Monday, December 3, 2012

Sabbath, Family, and Transformation

I had occasion this past weekend to spend some time resting. It's not something that I do often (that's mentioned as a weakness, not as a strength), but something that God COMMANDED us to do. Our constantly connected lives make this an incredible struggle, but I want to share one techno minister guy's experience with it THIS TIME. It's not very brief, so I'll understand if it's too long a journey for you to take. :)

My schedule is not unlike yours in that I have calls that I always need to make, emails that I always need to send or reply to, and work that always needs to be done. Like you, I could (and too often, do) spend an unhealthy measure of my time focusing on my work, my todo lists, and myself rather than taking the much needed time to rest. Like you, I could (and too often, do) make excuses about the urgency of my work and the fact that lives are at stake (it's easy to do this when you're a minister). And like you, I could (and too often, do) stay connected thanks to the small computer that's always on my belt 24/7 - my texting, emailing, photo snapping, video taking, phone calling, googling iPhone.

But this weekend, God provided a different experience for me…I was LESS connected. Part of that had to do with the fact that we were in the Smoky Mountains and a lot of times cell service is not so great up there. Part of it was that I work with an incredible team of staff and volunteers who helped me by taking care of business and holding necessary (but not urgent) conversations until today. And part of it was a recent experience I had during the Great I Am worship encounter. For me - it was exactly that - an encounter with God…and it was very humbling for me.

No matter how it transpired, I am so grateful. By not being connected I was able to enjoy so many beautiful things:
  • I was able to enjoy God's creation. Several times I found myself thanking Him for the beauty of His creation canvas and for how it testifies to His "eternal power and divine nature." (Romans 1:20)  I was thankful for mountains, valleys, clouds, sunshine, dew, streams, rivers, rocks, fish, trees, leaves, grass, shadows, deer, ducks, pigeons, bears, clouds, color, laughter, tears and so much more than I can even bring to my mind now…my cup was overflowing.
  • I was able to enjoy time. You know - they've stopped making it…so all you have to use is what's already been allotted. For us, very few things had to happen at a particular time so we were able to just enjoy TIME. Outside the pressure of the Krispy Kreme hot donut schedule and when we could feed the bears at the live exhibit - we were able to pretty much interact with the world on our time table. That's not a luxury that most of us get to enjoy very often. I was thankful for not having to set an alarm clock and the ability to allow my son to serve me in that capacity.
  • I was thankful for my family. My encounter with God a few weeks ago is revealing many things in my life and character that I am still processing. But one of the most critical is a tenderness for my family. This weekend, we truly enjoyed each other. Unfortunately, I'm usually better at giving others more attention than I give my own wife and child (again, mentioned as a weakness, not as a strength) even when we are "on vacation." And for the sake of being transparent, I just have to tell you that God is not pleased with me about it. There are things to be proud of in my life, but the stewardship of my responsibilities as Kelley's husband and Carver's father is not one of them. God has been dealing with me to reveal the selfishness in my spirit about this in a way that is as merciful as Christ hanging on the cross and as cutting as His words to the Pharisees. His compassion and correction are revealing to me the precious gifts of God that each of them (Kelley and Carver) is in my life, and I was thankful to be able to just enjoy them for the weekend. And for the sake of being candid I must confess, I have felt more like a godly father and husband over the past couple of weeks than I have felt in nearly 15 years of marriage and almost 6 as a dad.
  • I was thankful for transformation. Although deep down I "believe" that transformation can be miraculous and instantaneous (even if habits and routines take some time to be retooled and re-tasked), it can be difficult to "know" that Truth without having experienced it. God allowed me to experience that "salvation-like" experience a few weeks ago in a way that made Him as true and relevant in my life as He has ever been…or maybe more than I have ever allowed Him to be. I found myself thankful this weekend that He had not only allowed me to receive this life-changing gift, but that He had given me the time to be appreciative of it, to reflect on it, and to cherish it as a work of His Holy Spirit. 

So - if you've hung on this long, rejoice with me. Be thankful for me and with me. I have no talking points or suggestions for you, just one guy's testimony of how God is still working in his life…the testimony of a way-too-connected guy looking for, praying for and seeking God's balance in his life, family, and ministry. I pray that it ministers to you.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Is Jesus For Real? FAMILY PLUS High School - Nov. 16

Hello HS Parents!

This past Wednesday night was our teaching night, and we asked a simple question: "Is Jesus Really Who He Said He Is?" Now on the surface of it, that might seem like an easy question for church. But to answer it honestly to a generation born with a belief that there are multiple truths - the task is a bit more challenging.

So we started by looking at the authenticity of the Bible. We talked about the fact that the Bible has 66 books written by 40 authors over a period of about 1,500 years. And that with that great time span, there is a common thread running through the course of all 66 books. 

We talked about the fact that historically the book is trustworthy. Most atheists will grant that the New Testament is both historically accurate and authentic - their only exception being Jesus's claim to be the Son of God. We talked about the fact that there is better historical proof of the authenticity of the Bible than the very well known works of literature. For example, the earliest manuscript we can find for Homer's The Iliad is about 1,000 years after it was originally written. We have discovered, however, manuscripts for New Testament writings that date to only 25 years after they were written.

After making a good case for the authenticity of the Bible, we moved to the authenticity of Jesus being Who He said that He is. We looked at a handful of Old Testament prophecies (there are numbers and numbers of these) that were written centuries before Christ was born yet were fulfilled exactly as stated in the Old Testament. We looked at the fact that even the Koran, the Islamic scriptures, attests to Jesus Christ being born to a virgin.

This is just a glimpse of all that we covered and how we led students to chase down the facts about their faith. In the coming weeks and months we will begin looking deeper at the four basic categories of all faith questions: Origin, Meaning, Morality, & Destiny. 

Don't forget that this coming Saturday and Sunday is "The Great I AM." You can attend Saturday night at 7:00 PM or Sunday morning at 9:15 and/or 10:45. There will be no groups that day. For more information, check out this link.

