Friday, July 31, 2009

Moving Forward's a word that is used a lot in our Christian life. I think before this week I didn't really understand the word or actually understand how to practice it.

In the past, I kepting thinking that surrender was giving up some desires -- and still getting to enjoy some dreams and desires for a "someday." But while reading the book "Crazy Love," Francis describes a lukewarm Christian. He gives several examples of what one can look's really hard to read over those descriptions and just do nothing. I mean, there are sometimes that we read the Bible in a way that it really doesn't impact our lives. There are times we can read books that don't really push us to a change. But apparently when reading those descriptions of a lukewarm Christian...I was at a point in my walk with Christ that I needed to REALLY examine my relationship with Him.

I saw areas where one could consider that I was lukewarm in my relationship with Him. Do I go to church? yes. Do I sing worship songs to God? yes. Do I clean the church as a service to Him? yes. On the outside it does look that way...but what is in my heart? That's the key to our relationship with Jesus.

We can "do" things for God and for the church...but what is our attitude when doing those things? Are we flippant about it? Do we really have a heart of worship when singing those songs...and doing those deeds? Do we really love Jesus enough to give up our desires...ALL of them just to have Him in our life.

A question that was posed in that chapter of the book was...if you were in Heaven and had all the people in your life that is with you now, had all the stuff you wanted, had any type of food that you desired, but if Jesus were not there...would you be okay with that? Living in Heaven without Jesus, but having all this "stuff"? It sounds like a crazy question, but in reality that's how sometimes I live my life here on earth...that these "things" are what makes me happy or able to live here.

Our relationship with Jesus needs to be our blood running through our bodies...needs to be the air we breathe to continue to live. Jesus is all we need. We don't need cars, televisions, books, magazines, etc to fill those desires...we just need Jesus.

After taking that look into my own life...I began to realize areas that I waste money. Think about you really need to read a magazine about some movie star that you like to watch??? Do you really need to buy that new release DVD that is on sale for just one week??? Do I really need to see this movie ... even if all my friends are going to it??? Do you really need to go to the video store and rent a DVD just because they don't have the one you really want to see??? I have found this week that I don't need a lot of stuff that I have bought in the past. I haven't bought a lot of stuff because I have asked these questions...I have chosen to not go to the movies because the movie wasn't the best way to honor God.

I'm not where I need to be yet in my relationship with Christ, but I'm moving forward. Which leads me to a YouTube clip I'd like to share...

I love the first line..."I'm not going back...I'm moving ahead." That is what our life in Christ should be...a moving forward...always closer to Him.

Something that I realized about surrender this it's easy to surrender...when I take my desires out of it. When I take my desires...there is nothing left...Jesus is the One who can fill it. He makes ALL THINGS NEW.

Until next time...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Crazy Love - Who Do You Love???

I'm reading a book called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. It's an interesting book...very challenging and convicting in a lot of ways. Crazy Love goes with the theme of the VBS my church had this past year. "All of me, All-out for God" - Loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself.

God, our Creator, made each of us...He knew us before He made us...and there is a purpose for each of our lives. I think so many times we miss it. I know I have...

Look at the Ten Commandments...Jesus sums those commandments in the New Testament into two. Love God and love others. Sounds simple, right? Well, it a way. When God's love gets a hold in our lives it changes us. We don't always act like it, but we have THE ability to live differently. I think sometimes we allow the excuses that we are still in our "human" bodies a scape goat. It's like we don't look at the standard that God has raised for us...and we try to compare ourselves to other people who are Christians. God's love is that ability for us to live differently...that motivation that challenges us to be holy people. It's not about a list of do's and don'ts.

In one of the chapters of Crazy Love, Chan describes his relationship with his daughter and I saw something that I didn't see before...I mean I knew it, but I saw it in a new way that challenged me to change my view of God. He said that when he became a father, he saw that seeing God as his father was not something to "fear," but something to be excited about... He came home one day and his daughter came up to him running to him...excited to see him...waiting for a chance to spend some time with him.

When was the last time, I ran to my Heavenly Father to spend some time with Him? When was the last time I was excited to spend some time with my Heavenly Father? He's waiting...patiently for me to come to Him...For me to crawl into His lap and feel the warmth of His loving arms wrapped around me.

While thinking about this love theme...I remembered a song by the group Glad entitled "Who Do You Love?" I found the video on YouTube and decided to post it with this blog. I think we need to examine ourselves and ask the question..."Who Do I love? What am I looking for?" God's love is there waiting for us to discover be changed by it. It's a crazy that is sometimes unexplainable!

Enjoy the video...

P.S. At the end of the video as they are walking away from the camera...the second guy from the left reminds me of my brother Paul. I laugh everytime I see it.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

VBS - wrap up

So I didn't get the chance to finish out the VBS week. It was a hectic week, but an amazing one too. We had our program on Friday - July 10th and carnival followed the program. The kids did well. My parents were able to come and see the program. As well as my niece Marisa and her husband Adam. I had family to come in town that evening and then the following Wednesday (15th) left for a friends wedding in the great state of PA.

