Me and The Boys

The great philosophers’ “Kiss” once sang:

“Me and the boys are playing, but we just can’t find the sound”

Last night I joined the rest of the Journey Church Worship team for a time of working through some new songs at a local recording studio. I went into the rehearsal with several things on my mind and heart. After a few hours of working through new worship music for Sunday services and prayer together, I left refreshed and feeling renewed.

Continue reading “Me and The Boys”

How Are Small Groups Made?

I read the most interesting article today about Small Groups. It was entitled “Why Churches Should Euthanize Small Groups“. It really gave me some things to think about. Take a moment and go read the article for yourself (the link above will open a new window), the blog will be here when you get back…

Interesting isn’t it? Some very strong language and concepts with regard to Small Groups. I have to be really honest and admit that I agreed with a great majority of that article. Especially when I think back of all of the Small Groups that I have been a part of (either leading or attending). There is an element or two of his suggestion that is very, very true. I mean no disrespect to any of the groups I’ve been in. We have shared, prayed and cared for one another. But there is something he mentioned that jumped out at me.

It just happened, naturally and spontaneously.

As I thought back over the groups I have been a part of, the one that stood out to me the most was the one that happened…naturally. We were all young members of a brand new church plant. We were all newly married and most expecting our first child. I remember praying together as each one was nearing their due date. I remember sitting in a hospital together as one of the pregnancies went through some dark waters (and eventually delivered a healthy baby). It all happened and it happened naturally and spontaneously. That group was amazing.

I’ve been in other groups that were put together by geography or other reasons and while they were good, they didn’t match that one several years ago. I’m not ranking them, but my greater point here is that I too believe that Small Groups are formed by a group of people sharing a commonality. It grows into real relationships which then produce real discipleship. It might just be how Small Groups are made…

How was the best group you’ve ever been a part of formed?

"Just One…"

On Sunday morning I was working the table to distribute tickets for the Evening with David Pendleton at Journey Church. As people would arrive at the table, they would issue their request for the number of tickets they would like. One man approached and when I asked how many he would like he simply said “just one”. I’m sitting here today and those two words continue to haunt my very core.

“Just one”

When I think back over the entire morning, I am reminded that this kind man sat just a few seats down from me during the service. He arrived late so we missed the traditional “greeting time”. With the rush at the end of the service I never thought to extend a handshake or catch his name. I grabbed the opportunity while I gave him his ticket and encouraged him to take two..”maybe for a friend”. He then said it again…

“Just one”

Today my heart and soul are heavy for this man and anyone else that feels “just one”. As John Ortberg once wrote “With billions of people in the world, someone should figure out a system where no one is lonely” (Everybody’s Normal Till You Get To Know Them). Ortberg also pointed out that someone did…God did. Our churches, our small groups, our circles of influence are all places where no one should ever have to say “just one”.

While today I think of this man, I’m thankful he found his way to a church like Journey Church. I whisper a praise that we crossed paths. I’m terrible with names but I remember his. God has written it on my heart. If I didn’t have plans the evening of the David Pendleton show (“the boy” and I are going to be rocking our socks off at the Thousand Foot Krutch concert), I would offer to go with him. As you go about your day today, keep an eye out for those alone. Listen for Gods prompting so that no one will have to say

“just one….”

Quotable

For some reason, the following quote rocked my socks tonight.

People who love authentic community always prefer the pain of temporary chaos to the peace of permanent superficiality.

-John Ortberg

A Friend To Me

There’s times I’d rather kill you then listen to your honesty, but you’ve always been a friend to me” – Garth Brooks

You gotta love when you surround yourself with “truth tellers”. I made a commitment long ago to run everything in the discernment process through God, family and close friends. The catch was that I would not keep calling people until SOMEONE finally agreed with my point of view. Each persons input must be considered.

Today I spoke with 3 of my “truth tellers” and their responses reminded me why they are in my band of brothers. All three responses were different yet fed directly into my thought process as well. With respect to my friends, I share their comments with you too…

Friend #1 – “I knew this email was coming….”

Friend #2 – “While I can’t say I am thrilled about it, you have to be obedient to what you feel like God is calling you to do.”

Friend #3 – “Dude…you have not been able to find your groove for months now.”

Three friends with three insights. What I find amazing is that all three recognized something in my life. They didn’t offer their input until asked, but were kind enough to be honest in their responses. Not only were they honest, they were right. I couldn’t have put it any better myself. To my friends and brothers, I thank you.

I thank you for being a friend to me.

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

What a weekend. The family and I left on Friday afternoon to head to our hometown of Bedford, Ohio for the wedding of Heather’s youngest sister. “My Girls”, “The Boy” and Heather were all in the wedding so it was an exciting time for everyone. There is always a part of me that still loves going “home” to where my roots are planted. While the condition of my old hometown is not what I remembered it to be, one thing is for sure…the people never change. You really can go home.

