Thursday, June 28, 2007

Did The Mayor Cut The Ribbon?

Yup and he had some help!!! The block party that followed included lots of free food and fresh squeezed lemonade. Two lives bands and YES FM Christian radio. The YMCA Fun Bus showed up with crafts and activities for kids. And a good time was had by all.

Did The Mayor Preach My Sermon?

NBC 24 interviewed me before I kicked things off with a welcome and prayer. The giddy Director of Aurora House, Denise Fox, gave us lots of love and gushed about Toledo First. A resident of Aurora House spoke eloquently about the transformation that has occurred in her life because of the opportunities provided her through the Aurora House. The awesome 16 x 4' mural behind her is original artwork painted by our new friend Yusef Lateef [pictured here with the art he created live during the blockparty] and was donated to the Aurora House to mount on a 20' empty wall in their living room. Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said the recent ribbon cutting on Toledo's skyway was exciting, but that this event, in this neighborhood, was inspiring. He joked how startling it must seem to some that a church from the burbs of Sylvania would spend so much time and energy in the city seeking to do good as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did. He preached my sermon for me!!! Thank you Mayor!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Is VBS Infectious?

So after we returned from the day at the museums, the Toledo First woman's ministry team showed up in force with all their lady tools to pamper the residents of Aurora House with manicures.

Pastor Aly led the children in an outdoor Vacation Bible School. While the kids sang and learned the story of Joseph in the Bible, their mothers worked on some of their own art making picture frames to remind them that God loves them and their kids like crazy!!!

What's A Docent?

The Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art [click the pic for more info] was recently named "Best Museum" in Travel + Leisure's 2007 Design Awards. Maybe that's why nearly 10,000 visitors from around the world marvel as much at the building as the world-renowned glass collection and active glassmaking studio space inside. I saw one piece inscribed in Greek dating from Jesus’ day!!! [Which I thought was even cooler than the amazing glass blowing demonstration]

Having broken nothing [though there were some close calls], we marched across Monroe Street to the Toledo Museum of Art [click the pic for more info] where we saw more than 30,000 works of art in more than 35 galleries from some guy with a girl's name called Monet and his friends Picasso, Rembrandt, and van Gogh. Seriously. TMA was AWESOME!!! And to think some of these ladies who have lived their entire lives in Toledo have never stepped foot inside!!!

When the docents finally chased us out of there [just kidding], our new friend Bob Yano picked us up in his Buckeye Bus and free of charge took us back to Aurora House. Which even if you you're a Wolverine fan, you gotta say, was good of him. That's why we love Yoga Jenn and Buckeye Bob. Thanks for the ride Bob!!! You rock!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Yoga-tta Be Kidding Me Right?

Nope. Pastor Nathan found a Christian yoga instructor a.k.a "Yoga Jenn." She teaches Yoga Thursday mornings outdoors at the beauuutiful Toledo Botanical Garden [Seriously. Parts of Toledo ARE beauuutiful!!!]

So after working hard installing some God Sod, the residents of Aurora House joined Yoga Jenn in a circle on another section of it.

Completing the most relaxing part of Day 2 of our Mission Trip to Toledo. Click any of the pics above for more info on why we love Yoga Jenn!!!

What's God Sod?

God Sod is what we're calling the grass 30 volunteers from inside and outside Toledo First installed on Day 2 of our Mission Trip to Toledo.
The money to purchase the grass was provided by Toledo First and Adventists across Ohio who gave a special offering collected during Camp Meeting on June 16, 2007.

We thought it would take FOREVER, but it actually took longer for the sod to arrive than it did for us to install it [our small army was there at 8:00 am, but had to wait for the semi to arrive until 10:30 am].

Yes, hydroseed would have been $1,000 cheaper. But it would've robbed Joshua and bunch of other people of the unforgettable opportunity to serve people with no strings attached.
You think that's worth it?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Does Money Grow On Trees?

No, but your pastor’s last name is FORTUNE so you’ll have to forgive me for thinking it does!!! Seriously, I do know money doesn’t grow on trees. But what I also know is Jesus died on one [Acts 10:39]. For just one [Luke 15:7]. Which got me thinking about Day 1 of our Mission Trip to Toledo.

Total guests: 538
Ages 2-6: 148
Ages 7-12: 115
Teens: 75
Adults: 200
And more than one had a special request for us: Bring a van to pick up all the kids and their parents in their neighborhood so they can come to our church on Saturdays. Can you guess what’s on my wishlist?

Special thanks to Steve and Kendra for crunching our stats!!!

Does God Love People Like Crazy?

