Thursday, December 23, 2010

Advent: Poem


Coffee turns to tea,
no time for sympathy.

Walking to wandering,
finding something inside of me.

Driving to empty spaces,
looking for open faces.

Broken bottles and broken glass,
things that look clear don't always last.

Picking up the missing parts,
together finding what can spark.

Belong is never gone,
hope is ever long.

Dancing snow & mistletoe,
aroma of the familiar and the found.

Love that lasts,
what melts is whole again.

Sacrifice in the shadows,
Majesty in the meadows.

Grace on the ground,
and a home that is found.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advent: Thankful

I am not a wealthy man...




...but I am rich.

I was at a cool department store where you expect more and spend less and I saw a lot of people buying a lot of stuff. I just had a lot of baby stuff (food) in my cart.

To be honest I can be a cart-peeker, is that weird? (don't answer that) I like to see what people are buying.

You know you do it too (don't answer that).

That is thing with shopping, we are measured by what is in our carts.

It may not be true, but I can definitely feel like it is at times, especially this time of year.

Sometimes Christmas can be about stuff instead about Someone.

More than just reading Luke chapter two at a church and lighting some candles and believing that we made Christmas about Jesus.

We make Christmas about Jesus when we act like him.

Everyday.

Now.

Not just on 24 and 25.

There are a lot of "Jesus People" in my life to be thankful for who get what I'm talking about.

I started naming family and friends, pastors and mentors, and even some cool tweeps but had to stop because it was going to be very long list.

No body likes long thank you speeches and I definitely didnt want my blog to get "Franked" ...right Conan.

With that being said, thank you to those who have poured into my life this year.

If you read this and think that you could be one of those people, you probably are.

I am not always an easy person to love, but I thank you for making me feel that I am.

In this economy it is hard to feel that you ever have enough, but I thankful to those who have given me all that I need...

I am thankful for giving me you, and being like Him.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, December 20, 2010

Advent: Seasons

"This too shall pass..."








Abe Lincoln used this phrase in a speech he gave at Wisconsin State. He shared that the origin of the phrase came from an Eastern Monarch's call for wise men to create a phrase that is useful in all situations.

It is simple.

It is complex.

King Solomon is said to have coined the phrase as well...

There is not a chapter and verse that says those words exactly, but he does talk about a season.

"For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven." (ecc 3.1 nlt)

We love seasons.

We love when summer turns to fall.

We love when we winter turns to spring.

We love Christmas, but Christmas is not winter.

It's hard to press on thru the cold moments of our soul. When light seems to fade too quickly. When hands are to numb to feel. Ice-olation is not just a pun but a state of mind.

Winter feels more like wilderness.

There is a preparation that takes place during the wilderness, it is not easy in the moment but looking back there always seems to be a reason in the season. (cheesy Christmas slogan but it kinda fits)

Speaking of Jesus, he had moments like this, and that warms my soul.

Jesus went thru the wilderness before the miracles.

Jesus went thru seasons in a land where weather never really changes.

Times when everyone followed him and
times when everyone wanted to kill him.

Jesus understood seasons.

"You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don't tell me you can't tell a change in the season, the God-season we're in right now." (luke 12.54 msg)

The point is not to understand why seasons change but to know that they do.

We can always wish for warmer weather for things to get better.

If we always wish for what's next we will miss what is already right here.

This to shall pass.

Don't miss it before it does.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent: Peace

Give it a chance.








Why is something so simple so hard?

I like to consider myself a peaceful guy.
I try to see things from the other persons perspective.
I want to be cool under pressure.

Sometimes I am not.

I am a Christian and I have a hard time loving other Christians.

The judgmental.
The legalistic.
The intolerant.

That's not who I am, that's not what I read in the bible what a Christian is known by.

I was recently at a Starbucks, they know I am a pastor, and saw a sign that said that they are open on Christmas Eve.

I said oh, you guys are open Christmas Eve?

The manager went on to say that it's not a holiday (which it is not Christmas is, but I did have to work on Christmas Eve when I was youth pastor) and she said there are other religions that don't celebrate Christmas.

There was almost a sense that she was anticipating me saying something about how they should be off, how it's a Christian holiday. (I bet she was looking for my "I don't say Happy Holidays I say Merry Christmas button).

There was tension in the conversation, I wish there wasn't. Actually, I was kind of glad they were open, nothing like a holiday or Xmas (maybe I shouldn't say that either) Sbux run.

The next day I saw a newspaper with the Westboro Baptist Church on the cover.
Then I read anther article on the same page of a Christian family being investigated for not taking their two year old to the hospital who later died for lack of medical attention. They were believing in a faith healing. It didn't happen.

I was ticked.

I was sad.

I was frustrated.

Why do these "Christians" get the front page?
Why do not other Christians who give back and love their neighbor get press?

Upon my frustration I tweeted (because that's what we do now when we are ticked we tweet).

A friend sent me a message.

He challenged (mentioned me on twitter) me that those "Christians" need love too and will probably be in my church one day.

His words hit me.

Made me think (and that's a good thing).

And when I think I usually check out scripture.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” Mark 9.50 NIV

Jesus wants me to love my enemies...

but also be at peace with Christians.

It's understood that we need to have grace and peace with those who do not believe, may we also remember to be peace with those who do believe as well.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent: Pride

The most proud American I know.





He is 92 years old.
He is a Master Sargent.
He is a Pearl Harbor Survivor.

He is my wife's Grandfather, Frank Navagato.

I call him Opa.

In this day and age being proud to be an American is rare.

Sometimes I am not proud. Sometimes I am ashamed to be American.

I don't think I am alone, but I think that needs to change.

Opa makes me want to change.

During this past World Series Lyle Lovett sang the National Anthem, and Opa began to sing along in a quite strong voice, and then soon after his wife of over 60 years (um wow) began to sing too.

I watched speechless.

People don't just do this, we make fun of those who sing the National Anthem, we don't join in.

I motioned for my wife to come into the living room and watch what was going on. We stood there as our Grandparents sang, together, and as our flag was still there, Opa saluted.

It was my favorite moment of the World Series (after all my beloved Phillies were not in it).

Every now and then I can get him to tell me stories about his days in the Army, sometimes even Pearl Harbor.

It is not like a Ben Affleck movie, it's better.

There is a sense of humility and duty in his stories; they are great stories.

He rescued a German refugee.

He would send clothes.
He would share food.
He would share his heart.

This refugee was named Suzie.
This refugee would become his wife.

Opa loves his wife as much as he loves his country.

