Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Be a Hero

Do you want to be a hero? I do.
I love walking into my house after work. My 2 yr-old son runs to meet me (almost every day) and wants to be picked up and hugged. I can see in his eyes - I am his hero. I know it won't last, I know as a teenager (and probably sooner), he will disagree with my parenting. But hey, let me enjoy the feeling while it lasts.
He loves his mom. He especially loves his grandpa. But no one is even close to being Dad in his world. I hate to brag, but I am on top. No one else measures up. If he is sick or scared, he looks for his hero: Dad.
I love that feeling. Being the hero.
Our program team here at Grace is planning our summer theme for 2011. We are leaning toward a "hero" direction. We know everyone loves a good story (whether book, movie or message) because we identify with a character. All of us long to make a difference, to be known, to be respected, to be appreciated.
Here's the cool thing: God is our hero. He has rescued us from evil, eternity in hell with the villain, Satan. Jesus has died, risen and is exalted. God however, wants us to do heroic things. The twist here is that God definition of a hero is a humble servant. Someone who gives and sacrifices allowing others to get the glory, the attention, the admiration, and the fame. But in so doing gains fulfillment (not necessarily happiness), and true joy.
Do get me wrong, we will get accolades and rewards, we just need to wait for heaven.
So if you are tired, worn, or frustrated. Don't give up, keep serving, giving, and sacrificing, because in God's eyes you are being a HERO!

Monday, December 14, 2009

News Flash, Cigarettes taste bad

I was reading Mlive.com this morning when I stumbled across this gem. Sometimes I don't know what to write about but the news websites make it easy.
Apparently in an effort to reduce smoking related house fires the State of Michigan has joined 48 other states in regulating how cigarettes are made. Now they have three rings that reduce the flow of oxygen so an unattended to cigarette will extinguish much quicker.
michigan-smoking-law.jpg
However this little engineering marvel is not without unintended consequences. Just ask Ashley May.

"Ashley May, a 22-year-old smoker from Roseville, told The Detroit News that the fire-safe smokes taste foul and are hard to keep lit.

"I don't like them," she said after a drag from a Kool. "You have to constantly puff on them every 30 seconds or else they're going out. And then when you try to re-light them, they taste horrible.""

And there you have it. Cigarettes taste horrible. No need to test this one out let's take Ashley's word for it. I'm very glad she cleared that one up for me. I was sitting around yesterday with Kendra looking for a desert to snack on and I almost chose a cigarette as a tasty treat. Now I know that they taste bad because of these new rings.

I'm glad I settled on Kendra's home made turtle cheesecake and cookie dough ice cream. It was probably just as bad for my health but that's another post.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Brandon Bruce Speaks at Grace

Check out one of our summer and upcoming winter Blast speakers Brandon Bruce. He talks about his experience at Grace here.

Women's Scrap, Stamp and Quilt Retreat

I love the extended family of Grace Adventures. The weekend of the Fall Women’s Scrap, Stamp and Quilt Retreat (Nov 13th-15th) reminded me of this.
Every time I entered the Retreat Center that weekend, two things blew me away; first of all, I never realized how much stuff you need to scrap.
It is essential to bring every tool needed to help the creative juices flow, and let me tell you they were flowing! My favorite tool that the women had was called the Cricut.
This isn’t a green bug that makes a lot of noise, but a personal electronic cutter used for cutting paper into shapes, letters, words, etc.
Not only did they bring a lot of stuff to create with, the ladies walked away with a couple different things as well. Each woman was greeted with a goody bag filled with some fun resources for scraping. And then on Saturday afternoon Jessica Bigley and Gail Bachtel both hosted workshops.
Jessica showed the ladies how to make some holiday themed place cards and Gail, a Stampin’ Up representative, taught the ladies how to incorporate stamping into their scraping. They made some pretty cute cards! Instructions for the turkey place cards are included at the end of the blog, along with a link to the template.
The other thing that blew me away was how excited and thankful the women were to have time set aside to bury themselves under paper, stickers, and of course, pictures.
Just a bed to sleep in, a workspace to create in, and Pam’s amazing snacks was all some seemed to need.
It’s pretty awesome to look through their pages and learn their stories through pictures. I love serving in place where the warmth and friendliness of the women creates such a joyful, family environment.
“I had a lot of fun just socializing with all the other women. It's fun and inspiring to walk around the room and look at everyone's projects. It was an awesome weekend to kick back, scrap, and eat fabulous food! The goodies bags were also a nice surprise. I can't wait for the SSQ in March, it's going to be bigger and better!” -Jessica Bigley
Turkey Place Cards

To make these handsome place-card gobblers, download the templates; print and cut out. Trace templates onto colored card stock; cut out (use scallop scissors for the base), and snip a small triangle for the beak. Attach the head, body, wing, and beak with a glue stick. Cut 2 small slits in tail where indicated on the template. Secure ends of smooth yarn and textured yarn in 1 slit, and wrap entire tail with both yarns; secure ends in other slit, and cut yarn. Apply a small amount of craft glue directly onto yarn-wrapped tail, tracing the inner crescent; adhere body to tail piece. Inscribe guest's name on the base; attach tab on turkey body to base with double-sided tape.

