Friday, February 25, 2011

Axis Wrap Up 2/23/11 - How Two

Had a really good night at axis Wednesday. This was a "stand alone" message between series. We wrapped up The Path series last week and we start our Faceless series next week ... more on that to come. So, on this night I simply spoke on How Two: Two Ways Two Grow Closer Two God.

Chuck Noll, famed coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers once said that the best teams simply do ordinary things better than anyone else. I feel that's the same in our relationship with God. Often we look for "magic" formulas or something amazing that we need to be doing, but to grow in a relationship with God, you simply can't do it unless you're spending time in prayer and spending time in the Bible. So, I simply talked about the fundamentals: prayer and Bible reading.

It was a really good night and we passed out a ton of resources on prayer and Bible study. I challenged our kids to take ownership of their faith and to realize that if they want to grow, it doesn't just happen. They need to put their time in. One does that by talking to God and reading about God.

Next Week: Faceless. Here's a brief video of what we'll be talking about.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why I Love My Church

Last week was a very busy week but it reminded me so much of why I love being a part of Grace Community. It started on Sunday afternoon. After 3 services, I met with our student leadership team. We spent time just talking through student leadership stuff and then the rest of our time together was spent "tagging" over 3000 candy bars that we were going to pass out at intersections and local businesses for Valentine's Day. I loved seeing our kids do so much of the "behind he scenes" work to make this happen.

Then, on Monday (Valentine's Day) we had our Hershey Blitz. It's real simple ... we spent the morning at intersections giving out free Hershey Bars to people. The "tag" on the Hershey Bar simply said "On this day, remember nobody loves you more than Jesus." We also had our church info and service times on it. We just wanted to be out in the community letting people know that our church is "in the community and for the community." We spent the afternoon going to businesses throughout town, walking in, and just passing out the Hershey Bars to all the employees. Lots of fun and a cool way to do something kind.

Here is a video of some of our people passing out Hershey Bars.

During the week I was also able to meet with some of the leaders of the Momentum Youth Conference and help talk about how to get teenaagers at the Conference serving and reaching out to people in the area where the conference will be held this year. I was really thankful for the opportunity to be a small part of such a cool meeting.

On Friday night our church hosted a Totally Tropical Luau for people will disabilities in our community. Over 120 people came and were treated to an incredible beach party full of food and games. You can read more about it right here.

Then, on Sunday we had out Beach Bash. Our people were encouraged to wear shorts, flip flops, anything "beachy." We someone grilling brats and steaks at the front door and passing out samples. Beach music was playing in the foyer. The whole place was decked out with beach decorations, surf boards, and lots of other beach stuff. We had some fun games and competitions for people to participate in including a "who can hold their breath the longest in the baptistry" competition. So fun!

The whole reason behind the Beach Bash on a Sunday morning was to help break up the duldrums of winter. An Indiana winter can be long, cold, and seem to last forever ... especially come February. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder and just get the "winter blues." We wanted to provide something different for people to be a part of and something that would hopefully uplift their spirits. The sermon was on beating the blues and the worship time at the end was just full of songs declaring how great and awesome our God is! I loved seeing our teenagers lead the way in the Link in worship coming up front and just dancing before God. So many comments on what a blessing the day was for people including this one I received over Facebook: "I was able to introduce myself to an older couple and ask if they had been to Grace before. Their son goes and they have been a few times. I for-warned them of the upcoming events of the service and he laughed. I met them after the sevice and you should have seen the smile on his face, and you could sense the energy coming from him. They loved it. Praise be to the Lord!!!!!!"
I love the passion of this church to reach the community and point them to Jesus and not be afraid to try something a little different in order to make it happen. I have to admit ... I was pretty tired by Sunday afternoon and crashed for a bit in front of the TV, but it was all worth it and I am so proud of our church and our people.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fun at My Expense

We recently took our senior high youth ministry to Kalahari for a weekend retreat. Lots of fun and lots of great time learning and hanging out with our kids. One of the things that was done on the retreat is blowing up all the heads of youth pastors that were there and putting them on poles to be paraded around. It was pretty funny. We'll some of the volunteers at axis decided to take it one step further and they just emailed me some of the fun they had with my ... well ... head. Thanks Aaron and Galen for the laughs!

We have no idea who the girl in the elevator is, but I love the expression on her face!

Check out the picture below and you'll understand why a shower was important.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mercy and me before the big Daddy Daughter Dance. She looks absolutely beautiful!

I Haven't Taken a Date to a Dance Since My Senior Prom

... but that changed last night.

We had our annual Daddy Daughter Dance at Grace Community Church and it's honestly one of my favorite events that we do. The reason is because little girls and adult women come to this dance with their dad and you can just see the look of "I feel cherished" in their eyes. I'm not sure what it is, but there is just something in us that seeks approval from our fathers. From the time a toddler can say "Daddy, look at what I can do!" there is this innate desire in us to have our dad's approval ... to have them say "I'm proud of you" or "You look beautiful." I've talked with teenagers who are struggling because they feel like their dad doesn't love them. I've talked with adults whose "adult" struggles can be traced back to their desire to simply feel like their dad approves. Dads are given an incredible responsibility in their family.

