Monday, July 31, 2006

What I am teaching my kids about prayer

I realized this Sunday that I am doing a HORRIBLE job of modeling prayer for my kids. I pray before meals and before they go to bed. That's it. I am not saying this is bad, but I know deep down in my sould it's not enough. Nehemiah's priority of prayer has really challenged me this week to model it more for my kids.

Thankfully, I've got Julie. She prays. It's wonderful. I have so much to learn from her. The other day they were out at lunch and an ambulance came to pick up a lady. Julie grabbed the boys close and said, "Lets pray for that lady." They prayed. I know they prayed because when I got home Noah didn't tell me about the toy he got at lunch he talked about the ambulance and how they prayed for the lady who went off in it.

The first thing you should do to prepare for school

This past Sunday I had the privilege to teach on Nehemiah chapter one and I challenged our students to make prayer the first thing they do to prepare for the start of the school in less than four weeks. There are so many things to do: shopping for new clothes, new pencils and pens, folders, binders, etc... But what about our spiritual preparation? What are students doing to prepare themselves spiritually before school starts. Nehemiah models for us that prayer is a priority before we act!

It's interesting to note that other than the opening prayer this past Sunday I didn't stop and give the students time to pray. I talked a lot about it. We didn't do it. I was reminded this past Sunday that I needed to model what I was teaching. Sure teaching on it is fine, but how much more would our students received from God's Spirit had they been given time to just commune with Him?

Friday, July 28, 2006

A picture says a 1,000 words

Here is the latest picture of the three kids taken yesterday. I am so thankful for these three gifts! Trust me, this wasn't the first shot we took! It was like herdingg cats to get them all looking at the camera.

If all things going according to plan you're looking at the graduating classes of 2020, 2022, 2024. It seems so far away. It's funny because when you talk to the parents of seniors in the hallway of the church or in the welcome center they can remember their senior being this age just like it was yesterday.

We are excited for another year of life and we'll wait until they all are in elementary school before we start thinking about the commencement ceremony!

Camping at Carter Lake

Today we head out on a short little vacation. I am a little embarrassed to say this but we are going camping for the first time as a family. My dad is bringing his boat and we are heading up to Carter Lake all day today and tomorrow. I am pretty sure the snow in this picture will be melted! The Batman and Spiderman beds are packed!!!

Broncos Training Camp Begins

Can I get an “AMEN!” Today training camp begins. It’s been over six months since I walked out of Invesco Field at Mile High absolutely bitter that we lost the AFC Championship game at home. Today, there’s a smile on my face and a renewed hope for the up and coming season. I will be taking Noah to camp in a couple of weeks and I’ve got my tickets lined up for the year – Chiefs (home opener), Ravens (Monday Night) and Seattle. I can feel the Rocky Mountain Thunder rolling through the stadium!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Littleton, Denver & The World

Yesterday our high school ministry served alongside a ministry in downtown. Jesus to the World is clothing bank and a place to get a hot meal. But it's more than that, it's a place where our students get the chance to sit down and talk with the men and women who come in and need a new shirt, or need a hot meal. It was great to see our students serving. They cleaned, talked and stuffed and stapled 5,000 brochures. It was great to see them smiling and interacting with all everyone they came in contact. What's more it was great seeing them serving in the inner city of Denver, which is one of the three places we want them to serve along with Poland and in our community. It is our hope that when they are adults they will be serving in their community, the poor and homeless of the inner city and supporting missions through prayer, financial means, or by participating in short-term or life-long calls. It's so exciting to be a part of God's work around our community, city and world!

What are you doing in your community, city and world?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Thankful for Deposits

There are so many people along the way who have been a part of making me who I am as a pastor of students. Everyone’s made a deposit. Yesterday I got the chance to play golf with one of those men and his son. Al was the Jr. High Sunday School teacher while I was volunteering in the Jr. High ministry and when I first took over the leadership of it in 1996. I watched him week after week. I listened. I learned. Eventually he left and I assumed the role of teacher and haven't stopped teaching.

