Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Could Really Use $10

On June 13- 20 I'll be leading a group of teenagers on a mission trip to Nicaragua.  I'm trying to raise $900 to cover the expenses of the trip.  I'm trying to ease the financial "ask" as much as I can and figured that $10 ... while still a lot ... isn't too difficult to give.  So, I'm humbling asking for 90 people to be willing to give $10 in order to help with this trip.  I've never tried to raise money in this way before, but again, instead of asking for 9 people to give $100 thought I'd attempt to make it easier financially and attempt to get 90 people to give $10.00. 

If you feel led to help support me on this trip, I would be incredibly grateful! Any donations can be given through Grace Community Church (20076 County Road 36  Goshen, IN  46526) simply by filling out the form below. But, most importantly I would covet your prayers.   If you'd like to read about some of our experience our experiences in Nicaragua last year, you can do so by going here.

I have prayerfully considered donating $___________________ to Rich Yauger for his mission trip to Nicaragua.

Name: _____________________________________________

Due to IRS regulations, Grace Community Church cannot refund your gift if I cannot go unless the whole project is cancelled. All gifts will be used for ongoing short term ministry. Please make checks payable to Grace Community Church. NOTE: Please do not put my name on your check in the memo line or you will not be able to receive tax credit at the end of the year.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Don't Date Until ...

I really believe that dating is one of the fastest things that can derail the life of a teenager.  I'm not against dating by any means, but I am against dating the wrong person and in my 9 years as the leader of our youth ministry, I have unfortunately seen many lives derailed because of poor choices in dating.  So, we started a new series Wednesday night at axis called Don't Date Until ...

Wednesday the topic was Don't Date Until You're Willing to Slow Down.  Relationships have a tendency to move SOOO fast today.  You like her, she likes you and all of the sudden teenagers are moving faster than a NASCAR pit crew, moving, in my opinion way too fast emotionally and physically.  I really believe that, especially at this stage of life, dating for a middle or high school student should move slowly.  The healthiest relationships for middle or high school students are the ones that progress slowly and in stages.  So, I shared 5 things that would help teenagers know "why" to slow down and "how" to slow down.

1) Realize It's OK to Be Single.  Genesis 1:18 talks about God creating men and women with a desire to be together ... and that's a good thing.  But, there's a difference between a desire for a boyfriend/girlfriend and feeling the pressure to have one.  I think teens feel a lot of pressure these days to be dating, but it's totally OK if they aren't.  The more a teenager realizes that the less pressure they may feel to move in to a dating relationship.

2) It Probably Won't Last.  Two of our wonderful adult volunteers were high school sweethearts.  They have a wonderful marriage now and great stories to share.  But, they are by far the exception.  A high majority of high school relationships will not last beyond high school.  If a teenager feels that the relationship they are in is meant to last forever it will often cause them to make some stupid mistakes in an effort to keep the relationship lasting forever.  They'll begin to force things ... and if you have to "force" a relationship at that stage of life, it's not the right relationship for you.  Remembering that a majority of high school relationships will not last will take the pressure off in dating, keep things balanced, and, I believe, make dating more enjoyable.

3) Think More About God Than Dating.  God should receive the best of our attention, but we often focus on a guy or a girl way more than we do our God.  I challenged our kids to think about what it would be like if they spent as much time focusing on God and His promises for their life as they did a potential date.  Our lives would be dramatically different.

4) Set Standards.  Set values and standards and don't compromise.  Sometimes I think the only values kids have in dating is a pulse!  We shared some fun values for them to set like "If there's drama, they don't meet mama."  And, "If they ain't fun, they ain't the one."  But, also talked about setting serious standards for anyone that we may go out with ... are they a follower of Jesus?  How do they talk?  How do they dress? 