Let me know what I can pray about for your family.


Friday, November 9, 2012

We Worshipped - FAMILY PLUS High School - Nov 9

I have been asking our high school worship team HOW they could lead worship if we didn't have instruments, voices, music, etc. As you would imagine, it can be difficult to get at an answer to that question. I think sometimes we don't know how to worship if we're not singing. This past Wednesday night, though, we tried some new things during our worship time to help better focus us on Christ.

We placed a cross in the center of the room and placed all the chairs "in-the-round" surrounding the cross. I challenged our students to focus on God by not being thankful for anything (family, boyfriend, dog, children - ANYTHING). I asked them to simply focus on God and adoring Him. After the challenge, we sang a couple of songs and then I had students share what God had done for them…how He had shown up in their lives this week. THEN - we took a risk.

After asking students to bow for prayer, I asked them to (as they felt led) speak a one-sentence prayer with the following parameter: It could ONLY be a prayer of adoration to God. For example: "God, You are worthy." At first, only a couple of people spoke a prayer and I thought that the whole thing was about to be an exercise in futility. BUT - then the Holy Spirit began to move and students began to speak beautiful, intimate prayers. Here are some of the prayers I heard offered to God in worship:

"Lord, You are merciful."

"Lord, You never give up on us."

"Lord, You are my Coach."

"Lord, You are the Beginning and the End."

"Lord, You forgive us."

"Lord, You are my structure." 

"Lord, You are in control."

"Lord, You see us."

This went on for about 10 or 15 minutes with great humility, reverence, and silence (except those speaking their one-sentence prayers of adoration to God). We shared communion together and closed with worshiping, again, with music/voices. It was SO humbling to hear your students speak words of worship to the God Who Is.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - Oct. 26

Family Plus Email-High School

October 26, 2012

Hi HS Parents!

This past Wednesday night we looked at the passage in Luke about the Woman at the Well in the 4th chapter of John. We talked about what it must have felt like to be carrying all of that "baggage" and to have the Master speak it right to our faces with loving forgiveness.

I showed them a video about a song written by Matthew West entitled "Forgiveness." It's a beautiful story of how a mother forgave the drunk driver who killed her daughter one night. I think so many times we relate to stories and songs like this as wondering if we could forgive. I suggested to your students that maybe we more closely resemble the person who needs to be forgiven.

This coming Sunday students will begin a new study called "Get A Grip." It will help us take a look at what the Scriptures say about maintaining control under any situation.

As You Go & As They Come

On Wednesday, Oct. 31, people will turn on their porch lights and welcome total strangers to their homes. It's called Halloween (Trick or Treat). We are taking this opportunity to send our church into the community!  Join us in accepting this open invitation by inviting the people you encounter that night to “The Great I AM: A Worship Encounter with the God who IS!" (Nov. 17-18, 2012).
You can do this in one of two ways:
  • As You Go” from house to house, leave an invitation, or
  • As They Come” to your house, drop an invitation in their sack along with your treat. 

Invitation cards are available at the church office or in the foyer on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening (in front of Thrive Books and Media).
We will have no other church activities on Wednesday night, Oct. 31, 2012.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - October 9

Hello HS Parents!

I hope you've enjoyed the hiatus that fall break offers us! This was actually my first break with my own child "in the system." We did okay, but I must confess - getting his schedule back on track was a little challenging. I think this is mainly because we had to start getting him ready for school by 6:45 AM again and this messed with mine and Kelley's sleep patterns! :)

This past Wednesday night your student participated in our second "SERVE" night. We had our students help deliver some furniture we donated to another church, stuff bulletins for tomorrow morning, staple bags for our Christmas food drive initiative, count and band cards for the "As You Go…As they Come" event, sort and hang clothes for His closet, and move some trash items from our youth building to the construction dumpster. I LOVE the fact that each week our students are experiencing a purpose of our church: Come/Worship, Connect/Grow, and Serve/Go!

This coming Sunday we will continue our study on "Follow The Leader." We have been looking at why Jesus wants us to become a devoted disciple of and for Him. We have taken a close look at what the Scriptures say regarding the characteristics of a follower of Christ, and will spend time tomorrow talking about the importance of finding a good spiritual coach. We will be looking specifically at Paul's mentoring relationship to Timothy and focusing on the 1st chapter of his second letter to Timothy.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall Mission Trip 2012

Here are some pics from one of the neighborhoods we are working in. The last two are from a house we worked in about 2 years after Katrina. Most of the drywall you see piled up outside ha been put on the walls by our students.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Braithwaite Park

Saturday, September 22, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - Sept. 22

Hi HS Parents!

This past Wednesday night was our "Give It Back!" night. We had high school students serving all over our campus. Students were praying, planning, worshiping, picking up trash, cleaning out trailers, leading children, and several other things - it was a GREAT night! We learned some things about how we can tweak it going forward, but overall - Robert and I were both excited about opportunities for your students to serve and to watch them step into them.

This coming Sunday we will wrap up our series on "Destinations." David Watkins will be leading our group this Sunday discussing "Judgment." Some of the questions your students will discuss during class time are:

1 - How does it feel to wait for judgment from a teacher? Your principal? Your parents?

2 - What fears do you have about the final judgment?

3 - How does someone get their name in the Book of Life? Can your name be erased from the Book of Life? Why or why not?

Next Wednesday night will be our "Transformed" night where we ask students to bring their lost friends to hear the gospel clearly communicated. We will offer a dedicated/intentional time of response for your students and their friends to step into or rekindle a relationship with Christ.

Don't forget that by this time next week high school students will be on the road to New Orleans. We will have a special prayer of commissioning for them this coming Sunday at the end of the service.

