I want to introduce you to our newest family member, Yoda. At least that’s what Luke is planning on naming him for now. Yoda is a 7″ bearded dragon who will grow to probably 16″ to 20″ long. So far we found out his favorite food is definitely live crickets. I think I am having more fun playing with it than the kids.
Our family had a wonderful Christmas. I haven’t posted much because I have really tried to stay off the computer and just enjoy my family and my time off from work. Unfortunately, I had to get back to work today.
The kids got way too much stuff as always, but they have had fun the last few days. Emma’s highlight was Molly, her American Girl doll and a new Trading Spaces dollhouse. Drew got a workbench and Tickle Me Elmo TMX, and Luke got a lizard, a 7″ long bearded dragon that is eating live crickets like crazy. Of course, I like all the kid’s toys as well. I’ve been playing Lego Star Wars on the computer with Luke, I’ve built with legos, I’ve played doll house with Emma, and Drew has been dragging me all over the house just wanting to show me all the new stuff.
But all the gifts have really frustrated me as well. It is so hard to keep our focus on Christ, when all the kids (and adults) are thinking about it gifts. What we are getting and what we are giving. So on Christmas Eve, we got the kids settled down a little and we read the Christmas story from Luke and Matthew. I have been wanting to really share and impress on the kids why Christ came, so I shared with them a story I heard a long time ago. I don’t know who told it or where it came from, but it has stuck with me. I want to share it with you just so you may think about why Christ came. Merry Christmas!
One Christmas, there was a man who was struggling. Not with trouble or hardship, but he was struggling with the meaning of Christmas. His wife and kids had begged him to attend church with them, but he could see no reason for going to church. It was crazy to think that God actually came down to earth. Why would God do that? It just didn’t make sense. So while his wife and kids went to church on Christmas Eve, he stayed home to watch a movie by the fireplace.
It was cold and snowing outside, and the chirp of birds caught his ear. He looked out the window and saw several little sparrows scurrying around looking for food. He knew they would surely freeze and starve to death, but he didn’t know what to do. He finally decided to put on his coat and head outside. He went out and opened the barn door, knowing if the birds would just fly in, they would be warm and find plenty of food. But when he opened the door, they just flew away. He saw them from a distance, but he couldn’t get them to come to the barn. Frustrated, he said to himself, “if only I could become one of them, I could save them. I could show them the way” It was then that it hit him, that is what Christ did. He fell on his knees right there and realized why Christ came. He came to become one of us, that he might show us the way to be saved.
Interesting article on Yahoo from LiveScience. It seems like teens really do think about the consequences of their actions. But their decisions are usually not based upon the consequences, they are based upon the desire to be accepted. Which brings me to an interesting thought.
Shouldn’t their decisions be based on something that is unchangeable, something deeper. Shouldn’t we be teaching youth and teens that decisions flow out of our relationship with Christ. They should be based not on consequences, not on acceptance, but on the core beliefs and principles found in the Bible. Hopefully in those times of temptation, our core beliefs will shape the way we think and respond. That is one reason that I want to make sure we give teens a good foundation on which to make tough decisions. Instead of youth ministry that tells them, don’t do this, and don’t do that, and God want you to do …, we need to go deeper and challenge what they believe and why. Here’s a link from the article.
But it’s not that they don’t ponder the the potential consequences. In fact, a new study finds teens spend more time weighing risk than adults and in fact often overestimate the odds of a bad outcome. But the desire for acceptance among peers wins out in the decision-making process of a young mind.
It’s time for the kids to start basketball again. I’m coaching Emma’s 1st-3rd grade team. The league is sponsored by Cliffview Church of God and is based on the nationwide Upward Organization. I have coached both boys and girls at this age before and I have noticed an incredible difference between the two.
I watched Luke’s practice earlier this week and the coach spent half of his time telling the boys to quit rolling around on the floor, to quit climbing on the basket, and to quit running around like wild men. Watching 1st to 3rd grade boys is like watching stand-up comics on speed. Everything they do is for laughs. Their attention span is about a minute long, so you have to talk quick.
But with the girls, it is completely different. They will actually do what you ask, they listen politely, and they sometimes giggle and laugh when you act stupid. If you act stupid in front of the boys, then they act stupid in return trying to one-up you. But both the girls and boys have loads of fun, just in their unique way. And it is important to keep it fun while teaching them fundamentals about the game.
I really like Upward because of the potential to reach outside of your church. People will come into the league that have never been in church, and you have an opportunity to really provide something special for the community. Upward has a great system for preparing coaches and referees by using both a manual and a dvd. They also stress the importance of respecting authority, which is too often overlooked in sports leagues. And finally you get to learn Bible verses and share devotions each week with the players (and parents at the games) It’s going to be very interesting the next few weeks. But I love it because I get to combine my love of basketball with telling others about Christ, and I get to do it while spending some special time with my kids.
