Thursday, June 26, 2008

Watch Out For Snipers

Yesterday, I had a moment when things were going just great. Conversations were flowing. I could really sense the hand of God on my life. Then, IT HAPPENED! From completely out of the blue I was hit by sniper fire. There was literally a chink in my armor and the bullet penetrated.

Now, this wasn't really a gun or a bullet, but I got hit in a weak area of my life. No, this wasn't porn or major integrity issues (FYI), but it was an area that I can tend to get my feathers ruffled. I think this is how God works. When we ask (and I have been asking) Him to reveal areas of weakness, He doesn't just say "you should work on that". I think He helps send situations into our lives that help us grow. Often those areas are where we are most apt to: get angry over, covet, hide, rationalize, dismiss, etc. We need to ask Christ to help us "put on the FULL ARMOR" of God, so that in the moment we are prepared to resist. Training vs. Trying. Important.

Eph. 6:10 "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's about people, stupid....

It's about people, stupid...(This was my hit upside my head). A great reminder of why we do what we do. This morning, I listened to the Entermission podcast. Glen Wagner reminded us to be about the business of what Jesus was about PEOPLE. On any team there is always a tension between building community and accomplishing task. What Glen and Rob told us was that our main purpose in building the Kingdom is going to be in building people. Filling positions will not be our chief goal. It will be about getting the right people with the right motives into the right places. No matter if they are on our team or not, this will best build the Kingdom - when people are gifted, passionate, and encouraged in their service of the King. A great reminder. It's about people!

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others." Phil. 2:4

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mission: Find a Teaching Position - SUCCESSFUL!

Hey everyone,

Some people probably already know this news, but I thought I'd post it. My wife, Lisa, did, in fact, get a teaching position!!! Fabulous news. She will be teaching at a new Montessori Academy that the South Bend Schools are starting down at Marquette Primary Center. Lisa has always loved the ideas behind Montessori. Now she gets the chance to be trained in the philosophy and then apply it. We're thrilled because she will be working with really little ones - 3-5 year olds. She has fallen in love with this age group, having worked with them this past year. Thanks again for everyone's prayers!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Good and Faithful Servant

Lisa and I had the privilege of attending a surprise 50th birthday party for our friend, Dan Blacketor today. It was wonderful to see so many people there whose lives have been touched by a true man of God. If you haven't met Dan, he runs point on most of our local missions work at GCC. The key doorway for this is our Monroe Circle Community Center on near downtown South Bend. We celebrated at the Oliver Bed & Breakfast near downtown as well.

The legacy that this guy continues to leave is, in a word, AMAZING! God is working through Dan to bring glory to the King of kings. When we celebrate a guy like Dan, it reminds me of Paul's instructions to the Phillipians:

"But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs...Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him." Phil. 2:25, 29.

This is a right thing to do. I'm not sure that we do it enough.

On a completely random note: THE WEINER MOBILE SHOWED UP! The drivers were staying at the Oliver Inn and were nice enough to give people at the party tours of the mobile AND PASS OUT WEINER WHISTLES!!!! How cool was that?!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Leadership Thoughts from Camp

Just got back and what a GREAT week we had at Camp Adventure!!!

Things I was reminded of at camp this year:

1. Developed leadership = a great hope. There is great HOPE for this next generation. There is an awesome group of middleschoolers at GCC who LOVE JESUS! I am looking forward to seeing what God does through these kids who are surrendered to God's work in their lives. DC and his team are working to develop leaders all the time.

2. Faithful leadership = great opportunities for God to work. The consistent, courageous leadership that Mark Beeson, DC Curry, John Keim and Jeff Myers presented, really helped students meet with God. Their commitment to the keeping "the main thing, the main thing" really paid off once again. Especially the way they train/encourage the counselors throughout the week makes all the difference in the campers' experience. THIS WAS MARK BEESON'S 35TH YEAR AT CAMP ADVENTURE! Hold on... gas was 35 CENTS A GALLON when he started his involvement!!! Amazing!

3. Shared leadership = greater results. It was great sharing worship leading duties with my friend, Seth Bible this week. He has amazing talent, but an even greater heart! Kids really engaged under his leadership. His song "So Beautiful" went over great this week. Check it out HERE. Go down the playlist to hear it.

4. SHAPEd leadership = exponential experience. Listening to Mark Beeson on commitment night, watching a leader with amazing ability coach a kid through the high ropes course, seeing a high schooler, Steph Park, help with my kids, experiencing
Dustin Maust's amazing guitar and photography skills, watching Jeff Myers put together a fantastic media. All great things which each person's SHAPE helped make even more amazing.