Hope you're having a GREAT weekend!! Let me know what I can pray about for your family.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - September 15

Last Wednesday night was our "Give It Here" night - the night where we focus on teaching. On our last Give It Here night, we discussed the ordeal of God leading His chosen people out of captivity, and how He moved in with them in a tent. That set the stage for Jesus moving in and becoming one of us. Last night, we made the connection of Jesus sacrifice leading to His moving into US - that WE are the temple.

Part of our discussion focused on the story where Jesus ran the money changers out of the temple. I shared with students how those who wanted to make sacrifices were being taken advantage of by those selling animals in the temple, and how infuriated Christ was that someones forgiveness was turned into a price gouging opportunity for the money changers. To illustrate His disgust with it, we had David Gai-Chis read passionately the text in Matthew 21:12-13 while having Chris Lee play the role of Christ turning over the table. Check out the Scripture reading here and the Video of Chris and David

This Sunday we will be in our third week of destinations. We'll move from our conversation last week about what heaven will be like to the other destination and what hell will be like. We will discuss questions like:

1 - Why do some people choose not to believe in a real hell?

2 - How do you think hell will compare to other "bad places" you may have experienced?

3 - How do you think it might feel to be separated from God for eternity?

Any time I teach on hell, I do so with an extremely heavy heart. I would covet your prayers this Sunday as we discuss a sensitive topic for all of us and step right into a reality that non-believers and believers alike would many times wish to leave undiscussed. 

Don't forget that this coming Sunday is the deadline to signup for New Orleans and receive the discounted rate. Let me know if there's something I pray about for your family.

- Michael

Sunday, September 9, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - September 9

Hi HS Parents!

This past Wednesday nights was our "Give It Up" night where we focus totally on adoring God and worshipping Him. Our student worship team led our group in worship, then we broke up into separate groups and read prayers from the Psalms to God. We closed the evening by receiving communion together. It is a very rich experience watching your students kneeling together reading Scripture, lifting hands in worship, and preparing their hearts to receive communion. I also asked students to share any prayer requests with me by writing them down on a card and leaving at the altar during our last worship song/communion. They were very honest and transparent in sharing the struggles they are having and the things they dealing with. I will continue to pray through these over the next few weeks.

This Sunday we will be continuing our new series on "Destinations." Students will be discussing:

1. What comes to mind when you think of heaven? what sights? what sounds? what smells? 
2. What is the best part about heaven for you?
3. What comes to mind when you think of worshiping and serving God forever?

Don't forget that the deadline to sign up for New Orleans is next Sunday, September 16. Cost is $175. After Sunday, the price jumpes to $225, so please take advantage of the discount by signing up by next Sunday.

Please let me know if there's anything I can pray about for your family.


Friday, August 31, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - August 31

Hi HS Parents!

This past Wednesday night was our "Give It Away" night. No - this is not a big game-show-themed evening where we give away prizes. Rather, it's a night where we ask your students to bring their friends, hear a clearly communicated gospel message, and have an opportunity to respond. This week we were able to join with the Middle School Ministry in the District. I spoke to the group about varying belief systems and cultural issues, but communicated it in the context of "Why I Am A Christian TODAY." The points were:

I am a Christian today because:

1 - I can't believe what I believe without NOT believing something else. John 14:1-6

2 - A moral law requires a moral law Giver. John 14:23-24

3 - TODAY is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

This coming Sunday we will start a new series in our Sunday Bible Teaching Groups called: Destinations. The main question we'll answer this Sunday is, "Why should I be concerned with eternity?" To get at this we will discuss, among other questions:

1 - Why do you think humans yearn for immortality?

2 - Is there something else that's more important to you right now than your salvation?

3 - If it is urgent to prepare for eternity now, how do we begin?

I hope you'll join me in praying for our students as we unpack God's Truth in this four week series. It should well position us for the fourth Wednesday night in September when we'll have our next "Give It Away" night and call students to respond to the Holy Spirit's calling in their lives.

Please let me know what I can pray about for you or your family.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - August 25

Hello HS Parents

This past Wednesday night our high school students completed our first "Serve" night that we are calling, "Give It Back." If you'll remember, our new plan on Wednesdays is to focus each week on one of our purposes: Come/Worship (Give It Up), Connect/Grow (Give It Here), Serve/Go (Give It Back), and next week Be Transformed (Give It Away). 

On this past Wednesday night, students sat in groups and used the Disney Brainstorming Method to dream about ways we can serve on Wednesday nights given our time constraints and limited transportation abilities. I was so "wowed" by the things your students came up with. They dreamed about reaching out to the local schools in our community, reaching out to elderly residents near our church, and focusing on areas in our church and property that could use some attention. Their time on this well positions us to be ready for our next serve night coming up in September.

This coming Sunday will wrap up our 4 week study on doubt. Last week we discussed what it meant to react and respond to tragedy by dealing with it in the context of our faith. We looked at natural disasters and man-made disasters through the lens of God's grace and mercy on our lives. That helped us see that it doesn't really matter what we're dealt from the world - rather, it's our handling of those things that can bring glory to God's Kingdom.

Don't forget that this coming Sunday night is our Summer Church Conference. We will be discussing a LOT of business from this past year as well as presenting work our Vision 2020 teams have been praying and working through for the past several months. There will be an Ice Cream/Dessert fellowship at 5:15 and the conference will begin at 6:00 PM.

Please let me know if I can pray about anything for you or your family.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - Aug 18

Our high school ministry continued on our new Wednesday night plan this past week by having a week focused just on teaching. I asked students to download the YouVersion app on their smartphones or iPods to interact with the teaching for the night. We talked about how God "moved in" with the Israelites after the Exodus to be with them. And then correlated that to how Jesus actually went beyond moving in - He became one of us. If you want to see the details, the verses, and the results of the polls you can check out the Wednesday Night - Aug. 15 Teaching.

This coming Sunday we will continue our focus on doubt. This particular lesson should hit home as it will focus on the question of where God is in the midst of suffering. I have found that this is one of the most difficult things for one to understand - whether student or adult. We will focus closely on God's love and care for people during the most horrific times of their lives.