I got the chance yesterday to say “Thanks” to Al yesterday for being a part of my story as a developing pastor of students. There are so many people who have made deposits in my life that have had huge returns. It reminded me that we must be willing to have those who have gone before us making deposits in our lives. It reminded me that one of the passions of youth ministry should be getting leaders motivated to make deposits in lives of students. Our leaders must be depositing a love for God and a love for others.

I can’t wait to see who God will bring through the balance of this year to make a deposit in my life!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Spiritually Ready for College?

Msn ran a story they published the week of May 8th on what makes a high school great yesterday on their home page. The best schools are the ones that do the best job of preparing average students for college. What caught my attention was part of the blurb at the top of the page

“…NEWSWEEK honors top schools that help regular kids succeed in college.”

I love this! The focus is on them succeeding in college, not succeeding in high school! I wonder how many people are doing high school youth ministry this way? A successful youth ministry is preparing students to be spiritually ready for college.

If our focus is on their next step in college it’s going to change how we walk through high school with them. For example, what’s the one thing they are going to take from their spiritual journey in high school with them into college? Not their parents. Not their youth pastor. Not their small group leader. Not the programs they attended.

Their Bible!

Therefore we must make all that we do in youth ministry point to this BOOK that the writer of Proverbs in 7:2 says to keep as the “apple of your eye.” Keeping this as the apple of their eyes in college is going to help them make it spiritually! Part of our plan for our students being spiritually ready for college means our ministries must be saturated with the Word of God because the Bible they are studying with us on Sundays is going to be the Bible by their bed in their dorm room one Tuesday morning in college! Making things fun isn't going to help them succeed.

Part of students being spiritually ready for college is youth pastors being ready to make God’s Word the focus of their ministries. Paul told Timothy to guard the deposit (Word of God) entrusted to him! I want to be able to say this to every senior graduating!

Treasure Hunters

I am finally caught up on watching all the episodes of Treasures Hunters (I love my DVR)! I love this show. Both Julie and I want Air Force to win! The pastor and his family got booted last night. You can’t serve God and money :)!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Superman Returns

I saw this movie late last night and I loved it. Quick fact - I played golf with Singer's dad five years ago in Phoenix. Noah loved the movie too. Noah’s favorite part was when “Superman got more energy from the sun.” Then Noah was a little puzzled to see Superman drinking a beer. He leaned over and whispered, “Superman doesn’t drink beer mom!”

For me, I woke up this morning with this dialogue between Lois and Superman on my mind:

Lois Lane: The world doesn't need a Savior...
Clark Kent: Listen...
Lois Lane: I don't hear anything.
Clark Kent: I do. I hear everything. You wrote that the world doesn't need a Savior, but every day I hear people crying for one.

Many things are going through my mind as it relates to this dialogue, but as I head into my week I am reminding myself that I need to listen and hear everything that’s going on in our students lives because they are crying for a Savior. Behind the “I am cool, life is great” attitude that they display on the outside there is a loud cry on the inside that can only be stopped by the amazing love of God. Every time we meet as a community of students someone’s crying. The question for our leaders and myself is, “Do we hear them?” Once we hear their cry, we have nothing more to offer than the Gospel which when responded to, will change their tears of fear into tears of joy!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Everlasting Tough Call

“Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s rebellion.”

- Alice Cooper

"We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God."

- A.W. Tozer

I came across these quotes this week as I was preparing my message for Sunday out of Luke 10:38-42. I've been thinking all week about Jesus' words in part of verse 42,

"...but only one thing is needed."

I've been looking this week at the "What it takes to be a disciple list" I've created over the years and it's just that...A LIST! And everything is out of order.

I am wondering how I got here? Who gave me this list? Why do I have it? Who told me the order? How many things need to be on the list? How did things get out of order? And what scares me the most, if I am honest, if this list was in order of what I think is important (based on what I actually do), what Jesus praises Mary for is way down on the list,

"Mary...who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said."

This ONE THING, which should be at the top of the list, is the everlasting tough call of life.

Friday, July 21, 2006

6K on a 5 Year Old Birthday Party?

In light of having just thrown a jet party for my five-year-old son the headline on MSNBC caught my attention. This article details how kids birthday parties are not just a party for a few close friends, but turning into events for whole families. From renting ponies, magicians, food for 150 people and decorations that are specific to the party parents are spending thousands. Kids birthdays are starting to cost what a small wedding costs. Julie and I spend just over 6K for our wedding and I was cringing at that! That was a lot of cash!

