Friday, February 27, 2009

Celebrating #26: "You Are Special Everyday But Especially Today!"

Friday was my 26th birthday! And, I must admit, perhaps the best birthday ever!

I woke up, opened my most important present and was just very, very happy all day! The coolest and most meaningful book gift ever - EVER! I found a birthday card on my windshield on the way to work. I had a total of like 50 + facebook birthday wishes, phone calls and text messages as birthday well wishes, and then, best of all, a birthday cake all the way from New York! Can you even imagine that? All the way from the most incredible and special person ever in my life, Sarah Angell! The Macy's delivered it to the office and we celebrated! and I was shocked! and I asked a lot of questions! and smiled a lot! and I felt very special! and it made for the best birthday ever! And I am so grateful!

Then Jesse and Brad took me out to Red Robin for supper (where they had all the employees come out and sing a terrible rendition of happy birthday and I was awarded a free dessert!) and then we visited two church related receptions before finally going to Northridge to play ping-pong and I was undefeated the whole night - even skunking Jesse!

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life." If I weren't born 26 years ago today, I wouldn't be alive!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Economic Recovery

A friend passed on the link to this article by Brian McLaren, one of my favorite writers, regarding the Economic Stimulus currently being debated in our Legislature.

McClaren says:
For many people, economic recovery means "getting back to where we were a few months or years ago." That means recovering our consumptive, greedy, unrestrained, undisciplined, irresponsible, and ecologically and socially unsustainable way of life.
I'd like to suggest another kind of recovery ...

For the full article:

Oh Yeah, Andrew Peterson Concert!

I almost forgot one of highlights of last week - I attended my first Andrew Peterson concert on Thursday night. He is one of my favorite singers/songwriters - especially because of his powerful lyrics that I always feel I can identify with on such a powerful, personal, and refreshing level.

He sang a new song, "All Things New" from his newest album called "Resurrection Letters Vol. 2" that I just love. These words reflect that "now but not yet" reality of the gospel:

Come Broken and Weary, come battered and bruised
my Jesus makes all things new, All things new

Come lost and abandoned, come blown by the wind
He'll bring you back home again, home again

Rise up oh you sleeper awake
The light of the dawn is upon you
Rise up oh you sleeper awake
He makes all things new
All things New

Come frozen with shame, come burning with guilt
my Jesus loves you still, loves you still

The world was good, the world is fallen, the world will be redeemed,
The world was good, the world is fallen, the world will be redeemed

So Hold on to the promise, the stories are true,
My Jesus makes all things new
(The Dawn is upon you)

2009 Resolves: These Things I Must Do

I've finally learned not to make my Goals/Resolves for the New Year until at least one month into that year! So as I've thought through it all thoroughly and patiently, here's what I have come up with as my 2009 goals/dreams/resolves:

Running Goals
-Run 2 more new states in my 50 state marathon quest
-run my first sub 24 hour 100-miler (and my first 11 hour 50 miler)
-finish Leadville in August!

Spiritual Life Goals
-intentionally practice and cultivate the fruits of the spirit of joy, kindness, and gentleness
-intentionally incorporate and make a reality more and more the truth of John the Baptist's words: "He must become greater, I must become less" and "I am not the Messiah".

Of course, there are other things like paying off a huge sum on my student loans and being the best and most effective servant leader in my church that I've ever been. Indeed, there's so much more in store, much to look forward to, for 2009!

Spring Training

Maybe it's the early onset of Spring weather, or baseball news in the air, but my normal February countdown to the first day of Spring Training has an extra dose of excitement this year. Only 15 days to the first day of Spring training: February 25th - where I can begin again my daily routine of checking box scores - especially the Atlanta Braves!

Monday, February 9, 2009

7 Practical Steps to Honoring God With Money

7 practical steps to help us deal with money from Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, starting on page 32. (These were used in my "Where's Your Treasure?" message yesterday at Crossroads.)

1. It’s okay to get in touch (meaning – be aware) of your feelings about money! (i.e. I have too much, not enough, or it’s not fair)

2. By a conscious act of the will, let us stop denying our wealth (stop comparing ourselves to others like us, but in view as world citizens where we’re all so, so wealthy!).

3. Let us create an atmosphere in which confession is possible (i.e. in small groups) where we are free from condemnation, where we can listen with empathy to the confession of one seduced by money, where we can say “Hi, My name is ______, and I’m obsessed with money” and they respond, “Hi, _______!” Where we can pray to God aloud, “forgive me for I have sinned, money has captured my heart!”

4. Let us discover one other person who will struggle with us through this money maze - seeking together to honor God!

5. Let us discover ways to get in touch with the poor (to comprehend our relative wealth) – read “Grapes of Wrath” or a modern book on international missions and justice and programs to eliminate world poverty like “Walking with the Poor”

6. Let us experience the meaning of inner renunciation; eliminate "my" and "mine" from our vocabulary (like Abraham must have felt walking down from the mountain). Go ahead and stamp everything you have “owned by and used for the purposed of God”!

