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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Talks In Transit

Talk #2 in "The Real Deal" series on what it means to a real Christian, an authentic follower of Jesus.


A series of "Would you rather..." questions design to get kids moving and thinking. Questions such as:

Would you rather BE the smartest person in the world or the greatest athlete?

Would your rather BE blind or deaf?

Would your rather BE rich and miserable or poor and in love?

Would your rather Be gossiped about or never talked about at all?


Who do we want to be? What do we want to be? These are huge questions that you are beginning to ask yourself. Last week we looked at who and what you have to know to be a real Christian or authentic follower of Jesus. This week we are going to look at who we have to BE and to do this we are going to use the word gospel as an acrostic and see some biblical ideas about what it means to BE the Gospel.

G: Be Generous - Text: John 3:16

O: Be Others
S: Serving - Be a Servant (these two letters were this one point). Text: Mark 10:45

P: Be Powerful - Text: Romans 1:16

E: Be an Example - Text: 1 Corinthians 11:1

L: Be Love - Text: 1 John 11-20


Be Jesus! Know Him. Be like Him. You and I may be the only honest, real, loving, authentic, powerful, servant, example of "Jesus with skin on" that your friends or family or school may ever know.

Side note to readers: There is a great series over on Jesus Creed about the Gospel (it's up to 6 parts right now). It's really good. Check it out to find out more about what this good news is and what the glad tidings are!

Talks In Transit

I'm going to try something new here on Held Up High. I'm going to share with those that intentionally and accidentally drop by my messages that I share on Sunday mornings for Transit, the middle school ministry of the church I attend.

The first series of the fall is "The Real Deal". It's all about what it means to be a real and authentic follower of Jesus as a middle school student.

Talk #1: "Are You In The Know?"


Divided them into guys and girls and groups and have them debate on whether or not it's hard to be a Christian. The I had them share their thoughts on whether or not they feel it's hard to be real or honest about your faith. Then I had them paint a verbal picture of what it looked like to be a real Christian


In my opinion a real Christian or authentic follower of Jesus is someone honest and open about who they are, their life and their relationship with God and others.

We are going to look at three areas over the next three weeks that are important to find out what it means to be that kind of person. Those areas are: know, be, and do.


Matthew 11:25-30

I gave the context of the book of Matthew and this particular passage. I went on to share that this passage communicates some helpful insights about what we should KNOW as authentic followers of Jesus.

1. Know God
2. Know that life will be hard
3. Know that you are not alone

I unpacked each of those points with illustrations and explaination.

Warning and conclusion:

All this comes with one thing we must be careful of...knowing for the sake of knowing - to look smart, spiritual, or gain the approval of others. If this is what knowing is or the kind that you and I are striving for then it's B.S. and worth nothing to God.

So how about you? What do you really know about God? Will you take him up on his promise (read the passage!)? Do you need to know the One who loves you and died for you and now lives for you? For in knowing God and his son, Jesus, we can take what life throws at us knowing that kindness and goodness will ultimately win out in our hearts as we get to know the Gentle and Humble One.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Invisible Children

This week in dV8, the student ministry at the church I attend, we had an amazing group of people in sharing the story of a country - Uganda - and its children. The group is Invisible Children. What an amazing group of humble, thoughtful, and passionate people who are burdened to see change happen in a war torn country where children are being captured and converted into soilders.

"In the spring of 2003, three young filmmakers traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a filmmaking adventure transformed into much more when these boys from Southern California discovered a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them, a tragedy where children are both the weapons and the victims.

The film was originally shown to friends and family, but has now been seen by millions of people. The overwhelming response has been, "How can I help?" To answer this question, the non-profit Invisible Children, Inc. was created, giving compassionate individuals an effective way to respond to the situation.

We are storytellers. We are visionaries, humanitarians, artists, and entrepreneurs. We are individuals part of a generation eager for change and willing to pursue it.

As a non-profit we work to transform apathy into activism. By documenting the lives of those living in regions of conflict and injustice, we hope to educate and inspire individuals in the Western world to use their unique voice for change. Our media creates an opportunity for people to become part of a grassroots movement that intelligently responds to what's happening in the world.

But our work extends beyond our borders. In war-affected regions we focus on long-term development, working directly with individuals and institutions that are eager to realize their full potential. Through education and innovative economic opportunities, we partner with affected communities and strive to improve the quality of life for individuals living in conflict and post-conflict regions."

It's a great organization full compassion and justice for a people with limited resources that is desperate for any people to listen to their story, hear their voice and take up there cause. I hope and think that today some of our students will take this back to their friends, student councils, and schools and say, "We have to help!"

