Sunday, April 29, 2007

Skipping Church

So for the last few months, Beth and I (and the kids) have been skipping church. Probably about 4 times over the last 3 months. It is funny because we have both made comments about being heathens cause we weren't sitting in a service. We don't do anything special when we don't go to church, just kind of relax and hang out around the house. This is weird for a youth pastor. I mean, really, we aren't supposed to skip church to just hang out. I believe we are just relaxing. Taking the day to relax and enjoy our day off. I know that from the moment we started at Covenant till we left, we probably "skipped" church maybe 4 times over an almost 4 year period.

Anyways, this just got me to thinking about church and truly what it means to go to church. Is the physical attendance the important part or where our heart is. How many of us think that God has a scorecard up there, with our names and attendance dates? I know there are people in the church that push it, like our salvation depends on our attendance. Please don't get me wrong, I believe the church attendance is highly important, but I also believe the most people in a church just go to church to be there, not to worship. To me, attending church is about worshiping God, learning from the pastor and fellowshipping with other believers.

Let me know what you think. What does attending church mean to you?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Remembering...

I blogged yesterday about the passing of Jimmy Haun, and how sad we all are that it happened. I know he is in a better place and pain free, so that makes it that much easier to deal with.

As I spent time talking to his son James, and then talking to my mother last night about it, I couldn't help but think of the weekend in October when my father passed away. In talking with my mom, we were discussing whether it was better that dad went quickly or if going slowly would have been better. I know my father and he wouldn't have wanted to suffer. He talked about it all the time and how he just wanted it to be over. He knew that he could be dealing with a long painful death with the history of bad habits he had. I would have loved to spent another day with my father, or even another hour of time where he could have talked to me, but I wouldn't do that if he was in any pain. I loved my father and would have given anything to spend more time with him, but I know that his passing fast was the best option for him and my family.

As for Jimmy, he touched so many lives within his 2 years of being diagnosed with cancer, I don't think he would have traded the pain for the experience. I know the family did everything to cherish the time they had together. The Haun family is one of the most influential families within their circle of friends that I have ever seen. They are all very close, and enjoy spending time with each other. I know up until the week before his passing, Jimmy was in Nashville to watch some of TNT, an event he probably never missed. The whole family was there.

I am not sure if I could have done what James, Jace and Josh did and watch their father fade. But then again, they got two years of time together of living life to its fullest with their father...

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Passing of a Friend...

I just got back from lunch and found out that a friend of mine, Jimmy Haun, has passed away. I have been thinking about him that last couple weeks. Jimmy has been a big inspiration to me and to others because almost 2 years ago he was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors only gave him 6 months to live. Jimmy fought the cancer hard, doing everything he could to stay healthy. I had Jimmy come and talk to my youth group last summer because I wanted them to see genuine Christianity from someone who was dealing with a life and death situation. Jimmy made an impact on him (like he normally did).

I am good friends with Jimmy's boy, James, Josh and Jace. James and I are very good friends. We have spent lots of time hanging out and joking. The entire family has faced this problem head-on. They knew that God was in it, no matter how hard it was to deal with.

**** I just spoke with James and the family is holding up. He said he was glad that his dad wasn't in pain anymore but also missed his father. I can completely understand.

Please pray for this great family and the pain they are suffering this morning. They rejoice that he is now pain-free and with his Saviour, but they will also miss their husband, father, and friend...

Rest in Peace Jimmy Haun

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Remembering - 3 Years ago...

3 Years ago yesterday, my family and I experienced a life changing event, our house burned down.

On April 18, 2004 around 4:30am, Beth and I woke up to the small of a camp fire. I quickly dismissed it and went back to sleep, but she actually opened her eyes and realized that there was smoke in our house. She looked down the hall and saw the bright orange flames of a fire in our den. She immediately started screaming and woke me and the kids up. I tried to put out the flames with our fire extinguisher but that didn't work, so we started getting everyone out of the house. Luckily, once outside you couldn't see any flames, so our kids weren't subject to that horror.

Within a few minutes, we had friends on the scene who took our kids away while we waited for the fire department to get done. We stood there and just watched and listened as our house just burned up. Again, we couldn't see any flames but we know what was happening. After and hour or so, we were allowed to start looking inside the house. Everything was black because the house was pretty air-tight and smoke wasn't allowed to escape, so it just filled everything in the house. We lost all our furniture, clothes, toys, etc. Thankfully, we didn't lose any pictures we had.

It was hard going threw the house. The biggest tragedy that day was that we lost one of our dogs. We thought she got out with the other one, but realized shortly after the fire dept got there, that she didn't. I am grateful that friends were there because a friend named Joe buried her in the back yard, and I didn't have to do it.

