Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Miscellaneous

- We are in a series at Grace Community Church called I Am Legacy. Really good stuff so far. Yesterday focused on Proverbs 3:1 - 6, the main point being that a good name ... a good reputation ... is one of the best legacy's we could ever leave (See Proverbs 22:1) I was deeply challenged about my family's name and what type of reputation will the Yaugers have. I long to leave a name that Carol and Ezra and Mercy and Torah and whatever other children God blesses us with ... I long to leave a name that they can be proud of ... a name they can wear on the back of their jersey's with pride ... a name instills a sense of confidence mixed with humility combined with a love for others ... a reputation that will last for generations. I'm just continually burdened by the responsibility that I have as a father. I am the "gate-keeper" of our home and bear the role of servant/leader. The more I see what is going on around me the more burdened I am for my family. God, please help us to have a good name and show your favor to my children's children's children.

- In just one week my Steelers will be playing in their 8th Super Bowl! I'm a nervous wreck already! Can't wait to watch the game. Two great teams ... two great franchises ... but only one great beard.

- I'm more convinced now, more than ever, that a small child is growing inside Brett Keisels beard.
- My wife and I had a date night on Saturday and as we were talking we came to the realization that our oldest will be starting school in a year. We looked at each other with the "that can't be right" look. But, sure enough, he'll be in school in a year. Amazing ... absolutely amazing how quickly times goes by. As a parent, the days can sometimes be long, but the years are always short. Again, just burdened to invest as much time as I can in to my kids.
- We have some really exciting events coming up at our church and youth ministry. February is going to be a busy month. It starts off with our senior high retreat this weekend. Then we have our Daddy/Daughter Dance ... our Totally Tropical Luau outreach for people in our community with various disabilities ... our Valentine's Day Blitz ... our winter beach bash at curch ... and our men's retreat. A busy month but all stuff strategically planned to get us growing and going.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Axis Wrap Up 1-26-10 The Path To a God-Guided Life

We continued The Path series at axis on Wednesday with the topic The Path to a God-Guided Life. I wanted to talk to our kids about how they could set themselves on a path to hear God's voice in their life. Here are a couple of the high-lited ideas from the talk:

- God is active in your life. Sometimes we get the idea that God is just this disconnected presence who isn't all to concerned with our personal lives. When I read the Bible, I see that nothing could be further from the truth. God is approachable. God is available. God is active and desires to help guide us on a path that will allow us to be a part of His bigger plan.

- The Bible says in Galatians 5:16 "So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves." It also says in Galatians 5:25 "Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives." I talked about who the Holy Spirit is and that every follower of Jesus has the very presence of God (the Holy Spirit) living inside of them. Part of the Holy Spirit's role is to guide us. Part of our role is to learn how to listen.

- The primary way that I hear God's voice is through the Bible. It's nothing "fancy" or "mystical." If I want to understand what God wants for me and how I can be a part of His bigger plan, the best way to do that is simply by spending time reading what He has already given to us. When I read the Bible I discover more about God's character, I discover what He desires for my life, and I discover how life is to best be lived. It's His road map for living.

- There are certainly times, though, when the whole mysterious nature of God comes in to play. Again, I believe He is active in our lives and I wake up every day asking God to help me follow His lead. I expect Him to lead me and so I try to be senstive to His leading. That means we'll often sense the Holy Spirit leading us to do something or prompting us to do something or nudging us in a certain direction ... it's hearing God's "voice." Here is one example from my recent trip to Nicaragua of that and another example of it from a youth conference I attending this past summer.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Miscellaneous

- Have to admit, I'm pretty pumped today about the Pittsburgh Steelers victory in the AFC Championship game last night. I'm a huge Steelers fan. I grew up in Southwest PA where cheering for the Steelers is simply a way of life. So, I'll pretty much be going crazy these next two weeks hearing all of the Super Bowl hype and waiting patiently for the game to start.

