Thursday, December 23, 2004

A Sea Of Boxes

Jasper Speaks:

So I am sitting in my office surrounded by the last five years of my life in about 20 boxes. I am listening to the loud sounds of our youth group's garage band as they practice in the worship center. WOW. Slowly the harsh reality that this is really happening is coming over me. Our home looks like a cardboard box factory as well.

Today the cable guy came and took away our modem and turned our cable (broadcast channels only though it was) off. My thought when I opened the door to hand him the modem was, "you can pry this from my dead, cold hands!" Still, he took it and now I only have access to the net in the office. It really doesn't seem much like my office anymore. Most of the personality is packed away. My office has been known as the highlight of the 50 cent tour of the church. Filled with toys from Star Wars, Veggie Tales, Disney, The Flintstones and my prized Pez Dispenser collection, children of all ages loved to stop by to look around. Now it is just bleak and stark white. The only remnants are the Toy Story 2 Ball I am leaving for the nursery and a stuffed Bob the Tomato and Larry The Cucumber sticking out of a box that is waiting to be taped shut sitting across from my desk.

Tonight is our very last TNT and this is most likely my last post until we get home to St. Louis and eventually get back online. I hate that this is the end of the road. Even if it is only for a season, my heart aches that I am leaving youth ministry. Oh well, God has sanctioned this and there is no changing that. I am prepared for a lot of tears (mostly my own) after we all go carolling tonight. Please pray for us as we travel across the country starting on Sunday afternoon. For those of you walking in a similar journey (and you know who you are), I am praying for God's best for you. Thanks for coming along side.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

God Is Good

Jasper Speaks:

So much of what I have had to say over the past few weeks has been negative and self serving. Tonight I want to share with you an awesome way God has shown us His love. Tonight was the last night for me to lead Homefires, our youth ministry's small group program. I have a group of five guys who meet every Tuesday night at my house for Bible study. We have had a guy's group the whole time we have been here. It started with three guys God led me to invite to be a part of a cell group when I first got here. That group added a fourth after three years and then last spring we opened it up to all the senior high guys and we had about eight. There were times that the Bible study was really good and lots of times it was just a bonding time and not a lot of God's business ever seemed to get done. Last year the original three guys graduated. I didn't know if the group would continue.

This fall however, the best part of being here has been Homfires for me. We have been using Doug Fields' Life Together series and it has been phenomenal! The guys have been growing and opening up and I have loved every minute of it. The hardest part of my leaving here was the thought of leaving these guys behind. This week another male youth leader stepped up and will be taking the study over when I leave. He is very competent. He came for the first time tonight. Tonight was the best Homefires we have ever had.

One of the guy's in our group's name is Jamin. He is a great kid. He is a lot of fun to be around and I love him a lot. He plays the role of the clown and the dumb guy but has a very deep intellect and is a critical thinker at heart. I have really seen this through Homefires this fall.

I just thought I would share with you the exciting news from Homefires tonight. The guy's group has been doing a study called Surrendering:Giving Up Your Life For Christ. As we discussed the lesson this evening, Jamin opened up about concerns about his salvation. It was incredible to watch the guys of the group rally around him with love and support. Jason (the other leader) had great words to share with him about struggles he has had in the past as well. As we continued talking, Jamin decided that he wanted to sincerely pray and ask God to take control of his life. We prayed together and he ask Christ into His life! He was visibly changed. He was excited that he could know for sure that he had salvation and was very happy to have the assurance of salvation. I am humbled that God allowed me to be a part of this and it is incredible to see how God used the closeness that comes from small group ministries to allow Jamin to be transparent with us! I am so excited!

It is also amazing to me that God would show me that He uses us right up until the calling is fulfilled. I leave this ministry Sunday afternoon and on the Tuesday before He was gracious enough to allow me to lead an incredible kid to Him. Even though I have been griping and complaining for three weeks, He allowed me to be a part of this moment. WOW! I must say I never had questioned our decision to leave quite as much as during the closing prayer of Homefires tonight. Still, I know God has a plan and tonight He allowed me to be a part of it. I thank Him for that opportunity. I pray that this post will be an encouragement to my fellow brothers who I know are going through this same difficult process right now. God will continue to use us. That is an amazing thing. Tonight He brought me to a place of remembrance that this is all about Him and not about me. I still don't know why He is calling me away but as I sit here in front of my computer with a huge smile I rest assured in the fact that the angels are rejoicing as I type. God is good even when we doubt.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Just A Few More Days

Jasper Speaks:

So, last night was our big goodbye service. There were about 150 people or so there. It was a little anti-climatic but overall it was very good. The people in charge of it are dear friends who really kept it moving and organized. There were more laughs than tears and that was the way I would have wanted it to be. I only got really choked up a couple of times.

Today has been spent changing out my email address and getting things ready to transfer over the youth website. I also have been making checklists for the leaders of all the things that go into making an event happen. Tomorrow I start packing up my things in the office. It is hard to believe this part of my life is over.

Of course it snowed here today reminding me again of why I want to be gone from this state. I was sad because it was bad enough that I had to cancel my guy's small group. We will meet tomorrow night instead.

I am just a big box of mixed emotions. There have been moments of second guessing our decision lately. But we have to stay firm. I just hate it. I wish I knew why God allowed things to happen this way and I wish I knew what is coming next. I am not much in the mood to trust but know I have no choice.

Our house is a huge series of boxes. Here we move again. We have been married 5 years and this will be our sixth move. It seems as though there will be a seventh before our sixth anniversary as well. At least we hope so!

I unsubscribed to the listserve today. It is sad becaus eI have been a member of that listserve for about seven years. It is another door closing.

We spent the last two weeks scrapbooking on and off our pictures from here. In the end we scrapped on about six or so days. We did 100 pages of pictures in that time. It is a bit overwhelming. I know we are going to be so happy we did it though. Funny how four and a half years of your life can fit on 100 pages though. I know we will look back at them and laugh and cry as remember all the good things God has allowed us to be a part of here.

Well I am getting more depressed than I want to be at the moment. Please pray that we find jobs quickly. In a few days we will not be in computer contact for awhile. I don't know what the situation is going to be at my parent's house with the computer just yet. We'll see. If I am not on for awhile you will know why. I am going to try and blog everyday until we leave but that can be a challenge. Thanks for your prayers and comments.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

My Life

Jasper Speaks:

We had a lovely weekend in Boston with our friends Bob and Jen. We saw The Polar Express on the IMAX in 3-D and it was amazing! What a great movie and what a great way to see it. We also got to eat at Cracker Barrel on the way home. That is "our place" with Bob and Jen so it was nice to go there with them one last time before we move.

We finished all our scrapbooking tonight. Actually I just got done with the last page. We have scrapped 98 pages in about two weeks. WOW! It was so much work. We will be taking them with us to our Hollis Center Funeral (our goodbye service) tomorrow night. I hope people appreciate all the hard work it took to get them together. If I weren't so tired I would probably be sad looking back at all the pictures. But that time will come. I know it will.

We also had dinner with our friend's the Waterson's tonight. Amy fixed a great turkey dinner and it was just like Thanksgiving. We will miss this family. The kids are like our neices and nephew. We have done a lot with them and love them all very much.

Please, if you read this before Sunday evening (the 19th), lift Kendra and I up in your prayers. We will be having the goodbye service at 6PM EST and we are bot sure what to expect. It could be a very emotional evening for us.

