Saturday, December 27, 2014

Top 5 Books of 2014

I didn’t read a whole lot of books this year. Not as many as previous years at least. Looks like I'll end the year with 36 books under my belt. Hope to do better in 2015
I’ve been busier than usual, that coupled with a slew of new podcasts to listen to I just haven’t read a whole lot.

It is December and It wouldn’t be the same without a list of my favorite books of the year.  Some of these books were not written or released this year. I did however read them in their entirety this year so that counts for me.

Number 5 is the Skin Collector. It’s a Lincoln Rhyme novel by Jeffery Deaver.  Jeffery Deaver has a way of writing twists that always blow my mind. The first book I read by Mr Deaver was also in the Lincoln Rhyme series. Lincoln Ryhme is a quadriplegic crime scene investigator. Along with his iron will, & razor sharp mind he is accompanied by New York Detective Amelia Sachs his partner and girlfriend as they solve crimes using the most minute detail.
The Skin Collector is just another in a series of great novels by Mr Deaver.

Number 4 is a Good Marriage by Stephen King.  A good marriage finds Darcy Anderson wife of Bob Anderson for 27 years going to the garage to find batteries and instead discovering a box filled with women’s drivers licenses and other sundry souvenirs. It turns out her husband was a serial killer before they met. He stopped because of her.
Should she turn him in and ruin their life. The life of their kids?
Should she keep it quiet and sleep every night next to a monster. It’s a great book and I strongly encourage you to read it.

Number 3 the Martian by David Weir. Soon to be a major motion picture staring Matt Damon and directed by Ridley Scott. Mr Scott of course is a master of isolation horror as proved by the 1979 american horror classic Alien.
The book the Martian is at times claustrophobic in its telling of a man accidentally presumed dead and left behind during a mission to Mars.  As the tale unfolds the main character Mark Watney must bring together all his resources and ingenuity to survive long enough for a rescue mission to find him. That is if he can even find a way to let them know he survived.

Number 2 The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. This book was the foundation of a series we did at church and it is an amazing work of apologetics. I own the audiobook, & the paperback. If I could make it required reading for teens and young adults I would.

Number 1 is Ready Player One and usually I would not include a book i read so recently but it was so fantastic of a read I find myself thinking about it quite often.
It is a very witty book, filled with eighties pop culture trivia. It has recently been optioned as a movie as well and I have no idea how they will pull it off with all the rights needed in order to get the trivia correct.
Part Last Star Fighter part the Wizard this book is phenomenal beginning to end.

Here is the publishers book description….

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
   But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

I read a few stinkers this year too. I loved the Maze Runner but the subsequent sequels left a lot to be desired and kind of spoiled the franchise for me.

I tried a few non fiction books that just didn’t take off for me. Just because you love someones sermons doesn’t mean you'll like a book length version of it.

Honorable Mentions as far as books go include….

Personal, by Lee Child. This is another Jack Reacher novel. I have read every book in the series thus far and find each one as good or better than the last. He has never let me down. Personal is no exception.

Greater by Steven Furtick. Greater is a walk thru the life of Elisha and was written to help the reader better understand the mind of Elisha. Elisha was a prophet that wanted more, he knew he wanted more and he received it from God. Greater is a reminder that we all should seek more from our relationship with Christ.

A walk among the Tombstones. I originally bought this book because I wanted to see the movie and it didn’t come to town. Turned out to be a really great book. Might have even made my top five if the other books in the series were not as terrible as they were.  It was another case of bad books ruining a series for me. To the point i sincerely doubt I pick up another book by Mr Block.

Well there you have it. Not a super captivating read I’m sure but I feel like I need to do this every year.
I felt safe doing to now because against everyones suggestions I started the Divergent series and probably won’t be able to read anything else before next Wednesday.
I know the Divergent series won’t make it on my list even if the first book was pretty good because I have heard nothing but terrible things about the 3rd book. One friend said it made her so made she stopped reading for some time and another said she cried and cried after finishing the series and that the 3rd book ruined her on the series. Still feel like I need to finish.

At your service
Alan

Friday, December 26, 2014

My Top 5 Movies of 2014

December means end of the year lists. Its December 26 and I thought I’d go ahead and write a little about my favorite movies of 2014.

This year as with every year I watched a lot of movies but when I was going back thru them I found it not possible to have a top 10 this year.  I didn’t like 10 moves well enough to call them favorite.

I only see myself seeing one more movie before the end of the year and that is Unbroken which I will see Monday night at 6:40. It might end up being in my top 5 but I never trust my judgement right after seeing a film. If its good at all I might just lump it in because it was so recent and I'm sure it is going to be emotional.

As far as Box office goes the top 10 movies of 2014 were

1) Guardians of the Galaxy
2) The Hunger Games MockingJay part 1
3) Captain America the Winter Soldier
4) The Lego Movie
5) Transformers Age of Extinction
6) Maleficent
7) X-men Days of Future Past
8) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
9) The Amazing Spiderman 2
10) Godzilla 

So here is my list. There isn’t much overlap.

