Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday - Bible Trivia

Congratulations to Pastor Tim. He commented in correctly with our Friday Trivia - WHERE IS THAT IN NE? Beatrice is the home of the National Homestead Monument. He wins another $2 towards any NYM piece of merchandise or event. I think he is officially up to $8, getting real close to a T-shirt or DVD.

Today is Bible Trivia. Remember, comment in, and we'll pick a random comment from those that are correctly answered. The winner gets that $2 prize. We give away 2 of these prizes every week, over $100 for the year!

There are many books of the Bible, but only a small portion have 2 or 3 editions. Please don't look at your Bible first, but how many pairs (2 or 3 pair) of books are there in the Bible? (Example, 1st and 2nd Hesitations would be 1 pair, and that's not a real book, just in case you didn't know that.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday - Life Lessons

Hope you had a great weekend. This past weekend, we had our fall edition of Camp Work Days. We didn't have a huge turnout; only 6 people came to help. One might think that's no big deal. But we got a big job done. There is a piece of land just northeast of our shop on the campgrounds that I refer to as the "Mosquito Breeding Grounds". It's full of old metal equipment that was thrown out years ago. It's been there so long, whole trees were growing out through this junk. We cleared that area so that we can put a new storage facility there before the winter. If Don Chester, our camp director, would have tried to do that on his own, it would have taken over a week, but our small group finished it in a couple of days. Working as a team can always be more productive than working as individuals.

We also had the chance to go the Husker game, which we ALMOST won! We saw Kim and Rod Whitlock there, and they say hi to everyone in NE.

Matt Johnson on the New camp tractor

Jay Warriner tearing down an old building

Amber Castagonuay holding an old heating element

Jay Warriner is actually quite strong!

My brother Corey loves the Huskers!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday - Where is that in NE?

Hey everyone,

We have a big camp board meeting today, talking about our new name at the campgrounds, THE CROSSING at Lexington. We're trying to come up with a cool logo for it. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Congratulations to JOYFUL MOTHERHOOD. She had the correct comment about our trivia question on Tuesday. The correct answer was 9-11. Way to go JM. You've got 2 wins to your credit, $4 to be used on any NYM event or merchandise.

This picture is the National Homestead Monument. It is one of the few National Historical Sites in NE and a fun trip for history buffs. Can you name the city of NE in which this monument is located?

Have a wonderful weekend. Go Huskers!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Big stuff!

1) A couple of weeks ago - we had our STL/BGMC bike ride. This is from a student at our first stop in McCook, Autumn: you know when you came to mccook for the bike riding thing....for stl?....ya on friday i saw you guys riding past our school when i was on the bus! that really made my day...everyone at school was asking who you guys were and if you guys were crazy riding in that weather...i told them that that is toby and jenny for ya....and told them about stl and wat it was used for....they were really suprized that you would go out and do that in the weather....

2) This is from Mike Maroney, youth pastor in Valentine, on a regional outreach they did this past weekend: We had a concert in the Valentine city park where we had two of the district inflatable's, thebungee run and the joust. We also had the gyro from the campground at theoutreach. We had two bands come for the concert...We had over 300 people attend the outreach and the inflatable's and the gyro were a big hit amongthe middle and high school students. However, the greatest number to reportis that 25 people responded to the altar call for salvation.

3) And finally, a true story of inspiration and courage from Tim Lillard, youth pastor in Norfolk: This is Richard, a student from Victory Road Assembly. He just came to youth over the summer and gave his life to the Lord in church and was baptized. The friend that initially brought him moved away, but Richard is still strong in serving the Lord. Yesterday morning, he was the only student out of 925 that had the courage to stand at his pole and pray for his school. It reminded me of an old song by Al Denson, will you be the one:

"Will you be the one to answer to His call. Will you stand, when those around you fall. Will you be the one, to take His light into a darkened world. Tell me will you be the one"
Richard took a stand. Alone. Potentially facing ridicule from his fellowclassmates, he still stood. Alone. He was the one. "I was scared, but I knew that this is what Jesus wanted me to do. I prayed that as I stood there, people coming by would either join me or come to know Jesus themselves." God is so good, so awesome, and so merciful. Only He knows what will happen because one student, Richard, chose to stand.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday - Leader's Corner

This morning I had the privilege of meeting with Joe Marino, YFC leader from Hastings. I also got a little time with Arjay Johnson, youth pastor at North Shore in Hastings, and David Warriner, and old MC student of mine. Hope everyone's SYATP went well this morning.

