Wednesday, August 22, 2007

a great quote!

My friend, Brian Coday, had this quote on his blog and I had to add it...

“Christianity has always been a youth movement. As we look over the pages of church history, we find, more often than not, that brave thrusts into the unknown have been led by the young. Can we not see in them the most powerful potential the church has? We must consider the child or young person as a dynamic personality, capable, under God, of realizing his/her best self. We must lead these souls to the point where they are set aflame with the adventure of serving Christ.” --Henrietta Mears

AMEN!

the joy of living out one's calling

Three times in the past five days, I've been able to experience the joy of fulfilling the passion of my heart - getting people connected with each other. On Saturday at Unleashed: the Student Leadership Conference, I was able to introduce a girl who's is starting to lead her to school's Bible Club this year with another girl in the next school over who is leading her Bible club this year. They really hit it off. I know they'll encourage and spur each other on through this school year (pictured right).
All summer, I've been trying to set up a meeting with one of our local high school principals and some youth pastors. We finally got to have that meeting on Monday. Only one of the guys was able to make it, but the principal was so open to us and gave us some great insight into what's happening at that school. We left really excited and encouraged. I loved being able to help connect my youth pastor friend with the principal at the school where most of his kids go.


Then yesterday, I met a couple youth pastors for lunch for the express purpose of helping them get to know each other. They're both in the same town, but didn't really know each other. Now they're gonna play raquetball together sometime soon. Man, I love this job. This is what I was born to do.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up

A new school year is beginning and last night I had the opportunity to speak about the principles that the book of Daniel has for students going back to school. My good friend, Dave Grimm and his wife were on vacation, so I spoke at his youth group for him (pictured right). Daniel and Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego demonstrated great courage, strength, and honor in the face of dangerous opposition. What great examples they are for Christian teenagers today. We have our "Unleashed" conference this coming Saturday at which we train and equip students to serve God in their schools. I'm looking forward to seeing many Christian students resolve in their hearts to worship nothing but the one true God. May God give all our Christian teenagers a great year of making a difference for Him!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Youth Pastors Cookout and Cornhole Tournament

Ah yes...the ancient game played by our ancestors in the old world - cornhole (?) What? Oh yes, cornhole-to-the-death (just kidding) was the game of choice at the annual Youth Pastors Picnic on Saturday August 4th at the home of Tom & Shannon Shrum. Pictured here are Jon Price from Murrysville Community Church and Eric Simpson from New Stanton Alliance. Jon is demonstrating proper form and throwing technique (I think...). Eric is thinking to himself, "He's way off - there's no way." The stakes were raised this year as the prize for winning the championship was a gift certificate for Cracker Barrell. The battle to dominate the cornhole field was on. At the end of the day, our gracious hosts became the envy of all when they won the coveted prize of cornhole champions. Tom and Shannon are below holding the prize. Oh the weeping and gnashing of teeth that we who lost experienced. Our hopes dashed, we finished eating and left having had a great time together.

Friday, June 29, 2007

becoming men of courage and strength

I had the great opportunity to be a small group leader at a camp this past week with Cornerstone Ministries from Export, PA. This picture is of our small group. Probably the best thing that happened in our group is that we experienced the Bible coming to life in a new way - by reading it with movie soundtrack music in the background. The 1st and 2nd chapters of Nahum sound amazing with the music of Gladiator (1st track and forward) playing. We read Genesis 22, the story of Abraham obeying God's command to sacrifice Isaac, to the next to the last track on the Braveheart score. It was good stuff! The theme of the week was about students developing spiritual habits and I was trying to help the Bible come alive for these guys. We also talked about the need to have masculine expression and understanding of our faith. So often, when we talk about our relationship with God, it's usually in words that girls understand and so guys feel at a loss. We talked about Jesus, the strong and courageous man of God using the book of Mark to help us see Jesus in a fresh light.

I had so much fun with these guys. They are hilarious. They come up with the funniest things. At the end of the week they gave me this picture framed with stuff they had written to me on the matting. That was awesome! (with a little helpful from my beautiful wife). Anyway, I'm thanking God for a great week!

Friday, June 15, 2007

a sad and yet great week of youth ministry!


This past week started with a sad note - Judy and I attended the going away party of our dear friend Nick Poole who was the youth pastor at Calvary Assembly in Irwin. Pete Malik and I knew Nick when he was a Bible club leader in his high school. It was awesome when Nick came back here to do youth ministry after graduating from college and he has been a HUGE help to our youth networks since he has been back here. Nick's event coordinating skills and graphic design skills (and numchuck skills) have been a blessing! Thanks Nick for all you did for us here. We're going to miss you.