One take away from this weekend is that no matter how many miles, years or changes separate people, when there is a bond that is formed, nothing can ever break that. This weekend I was reminded of how strong and real friendships are as I spent some time with some old friends. I’m amazed how 10 years can seem like 10 minutes when you meet up with old friends. When I spent some time with guys like Gary and Ern, it was as if we were on the old softball fields again.

One other mark of friendships that last forever is that they still answer the bell when you are in a time of need. With Heather’s responsibilities in the wedding, I was flying solo trying to keep 2 little girls dresses clean neat and organized and one little boys tux from permanent damage. Just when I needed help most, there were old friends saying “You need a hand?” and “if there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know”. That’s friendship. That’s community. That’s going home.

Saturday's All Pro Dad Day!

Wow…where did March go? A new month must mean that this Saturday is another All Pro Dad day. The topic this month is “Caring for the less fortunate“. We are privileged to have a guest speaker from Faith Mission in Columbus, Ohio with us. He will share a little bit about Faith Mission, but even more exciting is what will happen between our meetings in April and May.

Based on the information from our guest speaker, Dads and kids will have the opportunity to spend the month gathering needed items and raising awareness of the less fortunate in our community. For our May meeting, we will meet briefly to have some breakfast and spend some time with the kids. From there we will caravan to Faith Mission to deliver the items that we gathered throughout the month to those less fortunate.

Dads, this is your opportunity to get creative with your kids and teach lessons that they can carry with them for a lifetime. It is my hope that we can give our children a glimpse at one way we can be “Hands and Feet” in our community. If you have yet to attend one of our All Pro Dad days, this is a great time to start. If you are interested in attending, feel free to send me an email for more information! See you on Saturday.

Quotable

“Today there are thousands of people sitting in church pews every Sunday who look like they’ve got it together on the outside but are broken on the inside. People who want to grab a Christian brother or sister by the shoulders and shout, “I’m not together! I’m in trouble! My relationship with God is terrible! I feel like a fake!” Instead, they pass out another bulletin or stack another chair, afraid to reach out, because everyone else looks like they have life’s problems whipped”

Michael English from the book “The Prodigal Comes Home

Stained Glass Masquerade” by Casting Crowns

If Only They Knew…

paper_mache_plain_masks.jpgI didn’t post anything on Heath Ledgers tragic death last week. I, like everyone else, was stunned at the news. To see a young life end so quickly and unexpectedly is hard to comprehend. Yet what I find so tragic is the reports after his death. It seemed like every web site, magazine and news paper were digging deeper and deeper into his life. Reports of drug use, insomnia, partying and depression were just a few that I read. Why do we do that? Why must we know that?

One of my favorite books is “Everybody’s Normal Until You Get to Know Them” by John Ortberg. I love his premise that we all come with an “as is” tag. It’s true. None of us are perfect. Hard as we may try to show that we are, we’re not. I don’t know about you, but trying to keep up the perfection is more tiring than simply admitting that I’m not perfect. What if, like “Cheers” we could go somewhere where everyone knows your name…and loves you anyway? What if there was a place where the masks weren’t required. If we could be who we are, see who others are? To know and be known. I wonder if it’s not our deepest desire.

I don’t know if that place exists. As long as we are human, we are prone to make assumptions, choose stereotypes and think we understand someone by getting a 30 second glimpse into their world. As long as we’re human, we all have one thing in common. We’re broken. While it may not show on the outside, on the inside we’re broken. We’re broken about something, for something, because of something or from something.

Lord, give us patience. Give us understanding. Forgive us for “not knowing what we do”. Your grace sees beyond our brokenness. Give us your eyes. Help us to extend your grace.

No One Else Knows” by Building 429

You Find Out Who Your Friends Are

spanky-alf2.jpgI remember John Eldredge once said something in one of his books about thinking of the people you would call at 2 in the morning when your world just collapsed around you. That’s a mark of friendship isn’t it? Think about it. You just got some news (good or bad) and it’s 2am, who would you call? I’m pretty sure that most of us don’t set out with tragedy in mind, but when it happens, who are the people that show up in a heartbeat?

I have told Heather several times “If I was ever going to go into war, I would want to take so-and-so with me because I know they would have my back”. There are a few guys in particular that I know would drop what they are doing and say “let’s go”! Here’s the question….would they say the same about me? Have I been the kind of friend in return that they could list as the ones that “show up” when the times are good, bad or normal?

In 2008, it would be my hope that I return that favor, or those favors as often as they have been extended. When a friend launches an idea am I the first to say “count on it, I’ll be there”? If a friend is in need and I can somehow assist, will my first reaction be to grab the opportunity? To the guys that have been there, done that, led me, stood behind me, walked beside me, I thank you. Hopefully in 2008 you will find out from me who your friend is too.