Credit: Martha Stewart Living

Monday, November 23, 2009

Armor of God....Thrice

Things come in threes right? If God speaks you had better listen right?
Last week in a brainstorming session for our AWESOME boys only camp called Rustic Warrior, we were discussing the armor of God, Sunday morning in Sunday School it was the topic, and this morning in my daily readings it arose. Maybe God is trying to tell me something, I'm not sure.
As I was thinking about it yesterday though, I had a new thought about the Armor of God.
Eph 6:11 "Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to STAND FIRM against the schemes of the devil"
Eph 6:13-14 "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day and having done everything, to STAND FIRM. STAND FIRM therefore...."
The commandment is to stand firm against the devil's attacks. So here is my new thought, the Sword of the Spirit is mentioned in vs. 17, I have always assumed it was the only offensive weapon in the armor.
I think the Sword of the Spirit as listed in the armor of God is in a defensive connotation not offensive.
There I said it, no lightning bolts yet. Here's where I'm coming from. Stand firm is a defensive or a neutral position. You're not gaining ground but you're not losing either.
The UBS New Testament Handbook has this to say about vs. 11,
Stand up against: that is, successfully resist, withstand, oppose. The English expression stand up against suggests not only defensive but also offensive action. But in many languages there is no single expression which covers both areas of meaning. Therefore one must normally choose between "to withstand" in the sense of "to protect oneself against" and "to oppose" in the sense of "to fight back against." The context would seem to point primarily to defensive action.
Every other tool in the list is a defensive tool and to be used as such. Breast plate, shield, helmet, greaves, and belt (if your pants fell down that would be down right offensive and therefore a belt is defensive).
So I think the overall context is defensive, however lets look at the sword as a weapon. It is certainly an offensive weapon. However it is as defensive as it is offensive. One must parry and block the opponents attacks with their sword. The word is "Machaira", meaning a knife or dirk. We see the same word in Rev 6:4, "...to Him was given a large sword".
The armor as a whole is description is that of a Greek soldier and specifically a heavy armored soldier. The sword used was the xiphos, usually 12 inches to 24 inches long.
Interestingly this is a secondary weapon for this soldier. The primary attacking weapon was the spear or lance which is omitted from the passage by Paul. The Xiphos was used after the spear was lost, broken, or discarded and was generally not preferred to the spear.
Again if this is an offensive passage why would Paul not mention the primary offensive weapon?
Lastly let's look at how Jesus himself uses the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God". If we go to Jesus' temptation with the Devil in Mathew 4. Satan confronts Him and challenges His authority, tempts Him physically, and then all out goes for the jugular and calls Jesus to worship him. What is Jesus response to Satan? He quotes the sword of the spirit. I think the key point is in the Ephesians passage and in Jesus confrontation it is us vs the devil. If you think about any offensive action for a Christian it must always be redemptive in motive. There really is no point in any redemptive energy being spent on Satan as we know his mind will not be turned. Therefore our actions towards Satan are defensive not offensive.
Regardless of the purpose one point that can not be forgotten or ignored is that we must know the word of God in order to use it as a sword. As Heb 4:12 says,
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
One must be familiar with their tool in order to harness it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Let Down

I remember a young lady this summer who attempted to climb the cargo net here at camp. She had no problem getting to the top. But her goal was to climb over the top. She must have tried for 15 minutes before she came back down. I was impressed with her determination and drive. She was disappointed to the point of tears. She wanted to make it over, and physically could not do it that day. I'm usually alright with letting myself down, but I really don't like it when someone else is the problem...
Have you ever had someone let you down? I know that the answer is yes. I know that others experience disappointment, frustration even anger. Here is why I am asking. I was let down yesterday.
I trusted someone. I thought they were shooting straight with me. They let me down. You know that "I feel like I got kicked in the gut" feeling.
I don't have a twelve step program of how to recover from disappointment and heart ache. But here is what I will offer: God wanted me to be faithful in my response. He wanted me to be a witness in how I responded. He wanted me to control my emotions, my frustrations. I still needed to confront, and communicate my disappointment. Oh, by the way, He wanted me to forgive as well.
So the question on my test yesterday from God: Ben, are you going to respond in disappointment in a way that honors me?
Maybe he's asking that question to you today. I know its not fun. I try to focus on the positives in life, not the disappointments. But I do know that God is faithful, and his faithfulness doesn't change with my circumstances.

Chess and Spiritual Independence

Last night Kendra and I couldn't find a movie to watch so she asked me if I wanted to teach her how to play chess. Wow I thought, I've asked her many times if she wanted to learn and always got a quick no. So I pulled out the board and tried to go back to Junior High (I think that's the last time I played chess).
I carefully explained how all the pieces can move and the object of the game. Kendra, being a quick study took it all in quickly.
The first moves were very cautious and defensive. We sort of played an "open" game so I coached her on a few things as she went along. She started to get a little more confident as the game went on. At one point early she was definitely beating me as I had "out thunk" myself a few times.
Then she got to a point where she felt comfortable with the game and the rules and started moving boldly. She moved one rook very quickly and I very quickly smiled and took it with my queen. At that point she got very disappointed because in her moment of most comfort she was taken back to insecurity and frustration.
I started thinking that was a lot like life. Imagine we are playing chess against the Devil or his plans. And the game represents our life. He desires that we fail, and winning would represent a healthy spiritual life. If you're a Christian you don't act on your own. It's like you and God double teaming the devil, similar to a new chess player and a coach helping them.
However in our lives we often quickly get arrogant and proud thinking we can act out of our own knowledge and experience. As soon as I make that move boldly with out discernment from God I all to quickly realize I've just lost something valuable, whether it was a streak of doing devotions, or snapping at someone I love. Just like the new player finds out that an opponent is many steps ahead of them, I can look backward and see where I thought I saw the whole board but was really focused on one maybe two squares.
Ps 119:133 says "Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me."
Obviously if we look to scripture God is to be a huge factor in our decisions. My questions is, Is God the only factor i.e. does he make our decisions for us? Or is God one of a few factor's we take into account before making a decision.
In other words should we wait for God to tell us where to move the chess piece, or should we pray for guidance and move the Chess piece where we think God is leading?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Women's Retreat 2009

“A time of refreshment and renewal. My emotional tank was on empty upon coming and now my tank has been filled.”