5. Self leadership (partnered with the Holy Spirit) = taking next steps. The picture above is of my daughter Sophie on the climbing wall. Sophie is 7. This was her first attempt which was a great challenge. However, this time, she stopped at about halfway up and came back down. After coming down she told us "I wish I could go again." Cue to all parents: when your kid wants to try to be successful in something - MAKE IT HAPPEN. I did help make this happen. She got another shot. The second time around, SHE MADE IT! And slid down a huge zipline as well! SHE DIDN'T GIVE UP! I was so proud of her. She was determined to succeed and led herself well. I'm sure this experience will stick with her for the rest of her life. (More pix coming of my 9 year old, Anna, doing both the high ropes AND rock wall.)

A great week. I'm glad to be home and see my wife after 2 weeks away with the Willow Arise Conference and then Camp. Good to be home.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Arts Conferece Session 6 - Francis Chan

Arts Conference – Session 6 - Francis Chan


Hard work and effort behind what we present – this partnering with God. 2 Tim. 2:15

The hard work has to be there but there is more. We can work ourselves into a frenzy (a la the prophets of Baal) or we can truly seek God’s and allow for the mystery, the Holy Spirit of God to move.

You can’t manipulate true life change. Only the Holy Spirit can do this.

Goal: When everyone walks away, not in awe of me, but in awe of Him.

Has anyone “seen my good works and glorified my Father in Heaven”?

I don’t want to just what I can do.

Is it only human effort or is it the Holy Spirit?

In Acts 1:6-7 – Christ tells the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit.

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

When the Spirit moves, people don’t just say, “WOW! You guys are amazing!” They say things like, “WOW! I can’t explain what happened to me, but I God met with me.” This should be our goal.

Shouldn’t there be a difference between a person in whom the Holy Spirit of God resides and a person who does not have such a presence?
- We are temples of the Holy Spirit
- I am a temple of the Holy Spirit
- The Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead lives in me!!!
- The power that is available to us is beyond comprehension.
- Everyone was filled with awe – Acts 2

Caterpillar becomes a butterfly. What must be going through its mind?

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. Eph. 2:10

When we use our gifts and the power of Christ is breathing through us, there SHOULD BE AN EXPECTATION for God to move!!!

Our people are now coming for so much more than a good show. They come to experience the awe and wonder of God!!!!!!!

This is crucial for our programming.
1. Praying for God to move during the planning, during the implementation, during the execution.

Gideon’s army – 32,000 vs 300 – God wants the glory

“Something happened to me when God’s Spirit came upon me.”

Do we really pray with confidence that the God we love hears us?

Pour out on us – Your spirit and your love


Arts Conference Session 5 - Richard Allen Farmer

Arts Conference - Richard Allen Farmer

We are curious people as artists.

This curiosity, keeps us pushing the edges. It can drive non-artsy people crazy.

DaVinci wouldn’t take “yes” for an answer.

Artists are pushing limits constantly. Asking “why” or “why not” or “what would it look like?”

Friction is a good thing – this causing

Unceasing Worship – Harold Best
It is the rubbing, creating stylistic syntheses that is a good thing. Pairing odd combinations.

Friction is not merely tolerated, it is encouraged. CREATIVE RISK!!!
Can our team handle the tension? That we risk on a weekly basis.
We don’t want everything to be smooth. This is where you find beauty.

How we define ourselves can often limit our creativity.

Can we be truly intelligent as artists? The WHY behind the WHAT.

“I believe there is a form of profanity that goes beyond our current definition.
Taking language in vain, is second to taking the Lord’s name in vain. The words that we use were God created. We must use them wisely, clearly, and with articulation.”

Christ is called “the word” – apparently words are important.

“We must never overlook the fact so often forgotten by Christians that God’s word itself is a work of art.”

I want to be made speechless, to be held in awe. Creating awe and wonder in our services.

Being lost in love, wonder and praise. Managing the mystery of this all. Silence and mystery. Not everything being explained. Enjoying that mystery. A vapor, a cloud, hanging all over our heads. 2 Chron. 5 – the priests could not ministery due to the density of the God’s presense.

An outrageous relationship to our art. How God works through it and speaks through it. (I think of THE TRUTH media that we had a couple years ago. Now, 1.1 million hits on youtube)

Cannot define the mystery of our relationships.

In the tour of the artists head. We find the Bible. We are not simply religious. Lovers of God in Christ. Serious theological thinking INFORMS our art. This is crucial.


Exodus 31:1-6 – God’s craftsmen – Bezalel and Oholiab and others

These artists work together in a team.

Arise Film Festival

Very cool that GCC won in the drama category at last night's Film Festival for our media "M & M's". My friend, Adam Tarwacki did such a great job acting. And the cinematography from Jeff Petersen, our director of media is fantastic.

Watch it again HERE.