He calls her Shatzy, German for sweetheart (I think that's how you spell it).
He kisses her goodnight every evening before he goes to bed.

It's cute and I think I need to start doing that with my Shatzy.

There is so much more that I can tell about this amazing couple, this proud American.

Stories of escaping down the German country side to a safe houses.
Stories of how he lived in more countries than I have been in different states.
Stories of how he loved to serve others from Meals on Wheels to selling Fruit Cakes for church fund raisers (yes fruit cakes and he sold boxes of them).

Jesus shared this with his disciples "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all." Mark 9:35

In a culture today were people strive to be first but never really are, this man lived his life in such a way that he is, but never realized that he was.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent: Joy

“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
-Mother Teresa





My son Keane always smiles.

To say that he is a happy baby is an understatement.

He can turn a bad day into a brilliant day.

Life gets busy, the ministry can be discouraging, and people can let you down, but he doesn't care about that. He just loves me and wants me to love him too.

You might say he is too young to understand the concept of love, I don't believe that is so.

I think love is the first thing babies learn (after all the first time he smiled is when I held him in the NICU and asked him if he knew I loved him, he smiled).

He doesn't care about how much money is in my bank account.
He doesn't care about what I look like (especially when my hair is a fro).

He wants me.
To be in the moment.
And notice him.

The biggest curse that is upon America is the curse of being busy.

When you are busy you miss the moments.
When you miss the moments you lose your joy.

Jesus understood the importance of the moment...

"9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15.9-11 NIV

Did you notice that Jesus says remain three times.
Actually he uses the phrases "remain in my love" three times...then you will have joy, complete joy.

People smile when they are not busy, they remain in the moment.

Jesus is always in the moment, we are the ones that miss it.

Jesus is never to busy for me, he has all the time in the world. He smiles.

And so does Keane.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent: Grace

I don't always get it right.








I like to think that I am work in progress.

I was never consistent in school (although I did always manage to get C's).

Think about it, I am trying to blog everyday for Advent and the day after I blog about discipline I miss an entry. So why not blog about grace today (hehe)?

My grades in school fluctuated from A's to well...um...D's and ya maybe an F here and there. So from that you get C's...or I got C's. Hopefully you did better than me.

Nowadays, that philosophy can come back to haunt me.

As you do well in something there can be a tendency to ride that wave, but all that happens is that you return back to the shore.

You never go farther when you just coast.

To go farther you need to fight against the stream.

It's tiring to always fight upstream (I don't know how salmon do and still taste so good).

The biggest current of discouragement would be in relationships.

I want people to have a lot of grace with me, and yet I have a hard time showing grace to others. To go even deeper it's easy to act like I am cool with someone while at the same time thinking about how they hurt me.

Sometimes I just need to get over it.

And honestly, since I'm going there, I can be a bit sensitive. (but I'm not a mama's boy)

I need to have grace with others.
I need to be patient.
I need to be ok with not getting my way.

I like how Jesus talks about the rhythms of grace.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of GRACE." Matthew 11.28 MSG

The key word there is learn.
People are not just gracious as a personality trait.

Grace is a learned behavior, there is a rhythm to it.

Great dancers make it look easy but they practice a lot.

It doesn't just happen.

Grace doesn't just happen

It's a process...

After all this white boy can't learn how to dance over night.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent: Discipline

I have a hard time saying no.








Food is good.

We love food.

It looks good.
It tastes good.
It makes us feel good.

We even watch food...after all who doesn't love the Food Network. (Are you ready for a throwdown...ok maybe not)

Lets face it, eating is what Americans do best.

Seriously are any of you out there still chowing down on Thanksgiving left overs?

And Christmas is just around the corner. I would bet people gain the most weight from November and December than from any other time of the year. (I do anyways)

That being said, I probably think about my weight too much.

I used to be fat in middle school (or as my mom would say husky) and middle school is not the time of your life to be overweight.

I got teased and my friend always got the girl.

One summer I just lost the weight and things changed. (it's amazing how different people treat you when you lose a little weight.) Turning thirty this year my fears are coming back. Pizza Hut definitely goes to your gut.

I have come to the place in my life where I have to be disciplined in how I eat.

Its not easy saying no.

Especially when I am on the road a lot and finding a healthy lunch spot is tough to do. (the mcrib is always a tasty temptation)

The funny thing about discipline is that it carries over into other areas of your life.

If you don't eat on impulse you wont spend on impulse.

If you watch what you say you will watch what you eat.

During this Christmas season I want to practice the subtle art of Discipline.. Because there is a subltle humility and grace to it... I like how The Message phrases Jesus' words on discipline.

"When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint." Mark 6.16-18

A small time celebrity would be cool (definitely not a reality tv star).

Sometimes it may mean putting down the donut.

It may just mean I need to put a hold the lattes.

I might get better at being me and loving Him.

It may sound cheesy, but who doesn't love cheese.


-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent: Love

Jesus is love.

All you need is love.

Christmas has an aroma of love.

You can feel it.
You can see it.
You can drink it. (mmm starbucks peppermint mocha anyone?)

You can miss it.

The same with love.

It can be all around you and miss it. (a pic from a recent blog post)

I miss Jesus.
I miss my wife.

I want to miss less and love more.

I think that's why we love Christmas and Valentine's Day, (its funny how both those days are the same) these holidays help us get it.

We love our neighbors a little bit better.
We love our families a little bit better.
We love better.

Recently I was driving the morning commute with my wife and son, and the Christmas Song came on the radio, (Nat King Cole's version, the best version.) and I just started to cry.

It just hit me. (not a car, the song, the moment...you know.)

I am blessed.

I wish things could be better.
We all have fears, I have fears.
Fill in the blank for whatever fear is on your mind of late.

We all have fears... but we are all blessed.

I am... blessed.

My wife is an amazing mom and doesn't even really realize it, I don't think many moms do.

(Maybe thats why there are dads to remind the moms how awesome they are, and how us dads are trying to do a good job as they do.)

Marisa does everything at 100% and does it well.

She is an administrative assistant at a high school and does more than whats required of her and helps everyone around her.

There are even students who hang out in the office just to talk with her. (Thats a big deal, think about it, the bad ones are the students who are usually in the office.)

She has always helped me in the ministry and because of her, she always takes it to the next level of awesomeness.


Thats right, my wife blogs.

Its a fashion blog with some personal tidbits thrown in there too.

This past week she hit a huge milestone of reaching over a 100 followers. (Thats more than me, and I think that rocks.)