October 9th-11th, 2009 was a weekend of rest and rejuvenation for the ladies who attended the Women’s Retreat. Speaker Cathey Prudhomme shared throughout four sessions about being known and telling our personal stories, how God knows and loves us, the lies that Satan wants us to believe and the life and freedom that Christ gives, and putting our faith into action.

Elizabeth Sooy lead worship on piano and treated the group Saturday night to Steven Curtis Chapman’s Be Still and Know on the violin. Each time we gathered for worship, it felt like a little slice of what Heaven will be like,” as one of the women described. All the voices combined at times left no need for music, just the sound of hearts singing out to their God in appreciation and praise.

On Saturday, the women had opportunities to enjoy camp activities and workshops. In the morning, a prayer path was laid out along the waterfront for a time of reflection and solitude. In the afternoon, many women took advantage of the trail rides, Ropes Course, crafts, and target shooting.
There were also four workshops, led by Elizabeth Sooy, Eva Kostal, Elda Ann Harden, and Amie Clay. The topics ranged from seeing God’s goodness even in the hard times, the different behavioral styles and how they affect our relationships, and living the Grand Adventure in obedience to God’s will and loving it. Eva’s workshop was a huge hit; focusing on “using what we have to make our home environment beautiful and put personal beauty to our faith.”

One of the highlights of the weekend had to be the food, from Spinach and Artichoke dip, to Pumpkin Chowder soup, to Chicken Parmesan and Herbed Asiago Mashed Potatoes. Pam went above and beyond preparing delicious spreads that left everyone saying, “she’s coming home with me!”

Out of all of the activities and teachings from the weekend, the most powerful part had to be Saturday night. Cathey shared a story of her time in Jerusalem after a Sabbath. She and her husband were dining in a hotel restaurant, trying to eat while a slew of children were running around. But when it came time for the meal, the father sat down and the children ran to his side. He then blessed each of his children before their meal. Cathey then asked the large group to break up and share a blessing with one another. There were many tears and hugs as the women spent time being vulnerable and deep together.

So all of this to say, we hope that if you weren’t able to come this year, you would consider coming next fall! We would love to provide this experience for you as well!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This week's sign of apocalypse... Traffic Cameras

This may get personal but bear with me.
I waffle back and forth on speeding. When I have lots of time I generally am a very obedient vehicle operator. However when running late, I have a tendency to stretch that "suggested" speed limit (my wife told me it was suggested not required, we still haven't tried that one out on an officer yet). Maybe it is justification but I also never go more than 5-9 miles over carefully abiding under the old adage, "if you're 9 your fine, 10 your mine". And I have not gotten a speeding ticket in a long time.
I often joke around about speed limit;
1. On dirt roads I take it up to fish tailing and back it off a few notches
2. Corners with a posted speed limit can usually be taken at double
3. If I'm bigger than they are they'll get out of my way
However if I willingly choose to go over the speed limit and I get caught I will accept the consequences. Most commonly this is a ticket, I wish it was some kind of gift exchange or something, I have some really "interesting" presents that I would love to re-gift to an officer.
There is a rising phenomenon in our country called traffic cameras. You know the ones that eliminate officers interaction and catch you blowing a red light, speeding, or making illegal turns. To my mind if you get caught BY CAMERA it is pretty hard to argue that you were indeed speeding or breaking another traffic law. Because of this conviction rates on traffic camera infractions are over 98%.
The controversy is that these camera's are so effective many communities are voting them out of the county. Most studies show that the camera's decrease traffic accidents, particularly fatal accidents. From an old juvenile delinquency class what prevents crime is not the potential severity of punishment but the certainty of getting caught. People will engage in far riskier behavior if they're less likely to get caught. With the traffic cameras, you will get caught. This is really pretty effective at reducing a law from being broken.
So what's the problem? People don't like to get caught. They don't like accountability. People will go a long ways out of their way in order to avoid punishment fair or unfair. This is coming from the kid who used to put on 30 pair of tighty-whitey's when he was 5 in order to deaden the blow. We all try to get out from punishment, it's part of our sin nature.
What baffles me is that people are willing to stand and argue that it is unconstitutional because it is so effective, because so much money is being raised for local governments, and because they're getting caught.
1. A law is not unconstitutional because it catches the majority of the population, that's a reflection on our country not the justice system.
2. If you don't like the government making money on you..... STOP SPEEDING! This isn't rocket science.
3. I couldn't care less about these camera's because they don't affect me. If you don't speed in the city, or run red lights, it can't hurt you.
Bottom line, if you play the game, pay the price. We can't all be winners, and just because you don't like something doesn't make it wrong. Too many kids are being taught that there shouldn't be consequences if every body doesn't like them. We see this with marijuana, prostitutes, illegal downloading and more.
I wonder if this attempt to get out from under consequences drives people spiritually. Are they looking for a way to "cheat the system" and not pay the price for their sin? It's a shame that God already "cheated the system" for them. They don't have to suffer the consequences. What if somebody paid for all the traffic tickets of all these individuals? They'd be ecstatic, and yet their Creator has paid their eternal traffic ticket and no body wants to take advantage of it.
You can be sure if it was a tax loop hole, a legal loop hole, or a sports advantage they'd be all over it, however when it comes to their souls they are content to wear a gorilla mask over their head and try and hide from the cameras.
Here's a treat for those who made it to the bottom of this article;

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Throw it away Church!