5) Put Limits on the Amount of Time You Spend with Someone.  This is very important, especially at a teenagers stage of life.  I asked for a show of hands of kids who had a "best friend" and then all of the sudden their best friend started dating and it was like they dropped off the face of the earth!  A majority of kids raised their hands and you could tell it was a serious issue with the kids in our room.  I just feel its important to limit the amount of time you spend with someone you're dating (especially in high school) because you're not meant at this stage of life to invest all of your time in to one person.  That happens in marriage, but even then you still need a healthy balance of other friendships. 

Next Week:  Don't Date Until You're Willing to Be a Man.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Some High Flying Fun at Church

Here's a link to our local paper's article on Grace Community's Easter Egg Hunt.  I love the quotes from our people.  They totally get the reason behind why we do this. 

Monday Miscellaneous

- Whew!  Definitely recovering from a busy week last week.  Lots of amazing stuff to be involved with:  5 Star after school program, seeing over 2000 shoes be shipped off, figuring out Bible studies for our youth ministry, working on securing tickets for our summer mission trip, organizing the deposits for our youth conference, Communion, our community Easter Egg Hunt, and being a part of the largest services we've ever had at Grace Community on Easter.  By the end of Sunday night, I was a bit tired ... but it was a good tired.

- To my knowleged, our Easter services were the largest that we've ever had at Grace Community.  There was so much excitement in the air and you just knew God was going to do something BIG as we celebrated Jesus.  I love our church and how God moved on Sunday.  Our theme was "Everything Changes When You Flip the Switch."  It's the idea of the difference the power of the resurrection of Jesus can make in our lives.  We gave people an opportunity to respond to the Gospel and if people made a decision we asked them to come up front and "flip a switch" which turned on a light.  Below is the very first person to come up on stage and "flip the switch."  You can read about the experience on Pastor Jim's blog.  By the end of the day, every light on the board was lit up!  Woo Hoo!

- After our services, we had our Community Easter Egg Hunt.  We had over 28,000 eggs, 200 hundred pairs of sunglasses, $400 in cash, 16 bikes, and numerous gift cards to be given away.  It was such a great day.  Below are a few pictures from the event.

Volunteers laying out over 28,000 eggs

We're estimating there were over 4,000 people on our property ready to be a part of the Easter Egg Hunt

We had 2 fire trucks drop sunglasses and cash prizes from their fire ladders to 7th - 12th graders.

- This morning I made my annual trek to the cancer center for a routine scan.  Scans are just a part of my life now ... something I get to experience once a year ever since being diagnosed.  Always a strange feeling.  I feel great.  I feel healthy.  But somewhere in the back of my mind is the thought "it could always come back."  I don't dwell on it or really even think about it much.  But, laying on the CT table always brings up such pleasant thoughts.  I get to meet with my new oncologist Wednesday and am expecting good news.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Axis Wrap Up 4-20-11 Rescued


We had a really powerful night at axis on Wednesday reflecting on what Jesus did for us on the cross.  We focused on how Jesus' body was broken so that our broken relationship with God could be healed ... so that we could be "rescued." 

We set the stage for the night by watching this video which really shows the impact of what Jesus did for us on the cross.  We then gave our kids an opportunity to take the "bread and the cup" because Jesus said "Whenver you eat and drink, remember ... I've rescued you!"  (1 Corinthians 11:24 - 25).  We then gave kids an opportunity to write or draw something to express their thanks to Jesus.  It was an awesome experience and I loved reading what kids wrote.

To close the night I simply shared the Gospel.  It wasn't anything fancy.  I just explained the Gospel to kids and gave them a chance to respond.  I was so excited to see kids ask Jesus to take charge of their life!  I'm always amazed at God's love for us. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

We Have Enough

Just a quick update from my previous post ... over $52,000 was raised and that's enough to build a new, PERMANENT home for our orphans in Cambodia on the land pictured above!  Woo Hoo! 

Do We Have Enough Yet?

Yesterday we took a special offering for Asia's Hope at our church.  A couple of years ago our church had the incredible opportunity to start two orphanages to help orphaned children Thailand and Cambodia.  It's an amazing ministry and it's one of the most incredible things our church has had the opportunity to be a part of.  Anyway, a little over a year ago our church was able to purchase land in Cambodia for the orphanage.  This year, we want to build a permanent home for our rescued orphans there in Battambang. 