Then from Sunday night through Thursday night I had the privilege of working with my good friend, Lu, youth pastor at Murrysville Alliance at the C&MA senior high camp at Mahaffey, PA. I spoke on John Eldredge's book, "Epic" - talking about the story that God is telling and how we can find our part in God's story. That was so much fun and it was a great blessing to be out in the woods away from the computer, from meetings, from busyness and the normal hectic things of life. Judy came up for a couple days too and she got recruited into helping lead worship with the kids (btw, she did an incredible job at leading the youth worship band in leading the worship at Cornerstone this past Sunday - June 10th).

Today (Friday) was our end of the school year celebration event, Summer Slam, organized by another great friend, Dave Grimm, at Harvest Assembly church in Derry. We had over 200 students from at least 10 different churcehs that came out for the waterslide, extreme games, concerts with Breaking The Silence and Everlife, a great dinner, the ice cream sundae bar, and much more. It was a lot of fun. You can see more pictures of Summer Slam at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=29529&l=518b5&id=514945211
I also got to have breakfast this morning with a new youth pastor in Greensburg, Frank Nemeth (Word of Life). Frank is a great guy. Man, I love this job! Thank you God for the privilege of serving You in this way.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How Teenagers Transformed the Church!

Recently discovered this series of 3 great articles called, "How Teenagers Transformed the Church". I think this will really encourage Youth Leaders out there and to give the rest of us some needed perspective.

First Article -http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2007/05/how_teenagers_t.html
Second Article - http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2007/05/how_teenagers_t_1.html
Third Article - http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2007/05/how_teenagers_t_2.html

I'd love to hear what you think of these. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

welcoming new youth pastors

This past Friday (May 11th) we had a "welcome lunch" in Westmoreland County for new youth pastors in the area - pictured right. It was a great time. When you ask youth pastors to share their funny stories, you are in for a big laugh! We gained at least six new youth leaders in WC this past school year - in addition to the eight new guys that came last year! We talked briefly about plans for a series of youth network events for next school year and it is shaping up to be very exciting. In Fayette County, strangely enough, our network there is made up of a group of folks who are not youth leaders, but really want to work together to reach teenagers for Christ and we're preparing for a concert outreach at the county fair this summer. It's amazing how all of that came together - Pete and I didn't do anything - people came to us and now we have this really exciting outreach coming up. It's wild to see how God works.

Friday, May 04, 2007

what happens when churches combine their resources?


This past April, we had The Seven Project come to Westmoreland County. 400 students came out for an amazing experience - huge inflatable games, free pizza, professional skate boarder Zach Wenrich, former Harlem Globe trotter Seth Franco, great prizes, and an opportunity to hear about Jesus. This event was preceded by three school assemblies. A couple people have asked me how this was possible - it happened because several churches combined their resources! When churches work together, amazing things can happen. The picture here is of the crowd at Jeannette High School. 114 people responded to the invitation to give their lives to Jesus Christ. But it couldn't have happened without a group of churches working together.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Youth Leaders Working Together Works!

A group of youth leaders in the Alle-Kiski area (New Kensington, Lower Burrell) brought a great band to do an outreach called "Broken Yoke". Broken Yoke played at Cornerstone Ministries for the Ignition school kick off last September. Anyway, it was an awesome concert and another testimony to the fact that God's people can accomplish great things when they work together!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Last night, we had the kick off for The Seven Project, a special outreach that youth pastors in Greensburg, Irwin, and Jeannette are working on together. Zach Wenrich, a professional skateboarder was at the kick off last night doing some incredible jumps with a couple friends of his. Over 100 students from 10 churches came out to the event to get ready for the Seven Project outreach taking place on April 13th, 2007. At the end of the night, a bunch of kids gave their lives to Christ and many more committed themselves to being part of this outreach. It was incredible. I want to say thanks to Nick Poole, Bo Pratt, and Jason Lamer for making this happen!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Reading a great book now about the Gospel of Mark. This is a great look at the life of Jesus with a fresh pair of eyes! Mark portrays Jesus as a man of action who causes a ruckus everywhere He goes. I like that. I want to be more like that. Not obnoxious or cruel (Greg House, M.D. anybody?), but more truthful, bold, and willing to enter the fray. There are times to keep quiet and to hold back. But when the time is right to do that which takes courage and which will be good for other people's lives I want to do that. Being timid and cowardly are not godly virtues. Anyway, if you'd like a fresh look at Jesus, check out this book!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007