She said I can talk/(blog) about it if she ever hit a 100.

Her blog is brilliant, I love it.

It's something we do together. I take the pictures and she takes care of the rest.
It helps us slow down and connect, and she has been able to connect with others as well.

At times she has given advice to the other gals in the blog world. (not just fashion advice but some personal helpful stuff).

I guess thats the thing about blogs, holidays, Christmas.

They helps us to slow down and connect, to love.

One of my favorite verses lately is a verse that weaves together my two loves, Jesus and Marisa. (trust me the father and son blog is coming soon)

"I am my beloved’s,
And my beloved is mine." Songs of Solomon 6.3

Is this a verse about Jesus?
Is this a verse about Love?

Yup.

Is Christmas about Jesus?
Is Christmas about Love?

Yup.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent: Intro

It has begun.






The countdown to Christmas.

The Advent of the birth of Jesus Christ.

I love this time of the year. The Christmas music playing on the radio (really the only time I listen to radio during the year as I turn off my iPod and Pandora). Watching those memorable holiday movies that play every night during the month of December, brings back the feeling of being a kid. (love rudolf)

Even the smell is great, yeah, this time of the year has a smell, (or maybe its just the fact that I have a big nose).

Its a great time of the year, maybe the most wonderful time of the year.
You generally feel good.

Busy, but good.

After all, busy is what American's do best.

But is busy...good?

George Costanza is busy, well...not really busy he just looks busy, and remember a George divided itself cannot stand (ok enough of the Seinfeld references).

This month I am going to try and practice the art and disciple of the Advent.

This December I will blog every day something about the nature character and overall coolness of Jesus Christ. Yes Jesus had coolness. Seriously anyone that can get under the skin of the religious pundits of the day is cool in my book; the walking on water wasn't bad either.

So today is the intro and tomorrow it begins.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Are You Afraid to Admit It...


My wife and I are just coming off an awesome weekend visiting with Pastor Sam Masteller in a crazy cool church in the middle of no where.

If you are ever in Gap PA not Gap in the Mall you need to check out this church especially the kids ministry area that was designed by a member from Sight & Sound. It looks and feels like Noah's Ark, minus the motion sickness, which is a good thing, oh yeah, and the animal smell. (Ever been to the ape house at the zoo...woah.)

It's one thing for a church to say they love kids, its another thing for them to show they love kids.

It's a blessing as we embark on this journey of church planting to have good people and churches to connect with and learn from. We definitely learned alot this weekend from Sam and the fam, sorry I like to rhyme sometimes, opps I did it again. (um, the Britney Spears reference unintended.)

On our travels back to Camp Hill, we had to stop for a pick me up at our favorite travel spot, Starbucks. (Like you didn't know that already)

Interesting thing happened in the drive thru.

The Barista (btw if you're a guy does that make you a baristo...baristabro, anyways) he asked us a simple question as we waited for our holiday lattes...

"What brings you into town today?"

With that being said we could've said a couple of things like "We are on our way home" or "Oh just passing thru" or how about, "We love the Amish countryside."

It was not the full reason of why especially the last one, but a reason to avoid an awkward exchange of informing this "Baristainator (yeah, that didn't work) that we are... gulp...pause...Christians.

Because lets be honest it is awkward to admit you are a Christian.

So, I went for it, I said it.

"Yeah, man, we are just coming back from church."

Time slowed as I expected some half-hearted smile, or snicker, or giggle (do barista's giggle.)

He didn't do any of those things.

He shared that he was in the Navy.
He shared that he just proposed to the love of his life.
He shared that he was afraid to tell her family of their decision to tie the knot.

He opened up.

I found out his name was Josh and told him I would keep him and his family in prayer, and he asked for our names too. He thought my wife said her name was Marista, thats kinda funny, makes me think of another Barista name...Manista. (ok this is turning into a bad parady of a Seinfield episode.)

In the time of getting our drinks we had as the old-timers say, a "Divine Appointment," or as the Emmergents would say, "We felt a vibe."

However you would define it we had a God Moment.

As we drove away my wife said, "people just open up to you don't they...?"

I laughed and then I tried to say something clever, but probably corny.

We are not the only ones out there who find it challenging to show our hand and throw down the C-card. Actually its only 23% of Christians who share their faith with unchristians in a 12 month span. That is not good.

I believe there are a lot of balanced Christians who love people with no agenda; who are not trying to sell (or buy) some funky prayer cross after 12am. (Que epic music)

There are Christians who are starting to understand that it is not about a glitzy gospel.

Let's be a generation of Christians who start the conversation.

Let's be a generation of Christians who will not shy away from those "God Moments."

Lets raise the 23%.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How Do You Measure A Successful Church...The Answer


It was a random tweet on a random Wednesday night...

RT @aldisal How do u measure a successful church bedsides counting who's in the pews and who's on the bank statement?

Some of the feedback that I received was...

People being discipled
People looking after each other
People growing in Christ.

Yeah, about that, people growing in Christ what does that look like anyways?

From what I've seen people growing in Christ is...

Automatic withdraw (Still trying to process that one)

Having your best life now (Im sure that would make a good book title)

Making sure people don't watch bad movies (Why do blue people always get a bad rap, remember the smurfs)

I want to be careful because I believe these are all well intentioned men, trying to do what they think is right. I get that. Im not here to criticize their convictions.

My question...

Is there more.?

Is there less?

What is church really all about or supposed to be all about?

Maybe Francois Fenelon was on to something when he said...

"To read the bible, attend church, and avoid Big Sins- is this passionate, wholehearted love for God?"

Going back to my tweetversation (is that even a word), and waited for some more responses, I re-tweeted a comment that I didn't even think was connected until another friend (tweep) asked if it was.

RT @Gesese Yo...I just helped this homeless guy out and led him to Christ. You don't even know how good that felt.

It was not a tweet from a famous pastor, it wasn't from a pastor at all (not yet anyways).

It was a comment from a former student of mine who is in 11th grade.

It was inspiring on many levels.

This was a student that always had my attention. He is good at basketball and loves Kobe. Needless to say, lots of good sports discussion to be had. Plus he has cool hair. He is a leader.

The knowledge of the bible that this student has would rival many of the adults in the church (and mine), he always kept me on my biblical toes. (I love that about him.)

He wouldn't wear his bible on his sleeve, not an easy thing for a student who goes to Christian School. Yes, it may sound like an oxymoron but if you ever attended a Christian school you would know what I am talking about.

However, this student nailed it. (think thats punny?)

