Friday, December 28, 2007

Winter Classic 2008



So I know many of you Illinois people will be watching the Rose Bowl at about 4pm Central Standard Time. I promise to watch it along with you, and even be excited for the team from U of I. On one condition: Start your parties at noon.

Because at 12 noon (CST) on January 1st, a moment in history occurs. The first US outdoor NHL game will be played!!!! You ALL can watch as the Buffalo Sabres take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, on NBC.

In case you need more encouragement, here are a few reasons to watch:

1. See NHL greats like Sidney Crosby and Ryan Miller pushed to their physical limits. The temperature will most likely be in the 30's, with snow showers and gusty winds possible. The sun might even play a role, as shadows will mess with goalies minds, and we may even see players using visor shades.

2. See the game played from new vantage points. Utilizing the cameras that are already set up for the Buffalo Bills games, will provide new abilities to stay with the action, and see it like never before!

3. If you stayed up really late to watch the ball drop, you'll probably just be getting out of bed around 10-11am. What better way to start the day than watching Hockey?

4. The Red Wings don't play that day...so really...what else have you got to do?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

PARENTS...BE PARENTS!!! (rated PG, because I say the word "sex")

Parents...please talk to your children about sex!!! Do NOT leave it up to others to do this very important element of parenting. No matter how "unqualified" you may think you are....the fact that you have children to talk about it to shows that you at least have a rudimentary understanding of the process! Public education, culture, television, church....these can all help or hurt the process...but none of these should ever be substituted or relied on for being your child's primary source of understanding.

Some keys for approaching:

1. A blanket approach may not work. Each child has a different level of understanding, and different questions/issues they may have. A "group" or "family" discussion can be helpful, but make sure you also have personal time with each child.

2. Don't avoid "dirty" words. Even if you get red in the face, blunt honesty with your child lets them know this is a topic you're willing to love them enough to approach. This doesn't mean certain "slang" terms...but the everyday ones that we try and make up nicer words for.

3. Do it more than once! Your children are new people every day! Don't assume that a 12 year old agreeing with you will end up being a 15 year old with no questions.

4. YOU know your children better than any 10 step system, or 3 category process of "how to speak to your children about important issues". Be honest, show them your heart, and share with them God's design for a loving relationship.

5. PRAY AS OFTEN AS YOU LOVE YOUR CHILD. They face a world of temptations on a regular basis...we believe in prayer, right? Let's do it then.

This is not an exhaustive, or an experts list. Just a 26 year old parent of 2 baby girls....who loves teenagers, and their families, and realizes that far too many people will be watching to see what Nickelodeon can teach their children for them about sex.

For the record, I do not think they should be stealing this role from the millions of parents who probably won't even realize it's been stolen.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Some Symbolism...


We were taking communion last night, and I had gum in my mouth. I didn't feel bad about it though, because I love gum, and almost always have some in my mouth. It's just the matter of getting through communion without anyone else knowing you're not only chewing the elements, but some minty fresh gum as well.

I've gotten better and better at this. Allow the bread and the wine (grape juice) to just slide right past, as I tuck the gum into the corner of my mouth. It almost doesn't affect my gum chewing at all. At least, as far as anyone else can see.

Truth is...it really does affect my gum chewing. No matter how much I try to not let the square of bread, or cup of wine (again...grape juice) affect my mouth, they do. The residue of the eating/drinking experience. The tiny grains of bread, or leftover taste of grape.

The gum never quite tastes the same as it did before. Almost sometimes to the point where I'd like to spit it out. But did I mention how much I love gum?

So I just keep chewing. My bland, communion filled gum.
Maybe someday I'll spit it out. Or just find a brand new piece.

Or maybe...I should get rid of the gum altogether. Allowing myself to focus 100% on the taste and texture of the Eucharist. Could that be better than gum?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The reason for the season....?

I remember growing up, as screwed up as my family became eventually, there was one thing I value about our collective Christmas celebration. All the aunts and uncles, and cousins, and brothers and sisters, and grandparents would gather around the basement at my grandparents house. Grandpa would light the "Christmas candle", and someone would read the story from scripture before any presents could be opened.

The candle had been purchased in Israel, from what I can remember. In a tribute to that tradition...we have a carved wooden candle-holder from Israel in our living room. I look forward to incorporating it into Addison's future memories of the Holidays.

As a kid? Hated it. It was stupid, and boring, and the presents were all right there in front of us.

As a parent/adult? Love it. A method that helps us to remember what life is about, and show a little self-restraint/discipline. Not just this day, this paper-ripping food-shoveling fest. But this season, and this life. The waiting on....arrival of....life with....crucifixion....and resurrection...and promise of a return to completion....Christ. To view that as a gift, and not something we could ever earn.


As you enjoy this video X-mas card from the Wings'....think of a tradition your family had...not the psychotic ones, but the ones that looking back on....you see the value in. Okay, feel free to list a crazy one too...

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Festivus Miracle...

So I've posted this on youtube and Facebook....but had hesitated to post it here, because I've already posted twice this week. But in any case....here it is...


While doing the dishes....I spotted this miraculous sign that God has blessed our household.

Or....well...a bird has really good aim and artistic ability?

Or...hmm...just random I suppose. :) But entertaining. hehe

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Intended Comments on method-ism (more discipline)...


So I got off on a musical tangent with my last post. Sorry.

I wanted to give kudos to the topic of discipline and method-ism. In reading "The Year of Living Biblically" by A.J. Jacobs, it's been both humorous, and thought-provoking. Some of the Jewish orthodox "laws" that are still followed my mainly devout believers, seem to have no purpose other than to make you follow a rule. Many of them, after study and/or prayer, you can find a purpose...but some of them are in a class of their own. It seems that discipline was, in and of itself, something God wanted His people to work on.

Which brought up a good point in my own life. There aren't many areas where I "discipline" myself. Growing up, as a teenager, this was a different story completely (which both in high school and college years, this structure in my life was a very good thing). But today, things have changed.

I don't like the taste of alcohol. I don't like the taste or smell of most tobacco products, and the smells I do enjoy are still nixed because of the fact that it's a HUGE health concern. Sexually, I'm a faithful married man....and I like the way that works. I'm a youth pastor, so I naturally spend a lot of my time studying scripture, and talking with others about God.

So there you have many of the "large" issues, or at least...the issues that were always taught to me were major: Don't drink, don't smoke, and don't have sex before you're married. These have all been conquered. Leaving me a vacuum of discipline, and no personal habit by which to incorporate new disciplines.

Are there still areas I struggle in? Yeah. I don't eat healthy. I'm lazy at home. Our over-sexed culture still gets my attention. I speed. I get angry at strangers who slow my life down. These are all areas my self-discipline is/will be working on.

But what about a discipline just for the sake of getting better at having self-control? Something that just reminds me to control myself on a regular basis. Something I could do regularly that would cause me to sacrifice? Not because if I mess up, it means I'm going to He*%...but just because doing it helps me become a more disciplined person.

Maybe something like: Give up one meal a week. Voluntarily sit on the floor if there's a chance anyone will have to. Always sing quieter than the person next to you in church. Drive the speed limit. Or maybe something that doesn't really even have "moral" value, like: Never drink Pepsi products on the weekend. Never use capital letters on thursdays. Never wear a hat before 6pm. etc...