We had to cancel youth Sunday night because of the wedding I was officiating. When we arrived home late, we found out that the youth actually did meet to do a service project. I talked during my sermon Sunday morning about giving a gift of grace to someone, a gift that will leave lifelong memories. They definitely took me up on my challenge.
They decided that Jennifer and I deserved to live in a gated community. They put time, thought, and effort into making that dream a reality. I felt like those families coming home after Extreme Makeover, Home Edition. I have put some pictures on here for you to see their work.
The youth (and Gary & Shane as adult volunteers) actually set two posts on either side of my driveway and then hung a locked cattle gate blocking the driveway. I’m sure my neighbors thought we were absolutely crazy for putting a farm gate across our driveway. I have to give it to the youth, that was definitely a first for me. I have been rolled, forked, and everything else you can think of, but never gated.
Luckily the posts were only set in sand, so I was able to remove them without too much work. But now I have a cattle gate in my front yard. Do you think these will sell on ebay?
This past weekend did indeed turn out to be a blur. There were way too many things going on. But it was good. We are always told to slow down and simplify, and I have even preached several messages on that as well. But sometimes, when God gives you opportunities, it is time for action. Looking back on this weekend made me thankful that I had to opportunity to tell others about Christ. Through the sermon on Sunday morning and through a beautiful wedding ceremony, the message of Christ was proclaimed.
I am just blown away sometimes at why God has picked me to tell others about him. I feel unworthy, yet excited at the same time. I feel like I am just holding on for a wild ride following Christ. Jesus never called us to a life on the sidelines, he wants us in the game. Our natural tendencies are to pull back from church activities when we are too busy. Where we spend our time, energy, and money shows where our priorities are. Why is it that when God gives us opportunities to charge, we retreat?
Here’s a quick recap;
Emma’s Ballet: Emma’s ballet production of the Nutcracker was good. AND LONGGGGGGG. But the kids and teens did a great job. Now if the high school would only install padded chairs and air conditioning.
Church Sunday Morning: The computer crashed while playing a video intro for the message. Not good, but the message must go on. I took on the passage of the Magi from Matthew 2:1-12. I really wanted to spend some time talking about the importance of truly looking for what the text actually says, not what we think it says. The message was on the importance of gifts, both giving and receiving. Overall, God really helped me through it. With work being busy this week and the wedding preparation, I just couldn’t put as much time in the message as I wanted, but I think God really took over.
Wedding: The wedding was really fun. You know things are crazy when I had to jump my car off to get to the wedding and then my car wouldn’t start after the wedding. But I truly enjoy being part of such a special time. It was good catching up with some of our former youth. Some were in grad school, one was getting married!, and others were still looking for that special someone. The wedding was short, Christ-centered, and joyful. I’m just glad I didn’t screw up anybody’s name this time. In the first wedding I officiated, during the vows, I called the husband a wife. Good for a laugh, but you really don’t want to mess up too much when they are making videotapes. Unless of course, you are planning on sending it to America’s Funniest Home Videos.
And after all the crazy stuff this weekend, I got back home from the wedding (still in my suit) and discovered … that I now live in a gated community. Our youth group thinks they have a sense of humor. Stay tuned for some pics.
By now, if you have been reading my blog much, you know how much of a gadget guy I am. I’m thinking pretty hard about starting to use skype for all my long distance calls from home. Jennifer and I went way over on our cell plan minutes this month, so that has added some serious motivation. I do have to give a big thanks to the great guy at US Cellular who helped me change my plan to include free mobile to mobile minutes and free nights and weekends for just a few dollars more than I am paying. AND especially for back-dating the plan so I didn’t have to pay $100 extra for all those minutes. That’s a big relief here at Christmas.
The only problem typically with Skype is that you have to be sitting right at your computer to use it. Now Philips has come up with a pretty cool phone at a reasonable price to combine the best of skype with a traditional cordless phone. Check out this phone
It’s a Philips 3211 Cordless Skype Voice Over IP phone that plugs in the USB port of your computer. You can use it to make landline or skype calls to anyone on the internet. It works just like a regular cordless phone, so you can use it anywhere in your house. Skype has just annouced new skypeout prices of $14.95 for unlimited long distance calling to anybody in the US for an entire year! So you use the phone just like normal for local calls, and you can switch over to skype for any long distance calls. Philips is even coming out with a newer phone that plugs directly into your wifi router so you don’t have to leave your computer on. The price for it is supposed to be around $150 so it is probably out of my league. I leave my computer on most of the time anyway.
This is a cool way to start integrating internet technology into your house. Now, if I can only get away from using the phone company for dsl, I could cancel my home phone service and just go with cell & internet.