My number 5 movie was Gone Girl. The book was my favorite last year and the twist is so amazing that I have to let others know.  This is a Fincher movie and as with all of his films it is a hard R.  I try to avoid movies that are this rough but I just couldn’t this time.  It was definitely a brilliant adaptation of a great book.  Even if you know the twist its still a turn that makes your breath catch.
I know several people that hate Ben Affleck and avoid his movies. I however after seeing the town was pretty sure he is in the top 3 best living actor/directors. Argo cinched that for me. Now that he is also Batman its a sure thing. 

Number 4 is the Equalizer. This movie based on an eighties tv show was an absolute blast to watch. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, who’s previous films include Shooter and Olympus has fallen both solid action films. It comes as no surprise that the action is fast paced and plentiful.
Denzel is pitch perfect as Robert McCall an ex-black ops agent that faked his own death to live a normal life.
The language is again a little rough in this film and I kinda feel bad that 3 of my top 5 are rated R. Something I didn’t see happening

Number 3 is Guardians of the Galaxy. Based on the Marvel comic that I could never get into as a kid. Granted the first few times I came in contact with the GotG it was a totally different lineup. Even the current lineup is borderline unreadable in comic form. They even had Iron Man in the first story arc of the most recent iteration to draw in readers and it was abysmal at best.
The movie however was everything the comic isn’t. James Gunn, the director did a bang up job of meshing those characters together in a way that didn’t seem forced. Unlike the latest X-men movie that I felt tried too hard to shoe horn characters in.
Guardians was a sweeping space opera the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the original Star Wars Trilogy.

Number 2 is Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  This was in my opinion the best comic book movie of this year.
Marvel still manages to put together a movie that not only tells a great story but furthers the overall story arc of Phase 2.  
With not only a great character arc for the Captain but a satisfying arc for Nick Fury and Black Widow.
What makes this movie better to me than other Comic Book movies of the year is rewatchability.
Amazing Spider-man 2 was absolutely awful. X-Men: Days of Future Past would have flopped without the Wolverine. The best scene in the movie involves a mutant that was only included as a slap in the face to Marvel. I’m speaking of the QuickSilver scene. That character is one of the few characters that can be used by both Fox and Marvel Studios. The fact that Quicksilver was used so sparsely tends to lead me to believe that the rumor was true and Fox wanted to get Peter Maximoff on screen before the release of Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron next May.
I had heard originally that Nightcrawler (played by Alan Cummings) was going to be the hero of that scene which makes sense what with mr Singer cramming so many characters from his original 2 X-men movies. 
While I will always see an X-men movie in theatres I find this return to the original trilogy a big mistake on Fox’s part. I can only imagine how terrible Next years Fantastic Four is going to be.

My number 1 movie of this year is John Wick.  I loved that movie. Absolutely loved it. The action was mesmerizing. The story was fun and almost light hearted. The fact that it was a revenge story and the act that initiated the revenge was the murder of a dog made the violence to come almost comedic in its unrelenting pounding.
Keanu Reeves is a great action star that doesn’t do enough of this type of film. I can’t wait for it to appear on digital download so I can add it to my library and share it with others. Especially Linda. Thats what kept things like the most recent Planet of the Apes movie out of my top 5. It was a great film but not one I wanted to share with Lin.
To me that is a sign of a great movie.  A movie that I want to share with other even if that means i have to watch it a half a dozen times myself.


Honorable mentions: 
Edge of Tomorrow. It was just barely edged out by Gone Girl to make my top 5.  
If you haven’t seen it do yourself a favor and go get a copy.  Think Groundhog Day with machine Guns
The Lego Movie. By far my favorite animated film this year. 
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was also a great film but not one to really share,

The worst movie I saw this year was 47 Ronin. This was 2 hours of nothing. There was zero progress made by the hero. Capped off by a terrible ending that assured this film the title of worst of 2014.  Even the company of James and Kelly did not soothe the irritation this film caused.

Well there you have it. Those were my favorite theatrical release films of 2014.

At your service

Alan  






Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Blessing I'd Like to Share

What do you say to and about people that care so much about others that they would dip into their time and their finances this Christmas Season to help out a family who was in need.

I don’t want to give specifics for the family’s sake.  Just know that there was a family that were going to have a terrible Christmas.

I got a call, a teen had asked for prayer for the situation and within 2 days members of the church. Who had just been asked to pray have donated their time, a little bit of money and a lot of love to make this Christmas a good Christmas. One that won’t be remembered for poor choices and empty seats at the Christmas dinner. but will be remembered for the Light that  shone in the darkness.  A light that was sparked by a call. Then nursed to a flame by the help and love of others.

To those of you that helped that family in this time of confusion, chaos and darkness I say thank you. Thank you from me, from that family that probably doesn’t know how to thank you and from Jesus.  Who I have no doubt will thank you himself one day for your heart and your willing ness to be his hands.

I have been moved to tears several times over the last 3 days.  Some by the plight of the family, by the generosity of those I have long called my friends and the surprising kindness of a few strangers.

in 36 years, I have never been a part of a group that cares as much about people as I am now.
I’ve been in plenty of groups that care about the others in that group. Or that care about people of similar beliefs but never a place like LifePoint.
There were only a few people that knew about the situation, I have no doubt if I had posted it on Facebook there would have been an un-surfable wave of love and generosity 

Thank you for the extremely humbling gift your service to others has given to me this Christmas.  Thank you for the Christmas you provided for the family in need.  For your love with lack of judgement, and conditions. 
Thank you for letting me be a part of this gift. Thank you for letting me serve both with you and for you.

at your service

Merry Christmas


Alan

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It's Been A Long December....Updated

still there is reason to believe that this year year will be better than the last.  

