Monday, July 28, 2008

Church campout - Chain O' Lakes

Wow. Does our church know how to eat or what? God has definitely blessed us - not only with an abundance of food, but people that know how to cook. We had around 130 people out at the campground for dinner on Saturday night.

Not only can we eat, but we traditionally play a huge euchre tournament after dinner. While it no longer lasts into the early morning hours, it's still a lot of fun and a lot of competition. The Netzleys pulled off a huge win this year!

I love speaking at the campground on Sunday. I wish I could do it every year. In fact, I wish every service was this way, but then it wouldn't be special would it? I spoke on "Servants must share the message of hope" based on Mark 2:13-17 and the example of Jesus as the servant of God, giving hope to Levi / Matthew.

This was the first year for me to enter the horseshoe tournament. Jason Stover and I were paired together and went undefeated into the championship round (beginners luck). We then were promptly beaten twice by Mark and Eric. It was a great time of fellowship with these guys and their families.

If I would have approached the championship game a bit more seriously perhaps we would have won! What a great weekend we had heading out to Chain O' Lakes state park in Albion, IN.

Tree of Life

Today I took my wife on a "date". It was to the Tree of Life bookstore & cafe in Winona Lake, IN. You must check out their site and go grab a cup of joe there! They have wonderful drinks!!

Our barista was Sherrie, our former church secretary. She is one of the few people that understands that if you're going to drink coffee then it must be strong coffee!! No sock-water coffee here! She seems to really be enjoying this job and did a wonderful job on our drinks.

Here's the menu, but you can read it online better by visiting their site! My wife had a raspberry and banana smoothie while I had the "after dinner mint" - a coffee drink with Irish cream, Oreos and whip cream. Yeah, it's not necessarily a 'healthy' drink... but it was very good!

If you're in the Warsaw / Winona Lake area, I strongly suggest that you go to the Tree of Life bookstore on the campus of Grace College & Grace Theological Seminary. You will find a wonderful bookstore with a ton of books, clothing and gifts available at reasonable prices as well as an over the top great coffee cafe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I didn't catch his name. His name is not important, after all he was just "hired help". But the way he responded to his task caught my eye. Not only did he do exactly what his boss wanted him to do, and he did it well, but he did it totally relying on God. He demonstrated exactly the way I want to live. You can read all about it here.

He was Abraham's servant. This is what he did that I want to do:
  • listened carefully to the task.
  • asked good questions to clarify the task.
  • committed himself to the task, taking everything he would need for the task.
  • then he prayed specifically about the task - asking God for divine guidance.
  • he got involved in the task - "putting feet to his prayers".
  • in the midst of the task, he watched, fully expecting God to answer his specific prayers.
  • upon realizing God's answer to the task, he gave God praise for His guidance.
  • he told others about how God allowed him to accomplish the task his boss asked him to do.
  • finally he reported the task completed to his boss.
Some nameless servant "out there" showing all of us how to live. I'm good with that. Now... how can I put this into practice?

I'm sipping on some of the last fine grinds of my whole bean Mocha Java from Gevalia. Even though the sun is shining brightly, the temps are down a little and drinking the joe isn't uncomfortable.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Smack down in Youth Group

Here's a fun game to try in youth group: "Smack-down". I think it's self-explanatory! We did it while we were waiting on our parents to get done with their meeting:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wispy Weekend Whispers

Just a couple of random happenings:
This morning I am consuming my favorite Gevalia coffee: Mocha Java. I have brewed it strong and have added just the right amount of creamer. It is wonderful. I am drinking it out of my Caribou Coffee mug that I bought while away on our anniversary weekend. I first discovered Caribou Coffee in Tinley Park, IL where my folks lived. Every time I would visit them I had to get the Mocha from Caribou. One of the few downsides of living in a rural area is that there aren't near as many coffee shops as necessary to sustain life. I bought the mug because I firmly believe that drinking coffee is an experience, not just a vice. (self-justification alert) I explained to my wife that every time I drink from the Caribou Coffee mug I think of our anniversary weekend and the time spent together. The same holds true for my Starbucks mug - (purchased in Seattle while on a missions trip to Ron & Susan Hand's hospitality house to the military). I think of them every time I drink from it. I bought a NYPD mug this last weekend as we were in New York for our teen camp. I'll always remember the guys I took out to NY and the good times we had traveling back and forth. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Last night we were invited spontaneously to play tennis with friends, Dan & Lindsey. What an awesome time we had! I had not played tennis since 1991 - and probably only played 2 or 3 times in my life. It was great exercise and a lot of fun. I think we are planning on doing more of this in the future. Of course, afterwards we had to get some sweet tea from McDonalds. I think I finally fell into bed around midnight.
This morning I read of Christ's willingness to heal the leper. I often wonder why Christ didn't heal everyone he came into contact with. The same is true with salvation. He, offered to the world, is not accepted by all. But as one who has been touched by His work on the cross, I offer my thanks and gratitude. May your life also be touched by the healing hand of Jesus!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Video compilation of pictures from our WOL Island trip

"Join All the Glorious Names" by Isaac Watts - 1707

So this hymn is only like 300 years old but it really packs a powerful punch! Especially these last three stanzas which I've copied below. If you would like to read the entire hymn (I highly recommend it) please click here to go to the "cyberhymnal". It's a very familiar tune.