Thanks for those of you who have responded to my posts as of late. You are a great encouragement! My e-mail is not registering your e-mail address when you post in the comments but please know they are being read and appreciated. Thank you!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Last Night To Preach To The Kids

Jasper Speaks:

Because of the Youth Group tradition of going carolling, this was my last TNT. It was weird. During worship I came up with my latest fear. I don't know how to be a regular church member. My dad is a pastor and I went straight from High School to my first part-time Youth Pastor position. So I have been in ministry all my 35 years. I am not sure I even know what to do if I am not on staff. I am really a little freaked out by the prospect. It is an odd fear I will give you but it is there nonetheless.

As our worship band was leading worship I really could sense the Spirit speaking to me. We sang Blessed Be Your Name and it was a hard song to get through. I mean I am standing there singing that no matter how bad my life gets, I am going to praise God. I sang, "You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name". Those are hard words for me right now. I felt convicted. If I am singing it, I better be believing it. I am not quite there yet. I pray that God will help me to be able to sing that song truthfully.

I had been doing Doug Field's series BEYOND THE YEARBOOK with the kids. I had been distracted with other work all day today and was pretty thankful that the sermon in a box was waiting for me. I put the sermon together adding my own illustrations and was all ready to go. Then during worship it hit me. This was going to be the last time I will speak to the Senior Highers from God's Word as their Youth Pastor. I started to panic a bit. Do I change what I was speaking about and come up with impromptu last words? Do I just continue the series as if nothing is different?

The first few moments of my message were awkward as the inner arguing continued. Finally, I told myself that trying to draw out the fact that this was my last message was a bit much to fill in 30 minutes. So, I went with the prepared message. Actually, that message was pretty fitting. We talked about God changing us so He can use us. Pretty deep stuff. After I finished the message. I stopped and started talking to the students before I prayed to end the service. I told them that if there were only two things I could share with them at my last time of speaking from God's Word, it would be first, love God with all you have. I read the Great Commandment and encouraged them to give God their all. I told them not to let anyone tell them that it is more important to love God with your mind than with your heart or with you strength than with your soul. They are all in there so Jesus must have thought they all needed our equal time.

Next, I shared with them my favorite verse. Many of them could have recited it with me I use it so often. "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future". We talked about trusting God's plan and believing He has great plans for us as well. It was hard to keep it together as with each passing word the lump in my throat grew bigger.

After the service I stood for about ten minutes and just held kids as they cried. It was not the easiest thing I have ever done. We still have a week left together and I will see most of them on Sunday and next Thursday. It is just so hard to say goodbye. In many ways I am still in denial that this is happening. It just doesn't seem real yet. I realize when it finally is real to me, there is going to be a major meltdown. I am not looking forward to that at all.

Tonight was the first of several hard days. More are coming. I am praying that God will provide the strength to withstand the heartbreak still yet to come.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

An Update

Jasper Speaks:

So, in many ways we are at a same ole same ole point. Not much going on in our lives. We are in a holding pattern. I am FINALLY starting to get calls from employers. Nothing firm has come yet but I am getting bites. I just really regret not taking the online Master's course I had enrolled in. Although I don't know how I would have paid for it. If I had taken it my teacher certification would be up to snuff and finding a job wouldn't be quite such a chore.

The Elders' meeting last night went well. Not only was it my last one (HOORAY!!!) but it was a very nice easy one. Also, I got to really speak a lot to the issue of hiring the next YP and I felt as though the Elders' valued and listening to my opinion. They voted to establish a search committee which is great because the last two staff vacancies did not have a committee. There were men in the church the Elders' thought should have first chance at the positions and they ended up being the ones they went with. By establishing a search committee at least the chance is there that they will bring someone in from the outside who actually will have ideas to bring to the table.

Tonight's Guys' Small Group was weird. We have had so many incredible studies this fall but tonight's just fell flat. I read the Bible Study beforehand and thought it was a little lame but it really went nowhere. That was a little frustrating for me. We only have one more week together and I was hoping that every week would be as good as they had been going.

So, there is where we are today. Things are still a roller coaster. I have moments of being fine with leaving and moments of near overwhelming grief. I am sure it will only get worse before it gets better. Still, I am certain we are doing the right thing. I just wish I understood it more.

Monday, December 13, 2004

How Long Oh, Lord

Jasper Speaks:

So, I have some advice for those of you who are in the process of leaving your current ministries. This is especially for those of you walking a long the path of resignation without another ministry job with me. Do not go on a road trip with a group of your favorite students two weekends before you are going to leave!

What an incredible weekend I had. I stayed up until 4:30 in the morning talking heart to heart with three great guys. It was so great to share our hearts together. The laughter, the seriousness, the advice handed out, man it is why I love being a Youth Pastor.

Therein lies the rub. I am grieving the death of my career. I am grieving the passing of God allowing me to be employed in my passion. The whole point of our road trip to Rhode Island this weekend was to go and see
Lost and Found in concert. This is a group I am absolutely certain my kids would have NEVER heard of if it hadn't been for me. It was an amazing concert. We had a wicked good time. Then on the drive home we were listening to a Lost and Found CD and my kids favorite song, Lions, came on and they started singing at the top of their lungs. We cranked the music up and they sang louder and I sat in the driver's seat and started convulsing in choppy sobs. Thankful for the darkness and for the loud music as it kept anyone but Kendra from noticing that I was completely losing it. I cried and cried hard. I have so much love for these kids and for youth ministry in particular and last night somewhere along I-95, I realized that it is all really coming to an end. The result? A 35 year old man crying like a 4 year old girl. Not pretty.

Then tonight the crying came again as my sister called me on her cell phone from the Steven Curtis Chapman/Casting Crowns concert and held the phone up as they sang, "The Voice Of Truth". So as I am missing my sister, missing the concert and realizing that I am no longer a youth pastor, I became overwhelmed again and ended up locked in the bathroom, sobbing again. Man, I am such a girl.

Well that is all the great news on the Jasper front. Please pray that I will be better not bitter.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Another Day Another 50 Resumes

Jasper Speaks:

So the long distance job hunt sucks. I have faxed like 20 resumes from my office and I know I have emailed at least twice that much! I am trying to trust God for our finances. I am praying that there are awesome jobs for Kendra and me just waiting for us to arrive.

We had dinner last night with some friends from church. It was a great meal and they are a wonderful family. They have a six year old son and a 23 year old daughter. Their daughter has been a close friend and a youth leader.

After dinner the conversation went into why we are leaving. They suspected it has more to it than just my parents' health. As we delicately began discussing our concerns they almost breathed an audible sigh as they confessed they have been feeling the same things. It breaks my heart that everyone we have talked to outside of the church leadership have been concerned with the direction the church is taking. These wonderful people said they would have said something sooner but are afraid of seeming ungodly. That is such crap! These people are among the most godly people I have ever known. They are a wonderful Christian family and it hurts me as their pastor to know they have concerns that they cannot voice freely.

I am very concerned that this church is in a nosedive. Slow though the nosedive may be, it is coming. The retreat to things of old and the lack of flexibility have put God in a box. I am so sad that the leadership is so caught up in legalism that they cannot see that God is SO MUCH BIGGER than what they let him be.

In some ways I am glad we are on the way out. But in my joy, I am hesitant. There are many people here I love and have invested in spiritually and although I know God will supply their needs, it hurts me to leave them behind in this spiritual rut. There is much to be concerned about. I had no idea that when I stepped out on faith and resigned that I would have to exercise such extreme faith that God will keep the people I love here on a track of spiritual development. I pray that they will voice their concerns or pack it up and go somewhere else.

