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    I Want To Be In On It

    Here’s a passage that I read earlier today from I Corinthians 9. As a dabbler in running since high school, I have always identified with 24-26. However, when I read this passage again today taken from The Message version of the Bible, I was especially inspired by Paul‘s words in the verses that precede this. I want to be in on the Message.

    19 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of
    everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in
    order to reach a wide range of people: 20 religious,
    nonreligious, 21 meticulous moralists, loose-living
    immoralists, 22 the defeated, the demoralized–whoever. I
    didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in
    Christ–but I entered their world and tried to experience things
    from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of
    servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a
    God-saved life. 23 I did all this because of the Message. I
    didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
    24 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race.
    Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. 25 All good athletes train
    hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades.
    You’re after one that’s gold eternally. 26 I don’t know about
    you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it
    everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! 27 I’m staying
    alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping,
    telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

    I hope to press on toward the prize. I want to win the race. I want to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

    Until the next post….

    In the Hood

    Well, we may finally be getting new neighbors in our tiny little “subdivision.” This is an exciting event in our house as we have been praying that God would send us neighbors who we could have a positive influence on for Christ or who could be a positive influence along with us in our semi-neighborhood. (We’ve also been praying that there might be a boy Isaac’s age for him to pal around with.) This brings to mind a question, “how can we be light in our neighborhoods?” I’d love to hear your thoughts, and here are some of mine:

    1. Be available. Be around. Don’t be a stranger. Take walks, bike rides, etc. in the neighborhood, and stop whenever you get the chance just to chat.

    2. Be yourself. Eventually the word will probably get out that you’re a Christ follower. People far from God need to see you in your successes and failures. How we respond to both of these can have a huge impact on our neighbors.

    3. Be inviters. Have a party at your house. Take a neighborly trip down to the local ice cream parlor. Maybe even invite them to your church or an event at your church.

    4. Be in prayer. Pray without ceasing for those in your neighborhood that they might find the hope of Christ and that it might become real and active in their lives.

    These are just a few of my thoughts on the whole thing.

    Until the next post….

    Exhausted

    Thankfully, I took today off, because I am exhausted.

    Last night, we wrapped up Stretch. Between Kids Camp and Stretch, I believe we had 1000 different kids at our camp. It was really cool. I especially appreciated the chance to hang out with other volunteers at Stretch. We are so blessed at our church to have committed people who get it. What I mean by this is that they understand why we do events like these and why we do them with excellence. It’s not about putting on the best event in the area, so we can say we’re the best. It’s all about drawing people in our area to a fun activity where they will be challenged to examine and change their lives.

    I spoke to several parents yesterday at church who were so thankful for camp and who seemed very interested in coming back to check out our church again. I pray that they do, and their lives are challenged and changed as a result.

    Tomorrow, it’s back to work. I’m sure I’ll be tired, but I’m also sure I’ll have a reinvigorated outlook as I interact with my colleagues.

    Until the next post….

    Stretch Night One Reflection

    Last night, we had 173 sixth through eighth graders attend our church’s Stretch Camp. It’s been truly amazing to see our volunteers working hard together to pull off back-to-back huge community events. One of my “highlights” of the evening was watching a kid tossing his cookies after a ride on what I had earlier referred to as the “Puke Machine” (I think it’s real name is Twinspin). I especially had a blast talking to some of the volunteers who I really didn’t know that well.

    Plans for today include running a few errands to get ready for Hannah’s first all-week-over-night camp. It’s hard to believe that we’re at this stage already. Hopefully, a nap will fit in sometime this afternoon before I head back to church for our 2nd night of Stretch camp. Sleep deprivation and fatigue are setting in, but it is so worth it…

    Until the next post….

    Kids Camp Day Three – Start of Stretch

    OK, we just finished day three of kids camp, and it was incredible. I had 26 fourth graders back to have fun and to learn more about trusting God. Today specifically, we talked about “treasure.” Our verse today was from Matthew 6:21: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It was awesome to see kids professing the need to put God first in their lives before all the other stuff like video games, trampolines, dogs, TV, etc. I heard we had around 665 kids again today. What an experience.

    I just got home for a quick shower and half hour break before heading back over to the building for Stretch. I have the privilege again this year to lead the games team. It should be a blast. We have laser skirmish, a “puke” machine, a maze, hoops, a huge video game room, and inflatable maze, volleyball, table games, … I’ll let you know more later. I gotta run.

    Until the next post….

    Kids Camp Day Two – Trusting God through Lives Obstacles

    Today at Kids Camp we continued with the theme of trusting God. Specifically, we talked about how we can trust God throughout the obstacles that comes our way. Our verse for the day was Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and brave. Do not be frightened. Do not lose hope. For I will be with you everywhere you go.”

