Friday, December 29, 2006

Reasons I don't like this week...

between Christmas and New Years.

First, Sunday school lesson.
Second, I am preaching. Which I love doing, it just didn't get started as early as I would have liked. So this week is full.
Third, New Year's party. Planning and lack of sleep :)
Fourth, 3 official office days. Therefore I'll be in for a bit tomorrow.

Now could some of this been avoided. Sure. What other things were happening in previous weeks that kept me from doing as much work beforehand as I wanted to.

I did love having some family visit this week. Great to see them and spend time with them. This meant I was home a few more hours than normal during work days. Always love that. And mostly, I have loved this week because I've been able to live it. I am trying to really make an effort to live out the fact that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

see you next year (maybe before)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

top 10 New Year's Resolutions

This year I am going to make a list that I can keep. If you want, you can take my list and make it your own. But if you don't keep them all then I can't be held responsible.

See what you think...

The top 10 things I plan on doing in 2007
10. Eat
9. Read something, anything
8. Talk to people
7. Teach Sunday School Class
6. Sleep
5. Talk to someone new
4. Breath In
3. Breath Out
2. find or write a funnier top 10 list

and the #1 resolution for 2007
1. blog

Can I keep them?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Have a great day with family.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


I am preaching this Sunday. Preaching on making the most of each day. Challenging people to not limit their tries to better themselves to only New Year's Day. But its also Youth Sunday, so I get to make sure all those bases are covered. And the New Year's party that night - can't forget those details. And there is family in town this week.

This week will be great, but full.

Friday, December 22, 2006

caroling part 2

Yesterday I got to go caroling again. This time I went with the FCA from the high school. We went after school and went to businesses (since we live in a small town, I think we just about hit every single business in town) and took cookies and sang. There were actually 3 groups. One went to a nearby town, the other two split up. Its a lot different going to businesses than houses. We got to sing to anywhere from 1 person (3 times) to an entire office with like 20some people (once). There were two places we went that we didn't even sing :)

It was a fun time and nice to get to interact with students who are not part of the student ministry. Its been good to see a transition happen within the students as they are beginning to know who I am and know that I am interested in their lives.

In this area, I am the only fulltime youth minister. And there is only one other parttime guy. So I think the community is learning who I am and knows that I care for the teenagers.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

online at home

The other day everything aligned. Here is how it happened...

Mac OSX (Tiger) was delivered by Fedex (in a rented truck)
Mac OSX was installed on the iMac
Went back to finish installing DSL
Had problems with this step
Finally got DSL installed
Started surfing the web at "faster than dial-up" speeds

It tooks most of the day to do, but we are glad it is done.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

freshman basketball reviewed

Monday night was quite interesting. Nathan and I went to the basketball game. I was expecting a small crowd and some good basketball - adding up to a great father/son night. Well the crowd was rather small. Probably a bit smaller than the girls games, mainly b/c there were less students. The game was pretty good. It was actually a higher scoring game than I expected (50 to 40). And it was a great father/son night for me. But one thing I didn't expect. Really angry and loud spectators. I mean, come on its freshmen basketball.

We actually got there at the beginning, well close to the beginning, of the game. Within a few minutes of arriving it started. The refs weren't calling plays, the crowd thought they could ref better. (Now, I know this is not new nor is this behavior likely to change, but its freshmen high school basketball and the only person talking about it today is me) Most of the comments were coming from parents/fans from the visiting school. The yelling started getting louder and louder. You could feel the intensity rising in the gym. What is sad is that as the parents began to yell louder and with more anger, the players started playing more aggressively. By the end of the first half there was only 5 fouls total. By the end of the game there were at least 18. Players were blatantly trying to trip others, grabbing an arm, shoving. It was really sad to watch it unfold.

Nathan didn't notice much, though. Because about 1/2 way through the game he just began to play. I think we played more with the few toys he brought than actually watched the game. He did turn around a few times and try to figure out why the people were yelling.

