Tuesday, December 30, 2008

30 years!

Kelsey and I just realized tonight that 2008 was both our our 30th year anniversary since we gave our lives to Christ...BOTH OF US IN THE SAME YEAR...That's cool...yep...she was younger than me when she gave her life to Jesus, but it was 1978. WOW...glad we figured it out so early in the year! :-) (At least we have 1 day to celebrate!!) THANKS JESUS FOR PICKING US...both as your kids and for each other!!

Pastor's Update...

Click on the link for this week's update...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HlUqkeGuL4&feature=channel_page

WHAT?!

I am enjoying breakfast this morning with a couple of friends and I see a call from home. I try to answer home when they call, so when I answer Jaden is on the other end. "Hey dad, I beat your record in the tank game!" WHAT?! AS IF THAT WASN'T BAD ENOUGH...I told him that maybe I should take the day off and come home and beat him...his response...no, not "yeah maybe you should!" It was "You can't beat that dad." All matter-of-fact-like...no sarcasm in his voice...just that he was speaking truth. Sooooooooooo...you got it...my 5 year old son TOOK IT TO ME TODAY AND IT HURTS!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Weekend Reflections...

Thoughts from this weekend...
-I sure love Christmas time!
-I enjoy watching the kids open their gifts...they were very grateful this year, very fun
-Enjoyed hanging out with Kelsey's family...good times!
-The Wii is very fun...good family moments...sure would like to own one
-Hitting your head on a medal piece of the bunkbed can REALLY leave a mark!
-When a drill slips off the screw and goes into your finger...that hurts too!
-Watching Luke and Jaden get excited about their new room was priceless
-"Dad, it is better than I imagined!" (Jaden on his top bunk! Made the pain and blood worth it!)
-I like having Pastor Jim and his family visit us...sure love serving with him!
-The battle for the truth of the Word of God still rages
-The virgin birth is truly AMAZING!
-Imagine if your teenage daughter came to you and said she was pregnant...then told you that an angel told her and God did it...HOW WOULD YOU REACT TO THAT?!
-Imagine just how shaken Mary would have been after hearing the news from the angels...
-The people closest to Jesus said he was perfect...ooooooo, there is something to that!
Nothing is impossible with God! (Luke 1: 37)

Probably should state that again...

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD!!!! (Luke 1: 37)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! The gift opening is done...Luke is sleeping and Chloe and Jaden are watching Prince Caspian. I'm trying to get Chloe's MP3 player going...yeah...not real tech savvy right here! BUT...we'll make it happen.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

What I want for my daughter...

I learned when I first started teaching that all good teachers are thieves...they steal great ideas from other people, make them their own and use them...This works in blogging too...I'm stealing a quote from Sam (again!)...


“A girl should get so lost in God, that a guy has to seek God to find her!”~ Dannah Gresh, author.

WOW...Chloe, that one is for you! I love you!!

Monday Reflections...


I had a great deal of excitement and anticipation going into Sunday...Just a sense that God was up to something and I wanted to know what it was! We had 3 people give their lives to Christ during the service...3! Angels were celebrating in heaven and I was celebrating RIGHT HERE! Whoo-Hoo!!

Chloe did an excellent job telling the Christmas story before my message on Sunday...since she gave me the idea for my message, I figured who better to present the manger scene than her! She was GREAT!

We looked at the wise-men...their perspective and their journey. This message really moved me...I learned a lot and was deeply challenged...easy to preach when God is working you over!! So many people quit so early in their journey with Jesus...they just shut him out...Yet the wisemen traveled for months, maybe over a year to find the person under the star. They had researched Jewish history...they had studied the stars and they just knew it was tim...I pray hard for people that are lost...people who don't know Jesus...I pray that they find him...that God puts me and others in their path to challenge them to think about Jesus...

This is going to be a GREAT Christmas...and to think that some people are going to have their 1st Christmas with JESUS being their Lord! THAT IS COOL!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Incredible Anticipation...

I was driving to the office this morning with this anticipation...a stirring inside of me...a leg-shaking-stomach turning-WHO REALLY NEEDS CAFFEINE ANYWAY-kind of anticipation...simply anticipating what God is up to right now...then I get to the office and get to pray with Richard and talk to a couple of more parents. NOW I'm praying and thinking through the message tomorrow and just can't hide the feeling of knowing that God is moving all around me...knowing that he is up to something and that I get to be part of that...he is working in so many different people's lives...just stirring them up...glad that he picked me to be part of His story..."Jesus, I plead with you to bring people to you tomorrow, both here in South Bend, in Goshen and ALL OVER THE WORLD! Blow our minds Jesus..."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Welcome to Indiana...

