Wednesday, September 29, 2010
"God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list? Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don't hurt your friend, don't blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. You'll never get blacklisted if you live like this."
Imagine if that's how we lived our lives every day.
Monday, September 27, 2010
- Great services at Grace Community yesterday. We continued the 5 More Lies series by looking at It's Too Late. We really focused on marriage and what it means to be committed to each other and growing through the stages of love together. Pastor Jim did an amazing job communicating these things and we ended the service in two really cool ways. Click Here to see the video we ended with. And, at the very end of the service we had couples go out and write on our church windows. You can see above some of the things that were written. In the video you can see some of the couples in the later services writing on the windows. I loved looking in their eyes and seeing how much fun they were having doing this and I loved the creative way we ended the services. Man, what a cool experience and I loved writing to my wife.
Friday, September 24, 2010
The past couple of weeks have been really fun for me. I've officially passed down my "action" figures to Ezra. When I was a boy I LOVED action figures. Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe ... you name it, I loved to play with it. Well, I've held on to all of my action figures for this very reason ... to pass them down to my son. Seriously, as soon as Ezra wakes up in the morning, he pulls out those action figures and has a blast. And, quite honestly, I've had fun playing with them too. It's been so long since I've made Darth Vader fight Bobba Fett! :)
Anyway, I'm not sure how or why I remember this, but the picture above is of my very first action figure. He was a G.I. Joe named Craig, and it's been close to 30 years since he was given to me. Not sure how I can remember those specifics but forget to take the trash out at my house, but that's a post for another time. :)
As you can tell, Craig, received quite a bit of action. He's lost his legs, parts of his hands, and his arm is off. He also lost the helmet that came with him. He's faded, scratched, chipped, and just doesn't have much going for him these days. He's been used probably as well as any action figure could have been used and we had lots of fun times together.
This may be a stretch, but I was thinking about that just a little bit and really hope my life is like this little action figure. I want to be able to give everything I can because that means I'm not staying in the package. I'm being useful and I'm giving back. If I would have given Ezra a spotless Craig still in the package ... well ... that would just mean he was never played with! What fun is that?
The honest truth is it's probably time to send Craig to G.I. Joe heaven ... but while he was here, he sure was used to his fullest potential. I hope I can say the same thing about my life. God didn't create us to stay in the package. He wants to take you out and "play" with you as much as possible. Don't hold back.
Personally, it was a GREAT night for me because our student leadership team led the entire night and they just NAILED it! I was so proud of them. There was a good energy in the room and our kids did lots of things to make that happen. We had kids passing out sticky notes with positive things written on them, kids were greeting at all the doors, we had some free candy waiting for everyone who checked in. We also did some really fun prize give-a-ways ... including a 6 pound bag of gummy bears ... and a fun game in our gym. We also had students share some of the cool stuff God has been recently doing in their lives. Kids virtually led every area of our night and it was so awesome to see that happening.
One of our girls, Allison, spoke and she really did an amazing job. Seriously, she did so much better than I would have done as a senior in high school. I was so impressed with her. Allison is one girl who has a "right" to speak on staying positive. She's won the mental attitude award on her sports teams at high school and also went through months of radiation treatment last year for a brain tumor. It certainly wasn't easy, but she had an amazing attitude throughout the entire ordeal and when she shared on what it means to stay positive, I wanted to listen. She did a great job of sharing from Scripture and making it very practical for our lives.
Next Week: We wrap up our series by looking at Integrity.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
1. Several families said that they started coming to Grace because their teenagers were involved in the youth ministry. Parents just LOVE IT when their kids love going to church. They were intrigued and wanted to check out the church for themselves.
2. There were several smaller kids at our Getting to Know Grace meeting and guess who did the child care ... yep ... teenagers. They served and they loved it!
3. We also had several of our high school students serve at our middle school retreat this past weekend. We didn't have as many adults go as I was hoping to have go. Our high schoolers stepped up in HUGE ways and served. It was awesome!
Anyway, just a few things that jumped out at me about the important role that teenagers can play in the church.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
I'm getting ready for our middle school retreat this weekend when I remembered our bathroom situation. I'm looking forward to building relationships with our middle schoolers ... but won't be doing it this way. I don't care how bad I have to "poo" I won't be doing it here. :)
A few captions come to mind:
- I believe in small groups, but not this much.
- The throne room.
- I'll just hold it. Thanks.
- Where two or more are gathered ...
- Somebody has never read the book "Boundaries."
