Sunday, December 31, 2006

Random Thoughts

"It's a good thing I didn't eat lunch today."
"Why do you say that?" asked my father-in-law.
"Because if I had eaten lunch, I would have lost it during that movie!"

That movie was Apocalypto. I was really wanting to watch an action movie, but not necessarily a gory one! This one had SO much blood and guts I literally felt sick for most of it! The most disgusting parts had to do with human sacrifice. During these scenes I was thinking, "Those people really need Jesus." Not just the ones who were sacrificing, but the ones who were facing losing their lives. I am SO glad I serve a God who does not require the killing of others to appease Him.


On the way back from Michigan, we stayed at the Amana Colonies in Iowa. First, Iowa is prettier than Illinois. Secondly, I would REALLY suggest visiting this place!! It is an old German community with lots of old German charm. We ate at Colony Inn and it has the BEST cottage cheese (I know..weird, huh?!) and sauerkraut (sweet AND sour sauerkraut!) I had the wurst plate (bratwurst, knackwurst and cheddarwurst) and it was awesome. I also got to sample some kind of dumpling and pork shanks.
We stayed in the special Holiday Inn, complete with waterpark! I'm sure we will be headed back there when Fischer is older!


I had to shovel snow today from my driveway and sidewalks. The forecaster only predicted one inch accumulation because of warm ground temps, but we've got at least five or six.
My back and legs hurt real bad!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Holiday Movies

Bravo, Will Smith, bravo! What an awesome job you did in your newest film, "The Pursuit of Happyness."
Both the wife and I teared up during the film, and for good reason.
It was packed with positive, encouraging, inspiring messages such as taking care of family, trusting each other, and NEVER giving up. Of all the movies I've seen over the holidays, this one has to be #1 on my list so far.

By the way, "The Good Shepherd"...I'm sorry, but I thought it was horrible. The tagline read, "The beginnings of the CIA." and I kept waiting for that storyline, but it never showed up! I felt cheated!
Not only was the storyline choppy, but the overall feel of the movie was one of confusion and deception. (Perhaps it was MADE that way for a reason.)
The movie itself is THREE (grueling) hours long, but the best part took only 30 minutes. The same movie could have been done MUCH better in under two hours, I think.
Another problem was that I did not feel compelled to root for ANY of the characters. EVERYONE was shady, even the non-CIA people!
Oh well, I got a good nap in there about halfway through...

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest - Hey, it was at the $1 Movie Theater. I can't really complain! I will say that it is better than the first (in my opinion.) The first hour is hilarious and moves quickly. But trouble begins as the movie slows down and sets up for Part 3...due out next summer! Oh well, I still enjoyed seeing Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow again (yes, I've already seen this one!) But like I said, who can complain when you pay $1?!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sins of the Past

Sins of the past cannot be undone...only forgiven.

This thought came to me last night, for no particular reason. I have not been able to get it out of my head all day...

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Test

So I shared a few weeks ago how we had decided to be more consistent about our giving...
Right before Thanksgiving, we were told we would need a new battery in our car. A few days ago, I took the car in and the mechanic told me that it wasn't our battery, but our alternator that was having problems.
After some research, we discovered that an alternator would cost around $350-$400 to be bought and installed...$400 we didn't have.
Tracy called me crying. "After you got your check, the first check I wrote was our church contribution. I just don't understand why this is hitting us now!"
After mulling it over some more and talking to some family and friends, we took the car to the dealership so that the professionals could look it over and give us the official diagnosis. I was praying the whole time, "Please God, let it be a wire or something!"
The mechanic came back, "Well, it's not your alternator. Your alternator is charging fine. It looks like your battery needs replacing though."
Thank you, God! We can afford a battery.
By the way, we are happy to say that we had decided that the check was going in on Sunday, no matter what.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Special Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow is my wife's 2@%&%$# birthday...

In case you don't know, we met online at the Church of Christ Singles website. I was getting desperate...being out of college with no prospects for a wife! I e-mailed several young ladies and Tracy was one of the few who emailed back. We began to email back and forth and did so for several months. She was so intriguing...spontaneous and crazy! I couldn't wait to check my e-mail EVERY day to see if she had left a note!

After emailing for what seems like several months, she decided to come and meet me, which was scary, yet thrilling for me. Would she like me after we actually met face to face? Would she think I was too dorky?

When she pulled up in a little red sporty car, out bounded a bubbly, beautiful woman. She had a smile plastered on her face for all of our first made my heart flutter! She didn't seem to get bored with me and even laughed at my jokes! She was polite, funny, kind-hearted, spontaneous, crazy, sweet, gorgeous, and extremely loving.

She still is.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Why do we talk to each other this way?

On Sunday nights, we are having a class for teens and parents about comunication. This week, one of the main points is going to be about how parents and teens speak to each other...

After a while, it can be a real temptation to stop speaking to one another. Or, you speak to each other only when you need something! Have you heard these comments in YOUR house...?

"Hey, you need to get in there and clean up that room."

"Hey Dad, can I have twenty bucks? I'm going out with friends."

"I need you to pick up your little sister...I'm going to be at work longer that I thought."

"Mom, can I borrow the car tomorrow?"

Unfortunately, our conversations sometimes sink to ASKING or DEMANDING. Parents only speak to demand something from their kids, or kids only speak to ask something of their parents. What a sad situation...and yet I fall into this trap sometimes too (with my wife!)

Then I started thinking, "Isn't that the way we talk to God, too?"

It's sad, really. Many times, I feel like I just talk to God to ask something of Him, like he's the parent and I'm the teenager. I get so self-centered that I just think of what I want, and don't realize that maybe God just wants to hear about my day! Maybe all He wants is for me to talk to Him, to pour out my heart and tell Him how I'm feeling!

I want to be like Abraham who, the Bible tells us, spoke to God like he spoke to his friends. Or, there's Enoch, who apparently had such good talks with God, that God decided to just take him to heaven and not wait for him to die!

If you'll excuse me, there's someone I need to just talk to. Not demand, not ask for something...just talk. I need to talk to my Father...

Monday, December 04, 2006

"Gimme, gimme" to "Take It, take it!"

The topic of "Giving" has somehow found it's way into my life multiple times recently. I'm embarassed to say that this is a facet of my walk with God that is lacking in a severe way.

You see, we have been the recipients of giving quite a bit during our ministry, but rarely have we been givers. Oh sure, I tell myself that I give lots of my time and all my effort, sometimes even working at "odd' hours! I seem to justify my lack of giving quite often.

This passage from 2 Corinthians 9 really spoke to me:

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

I don't want to be a "reluctant giver" any more. I don't want to give because I feel "pushed" to give (even though my teens have noticed my problem and say, "Franklin, you'll get it right back! It's like you're paying yourself anyway!") I know they don't mean to "push" me, so maybe I should take it as a challenge.
I want to give because God has given so much to me! Tracy and I have decided to start off small, but give CONSISTENTLY, which we have never done. We decided to be consistent because GOD has been consistent in blessing us!!
I have always wanted to be a "giver." I always thought it would be cool to help somebody pay off some debt, or drop off some surprise cash around Christmas time for a struggling family. But first, I need to learn to be a giver so that "you will be made rich in every way SO THAT you can be generous on every occasion..."