I can’t even imagine what message this would have sent to Noah on Monday. I should have had United drop a plane on the street! This article highlights the reality that our kids are growing up in a culture where money gets you what you want at any age. Can you believe what some of these kids weddings are going to look like?

What if our kids marry a girl whose grown up having BIG MONEY birthdays and she gets to our rehearsal dinner at the church with better than average lasagna, pink lemonade out of a five gallon jug and Klondike bars for dessert? She’s going to flip!!!!! I can see her fidgeting thinking that she dropped 6K on the dress and all she’s getting is a Klondike bar! Hey, I’ll buy the Reese Peanut Butter Cup ones!!

I agree with this quote in the article, “Social psychologist Susan Newman, author of "Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day," believes parents of young children are doing more of these extravagant parties as a way to impress their friends and validate their own self-worth.”


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bringing Up Boys

I read this book on the plane from Krakow to Chicago! I really enjoyed the book. I kept thinking of the boys we are raising and I would just start laughing out loud as a memory would pop up. The Polish lady next to me was a little perterbed by my outbursts but I couldn't help myself.

The thing that sticks out most to me today about this book as I think back on it is the simple fact that we need to celebrate the aggressive natures God has placed in our boys! We need to embrace the purposes of their natures and enjoy them! Ultimately, we need to thank God for the way Josiah can make a gun out of a hanger and kill the bad guys, and for the way Noah thinks he can swing on everything to escape death!

But with all this comes the challenge of shaping it and molding it more into the image of Jesus. There's no doubt about it, the next 15 years are going to be pure excitement! There's no doubt about this either, its going to have to start with prayer.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Josiah

Today we celebrate Josiah’s three years of life! He’s having a Frog Party for all of his friends today! Again, Julie cranked out a great cake! Each of his friends gets one of the frogs in the picture to take home! You heat it up in the microwave and it will warm their bed this winter! We aren’t quite sure why he chose a Frog party. We think it’s because they are green, make funny noises and he can hop like one all day!

It was Pirates of the Caribbean, a coke and a large tub of popcorn that induced labor three years ago and what a gift we were given. We like to say this about Josiah, “When you meet him you don’t just get to know him, you experience him!” He’s bright, funny, has a million facial expressions, loves babies and absolutely loves and cares about people.

Just the other day he saw his Grandpa Dave for the first time in three weeks and the first thing he asked him about was the condition of his back. “How’s your back grandpa?” He knew Grandpa had surgery a while ago and he just was checking up on him! We didn’t teach him that, it’s just who he is! And we like what we see!

Whatever YOU DO...The Fray Gets IT!

I came across a great article on The Fray, a local band, that is striking IT BIG with their debut album “How To Save a Life” on CT’s website. I found them in September 2005.

It’s a very insightful look into the bands faith in Jesus Christ, who they are as a band and why they write their songs. It’s a must read! One short section captured my heart and it’s what I want all of our high school students to say about their profession when they are living in this world as Christ-following adults using who they were made to be for God’s glory. I think the lead singer captures the essence of who our professional lives should point to.

Here is a short take from this article,

Slade says he used to "write all Christian lyrics" until he had an epiphany while working a shift at Starbucks: "None of my friends outside the church understood any of my songs; we had a different set of vocabulary," he says. "So I went home and threw away all those songs." He adds, "If I handed somebody a double grande mocha latte and told them, 'Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,' they might throw it back on me.” Slade likens his job to any other. "If you're a painter, paint, but you don't have to have Jesus in every picture. Paint well, and if you paint well enough, they might ask you why you do that."

Colossians 4:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

“Whatever YOU DO…” I think The Fray gets it!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

An Unrepentant Youth Pastor

I think this should be my new title at the church after hearing Sunday’s sermon. All I can say is that Pastor Nelson “BROUGHT IT!” It was the second sermon in our summer series on Great Prayers in the Bible. He preached on Ezra’s confession in chapter 9. I was deeply moved at several points during the sermon and realized how little TRUE repentance plays a role in my life as Christ-follower. Here’s one quote he used to describe repentance and faith being two sides of the same coin,

“Repentance and Faith are twin graces, both implicitly contained in the gift of the new heart; and they cannot but co-exist…Repentance feels the disease, faith embraces the remedy.” Robert Dabney

I realized I have been living a lot without feeling the disease and only embracing the remedy.