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Day After Resigning

Jasper Speaks:

Today was long and slow as it was my day off. However God has provided two cool things. One my best friend Rick (who is also a YP)called today and as we were talking he told me that one of his youth leaders is the Director of hiring for the management team at Radio Shack in St. Louis. He got us together and there seems to be at least a glimmer of hope for a job though nothing is for sure.

Then next I was again reminded that there is nothing like old friends when I called my college buddy Michele tonight. We have been friends for almost 15 years (gosh I am old) and her husband Dennis was a groomsman in our wedding. When we started talking about the fact that we are moving back to Missouri she asked if there was anything we needed. I jokingly said that we needed a truck driver. See Jasper was not given the gift of driving. I literally have a hard time backing up our mini-van sometimes. Kendra is the driver in the family. So when I said we needed a moving truck driver I wasn't completely kidding. Michele told me to hang on for a minute and when she came back she said, "Dennis is off that week. We would love to fly to Maine to help you." Dennis is an OTR truck driver and just happens to have the week we are moving off. So they are flying into Boston on the Sunday that we are packing up the truck and Dennis is going to do all the driving for us! We still have to get our car and van there but he is probably going to tow the car behind and so there will be four extra drivers for the car. I love my friends! You all rock!

So, after the long day yesterday, today is a bit brighter. Tomorrow night will be hard since it is the first of our small Groups since the announcement. I am not expecting to be hard nosed about staying in the curriculum. We will just talk and see where God leads.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

A Quick Update

Jasper Speaks:

Today wasn't as bad as we thought. The youth were visible stunned and we have since heard that there were some meltdowns at home later. The congregation took my words at face value and the other Pastors prayed for me in the service.

It is nice to have all this out in the open. We can now talk openly and freely about moving back to Missouri. It is still frightening but our God knows best. It will be a long few weeks. I am a lame duck Youth Pastor but I have a lot to do. Please keep the prayers going.
Go For The Gold Prayer Warriors

Jasper Speaks:

By the time most of you read this, our resignation as the Youth Pastor of Hollis Center Baptist Church would have already occurred. Please be in prayer for us as we prepare to move back to Missouri without jobs. It is a time of faith and we are very intimidated. We realize we are not called to stay here any longer. God has made that clear in so many ways. It has been a week of prayer and questioning and we know this is what we must do. If you receive this before 10AM EDT please pray for us as we will be telling the kids in the youth group during Sunday School this morning. Our senior pastor will be announcing it in our morning worship at 10:45. It will be a long day and a long few weeks. Thanks for remembering us to the Father.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Baby Steps

Jasper Speaks:

Well tonight I called my SP and resigned. He was going to call the elders and let them know. He will announce it on Sunday. It is going to be a long, hard day. We are planning on telling the students first at the end of Sunday School and then he will announce it to the church in the beginning of the service. I trust him completely and know he will articulate our feeling well. I am sure I would just be a blubbering idiot if I tried to speak then.

It is a bit surreal to be at this point. I keep applying for jobs online. It is my new career it seems! We are jumping out of the boat and trusting God from here. Our friend Jessica was here tonight and we welcomed the distraction. We love her and she has just found her true love in George from Mission Raleigh. So tonight was awesome as we sat together and talked about wedding plans and how good God has been to her. It will be hard to leave her behind in New England. She has become a dear friend. It helps to know that she is planning on moving to Raleigh soon. I guess I am just a little selfish.

I am finding out that I am not alone in this battle. I have another friend who is only steps behind doing the same thing in ministry right now. I hope we can encourage each other as we walk out on faith. Also, I am getting some real encouragement from the YS Message Board Community. I have spent a lot of time on those boards forging friendships and I am very thankful for that. Tonight my friend Bill called me. He was such an encouragement. A couple of people have written me special notes that have been encouraging as well.

Now I am just wanting Sunday to be over. Get this out and let people know. Tomorrow I have to call the youth leaders and the families under my care as an elder. It will be very difficult but each baby step gets us closer to saying goodbye. We are speaking mostly of leaving to take care of my parents but there are so many other reasons that brought us to this point. I want to get my life together spiritually. It is crap at the moment. I need to become a part of a great church with paths of service and growth for me. Kendra needs that as well. Though the move will bring it challenges, I have to believe it will also bring rewards.

Baby steps. Faith-filled, grace-given, baby steps.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A Major Step Of Faith

Jasper Speaks:

Our trip to Missouri did not go as we had hoped. We were interviewing for a new staff position at a great church. In the end we were not extended a call because positive votes came up four votes short. We had been riding high on a wave of very positive meetings and interviews. It was quite a blow not only to us but to the search committee and the church staff as well. The negativity seemed to come from nowhere. It has been a difficult few days here. We have been praying as to whether we should just move back to Missouri or stick it out here.

The truth is the pull home is very firm. My parents are now "elderly" and not in the best health. I need to be there for them. Also, the passion feels gone in our ministry here. In truth it has been dying for a long time. The church here is not the church I came to almost five years ago. The staff is different and even if they don't see it, the whole philosophy of ministry is different. I have not been able to grow simply as a Christian here even if I have grown professionally. Although I have no doubt that these are wonderful Christian people and that they care for us very much, I am not at home in this congregation. We were looking for a way out and God did not provide it in ministry.

Still, I really love what I do. I love the teens. It makes my stomach hurt a little to know I would have to rejoin corporate America if we return to Missouri. I also am not overly thrilled at the prospect of being 35 and living with my wife in my parent's basement. But I do think it would be cool to just go to church somewhere and not be in charge of anything. For 15 years I have been a pastor and have not been able to take full advantage of church life as a result. It could be nice to warm a pew for a little while I guess. Since my dad is a pastor, I have actually been in ministry all my life. I would like to just go and be a layperson for awhile I think.

But still we struggle with abandoning the call. If we leave now are we letting God down? Does He not call us to forsake all things for Him? And not to sound like a broken record but I love being a Youth Pastor. I am sure I will not find anything as rewarding or fitting for me again.

As can be the case with Churches, the word that we were looking is basically out. It frustrates me that Christians can't keep their pie holes shut and seem to revel in telling things they shouldn't. It saddens me that this congregation that seems to really understand God still has disappointed us in the betrayal of confidence. Oh well, people are people I suppose. However, because the church is buzzing about our leaving, we feel we really have no other choice.

So, I guess as I send this entry out into the void, I ask that if you read this take a moment and pray for us. It does seem as though we will be resigning on Sunday and leaving the day after Christmas. Our hearts are heavy and a little scared. There is no money and there are no jobs waiting for us. We are going to take a leap and trust that God will provide for our needs. We are trying to listen to the voice of truth.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Pray For Us

Jasper Speaks:

Please pray for us as we travel to Missouri Thursday-Monday. There is a lot on our plate while we are there and I would desire you lifting us to the Father during this time. I will elaborate more upon our return. Thank you for being faithful friends.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Beans Get Spilt

Jasper Speaks:

So we are off tomorrow to see if God's will is for us to return to Missouri. Please be praying for us. Pray for safety in travel and that God will make His will known to us. Below is what we have come up with to share with the church. The Pastor asked us to stay with the theme of Thanksgiving in the service (how cool is that by the way).