Joe told me a great story. He has a girl in his youth ministry who plays guitar. He found out because he saw her profile picture on myspace. He asked her if she'd consider playing for youth, and this morning, she led some worship songs at the pole with her classmates. All because of her Myspace picture. See, Myspace can be a good thing!

1 Samuel 17:38-40 (paraphrased) David is ready to face Goliath. Saul, Israel's king, gives him his armor, but it's much to large for David because he is only a boy. David then goes and picks up 5 smooth stones from a river, and with no armor, goes to face the giant.

LESSON 1 - Saul should have faced Goliath himself. He tried to put his armor on David, when he should have put it on himself and faced Goliath for his nation and God. Saul was willing to put his responsibility on someone else, because he was afraid. The real leader of Israel stepped up here. This is a symbolic 'passing of the mantle' from Saul to David.

LESSON 2 - Saul's armor didn't fit David. Sometimes as adults, we try to teach the truths of the gospel to students in a way that an adult would enjoy, but a student wouldn't. We need to package it in a way that a student will be drawn in, enjoy and understand. They won't wear our religion the same way we do, it won't fit quite as well.

LESSON 3 - David grabbed 5 smooth stones. He faced Goliath with nothing but a childs toy (slingshot) and rocks. Goliath ran to face him with a huge spear, a huge sword, and his armor bearer carrying his huge shield. Yet, David won and Goliath died. Having the best 'stuff'' in ministry doesn't matter as much as doing the best you can with the 'stuff' you got.

LESSON 4 - David grabbed 5 smooth stones. We know from the story, he only needed one shot to hit Goliath in the forehead and knock him down, but he had 4 more stones just in case. He was prepared for a long battle. Sometimes, we plan for the immediate and ignore the future. Sometimes, we put all our hopes in ministry in one event or one program. We need to learn to plan ahead, prepare for growth over the long haul, and be ready to pick up another 'stone' when the first one misses.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday - Bible Trivia

Hey everyone, my son had another soccer game last night and he did great. He's already better than me at soccer, and he's 9 yrs. old. The rest of my family went to Walmart during the game, and when I got home, I saw that my daughter got her haircuit short. What a surprise!

Blessed Be Your Name is a very popular worship anthem written by Matt Redman. It has meaning from the life of Job, in the Bible. "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised." (Job 1:21) Here was a man that lost everything, but still refused to stop praising God.

Matt Redman wrote this song following a major tragedy which occurred not too long ago. Can anybody guess what tragedy that was....

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday - Life Lessons

This past weekend on Saturday I took a trip to Dalton, as I mentioned that I would in our blog on Friday (by the way, one more day to check in for that NYM reward from the Trivia).

I looked it up online, and it said that it would take 4 hours, which didn't include an hour gained by going into the Mountain Time Zone. Well, I got to Sidney, a half hour away, but I only had ten minutes until we were supposed to start. I tried to speed, but about halfway there, I ran into construction - you know, the kind where it's all one lane, so you have to wait until the cars going the opposite direction come through with their pilot car. I was shocked how many cars were in my lane waiting with me on this remote highway, probabyl 20. Once we started up again, the cars were going very slow, and there were too many to pass. I had to just wait. Then, we got into Dalton, and every single car turned in right in front of me. There was no way for me to speed up. I found out that the town was having a Fall Festival and each car was involved in a parade later that day. Craziness.

So, I had a great teaching session, and then I had to quickly leave for the 4 1/2 hours home, with another hour because of moving back into Central Time. I made it to the construction zone and waited, more patiently this time, because I was just heading home. I got down to Sidney, and then suddenly had a premonition - where's my backpack. I stopped and looked, and sure enough, I left it at the church. So, reluctantly, I headed back to Dalton, through the longest construction line ever in the history of the world. I grabbed my backpack from the church, and headed back down to Sidney, going through Pergatory (my new name for the construction zone near Dalton). I figured because of that one construction zone, and my lack of good preparation, I spent about 10 hours in the car on Saturday.

No matter how much we prepare and plan ahead, we are going to come up on road blocks in our life, and sometimes, we'll come up on the same ones over and over again. It's important in those times to bear down, be patient, and work our way through it safely. Just, don't forget your backpacks on the other side!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Tomorrow, I have the privilege of leading a teaching workshop for our Christian Education Department in Western Nebraska. I will be working with a great man, Pastor Blake Armstrong. Do you know what city in the panhandle he pastors in?

Our winner from Tuesday was once again JOYFUL MOTHERHOOD. They have earned $4 towards any NYM event or piece of merchandise. Great job.

