Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Need Help...

If any of you are available tomorrow between 8am and 3pm or so please stop by the new Building. We'll literally be throwing stuff on the floor!

In the 2nd - 3rd Grade room (Theater) we'll be throwing down paint chips that will stick in the Epoxy that is being laid on the floor in a checkered pattern.

In the hallways we will be throwing down a custom color blend of sand that will stick to some epoxy as well.

Hope you can make it...we can use as many hands as possible to spread the epoxy and throw down the medium that will stick to it.

We may need help Friday and Saturday as well. I'll let you know here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Worship thru Service Year in Review

Well men, its been an extremely exciting and busy year for the Worship through Service portion of Calvary SLO's Men's Ministry. We started out the year with a huge sense of God's calling and high expectations of what he can do through us. Let me say God,. as always, did not disappoint!

2008 started with a couple of WtS breakfasts. In the morning we would meet, eat a hearty meal and listen to one of our elders give us an encouraging message from the Lord. Special thanks to James Rey, Sean Brennan, Marc Ammese and Joey Hill for speaking...you all were truly inspiring! Also to thank is Ken Krall...he cooked and tutored the rest of us on how to prepare the perfect breakfast. After breakfast the men broke into groups and went out into the community worshiping God through Serving his people. We were able to build a metal shed, tear out a spa, landscape, pain, provide oil changes and car washes. It was so amazing to see each family so grateful for our church body helping them with the things they could not do on their own. All the glory goes to God!

Just as exciting, the WtS ministry was also able to participate in the local Habitat for Humanity project in Atascadero. In case you were unaware, our church partnered with H4H to finance and construct 4 new homes off Traffic Way in north county. As anyone who came with us can tell you we were worked extremely hard. We went through over 8 palates of pavers to finish construction of the driveway. The sweat and grit payed off immeasurably when we attended the home dedication in December. The 4 chosen families were prayed for, given bibles and finally cut the ribbon on their brand new homes! It was indescribable to see God work through a community to help out those who need our help the most.

As we head into the new year we are looking for the Lord's leading as to where he would like to take this ministry. It is obvious that the Calvary SLO church body is passionate about worshiping our creator through the service of his people. We find our calling in I John 3:16-20:

"By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

Please keep our ministry in mind when you or others you may know might need assistance. It is not only our calling but our passion to display Christ's sacrifice by helping others.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Big Buddies Christmas

Christmas is around the corner and we thought one way we can celebrate and show the love of Jesus is to bless the families that participate in the Big Buddies program. The Big Buddies program matches people from our church with "at-risk children in single-parent homes who need a positive adult role-model in their life." We would like to provide needed services to these families (such as yard work or fix a household item that's broken) or bless them with a meaningful gift (such as a gift certificate to Boomer's so they can go have fun as a family). We are currently asking the families what needs they have, so more information is sure to follow. If you'd like to sign-up to help or have any questions, please email Christion at crichert02@gmail.com. Thanks!

PS: The idea for this was partially inspired by the Advent Conspiracy. Here's one of their promo videos:

Monday, November 03, 2008

A FoM Victory ... of sorts

You know when the Raiders or 49ers have a bye week it's celebrated as a huge victory, because, well, they can't lose. Cause they didn't play. Well tonight the FoM Softball team got themselves a Bay Area Victory!! Our game was rained out. The troops had rallied, we'd a team ready to take the field and 2 hours before the game was to start I got a call saying they were calling the game on account of rain.

So to you FoM Softball players I say, good job and well done. There is hope of a make up game scheduled so stay tuned. The excitement is palpable.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

FoM Softball Team Wins 29-6

You heard it here first folks. The interesting thing is the team sent Coach AMac (Aaron McFarland) to the minors in Guatemala...and then they won! Addition from subtraction? j/k

Great job men! Greg or David can you comment on who was playing last night so we can congratulate them? And also any anecdotes you'd like to share.

Monday, October 20, 2008

MENtoring Lunch @ Buona Tavola

Earlier this year, we met at Buona Tavola for breakfast, then helped some people out in the community for Worship thru Service (WtS). The owner, Antonio, goes to CalvarySLO and hosted us to a beautiful breakfast that was second to none!

He's blessing us again! Nov. 8th, at 12pm he will open his doors just for us men, for a MENtoring lunch. He sent me the menu and I'm so bummed, because I'm have motorcycle safety training, towards my motorcycle license, that day at 1pm in Santa Maria. Oh if only we could be in two places at the same time...because he just sent me the menu and it ROCKS!

Insalata Mista: a mix of organic baby lettuce, tomato roma, red and yellow bell peppers in a balsalmic vinagrette topped with fresh goat cheese

Penne al Pomodoro e Basilico: a short tube pasta with tomato sauce and basil

Scaloppe alla Milanese: a center cut bonelss pork loin chop lightly breaded pan seared with organic sage

Erbetta Parma: a baked swiss chard with parmasan cheese and garlic

Frutta di Stagione: a basket of seasonal fruit

Tiramisu: (to me needs no definition) a classic northern Italian dessert with lady fingers dipped in espresso coffee, mascarone cream cheese, topped with shaved chocolate

Water, ice tea, and sodas will also be served.

I would give one of you my left kidney for a doggie bag!

When: Saturday Nov. 8th @ 12pm
Where: Buona Tavola
How Much: $15 (With plenty of scholarships available, Aaron M. and Austin will be doing sign ups soon so let them know)

We'll have an elder speaking and some worship, then finish up with some MENtor/MENtee fun and details. We'd love it if everyone that came was signed up for the MENtoring deal, but everyone is welcome to the Lunch part.

BTW we could really use some MENtors...so sign up on Sunday or e-mail Aaron M. at aaronmcfarland@hotmail.com.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Men's Advance 2008

This is a little video of Sean firing a .22 Rifle at the range. Unfortunately I messed up the sound, by muting the microphone on my camera instead of the speaker...oh well. You can see the little plume of smoke after he fires the gun.

This years Men's Advance was a real blessing. Overall, I think we've finally found a home since we left Koinonia camp in Santa Cruz 3-4 years ago. Although the group was small, I believe God worked in a huge way! Praise be to the Lord.

The attacks were very strong last week leading up to the Advance. Last Monday/Tuesday I was convinced we should just cancel/postpone the whole thing. I was fighting against amazingly strong discouragement, I'm so glad the Lord prevailed and we decided to push forward.

Friday Night
On the drive up, the Lord showed up. We were talking about homelessness and loving the less fortunate when Andrew, who was in the car, said that's weird I brought this song, Break My Heart by Ryan Delmore to listen too. Here is the first line of the lyrics "C
an I see my brother, with nothing to eat, and say God be with you, while I go to a feast?" 

Oh yeah, the Men's Advance was going to be good, if God was showing up in a conversation on the way there! It was such a gift, from God, after the battle the week before. Praise His Name!