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Yesterday, the "Great Outdoor" was calling my name, so Fischer and I stepped outside for about ten minutes. It took one minute to realize it was cold, but the air was nice and fresh!
As Fischer visited with our neighbor's white furball, I picked up his miniature hockey stick and swung it a few times.

It reminded me of my teen years in Africa, when we had to work for the school. That's right, the school had the students take care of the grounds and do various other oddjobs. One of the worst jobs was mowing the lawn. It really stunk because we didn't use lawnmowers, we used slashers, like the one pictured here. It is a lot like a sword with the end bent...and the handle is usually just made of wood. Using a one-handed grip (unless you're in really thick stuff) you make a golf-swing type of motion and hack away at the turf, then get some more on the return swing!

After about 15 minutes of this, your hand begins to ache unless you have a well-wrapped handle. If you slash for more than 30 minutes (as a beginner) you will have blisters the next day.

The first lawnmower was invented in 1830 by an Englishman named Edward Beard Budding. You had to push it for the blades to move and start cutting your lawn. But, that was a vast improvement over the slasher or scythe! Today almost every American household has a gas-powered lawnmower, including our home!

It's amazing that some people in other countries are still 176 years behind our technology. How blessed we are. I hope I never have to use a slasher again!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Attention All Writers!!

To all you writers, bloggers and wannabe bestsellers...

Go out right now and read one of the following books by Natalie Goldberg: "Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within" or "Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life."
I am currently going through the first one for the second time and I'm excited to explore the second one soon after!

I read Writing Down the Bones about this time last year and GOT MOTIVATED to write more consistently. I wrote more in four months than I had written in three years. Unfortunately, we had to start looking for a new place to live and I am just getting back to writing on a more consistent basis.

Natalie writes in a very creative, yet straightforward manner. She is one of the easiest-to-read authors I have read in a long time. She mixes in some interesting thoughts about meditation and Buddhism, but overall her advice about writing is the most encouraging I have ever come across.

She will challenge you and inspire you. If you cannot buy her books, go to your local library and you will probably find them there. READ HER STUFF AND GET INSPIRED TO WRITE NEXT YEAR!!!!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Journey Home

God is good! My stomach lowered its voice long enough for us to make the trip back to NE.

There is something about a LONG trip that seems to grate on our nerves. On the journey back, I decided that my wife and I need an Encouragement CD. Something that will play that one guy's deep, smooth voice intoning remarks like, "Lower your are just tired from traveling!" or "You didn't mean that...take it back and apologize." or "Quit driving from the passenger's seat."

I say this jokingly, of course! I love my wife, even when she is driving from the other side of the car! And it's great to know that she loves me what I'm being "difficult" too!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Feel Yucky

The night before we were to return home from the holidays, I awoke in the middle of the night to a disturbing feeling. You know what I'm talking about. Your stomach feels like there are two heavyweight boxers inside of it fighting for the title. Cramps, then a churning...and you know the rest!
So today has been spent recovering from stomach flu. I HATE being sick...I hate it with a passion! Probably the worst part is how your energy just seeps out of your body, never to return. The shaking, the cold sweats...yep, I've had it all!
So, we're praying that I will at least be in traveling condition tomorrow. Please pray for us as we're on the road. Hopefully we won't have to stop too many times!
I don't think it will be too bad. A friend of ours said, "Hey, there are plenty of rest stops between here and there. Just get your rear end in the car and bring along some Kaopectate!"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fun With Family

Thanksgiving for me is all about family.
It has been awesome besides Fischer getting sick out of both ends!! Poor guy, but he is feeling better.
We played a fun game tonight...kind of like Mad Libs. You write down two names, a place, two comments (or questions), and an ending (you only write one thing at a time and then pass the paper to the next person.) It's pretty funny what you can come up with! We'll have to try this game with youth group sometime.
Well, enjoy your family and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
God bless!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Akastasia Rules Video

Here is a video from our recent youth rally...Akastasia. The teens here at Southwest are SO talented! They did a fantastic job acting and putting this together. Have fun watching!

Click here for video...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Christmas Lists

Has anyone else ever had the debate about Christmas lists???

Asking for Christmas lists can be helpful. You surely don't want to waste your money and buy something that someone doesn't want. Asking for a Christmas list is just making sure that you get something your loved one actually wants!

On the other hand, some argue that gifts should be from the heart. They say, "You shouldn't need a list!" Also, they say you should know the other person well enough to KNOW what to get for their Christmas!

Me? I'm a list person. If I don't get a list, I feel like I will get my wife the same thing that I got for her last year! And I don't want to be one of those men who get some perfume and a candle for their wife every year for 50 years! I also feel like I am not fashionable enough to keep up with what's current!
Don't get me wrong, I can pick up on a few things that my loved ones want. I'm not a totally insensitive person! I just want to see their eyes light up when they open their gifts. I just want them to receive the best gift possible.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

And I'm Spent

Well, I survived Akastasia 2006!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all the prayers. After having a 100 degree temp. the day before we started, I woke up Friday feeling somewhat better. Yesterday was a little rough, but today I felt better again.
The teenagers really seemed to enjoy themselves at the "fun" activities. We had a gameshow and of course, ice skating!
Even more importantly, the Saturday night worship time was AWESOME! The kids sang their lungs out. Imagine my surprise when I stepped out for a few songs and came back to a group of teenagers crowded together with their hands lifted in praise!
Our speaker, Bob Turner did a good job. We joked about whether the teens got more out of his shaving cream illustration or the Bible stuff!
There were, of course, some negatives...but I cannot control all things so I am going to let go of those negatives (and some other people might have to do the same!)
Anyways, I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks of winding down. I know most families are looking forward to Thanksgiving and so am I!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


This is my first Akastasia youth rally to attend. Apparently Southwest has been doing this rally for like 6 or 7 years. It seems like a pretty big deal and that kids like to come to Omaha for this rally. I think we now have about 200 people pre-registered to come!

And I got sick today.

Sometimes I get a little sick before big events just because I am nervous and running myself ragged. This time, though, I thought I was doing a good job of sharing responsibilities and pacing myself! So maybe I caught a little bug.

Either way, would you be praying REAL HARD that I feel better by Friday night?? I really want this rally to be a GREAT experience for these kids. So I'm praying that not only will I be better, but that I will have tons of energy and a great attitude! Even if I'm still sick, I know God can give me energy and a good attitude that I could never achieve on my own.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Time for Another Picture

I figured it was time for another fun picture of Fischer!
We snapped this one at the zoo. Some friends were of whom had quite a bit of graduation $$$!
Fischer took it and just looked so natural with he was going to buy us a nice dinner or something!
I could get really deep and philosophical about money, but I won't! Enjoy the pic!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hooked On a New Song

OK, so I'm hooked on a song that's new to me: "We Trust In The Name Of The Lord Our God." As I listened to it, I envisioned a group of Christians singing it with total conviction and totally lost in praise to God.