You Find Out Who Your Friends Are” by Tracy Lawrence from the CD “For the Love

Walking the Walk…

footsteps.jpgYou can say what you think, but you will live what you believe” – Mark Hall

I witnessed something today that still has me reflecting on it. Simply put, I witnessed two friends “walking the walk” in their lives. They probably don’t know I noticed. My guess is that they are not even aware that anyone noticed. I would also bet the house that they are not even thinking “I sure hope someone saw that”. It’s not in their nature. It’s not their style. It is how they live what they believe.

What I saw today on two separate occasions is two different men that I consider brothers in Christ living out what they say. I know that at the very core of these men, they care deeply about other people. I have had the privilege the past few years of hearing them talk about it and sharing conversations regarding it. Today, I witness words in motion. I witnessed actions that speak louder than words.

I write this because we never know who is watching. We may never know the impact of a life lived by the ones that we don’t even know are viewing it. What strikes me is that the most meaningful part of this whole story is that the two guys I mention probably don’t care about who was watching. They were too busy caring about what they were doing. Which set an example no words could explain.

Thanks guys….

Kickin' it Old School…

prom

It’s official, with this post, I am breaking nearly ever personal blog rule I ever set in place. I think I am also breaking man law #53 by posting a prom picture from high school which includes another friend. All that being said, I am “taking one for the team” here too. By posting this picture I am showing that I did, in fact, once have hair. I’m also showing the early stages of what was to one day become my “sweet mullet“. If you look close enough…you can see the “party starting in the back”.

I don’t post this as a gift to all of you that have been requesting photo proof of said Mullet, I have a much greater purpose. It’s the other arrow! I and this blog community are going to be absolutely blessed by the recent creation of a blog called “Christian Caterpillar Metamorphisis“. It was created by none other than one of my lifelong and dearest friends, Ernie Ley. I couldn’t be more excited about this! You’re gonna love this guy!

The image above is just one of many, many great memories I have with Ern. We attended different high schools, but grew up together through those years, after college and before Heather and I moved to C-Bus. Ern, his brother Steve and their cousin Tim are like brothers to me. Oh the stories I could tell. For now, do me a favor and bookmark, blogroll, feed link my man Ern today! He’s just getting started, but I know he’s going to bring some great stuff to this community. Ern’s Linkhttp://caterpillarthoughts.wordpress.com/

I leave you, and Ern with one of the songs we used to cruise to back in the day. Look it was the 80’s, what did you expect?

The Promise” by When in Rome.

Our Christmas Card

dec07_small.jpgAs most of you know, I have been dubbed the “King of Restless” which is not too far from the truth. It’s a crown I wear with pride, but it sure doesn’t help when it comes to email address books. All of my moves, adds and changes have caused my address books to be spread over more email accounts than I care to admit. So, if I missed you on the initial email, consider this my attempt to get you our annual Christmas card.

Last year, right about the time that the dollar figure for creating the family postcard and postage started to climb into the “outrageous” category, God laid it on our heart to do something different with those dollars. I heard an ad on the radio for the local mission that stated we could provide a warm holiday meal for the low cost of $1.79 (see link below). I couldn’t believe how little it would cost to provide something so meaningful. When weighed against the cost of something that gets eventually thrown away, the choice was easy. We emailed our card for free and contributed the usual card costs to Faith Mission.

So, again, if I missed you on the email list, I apologize. It has more to do with my crazy email address books than anything else. You can download our card at the link below. May God bless you and yours as we celebrate the birth of Christ again this year. Merry Christmas!

Our Christmas Cardconrads-merry-christmas.doc

Faith Missionhttp://www.faithmissionohio.org/monthly_1207.cfm

Carrying the Mat

“Everytime you forgive someone who hurt you, encourage someone who feels defeated, extend compassion to someone who stands alone, confront someone in love, open your heart to a friend, reconcile with an enemy, devote time to a child, you align yourself with God’s central purpose in this world.” – John Ortberg

Tonight a blog site was brought to my attention that I have to pass along. This is no ordinary blog site. The link below is for a young man that I don’t know. I have never met him and know him only through reading the posts on his blog. Yet after reading his story I am compelled to pray for him. I am committed to joining in his journey. I share his link with you because over the time I have known you, you are likely to do the same.

To Tyler I would say that you are now a member of this blogging communities network of prayer. Your story is our story and my family and I are praying for you. May God reveal himself and bring you peace through your journey.

Tyler Alfriends Bloghttp://tyleralfriend.blogspot.com

The 21st Time

I am really digging this CD by a group called “Monk and Neagle” called “The 21st Time“. The song in the video below is incredible on so many levels. The third verse is worth watching the entire video for. Especially at this time of year and with some recent challenges that God has laid on my heart. I’ll review the entire CD eventually, but couldn’t wait to get “The 21st Time” to the web.