Any suggestions/things you've changed yourself for a reason like this?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Legalism and Method-ism...


In a recent newsletter from the Free Methodist Historical Society, writer Howard A. Snyder gave his thoughts on the most recent General Conference from this past summer. After going over a few of what he saw as major things that happened (the switch from 4 bishops to 3), and then giving his obvious opinion on the music: "We have now fully adopted a liturgy based on the rock concert."

He later gives his hopes for worship at the 2011 General Conference, which he calls "a blend of styles". But in describing the service, he says "combining old favorites with new songs, classic Wesley Hymns, and other great music from the long history of the church. Free Methodism means freedom of the Spirit in worship, and enabling "everyone to hear the gospel in their own sound."

He's clearly advocating on behalf of those of us who would like more hip-hop infused into our daily worship. He's a little offended that there were no turn-tables used, and hopefully we'll get back on track by 2011. (or maybe his idea of "blended worship" simply means he wanted more songs that he liked)

We worship as a community. The aspect of worship we're speaking of is singing. Honestly, and with our souls vulnerable to His Spirit, and to each other. This is possible whether I'm singing "Be Thou My Vision" to an organ, or "The Happy Song" through amps and distortion...although in either case it will not be our effort but Gods' that makes this possible.

As someone in youth ministry, I see teens (and more adults than you might think) evaluating services and churches based on style of music. Giving up any commitment to discovering relationships and family and God...until they are musically appeased.

As much as I love music...and will (Lord willing) continue to contribute musically in any way that doesn't make people cringe...I think there's something to say for the time when churches (including the Free Methodist Church) didn't allow music in their services. Maybe it wasn't because they thought music was evil...but maybe some of them realized the issues/divisions/etc. that would occur once that can was opened, distracting us from other key practices in the life of the Church.

But then again, ever since it was opened...new and beautiful aspects of worshiping have continued to develop. As art/music/expression has grown and matured...I like to imagine God is excited about our discovering Him through new streams.

I think I've rambled all over the place. I guess what I'm sayin' is nothing new or groundbreaking. Like I've said in the past, sometimes a dead horse deserves a new beating. So there it is. God seeks worshipers who worship in Spirit and in Truth.

The more important parts of his hopes for 2011 are encouraging. He hopes we will celebrate many more ministries to the poor. That we would extend our witness materially by showing we care for God's good earth (recycling, etc). That we would have a renewed emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit. That we would have a greater understanding of our history, and how it can impact our future/current efforts towards the Kingdom.

He also speaks briefly on a hope that we will rediscover a trend towards discipline: "After a half-century long reaction against Legalism...it is no longer our problem. It has been replaced by consumerism and me-first individualism."

Although it's ironic that he'd say that after his comments on his preference for worship styles, and although I don't agree that legalism is no longer a problem...I do believe he has a good point. There are benefits to recognizing the "methods" once used by our founding souls, and although many of them could be viewed as "legalism"...they can also be positive ways of connecting with a disciplined walk.

Anyways....that's a lot for now....I'm sure I'll post again sometime soon. Have a great 3rd week of Advent!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Vegas in a nutshell....



Whew...we're back. We celebrated 5 years filled with incredible things...with 5 days of incredible things. (even the unplanned 5th day that was just nice cause we were together...that's married life) Here's a QUICK synopsis of our trip!!!



Day one - Fly out early in the morning, land in Vegas around 9:30am. Visited The Venetian, walked the streets of Venice, had dinner at MGM Grand at Wolfgang Puck's, dessert at some funky Italian cafe, and saw David Copperfield!

Day two - Slept in/got up early to read. Went to the streets of Paris for brunch, an INCREDIBLE buffet from 5 different provinces of France...then over the New York for some fun. Next we went to the Excalibur for a dinner show "Tournament of Kings"....and walked through Planet Hollywood/Miracle Mile Shops and saw the Bellagio light show on the way back to our hotel, Treasure Island.

Day three - Slept in/got up early to read. GIANT breakfast buffet at our hotel. A little more relaxed today, cause our feet were dying after yesterday. Went to "Fashion Show" - mall with tons of stores, and a regular fashion show every hour that comes up out of the floor. A little rainy today. Went back to the Venetian for a Gondola ride, some gelato and some street shows. Then over to the Wynn to see Spamalot...HILLARIOUS! Sarah even smiled once or twice.


Day four - Slept in a bit...checked out, and headed over to the Bellagio for an incredible breakfast, and some neat Christmas decor. Then walked over to the Miracle Mile Shops until returning to our hotel for the airport shuttle. Feet hurting, missing our daughter, and tired....our flight was cancelled because of weather. We spent the night at a Hampton Inn near the airport. (pretty nice place!)


Day five - Weren't sure if we could even get home today. Lived at the airport a few hours, reading/shopping/relaxing (as much as you can at an airport with hundreds of slot machines dinging) until finally able to fly home!!! Slept in our own beds after holding Addie while she slept for a bit.

Here's one last image....it's called "Sin City"...so I figured I should sin at least once. Exhibit A: me coveting someone else's million dollars.

UPDATE: God has forgiven me.

A few tips we learned:
- Never accept advertisements on the street. :)
- If you're eating at any of the major hotels (Paris, Venetian, Bellagio, MGM, etc), just go the buffet!! Same prices, and incredible food, and as much as you want!!
- Sometimes it rains in the desert.
- Buy the all-day pass on the Deuce to get around.
- Even if you think things are close, be prepared to walk 10 miles to get there.
- SMILE MORE - the city was filled with men and women who had not smiled much in their lives. They had permanent frowns. Start working on your happy old person face today!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

infinite reruns....?


Hey all...not a huge post here. But if you've been curious about the Writers' Strike that's been going on for the past 4 weeks (which is why many shows have begun showing reruns, and shortened seasons) here are a few resources for you to check out.

Warning: No language filters, and you may find some offensive words. But overall, it helps explain the issue a bit more than most of us have heard.

THE YOUTUBE VIDEO - The one that explains (in under 4 minutes) exactly why there's an issue.

United Hollywood - A blog written by some leaders in the strike.

A You-Tube Video by cast/writers of "The Office"

So anywhoo...let's hope they get some stuff figured out before LOST comes back in February. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

50th Post!

Congrats friends, it's my official 50th post (on this website)!

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving with friends and family....relax, watch some football, eat some pie, read a fiction book...drink some coffee.

Those are my plans....and I've begun the day watching Elmo with my daughter, because I woke her up when I got up to use the restroom. (don't drink 3 glasses of water just prior to going to bed) Oh man....she LOVES Elmo. Although I think I'm getting her sufficiently hooked on "Yo, Gabba Gabba" also!

Check out the video evidence...as she gets out her wiggles... video

Been putting together our Conference Youth Website this week, and planning for a Senior High retreat in January....pretty stoked to be involved in all of it!