Choosing To Cheat

I read this book on the plane from Chicago to Krakow. I love the subtitle “Who wins when family and work collide?” So I had to answer the question before I opened the book.

I really loved this book and it challenged me again to remember that more than I want to admit my work cheats on family time and my marriage and children lose because of it. I think the book is biblical, practical and extremely convicting. It will be one I recommend every youth pastor read in our district this up and coming year. In fact, I will probably go through it every summer to remind me of the point! This book is a must read, plus it's short fellas!

Here’s my big take home. After I read the book I realized that I couldn’t be the one to answer the subtitle. Rather, when the question is asked I need to think about how my wife would answer it and then ask her!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Happy Birthday Noah

Today he turns 5! He’s celebrating the day by having a Jet Party for all of his friends. The cake Julie made is AMAZING!! There’s no doubt this boy will always be first noticed for his eyes. We gave him Hebrews 12:1-3 as the verses we would like his life to built around. Specifically, verse two is for his eyes!

Hebrews 12:2 “2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

His fifth year of life was huge. He started pre-school. Really started nailing his memory verses. He's riding his bike without training wheels. He's swimming without floaties in the pool. God gave him a little sister. He's helping around the house with chores. He knows all of his letters. Obviously, there's more!

We can’t wait for his sixth year of life!

Redeeming Time

One of my former Professors from Denver Seminary has a written a great post about redeeming the time HERE.

It was a good reminder to me that when I am waiting for something it's an opportunity for me to catch up on some reading or an opportunity to talk to the person next to me and hear their story.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Reece Davin

It was so exciting to get home from Poland and know that I was going to be able to see the birth of the fourth Hodges kid. Tim and Eryn are our "bestest friends" and serve alongside of us in our high school ministry! Poor little Emma now has three little brothers to help through puberty!!!!!

Can you figure out what the common factor is in all of Hodges kid's names?


By the way, Tim is a Denver Firefighter!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Inspecting What You Expect

I learned on this trip to Poland that I must be on top of every detail that everyone does. I think this is the most draining piece of leading this trip. You have to be thinking about what 15 other people are thinking about, doing, saying, thinking about saying, and the stuff they should be saying. You have to double check and triple check almost 50% of the stuff that happens and at any moment you let your guard down huge things can go wrong. What seems to be like little “oh wells” turn into…well you put the phrase in! This is why being ultimately responsilbe on a trip of this magnitude can make you cranky in about a half of second!

It’s also reminded me that as I approach a new season of ministry this fall I need to pay more attention to detail. I need to pay attention to the little things no one sees. It’s tempting to just pay attention to just the big things, but I must be persistent about inspecting the little things well. In the words of Mr. Knapp, “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect!”

Friday, July 14, 2006

Measurement Forces Us to Admit Failure

It's been good to be home for a couple of days as I have been catching up on my reading of blogs! I was reading this post on Seth Godin's blog and he made a statement that got me thinking, " soon as you measure, you need to admit you failed."

I want to be a part of a ministry that's always measuring and always looking at where we can improve. I don't want to put "the blinders on" to avoid feeling the pain of failure. I know in my ministry this Spring I have been doing a lot of measuring and I've found out I'm not as good as I thought I was and I am grateful for it!

I think this principle is invaluable in ministry, especially when leading a group of leaders. We need to be able to look at where we've failed and view it as an opportunity to grow into something better and not get discouraged. There's a lot of good stuff going on, but we can't just keep measuring what we're good at.

One of things we are doing in our ministry this year is taking a hard look at what a faithful follower of Jesus looks like and using it as our measuring stick. After about 100 glances in the last three months, I, and the rest of my team have a long way to go!

And you know what, that's not a problem!

