Thursday, September 27, 2007

Porn Free Forum?

Do you remember me telling you Toledo First had a brand new online forum? I had been encouraging all you web surfing Bible scholars out there to Preach Wit Me by interacting with the passage I’m chewing on ahead of time so I could incorporate some of your God given ideas into my sermons.

Sadly, the porn companies out there gave you a run for your money!!! We received a few more responses from them than you basically taking our forum hostage. You know its serious when the security software our church website runs wouldn’t let the pastor see it!!! Fortunately, there were some cyber Samaritans out there who emailed me that our space was being graffitied so we [and by “we” I mean Shawn] removed the forum and its offensive imagery and started a new one!!! It's password protected and porn free!!! Click the graphic above to register.

All we ask is you use your real first and last name in your user name [no hiding behind cyber masks] and that you speak truth in love [even if nobody agrees with your version of it].

You do NOT have to be a member of Toledo First to join our online forum, but the same rules about identity and conversation will be applied and monitored by Randy and the F.B.I. [just joking] and by PASTOR D' M.A.N. [Dee; Mike, Aly, Nathan]. The next passage we’d love your input on is: John 4:1-45. So once you register, click on the thread “Preach Wit Me” to post your reply.

For those of you who have no idea what I just said, there will be a How To Use The Forumclass after church in the lobby coming soon. Stay tuned!!!

A Ramadhan Revelry?

A big thank you and WTG!!! to the 50 folks who attended the afternoon “Confessions Of A Bridge Builder” presentation at the University of Toledo Law Center Auditorium last week. We were joined by Toledo's FOX 36 news [did anyone record it that night?] and about 10 of our Muslim brothers and sisters. Who invited us to eat their evening Ramadhan meal with them at their mosque.

After receiving a warm welcome from over 400 Muslims who had fasted all day, together we devoured the evening meal. And because our guest speaker Bryan Gallant previously confessed using quotations from the Quran and the Bible that: 1) Hatred is not a virtue 2) Labels are too easily hijacked 3) God is bigger than we think 4) We argue more about faith than live it and the 5) Sounds of our iPods are drowning out eternity, that evening THEY invited US back so Bryan could give the same presentation he gave to 60 of us to 600 of them in their mosque sometime soon!!!

Did God meet us at the mosque?!! You better believe it!!! Click either graphic for more info.

Does God Grow Tired Of Us?

Never! But it is tempting to think so sometimes! Especially if you've fled from your own country not once but twice and are all alone. Which is what happened to the "Lost Boys" of Sudan. This is no fairy tale. This is a true story that makes me want to partner with some of them in 2008 for Cars 4 Kidz...IN AFRICA!!! What do you think?

Click play above to watch the 2 ½ minute YouTube preview or rent "God Grew Tired Of Us" at any video store. For those of you without high speed internet, here's a summary:

After raising themselves in the desert along with thousands of other parentless "Lost Boys," Sudanese refugees John, Daniel and Panther have found their way to America, where they experience electricity, running water and supermarkets for the first time. Capturing their wonder at things Westerners take for granted, this documentary, an award winner at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, paints an intimate portrait of strangers in a strange land. That need our help.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Can Handbells Help The Homeless?

I believe they can. And so do Bill and Janell. As most of you Toledo First veterans know, they have been leading RingFest for the last 9 years providing some of the highest quality bell choir music and performances around. This year, RingFest2007 promises to be bigger and better than ever!!!

In addition to more bells and choirs and publicity through a unique partnership with Hannah’s Socks [click the graphics for more details], the 11-13 bell choirs coming and each student in the schools they represent have been invited to bring a six pack of white adult socks. These will be collected and given to six year old Hannah during the Friday evening concert who will be present [along with local media] to thank everyone for allowing our hand bells to help the homeless have warm feet and warm hearts this winter.
All our guests will be staying in the boy scout cabins at Camp Miakonda or at the Wolf Creek YMCA or at the Apostolic Church gymnasium just down the road easing the lodging burden on Toledo First members .

We are looking forward to a successful and significant RingFest 2007. Together by bringing lots of socks to RingFest 2007, we can maintain the integrity and character of the Festival while passionately showing the Toledo area—including many of "the least of these" in it—that God loves them like crazy!!!

If you want to help, start bringing adult packs of white socks to church and throwing them into the "Sock Drop" located at the back of the church from SEPT 29 until Friday OCT 26 which is the night of the concert.

Can Pastors Party?

If you attend the SEPT 29 Toledo First Pastor Welcome Party for Nathan and Aly, you'll find out!!! The bash begins @ 6:30 pm with soup and sandwiches and proceeds from there with some devotional thoughts and musical numbers sure to draw your heart closer to Jesus.
After the 3rd intermission [just joking], the fun really begins with Pastor Nathan singing his hot new single “Adventist Land” previously banned at Southern Adventist University [no kidding]. You won’t want to miss the premiere of this soon-to-be classic Toledo First tune!!! And to round out the evening, we’ll be bestowing gifts galore on both Nathan and Aly.