That is a line from the Counting Crows song Long December and I think about it every year about this time.  I know its only the 16th but I am winding down for the year.


Work is at a near stand still due to Christmas and New Year.  I have one assignment and its a spec job and its been my experience that those are the lowest paying jobs in my particular field.


I'm getting my tax papers ready for January.


I made the decision yesterday to start 2015 off in a good place by getting us "squared".  Had a few surprise expenses the last few months. Seems like when it rains it pours or in my case poors.

After sitting here for a while and thinking about it. I decided to get caught up on everything. Put the Myers even for the new year.

That seemed like a good idea at the time and I'm positive I'll thank myself for it over the next few months. Still it's nerve wracking to be down in the double digits with a family of 5 with the next paycheck (Linda's or mine) so far off.


it makes for a pretty tough possibly scary last couple weeks of December and first week or so of January but it felt important to me.


Update: So today Linda had a flat and we are super tight on money as discussed earlier. It turned out to be unrepairable so we had to but a new tire. It was a mess. So that took a pretty good chunk for the cheapest tire. Means we are gonna have to cut corners somewhere else.

Sometimes when you are working hard and doing everything you can for the Kingdom. When you are at your busiest things still just go wrong.
Often times for me it is when I feel like I am making spiritual headway. I don't know if it is attacks by the enemy or just a run of bad luck. 
Just because you are a believer things aren't always gonna work out. Sometimes you have those months when you only have $20 in the bank. Or everyone gets sick, or the cars both break down. Just because you believe and trust in Jesus doesn't promise you the good life.
Sometimes even when He reigns it pours

I'm not worried (I'm a little worried now), Tithe and offering was the very first thing I paid. After that I am confident God has this. 

It's been an incredibly blessed year.  Back in Feb I stepped in to help out at church while Graham tended to some business for his family.

I've been volunteering roughly 2 hours a day Mon-Thurs at church ever since. Granted I've missed a few days for various reasons, sickness and freelance work being on the vanguard of that list.
Still it's been amazing to get to sit in with Graham, Jeremy and Pastor Kelly nearly everyday. To see the sheer number of people our church helps in the course of a week is staggering.
I'm staggered by the dedication of our leaders. The ones that are there everyday and the ones who aren't. The ones that work a full day/week and still manage to participate in 2 and 3 services now gladly.

I went to C3 in Texas again this year for the first anniversary of my rededication. I got to help lead a group of teens to New Mexico. We helped a family build a home.


I got to teach our k-3rd graders and got to know them better than just a high five on Sunday mornings. I had the honor of seeing some of them give their life to Christ and be baptised.


I watched in awe as God blew the doors off some teen events.  I got to listen to teens hearts and pray with them.


I was allowed to serve another Easter at the Eggstravagnza, one more Back to Church Sunday under the belt too.


I took a step with 4 other guys towards becoming better Christians/Fathers/Leaders/Ministers in order to better serve.


This was a year at the plow and I couldn't be more thankful for it. Or more thankful for those that allow me to serve.


Service is where the rubber met the road for me.  When being a Christian went from being potential to kinetic.


There is still so much to do and volunteers are always needed maybe this next year is the one where you get more involved. 

"He said to his disciples, "The harvest is great, but the workers are few. Mt 9:37

My prayers for 2015 is that I serve more. Pray more and grow as a father, husband and minister.   
When I talk about being a minister I'm not talking ordination or pastoring.
The word minister comes from the Latin ministrare which means to serve, be of service, administer, attend, wait on.

That sums up my hope and goal for myself and for you. That we all become better ministers in whatever path God has set before us. Make no mistake though, He has set a path.


At your service


Alan






Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas List 2014

That time of year where no matter how emphatic I am that I don't want anyone to get me anything for Christmas there are a few family members and friends that will no doubt feel like they really need to.

To that end I am putting together this list. Here are a few things I need or want.  I am adding an Amazon link to them but you can find most of them at a local department or book store

Gift cards are always good
iTunes and Amazon are the best in my opinion.

If you are looking for clothing then I am still an XXL

My brother and sister in law got me a hoodie last year that I LOVE. Its a zip up hoodie like these...

http://www.amazon.com/ecko-unltd-Spinner-Fulll-XX-Large/dp/B00D09DM7Q/ref=sr_1_40?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1417989974&sr=1-40&keywords=zip+up+hoodie

http://www.amazon.com/Burnside-Maverick-Zip-Up-Hoodie-Large/dp/B00KTD81E0/ref=sr_1_6?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1417989974&sr=1-6&keywords=zip+up+hoodie

http://www.amazon.com/Hurley-Fleece-Jacket-Black-Medium/dp/B00I1LSURK/ref=sr_1_8?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1417989974&sr=1-8&keywords=zip+up+hoodie
Please no solid colors keep it to patterns and print