Post-thanksgiving means preparation for Christmas! In advent of Advent this week...we'll be putting a few lights up outside, a few wreaths around the house, etc. We're not getting a tree this year, but a friend Ashley has hooked us up with a $5 ex-display tree from JC Penney's. 7.5 foot tall, Pre-lit and pre-decorated, and pre-assembled. And did I mention $5? Cause if I'm going to sacrifice my integrity with a fake "tree"...it'd better be cheap and easy. :)

Anyways...have a great Thanksgiving...and we'll see you on the other side!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

...an option. ( a really good one)


So...I don't know how to get around the patterns we're already in. And you'll probably enjoy reading this about as much as I enjoy writing it.

But we all can admit more money is being spent in the next month or two on stuff that we don't really need, and oftentimes will just end up throwing away eventually anyways.

Most of us have heard of these options by now. Organizations that allow you to give a gift to someone overseas in the name of someone here. Some chickens to provide eggs for food, a pig or goat or cow, some plants or trees, or beans or rice, or even housing, education materials, etc. The list is really long.

But it's probably too late this year eh? The Christmas lists have already been written. Your spouse is the one in charge of gift-giving usually. Too many people you know have the love-language of "gift-giving/receiving". People have already bought you a gift. It's just how it's done. (These are all my own excuses)

But some things remain, and money is still in our pockets. If you're not ready for a "no-gift" Christmas just yet...here are some ways to shave off costs, and do a good thing with the money you save:

1. Handwrite/type Christmas notes instead of cards. Usually you can say more, and make it more personal anyways. Even if people tape them on their fridge, we can all agree we throw them away eventually.

2. Wrap with old newspaper. Sure, snowflakes are cute...but I think we can sacrifice some cuteness for something this important, right?

3. Candy-schmandy. Unless it's REALLY good stuff most of the Christmas candy out there is just a nickel's worth of toothache for a $5 receipt. Save your money...we all eat too much this season anyways.

4. For the gifts you haven't bought yet...give used! A great book you've read, a movie you've watched and bought for some reason, some entertaining magazines you've enjoyed, a program or game you can stand to part with. A decorative touch that sits in storage somewhere. We all have great stuff that is just collecting dust somewhere. Let's all agree not to get offended if the gift we get doesn't still have shrink-wrap....k?

5. Buy fair-trade and/or home-made. Find out the sources of the gifts/cards you're sending/giving. Support justice, creativity, and other hippy-stuff that really is less hippy and more Jesus-ish.


For real though....we have brothers and sisters who will spend this holiday season watching with hungry eyes as so many of us stuff ourselves, and throw huge amounts of money down the drain. Human life, and the quality of living is so much more important than the "things" that will just make us smile. And truth is...knowing these good things are being done, offers us the same smile, with a deeper foundation. Maybe click one of the links above, and check it out?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

a few practical updates...


In case anyone was wondering, YES, you can get a $10 ticket for parking the wrong direction on the street right in front of your own house. Even if your car takes up the same exact space on the road. I should have remembered this from the Illinois "Rules of the Road" But there's even more irony to this story:

On the same day that I found this ticket on my car, I got a call from the Mayor's office. Let me give you some background info. Quite a while ago, I'd read a blog from the Mayor's website asking for more citizens to be willing to step up into volunteer roles in leading the community. At the time, I realized hey, I'm a homeowner! I want to be a part of this community long-term, and it would make sense for me to set an example to other citizen's by volunteering some time. I sent him a message to let me know when an opening occurred on a council I could serve on.

So...the same day I received my parking violation, I got a call from the Mayor's office, asking if I'd be interested in serving on the City's "Traffic and Parking Commission". I confessed to my recent violation, and she sounded like they'd still consider me. :) I'll keep you updated as I hear back!

In other news...I attended my annual Redwings' Game last night and we had a BLAST! I was sportin' my new Brett Lebda jersey, signifying that YES, I am a REAL fan, and not just a bandwagon Yzerman hugger. But the Wings' lost. (and someone spilled beer down my back) That is a bit frustrating. Every time I've seen them play in Chicago, they've lost. So I figured, a game in Saint Louis...cake-walk, right? But they had a bad night. Ah well...someday I'll witness a victory first-hand, and for now, the beer washes out.

One more update: WE GOT SOMETHING FROM WHEEL OF FORTUNE!! No, not any money, but we got our $1,000 voucher for VEGAS.COM . We've made plans to go to Vegas for our 5 year anniversary! We're going at the end of this month....staying at Treasure Island , and going to see David Copperfield (Sarah's pick, unless it's canceled because of all charges and suits against him), Tournament of Kings (our pick), and Spamalot (my pick). So yeah...it'll be a busy 4 days....but we're stoked!

That's it for now....a lot more to say, but plenty of time to say it....God Bless YOU this week!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

...see you Sunday?

I just recently read the book "Starving Jesus", because I signed up to help promote it in order to get a free copy. Here's a few thoughts. (notice the capitalization of the letter "C")

A large part of the book beats a dead horse over and over and over and over again. Basically, these guys have become upset with the Church, and everything they don't like about it. But there is a section here and there that's worth reading, enough to make the book worth a read. Basically a call to do more than sit in a pew, and get into each others' lives.

Right towards the beginning, one of the authors decides to start going to church again, even though he realizes not much that's going on in the church feeds him. Why? Because he wants to be a part of the solution. He realizes Church is not about how I liked the music, or how I liked the sermon, or how things looked, or how ______ treated me.

I can understand these thoughts, because many of the young adults I've known have similar feelings. They hear a Church that talks a lot about worship, love, grace, and serving the poor. But they see a Church that is focused on music style, selfish, that makes judgements about other people (always with good intentions), and that spends more money on furniture polish than they do feeding the hungry. If you're looking for a church that spends more on feeding the hungry than furniture polish....check us out!

One of the messages of the book is...stop analyzing "how" to do Church...and go DO SOMETHING that Jesus talked about as the body. Serve one another. Serve without expecting in return. Share life with each other more than a simple "how are you this morning?" on Sunday.

Basically, if you enjoy Church...this book may rub you wrong. But maybe that's good once in a while. Yeah, it beats a dead horse....but sometimes a dead horse deserves a good beating.

But if you or someone you know really has a tough time getting out of bed Sunday mornings because they're sick of how they've experienced Church so far...or just because sleeping in is a whole lot more exciting than the Church they've known....check this book out. You may be stirred....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Golden Freak-Out....


Wow. I know I've posted a lot this week, but I really gotta say something. Now, I don't mean to offend anyone who has sent me a well-intentioned e-mail recently, warning me of "The Golden Compass". But after about 10 of them, and seeing this pop up all over the internet, I wanted to say something.

Stop freaking out.

Yes, the author is a self-proclaimed atheist. Yes, this fantasy series involves an illustration of children "killing god", or "combating the oppressive forces of a senile God". But to think we need to "take a stand" against this horrible film that will somehow infect the minds and souls of our children like an atheistic virus if we watch the movie or buy the books seems to be a bit over the top.

The link that most often comes with the warning is to a website called SNOPES.com . I still highly recommend this website, it's great for checking all the myths and rumors your grandparents forward to you. But even in Snopes' article, the final paragraph reminds us this may in fact be a powerful tool we can use to discuss organized religion, and the difference between what it has done in the past, and the Heart of God, both with young adults and possibly even with children. Why is it that so many people would rather not be involved in organized religion? That is an important question for us to be discussing.

