Wednesday, October 28, 2009
We had some really cool things happen last night, but one quick story I wanted to share. A group from inner-city Elkhart walked through the drama. The last stop of Judgment House is an opportunity for people to hear why we do this and to respond to the Gospel. Anyway, Pastor Jim was sharing last night with this group and he was talking about going to heaven and one of the kids just shouted out, "Well, how do you do it?" Jim began to tell them and then the ENTIRE group of kids prayed OUTLOUD to ask Jesus to be the Leader and Forgiver of their life! Anyway, as the kids were leaving to talk with some of our counselors, the leader of the group was just sitting in the room and as all of the kids left she said, "The whole neighborhood just got saved!" There were some amazing moments last night, but that one in particular stands out.
Total numbers from night # 1:
- 225 people walked through
- 35 people made decisions for Jesus
- 20 people made some other type of decision in their life
- 10 people wanted us to pray for specific things in their life
- Nearly 30% of the people that walked through Judgment House made some type of decision ... if my math is correct. I'm always concerned when I throw percentages out there b/c I always stunk at math. :)
Tonight looks to be another very full night and I'm really excited to see what God will do.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I'm thankful to have Thursdays off during the week. After putting in a 12 hour day and not getting home til after 10pm on Wednesdays, it's nice to be able to relax a bit on Thursdays. Here are a couple of pics from my day off. The above picture is of Ezra and me having a nice morning drink. I gave him a little of my tea and put it in a cup for him. What you don't see is me spilling my glass of tea all over our love seat after this picture was taken. Not a good way to try to impress your wife. :)
This is Mercy on a swing at a local park.
My two favorite girls!
Near the park was some guy's corn field. Ezra and I decided to take a run through it. Hopefully the farmer didn't mind.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
1. I pray God's armor upon my life.
2. I pray to believe truth and not fall for the enemy's lies.
3. I pray to be a great husband, a great dad, and a great pastor.
4. I pray that I walk with the Spirit and try to keep in step with Him.
5. I pray that I would have opportunities to be Jesus to people and to share Jesus with people.
These are things that I know I really can't do on my own and I need God's help to live them out. Even with my prayers, I still fail at these things, which makes me incredibly grateful for the grace of God. But, as I pray, I find that, with God's help, when I pray His armor upon my life and when I pray to know truth, it helps keep me spiritually aware of what the enemy may try to do to trip me up or distract me throughout the day. When I pray to be a great husband, dad, and pastor ... with God's help, I believe He allows me to keep my priorities in line and to realize that I don't want to be "average" at any of those things ... I don't even want to be "good" at those things. I want to be great ... the best that I could possibly be. When I pray to keep in step with the Spirit, I just really want to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading in my life and to notice the opportunities He'll place before me every day. Finally, I pray to be Jesus and share Jesus with people. I don't want to neglect my mission on earth ... to point people to Jesus Christ.
I love this time of year. The leaves in our area are really starting to "peak" right now and I just love driving around looking at them. Here's a quick pic of our back yard. I stepped outside this morning and just took a minute to be quiet and soak it all in.
Monday, October 19, 2009
- The new BBQ Chicken Salad at Panera Bread ... my new favorite salad!
- Had really powerful services at church yesterday. Jim tackled the really tough topic of homosexuality, and I can't imagine him having done a better job of it. His message was, what I thought, the perfect combination of grace and truth. I'm just disgusted at how some Christians have treated homosexuals. At the same time, we have to be willing to stand up for what the Word of God teaches ... but that can be done without degrading someone. Anyway, really good services, really good teaching, and really good connections with people.
- Mercy just recently turned 9 months old ... as you can probably tell by the sign she's holding in the picture above. I am totally in love with that little girl! I find myself often tearing up as I pray for her ... knowing what a tough world it can be for girls. I try my best to pray for her every day ... that she would come to know Jesus, that she would be a picture of God's mercy to others (that's why we named her Mercy), that she would know truth, make good decisions, feel beautiful, and be confident and strong.
- Above is a picture of Ezra "reading" books before bedtime. He loves to read, or should I say be read too. I haven't quite been able to figure out if he actually loves the reading part or if he loves the fact that he gets mom or dad all to himself while we are reading to him. My hunch is that it's a combination of both. I always thought, before becoming a dad, that I would be "affectionate" with my girls and more "rough and tumble" with my boys. What I've found is that I'm incredibly affectionate with Ezra. Cuddles, hugs, kisses ... it's a regular part of my time with him and I just love it! Sure, we do the "rough and tumble" stuff too, but he really has a sensitive spirit and I can tell already that he's a "quality time/physical touch" love language kind of guy.