Jasper: We understand that the Pastor has been sharing how to have a thankful mindset as we prepare for thanksgiving this Thursday. We would like to share with you some of the blessings that Christ has given us by His grace. When we think of grace, I think I speak for both of us in saying God’s grace was first evident in our lives by our being born into Christian homes. God has blessed us with incredible, godly parents who have not only told us about Christ’s love for us but even from childhood, daily showed us that love. We are so thankful that God’s grace was upon us by allowing us to have Christian families. We are also thankful that God made his love real and personal to both of us bringing us to a place of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. For me that time came when I was ten years old. I still remember kneeling beside my parent’s bed with my mother at my side. She had just explained to me how I could have my own relationship with the creator of the universe. That night I confessed my sin, trusted in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and gave my life to the will of Jesus Christ. I was filled with a joy I didn’t understand and immediately wanted to share with everyone, the decision I had made.

Kendra: For me that moment came when I was 14 years old. I had been involved in church all my life and I knew all the right answers. I had lived a good life and had always tried to do what was right. Still, there was something missing. I was involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and at an event one evening my leader shared how he had a similar experience in his life before really came to know Christ. His testimony touched my heart. That night I bowed my life in full surrender to God and His plan for me. I admitted to Him that I was a sinner and I needed Him to come into my life and take control. It is a decision I have never regretted.

Jasper: I am thankful that the summer before my freshman year of college I felt His call for me to serve Him in ministry. I wasn’t sure what type of ministry at that time. I trusted that if I was faithful to God’s call, He would work out the details. After I graduated college I worked for a semester with a small church’s youth ministry. I am so thankful that God gave me that opportunity. I am thankful that God allowed me to minister to students like Landon Howard. Landon was from a poor, single parent home. He was a challenging student for me. He asked the hard questions and I thank God that Landon pushed me to find the answers. I thought about him often as I went away to seminary. I still did not know how God would use me in ministry but I continued my training with a heart that was open to His will for me. In March of that semester, I received a call that Landon had been shot and killed on a street corner where he had been robbed. I knew that the students I had grown to love would need help to get through this difficult time. I returned home. As I spoke to Landon’s mother, spoke at his funeral and ministered to his friends, I could feel God shaping my heart. He was calling me to service with teens. I knew it without a doubt. I am so thankful for the life of Landon Howard because God used him to plant a seed of passion in my heart for the life of teens. Through the years I am so thankful that God has watered that seed and continued to give me a heart for students.

Kendra: I too am thankful that God placed His call on my life. I have always had a love for music and God has shown me how I can use that love to draw people to Him. I studied Church Music in college and as a result in my junior year I applied to be a church pianist at a First Baptist Church of Lemay in St. Louis. It was there that God began to use my abilities for His service on a regular basis. I am thankful that at that church God introduced me to the man who would become my husband. Jasper was serving as the Minister of Youth and Education there while I was the pianist. We began to serve together in the youth ministry and soon God had joined our hearts together as well. I am also thankful that while we served at FBC Lemay, God let us be a part of many student’s lives. Students like Lydia Gerard. Lydia came from a difficult home life. Her parents weren’t Christians and she was desperate to find someone who would love her without condition. She began attending our mid-week youth program with a friend. At first she didn’t seem very interested but slowly she became more involved. I am thankful that Jasper was able to share with her God’s unconditional love and she asked Christ to be the leader of her life. Soon she was sharing her faith with her family and ministering through the drama team in our youth ministry. God had taken a soul that was dark and hopeless and filled her with light and hope.

Jasper: I am also thankful that God promises that He will be with us wherever we go. We saw His grace at work in our lives when He called us to Hollis Center Baptist Church in Hollis, Maine. We have learned that we must truly trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. We have seen God’s grace in the way he has worked not only in our lives but the lives of the students with whom he entrusted us. Students like Ben Wilson. When we met Ben he was a class clown. He was a great person to be around yet we saw something more in him than just fun. We began to invest time in him. We encouraged him to spend time in God’s Word daily and to seek out ways to serve others. Soon we saw a passion for the things of God spring alive in His life. He has served God on mission trips and in our church. He has led several people to Christ. Just about two years ago he accepted a call into youth ministry himself and has started to pursue that goal. We are thankful that God has blessed us with being able to serve Him by investing in the lives of students. Today we are thankful that God is allowing us to share about his tremendous grace with you.

Kendra: We are thankful that God has given us an opportunity to share with you not only our faith stories but the stories of just a few of the many young people he has blessed us with in our lives and ministry. We are thankful that He is faithful in all things. We are thankful that we don’t have to worry about what lies ahead because God is always before us.

Jasper: We rest in the truth of God’s promise as given in Jeremiah 29:11. Here God’s Word says I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. We are thankful that God has a plan for our lives as well as the life of Troy First Baptist Church. God has given us so much more than we deserve. Most of all we are thankful that He has given us eternal life through His son Jesus Christ. As we think on this season of thankfulness, we realize that we can never be thankful enough for all he has done. Thank you for letting us share with you this morning.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Random Useless Fact

The Fact Speaks:

Bananas are the most popular fruit in America. The average person eats 33 pounds of bananas a year. Over 4 million tons of bananas are imported into the United States every year.

Jasper Speaks:

Yes we have no bannanas! Kendra hates bannanas so somebody is eating a lot more than their 33 pounds out there to make up for her!
So Much Going On And So Little To Say

Jasper Speaks:

As time keeps going by we seem to be in a wait and see mode. I feel a little like a lame duck. There seems to be much going on but not a lot to write about or that at this point I can freely write about in this forum.

There are a few neat things I can bring up:

- My Senior High Guys Bible Study is going very well. The guys just keep amazing me witht he commitment and depth.

- My friends Jose and Melissa just gave birth to my 6th Godchild, Daniel Noah today. Their five kids are a light in my life and I miss them very much. I can't wait to meet Noah.

- Shrek 2 was fuuny!

- The new Star Wars Trailer Rocks!

So there are some highlights to my last week. So much going on and so little to say. Keep hopping back by. I will be gone the latter part of the coming week. After that MAJOR changes are in store and I will write all about them here!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

God Speaks?

The Media Speaks:

Election Reinforces U.S. Religious Divide

By RICHARD N. OSTLING, AP Religion Writer
President Bush's victory, the approval of every anti-gay marriage amendment on statewide ballots and an emphasis on "moral values" among voters showed the power of churchgoing Americans in this election and threw the nation's religious divide into stark relief.

"The churchgoers, those who voted along cultural lines, put (Bush) over the top," said George Marlin, author of "The American Catholic Voter."

Read full aritcle HERE.

Jasper Speaks:

One of the most interesting things to come out of this electiont o me was the importance put on moral values. I think even more surprising to me was how out of touch the mainstream media was onthis topic. They seemed dumbfounded that anyone would vote because of importance of moral values. Sometimes I just think that the media lives under a very liberal rock.

I think it is very encouraging that American Christians are making their voice heard. I was watching C-Span last night and there were protestors to the election being interviewed. They were talking about how scary it is that Christians were swinging the electiontheir way. Wellit is obvious of those people who cared to vote, the majority share the president's values. The Democratic party better wake up quickly to the facts that are out there. People of faith are voting and they are voting in droves.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

God Moving Can Be Frightening

Jasper Speaks:

So God is doing a movement in my life. It is great. It is exciting. I can also be pretty frightening. I want to do what He wants me to. I want to trust completely in His plan. The problem is that often this means moving out of a place where I am comfortable. I have had to do that before and I have to admit that in the end, of course, God knew what was best. I believe I am being asked to do that again.