Why must people be so negative when things don't go their way in sports? And I know its not just a localized problem. I've ran into it in various church softball leagues and other sports events I've been to. Monday night just seemed really intense.

What does this behavior do to the students playing the sports? How does their attitude change? Doesn't this "yelling at the refs" just take responsibility away from the losing team. See, its not our fault we're losing, its the refs. Why does it matter so much that we lose. Now, don't get me wrong I like to win, but in the end it doesn't amount to much.

I think that is enough ranting for now.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Freshman basketball

Tonight I get to go to the freshman basketball games. I am excited because I am getting to go with Nathan (who is excited about going with daddy). I am also curious as to what kind of crowd will be there for this one.

this is the last game I'll get to go to before next year.

Christmas party and caroling

The Christmas Party went well. We played a game of "human knot" to decide the order of the White Elephant Exchange circle. But for fun I change a few rules. One of the boys said he didn't like the game, so for fun I had him not be able to speak and another boy close his eyes. It was interesting to watch them try to untangle themselves. The one who couldn't speak kept trying to tell people suggestions with just grunts and kicking his foot. The one who couldn't see just kept asking "who's arm is that" or "i need to do what, I can't even see". They never did get completely untangled.

The WEG exchange went well. I ended up with a little kids Pooh backpack. A few of my favorites:

1. A Casey's top 40 record from 1983 (brought by one of the sponsors who used to be a dj)
2. a plethora of relay for life material (buttons, stickers, cups)
3. 101 things you need to know book
4. used sippy cup
5. girl scout cookies and hot chocolate
6. different girl scout cookies and hot chocolate
7. a dance instruction vhs tape

We played the gift unwrap game and it was pretty intense. I am actually amazed that no one got hurt. I mean dice were flying and presents were being tossed.

My favorite part was the ice cube guess. Since it was jr. highers, I opted for a few different liquids. This time we used: California French dressing (doesn't freeze too well), worchestershire sauce (more on this in a bit), lemonade, lime and garlic salsa (I didn't even bother putting it in a blender or anything), manderin orange juice, cultured reduced fat buttermilk (by this time it was probably expired), and mtn lightning

I told them that if someone ate the entire #2 ice cube, before they knew what it was, that I would let them have an entire pizza. One of the boys ate it. He said it wasn't too bad. Man it was really disgusting to watch him. So he went home with an entire pizza - I don't think it was worth it.

It was a good night. Lots of fun memories and moments that will be talked about for years to come.

The caroling:
We took the high school out last night to go caroling. Did not have a huge turn out, but it went great. I think having a smaller crowd probably worked out better. It is a little overwhelming to have over 20 people show up at your door. One of the adults kept messing up one of the lines of one song, so each time we got to this point everyone hesitated to see what he would say. And they all enjoyed the fact that I did something (like tap my foot or bounce up) when we sang "We wish you a merry Christmas".

I don't think the caroling was for the group anyway. It was really for the people we went to. A few people got tears and the others were thankful.

Though I am waiting for that one person to say "no" when you ask if we can sing.

A good weekend back home.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

jr high Christmas Party

Tonight is our jr. high party. Will it be anything like the high school party last week?

I have frozen more ice cubes. :) Can't wait to see them when they try an ice cube made from salsa. Yummy, chunky.

Hopefully I'll be able to post some good pics or funny stories next week.

funeral, visiting, travel

What a week.

For anyone who was praying for our trip, thanks. On Tuesday we packed up and left at 6:30 am for GA. We got there around 7pm (lost an hour with time change). It was really good to be back in GA with friends. Had a chance to talk with the family we were staying with and relax a bit from the 11 1/2 hour trip. Wed. turned out to be a rather busy day. Had lunch with friends, went looking for something while the boys slept, viewing in the evening, stopped by the youth group for a few minutes.