After the obligatory/traditional/absolutely necessary stop at In-N-Out we got to Rancho Alegre and got to work setting everything up. We would be starting our first session at 8pm. Our worship leaders for the weekend, Austin and Ryan, showed up about 7:59PM and got us going!

The theme for the weekend was Giving up Childish Ways from 1 Cor 13:11. So Bryan gave us a word from 1 Cor 13 and all the men were blessed. We shared communion and during the worship/response afterwords many of the men were broken with their need for God's healing and restoration of life. We prayed fervently for them and it was a sweet time.

But the Administrative (sometimes evil) side of me was wondering, "What will we do
 the rest of the weekend?" Generally speaking we have the kind of response we had on Friday, during the Saturday night session! The Lord must have been shaking his head at me, "Oh ye of little faith!"

Saturday Morning
I generally don't sleep at these things, and this weekend was no exception. I just don't do well with sleeping away from home and having lot's to think about. So I guess you could say I woke up at 6:40AM and took a shower and went to the Hall to see what the Lord had for us that morning.

Well the first thing was some of the most amazing sausages I'd ever tasted. Along with some good french toast and the crispest grapes most of us had ever encountered, we had a hardy breakfast to start it all off.

Our Saturday morning session started with Austin and Ryan leading us in a couple of songs and then Joey, one of our Elders, shared a word with us...from none other than 1 Cor 13! The highlight of the morning was when Joey told us about the time his wife Katie texted him, "After we talked Judah [their son] pooped on the floor." Note to self, it's always a crowd pleaser at a Men's event when you incorporate the word poo.

Joey ended his message with some great questions from 1 Cor 13 about whether or not we are
 patient, kind, selfish, etc. Right before Austin and Ryan gave us a few more songs of worship we sat in silence, really thinking about those questions. It was a great start to the morning.

The Competitions
Just to mix it up, the last few Men's Advances we've put the men in Platoons and then had some fun competition (usually on Saturday morning). This Advance was no exception. We cut the Platoons in half and sent half of them with Aaron to play Kajabi Kan Kan and the other half came with me to shoot .22 rifles!

If you don't know what Kajabi Kan Kan is, it's a bunch of people in a circle all holding knotted ropes trying to get each other to touch an empty trash can stuck in the middle of the circle. You get eliminated by touching the trash can or letting go of the rope. It's almost as much a crowd pleaser as the word poo.

In the first session, Chris and Jacob got first and second getting their Platoons 75 and 50 points respectively. In the second session, it was a show down between Sean and SupermAnselm with Sean prevailing.
Over at the shooting range, Bullfrog pictured above, gave us a wonderful run down of shooting .22 rifles safely and accurately. Many of the men had never shot a .22 rifle before so this was a real treat. The first session shooters were kinda weak, including me. Many of us had scores in the high 30s to low 40s. The second session was much better, all except one dude scored more than 40 points, and even he scored a 39. It's no surprise that the high score 49 out of 50, nice Scott, came from that session.

Lunch/Free Time
During Lunch, ham and cheese sandwiches, Aaron and I tallied up the scores to see who won. It was a tight competition between Pastor James' Platoon and Deacon Jeff's, with Jeff's prevailing in the end. They actually scored a tie in the Shooting competition (344 total points).

SevnOne donated some hats to us and these were the spoils of the competition. Jeff's Platoon could be seen proudly wearing them throughout the rest of the weekend!

After the prizes were handed out we had Morgan share with us his testimony and the vision God has given him to reach a group of Tibetan people in China. He told us how growing up he was a bit bored with just being told to be a good boy, when he was really looking for an adventure that God could calm him to for His glory. He went on to tell us that the Tibetan people group is one of the least reached people groups in the world, with 50 known believers! He let us know he was going to go as an Agribusiness man, since they are very wary of outsiders, with the hope of also planting a church.

Afterwards, Morgan had led a discussion group during the free time to talk about how we all could reach people groups who have not been reached yet with the gospel, just by using the talents and gifts that God has given us. Many of us also signed up to get his newsletter. Morgan and his wife will be going overseas in Sept 2009 after he graduates from CalPoly. Morgan's Platoon layed hands on him and prayed for God to do amazing things in and through him and his family that are going. We can't wait to see what God does.

Everyone kinda scatters during free time. Some go away to be alone with the Lord, others take naps, and some play sports or Nintendo Wii. Me? A group of us went off to shoot some more! Bullfrog, who is retired, told me he was pretty much retired and bored and if we wanted to shoot some more he wouldn't mind. He had quite a bit of wisdom (shooting wise) to impart and we were blessed to take part! All in all, I think he stuck around for about 3 hours so 8-12 of us could shoot a bit more...it was so much fun!

I shot for an hour or so and then headed to my bunk for a short nap, which ended up being a 1.5 hour one! So about 20 minutes until dinner I got to the Hall and found a bunch of dudes playing Risk and Tiger Woods Golf on the Wii, and the aroma of sweet BEEF was coming from the kitchen. I just love Men's Advance!

Saturday Night
Dinner consisted of Tri-tip, clam chowder, salad (yuck I ate some honey!), and for dessert...apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. Oh I forgot to tell you, about halfway through free time a huge tray of brownies came out of the kitchen! We were fed well. During dinner we discussed the most disgusting things we've ever eaten. I'm pretty sure I trumped even Antonio with balut. Antonio and I both agreed that Beef Tongue is one of the best tasting foods that people don't know about.

In the Dinner line, Steve and I were discussing what we would be teaching on (he was on that night and I the next morning). Guess what Steve was going to teach on that night? Yup, you guessed it 1 Cor 13. Now I've been helping or leading Men's Retreats/Advances for Calvary for a while now, and we never talk about what each of the speakers are going to share. And never have 3 speakers spoke on the same passage! God was really trying to get through to our thick skulls!

The Saturday night session was amazing. Pastor James, accompanied by Greg, led us to the throne room right away. I just love the way James leads worship, God has truly gifted him and he has such a servant's heart in his leading. As I said before Steve spoke that night and gave us yet another angle on 1 Cor 13. He challenged us not to think of the heart of that chapter as a list of to-do's as men easily do, but to truly ask the Lord to give us love for the people in our lives and the fruit would be patience, kindness, etc.

The Holy Spirit came in a mighty way during the response time and we were all so very blessed. It is very evident that God wanted us all to know that Giving up Childish Ways meant to selflessly love. We cannot selflessly love without His power and many asked for that power that night. We closed with many men asking for prayer in the realm of loving God with all of their hearts and souls. It is somewhat easier for men to love God with their minds and strength, but more difficult emotionally. Praise the Lord! He moved so mightily that weekend.

Sunday Morning
The food was very good at the camp and Sunday morning was indicative of that. We had scrambled eggs, nice thick cut bacon, tater logs (not tots), and some fruit. During the waning parts of breakfast I asked the men for some brutal and truthful feedback on the weekend. I specifically asked, "What was your favorite part of the weekend, and your least favorite?" This was a good session with mostly positive feedback and just some tweaks that we could do for the next one. I was so thankful for each of the men that stuck around till the very end.