Don't forget that this coming Sunday is GO WORSHIP at the Wilson County Fair. Join us at the Pageant Pavilion at 6:00 PM for corporate worship with our church family. It's a stay-at-home mission trip for our entire church - SEE YOU THERE!!!!

Let me know if there is anything I can pray about for you or your family.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - August 11

Hello HS Parents!

This past Wednesday night we had our first midweek meeting in Annex 2 for the 2012-2013 school year. Instead of focusing on school, teachers, incoming freshmen, school logos, or anything else you can think of - we chose to spend the night doing one thing: focusing on God.

We worshipped with each other, read Scripture, took communion together, and had a dedicated prayer time. It was an incredible way to begin the year…allowing nothing else to take the place of how we wanted to start our time together in 2012: totally focused on adoring God.

This coming Sunday we will continue our study on "How Can I Know." If you'll remember from last week, this is a study focusing on the "why's" of what we believe. Our content will be directed at how we can know that we truly have salvation in Christ. If your student struggles with doubt, these next 3 Sunday morning Bible studies will be extremely beneficial to them.

Let me know if there's anything I can pray about for you or your family.


Friday, August 3, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - August 3

I hope your students had a GREAT time with us at Bryant Grove this past Wednesday night. It looked like we might get rained out (or even stormed out) before we could get through the night, but the rain pushed right up to the edge of us then moved away quickly . I was SO thankful!

This coming Sunday we will be starting a new series called, "How Can I Know?" For the next four weeks we will be discussing an issue relevant to high schoolers, middle schoolers, and many adults: Doubt. This focus will help students answer critical questions regarding their faith, and explore truths that will help affirm students' beliefs and the "why's" of those beliefs.

We are excited to be welcoming incoming freshmen on Sunday, and I'm particularly excited that we're launching their high school career with a subject that will bring confidence to their belief system and worldview. These are some of the most critical days of their lives, and we want to do our part to help them chase after God's purpose for them right from the start.

Next Wednesday night will be our first time back on campus for the 2012-2013 school year. If you have questions about our meeting times, what's available for you and your students, or something I can pray about for you - please email me or give me a call.


Friday, July 27, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - July 27

Oh my gosh - where DID the summer go!!!  I know that it must have zipped past for you and your family just like it has for me and mine. It seems like it was just last week that we were attending graduation for so many of our students. And now, here we are, ready for a new group to come in and join us.

Our son, Carver, starts school this fall and brings with it a different feel to the school year for me. I want to make sure that I'm praying for him and talking to him to find out what is going on even in this beginning year of his academic journey. I want to encourage you to do the same with your student AND to hold me accountable to this. If you pass me in the hallways at church, please know that I want you to ask me things like, "Michael, are you praying for Carver every day?" Or, "Michael, who are some of Carver's friends at school?" I need to be able to have clear and affirmative answers to those kinds of questions - and so do you!

This coming Sunday is "Illuminate." In both Sunday morning worship services we will be telling the story of a New Generation. We're hoping that you will join us to hear about what God is doing in the lives of Preschoolers, Children, and Middle and High School Students.

In Bible study this Sunday your students will be wrapping up a four week session that we have been tackling called "Beginnings." We have been looking closely at our origin and God's creation in the book of Genesis. This week we will be closing the study by looking at God's covenants with His people and how those covenants demonstrate His love for us.

Don't forget that next Wednesday, August 1, is the "Taste and See Banquet" for adults from 6:00 to 7:30 PM. You can make your reservation online by following this link. You can drop your high school students off at Bryant Grove for our "Back To School Splash" at 5:30 PM before heading over to the banquet. Then pick them up by 8:00 after you've finished eating and looking at the Group offerings for next year. Here's a link to the address at Bryant Grove via Google Maps.

Please let me know what I can pray about for your family.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Transporting Groups - It's Easier Than It Used To Be

Working with students for nearly 20 years has allowed me to see some new frontiers surface as uncharted territories. For example, I watched the dot-com boom change the way we think about communicating with students. I watched cell phones creep their way into the lives of my students AND into my youth group meetings/trips. I have watched social media create a new era of communication that reminds me of the excitement and the "newness" of the dot-com boom. I'm sure other youth ministry veterans could keep this list going far beyond anyone's desire to read it. But there's another area, typically unseen by "the masses," that has also evolved and is worth mentioning: how we transport children and students.

I think one would be hard-pressed to find an individual even marginally connected to a church who hasn't crammed his or her body into a white 15 passenger van at some point. Or how many times have you seen that rolling-death-trap-of-a-bus transporting your kids away from the church parking lot on its way to what may as well be a little village in South America - knowing that the closet prayers of you, your friends, and Sister Betty on the prayer committee will be the only thing that gets them there safely? And although these descriptions do not fit "every" church in America, they are familiar enough to most of us to know that they are at least , in some part, true for many, many churches. Church transportation, indeed, has needed some overhaul.  

If you are experiencing issues like I've mentioned here or your church has grown beyond your current transportation needs, here are some things I considered as a concerned minister at the Glade Church to fit our quickly changing needs for transporting groups of children and students.

1 - Vans or Buses? - 15 passenger vans get a LOT of bad press about how dangerous they are and how churches and universities should not use them. And although my countless trips on one of these has never ended badly - I can certainly understand the position based on some tragic occurrences involving these vans. But that's not the primary reason I don't use them. The biggest reason for me to use buses is because I want as few vehicles on the road as possible. There is less danger of my group getting separated, and I can be more selective about who drives. Fewer vehicles in my convoy increases safety.

2 - Purchase or Rent? - We rent. By renting, we always take a brand new bus right off the lot. It's clean. It's dependable. And most importantly for long trips - it's COMFORTABLE!! We don't have to worry about maintaining a bus or paying for repairs should it break down. Renting offers us a quality product EVERY time we take a trip. "Our" bus NEVER ages - because we always get a new one from the rental company.

