Monday, September 13, 2010

One Amazing Kid

I'm sorry! I know, I have not been on here in 2 or 3 months! I forgot all about my blogger account because summer is amazing and I don't think I stopped moving till ... todayish.
I have some long overdue good news (sorry again). You see, I know this guy...

His name is Ben Graves. He come from an amazing family; you know the family that has parents who are so nice and have done such a great job with their kids that you want to ask them what the secret life is? The family that has kids involved in everything, and good at everything. Good grades, good at all the sports they are involved in, popular, good looking, and not even stuck up because of it. These are seriously some of the best behaved and well mannered kids I have ever met. ... you don't know that family? Then you don't know the Graves.

Ben is one of the students that I noticed always pays attention, always has an answer, and always seems to genuinely get whatever we were studying. But he had never been baptized... that is until the one day I decided to neglect me phone. I missed the call to come and baptize Ben! Ben had been thinking about this for a long time, and finally made the decision... and I was unreachable. *sigh* epic fail on my part. Oh well, Austin came to the rescue and I picked up my phone about 30 mins after he got done baptizing Ben.

I think Ben took the Lord seriously when He said to count the cost of being His disciple before making that all-important decision (Luke 14:25-35).

So now, this awesome friend of mine, can add Child of God to his long resume of awesomeness. Here's to you Ben. ... oh! and if you are wondering which stone Ben is like... humm, I'd have to say the Rock, lol.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle

Last Saturday we had our Super Saturday VBS. And I am still recovering. We lived up to our theme, it was a jungle in there.

We explored the nature of God: our creator, father, provider, strength, and shepherd. We sang, we learned, we played, we blew bubbles, we ate, we made crafts, we sang some more... and by the end of the day the little monkeys wore us out. As you can see some handled it better than others.

I think it is safe to say that this has been our record for participation from our members. These guys and gals really made it all come together. A+ in participation and cooperation, A+ in appearance and presentation, A+ in coordination and management, C in attendance. But hey, we are not in control of who comes. We had a good turn out from our own, but not many visitors. Oh well, we will be ready for a mob of kids next year, we got this VBS thing down pat.

Look at these cakes! And those decorations you saw earlier. This is why every congregation needs and Amy. She did not do it all on her own mind you, (Kimberly was her sidekick and I am pretty sure that everyone who wandered into the kitchen found themselves helping) but she was the mastermind behind our decorations and menu. (Check the Super Saturday VBS post on Kimberly's blog for the full menu

And did you notice we had themed T-Shirts? Thanks to Cindy we all matched.

Thanks to Kimberly all the children had awesome crafts to keep their busy little hands out of trouble.

And all our teachers did an awesome job teaching the children and decorating their classrooms.

Thank you so much to all of our teachers, helpers, whatever you want to call the job you did, thank you for doing it. We love you and thank you.

Did I mention thank you for these pictures? I cannot say enough good things about my beautiful wife. There is not a single thing that I do that she is not involved in. I steal her ideas, post her pictures, and benefit form every help and insight she gives. I love this woman.

Hope you all can see how awesome this is and can join in with us next year to make it even better. I won't tell you next years theme but I will drop a hint, ARrrrrrrrrr!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rocking out in Memphis

At the end of last month, I had a chance to go visit my best friend, Josh Manning. I was going to make the trip to Henderson TN (about 7 hours away) by my lonesome, but the boys in our youth group decided they would like to tag along. We thought we would make a pit stop at Memphis, see the sights, see where I went to school, play some disk golf, eat some awesome food, and see a band. We were to meet Josh in Memphis and spend the night with him and three other Freed-Hardeman University students, before going to see Freed in the Morning.
So, we got to Memphis and stopped at a few places we thought looked interesting.

Seeing sights: Check

We drove around (I got lost) trying to find disk golf disks for about an hour and a half. When we finally found a sporting good store that sold them it was dumping down rain.
Disk Golf: FAIL!
So we went and took a short tour of my life by visiting the Memphis School of Preaching.
Visiting my old School: Check!
By this time we were hungry so we went to the greatest hot wing establishment in the history of forever, Ching's Wings. If you go to Memphis, there is a unwritten rule that you only hurt yourself if you break. Go down to Getwell Rd. and eat at Ching's Wings. It's a rule! I didn't write it, I'm just telling--ok so maybe I did write it, but it's a good rule. We ate about 40 of our 50 wings and I must say, this is the fist time I have ever seen a meal that these boys could not finish, or wanted to be able to finish more than this one.

Eat some awesome food: Check, Check! Yum...
So with full bellies and happy hearts we left Ching's to go to down town Memphis a hear a band. Which seems to have placed my name near the top of the boys' awesome list.
See a band: Check!
By now we were worn out and headed to Henderson to spend a night with the Freed Students.

Joshua Manning

Emory Buckner
Two guys not shown here (hey, you can't expect me to have pictures of everything).

