Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Losing Weight and Following God

At the beginning of the year, I mentioned that I was on a crusade to change the way I look at food and exercise. So far I've done pretty well. 15 pounds lost so far and I feel lots better than during the holidays. There are some things that strike me as I look back that I think apply to spiritual life as well...
  1. It's easier to gain weight than lose it. Following sin and following Christ are much the same way. Sometimes it just seems easier to give in to sin instead of following Christ.
  2. What takes one day to gain might take one week to lose. I came home after the Tulsa workshop and freaked out because I had gained three pounds! It was so disappointing because I remembered how hard I had worked to lose that weight! Sometimes one bad decision can follow us for years. It's not that God can't wipe it out, but the consequences may still be with us. I MUST weigh my decisions and my words.
  3. The pressure to overeat is everywhere. Food Network is one of my favorite channels. I know it's weird when you are "dieting" but it's true! I also LOVE to watch commercials to see what fast-food chain has new offerings on its menu! Also, I don't know if you've noticed, but all the donuts and cakes are at the FRONT of the grocery stores! I know that God is everywhere, but so is temptation. God gives us the freedom to choose Him or not, but that does not mean that sin is the same way. Satan won't just let us make our own choice...he'll throw every tempation he can at us!! The good news is that God's help is more powerful than worldly pressure, if we allow God's power to work.
  4. My attitude must change, and not just my actions. I've done this many times before, and failed because I felt like I let myself down when I stopped exercising or ate too much. Instead of "getting back on the wagon" I would beat myself up and tell myself that I was a failure. Last week (in Tulsa) I did not work out and ate too much a few times. But you know what? I'm back in the gym this week and I won't let ONE failure define me! In our spiritual lives, we cannot let ONE failure keep us from seeking God! Just because you failed once (or more) does not mean that you are evil and can never follow God again! Get up, dust yourself off, and get your heart for God back in shape!

I'm sure I'll keep learning. I pray I can stay on track, not only in my struggle with weight, but also in my struggle with sin.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Reflections from Tulsa Workshop

The Tulsa Soul-Winning Workshop is always a time for recharging. If you have never been, please consider going next year! Here are some reflections from this year's workshop...

  • 7 and 1/2 hours is a LONG drive (as you can tell from the picture) but is well worth the time spent driving.

  • I don't think I have EVER gone and NOT seen someone I know! This is THE place to get connected and RE-connected.

  • The speakers are constantly thought-provoking and challenging. Randy Harris...wow! Jerry Taylor...first-time listener, great job! Keith Lancaster...hope you can come to our church this year with your seminar! Robert Cox...I'm SO glad my wife has a connection with your family! You are challenging and real.

  • Next year, we are staying through Sunday instead of trying to make it home on Saturday!

I hope this Workshop continues to grow and flourish. I hope God will help us all grow through the classes and challenged we received. I pray I can bring a new Christian with me next year.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Good friends are SO underappreciated!!

Last week, I met with some guys who are starting to feel like good friends. I have only known them for a short time, but I respect their input and I really covet their prayers. They are youth ministers, like me. They understand my joys and my struggles. Phillip Quelle is in Bellevue, Matt Coppinger is in York, and Trent Baker is in Lincoln.

As we prayed together, I was reminded of some youth minister friends of mine in Oklahoma. Without them, I'm sure there were times I would have quit...given up...thrown in the towel. Tim Hall and Tom Dahlman, I love you guys! You walked with me through some dark days. And even though we don't talk as much these days, I think of you guys alot.

I met another great man of God last week, too. Shane Coffman is the Worship Minister for the Memorial Drive family in Tulsa, OK. What a neat guy! What a great perspective he brings! You can check out his blog (which I check regularly) here: www.shanecoffman.blogspot.com

I also need to mention my "co-ministers" here at Southwest, Chris Pierson and Jim White. What an IMMENSE blessing to work alongside these men! Thank you guys for keeping me honest, for challenging me, for making me laugh, for encouraging me, and most of all, for praying with me.

The list could go on and on. In fact, many who are reading this should be on the list as well. Isn't it cool to have "such a great cloud of witnesses"?! Which reminds me, I'm PUMPED about going to Tulsa tomorrow and seeing a bunch of friends!