What makes the church great is not what happens on a sunday. It is what happens on Monday to Friday (and sometimes on Saturday depending on your Sabbath and what BCS team is playing. Boise St Rocks!)

Let me put it this way, what happens on sunday is like practice. Yes, Im talkin Bout Practice.

Church is practice and Chrisitians unlike Alan Iverson love practice.

It's safe.
It's controlled.
It's predictable.

Christians, when did we become so scared.
What happened to trusting Holy Spirit to speak a well timed word at the water cooler or praying for a stranger.

Christians, when did we have to control everything from movies to politics.
What happened to finding truth in everyday life, what happened to the power of the parable.

Christians when did two fast songs transitioned by a key change into three slow songs become a good worship service.
What happened to creating an atmosphere of worship not a formula for worship.

This student wasn't on a church sanctioned outreach event.
This student wasn't passing out tracts, (because everyone loves tracts right.)
This student wasn't in church.

He was at the supermarket.
He was in the Game.

This week I have been processing what our church plant is going to be all about.

What we believe.
What core values to well, value.
What makes church.

I do not have everything figured out, especially church.
Quite frankly I mess things up more often than I get things right.

But I want to get it right.



Friday, October 29, 2010

My First Halloween at 30


I felt a little strange walking out of the house with my wife and a jack-o-lantern in one hand and my son dressed up as a St. Bernard in the other. It seemed as if as I was doing something wrong, almost unspiritual.

I am a Christian isn't Halloween the devil's holiday?

Our family waited at the stoop with our porch light on and two big bowls brimming with sweet tasty treats.

Nothing calls kids like candy.

Shortly after, families and kids started to stream to our door. It felt really good to hand out candy to the kids. I told them they can take a hand full. Hey, this is how Italians do Halloween! Mangia! (thats italian for eat more).

We met a really cool young family down the road with a six month old dressed up as Yoda. Needless to say I liked them immediately.

They introduced themselves and said how nice it was to see another young family in the neighborhood and that we should get together sometime. (we will.)

Then it hit me...why the in the world do Christians make such a big deal about Halloween?

You meet your neighbors.
You hand out candy.
You have friendly conversations with people who you would probably not have otherwise.

It's a can't miss opportunity to be a blessing, to be salt and light and maybe alittle milk chocolate thrown in too.

I grew up in that great 80s Christian tradition of locking your door shutting the lights and pretending that you are not home (when everyone knew you were anyway) so that God forbid you don't have talk to your neighbors or be nice to the kids, or "give the devil a foothold."

I think I would rather give the devil a double take to know that his holiday has been taking over by Christians who will use it to further God's Kingdom not his.

Walking around the neighborhood felt good, it felt like the first time we were part of our community. And to be honest the houses that were dark and locked seemed more scary than the ones with the orange decorations.

This may be backlash from days as a kid of not being able dress like Spider-Man and having bad memories from Hallelujah parties (its a christian alternative party in a church, I was a bible with two black poster boards and myself as the bookmark dressed in a yellow sweat suit. I did win a prize ha ha).

I have seen other Christians starting to cross over the Halloween party lines and dress up their kids too and get into on this "taboo" holiday.

I think Halloween is what you make it to be, much like anything else in this world.

If you want to make it about evil spirits and witchcraft and all that than I am not a fan.

If you make it about the kids, than I am a fan...

and from their perspective isn't it just about dressing up and getting candy?

Christians can we just stop overspiritualizing things and really be all things to all men and keep it about the kids.

You might just make a new friend.

You might just bring someone new to church.

And that would be pretty sweet.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Things Happen For A Reason & John Cusack


I don't like to gamble. Probably because I am bad at it.

Every time I change lanes in traffic to speed up I slow down. When I am in a rush and switch lines at the grocery store, you got it, the guy in front of me either has a million coupons or paying with a check. (and who pays with a check these days anyways.)

Even my fantasy football team (no money involved, just pride) is dreadful.

When it comes to chance, I am not a fan.

When it comes to fate. I am a believer.

I cry at sports movies that highlight the underdog. (Rudy & Field of Dreams 'nuff said...tear.)

I am a sucker for a good chick flick where two people who never should have met... do. (Serendipity or pretty much anything with John Cusack)

I was recently talking to a good friend of mine about how he meet his wife how it was a series of events that brought them together.

They met at a wedding.
They both were in the bridle party.
They both hit it off.

The interesting thing was that before the wedding he just declined a job position that would have landed him in Oklahoma.

Far away from the girl he just met at the wedding.
Far away from the girl that would become his wife.

I love stories like that, I believe in stories like that.

Even the story of how I met Marisa was anything but chance.

I recently had a week that changed my life.

It was a one of those weeks that can send your life into a different direction in an instant.

Planting a church is all about faith. I always thought as my self as a person that has alot of it. After all I believe that everything happens for a reason...you gotta have faith to believe that you can raise 30,000 in a year.

I had two big conversations with two pastors of two big churches, who I thought were going to be a big help to our church plant.

It was a big disappointment.

We got no help.

Needless to say I felt crushed.

One pastor I met even suggested I should put my resume out there, that maybe this church planting thing wasn't for me.

I did a lot of driving that day, I did a lot of praying.

And alot of venting...after all Im Italian. We love to vent.

The next morning was rainy and dreary, but it was a beautiful day.

After I dropped my wife off at work I had the Pandora Hillsong United station playing in the car, (by the way I love pandora who needs FM radio).

Seriously, every song that played was like a message from God.
Songs of God being in control, about not giving up, about hope.

I was balling.

If a car pulled beside me at a red-light, Im sure I would make for a good youtube video.

Then something inside just clicked.

I emailed my pastor saying I wanted to be more involved at church even though I am not a full-time staff member.

I called my brother, I said I was not about to give up on the dream to plant a church even though things have not gone the way I expected.

There was a feeling that I had that is hard to put into words, it was if I was on Holy Spirit Red Bull.

What happened next really gave me wings.

Upon returning home I checked the mailbox to find a letter from a friend. Enclosed was a note that read how his family has been praying for us, how he believes in our vision to reach the Towson/Baltimore area, and there was also a check for $5000.

I cried... again.

The timing was perfect.
The timing was God.

I can understand why the bible says "The God of your fathers and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" a combination of 31 times throughout the OT and even the NT.

We need to be reminded of what God can do.
We need to be reminded what God has done.
We need to be reminded that God is our source.

I believe that everything happens for a reason.

