Our annual camping trip with Elevate Student Ministry of Calvary Church of Clearwater had its share of challenges with heavy rains, hot muggy conditions, and relentless insects, but this group soldiered on for 3 days and turned each challenge into a new opportunity for fun. We went fishing, skimboarding, toured Ft De Soto, invented a new frisbee game (called "Obstruction"), watched a beautiful sunset on North Beach, enjoyed some great campfire praise & worship, dove into God's Word, engaged in some meaningful fellowship, roasted Smores, and undertook a whole lot of camp work. This group had a high concentration of eager, respectful, and hard working servant-hearted people ready to help with every task. Pastor Justin & Carie Facenda do a phenomenal job of leading and mentoring this great group of high schoolers while bringing their own amazing kids on each trip. We dearly love them and always look forward to our next event with them. They all lived up to their name - "Elevate" - by living above and beyond average standards! Glory to God!!
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
From million dollar rental vacation home to $200 tent in 24 hrs... I'm happy wherever I go =). Excited to kick off our annual camping retreat with Elevate Student Ministry of Calvary Church of Clearwater!!
Thursday, May 24, 2018
I really miscalculated this challenge. I thought it would be knocked out in a few days. 3 weeks later and it's almost complete, BUT I leave for a family vacation tmw followed by a youth retreat as soon as I get back... so it will be another week before I actually move in. So close, yet so far away! ;)
Thursday, May 17, 2018
The essence of life is a fight for ongoing true freedom. To fight to gain it, sustain it, maintain it, or in many instances in life - to regain the freedom you've surrendered or lost. The enemy relentlessly schemes on how to lure you into recklessly using your freedom to make choices that enslave you. To have you underestimate the addictive qualities of sin and to overestimate your ability to resist the temptation to sin (Hint: You don't resist temptation. You run from it!). Like a fish chasing fake bait, the enemy wants to hook you. To take the large ocean you freely & joyfully enjoyed and reduce your life down to being hooked on a line in an isolated area as he reels you in to your suffocated demise. You can surrender and become tomorrows chum OR you can come to your senses and go all in to fight to retake your freedom. But to do that you have to realize 3 truths about freedom: (1) Full freedom includes limitations, wise boundaries, & safe guardrails because freedom can be lost and surrendered. Many people think that full freedom means that you can do what you want, when you want and how you want. That's not freedom; that's recklessness! That's what I call "fool freedom" or "freedumb". That's exactly what the enemy wants you to think so you will make naive, foolish, and reckless decisions that will "hook you" to some sort of sin and forfeit your freedom. (2) Freedom isn't a destination. It's a PERSON. One of the most foolish thoughts you can ever buy into is that following God means you're going to be missing out on life and freedom. That only happens when you turn your relationship with God into a legalistic obligation. God didn't create freedom - HE IS FREEDOM. And His passion and heart's desire is for you to live in a constant state of freedom. He created you to be free. He calls you to be free. He died to set you free. If you're not free you are missing out... missing out on the essence of the fullness of life... missing out on the pleasure of not being controlled by your temptations, inclinations, and misguided passions... missing out on a life without regrets, a good conscience, a good night's sleep, an absence of worry, a daily celebration, your full potential, closeness to your Creator. Enslavements rob you of this and so much more. Jesus equals freedom. The closer you get to Him the more freedom you experience! (3) God has delegated your freedom into your hands. You can keep it, you can squander it, you can let it be stolen, and you can even take it back if you've given it up. God supplies you with the framework and capability to have full freedom whenever you're ready. But freedom isn't cheap. It will cost you. Like a vigilant soldier you will have to gain wisdom, discipline, and the fight of a warrior in order to avoid the things that rob you of your freedom - including your own inclinations, temptations, and blind spots (nativity). Freedom takes effort, but it's so worth the fight. Nothing compares to it. If you're lacking freedom don't blame God. You chose your way into captivity. And the great news is that you can choose your way out. Consider what God has to say about freedom in the verses below. Fight tooth and nail for the full freedom God has already gained for you!! FREEDOM!!!!!
STRiVE to THRiVE!
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." - Galatians 5:1
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." - John 8:36
"Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” - John 8:31-32
"Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life." - John 14:6 (Jesus = Truth. Truth = Freedom. Jesus = Freedom)
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." - 2 Corinthians 3:17
(There are a ton more versus about freedom and overcoming enslavement in the Bible. God wants you to be FREE and He has drawn you a road map.)
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Huge thanks to these faithful friends (the young guns!) from First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks for using their Tuesday accountability group time to help me move a ton of heavy items including this 250 lbs elliptical machine down a flight of narrow stairs, into 3 trucks, and 5 miles away to the new place!
Thank you Tom, Todd, Juan, & Austin for being the ATP (Answer To Prayer) that converted able bodies into energized bodies!
And special thanks to Traci, Laurie, Carson, and my Dad for all their help and hard work yesterday! ... it takes a village =)
Teamwork makes the dream work!
"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." - 1 Corinthians 12:27
Saturday, May 12, 2018
WHEN I WAS GROWING UP I ALWAYS WANTED TO GET INTO BOXING... THIS ISN'T EXACTLY WHAT I HAD IN MIND ;)
This will be the LAMEST photo album you'll ever see!! This is my weekly progress report. In-between preparing for our summer camps, tackling my admin responsibilities, and maintaining my daily disciplines I've been "boxing" up everything at the GTD office (where I'm still currently living for a few more days) and taking things to the new place as I get time. Surprisingly I've only been over to the new place one day this past week... lots of other work to tend to. Conveniently, my only other full-time employee is on a 10 day vacation in upstate NY (brilliant planning on her part LOL!! ...but I forgive her hahaha! ... just more fitness training for me haha!). Everything is coming together and all of next week is set aside for moving and "phase one" of initially getting settled-in before starting the next year of renovations. I'm beyond thrilled! It's a big undertaking and I have no illusions or delusions that it's not going to be easy or quick, but I'm ALL IN and ready to roll with whatever crazy unanticipated things pop up along the way. I may not know all the specific answers to the many unexpected problems and issues that lie ahead, but I have a framework, faith, attitude, and resourcefulness that will help navigate me through each uppercut, body shot, and low blow (hey, maybe this is the type of boxing I had in mind after all!). With my heavenly Coach in my corner directing my gameplan I'm looking forward to the God-awesome battles ahead. Praising God for whatever lies ahead. He's not just a resource; He's THE SOURCE!
PS: If you live in the Pinellas County / Tampa Bay area and would like to help out on the "GTD Boxing Team" (boxing, loading, unloading, cleaning, etc) next week Tuesday thru Saturday then let me know. I could really use a few strong "boxers" on Tuesday specifically to help me move the bigger items to the new place. Just comment below, private message me, text me, call me, shoot a flare, or send me a smoke signal... however you want to contact me, let me know if you're able to help us on Tuesday or any other day next week.
PSS: The "GTD Boxing Team" includes free snacks, meals, hydration, and a bottomless cup of lame jokes!!
STRiVE to THRiVE!