The whole experience was life changing. We asked many questions of why it happened to us, and we never really found an answer. It has been hard replacing everything and with the help of church, family and friends we were given enough to get a good jump on furnishing on next house.

It seems weird in the fact that while I was growing up, I never really experienced any hardships. My sister had a house fire, but it was nothing major and I will in the 11th grade. But my kids, who are 8, 7, and 2, have experienced some major changes in their life. They had the house fire, have more several times, been to a couple different schools and church and lost their grandfather. My daughter still cries when we bring up the house fire cause she loved that dog. Both of them still talk about their papaw...

It is amazing what some people go through...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Welcome to Missouri!!!

I just wanted to give a shout-out to all the folks in Missouri who have been checking out my blog. Hopefully you are finding some stuff interesting. As time goes by these blogs will get into deeper subjects and will go along with things I am teaching in my youth group.

Argh, I can't wait for the next 3 weeks to go by. Our entire family is excited about moving and ready to be in our new place. The people in KC have been great and very helpful. We can't wait to begin this part of our life's journey.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

End of a Major Chapter

One of the things that might be getting lost in all this transition is the fact that I will be leaving a company that I have worked for for over 8 years. I started here on October of 1998. When I started, the company was called Envoy, but as time moved on we have been called Healtheon, WebMD and now Emdeon.

I have worked for the same person for the last 5 years. He is one of the best bosses I have had and has really helped me as the years have gone by. I know I haven't always been the stellar employee but my boss always helped me when I started to stray.

I am going to miss being here. I have loved my job but always knew that I would leave and now is the time. It will be weird not driving into the building I have driven to for the last 2 years and sitting down at the computer I have used for the last 4 years. It will be weird...

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Final Countdown...

Well, the countdown has begun. We are less than 4 weeks from when we are moving. Do you know how odd that is to say? I mean, it is one thing to dream about stuff to happen to you, it is another for it to actually be happening.

Beth and I have begun packing (for real this time) and are now realizing exactly how much stuff we have to get done in a relatively short amount of time. I also began to think about this move and what it means and realize that this would be the first time I have totally packed up and moved to another city, with no expectations of coming back. When I left for college, I knew I would be going back during the summer and thought I would move back to live. As a child, we moved but it was never more than a few miles from where we used to live. As an adult, Beth and I have moved several times, but it was never really a big deal or a big distance.

It is funny, because people will ask me how I feel about it all, and I answer that I am incredibly excited and incredibly scared. This is a huge step for us. Our kids are excited, and I know they will become even more excited after we visit MO this weekend. We will be looking at houses and the church as a family.

I also realized how unprepared we are as a family, nothing major but just little things. I have to get my Explorer fixed, we need to save up some money, fix up our house, etc. Just more stuff we have to do before we go. I know that God will take care of us, I also believe He has given us the ability to be responsible with His plans.

25 Days and Counting...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

How to Top Yesterday...

Wow, I am still reeling from the news I posted yesterday. Our family is excited beyond belief about where we are headed. The kids are excited about a new place to live and new friends to meet. I did have a strange thing happen to me yesterday also.

The weekend before we visited Platte Woods, we were in Savannah, GA interviewing at another Methodist church. We were excited about this possibility because of the location, close to the beach and to our families. We did really enjoy our visit but we just weren't sure if that was were God was calling us, and even more so after we visited Missouri. Well, GA wasn't going to make a decision till May 7th because they were interviewing someone else also. Once I accepted the position at Platte Woods, I emailed GA and told them that I was withdrawing my name from consideration and let them know that I would continue to pray for them. Well, last night I got a call from the head of the search committee asking me what they could improve upon in their search process to have made me feel better. After chatting for a while, he also told me that they other person they was supposed to interview had emailed them after I did and withdrew his name from their search. I felt bad, this church has had people bail on them on 3 different occasions. The church is very nice, very excited about youth ministry and offers a really nice package but they just can't seem to bring someone in.

For a fleeting second, Beth and I thought about the opportunity of going to Savannah but realized that wasn't where we needed to be. But it did bring up a good thought, and I might have brought it up before. Does God have a direct plan for our life or does He allow us to make choices? I talked to a friend last night who believed that God had a specific plan and placement for our lives. Our only thought has been to go where God leads us, but in our life we have felt that we had the option of where to go. Now looking back, we saw the difference between those options but either would have been good.

As we enter this new chapter in our life, we continue to pray that God's will will be done. I have been outside His will and I am still paying the price of my lack of faith. I don't' want to be there again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Midwest Bound and Excited!!!!

