Wednesday, March 16, 2011

YEC, Shawnah's Dad, and other random thoughts...

Well, once again God blessed and has proved Himself faithful to answer the prayers of His people! This past weekend was YEC (Youth Evangelism Conference). This was my 13th year to coordinate YEC for the TBC. Wow - hard to believe! In short, it was an amazing weekend. 9540 teenagers and their leaders came from all over the state to Nashville for a great weekend. Afshin Ziafat and Derwin Gray preached. Bean & Bailey did comedy. Addison Road led worship in music. Get this - 511 recorded decisions of students surrendering their lives to Jesus! I know there were even more, but that is how many decision cards were tuned in to our volunteer ushers in the arena. On top of that, on Saturday over 1500 teens were mobilized all over the city to serve others. We partnered with a dozen ministries. It was pretty cool. One of the new ministries we had never worked with was Change this World. They sponsor food packing events and then send the food to the needy in third world countries. In one day, YEC students packed 51,000 meals! Again....amazing. Our YEC kids also donated over 1000 canned food items in one day to Second Harvest Food Bank. In the Saturday arena sessions, the students at YEC gave over $19,000.00 to a missions offering that will mobilize TN high school students to participate in international missions. Uhhhh - seriously great!

Here are a few random observations from my perspective about YEC 2011:
1. I will NEVER EVER get over having the privilege of standing on the stage right after the invitation and looking into the eyes of all those who have just come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. I get to see tears of joy, and the radiance of Jesus Christ literally reflecting off those at the stage/altar. I wish everyone could see what I get to see.
2. It is an honor to have an amazing team of co-workers from the TBC, my family, and about 100 other volunteers who are close friends that make the YEC weekend happen. Without them, the event simply would not happen. Thanks to a great team!
3. Again this year, God moved beyond what we expected Him to do. From the production guy who got saved, to the homeless people who were ministered to outside the arena, to the late night conversations at the hotel, Christ was glorified!
4. I think I am finally moving into a stage of life where I am less "stressed" about the weekend. Honestly, in the early years, I was pretty much a basket case. God has taught me much. He is in control. We prepare as best we can and trust Him for everything else.
5. I am not sure why, but I believe that God's plan is for Tennessee YEC to get off the plateau it has been stuck on and begin to grow again. I believe with all my heart that in 2012, many churches who have not attended YEC in several years will again join us in Nashville along with the hundreds of other churches that annually make YEC a significant weekend for their youth ministry.

OK, enough about YEC. This weekend was also challenging for our family. During the weekend Shawnah was constantly on the phone getting updates from OKC. Her dad is in the hospital. Infection, surgery, complications. Saturday night was rough. Gwen and David said the kinds of things over the phone you never want to hear. Our only hope is Jesus! Close friends started praying specifically. We prayed that Ken's high temperature would drop, that the fluid on his lungs would go away, that his breathing would improve, and that the serious infection would be reduced. Sunday morning when Shawnah called the hospital, we learned that God was faithful to hear our prayers and give Ken a healing touch! Shawnah is on the road tonight headed to OKC to spend a few days with her dad. He has a long journey ahead. Pray with us that Christ will be honored and His Kingdom exalted as Ken and Gwen trust Christ daily in this process.

And finally, an update on Hope Fellowship Church. We have met the last four Sunday mornings at Rock Springs Elementary for worship. Week after week, God is providing, guiding, and giving us unity as we move forward. I have communicated to our core group that our first six weeks together is for us to just "figure out" how to have church on Sunday mornings in a school. We are looking at Easter - April 24th as our official grand opening. That sounds a little weird. Oh well. I'm also pretty pumped about what we are doing this Friday morning! Some of us are going to host a breakfast for the faculty at Rock Springs Elementary Friday at 7:00 a.m. Our goal is to bless the teachers at Rock Springs. We want them to know we are thankful for their calling to teach. We want to bless them, encourage them, and just love on them a little. Our desire is to be available to assist the school and support them as they have needs. Friday is our first opportunity to meet them. I can't wait to see what God does! If you are reading this and you live in middle TN and you want to love on some school teachers this Friday - you are definitely invited to join us!

Final thoughts for this post that is probably too long:
Tonight, I am reminded that most pastors of churches in America and around the world are bi-vocational just like me! They have a regular Monday - Friday job and they also pastor with the spare time they have at night and on the weekends. Let me just say, part-time ministers - YOU ROCK!
My dad was a part-time minister for over 25 years. For the first time in my life I am beginning to understand just a little bit of what his world looked like. Yeah, it's crazy, but God amazingly gives us His strength, His grace, and His Spirit to minister. To Jesus be all Glory!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Non-stop weekend...but all good!

What a weekend!
Friday - stuffed 1500 packets for youth sponsors bringing students to YEC! (thanks to some great co-workers for helping) A late afternoon trip to Brantley Sound to pick up equipment for Hope Fellowship. Then, off to Rock Springs Elementary to put up banners Friday night before the rains came. Supper with the entire family at Cracker Barrel (a great time - just family)

Saturday morning sermon review and prep for speaking engagement at Wilhite Baptist in Cookeville, TN. I was invited to speak at a Father/Daughter banquet. Pastor Tim Miles did a great job making this event happen. Molly went with me as my date and honestly, we had a great time! Also had a blast making some new friends at Wilhite. I had never been to a Father/Daughter banquet. It really was awesome. Then back to the casa Saturday night. Some late night work still trying to figure out Media Shout. Jared is much better with it than I am! One more overview of Sunday sermon then hit the sack.

Sunday morning alarm set for 6:00 a.m. - hit snooze once. Got up at 6:10 so we could be at Rock Springs by 7:00 to set up. Today was our first Sunday to do the entire set up on Sunday morning. Our first two weeks we were given permission to set up on Saturday night. The pressure was on! All went well - everything set up in time - sound checks and all! We are so blessed that God is providing people already to serve behind the scenes and make Hope Fellowship happen each week. Worship today was pretty amazing. Loved having Patrick and Lindsey Edwards, Jonathan Brindle, and Kristina Birkhead share testimonies about their mission work in Brazil, Europe, and Haiti. Wow! I am blown away at the faith and obedience of these young servants. We had a great crowd today for week three! Kinda funny that no one counted. All I know is that the chairs set up were 80 - 90% filled and we also had 10 babies/toddlers in the preschool today! God continues to prove Himself faithful and His timing is such a huge part of what we are experiencing at Hope Fellowship Church. After we packed up, we then headed straight to Covenant Baptist for a 1:30 video shoot. We are taping testimonies of students to use at YEC next weekend! I'm pretty excited about how these are going to turn out! Nic (our video man) is the same guy that does video for Passion/Catalyst/etc. How about that for a name drop:)
After video shoot, back to the house. Took a nap! AWESOME! Then got up, went to grocery store, came home, started cooking bacon and pancakes for our kids and some of their friends! Played signs, killer, and mafia with these hooligans. Pretty fun.

Obviously, life is busy right now. But the truth is, I really sense that our entire family is 100% doing what God has called us to do. It is a sweet time. Sometimes I wish I could just freeze frame where we are right now. Not sure if that will make sense to anyone? I want to give glory and honor to Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord. It is His provision, His grace, His sacrifice, and His power that guides me each day. As my family and I start another week (YEC week) my prayer is that we will all stay focused on Christ alone.

Keep praying for us and let me know how I can pray for you!