- Two years ago, when the Steelers won Super Bowl 43, this is how the Fayette County Fair in Uniontown, PA (my home town) announced the Steeler victory.

- Yes, we are huge fans, but not the greatest spellars.

- Spent the weekend with our staff and elders at a staff/elder/wives retreat. It was awesome to spend time with each other and, not only were there just fun moments, but there were also a lot of very special moments as well ... times spent sharing how we long to be remembered when we pass on ... a time praying for our lead pastor and his family, just letting him know "we have his back" ... re-visiting goals the church set in 2002 and being able to see where God has brought us since then ... taking a walk in 3 degree weather to the spot of our very first Wild at Heart men's retreat and remembering the fun times. Great weekend.

- My wife starts back to work tomorrow. She's a student therapist at Grace College and has worked there for nearly 9 years. She works 2 days a week and I just have so much respect for what she does. She loves her job and is incredibly gifted at it, but her heart is always at home. How she manages to work part-time and still manage our home and our family so incredibly well just amazes me. Tomorrow I'm sure she'll be going to work with missed emotions ... excited to start back and invest in the lives of the students she meets with, but also torn because she LOVES being at home with our children. I'm so thankful for her and the impact she has had on me and the way she loves our kids.

- We are in the planning stages of a short vacation coming up in March. We are planning a weekend trip to Gettysburg to celebrated Carol's dad's 70th birthday. I'm so excited because I LOVE history and can't wait to visit such "hallowed" ground. I wouldn't be surprised if I get a bit emotional thinking about all that happened there in our country's history.

- I know I'm a little behind in this news, but while reading online that Ed Mauser, the oldest living member of The Band of Brothers from WWII passed away I found out that Major Richard Winters, also from The Band of Brothers passed away on January 2nd. I hadn't heard about that and was saddened to find out because Band of Brothers is one of my favorite books and also one of my favorite shows/mini-series. I gained so much repsect for what these men did in fighting for our country's freedom and, even though none of them would say this about themselves, I looked at them as true heroes for how the fought for our country and for each other. The leadership skills the Dick Winters showed were truly inspiring to me. He just had such insight and wisdom and bravery and just knew how to inspire men. I hope I can take those same skills in to my ministry position.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Axis Wrap Up 1-19-11 The Path to a Healthy Life

Health is something that I've really come to appreciate every since my cancer diagnosis in 2007. Life was good. I was 37 years old. I felt great. My wife was 9 months pregnant with our first child and then BAM ... everything changed.

I went through 5 months of chemotherapy treatments. I lost all of my hair. I felt tired. I felt weak. I couldn't do what I used to be able to do. Sometimes getting out of bed was a struggle for me. Surprisingly enough, one of the effects of my chemotherapy treatments was weight gain. Some of the medication combined with a lack of activity combined with just poor eating caused me to balloon up in weight to over 250 pounds.

Once I learned that my cancer was in remission and I started to feel better I realized that I needed a plan to take the extra weight off. So, I started on a path to a healthy life. I started to run. I started to just become more active. I changed my diet. Around 90% of what we eat as a family is organic now. I ran a 1/2 marathon in 2009. I ran a full marathon in 2010. I learning that a healthy life IS a lifestyle and I look at my health as a gift from God and I want to be faithful with what He has given me.

So, I took on the challenge of talking to our teenagers about health at axis. It's not the easiest topic to talk to teenagers about. Most are just not concerned about eating right or taking the best care of the bodies right now. I mean, seriously, a teenager can eat 10 pieces of pizza and not even think twice about it. Those calories just burn off so quickly! But, I really tried to talk to them about getting on a path to a healthy life and to understand that our eating and exercise choices WILL catch up with us ... sometimes as soon as the freshman year in college (can anyone say "Freshman 15").

