Friday, November 11, 2005
We're in the middle of revival this week with Rob Hartman. Man, if you've never heard him preach, you have missed it! When I was a kid, he was one of the few evangelists around who could hold my attention. He still does!
On Wednesday evening, Rob preached to us about how astonishing prayer produces astonishing results. His message was built around the story of how Peter was released from prison by an angel. The point was that we pray for God's will to be done and when it happens it many times blows away our idea of how it will and should happen.
Last night he took us through the story of Paul and Silas in the jail. He asked, "What took place in that cell before midnight?" You know, there is time unaccounted for in the story. His unauthorized version is fascinating.
Rob Hartman was the evangelist at Holiness Heritage Youth Camp in 1991 when I gave my heart to Christ. He still impacts the lives of young people. My teens have thoroughly enjoyed his ministry.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
I don't have pics yet, but additional congratulations go out to Joe and Peggy on the birth of little Shiloh. She's a cutie. Also, congrats to Markus and Johanna on the birth of Kelesa (I probably just mutilated the spelling of the name).
All of the babies have been born in the last 2 weeks. I told the church last Sunday that we are initiating an agressive church growth plan. We still have 2 or 3 on the way! There's more than one way to grow a church.
Fall is my favorite time of the year. The falling leaves, college football games, and crisp air all indicate that the year is drawing to a close. I love it! I get out my corduroy pants, the sweaters, the jackets, the rake, and live it up!
Lori and I have encountered a puzzling conundrum (I know; I said it twice) in raising our children. We come from different backgrounds when it comes to the celebration of Halloween. She was taught that it was the devil's holiday and that you shouldn't do anything to glorify the devil, while I was brought up to innocently believe that it was a great way to get a bunch of free candy.
Now, while I think that people go overboard on the whole evil component of Halloween and try to interpret the trick-or-treating thing as devilish and sinful, I also realize that more and more culture has used the holiday as a time to glorify hellishness and malice. So, as a result, what do we do for our kids? Various wholesome alternatives to Halloween have sprung up, giving families a chance to celebrate the gifts and joys God has provided in fall and that's all well and good. But, I gotta admit, there's a lot of fun involved in dressing up like a Mexican vaquero (which I did one year) with panty hose stuck over my face which contributed to my not being able to see very well and running pell-mell into a guide line for a telephone pole, causing a bruise which did not leave until I was well into my 20s. I want my kids to enjoy that part of it (not the bruise; the dress-up thing).
Well, when Lori and I ever encounter an issue that we might possibly disagree abput, we talk it through, discuss the implications, our convictions, and of course view the issue through the lens of the Bible. However, if after it is all said and done, one of us still holds a strong conviction, we don't push it. This is what we've done with Halloween. We have decided not to allow Trey to go trick-or-treating, but we do allow him to have a party for dress-up (this year was his birthday party, which I will be putting up shortly). So, it has turned out good for all involved.
I don't know why I went into all of that but anyway, this year, we were in the Queen City for Halloween, and Lori decided to take Trey, Kassady, Alicia, and Christy to a local farm to pick out some pumpkins for carving. We had early on agreed that this was something that our kids could do. Before we moved to Idaho, pumpkin-carving was an October ritual for the Frederick kids and us.
We had a blast this year! The whole family got involved. First the kids picked out the pumpkins (as you can see Trey got a little bored with this part), and then we spent the evening carving. It was great fun as you can see from the pics below.
Trey and Alicia fly down the inflated slide. This was the only thing Trey remembered when telling me about his trip to the pumpkin farm. I have to admit that does look like a lot of fun. At what point do we stop having fun like this because it's "immature"? It's too bad, really.
I don't take a lot of time in front of the mirror in the morning (for obvious reasons) so it was rather disconcerting to view the above picture. I used to have small little hairs that grew on top of my head like some type of wispy moss, but those days are long gone. My glabrous scalp now remotely resembles the top of those little glass Christmas snow things. You know, the kind that you shake and the snow falls over the little Santa and reindeer figurines. Very smooth and shiny. Kids, enjoy your hair while you have it.
Trey and I had a lot of fun carving his pumpkin. I worked on the design while Trey focused on the grunt work of scooping out the pumpkin "goop" and seeds. Together, we came up with an award-winning creation that sensitively conveyed the message that cried "please help me; my creators have no idea how to carve a pumpkin, but I have to smile anyway".
Christy and Lori slaved away, trying their best to outdo the rest of us. Kassady kept trying to help by grabbing pumpkin seeds and scattering them all over the kitchen floor.
Lori, in this picture, features the new hair-do that is taking Bible college campuses by storm. It's up, but it's down. Can't beat that one! "But, (fill in the name of your local dean of women), my hair is up..."
Trey was quite proud of our work of art. I should have used that grin as a model for our jack o' lantern. Can't you just see a flame flickering behind those gams? He was proud. However, his favorite part was attempting to light the candle inside. I already have a budding pyromaniac on my hands. What is it about the male fascination with fire?