Ultimately, as with ANY movie with challenging themes (meaning any good movie)...it should be chewed on together, and discussed. I believe to watch a good movie, and never reflect on it again means it must not have been a good movie, or you must not be a good movie-watcher. This one is no different.

If you choose not to go to it...that's fine. If you want to inform other people that this movie may bring up difficult questions....good. If you're trying to fuel a mass hysteria that makes us look like a mindless horde avoiding a children's movie because we're afraid of our children asking questions....stop. The world is watching.

Looking over my post...I didn't know how to translate it into a more loving statement. So know that I love each of ya'....sometimes my love is blunt. :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The God of Intimacy and Action....


Enjoying this book so far. Just finished section one, written by Campolo. It's clear that he has a few areas he's pushing personally, but ultimately his heart seems genuine. It's a reminder that a heart that longs for God, usually shapes a body that is given life by his heart. Both on an individual and a communal level. Unfortunately, the Church seems a bit crippled compared to the body God's heart should be giving life to...

Really looking forward to section 2, written by Mary Darling of Spring Arbor University. It's about Fueling Intimacy, and she goes into describing and giving examples/words about Christian mysticism, etc...which John Wesley was very much involved in (the end of section one has a few pages on John Wesley and Methodism, and highlights moments where the church really did seem to be living from God's heart). Section one does a good thing, in reminding the reader that we do not seek a mystical encounter/relationship with God in order to "feel good", or that we can claim anything special about ourselves. We seek God for the same reason, and in the same heart as Jesus sought God. That we might be a part of His original design for creation, and we may be connected in what will be the "reign and rule" of God...both now, and forever.

Beyond all that mumbo-jumbo of christian-speak...presupposing that you're one of many who need something beyond regular church attendance, and a potluck here and there...this is a good book to check out.

As a youth pastor, I've been to many "conferences" and "concerts", etc. I've ridden the roller-coaster of a spirituality based on emotion. I believe God can and does use those experiences. I also know that I'm still hungry. Hungry for something not based on how well service went Sunday. Or Wednesday. Or Sunday Night. Or camp. Etc. Something not based on how the music was. Not based on how the preacher met my needs. Not based on who complimented my witness. Not based on how many times I've prayed "well". Not based on how many teenagers I've gotten to say a sinners' prayer.

I'm hungry for God, but I'm learning that too often I stop there. I focus on how hungry I am for Him, or an experience of Him. God is not hiding. God is not "withholding" Himself or His Spirit. God is here...now. God offers me a chance to love Him (others). To suffer with Him (others). To serve Him (others). To give to Him(others). To receive His Spirit (and be a "conduit" to others). To live towards His Kingdom on a daily basis (with others). To join in with a creation that is already worshiping Him, in living towards being restored.

But doing this....freaks me out a bit. What will I give up? Will I be embarrassed? Who will listen? Who will join me?

A great reminder came on page 38, "You will not ask yourself if you are noble enough to embrace these social "rejects." Instead, seeing Christ, the King of Heaven, waiting to be loved in them, you will ask yourself, "Am I worthy to be their servants?" "

So on the other hand...I did say I was hungry...one bite at at time....

Anywhooo...if you're bored...read it. :)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

frustrated, and update...

So if u've breathed in the past year, you've noticed the ridiculous amount of airtime given to the candidates of both parties for the 2008 election. I've accidentally tuned in to a couple of their billion debates, and have to say it's a struggle.

It's a struggle to try and take them seriously. Imagine the billions of dollars spent planning events, running events and campaigns, covering all of these things, promoting in every media realm possible, and tearing each other apart politically....and none of them seem to be batting an eye. But you ask them publicly what their opinion is on the poor and disenfranchised, they'll tell you about their amazing plan to somehow make America care for them.

How about starting by using these millions of wasted dollars to kick off your amazing plan? How about America finds a new way to "do" all of this? Because this is really just ludicrous. Not that I have an incredible idea.....I just don't think it should cost this much for us to find a few candidates to vote between. Meanwhile the society they will eventually lead is being milked of valuable resources to help serve the poor everyone seems to enjoy claiming as important to their campaign.


But you know what helps? Moments like this...much more entertaining, and FREE...: video

Unfortunately, loving my daughter also makes me care just a little more about the future of this city, this state, this society, and this government... and makes me wish we had a better way to care for our future then going into debt to figure out who will lead us.

But this is where the plank in our own eye begins to twinge with pain just a bit more. Church, how much money/resources does American "christianity" spend each year on conventions, concerts, and propaganda that really is more political/religion minded than it is caring for the poor or communicating the heart of God? I know a lot of good is being accomplished through so many of them....but do we really need to spend millions on getting the right graphics/sound/lighting? Is that really worth getting a few teens to say the words "Jesus come into my heart"? Lord help us to represent right spending....and not spending...in hopes that maybe we can influence the world even today. Otherwise we're all just spinning in circles....which might be entertaining...but we're getting nowhere.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

spouses rock.

Sarah and I just returned from our Free Methodist', Gateway Conference, Pastors/Spouses Retreat in Saint Louis. Whew..long title. We had a great time, stayed at the Drury Inn, had a riverboat dinner, and a great worship service saturday morning. Here are a few pictures of our adventure...first, we see me helping Lewis and Clark figure out which direction to go...

...and then, we had a great evening on the riverboat, eating and hearing classic banjo/piano music on a 1960's riverboat. We slept in a bit, got up for a nice breakfast, and a great worship service with most of the pastors from the conference and their spouses. Several shared their stories, and it is definitely evident that God is using this conference in great ways, and we are very excited about being involved in a church (and denomination) that is so genuinely seeking God. More about that another time, I'm sure.

Once our official "duties" were done, we stayed in Saint Louis a bit to enjoy the City Museum (not very education, but an incredibly HUGE jungle-gym basically). Where I saw the world's largest pair of underwear...

I also climbed up to ride the "MONSTER SLIDE", which my pregnant wife didn't want to subject Sophie to....so it was me amidst all the elementary kids...as well as climbing to the very top of the "Monstrocity", where they've welded pretty much TONS of junk together with a small airplane fuselage at the pinnacle...

She let me play....and I was so thankful that I took her shopping at the Historic Union Station afterwards.

We saw some cool stuff, some fancy people, some fudge being made, bought a few pieces of extravagant chocolate, and left as the Saint Louis Blues fans were arriving en mass for that evenings' game. It was difficult to leave, knowing I could stay and watch an NHL game for like $20. But we were missin' Addison, and just HAD to make it home in time to watch Michigan whomp on Illinois in football. hehe.

We had a great time, and want to thank our Church Family, and our family in Decatur, who enabled us to take the couple days to remind ourselves that God demands we serve our marriage before we serve our church. :) Love u all....

Monday, October 15, 2007

In combat of eros...

As a father of 2 girls...this is something that has caught my attention more than it ever has in the past.

As a young boy, girls had cooties. As an awkward pimply pre-teenage boy, girls were unattainable. As a teenage male, females were here to look good for the rest of us, using their looks to tempt or establish control. As a committed married man, this scantily clad woman of culture knocks on the door from so many different angles (movies, music, television, advertising of every nature) that men must be proactive in remaining faithful. But even as difficult as all of that gets...it's a struggle I'm familiar with. It's an issue that I and other men have grown up with, and found ways to honor God and our families by confronting/addressing.