We easily transitioned into sharing what God was doing in their hearts that weekend; confessions, decisions, and prayer requests. And we had a great open session. With many decisions (to rely on God's power) to change made and many sharing that God was definitely moving in their lives. We also prayed for those that needed physical and mental healing.

We took a break and then we had the Sunday session. Austin and Ryan led us in worship and I taught through 1 Cor 13...no I taught through Ex 18 when Jethro brings Moses' family back and gives him some advice on governing the Israelites. We learned that Moses humbled himself to listen to his father-in-law and took action. We would all like to not just listen to what God was saying that weekend, but actually take action!

To think, just a few days ago I was saying things like, "I'm gonna cancel/postpone this Advance." and "I'm done doing Men's Advances." I love to watch God work in the hearts of men...this was an amazing gift. Thank you Lord!

A special thanks to Aaron (Nessie) and Austin (DreamBoat) for their help in putting this baby on...couldn't a done it withoutcha!

Thanks to Bryan, Joey, and Steve for speaking and Austin, Ryan, James, and Greg for leading the men in worship through singing.

Thank you Jesus for dying and then rising from the Dead! You continue to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What to Bring!

For those going to the Men's Advance here is a short list of things to bring. I'll keep adding to this list as I think of things.

What to Bring?
-Toilletries (sp?) including your own Towel
-Sleeping stuff like you are camping; Pilow, Sleeping Bag, Air Mattress or Sleeping Pad (We have cabins, but the bunk beds look pretty uncomfortable) 
-Mosquito Repellant
-Cool clothes (it's gonna be hot!)
-Free time stuff: Hiking boots (there is a 4 hour hike), fishing stuff if you wanna fish at Lake Cachuma, Basketball and net for hoop if possible (there is a portable hoop in the loading dock), the rifle range will also be available if we want during the free time (please bring $5 or so if you want to do this)
-Board Games or Wii/PS3/Xbox360? Something to do Friday and Saturday night?

For those not going, please pray for each of us. Here's a list by name as up to date as possible. We'd love to see each man leave with more of Jesus, more life, ready to grow up and make a difference for the Kingdom!

Platoon 1 
James Rey (C) 
Austin Gardner
Chris Consolo
Eric Melgares
Michael Bertino
Peter Uzzi
Ryan Wilson
Tim Romano
Platoon 2
Cabin: Anapamu
Jeff Little (C)
Antonio Varia
Christion Richert
Eric Soderin
Greg Squires
John Brandenberg
Jordan Vargas
Scott Zaballos
Sean Brennan
Platoon 3
Cabin: Sespe
Rob Fitler (C)
Bill Sverchek
Branden Holguin
Chris Stringham
John Williams
Jonathan Sorbello
Kyle Weedon
Manny Galvan
Platoon 4
Cabin: Sisquoc
Steve Anselm (C)
David Lamb
Jacob Brown
Joey Hill
Micah Barstow
Morgan Jones
Nick Weber
Ryan Ouimette
Aaron Nesper
Bryan Stupar
Patrick Zalamea

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Did I mention the food?

I forgot to mention in my last post about visiting Rancho Alegre that they have a full commercial kitchen there! I asked about the menu and this is the info that I have:

  • Both Breakfasts (Sat & Sun) should be grub pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, etc etc
  • Lunch (Sat) can be salad bar or sandwiches...I told her this was a MEN'S event and she said oh yeah we'll do some big sandwiches or something like that
  • Dinner (Sat) she said they were open. I said three words Bar B Q...she said oh yeah, we'll work on that
I love this place!

My guess is if the weather holds up we'll be having most of our sessions in the outdoor chapel and/or bonfire area.

I'm super excited...I hope you are too!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

FoM Softball League Standing

By virtue of an improved offense providing more RBI's and some solid defense your FoM CalvarlySLO softball team is in 2nd (to last) place! Way to go gents. With hard work and a few more games under our belt I know a victory is right around the corner!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MENtor Myth I

I'm not qualified to be a MENtor

I had the opportunity to be a Resident Assistant my senior year in college. Each new R.A. had an outgoing R.A. from the previous year as a Mentor. I’ll never forget the advice Mike gave me which I still practice to this day. “Aaron”, he said, “there will come a time when a guy on your floor is going to knock on your door at 2am and at that moment you need to say, ‘God, Help!’.”

Feeling inadequate in the capacity of leading and mentoring is a common ailment that afflicts many Christian men all the way back to the early days of man. Moses, standing before God at the burning bush, told God he was unqualified to lead others. Gideon asked God to perform not 1, not 2 but 3 miracles before he undertook the mantel of leading other men. The prophet Jeremiah attempted to claim youth as making him unqualified. Often we’ll think because we don’t have the right education (or any education), the experiences, enough Biblical knowledge, we haven’t been a Christian long enough, etc that we are unqualified to be a mentor.

Yet looking at these men who’ve gone before us, they were not the biggest, the best, the most educated or the most “qualified” in the eyes of men. They were men willing to share all aspects of their relationship with God, with the men around them. Being a mentor is not about knowing everything or even knowing more than most, it’s about being a friend.

Fishers of Men Softball BoxScore III Sept 22, 2008

Last night the FoM played an incredible game, one which, for most of the game they had the lead. Multiple goals were accomplished both in the field and at the plate during the 3rd game of the season.

1. Pitcher Dan Hofstee recorded not 1 but 2 strike outs
2. The team batted around in not 1 but 2 innings
3. We scored first
4. We scored double digits

About the only thing that didn't go the way for the FoM was leading at the end of the game. It was a tough fought battle and a hard 15-14 loss in the bottom of the final inning. But we have to be encouraged since we only fielded 9 players (out of a possible 10) and had the lead for most of the game. BIG kudos go out to Kurt Gloeckler (a reserve from last season) and John Kozina (a friend from Aaron's work) for getting us to the required 9 players to avoid a forefit.

Aaron brought/used his MANteen (pictured above) which all men who attend the CalvarySLO Men's Advance will get. I don't want to say that the MANteen was directly responsible for the stellar performance of the FoM, but the way it performed in keeping the water cold for hours certainly provided inspiration.

Game ball goes to James and Kate Johnson for homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies and JuiceBoxes

Monday, September 22, 2008

Men's Advance Location

On Sunday, a few of us went up to Rancho Alegre, Boy Scout Camp in the Los Padres forest near Santa Barbara to...well scout it out. I have been to the camp about half a dozen times, but never got an extensive tour due to other parties being at the camp when I visited.

