The Epic Hoagie Shadow Battle

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I have waited long enough to tell this story. Have you ever heard of a hoagie? Well, this is what most in the Midwest here call a sub, but growing up in PA, a sub was called a hoagie. Yeah, so we would go to the sub shop to get a hoagie, not a sub. I don’t know why. It was just the way it was.

Most Friday nights in the original Hunter house, we had hoagies from Newberry Sub Shop. They were arguably the best in the west end of town. I remember going into the shop, placing our order, then sitting at a table or on one of the counter stools. If it was a good week, I got fifty cents to play the jukebox that sat towards the front of the shop. I can still smell the aroma of oil, vinegar and spices mixed with fresh bread while Queen’s “Another Brick in the Wall’’ played.

Fridays were not complete without taking our hoagies home, sitting in the living room eating, and watching The Dukes of Hazzard. This was one of the two nights of the week that we would depart from our traditional eating together at the dining table. This was the best, a regular hoagie and watching the General Lee jump ravines, and then there was Daisy Duke. I don’t know which was better at the time, the car or the girl. Those were good days!

Well, my love for hoagies has not diminished one bit, and I have to tell you that I have not found one place where I live now that can replicate the memory I have of what those Hoagies tasted like. I do have to give props to Jersey Mikes, a national chain of sub shops based out of New Jersey; they definitely do come close. I really think it must be an East Coast thing: hoagies and Philly cheese steaks. We won’t even get started on those.

Side Note: if you should ever want a authentic Philly Cheese Steak and live, say in Syracuse, Indiana, there is a place the next town over, Goshen, that has the best Philly Cheese steaks in the area. It’s called the South Side Soda Shop. It was even featured on the Food Network’s “Triple D: Diners Drive-in’s and Dives.”

You may say I have a bit of a love affair with hoagies. Well, the older I got, the more I explored sub shops to see where the best ones were. You had Riverside Sub Shop, which had the best grinders. Yes, like a hoagie, but it’s grilled. Then, you had Cellini’s who had really good cosmos, again like a hoagie, this was a broiled cheese sandwich. In East End, you had Fred’s Market– they put a ton of meat on their hoagies. Then you had the OIP sub (not a hoagie). This was made with Fresh baked bread that was made from pizza dough. Then on the Creek Road, you had Heller’s Gas and Mini Market. They had great ones too.

Now Heller’s was right on our way home from church. So, Chrissy and I would stop after church, grab some hoagies and head home for lunch with Ben and Tori. This would have been around the time when Ben was 4, and Tori almost 2.

Side Note: When Chrissy was pregnant with Tori she craved turkey breast hoagies and french fries. In fact, that is what she wanted me to leave the hospital hours after Tori was born and get for her. Now, Chrissy also has a bit if a love affair with the hoagie, but not just any hoagie, it has to be a turkey breast. She just can’t eat dark meat or most processed meats.

Now that I have all the background laid out, we can get to the infamous story of the hoagie fight. See we had been going and getting hoagies after church for a while, it was becoming kind of like a bad ritual. I would get whatever kind of hoagie I fancied that day, but Chrissy always got the same one, Turkey Breast.

Well, one day we went and got our hoagies and when we got home and to our surprise Heller’s changed their turkey hoagies. This one was made with turkey roll meat. Very different from turkey breast.

My wife was not happy, but because we lived 40 minutes away from Heller’s, she sucked it up and ate it with the caveat of never getting a hoagie there again with turkey roll, because it was just gross.

A few weeks passed and something happened at church that made Chrissy upset, and if I remember I was not too happy either. It may have been that we were just not seeing eye to eye at the time too. Either way, we both were not in good moods.

So, I fell right into my rut and stopped at the sub shop. Before I got out of our Dodge Shadow, which we only had for a short time, Chrissy said, “Don’t forget, turkey breast. Not turkey roll!” I distinctly remember mocking her in a weird voice, as I closed the car door “don’t forget turkey breast,” then mumbling to myself I walked to the store.

Well, I went into the store and saw someone from church, and of course I had to change my demeanor right away. That’s what good church-going Christians do.

Side Note: this story all took place before we went into the ministry. So we were still heathens. I’m just kidding, we have matured since then, but we still have our days.

Anyway, I had a conversation with whoever and ordered our hoagies. By this time, coming out to the car, I could hear that they kids were not happy either. I thought, great… grouchy kids and wife, what a great day. I got in the car and handed over the hoagies to Chrissy, then pulled out of the parking lot and onto the county two-lane road that would get us home.

