college I had three credit cards to my name and boy did I like to use them! It made it so easy for me to forget about "value/cost" of the item, because I could easily get it with a $3000 credit limit.

But let's look at things from another angle besides the monetary. When I was in high school we were issued athletic clothes/gear etc. The varsity football team was issued a shirt that said "Pay the Price" on it. Now, that seems kinda cheeseball looking back on it, but coach really wanted us to understand that if we wanted to play well, win district and win state we had to "pay the price" to get there. We had to determine what the worth of our goal was. Was it worth an extra 15 minutes in the gym? An extra 30?

I really think I could use an undershirt like that now-a-days. Not to go out and win a state championship, but to live the life Christ has called me to every day. Now if you are not a Christ-follower this may not completely apply to you, but it could.

Now, I'm not advocating you can go out and merit your salvation by works (because it is by grace alone), but I'm saying many of us spend our lives punking out to the high calling Christ has for us. Look at the book of James! He challenges people back then like we need to today.

We show God how much value we place in his sacrifice by what we do. Just like paying a determined amount of worth for a product, we place value on the sacrifice of Christ by how we live out each day. I don't see any other way around this. We do what we can do in our power to give God his just due each day in word and in deed.

Hard? Of course! I shudder at the thought of paying the price each day. Because now I am accountable to what I have just written. Am I going to b.s my way through this blog? Or am I really going to set in my mind to give God value each day?

Let's not be caught lowering the value of Christ's sacrifice, or the value of the Church (which is his bride), or the value of service to others, or the value all the gifts Christ's sacrifice gives us? Let's live today in the true value of the sacrifice of our beautiful and lovely savior!

Do you recall the words to the hymn..." Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe..." Do we mean that today?

Take time today to Value-size your faith!

December 9, 2009

New feature to the graceSTUDENTS website

Yo. Just FYI but now the GraceSTUDENTS website includes a "Current Events" page. You can check it for upcoming events, service opportunities or shindigs! Check it!

December 4, 2009

the small things...

I was listening to Shane Claiborne today (If you are wondering... yes, I am still nursing my hurt back.) and he made a statement that was so meaningful to me. He was talking about working with Mother Teresa and how she cared for so many people. And in talking about her he said she was not about doing a "great" work for God (of all people she certainly has a reason to boast about her great impact) but she was about doing small things with great love.

If I am honest, I am not really interested in the small things. I want to do BIG things. But we can do all the biggest things in the world, but if we don't have love, it means nothing. It got my head to thinking. Why do we so easily overlook the small things? Many times you hear a person who almost died or a person who has come back from cancer and they always say. "I now remember to enjoy the little things."

I can't help but think this is where God really resides... in the small things, with great love. Look at Jesus. Why in the world would God choose to change the world, by sending his son to be a baby? A small, squawking and helpless baby? The GREAT BIG God contained in a little baby boy. What a contrast of power!

Maybe we need to ask God to help us to have great love in all things small. Whether it's a simple 'hello' to a stranger, to give someone our coat if they are cold, or to just put someone first it all matters to God. Maybe that's a good lesson to learn this holiday season.

You know you really gets this. My wife. She lives by doing small things with great love. When I am hurt or sick I get really selfish. I want things to be my way... like now! I hate being stuck in bed and I get all grumpy. Even with all that, my wife has taken care of me these last few days with great love. I need to learn the lesson from her, that small things are all around us and we can do these things with the great love that Christ has provided to us. This is the love of Christ.

Thank you Kim, you teach me to be more like Jesus.

December 2, 2009

Help! I fallen and...

Well I hurt my back again and am stuck laying (lying; lain; I never got that one in English, so my apologies if my word choice is incorrect) on my back. So, I have decided to make the most of my immobilization and blog it out.

A funny thing happens when you hurt your back. You realize how fragile you are as a human being. I mean one second you are moving along just fine and the next second you find yourself lying (laying; lain; lederhosen) on the ground staring at the ceiling hoping no one stops by your office to taunt you or steal anything off your desk .

I feel like such an idiot with back pain. Because unlike a broken ankle with the bone protruding and all, back pain really isn't visible to the observer. Usually people assume that you have some sort of incontinence problem and are wincing to hold it in, or that you have worn your belt one notch too tight, or that you have an acute late-blooming onset of the rickets. (Those are the most common three diagnoses that I receive... really... in that order.)

So you just wince and tell the observer, "Man, my back really hurts!" But you still get no solace, because as far as they can see you just look like you need a laxative. All I'm saying is there are two kinds of people in this world. Those that have never had severe back pain and those who have. There is no in between. People either know exactly what you are talking about or they "pretend" to know what you are talking about-never actually having experienced it firsthand. Oh. But you can tell the difference between those people, believe you me!!! okay... now Im getting a little bit cynical, but it's making me feel better. And as this is MY blog, I think it is okay that I do that. You can go on YOUR blog and talk about factitious disorders and what not, but on this particular blog... okay, I digress... :)

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. I think to truly appreciate the "wonderful" we also have to be aware of our fragility. Think about how we come into this world. All tiny, fragile, clueless and ...gooey. We cant feed ourselves, we cant use all of our faculties, we cant defend ourselves if a hungry Bengal tiger happened to barge into the delivery room. But God designed us this way... for a reason.

Why the heck would God make us so fragile? Im not 100% sure, but it stands to reason that God would do this to graciously remind us of our need for others, and our ultimate need for Him. And in this I am humbled. In this I am thankful. And in this I find rest. (backpain notwithstanding.) ;)

December 1, 2009

Breakbeat Theology

Did you listen to the track on this video? What comes to mind when you listen to it? Did you hear anything monumental or life changing?

Yeah. Well. Me neither. But that is because I live in 2009 not 1969, when this track first came out. This is actually a very monumental track for audiophiles out there. This track actually contains, what is known to dj's as, the famous "Amen break". The "Amen break" is actually a 6+ second solo (1:43-1:50) that the drummer (G.C. Coleman) does on this B-Side record cut.

The funny thing about the Amen break is that if you are into hip-hop, turntablism or electronic music at all you have heard tons of derivative beats/tracks from this little 6 seconds of music. In fact this 6 seconds actually spawned several sub-genres of electronic music by itself. All from one little drum solo on a b-side track.

Most of you have been born after the apex of vinyl records (im included in this too) but back then b-sides were just kinda afterthought tracks put on a single (the A side--the side you supposed to listen to, the B side- eh. maybe. )

So. Why the history lesson on wax? Here's the deal. Im sure they liked creating this song. Im sure it was fun and all. But, I dont think this B-side track was ever written intending to change music forever (well at least hip-hop and subsequent electronic music anyways). But it did.

The insignificant proved to be very significant.

See even the most insignificant things can have significant impact (that we may never even get to see). I hope this true story can help bring significance in your "everyday" routines, because you never know when you may be creating an "Amen break" of your own. It may seem like everyday stuff, but what you have done today could prove to be monumentally significant!

Colossians 3:23 speaks to this very type of thing. Whatever you put your hand to should be done as unto the Lord. This helps me to understand that no matter how small a task may be, I might just be working on the next "Amen break" in my work field!!! Break it down!!!