This time it was abandoned so we were able to walk through:
  • all six (4 overflow if needed) dormatories (not great but clean, you'll w ant to bring an extra pad to sleep on or there should be extras to double up on, each man will probably get their own personal bunk bed)
  • the meeting/dining hall (pretty cool way better than Cambria, the PA works, but probably not for worship...we may do a lot outside)
  • the pool we won't get to use (long story)
  • the pond that is dried up until it rains again
  • the campfire area (think of the typical Boy Scout Camp bonfire area...yup that's it)
  • the outdoor chapel (pictured above...it was at least 12 levels of aweso me)
  • the archery and shooting range (um 12 levels of awesome cubed!)
  • someone there told us about a 4 hour hike! (yeah 3 hours up 1 hour down...boooya)
  • oh yeah...the mosquitos scouted us...(note to self, bring mosquito repellant)
  • on the way I kept thinking how sweet it would be to ride my motorcycle there...
We ended our scouting trip with a time of prayer. That the Lord would annoint this place for all of the men that he calls to go Oct 10-12. That our time there would be "a kick in the pants." Meaning both a great time and an opportunity for God our Father to give us a swift kick in the pants where necessary. The theme is "Giving up Childish Ways (1 Cor 13:11).

I can't wait to see what the Lord does!

This is the actual sign you should look for, right after Lake Cachuma entrance...it's on the right hand side when going towards Santa Barbara on the left hand side if coming from SB on HWY 154...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fishers of Men Softball BoxScore II Sept 15, 2008

The CalvarySLO Fishers of Men Softball team went out and totally crushed their goal of scoring a run. CalvarySLO FoM crossed Home plate 4 times. While another close game eventually got away from the FoM, the improvement in play and performance was highly evident in the 4-16 loss.

FoM recorded 2 double plays, 1 of the (by Sterling Higgins) was unassisted at 1st base. A special thanks to Kate and Maddie Johnson for coming out and watching us play ball. Game ball goes to Dave Norris and Dan Hofstee. Dave came off the bench and filled in for a traveling Greg Squires and Dan pitched a great game filling in for Greg who pitched last week for us.

Kudos go to all the men who come out and play, have a good time and encourage one another.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Its all tied up: Married vs. Singles soccer

After a grueling 2 hours of soccer, the married's team win it 6 to 4. It was 7 on 7 soccer with a few subs throughout the game. We played 20-30 minute quarters. There were a couple patches of dirt on the field, but everyone had a good time. I think this the first Kingdom builders event were we had ZERO injuries...I think thats unheard of. Praise the Lord. We grilled up about 40 brats after the game and reminisced middle school soccer games with CapriSun's. It was a good time of fellowship, meeting other men, and using muscles that never get any exercise.
In the overall Married vs. Singles soccer matchup, we are tied up 1 to 1. You know what this means. Keep your eyes open for the next MvS soccer match: The Championships.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fishers of Men Softball BoxScore Sept 9, 2008

CalvarySlo - Dominate(d)

The inaugural game of the fall season for Lower Division Single A City Parks and Recreation Softball League has officially begun. The Calvary Men played their hearts out in a very close game that was lost in the waning minutes of the final inning. CalvarySlo almost took it to extra innings in the 18-0 loss but tonight it was not to be.

Though unmatched in heart, they were outmatched in runs though it is suspected that the opposing team was using performance enhancing softball skills as evidence by their ability to score more runs than us. While the win was illusive, the "jock"ularity had by the men and both fans who came out to watch us rivaled any mid-week afternoon SLO Blues game.

This season we had to say goodbye to a few of our players from last season:
1. Joey Hill was traded to his family for a season to be named later
2. Sean Brennan was placed on the 15 day DL until he realizes softball is part of his DNA
3. Ty McCarthy also on the 15 day DL until his hiatus is complete
3. Dave Norris, John Brandenburg and Jordan Vargas were sent down to the minors to further their education
4. Aaron Nesper was traded to Home Builders for a plate of brownies and a carafe of milk

In the absence of these fine gentlemen we've added some fresh players to this season's roster. Please help me welcome:
1. Sterling Higgins - playing with his left foot stitched to 1st base
2. John Depry catching everything hit into Left Center and throwing them out at home
3. Derek Rosenstrauch covering Short Stop like Jeter and Rodriguez put together
4. James Johnson dominating Right Field

This season holds a ton of promise and expectations are high that FoM Softball will be able to repeat the 2 win season from last year. So please, if you aren't doing anything on Monday nights (let's face it, with MNF airing games including Arizona, Oakland, SF, Cleveland and Houston they aren't making much of a case to stay home and watch football) please come out and support your local Lower Division Single A City Parks and Recreation CalvarySlo Softball team.

**Game ball goes to Carrie Squires who fearlessly retrieved a foul ball from behind the backstop.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

FoM Softball Fall 2008 Schedule

Our CalvarySLO Men's Softball team will be in full effect (that's a term from the 80's I think) this Fall 2008. Below is the schedule.

Please come and support our men. There are lot's of opportunities to witness to others in the stands as well as fellowshipping with the other CalvarySLO peeps. Sometimes they bring a cooler full of drinks and hang out after the game.

They could seriously use a few more guys (even if you share your spot with someone). Contact AMac at aaronmcfarland@hotmail.com

Game Date Time Location

9-8 6:30 p.m. El Chorro 2

9-15 7:10 p.m. Santa Rosa

9-22 6:30 p.m. El Chorro 2

9-29 8:20 p.m. Santa Rosa

10-6 6:30 p.m. El Chorro 2

10-13 8:20 p.m. Santa Rosa

10-20 7:40 p.m. El Chorro 2

10-27 7:10 p.m. Santa Rosa

11-3 8:50 p.m. El Chorro 2

11-10 8:20 p.m. Santa Rosa

Monday, August 04, 2008

Fishers of Men BBQ

So Josh and I crashed the Fishers of Men BBQ @ the Brennan's house. While the team was eating I was watching the kids play on the dirt slide. This is Josh showing his sweet secret agent ninja moves...

We later played a sweet game of Wiffle Ball. I had to have a designated runner because I'm still very unsure of my back. A fun time was had by all!

Our vision for FoM Sports teams is both outreach and fellowship. I think both were represented tonight...Amen.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

MvS Soccer Style: Marrieds Lose...Again

I wish I had snapped a pic with my cell phone, but try to picture 7v7 soccer, Singles:Skins/Marrieds:Shirts, the ladies (and those of us men on doctor's orders to take it easy for a while) cheering them on the sidelines. It's a really cool picture actually.

I love seeing the men "fellowshipping" in this way. I find that:

  1. they meet other men in the fellowship they normally would not have met
  2. they get to know the men they normally just smile and shake hands with on a Sunday morning
  3. As a side note: Men also get to show off in front of their significant other
It's so cool.

Ok I've been avoiding it, but the Marrieds lost...big time to the Singles. The Marrieds I saw afterwards at the Parents meeting couldn't even say what the score was. We had way more Marrieds there than singles, but as one married dude said, "they didn't get tired after 3 minutes of playing!"

