Sunday, October 30, 2005

This weekend we went on our 4th annual camping trip. We went to Cacapon State Park just outside of Berkeley Springs, WV. I made sure that none of the kids that went were cousins and that kept the romance down a considerable amount. There must be something in the water in West Virginia.

The camping trip is always the best retreat we do. The students get real with themselves, others and God and this year was no different. God moved in mighty ways. We had a girl that has basically shut herself off from God for the past 3 years finally breakout of that, we saw a "spiritual" kid admit to a addictive sin and get help. We saw students recognize that this is all a process and that while they will fail they are not failures.

I prepared it all well and things ran smoothly but I can't take credit for the work of God. He did some amazing things.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Miss You: I've been studying the Life of Christ and specifically the parables and metaphors he uses. I started in Matthew and will work through all 4 gospels. I wanted to do this because in my opinion we spend more time studying Paul's words than we do Jesus' words. I enjoy the epistles they are so practical and fairly easy to understand. Jesus on the other hand...not so easy to understand.

Nevertheless, i have enjoyed doing this and today I reached Jesus entry into Jerusalem. You know that feeling that you get when you meet someone you really like but you're away from home and they don't live in your town. Getting to know them is awesome and you know you'll always remember them and will hopefully see them again one day but you enjoy them so much you don't want it to end but deep down inside know it will end. That's the feeling I got.

I know it's not over, you know, me and Jesus. But we have so little of his words, so little of his teachings, so little of knowing the humanity side of our Savior. Very sad, Very day.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

This weekend is our annual camping trip. It always rains, is always cold and is always the best retreat we do.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Failure: I have heard that it is not how we handle success or even the amount of success that displays our character but rather how we handle failure. Before I say what I'm going to say I want to make it clear that I'm not against failure. I fail all the time, too often. I'm pretty much a big failure but because of grace and because God uses failures like me...and Moses- life turns out pretty good.

I keep hearing it said that when something goes wrong it means we are doing something right. Meaning that as pastors or God's children we are working to expand God's kingdom, when things are going well then Satan or his minions come along and try to stop it, hence the bad things happening. Now I agree that we need to remember that our battle is against spiritual forces but I do not agree that if something is going wrong we should be so fast to blame evil forces.

What about blaming our evil world? Remember the apple.

I also think it's funny that when failure strikes we are quick to blame everything else except ourselves. Why didn't that outreach event work? was it the weather, society, or the tide of the ocean...maybe but more than likely it was poor strategy or excecution. Why wasn't that message effective? was it God's fault, was it society anti-jesus atitude, maybe but more than likely it just wasn't a very good sermon.

Maybe we're to blame for failure more often than not. I think so. But still the beauty remains that God uses failures and ugly things.

So fess up!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I stumbled upon this list while reading Brian's blog (who left a comment about the C) so while taking no credit this list is very strangely true...and funny.

michael lukaszewski has a great list of the same 21 students you’ll find in any average youth group on his blog:

I read somewhere that the average size youth group in the US is 21. The more places I go, and the more students that I meet, the more I am convinced that there are really only 21 different teenagers in the whole world. They just keep moving around from city to city. Here’s my breakdown.

1. Weird Home school Kid. I’m sorry, but I’ve been a youth pastor for 13+ years, and most home school kids are kind of strange.

2. Star Wars Freak Boy. This is the kid that dresses up and buys lightsabers off eBay.

3. Christian Band Groupie. They have lots of t-shirts, CD’s and autographed paraphernalia and strangely refer to members of the Newsboys by their first name.

4. Facial Hair Guy. This guy could be 12 or 18, but he’s got that scruffy patch of something occupying space on his chin. It doesn’t look very good.

5. Super spiritual girl. Sometimes known as “I’m dating Jesus” girl. She likes to read books like lady in waiting and usually closes meetings in prayer.

6. The IT specialist. He will have a promising corporate career or become an underground hacker. He illegally downloads things from the Internet for his youth pastor so his youth pastor doesn’t have to break the law.

7. The “I refuse to leave” individual. This person graduated from your ministry at least one year ago, but tricks himself into thinking of himself or herself as a chaperone so they can stick around. The will
be in your youth service for some time.