The Daddy Daughter Dance is just a simple way for us as a church to provide an opportunity for dads to cherish their daughters ... young and old alike. We had so much fun and it was particularly fun for me because I was able to bring my daughter Mercy to the dance. She looked beautiful!

The dance is just that ... a dance! Lots of loud music that just makes you want to move! There's some slow songs and some classic dance songs and, with the invention of the Wii, we've been able to add Just Dance 1 and 2 to the mix. That's really changed things because it gives the feel that, while dancing, everyone's eyes are on the screen and NOT on you! It gives a little more freedom to ... well ... just dance. Below are some pics from the night.

This picture is just classic

The photographer told me that "Shoes on the table would never happen if a mom was present."

Our lead pastor "cuttin' a rug" with his daughter Hannah.

Our children's pastor dancin' it up with his daughter Ellie.

I believe this is the Cha Cha Slide.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Axis Wrap Up 2-9-11 The Beach Bash

It's currently 4 degrees but our youth ministry laughed in the face of the freezing temperatures and had a WINTER BEACH BASH! We decorated our facility with palm trees, pink flamingos, and lots of other "beachy" stuff. We served root beer floats with umbrellas straws. We had beach music playing and we danced to a I Get Around and Surfin' Bird on Just Dance. It was really a fun night. By this time of the year, it seems like most of us are just getting a little sick of the snow and the cold so we wanted to do something to up lift our teenagers spirits.

Our student leaders planned the night and also spoke during the night. We continued The Path series and focused on how to get on a path to a thriving relationship with God. 4 of our student leaders taught on our 4 core values as a youth ministry: 1) Knowing God 2) Serving Others 3) Involved in the lives of others 4) Having an impact by sharing Jesus. They did a great job and I was very proud of them.

There was a ton of energy in the room ... at times energy that was hard to bring in ... but well worth it. I feel like kids left just having a great time and had a good opportunity to connect with our Savior.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What I Learn from a Loss

It's no secret that I'm a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so their loss in the Super Bowl last night was pretty tough to swallow. I am too young to remember all of the Steeler Super Bowl victories from the 70's. I'm old enough to remember their 4 most recent Super Bowls: A loss in 1995, a win in 2005, a win in 2008, and a loss yesterday. It's definitely more fun to be on the winning side of things than the losing side of things, but their loss got me thinking about a couple of "life" observations.

1. Caring is worth it. If I didn't care about them as a team, then their loss yesterday really wouldn't bother me. Yeah, it would definitely be nice to wake up on the Monday morning after a loss and not feel down or angry or upset, but because I do care I feel down and angry and upset. It's really hard to see your team lose. But caring is worth it because it allows you to experience the highs as well as the lows. In life, we'll often keep ourselves distant from people or "hidden" emotionally because we don't want to open ourselves up too much. Sometimes in relationships we get hurt and often to protect ourselves from getting hurt again we keep ourselves distant and guarded and never open up. Sure, that will protect you from getting hurt but it will also keep you from experiencing the joy of intimate relationships. You can't truly experience the "highs" until you're willing to open yourself up to some potential "lows." Caring is risky ... but it's worth it.

2. You can only lose if you're actually in the game. Losing stinks! I'm just a fan and I'm totally bummed out. I can't imagine what the players must feel like. It stinks to lose but in competition someone wins and someone loses. That's just how it is. In life we'll have two choices: Get in the game or stay out of the game. The danger of getting in the game is that, yes, you may lose ... and it will hurt ... and it may take a while to get over it. But, you can never win until you're willing to open yourself up to a loss. If you're afraid of losing you'll never really do anything of significance. You'll just go through your life playing it safe all the time. Sure, you may not experience the pain of a loss ... but honestly you're not losing simply because you're not in the game. Not losing doesn't necessarily make you a winner. Some people are so afraid of losing that they simply won't do anything. You can only win if you put yourself in the game.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

History of the Terrible Towel

I'm a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan. They are a team rich with history and full of stories. Growing up in Western PA, cheering for the Steelers is just a way of life. It's part of the hard-nosed, blue-collar culture that makes Western PA what it is. In a part of the country that has seen its share of struggles and hard times, the Steelers have always provided an escape ... a chance to lay aside the realities of life for 3 1/2 hours on a Sunday afternoon and lose yourself in a game.
The picture above shows just how fanatic Steeler fans are. A hospital in Pittsburgh wrapped all the new borns in Terrible Towels. You can read about it here. Much better than wrapping newborns in cheese, which is probably what they're doing in Green Bay right now.

There's also an incredibly rich history behind the Terrible Towel including the fact that since 1996, all of the proceeds from the Terrible Towel ... yes ... ALL of them, go to help a Pittsburgh School that specializes in helping student with mental handicaps. It really is a great story and you can read about it here.
Go Steelers!

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