North Superior Street between Lagrange and Elm streets was closed for about five hours on Sunday January 24 for the first day of our four day Mission Trip to Toledo.

During our epic Jesus party, we served 538 registered guests from the community over 700 hot dogs, 560 fresh squeezed lemonades, and 400 sno cones. We had live music. A tank to dunk Pastor Nathan and me [Pastor Aly was too busy doing face painting...or so she said!!!] Five giant inflatables. And lots of opportunities in between songs to remind those present that God loves them like crazy!!!

The Toledo Blade was there with a photographer and a journalist who interviewed me. Click here or the picture above to read the entire article and to find out what the reaction was to one church that left the building.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How Do I Get To Aurora House?

Some of you need directions from Toledo First to Aurora House where our Mission Trip to Toledo is taking place JUNE 24 - 27, 2007.

475 East
75 North
280 South
Exit 11 off 280
25 South [Greenbelt Parkway]
Left on Bush
Go 6 blocks
Right on Superior
Go 4 blocks
Your destination is: 1035 N Superior Street, Toledo OH, 43604. Click on the map to make it larger.

You're welcome every day but especially on Sunday JUNE 24 @ 11:30 am and Wednesday JUNE 27 @ 3:00 pm. The God sod will be installed on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. Let me know if you're interested in helping Jesse Lucio and his crew.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Is It Waterproof?

That's what Josh and Lydia asked me a hundred times when we got to Camp Meeting. [Which is something that happens in our church tribe once every year. Adventists from all over Ohio gather in Mount Vernon, Ohio on the campus of Mount Vernon Academy -- a private Christian boarding school open to anyone -- for a week of literal "camping" and "meeting."] It's spiritually encouraging. And usually lots of fun.

This year, the kids and I went down on a WED and stayed through SUN. They went to their meetings. Roasted smores. And came happily screaming down the hill with a herd of other kids at the end of the day. I talked about prayer in the Youth Dept and happily dropped them off at the beginning of mine!!!

We rendezvoused in the cafeteria. And stayed in a blue tent we rented with beds on a cement slab floor on a hill overlooking the air conditioned gymnasium. In previous years, we had camped out in a tent but were chased into the dormitories by severe thunderstorms. Lydia's pillow that year was literally floating out the zipper door on top of 2 inches of water!!!

Which is why they wanted to know for sure that this year this large blue commercial tent provided for us by those more knowledgeable than I, was waterproof. I told them it is. But to be honest, I have no idea!!! It was sunny and warm all week!!! Maybe we'll find out for sure next year!!!

Did You Get Hugged?

So last Sabbath we gave away over 500 hugs to the folks leaving the main auditorium during Camp Meeting [See "Is It Waterproof?" post for how I explained Camp Meeting to Joshua and Lydia].

We were going to do this Ordinary Outreach to demonstrate to everyone there that God loves them like crazy no matter what.

But we were especially happy huggers that day because in response to our request to financially help us with our Mission Trip to Toledo coming up next week, they collected and gave us $2,100!!! Now THAT will buy some serious God sod for our Aurora House Pocket Park!!! Thank you Ohio Adventists!!! This HUG's for you!!!

Click any of the graphics for more more info or to join Pastor Nathan's HugOhio online forum and outreach. If you ask, he'll probably even send you or your church group his PDF/JPEG logo, signs, and stickers for free!!!

What's A Mudhen?

The official name is the American Coot, but it's commonly called the "mudhen." This water bird looks like a cross between a duck and a chicken. Weak flyers, coots require a take-off run, on land or water, to get airborne and prefer to land in water. Usually gregarious, coots frequently live in parks and on golf courses, as well as sumps and natural ponds, where they feed on aquatic vegetation.

If you want to see a mudhen in person, visit Magee Marsh, which is located about 35 minutes east of Toledo, in mid to late April where you will see hundreds of these birds. Or like Josh and me, you could go to downtown Toledo to Fifth Third Field and see the baseball variety. Benefits of watching the baseball Mudhens include lots of snacks and foam finger souvenirs [Thanks Shawn and Mindy!!!], great seats [Thanks Dan!!!] and a playground just beyond centerfield. Go Mudhens!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Did Jesus Party?

I believe He did. In fact, it was one of His most successful evangelistic strategies. Matthew 9:9-12 [MSG] says, "9Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, 'Come along with me.' Matthew stood up and followed him.

10-11Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. 'What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?'

12-13Jesus, overhearing, shot back, 'Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: I'm after mercy, not religion. I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.'"