The viewing was tough for a few reasons. First and foremost - it was a viewing for a close friend (adopted family) of ours. Second, ran into a few people from last church that we have different relationship with now. Some were part of the "reason" we were asked to leave. Honestly, its not the fact that we were asked to leave that bothers us about certain people; its the character (or lack of) that was shown in things that were said and done around the whole incident. Third, we were there for a while (talking with people and the family) and it was dinner time for the boys, so they started getting cranky.

It was great to see some of the youth for a bit. Some have changed a lot in 6 months. Others haven't really done much change at all. I was reminded of the need I have to (not really need as much as desire) keep the individuals in prayer and not just "wonder" how they are doing. God placed them in our path and we can't just forget them when we leave a ministry.

Thursday was the funeral. It was hard. At the viewing I could tell a physical change in Ron. He didn't look like the same man I saw 6 months ago. Thankfully, I found out from talking to people, he wasn't the same man spiritually either. He had grown closer to God the last few months and was really starting to live out his faith in God. I wish I could have been around to witness this change :(

At the funeral, they played three "worship songs" and that was pretty special. Songs that made me tear up when I thought of them in regards to Ron's life. It was just really really good to be there.

Had lunch at Zaxby's (i highly recommend this anytime you get the chance) with friends. Talked about family and (as always) the congregation we left. Thursday evening we got to spend time with a small group of our friends and catch up. It was a great reminder that even though we have moved and become a part of a new congregation we don't have to leave all friendships or feelings behind.

Yesterday was a long day. Got up and spent time with the family before they went to work. Then we got to see one more person before we left. Got going around 10. Didn't get home til 11:30 or so. With time change that would be about 14 hours or so of travel time. Man we were tired. Plus when we got back we found out that our furnace was broken - so it was 58 in our house.

We did get our DSL hooked up while we were gone - about a week earlier than thought. But our Mac OS is not new enough, so I had to order Tiger today and install it and then finish installing the DSL. Then we're online at home.

There are a lot more thoughts and feelings floating around my head. I'll post more later.

one last question, I am still thinking through (even though the situation is over): how would Christ want me to respond and interact with the people who fired me (and ultimately lied to my face and many others)?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Making the trip to the funeral

Amy and I have decided that we are going to go to the funeral for our friend. It will be over 10 hours each way, but we want to make it. We haven't heard yet as to specifics of when and where, but we believe it will be on Wed. If so, we will be leaving tomrrow morning and try to get back Friday.

Please pray for safe travel.

It will be good to see some of our friends, but sad to see them under these circumstances.

High School Christmas Party

What a weekend. The Christmas party went well. This was one of the first "events" we've done here at the church. I have to admit I was a little nervous about it.

We played a game with ice cubes (made with various other liquids) and four volunteers had to try to guess what each ice cube was made of.

The best was 3 1/2 (1/2 point for saying milk, but not buttermilk). The 7 were: taco sauce, worchestershire sauce (see picture above), buttermilk, manderin orange juice, dr. thunder soda, lemonade and water.

(sidenote) soy sauce will not freeze!

Dinner was good, teens love to eat. Then we did a White Elephant Gift exchange. This took this a little while to get into. (ie. everyone just kept opening up a new gift and would not steal one). But once it got going, it was intense. In one round, we had 8 gifts that ended up being stolen twice (which was our limit per round) and just about each one was taken once.

Some of the gifts:
1. a slice of cheese
2. two stuffed pig dolls
3. a broken "don't spill the beans" game
4. various cds (dishwalla, mercy me, a couple compilations)
5. a vhs version of "big daddy"
6. mark twain paperback
7. 10 random buttons from my childhood
8. $1 bill (which by the way no one really seemed to want)
9. a mp3 player (a rather hot item)
10. headphones (nothing else)

I ended up with a white elephant figurine. It might become my WEG for the jr. high party this Saturday.

