Sunday, October 28, 2007

I'm sure it's just a coincidence

While coaching this fall, there was a kid that I seemed to really connect with. Sometimes his dramatic mood swings really frustrated me but for some reason we made a good connection. I also made a good connection with his family, I had more conversations with them than any other family and even sat with them at a GEHS game. At that game, we talked a bit about church, I gave them my card and told them that coaching was a way I could serve the families of the community. They were also the family that talked about getting our Porn Sunday mailer.
Well, last week I got this email from Melissa Billings:
Hey, I forgot to tell you that my hair lady said hi! I was talking with her the other day (she did my nails before I left for the reunion). I’ve given her flyers before about the church….Well, I asked her what her boys were up to and she said that her son played football again and I asked what school he went to cuz my pastor was a coach and she said no way…is it Coach Miller, my son LOVED him. Anyway….we talked about an hour about church and stuff and it sounds like she really wants to come check TF out sometime. She actually said she wanted to come this week, but at the time I didn’t realize it was the love & logic week. It sounds like her and her boys are really ‘starving’ for a church home and how exciting to have that connection with you as her son’s coach!
So I've been connecting with this unchurched family, Melissa's been doing the same and they even live across the street from the Brush's. I'm sure it's all just a coincidence...

The pothole of debt

I'm currently preaching through a sermon series entitled "avoiding the potholes of life" and today's pothole was debt. It was a powerful service. I really got after it in my preaching, trying to challenge people to a counter-cultural way of living.
At the beginning of the service we had everyone in the congregation write down their non-mortgage debt. We had 65 adults in the sanctuary and their total debt was 1.02 million dollars!!!!! Wow, I can't believe it. I'm not sure whether that's normal for our area or not, but I was blown away by the number.
After the message, we sang a couple response songs. But during the singing I was prompted to follow through on an idea I'd been kicking around the last few weeks leading up to today; to challenge people to cut up their credit cards. But the problem was that I didn't have anything to cut with, so I tracked down the custodian and he lent me a pair of scissors.
I went up and interrupted the band, read Hebrews 12:1-2 about cutting away the sin that entangles and challenged people who were struggling with debt to cut up their credit cards while the band played the next song. Well, the band had to wait while Nate cut up all his credit cards. We then had a few more people come up and cut their cards in half. Dave Ramsey calls it a "plasectimony." Whatever you call it, I know that turning from debt honors God!

We got stood up

I've heard the horror stories of people trying to adopt but naively hoped it wouldn't be that way for us. In the few months we've been trying to adopt we've had two moms seriously interested in us. We had a dinner date with a mom due in a month scheduled for last night. We went to the restaurant and waited a full hour and 15 minutes, hoping we'd gotten 5:00 and 6:00 mixed up. But she never showed and won't return our phone calls. I don't know what to do.
And on the same day, the other mom we've been talking with starting getting cold feet and won't talk with us anymore. I'm really not sure what to do.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why I appreciate Pastor Andy!

With this being the end of pastor appreciation month, I want to get it out there why I appreciate Pastor Andy. As we were talking today, he told me about an article he was reading in a Children's Ministry magazine about the "new" form of teaching. Turns out, Andy's already teaching our kids with this method; getting kids involved in a story. The article talked about not putting on a show but getting kids involved in a story. Andy thinks most churches will be using this method within the next several years. That's just one of the many ways I'm seeing how God knew exactly what he was doing in sending Andy to TF (and in having us wait so long for him).

But more than his ministry effectiveness, I'm thankful for his character. A couple weeks ago Andy told me a story that both blew my mind and gave me an even clearer picture of Andy's character. At Andy's high school in Alabama, they still have separate proms and separate senior trips. The difference - color. Yes, there are white and black proms and white and black senior trips in Andy's alma mater, right now - in 2007! That just blows me away.

Well, during Andy's senior year he decided he was going to tackle this racism head-on. Andy planned the school's first (and only) black and white senior trip. To be honest, I was so shocked by what he was telling me, I forgot to ask how the trip went. But Andy planned the trip and took a lot of heat in process. You can't help but admire a guy who will stand up for what is right, even if it costs him a lot personally.

Andy will continue to learn about pastoring, but character is something that can't be taught. You have it or you don't. I'm glad Andy has it!

