Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rock N Roller Skate Fundraiser

We had a great time tonight at our Rock N Roller Skate for the Student Ministry. We rented out the rink to raise funds for Icthus (outdoor Christian festival this summer) We had around 175 people there as it was open to all ages and families. It was a lot of fun. My favorite part was when we were doing the Hokey Pokey! It was so cool to see our church family all out there together having fun, relaxed, and just being silly! Lots of pics, so enjoy!! It was a blast!

On another note, we also took out the graduating seniors today for lunch. It was such a delight to chat with them about their future hopes and dreams. We are so blessed to be a part of their lives:)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Undefeated Soccer 07!

Tayler's soccer team is undefeated thus far. Last night's game they won 6-0 and today they won 4-0. This is his third year with the same coach and a lot of the same players. He is much faster this year and more agile.......I think this has to do with him running track every day. That has helped him quite a bit. The pics aren't the best, but I will try to get some better ones soon.

Meet Cookie!

This is Cookie, Tayler's new dog. We got him from the Humane Society about three weeks ago. He is seven years old. He doesn't shed, doesn't bark, and is house trained...........our kind of dog:) Tayler is in heaven having him and he sleeps with Tayler every night. He nestles his head in Tayler's shoulders and puts his front legs around his a little cute:)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

We're number 1!!! Or Are we...?

Some of you know that I (Brian) have been in a bowling league since January. I wanted to go hang out with some guys and I used to bowl when I was a kid so I thought this would be a fun thing to do. I asked some guys and we signed up. When we got to the first night they split us up into two teams of two. My teammate is Rich Reed. We never, in a million years, would have thought that we would do any good- it was just an excuse to go do something.

We started off poorly but we had fun. Before long we were in fifth place then after a couple more weeks we were in third. We stayed in third forever and fell to fifth again. But, it was temporary before we blasted into second place.

We didn't think too much of it because the team behind us was right on our tail and we were way behind first place. However, in the last few weeks of play we had an opportunity to play the first place team and pull ahead. We had come within two points of them. Unfortunately we each won two games that night and we stayed in second.

Finally, the next to last week we pulled ahead by four points. We showed up to our last night of bowling and looked at the rankings and could not believe it. All we had to do was win two games and we would tie- win three and we would win!

The team we played against was awesome. One of the guys didn't show up and the one that did bowled over 200 every game. We bowled decent and Rich had his best game ever.We did enough to win temporarily but if the other bowler shows up then it might be another story.

At the end of the night we are in first place but everything can change in a week. But, I have been told that we locked it! Wow. We just entered the league for fun and ended up winning the whole thing. I got us trophies because I was told there weren't any. However, at the end of the night they told us to come back next week to pick up trophies for the first place team (that's us!). So, now we will have two trophies from this season.

So, feel free to leave a congratulatory comment- I am now part of two "championship" teams- the 2005 waterball champions and now the 2007 Nascar Bowling League Champions! Not the most prestigious but still I'll take what I can... We'll know for sure next week if we won. If we did not then this blog will just become a big sad face:( But, if we still win then I will post pics of my team holding our trophies!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Faking Church

By Dan Schaeffer

He waited his turn, practicing what he'd rehearsed with his wife, anxious to experience the adulation he knew was coming. Soon, he would be drowning in praise for their "selfless" act of generosity. Little did he know they were making history as the first documented church fakers.

The account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11 is a disturbing one. They both fell down dead at the end of the story, and "great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events" (v. 11 NIV). It began subtly enough. The couple had witnessed the generosity of others in the Jerusalem church who sold their personal land and gave the entire proceeds for distribution among the needy. (4:32-37) What Ananias and Sapphira noticed most was not the selflessness but the spiritual prestige such an act produced.

The couple sold a piece of property they owned. But when they brought the proceeds, they gave only half to the cause. So far, so good. Any act of generosity would have been welcomed. The problem was the deception in their hearts. They claimed they were contributing the entire amount of their gross profit. One can imagine Ananias handing the money over to the apostles with a self-satisfied smile. He'd figured out how to gain a lofty reputation for half price, the ultimate spiritual bargain.

People often question why the Holy Spirit chose to illuminate this couples' sin in such a drastic way. Death seems a bit harsh to us. While we don't know all the intricate workings of what was going on that day, we can know one thing for sure: the holiness of God within His church was at stake. He wanted to remind His people of this early on. In the Kingdom of God, purity of motive trumps self-serving ministry or philanthropy every time.