As I drove, Chrissy asked, “Did you ask for turkey breast?” Honestly, at that moment I hesitated, and I couldn’t remember… did I ask for a turkey hoagie or a turkey breast hoagie. Oh gosh. I couldn’t remember, so I diverted. “You know who I saw from church in there?” It didn’t work. She said, “Butch, did you get me a turkey breast hoagie?” I looked over at her, and I could tell she was hangry. I said sheepishly, “Yeah, that’s what you wanted!”

That is when everything started to unravel. She pulled out the hoagie from the brown paper bag and started to unroll the white paper that hers was rolled in. I think this is where I may have started to pray. Oh Jesus, please let it be a turkey breast hoagie! This is the point most husbands know that they are going to skate though just by the skin of their teeth or need to start to talk her down.

She looked at the meat, and it was like the kids in the back seat gasped, sucking all the oxygen from the car. I said, “Look, it’s turkey breast.” She looked at me, and I knew I was in such trouble. She said, “I told you to order TURKEY BREAST.

I couldn’t help noticing that her hand was clenched around the 12-inch hoagie, progressively squeezing it tighter and tighter with every word she spoke. I argued that it looked like turkey breast. She was not convinced. Then I said, “If it’s not, they clearly made a mistake, and I will turn around to get you another one.”

By this time, we were becoming pretty loud with our discussion, and it was quickly heading to an inevitable eruption. Chrissy picked up the sandwich. (Remember, I’m driving.) She whacked me in the chest with it, half of it fell on my lap. It was raining tomatoes and onions in the car.

I quickly grabbed the half that landed on my lap, as she is repeatedly smacking me with what is left of the hoagie in her hand. I retaliate in defense hurling my half of the hoagie back at her, all while trying to safely drive. It was like an epic sword battle in the car. It was like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, instead of sparks there were shreds of lettuce. Hoagie was flying everywhere, there was bread everywhere, meat stuck to the dash and windshield.

The kids were in the back seat in their car seats giggling. We both were wearing this undesirable sandwich. I remember Chrissy having mayo on her face. When we looked at each other, we heard giggles and saw the throwing of pieces of hoagie from the back seat, we both busted up laughing.

We both apologized to each other as we wiped off our faces from the remains from our battle. Then we joked about what happened the rest of the way home and for years to come. We still joke that if you don’t watch out, I will hoagie-slap you!

It took weeks to get all the hoagie out of our car, but what I never forgot was to always ask for turkey breast. Looking back we’ve had some big disagreements, but somehow we always managed to come back to common ground, support each other and always put each other ahead of the other. We love unconditionally and try to be authentic all the time. I believe this has gotten us through some of the hardest times, and even some of the best ones too.

One of our favorite artists penned these words that capture a glimpse of our love for each other:

“This love is strong, it will last. It will hold you up when you need it. It will not break, and I won’t give up. It costs too much, and I need you.” (Russ Taff)

Just Thoughts for the Day

If Only…
That didn’t happen
That wasn’t done
That wasn’t said
I was better
I was smarter
I wasn’t me
If only fill in the blank. This life could be so different. Life wouldn’t be so hard. If only.
If only’s could change everything but wait.
I wouldn’t need a perfect loving Creator whose plans are custom made for me. I wouldn’t need to be saved from myself or my disobedience. I wouldn’t cherish the gifts that I receive or the joy I feel.  If only I was perfect… I would be called Jesus. 

Dumb Dumb 5K What Was I Thinking?