Yep...we had snow...sleet...rain...THUNDER AND LIGHTNING all within minutes of each other! Gotta love Indiana...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ummmmmm...

I started out this morning with the alarm...not feeling well rested...even a touch grumpy...and the next thought that went through my head was..."Jesus, I BEG you to put your armor on me." That was it...I jumped (O.K. so I rolled) out of bed and got the kids up and started my day.

A couple of things have been weighing on me this week...one is I'm preaching on Sunday and as of the alarm this morning I had no clear direction...just a few random thoughts and ideas...nothing that I was passionately ready to pursue...the other was that I want to invite people to church this week and had only talked with 1 family...that bothered me...I wanted to seek out more people...

Jerimae and I were talking in the office this morning...SUDDENLY it hit me...Chloe last night was telling the Christmas story while setting up the manger scene...and something she said just came flooding back into my mind...want to know what it was? I'll tell you Sunday!!!! MY MESSAGE IDEA CAME FROM MY 8 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER! YES! YES! YES! That is why Jesus said..."Let the children come to me..." MAN can we learn from them...

THEN, I have had 4 people come by the office and I had the chance to talk with 3 of them about spiritual things AND invite them to come Sunday! How cool is that?!?! God is blowing doors open and think it all stemmed from a little prayer this morning, so I'd be ready for the day. I'll confess that I'm a little greedy right now...SO KEEP IT COMING GOD!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Update...

Here is my new video update...Enjoy!!


video

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday Morning Reflections...

Thoughts on the weekend...
-Everyone is tired and that is a good thing!
-We touched over 150 kids this week...most of which we still don't know!
-Don't be so close to the meaning of Christmas that you lose the thrill
-The people of Grace, just ROCK! Amazing group of people
-Where there is poo there is life...(gross, but true! There has to be pooh to know that there is life!)
-Tonight is my last class teaching at Grace...
-I love Jesus
-I love my wife!
-I love my kids!
-Kelsey finally felt well enough to go Christmas shopping!!
-I love making buckeyes with the family...and they taste good!
-Our church people just get it
-The band was ROCKIN' on Sunday...WOW!
-We need to change our perception...
-You can only receive Jesus on the level you perceive him...
-If you see Jesus only as a baby...you won't see him as the KING OF KINGS!
-BACK UP and gain some focus.

**I CAN'T WAIT FOR NEXT SUNDAY! Praying and begging God for new name to be written in the book of life..."COME ON JESUS!"**

Ugly Mugs

I love Ugly Mugs...it's a coffee shop in our office building that is owned by a church. Their pastor Heath and I are good friends. Heath gave me my first book on multi-site a few years back before I came on staff with Grace...Heath has just been a good friend...we have spent a lot of time praying, talking, dreaming...just bouncing ideas off of each other...Cool to have a like-minded guy here in S. Bend...a guy that loves this city (almost) as much as I do. (I had to write that in case he reads this!!) LOVE THAT GUY!

The church has a coffee shop and their services at the same location...GREAT atmosphere, great concept, GREAT hearts for Jesus! Sure love being around guys that love Jesus and desire to see him work here! I'm a BIG fan of Church of the Heartland and Ugly Mugs...keep doing great things!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Great!


What a day! We had around 50 parents in our office today...everyone who helped had everything set perfectly...from our drivers to the greeters...to the hosts...gift wrappers...food restockers...gift tablers (now that's a good title!)...I am so proud of the job everyone did! YES! Great to touch these families...over 150 kids. AND YOU KNOW WHAT?! We still have more toys to give away!! How cool is that!?!?! Over the next week, we get to bless the socks off of more people. NICE! I AM STILL EXCITED about what we still get to do...Whoo-Hoo!


(More pics coming in the next couple of days...most of the pics weren't on my camera!)

Friday, December 12, 2008

The stage is set...








It is Christmas Store Eve...Our office has completely turned upside-down...AN AMAZING job by all of our volunteers. I'm soooooooo proud of them! Praying for each life that will be touched tomorrow..."Dear God, we have done the set up...YOU make it happen..."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

When kids pray...

Tonight we had Prayer Encounter (Adults) and The Construction Zone (Kids K-5th grade) combined in our office. As you know from my previous blog we are changing our office to be a Toyland for parent to pick toys for their kids. Tonight the adults split up and prayed over all of the toys and in the main room where the people will be...I WISH YOU COULD HAVE HEARD THE PRAYERS of the children...brought a smile to my face...praying for the kids whose lives will be touched...just really cool! "God, you heard the prayers of the children...we beg you know to answer...may we encourage these families and PLEASE draw them to you...PLEASE!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pastor's Update

Click on the following link to check out this week's video update...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNqiw94FeAs

It's starting...