8. Overdeveloped Middle School girl. That’s all I need to say about that one. This group of students did not exist when I was in middle school.

9. The Bible Scholar. This person likes talking about Calvinism and other topics. They are the first to look up verses when called for and like to share their deep thoughts.

10. The Christian School Only Person. Closely related to weird home school kid (see #1), this person will go to Christian elementary school, a private Christian high school and when it comes time to go to college, he will only consider Christian colleges. This person can make it through life without ever talking to a lost person.

11. Little Drummer Boy. AKA Rock Star. Very proud of their $150 acoustic guitar, they are experts at leading worship and being part of a youth praise band.

12. The Event Addict. This person keeps their youth group event t-shirts color coded in their closet. They show up at camps, ski trips, weekends, conferences and every other event known to man.

13. The hoochie. If unchecked, overdeveloped middle school girl may develop into hoochie. This girl rarely wears enough clothing.

14. Smothered by Mother. No matter where this person goes, they can’t do anything without checking in with their parents every few minutes. Their parents require extra information on every event and activity.

15. Middle School Cheerleader. Usually traveling in packs of three, these are very small girls, typically wearing braces. They show up to any event wearing cheerleading shorts.

16. The forwarder. This person will forward you at least four or five e-mails every week. Thanks to him or her, you’ll know about all the companies supported by Mormons. This person might be associated with the IT specialist (see #6)

17. The EO. EO’s only show up to your fun events. They don’t care about anything you have to say, but will surface several times a year. Due to the massive amount of events attended, they have amassed a large quantity of t-shirts, which they use as rags or to mow grass.

18. FBI Parent Agent. While this is not technically a student, this parent is always there watching your every move. They probably have a “Smothered by Mother” (see #14). They want to know who will be driving and will question your word choice in your messages. Even though they are not a teenager, go ahead and include them and count them, because they will always be around.

19. The Drama Queen. This girl is usually the center of attention and needs lots of counseling. They are always involved in a major event or scandal.

20. The Questioner. The questioner will ask you if they can read their poem at your next youth service. They may have a painting or a song that will really encourage everyone else. They want to lead worship even though they can’t really sing and lead a bible study, even though they don’t own a Bible.

21. The all American. These are your regular, everyday teenagers. They don’t fall into any particular category.

Yawn: I learned on Animal Planet last night that the average yawn last 6 seconds and the average person yawns 10 times a day. That means in the average life humans spend 3 weeks yawning. Bet you always wanted to know that.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

All my life I've noticed something was wrong but couldn't pinpoint the problem. So we're driving by a bank and It's always nice that they provide the time, I normally check the bank clock then check my radio clock and make sure all is well with my clock. Sometimes they provide the temperature which I again check against the guage in my truck.

So you look at the bank clock and it says 17 degress "C". I mean who in the US even knows what that means? Really it's just an inconvience, we have to wait for that to leave...what a waste.

Friday, October 21, 2005

We were house shopping today so I'm real tired. But when I get back expect thrilling topics such as Bank Clocks...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I sell Houses dot com: There is someone in our city that drives a Hummer, I'm not talking an H2 I'm talking the real deal Hummer. Complete with 35" tires that cost $200 each. On the side of the hummer is the magnetic advertiser that says I ask: So let me get this straight. I use you to sell my house. You get rich and can buy and H1, I still only get to sell my house. Yeah no thanks I'll pass.

On the same note we were watching a Nooma video last night, Kickball. I like to ask the kids goofy questions to get them warmed up like, What store was the kiosk in front of? and one of my kids asked "Nick, what kind of pastor drives a Range Rover." I said Rob Bell does apparently. I then explained to them the size of his church and how God is blessing that ministry with lots of people. The kid just said "oh". I have no problem with Rob Bell driving a Range Rover or pastor's having nice things (I like nice things) but I was just wondering if there are people that think like about Rob Bell and his Range Rover like I do about the Hummer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Books: I don't mean to overspiritualize this but there is something about books that is very...well spirtual. I'm not necessarily talking about the fact of reading but more of WHAT I am reading. It amazes me that if I sit and let God guide me the book he leads me to never fails to speak right into my life.