Some trust in chariots
We trust in the name of the Lord our God
Some trust in horses
We trust in the name of the Lord our God

We trust in the name of the Lord our God
We trust in the name of the Lord our God
His love never fails
His name will always prevail
We trust in the name of the Lord our God

Some trust in the work they do
We trust in the name of the Lord our God
`Cause by His grace all the work is through
We trust in the name of the Lord our God

Some trust in the wealth of things
We trust in the name of the Lord our God
The name worth more than anything
We trust in the name of the Lord our God

We trust in the name of the Lord our God
We trust in the name of the Lord our God
His love never fails
His name will always prevail
We trust in the name of the Lord our God

© 1994 Sparrow Song (a div. of EMI Christian Music Publishing)/Peach Hill Songs (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Waiting for War

It's kind of scary, knowing you are going off to war soon. At first, you don't think about yourself, you think about your loved ones. Will they be OK while I'm gone? Will they be scared for me?

Then you begin thinking about yourself...about the possibilities. Will I be alright? What happens if I get shot? Will it hurt? What if I get injured? What if I do something stupid and get taken out?

I'm talking about paintball, of course. What? You didn't think I was really going off to war, did you? (Hahahaha)

Yes, tomorrow is the day. It should be lots of fun and I wish more boys were going because it's a great time to get to know each other.

I always wonder what REAL soldiers think before they go off to war. When I paintball, I shoot people and it's fun. When I get shot, it usually doesn't hurt too bad, but imagine avoiding bullets like our soldiers do!
Once, when paintballing, my comrade was taken out right beside me and I immediately dropped to the ground in thick grass. I inched forward and listened intently for the sniper and thought I saw a glimpse of him/her in a bush. Just as I was about to pull the trigger, a paintball caught me square in the middle of the forehead! I remember walking off the field that day with a greater respect for soldiers.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Hard Thing

One of the hardest things in youth ministry is to NOT gauge your performance based on numbers. It is very difficult, though, when only a few attend the activities that you plan. Here are some things that might go through your mind...

- Am I boring? Do I plan boring stuff?
- Are the things I'm planning helping our teens to grow spiritually? Are they too deep? Is that why the don't show up? Are they too shallow?
- I feel guilty for taking the church's money for doing an activity with ONE teenager.
- Is it worth doing an activity if only one or two show up?
- How come coaches and parents can require teens to attend (insert extracurricular activity) practice, but not spiritual activities?
- Maybe I'm just a bad youth minister...

What is the secret? How do some churches consistently get a large percentage of kids to go? Is it having a dynamic personality in the youth ministry position? Is it adding more staff or volunteers? Is it providing things for the parents so that they will drag their kids along? Is it pouring more $$$ into it and making it bigger and louder?

Obviously, I don't know the answer yet!! But I DO know feels great when the kids you ministered to call you from college on a regular basis! It is awesome when one of "your teens" calls you for a Bible question. It is all worth it when they tell you that they remember your classes or devotionals! It is rewarding when they call just to say that they appreciate you!
When those things happen, small numbers in attendance don't really seem to matter.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fischer's GQ Pic

Here's a new one...Fischer's GQ picture! My GQ picture is the one I use in my profile. It's black and white and I have a serious pose. In this one, Fischer has that "serious" look!!

In case you don't know what "GQ" is a men's magazine that takes pictures of usually actors who are dressed to the hilt and have a serious look on their faces. I'm sure there is more to the magazine, but I don't read it!

Enjoy the pic!

Friday, October 06, 2006

And Then She Cried

Our precious little boy was toddling around the room earlier this evening...not a care in the world. We both turned away for just one moment and heard a stomach-turning, muted "THUD."
As we jerked our heads around to see what had happened, we witnessed him lying on his back. Tears trickled down his face as I pulled him up. I held him against my shoulder for a moment to soothe him. As he pulled away, I noticed some blood coming from his mouth and said, "Uh oh."
My wife, panicked, cried, "WHAT?!" It was at that moment that she saw the red drops around his mouth and noticed that he had bitten his tongue.

And then she cried.

After the crying subsided and we were sure that no stitches were needed, we loaded up the car and drove to a nearby park. It was a trail we had never walked before. Let me just say, Omaha in the autumn is absolutely gorgeous! The flowers and trees were bursting with color. As we walked, you could almost hear them calling out cheerful greetings. Other walkers and joggers smiled and waved as they passed. The cool air blew gently by as we breezed down the trail. After our walk, we stopped at the playground, where Fischer loves the slides! He also got to walk (or TRY to walk!) on the sand. Nearing dark, we headed for the car. In the semi-darkness, my wife glanced back to see me holding his hand, walking together in the light of the harvest moon.

And then she cried.

Home again after viewing God's beauty. My wife took Fischer to give him a bath. I listened to the splashing in the other room as I sat down to write this blog. I heard her talking to him, singing to him and laughing. And then I heard the most wonderful sound in the world...his laughter.

And then I cried.

What "gets you" and brings you to tears?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

They're Baaaaaaaaaack!!

Well, Tracy and Fischer are back! I'm so excited...I haven't seen them since Friday! It wasn't so bad until I ran out of things to do about 9:00 PM on Saturday night. I had watched some ball games, weedeated the back yard, and even did laundry and picked up the upstairs part of our house!

Then, I noticed it was very quiet.

Quiet is not good because around here it denotes being alone.

So, I got ready for Sunday class, and buried myself in a book until 12:30 (WAY too late to stay up, but I can't sleep well when they're not here!) Sunday came...busy as usual until the afternoon.

Why can't I enjoy being alone?

Maybe it's because God made me to enjoy relationships! He made me to enjoy having a wife and child around!
Anybody else have trouble when they are alone?
Next time they're out of town, I'm gonna call people to hang out with (but they will have to come and get me because Tracy took our only car!)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Visitor Night!!

"When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 19:33-34)

I am INSANELY proud of the teenagers at Southwest! They did an OUTSTANDING job of welcoming FIVE visitors and one new member of our youth group tonight at Visitor Night.
Watching them was almost like looking at my own children...proud that they were doing what God wants us to do. Their laughter and talking were music to my ears.
As I watched them mingle and ask each other questions, as they learned each others' names, as they danced with each other (OK, so it was a game called "Toe Fencing", but it was pretty much dancing!), as I observed all this, I thought, "THIS is good stuff! THIS is what's supposed to be happening!"
Hopefully, all our visitors (aliens) felt like they were part of our group tonight.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Who's Got Your Back?

"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." (Proverbs 12:25)

I had someone from church call me today to give advice and to reassure me that I had someone to call on if I needed it. He also said that someone gave me a huge compliment the other day while speaking with him.

In youth ministry, it's SO NICE to know that people in your church want to look out for protect you. They are concerned and they let you know about it. They don't want you to get burned out, or overstressed, or spiritually drained. They want to bear your burden with you!

I would even go so far to say that this is one of the TOP things any minister should look for when looking for a church to work with. Sometimes it can get lonely...feeling like you have no help or nobody to turn to. Sometimes you feel the pressure to be perfect when nobody else could measure up to that standard.

What a blessing to have "protectors" as a youth minister...people that will "go to bat" for you. Or, as our songleader said Sunday morning: "It's good to know that my Christian brothers and sisters have 'got my back.'"

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Why Was I Mad?