First, I want to say this is risky to write for anyone other than myself. Because sometime in the future I may not be able to move beyond where I am. Some could then try to use it to tarnish my witness, but I can’t let that stop me. This is the risk I’m choosing to take.
Today I heard something that made me think, it was about dumb, dumb moments. The times when you make an unwise choice that you have to admit that you made a dumb choice. As I listened to the text be read like I had before even reading it myself countless time before. This time it struck a chord and God made me pull over and park on the scripture so He could braid my life, His grace and Peter’s story all together.
I have heard people say that God gives them “words” for people. Honestly I am sometimes skeptical about that, but I do know when God gives a “word” to me for me, I better listen. Today that “word” is RUN. He actually gave it to me yesterday but I didn’t hear Him. Honestly I wasn’t looking for it or listening for him to give me a “word” I was just not in step with Him all the way. So because I was not paying attention yesterday He tried again. God has a way of not giving up easily on us.
Like I said it started yesterday. I decided to run my first 5K in over 25 years. I started training a little over a month ago when Chrissy (my awesome wife) decided to join this thing that I didn’t have any interest in called “Run for God” I wanted to encourage her in this and so I thought that it may be a great way to spend time together and we could do this together. I just wasn’t going to do the classes, I would read and all but I was in this to encourage her. In high school I ran on the cross-country team and I was one of the slowest but I never quit. As I read and started to run on the running days I got this spark of competiveness and birthed a dumb idea of running a 5K in 5 weeks it was a great cause I knew the promoters and had been on missions with them WCN. So I made a pact with myself to run this 5K then some one let the secret out. Big mouth me. So yesterday was the 5K.
I was nervous and worried why? I don’t know I just was. I wasn’t racing anyone but me. Now that’s some stiff competition actually I was racing against someone or something my past high school self. I did have my best buddy Scott who is fast on a slow day. I figured once he passed me on his way by lapping me he would be able to pick me up off the ground and get me going again.
Well the race started and we were off! I looked for Scott and as I though he was gone. It was just me and Toby Mac blaring from my headphones. Then every so often I would get updates on my pace and mileage. There was twist turns up hill down hill kids passing me. That felt great. I but I was determined and I pressed on. Walking hard to start then to a jog then (look mom) I’m running. (Short lived) about the 1 mile or so. I was feeling okay on pace and making headway. Soon I hit the half-way point and I had to walk but that’s when it happened someone stole my running shoes and put swim flipper on my feet and I didn’t even know it. Talk about alien abduction. It was incredibly hard to walk at pace. So I caught my breath and whispered a quick prayer for strength and started to jog. It was amazingly better the flippers were gone!
This happened a few more times. I would slow down and walk only to start to run because it felt better. I rounded the corner and I saw the finish line. I never thought seeing the finish line would remind me of finishing the race of life but it did. I pulled my one ear bud out so I could hear and I ran as fast as my short legs would go.  I remember looking for my family. I was so excited to cross the finish line. I ran like I was a marathon runner. Arms up in the air chest out. Not really. I was out of breath and shaking. It was over I was greeted with hugs from my wife and kids then I was handed a little bracelet that simply said RUN.  I looked around and saw nothing but smiles what a great feeling.
As I sat in church today listing to the story of Peter denying Christ 3 times and how he was at first so confident that he would not deny Jesus, but Jesus knew he would. And Satan was going to sift him to show his faith was not strong enough to build on the church on. I think Satan thought he had defeated Peter. But after the resurrection Peter face Jesus again humbly professing his love for the Lord 3 times. Peter understood in that moment that it was not by his strength that Jesus would build His church but it was going to be built only by the power of Christ Jesus.
My mind went to the 5K. I though of how the race seemed so long and at times I thought I would run the race like I was still a freshmen in high school. I was so wrong. I found myself sucking air and breathing hard, legs hurting, and lead weights for feet. My head started to hang to the ground. Then the voice started, you know the one that says you can’t do this. You should just give up and walk the path of shame.
It’s like Satan sifting Peter. In that moment we have a choice to hand over our dumb dumb to Jesus or keep it to our selves and try and make it through. In keeping the dumb dumb, we deny Christ and all his power and authority. This is a bigger dumb dumb thing to do, instead we need to profess knowing Jesus and ask for His strength when we have none. He will hear your prayer and answer it. When He is our all in all and our only strength when we are weak we will be successful in His eyes.  So as the doubts came, I did walk and the pain got worse but when I asked for strength and started to run it seem to go away. I did finished strong and yes it was hard but it was easier when I was running to Jesus.
The word RUN on the bracelet was perfect for that day. I need to continue to run to Jesus not walk. So I will continue my training and who knows perhaps you may see Chrissy and I at another 5K stronger and faster but always running to Jesus.