Water: The book is currently If you want to walk on water you've got to get out of the boat. I heard John Ortberg speak at General Council for my denomination and his message was encouraging to me. I thought his book would be the same so I bought it and it has sat on my shelf asking to be read for about 4 months now. I knew the time wasn't right and then finally on Monday I knew the time had arrived to read it.

Like his message the book is convicting but mostly encouraging. It kind of goes back to the Teddy Roosevelt quote I posted yesterday. Dare mighty may fail, correction you WILL fail but better try and fail than never try at all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I was reading a book this morning that reminded me of a quote my dad gave me when I was about 12 years old. I loved the quote so much I used to carry it around in my wallet. I eventually lost the paper my dad had typed it on but not before I memorized it.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, win glorious triumphs, and suffer much defeat- than to live in the grey twilight where one does not suffer much nor enjoy much. -Theodore Roosevelt

Weird: I saw that I missed a phone call while I was getting a hair cut. The message they left only said "I'm trying to reach Nick" and I saw it was a 678 area code which is around Atlanta so I figured I'd better call them back. The guy answers and I don't recognize his voice but he acts like he knows me so I go with it. Finally I ask him who he is and he laughs and says Ken Tyree.

Ken Tyree is my brother-in-laws brother-in-law. I play in a fantasy football league with him and his wife and some others in his family and I see him at holidays that we're at my sisters. So he talks some more and I can't help but wonder why he's calling me. So he talks and asks me how I'm doing, what I'm up to and how's the job. This isn't the Ken Tyree I know.

Finally it dawns on me that I actually know 2 Ken Tyrees and this one I met in NYC in 1999 and then ran into him in Chesapeake, Va about 2 years ago. It was just weird. Turns out he's trying to sell me some products and I guess he's so desperate he went digging through old business cards. So I made sure he had the wrong contact information and email address and told him to keep in touch.

Penguins: Last evening the family and I went to see March of the Penguins. Nathan (7.5 months) seemed to really like the penguins and he was even laughing at them at one point. Then he got bored and threw cereal pieces all over the floor.

I've been fascinated with Penguins since I read Blue Like Jazz and Don Miller mentions how penguins breed and how the female leaves the male to keep the egg warm and then returns at the exact day the egg is hatch to feed the baby chick and then care for it. He states that if God can do that with penguins, that they know exactly when to return and which mate out of the thousands is their mate, then he has put something in us to know that we need a relationship with God and where to find him.

Really the movie was downright amazing. Basically go see the movie but I'll point out a few incredible things. Like I said the penguins hop out of the ocean and walk or scoot on their bellies up to 70 miles to get to the nesting ground, the exact place they were born. Have you seen penguin feet?

The next is that after they pair off and copulate then the female lays the egg and they have to transfer the egg to the males feet w/out it touching the ice. If it touches the ice it dies. Have you seen penguin feet?

Then with 1/3 of her body weight gone the female goes back to the ocean. Oh yeah, it is 50 below zero this whole time.

Then winter hits the males and they have to huddle together for warmth. It's about 80 below zero and the wind can reach 100mph. The wind is so strong it's blowing penguins over. Of course many eggs are lost during this 2 months wait.

Then on just the day the eggs hatch the females return to take care of the chicks, they have to do that foot shuffle thing again and not let the chicks touch the ice. Have you seen penguin fee?

Then after going 160 days with no food and with 1/2 of their body weight gone the males scoot back to the ocean to feed up. And so the process goes, take care of the chick, get foot, and on and on.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Web Only Content: This is a insider tip for my blog readers. This information is not being told elsewhere and is a reward for my faithful readers. As you know I'm going to be moving a couple hours south of where I am currently living. While Suffolk, VA is not necessarily the "South" it is further south that I live now which makes it the "south".