Fischer. Busy. Leaning on gate. In trouble. Re-direct. Play with toys. Supper? Fischer pulls out pots and pans. Angry. 15-minute supper takes 45 minutes to prepare. Re-direct. High chair. Food. Quiet...for five minutes. Eat my own supper. Screams again. Milk? Out of high chair. Into everything. About to pull out my hair...

Sirens. Tornado warning! "Go to your basement NOW." Rain. Wind. Hail. Wife calls from four miles away. Are you OK? How is the baby?

And all of a sudden I realize I'm not mad at him any more. Anger has fled the scene and is replaced by love, concern, protection. I'm holding him as close as I can...close enough to feel him breathe. I feel guilty for being angry with him. He's innocent! He wasn't trying to make me mad! He just wanted some attention from his daddy.

We retreat to the back of our basement (away from the window) until the tornado warning has passed and the sirens have been silenced. He is being a little angel now...just holding onto me and looking into my eyes as I sing to him.

"I'll never let him go now," I think as I rock him to sleep.

Why was I mad again?

Friday, September 15, 2006

E.T. Phone Home

A little change of pace today! This video captures some fun moments with Fischer and his towel. Think "E.T." while you're watching this one!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Make Me A Storm

Some lyrics from a song I've been listening to A LOT! It's by Watershed Worship. I think there is a lesson in here somewhere...

The wind and waves obey your voice I want to be like that
Listening before each choice I want to be like that

Chorus 1:Father hear my humble plea
Help me to be like the ocean that is under Your command
Help me be still, I want to do Your will
Oh Lord, make me a storm

The raging sea did not think twice I want to be like that
Following without a fight I want to be like that

Chorus 1:Father hear my humble plea
Help me to be like the ocean that is under Your command
Help me be still, I want to do Your will
Oh Lord, make me a storm

Chorus 2:O Father hear my humble plea (hear my plea)
Help me to be like the ocean that is under Your command
Help me be still (help me be still), I want to do Your will
Oh Lord, make me a storm
Make me be still (make me be still)And listen for Your will

Oh Lord, make me a storm

Scriptural Reference:
"The men were amazed and asked, 'What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!'" Matthew 8:27

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Not Good

A recent, heartbreaking conversation between me (F) and a teenager (T) in my former youth group...

(F) How's it going, man? (While throwing an arm around his shoulders.)
(T) Not good.
(F) What? Why not? Aren't you having a good time at the youth rally?
(T) Well...what do you want me to say...Yes? Well, things AREN'T going good. My parents are getting a divorce.
(F) (In disbelief) YOUR parents? No way! Are you joking with me?
(T) No.
(F) (Grabbing his shoulders to look into his eyes) I'm SO sorry, man. I'm so sorry...

This is from a teenager that was in a seemingly happy family. Parents were involved at church, even taught other adult parenting and marriage classes. Teens loved being in the youth group.

Now, the dad and the other teen have fallen away from attending church, hopefully they haven't fallen away from God.

All I know is, there is a teen boy who hurts tonight. The only family he knows is being ripped apart at the seams. He is terrified that he will have to choose a parent to live with. He thinks that parent will move him away from his friends, his extracurricular activities and, worst of all, his support at church...his youth group. And, in some weird way, he might even feel like it's all his fault.

And we wonder why God hates divorce...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Follow Me

It was great to see friends at the Cowboy Youth Festival in Stillwater, OK this past weekend! Thank you all for coming to visit!

The theme was "Follow Me" and it was a very compelling topic. We received bracelets that had footprints running the length of them with the words "Follow Me" and the theme verse (John 10:27.) After examining the footprints for a few minutes, I realized something strange about them...the footprints had holes in them!

Surely this was a mistake! Maybe the template wasn't picking up paint in the right spot. Maybe the bracelets got scraped.

Or maybe it was exactly the way it was meant to be.

When I stopped to think about it, those are the footprints I need to follow. I don't follow popular footprints, or the best-looking footprints. I don't follow well-manicured footprints.
I follow some of the dirtiest, ugliest footprints around! Feet that walked many miles. Feet that stood near leprous feet. Feet with bloody nailprints. I follow the feet of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Not good enough

I just wrote two posts, but decided neither was "good enough" to publish. I saved one as a draft...who knows? Maybe I will put it online one of these days.
Why do I feel the need to publish "the perfect article" on my own blog? Why the need for perfection?
I guess I want other people to identify with me...with my thoughts and feelings. I want people to comment on my blog and say, "I know how that feels!" I want people to say, "Great post, man!"
I wish I wasn't cursed with this need for affirmation! It's around me all the time! Is this a good sermon? Did I make that person laugh? Have I changed someone's life today?
Wish humanity wasn't infected with the "Am I good enough?" disease.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bathroom Humor

Several years ago, I was interning for the Westwood Church of Christ in Edmond, OK and we were on a trip to Colorado to go white water rafting. The boys were in one minivan; me, the youth minister, his wife, and the girls were in the church van.

All of a sudden, one of the boys in the minivan got a stomach attack! He actually CAME UP off his seat and clasped his hands to his rear end! The pain in his bowels brought a hilarious grimace to his face. "Dude, stop the car!" he pleaded with the driver, who complied quickly.

As they rolled to a stop beside the busy highway, the afflicted boy threw open the side door, jumped out, squatted, and proceeded to relieve his anguish right there by the side of the road!
In the midst of their laughter, the other boys realized that their friend was exposed for all to see, so they hopped out and surrounded their friend to give him some sort of privacy.

To make matters worse, the youth minister noticed the minivan had stopped and pulled over also. He put the church van in reverse and started back toward the group of boys, not knowing what was happening!

The boys, laughing the whole time, waved off the youth minister because they didn't want the girls to get close enough to see their friend in his embarassing situation. The youth minister, confused, stopped the van and walked back to see what was going on.
He returned laughing, and I later got to hear the full story!

I have never heard of someone having that bad of an attack! However, it was really cool of those other boys to have the presence of mind to protect their friend and help maintain modesty in a difficult situation!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Late For School?

Imagine four boys showing up LATE for school one day, looking raggedy, tired, and kind of spooked. This is their excuse...

"We were about 3/4 of a mile from home when it happened, teacher. A BULL was just...standing there in the road! There was NO way around it! He must have jumped the fence because the pasture was right next to the road."

"Yeah," chimes in the second boy, "so we decided to wait! We stood there for several minutes waiting for him to move, but he wouldn't. We started to get scared that we would be late for class, so we started thinking what we could do!"

"Before we could decide," resumes the first boy,"HE (pointing to slightly embarassed boy who is hanging his head) pretended to THROW A ROCK at the bull. And, charged us!
We were scared to death, but managed to all run and jump over the fence into the pasture before he got to us! So, we had to walk through the wet grass and around a pond in order to get to school. THAT is why we are late!"

Do you believe their story?

It really happened! When we lived in Africa, we had to walk to the "elementary school." This bull showed up, and apparently, bulls are attracted to MOVEMENT! (Not necessarily color!) We believe it was mating season also, lending to the testosterone levels of the bull.

Have you ever given an excuse that NOBODY believed? OR...have you ever given a fake excuse?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Giving Good Gifts

We celebrated Fischer's FIRST birthday a couple of days ago! It was crazy, thinking of all the changes we have all gone through in a year. It has been such a blessing to watch him grow.