They were a lot of fun to hang around, and they were kind enough to give us a place to stay and allow us to play video games all night on their big screen TV.

Night with Freed Students: Check!

The next morning we were to go and see Freed-Hardeman University... but I may not have realized that this was school break time and there were no tours to be had. Out tour was nothing more than a drive by with me telling which building was what. Which worked out because we needed to get back to Mena before nightfall anyway.

Oh well, 5 out of 7 ain't bad, especially when you throw a trip like this together at the last moment. On the ride back we talked about the benefits of Christian Universities and planned a lot of things for the youth and education department. Good trip with a great bunch of people. I'm looking forward to our next road trip!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jr. Jamboree

What a wonderful day we had Saturday! See this picture?
That is more than half of our regularly attending children between 3-9 (which is the age group this event was directed towards). YAY!! I'll call that a success!

We spent plenty of time on fun and games, fed our little soldiers, and then took them out to battle. You see, we studied about Joshua taking Moses' place as leader of Israel, and how he was able to lead the Jews to do what their forefathers had been to afraid to do; take the promised land.

Deanna, Cindy, and I made paper mache angels (or something the bore a vague resemblance to paper mache angels) to top the ark of the covenant I built (it's amazing what you can do with foam board and duct tape). Anyway, thanks to our hard work we were able to top off out prop.

I also turned a refrigerator box into the walls of Jericho, and Deanna was kind enough to stand inside and hold all four walls up while we prepared our attack.
So as the Lord instructed (well, ok, we used priestesses instead of priests... we were short on priests) we made our attack. "See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days.Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him." (Joshua 6:2-5 ESV).
So around...

And around...

And around...

And several more times around they went. And then, lo and behold, when they blew there horns....

The walls fell down flat!!

And would you look at that sky! Sure, I picked the stormiest days of the year for the first 2 times we tried to have this even... but Saturday was beautiful. third times the charm, and patience really does pay off. Thank you Lord, for a beautiful and funfilled day!

P.S. Yes, I know the wallpaper on the walls fell prematurely, but I don't care... close enough.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just playing around

Here's a little confession: I have no idea what I am doing more than half the time! I love kids, and I want to help the grow up in a close relationship with God. But I am not sure exactly how to do that. While some have degrees in youth ministry, I do not. This is a whole new ball park to me. I am guessing and praying most of the time.

But once in a while, I see something and I get this image in my head, and I know what I have planned is going to be awesomely fun, and I feel like I know what I'm doing. Last week, that image looked something like this:
Now, after seeing what I saw, could you pass up the candy mustaches I found in the candy isle? I didn't think so.

I wish I could say that I found some awesome and clever way to tie this into the Bible lesson we had that night, but I did not. And that's ok. Some times the best way to connect with kids it to just play around and have some fun.

And little guys have no problem doing silly little things like this. They enjoyed it just as much as I did. They have asked me for another one every time they have seen me since (and I live with 3 of them).
The Big guys on the other hand, they just give you a look like this when you ask:

Well... not all of the big kids.

P.S. Stay tuned for the Jr. Jamboree Post, it should be awesome.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rocking the Half-Beards

If you want to know what I find hardest about the youth ministry, its keeping things interesting. I try not to get into a rut of hum-drum, same old, boring, routines. Sometimes the passage we study in our Friday Night Bible Adventures make my job easy though.

We have been studying through the Life of David, and we have come to the early events of his reign as king. In this lesson (2 Sam. 10) David remembers how the king of Ammon protected his parents when Saul sought to kill David and any or everyone close to him. When this king died and he son took his place, David chose to offer help. The king saw no reason to trust David and assumed that David's ambassadors were spies and thought he would teach them a lesson.

"So Hanun took David's servants and shaved off half the beard of each and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away."- 2 Samuel 10:4

So I had an opportunity I could not pass up. We painted half-beards on the kids.

Even the girls.

You can understand why we stopped at the beards right?

It was a lot of fun, I'm sure we enjoyed it much more than David's poor servants did. Thanks for being such good sports guys... well most of you.

This is called a bearded rock fish... close as it gets to a rock reference in this one.

Two for One Special

I know that it has been forever since I have blogged. I left home and kind of got out of the habit, but I am back.

4 Sundays ago Ariana (sorry if I did not spell this right, spelling has never been my thing), a young lady who has been attending with us came forward and said that she would like to be baptized. I was overjoyed by her decision. After we had a little talk and I explained how we were going to go about baptizing her we got ready and went down into the water.

It was only at this point that I thought about something that should have been an obvious factor in the equation.... Ariana was nearly 8 months pregnant. If you have never baptized a pregnant woman before, take it form me take that factor into consideration before you attempt the baptism. On the second attempt I was able to get her under the water. Afterwards one of our members approached me and said, "I saw you baptize an infant today, and more than once at that."

Ariana, we are very proud of you for your decision and devotion to God. May God bless you as you walk in the Christian way. Yet again the Lord (with your help) has given reason for the angels and the bride of Christ to rejoice!