Our Christmas Blitz is going to be sooooooooooooooooooooooo fun! The anticipation is just growing in each of us...We were given 500 toys from a biker club in Sturgis...we gave 200 to our Goshen Campus and the rest for us. Ah MAN...I am so excited. Right now, this very minute, Kim and Danielle are transforming our office into a winter wonderland. These ladies are AWESOME! Many others are baking cookies, helping to set up, making Christmas cards and more.


On Saturday, we will be going to have parent's in our office for a Christmas experience. They will get to pick out toys for their kids, make cards, eat food and wrap the gifts. A whole experience geared to empower parents...to make them the hero. Their kids will never know who Grace is, but they'll know that their parents got them gifts. YES! EMPOWERING FAMILIES!


I am praising God like CRAZY for the amazing volunteers here that are making this happen!

Monday, December 8, 2008

I LOVE GRACE!!

A lesson in meetings...I remember when I first started on staff at Grace. We were merging our church (Hope Community...long story...I'll share it sometime) in with Grace and we were about to have the final meeting as a leadership team to approve the merger. I had set a meeting with my guys and then I received an email from Pastor Jim. His emailed said... "Guys, let's meet after Prayer Encounter on Wednesday at center court and approve this merger." He already knew the guys were for it and that they just had to approve it "officially" for the state government. So he didn't waste the guys time, just picked a time when they would all be there and did the meeting in 10 minutes or less. I QUICKLY called my guys and we met after a morning service and it took 5 minutes for approval. Don't take an hour to do 5 minutes of work!

Why share this story? Too often as leaders we set meetings and talk for an hour about something that is already a done deal! DON'T meet just to meet...don't waste the time of your leaders...Don't take an hour to do 5 minutes of work!

Weekend Reflections...

CAN IT GET ANY BETTER?!?!?! Every week I start blogging and thinking..."this was another GREAT Sunday..." Yesterday was AMAZING, FUN...let me just give you a pic of the morning...as people came in from the cold they were greeted by an 8 ft. toy soldier...then they entered into the Hub area and could high-5 an 8' tall snowman...they heard fun Christmas music in the background as they grabbed some coffee and doughnuts. IT DIDN'T STOP THERE...they would enter into the auditorium and see really cool props that Mark and Danielle built themselves...(We have VERY creative people)...they heard more music...were greeted with smiles and a handshake or hug and then settled in for a rockin' service. At the beginning of the service 4 people volunteered to get kicked out of the building and go encourage people using $40 that we gave them. They went to Kroger and gave 4 families $10 toward their groceries! FUN! AWESOME...it is so fun to encourage people...they came back at the end of the service and shared their stories...One lady they gave $10 to had tears in her eyes!! Touching!

The worship band really rocked and just took me to the presence of God...Jerimae and the gang do just an amazing job...Sooooooooooo glad that he is with us! Then Pastor Jim brought a great message on "The Dream" of Christmas...He talked about how Simeon knew that the Messiah was coming and how excited he must of been...Great quote: "Imagine knowing that you get to meet the Messiah..." That after 400 years of silence from God...God spoke to you and said, you will not die until you see the Messiah. Imagine God saying to you today..."you will not die until Jesus comes back." What kind of anticipatioin would you have every day? WOW!!!!

A few more thoughts from the message:
-Don't let circumstances wear out your joy of Christmas
-Keep the Dream alive
-How could a virgin have a baby?!?!?!
-Believe when no one else does
-Jim has seen God come through in his life before and knows that he will again (Of course that is because Jim is sooooooo old and had sooooo many experiences...PLEASE TELL him I said that!)
-Dreams INFUSE hope
-One man gave hope
-How will you give hope this week?

OUTSTANDING Sunday! Just love it!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Famous Last Words...

The last words that my neighbor Chad said to me before we left to get our Christmas Tree were: "Just make sure you don't get in the ruts." And I knew what he meant! We have been going to the same tree farm for YEARS...family Chirstmas tradition. Almost had my Malibu stuck in the mud and those ruts a few years back.

So off we went...we drove back this year and I was doing great. The people who run the place said to go to the 2nd field so naturally I went to the 3rd...Went to turn in and drove right into the ruts. I took my van with 4-wheels that drive right in there...thinking..."I can do this...we won't get stuck!" THEN scrap...crunch...DEAD STOP!! UNBELIEVABLE! We were stuck...tires spinning...I put Kels behind the wheel and I started pushing...I DID NOT WANT TO GET PULLED OUT OF THERE! Wheels still spinning...patience running low...the van moved...just a inch! I jumped in the drivers seat and got that baby out of there! IT WAS AWESOME! Who needs a 4-wheel drive vehicle anyway...