We're taught to loathe their example. But I'm afraid we've simply copied it, albeit to a lesser degree. I've discovered there's a great deal more of Ananias and Sapphira in me than I care to admit. I've often received (and yes, even cultivated) a spiritual reputation I didn't deserve. And, I know I'm not the only one. Why did "great fear" seize the whole church when they heard about the death of these two "fakers"? They probably were scared of what might lie in their own hearts. Because in truth, there was a little Ananias and Sapphira in the best of them, too.

This is healthy "fear" because it causes us to examine our hearts and turn our eyes back toward God. Without this consciousness, we begin to deceive ourselves about our spiritual motives. And, that's only a small step from believing we can deceive the Lord.

I've spent many years as a recovering church faker. I've been a pastor, author, and speaker for many years, and I have struggled with a tendency to "fake church" the entire time. And now, I know why.

An Appearance of Godliness

As children, most of us loved to play "pretend." We could indulge our deepest desires to be something we're not for a time—and do it guilt-free, since it was just a game. But one day, we graduated from childhood, possibly realizing (with some chagrin) that we still want to be something we're not. These desires follow us into adulthood, out of the world of make-believe, fun, and games. Life soon educates us in a process of deception. We learn we can sometimes make others believe in our false image—and that it often pays off.

Becoming a Christian doesn't immediately tame this monster within our "flesh." In fact, it often gives the monster a new outlet for tempting us. This is probably what happened to Ananias and Sapphira. Once we learn the correct spiritual jargon and appropriately pious body language, we can appear and sound very godly. Pride, bitterness, lust, jealousy and a host of other sins can continue to rage within us, safely hidden behind a sanctified façade.

Years ago, as a young pastor-in-training, I tried to become what I thought every pastor should be. I spoke with an air of excitement, confidence, and "joy"—even when I couldn't have been further from possessing those qualities. Ironically, I even received "The Joy Award" from our children's ministry, who gave out awards corresponding to the fruit of the Spirit! It was a plastic award for a plastic Christian. As writer Paul Eldredge aptly noted, "We mold our faces to fit our masks." I was not only faking it. I was being rewarded for my actions. Scary isn't it?

As I've grown in my faith over the years, I've begun to understand how deeply my mind and heart have been stained with sin. Some of my sins are easily visible to me. But, there are others which take years to identify. Pride, for instance, runs far deeper in my life than I ever thought, flowing freely in the subterranean caverns of my soul. While I have kept it hidden for a long time, it's still there. And then, like a geyser, it suddenly erupts with incredible, unexpected power.

What Are Your Motives?

"Faking church" is a subtle defection from the truth about our real spiritual condition and motivations. If left untreated, it can eventually result in a physical defection from the church itself as our façade becomes too hard to maintain.

I don't believe we really start out intentionally wanting to deceive. We don't stop serving Christ all at once. But over time, our motives for service gradually become more diluted. Convincing ourselves that all we want is "God's glory," we often serve for good "scriptural" reasons. But, they are no longer the primary reasons we serve.

At some point, we pass a threshold invisible to most but clearly detected by God. We begin to minister, help, lead, organize, plan, bake, teach, preach, sing, visit, and give, primarily (though not exclusively) for the satisfaction of feeling spiritual and receiving accolades from others. Soon, the slightest trace of sincerity is enough to define our motives as pure.

When I'm asked to speak at a conference, I can easily convince myself this will be a great ministry opportunity, gamely ignoring the fact that the excitement my ego is feeling has little to do with actually serving Christ. And once again, the story of Ananias and Sapphira is played out. When we forget who we serve, we lose sight of why we serve, and we end up serving only ourselves. If we truly desire to glorify God alone, He must be the one to define our service. And, more than likely, our service won't look a bit like we want it to. When we have some part in it, merely filling and frosting our own purposes with spiritual elements, He will not be fully glorified. But if we have the courage to face the truth of our mixed motives, God will give us the power to change.

Do we want to change? Will we admit it when we're faking it? Therein lies the greatest struggle. But changing our course is a move into the authenticity, freedom, and peace Christ promised us. The greatest joy we can have is learning to live and minister to an audience of One. The first Christians learned the hard way the lesson Ananias and Sapphira never did. Maybe it's time we learned as well.