7. Let us give with glad and sincere hearts – there is always a worthy cause to give and it is a privilege to be asked!

Polar Bear Campout

Blueberry Cobbler made in the Dutch Oven over the camp fire with hand-whipped cream.
Frankie Lichtlin full and thankful after eating his steak!
Josh Locke (red shirt left) and Michael Wilson (black shirt right - who always looks away from the camera!?)

The first ever "Polar Bear Campout", a guys only retreat for High School youth from Northridge and Crossroads at the Elk City Resorvoir in southeast Kansas, was a great fun weekend! We left Friday evening and returned Sunday afternoon. (I had to return late Saturday night alone to preach at church on Sunday morning at Crossroads.)

The highlights of the weekend included an 11-mile hike (on the same trail that I ran the Flatrock 07 and 08 50K run), good camp fire eating, and tent sleeping. We figured it would be cold since it's early February in Kansas, thus the title "Polar Bear". However, the lows were in the low 50s and the highs in the mid to upper 70s! This made for excellent sleeping weather and very, very nice (actually on the warm, humid side) condistions for trail hiking! The highlight for the students is when they built a raft out of driftwood, lit it on fire, and sent it off into the lake! Hopefully next year it will actually be cold for the Polar Bear Campout!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Quotes of the Day

“I am an impatient optimist. The world is getting better. But it’s not getting better fast enough, and it’s not getting better for everyone.” - Bill Gates

"Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people." - Barbara Bush

"It's not enough to do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required." - Sir Winston Churchill

Thursday, February 5, 2009

President Obama's Christian Testimony

CNN published an interesting article containing some of President Obama's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast this past week about his Christian faith and testimony. Obama goes into much more specific detail in his book, "The Audacity of Hope", about how he sensed God working in his life, repented of his sins, and accepted Christ at the altar of his Chicago church where he attended for 20 years.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama spoke out Thursday about his religious transformation. The President's comments came at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Here's what Obama said, according to the prepared remarks.

"I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.

I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose. "

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Conscious Choice and Discipline

Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.

- Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Extreme Camp Makeover

Details for the upcoming Extreme Camp Makeover that we are all really excited about around here:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Youth Pastor's with Crown Vic's Club welcomes new Member

A letter made public to the newest member of the YPwCV Club:

Dear Jadon Ross,

Your membership application has been reviewed and accepted! Welcome to the “Youth Pastor’s with Crown Vic’s Club”. Your membership has been awarded a lifetime status. Welcome to the Club!

Adam Monaghan
President, CEO and Founder of the Youth Pastor’s with Crown Vic’s Club

Jadon & Audrey Ross live and pastor a church in Kemmererer, Wyoming. Jadon was a youth pastor for three years in a Friends Church in Iowa. They now own a White 96 Grand Marquis.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Extreme Camp Makeover Prep Trip

NEW: "The View" from CQH The empty swimming pool (Caution: the very steep deep end has ice on it in shaded areas! I found this out the hard way...)The dining halls floor has been excavated and will be re-poured this week and a new ceiling will be installed.Friday several youth leaders met at Camp for a "prep trip" to make plans for the upcoming works weeks in March called the Extreme Camp Makeover. Camp Quaker Haven sure is beautiful in the Winter too! We are looking forward to significant renovations on the Camp facilities through the work of youth and adults in March!

Super Bowl Run 09 (NEW: With Results Link)

Heard there's some kind of big game tonight. Not really sure who's playing and don't know much about it but I ran 4 miles today in the Super Bowl Run to celebrate it!

I think this is the 3rd or 4th time I've done this run and I think this year was my best time? 27:55. Mile splits: 7:06, 7:16, 6:46, and 6:39.

Aunt Linda was at the finish line to cheer me on!
I finished 26th out of 204 which sounds pretty good! Official Results here:

Youth Pastor's with Crown Vic's Club 2009

Featured in these 2009 inaugural club pictures is Matt's Red 98 Crown Vic , my Silver 97 Crown Vic, and Jesse's Tan 98 Grand Marquis. We will take a yearly Club picture with all the member's cars!
I have started a new organization called the "Youth Pastor's With Crown Vic's CLUB". I have decided that I am the Founder, President, and CEO of the YPwCV Club. Matt Macy is the Co-Founder and President Emeritus because although, he was the last of the original three founders to get a Crown Vic (last month), he is the one who encouraged us all in the first place. Jesse Penna (who has owned a Crown Vic and now a Grand Marquis) has received, from me, a life long assignment as Club Spiritual Director (just in case we need it).

The terms of membership into the Club are simple. Get or prove that you once owned a Crown Vic and be a youth pastor of some sort. (We will accept Grand Marquis as well.)

We are now accepting membership applications!