This church plant is happening for a reason.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

See You Again Soon


I spent the day in Towson while I waited for an appointment that I had scheduled. It is a pretty neat town just outside of Baltimore. I love hanging out in Towson, there is just something about it that draws me.

I guess it all began when my wife and I and some friends went to a concert at a small venue called The Recher Theatre. It was the first time I really got to spend some time and catch the vibe in the town and it was pretty much love at first sight. It was also that night that I felt God drawing me to plant a church in Towson.

What if people were lined
up like this to go to church.

The process of planting a church has been about two years now and we are planing to have our first service in the Fall of 2011 hopefully at that very venue The Recher.

The ride that is planting a church is like being on a roller coaster (esp the ones that go upside down).

There are days when you get glimpses and it is an amazing feeling to see what can be.

There are also days when you feel like you just face a lot of shut doors and unforeseen surprises and not good surprises either, and while we are at it, does anyone really like surprises after the age of 5 anyways.

It is humbling to be in the process of raising support. I am not a salesman, I don't approach the gospel as one either. My heart is to see people come to follow Jesus and bring the bible to life thru creative teaching and preaching.

Wouldn't it be great to have people who actually want to come back to church again the next week, and maybe bring a friend?

The call to plant a church for me, is the same as the call into ministry. It is apart of who I am. I would feel like I would be letting God down if this doesn't happen.

I heard a church planter say that the process of planting a church, in beginning, is about the spiritual journey of the one leading the church; he is right. It is as if every day I have to face my fears, my demons and strive to live by faith and not by sight.

This week has been challenging on many levels almost discouraging. The appointment that I had was rescheduled so I just spent some extra time at the Towson Mall, because I am a big believer in retail therapy. Just kidding...maybe. I did have to pick a few things though :-)

I decided to hit up the food court and do some praying while I was there. I was feeling the need to go mexican and enjoy a tasty burrito of epic proportions (im also a big believer in comfort food). The guy who put my burrito together smiled alot, he was just a happy dude I guess, and as I paid for my lunch he said, "See you again soon!"

For some reason, maybe spiritual, his words hit me. I'm sure he says that to a lot of the people who buy his burritos, because they are pretty darn good, but for me his words felt like a promise from God.

I will be back in this town.
I will be planting a church in Towson.
I will be buying a lot of his burritos.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Confession

I have been teaching the Gospels this year for Elevate Ministry School, and it has been an interesting journey sharing about the early church fathers. There was one historical figure who struck a chord and I liked what he wrote and I could relate to his life.

“How late I came to love oh Beauty so ancient and fresh, You were in me when I had gone outside to seek you, and always You were with me, but I was not with You. You called, You cried, You shattered my deftness, You sparkled, You blazed, You drove away my blindness. You shed your fragrance and I drew in my breath and I pant for You, I tasted and now I hunger and thirst. You touched me and now I burn, longing for Your peace.” -St. Augustine

St. Augustine is known for his works Confessions and City of God, he was a large influence on theology especially on western Christianity. He had an amazing conversion experience and his approach to Christian thought and writing would look a lot like modern Christian worship songs; a rare idea in his day.

This week I had an "Augustinian-Moment" if you would want to call it that. I was driving home with my wife, she was sleeping in the passenger seat and my son was asleep in his car seat, as I was listening to Hillsong United on Pandora.

We were almost home when I prayed a short prayer, "God please give me the energy to be a good dad and husband tonight." It was then when I heard that audible-but-not-so-audible voice of God, "That was the first time I heard you pray for your family like that."

It was as if time slowed down (or I was at a traffic light) and I started to think to myself that I need to pray more prayers like that.

We then pulled into the driveway and it was back to the routine; change and feed the little guy while Marisa prepares dinner.

I didn't think much of my "moment" in the car that evening, not even when my wife thanked me for spending so much time with Keane and helping her out throughout the night.

No, it didn't hit me until I was sharing a video to the class about the life of Augustine, that I remembered how God answered my prayers and gave me energy to be a better dad and a better husband that night.

How many prayers have I prayed to get,
when I should have been praying more prayers to give.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Turning 30 and the Irony of It All


I have written and rewritten this blog numerous times.

How do you sum up the past ten years of your life?
How do you know what the next ten years of your life will be like?

I do know this.

I am ready for what's next.

I am ready to be thirty.

Looking back on my twenties I thank God for his grace, because I definitely made some mistakes. I also thank God for his grace, because I also made some really brilliant life choices too, like marrying my best friend and soulmate. (I also thank God for his grace for allowing her to put up with me.)

We have had our fair share of challenges, but the best moments have always been with my wife.

It is not easy being married to a pastor. She has always stuck by my side. Even when we moved four times in one year because there are some things that happen in ministry that no one can prepare you for in Bible College.

The ministry can be like looking at life thru a microscope.

How you look at scripture.
How you look at people.
How you look at yourself.

It can be hard to take a step back and see things in perspective (especially God's perspective) than be short sighted and see things only in the moment.

Think about it.

When you receive a grade on a test or job review, the tendency can be to look at all the things you did wrong instead of things you did right.

This week I got a glimpse of my life from a different perspective.

It has come to my attention that I am one of five Valley Forge Christian College grads to receive the "Young Alumni Service Award," recognizing alum of 10 years or younger who have made significant contributions to further the mission of VFCC.

A friend on mine tweeted congratulating me on the award. I honestly thought he was trying to prank me. He is the type of individual to do such a thing. Think Will Ferrell as youth pastor, and that's pretty much him.

I had him scan and email me the homecoming flyer so I can see for myself.

After my initial thought of being pranked (no one says punk'd anymore) my next thought was, "I don't think I have done enough to deserve this award."

I even said this to my Will Ferrell pastor friend.

He then shared some encouraging words and I began to look at my life as if I was looking at that that test, focusing on the things I did right, not the things I did wrong.

It is ironic, not just because this VFCC student was kicked out and suspended and as my uncle put it, "just happy to graduate from bible college," but that I would receive an award from the college seven years later.

"Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride...I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle" Ecclesiastes 7.8/9.11

In my life I have not won many races or seemed to get off to a good start, but I keep running.

The Fall of 2011 we will be planting a church in Towson MD.

There will be highs.
There will be lows.

I do not know how successful it will be, but I do know this...

I will continue to run, I will be faithful.

Many people have tried to define success, however I believe Mother Teresa has a good perspective on it.

"God hasn't called me to be successful. He's called me to be faithful."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The 4 Years That Changed My Life


I've been in youth ministry a long time. When going back to when I first started interning at my home church in Philly to today it would end up being ten years working with tomorrows future leaders. Youth ministry is probably one of the most challenging professions a person can choose however it is one of the most rewarding too.