3 - What About Charters? - They are certainly less headache in some ways as you don't have to drive, pay for fuel, or worry about insurance. What you do have, though, is an increased cost to pay someone else for those things. What's more than that, though, is you also have to add the cost of a hotel room for your bus driver(s). And about the driver…you don't get to choose who you get. By having drivers from my church, I'm able to select who gets to spend LONG periods of time in front of our children and students. This is a BIG deal to us.

4 - What About Insurance? - Our church already has policies in place to cover most of our rentals…in other words - we are already paying for it for other vehicles/trailers we have in our "rolling stock." But sometimes we rent three buses at a time. Adding a rider to our policy to cover those extra buses for a week or two at a time is MUCH cheaper than paying for insurance year round on a bus that's only used a peak ministry times.

5 - Who Rents These Things, Anyway? - I guess you could say that Carpenter Bus is one of our vendors, but that wouldn't be a complete statement. Carpenter Bus is a partner in ministry with us. Without them, trip costs for our children and students would increase significantly. Yes, it's true that Carpenter Bus is a for-profit business, but they are a Christian business. Since they are believers in Christ, they share our vision of seeing men, women, boys, girls, students, individuals, and families transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. Sure - we pay them money to rent buses. But the fact that they rent buses to us helps us share the gospel with children and students. We are thankful for their partnership and ministry to our church.

If you are looking to make a change in your transportation needs, I would suggest giving the guys at Carpenter Bus a call. We have found it to be dependable, economical, and again - COMFORTABLE!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - June 30

Hello HS Parents!

It's great to be back with you - we had an AMAZING time with our HS trip to Peru. For those of you with juniors and seniors this coming school year, I would encourage you to prayerfully consider your student's participation in this trip. It is an incredible experience to see God at work in other parts of the world.

This past week we wrapped up our Wednesday nights for the year. I led students in a 30 minute prayer time where we focused on several things including praying for lost friends, confessing our sin, and praying for our enemies. I challenged your students to spend similar time with Christ throughout the summer and allow Him to be someone they talk to daily.

This coming Sunday we will finish a four week series called "Pardon Me." This week we will close by looking closely at unlimited forgiveness. Students will discuss questions like:

1. What does Jesus say about forgiveness?
2. Is there a limit to the number of times you can ask God to forgive you?
3. What is the principle for dealing with someone who has wronged you?

Don't forget to register your student for our summer mission trip to New Orleans. We will be leaving on July 14th, and our transportation is EXTREMELY limited for this trip.

Let me know what I can pray about for your family.


Friday, June 15, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - June 15

Hello HS Parents! I hope you are adjusting to the weirdness of summer schedules and well managing having students at home (or somewhere other than school) during the day. It seems that right about the time I get a handle on summer - it's over and we jump back into the regular swing of things. That might actually hit me harder this year as my boy starts kindergarten at Gladeville Elementary this fall! This past Wednesday night I mixed it up a little with students on Wed. night. Several of our worship leaders were out for vacation, so we pulled out a couple of guitars and sang a few worship songs sitting in a fairly intimate circle with our high schoolers. I led them in a Bible study from 1 Corinthians and discussed the freedom we have thanks to the resurrection of Christ. This coming Sunday students will discuss what it means to serve others. They will talk about worshiping God openly and demonstrating His love for others. They will talk about worshiping God outside the walls of the Church and when/where that can (and should) happen. I will be in Peru this week with Rachel Moore, Seth Wofford, Seth Guiler, Casey Webb, Lauren Browning, Keanna Illgen, Alecia Martin, Camon Soileau, Lauren Sharpe, and Tracy Bullard. Would you pray for our safety and that the Light of Christ would shine brightly through us this week. Pray that the Holy Spirit would do something special in the lives of these students and the parents/children who will be ministered to by them. Don't forget that our summer mission trip deadline has been extended. Transportation for this trip is REALLY limited - if you haven't signed up yet please do so Sunday. -Michael

Friday, June 1, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - June 1

Hello HS Parents!

I want you to know that I'm praying for you as you begin the summer. I know this season can be as busy and challenging as when your kids are in school. I'm praying for chaos to be at a minimum for you and that your kids will make wise decisions with their time this summer!

This coming Sunday we will wrap up our SHAPE series in our High School Connect Groups. Although the focus "officially" ended this past Sunday, your students are going to have the opportunity to complete a SHAPE profile to help them put into practice the things we have talked about the past 6 weeks. It should be very informative for them and provide some clarity for decisions they'll need to be making at this particular time in their lives.

This past Wednesday night we started a new focus on looking at "The Invisibles." We looked at the passage where Jesus heals the crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda. Although the man had been there for 38 years and was likely "invisible" to most who were at the pool - Jesus "saw" him and changed his life. I asked students to think about times that they feel "invisible" (at school, at home, in other social settings). I asked them to think about times they wished they were invisible. We closed by discussing Christ's willingness to die for us even though our actions, thoughts, and decisions are CLEARLY visible to Him - even before they happen. Knowing what He knows about our past, present, and future - He was still willing to die for us.

Here are some things coming up on the calendar:

Summer Nights Cookout - Sunday, June 10, 6:30-8:30
HS Mission Trip to Peru - June 16 - 23
Summer Nights Movie Night - Sunday, July 8
HS Mission Trip to New Orleans - July July 14 - 21

Please let me know if there's anything I can pray about for you or your family.


Friday, May 11, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - May 11

Hello HS Parents!

I hope you are gaining helpful insight from the current message focus at our church right now: God's Masterpiece.  We are actually complementing that focus in our Bible teaching classes with a study called SHAPE. Both of these are designed to help you see how God has uniquely gifted you to serve Him. Although I have been through the SHAPE study and have led others through it many times - it has been affirming to walk through it again and revisit what God has SHAPED me to do. I hope you are taking advantage of it.