Needless to say Soccer/Futbol is VERY popular even here on the Central Coast of California! We'll be doing this again...and we may let the ladies play...maybe.

Thanks AMac (Aaron MacFarland) for coordinating. Thanks Greg Squires for borrowing those sweet nets. I pray that God is glorified and Jesus would smile on the relationships that were started or strengthened!

BTW i just got word that the injury/ER streak continues...Nessie (Aaron Nesper) landed on his thumb in a valiant effort to get a much needed Marrieds goal. Well he's going to the ER tomorrow morning and thinks it's broken: 6 events 6 trips to the ER.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Father/Son Campout 2008

I finally got a chance to upload these pictures from the Father/Son Campout 2008.

Through a few little trials (or potential trials) like the fires surrounding Big Sur, flooding in the Brennan home, and a very brief lightning/thunder storm; we had a GREAT time!

If you know nothing about this, every year for the last three years a few of us Dads take our sons up to Pfeiffer Big Sur campground during a summer weekend. It's a great time for some male bonding, as well as some teaching.

This year I got a few calls from some moms about the fire in King City. After a little bit of checking we realized the fires were far enough and heading in the opposite direction; so we headed out. I got to hang with Sean Brennan who drove us in luxury in his Toyota Sequoia...trailer full of gear in tow.

When we reached camp at 2pm on Friday it was 90 degrees...in Big Sur! So we left all of our gear and headed for the river gorge. The water must have been in the 60's it was wonderful.

The rest of the weekend was filled with: dips in the river, Eric Fitler jumping off the man cliff into the river, Sean and Steve jumping off the Superman cliff into the river, exploring the gorge, attempts at squirrel catching, smor's and deep fried pancakes, Steve teaching on being quick to listen and slow to speak/slow to anger, the Ring of Fire where we affirm our sons, I taught on how Joshua (from the Bible) was a hero by being a servant, humble, and responsible.

As we left Big Sur we found out we were under a voluntary evacuation due to a lightning strike forest fire a few miles south of us. Also due to that fire, Hwy 1 was closed going south. So we had to go around Monterey and to the 101. If you look at the slides I took some pictures of the billowing smoke behind us. The weird thing was we were maybe 2-3 minutes north of our campground. That smoke sure made the fire look a lot closer to the campsite!

Thanks to Rob Fitler for taking most of these pics, risking his sweet Canon for posterity. Thanks to all the Dads: Sean, Steve, Christian, Tom C., Tom H., and Rob. It was great to share the weekend with you men!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Singles Won

Preliminary data indicates the Singles won @ Miracle Miles on all counts:
  • Fastest time: Wise and Christion came in at about 45 minutes each. Linda and I on the other hand 2 hours and change, so unless the Whitacres ran like the wind I think we lost that category
  • Most Pledges raised: See that trophy? That's was awarded to CalvarySLO Singles for Most Money Raised by a Group! So I'm guessing they won that category as well.
  • Tie breaker: even if needed, it looks like they had more sign ups unless a bunch of marrieds did walk up sign up...but like I said it looks irrelevant
I'll have the official verdict next Sunday, but it doesn't look good for the Marrieds! The only consolation is that we pretty much blew Calvary Shoreline out of the water.

It was a fun event. I'm glad we as a church could make such a big impact. Props to Nick Enns who raised over $1200 to get the Singles the trophy and some sweet gift certificates to Mo's Smokehouse.

Thanks everyone!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Nehemiah 8: Biblical R & R

And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Neh 8:12)

It took us a couple of weeks, but we got through chapter 8. This is now my favorite chapter (have I said that before?).

In summary, after the people had built the wall (so now they felt safe) and God through Nehemiah had organized the people with giftings and callings (remember chapter 7?) they now wanted to hear the scriptures read and preached [screeching sound]. Yeah, they actually asked for a church service (and it went for about 6 hours!), pretty amazing huh?

Ezra reads the Pentateuch, first five books of the Bible from early morning until mid-day. The Levites walked around the congregation (50k people, think Dodger Stadium) to explain what was being read. The people respond with weeping and mourning, either out of respect for the written word of God or out of repentance for how far they had missed the mark God had laid out for them.

Imagine a packed baseball stadium full of people, listening to preaching and teaching, and they all fall face down on the ground and start weeping! God showed up in a big way to pierce the hearts of the people. This is an amazing miracle! I like to say it doesn't happen every day...is God speaking? Yes. Are we always open and listening? No.

Nehemiah and Ezra both tell the people to stop weeping and mourning, but instead to celebrate the fact that God had pierced their hearts. How may I ask does Nehemiah "encourage" them to celebrate? In the ESV it translates it, "Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready".

Many might be shocked that Nehemiah's response or way of celebrating is basically BBQ and Alcoholic Beverages, but I think the key is in verse 12 quoted above. It says that the people went to celebrate with food and wine, "because they had understood the words that were declared to them." In other words, they didn't go eat and drink to be gluttons or drunkards, to find pleasure in the food or wine in and of itself, they went to worship and praise God for showing up.

It's an amazing distinction. Colossions 3:17 says, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." That means, with a few exceptions, that whatever we are doing can be an act of worship to God. I think the main thing is the motivation. Are we doing [fill in the blank] as an act of worship to God or to the thing he created? There was quite a bit of discussion that was awesome.

We finished the chapter discussing the amazing results of MEN responding in obedience to God and leading the people in spiritual things. Verse 13 tells us that on the second day the men wanted to dig deeper into God's written word. Uh-huh another miracle. What they found out is that they should be celebrating the Feast of Booths, Sukkot, right then. So guess what? They did!

The men, the leaders of each household, lead in the collection of branches and leaves and the building of booths and the daily rituals.

This is what KingdomBuilders is all about. We want men to be ignited to follow Jesus with all of their hearts, minds, strength, and will! This is the way to a strong family, church, community, nation, and world is the men. I won't bore you with all the statistics, because we know it in our hearts and the scriptures bear witness, men are meant to lead spiritually.

This might mean taking risks for Jesus, going on an adventure with him, and definitley forming bonds of brotherhood with the other men at CalvarySLO. That's what we at KingdomBuilders are all about!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

CalvarySLO in the OT?: Nehemiah 7:5-73

The priests, Levites, security guards, singers, and Temple support staff, along with some others, and the rest of the People of Israel, all found a place to live in their own towns. (Neh 7:73 MSG)

Well we did it...we studied through Nehemiah 7, the equivalent of the Jerusalem phone book!

We actually learned quite a bit; that God chooses to use People, their gifts, talents, and generous giving. We also learned that the way God organized the people of Jerusalem is very similar to the way he has chosen to organize CalvarySLO.

Here's what I mean This information is my understanding of CalvarySLO organization as of right now, which often changes:

Verse 7 mentions men of the people which equates to the congregation, those who call CalvarySLO their church home. This is everyone who gets their nourishment on Sunday and all of the other ministries that are offered at CalvarySLO.