I’m Part of the Walking Dead

One cold February morning I was sitting in the rocking chair looking out the French doors into the snow covered back yard, as I pondered the scripture I had just read. Most winter mornings you can find me in the same spot having my morning connection time with God. This morning as I read my thoughts were drug off to another place.  This is not necessarily a bad thing being a creative person some of my best ideas come from these little rabbit trails. The more I tried to refocus it seemed the stronger the ideas became. I pushed the creative thought process to the side and tried to refocus. Then the scripture started to move with in me and intertwined with the ideas and started to make sense to me.
Earlier in the year I had decided to read the book of Romans again and I had been putting it off until now. So I decided to read a chapter a day during my quiet time and that is how this process got started. Another thing that I started was watching a TV show my kids have recently have been watching. The problem was that the show was about well something that I had always associated with being wicked or dark. Just not what I would have considered something that a good Christian should be spending their time doing. The show has an apocalyptic theme and zombies. When ever I heard someone talking about zombies or the zombie apocalypse I would just roll my eyes and move on or think how stupid is that, the world ending through zombies. Part of me also had strong spiritual issues with it being about the undead. This was just evil, something taking control of the mind and body, if you called yourself a Christian how could you indulge yourself in this? It just isn’t right. So I wanted to try and understand what my kids saw in this show that seemed to intrigue them. I have to say that each of my children have a strong active relationship with the Lord and have pretty good discernment on most things as far as teen kids can. So I needed to try and understand why the interest?
So, I started to watch the show and the more I watched it the more I started to understand why they liked it. It wasn’t the zombies or the violence that is portrayed in the show. It was about the relationships of the characters and the choices they decided to make and even the hard ones they were forced to make. It was about the survival and the fight to hold onto a disappearing belief system that is woven through society. To be honest I too was interested in what they would do. Then my thoughts turned to what would I do if I was forced into a situation like this.
I’m not a corner dooms day crier but if were honest and look around at our society its obvious to see that things in this world are not all happy and shiny. The blatant sinfulness that we are bombarded with daily though media and just living is taking its toll on this world and us. Scripture tells us the even the earth cries out because of our sin. (Romans 8:22)  So something is going to happen one way or another. I rest assure that God has it all under control but some day I may have to make some hard decisions and I’m not sure what I may do. I do know that I will want to stay in Gods will.
As I started in Romans I noticed something an idea. The idea that may be a bit crazy but non the less interesting and worth the time to sit and think for a while about what this could mean. Here it is scripture tells us that we are dead when we are living a sinful life. (Ephesians 2:5)  We are in a world that has the walking dead all around. Now I understand that we are raised to new life in Christ but just the same we are in a sense the dead. The old has passed and the new has come. (Romans 6:4) this is how I see it. In Christ we are made new but still we are slaves to the earthly body. This body will continue to degenerate and fall apart until it will no longer function. When this happens the new creature that has been trapped will be freed and rejoined in heaven with the Father.
Okay you maybe saying yea that’s nice and all and so you see a correlation from scripture to a popular show. Well it’s more than that it’s a culture shift of a younger generation this should be looked at as an opportunity to reach out and bridge a gap. Those who know the truth of what the future holds in this life and beyond can take this pop culture trend and use it to reach those who have little to no understanding of the Gospel. I’m not saying that we all need to watch zombie movies. I am saying that the Church consistently misses the mark on taking things that are on the rise in our culture and using them to reach a unbelieving society who is looking for answers.
You may say well you can’t use everything. That is true some things are not appropriate to use but then sometimes we wait to long to move forward and bridge the gap that the opportunity to make a difference in gone. We must not wait or miss opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Yes, it may not be our choice way of reaching out but this is not about us.
I have though about that gruesomeness of the killing and all the blood in the show. Here are some of my thoughts. We have a generation that has played games like Halo and mortal combat they have seen things in movies that blow me away. Not to mention the reality shows of the war. Perhaps that may be the key thing to think about we are in a war and the more that we let our guard down and sweep things under rug the less prepared we are for when things do get really bad. We bury our heads in the sand and say that will never happen to me I hope you are right but it may happen to our kids and will they be ready? I’m not saying open Pandora’s box and submerse our kids in this. What I am saying that we need to be smart and think about how we can best help them face whatever the future holds. If you haven’t heard Christian persecution is not over and never will be and it is in even the United States and growing rapidly.
The question is what will you do or how will you handle situations that you find yourself in? If its terrorist, government control, natural disaster to a viral epidemic we need to think about how we can preserve our faith and reach those who are part of this sin ruled disobedient society.
Just some things to think about.

