Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An experience of Jeff Corwin...

So this past Saturday, a friend of ours had won tickets to see the "Jeff Corwin Experience" live at Millikin University here in Decatur...and had invited us! (which was cool in itself, being "invited" somewhere.....doesn't happen much post-kids). We thought, hey, we like those animal shows as much as anyone....we'd love to go. And secretly, I knew there'd be snakes.

On the way in, we were stopped abruptly by 3 guys with very nicely tucked in shirts, asking us if we were "born again". Having built up a callous to approaches like this, I said "yup" and kept walking. My wife and our friends are too nice, though....and at least stopped long enough to receive their fliers. There were 2 main ones: "There are only 4 steps between Heaven, and HELL" (with Hell being written in flame letters, obviously). I can't remember the title of the other one, but it was kind of like a "kids menu" of the first one. It included a maze in the middle, with the cross being the ultimate goal. I eventually ended up with the less entertaining one.

Both offered all of Christianity as being 2 choices: You can burn forever in a flaming pit...or you can enjoy bliss forever in a golden city. I was surprised churches still use these things. Duh...when offered the choice like that.....anyone would choose bliss, right? I have a hard time imagining someone reading one of those fliers, and looking up at the world, believing it for the first time....and calling the church listed right away for help on moving towards bliss.

I also don't like how it reduces all of what I am to "avoiding an eternal death". I use this illustration all the time with my teens: If Heaven were fire and pain, but God was there....and Hell were gold, hot tubs, and ice cream, but no God....where would you want to spend eternity? It's a good door opener, for asking why we actually follow God.

Meanwhile...the Corwin experience went on. The first 45 minutes was cool...he brought out a giant toad, snapping turtle, albino alligator, snake, etc...and had cute kids some up and hold them each. Then it went downhill. An hour of open "Q & A" format with the audience. In Decatur, IL. We're not known for our cumulative intelligence.

"Hey Jeff, when's the best time to mate my iguanas??" - Was about on par for the rest of the night. So it came as a relief when our babysitter sent us a text to come home, cause Sophie was upset.

The lesson here? If Jeff Corwin comes to your town.....and you've already seen him on TV...save your money. But if you win free tickets on the radio.....you should go. You might even get to Heaven because of it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

tonight's win over colorado...


Okay, so Peter Forsberg will be back again for the Av's tonight. They've been crying long enough, and blaming their bad play on his absence...it'll be nice to see them lose with him.

True also that they're playing on home ice tonight....which would have normally been an advantage. With Forsberg back, they might have even had a small chance. But tonight....they've announced that goalie Jose Theodore will be in net again.

Really?

Game One: Jose (joe-say) started in goal, and was removed for a different goalie after allowing 4 goals in a row. No more goals were scored. Wings win.

Game Two: Jose started in goal, and was removed for a different goalie after allowing 4 goals in a row. One more goal was scored. Wings win.

Game Three? They're going to start him again!!!! Well, I suppose 3 strikes and you're out applies to the Colorado Av's right now. Wings will win, and hopefully for some crazy reason, they'll try to start Jose again for game 4. :) We can hope.

As for Ozzy? A brick wall. Especially when compared to Jose.

As for our next opponent, it looks like Dallas may be making San Jose bow out. That'd be nice, because San Jose seemed to be everyone's pick for the Western Conference. Dallas we'd have a better chance against.

Game On.

(all of the above smack talk could be subject to change, depending on how lucky the Av's get)

Monday, April 28, 2008

the best church ever....


Recently, I read an article about a guy who checked out 6 different denominations in a row. His goal seemed to be just to get a feeling of what else was out there, besides the Baptist Church he'd attended for 30 years. It's a decent article, entertaining at points, and a reminder that we may be surprised what actually inspires someone to return after a visit.

Sounded similar to other people who have done similar things, for other reasons: The Friendly Atheist, random support groups, authors looking for inspiration...you could Google to find more if you want. It's just about as trendy to church-hop, and share your experiences these days as it is to share your view on a new movie that just came out.

In the best cases of these...it's someone who honestly is searching for something. Not to write about. Not to research. Not to exploit. But to live.

I'm not knocking these things, really. But I think I might knock how we (or I) read them. We can read these writings, and usually it points us (or me, at least) in directions of how to "do" church differently, so that it will appeal to these types of visitors who may be coming in, AND out of our doors. I think that can be good.

But I also think in reading these types of reviews, something else is revealed. Something about "how/why" we need to be involving ourselves in these communities. I think "communities" is a key word in understanding that. These "one-visit-review" mentalities can easily become our mentality in attending the services our communities observe...and we make judgments about even our own church based on a single experience...or even a few.

Yeah, the music can be (too loud/too soft) sometimes.
Yeah, our 3 pastors can all be dorks most of the time. (and say the right thing, the wrong way; or the wrong thing, with a right heart)
Yup, there will be older people who scowl, and younger people who show disrespect.
Yes, we aren't current enough, and we don't pay enough attention to our heritage.

But my best experiences of what's going on here have been when I attend from a honest search for something to LIVE. Not when I'm looking for a 5-star sermon. Not when I'm looking for Crowder-esque worship times. Not when I'm looking for God to say exactly what I wanted to hear.

What I've found is an honest community (but still human), that is willing to say "let's live together, seeking God"....and found that stands above any music, preaching, friendly greeting, or free donuts I've had so far.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

a fan grows up...


So if you've seen me around lately, you may notice a bit more facial hair than usual. It may even seem as if I've stopped shaving altogether.

Yup.