Verses 39 and 43 mention the priests and the Levites which equates to the paid staff of CalvarySLO. These are:

Bryan - Senior Pastor
James - Associate Pastor
Nick - College Pastor
Ben - Youth Pastor (High School & Jr. High)
Leah - Children's Ministry Coordinator
Melissa - Office Manager
Cole - Accounting

Verse 44 mentions the singers which equates to our worship team at CalvarySLO. This is lead by Kris Stipech, but there are many more who lead us to the throne on Sunday morning and in our other ministries and events. Isn't it cool that thousands of years ago there was Worship through Song?

Verse 45 mentions the gatekeepers which equates to our elders at CalvarySLO. These are:

Steve - Evangelism and Outreach
Marc - Children's Ministry
Sean - Just came back from Sabbatical...Youth Ministries before
Dave - Missions
Joey - Deacons
Albert - Sunday Morning Services
Patrick - Men's Ministry
Larry - Finances

Verse 60 mentions Temple servants and Solomon's servants which equates to the deacons at CalvarySLO. These are:

Jeff - Community Groups
Gabe - Sunday Morning Services
Tim - Sound Ministry
Eric - Floating Deacon
Jonathan - Children & Youth Worship

Hope that is helpful. The men leading and coordinating KingdomBuilders with me thought so.

It's super amazing that God chooses to use us, normal and sinful people, to move and build his Kingdom here on earth. He has called us to use the gifts and talents he has given us to serve and love the bride...even giving our lives for her. It's sobering and exciting at the same time.

As the verse above states everyone listed in this long list of names found a place to live, and might I add serve, in their towns. We all should find our place to live and serve at the church we call home!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thoughts on Spring Training 2008

I wish I had some pictures to show you! Hopefully Stupar will upload some soon that I can steal.

My day started at 4:30am...couldn't sleep, usually can't right before a big event. So I practiced my message on my dog, Sophie. Pretty sure she's going to be Playing for Keeps real soon.

Then I headed over to the local donut shop, for a dozen, and then picked up James and Steve at James' house. We headed over to Pacheco for the sound equipment and picked up Austin as well.

We arrived at 8:45am and there were already men there! We quickly setup and were on our way at about 9:45am. Nick led us in a couple of songs and I spoke about "How Invested Nehemiah was in God's Kingdom." We sent everyone out for some reflection time asking:

  • Am I Playing for Keeps?
  • What does God want to do in my heart today?
  • What does God want me to invest my energy, passions, time, and life in?
At about 11:10 we got back together. Aaron Wise ran us through the rules of the Softball tourney and broke the news that even though some of the men didn't want to play softball we were going to have to ask them to, because there just weren't enough men to spare. Thank men!

The first games were Team Nesper vs. Team McFarland on Field 1; Team Wise vs. Team Gardner on Field 2. I was on Team Gardner so I don't know what happened on Field 1, but we had a very competitive game that saw us come back from a 9 run deficit. I do know that Team Nesper won on Field 1 (I heard that Steve had to learn how to catch the ball on first base though.)

Also on Field 2 Patrick Malloy took one for Team Wise. As he was touching 3rd base he twisted his knee. We prayed for him and he started to ice it, but ended up going to the emergency room: Thanks Aaron Enstad! I didn't get the official report, but I heard that his knee was hurt, but as we continued to pray for him the pain was decreasing.

We had some lunch at about 12:45pm; three 6 ft Subway sandwiches, chips, soda, and cookies. We had way too much food so we invited the SLO Heavies who were practicing in a field next to ours. The SLO Heavies are a team of really big mostly Scottish men in kilts that throw huge logs, boulders, and hammers in what's called the Scottish games. They were fun men.

At about 1:25pm or so the KB Leaders/Coordinators told me if we didn't get something going everyone was going to fall asleep! So we started with some worship from Westberg and then a message on Grace by Steve. I could see there were a good amount of men that were moved as men were split up into small groups and prayed for each other.

Sometime around 3:15pm or so we got started on the second game: winners vs. losers. Team Nesper vs. Team Wise on Field 2; Team McFarland vs. Team Gardner on Field 1. It was a very heated game on Field 1 as a couple of our players had to leave or just decided to stop playing. McFarland's team played catcher for us and missed a couple of plays...and I have to confess I started losing it. I ended up apologizing for my sinful competitiveness.

At around 4:45pm we started our last worship/teaching session. Nick lead us in worship and Bryan taught on the Curse on Men due to the Fall. We were all ready for some dinner when that was over and the food showed up at about 6:15pm. Also about that time some of our families, wives, and girlfriends showed up to share in the copious amounts of food and to watch the Championship game.

As we unwrapped the pig I heard a lot of comments, mostly about how people didn't really realize that we were actually going to see a whole roasted pig. I thought I was pretty clear about that so I thought that was funny. We all enjoyed whole roasted pig (Lechon), Filipino Eggrolls (Lumpia), Filipino Chow Mein (Pancit), and white rice. Along with the Lechon was a secret sauce, which many were game to try. I'm honestly not sure what it is, but my guess is it's cooked innards and drippings somehow turned into a sauce. But man was it good!

Championship game was Team Nesper vs. Team McFarland. I heard these men really wanted to win the Championship and the knives. The consolation game was kind of a farce as both teams were short players so we did our best. The Championship game saw a blowout 18 to 12 with a huge rally at the end from 18 to 6 or something like that. Team Nesper won, with an undefeated record. They played their hearts out.

We had a bit of a ceremony after that where I handed out the knives and congratulated the winners. We gave knives to the MVPs of the 2nd thru 4th place teams: Dan from Team McFarland, Gavin from Team Gardner, Will from Team Wise. They were pleasantly surprised. Last, we were going to raffle off the rest of the knives but there were enough for everyone that stuck it out until the end so everyone got one.

Thanks to everyone who stuck around to help clean up. We were like zombies walking around not talking to each other, just cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. It was crazy! On our way home we found out that a bunch of men were going to soak in Jeff Little's hot tub...every muscle in our bodies was saying, "Please go!" So we did...I don't know what kind of condition I would be in now if we hadn't.

All in all in was a really great day. I'm starting to realize that I need to (and can) rely on the KB Leaders/Coordinators. See I've been doing KB alone for so long I forget I have men that really want to serve as well. All day they just owned it and kept telling me to let them do something.

Thanks Nesper, Wise, AMac, and Austin for your help...it means more than you'll ever know. Same to James and Steve...you guys stuck it out with us to the very end! A huge thanks to Jerry and Lorie Apilado, who cooked everything but the pig for dinner...from scratch! BTW these aren't professional Caterers they are my neighbors sister and brother-in-law that willingly spent hours making and frying each Eggroll for a very good price. Thanks also to Manong Eddie who cooked the pig, probably starting at the crack of dawn!