9 Countries - 60 English Camps

Dan and I were hanging out one afternoon talking about all that is happening in Eastern Europe this summer with Englishi camps and I couldn’t believe scope of the ministry! 9 Countries are hosting 60 English camps in a 45-day period! It’s absolutely amazing! What’s even more amazing is that they could double that and and then double that number and not even make a dent.

And it’s not just the lives in Eastern Europe that are impacted; it’s the lives of the families and churches of the students who attend. Literally, 10’s of thousands of lives are being impacted by these camps for the purpose of shining a light on Jesus Christ and His redemptive work!

I consider it a privilege to be a part of this unstoppable movement and my goal this fall is to recruit to new youth ministries from Colorado to join me in this mission!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Front Row Seat

One of the great joys of our trip to Poland is that I get a front row seat to watch God work in the lives of our students. Every person on this trip, including me, gets touched by God’s Spirit in a way that we know will make us different when we return. It’s an unbelievable privilege to be so close to seeing God work in amazing ways.

It’s hard to explain what this does inside of me. All I know is that for fifteen days I have the best seat in the house!

Roy Halladay

It was exciting to see another a local boy doing well in the Bigs for the Blue Jays. Roy Halladay is a local boy who is the first to twelve wins this year. I faced Roy in high school when he was at Arvada West. I'm proud to say I went 1 for 8 against him. My only hit came on a bunt! It was lucky! The other 7 at bats totaled 21 pitches. You do the math. I swung at all 21 pitches. There is a reason I am teaching the Bible and Roy is throwing Aspirin and on his way to his second Cy Young Award!

Jeremy Bloom

It was also exciting to get back from Poland and find out that a local Colorado boy signed a four-year deal with the Eagles! We loved watching Bloom with the Buffs and I will be supporting Jeremy as an Eagle!!!!!!!! As a Buff he had 4 touchdowns of over 75 yards before he had to choose skiing over football!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My Wife Owns This Trip!

One of the fascinating things about this trip that a lot of people don’t know is that my wife owns this trip. She went on my very first English Camp with Noah! She knows what happens. She knows the struggles. She knows the joys. She knows the purpose of the trip. She knows why I love it. She sees how if fits into our philosophy of ministry in our student ministries. She knows how much I love Dan, Laura and Alice. She knows that what happens in Poland changes not only the lives of Polish students, but God uses this trip to deeply touch our students and leaders. And it is because she owns this trip that she survives without me for 15 days!

It makes a difference here! Trust me! Our leaders and students know she owns the trip. Our students and leaders know that it’s tough for Julie to be without me, but they know that Julie is behind what we are doing 100%. She’s not at home complaining about the mission trip taking her husband away. She’s at home being a cheerleader, prayer warrior and GREAT MOM!!!!!!!

No doubt about it…My wife owns this trip!

Americans in Krakow Everywhere!

Our final two days were spent in Krakow and it was the first time in five years I heard American English being spoken all around me. I was shopping in The Cloth Market in the middle of the Krakow and everywhere I turned I heard English being spoken. My final meal was a Kebab and at the restaurant we were eating at there were three tables in a row of Americans!

Here’s the deal! Krakow is becoming the new Prague! I wonder what it will be like in the next five years.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Hearing My Wife's Voice

Last night I heard from Julie ever so briefly but it reminded me how much I miss hearing her voice. There is no question that I miss seeing her, but I miss her voice and that came from out of nowhere last night.

I remember when we first started dating and I would lay on my bed anxiously waiting to call her while she was at UNC and I was at CCU. Just hearing her voice back then did something in me; it created this sense of companionship and love that I can’t explain.

We talked about everything all night. Now, it’s not like we don’t talk, accept about working, raising kids, etc… This trip has helped me realize that I don’t take the necessary time away when I am home to hear my wife’s voice. I don’t take the time for just the two of us, with no kids, talking the night away and talking about everything. On this trip I can’t wait to hear her voice!

I am looking forward to walking up the escalator and getting a hug from her, hearing the words, “Welcome home babe!” Then, I am looking forward to getting away in the next week as Tierra, from our Poland team, is going to watch our kids!

I think Julie might call tonight! It’s kind of like she’s at UNC all over again!