We continued our 5 Ways to Be Awesome series by looking at how to live a life of gratitude. One word that has been used to describe this generation is the word "entitlement." It carries with it the idea that we want more and feel like we deserve better. We looked at the story of Jesus and the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11 - 19. In that passage all ten lepers were healed but only one came back to say "thanks." We discussed how we often take things for granted ... things we have, people in our lives, what people do for us ... and how the best way to fight against a sense of entitlement is simply to be grateful. If we wake up every day and choose gratefulness, we won't feel entitled. But, if we choose to feel entitled, we'll never feel grateful. We'll just keep wanting more and more and more and feeling that we deserve it. That's not a way to an awesome life.
Monday, September 13, 2010
I ran my first marathon on Saturday, September 11th. What an amazing experience! I can't really say that running a marathon has been a life-long goal of mine. I honestly never saw myself doing it or even having the desire to do it, but a few things pushed me in that direction. First, I just want to live a more healthy lifestyle. Second, I've really been wanting to push myself and do things that really make me uncomfortable ... things I'm not sure I can do. Finally, after my battle with cancer 3 years ago, I sort of wanted this to be a life statement. I'm here to do my best to live life to its fullest.
Here are a few of my random thoughts from the race:
- I feel so proud of myself. Not proud in an arrogant way or anything like that. I just feel proud that I did it. I've heard that only 1% of the population will ever run a marathon. I'm glad to be in that 1% and I just feel good about accomplishing that goal.
- My wife is simply AMAZING! If it wasn't for her support, I never would have been able to do this. There were times when my training got me up early or kept me out late. There were times when she had to do all of the work with the kids. There were times when we had to break our budget some because of running shoes or Gatorade or things like that. It's not easy training for a marathon. It's definitely not easy being the mom of two young kids while your husband is training for a marathon. She was 100% behind me the entire time and I just love how she knows how to support and encourage my manhood.
- I tried my best to really enjoy the race. I went in to it with the attitude of trying to soak it all in and enjoy it. Yeah, there are definitely times when running 26.2 miles isn't incredibly fun. Sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other, but I really tried to take note of things around me while I was running. I was able to see a beautiful sunrise. I saw 2 deer. I watched as I crossed the 21 mile mark because that was officially the furthest I had ever run. I wanted to enjoy the moment as much as I could and stay positive the entire race.
- My goal was to finish in 5 hours. I was SO on pace for that and then mile 19 happened. I saw Carol at mile 16 and she ran with me for a bit. When she stopped running with me I asked her to pray for me because my left leg was starting to hurt. I had been having some IT Band pain
since I did my 18 mile run during my training. Last year, I was training for a marathon when I experienced IT Band pain in my right leg. After several doctor visits, physical therapy visits, cortizone shots, and just about everything else you could think of, I had to have surgery on my right leg. So, when I felt the pain in my left leg I was starting to get discouraged in my training, but was able to get through it. Anyway, at mile 19 my IT Band started to hurt. I had to stop and walk for a bit. At mile 20 the same thing. At mile 21 the same thing. When I hit mile 22, my left leg completely locked up on me with just excruciating pain! I literally could not stand because it hurt so bad. I had to sit down. I prayed. I begged God to not let this happen. I started to cry because I was so angry and frustrated over this. Well, I lost at least 30 minutes of time because of it all, but was eventually able to get up and I told myself if I had to walk the last 4 miles I would walk. I had some black arm warmers with me (we started at 5:30am and it was chilly at the time). I tied those around my left leg and that seemed to help control the pain. I prayed and asked God to at least let me finish the race running and I was able to do that. NOTHING WAS GOING TO KEEP ME FROM FINISHING THAT RACE!
- I LOVED seeing my wife and kids at the finish line. When I passed them at mile 25 and heard them cheering for me, I started crying. It was so inspiring. Pastor Jon and his family also came down to the race to see me finish. It was awesome having people I love there! About 100 yards from the finish, Ezra and Pastor Jon's kids (Ellie, Ethan, and Elisha) all started running with me. We all crossed the finish together and then I saw my beautiful, beautiful wife ... and she actually kissed me ... sweaty and smelly as I was. It must be love. :)
- The temperature was perfect for running, but it rained for about 2 hours ... sometimes lightly other times down pouring!
- The winner ran the race in 2:29.
- There were some "humbling" moments during the race. First, they moved the race time up to 5:30am for the "slower" runners. There was a chance of thunderstorms later and they wanted to make sure everyone would have a chance to finish because we were told they would cancel the raise if it started to thunder. Anyway, the race director kept calling those of us with expected finishing times of 4:45 or longer the "slower runners." I was like, "Come on, man! How 'bout just calling us 'those who will finish in 4:45 or longer." Another humbling part was to know that when the "slower" group of runners started at 5:30am ... well, I was one of the slower of the slower runners. :) I ended up catching up to and passing several of those people though ... until my leg issue.