It's not because I'm lazy, although I do enjoy not worrying about it. It's not because I'm a youth pastor, and have the freedom to not care about my physical appearance. It's definitely not because my wife enjoys me becoming a hairy monster.

Why? I dunno really. Back in High School, even even most of college, I couldn't grow much facial hair. So that aspect of being a FANatic never struck me. But over the past few years, I've committed to some solidarity with the hockey players who yearn for the cup, and show it more and more the closer they get to it. For more info on why it all started, check this out. (and no worries, I change my underpants no matter who wins)

Granted, not all NHL players give up shaving for the playoffs. But many of the greats do. Here are some pictures of those greats sporting their playoff faces...

Basically, I have a few traditions I follow during games I watch, etc....but this is one tradition I can take with me anywhere, and display publicly. So now, instead of thinking to yourself "how disrespectful, wish that boy would shave"....you can think "man, that guy really wants his team to win the Cup".

Sure....there's plenty of Spiritual applications you can make with all this...I'll let you find them.

How'd You End up There? (pt.4)

The opening was at Moundford Free Methodist Church, here in Decatur IL. Almost exactly the same theologically as the Nazarene church. We interviewed, and it was found to be a great fit...for both the Church, and the Anderson family...

I gave my boss my 2 weeks notice, which didn't seem to surprise him...I think I'm okay with that. The hard part was giving notice to the small Nazarene church Sarah and I had been working with. It was mostly voluntary, but they were able to offer a small stipend for helping out also.

Over my 1+ years in part-time ministry, I learned many valuable lessons. Lessons that would make me recommend to anyone in ministry, to take a year or so someday, and try something like this. I would hope these things impact the ministry I'm in. A couple I'd want to highlight:

1. You are not what you do between 8am-5pm. It may be closely related at times...but our identity definitely NEEDS to come from somewhere else. ( I would still say that today, even though I'm getting paid to do something I love)

2. When you don't get paid to be involved in church, sometimes it's VERY tempting, and even restoring, to take a break on a given Sunday or Wednesday. Time with family, and times of rest are so rare these days....although I do believe in actively being a member of a Church family, I'll never think ill of someone taking a week or two off. I think too many times, we guilt people for missing one or two Sundays...that they find it easier to just stay away altogether. If you're one of those people.....sorry (on behalf of the church). Come, get involved in the lives of our community....and by all means...skip once in a while. I think it's healthy. Allows room/time to actually think/discuss about why to go in the first place. :)

3. Trust in God. He'll stay that way. Not wanting to slide into cliches, but seriously....from getting jobs, to a place to live, to more jobs, to finally THE job I believe God had in mind when we first moved here (oh, and Wheel of Fortune, which totally wouldn't have happened without living here)....and being surrounded by friends/family in an environment that has allowed us to build a foundation for a long time....it's reaffirming. There were many times during the transition that we wondered if we'd done the right thing. Hindsight is 20/20. No more wondering.

4. The "real world" jobs are sooo different than I imagined. It's not easy to just "bring up" Jesus to your co-workers. And most un-churched people I met already knew "everything" about Jesus and the Church. They just weren't interested. As the body of Christ, we need to ask "Do you know about Jesus?" a lot less, and live like Jesus lived a lot more.

So that's the REALLY long story, shortened into 4 easy-to-swallow chunks. I've been at this church for almost 2 years, and really hope/plan on being here for many many more, Lord Willing. I hope some or all of this has been/can be an encouragement to your story of trusting in God. It's a good thing to do, although if you asked me during my Pitney Bowes year, I would've had a much harder time believing that...it was still true.

Love and thanks to: my family (I know it's sometimes hard that we were led to Illinois over Michigan), our friends from the church in Iowa and Decatur, everyone who was on this journey with us at any point, and to our new church home/family here at Moundford. I believe God is here.

All of this story to say, Thanks God. And I know....you're not finished yet. :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

intermission...

Before part 4 comes tomorrow....take a break. Go to the bathroom. Get a snack. Call your mom, and tell her you might be later than expected. Etc.

In the meantime, Detroit seems to be doing well against our old playoff foes, the Colorado Avs.

Oh...and my daughters seem to be fans of Michelangelo....

How'd You End up There? (pt.3)

Even after graduating as a "Radio Marketing Specialist"...hehe....I decided I needed to find a new job...so the search continued.

That's when I heard about a sales opening for a company called "Pitney Bowes". I had no clue who they were, but the salary sounded a bit more solid than the "unlimited" back in radio. Taking my 3 months of sales expertise, I was confidently making stuff up through the interview, and was offered the job!!

Come to find out, Pitney Bowes is the company that sells those machines that puts the red mark instead of postage on envelopes at businesses, etc. And apparently, in 2006 all of those machines needed to be updated, because laws were changing, requiring that everyone have a digitally updating machine. What does that mean?

It means that if you worked for Pitney Bowes between June of 2005, and June of 2006, like me....you didn't have to be a great salesman. The government was requiring that every single one of your customers buy a brand new machine!!!! Sure, I made a few new sales, and a few I was very proud of (did you there are GIANT machines that print/fold/stuff/seal/and post and envelope all in one?)....but for the most part.....the timing was a miracle.

It was during those days that we bought our first home, and subsequently found out we were expecting our first child!! The foundations were being laid, and our family was being realized. :)

I have many stories from my time with PB as well...most of which I wouldn't blog about. I wouldn't want to offend any of the co-workers or the company in general. But if you're ever curious, hit me up.