My dear almighty Lord,My Conqueror and my King,
Thy scepter and Thy sword,Thy reigning grace I sing:
Thine is the power; behold I sit
In willing bonds beneath Thy feet.

Now let my soul arise,And tread the tempter down;
My Captain leads me forthTo conquest and a crown:
A feeble saint shall win the day,
Though death and hell obstruct the way.

Should all the hosts of death,And powers of hell unknown,
Put their most dreadful forms Of rage and mischief on,
I shall be safe, for Christ displays
Superior power, and guardian grace.

Hope in the Midst of Circumstances

Hope in the Midst of Circumstances: a Look at Lamentations 3:21-25

Lamentations 3:21-25
This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
22 The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.
When one is beat down by the circumstances of life, (and Jeremiah was - just read the two verses prior to my quoted passage), they are in dire need of hope. Is hope an emotion? Is hope some dream-like platitude we hand out to our brothers & sisters in Christ? Can hope be a reality in the most troubling times of life? Let's examine this passage.
Where is the focus of Jeremiah when he declares that he has found hope? I think he has focused on 6 things:
  • YHWH's lovingkindness - can you appreciate the varying facets of our English translations? ESV - steadfast love; KJV - mercies; NET - loyal kindness; NLT - faithful love; NIV - great love. What a beautiful picture begins to form in our minds as we focus on this enduring love our God has for us!
  • This lovingkindness never ceases...or similarly, because of them we are not consumed!
  • Jeremiah also focuses on YHWH's compassions or mercies. Similar to the lovingkindnesses of God, but in addition to them as well.
  • These compassions never fail: ESV - never come to an end! Oh, the unlimited compassion of God!
  • The lovingkindnesses and compassions of YHWH are new every morning!
  • and His faithfulness (to us) is great, or abundant!

On what do you focus during the troubling times of life? Jeremiah makes a concious effort, he exercises his will, to focus on God. Because of this focus, he begins to realize hope.

What then becomes his 'new' reality. In other words, what does Jeremiah realize as a result of this intense willful focus on his God and His goodness towards him?

  • v.24 - Jehovah is my portion - my possession, the territory on which I reside. He is mine, I am His - what can man, or nature or evil do to me to place me outside His love? Nothing!

As we focus on the goodness of God to us, in the midst of these difficult days, and as we realize our reality in Him, let us not forget our duty:

  • v. 25 - we are to wait for Him. there is an implication of tenseness and eagerness in this waiting. We are to look for Him with eager expectation of His moving in our lives. To wait for God with steadfast endurance is a great expression of our faith in Him. We endure, patiently, in confident hope that God will decisively act on our behalf. This is waiting.
  • v.25 - we are to seek Him. This is not a haphazard, check the box devotional time. It is to seek with care, to inquire of Him. To be intent on finding God and search Him out. There is passion implied here. It is worship.

What then is your focus in your difficult days? Have you forgotten God? Have you misplaced the reminders of His love and kindness towards you? Do you understand and have you realized your reality in Him? Are you fulfilling your duty? As you begin to focus on God, you will soon be able to say with the prophet Jeremiah:

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have HOPE.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A nothern New Yorker has solved the fuel crisis...

I have no idea who owns these vehicles, but they're great! I saw them as I was heading from Schroon Lake, NY traveling to the Ticonderoga ferry as I planned to make a trip to Vermont. Someone is pretty creative - and has a great sense of humor. But honestly, I'm glad they're not in my front yard.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Trying to catch you up...

I see that it is already Wednesday and I haven't posted much in the way from Monday and Tuesday! I am finding it hard to keep up the blogging side of camp. If pictures could speak a thousand words, then these will have to do for those two days.

The first picture is of Pine Pavilion - the meeting place for all the teens. They have all their sessions here and their nightly speakers come to the pavilion. It is the general meeting place on the Island.
Here you can see Chris and Patrick going through the high ropes course. I have video as well, and many more pictures, but they (the video) take too much time to upload and publish - so these couple of pictures will have to do. Both guys did really good - had some moments where they had to overcome their minds / fears, but they both got through it with flying colors! (and much faster than I ever could do it!!) Colin and Aaron were both swimming at this point - and I couldn't be in two places at once... but they had fun swimming too!

