Friday, June 22, 2007

The beard debate, Vote Now!

Many of you have shared your feelings on my recent mid-ministry beard crisis. After two months on, should the beard stay? for those of you snow birds and family, I have included a picture of me with the beard for reference. Notice the puffy Jr. Camp eyes and the long arm self portrait. For those hunting easter eggs, the photos behind me are some of my favorite missionaries and family members on my prayer board. Please vote below as I will be making a decision soon!

Should I keep the beard?
Yes, if possible find a way to cover up more of your face
No, it was a bad idea to begin with
Keep it at least through your family reunion
Once shaved always shaved free polls

Junior Camp Report

We returned from Jr. camp yesterday and I have never slept so hard in my life. We had a great group of kids at camp this year and they really grew in their knowledge of God and willingness to serve him with their lives. Camp, for those of you who are not from church world is 18 hours a day of either team competition or Bible Study. There is not much room for anything else. The kids are away from TV and the computer, there is chapel and small group Bible study each morning, an afternoon of games, and activities, chapel each evening and a night full of games, if that were not enough there is even a devotion and prayer before bed. It is intense, but a real spiritual boost. Here are some of the pictures I took, Unfortunately I opted out of taking the camera to the hour long shaving cream war on Wednesday night. It was a mess, but I guess you can imagine 150 kids armed with two cans of cream each! Many kids made decisions for Christ with several accepting Christs as personal Savior.

The theme for the week was the Circus. I was on the clowns' team. (No comments) PS. I never want to hear circus music again.

Here is Abby, acting just like her mother!

Emma gives me that, "please stop taking a picture while I am eating

Never shy of the camera, Anna strikes a pose!

One of the stage settings. We had a pretty amazing magician, I mean illusionist as our speaker.

Zackary, or Zeke as he is known at camp with his first place toss. notice the form and follow through.

All smiles!

Studies: Death Penalty Discourages Crime

Wow! Science once again confirms scripture. Maybe if we start following God's Word, then life would be better. Read the story here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hello my name is Joel and it is my first time

While on vacation I attended my sister-in-law Michele's church in Athens GA. I was reminded of how terrible that it is visiting church for the first time. Now, don't take anything I say as a commentary on this particular church. My only goal here is to think through what it is like for our first timers. I often try to put myself in the shoes of our guests, and we go overboard trying to best handle our guests. However, there is no better way to put on the shoes of a guest than actually being a guest. So here goes...

1. I got there early... much time to find the back row, but also stood out. In hindsight, I would have wanted to come late and leave early.

2. The people were friendly, and the pastors shook my hands and talked to me. I know that if it had not happened I would have been bothered, but even that made me feel uncomfortable.

3. Interviews - I hate job interviews, and small talk can really turn into one if it goes to long. One thing that I will take away is to not grill the guests on where they are from and what they are doing in town. I have a tendency to do that, and last night I did not like it when I had to explain myself to everyone.

4. the gauntlet - I know pastors are supposed to guard the door on the way out of church, but I caught myself slipping behind pastor #2 without really wanting to interact. I am sure that he would have shaken my hand and thanked me for coming, but I avoided him. I really don't know my psyche on that, but nevertheless I did it. I am not proud of what I did either.

5. I did not know the program - I know we curse the bulletin checklist of what happens next, but I found myself wanting to know more of what is going to happen next. How long will it be, what should I expect etc.

6. A few last thoughts. It would have been even more awkward if I had been alone and not with family. At least I had someone to talk to. Also, I knew the songs, they were country and old school, but I knew most of them from my childhood and that probably made it more comfortable. Also, I knew what to expect as far as the general beliefs and practice of that particular tribe of Baptist. Not knowing the culture would have been a killer.

All in all, I gained a greater respect for those who venture to church for the first time. I was reminded that it is not easy, and that it takes a lot to get me to go to a church where I know I will feel like I did last night. I also know that the more I attended that church the more comfortable I would feel. I don't know that I can criticize anything that they did, other than have me raise my hand as a guest; that we don't do. Even then, I am going to rethink how we treat our guests and how we can do a better job of removing any obstacle to them getting in and worshipping God.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Don't Waste Your Cancer

I am finishing John Piper's book entitled "Don't Waste Your Life" It is a good read, not great, but good. I think it is one of those "sermon series transcript turned into book" books. That being said The concept for the book is great and he has a tremendous post on his blog about not wasting your cancer. You can read it here.

Only in Florida...

The clash of the cultures continues... here. I wonder how one church can bring all the different ages and backgrounds together?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer Camp

Today we are leaving to take our kids to camp. I will try to blog some photos and updates, but am unsure how far I will have to go for Internet. Maybe each morning I will have to drudge down to the Starbucks and send an update :) Honestly, I am not sure how often I will blog, but we will see. Here are some pictures from past camps...