Love Wins - Night 4

Friday evening was another great night at the clubs! Erin and Ashley were able to go into The End Zone again but weren't able to talk with any ladies. We were there early because of the Trunk or Treat that night, so there weren't many ladies working yet but they were able to take the bags into the dressing room. Erin thought they could've been allowed into Bonita Flats but she didn't try it and simply left the bags with security again.
But even with not being in that club yet, we're still taking big steps in building relationships with both security and the dancers. People are recognizing us when we come up and are glad to see us! Like I said last month, the love of Jesus is contagious.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Trunk or Treat - Wow!

Tonight was by far the most successful outreach event we've ever done. I'm not sure how many people came tonight, but we had a steady stream of people for over 1 1/2 hours.
All I can really say is that this is why we hired Pastor Andy. I knew in his interview that his creativity and energy would help us connect with the families of our community. We did exactly that tonight. I get so energized after spending a night meeting new people! As one guy (who shall remain nameless) said, "we've got a crap-ton of people here!"
Michelle Corbin pulled kids around the parking lot all night with a hayride, too. The weather was beautiful, it was the kind of fall day I live for.
We had families come because they saw the article about it in the newspaper, others because of the signs we put out, others because they got one of the 1,000 flyers we stuck in doors this week.

But the best moment of the night was when I saw my brother-in-law for the first time since he decided to drop the divorce and begin going to couseling. We had a big hug and he had tears in his eyes. I don't want to sound melodramatic, but it was probably one of the best moments of my life, I'm so glad God has worked this miracle in their lives! I also enjoyed seeing my adorable neices in their Halloween costumes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Love Wins = a movement of God

I don't really know what else to call it but a movement of God. Several months ago God laid this ministry on my wife's heart and we started taking steps to make it happen. The whole idea intimidated us and seemed way too big for us to tackle. There were also some people that thought we were nuts. But we just had the sense that this is what God wanted us to do. It seems that movements of God start when someone steps out in faith and does what they sense God asking them to do.
These last two posts demonstrate some of the great things God is doing; post one and post two. But what is now happening is that God is using this ministry to inspire other churches to do the same thing. Our intern this year, Mike Palmer who is also helping with this ministry, told me his mom is considering starting this ministry at her home church in St. Louis. And this morning I received this email.
I heard from Treasures (Treasures is the ministry lead by Harmony Dust, who mentored us in starting this ministry) that your church is going out to minister to women in the sex industry- A group of women from Christ The Rock Community Church in Wisconsin has been doing that as well for about 3 years now. I would love to hear from someone on your team what they do and what your approach is. Thanks

Wow! We've been doing this for three months and we're already inspiring other churches across the country to do the same! That's a movement of God. I still have no idea what all is going to happen through this ministry, but I'm excited about the ride God is taking us on and the way he's shaping us into people who love like Jesus loved.

Please pray for us as we go back out this Friday evening. Pray for Erin, Jaymie and Ashley as they attempt to enter the two clubs and build relationships with the dancers and the security guards. You can also pray for Mike and me as we stand gaurd outside the clubs, pray that we have loving attitudes toward the other guys entering the clubs.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Does it get any better?

As I'm about to leave for West Lafayette, Indiana to watch my Hawks take on the Boilers, I must ask, does it get any better than Iowa Football? Even in a rough year like this year, is there anything better? Watch this and then let me know - link.
By the way, Dallas Clark is still one of my all-time favorite Hawkeyes. I'll be wearing his #44 in Ross Ade Stadium tomorrow (now the number of All Big 10 candidate Mike Humpal).
Toward the end of my message on Sunday, I could feel my voice giving out. Which was the result of the exhubarent cheers I was letting out while running around the living room of the Billings house (they were out of town and Chris let me 'borrow' his cable).
This will be the 7th Big Ten stadium I've seen the Hawks play in and I'm ready for some football, Hawkeye style (stout defense, worthless offense).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Embrace the failure

Jason and I did squats this morning and I had a pretty good workout until the final set. We were doing sets of 5 reps and he had me put 370 on the rack for the last set, which I thought seemed pretty high, but I tried not to think about it much and just do it.
Well, I got to the bottom part of the movement and dropped the weight, I couldn't do it. Second week in a row I wasn't able to do my final set. But I still thought I was supposed to do it 5 times, so I did 5 reps, though I needed his help at the bottom part (the toughest) part of the lift. Even though he was helping me, I thought I was going to die as I racked the bar, I almost didn't make it up the last time.