My prayer is that our students will respond out compassion and obedience as to how God might be leading whether big or small. Stuff like this can not only change a life, but change a campus and a country.

Are you looking for some cause to wrap your arms, your school, and/or your ministry's arms around? How might you or them get involved? And once you far will you go?

Prayer Of The Weak

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Strong Cords. Sweet Friends. Part 2

The Indianapolis Edition:

Tara and Chris Haynes

Heather, Vinnie, and Tim Mauriello

Brandt and Laura Booram (former students and one of two weddings I officiated this summer)

Lil Bizz and Big Bizz (Megan and Tim Byers)

Indy friends in Dayton:

Kelly, Anne Unger, Lilly Forrestal, Tara Haynes, Cara Augspurger

Strong Cords. Sweet Friends.

This past summer due to school for me, no vacation time for Kelly, and a tight budget for us as a family we didn't take long vacation (which we love to do and really missed). However, we took some long holiday weekend trips to see some friends and had other friends come see us here in Dayton. Here is some of our relational tribe that helps make us strong and are a blast to be around.

The Pittsburgh Edition:

Lady Di

The Maslos

Michele Maslo (love this shot of her and Sarah watching fireworks)

Paula Raves (DR and JR where there, too)

The Chambers (now moving to Princeton, NJ)

A Big Day For PK

I'm only a month late with this post, but it's all good.

So it is official: two kids in school. Well, one in school and the other in preschool, but that's relative b/c we are still hauling Parker from an institute of higher learning for 4 year olds. He loved this first day and everyday since. He especially likes the muscle room and show and tell. Here are a couple of pics from the first day.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Abandoned Beauty

Found some amazing photographs of beautiful abandoned places and buildings. One that caught my eye was this one to the left. It's a beautiful shot of an abandoned church in Gary, In. Here is a synopsis of it's history:

"At its peak this once-magnificent church in Gary, Indiana had 3,000 congregation members. But like so many places in Gary it fell into disrepair as industry money dwindled in the region and social changes occurred. It was initially readopted by another congregation, then partially occupied by businesses, then finally abandoned and eventually burned."

What a sad story. But as I thought about it, this picture goes deeper as a metaphor for thousands of other churches in America: beautiful buildings and beautiful people who have abandoned the Churches mission and kingdom calling and become dead. However, we dress up these dead people and places with fancy buildings, slick programs, contemporary services, the right close, right friends, and right cliches all the while neglecting spiritually lost people, emotionally hurting people, and physically poor people around us.

But I can't leave it at that. It goes deeper. I know for me personally there are times when I dress up the recesses of my soul that I have abandoned with denial (I'm OK), distractions (I'll get to that later), or image management (people will ultimately measure me by what I do, who my friends are, and how much money/what kind stuff I have). I do this to give the impression that either I've got it all together or everything is going to be fine.

I'm so amazed and humbled that even though the Church may abandoned its Jesus creed or I may ignore the decay and destruction in my own life, God will never leave me or forsake me. He fights to keep the faith in me. I want to fight that fight with Him. I long to see the places in my soul and life permanently and authentically beautified and not temporarily doctored to appear pretty for those passing by.

(bu to Hemmy)

Just Say No... bailouts. I may be naive or ignorant or both, but I am hoping and praying that no one bails out these banks. It's nuts. If we do this, we are as immoral as people who legalize abortions or believe in war as the ultimate way to peace. If we do this, we are burdening the American people in order to "rescue/enable" people who have been deceitful and fulled by greed. If we do this, we are robbing the poor, the needy, and our children of resources and education that can make a difference in their lives both now and in the future. If we do this, we grieve the hear of God.

I hope that you and I are writing, email, calling, etc our president, senator, and/or congressmen or women, to tell unashamedly that we will not stand by and let this administration or this congress do this to our country.

In light of that, here is more from my friend and personal political prophet, Ron Paul.

On Fox Business News

On the Glenn Beck Show

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Empty and Beautiful

I was recently introduced to this song writer/worship leader, Matt Maher, a few weeks ago watching the Catholic channel EWTN on tv. He wrote the song "Your Grace Is Enough" arranged and made popular by Chris Tomlin. So tonight on my way home from class I heard him being interviewed on K-Luv (national christian radio). I loved his heart and his spirit and his passion for Jesus. When I got home, I downloaded his album Empty and Beautiful. Whoa. Stirring. Reflective. Passionate. Out-freaking-standing.

As I listened to the songs, I came to the last and title track: "Empty and Beautful". This song, it's lyrics, and music is like rain on parched land for me. Water to a thirsty soul in me. In light of my issues of depression and self-doubt about who I am, what I'm good for and do I have what it takes to do anything God sets before me, these words were huge.