So please, if you haven’t yet, find Donna and give her your gifts, your gags, and your money so she can give it to them that evening. We want to properly convey our deepest appreciation to Nathan and Aly for their willingness to sacrificially serve [we only pay them half a salary each] and give of their time and considerable talents to our church and its community.

It has been my heart’s desire to see a church that’s really a community of people that love each other and the people all around them like crazy. A church that makes praying together a priority trusting that God whom none can fathom is big enough to bless us and grow us faster than any church growth strategy we manufacture. And a church that empowers children to serve and love Jesus from the day they are born to the day they are born again. Long story short: Nathan and Aly are helping us accomplish that. They are vital sources of authenticity and joy and leadership. We need to let them know how much we appreciate them being here now. And hopefully, for years to come.

If you could share this invitation with as many Toledo First members and friends as you know, it would be greatly appreciated. And please, if you have any lame pastor jokes, please forward them to me or put them in my box at church ASAP. Neither Billy Crystal nor Steve Bills was available to emcee this shindig, so the powers that be [Donna, Marion, and Dee] have asked me!!!

Manning For Me?

Last week I drove to Cleveland to hear one of my fave authors, Brennan Manning, give a talk. Though in his 80s now, he still brought it!!! It was a thrill to meet him and have my picture taken with him. As you can see, he was thrilled to meet me too. Staring off into space. Wondering when this stalker talker would leave him alone. Just joking. He was really nice. He even autographed his new book I bought The Importance of Being Foolish: How to Think Like Jesus with the words “In the compassion of Jesus.”
But what I appreciated most about Manning this time is that he reminded me that God actually likes me. Not just loves me. He almost has to love me. Because God is love. But what is so cool to know is that God also actually likes me!!! Just as I am. Flaws and all. And that HE longs to be with ME!!! Way more than I long to be with Him!!! THAT is a wonderful thought to think isn't it? It gives me permission to like myself just as I am. Flaws and all. Do you like yourself? If not, save yourself thousands on therapy and purchase the book Ragamuffin Gospel instead. Read it. And then bask in the glow of God's liking and love. This last pic is of Nathan and I basking from that glow in the French Gothic architecture of one of Cleveland's oldest churches.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Are Tracts Still Tactful?

I’m not sure they ever were!!! Why? Because they require the recipient to immediately accept or reject the premise they contain. Often without sustaining any conversation about the questions they raise. Which is why I really like professionally produced Connection Cards.
I know you can probably make your own much cheaper, but nobody God bought with a price is cheap so we shouldn’t imply otherwise!!!
So cough up the extra 50 cents or whatever and
send them the right message: God loves them like crazy!!!
I get mine from Market Place Printing and 123
Click any of the graphics for more info.

The Lunch Lady?

I blogged earlier about our Vacation Bible School and how I taught the kids some Scripture songs. Dakota Joe [who some say is related to Ohio’s very own Loren Seibold but really isn’t] provided the lyrics. But I made up the tunes. Heavily influenced by Adam Sandler’s Lunch Lady. Who can forget his classic SNL song “Sloppy Joe”?!! Who knew that the Lunch Lady would have such a profound impact in the lives of children learning the Bible?!!

Here now, to frustrate the musically impaired, are the lyrics and chords for five little songs I used. Splice and dice to the glory of God!!! And ask Claire to share her “Big Finish” to these songs!!! She really brings it!!!

John 1:17
D [high] - Grace and truth came through - G - Jesus Christ [Boom!!!] - A - John 1:17. - D

1 John 5:20
D [low] - 1 John 5 verse - A - 20, - D - His Son Jesus - A - Christ, - D - is the true God - A - and eternal - D - life —— ife!!! [Big Finish]

John 8:32
D [high] - Jesus said [Jesus said], you will - G - know the - A - truth [you will - G - know the - A - truth] and the - G - truth [clap clap] will - A - set [clap clap] you - D - free. - G - This is true - A - John 8 verse - D - 32.

John 6:47
G [high] - From John chapter - Em - six, - C - verse - D - forty seven; - G - Jesus said -Em - no [NO!!!] - C - I am not - D - kidding. - G - I tell you the - Em - truth [Tell the truth!!!] - C - he who - D - believes, - G - has everlaa– Em - aa-aa -C- aa–aa-aa–aa–sting - D - life; has everlaa– Em - aa-aa -C- aa–aa-aa–aa–sting - D - life; has everlaa– Em - aa-aa -C- aa–aa-aa–aa–sting - D - life; We - G - do!!!

1 Timothy 2:4
C -God desires [God desires]; G - All people [all people]; C - To be saved [to be saved]; And to - F - come to the - G - knowledge of the - C - truth. - F - 1 Timothy - G - two - C - four.

Mission Trip to Toledo 2008?

Recently we submitted a large financial request to a local financial firm to partner with us for our Mission Trip to Toledo 2008 [big thanks and WTG!!! to Stacy for her help and expertise]. Because they cannot directly support a church, we wrote the proposal on behalf of the Aurora House calling it “Haven of Hope.” Click the graphic for a link to find out what the proposal says. Read on to hear the exciting response we received from it. And keep MTTT2008 in your prayers!!! James 4:2 says "You do not have, because you do not ask God!"