Birthdays are a lot of fun. I don't know how much Fischer will remember of this particular birthday, but I DO know that he has enjoyed several of his gifts.

If anyone were to ask me, I could tell you what Fischer likes. He likes Elmo, books, things to walk behind, and balls to throw! He has also become quite a little beggar and will quickly make his way toward you if you have food or drink. He especially likes ice-cream (thanks a LOT, Grandpa Sewell! :) Once he reaches you, he turns on the charm with a smile and you've just GOT to give him something for his efforts!

This got me thinking about Matthew 7:11..."11Even though you are bad, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more your heavenly Father will give good things to those who ask him!" (New Century Version)

Even though I think I am a pretty good dad (I change diapers, give baths, try to get away from work at regular hours to go home, play with my son, and know him pretty well) I also know that I am far from perfect. I still cannot read all of my son's signals and there are times I do not know what he wants or, more importantly, what he needs.

But God knows exactly what we want AND exactly what we need! He created us, so He knows us inside and out! And, being the loving, good, holy, all-knowing Father that He is, we can expect some GREAT gifts!

God, help us to realize that you know us and love us BETTER than a father loves his children, and that you will give us good things if we only ask. Thank you for loving us so much and taking such good care of us. Help me to be the kind of dad that you are.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Christians As Healers

I used to encourage teenagers to think about being youth ministers, or pulpit ministers or missionaries. Pretty narrow view, huh?

As I grow, I learn that there are SO many ways we can spread the good news about Jesus Christ.

One of those ways, I believe, is to reclaim something Christianity seems to be losing. WE NEED MORE CHRISTIANS TO BE DOCTORS! (And nurses, assistants, etc.) I mean, think about it...what did Jesus do with the majority of His time in ministry? He HEALED people! And for us to be more like Christ, does it not follow that we Christians should be known as healers also?

At the rate our health costs are rising, I am afraid for the USA. I am afraid for my family! But, how awesome would it be if we raised up a generation to care about helping the hurts and needs of the world instead of "keeping up appearances" by earning lots of money?! Christ's people changed the world in the century after He ascended to Heaven...what stopped us?

I realize that some are more gifted at this than others. Myself, I can barely stand cleaning my son's dirty diapers (I'm dreading his first time to throw up after eating only solid food!) What about you?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Back From NYC

I'm back from my first week of Nebraska Youth Camp (got ya, didn't I?!)
I'm always amazed about church camps. It doesn't matter about your impression of the camp, because there are always people who LOVE their camp!!!
The best thing about NYC (and any church camp) is the people. Following are some memorable moments/sayings from Senior Session at camp...
  • "Prayer is like brocolli ice-cream. Ice-cream tastes good, but brocolli is good for you in the long run. Prayer is great when you're doing it, but it's also good for you in the long run." (from a devo by Cory Adrian, a camper.)
  • "At camp I didn't really make many new friends for a couple of years because I thought my circle of friends was already too big. But then I realized that my circle of friends should NEVER be 'too big!'" (devo by Jared Leinen, co-director.)
  • "If we can't go to our brothers and sisters in Christ for mercy and help when we sin, then why would we need church?" (devo by John M.)
  • Campfire singing is sweet!
  • For those who tried to "get me" with Owa Tagu Siam...sorry, I already know that language!
  • I LOVE being a teacher and "seeing the lightbulbs go off."
  • I thoroughly enjoyed extra time to just sit back and read. I went throught Come To The Table while at camp. Very thought-provoking.
  • Wish we didn't have to go to camp to feel like we are close to God.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Biggest Hypocrite

Lately, I have been feeling like the biggest hypocrite ever...

Last night, I gave the campfire devotional at Nebraska Youth Camp. This is nothing new for me...I have done tons of devotionals. I enjoy doing them! The subject was God and His power to produce change in our lives. As the devo ended, I challenged the kids to think about/talk about/pray about the things in their lives that they needed God's power to change.

Guess who still hasn't done that homework?! (ME!)

And, the sad thing is...this happens all the time! When I speak, I give a challenge...I want people's lives to be more holy! I wonder why I don't hear more stories of great things happening as people take up the challenge to live like Jesus! And then, looking at myself, I realize that I don't take the challenges seriously either! When others give devotionals or sermons, I listen and nod my head and say, "Amen!" but then do nothing the rest of the week to live out that challenge! (Sometimes I wonder if I am the only youth minister/minister that experiences this feeling?)

But, should I stop challenging God's people? Should I stop challenging myself? Should I stop listening to lessons until I'm ready to act upon them?

No...I will continue to listen and be challenged...and ask God to give me the courage to live more like Jesus. I will ask God to come in and change my own hypocritical heart.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Sense of Wonder

Our first trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha brought out a real sense of wonder in my son's eyes. Looking at this picture brings a thrill because I can see he is soaking in new things, and enjoying every minute of it! If he could talk, I wonder if he would say something like this...

Psa 104:16 Our LORD, your trees always have water, and so do the cedars you planted in Lebanon.
Psa 104:17 Birds nest in those trees, and storks make their home in the fir trees.
Psa 104:18 Wild goats find a home in the tall mountains, and small animals can hide between the rocks.
Psa 104:19 You created the moon to tell us the seasons. The sun knows when to set,
Psa 104:20 and you made the darkness, so the animals in the forest could come out at night.
Psa 104:21 Lions roar as they hunt for the food you provide.
Psa 104:22 But when morning comes, they return to their dens,
Psa 104:23 then we go out to work until the end of day.
Psa 104:24 Our LORD, by your wisdom you made so many things; the whole earth is covered with your living creatures.
Psa 104:27 All of these depend on you to provide them with food,
Psa 104:28 and you feed each one with your own hand, until they are full.
Psa 104:30 You created all of them by your Spirit, and you give new life to the earth.
Psa 104:31 Our LORD, we pray that your glory will last forever and that you will be pleased with what you have done.
Psa 104:32 You look at the earth, and it trembles. You touch the mountains, and smoke goes up.
Psa 104:33 As long as I live, I will sing and praise you, the LORD God.
Psa 104:34 I hope my thoughts will please you, because you are the one who makes me glad.

I hope I will always have a sense of wonder about God. That is part of the coolness of being a youth minister....I get to work with people who see God in new ways! Just when God becomes "old hat" to me, someone else will invariably remind me of how awesome God really is!
When (and if) I turn 75, I hope I can still be thrilled by a monkey at a zoo, or amazed by a beautiful flower. God is awesome!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dog Lover!

I think we have a dog lover on our hands! Although this pic was taken a couple of months ago, it is something that happens every day...
I take Fischer into the backyard and his eyes immediately scan for dogs in the two yards that back up to ours. He especially likes the little white fluffy dog that barks and runs to greet us at the fence.
Fischer will watch him for a few minutes and then tentatively stick a little finger out to touch him. The dog replies with a lick-attack on Fischer's finger which brings squeals of delight!
I've had some great dogs through the years...
  • Penny Puppy was our first as kids. A beatiful Beagle who loved to run!
  • Rocky was the most powerful Irish Setter I've ever known. He dragged my brother and I on the leash! We were never sure who was taking who for a walk!
  • Lucky (a Rhodesian Ridgeback) So named because he lived when several other of our dogs in Africa died before a year of age. Protected a friend of ours from a spitting cobra.
  • Mason, another first. Our first dog after Tracy and I got married. He was a pretty Cocker Spaniel with attitude! He was our first child before we had Fischer.