In my last post the discussion centered around our throw it away culture, including things and people. There is one throw it away item that irks me more than any other, Church! I don't like the pastor, there's nothing for the children, nobody my age goes there, the music is too traditional, the music is too contemporary, and on and on... It makes me want to scream, Stop It! Please show me in the Bible where it mentions any of these things as reasons to pick a Church. Even denominations get me riled up. Good theology is necessary, but if your spiritual maturity hinges on one or two aspects of a Church you've got a big problem. The first Church I was a part of as an adult had a good pastor who preached Biblical messages. But his preaching style wasn't the most entertaining. A number of people told me they wanted to leave the Church because they weren't growing spiritually. A pastor's sermons should never be the sole source of your spiritual growth. How many sermons can you remember on Tuesday? It's our imperfections as individuals that create imperfections in our Church. The beauty of God's design is that the community works out those imperfections under the Leadership of Jesus Christ. When you are ready to throw away a Church take a hard look at yourself. What are you doing to make the Church more like the body of Christ? The imperfections in the Church are only a reflection of you and you can do something about that!

Throw it away!

If you have not noticed, we live in a throw it away culture. Walk around your local Walmart and look at how many things you can buy that won't last more than a year (thank you China for cheap plastic). Fashions seem to change weekly and 15 minutes of fame has been brought down to 3-5 minute youtube clips. Even things like hair and eye color can be changed and discarded each day; not to mention plastic surgery and tattoos. On a more sobering note, marriages are a dime a dozen when half end in divorce. Don't like your spouse anymore, get rid of them and try another one. The child growing inside of you is inconveniant; get rid of the child. Even children born are a hassle. I know a woman who takes care of a little girl because the mother can't handle the little girl, her child. It won't be a far stretch to throw away the old and useless. The constant chase for something new to make me happy leaves a festering, rotting, stench of wreckage behind. The throw away pile of stuff is unsitely, check out your garage, basement, or attic. But the human wreckage of pain and suffering is truly crushing. Jesus makes such simple statements that take a lifetime of perserverance to work out: "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven (Matt 6:20)" Maybe I'll think twice before reaching out to grab the next gotta have thing to make life easier, i.e. make me happy, which will only last a short season before I throw it away. Better yet, maybe I can "love my neighbor as myself" and change my orientation from a self-focus to an others-focus. Question to ask yourself: When do you tend to view people as short term use and then throw them away?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dumb Lyrics

Occasionally I listen to pop music. I do this for a couple of reasons;
1. I love getting really obnoxious tunes stuck in my head for days with pre-school level rhymes. 2. I can't get enough britney, kanye, and black eyed peas 3. I try to keep a feel for what types of things are popular with youth. That being said I was listening to the radio last night when the song "Whatcha Say" by Jason Derulo came on.
Sort of catchy beat, not really. What got me though was the lyrics. The song is about a guy that cheats on his girl friend. Imagine the song as his apology and subsequent begging to be taken back. Here's the "hook" so let me in (let me in) give me another chance (another chance) to really be your man cause when the roof cave in and the truth came out i just didn´t know what to do but when i become a star we´ll be living so large i´ll do anything for you so tell me girl When I become a big star......???????? That's the best you can come up with man? Come on. What girl is going to buy this? You can cheat on her, apparently lie about when you get caught, and you're only hope that she'll take you back is when you become a big star you'll do anything for her. I think this really highlights our narcissistic youth culture today. It's all about being a star. Once you are a star you can do anything you want. Morals are dependent on fame. Look at the Roman Polanksi thing. This guy drugs and rapes a 13 year old girl. Because he is a famous director a bunch of celebrities think he shouldn't be held accountable. There is a huge disconnect in teenagers about how a relationship really works. Right and wrong are not predicated on celebrity status. You are not more attractive as a suitor if you're famous. Girls you should get so lost in God that a boy has to seek God to find you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I just want to be a "Spring Carrier"