For your stone I chose Aquamarine, because your new-birthday is in March!

p.s. if you are wondering why there are no pictures of this blessed event it is because my wife was unable to be there with me. I never think of things like cameras, and even if I did think that it would be nice to have one, I would rely on Kimberly to remind me to bring it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tested and Tried

"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold." - Job 23:10

Here's to you Victoria!

I knew that Victoria was a sweet and brilliant child, but a soldier? She said she was going into the navy, I was not expecting to hear that, but I could see she was a pretty determined person when she wanted to be.

After 2 months of basic training and lots of letters to mommy (and few to daddy too) she was given her PFA. Five of the boys she tested with failed, but Victoria passed and will graduate from boot camp. I must say, I am very impressed Victoria, and you have inspired me to get my self to my physical peek (I don't want you coming home a kicking my butt or anything).

You have come a long way from the girl who was upset because her dad made her get up at 6:00 and jog. You are a good Christian woman, an very smart girl, and now a kick-butt boot camp graduate! You were tested and tried, but you came out as gold, like we all knew you were. God bless you, and I solute you.

Friday, March 12, 2010

How Ungreatful Am I?

This is a post from over a year ago, but I was reminded of it and though I would share it with you.

OK, I know I'm supposed to blog about the youth group and Kimberly is supposed to blog about the "D's," but I get to be a proud daddy every once in a while right? Plus, Dominick is in our youth group!... he just happens to also be my son.

This is what we passed by on our way to our Friday Night Bible adventure. It is beautiful, no? But my son saw more than I did. "Look at the awesome sky God made, Daddy!!" he said.

My son, the son who has such a busy mind and such busy hands that he never knows what I said, or what has just happened showed me what I was missing. I was missing the glory of God's creativity. Days don't just end, they each have a beautiful, amazing, and unique finale. Don't just drive by it, don't just miss it altogether, and don't forget who caused it to be.

I must stop and praise God for the beautiful work of art I was able to see, and for my son, who's heart and soul are 1,000 times more beautiful. Thank you Lord, for my little jasper.

(Mommy said it looked just as busy as you)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Didn't See it Coming

Anyone remember the first time they saw a geode cut open? Here is this regular looking rock right? But inside it is so beautiful and complex.

I was so overjoyed by Ronnie's baptism on Monday. I was also very excited about announcing this to the congregation. I was so excited and busy that I did not see anything coming.

Up comes one of the mothers of our youth, Barbara, and she says that her son, Lucas wants to talk to me. Now Lucas is a wonderfully well behaved and respectful young man (I can say this even after baby-sitting him, which is a real test of a child's behavior), he has been a little upset about moving from Hot Springs to the little nowhere town of Mena (can't blame him, what child would not miss the big city); so I was guessing that this was what he wanted to talk to me about. BUT it was so much more beautiful and complex than that.
Barbara explained to me that Lucas wanted to be baptized but that other preachers had told him he was too young. So here is the inner conflict of a preacher; I am excited and want to baptize him, but... I don't want to do it just 'cause I'm excited and him not be ready. So, trying not to get my hopes up, I call him into my office. I asked him to tell me why he wanted to be baptized, what made him think he needed to be baptized, and what else was involved in conversion. He gave me well thought out answers (not scripted) and we covered what sin was and other things I wanted to see his understanding of. Simply put, he was ready.

So this child that I thought was just your happy-go-lucky kid turns out to be an incredibly mature young man, and I am proud to say that he is now a Christian. Here's to you Lucas, you are my awesome and amazing little geode. God bless you! Heaven and earth rejoice because of you!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Another Brick in the Wall

As the rocker that I am, I could not resist this chance for a Pink Floyd reference. As you now know, this blog is about the young Christians who make up our church, and the spiritual house of God (1 Peter 2:5). A precious stone was added to that spiritual house today. Ronnie, a young man who just happens to be one of my favorites in the youth group, was baptized this about 8 1/2 hours ago. We are very proud to be able to call him a brother, and to know that he is in the fold of God and the body of Christ.

Before I ever met Ronnie and his girl-friend, Deanna, some one said to me, "I don't know if they are what you would call goths, but they sure do seem to wear a lot of black." Having been a child of such a description myself, I knew the 3 of us would get along even before I met them. I am proud to say that we are great friends (unless they are just letting me think so for my own sake).

What has always impressed me the most about these two is there grasp of Christianity. These kinds don't just "come to church," they have been involved with everything I have planned. These guys will do anything that I ask them to do, and are always looking for a way to help others. I know that they always pay attention in class (even when I think otherwise), because they can always answer the questions, even when it has been months since we covered the material. They love God, and they put up with me, and that says a lot. I could go on forever about how much these two mean to me but it's nearly 1 AM and I can't handle that hour of the night anymore. So, here's to you two. My Lively little stones, Onyx and black spinal.

Is that lame that I just made you gems? I thought you would approve of my choice in stones though. Oh well, I just did.