Treat Your Volunteers Right

Treat Your Volunteers Right
By Butch Hunter
Volunteers are one of the most valuable assets in your ministry. Every good leader is always supported by a great team. Most of our teams are volunteers. These people are the backbone of our ministry programs. They are the ones who help you, the ministry leader, lead people to Christ.
I heard it once said that you know you are a leader when you look behind you and see people are following you.
For some people this can be difficult, but you don’t want to become a Lone Ranger in ministry because it limits your influence in how God can use you.
If we want ministries that have a lasting impact we need to be able to build solid teams that will support the vision God has entrusted us with.
It’s like this…. (air bag illustration)
Having a great team is vital to make an impact.
WARNING: Don’t just put anyone on your team. Take time to pray about who God wants on your team and what position they are to play. This will save heartache and headache in the future.
With our teams we need to keep in mind that they will only be as passionate or excited as we influence them to be. What I mean is this, if you’re on fire, your team is likely to be warm. If you’re warm, they will be chilli’n.
We want our teams to run red hot and passionate about reaching people for Christ.
The truth is that we all get tired and deflated at times– when the pressures of the world and circumstances get to us we be come like this balloon. As leaders we need to keep ourselves tapped in to God on a daily basis. This is one of the best things you can do for your team. If you’re not being feed and challenged, how can you feed a team or bring them to new horizons? We need to be filled up and rocketing toward the vision God has set before you.
Rocket balloon (illustration)
As leaders we love our volunteers and would do whatever we can to help them be successful in their ministry. I believe there are 5 key areas in which we can help our leaders be the best they possibly can. All volunteers want to be:  
Connected, Included, Valued, Appreciated, and Challenged
So, today I want to look at a few ways we can help our teams in theses areas.
Connected:
Scripture: Mark 9:35 Jesus called the twelve together…
Peel and Pull Twizlers (illustration)
1.     People volunteer because they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s our job to help them find out where they fit into the puzzle of the church and in your ministry. This is helping them discover how are they connected.
2.     This is helping them see how what they do makes an impact for the kingdom of God.
3.     This is also helping them to see the big picture of where they’re going. In a word “Vision”
4.     Communicate to your team!
a.     Over-communicate.
b.     Show them what you want, don’t just expect it.
c.     Coach your team.
If you show them a great vision, but fail to tell them how they’re going to get there or you don’t give them the tools to be successful and clearly instruct them how to use them, they will be LOST!
“Bugs Life Clip”
Included:
Scripture: Mark 9:36 Jesus went further and connected the dots.
DOTS
We need to do more than communicate we need to help our leaders connect the DOTS.
1.     Include your team in planning.
2.     Dream with your team.
3.     Listen to your team.
4.     Give assignments and delegate. Start small.
5.     When you communicate provide opportunity for feedback that will be addressed.
6.     Let your volunteer’s buy-in to what God has started in you.
Valued:
Scripture:  Mark 9:37 Jesus showed the value of his followers– they are precious to Him, a treasure.
Hershey Treasures
1.     Validate their contribution to the ministry.
a.     “Catch” leaders making a difference.
b.     Share transformation stories
                                               i.     In person
                                             ii.     In writing
                                            iii.     On social network communities
                                            iv.     With their peers
2.     Empower them to take ownership of their slice of the vision.
a.     Training
b.     Articles
c.     Opportunities
3.     Show the leader they are valued
a.     Recognition
b.     Gifts
Let them know they are truly treasured
Appreciated:
Scripture: John 13:1 Jesus showed his love for them.
Hershey Kisses
Volunteer’s contributions matter and pointing out how they’re making a difference gives encouragement and meaning to their service.
1.     Thank you cards
2.     Thank you gifts
3.     Awards
4.     Banquets
5.     Play, have fun together
Give volunteers lots of kisses. (Hershey kisses)
Challenged:
Scripture: John 21:15-19 feed my lambs, care for my sheep, feed my sheep, follow me
Sweet-tarts
Don’t be threatened by a volunteer knowing something you don’t. Try and guide them in ways to use their new talent or skill to benefit the ministry and you.  Help them see how they can help you achieve the goal of the vision in your ministry.
1.     Give opportunities to grow.
2.     Take them to conferences,
3.     Give them resources
4.     Help them to take advantage of opportunities outside your church. (camp, mentoring, 4-H, Kids Hope, Scouts, ect)
I have given you Sweet-Tarts because even though the candy is tart at first, it becomes sweet leaving you wanting more.
This what we want for our leaders- it’s hard at first, every challenge is. Once it’s mastered it is very sweet, and they look for the next challenge.
Remember:  Luke 12 48 “who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Make sure you, Treat Your Volunteers Right!