So we will be kicking off our Mission Trip to Toledo 2007 with a FULL-SCALE CARNIVAL in the parking lot of Aurora House on Sunday June 24. The next two days will consist of yoga, art classes, manicures, Bible stories, and a field trip to the Toledo Museum Of Art. On Wednesday June 27, our last day, there will be a BLOCK PARTY with free food and music celebrating the completion of the POCKET PARK.

What's A Pocket Park?

The“pocket park”, as we’re calling it, is currently an empty dirt lot next to and owned by Aurora House. We are going to be grading this area and putting fresh sod down. Right now the children have some play equipment on a slab of cement beside the house, and this is their play area. We want grass under their feet as they run and play in this new pocket park we are creating for them. We have Jesse Luccio and his landscaping crew comin’ in to lay the sod which is SWEET!

On the final day of our Mission Trip to Toledo, local Muslim artist, Yusef Lateef, will be painting an 18 foot MURAL for the backdrop to the stage and at 3:00 PM Mayor Finkbeiner will be there to cut the ribbon on this new play area in what we expect to be a live news and media event.

Wanna Go On A Mission Trip To Toledo?

Pastor Nathan and I would love to have you help us bring the "flava of the Savia" to the inner city.

On June 24-27, 2007 we will be throwing a FOUR DAY PARTY for the women and children of AURORA HOUSE and their community [Aurora House is a transitional home for women and children that provides not only housing and food, but education and assistance re-entering these families back into society].

We need friendly volunteers and contagious Christians to mingle with the crowd [NO preaching or pamphlets please!!!], serve hot dogs and lemonade, and cheer for the Mayor [ha ha, some of you didn't vote for him did you?!!] We could also use some help with security [you don’t have to be a big husky dude either].

This is an ordinary outreach of the Toledo First Seventh-day Adventist Church and is offered as a gift to the community with no strings attached. Click any of the pictures above for the complete four day breakdown of the events taking place during our Mission Trip to Toledo 2007.

William Shakespeare once reasoned, "Love sought is good, but given unsought is better." Wanna go on a Mission Trip to Toledo?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Which One Was And Wasn't In The Bible?

Brandon, Cathy, Dave, David, Mehrad, Phill, Timothy, Sheila, and Stacy all got all six answers correct to last week’s blog question: Which One Is And Isn’t In The Bible? Way to go!!!

So I put their names in my Baltimore Orioles cap and Jackie drew out the winner of the $25 Best Buy gift card I won on Kumar's blog May 4.

And the winner is: PHILL. Congratulations!!! I'll forward your snail mail address to Kumar and harass him until he sends the gift card directly to you. Here, as Brandon so perfectly posted, are the correct answers and sources for your reading enjoyment:

1. C. Book of Mormon (Mormon 8:37). For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.

2. D. Quran (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:177) It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteousness is this that one should...give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the ophans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for (the emancipation of) the captives, and keep up prayer.

3. A. Bible (James 1:27) Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

4. E. Tipitaka (Buddhist)(Samyutta Nikaya 3.6 - Appaka Sutta Few) Few are those people in the world who, when acquiring lavish wealth, don't become intoxicated and heedless, don't become greedy for sensual pleasures, and don't mistreat other beings.

5. B. Bhavagad-gita {Hindu}(Bhavagad-gita 10.10) To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.

6. F. NOT IN ANY OF THE TEXTS God helps those who help themselves

What Will Joshua Be?

Wednesday May 23, 2007
Joshua's Writing Journal

If I were the teacher I would quit and be a monster truck driver. I could do crazy stunts and cool jumps. It's going to be awesome! And cool.

I love monster trucks. I think monster trucks do sweet jumps and I mean sweet. I just love monster trucks. I would not like to be a teacher. At all.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Because It's Jackie's Birthday, Savvy?

June 5, 2007 ● Toledo, Ohio
So today is my bride's birthday. And we're going out on a date!!!
I'm taking her to Mancy's Italian Grill for dinner. And then we're going to see Pirates 3. She LOVES Orlando Bloom. And Johnny Depp. [In addition to CNN's Anderson Cooper and Idol's Phil Stacey who knows why...] But not nearly as much as I love her and she loves me!!! Maybe that's why Joshua and Lydia say whenever they catch us kissing or holding hands in the car, "They're in love. Ewww..."
Doesn't that just bring a tear to your eye? Talk amongst yourselves. And drop Jackie a note to wish her a happy birthday!!! Here's her email address:

PS--Jackie says she can't believe I posted the photo above because she looks "terrible" in it. Whatever. I've never seen a bad picture of her. But I promised to post a "better" one if she gives it to me so here's one of us taken today before our date.