I was really frustrated that I couldn't do the weight for the 2nd week in a row. Which is when Jason told me to embrace the failure. The fact that I'm pushing myself to the failure point says something about how hard I'm working. Most people, he said, don't go to the failure point with squats, because it's too difficult. And even with me needing help, I was still getting stronger by doing the lift.

He also encouraged me to keep working on form during the lighter reps. One of my problems is that my form breaks down when I'm doing really heavy weight. The other problem is mental, my brain breaks down and tells me I can't be doing this. But if I keep my form correct during lighter weights, it will be more natural during the heavy reps.

Two major parallels with this whole effort of trying to plant a church. First of all, I need to be doing the right things (character and leadership wise) all the time, even when it's easy, because that will shape me to be able to do the right things even when times are difficult.

Secondly, I need to continue to embrace the failure. This directly applies to our Love and Logic event we're doing this weekend. We did this exact same event last April. While I was thankful for those that were there and glad that some families got some parenting help, in my mind the event was way short of what it could've been (failure is probably too strong of a word, though I sure felt like a failure when only a handful of people came). But I learned from it. We started publicizing the event a week earlier in the newspaper. We're passing out flyers in the neighborhood and I started advertising it earlier within the church, too. There are already more church people coming than last time and we've gotten several RSVP's from people not a part of our church - as a result of both the newspaper add and the flyers in doors.

Failure is good for the soul. It forces us to realize what we did wrong and how we can improve the next time. It also makes a person go one of two ways. Do we throw up our hands and quit or do we strengthen our resolve to keep doing what we know is right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Big Win for Love Wins!

I just got a call from a board member of our sponsoring church in Olathe, Christ Community CON. Their board decided to donate next month's Good Neighbor offering to our Love Wins ministry. I know from my days at CCC that the Good Neighbor offering can raise anywhere from $500 to $2,500.

That is awesome!

I'm glad my body aches

My post below mentions how tired I was (still ache) from walking through neighborhoods for 6 hours yesterday. But as soon as I got home, I already had this message in my inbox.

Hello. This is my RSVP for Saturday and Sunday to see Laura Murphy. I am hoping she can help us with our wild daughter. Thank you very much for making this possible. My children will not be coming with us on Saturday, but will on Sunday.

Yep, it was worth it walking through those neighborhoods.

I've been talking with TFC about doing the same thing together tonight as a church. It's been raining all day but it looks like it's finally let up. I don't know if anyone will show up though and help pass out flyers. When we don't get participation in stuff like this, it makes me question my leadership. Did I not publicize it enough? Have I not thoroughly communicated the importance of doing this? I know that telling stories is how we motivate people and I hope the story of the above email inspires people to hit the street for Jesus!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My body hurts!

I spent 6 hours today walking through my neighborhood of Double Gate and St. John's Trace sticking flyers in doors for our Love and Logic weekend this Saturday and Sunday. It's worth the work if one family comes because of the flyers.
We're planning on passing out flyers as a church together tomorrow night. I hope we have a decent turnout for it. We could pass out the remaining flyers in just an hour or so if we have a good group.
My legs and feet ache!

A Miracle is Happening

After almost a month of my brother-in-law seeming to be so cold and to be relentlessly and heartlessly pursuing a divorce, it seems that a miracle has happened! Last Friday he told my sister-in-law he's ready to reconcile and seek counseling.
If you could've seen how cold he was for so long, you'd know what a miracle this is! One of my sister-in-law's friends said "it's as if his heart has softened." Which is exactly what we've been begging God to do for the last month.
Many of you have been praying. Thank you. I don't know what else to say but to name it a miracle.