Shirts in patterns as well like these

http://www.amazon.com/Levis-Sleeve-Woven-Bronze-X-Large/dp/B00NXNOMBE/ref=sr_1_10?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1417990497&sr=1-10&keywords=mens+long+sleeve+button+shirts

http://www.amazon.com/U-S-Polo-Assn-Classic-X-Large/dp/B00KT35VVG/ref=sr_1_13?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1417990497&sr=1-13&keywords=mens+long+sleeve+button+shirts

Moleskin Sketchbooks

http://www.amazon.com/Moleskine-Sketchbook-Large-Classic-Notebooks/dp/8883701151/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1417990813&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=moleskin+sketchbooks
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=todd+mcfarlane&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Atodd+mcfarlane

http://www.amazon.com/Graphic-Ink-Comics-Frank-Quitely/dp/1401248403/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417990931&sr=1-1&keywords=frank+quitely

So there you have it. Please don't feel like you need to get me anything but if you must at least you have an idea



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Testimony Surveys

Hey everyone,

We have handed out well over 100 testimony surveys at LifePoint and after a week we have received 2.  Thats not a typo by the way. We have received 2.     T-W-O, 2.

Im writing this blog today to better explain our goal with this project and emphasize exactly how important it is that you please take a survey, fill it out and return it to me (Alan) or Graham.

We have hired a company called Good Catch Publishing to write a book on our behalf. You can learn more about the company at their website by clicking here.  There are also sample testimonies on that site you can read to get a feel for how amazing a tool this book is.

The goal is two fold.  1) We want celebrate our 5 year anniversary by producing a book about what God has done in our/your lives.  2) We want to minister to and bring people to Christ via the powerful works God has done thru the people of LifePoint.

This is how it works. You fill out the survey which you can pick up at the 411 desk at church or download by clicking here.   You return the survey with your testimony written on the back or attached separately to Graham or myself.
Pastor Kelly and I will read them and send them off to the publisher.

The publisher Good Catch Publishing will then read the testimonies and call 10 of you on the phone for an in depth interview.  During the interview the writer will get a better feel for your story and what God has done in your life.

Afterwords the writer will set to work writing your testimony in depth.  They will change the names in the testimony to preserve anonymity.  the finished product will be roughly 40 pages in length and will join 6 other testimonies in the book.

The book will be given a title that is non religious but intriguing when it shows up in the communities mailboxes.
The first testimony in the book will not even mention Jesus until after at least 23 pages in order to engage the reader without them putting up the "walls" that the name of Jesus sometimes raises in the unbeliever.

The books will then be sent out monthly to the community in clear plastic wrapping. Again there are no religious phrases, titles or reviews on the covers of the book.  It is benign to the common reader and in that way we hope to reach the unchurched in the population.

We can not achieve these massive goals without you. We need your testimonies.  Please pick up a survey, or download one at this link fill it out and return it to Alan or Graham by Sunday Nov 30th.

This only works if we all do our part.

At your service
Alan

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Failing Upward or What I Learned at United Night

This was supposed to be a daily blog about my Fast. I was going to document day by day the thoughts and feelings I had during the fast. 

That fast however came to a crashing halt this evening. It was supposed to be 5 days of nothing but water.  I ended up going 44 hours. I got stressed out today and I was offered a brownie. I just reacted. So then I felt terrible. I had been reading a book on fasting and I was ready to do it. Granted the fasting in the book was quite a bit more laid back than only water but in the book the author said you could pick your fast and it was technically an option. 

I was going to fast and pray for my wife and kids. To store up prayers for them. I was fasting for guidance. See I don't know where God wants me. I know I have a ministry in me I just don't know what it is. I know it involves my church. My LifePoint. I thought I knew where but someone way more wise and in tuned with God didn't have that impression and that threw me for a loop. I thought I was convinced. 
Well after that incident I feel cut off from that path. It feels like a chore now sometimes rather than a thrill.  I don't know if it was me who shut the door or God letting me know that I'm still searching.  
I was fasting for a better financial future. More security

I had written my reasons down and I was ready so I embarked on my fast

Tonight after it ended I was pretty down. Felt like I failed (because I did) and then tonight during church I went to pray and the words that came out changed my mind. 
What I was thinking was "I failed you God, and I'm sorry". What came out as a whisper as I sat there was "I'm a failure for you God".  

I didn't mean to say it and it wasn't what I was thinking but that's what God said thru me for me. 
It hit me seconds after I said it. That is what I am. That's what I'll always be. All my "successes" in my relationship with Christ will always be outweighed by my failures. This didn't worry me or make me doubt my salvation. Instead this gave me comfort. 

It gave me comfort in 2 ways. 

The fact that I felt bad for failing meant I was genuinely trying. In fact the degree to which my failure bothered me was an indication of how much I cared about what I was trying and about doing my best for Him. I found comfort in the fact that I cared so much about doing this thing that no one knew about for me and my walk that I was shattered when it failed.   I had tried and I fell short but I did try. I know that God was happy with my effort and celebrating in the fact that I failed doing something to honor him. 

God was happy with my failure.

It reminds me of how I feel as a parent when I watch my kids try and do something to impress me. Sometimes one of them will draw a picture for me and it's terrible.  I still love it to the point my eyes well up because even though it looks nothing like what they wanted it to, they tried and they tried hard to make me happy. I take all those drawings and I put them in a special drawer. The drawer is in my office desk, where I am most the time. I look thru that drawer and the drawings once in a while and I smile.  That drawer ALWAYS makes me smile. 