We played charades while I video taped the "video story". This is something I started a few years back and its a fun little thing. Each person tells part of the story while you video tape them. But all they know is the last two words the person before them said. This year we added that they had to use their WEG in their story. It turned out rather well. A funny little video to watch at the end of the night.

Also, we played a game where you really wrap (and I mean really good) a present so its tough to open. Then each person has to roll dice and when they roll the # they get to put on some mittens and unwrap the gift. During this each person is going around the circle trying to roll the # so they can open the gift. The last person to unwrap the gift and get it out gets the gift (no matter how much or how little they actually worked on it). Its a fun game that all ages like. Amy told me that the 3rd person to roll an #8 actually got to get the gifts open, because no one else could roll an 8, so he just kept going and going.

One other "funny" moment was when I was trying to introduce myself to some of the students I didn't know. I walked up to one girl and said "I don't think we've met, I'm Mike" To which she responed with "I go to your church, my name is _____" It was funny because I had heard her name and it was on all the "lists" I got when I got here, but she had never come to any other event, or Sunday School or Sunday night. She has come to service, but she sits in the back with her mom. So I tried to joke with her about it. I don't think she was offended or anything, but I thought it was pretty funny that was her first response.

One other thing that helped with the party was the fact that there were more youth coaches there. Normally its just Amy and I. This year, we had a few more and that was good. Someone else to take pics and someone else to help with the games.

So it was a great day, until the phone call we got as we were leaving. The one telling us that one of our good friends from our last church had passed away.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

lost a friend

Last night at 9pm I got a phone call from back in GA. One of our friends passed away. :(

He was a good friend and loved our family, especially the boys. We had three of his kids in our youth ministry. The youngest is a senior this year.

Being so far away it is tough to know what to do. We are hurting right now and we want to be there for the family (because they were our good friends)


Friday, December 08, 2006

cold weather, cookies & dinner

Yesterday was the day my wife and some of the young ladies delivered the cookies that they made on Tuesday. What a great day it was - something like 20 degrees. Let's just say they were walking fast :)

I felt a little bad, because I got to stay home and watch the boys inside our nice warm house. But that feeling only lasted a short time.

After they delivered they came back and had some hot chocolate. The young ladies got a chance to play with our boys, which the boys just loved. When I was about to start dinner, my wife asked them if they wanted to stay and eat with us. Two of them did and it was a good time. We had a full table and even had to pull the table away from the wall. (We usually keep it against the wall for room, since we don't need all 4 sides.) We had tacos - yummy. It turned out to be a great chance to get to know the two girls a little better and build relationships.

One of the girls needed a ride home, so I got a ride to the elders meeting so my wife could take her home. Apparently after I left both of the girls told my wife thank you so much for having them over. Not just for dinner, but for taking an interest in them outside of church. They said it has been a long time since someone has done that for the youth.

Our passion is the youth and we love spending time with them. It was encouraging to hear that the youth already know we care. But what was even more encouraging, from my husband/youth minister POV, was to be able to watch my wife/youth coach doing what she loves to do and showing the young ladies in our group that they are important and people care about them.

So, it has been a full week. But its been a great week of ministry and somehow I don't feel too drained.

I just have to share this: one of the young ladies called her parents to ask if she could stay for dinner. Well, they were not home so she left a message. This is her message (as close to verbatim as I can remember) "Mom and dad this is ________. I'm over at Mike and Amy's house and they invited us to stay for dinner. I would like to stay. If that is okay don't call me back."

gotta love high schoolers

Thursday, December 07, 2006

last elders meeting of 2006

tonight is the last one of the year. It should be a good one :) Nothing too big on the radar, except for the building expansion program. So I bet that will be the bulk of the meeting.

Its kinda sad that 2006 is almost over. This year has been such a roller coaster for me. Last year, at this time, I was working at Target and a dentist office. I had no idea where I would be ministering or when I would be back in ministry. Now, here I am and I'm ready for 2007.

the first "snow"

yep, that's all it was.