When will you grow up?

If you’re in youth or children’s ministry you often get the question, “When will you decide to be a real minister?” Meaning, when will you grow up? Or, when will you step up and become a lead minster preaching, setting up services, counseling, recruiting for other areas in the church, and so on. You get the idea. This question always drives me nuts. I have done all these things for adults in my life as God’s servant, but now I do it for kids.

My response could be “So, what your saying is that ministering to students and kids is not as important as ministering to adults?” But, I’m not going there with this.

What I do want to write about is something that I have hoped to hear for years, but I have never experienced-until now.

You see in ministering to kids, I do all that a lead pastor does. I cast vision, recruit, train, teach, and yes, even preach. In my estimation I do everything that a senior minister would do. I’m sure I can hear amens from my peers!

Well, the other day I was in a meeting when a comment was made that caught my attention. Someone said that I pastor a church of 300+. At first I was wondering, where is this person going with this? Then he mentioned the youth minsters name, and said that he pastored a church of 300+ too. The point was that we (the youth pastor and me) needed the encouragement, prayer, support, and yes, respect–just the same as the senior minister needs it. The only difference between us is the age of our congregations. At that moment, I felt, “Wow. Someone gets what I do!” Not that I need to be honored, but it was good to know that someone understands that my calling is just as valuable as other pastors. I have to admit that it was a bit surreal, but what made it even better was that the person saying it was my Senior Minister, Jeff Boyer.

These words are not often said, or at least we children’ pastors don’t hear about it. I pray that more senior ministers would understand that we have congregations too, and we are all on the same team working for the same goal.

I have to say, it sure encouraged me. I believe God knew I needed to hear this.

So I do give all honor and glory to God for those who understand that youth, children, adult and all other ministries have value to God in making eternal life changes in the local church.

Thanks Jeff!

Carry Your Cross

In the last few months God has been revealing Himself to me by having me understand what it means to carry your cross. Through most of my life I thought this was just letting God work in your life on a regular basis. Now this fine, but as I’m learning… this is not near enough. Perhaps I was a shallow follower or someone who wasn’t living up to the commitment I had made.
 Honestly, I believe that I have come to a place in my walk with Christ that I am identifying with Him in another way. This is continuously happening, as I am learning to live as a Christian. I guess what I’m saying is that God never stops molding you into what He wants you to be, if you are willing to let Him.
Here is what I have discovered so far:
Jesus said you must daily deny yourself and take up your cross daily. Luke 9:22-27
He meant you had to stop sinning. This is the part I understood. This is the part that means we have to obey God’s word. We are now living for Him… he is Lord (or so I thought). This is the part where we get our lives in order. It’s the next part that I just skimmed over and sometimes chose to ignore. It clearly says, “Take up your cross.” Sometimes we think I’m going to follow God and do as He asks but there’s more to it than that. You could say that the teachers of the law did this much. What?…. Are you kidding? … No seriously.
The part I seemed to always miss was the pick up your cross.  What did this really mean in Jesus’ day? If you picked up the cross beam of a cross and carried it, you were about to die.  You were about to die a humiliating, brutal death; one that would not be pleasant at all.
 I don’t think we are to physically die every day of course, but I do think it’s a death to hopes, dreams and ambitions… things that we may want so much that we will orchestrate our lives in a way to make things happen so that we achieve our wants. Or plainly put, our will. We cannot let God have His way in our everyday lives unless we kill our will. This is hard. I believe we can see this happening in the life of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.
So, how do we do this? I don’t have a simple answer, just a suggestion. Look at Jesus in the Garden… He was alone, no one around Him, only God. Jesus just gave up His desire to find another way to save His people. We need to give up our strategies that we have been taught by this world and look to be totally reliant on God for providing for us. Let Him provide for your hopes, dreams, and ambitions. It may just be better than you ever thought.
 I’m not saying, go quit your job, but I am saying this.  Let Him guide you in your everyday dealings. Look to the knowledge and wisdom that you have received from being in the Word of God. Constantly be in communication with Him all day long. Stop and thank Him for the blessings you have. Take time to help someone in need. Treat someone in a staff meeting or business affair the way that Jesus would have treated him. This is not an overnight thing, but once we start living this way, it will be hard to go back to our old ways of living for ourselves.  

