This week my little brother Eric celebrated his 16th birthday! He's having a party this Friday which I can't go to, so instead I took him out to buy the new Halo 3 and for dinner at Abuelos. Eric is an amazing guy and I've been so fortunate to spend the last 3 1/2 years with him.
Eric is officially my "Little Brother" as we were matched up through Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS). Several years ago God placed a desire in me to invest and mentor youth. During that time I was also reading a lot about about boys and the challenges and struggles they face, especially during the middle school years (that middle school time was also a challenging time for me so I have compassion and a heart for youth at this age.) I decided to volunteer for BBBS and was matched with Eric when he was 12 years old.
It has been a life changing experience for Eric and myself. From my perspective here are some highlights as I think about the last three years:
1) I've forever changed and influenced a life (hopefully for the positive :))
2) I've learned some of what parenting is like and what to expect as my own children get older
3) My parents are still married and I grew up in a stable home, so I've seen first hand what a single mom deals with and the struggles they face (for all those single parents out there, you have my full RESPECT and ADMIRATION as I don't know how you do it every day!!!)
4) I've got to see Eric change and mature because of some of the influence from my time with him.
5) It's helped me tremendously to be able to relate to other youth, single parents and people that are in similar mentoring situations
6) I've celebrated with Eric when he has succeeded and I've hurt with him as he's struggled
7) Eric has become a part of our family. It's an interesting dichotomy for a relationship as I view him at times as a BROTHER and other times as a SON.
If you have the time, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you find someone younger then you to invest your life in to. This may be through a formal matching program like BBBS, or it may be volunteering as a tutor at a local school, or a mentor to a youth at your church or just reaching out to a younger neighbor or person in your family. At times it will be challenging you, but it will CHANGE your life and you will NOT regret it!
Following up on my last post, God has been challenging me with 1 Peter 3:15 which says:
"In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
Have people been asking me to give an answer for the reason I have faith, passion and hope in Jesus?
Jesus was constantly being asked and questioned about the way He was living His life and the claims He was making. The apostles were also frequently questioned, challenged and even persecuted for what they believed and the actions they were taking for Jesus. I read stories and meet people IN OUR WORLD TODAY who have lost jobs, alienated friends, challenged family members, been made fun of, changed the status quo, suffered or even died because of their faith in Jesus and the way they live their life for Christ.
So the question I ask myself and you, "When was the last time someone asked you to give an answer for this Jesus that you live your life for?" If it's been awhile, why is that?
We are currently creating the artwork for a new series we are starting at the end of October. The series will be on Marriage and Parenting and we've decided on the series title Family 911. We are planning several promotions and outreaches around this as we expect it'll have high attraction in the community. We've discovered that there are a lot of people both in our church and community that are struggling in these areas. Here is the latest concept from our creative people:
What do you think? Will this grab people's interest?
For the last year my mother-in-law has been doing wedding cakes and she is really good at it. She was just hired to do an 8-tier wedding cake for over 700 people! I can't even imagine how tall or heavy that will be. It definitely will require a ladder to put it together.
A few weeks ago I wrote about lunch I had at a bar. Forefront Church in Virginia Beach just had their preview service for a new service they are starting that meets in a bar. You can read the report of their preview service here. This is one of the best examples I've seen of the church not just sitting and waiting for people to come to us, but taking the message of Jesus to where people are. This bar isn't closed or abandoned, it is open for business and has patrons that are there drinking while the service is going on.
I admit that the idea of people sitting and drinking a beer during a church service makes me a little uncomfortable, however it makes me more uncomfortable to think that we pass up opportunities to reach people just because of views of what a church service should be or other religious traditions. God loves these people so much that His son Jesus died for them, shouldn't we be willing to go to where they are and share what God wants to give them?
What do you think of a church having services in a bar?
Spock.com is a Web 2.0 site that organizes information based on people. It allows you to search for people, add tags, pictures, link yourself to others and vote on the relevancy of the information you find. I searched and found myself as the third listing under Scott Himes. It has already pre-populated it's database by crawling the web and pulling information from sites such as MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.
Check it out and create a listing for yourself if you don't have one or update yours if it already exists. Below is a widget showing my information.
One thing that Google does right (Apple does this also) is they make their tools and applications very simple to use and understand. Anything Google is not cluttered or complicated. Google published this video to explain the concept behind Google Docs. I love it, not because of the product they're talking about, but because of how they present and explain the concept.
No fancy graphics, or slogans or video. Jut paper cutouts, some string and clear narration. There is much we in the church world can learn from this.
Do you get annoyed when people interrupt you? I do. However, this is something God has been working on in my life.
The other night I had a neighbor stop by and interrupt a movie Courtney and I were watching... we ended up talking for about 30 minutes about some difficult situations he is facing at work. It was a great conversation... but I must be honest and say at first I was annoyed when the door bell rang.
My wife and son interrupt me frequently when I'm trying to work at home. I sometimes get annoyed... but I shouldn't.
A couple who are good friends of Courtney and I called us two different times in the middle of the night (around 2AM.) I was annoyed then too. One call ended up being for a fight they were in the middle of and needed us to listen and pray with them. The other was to tell us they were pregnant. They needed us both times.
I see Jesus in the Bible and he was interrupted frequently. I don't ever see Him get annoyed though. He would withdraw to get alone by Himself which is also important (and a topic for another post) but when He wasn't in a time of solitude He always embraced the interruption and the opportunity that came with it.
So the challenge I'm giving myself is to embrace interruptions. I'm learning they are frequently God bringing divine appointments and opportunities into my life. God's time table usually does not line up with mine so these opportunities interrupt what it is I'm doing. That's OK as God's timing is always perfect.
So here's the prayer I'm praying to God, "God, forgive me for all the opportunities I have missed that have interrupted the comfort or flow of my life as I chose to ignore or rush through them. Help me to embrace interruptions and to see them as divine opportunities and appointments. Give me more interruptions that I can embrace and love others through. Give me a heart like Jesus."
I'm confident that one of the reasons God put Courtney in my life is to stretch and challenge me. Courtney is a hair stylist and when we got married she immediately began stretching my traditional, conservative dress and style to something more trendy and hip. I still fall back to my conservative roots when left to myself but she's making progress. This past week she has challenged me in two ways: highlights and a goatee. I've had highlights twice before so this isn't something completely new. However, the goatee is NEW as I've NEVER had facial hair... I've just never thought it would look good on me. She said to try it for this week since we've been on vacation, so this picture is what I now look like. My family likes it and more importantly Courtney does so I'll be keeping it for awhile.
Here is another picture of Courtney, Noah and I. We come home today.