The best in show came from Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL. It is HILARIOUS! Parody of Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback". Here's "Serving Back."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tim Stevens - Pop Goes the Church Breakout Session

Tim did a great job in presenting one of the passions of his heart, the church's use of pop culture. Here are some notes.

Pop Goes the Church

Spiritual Reality #1 - Most churches aren’t impacting their communities.

Spiritual Reality #2 – Spiritual interest is on the rise

People are having spiritual conversations but they aren’t going to the church to find the answers.

Churches are too busy answering questions that no one’s asking.

What if talking back to the preacher is what people really need?

When people do come, they don’t feel like they’re in a safe place to ask questions.

Acts 17 – Paul in Athens
- Sees many idols around town
- Begins to preach and is rejected by most
- Uses the culture to reach them. “An unknown god”.
- Uses songs – “We are his offspring.”

We need to figure out how to best use our culture to reach our communities.

We must stop being irrelevant to those truly seeking God.

We don’t often like the questions. We like giving answers. We must engage the culture conversations around us. This is crucial.

You can use pop culture to package a topic and attract a crowd.
- not a church yet
- speaking to topics that will make it easy to invite our dechurched or unchurched friends
- Finding cultural ties

Use pop culture to get people thinking or laughing.
- people are waiting for us to mess up.

Provide a new interpretation for a pop culture element.

Use pop culture elements to encourage the people who are making the ministry happen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Arts Conference - Session 3 - Brian McClaren

Session 3 – Everything Must Change – Brian McClaren

Youth camp experience – giving the talk
- what issues are people in the church struggling with –
- what issues are people in the world struggling with

These lists are quite different.

Dunder Miflin – “Limitless paper for a paperless world.”

Church people put their energy towards the wrong list

8 millenium development goals – UN

Crisis 1: have prosperity – this is unsustainable – our environment can’t handle it.

Crisis 2: keep things equitable – some of us are getting prosperous so fast that many people are getting worse. A child born in Chicago is given 30-40 years due to where they are born. Where you live should not determine whether you live.

Crisis 3: Crisis of Peace – the hatred of the have’s and have not’s. The strong pull out their weapons rather than their compassion. Violence rules.

What is so unsettling about these issues?

Status quo Christianity makes people feel good about their own relationship with Jesus. Insulates us.

The poor you will have always. There should be no poor among you. Check out Deut. 15

We get the gospel backwards. Our theological systems are great at giving us the results we currently have. A backwards kingdom mentality begets a backwards ministry.

We need a both/and approach to the kingdom. Blessed to be a blessing. We receive the gospel so that we can become world changers. Pass it on.

Reframing our view of Jesus:

4 framing ideas in Bible:

Domination: Saducees, Herodians

Revolution: Zealots

Scapegoating: Pharisees – blaming on others

Isolation: Essenes – withdrew to the desert

God’s Kingdom

Don’t dominate: serve
Don’t get revenge: reconcile
Don’t scapegoat:
Don’t isolate: engage

Churches are to be:
- places of healing
- places of teaching- helping us to live the Jesus revolution

God cares about souls and bodies. Not a Gnostic God.
He is a God beyond time and IN time. (God with us – Emmanuel)

Trade As One – Fair Trade Marketing –

Arts Conference - Session 2 - Giles Ste-Croix

Giles Ste-Croix – Session 2

Creative Process – 2-3 years before – show concept
- you have to know what you want the show to carry before you find what it is that you want to present.
- Content before vehicle
- Gather a team around a director – very
- Always looking to “find” the show – looking for the best idea

“the Lion’s Den” – having a pre-release of the show prior to opening
- feedback 4 weeks before the show opens
- 3 of these before the dress rehearsal
- organic process – sharing ideas and working together to make the show appear from the Malestrom of ideas.
- Discovering it as we move along.

Pulling people in along the way – have a rough rehearsal ahead of time to get feedback. Ordinary audience members to give this. Rather than the artists or people who are in the process.

Beatle’s LOVE –
- buckets approach to idea gathering
- building ideas upon ideas

Cirque gives back 1% of revenue to streets kids around the world

Fighting gravity is a form of art.

A taste of beauty and wonder. Staggering awe.

Why does art matter in the world?
- need to create things that are beautiful around us
- this speaks to our emotion
- necessary for our living
- function without form is DEAD!
- When you experience beauty, which helps us change our perceptions of what we encounter everyday.

Willow Creek Arts Conference - Session 1 - Nancy Beach

We have our full arts team here at Willow Creek's Arise conference for the arts in church. Updates for each session are coming.