But it is really cold. And my boys loved it. The dogs were not too fond of it.

Funny story: My oldest, Nathan, has been really excited to see a snowplow. I don't know why or what brought the idea on, but he is. So today when he saw the snow, he kept talking about how the snowplow would come and push our snow off the deck into the bushes. We had to try to explain to him that it wasn't going to come into our yard and that there had to be more snow on the ground. He was okay with it. Then on my way to work, I saw it. A snowplow coming down the highway. It was clearing off the sides of the roads and dropping salt to keep anything from freezing (only going to be in the 20's today). So I had to call and tell Nathan that there was a snowplow.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thru the Bible in a year...

and The Bible in 90 days and ...

Why are we as American Christians so overwhelmed with a desire to read through the Bible in a certain amount of time?

Is it ...
so we can say "I've read through the whole Bible"
so we can look smart and "holy"
so we can get a better understanding of the whole scope of Scripture
a fad
to avoid really digging in
a way to study along with more indepth study

I have never felt a strong desire to strive to read through the whole Bible in a year. Then when I saw the "not so" new Bible in 90 days, my immediate reaction was that is not for me. I'm not against people reading the Bible from cover to cover. It is good to have that knowledge. My fear is that those who pursue this path will get a lot of knowledge about Scripture without really ever applying any of it. It is a lot like Bible Bowl (to me). I did a few years of Bible Bowl in high school and gained a lot of knowledge (some of which is rather helpful when I'm looking for a certain passage). But I never put any of it to practice. I never tried to apply any of the Scripture. It was not until years later that I started "using" (other than for points on tests and in games) the Scripture.

What do you think? Have you ever read through the Bible in a year? Any positive or negative experience with this type of reading plan?

Then as a minister, I have another set of questions. Is it something that would be useful to encourage a student to try? Does it just promote head knowledge and not enough life change? Does it promote being "smarter" than someone else in Sunday School? Will it benefit my students? Will it just be one more thing to do between homework, dinner and practice?

Cookies and Young Ladies

Yesterday was a great day :) Well, it was a full day. Tuesdays are my off day, when there is a regular week. We decided to go shopping for some Christmas presents and other essentials like more diapers and wipes for the boys. But we had to be back at our house by 2:30 or so. This made for a short day of shopping, seeing as it was an hour drive one way. (Plus we had to eat lunch during this time, too) So, shopping was good - didn't find everything, but got a good bit. (and we're thinking about doing something a little different this year with presents anyway.)

Back to why we had to be back home at 2:30. We had some of the girls from the church coming over to make cookies. My wife had invited them over after school for a few hours to make some cookies and then said cookies will be delivered later this week (tomorrow, I think). One of the girls had come over earlier and helped pick out 6 different cookie "type" recipes. When all was said and done, we had 12 girls and one other youth coach in our kitchen making various cookie items. My goal/job for the afternoon was to watch our two boys and the other two boys so that the women would not have to worry about them. In the end, one boy was sent to his grandma's, one fell asleep and the other two ended up playing in the kitchen. :) So I gradually ended up in the kitchen helping to make the cookies.

It was a really good afternoon. The two adults got to interact with the girls outside of "class" and build some relationships. Even though there is only one high school in this county and all the girls go to the same school, they do not all hang out together. So, it was a chance to have more mixing of the "groups" (so to speak). Plus, for me as the youth minister, I got to interact with the girls outside of class in a group setting. I don't get to really build relationships with the females of the group outside of class (and that is fine with me), but I think it is good to build relationships. The women youth coaches are the ones who will be able to really minister to these young ladies, which is why I tried to stay out of the kitchen.

A few other thoughts on yesterday:
1. From what I heard, I missed a lot of funny stuff.

2. I got to interact with a few of the students that haven't always liked me in the past. And things were good. (not that I think everyone needs to like me) But I wanted to have some positive interaction, so they know I'm not out to get them.