2) It comforted me knowing I was in good company.  King David, King Saul, King Solomon, Adam and Eve, Samson, Moses, Abraham, Aaron, Isaac, Jacob, Most of the 12 sons of Israel, Many of the other Kings of Israel. That is a list of failures just like me. Just like you. People that tried and failed. Some of which failed in a far grander way than I did. 

All people I know one day I'll meet in the Kingdom. All Failures for God.  

It reminds me of a verse that I memorized thanks to teaching the K-3 class. 

 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.   -Phi 1:6

Do I wish I'd have done better? Am I disappointed in myself?  The answer to both of those questions is Yes. 

However I am positive Gods answer to them would be no. 

I  am also  positive that He's still working on me and the picture I drew for God in my heart over the last 44 hours made it into Gods drawer.    

At your Service 

Alan

Thursday, September 11, 2014

the Three P's or What I learned at BNC

Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a round table with some friends of mine at Brand New Church in Harrison AK.
Brand New Church has a great story and a passionate Pastor. Pastor Shannon O’Dell was called by God to leave a mega church and take the position of Pastor at a small church in AK. You can read about it in his book, Transforming the Church in Rural America. It’s a book that I recommend highly.

Early one morning a couple weeks ago I found myself in Kelly’s truck with him and Nate on our way to sit in at the round table and meet Pastor Shannon.
Graham, and Jeremy were following in Graham’s truck because Kelly was going to stay and fly fish the next day and were were going to ride home with them.

The round table was great, I learned several things from the people I met and the people that spoke.
The church was nice and had several creative elements that I know we can duplicate which is always a plus to visiting other churches.

After the round table we were standing around and Kelly was asking what we each got to take home from this trip and that is what I’d like to write about today.

During part of his talk Dr. Claude Thomas had mentions that when problems fights and contention spring up in the church that there are 3 things that a person hurt by a church or church member should do.

As a man who’s main narrative for the first 33 years of my life was largely about being hurt by churches. Whether they were actual wrongs or perceived wrongs time has worn the edges off so much I honestly don’t know anymore but I do know that Dr Thomas’ suggestions would have helped in several cases.

I am calling the steps the Three P’s. 

The three P’s will help me and I pray they help you too next time you feel slighted by your church or by someone in authority in your church. The goal of the three P’s are to keep you in the “Pod” of your church.
It’s ridiculously easy to get hurt and then to leave a church that has hurt you. If I were to draw a diagram of all the churches I attended as a child/teen/young adult it would look like a spirograph.
Many times our line returning to a church that we had left years before over some incident or another.

The First P is Process  "For by wise counsel you shall wage your war: and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 24:6

What this means is to take your issue and seek the council of other Christians. This isn’t to gossip but to get true unbiased council from another believer. If you are starting out running down the person/people/church that hurt you you are already coming at this from a bad angle and you need to reevaluate and start again.
"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old". Isa 43:18 
Bad things had happened to Israel at this point and bad things were still to come but this was God’s word to them about processing it and moving forward in Him.

I know that being hurt is going to take some time to get past the anger and get to a real place where you can talk to someone and process the hurt.   You may feel like running, like leaving the church but that is not what God wants from you.  God wants you committed to a body of fellow believers. We are the body of Christ and while a hand for instance can still function without a finger it is better suited with all its digits intact.

My Pastor, Kelly Rhoades has an excellent blog post about the subject of deciding to leave a church that I recommend you all read located here.

The first  P   Processing  will help you see the issue thru someone else eyes.  As well as give you a chance to vent. Keep the conversation on the current hurt and not other things you “don’t like” about the person, place or thing that hurt you.
"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels." Proverbs 1:5
That is Counsels plural so talk to several people, don’t limit it to one or two. Odds are it will take 2 or 3 just for you to get over the initial anger and not just verbally vomit vicious rhetoric. 

I know in my case after talking to others that even the thinnest pancake has 2 sides and I could have handled things better. 

So talk it out, pray and Process the hurt. Don’t ignore it and don’t run from it. Ignoring it will only cause you to heal slower.

the Second P is for Perspective.  "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right." 2 Tim 3:16

Get a biblical perspective on the situation.  Hopefully those you talked to in step one have already started you in that direction but turn your reading light on and get in the Bible.

The more you read the more you will know God’s heart.  You need’t even search the Bible for individual cases that you think mirror yours.  The Bible was written by God and like Jesus calmed the storms (Luke 8:24) that threatened the disciples God will use his EVERY WORD to calm your heart, mind and soul.
The more hurt you are the more you need this closeness with God.

The 3rd P is for Plow on   "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Phil 3:12-14

Get over it and get on with your service. You aren't the first person to have their feelings hurt and you won’t be the last. I have been a pretty active member of my church for 2 and a half of the 3 and a half years I have been attending and I have had my feelings hurt, my toes stepped on and my theology questioned but I move on. 
"Honor one another above yourselves."  Ro 12:10
That doesn’t say do it only if you feel honored either.