Yes, that is right ladies and gentlemen. Beth and I (and the family) are moving to Platte Woods, MO (just outside of Kansas City) to work at Platte Woods Church. We are soooo very excited about the opportunity that God has given us, it is beyond belief. We have waited over 5 years for a full-time youth pastor position.

We are incredibly excited about the opportunity and very thankful for God's leading...

Look for more information soon...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I'm Soooo Excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, it seems that 6 months of searching for a new position are coming to an end. Last night we got some exciting news that I will share more of tomorrow. The last six months have really been a roller-coaster of emotions. Beth and I have visited 4 different churches within that time period and each one had their benefits and problems.

We really struggled at times with whether we had made the right decision to go into full-time ministry. Not only will it be a new job, but also a new city, new school, new set of friends and a new church home. But each time we thought that we were wrong, God again showed us that this was His will for our life and each time the door closed, another one opened right behind it.

God has really worked on me with trusting Him more. Throughout this process, I had plans for how things were going to go but like other times in my life, God had something else in mind. God continued to let me know that He was right there with me, but also let me know that this was about Him and not me. Our family is excited about the oppurtunity in front of us and God is showing each of us that this is where he is wanting us to go.

Throughout this process, I felt like Abraham. The time where God told him to get up, pack his household and start walking. God knew where He was taking Abraham, but Abraham didn't. Abraham continued to trust God even though he wasn't sure what was happening. God showed us that he wanted us to leave but never showed us where or when. We started looking in faith. We loved the church we were at and the students we worked with, we still do, but we knew that God was calling us away...

Anyways, come back tomorrow and get the great news....

Monday, April 09, 2007

Going home...

Do you know that it is sometimes nice to go home? Yesterday, Beth and I visited Grace Church in Nashville for their Easter service. We were with her parents and had a great time being there. I really enjoyed seeing some of my old students and finding out what changes have happened in their life since I last saw them. Seeing all our old friends was incredible also. It was just a nice visit to a great church.

Do you feel like that at your church or when you go to church? I know there are some churches that dump on the charm when you walk in the door, making each visitor feel like they are the best person in the world, but I also know of other churches where the new people are left out in the cold and if they left in the middle of the service, no one would notice. I think we tend to get caught up in our own lives to worry about those around us or we get so busy doing what we need to do at church, that we forget to worry about those who might be new.

I heard a pastor named Andy Stanley (from Northpoint) talk and he described the problems that most churches have with visitors as removing the bottom rungs of a ladder. We in the church have gotten so used to the way things work, or knowing what to expect, that we remove the steps to help people get to where we are. Whether it be in lingo, or music style, or where the rooms are, to the procedure or processes within the church.

I know this isn't all churches, but I do know that it is a problem that must be dealt with. We need to stop looking at ourselves as better than we are. We need to stop worrying about how people dress, act, smell, what they say or how they say it but we need to remember that we were all sinners and have been forgiven.

Sorry to seem so scattered.... Kind of lost my train of thought.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You're My Hero...

When I was growing up, I used to love watching the TV show "The Greatest American Hero". I thought the story was funny and the show was nice to watch. The premise is that a teacher is given a super-hero suit to wear but loses the instruction manual for it. So throughout the series, you see him trying to do stuff in thesuit and having a heck of a time figuring it out. His biggest issue was with flying and could never really get the hang of it. During the show he would crash land at least 3 or 4 times because he couldn't figure it out.

This show was not only funny, it was real. The guy was just a teacher, no one special. He got the suit from aliens... The reason I bring this up, is because yesterday, I talked to a Sunday school class about choosing your hero or role models and looking at Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is the recognition of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. An entry that labeled him a hero to the people. The coats, the palms and the donkey were all signs of royalty or a place of reverence. At that point, he was on top of the world. Adored by hundreds and thousands, but only a few short days later those people would turn on him. From hero to victim in a short amount of time.

When we look at our hero's today, we normally think of a sports start or a rock star or someone very important that we see on TV. We put these people on the highest of pedestals, to just have them fall or get knocked down because of something they said or did or they just fade away. Very few people who are lifted up (ie Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, etc) live up to their name. As Christians, we need to realize who our hero's are and determine if they are showing us the God lifestyle. When dealing with teenagers, this is especially important. They more than anyone else can easily get caught up in the hype of role models.

As adults and leaders of teens/children, we need to help make sure they understand what a true role model is. Like the people of Jerusalem, we can get caught up in the hype, only to have it turn around in a short period of time. Jesus knew first hand the people he was dealing with, he even predicted most of what would happen. During this week, we need to be thankful for the Hero that is Jesus Christ and the ultimate sacrifice he did.