The Fray in Poland

I am sitting here at Dan Hash's house and one the radio I just heard, "Over My Head - Cable Car" by The Fray! You've gotta be kidding me! These guys are from our area and one of our students on the team knows the band really well!

You've gotta love getting a little tast of home here in Katowice, Poland.

If you don't have there album download it NOW!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Brett Favre in Poland?

This one’s for you Brian! Brian was a vital part of our initial camps here in Poland five years ago. He married a woman who also loves Poland and served as an intern over a few summers.

Brian, I saw a dude wearing a Brett Favre jersey and all I could do is picturing you throwing your Princessa Bar up in the air, grabbing the guy, hugging him and screaming at me to take a picture of you and him. I am guessing when you got home it would be the first picture in your photo album that you would show all your friends as you talked about the trip. Finally, all I can picture us talking about the trip at the Greek restaurant we used to frequent and hearing you sum up the whole Brett Favre jersey experience with one word, “Classic!”

By the way, I spent the rest of the day looking for John! Everywhere I went I was looking for Elway’s jersey! Now that would have been EPIC!

Friday, July 07, 2006

My Screeching Daughter!

I heard from Julie on Friday morning around 12:15 a.m. Poland time. I was tired from speaking and leading our team meeting. From about 10:00 p.m. on the night was one constant emotional roller coaster for me. As I was talking to Julie I kept hearing this screeching, cute screeching, and I asked Julie if that was Adah. She said “Yes!” I couldn’t believe it…she’s screeching! Julie put the phone up to her and I felt like I was listening to in Dolby 6.1 surround sound!

When I hung up with Julie God reminded me of something I can’t forget. With my third kid here I need to get excited about Adah screeching and everything else she does for the first time. I can’t miss all the little things she does because I have been there and done that with Noah and Josiah. I can’t overlook her turning over, or eating cereal, or sitting up, or rolling over, over starting to laugh, or learning to play, or whatever! We already have less video and fewer pictures of her, so my prayer is that she won’t feel like there’s less love. Words can’t express in my heart what this little girl is doing to me. I can’t wait to kiss her sweet, chubby little cheeks on Wednesday morning.

The Shock of Americans Being at Camp

There is another group with us here at camp. It was so funny to see their faces when they realized that there was a group from America at the place they were staying. They were shocked! Every time I see this group of girls they always say “Hi Dan!” I have no clue how they know my name. One little girl just started greeting me the other day and I was shocked! On Thursday they used their cell phone to type up a message to me in English and they read it to me. It said, “We don’t speak a lot of English Dan.” That cracks me up! It’s just funny how God has allowed me to talk to the other group and tell them about what we are doing here! I love planting seeds!

A Broken Team

Thursday night I watched person after person, adults and students, share how the Spirit of God is forcing them to face the reality of where they are in their relationship with Jesus. Words can’t begin to explain the tears I saw, the deep reflections each person had, the desire to want to find God in their own lives here, and their desire to be a difference maker here at camp and when they get home. I watched our leaders be vulnerable and I am so grateful that these ten students got to see the hearts of the adults on this trip. I want our students to see the adult leaders in our group as people on the journey towards maturity in Christ, the good, the bad and the ugly. I don’t want a fake, "smile everything is fine" Christianity put on display for our students as the picture of Christian maturity. I want our students to see that the mystery that God loves us based on nothing we do. I want them to see that pursuing this mystery is the hardest thing to pursue on this Earth and at the same time the greatest thing to find.

We closed our time looking at that attitude of our Abba, our Daddy, as he welcomed home his lost son. He welcomed him home not with a list of what he had done wrong, but welcomed him home with a hug and a banquet!!!!!! What a night!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

When the Ministry Ministers to ME

Today we used Kelly Clarkson’s song “Because of You” in our morning program to get our students thinking about how relationships with people, especially our parents, can be broken. I’ve tried to write this blog 5 times and I can’t put into words what watching this video did to me. I’ve heard the song, but the video made the song come alive. I thought about my story. I thought about how many students are growing up with this as the cry of their heart. I thought about my parents. I thought about my sister. I thought about my wife. And at the very end of the song I thought about my kids. That picture will be in my mind the rest of my life.