There are exciting things on the horizon that I cannot yet address here. But I will ask that you pray for God's will to be made clear and that I will continue to grow in Him. So much is going on and I am trying my best to live in the center of God's grace and will. There are many things for which I feel woefully inadequate. God's Word tells us that His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. I need to embrace that. Satan can tell me that I cannot perform in the way God wants me to perform but I have to remind myself, this is not about what Jasper can do and is all about what God will do.

Casting Crowns has a song called, THE VOICE OF TRUTH. I have heard Mark Hall speak about it. The song is all about how those nagging thoughts in our heads can be silenced when we focus on listening to the one voice that matters. Some of the words are:

Oh,what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And he's holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name
and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
time and time again
"Boy, you'll never win,
you'll never win."

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

Oh, what I would do
to have the kind of strength it takes
To stand before a giant
with just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound
of a thousand warriors
shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out
my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
time and time again
"Boy you'll never win,
you'll never win."

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

But the stone was just the right size
to put the giant on the ground
and the waves they don't seem so high
from on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
when I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
singing over me

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
The Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of truth says "this is for my glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me (calling out to me)
I will choose to listen and believe (I will choose to listen and believe)
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

I will listen and believe
I will listen and believe the Voice of truth
I will listen and believe
'Cause Jesus you are the Voice of truth
And I will listen to you.. oh you are the Voice of truth

That song really speaks to where I am right now. It is all about what God believes I can do and not at all about the confidence the world has in me or I have in myself. Words that are hard to live by but very true. Please pray that this will be the way I live my life.

The People Speak:

Bush Wins!

Jasper Speaks:

"How cool is this? I knew all along we would pull this one off. When the polls were saying it was a dead heat I never believed it. It is great to see Americans speak so clearly on what they want. Hollywood is stunned. Somewhere in the world today an angry Michael Moore is choking on a hot dog. His movie may have made $100 million but it had no effect on how this race came out and that CRACKS ME UP! Watching the returns last night, I was even a little surprised that the media is so out of touch with the people. They all seemed to be shocked that moral values would even come into play much less be cited as the number one reason people were voting for Bush. I just about laughed my fool head off as the media talking heads were all having to eat crow and start admitting that it seemed Kerry didn't have a chance. I took particular pride in watching Dan Rather squirm!So, I am in a great mood. The election went my way and I couldn't be happier. Go W!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Quote For Today
(and possible a lifetime)

Fred Allen Speaks:

"I have just returned from Boston. It is the only sane thing to do if you find yourself up there."

Jasper Speaks:

I have no idea who Fred Allen is but I like the way he thinks.
Useless Fact For October 26

The Fact Speaks:

More than a third of all adults hit their alarm clock's "snooze" button each morning — an average of three times before they get up. Those most guilty of snatching some extra sleep are those in the 25–34 age bracket, at 57 percent.

Jasper Speaks:

I am not of the persuasion that does this. However, my beautiful bride is. It can be very frustrating. I am one of those if you wake me up it takes me awhile to get back to sleep types. Kendra is not. So many mornings we fight the snooze alarm battle. She normally wins. I like being married.
Leavin' On A Jet Plane

Jasper Speaks:

So, tomorrow is a very important day for us. We fly out of Boston to Missouri at 4:00PM. This is a weekend that could change our lives forever. We are excited. God is good. If you want details, e-mail me. I won't be blogging until next Monday or Tuesday. Feel free to check back here! Please pray for our safety in travel and for God to do things only God can do!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Can't Take It

Jasper Speaks:

This World Series stinks! I hate living in New England! You have heard me rant about the Red Sox many times. I am just so over the cockiness of the fans.

I am so glad I am going to be in Missouri for all but one of the remaining games. I want to cheer with the fans who agree with me. I actually am just TIRED of baseball. I have watch so much lately. I keep finding myself saying, "is it over yet?" And it's not! I am all about one big game deciding it all like in football. THIS TAKES FOREVER!!!

I am sure I would be less bitter if (A) I was in St. Louis where I want to be right now and/or (B) The Cardinals were leading the series. Neither of those things are happening at the moment so color me grumpy!


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Ladder 49 - A Review

Jasper Speaks:

I saw this movie today with Kendra and our dear friends Nate and Angela. I am still trying to decide what I thought. This was not a bad film. It just was not a great film. It is the story of one man in a fire department. It follows the life of Jack, a young firefighter from his first day on the job until a major fire several years later. I found a lot of the plot predictable. I leaned over to Kendra on many occasions and said this will happen next or of course they have to introduce this character for this reason which did finally pan out as I had thought.

<\It was enjoyable. The fire scenes were top notch and Joaquin Phoenix gives a good performance. However, there was very little character development for anyone but Jack. There were other men in the firehouse and there were several occasions we were asked to care for them but the writers and director had not given us enough emotional connections to make that happen.

Some of the finest acting came when Joaquin Phoenix did not speak. The subtext he brought across with simple looks was incredible. The worst acting came from John Travolta. I have never been a big Travolta fan but in this film in particular in his most emotionally charged scene, his acting was atrocious. Here he is yelling at the men of the fire house after a tragedy and I am laughing. His acting was so bad here. I have seen seventh graders deliver lines better.

Overall, I think this is a good rental flick. If you haven't seen it, you can wait. Joaquin Phoenix is proving again that he is a star in the making. His acting is superb and I hope Hollywood continues to reward him. He is the strongest link in a chain that was just about average.

Useless Fact For October 24

What are hot dogs made of?

The Facts Speak:

Are hot dogs really made from pigs' snouts and unused meat scraps? Contrary to popular belief, hot dogs are not made from left-over meat laying around on the floors of meat-packing houses. Whether it is pork or beef that is stuffed into a hot dog, the meat trimmings are carefully selected just like the meat you buy in your grocer's coolers.

Most recipes for hot dogs combine together a tasty blend of favorite meats (pork, beef, chicken, or turkey), meat fat, a cereal filler which could be either bread crumbs, flour, or oatmeal, a little bit of egg white, and a mouth-watering array of herbs and seasonings including garlic, pepper, ground mustard, nutmeg, salt, and onion.

Once these ingredients are grinded together, the stuffing is squeezed into sausage casings. Many of the hot dogs sold in stores are enclosed in synthetic cellulose casings, but most home-made hot dogs are made out of natural animal intestines. (Ed. Comment: "YUCK"!)

Following the stuffing process is the pre-cooking cycle in which the hot dog links are tossed into boiling water for approximately 15 minutes. Finally, the dogs are packaged, loaded on delivery trucks, and sent off to food markets.

There is particular hot dog lingo. Hot dogs are also called franks, frankfurter, weiner, mini sausages, ball parks, and dachshund.

Did you know?

July is National Hot Dog Month?
An average American eats 60 hot dogs a year?
In 1893, hot dogs became the standard cuisine for baseball games?

Controversial debate surrounds the creation of the hot dog. Who really created the first hot dog? Although the city of Frankfurt, Germany credits itself for the origin of the first frankfurter in 1852, some argue that Johann Georghehner, a butcher from Coburg, Germany created the first frankfurter in the 1600s.