Robert and I are walking middle and high school students through the SHAPE study as well. This coming Sunday we will be talking about the big "A" in SHAPES: Abilities. I'm thinking this one will really ring true with high school students. The Spiritual Gifts (S) and the Heart (H) can be a little intimidating, but most students will be able to recognize, easily, their Abilities. I'm really counting on some "a-ha" moments for your teens this week.  Here's some of the things we'll talk about:

  1. What are some things you are good at? What abilities do use when doing these things?

  2. What is something you do well, but no longer do? What made you stop doing it?

  3. How could you use natural abilities to benefit others?

For those of you walking through SHAPE in your own Bible study class, take a few minutes to unpack what you're discovering with your student. Don't be afraid to reveal a little about what you're learning about yourself. You might find they take will follow your lead and open up about what they are learning as well.

A few things I want you to know about:

1 - Next week we will be having a concert outside Annex II on the parking lot. The Cast and Crew Band will be back with us from 6:30 to 7:30 on the lot.

2 - On Wednesday night, May 23, we will have a VERY special guest speaker. Amy Brown from Union University will be sharing with our students about her teenage years and how God delivered her from a horrible home life, through a multitude of bad decisions, and ultimately to a life that honors Him. Hers is an extremely powerful and compelling testimony that will capture the attention of your students.

3 - We are taking a few weekend trips over the next few weeks to help to promote the camp that we'll be doing in July in New Orleans. The trips are only $25 per person and students can sign up on Wednesdays and Sundays in the Annex.

Whew! I know that's a lot. If you made it this far, I hope you have a GREAT weekend!  Let me know if I can pray about something for you or your family.


Monday, April 30, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - April 30

Hello HS Parents

Last week we began a new series on Wednesday nights called Fake I.D. This series focuses on the identity we have in Christ and the different ways we are called AND equipped to express that identity. Robert and I felt led to run this series parallel to our Sunday morning focus on S.H.A.P.E. as a means of reinforcing our teaching to students and encourage discovery of who God has shaped them to be.

Yesterday was our second week of the S.H.A.P.E. discussion and focused on spiritual gifts. Students walked through a list of spiritual gifts with their peers and adult leaders and shared with the group what they thought their spiritual gifts might be. I asked them to receive affirmation and/or alternate suggestions about their gifts from their peers. We ended the day by encouraging students to step into service in some fashion without waiting for a message written in the clouds about what their S.H.A.P.E. might be. By stepping into service, students will be able to figure out if they are serving within their gift sets by how they experience serving.

My prayer is that at this critical point in your student's life he or she will discover how God has uniquely gifted him or her. Knowing their S.H.A.P.E. before they graduate high school can (and will) help students make critical choices about their future in a season where "right" choices can give them a "head start" on a life-long journey of using their gifts to honor and expand God's Kingdom. 

A great way for you to discuss this with your students would be to take a list of spiritual gifts (there was an insert in the bulletin yesterday with a list of spiritual gifts) and ask them what they believe your gift is. Talk about that for a bit, and then ask your students what they think their gift is. Ask them what areas they think you might be able to serve in that would best utilize your gifts. Ask your students what area they could serve in that might maximize their gifts.

Let me know what I can pray about for you.


Saturday, March 31, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - March 31

Hey High School Parents!

WOW!! It's been a couple weeks since I've been able to get an email out to you guys, and a LOT has happened!

1 - Completed our Spring Mission Trip to New Orleans.

2 - Voted as a church to build a New Generations Building to house our High School Ministry (and other NG Events)

3 - Relocated temporarily to Annex II.

This past Wednesday night was our first in Annex II. I asked your students to take the artwork they created as a response to worship a few weeks ago and decorate the building with looks GREAT! It really helped (in my mind, and theirs, too, I think) to identify with that temporary space a little better.

But the COOLEST thing happened as a result of our history in Annex II already. You see, every time we head to New Orleans for our mission trips, we leave from that building. In fact, the original purpose for Annex II was for it to be a center for much of our mission work here at the Glade. Every time we go "on mission" to The Big Easy, we stage, pray, and are "sent out" from The Glade Church Missions Center. (Okay - that's not the "official" name....but allow me the poetic license for the sake of my point).

On Wednesday, I reviewed some Scripture from 1 Corinthians 12 - 14 and suggested to our students that they are not just to be "on mission" in New Orleans, but here at home as well. I also challenged them that Annex II is not just a place that we go "from" to minister. Rather, it is a place we come "to" for the sake of being ministered to by others - AND - it's a place we come "to" for the sake of ministering to others. I challenged students to look at our temporary home as a place to find and nurture their spiritual gifts for the sake of ministering to their peers as described in the New Testament.

My prayer is that your students will continue to learn to be the Church to their peers, to their teachers/coaches/bosses, and even to you - their parents. I'm excited about this time of transition for all of our age levels, and appreciate your prayers and support as we strengthen our facilities to better minister to your family.

Let me know what I can pray about for you. Here are some things you can be praying for me:Clarity...we have a LOT going on right now. Pray that God keeps me focused on what He finds holy, glorious and good. Balance....Pray that God would help me balance work and home and to also well balance responsibilities at each. Protection....Busy times are strategic for the enemy - pray him away from my home, family and our ministry.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - March 11

Hello HS Parents!!

I'm hoping this email finds you well. I'm currently in Metairie, LA, with about 80 of our high school students and nearly 20 leaders. We've had a pretty interesting ride down here complete with a few unexpected hiccups. But we're here safe and ready to have a great week. In fact, I'm about to start waking up students to get ready for church.

This week in New Orleans we will be working with over 2,000 elementary age students, working in 4 different homes, and building a pavilion in St. Bernard Parish (our men are doing this project). I'm praying that your students will be encouraged by the opportunity to serve a group of people who have captured our hearts down here.

Please be praying for our safety and for God to move in the life of your teenager. We have found that this particular setting breaks down barriers for students and gives way to an open heart to hear Him speak to them. Again, please pray for that in their lives - and yours.