We are expected by God to forgive each other sometimes however we "forgive" but we hold a grudge and pull ourselves out of the work.  We resign ourselves to our pews and stop working to spite some one(s) for hurting us. We backbite and gossip about what happened to us.  If you started out doing that or are doing it up to this point it is over as of now. Again I quote "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old." Isa 43:18
Once you hit the third P you get back to work if you did take a pity break.  
We are called to love one another and just like in a biological family we are going to fight but that doesn’t mean you stop being a brother or a sister  
More than likely you have hurt someone in your own life and stand guilty in their eyes so suck it up and get to serving. 

Church isn’t about you and your feelings.

There you have it. I hope this helps, I’m sure I could write a blog on each of the P’s but this truncated version will have to do. It’s given me something to study and to think about and I am always thankful to God for that. 

At your service.

Alan







Monday, August 25, 2014

Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll

Surprisingly I find myself heartbroken and sad for both the people of Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll himself.

For those who are unaware Mark Driscoll is the founder of a mega church in the Seattle Washington area.  The church was founded in 1996 and has grown to over 6,000 official members and 15 locations that fill the need of roughly 14,000 people weekly.

I have never been a huge fan of Pastor Mark. I’ve read his books and I have definitely gotten some great things from them. I honestly believe that he has a lot to teach.

The way he does it however does not appeal to me and sometimes I worry that while I am a pretty grounded Christian Marks statements, language and general attitude may lead new believers to not actually put on the new man as Paul says in Eph 4:24 but rather assume that their old self is good enough. This brings us to a new breed of Christian, a more punk version that wants to and actively seeks to argue the merits of drinking and having bible study in bars, swearing and such more than they seem to want to remove themselves as a stumbling block to others 1 Corinthians 10:23.  
A generation that would rather us argue amongst ourselves so in my opinion they can feel better about their choices.  Turning to personal apologetics of which they know only the buzzwords and key phrases or reference for their views in order to establish themselves as a more progressive Christian.    That is a post for another day however.

That is how I first encountered Mars Hill and its Pastor.  I had friends that fell into a group of Driscoll followers and changed. Started doing things they normally wouldn’t do. Not because it was biblically wrong but because they had no interest in it. Drinking, foul language and such. 

I had sermons presented to me, I read a lot about him and his church. All with a suspicion that was jaded at the very least.

Since it was Pastor Mark that they were listening to at the time I guess I blamed him for my friends new self.  It wasn't until a 6-8 months ago When my Pastor suggested I read another one of his books that I was able to lay that down and actually hear Pastor Mark for what he could speak to me rather than the way he said it or what I saw others getting from his messages.

My friends have since moved on to the next big thing in the mega church scene and I lost track of Pastor Mark.

That was until the recent brew haha that erupted.. It feels like a bunch of stuff just coming to a head and just happened to spill over the edge as of late.  

While I can’t defend his language or ANYTHING at all that he said under the pseudonym William Wallace II on message boards. A pseudonym that he later admitted to. Statements I will not repeat here or link to but has since apologized about via Christianitytoday.com on August first

Pastor Mark stands accused of several things.

Misuse of church funds, there was a special “global fund” for one reason or another that fund was eventually moved into the Mars Hill General Fund.  Since people gave the money to one fund they suggest that moving the money into the regular coffers mean that their donations are not going where they wanted them to thus they are being misused.  
To me this is bunk because you give your tithe and offering to the church and they distribute it.  It’s not of us to tell the church where to spend Gods money providing that money isn’t used in a way that will hinder the kingdom.

Plagiarism, a charge that after a 3 week review by the lawyers at Tyndale it was decided that Pastor Mark cited his use of another idea enough that the charge could not stand.

21 people so far have joined together to charge Pastor Mark with Abusive Conduct

People such as Kyle Firstenburg who left the church after serving as deacon posted a letter he wrote to the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability which he posted on his blog and said Pastor Mark was mean and petty and cites one occasion in his letter where Pastor Mark told Mr Firstenburg that there was another person in the employ of Mars Hill that Pastor Mark was going to fire because “he didn’t fit the mold you (Pastor Mark) needed for that position”.    

Rebecca Kvenvolden  posted July 31st on a website called RepentantPastor.com said she left the church because 1) the drive time to attend was too much and 2) that she received a harsh email from Pastor Mark when she questioned the church’s support of the book To Train Up a Child. A book that was published in 94 by Michael and Debi Pearl. According to Rebecca Pastor Mark told her  “my (Rebecca’s) kids were going to go to Hell if she didn’t beat them”.

Honestly? You left the church in the late 90’s and you post in 2014 that you left the church because of Pastor Mark?

Another issue of alleged abusive conduct has to do with a tweet from Pastor Mark where he tried to start a hashtag or conversation via the social network twitter by posting
“So what story do you have about the most effeminate male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed”

Now while this was immature and ill-advised lets not call it abusive.  

All of the examples abusive behavior I've come across and I've read extensive material on this story has only served to make me feel bad for Pastor Mark
This seems like a witch hunt.  
These 21 (of which Rebecca is not one) are all ex employees and family of ex employees that were let go for one reason or another.  It’s been my experience as the person in charge of hiring and firing at several businesses that even when you let some one go and give no reason as is acceptable in Missouri an “at will” state you still get hard feelings.
People genuinely do not like getting fired and the more high profile the job or company the harder the feelings.