Have a great weekend

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursday - Testimonies

I was speaking to David Cramer, awesome senior pastor our of Beatrice. If you want some ideas on how to promote BGMC to your community and church, he is the MAN!

His son Josh was really touched this summer by God, and felt that he was supposed to be a better witness. God gave him the specific strategy of wearing a Christian T-shirt EVERYDAY to school. Not the same shirt everyday, of course, but a wide selection of different shirts to make people think.

He talked with his parents about it, and they agreed to let him pursue this dream. He knew that it might bring on a wide assortment of comments from others, mostly negative, but he was prepared to do it no matter what.

Well, God caused a tremendous amount of favor to rest upon him as people began to notice the shirts, day after day after. One day, in the hallway, he noticed another student staring at his back. After a few moments, Josh said to him, 'What'. The student let him know that he had a connection to the school paper and wanted to do an article about his T-shirts.

Next thing you know, Josh had a big article in the paper and had a chance not only to be a witness to a few students near him in the classes, but to every student in the entire school! When you respond to the dreams God give you, God will take you places you could never go if you tried to do it on your own!

(I wonder how many other students could step up to this same challenge the rest of this school year, or maybe just the rest of 2008, or maybe for one solid month???)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday - Leaders Corner

Well, better late than never. I had a busy day of meetings today, but I finally got to the computer tonight.

Usually for this day, I pull out some leadership principles from a Biblical example, but I have a wonderful story from one of our pastors that illustrates what it means to be a person of integrity.

Eldon Mincks, the pastor of Fairbury Assembly of God, came with us on the BGMC/STL Bike Ride two weeks ago. We met at his church (the finish line), dropped our cars off, and then carpooled with our luggage and bikes to McCook. Our last stop on the way there was Arapahoe, a city would be coming back through the next day on our bikes. We went to a gas station, got some last minute snacks, and then drove the next hour into McCook.

About half way there though, Eldon suddenly realized that he had picked up a coffee but neglected to pay for it. You could tell that he was completely suprised by it; but we were running late and I couldn't turn back. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything we could do.

Well, the next day rolled around and we set out on our bikes at 7:00am. It was barely light out, 50 degrees, raining with a good wind in our faces. It appeared that it would be a long day, and it was. Before lunch, we had 6 flat tires, Eldon suffering one himself. We finally rode into our lunch stop at Arapahoe and waited for the riders who had suffered flat tires to meet us at Subway.

Eldon eventually came up the road, and we were flagging him down and waving for him to come to us at Subway, but he ignored our waves and pulled his bike into the gas station. We shouted out where we were, but he exited his bike and went in the store. I wasn't sure what was happening, until he came back out quickly and met us across the street at our location. He proceeded to explain that he was bugged all night and day about how he had left without paying for his coffee the day before, so he went back to that store, in the midst of all the distractions, and paid his dollar or so to be fair. That's integrity if I've ever seen it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday - Bible Trivia

We almost had a winner from our Friday - WHERE IS THAT IN NE? challenge. Troy is the youth and children's leader in Fairbury, and his last name is NETHERTON. Nice try, and keep trying. Here's another chance today!

My pastor spoke about Deborah, one of Israel's ancient judges, in church on Sunday. It reminded me of another judge who was famous as a left-handed man. Can you name that man? (Hint - look in the book of Judges!)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday - Life Lessons

Last Tuesday, my boys had their first soccer practice. We had to pay a little more this year, so we kind of expected more in terms of training and skills. The coach did a good job, but then as the practice neared the end, he cornered me and asked me a tough question - 'I'm going to be out of town next week; do you think you could coach their first game'

My wife was ecstatic. She's been wanting me to coach the kids sports teams since we moved to Grand Island, but with my heavy travel schedule, it has never worked out. This week, I'm actually in town until the weekend, and so it worked out perfect for me to be the coach. There was only one problem - I've never played soccer.

So, tonight the mighty soccer team of my boys is going to face their very first soccer game of the season with a coach who doesn't know how to play soccer. Sure, it's only one game and the real coach will be back next week, but I'm not too sure how the 1st game will set the tenor for the rest of the season.

I asked my kids what they thought, and it suprised me. They were more excited that I was coaching instead of their real coach. I explained that I didn't know much about soccer, but they didn't care, they thought it'd be so cool to have their dad coaching the game!

I could just let the kids go without a coach tonight, but would that be any better for them. I might not know all the answers, but at least I'll be in there to substitute players and cheer them on. We might not win the game, but the kids will have a blast giving their best.

Sometimes, we might be asked to step in and fill a leadership role for which we aren't suited. In those moments, ask yourself - which is better, to have a team with no coach or leadership, or to have a team with a leader who admits his/her frailties, gives his best, and learns to be better as he goes. Which team would you rather be a part of?

Friday, September 12, 2008


Hello again. Hope you're ready for a great weekend.

Tuesday, our Bible Trivia challenge was to mention othey key leadership teams from the Bible. Joyful Motherhood commented with a right answer, and was chosen to accept our $2 award, to be used towards any merchandise or events of Nebraska Youth Ministries. Let us know how you'd like to use it, if you'd like.

This picture is the city sign for Fairbury, the finish line of our BGMC/STL bike ride this past weekend. We thoroughly enjoyed finishing with them and their church at the local park downtown. Can you name the senior pastor (one of the riders from the bike ride) and the youth/children's director (ran pre-camp at our camps this past summer)?

See ya on Monday

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday - Testimonies

While at our youth leaders meeting on Monday, Ryan Conner, the newest member of the team, told me an amazing story.

He was with his students on a trip this summer. They were next to a powerful river and the students were joking about jumping in. One of the students got too close, and the next thing he knew, he fell in. Ryan watched as he tumbled over and over, without any control or hope of getting out to safety on his own.

Ryan desperately ran downstream, to get ahead of the student moving in the current. Once there, he courageously jumped into the river himself, swimming upstream, hoping for a chance to get close enough to the student to pull him to safety, which wasn't likely. Just when it seemed that all hope was lost, the student suddenly came upright and moved towards Ryan, almost as if an unseen force underwater grabbed him and took him to safety. Ryan pulled him onto the shore and the young man came up embarassed, but safe.

Ryan believes it was God, and I think I agree with him.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday - Leader's Corner

As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, we had our statewide youth leadership team meeting on Monday. It is so great to get together with those key leaders and plan ministry for our state.

To start off the meeting, we went around the room and updated everyone on how things were going in our families and local ministries. It was encouraging to hear everyone talk about new things - big events, citywide opportunities, community involvement, taking risks, starting ministry schools, working with interns, etc. Each of these leaders are actively taking steps to build the kingdom of God in their 'neck of the woods', then we come together to do it for NE.

When I listen to them, I enjoy remembering when I was in that local ministry. Many times, I miss it, not because I don't enjoy what I am doing for God now; it is larger in scope but less personal in actuality. These leaders are reproducing themselves in others on the local front, and I'm called to raise them up as key leaders for our state. As I looked around the group, I imagined each of them, possibly someday in my role. What would they do, how would they organize this meeting, this event, a yearly calendar, a mission statement, etc.?

It was exciting to think that someday when God again moves me on, there is a wonderful core of leaders ready to take NE Youth Ministries to the next level. It was also exciting to think that whoever that individual is, they will be leaving a youth ministry where they had raised up leaders to also take that ministry to the next level as well. Raising up leaders under us a key leadership priority and needs to be emphasized to every youth leader in NE.

When David was sent to bring his brothers supplies on the front lines (a precursor to his date with Goliath), he first found another shepherd to take care of his sheep. (1 Samuel 17:20) He didn't know that he would never come home to those fields, those sheep, that life. But he had taken the steps to make sure that those fields, sheep, and that life could go on through another leader after him. Are you prepared in that same way?

How sad it is - when a leader leaves, and ministry crumbles with no one to lead
How wonderful it is - when a leader leaves, but his/her leadership lives on in the lives they built up when they were the leader

Pour into 8 students - reach 8 students
Pour into 8 leaders who are each pouring into 8 students - reach 64 students

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday - Bible Trivia

Congratulations to Tim, the winner of the $2 prize from Friday's WHERE IS THAT IN NE? challenge. He correctly answered 2 cities that were a part of our BGMC/STL bike ride this past weekend. Troi was also correct in her comment, but Tim was selected between the two. He has now racked up $4 to be used towards any merchandise in our NE Youth Ministries 'store'. T-Shirts, Bibles, Videos, etc... Many people have told me that they read the blogs but struggle commenting back. Make sure to complete a profile, and then you will have access to win.

Yesterday was our first NE Youth Committee meeting for this school year. We met in Lincoln at a Coffee Shop called the Blend. With us were Chris Puccini, Jeff Baker, Jay Warriner, Bruce Riddle, Brian Korell, Erik Boulier, Todd Mohrmann, Mike Maroney, and Rachel and Ryan Conner. We enjoyed tackling some tough issues with chi alpha, camps, fine arts, and more.

The Bible is full of great examples of leadership teams. Probably the most popular was the team of Jesus and his disciples. Can you mention at least 2 other leadership teams the are prominent in the Bible?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday - Life Lessons

This past weekend, we finished our third annual BGMC/STL Bike Ride for Missions. It was our first time along the southern route between McCook, Holdrege, Red Cloud, and Fairbury. We spent time each night with the churches in those communities and enjoyed some great food and fellowship together.

When we started out from McCook, it was raining, windy, hilly, and just a bit over 50 degrees. Within the 3 hours, we had already seen 6 flat tires, 3 with the same individual. My knee was cramping up, and my heart was pounding harder than usual. I wasn't sure if I'd make it.

Two days and 220 miles later, I was crossing the finish line in Fairbury with the church cheering me on. I remember feeling exhausted and exhilirated, hungry and happy, tired and terrific, spent and special. There was a certain meaning through accomplishment I found in giving everything I had. When I was a child, my legs were severely bowlegged (like the movie Forrest Gump). As a freshman, I tried to run cross country but I had severe pain in my knees. The doctor said I had Plica, pieces of my knee cap's embryo sac that never wore aware and was rubbing against my tendons. While playing football later in high school, I had surgery on both of my legs for torn ACL's.

Finishing a ride like that was significant because by all means, I shouldn't be able to do it. But I'm not doing it for praise from others, for awards, for the love of winning competitions - I'm doing it to raise funds for missionaries to bring people to Jesus. While pushing my body to its limits and riding my heavy bike from town to town, I was helping the process of changing people's lives.

Now, there's a good reason to give everything I have. If you've never pushed yourself to the limit and given a cause everything you had to give, your missing out on a level of joy that's hard to explain.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Friday (one day early - Where is that in NE?

I'll be on our annual BGMC/STL bike ride tomorrow, so I decided to drop this blog in a little early. If we have a winning comment from Tuesday's Bible Trivia, I'll announce the winner next Monday.

For the bike ride, about 10 different riders will be traveling over 200 miles in 3 days along the southern edge of our state. Can you name 2 of the 4 cities which are our destination over this trip?

See ya on Monday, with tired legs.

Thursday - Testimonies

1. A young teenager from Red Cloud heard about our annual BGMC/STL bike ride at camp and decided to come along. He's been training furiously to get ready for it, and decided to raise funds. Rather than going to businesses, which seem to get hounded by these types of requests in a small town, he approached aquaintences for help and support. His donations have been overwhelming, approaching the 2,000 mark. As a first time rider for the ride, he'll have raised more money individually than any other participant to this point for the event.

2. We have a friend that joined us at camp this summer. She is a young adult and came to help, and God really touched her heart. She was pretty lonely before camp, and just stayed home at her apartment all the time. Now, she has gotten involved in her church, attending a cell group, participating in prayer meetings, even volunteering in the front office. She has a case of severe arthritis, which limited her in the past, but she has believed that God is going to heal her. The other day, she went to the doctor for a regular checkup, and the doctor told that her level of arthritis had dropped 17 points, and monumental achievement. Praise God!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wednesday - Leader's Corner

There sure have been a lot of people going nuts over the most recent vice presidential nomination. This governor from Alaska wasn't on anybody's radar, and now the press is tearing her and her family apart.

I was in my devotions and reading about David. How he was anointed by Samuel, became the personal musician of the king, was held back from fighting in war because of his age, was sent to the front lines to provide food for his brothers, and there he met his destiny.

Interesting that God pulled a shepherd out of the field and made him the greatest King (beside Jesus) that Israel had ever seen, yet we doubt that this unknown vice presidential candidate could be any good. Maybe some of the best leaders are those untainted by the rest of the world, people of character, character made in the field when they are alone with God. Think of Daniel, Abraham, Abel, Mary, John, even Jesus - they loved to get alone and be with God. Maybe we should prioritize to do the same.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday - Bible Trivia

Hello! What a great Labor Day yesterday. I did nothing - watched a bunch of Star Trek the Next Generation episodes on Scifi during a marathon. It felt good to relax.

Last Friday we posted a question about Rachel, the newest youth pastor on our statewide youth committee. The correct response would have been letter D: Friend. Her and her husband Ryan do an excellent job with the youth in that area of our state, south of the interstate in central NE. Unfortunately, nobody commented in with the correct response, so the $2 prize goes unawarded this week.

Bible Trivia - QUICK - no peaking - How many books in the Bible start with the letter 'L'?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Monday - Life Lessons

Hey, someday you got to enjoy the holiday and take the day off.
Happy Labor Day