- My wife made the weekend SO special. She made special shirts for the kids and they all had signs cheering me on. We also were able to take the whole weekend off. We really had no plans and just enjoyed time together as a family. This was seriously one of the best weekends of my life!
18 ... number of weeks trained
1 ... number of weeks off because of a sickness from Satan himself
1 ... number of times I fell while running
3 ... number of week long out of state/country trips I took during training
386 ... total number of miles run while training
1815 ... ounces of water/gatorade I drank while training
4 ... number of blisters
1 ... toenail falling off
9 ... pieces of running equipment purchased
4632 ... number of minutes I ran while training
280 ... number of times I ran
280 ... number of times Ezra told me "Dad, don't get me sweaty!" when I came back from running. :)
Friday, September 10, 2010
We were in our 2nd week of our 5 Ways to Be Awesome series at axis. On this night we talked about the idea that if we want our lives to be awesome we have to be humble. People who are arrogant and proud THINK they are awesome, but they really aren't. Humility is so much more attractive than pride. I showed a short video clip of Colt McCoy's interview after Texas lost the National Championship game last year. Something about Colt McCoy ... he's won more games than any other quaterback in NCAA Division 1 history! In 2008 he won the Walter Camp Award and was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. In his senior year he won 13 of the top 15 major college player awards including quarterback of the year, offensive player of the year and most outstanding football player of the year. In other words, this guy's a stud and if anyone had a right to be a little arrogant or cocky, it would be him. But, in this interview he showed such humility. I was just blown away by it.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Someone left this note on my windshield this morning while I was in our weekly staff meeting at the Martin's Supermarket Starbucks. It's a little difficult to read but it says "Your right rear tire is going flat." What impressed me about the note is that a complete stranger thought enough to take the time out of his/her schedule, find a piece of paper and a pen, write the note, and then place it on my windshield. It made me feel good to receive a small act of kindness like this.
I was reminded of how important kindness is. Small gestures like this show so much. They help a person feel valued. And, it wasn't some HUGE thing that was done. A simple note that basically said, "I think you're important enough to know."
Thanks to the stranger who went of of their way to do this. You brought a smile to my face this morning ... and some air to my tire. :)
Monday, September 6, 2010
Before I get to the Cutdown weekend news, I want to focus on Pittsburgh for a few paragraphs. Yes, the Steelers. A certain someone's Super Bowl pick. In the wake of the team's preseason game Thursday, and the injury to presumptive starting quarterback Byron Leftwich, and the four-game suspension Ben Roethlisberger begins today, there might just be a little hometown-boy-makes-very-good fairy tale being written.
It's possible Steelers coach Mike Tomlin might play 35-year-old Charlie Batch at quarterback in the opener against Atlanta, or in one of the other three games before Roethlisberger returns to face Cleveland on Oct. 17. Or Tomlin could choose the electric but erratic Dennis Dixon to play some or all of the four games. Whatever, Batch will report for practice today without an idea what the immediate future holds for him.
"I don't know anything,'' he said over the weekend. "But I've thought about what it would be like to have that chance. It would be wonderful. I grew up here, and I dreamed about being Mark Malone or Walter Abercrombie some day. I thank God every day I wake up a Steeler. I get to put the black and gold on every day. I'm living the dream.''
Batch last started a game on opening day 2006, with Roethlisberger out after an emergency appendectomy. He completed 15 of 25 passes that day, three for touchdowns in a 28-17 victory over the Dolphins. That made him 3-0 as a replacement starter for the Steelers over a two-year period, something Tomlin might consider in deciding whether to start Batch and bring in Dixon as a changeup pitcher. Or he could give the job to Dixon. Neither would be a surprise. But if it's Batch, it would be the football gods saying, "Son, you deserve this.''
In 1996, when Batch was a quarterback at Eastern Michigan, his younger sister, Danyl Settles, was killed in the crossfire between rival gangs in the rough Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homestead, where the family grew up. Batch was drafted by Detroit in 1998 and played there for parts of four seasons. When the Lions let Batch go in 2002, the Steelers signed him as a backup. Knowing he was moving back home, he decided he had to do something about the hopelessness and violence that plagued the neighborhood where he was raised.