Jasper Speaks:

I had hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for dinner tonight. I am not the biggest fan of the frank but I can take one every now and again. Even though this entry says things to the contrary, I am pretty sure that hot dogs are filled with anything and everything they can find left over in meat plants. I once heard of someone finding a mouse tail in one. EWWWW!!!!
And that animal intestine thing, I could have lived without that too!

Quote For Today
Corrie Ten Boom Speaks:

The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.

Jasper Speaks:

Makes me wonder how big my donation has been.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Getting An Ulcer

Jasper Speaks:

So as you look at the date and time of these entries you may be wondering how a poor Cardinals fan trapped in New England can be blogging during game one of the World Series. I am the least competative person you will ever meet. But this post-season in baseball is giving me high blood pressure that could induce a stroke. I guess I just care way too much about the outcome. I spend most of my time in the chair with my eyes closed and a horrible burning in my stomach.

So tonight, as the game started getting too intense for me, I got up and came to check email. I never returned. My wife is watching the game and giving me commentary but the Cardinals seem to do better without me watching and my stomach is better without hearing the game as well. Right now the Cards have blown their tie and the Dead Sox are ahead 9-7 again. If I was in viewing and good hearing distance, I would need a Pepto Bismol smoothie to make it through the rest of the night. So, I am escaping by retreating to our home office and trying to not listen too closely to the game playing in the other room.
Quote For Today:

Jonathan Edwards Speaks:

"Grace is but Glory begun, and Glory is but Grace perfected."

Jasper Speaks:

God's grace never ceases to amaze me. I look at my own life and how little grace I can show sometimes. The things that are offenses against me as so small in comparison to the things I have hurt God by doing or not doing. I have thought a lot about grace being getting what we don't deserve as well as not getting what we do. I have benefited in both areas. Still, I am nowhere near at a place where I can understand God's incredible grace in my own life. I know I will never be able to fully grasp it. However, I am so deeply appreciative of His love and the grace He gives in every situation n my life.
Useless Fact For October 23

The Fact Speaks:

Minus 40 degrees Celsius is exactly minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the only temperature for which the readings on both scales are equal.

Jasper Speaks:

Any way you look at it, that is just down right COLD!
When Adults Are Annoying: Word Of Life Superbowl 2004

Jasper Speaks:

So, Friday night was the Word of Life Superbowl. For those of you who are not familliar with this event, it is an all night party of sorts. It starts with attending a hockey game. After the game there are about two hours of games and giveaways along with a 15 minute gospel presentation. Then youth groups spend half the night bowling or roller skating and the other half in an open gym with extreme games and basketball, soccer, volleyball and video games. This is an event our church has been involved in attending for thirty years or so.

Our church doesn't own it's own transportation so it is a logistical challenge to get people to donate vans for us. It is also not a lot of fun to organize drivers and where kids will ride for the night. But I have accepted it as a once a year event that is successful in meeting the purpose of fellowship. It is genrally one of the highest attended events we do all year.

So, last night was the event for 2004. I have some observations I would like to share. I am always a little bored during the hockey game. I have mild A.D.D and watching the little puck is a bit of a challenge when there are all the signs to read in the stadium. Anyway, the Portland Pirates won in sudden death overtime so I guess that is cool. Then the time for the giveaways began.

This was a frustrating time for me. As I sat amongst the attendees, I was amazed at the number of adults who were intent on getting the giveaways for themselves. A fifty-ish year old man pushed one of my 15 year old girls out of the way to grab a ball thrown into the crowd. Another guy about my age fell into another girl in my group about five times diving for stuff. Maybe I am old school but I thought the giveaways were for the kids not us.

The organization of this event is a frustation for me as well. They just drag stuff out a lot and no one ever really seems to know what is going on. Last night each vehicle was informed as we entered the attached parking garage that it would close at midnight and the last car had to be out by 12:45 or it would be locked in for the night. So having about ten vehicles full of kids, I felt it was important to keep my eye on the clock. We were told that our group would be eating at the stadium other than our first activity stop (which is not how it usually works). The giveawy time did not end until about 11:50. When we went to the room where the pizza was being served, the food was not out and ready and there were no staffers around. After about another 15 minutes or so, the pizza was put out and the event director pulled in two of my leaders to serve drinks. With the closing of the parking lot looming, our kids grabbed their pizza and inhaled it and we took off to the bowling alley.

When we arrived, the place was packed. It was smoky and there were several inibriated people inside. We were told by the staff of the bowling alley that we would not be allowed in until they closed at 1AM and they had time to cash everyone inside out and vaccuum out the smoke. Now while I was happy they were going to vaccuum out the place, I could not understand why Word of Life would send us to a place where the lanes didn't close to the general public until 1:00AM. There were about five churches and 200 students waiting out in the 30 degree weather to go inside. We were there about 45 minutes before they let us in.

Once in we did have a great time. I bowled with a couple of students and hit an all time high of 85. I am thinking of turning pro. We usually go "candle pin" bowling. It is a style that is unique to the New England area. You get three small balls and the pins are tall and thin like a candlestick. Last night was the first time we bowled with full size balls and pins. It was the first time a lot of our students had ever bowled like the rest of the world. We really did have a good time.

The open gym was fun for the kids. I got some fun pictures of them on extreme games. Also, my students and volunteers did an old guy/young guy basketball game and it was fun to see my 30-50 year old leaders put the smack down on some mouthy teens! LOL!

In the end, I had a great, fun van of guys and had a pretty good time. I had to wait for the always can be counted on late parent at the church for about 45 minutes. I stayed a bit longer talking to my friend Bob. So I didn't get home until after 7:00 and just crashed. This is an event I am glad only comes once a year!

Friday, October 22, 2004

A Review of Max Q by Andy Stanley and Stuart Hall

Jasper Speaks:

Okay, let me start off by saying The Seven Checkpoints is one of the best books I have ever read about youth ministry. I used the concepts and ideas all the time. I read that book in about three days and gleaned so much from it. So, I was very excited to start reading Max Q. At first, because of a mishap with a not so bright phone operator at Harvest, I received the Student Journal in the mail. I leafed through it but didn't take a lot of time with it. Then finally my leader's hardback copy arrived from Amazon.

The concept of the book is that our students are at critical mass everyday in their world. They are under huge pressure all the time. We need to prepare them for the world. We need to help them understand how they can be people of influence to the world around them. The book speaks of how our students can be the light in the dark world of their schools and work places.

I agree completely with the theory of this book. I believe that our youth ministries need to be preparing our students for the opportunity to affect the real world. I think one of the hardest parts of being a Youth Pastor at my current church is that we have such a large home schooled group of teens (51% of our total group are home schooled) that they just don't know any non-Christians. I have heard that come from them every time we speak about evangelism. That concept makes me sad. It is as though the parents in our congregation, in an effort to shield their children from evil, have removed them as influencers in the world. This book encourages wisely handled friendships with non-Christians. It presupposes that if we have prepared our students for the "real world" then they can become influences on their non-believing peers.

There is caution given by the authors that students need to be careful to be sure they are always doing the influencing. It also encourages us as leaders to remind students of grace if they fail. I think Stanley and Hall are right on in their assessment of the need for Christian students to be making a lasting impact on the spiritual life of their friends.

Where I think the book is weak is in the area of how that works out practically. I think that time and time again they go back to the point that students should be doing this without offering situations where they can actually be living out this concept. It gives some hows but I think in all it had to say, the book of about 225 pages was way too long. I found it very repetitive. Again, I agree with the concepts but felt like they offered me a challenge without helping me to see how to obtain the goal.