- Judgment House will be starting next week. The reason we do Judgment House is because, in our community, there are a lot of "Christian alternatives" over Halloween, but there's nothing specifically designed to reach those who don't know Jesus this time of year. That's why we started doing it. It's funny, I always type a "review" of sorts of my feelings and emotions after Judgment House is over and then I look at it the following year just to let myself know that everything I'm feeling is normal. So, the fact that I'm a bit stressed and not feeling incredibly confident and wondering if we can really pull it off ... well ... every year that we've done Judgment House, I've always felt the same way and God ALWAYS comes through. I'm trusting Him to do it again this year. This week will probably be a little crazy trying to get everything together and working on some last minute stuff. Even at yesterday's practice I noticed something that we may need to change a week before we start. So, stuff always comes up. But, in the 3 years that we have done Judgment House, God has always showed up and He's always done some pretty cool stuff. Here are some stats on what we've seen God do through Judgment House at Grace over the past 3 years:
- 2,375 people have walked through the drama
- 299 people have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior
- 285 people have made some type of recommitment in their life to Jesus
- Good win for my Steelers yesterday. Big game for them next week against Minnesota.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Got some pictures today of our orphans at Asia's Hope in Cambodia. Very cool to see them sporting their "Blue Crew" t-shirts. I'm so thankful for the people that work with them and for the people of our church who give sacrificially every week to keep the orphange going. We'll be sending out a team from our church there in just a little over 2 1/2 weeks. Pastor Jim gets to lead this team and his daughter Hannah (who is a huge part of our youth ministry) will be going as well. Can't wait to hear from them and the rest of the team and I'm hoping to get there in the future.
What a beautiful group of children!
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
While I'm in the house, I see this girl walk by again still yelling the same name ... but something just didn't seem "right." I watched her as she continued to walk by our house and down another street. I felt uneasy ... like something wasn't quite right about the whole situation, but talked myself out of going outside to see what was going on. I told myself, though, if I see her again, I'm going out to talk with her.
Just a few minutes later, she comes walking by our house with another lady. By this time the young woman was soaking wet from the rain and when I got out there I noticed that she didn't even have shoes on. Anyway, I grabbed a towel to give to her and ran out to see if I could help. Come to find out she was a mentally handicapped girl who was on a trip with her group home. For some reason she got scared while she was on the trip and ran away from her group without anyone knowing about it. She had been wandering the streets in the rain and the cold for over an hour yelling out the name of her sister trying to find her home.
The police were called and this young lady was returned to her group home, who had reported her missing, by the way. A good ending.
Anway, I reflected on it a bit and think I learned a few things:
- I hesitated. Why? I let my assumptions get in the way of someone that needed my help.
- I didn't listen to my "gut." Yes, sometimes my "gut" has gotten me in to trouble, but, to be honest, my gut assumptions have been right more times than not. Again, I let my assumptions get in the way of something I felt like I was supposed to do. I hate when that happens.
- When I acted, I was able to help. I wouldn't have been able to help at all if I didn't take that first step out of our house and see if there was something I could do to help. I don't want to miss those opportunities, but know I often do.
Anyway, just a few things I learned from a strange sitation last night. Hopefully I can take this and learn from it in order to better help people in the future.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I'm really looking forward to our new series at Grace starting this Sunday. I'm always fascinated by what Jesus said about the enemy in John 8:44 "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a MURDERER from the BEGINNING, not holding to the truth, FOR THERE IS NOT TRUTH IN HIM. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is LIAR and the FATHER OF LIES."
My native language is English. It's all I know. When I speak, I speak English. When the enemy speaks, he speaks lies. It's all he knows. It's his native language. He only wants to "steal, kill, and destroy" (John 10:10) and all creation has been "groaning as in the pains of childbirth rigt up to the present time" (Romans 8:22) because of the effects of sin. Really, all Satan has is lies. I know that ... I believe that ... but if you're anything like me, I still often fall for it. Uggg!
Should be a great series and I'm looking forward to learning more of the lies and hopefully learning not to fall for them.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
One of the things I LOVE about our church is that we really try to get out in to our community and do our best to share the love of Jesus. One of the things that is said often around here is that, if our church ever moved ... would we be missed? So, it's just part of our DNA to get out and love on people and share Jesus with people. Loving God can be shown by how we love others.
6. Help our people serve. One of the most fulfilling things for us is to see the Church be the Church. We love seeing our people step up and do the good works God has planned in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
It's been a really busy week and will be a super busy weekend with our middle school retreat coming up. Hence the reason that I haven't been posting much this week. But, even though it's been busy, it hasn't been too busy for a little practical joke. Wednesday at axis we did a "Hot Potato" type game, but we used a Rainbow Trout. Anyway, after the night, I was going to throw the fish away, but thought to myself ... I gotta do something with this fish. So, I put it in Craig's office Wednesday night in a nice hiding place. After smelling something Thursday but not knowing what it was, he finally found it Friday morning. His office was RIPE!
Love ya, Craig ... but won't be having meetings in your office any time soon. :)
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