On Tuesday we had something new called "youth group family time" - and we'll have that again on Thursday. It was just a half hour designed for youth leaders to hang out with their teens in a quiet place and talk about the week. Our guys talked about stuff they're struggling with this week (from homesickness to patience in dealing with others) and stuff they're learning as well. Jimmy DeYoung has been the speaker all week and our guys really like him! Quote, "I didn't know Revelation could be so cool!" (I like that!) After this time, they had a run around the Island. I think it's called "Robbie's Run" or something like that. This first picture is of one of the staff members instructing all the teens on where to go and how to line up, etc. Our guys did a walk / run / sprint of the Island. Or so they told me, I simply walked over to the finish line and waited for them. We also played paintball after lunch on Tuesday. Despite the looks on their faces, our guys enjoyed it and had a lot of fun. I, however, have 12 welts from being "Davey Crockett" in our "remember the Alamo" game. Somehow the teens thought that was funny.
I'll try to post more later, but rest assured that our guys are doing well and enjoying their stay. They are also learning a lot about God and His Word, which is great too. Tonight is the campfire, where they will be challenged to give God their whole life. I'm praying along those lines for them, you pray too.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Misc Pics from Sunday on the Rock

If you click on the swimming picture you will get a better view of who's in the water. You can see Aaron, Colin and Patrick's heads as they are treading water for 5 minutes. This was after they swam 2 full laps in the deep end. All of them qualified and passed their swim tests!

Christopher getting re-hydrated again. I think he has two Gatorades here and already downed a water bottle before I got this picture. He is soooo excited too! lol...

Christopher and 3 other guys setting up to play Nintendo Wii's tennis game. It plays a lot harder than it looks.

We watched several rounds of speed paintball yesterday. Tuesday we will play regular paintball at 130p on the far side of the Island. This was kind of fun to watch, but went too fast for the amount of money it costs to play.

Carpetball on the Rock 08

One of the favorite things to past your free time on the WOL Island is to play "Carpetball". It is a game simply designed with a wooden trough and 7 billards balls. Each competitor sets up three balls in front of a pocket. The opponent then hurls a billard ball towards their balls in an attempt to knock all three balls into the pocket. This goes back and forth until all the balls are in the pocket. Below are two videos of our teens playing carpetball. (I think they want me to build one of these things for our youth group!)

Soccer is also a big game to play - the teens participate in pick-up games in an area designed for soccer and dodgeball. The video below shows Chris (red shirt) playing soccer during his free time yesterday.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Two video comments from the Falls...

These videos take forever to upload, but I'm trying! =) Here's two of them, enjoy:

Sunday on the Rock...

Today I woke at 7:30am feeling very refreshed from the night's rest. The accommodations are very nice. I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of pancakes, sausage, potatoes, juice and coffee this morning. I enjoyed reading from Isaiah 55 as I sat on 'my balcony' off my room. The weather today has just been tremendous. Blue skies, moderate temperatures and a little breeze. I enjoyed the morning worship hour with Joe Jordan as he discussed the "Battle for Truth". It was a good challenge.

After the morning worship, we enjoyed a wonderful buffet of prime rib, shrimp, potato / leek soup, asparagus, salad and rolls. There were even more items, but I am trying to keep to a single serving / plate at each meal. One can really get carried away here.

I was able to get to the Island around 130p and caught the guys just heading out for their swim test. They all passed (Patrick, Aaron and Colin) - Chris decided not to swim (due to not having shorts!)...and he didn't want mine. lol... After they passed the test, they headed to the deep water to swim. I caught up with Chris playing soccer with one of his cabin counselors. Afterwards, they all were explaining carpet ball to me, and I even gave it a try. Although I had a good start, I quickly got beat. We just hung out after that: watched some paintball, played some Wii at the imagination station, drank some pop, and talked about what we were going to do the rest of the week.

I left the group around 545p because the Island had a steak cookout for youth leaders - and I felt I just had to go. I came back to the room and then down to where I could pick up the internet to post some updates. I left my camera in my room - so the pics / videos from today will have to wait till later. I'll probably post them tomorrow.

I also made contact with Ryan Williamson (our former WOL missionary) and am looking forward to spending time with him later in the week. I'll try to get an update for the church as well. So far, this is what has been happening. I'll hook back up with the guys for lunch and then spend the rest of the day with them.

Video of Emergency Vehicle from I-90 West accident

(Don't worry, I wasn't driving when I 'filmed' this. We were already at a standstill)

Getting to "the Rock"...

The events of the this day, as I see them from my room at the Word of Life Inn located in Schroon Lake, New York:

This morning we got an non-anticipated “early” start by 8:30 as we left Batavia, NY. We were staying at the Best Western Crown & Suites, and I highly recommend a stay there if you are ever in the Batavia / Buffalo area. The room was very spacious, clean and comfortable. The breakfast was hot and cold with items such as: waffles, eggs & sausage, cold cereals, bagels, donuts and muffins. It was a very wonderful breakfast.