- Michael

Sunday, March 4, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - March 4

Hello HS Parents!!

Wow! There is a LOT going on right now in the life of our church! On the immediate horizon for high school students:

1 - John Mackay (creationist from Australia) will be with us this week. He will be speaking this Wednesday night in the District. About 60 of our children and students will be on a field trip with John on Thursday.

2 - This weekend we will be leaving for New Orleans with about 80 high school students and 20 leaders. We will be working in five elementary schools, three homes, and at a local park building a pavilion for the community.

3 - We are preparing for our moves that will happen at the end of this month. For the next few months, high school students will be meeting in Annex II. Middle schoolers are moving to the District, and the Premier Room will be remodeled for our Children's Ministry.

We continued our series "Evolve" this past Wednesday night. We shared with students that we recognize that as they get older, their parents' voice will become increasingly softer. We shared with them that we believe that they are to ABSOLUTELY still honor their father and mother, and that as their parental voices decrease - the need to replace those voices appropriately is critical.

I shared with students that at forty years old, my father's voice is still one of the most critical and treasured in my life. But my father's voice is not the most "present" in my life. I spend more time and interact with other voices more than I do with my father's voice. Granted, my life consists of my own immediate family now. I've left my father and mother and joined another. But, again, the need for wise parental counseling seems to be something difficult to outgrow. I just need it. And I hope that I have conveyed well to your student(s) that they, too, need a parent's voice in their lives. And when that voice is softer or less immediate, it is CRITICAL to have replaced (or supplemented) that voice with wise counsel.

Please be praying for these transitions and for our students as they are on mission to New Orleans. Please let me know if there is something I can pray about for you or your family.


Friday, February 24, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - February 23

Hello HS Parents

This past Wednesday night we started a new series in the District called Evolve. For the next few weeks we will be focusing on the fact that students are in the middle of a transitional period where the parent/child relationship is in a constant state of change. In fact, I suggested to them that they should really be prepared for the next few years to be a time where they are learning to adapt to the changing relationship they have with LEAVE ROOM for your ever important voice in their lives as they walk through a time where your voice can be distant compared to others in their lives.

I also wanted to share with you how Robert and I put into practice a tool we regularly suggest to parents. We had the privilege of meeting a young man for lunch this week - he's a guy we've had a little difficulty "connecting" with at church. But we took our own advice: we took him out to lunch and to hit a bucket of range balls. We all three had a GREAT time getting to know each other and there was much less pressure because our focus was not gaining information - it was having fun and hanging out. Guess what - the "gaining information" part just happened. The student learned about us and we learned about him, but none of us were "trying" to do that - we were just hanging out.

I had a similar conversation with a parent recently who wanted to do a Bible study with his son. The son was VERY adamant that he did not want to participate. But the dad and I re-strategized the plan for the two of them to view a DVD study together once a week and go have dinner afterward. This gives them time in the car (to and from the restaurant) to talk. Again, the focus is on something else, but natural conversation can (and likely will) happen based on both of them focusing on something else. The content of the study (it's a pretty deep study that will make BOTH of them think) will help facilitate conversation.

Remember - sometimes you need to have targeted, intentional conversation with your students. But sometimes you should just "do life" with them and allow the content of your conversations to happen naturally. It is likely that your student will stumble into talking to stuff that is closer to their hearts than they might convey if you are interrogating them like the gestapo!

Let me know how I can pray for you.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, February 11, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - February 11

Hello HS Parents!

Great ending this past Wednesday night to our "Lost in Translation" series. We wrapped up by talking about the word: salvation. Typically, students think about salvation as a means of being saved "from" something. What we discussed Wednesday night is the fact that our salvation in Christ saves us "to" something. Although we are certainly interested in being saved FROM hell, we are more interested in being saved TO heaven, Christ, and His plan for us.

This coming Sunday we will continue our study on purity. This series has been interesting as it has allowed us to explore the "heart" issue of a life of purity rather than just focusing on behavior. This is largely because our Wednesday nights have been so narrowly focused on matters of the heart and how they drive our behavior.

It has been interesting for me to see and hear the relativism that our students believe as a matter of principle. In other words - many of them are totally okay with the notion that what might be true for "me" doesn't necessarily have to be true for "you." It's been pretty telling to listen to them describe the basis for this mindset, especially since it crept in through a discussion on purity. I hope you'll explore the notion of Truth with your students and the fact that there is, without a doubt, a Truth about every situation they encounter. Two things in contradiction to each other about a particular belief can't both be true. Our students have a very difficult time with that. We're planning to tackle that and other things again this Sunday.

Please let me know if there's something I can pray about for you or your family!


Friday, February 3, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - February 3

Hello HS Parents!

We had a GREAT time yesterday at our Virtual Brown Bag! Thank you to all of you who "stopped by" to grab a bite to eat and learn about how to protect your home in an ever-increasing digital universe! If you were unable to attend, you'll be able to view it from our video archive at the first of the week.

This past Wednesday night at the District we continued our series about words that have lost their meaning over the years. Last week we looked at the word belief; this past Wednesday we looked at the word righteousness. Both of these have been very informative and have set a great stage for this coming Wednesday night where we will look at the word salvation. If your student has friends who need to hear a clear, simple gospel message - get them to the District next Wednesday night.

This coming Sunday we will continue our series on Purity. Most people tend to think this is all about sex, but we are discussing ALL areas of purity. In fact, I asked your students to take a 30-day purity challenge with me - to give up something (that shouldn't be in their lives anyway) for 30 days. For example, if they swear all the time - I asked them not to for 30 days. If they party every weekend - I asked them not to for 30 days. If they are sexually active - I asked them to refrain for 30 days.