Hopefully, Fischer will follow in this tradition...learning to love our wonderful canine companions!

Feel free to share your dog stories!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Independence Day??

How "independent" are you?

We celebrated our "independence" yesterday, and it got me thinking, "Am I really independent? Do I WANT to be independent?"

Think about it, what kinds of things are you dependent on?
  • Internet?
  • Phones?
  • Transportation?
  • Money? A job?
  • A friend? Family member? A boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse?

Don't get me wrong, I love celebrating the Fourth of July!

But maybe it's time I get honest and celebrate "Dependence Day!" I NEED friends! I NEED family! I NEED relationships! And most of all, I NEED a relationship with God! Without Him, there is no "color" in joy. There is no hope or enjoyment of other blessings. If I don't have a relationship with Him, I have nothing!

I think I'm going to declare EVERY Sunday "Dependence Day!" What do you say...wanna do it with me?

I love this verse...
Lam 3:24 Deep in my heart I say, "The LORD is all I need; I can depend on him!" (CEV)

Friday, June 30, 2006

Game Night!

As you can see, we had TONS of fun at our first game night! It was fun to watch the teens loosen up a little bit. Some of them (and myself) haven't loosened up completely, but that will come with time. This is the preacher's kid...hahahaha! He is a lot of fun. I'll bet he could make his dad crack up while preaching, but I won't push for it because that would get us BOTH into trouble! :)

All of our teenagers are SO talented! I am amazed as I get to know them...amazed that they excel in their different talents. Dancing, playing guitar, cello, singing, computers, making's so cool to watch them "do their thing!"

I hope I can encourage them (and YOU) to use their gifts for God...even if it's making people laugh!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Dancing for Jesus

Cruising through the mall today, I decided to check out the lower level which is the "video games" level. Tracy caught up to me and Fischer just in time to witness a teen boy playing this video game...only it's not a video game!!
Probably the most genius invention in years, Dance Dance Revolution is a video game that gets kids (and adults) up and dancing instead of just using their thumbs! The picture on the right gives you a general idea.
The first time I played this game was with Jordan Maples. We were doing a teen activity together and I LOVED this game! I stink at keeping rhythm and dancing, but it was still lots of fun!
Now, back to my current story...
As we watched this incredible teenager dance, it was obvious he practiced a LOT! He was hitting every step with expert precision. He finally broke a sweat after about five minutes of continuous dancing.
I was so proud of my wife as she stepped forward to talk to him. She asked him if he practiced a lot and told him she was impressed with his skills.
"You ought to use your talent for Jesus!" she said.
"Yeah...I know," he breathed.
"Are you a Christian?"
They both smiled as they gave each other a high-five.
What an awesome moment...two Christians finding and encouraging one another! Oh, that we would ALL be so bold and step out of our comfort zones once in a while. I don't know the story of his life, but I know that young man's smile was 100% geniune! If you're ever in doubt about speaking the name of Jesus, just do it! You may get a pleasant surprise!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Peaches, Anyone?

Tonight was a lot of fun. We spent time with family and ate steaks and hot dogs. However, we were low on baby food and the only thing we had left was two vegetables (we usually feed him a veggie and a fruit!)
So, Fischer's great aunt rummaged through her pantry and found some diced peaches. They were very soft, so we gave him some. Apparently they were a bit sour, too! This was the result!

By the way, Happy Father's Day, Dad (and everyone else!)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Our First Omaha Funny!

Sorry it's been a while...we're still getting organized!

OK, we have our first "official" youth group funny! A group of us were playing Apples to Apples when it happened. We are still really new here, and I'm realizing that some people are having a problem getting Franklin and Fischer straight, sometimes changing my name for his or vice versa.
One of the girls in the youth group, Megan Tantillo, looked across the table at Tracy (who was holding Fischer) and asked, "Tracy, can I hold Franklin for a while?"
"Well, I guess!" Tracy laughed.
When she realized what she had said, we all burst out laughing.
I am looking forward to many more laughs in Omaha!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Stupid Cell Phones!

Quick update...

Our cell phone carrier STINKS!!!! I won't print their name, but it starts with "T" and ends with "Obile" (as Phil would say!) Sorry if any of you like them, but they are treating us like dirt. They will not let us out of our contract, even though we have NO SERVICE here! They told us that we have gone over our minutes. HELLO! We went over our minutes WELL before we reached Omaha! They also told us we had made a few calls from Omaha, and we informed them that those calls were DROPPED before we completed them! So...we may not get another cell phone until September...

Fischer climbed the stairs in our house today. Why does that have to happen while I'm at work?! Grandpa Sewell is now his best friend as they sit down every night and share some ice cream. Fischer sits back, crosses his legs and wait for the good stuff!

Hopefully we'll get all computers up and running soon (even my work computer has some kinks to work out) and we can put some pictures up! Until then, God bless and don't use T...obile!

Friday, May 26, 2006

We're Heeeeeeeeeere!

We made it to Nebraska!
We decided to come a little early (sorry to those in Ponca who might have wanted to see us again!) and it was a good decision. Breaking the trip up into two days was great, especially since the U-Haul didn't want to go faster than 65 mph with a gusting south wind jostling it's frame.
Our reception here was awesome! Thanks to all those who helped us move in. It only took an hour to unpack everything! Our church family here is trying to "fatten us up" I guess, because we have cake, cookies, and all sorts of goodies at the house!
Also, big thanks to our help in Ponca. We will miss everyone there and it was very emotional for us to leave.
We stood in our empty house and cried as the memories flooded over us. The last time we had seen Fischer's room bare was right before we painted it and put his crib in it. We shared many laughs with friends in that house. We also shared many struggles and cried with a few people.
The same thing happened to me when I visited the basement (teen room) at the church building for the last time. I remembered classes and devotionals and lockins...all the fun stuff that a youth group does.
Anyways, we expect everyone to keep in touch!
We will do our best as we don't have phone, cell phone, or internet right now. I am in the church office doing this because we were feeling very "out of touch!"
Thanks again for blessing our lives.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Family Fotos

We got some new pics from "Uncle John." This is him and Fischer together at a little family shindig we had recently.

We had a great time taking pictures, watching Fischer laugh, and playing board games. Uncle John takes some pretty good pictures, and Aunt Emily seems to have a knack for making Fischer crack up.

Our family is such a great support for us. I don't know what we would do if we didn't have them! In fact, some are coming this weekend to help us paint our house before we sell it. Then, they will come to Omaha to help us unload our stuff into our new house! Tracy's folks are joining in the fun the week after that, when Tracy will shift into high gear on home decorating (and probably yard work for me and the father-in-law!)

We are so grateful for our family...not just their physical help or monetary support, but knowing that they will love us no matter where we end up! They want the best for us. They want us to be happy as a family and joyful in our jobs. I'm so glad that God puts us in families (either real or adopted) that care for us and look out for us!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Spaced Out

Have you ever totally spaced out?

