To Be Hungry...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The purpose of this post isn't to show that I'm a "Super Christian" because I'm not in any way. Nor am I trying to show off what I do. I just want to be able to share the way God has been blessing me through one on one times with him. With that being said...

This morning I had an amazing quiet time. I think I've finally found the groove that connects me to God in my quiet time. Someone once said "If you're bored during your quiet time, God probably is too." That made sense to me, and I decided there had to be some changes in our quiet time together.

There was a time when I was against having a quiet time with God, and I know some of you will gasp and wonder what I'm talking about but let me explain. I had a professor in Bible college that related our relationship with God to hunger. When we get hungry, we eat. When we hunger for God, we should eat. To me, that made sense. And then I learned about how each person connects to God in a different way. Some connect through singing. Some through prayer. Nature. Fasting. Silence. Solitude. Giving. I started to put things together that you don't necessarily have to have a quiet time every day where you read your Bible, but maybe taking one of those elements and doing it when you felt "hungry".

The problem is, our stomachs are naturally designed to tell us when we're hungry. We haven't really trained ourselves to listen to when our souls are hungry. I found that I was actually starving my soul AND I wasn't giving it a normal diet of different foods.

Scripture HAS to be part of our connecting with God otherwise we're having one way conversations. We do all the talking and we refuse to allow God to talk to us. Scripture is the way God connects to us on a one on one basis and shows us what we need to do and what we need our attitude to be. Thankfully, I figured this out a couple of years ago and it's been my life line to God in ministry. Now I'm going to just give a model of how I connect to God, feel free to end your reading now if you don't really care so much, I understand ;)

Here is how I connect:

  1. First thing I do when I get into my office is open my Bible and either a) read where I feel God guiding me to read. b) Continuing on with a book. I read through the Gospels last year and now I'm reading through some Psalms.
  2. I sometimes have a book that I'm reading and I'll read a chapter. Currently I'm reading this book and it's been amazing!
  3. I have a journal that I keep regular entries in. I have a hard time praying out loud/in my head. My mind goes every where. So when I am able to sit down and write out my prayers, not only do I have a record that I can go back to and see how God answered my prayer, but I can focus on what I'm praying about. Gives me a little more concentration.
  4. Sometimes I'll go up to our local forestry and take a lunch, a book, my bible and my journal and hike up to the tallest point in the county. I just have a quiet time and read and pray and it's just a wonderful time to spend with God. I call it a day of refreshment.
Spending personal time with God is essential in any believers daily life. He refreshes us. He corrects us. He encourages us. He disciplines us. He loves us through his words. Take time to be in his word.

Willow Creek Repents?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

For those that know me well enough, know that I really cannot stand Willow Creek. I've never liked their methods, their shallow practices, and the fact that they charge outrageous prices for their materials.

Anyways, I came across this article this morning about how they decided their programs were just wrong. A direct quote from Bill Hybels:

"We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own."

It's an article from last year, but still worth the read. Read the rest here.

The Weight Loss Continues...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I started the weight loss attempt on February 4th and as of today, July 16th, I've lost 43 pounds. Here is my before and after picture:
It's really hard to believe I was so heavy. I really didn't notice it. You always notice you're a "couple of pounds" over but that's about it. I had no idea I had crept up to 240 pounds.

Today, I'm under what I weighed my Senior year of High School. My ultimate goal is 180, which is (according to most height/weight measurements) still "overweight" but I'm not really going to care at that point. But we'll see.

I have lots of people ask me "How have you done it?" So I've compiled a list of some of the steps I've taken to lose 40+ pounds. A word of caution, I am in no way an expert. I learn more and more everyday even 6 months after I've started this. This is just what I would call "practical advice":

  1. I counted calories. At first, this idea scared me because I was like "Oh my goodness, how am I going to look at all of these containers and keep track of it all?" It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I found a website to help keep track of what I ate and the calories and nutrition content of each item.
  2. I ate 1600 calories a day and rarely no more than that. You can find calculators online which tell you approximately how many calories your body naturally uses. I used 2600 calories a day naturally, so i was left with burning 1000 calories a day from food alone...but then I added..
  3. Exercise! I didn't exercise at first, I gradually got myself into the groove of the diet then exercise. But someone at the church gave us a $100 gift card for Wal-Mart (anonymously) and I used that money to buy a stationary bicycle. I started with 20 minutes in front of the TV and gradually bumped it up to 30 minutes. It was hard at first, it burned! Now I use the harder difficulty settings to get a better workout.
  4. Remember that 3500 calories equals 1 pound. And that goes for both gaining and losing. So if you cut a 1000 calories a day, you'll lose about 2.5 pounds a week. If you can put in 30 minutes of exercise a day thats another half pound.
  5. Don't beat yourself up over the occasional miss. So you ended up going 500 calories over for a's not the end of the world and it certainly isn't the end of the diet. You'll have those days.
  6. I stopped drinking calories. For example: Coca-Cola in a 20oz bottle has over 200 calories. A large sweet tea has 300 calories! Holy Crap! Thats almost a whole meal in calories! Water of course is best, but if you just can't stand water go to diet soda or have tea with splenda. Fruit juice is pretty bad for you too as it's loaded with sugar!
  7. I started paying attention to serving sizes. Believe it or not, butter is not all that horrible. The problem is that people put 3 to 4 times the amount of butter on something that they should. This is especially true of salad dressing. I remember one time when someone was on a "diet" and got a salad with 5 or 6 servings of ranch (most ranch is 150 calories per serving). She had a lot more fat in her salad than I did in my burger! If you want the butter or the dressing, portion it out first and stick to that portion.
  8. Realize that maintaining weight is A LOT better than gaining. That means that when you get on that scale and you weigh the same today as you did a week ago...that is still a success! Our weight fluctuates so much in a given day. Some people retain a lot of water at times, you have to figure in the weight of the food you're still digesting, etc...lots of factors to consider. I only weighed myself on Monday mornings because that was the same time every week that I could count on.
  9. I ate what I wanted to. Just a lot less of it. It's not uncommon for Carrie to want a pizza in the middle of the week. So instead of eating 3 or 4 slices like I used to, I would just eat 2. Or if I wanted to "splurge" I would eat less in the day so I could have that extra slice. You can still eat what you want, you just have to fit it in to your daily calorie goals. Tomorrow night we're going to Cheeseburger in Paradise and I'm going to get a half pound burger with a side of fries. So tomorrow morning I'll have some yogurt with fruit (150 calories), lunch will be a chicken salad (150 calories), and dinner can be 1300 calories. It's probably not the healthiest way to do it, but it curbs cravings. Lately I've been eating less calorie snacks and having soft serve ice cream after dinner.
  10. A typical day of food for me:
  • Breakfast: 2 cups of oatmeal cooked in skim milk. Coffee with 3 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of non-dairy creamer (400 calories)
  • Morning snack: Apple (80 calories)
  • Lunch: Turkey Sandwich on whole wheat with lettuce, tomato, nonfat cheese (300 calories)
  • Afternoon snack: Animal crackers (120 calories)
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken breast, potato, steamed broccoli with butter, whole wheat bread. (420 calories)
  • Evening snack: Fruit smoothie, bowl of cereal, Ice cream, or whatever I can with the calories I have left figure about 150 calories.
  • Total Day Calories: 1470. Which gives you enough to play with some condiments such as butter or sour cream for a potato or maybe a bag of chips with lunch.
As you can see I eat a ton of food in the day, which was surprising for me. I always though diets were there to make you feel hungry all day. There are many times when I find it hard to actually use all my calories in a single day, I'm just too full!