Now, you might be thinking, "Hey, Michael! Why didn't you ask them to give it up all together?!?!?!" Well, that's the plan. But for now - I just asked them to give it 30 days and see if they recognized any change in their lives. I asked them to do this in the short-term to see if there is a potential long-term gain. I think 30 days might seem less "impossible" to them initially.

It's interesting to note that at the same time we are discussing Purity on Sunday mornings, we are discussing "heart" issues on Wednesday night. On Sundays, we are discussing behavior. On
Wednesdays, we are discussing the condition of the heart.....which gives way to our behavior!!!! Robert and I are both VERY excited for how these two series have shaped up and are complementing each other.

If you need me to pray about something for you or your family - shoot me an email, text, or call.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Virtual Brown Bag

Join the New Generations Team for lunch from your computer on Thursday, February 2, from 11:30am-12:30pm!

This will be an interactive Internet experience where we will address how to "Protect your Family Online". You'll be amazed at what your kids can access! For instance, by the age of 18, 94% of boys and 63% of girls will have seen pornographic material on the Internet. You will have a chance to eat your lunch, ask questions, and gain practical insight to immediately upgrade internet safety in your home.

Go to and click "Watch Live" on the homescreen in order to view the Virtual Brown Bag on Thursday, February 2, at 11:30am.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - January 28

Hello HS Parents!

This past Wednesday night was GREAT for me - it was the first time since last year that we have gotten back to our regular programming....we have had a BUSY few weeks! We kicked off a new series called "Lost in Translation" that points students toward words that have lost their meaning over time. We discussed how our beliefs "about" Jesus are not nearly as important as our belief "in" Jesus. In other words - we are better off knowing Jesus than we are knowing about Jesus. During His time on earth, Jesus made it clear that knowing Him is fact, it's essential.

This coming Sunday we will be launching a new Sunday morning series as well on Purity. We will be talking to students about expectations people have regarding purity and whether or not they are attainable. We will discuss what our students feel about their reputations and whether or not they are "examples' of purity to their peers, siblings - even adults. We will wrap up by guiding students toward the fact that pure lives can't be lived out simply by determination or will power - it requires the Holy Spirit.

Virtual Brown Bag Lunch
Join the New Generations Team for lunch from your computer on Thursday, February 2 from 11:30am-12:30pm!
This will be an interactive Internet experience where we will address how to "Protect your Family Online". You'll be amazed at what your kids can access! For instance, by the age of 18, 94% of boys and 63% of girls will have seen pornographic material on the Internet. You will have a chance to eat your lunch, ask questions, and gain practical insight to immediately upgrade internet safety in your home.
Go to and click "Watch Live" on the homescreen in order to view the Virtual Brown Bag on Thursday, February 2 at 11:30am.

Let me know if I can pray about something for you or your family.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - January 21

Hello HS Parents!

This past Wednesday night we had a ROCKIN' concert to kick off our 2012 HS and MS spring semester. The Cast and Crew band came down from Michigan to meet with a prospective record label and stopped by our little corner in the Glade for a bout 45 minutes of Christian music. Really LOUD Christian music!! After the show, band members Caleb, Caleb, and Andy took time to hang out with our students. They never seemed rushed to get out the door - in fact, they stayed long after the last student had gone home for the night. Check your student's FB page or that of some of his/her friends to see what they thought of it.

This coming Sunday we will be wrapping up a four week focus on media. Last week, we covered social media - probably the most interesting of all of the media sessions to date. It certainly seemed to be relevant to your students. Did you know that if you take a 20 minute snapshot of Facebook you would find over 10,000,000 comments in just that short time? Now, I'm terrible at math - but that seems to shake out to over 8,000 posts/comments per second. (I'm happy to be corrected by a math teacher or someone better than me at doing 4th grade arithmetic!). Just think of the potential impact that FB has in your student's life - if you don't know what they're doing out there or how to check - ask us how you can monitor what's going on with your students online. You can get a primer by following this link.

Don't forget that this coming Sunday night, January 22, is our Winter Church Conference. We only do these twice each year, but it is a GREAT time to celebrate what God is doing in and through our church. Come to the Fellowship Hall at 5:15 PM for a light dinner and dessert, then hang out for our conference at 6:00 PM to gain insight on key ministry areas of our church, recommendations on moving our ministries forward, insight on the longer look at getting from "here" to "tomorrow," and, again, celebrating what God is doing and where we are going.

As always, let me know what I can be praying about for you or your family. See you tomorrow at the Glade!


Friday, January 13, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - January 13


Welcome to a "dual purpose" FAMILY PLUS message! Since Robert is on his way back from New Orleans (seminary classes), I offered to update Middle and High School parents. (Mainly so I can give him a hard time about not using Siri on his iPhone to do it!).

This past Wednesday night our students went to see the Courageous movie with the rest of our church. If you have not yet seen it, I assure you - it will NOT let you down. It is a great movie with lots of action and lots of thought-provoking scenes directed right at the heart of the family. You can get a copy on DVD or Blu-ray starting January 17th - follow this link to pre-order a copy.

Next Wednesday night we're having a concert in the District at 6:30 with the band "The Cast and Crew." The Cast and Crew is a three-piece band rooted in Battle Creek, Michigan. The band has been touring for nearly four years, logging hundreds of shows on several successful tours, all without the help of a label, management or a booking agency. The hard-working-trio have released their third EP, “Live on Purpose”, which broadcasts a message of hope to revolutionize a new generation. Check them out at or on Facebook here.

This coming Sunday Middle & High Schoolers will be continuing our 4 week focus on media by looking at social media. We'll be checking out these verses in God's Word: Matthew 6:21, Proverbs 17:27, and 1 Peter 2:11-12

We will be asking students to consider questions about social media including the following:

Compared to how much time you spend each day using social media, how much time do you spend each day reading the Bible or praying?

Why is it important to think about what you post or text BEFORE you post or text it?

How can social media be consuming?

What does it mean to "conduct yourselves honorably?

Let us know if you have any questions about this or if we can pray about something for you or your family.