But this other side of the issue, it scares me. The fact that my daughter will grow up on the opposite side of the fence. She will BE the little girl/teenage girl/woman that society will send millions of messages to. She is the little girl that we will love, and remind how incredibly beautiful and loved she is from even this age; in hopes that somehow, no matter her appearance or personality...will be free to be herself in Christ....beautifully.





I don't know much about this Dove Campaign ....but I do know that it has something good in it. Even if it could be viewed as just another way to sell a product....I think I like that it seems to be contributing to society. If you have a little boy...please begin to teach him how to love my daughter. Even if it doesn't end up being mine. Dang. I'm gettin' all sentimental parent-ish. I'm done for now. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

self-awareness...

So here is just how cute it can be when a 14 month old realizes the girl she sees on the screen of my phone is herself being recorded....

video


Haven't heard anything from Wheel of Fortune yet...sometime between now and January 17th we'll get our prizes. For now....we look at dishwashers, and do our research, and pay our bills. :)

Meanwhile, life is good. Redwings are doing well. Lovin' these teenagers and their families, and God is revealing new aspects of His heart. Reading some really good stuff (studies in Galatians, Random Design, and a couple others), and listening to some great words from different podcasts lately (Imago Dei, ONU chapels, NTS chapels, etc.). So many great free ways to connect with God.

Fall is great. Any day I can wear a hoodie and flops together is a good day. :)

Monday, October 08, 2007

...broken couches


(from my notes for Sunday's message)
DOMESTICATE:
2. to tame
5. to take (something foreign, unfamiliar, etc.) for one's own use or purposes; adopt.
6. to make more ordinary, familiar, acceptable, or the like


My prayer/goal/etc. is not for a domesticated youth ministry/church/view of God. It is tempting sometimes, though. If we had free pizza, giveaways, big bands, and new games every week…we could grow like crazy. Sing some really catchy rock songs with Jesus in them, buy brand new cushy couches and start a snack shop with wireless internet…..shoot. We’d have teens coming out of our ears. We may have some of these elements over the years, but these will not be our focus.

10 years from now, we may still have one or two of the couches that are downstairs right now. We might still be excited about somebody actually bringing a snack to Sunday School, and I’ll bring the juice. We may have around the same number of teenagers as we have right now. Who knows what the seasons/years of ministry will bring us here? But one thing we do know…God will be the center. God will have control. God will be transforming lives, just as he is right now in our church family.

So what does that look like? In our youth ministry? In our personal lives? In Moundford Free Methodist? In the CHURCH?

What does a FREE, DANGEROUS, INCREDIBLE, UNTAMED, WILD God look like?

1 Kings 18:30-39 – READ FROM NRSV

God CONSUMED the altar that was a place set aside for His presence. Earlier in this chapter it would seem the conditions were perfect….the prophets of Ba’al were doing everything they knew to do in ceremony. Someone watching from the outside might think they had a very successful “ministry”. But nothing happened. But here, even when the conditions were imperfect, being completely drenched with water, because Elijah called on the one true God Himself, genuinely expecting God to show up….He did.

We may have broken couches in our youth ministry. We may have lives where things go wrong all the time. We may make mistakes on a Sunday or Wednesday that remind us that even those on stage are human. We may have messed up as God’s people through the years. There may be a lot of water on the altar…

But Church….if we call upon God…this wild and untamed God. If we call on His name to act in our ministries, in our lives, and in our Church….He WILL show up. And he will consume every inch that we have set aside for Him. And the only response anyone will have is the same as verse 39 – The LORD INDEED IS GOD.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Quick update.....

Hey all...things are going well! I think my 15 minutes of fame has finally subsided into a comfortable realization that I'm still Chadwick Anderson. Minus the few senior citizens who recognize me at the mall here and there....hehe.

NHL HAS BEGUN!! Tonight is Detroit's first game, they're playing against last years' Stanley Cup winners, the Anaheim Ducks. I'm wearing my home jersey, although it's an Yzerman one. My Brett Lebda jersey (my wife got me for my birthday cause she's awesome) is still on it's way in the mail. Hopefully it'll get here by Nov.13th, because I'm going to see the Wings VS. Blues that night. Why Lebda? I believe he's a great hockey player, he's being able to play with legends like Yzerman and Lidstrom and Chelios.....we're the same height/weight/age, and he's from Illinois. He's signed a 4 year contract, so he'll be around a while, which means he could really be a long term great just like Yzerman someday.

In other news, if you haven't discovered "Yo, Gabba Gabba" yet...you really need to. It's a show for parents and toddlers/babies to watch together, put on a funny hat, and sing-along. It's made by these really cool people who are ACTUALLY parents of young ones, so it definitely connects, cause they try it on their own kids! Here's one of my favorite songs from the show: (wish it helped me eat my veggies)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's a male!

So yeah....it was a male that did our ultrasound today at 1pm. He's the same guy that told us Addison was a girl before she was born. During that ultrasound we found out the exciting news that....

We're having a girl!!!! Sophie Grace Anderson is due to arrive sometime around the 21st of February, 2008. We're both very excited, and Addison can't wait to have a sister to play with. And yes, being a practical guy I'm looking forward at getting the most use out of all this girly stuff we got. Not sure if I'm ready for 2 teenage girls, and 2 weddings to pay for...but I have many years to prepare, right? hehe. Thanks for your congrats and prayers as we continue to pray and wait towards her arrival!

Monday, September 24, 2007

What do you think???

Alright folks....here it is....your chance to weigh in. This thursday, Sept. 27th, we are hopefully going to find out the gender of our new baby, due Feb.21st!

What will be added to this incredible family?


Although I don't think she understands yet that she's expecting a sibling...Addie definitely can't wait to have someone to share all of her toys with....hehe. Here she is, pretending to call her future brother or sister...


Personally, I'm just plain' hoping for a baby. Sarah tells me I should have an "inkling", or some sort of "gender-sense" where I can say "I think it's a _____". But really, I have no clue. Maybe it'd be different if the little squirt were inside of me....but I'm okay the way it's already been worked out. :)

In any case, this baby is gonna get a lot of love. So here's your chance....what do you think we're having? Boy or Girl? What date do you think it'll arrive? What time? Give your guesses, and the closest one WINS!!! (prize yet to be determined) Leave your message here on my blog. If you're reading this on my facebook, go to my blog to comment at http://pastorwick.blogspot.com

Let the guessing begin!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Experimental Hobby...

I realize this may be one of the most popular times for random people to be checking out my blog. Because of that, I've decided to go ahead and post something else besides Wheel of Fortune, that shows I'm an interesting human being also...

This morning was interesting/though-provoking and smelly all at once. Although I think I enjoyed the "smelly" part. The thought-provoking side came from a conversation with an older gentleman who didn't know I was in ministry. He was giving me advice for life, and we were having a conversation during which I would ask him questions, and he would answer with wisdom that comes from having lived over 60 years in this world.