Who are your witnesses? Who are your "buddies" who have kept you sane? Challenged you? Listened to you? Loved you?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Five Year Anniversary

Today is our fifth year of wedded bliss (and wedded blunders!) In fact, I got another story on Tracy today!!
Those of you who know her know that she is prone to twisting her tongue from time to time.
This morning, we were talking before we got up for the day and I was sharing some feelings about leaving a legacy on the earth.
After a couple of minutes she asked, "Why are being an emu today?"
My explosive laughter tipped her off that she had said something wrong.
"Do you know what you just said?" I asked.
"An emu is a bird! You are thinking of 'emo!'"
*For those of you who don't know...'emo' is the new word to describe emotionally-charged punk rock music, or the artists who sing it. The lyrics are known for being very emotional and sappy.

I love it when that happens with Tracy! Not because I'm trying to embarass her...but because it's fun! I adore those moments when we are together and share a good laugh. I hope we have lots more. Love you, Tracy! Now we can start on the next fifty years together!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My First Evaluation

I love my shepherds!! (Can you believe I'm writing this AFTER my evaluation??!!)
What an uplifting and inspiring time we had last night as they affirmed me and prayed for me. As an employee, I understand that they are paying me to do certain things, but I also expect them to be my shepherds and not just my bosses. They do not disappoint!!
These men care more about my spiritual, emotional, and financial well-being than they care about seeing "results." And that is a good thing, because "results" in my line of work are sometimes hard to measure!
Shepherds care for their sheep. They make sure they are fed and that they are safe. They want their sheep to have friends and get along with the rest of the flock. They want the best for their sheep...even sheep who they have hired to help minister to the flock.
Thank God for Larry Becker, Mike Eudy, LaVerne Haselwood, Dean Hamilton, Dean Howard and Burrel Beck.

On a side note...days don't get much better than today! A day off, 80 degrees in beautiful Omaha, Nebraska, morning spent playing outside with your son, an afternoon walk with the family by Lake Zorinsky followed by a picnic, and a quiet evening with my wife. (By the way, our FIVE year anniversary is coming on Friday!!)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Fun Pic from Orlando

Here's a pic of me chillin' with my buds in DinoWorld at Disney's Animal Kingdom. We had a blast soakin' up the sun and cruisin' the strip. I just wanna give a shout out to my homeys T-Dawg and Tricera-Dude!!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Happy Slapping

There is a disturbing new fad among world teenagers called "Happy Slapping." Contrary to its name, happy slapping is the filming of real-world violence.
Films have started to appear on U.S. websites that depict students beating on unsuspecting peers. I first saw one a few weeks ago of several teen GIRLS (seniors) kicking and punching a freshman girl.
What is it within human beings that makes us want to harm others?
Is it really cool to have the tape rolling while you pop somebody in the face or gang-rape a girl?
If you are a teenager, PLEASE RUN away from this idea. (Buy a punching bag, for crying out loud!)
If you are a parent, just be aware that this fad has made its way from Britain and France (where happy slapping was banned today) to the United States.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." - Jesus (from Matt. 5:9)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Happy While Hurting

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith builds perseverance." James 1:2-3

James is our topic of study in Senior High this quarter. He is SO practical it's scary!! Here are some thoughts about the above passage:
  • How come some people face trials and make it through, while others fall away from their faith?? What makes some people stick it out and others run away?
  • Why is it easier to be "joyful" about trials AFTER they happen and not DURING?!!
  • Why is it SO hard for us to cope with difficult times in our lives? Is it our upbringing? Is it our country and culture? Is it a faith problem? (Well, I guess so, because not many people DEAL with their trials, and therefore are losing their faith and perseverance!!!)
  • How can I help others be "joyful" in times of trial?
  • I realize I cannot just tell people, "Cheer up!" when they are going through tough times. I think the only reason James could say it is because he had an incredibly deep relationship with them and because he spoke with great authority as one who LIVED OUT what he preached.
  • Can you look back on anything in YOUR life that was painful at the time, but has produced greater perseverance? (I CAN!!)
  • Is there something in your life NOW that is difficult and painful? If so, do you believe this verse, that you will gain perseverance in your faith if you stick it out with God?!
  • Do you know someone who is in the middle of a trial and needs some JOY?
God, I pray for those who are "just getting by" today. Help them to stop just long enough to hear your gentle whisper in their lives. Help them to reach for you in their struggles and NOT TRY TO DO IN ON THEIR OWN. Help them to have JOY today!!
God, thank you for trials. Help us to praise you when we come through them unscathed and with deeper faith!! Amen!