I kind of feel like that right now. It's pretty sad, actually! Today is my day off, and we got a lot accomplished today. Got and packed a few boxes, faxed some things to our realtor in Omaha, "strongly encouraged" our realtor in Ponca City, and went for a walk. But I feel like I should have a little more energy! Maybe I am still recovering from our FLOAT TRIP this weekend (more on that next post.) It seems like it takes longer and longer to recover after those types of activities, but I always have a blast!

It really stinks being "between jobs." On the one hand, you are looking forward to your next job and new house. On the other, you feel like you are letting people down that you are leaving. Your friends (people at church) start withdrawing from you...that's the worst feeling. The people you have been really close to...they know you are leaving and it hurts to keep talking to you when they know you are leaving! I know they still love me, it's just funny how humans act sometimes!

Can't wait to move on and quit being spaced out!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

God's Answer


Here we are...24 days after we told our congregation that we would be leaving. We now have a job, our house in Ponca is sold, and we have found a house in Omaha with a closing date of May 24th!
I remember our prayers very vividly, "God, please make it 100% CRYSTAL CLEAR what you want us to do. Open the door WIDE OPEN to our next location and lead us where you want us to be..."

I'm glad God has thrown open the doors for us to have a clear view because sometimes I'm not that great at discerning His plan for my life.
Then again, maybe He doesn't have a specific plan! Maybe He just wants me to follow and trust Him (wherever I am) and the blessings will come!
I am glad that God is faithful to His promises. I know He hears me when I pray and that He answers prayer. I know that He wants the best for me. I'm glad that He seems to be shouting His answer to my prayer, because sometimes it's hard to hear the gentle, whispering voice of God.

Thank you, Father, for answering my prayers.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


New job. New state. New home. New location. New church family. New weather. New!New!New!
The word "NEW" is exciting to me! When things get old, sometimes we say they are "boring." NEW excites us and forces us to imagine the possibilities. NEW gives us energy. NEW makes us ready to meet new challenges.
But sometimes NEW is scary! The closer we get to this NEW stuff, the more anxious I get! Will I succeed at my new job? Will the church fully embrace me and my family? Will we find close friends? Will I be able to fit in?
Jesus said, "I make all things NEW." God the Father said, "It is good" when He created the world. I guess I should take courage in the fact that everything God created is good...even NEW experiences!
Please don't misunderstand, while it's a bit scary, it's also EXCITING!
Anyone else understand what I'm saying?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Extended Family In Omaha

Having never been to Omaha, Nebraska, I was pleasantly surprised by its gorgeous scenery, shopping and restaurants, and caring people.
When driving near the church building, I noticed a huge steeple. I really like the layout of the building, from the offices and auditorium to the classes and gymnasium. That's right...I said "gymnasium!!"
Every restaurant where we ate was delicious...and they weren't the chain restaurants that I am used to! In fact, there is NOT a McDonald's on every block of this city. It definitely has a unique feel.
We really enjoyed visiting with Tracy's aunt and her family. They are super-nice people and they told us they would LOVE to have family living close to them!
As we drove out to our host's home, we gawked at the vast amount of homes in the neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. What an AWESOME opportunity to share the story of Jesus with people who don't know Him!
Most of all, though, we were impressed by our extended family at the Southwest Church of Christ. These people were SO kind to us that we IMMEDIATELY felt a part of their family! We got to meet several of the younger families and immediately knew that we could have close friends.
The teens spoke up in class and at the devo, even though I was warned that they might not talk! We had great fun playing Catch Phrase, too!
The shepherds are a group of unbelievable men who really know their sheep. They could tell me where the teenagers worked and what extracurricular activities they were involved in. By the end of our visit, I felt like I had known them all for a long time.
I am SO glad to know that I have such a gracious, loving family serving the Lord in Omaha, Nebraska! I pray that God will bless them (and I'm tempted to be selfish in my prayers and ask that God will move us there!)

Monday, April 03, 2006

What's Next?

Yesterday was perhaps the longest day of my life...
It was sad as I began by telling the teens in my youth group that I would be searching for another job. Several of them were visibly shaken and a few were downright mad. I know our elders had to make a tough decision about the youth ministry here, and I hope the church can accept it.
The church embraced us and assured us that they appreciated our work in Ponca City. We have such a loving church family here. It will be hard to leave them! I pray that this congregation can grow again. Maybe one day they will be able to support a full-time youth minister again.
We were reminiscing with one of our teens and a college student who used to be in our youth group. There are so many good stories we will take from here. Some have resurfaced, so I may blog about them in the next few days if I find some time!
Until then, continued prayers for direction are appreciated. Where will God lead us next?!
Grace and Peace!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Tough Times Ahead

How do you break sad news to people you really love?
I'm not sure...but in about 12 hours, I will find out.
The people at Harford Avenue Church of Christ have been so good to us. We love our youth group. They are such a great bunch of kids...even if they don't realize it.
The writings of Paul make so much sense now:
"We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers..."
"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. " (1 Thess. 1:2 and 2:8)
I will share soon what is going on. Thanks for your patience and, especially, your prayers.

Friday, March 17, 2006

What Is YOUR Gift?

My wife and I were discussing spiritual gifts the other day. She was really excited as she explained to me that she could "tell things about people." She wanted to say, "I think I have the gift of discernment," but instead she said, "I think I have the gift of dissension!"
I explained to her (through laughter) that "dissension" means you have a knack for getting people mad at each other!!
Sometimes, it seems like we are really good at doing the OPPOSITE of what God wants us to do! We don't necessarily develop or use our spiritual gifts, we just do what it takes to "get by in this world."
I hope and pray that Tracy and I (and one day Fischer) find our spiritual gifts and become passionate about using them! And I hope Tracy's gift is NOT "dissension!" Hahahahaha...
Have YOU thought about your spiritual gifts lately?
How can you use your gifts and talents for the glory of God and not for yourself?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Tough to Swallow

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, life has been a little..."interesting" lately.

Last Sunday I shared this verse with the teenagers in class...

Phil 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing

Wrap your mind around that verse for a EVERYTHING without complaining or arguing! In other words, your life as a Christ-follower should contain NO (zero, zilch, nada) complaining or arguing.
That's tough to swallow!
How often have you failed on that one? I'll let ya know when I've mastered it. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until I reach heaven!
What other things are hard teachings for you to swallow? What have you read recently that you've really examined in your life and found lacking?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Watering the Lawn?

Today, I watered the lawn after work. Not the whole lawn...just the part right next to the house. I guess I'm kinda paranoid about the fire danger in Oklahoma! But part of me thinks I did it for other reasons...
Maybe watering the lawn is an outward expression of my desire to protect my family. As a new dad, I find that when I am extremely hurt and vulnerable, I feel ten times as protective of my family!

Why do we get protective of other people?

I know that part of it is because we love them. We would do anything to keep them from experiencing any kind of pain.
But I wonder if the other part is because WE want to be protected!
When we get down and out; when we feel hurt and vulnerable; when we feel like nobody cares; when we feel unprotected and unwanted...

Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.
Psalms 28:6-9

Saturday, February 25, 2006

24-Hour Fast

I know...usually our youth group does a 30-Hour Fast. It changed this year because we were expecting company and because it's been a long week, and I didn't plan as much as I wanted to.
I always learn something new about God during a fast. We go without food, but get full on God! This year, we made a care box for a young couple who lost a child recently. We also did a Jesus Walk (we walked with Jesus from the garden of Gethsemane to the crucifixion.) I had the kids feel helpless, get betrayed, feel deserted, get falsely accused, be hated by strangers, carry a cross, and feel nails of crucifixion.
Here are some things I learned...
  1. Not everyone carries the cross the same way. One of the teens told another, "You're doing it wrong!" We discussed how it might look different, but it's not necessarily wrong. Isn't that true of God's people? We all have different gifts and different lives, but we all can carry our cross for God's glory!
  2. Sometimes we rush through our time spent with Jesus. Some of the teens wanted to rush from station to station without really contemplating each stage of the Jesus walk. I guess I'm guilty of the same thing sometimes. Hurry up and get your Bible reading done. Help this person will only take ten minutes. I need to spend more time with Jesus instead of just putting Him on my "To Do" list.
  3. I am extremely blessed! I don't have to worry where my next meal is coming from! I know that I will get at least three meals a day, and probably snacks, too! When you have no food, you have no energy...but people go on with life anyway! I am so spoiled because if I miss ONE meal I get cranky!

Fasting is a lost discipline among Christians today...especially among churches of Christ. Maybe if we all did it more, we would learn more to depend on God.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Standing Right In Front of You

We had an awesome time with some friends of ours last night. They are great about listening to our rants and raves, encouraging us, and especially making us laugh when we need it most!
The funny thing is, I've been here for over five years and always complained about not having close friends! I guess sometimes the biggest blessings in life are standing right in front of you.

God, help me to notice the blessings in my life! When I have a negative attitude, open my eyes to see the positive stuff all around me. And thank you for great friends.

What are some blessings that stand right in front of you? Or...

Why do you love your friends so much?

God bless you all!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Fischer Takes Over!!

Hi, my name is Fischer and my daddy is letting me take over his blog for today. I am about to take a bath, so this will have to be quick!
My daddy got to stay home today, but he was sick. I hope he gets better soon.
For some reason, mommy and daddy have been hugging a lot today. Then we got in the car and took some flowers and cards to people who don't have family any more. Mommy cried later on when daddy gave her a card. Adults are weird!
I got to laugh a lot today and tomorrow I get to go to Bible class! I will see my teachers and then probably some of the teenagers will hold me after class. Church is neat because so many people there love me. Mommy and daddy tell me that God loves me too!
I also love to see my grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, cousins, and the rest of my HUGE family! Sometimes they have to come to "Podunk City" to visit us (that's what my daddy says) and that's a lot of fun.
Well, it's time for my bath so I'd better run. Hope you all sleep good tonight and eat well tomorrow!
- Fischer

Monday, February 13, 2006

I Died Yesterday

My name is Franklin Wood. I died yesterday.

I died when I wanted to sleep in, but went to praise God anyway. I died when I gave up my whole day to mentor teenagers and set up for a youth rally. I died when I wanted to give up (when my singing voice died), but I persevered. I died when I wanted to yell at some people for not supporting me, but I loved on them instead.

See, I didn't die physically, I just put my old self to death.

Did you know that we are supposed to die every day?

"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." Romans 6:6-7

I'm not perfect...never will be as long as I live. I've got a lot of dying to do...a lot of old habits and temptations to bury. The best I can do is try to share in Christ's story (DIE to my old self, BURY my sinful self, and RISE AGAIN as a new person in Christ!)

How about you? What part of your "old self" needs to die? What old habits do you need to crucify? Have you died lately?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Stupid Human Tricks

Here is a recent photo of our son. A few days after this pic was taken, we discovered that he has a unique talent...he can roll his tongue to a vertical position!
We both laughed hysterically at this newfound skill. His mom could not imitate it, and wondered aloud where he could have picked up this talent. So, I turned to her and showed off my own glossal gymnastics (tongue tricks!)

I've seen a few cool human tricks in person:
  • Clasping hands at waist level (behind the back) and bringing them over the head.
  • Chugging Tabasco sauce (yes, it IS a talent!)
  • A girl climbing a 25-foot wall in under 6 seconds.
  • Weird Al Yankovich grabbing his foot and putting it behind his head (while standing!)

What is the coolest stupid human trick that you can perform or that you have witnessed?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Any Good News Out There?

It's only Monday, and already I've received terrible news from two great friends of mine. One couple lost their unborn baby and another got fired from a "church" in a bad situation.
Both friends live in Kansas. I wish I could be with them right now and, well...just be with them!
It's hard to know what to say when these weeks happen...nothing but bad news and hurt feelings. I just pray that God is seen as the answer and not the problem.

So...any good news out there? Anybody have some blessings they want to share? If some of my friends are getting rained on, there MUST be someone with some sunshine! Please share!!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Pray for Winterfest Trip!

We are taking 10 people to Winterfest this year...leaving about noon and traveling for a little more than five hours.
Last year there was a tragedy when another youth group got into a wreck on the way back from Winterfest.
  • Please pray that all will travel safely this year (including us!)
  • Pray for peace upon the families whose children were involved in the wreck last year.
  • Pray that God's name is glorified in our worship and actions.
  • Pray that some young hearts would be impacted by the good news of Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

2006 Resolutions: Part Two

OK, some more resolutions for this year:
1. Relationships - I want to have several folks of which I can say, "Yes, they are a close friend." I want to "hang out" again! Also, my youth ministry needs to be driven by relationships rather than developing good programs. I want to be "Older Brother" rather than Youth Ministry Director! I want to continue improving my relationship with my wife...I want to get better at being a servant.
2. God - I want to trust Him more with my life. I want to talk to Him like a close friend. I WILL read my Bible with my wife every day. We will go through the New Testament and actually STUDY the text. We will pray together. We will not just ask for things, but ask for opportunities. We will not just ask for things, but praise God for the abundance we already possess! I will examine my movie and CD collection and get rid of the things I would not allow my son to listen to or watch. I pray that God will lead me to a soul who needs to hear some Good News.

Alright, so I measured my body fat. Uuugh! So I'm about 25.9% That is waaaaaaaaaaay overfat! Looks like I need to get down to the range of 14.6 to 16.4 to be in an ideal range. Stay tuned for details!

Any new resolutions out there? What goals are YOU shooting for?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

2006 Resolutions:Part One

The time has come to once again make goals for the new year only to break them in about three weeks. I am determined to do better this year, though. I have written "check points" into my day planner so that I can track my progress. Here are a few of my "less important" goals. I write them down so that you can ask me how I'm doing later in the year.
1) Hobbies/Achievements - Finish a book by year's end! You probably know that I have several book ideas, but I never focused on one. This year, I am choosing ONE idea and working on it every week. I hope to be done with my first draft by summer. Then I will complete my third draft of it by December.
2) Weight - I'm not so much focusing on weight this year as body fat percentage. I have ordered some measuring calipers and I will let you know the bad news as soon as I get them! My goal is to get down to a healthy body fat percentage by the end of the year.

My next post will contain some more resolutions for 2006. Until then...WHAT ARE YOUR RESOLUTIONS FOR THIS YEAR? Maybe we can start following up with each other!!!!! Feel free to post a comment!