This blog entry will be about the VBS wrap up though. The offering was over $600 and went to a couple in the church - Meredith and Cheryl Johnson. This couple for the past several years has been in charge of the VBS planning. They have a heart for children and any opportunity to work with them they are first to volunteer. This past year Meredith was diagnosed with cancer. He has been having treatments that have really taken a toll of him. The hospitals are working with them on the bills, but there is no income for them as they are living by faith.

Our church wanted to use the offering the kids would be bringing to give back to them. The entire time we called it "Gateway Gives Back." Because we were giving to a couple in the church. The kids did amazing. The contest between the girls and boys was neck and neck as of Wednesday night, but the final night of VBS the boys brought in 48 pounds of money and the girls brought in 30 some. It was a great night. I didn't get a final total as there was money brought in the night of the program.

There were no salvations reported, but I do believe seeds were planted and lives were changed...mine in particular. I'll write more about that later in another blog.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Day 4 of VBS

I was totally worn out last I didn't write the update...apologies to those who were looking forward to reading it last night (maybe the 1 of you that reads this. LOL!) Anyway...We had in attendance 67 kids, 8 adults and 27 workers for a total of 102. We were down from the last night, but it was a good night.

The offering total is $190.68. We are calling it "Gateway Gives Back." I'll inform where the offering will be given at the end of the week when it's revealed to the kids.

There is something about growing up and singing in public...even with a group the size of 9 or 10. My 7th & 8th graders apparently think that singing in public is not "cool"...even though the majority of them watch American Idol. We tried to explain about a lot of those singers start out singing in VBS or Sunday choirs and even a member or leader of a worship team (aka Danny Gokey). When Ben and Mary were explaining this to the kids, they said, "Danny Gokey is DeeJay at his church" I made a comment, "He just does it right." LOL!!! I do enjoy music...I do enjoy hearing kids...teens...and even adults singing ... especially when it comes from the heart. I know people who will get up and sing...maybe not get the notes all right, but their hearts are singing for God's glory and praise. That's when it's right. And I've been impressed with one of my 7th & 8th grade boys...I can hear him singing out and that helps the other boys to sing out...but then if you get a little close to him...he will back off, but as long as you are not close to him...he will sing out. It's very helpful. The song this group will be singing is "Shout to the Lord." We explained that when they sing this song they are to be singing to Jesus in Heaven. I get this mental picture of him sitting on the throne with his eyes closed enjoying the sounds coming from this small group of kids. It's a really nice picture, and if only these kids could get a glimpse of it, they would realize what this simple way of worship is meaning to our Heavenly Father. I know it would change each of them.

Well...just one more night...then our carnival and program will be Friday night. I'm taking tomorrow off to get a little rest and also prepare for the carnival. I hope to get some of the church cleaned night so that it will be easier on me on Saturday to just have to clean the downstairs areas.

Until next time...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Day 3 - VBS

*Note - corrected the classes that are working on the song. Last night my brain wasn't working well.

Well...I now officially have correct totals from the previous nights. Sunday night we had 56 kids, 11 adults, 27 workers for a total of 94. Monday night, we had 70 kids, 8 adults, and 25 workers for a total of 103. Tonight we had 72 kids, 8 adults, 25 workers, for a total of 105. We actually had mis-counted the workers, but this is correct now.

I've made it through day 3 and am feeling really good. I was able to work on my skit this afternoon, so I was better prepared tonight. It went well. Trevor brought his guitar and helped Kat play the theme song. It went well too.

My 5th & 6th graders are the best singers this year. I'm so proud of them. They will be singing "Thy Word" for the program and then with the 7th & 8th grade class will be singing "Love the Lord" by Lincoln Brewster. They are doing really well with both songs. They enjoy singing "Love the Lord" more than "Thy Word", but I still want them to do that one as a class by themselves.

Tonight's verse is from Matthew 1:21 "She shall bring forth a son and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sin." Most of the kids caught onto it. I'm really proud of the 7th and 8th grade class learning the verses. They seem to be getting into the word. Mary is trying to tell the story, then apply it to their life. It's tough because the material doesn't really help with gearing it for that age group...even though there are books for that age group.

We have two more nights of VBS and then the program on Friday. Some of us were talking after church about this year's VBS and I think this is my favorite. Last year we had a lot of kids saved by this point, but I think the kids are really soaking in what they are hearing and I think it's a seed planting year.

Until tomorrow night.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Day 2 of VBS...Monday night

Survived another night of VBS. I am really enjoying the theme this year...Polar Extreme: All of me...All out for God. I really believe that if these kids can get ahold of this theme...the impact on their lives will be amazing.

I got to talk with Jacob tonight (he is the son of the man who was saved Sunday morning). He told me that after VBS is over that they were going to get baptized. It excites me that they are planning to follow Jesus in baptism.

I also got information from one kid, who said, "He can sing, just not church songs." I told him he just needed more practice.