for all you fans of the Chronicles of Narnia

According to one of my favorite websites, www.narniaweb.com, filming of the next Chronicles of Narnia movie, "Prince Caspian", begins Monday, February 12, 2007! The movie is scheduled to release May 2008. If you can't get enough information about this movie, check back to narniaweb.com often. I have heard that this Narnia movie is supposed to be a little darker and more intense. Sounds good to me. "For Narnia! And for Aslan!"

i love this job!


Today, Pete Malik and I met with a couple who lead a youth group in the area and two of their students who want to start a Bible Club at their high school. We talked them through the basic steps of launching a campus ministry and being campus missionaries to their schools. I love this stuff! Those kids are inspiring to me. They want to see their friends come to know Christ. It is an honor to do this stuff.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

what I'm reading right now

I'm working a number of books at the moment. I'm always reading 5 or more books at once. Anyway, a couple high school guys from church loaned me the new book, "Hood" by Stephen Lawhead. Man, that thing is awesome - I can hardly put it down. It's a great and very imaginative retelling of the Robin Hood story. I can't believe I haven't read this guy's stuff before now.


The story of a man who was born to be a king brings me to the other book I'm working through which is "Way of the Wild Heart" by John Eldredge. I'm actually doing the workbook along with rereading the book. He lays out the masculine journey with powerful, compelling imagery, and really helps you see it modeled in Scripture, especially King David, but also Joseph, Moses, Jesus, and others. And I see it in many of the stories that I love. What he writes about God initiating a man and fathering unfinished men makes so much sense. After reading that, the past 10 years of my life make so much more sense. The trials and difficulties are God initiating me, training me, fathering me. I love this book! I recommend to every guy.

my 33rd birthday

I have a great wife. She knows that I love "Pirates of the Caribbean" and so my birthday was everything Pirates including the dvd, the soundtrack, the Pirates version of the board game Life, a pirates of the caribbean cake, a pirate sword, and more! We had lunch at Long John Silvers and dinner at Red Lobster. It was a killer birthday! Not too much blood was shed. And the loot was great.




Monday, January 29, 2007

equipping student missionaries

Ever since my freshmen year of high school I have believed that God calls students to be missionaries to their high schools. I believe He called me to that and I love challenging and equipping students to be missionaries to their schools now. Pete and I have been visiting a number of clubs lately to share resources to help students serve God in their schools - we had a lot of great stuff leftover from our Campus Missionary Conference last August. Lately we've been to Yough, Belle Vernon, Burrell, Hempfield, and we've got more coming up. This is a picture at the Belle Vernon Campus Ministry which we visited today (Monday, Jan. 29th). Our good friend, and youth pastor Matt Swenglish, is the "coach" at this club and he is doing an incredible job of leading these students. Pete and I also had the privilege of speaking to students at the Free Methodist District Winter Youth Retreat a couple weeks ago about being campus missionaries. I love this stuff!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Strategic Gathering

Youth pastors from our different networks of youth pastors in West- moreland County got together back on January 12th to map out ideas for working together next school year. It was a lot of fun seeing these guys whom I know well get to know each other and talk about issues important to them. These are all top-notch, first rate youth pastors that I am very honored to work with in their communities and in the county. The one big idea that came out of this gathering was the concept of doing a winter retreat together. Pete Malik, my coworker in TFC, and I were pretty excited as we went back to the office after this meeting.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Christmas 2006

Oh yeah...this is Christmas in North Carolina. Instead of sled riding, we go sailing. Judy and I had a great time with her family on Christmas Eve and the days before. We went to the Christmas Eve service that Judy was singing in (amazing time!) and then we had the traditional Christmas eve "game". On Christmas day Judy and I drove down to my folks in NC for a few days. We had a great time with my parents, Justin and Jessica, Davy, and Tre' (my 1 1/2 year old nephew), including the obligatory sail in the sound. The water was a little rough, but it was too nice out not to go. Then we went with my parents to Indiana for my brother Jake's wedding. We ended our 'Christmas vacation' by stopping by Judy's sisters in Ohio and enjoyed an evening with her and Ty (our nephew) at Dave & Busters.