The radio stations I worked for were situated in small town, USA. So even with the "sales" mentality, there came a soul. Pitney Bowes was my first experience in a global corporation, and sales were definitely another thing. Around May-ish....the government-induced excitement had died down a bit, and my manager noticed my sales were slacking.

In a private meeting, he got very serious, and asked me, "Chadwick, do you really think this is the job for you?" Oh man....it was so hard to keep my excitement, and convince him I would try harder.

I would have been panicking....except that a week before that, we'd heard about an opening at a friends' church. Could it be? I was at risk of being "found out" as a horrible salesman, at the same time as a full time ministry opportunity was found?

It was around May-ish...2007.....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How'd You End up There? (pt.2)

We visited Decatur about a week or so before officially moving here, and found out some important aspects of our days to come.

1. We found an apartment not far from family, for a really good price.
2. We found out Sarah would be eligible to substitute teach right away, whenever an opening came.
3. I was offered a job working for $10 an hour at a home for the developmentally disabled.
4. I was in conversation with a small Nazarene Church here in Decatur where I could help lead a Youth Ministry effort, and they would even try and pay me something!

Working with the developmentally disabled was a lot different from anything I'd ever done. I'm a big fan of Henri Nouwen, and so quickly began getting back into his writings...as many of them were connected to similar circumstances. I worked 2nd shift, so that was tough as well...being gone from 1pm until 11pm everyday.

I loved the men I worked with, though. Their accidental honesty, and genuine "being" in any situation...was refreshing. From leading a Karaoke Night for the house, to making dinner amidst accusations that I was poisoning them, to turning John's socks and underwear pink on accident (he ran through the whole house, yelling "thanks Chadwick, I've always wanted pink underwear!!", being all sarcastic. Apparently, you don't wash whites with reds.)....it was an opportunity to grow in many areas. Specifically, my identity. But it was only the beginning of that struggle.

There were plenty of opportunities to love as Christ. Helping a man older than you shower, because he can't remember how....is something that had so far been reserved for "Tuesdays with Morrie" type of fiction. To be reminded that entire populations of these incredibly special people existed, forgotten by so many in society....was good for my soul.

But honestly, at $10 an hour...realizing it may be a while until I was full time in Youth Ministry again....and wanting to start our family soon....I continued searching for a new job. My identity as youth pastor already gone, I would do anything. My search took me to Taylorville (a 40 minute drive), where I interviewed and was hired at the beginning of April as a Radio Advertising Salesman....with "unlimited income potential".

A whole new world. One of smiles, handshakes, and slick words. I was good with the smiles, the handshakes, and even prayed that God would help give me situations where I could be a "light in the darkness", connecting with so many people who's highest goal was a profit margin.

I enjoyed meeting new people every day. I enjoyed being challenged to see them with God's eyes, while at the same time trying to sell them something that didn't exist. I sold airtime. I sold minutes of radio spots to advertise their business, but had no real idea why they would want it. That didn't make me a very good salesman...but I was able to pretend long enough to have a decent run.

But when I realized that the "unlimited income potential" was pretty much ONLY potential, and never actualized....and I was driving a couple hours just to get to and from work....I knew the search was still on. Still trusting that God had something in store....we prayed....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How'd you end up there?

So there's a story that probably doesn't get told enough by me. About how I believe God actively moved in our family's life. A journey that was hard, but very worth it. I don't want to have a long, drawn out post...but I want to tell you the story. Maybe I'll spread it through a few posts.

Just out of college in 2003, Sarah and I moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was our first full time ministry opportunity. I worked for CR 1st Church of the Nazarene. Things were going well. But as we ministered, and lived among the people there, we felt nudges. Something wasn't right. I'm too optimistic and keep myself too busy to listen much...especially then. But together with my wife, we realized a couple things.

1. We felt good about the time we'd spent in Iowa. God had used both of us, and used our friends there to grow both of us as well.

2. God was moving us in a new direction. We felt strongly, and it continued to be affirmed, that we needed to focus heavily on family...ours specifically.

More important than any job or ministry to others I had...was the calling to be a husband, and a father. We decided that moving to Decatur, IL would give us a large family base in one area, and that would be a good starting point for whatever was to come.

Problem was...in Iowa, we both worked full time, and lived in a parsonage. In IL, neither of us even had jobs. But looking at the city...there's like 4 Nazarene churches. Pretty good odds, right? As we moved forward though, we realized there probably wouldn't be any options for full time ministry right away. But, feeling that the call was not to get comfy professionally, but to do the hard work to build a solid family foundation....in late February 2005, we moved to Decatur.

It was tough, leaving friends and some as close as family in Iowa. But we are definitely grateful for the time we had with them, and the relationships we still hold in prayer today.

Stay tuned...for more on our first days in Decatur, IL. No job. No house. No idea what we were doing...except that it was good.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oprah as a theological leader???

might be old news to you. but wow. Just stole this video from a friend (thanks Scott). Ignore the narration, and the drama before and after the clips. The narrator has his own agenda, and the book they promote at the end of it seems to have political ties, etc...I don't support whatever that kool-aid book is saying.

But just in her own words, and the words of the confused Christian to her...and the words of the author of this book they're all reading together....wow. Take a few minutes, and listen for yourself...


Interesting that the author would quote Jesus saying "you are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14)....but then ignore Jesus saying "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Seems as if they're looking at the belief (or feeling, as Oprah puts it...which is a whole other topic of lunacy) of Jesus Christ as Savior as a sort of "debatable" aspect of Christianity. I'm pretty sure Jesus is a bit more prominent than that. Should someone tell her?