I have discussed the concepts of the book with my Senior High Guys Small Group and we agree the need is there. I have encouraged them to be on their toes and remember they are always representing Christ. The book was a great reminder of that concept. I just wish it would have spent less time on proving the need for such relationships and more time on how I can help my students live that life out in a practical way.


Jasper Speaks:

So, everyone seems to be thinking and talking about the Dead Sox and their amazing rise to the World Series. I, however, am much more happy that the Cardinals have made it back to the Big Dance! The sad part is I have to keep a low profile here in New England. The New England fans are mean spirited and pretty big jerks. That includes most of the Christian fans I know.

So, I have decided that my stock answer to people when they try and talk trash (and I say when NOT if) will be, "Wow, I am so excited for you that the Red Sox made it to the World Series". So far that has stumped these trash talkers and they are stumped because I will not argue with them. I am very convinced that these people are incapable of enjoying the game of baseball without being evil, so my kindness throws them off and they kind of make that confused sound the Scooby Doo makes when he doesn't understand something. I started a thread on the Youth Specialties Forums when the ALCS started. It only proves that Boston fans are completely clueless in their annoyance. You can check out the thread by clicking here.

The best part of this is that I will be in St. Louis whenever the deciding game happens. We leave on Wednesday (Game 4 day) and return on Monday after the whole series is over. I don't even want to go to church on Sunday because I am going to be bombarded by a lot of mean people. But Monday is my day off and Tuesday I will go into the office for a few minutes or so and then have my small group. Small group should be okay because most of the guys either don't care about baseball or are Yankees fans and they will be on my side.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Reflections On Turning 35

>Jasper Speaks:

So It's here. I turned 35 on Friday. 35. Man I remember when that seemed so old. I don't feel 35. I have all of these images of the show 30 Something from the 80's floating through my head. Am I like that? Those people were OLD. I often kid that 35 is middle aged and now here I am. Anyway, it was a pleasant enough day for me. The day was rather uneventful actually.

My friend George, who works for Mission Raleighis in town for a visit. He had a fun filled day of travel woes on Thursday and spent the night with Kendra and me instead of with our friends Bob and Jen because he arrived in Portland pretty late. So, we woke up to a rainy and dark October 15. We thought we were going to go sight seeing with George but God seemed to have other plans. We picked him up about 10:30 on Thursday night and drove home. We said, "This is Maine in the dark". Then on Friday it was pretty much, "This is Maine in the rain." We stopped by Target to say "happy birthday" to one of our students who shares my special day. While there we met up with our dear friend Jess (who happens to have a hankerin' to get to know George better) and had lunch together. Then we ended up driving around Portland in the dark AND rain just to bore George a little bit more before dinner.

Dinner was probably the highlight of the day. We met some friends and had a nice little Mexican meal. We had invited Joni and Hannah, two of our recent high school graduates who had served with George in Mission Raleigh last summer. Now that they are working and going to school we don't get to see them much so I enjoyed getting up to date on their lives as well as sharing old youth group memories. It was a lot of fun. I also got presents which is never a bad thing either!

Then we came home and I called my parents and sister. It made me a lot lonesome for home. I have not seen my family in almost a year and I long to be with them. Next year in Jerusalem. I pray that we will al be together for my 36th birthday.

In all I don't feel any different other than I woke up kind of stiff this morning. I know I am older and I pray I am wiser. So much has happened in my life since my last birthday. I look back on this year and see some battles won and some battles lost and pray that I have learned from each of those. I'm a little balder, have some more wrinkles and seem to get sleepy a little bit earlier. However, I am blessed with a beautiful YOUNG wife and family and friends who really love me. Even if I am middle aged, I am a blessed man.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Quote For Today

Helen Keller Speaks: (Sort of)

"Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the successes that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to obtain something beautiful is ever lost."

Jasper Speaks:
>The joy is in the journey!
Useless Fact For Tuesday October 12

>The Fact Speaks:

Two out of three adults in the United States have hemorrhoids.

Jasper Speaks:

Monday, October 11, 2004

Things I Wish I Could Forget

Jasper Speaks:

So to celebrate Columbus day, my best bud in Maine, Nate and I went to go see a matinee showing of "The Forgotten". The previews made this look interesting and Anthony Edwards of ER was a co-star so that piqued my interest.

We should have heeded the bad movie omens as they came. We arrived at Smitty's Cinema (formally Chunky's) and sat down. Smitty's is a cool dinner movie theater so we ordered two low-carb lunches as we are both trying to South Beach it these days. Our meals arrived only a minute or so before the previews began. The first of those was the Ben Affleck Christmas movie that also looks good in the previews. The next two were interesting but I thought odd choices to be shown before "The Forgotten" because they were both for upcoming animated movies. One was about robots and the others about funny penguins in the Zoo. So then the familiar Dreamworks logo comes on and we see the boy fishing from the moon and I sit back to get comfortable. The next thing I know, there is an animated worm on the fishing hook and boom --- were under the sea!

Suddenly I realize we are watching the beginning of "A Shark's Tale". I look over at Nate and ask, "Are we in the right theater"? He bounces up and rushes out the door. He returns and says, "It says the Forgotten outside." Perplexed, I stopped eating my ribs and started wondering if I had been somehow been drawn into the wrong theater by Jefferey Katzenberg and the other Dreamworks owners so A Shark Tale would stay number 1. The people in front of us turn around and say, "Isn't this supposed to be the Forgotten?". I am very confused by this time. Suddenly the film stops and we wait about 10 minutes and a waitress comes in and says, "Sorry we put in the wrong film". I just began to feel very sorry for the parents of the 8 year olds who were all set for cartoon fishes and got Julianne Moore on a swing instead.

Anyway, I thought, "This isn't all bad. I can eat my ribs in the light at least!" (I am currently on a positive kick). Anyway I finished my meal and we begin to see the projectionist working frantically to get the movie going. The lights dim and MORE PREVIEWS. More appropriate ones though I don't remember them now --- I have forgotten (Snort! Snort! -- I crack myself up).

Anyway, the music swells and we see that finally, the correct movie is in place. We see a sweeping scene of Central Park and the camera coming in from above on Jullianne Morre on a swing when --- Crack! POP! WRRRRGRRR! The film breaks! Okay, so how many signs do I need to see before thinking that maybe I should have rented the movie 1492 and made popcorn for Nate instead? I am beginning to think that the ghost of Christopher Columbus iss haunting the theater and wanting us to celebrate our country's discovery in a more regal fashion.

However, dead Mr. Columbus did not win. After about another 10 minutes (45 minutes after the showtime) the movie began again. About thirty minutes later, I found myself wondering how A Shark Tale was coming along. This was a really bad movie. I had read in reviews that the movie had the most shocking twist since The Sixth Sense. I must have missed that part. I had the whole thing figured out pretty much all along. Basically, it was a run of the mill suspense flick. Actually I am pretty certain I saw this story once on the X-Files but can't confirm that.

All in all it was a nice day to spend with my good friend. It was something to get my mind off the fact that there is an elder's meeting tonight I don't want to go to. Maybe I can say aliens abducted me and I can get out of it ... hmmmm ....
Quote For Today:

A.W. Tozer Speaks:

"God did not write a book and send it by messenger to be read at a distance by unaided minds. He spoke a Book and lives in His spoken words, constantly speaking His words and causing the power of them to persist across the years".
Jasper Speaks:
God's Word is a live and active. He proves his omniscience and omnipresence every time I read His Word. The power of Scripture meets me that day and that time, exactly where I am at that precise moment. I am amazed at how God's breath flows through me everytime I read His Word.
Useless Fact For October 11

The Fact Speaks:

The word "queue" is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.