He started a summer basketball program for the boys and girls in town. The program began the Monday after school let out and ran until the weekend before football practice began in late July. It was a bridge, in essence, to keep kids with nothing to do off the streets. And there were a couple of wrinkles. Whereas kids in the Steel Valley School District had to have a 2.0 grade-point average to play sports, Batch made it 2.2 -- so kids would know it's a privilege, and not a right, to play in his league. And he coupled educational opportunities with the sport. Batch put computers in his foundation office in Homestead and set up a place for kids to have an after-school program -- in a community with no YMCA or Boys and Girls Club. He partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to begin taking 15 students a summer to the university to work with architecture professors to see if any of the students might have an architectural bent.
This year, 353 boys and girls, from grade school through high school, played in the Batch basketball league. All had the grades to play -- some because Batch is good friends with the high school guidance counselor, who goes to the kids on the borderline at the end of the third term and tells them: No 2.2, no basketball for you this summer.
When I visited Steelers camp in Latrobe, Pa., this summer, Batch told me about all of this, and I said to him, "You could easily be like so many other players -- just take your money, live the good life, buy a house in Boca and move there. Why didn't you do it?''
"Because I never want another family to feel the way my family did,'' Batch said. "Nothing existed there. If the kids have nothing to do, they all go hang out on one block until the cops tell them to move along. Then they just go find another block. They need something to do, something positive. I want them to understand that sports and education can go hand in hand. You've got to be good to be able to do the other.''
Terrelle Pryor, the Ohio State quarterback, was in the program. DeJuan Blair, the San Antonio Spur, was too. But Batch is more excited about the two kids who played who also found out they loved architecture. They're still in high school, and Batch is hoping they have a chance to further their education with academic scholarships.
Batch gives his cell phone out to all the participants in the program -- not so they'll call and ask him who's going to win the Steelers game that week. "I want them to know there's somebody there for them if they need to talk about anything,'' he said. "I get a few calls.''
I hope he gets another one Sunday from Mike Tomlin, telling him he's starting against Atlanta.
Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/peter_king/09/05/mmqb/index.html?xid=cnnbin&hpt=Sbin#ixzz0ylz1hp7K
Saturday, September 4, 2010
The Brown Bytes
Friday, September 3, 2010
Had a great night at axis Wednesday. We started our new series 5 Ways to Be Awesome
and over the next 5 weeks we'll be looking at 5 different attributes that, if applied to our lives, will help us be ... well ... awesome. Tonight's topic was simply Do More Than What's Expected of You. I said that phrase over and over through out the night and it was the one point I wanted to drive home to our kids. The idea is to understand that your reputation is one of the most important things you have (Proverbs 22:1). What you do, your work ethic, your attitude, your servant's heart represent you but even more importantly, if you are a follower of Jesus, they represent Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:23). I encouraged our kids to be willing to stretch themselves, to make themselves uncomfortable in order to keep growing. People notice those types of things. It helps their reputation and, more importantly, helps us represent Jesus well.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
We're kicking off our new series at axis called 5 Ways to Be Awesome. Over the next 5 weeks we'll be looking at 5 different character traits that, I believe, will help us be ... well ... awesome!
Something interesting I read in the book Training Camp by Jon Gordon was that in professional baseball, if a player has a .250 batting average, they're considered an average player. But, if a player has a .350 batting average, they're considered an all-star. A player with a .250 batting average can earn a decent living, but a player with a .350 batting average can make millions and millions of dollars and earn even more through endorsement deals. They'll be an all-star and may even make it in to the Hall of Fame. But, what's really interesting is the difference between a .250 batter and a .350 batter in a baseball seaons is only 1.7 hits a week. That's it. 1.7 hits a week is the difference between an average player and an All-Star. The nearly 2 extra hits a week generally happens because the player is willing to work hard at just doing ordinary things a little bit better than those around him. In other words, they're willing to do more than expected of them.
That will be our topic for the night: If you want to be awesome, do more than is expected of you. Can't wait to share and looking forward to seeing kids AND adults (myself at the top of the list) do more than expected of us.
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- Who Gets Invited to Dinner with God?
- Monday Miscellaneous
- The First One
- 9-22-10 Axis Wrap Up ... Stay Positive
- A Youth Ministry Reminder
- Monday Miscellaneous
- Ah .... I'll just hold it.
- Axis Update 9-15-10: 5 Ways to Be Awesome # 3 ......
- My Marathon Experience
- Marathon Training by the Numbers
- Axis Wrap Up 9-8-10 Life of Humility
- My Tire is Going Flat
- A Pittsburgh Feel Good Story
- The Team at Asia's Hope
- 9-1-10 Axis Wrap Up: Do More Than Expected
- Let's Be Awesome
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