Not Connected

So I have been traveling in the last month. Since I’ve been traveling I have had to be able to access my e-mail, Facebook, text messages, and of course phone service. With work and family I need to able to stay connected. So, I was in Springfield IL the other day to do a VBS presentation. I was staying in a hotel that said it had internet service what I didn’t notice is that you had to pay for it. That always bugs me. I have a data plan for my smart phone but can’t use it to access the web with my laptop. So looking at a small screen is getting harder and harder.
Some of you know what I mean. I need to be connected and when I can’t ….. I can be a bear with a sore paw.  If that’s not bad enough if the 3G is not working it’s like the end of the world. Okay maybe not that bad but it does drive me nuts. So I start to look for the free areas where I can get a connection. Like Panera or some hotels you have to go all the way down to the lobby. How inconvenient right to think I would have to go all that way.
Okay so I was thinking while I was unhooked just a few years ago most of this was not possible let alone thought of all of it. Then I was thinking what did we do before all this we would pick up a pen and write some one or go visit them. We had to make more of an effort to communicate. Its really crazy how far we have come and how disconnected we are from people.
All this lead to a few thoughts one is about our relationship with God we always have had a wireless communications with Him. He has the most intricate network blows 4G out of the water and it’s so amazing that He knows our thoughts our feelings everything about us and His system never drops a call or is overloaded. You can never go out of the coverage area. He is always there to give you assistance and the web has nothing on Him.
Thinking all about this lead me to think about our (my) need to be connected. We desire to be connected to someone who will listen, someone who cares. We want to be able to handle anything that comes our way. We would love to move mountains if we had to.
Well, you may know where I’m going with this. God can handle all this and more and we don’t want to be connected with Him or don’t take the time. Those who do want to be connected just want a once a day a status update. We don’t want a letter or hour by hour update from God. The thing is though He wants that from us and wants us to give Him the same attention.  Here are a few verses to ponder.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray without ceasing;”
Psalm 139:1-3
1 O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do

So here is my challenge or encouragement… spend some time with God today grab a God update and spend some time commenting on what He’s doing in your life or those around you. Try opening a chat box with Him and spend some time with our creator and see how He can handle our challenges. I would be willing to think God will handle anything you throw at Him way better than we could ever do. So when we need to be connected with our busy lives don’t forget to include Jesus in on what going on. Stay connected! 

“Crabby Patties”

Have you ever seen the show Sponge Bob Square Pants? Well if you have you either hate it or love it or just don’t care. Some people say I can’t stand the voice  or something I just can’t put my finger on. I’m a sometimes love it and some times highly dislike it.

Either way one of the big themes that run through the shows is a burger called a Crabby Patty” it’s served at the Crusty Crab Dinner. How would you like to eat there? To me the show is filed with charters that are either negative or pessimist that some how get rescued by this optimist Sponge Bob.
I was thinking the other day as Chrissy who loves these gummy candy crabby patties. They look like a burger with everything on it. Reminds me of a “In‘n Out” burger. Theses burgers are only made by Sponge Bob with Mr. Crab’s secret recipe. For some reason Sponge Bob is the only one who can do it right. Once some one has one of these burgers and I could be wrong on this but it seems to me that magically every thing is all right in life.
Any way she was eating a Crabby Patty and I was thinking about how nice it would be if these little gummy burgers had that effect on us. If we were crabby and wanted to change our outlook we just would eat a “Crabby Patty”. Better yet if some one around you was being negative and crabby you could offer them a “Crabby Patty”. The world would be changed by “Crabby Patties” life would be GOOD!
Well the truth is that they don’t change our mood or personality only we can we have the power to do this everyday. Now sometimes for some people there are chemical imbalances that can make life hard. Even with imbalances we still choose or attitude for the day. We can choose to eat a “Crabby Patty” and have a great day or choose to be negative.
The thing about being negative is it’s easy and it’s contagious like a bad cold virus. We shake hands and pass on our gift. I once read that it takes 10 positives to overcome one negative. “Yikes”, that’s a lot of “Crabby Patties”. It’s so over whelming that I might just think, why try with the world being as negative as it is. I’m like a salmon swimming up stream.
When I lived in Maryland we use to go crabbing and you would catch a crab on a string with an old stinky piece of chicken. Put your bait in the water and wait to feel a tug. Then, you would pull it up and throw the crab in a bucket. Yea one crab but the secret to not letting the crabs get out was catching another one as fast as you can. You see the one crab in the bucket would try to escape. It would hit the side try and tip it over the bucket and sometime it would be successful and get away(they can be fast!). Almost always though if you get two crabs together in the bucket they will pull each other down instead of working together. There is no real hope of getting out.
This is the way that negativity works. Where two or more negatives are gathered let the negativity flourish. We need to feed those people some “Crabby Patties” quick! This seems hopeless.
The truth is though is that some of us have an opportunity to release themselves and others from this. Those of us who have Jesus as our Savior can use a secret power that we have at our fingertips. Okay ready for this…Its called Joy.
Joy is a state of being it’s a way of life. Many times we think joy is an emotion but it’s not. The writer of the book of James knew this. James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds”. This means when life gets crazy hard.  Then Paul the writer of Philippians say we are to Rejoice in always Philippians 4:4.  Not just part of the time or when were feeling like it. Rejoiced always!
Yes hard times will come but we have to choose our attitude or another way of putting it is a mentality. For Christ followers it should be a mindset of the Kingdom to come. Life is short and we need to help those around us see the light of Jesus. We are just like withering flowers or fleeting shadows (paraphrased) Job 14:1-2 .
Our mentality, be it positive or negative we need to keep it in check. My point is that if we have a negative out look, or if our attitude is negative. It’s harder to be a witness of some one walking in the Joy that Jesus brings to our lives. Yes, it is a choice. When your eyes open or feet hit the ground in the morning, it’s your choice to let the joy of Christ flow out of you. It is a battle and won’t change over night unless God changes it miraculously. (That can happen.)
So here is my challenge to you and myself to choose a positive attitude and have a kingdom mentality every day so we can be a positive witness for Jesus! Don’t eat “Crabby Patties” they don’t change anything. Perhaps the size of your clothes that another thing for another blog.