I'm not going to say it's been easy. There have been days where I just wanted to go to McDonalds and have my regular Big Mac Meal with large fries and a coke (1400 calories). It was REALLY hard when we had 5 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies! I stuck to 2 cookies a day...which was really hard. But I was finally determined to do something about it.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask!


You know that one thing that you have that you don't want anyone else to see? It's that one weakness...or flaw that you shamefully hide because you absolutely don't want anyone to see or acknowledge it.

I have one.

It scares the potatoes out of me when I think about someone calling it out on me.

And it happened yesterday.

Not just by one person, but by a collective group of people.

It hurt.

Now before you get all upset, this wasn't by anyone at our church or anything like that. But when someone calls your flaw out to you, it's a frightening experience. You're laid open. Completely bare and naked. The wound already open and salt being rubbed into it. It's not a fun experience. Over and over again I run the words through my mind like a broken record and each time the sting is still there.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I'm not perfect. As I frequented mutter to myself "I've yet to master the ability to be superhuman." I still get things wrong and will continue to get things wrong.

There is comfort, however, in the words of Jesus and Paul:

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - 1st Corinthians 12:9,10

And in the words of the wise Hannah Montana: "Nobody's perfect, I gotta work it again and again till I get it right."

Oh the Joys of Summer Youth Ministry

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Lately I had been feeling guilty for taking my afternoons off from the office. In college it was pounded into my head that a minister should work an average of 55 hours a week so " one can complain that you don't work!" I thought that was fair advice and that's what I've done. My wife has continually told me that I "work WAY too much", but have since learned from people much wiser than I that a fair amount is from 45 to 50 hours a week.

So I've felt REALLY guilty about taking off in the afternoons to go home and relax. So I sat down this morning to figure out my official Summer hours between camp, CIY, VBS, etc...and came up that since June 1st, I've worked an average of 52.33 hours a week.

So today at noon I'm going to go home and feel guilty no longer!

I'm curious about the hourly averages of other youth workers. If anyone has any insight into that, I'd surely like to know! While talking with my former youth pastor, he asked me why I put in extra office hours since there were other programs that took up time. I found out that he does what I now do, work from 8am till noon and take the afternoon off to be with his family.

According to Group Magazine:

"The average hours worked per week reported by youth pastors crept up slightly, from 45 to 48. That means your ministry keeps you on the clock much longer than your neighbors. The average workweek across the country is 42 hours. You're basically among the three in 10 American workers who put in at least 49 hours on the job every week. But if you subtract the number of hours spent eating pizza and drinking diet Coke..."

Each church is different. I know there are area churches that require their staff to be in the office till 5pm (ouch!) Some churches require very little official office hours but require much more home visitation and hospital visitation.

So if you are a youth worker (or just happen to have a love OF youth workers...or just like to make comments...I'll take all I can get!) and are able to participate in this discussion, your voice is welcome and appreciated!

Why yes, I'll pray for your Gas!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I'm still not sure what I think about this.

My initial reaction is: "Aren't there other areas that could better use your time in prayer?"

Top 10 Worst Selling Youth Ministry Books

by Scott Firestone (Group Magazine)

10. Time Shares and Texas Hold 'Em: Creative Fundraising Ideas
9. No Halos for Halo: Why Jesus Hates Video Games and Video Gamers
8. The Gaithers: Rockers for Jesus or the Devil's Marionettes
7. The Care Bears: Leading Teens Down the Dark Road of the Occult
6. SUPERGOOD Life Lessons From SUPERBAD - Includes CD with Video Clips!
5. Budget and Salaries: Youth Ministry on $1 a Day!
4. Defensive Driving Tips for Your 15-Passenger Metal Box of Death On Wheels
3. 101 Flannelgraph Bible Lessons for Teenagers
2. Chubby Bunny: How an Addiction to Marshmellows Ruined My Ministry
1. Junior High Bible Studies: Song of Solomon