Saturday I spent the whole day taking out the water front here at Camp. What I mean by that is: we pulled out the blob (mopped it inside and out, the bladder as well), deflated and mopped the water trampoline, pulled in all the bouy lines, pulled out the docks and boat lifts, scrubbed the bottom of the yellow slide, put all the buddy tags on twisty ties, took out the beach and water volleyball nets, pulled the lifeguard raft onto shore. Not very interesting, unless I tell you about how I got the blue tractor stuck in the water and had to pull it out 3 different times with our yellow hilo. Which worked well until the 3rd time, I got the hilo stuck in the water and the blue tractor couldn't pull it out. So I called Vic and he mentioned that the hilo had 4 wheel drive and I was able to drive it right out. Sometimes, I just remind myself that I am good at other things, so I don't feel so inadequate at mechanical and maintenance type stuff. So because I worked a full day Saturday, I had today as a day off. We celebrated our 2nd daughter's 4th birthday. She got a cake for lunch since her grandma came up from Grand Rapids. She also got brownies with candles for supper because her mother prefers brownies to cake. As I was waiting for supper, I decided to take down our trampoline. Since the weather has been dry, and I wasn't anticipating much more usage by our kids yet this fall. I invited my 2 year-old son to come outside and "help." Which really meant he wandered around with his juice cup while I took down the net, and posts that held up the net. Then as I began taking off springs, I realized he could take them from my hand and bring them over to the box for me. He spent the next 20 minutes faithfully bringing springs from me to the box, over and over again. Never could he carry more than 5 at a time. Occasionally they fell on the way and he would pick them up again. But every one made it to the box eventually. I was pleased with his help. He willingly served. Back and forth, never complaining. Even when he made a mistake, he picked it back up. I could tell he liked being involved and loved getting affirmation from Dad on the good job that he was doing. As I reflected on that experience, I realize that I want to be a "Spring Carrier" for God. I don't need an important job, or one that will be noticed. I probably couldn't handle it, anyways. But I want to join him in the work that he is doing. I want to serve willingly. I want to pick back up, even after I make mistakes. And I definitely want to hear him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Say it isn't so!

There is a tragedy occurring right before our eyes. Did you even know about it?
Be a part of saving this story from a terrible ending. Eat a Krispy Kreme today.
I think I'm smelling Krispy Kreme's as I write this.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Life

This past weekend Grace hosted a retreat that we call the "2treat" for middle school students. We call it the 2treat because we run 2 completely different tracks on one weekend. The first track is called "Fall Blast", it is designed for a youth group to come, have fun and build a cohesive group with goals and expectations for the year ahead. The 2 churches that participated really enjoyed their time. The second track we call "Pure Adventure." I had the privilege of teaching this track on making wise decisions based on God's Word, keeping and protecting your heart, as purity is a heart issue. During the weekend one young lady met with one of my female staff, and asked her a bunch of questions about committing her life to Christ. On Saturday, I coached our staff on some scripture passages to have the young lady read and discuss. We praise God that on Sunday morning, this young lady approached our staff and asked if she could pray to accept Jesus salvation and commit to following him with her life. When someone does this, as Jesus teaches they are born again. Yes, it is as if they have new life. The old is gone, the new has come! Since Laura was in labor, she and I had been at the hospital for a few hours and things were progressing only slowly. So our doctor left to go to an elder meeting at his church. Suddenly the pace changed. Our nurse called him on his pager, but he got caught in traffic, so with the help of 2 nurses, Laura and I welcomed another miracle of life. The birth of my son, Trevor Lee. He tipped the scales at 8lbs 9oz, and was 20 inches in length. What a blessing of the Lord to experience 2 different new lives in one week.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Neo-Christians

So today I was driving and had the radio on. Spencer and Heidi Pratt were being interviewed by the radio host. I would've continued channel surfing except they were playing "Jesus Jeopardy".

Spencer and Heidi Pratt are reality TV stars that are famous for.... not much. They have bounced around on different b-level shows. What sets them apart is that Heidi is very very vocal about her Christian faith. This has translated into a pseudo-faith for Spencer as well. This was culminated in the baptism of Spencer by none other than Stephen Baldwin on a joint reality show they were on.

Their lives however are fairly contrary to a Christian faith. Heidi is a playboy model. Spencer has demonstrated multiple examples of dishonesty, crude language, narcissism, and inappropriate sexual remarks on his multiple shows. So as they were playing Jesus Jeopardy this morning it hit me how much damage they may be doing for Christianity. Here me, I am sure they think that they are believers and they desire to be so. However there are a nation of people who call themselves Christians that I believe will not see Glory because they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We call them "neo-Christians". It was so obvious that these secular radio hosts were creating a segment to mock their religion. Why do they do this to them and not Tony Dungy? Because their actions do not line up with their words. Is this a problem? At least they want to be believers right? Maybe God will use them. There is a nation of people who need a solid Biblical world view. The Christian worldview is not how a denomination, or person, or pastor views the world. The Christian world view is how God views the world. Grace Adventures is committed to changing the world view of those in our world. There are too many people who think they're a Christian but aren't one. I really hope Spencer and Heidi know the truth, and aren't always demonstrating it, or find out the truth. Anchor's Away is a ministry that we have partnered with in order to combat this epidemic. FYI - Spencer and Heidi answered two out of six questions correct on "Jesus Jeopardy".

Friday, September 25, 2009

What a dad!

So I'm a few days behind the ball on this one but none the less....
Did you see the video of the baseball game the other night where the dad catches a foul ball, gives it to his daughter, who then throws it back? Here it is....
My first thought it that was hilarious. As I started thinking about it more, I think that dad showed a tremendous demonstration of a father's love and wrestling through our own selfish desires.
Here's the progression (you can watch it on his face);
1. Joy - The dad catches it
2. Charity - He gives it to his daughter
3. Shock - She throws it away
4. Frustration - Realizing what just happened
5. Mercy and love - celebrating with his daughter in the midst of his own emotions.
I don't know if that man was a believer or not, but he sure ministered to me.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Self Admitted Abortion Addict