3. My wife and I were cleaning up afterward for about 2 1/2 hours. (the joys of ministry)

4. I think I'm going to try this with the guys next week :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

strong personality

Some people have strong personalities. Am I one of them - I think in some cases I am, but most people would tell you I am not.

Well, I had an interaction with someone on Sunday before Sunday School. It started as a quick conversation when this person returned a key that was borrowed. I asked a simple question about someone and commented that I had not met this person. Which was followed by a "he's been coming for 4 weeks" connected with a "you should have already met him and no one in the congregation has noticed he's been here either" look. To which my response was "I haven't even been in the service for a month with me being in kids worship each week and being out of town for one week." I haven't even been able to see all the youth that are in service, but not SS. To which I don't like - had way too much of this at my old church.

This person went on to say things like "this church is way too inward focused" "the youth need to go to _____________ (insert various parachurch events) and then they'll be on fire for God and will start to make a difference in their world." "No one ever talks to the youth about _____________ (insert various topic) at this church, but at this event we do and the youth just soak it up." These along with other statements about how this church doesn't do "enough" or do it the "right way"

I felt a little frustrated because this person doesn't know everything about what goes on at church. Some of the things brought up have been talked about since I've gotten here. But they aren't topics that work well from the pulpit, so not everyone hears. This person has also never volunteered to help with the youth and/or make suggestions about the ministry. The concern seems to be to just tell me what's wrong and not offering any help. I did ask this person to help with the kids worship that we started last month and the answer I got was "no", not now. Which is fine, but it just frustrates me.

I want to end with this: I am not mad at this person. I respect their desire for the best for people and ministry. I am more frustrated with the manner in which people present their opinions and thoughts.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

technology and my church

I'm sitting here at church trying to get some DVD players hooked up to our already in place tvs. Well, just one problem: the tvs are from the 80's and do not have any really viable input access for anything other than an antenna. So we are trying to catch up with technology only to have to deal with trying to connect the old to the new. If only we could get new tvs too. Anyway, I should probably get back to trying to figure this out before tomorrow.

Not how I wanted to spend my Sat. afternoon. Nor did I think it would take this long to do :)

Friday, December 01, 2006

back into the 21st century

Yesterday I made a call to the phone company. Since our move up here to IL, we have not had a home phone. We have been using our cell phones for everything. We have decided we could manage this for a while, except for one minor detail. We want to have internet at our house and would like to have a higher speed than dial-up. Therefore we have to have a phone line to do it. (I know you might disagree with this, but remember I live in a small town and we just barely have dsl :)) Even getting cable and a cable hook up is not an option. So, now we wait.

I should have made this call before the NYWC and then could have had it set up shortly after we got back. But, I didn't. So now we have to wait until next Wed. to get a home phone set up. But the real wait is in the dsl set up, that wouldn't happen until the 18th. I'm pretty sure we can get by until then. I am excited about being able to blog from home again. Plus post more pics and faster.

thanks Verizon for making my dreams come true :)

seek Jesus

This seems to be a theme for me this week. (not in a "wow, look how cool I am and how holy I am" way)

Wed. I spoke at the Christian club at school and talked about seeking Jesus. Wed. night we had a 7:11 (worship/Bible study) and I talked about seeking Jesus. Both of these were from Zeph. 2.3

This got me thinking about how I don't seek Jesus as much as I seek a good lesson or good thought to share. I would have to say I have been doing a lot more seeking over the past few months and that my relationship with Jesus is much closer than it has been for a while (not saying I am at all great or anything). I am always needing a reminder to tend my soul and seek Jesus for myself, not for others.

Well, today as I was looking at some curriculum for an upcoming Kids Worship (3-6 grade) the topic is "disciples seek Jesus". Again this concept keeps creeping up into my day. And I am glad. I needed a little reminder today.

Keep seeking Jesus...for yourself.