So the real reason I'm moving: Sweat Tea and Carolina BBQ

Concert: I went to a concert on Saturday night. The concert was $20 a ticket and for me and Heather that is a crazy amount of money to spend on any one night of entertainment. But one of our good friends, Kristy, bought one of our tickets as a going away so we were able to afford to go. I can't thank her enough. The line up was Chris Tomlin/Matt Redman leading a good long worship set and then Louie Giglio came out and spoke and then Chris Tomlin did another worship set. HERE is a decent write up for it. It was part concert/service/worship but all in all it was a very worshipful time and the sole intent was to glorify God. It was refreshing and encouraging.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Saw a lady driving down the road on friday. The lady only had one arm. She was talking on a cell phone. Not hands free. Problem?

I'll be preaching for the last time at EAC on November 13, then I'll drive the U-Haul to Suffolk and put our stuff in storage until we find a place. Next weekend we're heading down with our house's contract in hand with the hopes of being able to put an offer down on a house in Suffolk. I'm also hoping and praying that we'll be able to close on our new house very soon after Friday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Altar or Stage, it's your choice how you follow Christ

Death is Grace: This topic has come up in two seperate social circles I have been in the past few weeks and while I had thought about it before but the conversations prompted me to put it down on paper...err...lcd screen. Nothing profound, nothing profane.

Death is grace

In Genesis 2: 9 there are two trees in the garden. The tree of knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. In Genesis 3 we know that it was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Woman and Man eats, God comes down. God curses the serpent, God curses man and woman.

Genesis 3:17-19 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

And then after the curse is given God comments on the tree of life.

Genesis 3:22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

I do not believe that this is part of the curse, it seems like God is talking with the Godhead about this decision. And the decision to take away the Tree of life is to ensure that man does not have to live forever in his sin.

So I conclude a few things.
That humans were created to be eternal beings
Redemption is freedom from sin NOT eternal life (we already have that)

Back in the Saddle: So I'm back in the office today for the first time in what turned out to be 2 weeks. It started with Prayer conference the week fo September 26 and then ended with Catalyst Conference last week. In the time in between I was around for a few days but was doing such things as putting the house on the market, hosting open houses, and accepting an offer on the house. Just last night.

So here I am back in the office actually relieved that the work has piled up so I have somethings to do and somethings to check off the list. I have a list of "lasts" that will be coming up soon. Tonight is my second to last governing board meeting at this church, our last youth retreat is October 28-30...

Vendors: One of the things on the to-do list today is to sort through all the stuff I got from the vendors at Catalyst. It really is unbelievable the sheer amount of quantity that some of these booths give out. I was also amazed at some of the cool stuff I got. I'm not talking about pens and flashlights. The Bible Society was giving out free copies of Today's New International Version, leather bound with a need snap flap. Multanomah gave out 600 copies of Rick McKinley's book Jesus in the Margins. I've had this book in my cart at for about a month now so they saved me $15...simply amazing.

It was also very good for me to be able to see all of the products available and get information to store away for the church plant. Nothing revolutionary but products that will really be of help and some of it merely jogged my memory of things I need to add to the budget I will need to submit.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

c'mon all the jokes about has to be funny.

Josh- the sign says DO NOT lean on the railing.

Today we went down to the DC Festival. The actual festival wasn't amazing but I had a blast with the teens. Stuff is starting to wind down. I think we have 6 more youth group nights and we'll do one more event (corn maze) and then our final Fall Retreat. Things are winding down but today we were wound up and we had a blast. We were down in DC and the Festival was dragging a little bit so we hopped in the Air and Space Museum, I think our favorite part was the art section, which is where I took this picture.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cell Phones: I've been at 2 conferences in the past 2 weeks and I've noticed something really annoying about cell phones. But I know I'm not the first to rant about cell phones so let's review. People talking real loud in public- it's annoying but kind of interesting to hear at least 1/2 of people's conversations. People talking with an ear piece but the ear piece being on the opposite side of their face that you're looking at- I've never mistaken it for them actually talking to me (like the commercial) but I get scared that a crazy person is walking by me.