We had talked about the offering for a couple of weeks.  Anyway, my wife and I talked to our son about giving to Asia's Hope.  He began to ask questions about why.  So, we explained that the kids do not have a mommy or a daddy and they also need a home to stay in.  He immediately said he wanted to give the money in his piggy bank ... and not just some of it but ALL of it.  We asked him if he was sure he wanted to give it all and he was insistent that he did.  So, we began to count the money out and as we counted he kept saying "Do we have enough yet?  Do we have enough to build a home for the kids with no home?"  It was seriously one of the most heart touching things EVER! 

So, at church yesterday I walked up front with my son and watched him give a whole bag full of change and bills to the "kids without a home."  I was so challenged by my son's generosity.  It was one of those "dad" moments that I will never forget. 

We are still counting the money!  Can't wait to find out how much we were able to raise for our kids.  If you are interested in giving toward Asia's Hope you can do so by going to there website here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Axis Wrap Up 4-13-11 The Rescue

We wrapped up an amazing movement and also started a new series in the same night at axis.  Our FaceLess month was really amazing and I loved seeing our kids step up and really reach out in so many different ways ... serving at homeless shelters, packing over 22,000 meals at Feed My Starving Children, raising nearly $1000 for Charity Water, and finally collecting the huge pile of shoes you see in the pic below for Soles 4 Soles.  I'm very proud of our kids, but continually tried to explain to them that this is simply the normal thing to do.  If you're a follower of Jesus giving and serving, well, it's just normal.

We also started a new two week series leading up to Easter called Rescued.  I simply wanted to try to explain to our kids that we have basically been kidnapped by sin and we cannot rescue ourselves on our own.  We need a Rescuer.  There's a phrase I recently heard which says "The Bible is not mainly about you and what you should be doing.  The Bible is about God and what He done."  I shared a little differently during the night.  I talked more in the sense of a story and really didn't give any closure to the story.  That comes next week.  But, shared how the Bible explains that we've been kidnapped by sin but God's never stopping, never giving up, always and forever love would not let the story end there.  He would one day Rescue His kids.  Next week we'll talk about the Rescue and what that means for us.  Can't wait to share the Gospel!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Miscellaneous

- I've been having so much fun lately watching the original 1967 Spider Man cartoon with my son Ezra.  We allow him to have about 30 to 60 minutes of TV time a day.  He has really been in to Spider Man lately and so I decided to try to find the cartoon I grew up watching (side note:  the cartoon was old when I was a kid, so I didn't grow up in the 60's ... haha).  Anyway, I found some episodes right here and we've been watching them for the past two weeks nearly every day.  A flood of memories have been coming back to me and I actually remember watching some of the episodes.  It's been so much fun.  Lately he's been waking up in the morning singing the Spider Man theme song.  Fun, fun!

- Last week was a really good week for me.  It was great to spend time serving side-by-side with our teenagers on 3 different days.  I loved watching them catch a passion for serving and really being able to see the difference that it makes.  This was all planned as part of our FaceLess series.  I think it's been one of the best ways that we've ever put action to one of our series at axis.  We'll wrap everything up this Wednesday with a shoe drive for Soles 4 Souls.  Can't wait to celebrate everything our kids have done to make a difference over the past month.

- Yesterday was such a beautiful day here.  It was in the 80's and it was so refreshing to be outside with the sun on my face.  I was able to do some yard work after church and we also met with our small group outside.  We grilled and then hung out on our deck for a couple of hours.  So nice!

- I'll be starting a two week series leading up to Easter at axis this Wednesday.  I'm going to branch out and try something that I've never really done before in my style of teaching.  Anyway, I'll be teaching in the form of a story for the next two weeks ... all leading up to the climax of Easter and how God rescued His children.  It's a risk.  It may flop.  It may be great!  Won't know unless I try though, so I'm excited to give it a shot.