At one point, he turned to me and thanked me for listening. He went on the complain and blame today's schools and churches for teaching us not to think, and not to listen to older people for wisdom. I listened to him for a while, and actually agreed with him on many of his points. Lord help me to be a minister that leads children of God to a real and vibrant faith, and not just one that blindly accepts anything they're told.

Before the man arrived at my house, I began a hobby that hopefully will become something I get better at. I was roasting green coffee beans! I did a little bit of research online first, but all the directions sounded too complicated, and they recommended using a covered pan or wok...and I'd just bought a new small pan with raised sides, so I closed the computer, and lit the stove. I used a wooden spoon to stir the beans as they roasted, to encourage an even roast at about 500 degrees on a medium-high heat.

After the beans had gotten past the first cracking sound, and were beginning to crack a second time (dangerously close to burnt, but hopefully a french roast), I carefully put them into a metal colander to separate the beans from the chaff. (the beans increase in size, and shed their outer skins) I allowed them to cool for a bit, and took them outside to blow off as much chaff as I could.

Finally, I brought the beans into the house and put them in a bowl that I put foil over. You want to give the beans 4-12 hours to release more gases and dry out a bit before actually grinding and making coffee. I'm sure this method will take some revamping, and I'll hopefully get better and better at it....but here is the finished product....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

...so there you have it. :)

The silence is finally over. :) I'm so proud of my wife and my daughter for being able to keep such a secret...I WON WHEEL OF FORTUNE! Yeah, the money is exciting, and the vacations are even better, but overall....wow, I WON Wheel of Fortune! Went all the way to the BONUS round, and triumphed. Even though it was a bit of a feminine answer, it does wonders for my male ego.

So pretty much everyone has questions about the prizes, I figured I'd answer a lot of it right here. That way, instead of giving the same response a billion times, I can just say "read my blog".

1. What did you win? We won $45,950 worth of cash AND prizes. They say we'll receive our winnings within 120 days of the show being on TV...so far we've not gotten any of it. The prize break-down is:
- $8,200 cash
- $6,750 Trip to Kauai, Hawaii (includes air, rental car, resort, food, etc)
- $1,000 vegas.com Gift Certificate (usable for air, hotel, shows, and food)
- $30,000 Bonus Cash
2. Do you owe taxes? YES, I have to pay taxes on the ENTIRE prizes value, not just on the cash. California state tax is 7%, and federal tax is about 30%. So after taxes, and giving 10% to the God who made it all possible, we'll end up with around $19,000 cash...along with the trip to Hawaii and Vegas.

3. What will you do with the money!!?? Well, we bought a new digital camera, and we're looking into getting a dishwasher. We have some debt we'll probably put some towards, and with 2 kids.....I'm sure we'll find a place for it all.

4. When are you going on your trips? Hopefully we can do a 3 day trip to Vegas before the new baby is born (to celebrate our 5 year anniversary), and then we're planning on using the big Hawaii trip next August or September. We have one year from today to use both trips. They can not be exchanged for cash, and can't be used by anyone but Sarah and I, or we forfeit them. As for babysitters, we'll probably use family here in Decatur...but feel free to apply within.

5. Don't you owe me money? No. :) (except Jake...I'll pay you soon!)

6. Did you record it? Yes, my friend Kyle rocks, and is making a DVD of it, as well as putting it in a form we can put on youtube soon hopefully. If you need a DVD of it, send a self-addressed pre-stamped dvd sized envelope to me. :)

7. How do you feel? Pretty good. The money/prizes are cool and all...but holy cow...I WON Wheel of Fortune. :) Meeting Pat and Vanna rocked too.

8. How did you get on the show? Read the blog I posted before this one. :)

It'd take forever to respond to all of the calls, e-mails, comments, etc. So I just want to say thanks to all of you so much for your kind words, wishes, prayers, and Birthday Happiness too.....I'm so glad to have each of you to share life with. I got lucky on the show...but my life is no gameshow....God has definitely blessed us. May God bless your life as well, and may we all realize how blessed we already are....(I think I just overused the word "blessed" and should now be made fun of. Go.)

Monday, September 03, 2007

How? (did you get on, did it go)

I know it’s a long post, but so many people have asked/are asking me about my Wheel of Fortune experience, I figured I’d put a little about it into words. I’ll start way back in the beginning…

Step 1: Audition
My wife’s father works as a manager for a store at our mall, and he’d told her about the Wheel-Mobile coming in over the weekend. We had some friends in town that weekend, and decided it’d be fun to check it out. Of course, with the chance of actually getting on the show, it was worth getting there early.

We were there early, but there was already a line. They brought little applications for us each to fill out, and collected them all into a large barrel. The next couple hours was spent drawing 5 names at a time to come up on stage, and compete in a short version of Wheel of Fortune, and they gave away a few hats and t-shirts. My friend Jason actually got called up! Unfortunately, it was a tough puzzle, and he had a bad spot in line, so wasn’t able to solve it. Be we were jealous of him still, he’d gotten on stage, etc.

At the end of the games, they announced that those who were chosen would receive an e-mail sometime in the next couple weeks. They said even if you weren’t chosen to be on stage, you might get an e-mail based on your written application (thankfully I’d made mine very interesting). A while after, my brother and I both received e-mails from Wheel of Fortune for callbacks in Springfield!!!

Step 2: Callbacks
My brother didn’t want to take time off work, cause it was a summer-only job, and he was new there. So my sister-in-law Erin met me in Springfield, taking his place. There were about 60 of us who were called back. We collected into room with a big screen up front displaying Wheel of Fortune videos, etc. One by one, we introduced ourselves, trying to be as positive, upbeat, and clear-spoken as possible. Then the games began. Each person got one “turn”, to try and choose a letter, and solve the puzzle.
I was lucky enough to have an easy puzzle, close to solving when it was my turn. I guessed a letter loud and clear, and solved the puzzle! I won a nice “Wheel of Fortune” hat. After everyone had a turn or two, we moved on to the written exam. They passed out “exams” with partially filled in puzzles of different types. We were supposed to solve as many as we could in 5 minutes. I almost went crazy trying to solve as many as possible, but didn’t finish them all. We turned them in, and they left the room to grade us.
When they came back, they had a list of names. If they didn’t call your name, it was the end of the road for you. They called my name! About 8 of us stayed, and they took a Polaroid of each of us, and had us play a round spinning a fake wheel to see what we’d look like. At the end, we were all dismissed. They announced if we’d been chosen, we would receive a letter in the mail within 2 weeks from that day. About a week and a half later, while I was practicing softball with some family, my wife ran out on the field with the envelope….I’d been chosen!!!