Tonight was another good night. The kids are catching onto the songs. I really want to thank my friend Kat who has stepped up to learn the guitar chords for the theme song. She loves playing the guitar and may not win any awards for her playing at this time, but she's playing to please God and I know He's in heaven with a smile on His face.

I forgot to mention the totals for attendance yesterday. The workers were 27, in the adult class 11, I can't remember the amount of kids we had...I know it was above 50 some. Tonight's totals were up in some places. Our workers were 25 (two were unable to make it), the adult class had 7, but the kids were 80 some. I'll try to remember to bring the figures home with me tomorrow night. I wrote them down, but still forgot.

Tonight's memory verse was an easy one. I do pray the children will memorize this one to receive an extra credit for the store at the end of the week. The verse is from John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Jesus is talking in this passage and just simple tells those he is speaking to..."If you love, keep my commandments"...basically "if you love me, do what I've told you to do." The kids caught on.

My friend Kat has her niece here this week. When I came in tonight, she said, "I know the verse from last night" and she said it to me. She had called her teacher during the day to let her know that she knew it too (her teacher is Kat's mother-in-law). She has also found love in her class. This little boy who looks like Shia cute.

My 3rd & 4th graders are learning a song called "How Awesome is the Lord." It's one of my favorite songs for this year. I found it on a Praise CD for kids. Those kids are catching on with it...I think it will be a good program on Friday. Please pray the kids will come for the program even though they will be singing...most of them will try to get out of the program...but I'm really hoping that all of them come for it and the carnival.

Until tomorrow night...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

It's finally here...

Official start of VBS was tonight. It was an amazing day. I began my day very up and welcomed myself to the land of living again. Yesterday I rested! I would say that I did absolutely nothing, but that wouldn't be true. I actually worked on my lyrics to prepare VBS transparencies, and I washed curtains (twice) that belonged to the parsonage. I don't always take days off like I did, but I was thankful I did it...and it felt great!.

Anyway, I woke up this morning and got the rest of my stuff prepared to take with me for the entire day (as I didn't come home at all). This morning, we had our VBS worker dedication. I sang "I Wish" for the special music. Pastor preached a message on a spiritual POW. It was a really good message. During our invitation, we had a man we had been praying for come forward for salvation...PRAISE THE LORD!!! It was an amazing beginning of VBS. I can't wait to see what God is going to do the rest of the week. This man had two boys who had gotten saved within the last few months. We knew God was working on him, but we didn't know when he would surrender. It was GREAT to have that happen this morning.

After church, some of the young adults went out to eat. It was a nice meal, but it took longer than I had expected. We got back to the church and began getting the details all down. Each of us pitched in and got what needed to be done. I don't think we forgot anything.

Tonight's memory verse was from Romans 8:32 "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" It was a hard one for them, but I am praying that they will try to learn it. The theme verse for the week is Mark 12:30-31 "Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your your neighbor as yourself."

Music is pretty cool this year...we have revamped the music. For the 1st & 2nd grades, they are singing "This is My Commandment." They will also sing some other fun songs that they may already know. I have a great sound engineer...he works really hard to not be noticed. LOL!!!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Coming together...

Well it's almost time. VBS will begin on this Sunday, July 5th. Since it's the holiday weekend. I'll be working at the church on Friday since I have the day off. I'll also be picking up the stuff from Sam's and Walmart that day. I think it's going to work out for me to take the entire day off on Saturday...YEAH!!!
The theme for this year's VBS is "Polar Extreme: All of me, All-out for God." The theme verse for the week is from Mark 12:30-31 "And You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength...and love your neighbor as yourself." I have been really excited about getting the music together for this VBS. Usually I try to use the CD that comes with the kit, but this year the music has been really geared for a younger age group of children...even the theme song wasn't something we wanted to use.
Our theme song is a song that Pastor's older kids learned at a Bible Camp. It was neat that we were able to try the guitar chords and that Kat is able to play them the week. I wish I would have been able to get a hold of another friend to have done a track for us, but it just didn't work out. Maybe another time...
For the 1st & 2nd grade class, I have actually chosen one of the songs from the CD. I'm going to use it anyway...even though I'm not too fond with the music. But I really think it's going to work out anyway.
For the 3rd & 4th grade class, I have a song called "How Awesome is the Lord." It's a really cute song from a Praise CD I bought.
For the 5th & 6th grade class, I'm using a song called "More Love, More Power." It's a song the choir sings with another song, but it is a shorter version of it.
For the 7th & 8th grade group, I'm excited to use "Love the Lord Your God" by Lincoln Brewster. I wanted something that would be easy, but fun for them. I think this is more age appropriate for them.
I will also get to work with the memory work with each class. Actually each area will emphasize the verse, but I think if we can use about 5 or 10 minutes on learning the verse it will be good for them to practice.
I need to get all the music ready and on transparencies and them the track numbers ready for the sound engineer. It's great having someone responsible for the playing of the songs.
Well...I hope to update throughout the week like I did last year. It was something I looked forward to doing each night as a wind-down.
Until next time...