But alas, I had not gotten any coffee with my breakfast, so 15 miles down the road I pulled into the service plaza and ordered a large mocha from Tim Horton’s. I was a little aggravated by the wait at Tim Horton’s but it was just a short period of time down the road when I realized God was gracious in allowing us to be delayed. We came upon traffic slowing to a stop, with emergency vehicles shortly on our back bumper. A very serious accident brought west bound I-90 traffic to a halt. We were stuck on the interstate for just over an hour. We took some random pictures, autographed the white line on the side of the road and then decided to pass out our bottled water supply to those around us. We took a black marker and wrote “FREE WATER” on our cooler and carried it down the side of the interstate. We passed out several when the cry came down the road “We’re starting to move!” We ran, carrying the cooler, back the 3-400 yards to the van. (At least those watching us got a good laugh!) And then, we were underway.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. We made good time and arrived at the registration center for camp about an hour later than anticipated. Everything went smoothly as we registered, turned in all meds and got heads checked for lice. Then off to the Island where we met our counselor, John, and were taken to the cabin. We then signed up for some activities for later in the week like paintball and the party barge. I left the teens around 5pm and headed back to the WOL Inn where I checked in and entered my room.

My room is on the third level of one of the buildings on the WOL complex. It has it’s own balcony overlooking the back of the property, with a mountain just several hundred feet away. It is a spacious, relaxing room. I got cleaned up and went to the wonderful buffet they had prepared. Prime rib, raspberry stuffed chicken, some wonderful Tilapia and excellent pasta and sugared carrots. I also grabbed a generous slice of chocolate cake. Being by myself is not something I enjoy when I eat – especially when everyone else it seems has full tables. But God had something in mind and I found a table with two men sitting at it with an available chair. I then introduced myself and had a very encouraging dinner getting to know Chris and Bob from St. Louis. I was able to share some scripture with Chris as he and his family were going through some tough times recently. I also found out that he will be at the NANC conference in October that I will be attending! How cool is God!!!

I got back to my room, wrote my kids at home some postcards and decided to update this blog. I hope to post it Sunday along with corresponding pictures. I anticipate some time to post both to my youtube account and facebook account. Continue to pray for our guys at camp, that God will work graciously in their lives.

Friday, July 04, 2008

almost midnight, and all is well...

Just wanted to post a couple pics from the trip so far. We've made it safely to Batavia, NY and enjoyed the fireworks over Niagara Falls... well, some of us did. Some of the teens were less than impressed with the Falls and the fireworks. Guess it's hard to impress them in this day and age of high tech computer animation, etc, etc. We're having a great time so far - will try to post more tomorrow on one of our rest stops.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

4th of July plans...

Tomorrow we head out. It'll be 4th of July and I'll be taking 4 teenage guys to the Word of Life Island (the Rock) in Schroon Lake, NY. We'll be staying overnight in Batavia, NY, and hopefully seeing the fireworks over Niagara Falls. It will be my intention to blog our activities - however, I'm not good at doing such a thing. One of my teens in Peru on a short-term missions trip does such a better job. Maybe I need to hire it out! I just got a new camera too, so maybe that will be my motivation. Below is my son, Patrick, getting the last minute things around. Me? I haven't even started packing yet.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A half-day's work:

This morning my coffee pot (my alarm) went off at 6:45 a.m. I struggled to get out of bed. I was well on my way to work this morning by 7:30 and had already accomplished one task: "fixing" the water heater. There is a gray "smart box" on top of the water heater that controls so many different things; it was this box that kept tripping the "water too hot" signal. I bled off the hot water (and it was really hot!) and then reset the box and it seemed to do the trick. By 10:00 a.m. I received a call from my wife about our sump pump not working. Seems it seized up and wasn't doing it's job. A quick trip to Lowe's to replace it (I had just installed it in February) and we were back in business. When I got home to switch out the pumps, the house smelled awful. Like burnt something or other. My wife had had a grease fire and threw the pan out the side door, along with the foot-high flames. This is not proper handling of a grease fire. Here is a site that can explain to you how to deal with grease fires, both out of control and those not yet out of control. It's very important to know what to do. My wife's grandmother had a grease fire that burnt a good portion of her home, as well as took her life, all due to mishandling of the fire. Please, please educate yourself to these things! After leaving the house to return to work, I saw some money blowing across the highway. I stopped, turned around and picked up a folded.....$1 bill. Good times! (all this happened before noon today!)

I thank God for watching over my family these past several hours. From providing us with the ability and resources to fix/replace household items to safely guiding us through small 'emergencies' God has been faithful. He alone is worthy of our praise.