Being on staff at a mega church such as Mars Hill I would imagine would make you feel pretty good and being let go in a leadership position might cause hard feelings that may make that person feel they need to leave the church as a member of the congregation as well. Leading to feelings of ostracism.
I can’t imagine it would be easy.

It’s not the ignorance of these claims or the timing that make me profoundly sad. Its the fact that they are coming form Christians.
These people claim to be fellow followers of Christ. Still they have dedicated time and money to build a website  around their dislike and slander of another believer.

Jesus in Matthew 18 talks about how to handle this stuff and it in no way mentions running your mouth to anyone that will listen.
Take the problem in private. If that doesn't work then take another with you. If that fails as well then take it before the church. If again the problem is not resolved you can wash your hands of it.  
These people wrote letters to the church board of advisers and accountability. The church sided with the Pastor as churches are oft to do. 

The church is the end of the line. After that you can treat the offending party as a tax collector or pagan.  
In this case the offender was in their minds the church.  At that point you leave Mars Hill and have nothing more to do with it. This includes websites and facebook fan pages built on hate.

You can leave. You’ve tried your best right or wrong the church decision is the end of it. Don’t try to take others with you and don’t spread a campaign of hate.  You move on. 

Not every church is a good fit for everyone. The bottom line is that Mars Hill was started by Pastor Mark and regardless of the size you would expect the founding Pastor of a church to have a certain large amount of control. After all the church is his vision not yours and you can either get under it or away from it.  

There are church in my community I don’t agree with their Pastor, or with their governing bodies decisions.  Churches that have hurt me deeply and personally.  I moved on to that place God wants me and I try to at least let the hate and hurt go.

If I still felt that bad after 10 years or more in some of these cases I’d look inward instead of around.

The over 6’000 members of Mars Hill are the ones being hurt in this obvious vendetta.  These are old and new believers.  Some are people who just found a relationship with Christ. People that were attracted to Mars Hill in some cases because of Pastor Mark. People that look to him for his teaching and his vision. People that will be deprived of that and scrutinized for their decision to love their church and support their pastor.

As of Saturday Pastor Mark stepped down for at least 6 weeks while he works on himself and on his vision.  

Pastor Mark will never read this post.  If he did I’d want him to know that he is just a man. A man that is trying. A man that has the guts to get up in front of thousands each week and talk about Jesus.  While I don’t always agree with how he does it I marvel at his dedication. A man that has to at times make decisions and shouldn’t be expected to always make the right one.  I sincerely Pray that he returns to Mars Hill after his sabbatical and takes the reins again. There are people who need you there and countless more that WILL need you sir.

Please pray for Mars Hill and for the Driscoll family


At Your Service

Alan

Monday, July 7, 2014

Day 6

This was our free day and we had some plans. Thanks to Dalena pouring water on 2 of the boys we were all up and ready to go. We ate breakfast at the hotel and took off towards Sandia Peak Tramway.
The tramway is a cable car that fits 50 people and takes you over the treetops to the top of the mountain. It takes 15 minutes to get there and it offers a spectacular view from its 360ยบ windows.
By the grace of God we all got in the same car so we could enjoy it together. A few were nervous. Most visibly Lacy C and Ely. Ely doesn’t dig heights but he stood in the middle of the car with me and held onto the pole. He did fine and the fact that he was joking the whole way let me know it wasn’t that bad on him.

When you get to the top there was a restaurant and a few trails. We took one gropu pick then we broke into smaller groups to wander the trail.
After some amazing scenery we met back up at the top and again all got in the same car down. This trip was a little more eventful. some guy shoved me at one point and I thought that might escalate but he calmed down.
According to him he had said excuse me but I didn’t hear him cuz I was talking to our people so his next step was to shove me. That went over about as well as you would expect it to in an enclosed space. Still God’s hand was on the situation cuz the guy just basically shut down and moved back to the window when things got tense.

Got thru that and I was talking to the kids again when Ryleigh got ill and was about to throw up.

Don’t think I talked about her for a few days so I’ll catch you up. Ryleigh was sick from day Monday - Friday. Couldn’t get her to eat, hardly got her to drink. 

We got down from the mountain and headed to the mall. We had originally decided to go to the Coranado Mall but thanks to the advice or Jeff and Kara we decided to go to a less “ghetto” mall. We ended up at Cottonwood Mall downtown ABQ.

When we got there we realized there were no real “sit down” dining choices there and we wanted to all eat together before we enjoyed a couple hours at the mall.
We ended up picking a Chili’s because it was close.

The bill got all screwed up because a few of the leaders had decided to pay for their own meals to save the trip money. We were under budget but we had not brought the whole budget with us. After the issue that first day I told Kelly we planned on bringing a certain amount but I told him that in a panic and in reality we had quite a bit more to play with. Which turned out to be good in the long run. I mean how many people can go on a mission trip and stay about an grand under projected budget?
Anyway, since we did that the waiter got the bill messed up and Emily coday had to go with him to the computer and sort out our tickets. 
We got paid however and went to the mall.

We got together in the mall for a few minutes just to go over a few ground rules. We let them break into groups no smaller than 3 and picked a few teen leaders to be in charge of their group.  
Everyone had everyone else's number so things were safe. 

We agreed to meet back at 5pm.