She "figured it all out" at the age of 26 or 27...that God could not be jealous, and still be God (omnipotent, omniscient, etc.). That God is a feeling, and an experience of emotion, etc. Wow. Really? And THAT is what is leading to all these people following you away from Christ?

Still...gotta love those Dr.Oz episodes, right?

Looking around online, you find people standing up for Oprah. Saying things like "she does a lot of good in the world", etc. I won't argue that. Whether she's done it for the right reasons, or to build the "O" empire, is up for debate. But still, that shouldn't enable her to buy the position of a spiritual leader in the lives of so many as she has.

Anywho...I posted this just in case you're like me, and hadn't heard all this yet. It's probably important for us to realize this is going on.

Those crazies in Texas...


So unless your one of them, you've probably seen the FLDS sect in Texas that has been all over the media recently. Accusations of underaged children being forced to marry and bear children, etc...has urged local law enforcement to remove the children from the compound.

Over 400 children have been removed from their homes/way of life....and need to be lifted up in prayer right now. Hopefully we can all agree on that.

Definitely not agreeing with the way of life supported by the FLDS community there. In fact, it's eerily similar to The Village. To see the lack of emotion shown by these parents who have "lost" their children....I know I'd be freakin' out quite a bit more...and might even shed a tear or two.

But on the news last night, in an interview with one of the men...a thought struck me. Those of the community who honestly believe in the concepts/way of life set forth for them, must be really confused. Why?

- Your world is suddenly opened. You see things outside your walls you've never seen before.

- You see a culture where 13 year olds are encouraged to dress like 30 year old prostitutes, even on children's TV channels.

- You see Political candidates/parties fighting and causing division among people, all in the name of leading them eventually.

- You see sexuality, and a selfish money/power grabbing lifestyle pimped out in almost every advertisement, song, movie, tv show....and a "do anything to succeed" mentality running the world.

All of this....and YOU are the one accused of being "immoral".

Not saying I support the FLDS way of life...quite the opposite. But I hope this at least makes those of us who are pointing a finger think more about the word "immoral", and wonder what we can do to change our "acceptably immoral" way of life.

For now....be in prayer for these children.

Oh, and watch hockey tonight. Game 7 between San Jose and Calgary will determine who Detroit plays in the 2nd round. Woot.

Monday, April 21, 2008

ice and fire...

GO WINGS! BOOM BABY...2nd round here we come. Nashville was just the appetizer.

Sidenote...according to Google Analytics, I average about 30-50 hits on my blog each day (from between 20-35 unique users). I realize there are 18 people who subscribe to my blog via e-mail. Of those, probably 10 are my mom trying to be supportive...hehe. But still...I'm kinda excited that even though I've posted about hockey recently, my readership hasn't died down.

So either you're simply checking back to see if I've posted a "real" blog...or you're actually curious about how the Wings do...no worries....I'll be updating both.

Speaking of "real" blogs. How about that end of the world, eh?

Just saw a book that was recommended by someone I know, written by John Hagee. Now, admittedly I don't know much about the guy, except the people in the video on that website scare me.

After reading through his book for a while, I hurried to the front of the book, to make sure it had been published like in the 1960's or something. No such luck. Copyright 2006. Wow. Really? Hagee has a church of over 18,000 active members...and with several other books, is influencing quite a few followers in the evangelical community. I've heard of people who have the inflated self-importance to think that the entirety of scriptures is about revealing to OUR generation exactly how God wants US to survive the events ahead of us. People I'm pretty sure I disagree with on several levels, like the Zionists, and the Dispensationalists, etc. But surely those people are only a few, right? But seriously?

We're studying the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (otherwise called "Revelation") in Youth Group on Sunday nights. When we brought it up, there was excitement...some teens even told what they knew, based on what others had told them, about how the world "was going to end", and the "anti-christ" was going to sneak into our lives.

I think we still have a few interested, as we continue our study. But I gotta be honest and say, it seems the enthusiasm died down a bit...when it was revealed that we weren't decoding God's message to the people of 2008 on how to avoid missing the "rapture". Instead, we actually talked about how God was revealing Himself through these passages...about the natures of God...and the conditions of this world. There is an amazing amount of hope, redemption, etc. found in these scriptures.

But it's scary/confusing to many people these days. Why? Maybe because we've given so much air-time to those who scream the loudest about their "expert" interpretation of secret biblical messages. Maybe because most pastors are afraid to even approach the topic, knowing either they're one of the screamers, or perhaps too afraid to offend their followers.

Do you remember the last time you heard a pastor preach from the book of Revelation?

I think it's about time for followers of Christ to reclaim it from the likes of Hagee and others. There's a lot more about Jesus, and hope, and redemption, and life in there than they're shouting about.

So as December 12th, 2012 draws near....sleep soundly.
There's a whole lot more to Jesus than the "end of the world".

Saturday, April 19, 2008

the mule...


One of my favorite elements of playoff hockey...and yet one of the most tense situations in a game 5. Detroit led last night 1-0 for almost 3 full periods. During the last minute of the game, Nashville tied it up 1-1. That took the game into sudden death overtime. First team to score wins. But after nearly 50 minutes of no scoring, I didn't think it would happen anytime soon.

But the Mule was on fire.

Johan Franzen was able to get the puck on a breakaway only a couple minutes into overtime. He knew he would go for the deke before even reaching Ellis (Nashville's goalie). Ellis had stopped 52 shots so far in the game, as opposed to Osgood only having to stop 20.....so even though it stinks to admit it....he's one pretty solid goal tender.