- I did my first 5 mile run of the year last Monday.  I'm registered for a half marathon on June 4th.  I gotta be honest ... I've been struggling with the training a bit.  Not sure what's going on other than I'm just not disciplining myself with my running.  I'm working out 4 times a week ... but those four days have been 2 days running and 2 days weight lifting.  So, I've basically been doing a short run and a long run for my half marathon training ... which isn't the best way to train.  My ideal training would be 4 days running and 2 days lifting but for whatever reason priortitizing those 2 extra days have been a little more difficult lately.  I've made the commitment that is going to change today.

- Pastor Jon shared at Grace Community yesterday and did a great job on the topic of giving.  The average Christian only give up to 2% of their income.  Honestly, that's pathetic.  How many more people could be reached and how many more lives could be changed if we, as followers of Jesus, were just willing to give more.  We had a really good discussion in our small group last night about it.  I'm the oldest of everyone in our small group.  Carol and I are really trying to invest in some younger married couples right now, so that definitely makes me the oldest.  But, what is cool is that those in our group are so much further along in the area of giving than I ever was at their age.  It did my heart good to see that and to see that they are all so generous.  Carol and I have been blessed by other more than we could ever say.  We have story after story after story of people being generous to us and we are just so grateful.  We always want to be a family that gives and doesn't hold tightly on to what has been given to us.  After all, it's not ours to begin with. It's all God's.  I think it was Dave Ramsey who said that if we hold tightly on to money, we'll never give and we'll never receive generously because our hands are closed.  But, if we hold loosely on to money, then we'll be able to give but we'll also be able to receive. 

- Had a pretty major storm last night.  Lost power for most of the night.  Had some serious thunder and lightning too ... which meant our son climbed in to bed with us for most of the night ... which also means that I didn't get much sleep.  Dragging a little today, but excited still planning a run for the afternoon and then heading out to 5 Star at the Goshen Middle School  It's going to be a great day.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Different Type of Spring Break

I've had some great opportunities this week to spend time serving side by side with many of the students from our youth ministry. One of the core values we try to teach students at axis is the importance of serving others. If "our attitude is to be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5 - 11) then we definitely need to be serving others and giving back. We've had several opportunities to do that this week. On Wednesday I took a group of high school students to Aurora, IL, to work at a homeless shelter and then to pack meals at Feed My Starving Children. Today I was able to take another group of high school students to a local homeless shelter and serve lunch to the residents and also to walk-ins. The work was by no means glamorous, but I've left feeling refreshed and encouraged. Our kids worked hard and had great attitudes the entire time. It was also just fun to spend an extended period of time with them. I love the surprise in their eyes when we debrief and they are like "Wow, that was awesome!" Serving isn't always easy and there are times when it's down right difficult. But, it always seems to bring a sense of fulfillment, as if it was something we were created to do. Ironically enough, I believe we were.

Monday, April 4, 2011

What's That Smell?

On Sunday we opened a new series at Grace Community called Give. What happened this week was just incredibly powerful. Pastor Jim spoke on simply helping those less fortunate. (You can read his perspective here). He talked about several things going on in our world that are terrible tragedies and how so often we're willing to simply let someone else do something about it. But, as the Church, we are called to do something ... not to just sit back and hope something happens, but to make something happen. The challenge was simple. People around our world need shoes ... especially those in Japan right now after the tsunami. We are partnering with an organization called Soles 4 Souls and were planning to do a shoe donation on April 13th. But, we decided that something needed to be done now, also. So, Pastor Jim asked people to be willing to give their shoes ... now ... today ... not to go home and get the ones that we're more than happy to part with, but to give the ones that probably have some value to us. To sacrifice. And, people did. The young, the old, the married and the single. People came forward and gave away the shoes they were wearing. Parents took their kids shoes off and gave them away. People went home and brought more shoes in. And, we prayed over each pair ... that these shoes would help people understand that Jesus loves them. It was incredibly powerful and moving. The conversations that I've had with people yesterday and today have all centered on how freeing it is to give. Giving is powerful. It changes us. When we sacrifice something in an effort to help another, well, the whole "Law and the Prophets" pretty much hang on that as Jesus said in Matthew 22:36 - 40. Love God with all your heart and don't simply love your neighbor but love them as yourself.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The little boy in the middle is my son Ezra. He'll be 4 the first of May. Every Wednesday after he comes from his "Phase 2" class at Grace Community, he comes in to the Link where we have axis and just sorta makes himself at "home." Here he is "shooting" at Aaron ... a student in our youth ministry who took this picture. They have this little game every Wednesday where they "shoot" at each other. It's fun to watch.