September 14, 2007

On behalf of the BLANK committee, I am pleased to inform you that the charity that you have nominated has been selected as a finalist for next year's event. Our committee will be making final selections at our next meeting on Thursday, October 11th. As a finalist, we have decided that the mission of your charity merits further consideration. In order for our committee to make a final decison, we are asking that you provide us with some additional information. Please send me a brief explanation of what a $10,000 - $20,000 check would mean to the organization. Please be specific as to the purpose of the funding, the type of impact it would mean to the organization and the lives it would touch. While I hope you share our excitement that your charity has been selected as a finalist. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Can Cars Comfort Kidz?

CBS 11 News and The Toledo Blade believes they can. Staff writer Meghan Gilbert joined 217 people and 42 cars at Cars 4 Kidz 2007 to document the day concluding our Summer of Service [S.O.S] 2007. Click here to read the entire article from the Blade. Click any of the pictures for a link to all the others archived on our church website.
Volunteers to Labor on the Day [including my father-in-law Frank and mother-in-law Laure in this pic below] began arriving at 8am placing signs up and down both sides of Sylvania Avenue from Corey to Tallmadge.

Next came the stage set up [always a major pain in the....neck!!!] followed by our manly Fresh Squeezed Lemonade Stand and a couple of grills to cook ye hot dogs.

Trailers started pulling in after 9am with cars rolling down the ramps and Pastor Nathan had Barry’s Bagels waiting for them to eat.

Chordoroy Jacket played 3 hours of oldies including some of my fave Beach Boys songs!!! We raised $1000 in donations throughout the day giving away an iPod shuffle to one lucky 13 year old girl and a Best Buy gift card to another one.

Adding what we raised that day to the $1000 St.Vincent’s Mercy Children’s Hospital already gave us to the $1000 from our church [if you want to help, send a check to Toledo First and mark “Webkinz” on the memo line] triples their original donation providing us with enough funds to purchase enough Webkinz to comfort over 150 kids in crisis battling cancer throughout the winter weeks ahead!!!

From the folks who brought their cars to the folks who came with the band to the three winners of this year’s People Choice Awards, everyone I talked to thoroughly enjoyed themselves, especially enjoyed our shady parking lot, and all checked the box on our response card “Do this again next year” and “Invite me to your next event.” A few guests even managed to track me down over the din of “California Girls” to share with me that they wanted more info about our church which I was more than willing to provide!!!

A special thank you to Chuck Heath and Denny Kajfasz and Greg LaPoint for helping a couple car show newbies like Pastor Nathan and me in the planning of this event. Their insight and expertise made this an extra ordinary outreach. Thank them when you see them!!!

Happy Birthday To Me?

SEPT 6 is my birthday. I turn 43 years old. Just joking. I'm really 34. Here’s how I’m coping. Every year, Jackie bakes/buys me a birthday pie [WAY better than cake!!! Sorry Joann!!!]. Every year, my best friend, Marty in Maryland, takes me to a Washington Redskins football game [He’s got season tix not far from the 40 yard line]. And every year [so far], Jackie re-news my NFL Sunday Ticket satellite football subscription so I can watch or record the rest of the Redskins games like any die hard obsessed crazy person!!!

This year, Jackie also got me tickets to hear Brennan Manning live which I’m really looking forward to. And every year, I’m eternally grateful to Jesus the King of the Universe for giving me a life worth living surrounded by people near and dear to me [like you!!!] who love me even when I’m not the cheerful, optimistic, patient pastor some think I am 24/7. Shocking, I know, but true!!! Thank you in advance for being you. For letting me be me. And for making my 34th year coming up one of the best yet!!!

Little House On The Prayer-ee?

If you’ve attended More About Jesus on Wednesdays nights at 6:30 pm, you know about how Jackie and I’ve been praying for the sale of our house in Canton, Ohio. Packing nearly 1200 square feet into this massive [ha!] brick bungalow [we had more space in our back yard than inside], we loved this little house [Joshua and Lydia cried when they realized we were leaving it behind. I think because they thought it was small enough to pick up and take with us like their Lego].

Long story short: When we bought this little home, a lot prayers got answered as far as location [close enough to Mayfair Junior Academy where Joshua went to school] and neighborhood [packed with friends and families some of whom have already come to visit us here in Toe-lee-dee-oh] and financing [we borrowed and paid back some money from my mom and dad] and features [everything inside and out had been renovated and replaced.] So doesn’t it make sense that a lot of prayers be responsible for its sale?

Of course, Jackie and I have been praying. But seeing as its been 7 months and it hasn’t sold yet [one likely purchase agreement fell through], we were hoping you could pray too!!! Specifically [since it’s always okay to ask God for anything as long as we finish like Jesus did with Not My Will But God’s Will Be Done], we’d like to sell it without a realtor [Sorry Heather!!!]. Will you join us in praying for our Little House On The Prayer-ee? My mom had to remind this pastor that LOTS o’ prayer is a good thing!!!