    This afternoon at work, I received word that the wife of a college friend had just started treatment for breast cancer. We also have a neighbor friend who is battling breast cancer, and the 3 1/2 year old daughter of a college friend is also battling cancer. It’s not necessarily easy to explain to 28 fourth graders that these are the types of obstacles they may face in life.

    These examples provide a reminder of how important it is to establish a strong foundation in Christ, so when these types of obstacles come our way we can “be strong and brave” knowing that God is always with us everywhere.

    Our pastor, Brian Jones, wrote a book (Second Guessing God) that speaks very frankly about this subject matter. Trusting God even when life hurts can be a hard thing to do. This is a great read whether you’re going through a tough time or not.

    (By the way, Kids Camp today was awesome! As mentioned above, my team grew by seven members. We had a blast!)

    Until the next post….

    Kids Camp Day One Thoughts

    Today…

    I woke up at 5AM. Spent some time in the Message. Got the kids and myself ready and heeded out for the first day of Kids Camp Adventure Island. I spent the morning leading 21 fourth graders all over the place to play crazy games, do a craft, and to sing and learn at big group and team time. Today’s theme was Trust God. And the first for today was “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

    After sending 21 kids back home for the afternoon, I buzzed home for a quick shower and change, so I could head into the office for 4 1/2 hours of work. Sometimes we need opportunities like the one I had this morning to remind us that God still has a plan for us in our own places of employment. It’s always interesting to get the reaction from my co-workers and colleagues when I tell them how I am spending my vacation time this week.

    Tonight, when I arrived home, I said hello to my wife as she cruised out the door for drama practice back at the building. When this is all over, I’m sure we’ll get to spend time together again, but these past few weeks have been crazy between all of Leanne’s busy hours at church and my crazy project demands. Another reminder that Proverbs 3:5 needs to be just as true in my life as it is for 21 fourth graders and the rest of the 700 or so kids who came to camp today.

    Tomorrow, I’ll do it all over again. It will be exciting to see what God has in store for the new day.

    Until the next post….

    Elderly Wisdom

    The other day, I was reading in I Kings 12 about a mistake made my King Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. After his father died, he became King of Israel. When confronted with an issue that could divide the kingdom, he chose not to listen to some of the older, wiser elders who had helped his father rule so wisely. Instead he decided to listen to what the young men had to say about the issue. As a result, Israel was split into two kingdoms – Judah and Israel.

    Sometimes it’s easy to miss out on the wisdom of those around us who are older and wiser. And it’s easy to be swayed by the popular opinion of our peers.

    I know that I have gained in wisdom from the likes of people like my parents, my parents-in law, my grandparents, my pastors, my bosses, and other people like Wes Kennedy, Bob Lewis, Stan Douglas from Grace Community Church.

    Who is this person in your life?

    Car Shopping

    This weekend, Leanne and I decided it was finally time to trade in our old vehicle in exchange for a new one. While I absolutely love the thrill of driving a new vehicle, I could certainly pass on the whole shopping and negotiation experience.

    In the process of this whole thing, I went to three different dealers, and I heard some of the same lines from each of the dealers… “Are you ready to make a deal today?” “If we get this for you, is it a deal?” “We’re no pressure here at [so and so dealership].” “I guarantee that you’ll get this best deal here at [so and so dealership].” Do they have these salespeople trained well or what.

    We did end up getting a new vehicle, and we said goodbye to our mini-van of six years.

    One of the biggest highlights of this whole thing was a bit of parenting delight. The kids were with us for 3 hours at one dealership in the morning and 4 hours at another dealership in the afternoon. They were unbelievable. We received comments at both dealerships that they had never seen kids so quiet and well behaved. This was true! Hopefully, we won’t be doing this again for a while.

    Until the next post….

    Pray Without Ceasing

    Today was not necessary the most fun day in the world. I started today knowing that I was heading for a big meeting at one of my projects – a meeting where heads could role. Before I went to bed last night, I prayed that God would allow this potentially volatile meeting to go well and to be effective in bringing closure and completeness to this project.

    Well, this morning, I entered the meeting and left three hours later with a significantly sized do-to-list. Was I feeling a bit overwhelmed? Perhaps. But there really wasn’t any yelling or screaming at this meeting.

    Upon reflecting on this during my ride home from the office, I realized that God had answered my prayers. I believe the meeting was extremely constructive and positive towards moving closer to finishing this challenging and interesting project. What a cool perspective. Now, I have to get back to work tomorrow….

    Until the next post….