I do not want to focus on all things that they didn't tell you in bible college, that will be for another day.

I want to focus on the past four years. I want to focus on Third Lane Youth.
Third Lane Youth 2007
(In case you ever wondered what TLY was all about)

I have been in a couple of different churches before I came to York First Assembly. The youth ministry we had in those churches grew and we had some great times. It wasn't until we launched TLY that the vision that I always had for youth min became a reality.

We had a live worship band with students and adults that eventually became totally student driven. (I love playing worship with my wife our team from TLY amazing times)

We had a thriving Fine Arts program (thanx to my wife) that focused on Human Videos, yeah its an AG thing...think acting out a song where drama meets cheerleading...sorta. The students we worked with were good...really good!

Fine Arts is a crazy beast for those who don't know what it is, its basically a talent driven program for students to use their talents and be judge on how well they do.

Think America's God Talent Meets American Idol and yeah...its pretty big deal in our denomination.

We made it to the National Level every year and that was great, but we never made it be about the awards and trips.

It was about ministry and discipleship.

We would take the students out to numerous churches and outreach events and the students made such an impact everywhere we went.

I always loved the development aspect of this creative tool, seeing students who would never be a part of something like this step out and make a difference. It never got old to me.

It wasn't that TLY was a youth group...it was more like a Youth Church, a church that felt like family.

And just like family we had our ups and downs, and in youth ministry not many pastors stick around long enough to press thru the drama and to start seeing the fruit.

I have never been a big event youth pastor. My heart has always been to raise future leaders in the church and in the world...(I guess VFCC made more of an impression on me than I thought, thanx Dr. Meyers) We ran TLY like a ministry school and the majority of our students in TLY went on to college especially to Bible College.

Third Lane Youth was always analogy to live life in the Spirit (live in the lane you can't see), to walk by faith and not by sight. It is interesting to me that after preaching about it for four years God would call me to plant and church and really practice what I preach and really step out in faith.

This past sunday the students organized a farewell for us. They made it about us. The impact we had. The good times we shared. It felt good, but honestly I just kept thinking Im so proud of this group of students to see how far they have come in their walk with God. They have been thru alot, we both have, but in the end we stood together in love and in faith.

I didn't realize that the things that made the biggest impression on them were not my sermons, how clever or fashionable I was, (although they did make a pretty funny video about how I dress, stay tuned I'll put that up soon)

It was about the little things I did.

The hanging out and playing video games, going out and talking over lunch, singing American Idol.

That's right I said American Idol.

It was a weird tradition that my wife and I had that if students came over our house we made them sing and play the American Idol video game...You would be surprised the students that would sing...and how they would sing...oh my...lol.

The farewell service was not about me, it was about them, it has always been about them.

I went into youth ministry to change lives, but in the end it was my life that was changed.


Third Lane Youth 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Phillies Phaith


It was not an uncommon night for my wife and I. We put our little guy to bed and spent some time watching TV, flipping channels, and talking about the day. The Food Network is always a fav and I like to turn back and forth between the latest Ace of Cakes and the latest Phillies game.

Marriage is all about compromise peoples. (If I can only get that Picture in Picture feature working)

Sad to say the remote did not get a lot of action last night. It pretty much stayed on the Food Network. After all, my beloved Phillies were losing 9-2 to the stinking LA Dodgers. (I pretty much loathe all things LA that includes Kobe.)

I have to be honest.

When I saw the score I did not turn it back to watch again for the night.

This is not behavior becoming of the true blue Philly sports fan, of days of old when my dad would wake me up to watch Lenny Dykstra and John Kruk pull out a late night rally.

I went to bed and shut the lights on my Phillies.

I woke up and put on my favorite Phillies Tee after all, thats how Philly fans do, win or lose.

Turning on my Mac to catch the latest clever headline from the Philadelphia Daily News Online depicting another heartbreaking loss. I was shocked to read CHOOCHOOO! in big letters and see the Phillies catcher Ruiz (nicknamed Chooch) dancing with his fellow teammates.

Did they win?
They did!

They pulled off the comeback from being down seven runs!

This made me smile and made me think.

How often do I give up when the circumstances look hopeless?
How often do I assume that there is no time left to turn things around?
How often do I let my fear of disappointment dictate my faith in something or someone?

I wonder when the momentum shift was that started The Phillies to believe that they had a chance. If something was said from one player to another, to not give up, to hold on, to keep swinging.

Sometimes prayers can be like a Phillies game.

There are some types of fans and people of faith that stay to the final inning never giving up hope and being there in the moment when hope meets the fruition.
For the rest of us, its good to know that in the moments when we turn the channel of our faith, God does not turn the channel from us and is still working behind the scenes.

Life is not always like a ballgame but I like to think that I serve God who can surprise us by a headline, or a verse, or something more.

I am reminded of Jesus praying for his disciples in the garden before His death (John 17), they fell asleep, but Jesus didn't. In the midst of His unbearable burden of the cross he prayed for them, He prayed for us.

He undersands the battle of waiting.

"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." (Rom8.26-28 Msg)

I don't have everything figured out.
There are circumstances in my life that I wished would be more comfortable.
No matter how big or how small, I have faith.
I will believe, I will hope.

"Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy (and the Phillies) comes thru in the morning."


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TLY Youth Day/ Comfort or Faith?


I love seeing students leading other students. This past sunday, the students of TLY lead other adults. It was our annual youth day where the students take over worship, minister in special music, and human videos. This year they preached too!

We had two seniors share Matthias Wagman who will be attending Messiah College and Mary Liz Patterson who will be attending Zion Bible college in the Fall.

Both brought unique perspectives about stepping out of the comfort zone and into the faith zone as one of the students put it.

Matthias recently traveled to France and spoke some as well. He shared about a family who they had a chance to fellowship with and plant some seeds of faith. Its cool hearing him read their post card in French...Oui Oui!

Mary Liz followed and has one of the sweetest voices you will ever hear, but she brought some of strongest challenges I ever heard in a message as well.

She shared a story about a photograph of a girl and raven that won the pulitzer prize.


How many times are we as Christians afraid to step out of comfort zone and chase life's vultures.

We closed the message with communion.

I showed this video that I put together about 4 years ago for my first youth service at TLY (then Powerhouse Youth Ministries) its kind of fitting that I would show it on my last youth day.

Its a scene from the Passion of the Christ set to the song The Stand by Hillsong United. When I put this together I never saw the other video montage with a similar scene and other scenes from the movie.