I talked about three things to our kids. First, that obesity is not just a physical issue ... it's a spiritual issue as well. Proverbs 23:19 - 21 talks about the dangers of being a "glutton." And, 1 Corinthians 6:19 - 20 talks about our bodies being the "temple of the Holy Spirit." God wants our lives to thrive and to flourish. Satan wants our lives to fail. 1 out of 8 deaths in America this year will be related to being over weight. It's hard to thrive if we are not taking the proper care of our bodies.

Secondly, I talked to our kids about the importance of not focusing on your body. There are a so many different body types. Some are lean, some are stocky, some are tall, some are short, and people just carry weight differently. Being healthy is NOT about having a great body. It's simply about being healthy so we can thrive for God, be creative for God, help others for God. If we are focusing on our body and constantly comparing ourselves to others we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Finally, I gave them 6 words to take home with them: Eat Right, Move Right, Think Right. Just eat healthfully. Just because you can eat 3 Big Macs doesn't mean you should. Also, just become more active. And, finally, think right ... the idea of thinking positively about yourself and understanding that the Holy Spirit develops in us self control. We are not a victim of our food choices.

To shake things up a bit, I took a page our of our lead Pastors book, and ran on a treadmill while I talked to our kids. It was a really effective way to talk about health. And, I challenged our kids to consider running 1 or 2 races in June. We have something called The Sunburst on June 4th, and I challenged our kids to consider running the 5K or the half marathon not only to get healthy but to also raise money for Asia's Hope ... an orphanage we support in Cambodia and Thailand.

Below is a short video clip of what it was like teaching.

I am certainly not a "health nut." I still eat sweets. I love Starbucks (and so does Jesus). But, what I'm learning to do is enjoy those things in moderation and I'm learning how to make calories work for you instead of against you. It's a daily process for me ... but a great path to be on.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

By the End of the Year

Used this idea I found at the More Than Dodgeball blog and thought it would be great at our youth ministry. We're going through a series called The Path right now ... the idea that our direction determines where we end up. I asked our kids to think through where they want to be at the end of the year ... what do they want to be known for? Here's a sample of the destinations some of our kids have set for themselves.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Whatever Happened to Modesty?

I thought these were great words on modesty from Michael Hyatt's blog.

I watched MTVs VMA awards last night. Some of my daughters’ friends are in the band Paramore, and they were nominated for an award. And—to be honest—I wanted to see how Britney Spears would do, since we are publishing her mom’s book next week.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen MTV, but I was flabbergasted. I could not believe the sensuality and decadence I witnessed. Gail and I finally had to turn it off. We just couldn’t take it any more.

As I thought about my experience later, it made me sad. I am the father of five daughters. So perhaps I’m just a little overly sensitive. But I was shocked at the complete absence of modesty, the ridicule of virginity, and the latent misogyny displayed by Russell Brand and many of the artists themselves.

One of the few redeeming moments in the evening was when Jordin Sparks, referring to Brand’s contempt for chastity, said,

I just have one thing to say about promise rings: It’s not bad to wear a promise ring, because not everybody, guy or girl, wants to be a slut.”

Touché. It must have struck a nerve, because the next time Brand appeared, he apologized for his comments. Sort of.

Regardless, it got me to thinking, Where are these girls fathers? Has anyone ever taught them the concept of modesty? Or have all the men in their lives simply exploited them as sex objects

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a prude. But I do think some basic guidelines are in order. These are not rules about skirt length or the amount of cleavage you can show. I’m just not a very good legalist; they are simply guidelines.

I gave these to my girls when they were growing up. Frankly, they haven’t been perfect in following them. Modern culture exerts a powerful influence. Nevertheless, I wanted them to have something that would transcend current fashion and guide their attire once they were older and, perhaps, a little wiser.

Here they are: “Four Guidelines for Modesty”:

1.If you have trouble getting into it or out of it, it is probably not modest.
2.If you have to be careful when you sit down or bend over, it is probably not modest.
3.If people look at any part of your body before looking at your face, it is probably not modest.
4.If you can see your most private body parts or an outline of those parts under the fabric, it is probably not modest.