Thankfully, Franzen comes through in just such occasions. Ellis committed too early, pads down...and left Franzen the time and room to backhand it into the net. That's 2 goals for the Mule during these playoffs. Detroit now leads the best-of-seven series 3-2.

That makes it 10 playoff games in a row that Nashville has not won on the road. Nashville hasn't won a playoff game on the road since like 2003.

Game 6 will be tomorrow afternoon....on NBC at 2pm CST. You have no excuse to miss it. If Detroit can win the first away game of the series....they'll seal a 2nd round spot. If they lose, well.....we all know Nashville can't win on the road...so we'll seal it Tuesday night. But let's go ahead and win tomorrow....just for fun. :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

...just in case.

Just in case everyone you know is an expert.
If you live in the midwest, you've probably felt the shakes a bit.

You may even hear rumors that one happened in your neighborhood/state/city/etc.

You may hear rumors that the end is coming. Maybe Pat Robertson will tell us this is God warning the "Bible Belt" that it's sinning too much.

Just in case you'd rather do your own research, than listen to people who really like to talk...

Here's the United States Geological (Survey? Society?)...anyway...it's a cool site with real-time updates on earthquake activity across the globe. This link is to the map on the United States specifically. Surprise....earthquakes happen all the time, all over the place.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

well done?



A survey from the Gallup people...

so...let's see..a pat on the back because we're doing so well....

...or a kick in the butt, because Jesus sure didn't have very high approval ratings when He was accomplishing God's Will.

What sacrifices have the Method-ists made to be where we are?

We're obviously missing something....but is it the percentage of people who aren't fans of us....or the percentage of people who like us?

I think this survey is at the same time not that important, and also pretty important.

The question is...for both....why?

...after.

Okay...so the night wasn't a complete success.

The VBS meeting went well...very proud of my wife. I don't always get to see the "leadership" side of her....but she's definitely got it. Looking forward to a great VBS this summer. :)

Youth Group went okay, I think. A few teens we hadn't seen in a while, and a couple new ones. Talked about Holy as it applies to buildings/places/moments, and how it changes the way we view/relate to them. Then moved to realizing we've each been created to be set apart for God's use/relationship...and how that should change how we view/relate to each other and ourselves. I really got excited about it, as usual. And maybe one or two teens heard it. hehe...

Then band practice. Nothing extremely new, but we hadn't practiced in a while...so even the newER stuff needed some work. It was fun. Someday I'll be that 40 year old guy who pretends he's still cool, cause he can hold a microphone well. Someday.

Then home to watch the Detroit/Nashville game 4. Sigh. We dominated almost the entire game. Shots on goal. Hits. Penalties. Puck possession. Scoring chances. But the one area we did not dominate in....the score. So it'll take 6 games for us to win this....still possible. Hasek is good....but Osgood is our hope for the cup. Hopefully this will swing it that direction...:)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

before...

I thought it might be fun to blog thoughts before and after an important evening. It's 3pm CST Wednesday afternoon right now.

Tonight we have a VBS meeting before church (I say "we", I mean my wife pretty much) utnil 6:30pm. We have youth group, which will focus primarily on what "Holy" means, especially when related to places/things/us until 7:50pm. Then we have band practice, where I'll probably get yelled at for not learning a new song yet (sorry band), and we'll have to work on perfecting a few we already know until 10pm-ish. (probably a good thing) Then it's straight home to watch the 4th game in the playoff series until about 1:30am.

I was going to just check the score afterwards, but this game is important. Why? Lebda's in. Not just in, either....he's being paired with Chelios. Here's the article, you should read it. You should watch the game tonight...8:30pm on VERSUS. Just don't tell me the score until after 2am Thursday.

I'll let u know how the night went....after it went.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

update...2-1 Detroit...


Moment of honesty: Yes, Detroit lost last night to the Nashville pred-heads. Along with that comes the question: Am I worried?

Not really. (except for my brother, who apparently changes loyalty based on locale...pssh..)

Out of 180 minutes of hockey (3 games), Nashville has been in the lead for around 3 minutes of play. Detroit has clearly dominated the series so far, but Nashville got a couple lucky breaks late in the game last night. So perhaps it will take us 5 games to close this series....but we will do it.

Lidstrom is strong as ever, Franzen is just as hot as the end of the season, Zetterberg and Datsuk are getting scoring chances. Lebda's been a healthy scratch for some reason...probably because McCarty is back...but I guess that's a good switch for a while. We won 3 cups with McCarty, so we know he can handle the stress of a long playoff run.

Nashville's doing some dirty hits on Cleary...and a few have gone uncalled for some reason. This guy just got his jaw unwired, and is still wearing a jaw-guard. You can see them almost aiming directly for his head with the hits....which is a bit ill.

But I guess when you're desperate, and playing against the Dynasty....you do desperate things.

Ah well...5 games it is....

Sunday, April 13, 2008

offsides...


Combine a week of youth ministry training, honest discussion about the effectiveness of even the best youth ministries, desperation for the Holy Spirit to move, and playoff season for the best professional sport in the world...and what do you get?

Another cheesy illustration.

But the fact remains, in youth ministry...or any ministry effort really. Heck, even in life in general. It's really easy to start thinking we're pretty good at things. We get an idea, even a divinely inspired idea...and "know" that it would be a success...so we move towards it.

In Hockey, most of you probably already know of the term "offsides". It's a term that's called when a player moves towards the goal and crosses the blue line before the puck. When this happens, the whistle blows, play stops...and must begin again from a central starting point. The player with the puck must cross the line first.