Group Hug

Last night I spent some time with a friend who happens to be an elder at my church and one of my coaching staff leaders. We were talking about changes at our church that have come and those that may come one way or another. Some things could be great while others would lead to times of hardship. As we talked and encouraged each other to totally depend on God for direction and provision in our lives. Our conversation took a turn, and we started to look at some of the impact that God has had over the years through our ministry together. He reminded me of something that happened a few weeks ago that was a moment of God speaking to my team and me.
Each Sunday morning my coaching team tries to gather for a time of prayer together. We pray for the day ahead and for each other we ask for Gods blessing to be upon our church and our children’s ministry this day and those to come. So this particular morning we had a late start to our prayer time and kids had stared to arrive mostly kids of our leaders who help in our ministry. As we were praying we could hear playing and some running past us. Just before we were half way done we could hear Marc hading our way.  Now I have to pause for a moment and tell you about my friend Marc.
Marc is one of our special needs kids who is in 6th or 7th grade but comes to worship in the elementary ministry. He fits in great! He’s one of those kids who love to touch your hands or arms when he’s talking to you. He likes to be a clown at times but never is out to hurt anyone.  Mark’s dream is to be the character from the Nintendo game Mario Bro’s. He wants to be Mario. What an imagination he has and he has such a big heart. Mark seems to love everyone but most he loves God.
Well, as I was saying we could here Marc coming he came up to our circle ducked under our hand clasped hands and made his way into the middle. There were only four of us this day. As he stood there in the middle, in his own way asked what were doing? Some one said in a whisper “were praying”. He stood quietly and watched and listened as we prayed for God’s blessing on our team and day. Just as one of us said in Jesus name Marc pointed to another person and said your turn. Then he stood and listen some more until that leader was wrapping up, then if my memory serves me he said I pray and he prayed a short prayer and then pointed and said you go. Then satisfied that we were doing well he ducked under our hands and off to play he went. We all stood there with smiles on our faces tears rolling down some cheeks. We wrapped up the prayer and knew that this day was good and God had blessed us.
My friend pointed this out to me saying “some times we just need a hug from God and other times we just need to jump up in the center of His lap and tell him that we love Him.” He continued to say this what he thought of  when Marc  jumped into our  circle he was jumping into the Lords lap as we were giving God a group hug. Marc wanted to be apart of it.  How cool is it when we see the fruit of our labor?
God showed us that day that we were making a difference in the lives of children and families. Marc would have never felt so comfortable getting in the middle of us if he didn’t know we loved him and God.
So when was the last time you jumped into the lap of our Lord and looked him in the face and a said “I love you.”? 
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.