If you think these guidelines are helpful, you might want to pass them along to the young women you know. Evidently, not many are getting the message elsewhere.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Something New in Our Youth Ministry

It's hard to believe that I've been in our youth ministry for 8 1/2 years. I've seen a lot happen in those nearly 9 years ... some great stuff and some not so great stuff. I've also had a lot of ideas in those nearly 9 years ... again ... some winners and some losers! I'm trying something a little new this year.

I really desire to reach out to parents more. I send out visitor letters to any student who visits our ministry for the first time. Just a simple, hand-written letter that lets them know I'm so glad they stopped by. In addition to that, I'll also be sending out a letter to their parents. A little something that says "thank you" and also briefly explains what our youth ministry is about.

It's not some huge, ground breaking idea, but something small and tangible that, I feel, will let parents know we truly care about their family and desire to partner with them.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Axis Wrap Up 1-12-11 The Path

I'm pretty excited about the next 5 weeks in our youth ministry. We started a new series on Wednesday called The Path and it all revolves around the idea that the direction we choose to go will determine where we end up. This week was a set up for the rest of the series. I tried to be really blunt and really honest with our kids and shared with them how we often play the "victim" role in life when in reality many times our situation is simply a result of a path we willingly chose to go down. Every path has a destination and our direction determines where we end up. So often we get angry with God for how things are going in our life but the reality is that many times our situation in life is based on our own decisions.

We looked at a story in Matthew 19:16 - 22 about a guy who desired a specific thing for his life but when offered the path to get there, refused to take it. I shared some examples revolving around dating, grades, family life, weight, and our relationship with God. So many times I'll hear teenagers say that they want to have great relationships or great grades or they want their family life to be better ... but I honestly shared with them that what I so often see are kids not taking a path that will lead to those things. I encouraged our kids to think about where they want to be at the end of the year in several different areas of life and then honestly ask the question "Is the path I'm currently on leading there?"

I wrapped up our night by letting our kids know that the awesome thing about God is that He always provides an exit ramp to the right path. If we've made poor choices or feel like we're going in a wrong direction I told them the "ABC's" of getting on the right path:

Acknowledge you need God's help. We can't do it on our own and often don't want to do it on our own.
Believe God has big plans for you. God's word tells us that He wants us to live a life in freedom and victory. His word tells us that He wants our lives to flourish and prosper. His word tells us that He wants us to have an "abundant" life. But, if we don't believe that we won't live that.
Confess. If we've been on wrong paths, just be honest with God and confess it to Him. Ask Him to help you get on the right path.

Psalm 40:2 says "He (God) lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." I so long for our students to have a firm place to stand and I long for their lives to flourish. My prayer is that this series will help them understand (and help me to better understand) how to set my life on a path for success.

Next Week: The Path to a Healthy Life

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Good Friend Jon Started a Blog

My good friend Jon Rauch, also our children's pastor at Grace, started a blog today. You can find it here. You'll want to read it because he talks a lot about kids ministry AND how much he likes me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Feels Like Home

A friend of mine told me that he bought a study Bible the other day. It really got me thinking about my Bible. I honestly have several Bibles at home and in my office, but this Bible is by far the one where I feel most "at home." It was given to me in 1994 by a group of kids I worked with at a small church. Since that time I have filled it with notes and scribbles and high lights and papers. A dog has chewed on it and I've accidentally spilled things on it. But, if I ever need to know where a specific passage is in the Bible, I always go to this one. It's by far the one that holds the most memories for me and will always be in my possession.

I'm sure that group of teenagers who bought this Bible for me had no idea what it would mean to me. At that time, I had no idea what it would mean either, but I'm so thankful for it and for God's word. I will often pray in the mornings "God, help me to believe that Your word is alive and active in my life." His words are powerful and can help guide us through life.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mercy!