I don't know how your day has been, how this season has been, or what has stacked up in 2008. I know some of our stories. Lost job. Personal failure. Addiction. Parental questioning. Disease. Depression. Marital and relational doubt with God, spouse, and/or friends. And a hundred others that we bring to the table each and everyday.

Have you had the longing to hear words when times of struggle have given you fits and you've wondered in your emptiness if anything or anyone would be able to fill it with beauty? I know I did and do. Words like:

"You fought the fight in me
You chased me down and finished the race
I was blind but now I see
Jesus You kept the faith in me"

Whatever the case may be, maybe these words, this song be sweet for you as well.

Click here for a link to the lyrics. When the page pops up, just to the left of the lyrics is a box that says "Play This Song." It will take you to a another site where you can listen to the song for free. Play the song and follow the words.

My prayer for us today is that we would know and experience the love and grace of the One who strengthens, chases, and fights in us and for us so that our faith may grow and we might know God's glory.


Great CG animated short video about how far we'll go to be with the ones we love.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Prayer Of The Weak

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who Do You Want To Be?

So the night we got power back in the house, the kids were able to read books while in bed. They had their lights on in order to turn the pages of their stories with great expectation. They love doing it every night, but on this night-the first night with electricity in 4+ days-this everyday ritual takes on an extra special feel.

Sarah then asked if I would snuggle for a bit and as a good and adoring father, I quickly obliged. As we laid in here bed, we began talking and I was overcome with the need to be an uber cheesy dad by having this conversation:

Me: Sarah?

Sarah: Yeah, Daddy.

Me: Did you that I believe that you can be anything that you can be?

Sarah: I know.

Me: You do? What do you want to be?

Sarah: I am already what I want to be. Me.

I was speechless. It was a really profound moment that blew me away. Do I think she knows what that really means? Not totally, but I think this is an amazing start for a little girl.

Back Online

I am amazed at these magic candles that burn continuously when you light them. People smarter than I tell me they are powered by a divine force called electricity. They even have a name for them: light bulbs.

It's crazy what you think after not having power for over four days and nearly 105 hours! It's good to be back after 50-80 mph winds, snapped power lines, a neighborhood barn fire, and a few downed trees and broken limbs (nothing like gulf coast of Texas, but bad for OH). So there is my excuse for lack of posts. It's good to be back!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Prayer Of The Weak

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin Dialog

Here are a couple of interesting, telling, divided, and at times sad reactions/discussions of Palin's speech last night. However, this is just not about Palin, it's mostly about Obama/McCain and how different some of us are as people who love Jesus and are engaged in the political forum here in the United States.

God's Politics - Jim Wallis' blog on faith and's very challenging to me.

Jesus Creed - Scot McKnight's blog on all sorts of topics from a spiritual/theological framework.

Check Your Facts

It's amazing to me the number of half truths, words out of contexts, and he said/she said remarks fill our politician's rhetoric. The finger pointing and name calling almost make me gag at times. Then I hear what politicians say they HAVE or have NOT done and what the other politician has or has not done, and I think ignorantly to myself, "Oh, that must be true. I did not know that!" Then I think, "Is that true?" Because let's face it, there is a freaking ton of info out there that the average Joe and Jenn like you and may could never know.

So if you are like me and need help finding out how both Republican and Democratic adds are telling only half the story and ripping words out of context, then I've got a site for you. It's call It's a non-partisan organization who's goal it is "to reduce the level of deception and confusion in American politics." For as much as I like Obama the communicator and community activist, I'm not sure I trust his politics. As much I like McCain the maverick and war hero, I'm not sure trust his politics. As much as I am beginning to really like Palin, I'm not sure how much I can trust her, either. And as for Biden, I don't think I can trust him at all (too much the political elite). Hey, I'm a Gen-Xer, I got trust issues...haha!

But as with anything and anyone, we have our bents. It's hard for me to believe that FactCheck doesn't lean one way or the other. But at the end of the day, it's the best thing out there to help a dumb political guy like me get my facts straight, stay informed, and make the best educated vote I can in this election. Hope it helps you, too, check what both sides say and don't say.

Monday, September 01, 2008

With Family Like This...

My niece and nephews were so good to us this weekend. Don't you want family like this? I love these guys! It'll take at least a month for the stuff we couldn't reach to blow down. Oh, the joy!

Sign Of The Apocalypse

I'm still scratching my head, eyes, and ears as this comes out of Pat Buchanan's mouth. In light of this video, the Lord's return has got to be within the next week or two!

The Hunger Site

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