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. "Look out!" we cry, "it's alive." And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back--I would have done so myself if I could--and proceed no further with Christianity. An "impersonal God"--well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth, and goodness, inside our own heads--better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap--best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband--that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing in the burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion ("Man's search for God!") suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Robbie and Rachel England talked about a subject that is unfortunately taboo in a lot of churces: Sex. You know, I've never been able to figure out why we don't openly address the problem. I have worked with teens all over the country for the last 10 years and I'm telling you that pre-marital sex is a massive problem in the church. And yes, you have teens in your church struggling with this problem if you have a youth group. The scary thing is that the problem is beginning to reach teens who are 13, 14, 15 years of age. It kills me that there's this massive problem out there, but because of church political correctness we talk about it using vague generalities. Wake up, people! This isn't going away. I faced the temptation when I was in a church youth group, and I can guarantee you your kids are going to be there some day. We have to challenge our teens to live pure lives, living by biblical principles, instead of talking about fornication and using weird illustrations like Jacob and his daughter-in-law Tamar (yes, this has happened) and throwing out the conservative F-word (fornication). Let's be appropriate, sensitive to our audience, but most of all real about this sin.
Robbie and Rachel did an outstanding job on handling the subject. They weren't off-color, nor said anything that would have been inappropriate for a mixed audience. But they did get across the point, that purity is a gift and it's something that is to be treasured. If you buy any session of Youth Challenge (buy the DVDs at www.youthchallenge.net), I recommend this one. Great job!
Mike Avery, president of God's Bible School and College, spoke on the topic of living a life of conviction and principle. He was asked to speak primarily upon the "standards" of the CHM. He handled it extremely well. He also followed his session up with a Q&A segment. All I have to say is that I empathize with anyone answering the questions he was asked. Many of the questions were leading (at best) and dealt with areas of personal conviction, areas that aren't necessarily biblical in nature. He did a great job!
After lunch, this time at Penn Station subs, the best subs in the US, we closed with an afternoon session featuring Jeff Keaton. He tore it up, as usual, and challenged the crowd to live lives of faith, putting everything in the hands of God. Great stuff. We closed out YC with a balloon launch. Hopefully, I will have pics by the end of the week. It was a great convention!
Special thanks go out to "Smiley" Plank, Jonathan Bender, Vincent Dubbeld, Vision (and Sam), Celebration (I liked Troy's intro for them, "the only group here who has a promotional picture older than you"), Singing Friends (Trivia Question: Name their only drummer), DC Praise (Go Matt!), the Collingsworth Family (please buy their CD; it's in my top ten CDs right now; I'll do a review later), Soundkings extraordinaire Dale, Wes, and Allen, Wesley Whitaker (have him at your church for a concert; the boy can tear up the trumpet), Troy and A&W, the YC Boyz (Dan, Dan, John, Jonathan, and Troy), Eric Guntrum, Steve Shipman, Dwight Rine, Sufjan Stevens (OK, just kidding), Wesleyan Publishing House, visiting guests of super-group N'1 Accord, GBS, HSBC, PVBI, UBC, and the lady at Skyline Chili who was so sweet. Peace and love.
Monday, November 07, 2005
This was our 11th convention as well as our 10 year celebration. I know, I know, it sounds really confusing, but it's our 10th full year.
Anyway, we kicked things off with a Thursday evening concert featuring DC Praise, The Singing Friends, Vision, Wesley Whitaker, Celebration, and the Collingsworth Family. Hosted by Troy Keaton and Anthony Webb, the program was full of great music and fun-filled entertainment (most of the time). I personally enjoyed the Troy Keaton and Anthony Webb impersonation of Brent Vernon and Sam. Most of the time, their jokes hit the mark, but every once in a while...
Hey, I know what it's like to try to be funny while standing up in front of a dead, unimpressed crowd (e.g. AYC 2003, ARK extravaganza/Keith's most humiliating moments/whole 'nother story). Overall, the concert went well.
Friday morning featured the YC 3-on-3 basketball tournament. This year the team that one featured players all well over 6'2". The tallest guy was like 6'7" or 6'8". Congrats Jordan, Drew, Jamie, and Kyle!
I had to speak in the Friday afternoon session. Just a word of advice here: if you are asked to be the special speaker at an event in the Cincinnati area do not, I repeat, DO NOT, go to Skyline shortly before. I thought, man, surely a small 3-way dry and 2 chili dogs won't hurt! That's how giving into temptation starts. After Jon Plank, Jonathan Bender, and I downed our lunch I got back to YC with about an hour to spare before the 2:00 PM service. About 10-15 minutes before 2:00 I got extremely sick. I was feeling a little shaky by the time I finally got backstage. Scary!
God truly helped me to speak. I have rarely preached with that much freedom. My sermon topic was taking a life-check. It was exciting to see several teens come forward to give their lives to Christ!
In the evening service, Dan Stetler was the featured speaker. He, too, went to Skyline shortly before the service. I didn't notice the ill-effects that I was plagued with (thankfully; didn't want to notice). The service also featured music from the YC Orchestra (conducted by Lori). I have never heard 30 violins, 2 trumpets, and a drum sound so good! Fantastic! The Youth Challenge Choir also sang in the service. There are very few things more enjoyable to me than conducting a choir. They did an outstanding job while singing the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir song "Total Praise". We rehearsed for 30 minutes and pulled it off. Beautiful! The evening service closed with hundreds of teens coming forward and answering in the affirmative the question "Will you keep the holiness heritage alive?".
The afterglow that night was a massive birthday bash for Youth Challenge featuring noisemakers, balloons, audience games, and much more. The host for the event was Sam (and Brent, the ventriloquist). Lots of fun!
OK, I have to run, but I'll be back with YC Update Part II.