Jasper Speaks:

For my Metrotix buddies, I think learned this word when I first had to check the calls in queue in the phone room. I actually use it often in everyday conversation now. I don't often worry about how to spell it though. This is most certainly a useless fact.
Back Again

Jasper Speaks:

Sorry I have been absent again! There is just so much cool stuff going on in my life right now and I am so busy! I am so happy that the Cardinals won tonight! I am SICK of hearing about the Red Sox and the Yankees. Oh how I won't miss that when I leave this place!
We are really praying and seeking God's will on some MAJOR things in our lives right now. If you want deatails e-mail me. But I would ask that you pray that God will open doors and close them so we will know exactly what he wants for us. Life can be very exciting at times!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Quote For Today

The Simpsons Speak:

Homer: "I want to tell you about the most wonderful place in the world: Doggie heaven. In doggie heaven, there are mountains of bones, and you can't turn around without sniffing another dog's butt!"
Bart: "Is there a doggie hell?"
Homer: "Well...Of course, there couldn't be a heaven if there weren't a hell."
Bart: "Who's in there?"
Homer: "Oh, uh... Hitler's dog... and that dog Nixon had, what's his name, um, Chester..."
Lisa: "Checkers."
Homer: "Yeah! One of the Lassies is in there, too. The mean one! The one that mauled Timmy!"
>Jasper Speaks:

Just a little fun because the QOT is always so serious. Gotta' love Homer!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Quote For Today

Martha Washington Speaks:

"The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our disposition and not our circumstances."

Jasper Speaks:

That is so true. My parents have had so little all their lives but are among the happiest people I know. Life is what you make it. As Paul says, we need to find contentment in all things.
Useless Fact For October 1

The Fact Speaks:

Each red blood cell lives an average of 4 months and travels between the lungs and other tissues 75,000 times before returning to the bone marrow to die.

Jasper Speaks:

It is so sad when my red blood cells die. :(

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Quote For Today

D.L. Moody Speaks:

"The preaching that this world needs most is the sermons in shoes that are walking with Jesus Christ."
Useless Fact For September 30

The Fact Speaks:

The taboo against whistling backstage comes from the pre-electricity era when a whistle was the signal for the curtains and the scenery to drop. An unexpected whistle could cause an unexpected scene change.

Jasper Speaks:

Now I wonder where the problem with saying Macbeth started!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Quote For Today

C.S. Lewis Speaks:

"Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing yet had been done."

Jasper Speaks:

A good reminder to us that we need to start everyday with time with God.
Useless Fact For Septemebr 29

The Fact Speaks:

If you stacked one million $1 dollar bills, the pile of money would weigh 2,040.8 pounds. If you used $100 dollar bills, the stack would weigh only 20.4 pounds.

Jasper Speaks:
Another one to chuck up to the" how does that work?" file.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Quote For Today

Canon Frederic Donaldson Speaks:

The 7 Modern Sins:

*Politics without principles
*Pleasures without conscience
*Wealth without work
*Knowledge without character
*Industry without morality
*Science without humanity
*Worship without sacrifice.

Jasper Speaks:

That is deep. I was pretty convicted when I read worship without sacrifice. How often do we worship and just do it from habit? Hmmm ... pretty good QOT stuff there.
Useless Fact For September 28

The Fact Speaks:

What are teeth made of?

Teeth have to be very hard to withstand all the chewing and crunching of food. The hard material of the tooth is composed of calcium, phosphorus, and other mineral salts. The material in the majority of the tooth is called dentine. The hard, shiny layer that you brush is called the enamel.
Teeth have two basic parts, a root to anchor the tooth to the jaw and a crown above the gum line. The root is covered with a hard material called cementum. At the center of each tooth is an area with nerves, arteries and veins called the dental pulp.

Jasper Speaks:

I had a root canal today so teeth are on my mind. $1000 just for one tooth to be fixed. It wasn't even a full hour of work. I should have been a dentist.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Quote For Today

John Wesley Speaks:

"The neglect of prayer is a grand hindrance to holiness."

Jasper Speaks:

How often our lives would be better off if we just started off things in prayer. I am learning a lot about defeating sin because of "preemptive praying". If we can learn to pray first, the battles of life will be easier won.

Useless Fact For September 27

The Fact Speaks:

Hair goes gray because pigment cells in the hair base at the roots of the hair stop producing melanin.

It doesn't matter if you are fair-haired or dark-haired you have the same chances of getting gray hair. However, it is more noticeable in darker haired people.

Graying of the hair generally starts at the age of around 30 for males and 35 for females however since the onset of this phenomena varies greatly from person to person, age is not the most accurate indicator.
The graying of hair appears to be genetically determined but the connection isn't at all clear.

So for now, your hair turning gray is just one of those mysteries of science that we have yet to solve. But salt and pepper hair always did look distinguished.

Poliosis is the graying of the hair. It comes from polios, the Greek word for "gray."

Jasper Speaks:

I will turn 35 in just a few weeks. I am not going gray very much. I do find a stray hair here and there. For me my hair isn't so much turning gray as it is turning loose.
Our Trip To Boston In The Fall

Jasper Speaks:

We just got back from a trip to Boston with some of our favorite people in the world. We went with our friends Nate and Ange who live in Waterboro near us, our friend Jessica from Rhode Island, and KTO who is a former youth group kid who is going to school at ENC in Quincy Mass. KTO is a special girl and we are so excited that she can be our friend and not just a student in our ministry now that she is out of the youth group. She calls us mom and dad and I tell you we feel love for her like she was our own.

All in all it was a relaxing little trip. We had dinner together on Friday night and then all went back and shared a couple of hotel rooms. The next morning we had breakfast at IHOP and took the "T" to Quincy Market. We stayed in that area all day. We shopped and went to the IMAX theater.

Jess went back to Rhode Island on Saturday afternoon. KTO was doing childcare for a 40 Days of Purpose meeting on her campus so we dropped her off there. Nate, Ange, Kendra and I went out to dinner at a nice steak house in Saugus Mass. We had a fun filled trip home. GONE! FUDRUCKER'S! FUDRUCKERS! FUDRUCKERS! It was a much needed stress free time away and it was wonderful. It makes me very thankful for such wonderful friends in our life!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

TNT Tonight

Jasper Speaks:

TNT was awesome tonight. It was just an evening where things really clicked. Our regular game guy wasn't there but he had prepared by asking another leader to do games this week. They were silly and somewhat messy but went over very well.

Before things started tonight we worked pretty hard on with the worship team. This was the first night they led without our help at all this year. We have had so many sound issues lately but the sound girl and I figured that out and we could actually hear everyone tonight! The kids just did an awesome job leading. I worshipped so easily. It was the best night I think we may have ever had in worship. Our guitarist took the lead on most of the songs and he did a great job.

The message was the third of our four part series on leadership. We talked about Josiah tonight. The group seemed to be very much with me throughout it all. I even had a kid come up to me afterwards and say that he was very inspired by what God said through me. AWESOME!

I love nights like this when God gives us a little pep talk. He is so awesome and I am so unworthy of all He gives me. Tonight's meeting helped me to realize that a little bit more!