We had a blast looking for our tree...snowballs flying...Kelsey falling (Oops did I really write that?!?! I have it on video if anyone wants to see it! Kidding Kels I'd never show that!)...finally had our tree and we are heading out when...the van slips into another rut and you can feel it leaning! I honestly thought we might tip over!! That is when Kels told the kids..."We really have to be quiet right now." BUT...we made it! Safe and sound and the tree is up!

Fast-forward with me a couple of hours and the tree is all set up and then Chloe (our 8 yr. old) is looking at the tree and gives the tree a lecture! TRUE STORY...she says, with her finger pointing at the tree and in her best "teacher" voice: "YOU WILL NOT FALL DOWN THIS YEAR!" IT WAS GREAT!! I'm laughing right now thinking about it! MAN...what a fun night!

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Those who have "it" fail often."

Craig Groeschel's book "It" is a VERY good read...every pastor should read it. The point is that churches either have it or they don't...they may have it now and lose it later...may not have it now, but they can get it...GREAT BOOK!

Right after he makes the statement "those who have it, fail often" he says "If you're waiting for your venture to have guaranteed success, you'll probably be waiting for the rest of your life." HOW TRUE...we must be willing to fail...great leaders fail...great church, that really want to impact their communities fail...they try A LOT of different things and some just don't work. So the question that gets raised is: What dream have you buried? What is something that God has just burned in your heart...a HUGE passion of yours that you have poured water on?

STOP IT NOW...Go get some lighter fluid and TRY...Risk failure, so you can possibly taste amazing success!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

BLOWN AWAY!

It was about this time last year...Pastor Jim asks us for goals for our campus and I can remember writing the goals...LOTS of prayer...LOTS of thought go into the process. The purpose is if you don't have something to measure against you don't know what you are shooting for.

So, here I was last year...laboring over our goals...seeking what God wanted for our church...and I got to a particular goal on our food vouchers. I can still remember what I was thinking..."Alright, I'll put a number down God, but probably not going to happen." HONEST, that was my thought...very spiritual of me, huh?!?! You see, I wrote down $2500, but we had only given away MAYBE $200 last year...

Fast-forward to July of this year and we still had only given away a couple of hundred $...THEN CAME AUGUST...something happened...we didn't publicize it...didn't even talk with too many people and then BAM...we have given away close to $5000 in vouchers since August. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!?!? God has just blown us away...and our church has given every penny. People have given their Christmas bonus...sacrificed their own meals...to help people. IT HAS BEEN AWESOME! We have had the chance to pray with and feed hundreds of people in our community...God is so good...

I just love the times when God goes all Ephesians 3 on us and gives us "more than we could ever ask or imagine. "POUR IT ON JESUS!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Decorating...

Today is my day off and the kids and I are going to put up the outside Christmas lights. Spent 1 hour just trying to untangle the lights only to find that most of them didn't work! FIGURES! Looking forward to having the kids help. On Monday night Jaden and Luke went up in the attic (mom wasn't home!) and handed me all of the Christmas boxes. Can't believe how quickly the kids are growing up...CAN'T WAIT to have the decorations up...I just love this time of the year!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pastor's Updates

Whoo-Hoo...now that was fun to do!! I have been doing my pastor's updates the same way for over a year and I was getting bored with it!! I'd write my email and send pics to go with it. OH, but today I did my very first video pastor's update and emailed it...

I shouldn't admit this, but I just found out that I have Windows Movie Maker on my laptop AND I learned how to upload my own video on youtube! EMBARRASSING, BUT I'm finally entering the 21st century of technology...

Here is my first video update...(Anyone know where I recorded this?!)


video

Monday, December 1, 2008

She is...


We finished our series for women yesterday and it was moving...women just came up front to cry out to their God...to beg him to give them rest...to plead with him to be the center of their lives. I was in tears as I watched the women of our church minister and care for each other...encouraging each other and hugs. I am so thankful that I get to pastor a church of people that gets it...gets the fact that people are what matter...that the most important thing in the world is what matters to the heart of God...PEOPLE.


The picture is of Stephanie and Sharon embracing after we announced the winner of our She Is essay contest. ALL of the essays were amazing and exciting because Sharon had NO IDEA that Stephanie had written one about her. CONGRATS!