The unique thing about this video is that movie and song are not edited and it is erie and inspiring how it fits together ala Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz.

In the book Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis states his famous "Trilemma"

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

There is a line in the song that keeps replaying in my mind after I watch this video, "What can say what can I do, but offer this heart eternally to you."

We always have a choice in life.

Christ was never forced his views or vision on anyone.

He always leaves it for us to decide...

comfort or faith?

Monday, July 26, 2010

From 2 to 7 TLY Water Baptism Service

My favorite event each year hands down is definitely our Third Lane Youth Water Baptism service. We have been doing this since 2008. Each year there is something about the day that inspires me and leaves me with memories that I will never forget.

The first year it rained cats, dogs, and hamsters. You name it. That was one crazy storm.

We went to Pinchot Park anyways.
We cooked hot dogs under umbrellas.
We had a worship service.

And as we worshiped, the storm cleared and we had our first baptism service.

The first year we were the only ones there, the second year it was a beautiful day and there were lots of other people there too. That is to say, not just people from our church.

It could be a little intimidating to baptize in public like that, but it made an impression on me that these students were proud to get baptized amongst the on-lookers.

Most of all, it's the people getting baptized that truly make this day unforgettable.
It is not an easy thing to stand up in public, its another thing when you stand for Jesus in public.

This year was different than any another year.

It wasn't just students getting baptized this time.

Over the past number of years we always a had a good group signed up to take the plunge.

This year we had two signed up.

Not that numbers are everything. I am definitely not a numbers guy, but I just really believe in water baptism as one of the bench mark moments in your walk with God. I don't want to see anyone miss an opportunity.

As we closed our worship service this time I shared a verse from Acts 8 about Philip and the Ethiopian.

"35Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" (Acts 8.35-36 NIV)

I think sometimes we complicate things to much in the church.

When you step out in faith and call a Holy Spirit audible there is always a fear of a fumble. What happened during this service was definitely a touchdown in my book. (That's the analogy you get when you fall asleep watching Sports Center.)

We had a grandmother come forward, a parent, and a brother and sister. Even before the service we had a parent call to see if their child could get baptized.

It is an amazing thing to see that type of momentum take place; from two to seven. (see the sports analogy works)

We recorded testimonies this year for the video from students who got baptized in the years previous and this year as well.

I love hearing the students share their heart.

These individuals ministered to me, if not more, as much as I try to minster to them.

So don't just take my word for it... (Reading Rainbow anyone?)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Landslide

I remember the first time I met Jeff Rosinski. It was orientation at Valley Forge Christian College, and I was excited and scared. New places can have that effect on me - on lots of people I suppose.

There was this one blonde haired guy cracking jokes and wearing a blue tie-dyed "Greatful Dead" T-Shirt. Upon a closer look it read, "Greatful to God, Dead to sin." It was a little cheesy, but it made me laugh. I liked this guy immediately.

Jeff was my first friend at Valley Forge, and probably one of my best friends during those years. We definitely had our moments like most friendship do, but we had some great times too.

Joking in the back of the class.
Playing tennis and talking about girls.
Working in the school cafeteria and thinking we were cool.

Some people are the type of friends that no matter what season of life you are in, you can get together and pick up right where you left off, never missing a beat. Jeff was one of those friends.

We also listened to music a lot.
He turned me on to Garth Brooks and Dave Matthews Band.
I turned him on to the Smashing Pumpkins and Bob Dylan.

One song in particular that Jeff loved (and would steal my CD and have me play all the time) was the Pumpkins cover of "Landslide."

He loved that song.

Listening to the song now and reading the lyrics it's ironic, it is beautiful.

The imagery of mountains.
The honesty of fears.
The changing seasons of hope.

It's a song about growing up.

On the surface Jeff could come across as the typical college guy, but when you got to know him he was deep.

Jeff was a thinker and writer.

During those years we both wrote poetry a lot.
It is cool to go on Jeff's Blog and still see him writing poetry.

I haven't written that much poetry since college.
I think that will change.

When I think of this life, I think that we are all running a race, and as we cross the finish line we cross into eternity.

"Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!." (1 corinthians 9.24 NLT)

Jeff always ran to win.

Jeff always ran faster than me.

I look forward to seeing you again friend and I know you are waiting at the finish line where life meets eternity.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Hero Is A Christian


Christian means different things to different people. The particular Christian that I am talking about is my cousin Christian. He was married a number of months ago in Tulsa OK where he met his wife Amanda.

This past weekend they had a marriage service for the family in Philly and I was able to be a part of the festivities too. My job was to do the Unity-Candle section of the ceremony.

It was a pretty moving service.

My cousin Christian means the world to me, he is more than a cousin, he is like a brother to me.
In the Italian culture family is a big deal, the fact that Christian is getting married is a big deal.

September will mark 12 years from when his mother Sue passed away from a five year battle with Breast Cancer.

Sue was a striking women in beauty and in her walk with God.

She had a laugh that was contagious.

Aunt Sue had a big heart and just being around her you felt lifted in your spirit. There were many times as a teenager I would take the bus to NJ to hang with my cuz and his fam. Those years were probably the hardest of my life and my Aunt Sue was always there to be an encouraging source of strength and give me the courage to be myself and trust God.

As much as my Aunt Sue was a huge inspiration in my life even more so to her son Christian.

They talked a lot.
They fought a lot.
But they hugged even more.

She was the most important person in his life...most important women in his life.

Christian and I were roommates in college.
We took many walks and talked about many things.

When you're in your twenties guys always talk about girls.

(Hope of finding the one... well at least at bible college they do.)

He shared thoughts that broke my heart of what it was like to lose a mom at age 17.
He shared fears that I would never be able to handle if I was in his shoes.

He shared his heart.

Christian has now found someone to share his hopes and fears...his heart.
A special young woman to be an inspiration to his embattled soul.

I am inspired by people who have preserved thru great obstacles and tragedy and still believe in God.

That is true faith.

Christian has preserved.
Christian has faith.

I am rememinded of verse that is quickly becoming my favorite verse for this season of my life...

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." - John 16.33 (NLT)

In an age when people invent new ways and excuses to behave however they want, Christian had every right to use his mother as an excuse, he never did.

Christian is a hero to me that still holds on to his faith in God and has found a hand in his to walk in a new journey of hope together.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lebron A King Misunderstood


I was not surprised with Lebron James "Decision" to go to Miami. He will now have a legit shot to win a title with some of the greatest players and greatest guys in the NBA Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

In a country that loves superstars loves super star teamups like The Big Three in Boston, Kobe and Gasol, Brady and Moss, the calibration of talent with these teams was always met with high praise, however it is different for Lebron.