Today is my beautiful Mercy's birthday. It's amazing how quickly 2 years can go by! I remember the picture below from the day she was born and just wondering what she was going to be like and how we would adjust to having 2 kids instead of just one. Well, whatever I thought it was going to be like hasn't even compared to the joy and the love and the excitement she has brought to my life and to our family. God has blessed us so much and I simply cannot imagine life without Mercy. She is full of life, very independent, loves to laugh and play, nurturing, and is always up for a cuddle.

Happy birthday to my pretty girl!

We gave Mercy her choice of breakfast at home. She chose grapefruit, blueberries, and Chex. I was beginning to wonder if she really WAS my daughter until we asked her where she wanted to go to this morning and she said Dunkin Donuts. Don't need a DNA test to know that's my girl!

We had a small party for her last night. It was so much fun! We really do encourage her to use a fork and spoon, but you'd never know it by looking at these two pics.

She really felt like "one of the girls" last night and, just by the look in her eyes, she felt incredibly loved and cherished.

After breakfast at home this morning, she opened her birthday gifts. A pair of "Jessie" pajamas and a "Woody" doll from Toy Story. She didn't like it at all.

Happy Birthday, Mercy! I love my baby girl!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Axis Wrap Up 1-5-11 Best Year Ever

I really feel burdened for our kids and our youth ministry. I so wish every one of our teenagers could be my age for just 5 minutes and be able to see their life 20 years down the road. I long for the kids in our youth ministry to have the wisdom of God and to be able to ask themselves the question "Where will this decision take me in the future?" I woke up the other night burdened to pray for our youth ministry and for our kids.

That's why at axis tonight we spent time talking about how to have the best year ever. I watched Andy Stanley talk about the Passion 2011 conference online and used much of what he shared in what I talked about to our kids.

The basic concept of the talk was that our cravings, our desires, our appetites will control us or we will control them. So many lives have been derailed and families have been broken because of not being able to control our desires. I used the story in Genesis 25:29 - 34 to illustrate how one man derailed his entire future because he was so caught up in the moment that he could not see what his one choice would cost him.

At the end of our time I gave kids an opportunity to do some business with God. It was great to see so many kids come forward and kneel and pray and really seek God's face. A great night and a good tone to set the stage for the new year.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday Miscellaneous

- My first post of 2011. Pretty exciting. I'm continually amazed at how quickly each year continues to go by. That always reminds me to try to make the most of every moment ... to not live in the past (but don't forget it either) and to not always look to the future (but do have a vision for it). I'm learning that life often seems to be a balance of those three things, but the one that seems to get overlooked the most is simply just living in the moment. A prayer I try to pray every morning is "God, help me to keep in step with the Holy Spirit." If I'm doing that, my future will be taken care of and, although my past shapes me, it won't define me.

- I'm so thankful that I was able to spend 4 incredible days with my family last week with "technically" only having to use 1 vacation day. I took Wednesday off, Thursday is my typical day off, and Friday and Saturday were days holidays for us at Grace, so it worked out nicely. After a fairly busy Christmas season, it was nice to relax and just be at home with my wife and kids.

- On New Year's Day we spent time doing some fun things at the house. We made and decorated cookies. Although, Ezra and Mercy seemed to eat more than they decorated.

- Torah enjoyed New Year's Day by taking a nice nap and getting so close to finding her thumb.

- We finished our New Year's Day by roast hot dogs in our fireplace and having a "Living Room Picnic." I think this may be a new tradition for our family.

- I'm so pumped about the Steelers win yesterday which means a first round bye for them. Play off football is awesome!

- I still have to set some goals for the year. I've been working on some vision for our youth ministry and trying to prayerfully create a plan for the next 6 months. I'm hoping to do that for my personal life as well. The funniest resolution I've heard so far is "It used to be 'six-pack abs by summer' ... now it's 'avoid diabetes by December.'" That just really made me laugh! And, often describes my "weight" resolutions.

- Mercy turns 2 this week. Unreal.

- Pastor Jim's birthday is tomorrow. He's also excited because he made the AARP's list of most influential centarians. Happy Birthday, Jim!

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