I am in shock as I just finished reading an article on abcnews.com about a lady who has written a book and calls herself and abortion addict.
Irene Vilar has had 16 abortions in 15 years. As you read the article a few things jump out at me.
1. The overwhelming amount of reasons/excuses why she had them. There's 1 page out of 3 dedicated to explaining why this is what she had to do.
2. The statistics are always startling;
About half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and 40 percent of these are terminated by abortion -- 854,122 in 2002, An estimated 50 percent of women who seek one abortion, will have a repeat one, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which promotes sexual and reproductive health. About 10 percent of those women will have three or more.
3. The comments from another girl who has had multiple abortions;
"It's a physically painful thing to do -- not something I'd ever want to use as a form of birth control. Who wants to go through that pain to end the lives of potential children?"
(About having her second abortion in 2 months)
"I felt like we were committing murder, that I was killing something that I wanted," said Mary. "I felt like I should feel the pain. I wanted to physically suffer."
(About having her third abortion)
This is heart breaking to read about these women and the lives lost because of a lack of a biblical world view. The younger gal astounds me because she can articulate how horrible this makes her feel, she can equate it with murder, and yet she still follows through with the act.
I think it has to do with our selfish nature. Somebody once told me that all sin boils down to selfishness. Do you lie? You probably want some one to like you and thus you're being selfish. Do you lust or covet? Selfishness again. Abortion is no different. It puts the temporary needs of an individual above the rights of another.
I took a criminal justice class in college. The prof was talking about how during the Clinton years youth crime dropped quite a bit. Many people attributed this to Clinton's policy's. My prof noted however that this was about 18 years after Roe vs. Wade. His theory was that although abortion is bound by no demographic, it is popular among lower socio-economic status households. There is also a correlation between crime and lower socio-economic house holds. Instead of reforming this generation of the 90's, we have killed them.
We may have lowered the crime rate, but we lost a generation.
Parents educate your children. Friends talk to your friends. Christians reach out to unwed mothers and young pregnant girls. I admit to thinking we may never overturn roe vs. wade, however we can sure put a dent into the perceived need for abortions by being Christ to those who do not know him. This comes by sitting down next to the untouchables. One of my favorite passages is Jesus with the woman at the well in John 4:1. Notice how he sits next to her, gets into a conversation with her, and builds a relationship, all before he starts speaking to her about sin and salvation.
If we're going to make a difference in the abortion battle, we need to keep the sin and salvation card in our wallets a little bit longer, and help the girls to see hope for today let alone eternity.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Self Esteem Castles

I spent a frustrating Monday morning trying to get High School seniors to connect their character with behavior. In general there was a whole lot of apathy and very little engagement. It was the second half of the group, the first half had spent a few hours with Nick Otto on Sunday afternoon. Nick had given me a heads up on what to expect, so my frustration was high because I had hoped to circumvent some of the attitudes. The school these seniors had come from was my wife's alma mater. This gave me some insight into the background of the students. Mostly, upper middle, raised in religous homes, and spent their entire k-12 experience in christian schools. I knew most of them had been handed everything in life to them, so far. It still bothered me that what we were doing had such little impact. Today I read an excellent article by Scot McKnight on line at Leadership Weekly Newsletter. You can read the article here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/communitylife/evangelism/thegospelforigens.html The title is "The Gospel for IGens." It provided some insight for me about today's late teens and 20 somethings. The main point of the article is that most "IGens" live in a castle of self-esteem. Through years of education focused on improving self-esteem they have come to believe that they are okay just the way the are. This is no surprise to me, but he continues that they have no sense of moral absolutes, right or wrong, or truth. So you can't convince them they are wrong. Though they do feel guilt and depression at not living up to this great person they believe they are (bad grammer I know). Scot McKnight connects this to presenting the gospel. But for me it made sense why I see this disconnect between character and behavior. They already think their character is good and have no moral compass to evaluate behavior. So, everything they do is acceptable (no matter what I may think). The good news is that they do like Jesus. What has an impact on them is seeing someone live out the values of Jesus. My attack on their castle of self esteem does little because they can hide behind well constructed walls. Though, they can be compelled to exit the castle to watch someone live a life of purpose, especially if it exhibits justice, love, peace, and holiness. Where does all this leave me? I'm still frustrated by not being able to effectively impact the students. But now I have a different strategy to go about it. Grace Adventure's fans can look forward to the possibility of embedded facilitation.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Purging our bodies