Praise the Lord! I just love hanging out with the men and learning to Play for Keeps, both through the worship/teaching and realizing that the competitiveness we felt during the tourney is how God made us. We just have to redeem that and use it for the Kingdom of God!

If you were there I'd love to see your comments...so leave one!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Venue for ST08

Men...I was in A-town for work today so I stopped by the Venue for ST08, aka Paloma Creek Park Atascadero. Let me tell you, this picture cannot convey how sweet the park is. See I'm used to Santa Rosa Park where the diamonds are so close you can hit a dude on the back of the head in the outfield of the next diamond over...while bunting. Or Soto Sports Complex in AG where the grass looks like mowed over weeds and well dare I say ghetto?

So that's what I expected when I got to Paloma Creek Park...oh I thought no parking too, boy was I wrong on all accounts! Seemed like plenty of parking available, not that we shouldn't carpool because Al Gore told me the globe is warming. Well I got out of my car and what was I greeted with but green; green grass everywhere. Two huge sunken soccer fields to the left and a little league diamond (we didn't rent that...apparently you can't).

And a path down the middle to two (2) sweet softball diamonds. They are totally separate entities. They were chalked and had bases like they will on Saturday and they looked great like the pic above shows, but in person even better. Get this they even have real dugouts! I am pumped...I hope you are too.

I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It is Finished? Neh 6:1-7:4

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. Neh 6:15

We (KingdomBuilders leaders) have met twice since I updated you last on our journey through Nehemiah, so I am combining both studies here.

The main deal I got out of Chapter 6 and part of 7 is that Nehemiah doesn't rest on his laurels, you know what I mean? Here he is, he's completed what many before him have tried and failed to complete; restoring the wall around Jerusalem. Some would say it is THE work he was put on this earth to do. It's a huge structure requiring hundreds of people to clear rubble and burnt doors and THEN build the wall. On top of that he was hounded by constant opposition from within and without.

With all that he uses 16 words (at least in the ESV) to describe this massive work that only took 52 days. I think I'd have used at least 52 words, you know what I'm saying? What we came up with is that Nehemiah was able to deadpan the whole thing because:

  1. Nehemiah knew the work wasn't done yet. This part of it was done, which I'm sure he was glad about and rejoiced, but there was more work to be done to organize the people and to point their hearts towards Jesus. Alas, the leader's work is never done.

  2. Nehemiah found complete satisfaction in God rather than his job. Sure it was neat that they accomplished so much in so little time, but it sure pales in comparison to our great and awesome God!

  3. Nehemiah wanted ALL the glory to go to God. Waxing eloquent about his accomplishments would have taken the focus off of God and put it on him and his team.
This is a hard word from the Lord who gives us Nehemiah as an example of working hard for the Lord, finding satisfaction in only him, and not being a glory thief. We'll find there is quite a bit more work for Nehemiah to do and he continues to be faithful. It's so hard in this day and age with Yahoo banner ads telling us our dream job is a mouse click away, to be content in the job God has given us and to only find satisfaction in him...not a job. Most of all as selfish sinful broken people that want attention and accolades, it is very difficult to not be a glory thief.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Clarification on Spring Training 2008

Hey men of CalvarySLO,
I've been getting a lot of questions about this event, mostly surrounding:

1. Are we just putsying around playing softball?
2. Why would it cost me $40 just to play softball?
3. Are we playing against other Churches? No.

So here's some more background on the event.

The KingdomBuilders leaders felt lead to do 2 not 1 but 2 Men's Advances this year. The first one would be a 1 day Mini-Advance in the Spring to accomodate those that just can't take a whole weekend away and the full Advance would be in the Fall. We also wanted to keep the cost the same ($100-120) in case some men wanted to go to both. I think we accomplished that since Spring Training is $40 and we think the Men's Advance will be $70.

So we came up with Spring Training as a cool name that kinda ties in with the baseball Spring Training. But our Spring Training is so much more than just softball. Here's what we got going:

1 Fully Rented Park (Paloma Creek) w/ 2 Softball Diamonds and 2 Soccer Fields
1 Set of Headband/Wristbands with event logo
2 Meals Lunch (Subway) and Dinner (Filipino BBQ or Luau)
3 Sessions of Worship/Teaching
3 Sessions of Sports including Softball Tourney, Soccer, Ultimate Frisbee and/or Football etc

Atascadero parks and rec will chalk the baseball fields for us and rent us real bases. I'm working on getting real Umpires to spend the day with us, but not sure. Nick will be leading worship and Bryan, Steve, and I will be sharing from our hearts what it means to Play for Keeps.

The $40 goes to pay for the park (a bigger expense than you'd think), 2 meals (food, drinks, plates, forks, napkins etc), headband/wristbands, maybe some umpires, etc etc.

I hope you come out!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Josh K. Departs

Well we are losing one of the KingdomBuilder team, Josh K. He's been helping me with events for a bit now and we'll miss him. He's applied to a few Veterinarian schools across the country and he hopes to get into one. I guess there are only 28 in the USA!

He hopes to be able to take the skills that he will learn into the mission field either full-time or short-term missions. Join me in hoping him the best.

Last night was his last study night with us so we held hands and sang the following song while we cried and passed each other the tissues:

I'm crying just thinking about it ;)

Just kidding...we sent him off in manly fashion with all you can eat pizza at Klondikes and the smallest amounts of frozen yogurt we could force down our throats at Yogurt Creations.

Take care Josh! Godspeed...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

WtS Breakfast II

How can I describe this morning? We had great food, fellowship, worship, and teaching. What else can you ask for?

Antonio, owner of Buona Tavola where we ate, cooked up a wonderful feast with his crew. We had fresh squeezed orange juice; fresh strawberries, apples, and tangelos; prosciutto, salami, and cheeses; wonderful potatoes and peppers; amazing chicken sausage; both vegetarian and ham frittatas (I had both! they were fantastic!); last but not least some spectacular biscuits with lemon zest. Oh the coffee was so good...I couldn't put cream and sugar in it with a good conscience. We couldn't thank Antonio enough...in fact he told me to stop! Praise God for his ability to worship through cooking!

We had a couple of men step up to do worship, Austin and Ryan. They were lead to start us out with "More than Enough." Marc, one of our Elders, came up to speak and said the Spirit must have lead them to start with that song because it was perfect for the message the Lord had given him...and it was. Marc spoke to us out of Number 10-14, about how God's men are fighting men. They fight to be lovers of God, holy devoted to him. We were all blessed.

I have to say there is nothing like 25 or so men singing praises to God at the top of their lungs! Especially in such a public area as the outside patio of Buona Tavola...

We ended with a few more songs then went off to our assignments. Some went to a single lady's house from CalvarySLO to dig some fence posts and set them in concrete...mmmm concrete! Others went to a single mom's house to break down a desk and take some stuff to the dump. Still others went to a Little Buddy's house to help get his mom's house ready for a new baby to come; cleaning carpets and helping with some landscaping. The rest of us, including myself, went to worship thru service at home. Linda and I did some serious subduing of the earth at Casa Zalamea.