The teens had a great time and I can’t stress enough how well they did with the freedom they were afforded this week.  Even if the freedom was an illusion at times. they still behaved very well. You can all be proud of them.

So after the mall we finally headed over to the Trujillo’s for dinner.
It was great to see them again and to actually get to sit and talk to them. They prepared a truly great meal. Hamburgers, hotdogs, fresh fruit, chips and cookies. 

After the meal we sat around and talked. I noticed Ryleigh had been sitting on their couch the whole time so I went to talk to her while all the others played a couple games.

Finally it was starting to get dark and we had to say goodbye to the family.

We drove back to the hotel and a few of the kids went to the pool. The pool didn’t close til 11 and they had about 2 hours to goof off.  Emily and Lacy joined them.

The rest of us went to our rooms and hung out.


It was a good night.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Day 5

We woke around 8 am again and ate more cereal.  

After breakfast we cleaned the building as best as we could. The problem with this was as soon as you swept the hall and had it looking good someone wold come in from the outside and the wind would fill the hall with dirt. 

We got the place straightened up and we were watched pretty closely by Fernando and his family. I think since Pete was out of town he charged Fernando with the task of making sure we didn’t take off with anything.

Got the place cleaned out and then Ethan had our devotional that we had missed from the night before.
Then we said goodbye to Fernando, Juanita and their family.  For all the issues we had I do know that they appreciated the work that was done. Their were some teary eyes (Mady) and the goodbye did take a bit longer than expected. We took a few last pictures and loaded up for the drive back to ABQ.

We made it to Albuquerque early. Check in at the hotel was not til 3 but they were nice enough to let us in early provided we didn’t mind having our rooms on a lower floor. This was fine and it had an added bonus. The rooms this time around were adjoined. So the guys were on one side of the hall in 2 rooms. However unlike the first night there since the 2 rooms were connected by a middle door we let the boys bunk in one room and the male leaders bunked in the other. This was the single greatest idea of the trip and we can thank Matt Latall for that.

The ladies rooms were all connected to but their leaders stuck to the original room assignments.

A group of teens and a few leaders went downstairs to the pool. Lacy and Emily Coday and a couple friends and their family that live in ABQ come by to visit as well which was nice for them.
The teens eventually tired of the pool and came back upstairs.

Matt, Lacy and I ran to Target to pick up a few things. Matt and I because we needed stuff and Lacy because if you are going somewhere then Lacy is first in the van. She enjoys commerce.
Plus just between you and me one of the Indian fellas on the res took a shine to her and perhaps she missed him too so she wanted to get her mind off him.
That last sentence is very likely going to get me hit next time I see Lacy.
There was a dude in his late 40’s that I think had a bit of a crush on her because that last day working he followed her around helping. Don’t worry though Brandon, myself and the fellas kept an eye on that guy just in case. He was of course harmless. As long as you aren't a white dog on account of the fact he was the dude that ran over our friend.

Anyway so after target we returned to the hotel and got ready for dinner.

Ok what follows is the story I received from both guys involved in the “incident” that lead to a poorly planned and executed prank war between the boys and girls.

Here we go…..

We went down to the lobby/kitchenette of the hotel to warm up the baked spaghetti we had turned our regular spaghetti into the night before.
At one table was Brandon, Emily Whitten, Dalena and Cody. Cody got up to get something he forgot and the 2 girls told Brandon to do something to Cody’s baked spaghetti. Brandon touched it and they said “no, do something grosser” so Brandon licked the top of the square of spaghetti. It wasn’t until Cody had consumed the food.

Afterwords they told him. He was disgusted (but not too much he is a teen boy and food is food).
So he decided to play a prank on the girls. Now being a lover of classic sitcoms I know a prank war will be hilarious and assuming that our teens can take a joke I was more than happy to givee pointers.
The return prank was decided that the boys would put the girls bedding in the bathtub and get it wet. 
I assumed it was official bedding from the HoJo and not personal bedding.  I was wrong however and the 2 girls lost their minds.

They both completely denied having anything to do with Brandons violation of Cody’s dinner. 

So after a good sized fit Emily Coday, Matt and myself set out to find a laudrymat at 8:45 pm so the girls would be happy.

We found one after driving around for about 45 minutes. Turned out it closed but they were nice enough to let us in and we dried the blankets. Didn’t take very long because the boys had basically turned the water on then off again cuz they were pretty dry already.

While we were gone 2 things of note happened.

  1. Ethan had his devotion for the night.

2) Brandon ate a spoonful of straight miracle whip.  

Atleast I think he did. they recorded it to show me knowing my proclivities towards certain food. However the video starts, he apologizes to me and the spoon comes out of the jar and heads towards his mouth when I looked away and literally fought the urge to throw up. He honestly may have not actually done it. I will never know.

Chelsea, if your reading it I can only assume you have kissed that man at least once since his return and for that I am sorry.

Dalena had decided that she did want to get the boys back for the bedding incident. Emily W wanted nothing to do with it because she knew it was just going to escalate from there.  I knew it wouldn’t because Ethan had said after Dalena got them back he was gonna put the kibosh on pranks.
Dalena’s plan was to go into the boys room about fish and throw an ice bucket full of cold water on Tharon and Cody.
She did so and hilarity ensued and you would imagine.


More on that tomorrow.