In Ministry, and in life...so many times we have our eyes on the goal. We know that's where we need to head....and so we move towards it. But lately many youth ministers, and people on a journey towards Christ in general...have noticed how often we've crossed that "blue line" towards the goal without the Spirit moving with us. We may sometimes ignore it...but "offsides" is called. We need to stop the play, and find a new starting point...asking that God would show us where He is moving us.

In hockey, the defensive players don't have to wait for the puck to enter the zone to stand between the player and his goal. In the same respect, the things that try and stop us from moving towards our spiritual goals couldn't care less if we move towards that goal without the Spirit. The goal wouldn't happen.

I think this happens on a daily basis, if we were all honest. Maybe not on huge levels...but small personal ones at least. But once in a while, I think it can happen on a larger scale. I believe Ministry in general is in the season of figuring out a new starting point...asking God where He is moving. And I believe each of us can benefit from asking that in our own lives.

It takes humility. Whether in a ministry, or a job, a relationship, a family, a life, etc...that we've worked at for years....to stop and realize...we've relied too much on ourselves, and not enough on the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Humbling yes...but necessary. And freeing.

ps. recognizing that, as with any cheesy illustration, this one falls short. If you try, you'll find things in it that don't work....theologically. But as a hockey fan....I like it. So deal. :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Final Day...and First Day...

Finally home again. Yesterday I was able to stay for one more session, and then hit the road again towards home...where we would begin a two day conference called "Living Sacrifice" right here in our own city.

It was a difficult final message. "Deep Ministry in a Shallow World". The statistics of how many churched teenagers choose to go a different direction after high school are hard to swallow. Not the rough-edged ones that visit once in a while....but the ACTUAL church-going, dress-wearing, shirt-tucked-in teenagers. 50% of them, once entering the "real world", seem to make choices that lead them further and further from the Church and from a relationship with God.

Kara Powell, the speaker, used a phrase that really got to me. "Red Bull Youth Ministry". Youth Ministry that has so much hype, and so much energy and excitement....but lacks the nourishment and depth....so that when teens graduate and end up in the "real world", they crash. The real world where decisions are tough. Where unlimited opportunities to alter your state of mind, and unlimited circumstances that will put our faith to the test....combine with a teenager who was coming to church because they really really liked the music, or atmosphere, or whatever...

Difficult to transition from that, into a conference where we as leaders have purposefully gotten a speaker with a dynamic speaking ability. A worship band that rocks. A venue that has unlimited audio/visual capabilities. It's more than enough to send me to prayer. May our hearts/motivations/prayers be in the right place.

God did something, though. On the way home, I had another CD I'd burned of a podcast from Seattle Pacific, this time by Kallistos Ware. I'd read his book, "The Orthodox Way" back in college, and really enjoy him. Anyway, his message was "What is Prayer?". A reminder of the "Jesus Prayer" used by the Orthodox church and many others...combined with the command "pray continually" from scripture.

It was perfect timing...because there was no other way to make it. So I found myself, standing in the middle of hundreds of teenagers...with loud worship music roaring...many teens distracted by the gossip of youth, until the key change where they boldly thrust their worshiping hands towards God.....reciting the Jesus Prayer "with my mind in my heart", as Ware put it. My entire being was wrapped up in praying that God would use this. Not as a "red bull" moment...but as nourishment for the souls surrounding me that are hungry for the supernatural God.

Today, it continues...

ps. It's good to be home. I love these Anderson females.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hope Continues...

Today was pretty swell.

Heard a message on "What to do when you're not with students"...which I'd assumed was going to be about time management, and organizational skills, etc. Areas that I TOTALLY need to work on. That I've been working on lately. As he got into his message, I realized it was more about how to spend time with Jesus, so that when you're with students, you begin to think/act from the same Spirit. At first I was thinking, "shucks, I was hoping to get more training on time management"....but it became more obvious that God was saying "relax....you'll get organized with experience, and because you want to.....what's Truly important is you spending time with me."

Oh. Yeah...I remember that.

Next message was about "Spiritual Parenting", which I assumed was about how to come along-side teenagers as a sort of "surrogate" parent, in a ministry where so few of them have parents who actively participate in....well...parenting. She focused more on realizing the unseen battles in our ministries (and raising our children). About the spiritual warfare taking place, and the power God has given us in His Spirit, and in the power of speaking His Hope in the lives of these youth. Many faces/names from our group came to mind, and it was refreshing to just spend some time in prayer, and look forward to speaking words of Hope into their lives...I hope that is the kind of parent I can move towards becoming also. Not just a blind enthusiasm for anything/everything my daughters do....but actually seeing the potential God has placed in a future for them, and aiming them in that direction by the Words I speak...to them and in prayer.

Now that's fatherhood. (didn't agree with her gender-specific roles, but her heart was in the right place)

Finally, the issue of "Deep Justice in a Broken World". Beyond doing short-term mission trips that we all love doing. Beyond throwing money or food at someone in passing. But being a Church that develops relationships with those being served, and even deeper....confronts the systems that require that service to even be necessary. We've all heard lately about human trafficking, and how it's worse now than it ever was. With about 33% of the worlds' population claiming to know Christ, we should be able to do something....right?

Pretty stoked about each of these areas. Personally. In my family. In our youth ministry. In our church. In our denomination. And in our Church. But we could never even begin to attempt these things on our own....I suppose that would continue the theme of being desperate for God to send us His Spirit in a new way....and enable us towards His Kingdom.

Whatever that looks like....

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

It has begun...

A billion things to write about today. The Spirit is moving in and through our denomination, and something really humbling is happening...we're being involved. Heard a few great speakers too.