So, I know I said I would be back on here after the vacation much more regularly. God had other plans. On Tuesday August 25th, Kendra and I went to the University of Chicago Hospital for some routine tests. They told me there would be an 8% chance of complication, so I should bring an overnight bag. Wednesday the test came and went. After 4 hours in recovery they discharged me to go home.
Kendra and I loaded up and hit the road, anxious to get the four hour drive behind us. About the time we hit Gary I started feeling nauseous. I didn't make it off the high way before the first bout of throwing up arrived. Kendra pulled off and found a gas station. I was feeling mildly better and she got me some water. By the time she came back out of the gas station, I was doubled over the trunk of the car in agony. My stomach hurt worse than anything I've ever experienced.
I told her to keep going maybe it would go away. She demonstrated why she is far wiser than I, and drove me to the closest hospital in Gary. The pain kept increasing and I kept getting a little bit more distressed. Maybe this is a little serious I said to myself. We get to the ER, and they take they're sweet time getting me any kind of treatment, but once they did, can I just say that I heart Morphine.
It took about 3 hours for the morphine to start really working. Meanwhile I've been constantly dry heaving, coughing, and basically every makes my stomach hurt worse.
That night I was transferred back to the University of Chicago by ambulance around 3 am. At one point we hit the bumpiest patch of road in the United States and I asked the technician if he had anything for pain. He says, "I've got some Tylenol". That's not going to help.
Wednesday night after I was settled in and put on my own morphine drip that I got to activate with a button every 15 minutes, I tried to go to sleep. As you can imagine I was less than comfortable. I was rolling on every side I could find trying to relax. I was sweating, coughing, and still dry heaving. My stomach had relaxed except for any time I did any of the above.
About 6 in the morning I had the thought is this what it should be like to purge the sin from our bodies? I was in a battle between me and my body. The only relief I had was through a morphine button.
How often do I commit horrible sins against God, myself, and my family and I pray a prayer of forgiveness and take advantage of God's grace? What if I truly appreciated the gravity that sin is in my life and determined to root it out of my life. Is this the type of struggle that would occur?
Would you be willing to be in agony over your sin? Have you been in agony over your sin? In Romans 7 Paul talks about the battle he has with sin in his life. He speaks about doing the thing he hates, doing what he does not want to do, practicing the evil in him, and in verse 23-24 he says,
"I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am , who will set me free from the body of this death?"
You see Paul understood the gravity of his sin. If we can't relate as one commentator remarks it is because Paul's holiness so far exceeds that of our own.
Sin is at war against us, are we at war against it? As I was struggling with acute Pancreatitis I think I got a glimpse of what sin does to our body.
P.S. I was at the hospital for a week. Kendra and I came home last Tuesday. I'm feeling much better now, even went riding and golfing on Monday. God is so good. I still have a little ways to go but am feeling much better now. Thanks for all who were praying. It meant a lot to Kendra and I.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Can you say frustrating

Today Laura and I had family come to visit us at camp, so we thought it would be a great idea to take them out fishing. Her father and mother, her sister, her sister's husband and their 2 kids, as well as Laura's grandpa and grandma from New Jersey. So we headed down to the pontoon, after changing diapers, putting on swimsuits and sun screen. Here is where the story gets a bit more interesting, and what I think you can relate to... We arrive at the pontoon boat, remove the cover, lower it down, help everyone onto the boat, and begin pushing it out, only to realize... the battery is dead. So here is where I become the hero, or not. I head to the maintanence shop to get a new battery, only to find the room that we keep the battery in is locked, and I don't have that key. So I jump on a golf cart to get one from another staff (Luke Kostal) only to find that I can't get the golf cart out of the shop without moving a large dumptruck. So I move the truck, get the key, find 2 batteries, return the key and 15 minutes later arrive at the pontoon. Installing battery number one: dead. Install battery number 2: it turns over but doesn't catch. Finally after try number 10 the motor started. But I was reminded how things rarely go the way you think they will go. And that all I could really control was my attitude. Today, I did pretty good in this category, because it just made me laugh that at every stop something went wrong.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What do you do for the least of them?

I'm sorry it has been a while for those of you that keep up. Things have been pretty busy at Grace lately. We had Grand Valley girls volley ball team, Muskegon marching band, Jenison Leadership Institute, and we were finishing up summer and Surf City. However I am back.
After a trip to Caloma camping I was back in the office last week. There will probably be some more stories about camping later. One of the first jobs I had was to take a load of horses up to Living Waters camp in Luther Michigan.
On the way up the truck started acting up on me. In my determined nature we were definitely going to make up there and not stop or turn around. About Ludington things started getting interesting. Finally on the giant hill on M-37 in Lake County the truck breathed its' last.
Here I am stuck on a huge hill, with a 20 foot stock trailer and no truck. Long story short, I unloaded the horses and I called a friend who came about 20 minutes later, by then a sheriff was on the scene. He wanted me off the road NOW. So he tells me to back down the hill because I was blocking one lane of traffic. No problem I say as I procede to jack knife the trailor and block two lanes of traffic. Now my friend finds a nasty old hemp rope and we get myself pulled out of the road any ways.
By then Chad Coppess was on the way with another truck. So running total of time on the road is now 1 hour and 20 minutes. Chad finally gets to me after I'd been on the road for 2 and a half hours. It all ended well and yes you can tow a pick up 60+ MPH down the high way. The point is I sat on the road for almost 3 hours, with horses tied to trees, a good part of it right in the middle of the road, and how many people do you think stopped? 1 person, and that was at the 2 hr and 15 min mark. They said they saw me when they went to supper, and because I was still there after they were done eating the thought they should see if I was all right.
How many times have I passed a stranger broke down? Too many to count. Could any body have helped me? I'm not even sure. But nobody tried. I was a little let down by my country compadres in Lake county.
Matthew 25 discusses that when Jesus returns in His glory He will seperate us by how we recieved Him. Many will ask when did they see Him. Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
As I was a poor, broke down, cowboy on the side of a rural highway, in the middle of the woods, far from home I sure felt like the least of them. Evaluate how many times we may miss a chance to bless some one because we're too focused on what's ahead of us and miss what's right in front of us.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

This weeks sign of the apocolypse

Wow, can I just say that I must really live in a box. I admit I have been out of the "in" Christian music circle for a while. My first CD was;That's a classic I know. However Apparently since March, Peter Furler the lead singer for Newsboys is stepping down. That in itself is a "oh wow that's surprising" event. However Michael Tait from DC TALK is stepping in. What is this world coming too? This is like Tom Izzo coaching for U of M. This is Joe Torre to the Red Sox! This is Bush running the DNC. My head is spinning.
However I am excited because God uses all things for the good of those who love him. So I suppose Michael Tate singing for Newsboys can bring Glory to Him. However I am still waiting for the DC Talk Reunion tour.
Check out Newsboys at this years Unity Fest. I'll be there Saturday night after I'm done working the booth for Grace Adventures at Camp Unity.
Here are Tait and Furler together.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The sky is blue, water is wet, and divorce hurts your health