But this one, this new one is really annoying. Cell phone traffic. In a crowd it's important to keep moving. Crowds are tolerable but as a collaborative group we need to move towards the exit. Like exiting an airplane we need to move to baggage claim, in a conference we need to move towards the cafeteria, we need to keep moving. But NO! People get on their cell phones, then they can't walk and talk at the same time so they stop. Then I'm faced with the perilious decision, do I run them over or do I walk around them. Well my evil twin, Rick, wants to run those mofo's over but the good twin, Nick just walks around them.

So here it is again a blog entry about nothing. Drive safely and be sure to tip your waitress.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Catalyst: With one day of Catalyst left I have to say that the experience has been unbelievable. I love the fact that I have been able to attend and have been taking copious notes. I hope to be able to share them when I get home, I hope I remember half of what I've heard.

Last night I got to meet Don Miller. He is my favorite author and as cheesy as it sounds reading his books really have changed my life. This morning I was able to finally put words to why that is true. Don Miller is somehow able to stand in the middle of our Christian ghetto and somehow have an outsiders perspective. That gift is one in a million...maybe scarcer than that. Don Miller is able to describe the Jesus that I met as a little kid and then as I grew up I was taught that that Jesus doesn't exist but somehow in my heart I knew he was still out there. Don helped me see again that that Jesus really does exist and he is the Jesus I have a relationship with and he is the Jesus I live for. I don't like the other Jesus I know...because like Santa he really doesn't exist (sorry kids), that Jesus is the institution created by the church, I want to know the Jesus of the Bible.

So back on track...I got to meet Don Miller. I enjoyed saying Hi to him and thanked him for writing his book. He signed my old copy of BLJ and I told him if he ever started a cult to give me a call and I'd be there. He laughed...I wasn't joking.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I'm in Atlanta for the week and I'll be starting the Catalyst Conference this morning. We came down a few days early so my wife can see her family and I thought I'd take the chance yesterday to visit with some old college buddies that still live in the area. Two of my friends met me at the Mall of Georgia for lunch and as I expected it was a great time. One of the guys had to get back to work but my other friend Nate was able to stay around a while.

Nate and I were never terribly close in college but we had mutual friends so that kept us together as friends. Out of college we started an email group with about 6-7 of us guys and that's how we've been keeping up for 4.5 years now. We try to throw in a reunion every year or so...

Well funny as it is, Nate is emerging as one of my better friends. I see Nate about twice a year, it will be 4 times this year and it just seems like our lives are going in that same direction at times.

Nate told me yesterday about how he's tired of the world the way it is and that he's ready to change it whenever God tells him he can.

I didn't know what to say.

I was relieved that I'm not the only one who is ready!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

300th Post: For the record this is my 300th post on this blog.

Pastor Appreciation Day: I'm sure that Christian bookstores are actually the ones that created pastor appreciation month to boost fall sales but I'm sure not complaining. Every year our church generously gives to us money, gifts, and gift cards. They even gave to us this year even though we are leaving them in a little less than 2 months.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

October: October is one of my favorite months. Normally the routines have become routine and October is the month when we start to do new things. I also love the weather around here in october. The heat finally starts to break so I can break out the hoodies, I carry the football around in the truck, the leaves are starting to change colors and fall off the trees. I love October.

Courage: I have decided to try to be a more courteous driver. It's really hard around here because there are three types of drivers. The really aggressive drivers (city drivers) and then there are the overly cautious drivers (country drivers) and then there is everyone else. My natural tendency is to be a city driver, they get places faster and have more fun getting there. But I know that makes people angry and what right do I have to ruin so many people's days.

Yesterday I was pulling out of a strip mall and the two left lanes were allowed to turn left. I was in the most left and an old woman was in the lane to the right of me but still turning left. As she was rounding the corner I guess she didn't realize other people used the other left turn lane because she was helping herself to both lanes, about 50/50 in each one. I saw she was older so I didn't want to give her a heart attack so I gave the horn a little tap. Well...she didn't like that.

She made some hand gesture out her open window.

Then she looked at me.

Then she was afraid.

As fortune would have it the next light caught us both. So there we were sitting side by side. I had decided to let it go but she wasn't convinced. She wouldn't pull up beside me and she wouldn't pass me even when I was turning left and she was going straight. She got lippy but then got scared.

Don't do that.