I can't thank Christion and Nesper enough for committing to these WtS Breakfasts. I'm only sorry our next one isn't until June! Joey, from the Elder Board, will be speaking. I hope you'll join us!

Pictures on the right --------------->

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nehemiah 5: Actions Speak Louder than Words

So I said, "The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?" (Neh 5:9)

Have you ever met someone that says one thing and does something else? Ever been taken advantage of? If your answers to those questions are Yes, it is really sad. But if your answer to those questions is Yes and the person we are talking about is a Christian and so are you, it is insidious, heinous, or worse!

That's what we are dealing with in Chapter 5. Some nobles and officials who are part of the community of God, Israelites, yet their actions towards their fellow brothers shows different. They are taking advantage of their fellow Jews to make a profit off of them during the wall building and a famine. It's sad really, but a reality all too often, that God's people greedily take advantage of each other instead of lovingly blessing each other monetarily.

In chapter 5 there is a great outcry from the people that threatens not only the building of the wall, but Jerusalem and the nation of Israel as well. Basically, the regular working schmoes, like me, can't feed their families because they have been volunteering to build the wall. They then start mortgaging their farms, vineyards, etc. These mortgages are from their brothers and they are charging high interest even though it is against God's law to charge interest to a brother. Then they can't pay the high tax that King Artexerxes exacts from his kingdom, so they start selling their sons and daughters to these so called nobles and officials.

Nehemiah gets ticked off (aka righteous anger) and holds a good old fashion public church discipline session. He formally charges them all of sin and then drops a bomb by publicly admitting that he too has been doing the same thing (v 10)! He repents and asks the nobles and officials to repent as well. But he doesn't stop there he also says, "Let's pay restitution not just repent!"

The officials agree to follow Nehemiah's lead and repent as well as pay restitution. Nehemiah doesn't stop there...he brings in the priests to witness the nobles and officials swearing to pay back all the interest, return all the property, and return the sons and daughters. It's a contract basically, which he further strengthens by shaking out the dust and whatever is in his pockets (aka folds of his cloak) to show that God will do the same thing to them if they don't honor the contract.

The people obviously rejoice and the situation is taken care of. Nehemiah finishes the chapter by showing how repentant he was by describing that when he became Governor of Israel he did not collect the allowances from the people (food and 40 shekels of silver a day) that normally come with the office. He feared God and loved the people too much to do so (are you listening Washington, DC? This is a great economic stimulus plan!).

Actions speak louder than words. We can say that we are Christians, but "they will know us by our love!" I'll leave you with the 3 questions I left with the KB leaders:

  1. Are you taking advantage of a brother or sister in Christ? Monetarily, emotionally, sexually, whatever?
  2. Have you been taken advantage of by a brother or sister in Christ? And have you forgiven them? Bitterness is one of the worst things this side of hell. It imprisons you in a prison cell that is almost impenetrable. Don’t let yourself be caught in it’s trap.
  3. How are you managing God’s money? That’s not a typo, it’s not your money, it’s God’s and he lets you have some of it. Depending on your answer that will actually show where your heart is at, where your faith is even. It let’s you know if you have greed in there or love!
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1 John 3:17

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Poll!

So here's a question for ya...

We are changing it up this year and will have a mini-Advance in April, we're calling it Spring Training, and a full Advance in October...Lord willin' and the crik don't rise.

Spring Training will be a full Saturday of worship and teaching, sports, AND FOOD! Thus the poll to the right.

I'm looking into doing either a full Filipino Lechon Baboy (which means roast pig, the filipino version of a Luau) or all you can eat Carne Asada and/or Al Pastor soft tacos. Just to clarify the Filipino Lechon or Luau would have egg rolls (we call them lumpia) and chow mein type noodles (we call it pancit, the c is like an s) maybe some rice. The all you can eat soft tacos is just that tacos with all the fixins...I think the tortillas are hand made and completely authentic salsa etc etc.

So let me know what you think...does the thought of a pig looking at you gross you out or are you man enough to deal? Maybe you just don't like Pacific Islander/Asian food...whatever just let me know ;)


Nehemiah 4: Building AND Defending!

From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. (Neh 4:16-18)

Sorry it's been a few weeks since my last update. We did have our study with the KingdomBuilder leaders last week and we went through Chapter 4 of Nehemiah. It's one of my favorite chapters of scripture. I even asked the guys if we could change the name of Kingdombuilders to Trowel & Sword! They obviously didn't take to the idea...

It's one of my favorites because of the beautiful picture of building and defending at the same time. These men knew that they needed to defend themselves, but they also knew that they equally had to keep building. See their neighbors were surrounding them. Verse 7 tells us Sanballat (coming from the north); Tobiah and the Ammonites (from the east); the Arabs (from the south), and the Ashdodites (had just joined in from the west) were planning a surprise attack.

Nehemiah and the people caught wind of it and decided to pray AND defend themselves while they kept building. So awesome the wisdom God gave Nehemiah to lead these people. Yes he prayed and he prayed earnestly at the same time he took practical steps to continue building and defend at the same time.

Here are some gleanings from the chapter:

  • We are at war - it's easy to forget in the ever comfortable US of A that there is a roaring lion who is seeking to devour us (1 Pet 5:8). Another passage tells us that a dragon makes war against those who obey God's commands and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Rev 12:17). The lion and the dragon are Satan our enemy who often surrounds us as the Israelites were surrounded and is waiting to spring a surprise attack. Let's not forget, no matter how comfortable and quiet it seems...that's exactly when a lion attacks.

  • Learn the balance of prayer and planning - so far this theme runs through all the chapters we've covered in Nehemiah. He was a man of prayer, leading on his knees as one commentator put it, but he also lead with his head...in the here and now. He was a master of prayer AND planning at the same time. So often we miss one or the other...well I do. Mostly on the planning side, I'm a terrible prayER. But some just pray and don't plan for the prayer to be answered or think that God may want us to act and pray for his continued guidance and strength.

  • Learn the other balance of Building AND Defending - It's so hard to multi-task isn't it? These men were doing it, one hand on the trowel one hand on the sword. I find that I've become a specialist or too compartmentalized (not sure which). I want to either be wielding the trowel or the sword not both. But God's call is to do both! We need to be Kingdom Builders and Defenders. Evangelists and Apologists; Prayer Warriors and prone to Good Works; daily confessing and repenting of sin as well as gaining some ground on that sin.
I recently found out that Spurgeon had a newsletter or magazine (not sure what to call it) that he started in 1865, and apparently continues to this day! Guess what he named it? He named it Sword and Trowel. He announced the new magazine by saying, "We would ply the Trowel with untiring hand for the building up of Jerusalem's dilapidated walls, and wield the Sword with vigour and valour against the enemies of the Truth."