What I love about this picture is that Ezra is just being himself. He feels comfortable enough to come in and just "shoot up" everything in sight. He loves to run around, give people high fives, and "flirt" with the teenage girls ... "Dear, Lord, please help me when HE becomes a teenager." ... The kid is such a flirt!

But, anyway, I share this because I just love his level of comfortability in that room. He feels no need to "perform" or be someone he's not. I realize part of that is because he's 4, but I also believe it's because of an environment that's been cultivated in our youth ministry. We are by no means a perfect youth ministry. We have issues we're working on just like every ministry does. But, I do believe we try our best to create a relaxed atmosphere where teenagers can be themselves. Some of those teenagers are very close to God and some of them could care less about God at this point in their lives, but we try to show each teenager the same love and acceptance we all crave. We speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Sometimes its received and sometimes it's rejected, but regardless we try to let everyone know that we are genuinely happy that they are with us.

I believe an atmosphere like that represents God well. And, I believe that if we are able to represent God well, to give a clear picture of who He really is, then it creates a hunger in our souls for more of Him. It's a prayer of mine every single Wednesday night when our youth ministry meets. We obviously have no control over how a teenager responds to the message we speak each week, but I do believe we can turn them off to the message real fast if we're not creating a welcoming, accepting environment.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Axis Update 3-30-11

We finished up our FaceLess series on Wednesday by taking time to talk about how we can come along side those with physical and mental disabilities. It was a really good night that was led by our student leaders. I always love seeing them take the lead on things and just make it happen. I always leave these nights feeling very proud of them. We had some really fun elements. We started with "Heart Song" ... a fun game where we put a mic up to someone's chest and then play a short part of a song simply to let everyone know what their "heart song" is. For instance, we'd go up to someone and say there heart song will let us know what they think of axis. And, then we played "Just Can't Get Enough" by Black Eyed Peas. We also had "Born This Way" and "Hey Baby" as heart songs. And, of course we had to throw in "Friday" by Rebecca Black just for fun. We also did some prize give-a-ways. We'll sometimes do some larger prizes to give away, but lately I've just been doing things like HUGE boxes of cereal and big bags of candy. It's amazing how excited a teenager will get over an industrial sized box of Lucky Charms. We began to focus our time on our topic. We started with the video below of Patrick Henry Hughes. An amazing story of inspiration. I love what he said when someone asked him how he would describe his disabilities. He said "Not disabilities, but more abilities." It's very inspiring.

After some Bible reading, prayer, and worship a dear lady in our church, Coni Walters, shared. Coni contracted polio when she was 4 years old from a vaccine. Her story is so inspiring and it's amazing to see all that she does in our church. She connected so well with our kids. One thing she said that I just loved was that "We can put all of the handicapped access ramps up in buildings and make bathrooms handicapped accessable, but if we're unwilling to come beside those with mental and physical handicaps and just befriend them and be Jesus to them, none of that makes a difference." She did an amazing job of sharing. We also had the opportunity to promote our ministry of Through the Roof ... something we do on Sunday mornings for kids with special needs. We give kids a "buddy" that walks with them throughout the morning. They go to class with them, partner with them, and just provide the extra attention that a child with special needs may need.

Next Week: Off because of spring break but taking a group of teenagers to Chicago to do some service work. We're also taking two groups of kids to a local homeless shelter to serve lunch. Should be a great week.

Blog Archive