Brian McLaren spoke on his new book "Everything Must Change". In perspective of youth ministry, what is it that we're "recruiting" young people for? To be a light through issues of the church (doctrine, politics, drama, etc.), or to struggle through issues of the world (poverty, war, selfish-ness)? He reduced several lists made by world organizations on the major crisis' of the world today down into 4 main categories: 1. Prosperity (at the cost of our environment) 2. Poverty (gap between rich and poor, the rich rule) 3. Peace (security, crime, terrorism, etc.) and 4. Purpose (religion failing to provide a frame for healing society).

These sound very similar to the 4 horsemen of the "apocalypse" who we see evidence of riding even today in our world. 1.Conquest 2. War 3. Famine and 4. Death Wonder if he borrowed from Revelation 6?

Also confirmed what we've talked about recently, about God's Kingdom being set up in a completely "otherly" way. Exciting that we can be used towards that goal...which leads to the other speaker I wanted to highlight, Mark Yaconelli...my favorite of the day.

So many things I could write at length about, that I will just put a few memorable spots.

1. The Closer Jesus gets to his goal (in the gospel story), the less it LOOKS like a success. We can't be measuring our effectiveness by the same standards as the world. And what if, in ministry, our gift IS IN our weakness? Peter was perfect for his calling, because he knew he wasn't able on his own. This goes against the world that tells me to look/act/speak like I know what's going on....so that teens will "dig" me. Do I risk telling my teenagers I have no clue how to command respect, or discipline them if they don't? :)

2. The "good baby" is the one that doesn't cry, that doesn't need me. How often do we have that mindset beyond actual baby years? Why don't we allow more time/energy/room for grieving, because it will definitely be needed, if we yearn to have the broken heart of God as our own. (Holiness) The world (and youth) NEED to see someone who can stay ALIVE in this world that deadens/hardens emotions and passions.

3. He spoke of Youth Ministry AS a spiritual discipline. I'd never thought of it this way before. In Youth Ministry, I'm challenged to grow in depth. Challenged to be real with my faith. To live it out genuinely in front of teenagers who may poke and prod spiritually to check it out. I like this.

Finally, we heard Shane Claiborne speak on the scandal of grace. He told quite a few stories of instances where something crazy (illogical) was done in the name of God's love and grace. Really inspiring stories, very Jesus-ish. Quoted "It doesn't matter how much we do, but how much LOVE we do it with." I like that. Confirmed my desire to get our teens involved in the church food pantry this summer.

Then...a few hours of raw lifting each other up, and our denomination in general...praying that God would do a new thing (not to be confused with "nu thang"), and it might start with us. Intense focus on the Holy Spirit.....I dug it.

Oh yeah....then we went to Medieval Times for dinner. Our Knight (blue) totally got killed.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Driving Hope...(100th post....woot)

Over 3 hours. Just me and the road. And whatever CD I put in. Or silence. It was nice. I think every once in a while, I should just take a long drive. God is there with me.

The trip began with Pigeon John's latest release, which was good...but not enough Pigeon. Then I tried to find a talk radio station...nothing good. So I put in a podcast I'd burned of Jurgen Moltmann speaking at Seattle Pacific University. "The Vital Power of Hope". I'd read some of his stuff back in college, but admittedly not much since. I really enjoyed it. Although looking at hope also brought the topic to what stands in the way of hope....a difficult conversation at times. Sometimes we purposefully say "no!" to the Hope (Yes!) of God. Not saying "we don't smile and be nice"...but saying sometimes our choices/life go in the opposite direction of where we see God leading.

It reminded me of what I posted last week about Christ being best understood by those who understand their need for HOPE. I really liked much of what he had to say about this specific hope, though...what it is, what it isn't...and what it could be. How different it is between a Christian Hope...and any other kind.

I hope I get called back for "Deal or No Deal". I hope in Christ. One of these hopes gives my life source, and draws me towards a future redemption. Doesn't take long to figure out "hope" can be much more than wishful thinking. It's real, it's here....tangible...and at the same time, "not yet"...

Tonight we also had our first meeting as Conference Leaders for the Free Methodist National Student Ministry Team (NSMT). Really exciting stuff. Not about events. Not about numbers. Not about exciting new techniques. But about BEING. About connecting with those in ministry around us, and connecting with the youth. Not in order to "do" ministry....but to "be" the embodyment of that HOPE of Christ. I've heard it before, but it's a good reminder, and seemed to be a theme of the day.

I want people to experience in their relationship with me,
the Vital Power of the Hope of Christ.

I know I've needed ( & need) other people to embody that Hope for me.

ps. To the Illinois Department of Transporation: I owe you $2.20 for tolls that I totally didn't have change for today, and had 20 cars behind me. I'll mail it. Promise.

Monday, April 07, 2008

pride...

still only boasting in Christ.....but my kid is way cuter than yours. :)



Leaving tomorrow morning for the SHIFT Conference at Willow Creek. Then coming back to jump right into "Living Sacrifice"...on Friday and Saturday....a youth conference we've put together for Decatur, IL. (by "We" I mean several youth pastors who get together in this city regularly) Oh, and Detroit plays Nashville Thursday night, and Saturday afternoon.

Then Sunday....with church, and a children's ministries meeting in the afternoon.....church in the evening.

It's gonna be a busy week. :) But I like it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

First Round Thoughts...

Last night, it was decided. Somehow, Chicago defeated Nashville...relegating Nashville to the number 8 spot in the Western Conference. Which means that Detroit and Nashville will face each other in the first round of the playoffs.