I am having a hard time figuring out why there is so much hate for a guy who has done nothing but kept his nose clean and makes some pretty funny commercials.

He does not dog fight.

He does not have rendezvous in Colorado.

He does not have a wife that swings a golf club like a WWE star.

He is a good guy in a sport-world with a lot of selfish guys...right?

In my life following sports I have always seen "Big Stars" take "Big Money" to have the sole spotlight to further their "Big Ego."

The Alex Rodriguez

The Albert Haynesworth

The Manny Ramirez

Just to name a few.

So here comes Lebron choosing to go into a situation with LESS MONEY and to SHARE the SPOTLIGHT with two other superstars to WIN a CHAMPIONSHIP.

Instead of having a press conferance to announce his decision he has a TV Special that will raise money for the United Way, pretty cool right?

Wrong.

Since the media were not invited to the party its time to trash the host.

Lebron chose not to go to the major sport markets like New York and Chicago so of course they are going to make him a villain. If Lebron chose New York and not Miami he would be hero, but he didn't, so he is not.

I guess thats what you get if you miff off the biggest news media outlet in world.

"It takes one player to be a superstar it takes a team to be champion," James said last night in his statement on ESPN.

In a culture that values money and individualized fame it is refreshing to see a star be able to communicate the importance of team and how the best way to reach goals are to reach them together.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Most Inspiring TV Family Is In A Commercial

There are not many family sitcoms anymore on TV these days. It seemed like there were so many great shows in 80s like The Cosby Show, Family Ties, and Growing Pains just to name a few.

Even in the 90s with Boy Meets World, this was my show, how could I not relate to this kid, he had curly hair, from Philly, and his dad would wake him up to watch The Phillies.

When I think about family sit-coms today the first one that comes to mind is The Simpsons. Actually its the longest running sitcom still airing today. Probably because its funny, it doesn't take itself to seriously, and the kids never age.

I love Homer Simpson but I don't want every TV dad to be like Homer.

There are just not many dads on TV anymore that I want to be like, but there is one in a commercial.

ATT released a commercial that I have scene many times, I still don't remember the name of the phone that they are pushing, but I remember the dad.

Its a brilliant TV spot about a future president that you see in flashback style glimpses of his life growing up and then it ends with a moment on a train when his parents first meet. Even if you are not married and have kids, you wanna be the type of guy that follows his heart and approaches the girl on the train. Its a cool commercial, but it is also an inspiring commercial.

It's inspiring because its about a family, and its about how the little moments matter.

Moments like little tug of the arm the wife gives her husband after many years.

Moments like the pat on the head while walking and talking with you son.

Moments like the time a mother takes to teach her son about music.

Life is in the moments.

There are not to many things you can watch on TV that makes you proud to be an American or inspired to be a dad, this commercial does both.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hillsong...Worship From One Generation To Another



The year when I put down the football I picked up a pair of drumsticks changed my life.
It was that year for Christmas my parents finally gave in to all of my ceaseless cries for a drum-kit and delivered with the 5 piece instrument under the tree.
(I seriously bugged them everyday.)
Everyone in my neighborhood knew I got a drum-kit that year.
My cousin and I would jam on the weekends to 90s grudge and classic rock from the 70s. We thought we were legit. I think I played every song with the same beat, but we didn't care we weren't just weirdo high-schoolers anymore we were Rock Stars! (There is till a mix tap floating around somewhere).
In High School sometimes being in a band is just as cool as being on a sports team.
My annoying antics didn't just stop with parents I got to my Pastor too. 
I wanted to play drums with the worship band. I had some miss-steps before with wanting to play drums, but only my Pastor and I know about that moment and that is all I will say about that.
But that is just the thing I loved about my Pastor growing up was that he believed in second chances but more importantly believed in me.
The up coming Youth Day that year in 97' was my second chance to prove my self.
Youth Day at Evangel left an undeniable impression on me that I will never forget, especially the Pastor’s wife waving her arm in the back of church signaling me to slow down.
I loved playing the drums!
I loved playing the drums to worship God!
Being involved with worship team helped me to become more connected to my church, to my Pastor, and to my God.
I think there is something about being involved in your local church that really enables one to grow.
Pastor and I got pretty tight during those years.
There are certain people you click with in life and Pastor was one of them. 
He helped me develop a love worship music, especially Hillsong Worship. Pastor would get so excited with every new release. We were always learning new Hillsongs and working them into the set lists and we had fun playing them together too.
And for the first time in my life I was a part of something that was meaningful. 
As a Youth Pastor I have had the privilege to help raise a new generation with a love for worship.
I remember being at a Winter Youth Retreat years later and the worship band was playing these songs that were absolutely brilliant. I asked who wrote these cool songs, they said it was Hillsong United, Hillsong's youth band.
The first time I heard the opening guitar riff of "Salvation Is Here" I was hooked in big way!
The arrangements Hillsong United had were great but it was lines like "The art of losing my self in bringing you praise," that really struck a chord with me.
We started learning the songs in our youth group and I saw that same sparkle of inspiration in the students eyes that I had when I was there age playing at Evangel.
Now I was the one like my pastor who couldn’t wait to share a new release by Hillsong with the students in the worship band.   
Nothing was like the night when we introduced the song "Take It All" to Third Lane Youth, the students were actually singing the chorus in the church parking lot. (Funny side note a parent thought they were singing "Take Take Take It *Off" um you had to be there).
The latest effort from Hillsong was released recently.
Joel Houston (of HillsongUnited) has taken the mantle from Darlene Zschech (who wrote Shout to the Lord and other great worship hits from the 90s) to lead Hillsong into a new chapter of worship.
It reminds me of how that love of worship was passed from one generation to another, from my Pastor to me and onto my students.
I don't know where my life would be if I never got hurt and didn't play drums for Evangel.
Playing worship music helped me develop a love for Jesus and call for my life.
I will be transitioning to plant a church and August 22nd will be my last sunday with my students from Third Lane Youth in York PA.
The last Sunday during worship we had four students playing in the adult worship band that morning.
There wasn't much worshiping from me that Sunday, I just watched the students worship God with their talents and started to cry, but it was a good cry.
Maybe I am a little nostalgic.
Maybe sometimes you don't realize how blessed you are until it's time to say goodbye.
Maybe what it is all about is passing on a love of worship...of Christ, from one generation generation to another.