One thing I can somewhat describe is that today was one of those moments when “the ministry” affected me. God used the picture of the husband and wife at the end of the video choosing to not be angry, choosing not to break like she was taught to, and hugging their little girl, to pierce my heart.

As I watched this video I began to weep over my sinfulness as a father. Who will my kids be “Because of Me?” What will the words be to their song about the home they grew up in? I know there are good things, but this song has caused me to stop and think again about my problem with anger and yelling. I don’t want my kids to grow up afraid because their dad lost it.

I lost it before I left with Noah when he threw Josiah into the couch and my heart is aching for what how I erupted. Being in Poland makes it all that more difficult because all I want to do is hug him and tell them I love him. I don’t feel guilt, I just know I need Jesus to heal my heart and make me more open to experiencing the unconditional love of my Abba. I’ll have other chances to not respond that way. I’ll hug him and cuddle with him on Wednesday, July 12th when he wakes up! I prayed for him tonight. I prayed for Josiah. I prayed for Adah. Then I just spent some time looking at the mountains reciting in my minds David’s 121st psalm.

At the end of the night I challenged our students in the midst of “doing” the ministry here to not miss what God wants to do in them personally.

Missing the 4th of July

It just hit me today that I am missing creating any tradition for my family celebrating the 4th of July except for the fact that I am out of town. I’m stuck. English Camps run for two weeks over three different sessions. We are in the first session, which means I miss the 4th of July. The second session is during the boys’ birthdays so I can’t do that session. The third session doesn’t interfere with anything.

I guess this is hitting me in a fresh way because I read Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley on the plane on our way from Chicago to Krakow. In some sense, I am cheating my family and the families of our church out of celebrating the fourth of July and that’s a big deal! We’ll see what happens next year.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Where Does My Help Come From?

These words that David penned in his journal have been going through my mind all day as I look at the mountains in Zakopane (I've tried to post a picture but the connection is to slow).

It is such a joy to watch our students and leaders serve here at camp. After a 9-hour bus ride and a short night of sleep our first day at the camp was great! Students and staff are building relationships with the Polish leaders and students and it’s a wonderful picture of relational ministry!

Today I got to go with Lee to the hospital. He broke his collarbone in two places. It looks like it hurts. He is doing great! The Doc got everything back in place and he has some good pain medication. What a privilege it was to walk alongside Lee today in a Polish hospital. I was grateful to have Kasia present to translate. Lee was great! Even the nurse commented on how brave he was! He is in great spirits and our team prayed for him tonight. Oh, did I mention, it’s Lee’s birthday?! Happy birthday buddy!

Between the mountains and Lee there couldn’t be a better word today than to remember that our help truly does come from God!

As the Internet is up and running in the kitchen I will post!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Finding Jesus When Your Tired - It's a MUST!

It's hard for me to believe I am sitting in the 5th floor flat of the pastor of the church we are serving alongside this week. We just finished watching Brazil loose to France. I am not sure why, but it's much more interesting to watch the World Cup here than at home!

Chicago seems like it was a week ago. The long flight, the long bus ride today to get to Zielona Gora and now I am preparing to prepare to preach...all of it reminds me that I won't be sleeping a lot in the next 9 days. I'll be up late and I'll be up early. It's one of the fascinating aspects of leading a trip. You stay up late to get the blogs done while the students are staying in polish homes. You stay up late to clean up. You stay up late having conversations with anyone who will listen because you want God to use every conversation for His glory. You stay up late thinking through not only what's going on at camp, but what's going on inside the hearts of the students and leaders that are with you. Even tonight I am scrolling through my mind how our students and leaders are doing.

You get up early. You have to or you'll just stay in bed all day! I get up and do some push-ups and sit-ups to get the blood running. Take a shower and head to the leaders meeting. I bought extra Nescafe today because I know by Friday I am going to need an IV of coffee just to walk to breakfast!

But none of this bothers me. It's what you sign up for when Dan Hash asks you to come to Poland. I wouldn't trade it for any other trip!

All of this loss of sleep reminds me what Jesus did on a busy day in his life. He got up early and went to be alone with God. I don't want to miss this lesson this year. I don't want to miss Him in my life personally on this trip. I am excited for the next week.