Detroit defeated Columbus Thursday night, clinching the President's Trophy (most wins in the season) for the 6th time. No other team has more than 2 in their trophy case.

So anyways...Detroit vs. Nashville. They faced each other 8 times in the regular season...both winning 3, and 2 games decided in a shootout. I was hoping we could get through the playoffs without facing a central Division team...our records in the central Division aren't encouraging.
Our 2 most recent games, we won 6-3, and won 1-0 in a shootout.

So it seems this match-up may highlight one of my favorite things about the playoffs, especially since the rule changes that happened post-lockout....ENDLESS OVERTIMES. :) No sissy shootouts. They play until there's a winner....even if it means 6 or more periods of intense hockey. As Detroit and Nashville are closely matched at times, there's a pretty big chance of this happening....I would love it. (as long as Detroit eventually won, of course).

In any case, I think this first round will be the challenging one for us. Once we get past this...it won't be a breeze....but the dynasty that is "DETROIT REDWINGS" is intimidating enough to screw up any of these other younger teams that don't face us regularly.

Side note: If you want to see an interesting game, watch NBC Sunday at 11:30 CST. Final game of the regular season for Detroit and Chicago, and neither has a ton to play for in that game (except Detroit playing for the Jennings trophy, fewest goals against in a season)....it should give a lot of ice time to the younger players. We don't get to see a lot of them. Chicago will win....but it'll still be worth watching.

And then??? THE RACE FOR THE CUP. GAME ON.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Rich Men vs. The Lazarii...

This past Sunday I was allowed to preach here at Moundford. I praught (past tense of "preach") on Luke's story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). I feel like it went well Sunday morning, with two services of asking ourselves who the Lazarus in our own lives might be? And also asking ourselves what might be the "gates" in our lives...the things that are separating us from those God is calling us to love towards Him. (economic, social, status, schedule, etc...) Some gates we create, and some gates are just "there" by nature of the world we live in.

As usual, those who preach Sunday morning, are usually called on to preach for our food pantry service on Monday morning. I was excited to have a 3rd opportunity. :) But in prayer Monday morning, I realized that the message I was about to preach needed a shift in focus. Many of those who came to the service that morning were the "Lazarus" on the other side of the worlds' gates. I spent a few quick moments trying to rework the approach.

We hear from time to time that the Gospel message is best understood by those who are oppressed, disenfranchised, suffering, outcast and downtrodden. That morning, I'm not sure if I understood it in a new light....but preaching it sure was a lot more exciting than it had been on Sunday.

God had me speak about the coming Kingdom...the coming "overturning" of this world's structures and economy. The redemption of how all things work. The fact that God was with Lazarus in this world AND after....and no matter how sometimes we wish things in our lives would work out like what we see through our "gates".....God is with us.....and THAT is a pretty exciting thing to be reminded of.

I think most of us have moments/seasons of both identities throughout our lives.

Sometimes we're Lazarus. We are hurting, suffering, alone, in need....and we look through gates of (finances, social status, employment, titles, popularity, etc.) and we wish we had what was on the other side. But God is with us.

Other times we're the rich man. We're doing pretty good. Things with our (finances, social status, employment, titles, popularity, etc.) are going so well that we forget about those on the other side of that "gate". God calls us to remember those....and that by our solidarity with them...we are with Christ.

In Truth, no matter what side of what "gates" of this world we land on....it's important to remember than in the economy of Christ...the structure of the Kingdom....the curtain has been ripped down the middle.

How we live in view of that will affect a multitude of eternities.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

19 hours = 20 seconds


The hard part is over. Whether I make the show or not, I HAD to at least try out for "Deal or No Deal". Especially after being chosen for Wheel of Fortune last year. They have to pick someone.

Monday night at 6pm, I staked out my spot, with about 30 people in front of me, outside the Hickory Point Mall. With a camping chair, a raincoat, and 8 umbrellas I borrowed from our church, I sat. And positioned my umbrella. And sat. And repositioned my chair and umbrella. And passed out umbrellas to others who needed a larger or functional umbrella. I got on the news, and in the news, and in the news.

The night was full of low temperatures, cold rain, powerful winds, and time spent with people who I wouldn't normally get to sit down with for long under normal circumstances. It was fun. My father-in-law saved me by giving me a few toe/hand warmers from his store, MC Sports. They really did help me survive the night. My brother-in-law added to the help by delivering some Culver's and my sleeping bag around 9:30pm...without that meal/warmth, I would've been in trouble. My incredible wife made some brownies, and told me to pack a few snacks...but like an idiot I said "I'll be fine...the less I bring, the better."

At 5:30am, we were allowed inside without the luxury of our chairs, but with the luxury of HEAT. I was too energized by a night with no sleep, and this new movement towards what was to come, to stay penned in for long. Thankfully, people held my spot, as I walked around trying to find people I knew. More hours passed. Time was near.

Finally, 1pm, the time had come. 10 of us at a time. We were told we had 20 seconds to talk about ourselves, and basically "sell" why we'd be good for the show. I made it through the first round, and waited in a smaller line again. Same thing. New materials were sold. I was allowed to go home.


Is it over? Not sure. I've heard even people who get sent home from the first round have been called 2 weeks later. I think I did well...I was myself. Time will tell. In any case, it was a rush, met some great people, and hopefully was used by God a bit in the process of it all.

I'm thankful for a wife who will still allow me to do stupid stuff like this, even though it meant a long night of stuffy noses, cries, and dirty diapers all on her own. Next time she wants to do something crazy...I owe her big.