I'm browsing around the Internet this morning and I stumble upon this gem. I find it fascinating when secular writers stumble across something that affirms what we as Christians already know to be truth. If all truth is God's truth, then a secular person can stumble across some of it with out understanding the depth of what they have found.
Many will recognize that divorce affects those around it. However here is proof that our actions affect our bodies. We are holistic people. God gave us a body, a mind, a spirit, and relationships. They are all interconnected. There are consequences for sin, and those consequences will impact our entire self.
I find it fascinating that the study is aimed at how does remarriage affect the health. When two become one nobody can separate that, therefore that bond is irreplaceable. I do think God works all things out for the good of those who love Him. I also think that my God is more powerful than divorce. This study does not take into account the spiritual aspect of healing. Therefore I do think that God is able to restore and heal two people from whatever their past is.
In contrast being in a healthy relationship can and does have positive impacts on our health. What things can we be doing in our relationships to increase our health? What would it look like to minister to your family with the same fervor and intentionality as you would an unsaved friend?

Friday, July 24, 2009

From the Pit

While we are on the topic of ga-ga. the story begins last Friday, I'm in the pit, after a number of campers pleaded with me to join. I'm jumping, I'm dodging, and I am actually doing quite well at staying in and I think I got about 10 campers out. When I swing for the ball as a camper dives for the same ball.
In slow motion, I hit the ball, hit his hand and followed through right into his face. Suddenly, he collapses to the ground holding his face. First, I wonder how bad he is doing. Is he Okay? Then, I begin imagining the news headlines "camper blinded from camp director in ga-ga pit." Finally, I help him from the pit, make sure his injury is addressed by our health officer.
Fortunately, I believe besides the small gash below his eye, and a slight black and blue eye, he lives to tell the story. I did follow up with his mother when she picked him up, and they both were very forgiving. And even asked about which camp he should sign up for next year. But it reminded me that what I was intending to do was win the game, and instead my competitiveness in the pit got the best of me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is Ga-Ga the new Four Square?

Ga-Ga
vs.
Four Square
There is a semi-new phenomenon in summer camping. It is called Ga-Ga. No, not like Goo-Goo Ga-Ga, or even Lady Ga-Ga (if you don't know who she is don't worry. You're not missing anything). Ga-Ga as I learned from a college students best friend Wikipedia, is an Israeli form of dodge ball.
Grace has a brand new Ga-Ga pit thanks to our Sowers.
Maybe it is just the hype of a new activity at camp, but the four square courts looked pretty barren yesterday compared to the herd of kids in the Ga-Ga pit.
So here is my attempt to logically and rationally break down Ga-Ga vs. Four Square.
Number of Players:
Four Square is sort of bound by its own name, four-square. There is something to be said for the number four. It does allow for perfect squares.
However in Ga-Ga there is potential for unlimited number of participants. The capacity is only limited by the size of the pit. It is conceivable to have an all camp Ga-Ga pit.
Advantage: Ga-Ga
Ease of Play:
Four Square is old school. We're talking about Chuck Taylor's, Afros, and Turtle Races. The rules however vary widely by location. Grace Adventures is unofficially the capital of "Clean Double Hits" however you might play singles, dirty doubles, black magic, or even body language- black jack. Further more is the inside line out? How about the outside line in? This is getting complicated. That's just the rules, once the game gets going it can get pretty intense. I'm talking about between the legs, behind the back, Tiny Tim's and more. Not to mention, slams, power bombs, and trick shots (Can you tell I grew up playing this game).
Ga-Ga is supposedly from Israel. Do you think Jesus played Ga-Ga? The rules are simple. Hit the ball at some one. If it touches you below the waist your out. Don't play it twice in a row, and be the last one standing. Basically kill or be killed. Pretty simple.
video
Advantage: Ga-Ga
Safety: Both games are played with a round ball. One on asphalt or concrete, the other on a hard packed dirt surface. While the occasional die hard four squarer may dive and skin a knee, there are actually names for the Ga-Ga injuries. "Ga-Ga knuckles" are incurred from a fist type style that drags the knuckles on the ground leading to an abrasion. While not serious this is documented.
Advantage: Four Square
Level of violence: Occasionally a slam in four square may get away from a player and you see a full on strike of an opponent. However this is very rare. Ga-Ga however is dodge ball. Therefore the intention is striking the opponent. Because we're a Christian camp we do not condone violence, however we recognize that it may be a desirable quality in a game.
Advantage: Push
Accessibility: It requires some serious resources to build a Ga-Ga pit. We're talking lumber, skilled labor, and more. Four Square merely requires a side walk and some chalk. Tough to argue.
Advantage: Four Square
Point of the Game: And so it comes down to the point. What is the point of all this silliness? Well Ga-Ga is to be the last man standing, to conquer or be conquered. In Four Square you stand around in line to hit a ball to get out again to stand around in line. Nobody can be all-time King. Believe me, I've tried. Therefore you can't ever win four square. It's like the song that never ends, it just goes on and on and on and on. Where is Falkor the Luck Dragon when you need him?
Advantage: Ga-Ga
View Image
There you have it. Ga-Ga is the new four square. Agree? Disagree?