Step 3: Los Angeles
The letter stated I would receive a phone call within 18 months, with as little as 2 weeks notice. I tried not to get too anxious. The call came one day while I was at home, and they asked me if I could be in Los Angeles in a little over 2 weeks. The exact date ended up falling on the final day of our Mission Trip with the youth group, so I had to say no, and hoping I’d get called back soon.
I was. They called while I was actually on the Mission Trip, driving out in the middle of nowhere with a van full of teens, looking for a giant treehouse we had heard about. They needed me in L.A. in 2 weeks. We began making travel plans right away. The show doesn’t pay for any travel expenses, but anyone on the show is guaranteed to win at least $1,000. So we aimed for that as our budget, and away we went!
The flights that day went as expected….badly. ☺ Our flight was delayed, after being on the plane for over an hour with no AC, they finally released us, and told us to find a new flight. We ended up getting to L.A. late Wednesday afternoon, instead of the planned early morning arrival. Unfortunately, our luggage, with my suit…was not there yet. At 8pm, I got a phone call saying our luggage had arrived, and they would deliver it. I was a little worried, because I had to be ready, dressed for the show, by 7am. So we waited. And waited. And waited. After a few frantic phone calls at 4am, the luggage finally arrive at our hotel at 4:30am the day of the show. I pulled out my suit, hung it up, and went to bed.


Step 4: The Show
The alarm went off at 6am, and like a child on Christmas morning, I jumped up and got ready for the day. In the lobby, there were several other contestants, all talking, and getting to know each other. The hotel had a shuttle to the studios, so we all went over together…nervously becoming short-term friends.
When we arrived, they gathered us all into a small class-room type set-up. With a table full of food that most of us didn’t want to fill our stomach’s with, but was still somewhat comforting to know it was there if we wanted it. We filled out and signed the appropriate legal documents, and they went through every single rule of the show. We also briefly met Vannah White as she walked through the room with her daughter. One by one, while everything was going on…we each went back to get high-definition make-up put on us. I asked the woman doing my make-up how long she’s been doing it, and it turns out she has also done make-up for Tim Allen, and Tom Hanks!
They divided us into groups of 3, each with 1 man and 2 women. There were 6 shows being taped that day. We were to draw names to see what order we were in (1-3), and then to see what show each group of 3 was (1-6). 5 Shows were for the week of September 17th, and one show was for February of the next year. I was hoping to get into one of the 5 shows for September, but was surprised when our group was selected for the very FIRST round! I had no time to watch other people make mistakes….
We went out into the studio, and I sighed. I didn’t know what to think…I’m a youth pastor in a denomination that is against gambling, and the week of shows I’m going to be on? CASINO WEEK! Ah well, didn’t have any power over that…hehe. We practiced spinning the thousand-pound wheel (it was smaller than expected, but still shook the ground!), filmed short commercials for each of our local TV Stations…and waited. The audience came in. We were instructed not to look for our friends/family, because even a simple wave or smile could be interpreted as trying to cheat. Then…it was time. They got us set up, touched up our make-up, changing the height of the platform so that we all were close in height, but still shorter than Pat Sajak…and the music started….(you’ll have to watch to see the rest….September 17th, 2007)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Addie


One Year Old, and drooling for more of life. :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

where those no longer living are woken...

I’m sure by writing some of this, I will offend people. But sometimes we have an experience, where to keep silent would be offensive to who we are. I don’t mean to over-dramatize what I’m wanting to talk about…but mainly to highlight this is not just being “thrown out” without forethought. I pray this can and will be heard with a right ear.

There is a place nearby that is well-known. I hear regularly from parents and teenagers alike who ask me my opinion. Up to this point, my opinion has been based only on exploring their web-content, and hearsay from others. Fortunately, I was urged recently to check it out, in support of a close friend who was going to be there.

I hesitate to actually put the name of the place on this post, as someone who loves it may accidentally come across my thoughts and start some sort of “smear-campaign” against me. I’m not looking for a fight, a debate, or even a big discussion. I’m just putting my experience into words.

Up to this point, this place has been innocently presented (to me, at least) as a place where those “outcast” by society can experience the grace and love of Christ, in an environment that’s safe, where music can be enjoyed, and a good time can be had by all. What I experienced fell short of that description. Very short. In fact, the only person to mention God at all was effectively cussed off-stage, and made fun of by most of the crowd.

Teenagers (mostly younger girls looking for approval, and older males willing to give it) of many different backgrounds were there, along with adults who I at first assumed were chaperones; but later realized were more of “enablers”…offering to light cigarettes for the minors who were in need.

Can this place be used by God? Yes. I believe there were people there who honestly wanted to hear the music, and not get shot. I was one of them. But we were in the minority. Mostly, it seemed…here was a place where I could do anything without my parents finding out. Smells of tobacco, alcohol, and yes, even marijuana…were mixed in with the expected smells of teenage sweat and too much perfume. One teen who was there recognized me...and said this was the last place he expected to see me. I think that says a lot right there.

To the bands that play there…I can understand. Today, you pretty much need to play wherever a stage is offered. To those who attend to hear their friends’ play…totally with you. That’s why I was there too. To the parents who’s children tell you they want to go….GO WITH THEM…at least the first time. It can be a great opportunity for you to discuss life choices after you go home, or the following day.

Am I against venues that allow bands to play, and teenagers to attend? Not at all. But I think this place does the community a large disservice when it presents itself as a safe and positive hang-out where “Christian” bands play…and leaves it at that. This environment is no more safe than letting your teenage daughter or son hang out at the local bar on open mic night. There is so much more I would say, but I feel I’ve said enough to get a message across. To the teens/parents who already support this venue…sorry if I’ve offended. I do believe there must be some good going on here…but I think it’s very important to be honest to the community about the very real problems that are present.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"ll"


(that's a pause sign, if you didn't catch it)

I realized I haven't blogged for quite sometime on my incredible daughter, so here goes nothing.

Addison has turned ONE!!! She's walking like crazy, and learning new words/sounds all the time. For a while there everything was "ball!" But now she can actually do "dadda", "momma", "down" (when she's done eating), "cheese", "dog", "balloon" (which sounds like a slurred version of "ball", and a few others that we're trying to figure out what exactly they are. She is also picking up the ability to beat box with daddy...although many times it just ends up being spit everywhere. :)

Along with the new words are new facial expressions. Many of you have seen the "old man scrunched face smile"...or the "fake cry" face. These are both classic.

Addie has also learned how to give hugs!! These are incredible after a long day of work. She's beginning to learn how to blow kisses, and has begun working on her ability to actually kiss.

I was talking with a teen not too long ago, and we were talking about God's ability to know our thoughts. Sometimes as a believer, we get so busy with life...it's hard for us to set aside, or remember to set aside time to actually speak or write words to God. He knows our thoughts/hearts after all, right? What does it matter if I don't actually say the words everyday?

The thing is...I know Addison loves me. Everything about her life points to needing me, and her smiles and hugs communicate so much gratitude and emotion towards me as her father. I "feel" her love for me. But....I can't wait for the day my daughter can actually look at me and say "I love you daddy". Wow. Just imagining it gets me excited. I love that girl so much.

God created by speaking things into existence with words. (from the records we have, at least....I wasn't there) He didn't just zap things into being. So words must be pretty important right? I have to believe....with all of this....that me actually taking the time/effort to speak a prayer out loud, or write to God what's on my heart...means a lot to what's going on here.

Will I love Addison more than my second child, just because she can say "I love you" to me, and the other one is still working on it? No. Both of my children will be loved...because they're my children.

Monday, August 20, 2007

black and white......or grey?

I read an article this morning, that goes right with my latest post on the body of Christ, and our greencards.

As much as I want to show love to other members of our body....you do have to have some respect for the law, right?