Psalm 40

A miry pit – David is waiting. Waited 3x for God. Intense, passionate longing to be pulled out of the muck.
• Think of Mienmar – Typhoon
• We all fall into the muck – to be out of control
• Beyond hope

Drama – montage – this clever – 3 people – woman business, man porn, girl bulimia
- actors actually sing lyrics of song

Each of us has a spot – where weakness can creep in

Jealousy, envy, covetness

A point of confession. Only through this can we truly be healed. I think for me it has everything to do with satisfaction. Setting up idols before God. Whether it be approval or food or position or whatever. I must find satisfaction is Christ alone. He alone is able to satisfy me. “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”

Nancy confesses – laziness and apathy – numbness and superficial escape
- ministry often seems like an uphill battle
- God refocuses her negative thoughts
- She’s rescued when God gives her a glimpse
- Called to be faithful – not to producing results
- Called to intentionality

Thinking about the times when God has rescued us. Standing in silence as a testimony.

We need to put ourselves in places of waiting and surrender.
- solitude to be able to hear from God. Ministry must be preceded
From solitude to community to ministry – Henri Nouwen

True worship should always result in a fresh surrender.
- God responds to a surrendered heart
- Even using postures to signify this surrender

Proclaiming a NEW SONG to God. Let the congregation sing!

We need to remember that our people are in a miry pit as well. So what do we offer them?

We begin to think new thoughts when we listen to the still, small voice of God.
New songs aren’t limited to music:
- leading our team in a new way
- medias with creative ideas

We often aren’t creating enough NEW SONGS. Listening to God for INPUT in order to create OUTPUT.

If we are not careful, we will do ministry more out of memory than imagination. – Mark Batterson

Recreating weekends is SO IMPORTANT! We must fight against routine. Therein lies deadness. Our people miss out on the mystery.

Have you ever heard a worship song that you can complete the next line? We need NEW SONGS with NEW THOUGHTS on our experience of God. So much more about the full picture of God. Holiness on one side another on grace/mercy.

Present the word of God in its fullness. - Paul


Exploring God New Believers Growing in Christ Christ Centered

Willow is not doing a good job helping their people Growing in Christ and people becoming Christ Centered.

Classes available for their midweek. Even college level.

What does this mean for weekends?
- they become a primary gathering for ALL groups
- Creating services that help ALL groups take a next step
- Podcast with Jim Mellado and Bill Hybels

Are we telling the full story of God in our services?
- Getting alone with God to give us the new songs – solitude is crucial
- Christ loves the Church more than we do.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

13 Years Today!

I have been married to my wonderful wife, Lisa, for 13 years today!  I consider myself a fortunate guy.  I think of the knight in Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade telling me, "You have chosen WISELY."  

Here is a short list of great things about Lisa:
- she is fiercely loyal
- she is passionate about whatever she's doing
- she points me toward Jesus
- she loves popcorn
- she has an amazing smile
- she keeps a short account - no mind games
- she respects me as a husband
- she is an amazing cook with a great gift of hospitality
- she is a diligent worker 
- she loves Diet Coke
- she loves the Beatles
- she digs 80's movies (we did a John Hughes marathon last night!)
- she sings with all of her soul
- she is my best friend

I love you honey!  Thanks for 13 wonderful years!  

Thursday, June 05, 2008

We got THE POINT!!!

We had an amazing time at Cedar Point these last three days!  

Tip of the week for families: go to Cedar Point when Michigan and Ohio schools are still in session.  We had NO CROWDS whatsoever!  It was amazing.  Walking on almost every ride.  The weather was perfect for our schedule.

  1. We stayed on site at Breakers Express which was a nice place for the price.  This gives you access to the parks 1 hour ahead of all the regular folks.  Particularly good on busy days.  I would recommend this.  We did the package which included park tickets and discounts, and FREE parking!  A $45 dollar benefit - plus you can go in and out for food - check out below on that.
  2. We hit Castaway Bay - Cedar Point's indoor waterpark.  

  3. This was great on the rainy day that Tuesday was.  Great slides, a wave pool - perfect for our kids. I would say that this might top off at about 11-12 years old.  Older kids will loose interest since there aren't any major thrill slides.  Go to Soak City for that.Don't eat in the parks - THEY ABSOLUTELY ROB YOU!  It would have cost $50 dollars for us to eat at Chik-fil-A.  Not kidding.  This same meal would have been $16 here in Mishawaka.  A great option is to go to
  4. East of Chicago Pizza Buffet which is right on the Cedar Point drive, near the entrance.  Go about 2pm when crowds are craziest and fill up!  Your only meal for the day.  Then snack and hit ice cream on the way out.
  5. Watch height requirements - This can be frustrating if one sibling is above the limit and the other isn't.  We found that most of the rides we wanted were at the below 48" rating.  A couple, like Cedar Downs and the Mine Ride were above 48".  This was frustrating for our youngest.  Check out height requirements here.
Hope this is helpful.  

Here were some highlights from the trip: