9.28.2008

The Weekend Update...

Here's the weekend update. 'Cause I know you're just dying to know...
  • Friday was spent just chilling at the house with my wife and my mom. Mom came down to help us unpack and get some stuff done around the house after the hectic craziness that has been life since we moved to Kyle.
  • Saturday morning we had a training for our Konnection Kidz ministries. It was awesome to hear our volunteers and our team sit around and brainstorm creative ways to reach families and show kids God's love. We refuse to allow being portable and having limited resources to be an excuse for less than excellent programming!
  • Saturday afternoon Johanna, my mom, and myself headed to San Marcos for Jo to get a haircut and to grab some grub at Texas Roadhouse. Good stuff, especially when my mom buys!
  • Today was all things TCC. Zak did a fantastic job teaching this morning about how we can learn humbly. This afternoon I officially became a member of The Connection Church by attending Connection 101. Tonight was our weekly gathering of middle school students called SURGE. It was an extremely long day, but it was also a GREAT day.

I've got lots to do this week. But be sure and check back here for a HUGE announcement this week!

9.24.2008

Wow Wednesday...

A friend sent me a link to this video. Not sure I'd respond with a wow or an ouch. Check it out.

9.23.2008

WOW Wednesday Follow Up...

A couple weeks ago I started a weekly post called WOW Wednesday. Each week I've posted a video that can leave you only one response: Wow. The first video was by a group called Sonseed and was a song called "Jesus is My Friend." You can see it here. This weekend at UBC in Waco they used the clip from YouTube as part of the announcements. Read all about it here. The David Crowder Band, which leads worship at UBC, decided to play the song as the benediction. The video below is the result. Check it out:

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is a special day in the history of the world. It's my mom's birthday. And without my mom, there'd be no me, so I consider it a special day. My mom has taught me alot over the years. She taught me not to curse by smacking me across the mouth when she heard me swear for the first time. She taught me what "cajun food" tastes like by cooking so many things "blackened." She taught me what discipline was by using a ping-pong paddle on my backside when I needed it growing up. And she's been an absolute unending supply of hilarious sermon illustrations over the years.

In all seriousness, so much of who I am today can be traced back to my mother. My love of serving others, especially those less fortunate, comes from watching my mom constantly seek to serve those whom others overlooked. Any sense of humility and compassion I have comes from watching my mom put others before herself again, and again, and again. My belief in the power of prayer, my belief that all people matter and have value to God, and so many other core values of my faith have their roots in my mom and what she's modeled to me time and time again over the years.

Mom, thanks for helping make me who I am today. I'm honored to call you my mom. The world would be such a better place if their were more mothers like you. Love ya' mom. Happy Birthday!

9.21.2008

What Megachurches Really Produce...

Baylor University recently released a survey as part of their Institute for Studies of Religion. The survey is a summary of Americans' attitudes about God, churches, and spiritual issues. My boy Jmob talked about it briefly on his blog. He shared the following excerpt that I found intriguing:

“The survey spoke highly of the American megachurch, congregations of more than 1,000 that are often criticized for their impersonal nature. People who attend megachurches are far more conservative in their theology than are attendees of smaller churches, it said. Their members are also younger, they share their faith more with strangers, and they perform more volunteer work than do members of small churches.

“There are many critics who think the megachurches thrive on people who enjoy dramatic Sunday services with fine music but don’t wish to become very ‘religious’ on a day-to-day basis - that the megachurch appeal is a mile wide and an inch deep,” said “What Americans Really Believe,” a companion book to the survey.

“But it is not true. Those who belong to megachurches display as high a level of personal commitment as do those who attend small congregations.” Mr. Stark added, “Apparently they are preaching Jesus and that’s why they get so big.”

You can read the full article from the Washington times here and the Ft. Worth Star Telegram here. Check it out.

9.20.2008

Do Something...

In my short time at The Connection Church I've quickly come to love our church and our team. I love serving on a team that is constantly looking for ways to do something to make a difference for our community and for others. Check out this post on Cole's blog, our Lead Pastor, to see what I'm talking about.

Our local Hays Area Food Bank is eager to help hurricane evacuees in the area but their shelves are bare. Cole's challenged all of us at TCC to pack the PAC on Sunday morning with food for Hurricane Ike Evacuees in our area. Read his blog post to get more details. Here's a list of what foods are needed:

Canned meats, canned fruits & veggies, mac & cheese, pastas, peanut butter, granola bars, bottled water, cereal, rice & beans, dried milk, baby & infant formula, & soups

So here we go TCC: I'll see ya' at the PAC tomorrow with grocery bags in hand...unless I see you today shopping for stuff at HEB!

9.19.2008

7 Years Ago Today...

September 19th is a special day in my life. It's an anniversary of sorts. Seven years ago today I showed up at Scott & White hospital before the sun was even up. I had a date with a neurosurgeon at 7:00 AM to remove a pituitary tumor from my head. Just a week before, on Sept. 11th (Yes, THE Sept. 11th) I had spent all day at the hospital making the rounds and getting prepped for surgery. The morning of the 19th my ENT, my endocrinologist, and my neurosurgeon were all teamed up and ready to go. Needless to say, the surgery was successful. God guided hands and minds in ways that only he can and he used the miracle of modern medicine to heal me.

My life changed that day. There was a good chance that I could've seen my family for the last time as they wheeled me in that operating room. There was a chance that I would never have met my incredible wife, seen age 25 (or now 30), or done so much of what's happened in the last seven years. But in His goodness and rich mercy to me, God worked things out. And so today for me is a celebration. Every year, no matter what is going on in my life, I celebrate this day. Whatever situation or place life finds me at on September 19th, one thing is true. It is a good day. It is a day to celebrate life. It is a day to take inventory of what is really important and to take a long hard look at what I am investing my life in, because obviously God let me hang around this planet for a reason. I don't want to waste His time or mine.

So if you feel like celebrating today, join me. We might not be at the same place, or even in the same state or time zone. But we can celebrate together regardless.

9.18.2008

Wow Wednesday...

I know this is one day late. Our lives have been kinda' crazy this week and Wednesday flew by without the weekly video post. Wow Wednesday is a weekly post dedicated to a video that leaves you saying just one word...wow. And usually, it's not an impressive wow. Check out this week's edition. It starts off slow, but when the voice change kicks in...wow.

9.16.2008

A New Addiction...

I just read on Yahoo news that social networking sites have surpassed pornography as the number one attraction on the web. Porn has been dethroned. You can read the full article from Yahoo news here. It's a basic summary of Bill Tancer's new book "Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why It Matters." This got me to thinking that maybe we have a new addiction. I love the access and ability to stay in touch that social networks, like Twitter, Myspace, and Facebook provide. But a person can waste a lot of time on these sites. In fact, many employers ban these sites from work. So maybe this article is announcing our newest addiction. I'm not sure...

What do you think? How much time do you spend online on social networking sites? Do you think it can be addicting? Comment away...

9.15.2008

The Weekend Update...

Here's a recap of a weekend in the life of Nic. Check it out:
  • Friday we got to hang out with some GREAT friends. Jmob, Clay, and Megan all evacuated from College Station to their parents' in Lockhart. That meant they got to sneak away on Friday and come hang with us in Kyle.
  • Friday night the five of us went and hung out in Austin. We went to Chuy's, the best mexican food place in town, and had some phenomenal mexican food. I had the hottest shrimp taquitos I've ever tasted.
  • Saturday I had planned on spending the day doing some things around the house and hanging out with my wife. Ike changed my plans. My brother and his in-laws live in Kingwood and they lost power from the hurricane. Cabela's here in Kyle had some generators and so we worked up a plan where I bought two generators and headed toward Houston with generators, gas, and window a/c units in tow. They were able to cut their way out (literally had to cut and move trees out of the road) and met me in Brenham.
  • Sunday was another incredible day at The Connection Church. Micah and the band absolutely rocked! Cole's message was super-challenging. We had a puppet team do some awesome stuff for our Konnection Kidz. And our SURGE middle school ministry had another great night. I love my calling and my job!

That about wraps it up. Between the hatch green chile shrimp taquitos from Chuy's and the excitement of a supply run brought on by Hurricane Ike I'd say the weekend got spiced up a bit.

How about you? How was your weekend?

9.11.2008

More Than Planning...

In my short, couple week tenure as Family Pastor at The Connection Church I've tried to hit the ground running. I've spent a lot of time looking toward the future for the various ministries which I now have the privilege to lead. I'm pumped to be a part of the TCC team because the team is willing to do whatever it takes to reach people with the life-altering love of Jesus.

Thursday evening I spent some time thinking about all I've done to anticipate and dream of growth. I want to see our age-based ministries grow to the most excellent level possible. In the midst of that, I've done a lot of planning. I've done tons of preparing. We've even done some practicing for some ministry events. But the one thing that will make our ministries, our church, and, ultimately, the kingdom of God grow is not simply planning, prepping, and practicing. It's prayer. I'm all about working hard to reach people. I believe far too few churches and leaders do it. There are way too many lazy people in the church. But all the hard work in the world can't grow anything without spending time with God praying for growth and life-change. I've been reminded today of this passage in the Bible that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (1 Corinthians 3:6-8)

I don't know about you, but at times I need to be reminded that all the planning, prepping, and practice is useless unless I've spent some time praying to the God of growth.

Let Us Not Forget...

Today we remember. Too many times we allow time past to soften our memory of things past. May we not forget those fallen fellow Americans lost on this day 7 years ago. May we not forget the sacrifice of those who gave all in attempts to save others. May we not forget the heroes who ran in while logic said run out.

"This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing." - President George W. Bush

"These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong." - President George W. Bush

"Are you guys ready? Let's roll!" -- Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer, apparently as a signal to other passengers to attack the hijackers, Sept. 11.

"The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men." - Henry David Thoreau

"Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we are the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining."
- President Bush

9.10.2008

Wow Wednesday...

Last week I posted this video with the simple response of "wow." I think I'm going to make this a weekly post called Wow Wednesday. Each week it will feature a video where the response can only be simply "Wow." What do ya' think? Well, check this one out and be sure to watch it all because toward the end the male in the group does a semi-robot dance move and an attempted moonwalk. Like I said: wow.

9.09.2008

Praise & Worship Hero...

The latest Christian knock-off version of a hit cultural phenomenon came out last week. It's called Guitar Praise and it's a Christian version of the popular game Guitar Hero. For only $99.95 you can soon be "rockin' with the best while praising the Lord!" It has been interesting to see the reaction from those outside the Christian sub-culture on this. One reaction was over at GameSetWatch that you can read here. The author is a British games journalist and producer. One thing I found intriguing is that the article quoted contemporary theologian and pastor Rob Bell. I think the article gives an enlightening take on what someone outside the Christian sub-culture might think about this type of thing. Below are a couple of quotes I really liked from the article, but you should definitely check out the whole thing for yourself.

"The word Christian is, in the strict sense, a noun. It literally means somebody who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. People get themselves in all manner of trouble when they turn the noun into an adjective to describe their work, community, bookshop, painting, tee shirt, video game or song. A book or song cannot ‘follow Christ’. As an adjective the word is, in essence, a term of marketing targeting a product specifically at Christian people." - Simon Parkin

"Something can be labeled ‘Christian’ and not be true or good… It is possible for music to be labeled ‘Christian’ and be terrible music. It could lack creativity and inspiration. The lyrics could be recycled clich├ęs. That ‘Christian’ band could actually be giving Jesus a bad name because they aren’t a great band. It is possible for a movie to be a ‘Christian’ movie and to be a terrible movie. It may actually desecrate the art form in its quality and storytelling and craft." - Rob Bell

9.08.2008

A Good Time To Be Jewish...

The opening sentence of the article reads, "Larry Blumberg is looking for a few good Jews to move to his corner of the Bible Belt." Apparently, Blumberg is the chairman of an organization in Dothan, Alabama who is offering as much as $50,000 for Jewish families willing to relocate to the predominantly Christian town of 58,000 in the South. You can read the entire article featured on Yahoo news here. And if you have any family members or friends who are Jewish and looking for "warm and friendly people, little traffic, and no snow," then maybe they can make some extra cash in the move!

The Weekend Update...

Here's a recap of the weekend...coming at ya' like a blitz!
  • Friday night Jo and I got to hang out with Zak and Amber and their little boy Couper. I love serving on the TCC team and the White's are one of the many reasons why! It was a blast!
  • I spent Saturday painting at the Farm Bureau office in Gonzales earning a little extra cash. Plus, that way I didn't have to do MORE unpacking. Johanna knocked some of that out though...
  • Yesterday at The Connection Church was absolutely INCREDIBLE. We made the transition to two services without any major hitches...and, we had 646 people in church yesterday!!! Way to go TCC!!! Thanks for taking seriously the opportunity you have to invite your friends and neighbors to be a part of what God is doing here in this area! You are making a difference for eternity!
  • We kicked off a new series "One Month To Live" yesterday. Click here for more info.
  • I spent yesterday afternoon at the kickoff of FUSION, our college ministry here at TCC. Joe Barnes is leading that and I know God is going to use him to do great things. Lots of fun with volleyball and "do whatever you want" football in the pool.
  • Last night I hung out with our Middle School students at SURGE. We talked about the end times. Needless to say there are a ton of jacked up views out there. But the bottom line is this: It doesn't matter how it all happens in the end as long as you are READY. And the only way to be ready is to be right with God through a relationship with Jesus.

That wraps it up. Hope you're weekend was as good as mine.

9.05.2008

Youth Worker Appreciation Day...

Youth Specialties has declared tomorrow, September 6th National Youth Worker Appreciation Day. I love that. I've been involved in Student Ministry my entire adult life. I got my first youth ministry job at the age of 18 and have breathed that as a lifestyle ever since. I'm glad there are folks like Youth Specialties that recognize the hard work, sacrifice, commitment, and all out effort that youth workers pour into ministering to students. Don't get me wrong...I know there are some lazy Youth Pastors and volunteers. That goes with every profession. And that infuriates me because they give those of us who are doing everything we can to storm the gates of hell for the lives of students a bad name. But I have had the privilege of knowing, befriending, and working with some incredible youth pastors and youth workers. My last team was simply amazing. The team I have now at TCC is fantastic. So tomorrow if you have any youth pastors or youth workers in your circle of influence be sure and tell them thanks. I know it will mean a lot.

On a slightly related note, my friend and fellow blogger Terrace Crawford has been having some awesome give-a-ways on his blog in honor of National Youth Worker Day and I was yesterday's winner! He hooked me up and you can read about it here. Thanks for all you do to support and encourage your fellow youth workers Terrace!

9.03.2008

Jesus Is My Friend...

Our Lead Pastor Cole Phillips showed us this video today at the office. I'm not sure where or how he found it. I'm not even sure what to say. It left me pretty much speechless...

9.02.2008

The Weekend Update...

Here's a recap of the weekend. Let me just forewarn you that it mostly involves moving. If you're hatred for moving is as big as mine, you might want to skip this post...

  • Thursday night the moving began. My friend Brett Scott and I moved a couple of small loads to get started.

  • Friday Johanna and I spent most of the day packing. My brother drove in from Houston Friday night and he and I packed all of our junk that would fit into a 26 ft. Uhaul. We had a good time hanging out, but both of us would've preferred different circumstances for our chats.

  • Saturday we moved the Uhaul stuff and a few other loads to Kyle. We had some GREAT folks from The Connection Church help us out. We even had some friends from TCC mow our lawn while we were picking up more stuff. Gotta' love that! Thanks to all who helped out!

  • Sunday was an incredible day at TCC. Cole knocked it out of the park on Sunday morning.

  • Sunday night we had Surge, our middle school ministry. It turned into an all-out water war, with water balloons flying everywhere.

  • Monday we spent just relaxing and running a few errands after the move. Monday evening we went to The Salt Lick with some friends to celebrate Joe's birthday. It was a blast!

Like I said, our weekend revolved around moving. Labor day weekend really was filled with labor. And my back is sore to prove it...