Check out this story, and let me know your opinion.

I'm not so sure I would've debated with the government on this one. I mean...the order from the judge originally came in 1997...when she had no son. She made the decision to stay and have a child here in the US.

This woman's story made me wonder what exactly someone must go through to become a US Citizen....so I did some checking around...

So here's a website that talks about what is required to even apply for US Citizenship. Notice a couple of things:

1. Under "good moral character" (a very vague category), you cannot apply if you are, or have been a "habitual drunkard". If only American Citizens would be at risk of losing our citizenship for things on this list. :)

2. You have to pass a test on US History and Government Knowledge. I gotta be honest here....I'm a pretty intelligent guy, and I only scored a 72% on their 25-question practice test. (I didn't know the Civil War was also about individual states' rights) But with a little studying, the average person who really wants it, could be motivated to know more than the average American even does.

You also have to fill out this form ...which actually asks if you've ever actively been involved in trying to overthrow a government. Huh....guess that's a good question.

So with a little research, studying, and time...anyone could become a US Citizen, right?

So how is this such a difficult process.....and what needs to change? Obviously this is seen as a daunting/impossible task by so many.

ps. For kicks, I checked out Canada's requirements.....good news for the habitual drunkards...no rules against it here! Overall a much easier application process....and free medical care, right?

Friday, August 17, 2007

the body of Christ, and our green cards...


Reading an article this morning that discussed our country's policies on "illegal immigrants"; I was struck by how the information was presented. More often than not, discussions like this happen with an "us/them" mentality. But here are some interesting points they made:

1. As members of the body of Christ, we are called to allegiance to Christ, above country, above lifestyle, above everything. To see anything else before we see Christ, in ourselves or another person, could be idolatry of that thing.

2. Currently, over 9.4 million of our nations undocumented residents come from Mexico, and other spanish-speaking areas.

3. Over 78% of Latino residents surveyed, confess Christian faith.

4. That means, over 8.1 million people in our Christian family are affected by our nations' views/legal stances on citizenship, etc.

A great article about how some in the church are responding, that's far too long to copy/paste, but a very interesting read, can be found here.

It's hard to combine rational, "take care of our country/future/safety/etc" thinking, and the grace these writers are speaking of. I'm not sure if I'm ready to personally offer my basement bedroom to an undocumented family, even if they are a part of the family of God. (just ask my biological family, sometimes I just want my house all to myself) How does all of this combine with submitting to authority?

Maybe someday, like those in the article....I'll be forced to decide where I stand. In that moment, may God be with me. Until then, I suppose that's why it's good to be thinking/praying/discussing these things. Because I doubt this is an issue that will go away ever...and the way the Church abroad responds will play a HUGE role in our communicating the gospel to the World.

Monday, August 13, 2007

prayer and a wheel...


Recently I've experienced God in a way I would not have expected, and I have my greedy nature, and Wheel of Fortune to thank.

Most of you know by now, that this past Thursday I competed on Wheel of Fortune. The show will air on Monday, September 17th, and you can all watch me make a fool of myself. What you won't see, however, is the peace in my soul that day.

I struggled with so many aspects of the show. Obviously, I prayed fervently that God would somehow "bless the wheel" so that I could do well on the show. For the 2 weeks leading up to that date, it was on my heart and mind more than I care to admit. About a week before the show aired, I was struck by how much of my energy was spent asking God to bless me that day....and how little time I had spent praying for others recently.

My whole being seemed consumed by this opportunity. I'm ashamed to think of the prayers/conversations I may have overlooked because of this preoccupation in those days...but I smile remembering the times spent with God those few days before we left. I prayed for His forgiveness...I gave the burden of caring about the show into His capable hands, and asked that He would teach me to pray more, and pray less selfishly. (which I suppose, could still sound selfish).

If any of that makes sense or not, the point is this: Sometimes we forget how much we believe in prayer, until we find something that (even selfishly) reminds us...we believe prayer is effective. So with this realization came a renewed sense that I need to be praying. Praying for people in my life. Praying for my family. Praying for my church. Why? I believe God has created us as "beings that pray".

As for the show....we had a great time, and whether God touched the wheel Himself or not......we don't know for sure. But I'm still thankful for the experience, and for the reminder that PRAYER plays an important role in my life....and I need to be involved in it more often.

The question for you then...might be...what would motivate you to pray more? Why wait until something does? If you believe in prayer...pray. :)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Peanut Butter...


God loves me.

He has shown me this recently through the Hershey's sub-company of Reese's.

Anyone who knows me well....knows that since early in High School...I've been frustrated at Ice Cream toppings in general. Disappointed that the only way I can get decent peanut butter on my ice cream is to go all the way to Dairy Queen or Culver's. Or buy an entire can of their topping, and somehow keep it at home.

I've always wondered why no company was taking advantage of putting liquid peanut butter in a squeeze bottle (much different than Skippy's tube version) so that I could enjoy it at home.

Until now. Recently, at our local Kroger...I've discovered Reese's Peanut Butter Ice Cream topping....right there near the chocolate syrup. WHOOO HOO!!!

I've looked it up online a little....and so far can't find it listed as a product...so I wonder if we're a test market, or if they don't make it anymore....either way....I should buy a lot. :)

That is my joy of the day. :)

Monday, July 30, 2007

wow

Oh man...it's been a while. Allow me to catch you up...



We left on July 15th for a 2 week mission trip with the youth...it was incredible. God revealed His heart for each of these teens, and many of them responded in ways that make you glad you're on this journey together. Our first half was the Free Methodist Youth Conference, "IYC". That week we focused on becoming servants, and denying ourselves for others. The second week was a great "GROUP" Workcamp, also in Tennessee, where we met some other incredible teens in search of God, and worked hard serving the community around us. I don't have enough time/space to list everything that caught my heart/mind...so here's just a few:

- We don't worship the experience, we worship the God. This sentence caught me in a way that makes me want to say it often, aloud and in my own quiet times. No matter what our "experience" of God...it is not the experience we worship...it is God Himself. God will not change, and neither will our need for God. That gives us plenty to be thankful for, no matter if we're on the mountain top, or deep in the valley.

- What kind of Messiah do you want? When Pilate offered the people to release one person...Barabbas or Jesus....he was asking them what type of Messiah they wanted. The same question rings true for us each day. Do we seek a Messiah who will free us, and overthrow the "powers", conquering them and raising us up? Or do we seek a Messiah who speaks of dying to ourselves, giving up our desires, and serving even our enemies?

- SIMPLE GREEN! This cleaning solution pretty much kicks butt. During a week of painting a billion different walls, we discovered that Simple Green can clean ANYTHING....and pretty much do anything. Oh, and Jordan Hill is one hip country artist...sponsored by Simple Green. :)

So yeah, that's it in a nutshell. If you'd like to hear more stories, or see more pictures, or just worship with us....come this Sunday, August 5th...to Moundford Free Methodist Church in Decatur, IL....at 10:30am. See you there!

ps. I will be competing on WHEEL OF FORTUNE on THURSDAY, AUGUST 9th in Los Angeles....and it will be aired at a later date (I'll announce ASAP). God bless you all!!!