A Prophetic Voice

I'm reading an interesting book about the first couple decades of our nation's history entitled Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. The author is looking at several major events that shaped our infant nation. One chapter is entitled "the dinner" and it talks about how James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were able to compromise on the federal government taking on states debts and where the new capital would be located.
But in the middle of that huge months long debate, a Quaker introduced a bill to eliminate slavery. Southern states tried to ignore it at first, but it was eventually signed by Ben Franklin, giving the bill prominence. This chapter is entitled "Silence" and it talks about how the Constitution was (ingeniously) written in an incredibly ambiguous way in which slavery wasn't promoted but wasn't outlawed either. It was this elephant in the room that no one wanted to address. The constitution actually made it a law that the slave trade (without using that actual title) couldn't be outlawed until 20 years from the writing of the Constitution, 1808.
What strikes me is how the Senators from South Carolina and Georgia defamed the character of the Quaker that brought up the issue. They used all the same arguments that we often hear today, "unpatriotic", "moralist," etc.
There was a belief among some northern senators that the wording of the Declaration of Independence combined with the northern states getting rid of slavery meant that slavery was beginning to die a slow death. But as hindsight tells us, that didn't happen. As the population of slaves grew and the southern economy became even more dependent upon slave labor, slavery became more and more entrenched into the American way of life.
So 1790, when this Quaker stood up to slavery, was actually the best possible time to address the issue. It seems like this Quaker was speaking prophetically, with the Spirit's inspiration. It would've been very difficult to eliminate slavery in 1790, but it would've been possible. By 1810, it was no longer possible to eliminate it through legislation. So we argued over it for 70 years until we were ripped apart by Civil War.
Wow, if only we'd listened to the Spirit speaking through a Quaker in 1790...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Great Day to be a Hawkeye!

What a gutty win today by the Hawks! Their 8 game big ten losing streak has been really frustrating (to say the least). We compete with Illinois for recruits, some of our best players are from Illinois, so it makes me nervous to see the Illini ascending while the Hawkeyes descend. But it's nice to knock them back down a knotch. By the way, Ron Zook can obviously recruit but his coaching is pretty braindead.

But the coolest thing about today is that my dad was talked about during the broadcast! It was a seed corn commercial, probably said something like "The Danny Miller farm has gotten 230 bushels per acre with _____ (whatever seedcorn he planted)." We didn't actually hear it, but dad's salesman got his permission for his name to be used during the commercial.

Dad says this might be his best crop ever! Not only is the yield record breaking, but he locked into high prices last winter so he's getting a great price, too. Usually when the yield is high, the price is low, but not this year. Erin said, "it will be a good Christmas." I told her to think longterm, the more mom and dad pay off on the farm, the better our future inheritance! I'm such a loving son...

Porn and Pancakes

Today we hosted our first (hopefully annual) Porn and Pancakes. xxxchurch has put together resources so churches can replicate on a smaller scale what they do on a huge scale. We combined with Lifestream Christian Church. The main point of the breakfast was to talk about the need for accountability and to get guys to sing up for a new group Areon Kelvington is starting. We did have some guys sign up, which is good. Both us and Lifestream had 7 guys there. I'm glad for the 7 guys, but I sure would've liked for a bigger turnout. The pastor of Vineyard Fellowship, Gardner was there, too. He talked about how guys don't want to come to an event like this because they're worried it will look like they have a problem.
Guys, we all have a problem, we're MEN! Maybe we aren't addicts, but we're all tempted and we all need accountability! Guys, get with Areon Kelvington and find out about his group. We need to be living in accountability!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Our Season's Over

Yep, other than turning in equipment next week, the JV's season is over. We lost a tough game on Monday against Eudora. The Cardinals scored on the opening drive without us putting up much of a fight, so I was really worried. But our speedy tailback got us down the field on a scoring drive with only about 5 plays or so. But we dropped the first of 3 fumbled snaps and missed the 2 point conversion.
Our defense stiffened up (thanks to some 8th graders we brought along to counter their huge 8th grade 0-line) and we shut them out the rest of the half. Toward the end of the first half, we were driving down into their redzone, when we fumbled the snap again and Eudora recovered the fumble.
At halftime, our QB was really upset that the center wasn't getting him the ball with the usual zip on the snap. The center told me he didn't know what was wrong, but he was really tired. But since our back-up center has little experience, we stayed with our starter and I told him we needed him to play like his usual self.
The second half started with Eudora taking the 2nd play from scrimmage to the house. I don't know what went wrong, but it seemed like the running back had been stopped at the line but after everyone quit, he outran them down the field. These kinds of goofy things happen a lot in young kids fb games. But we held on the PAT, so we were only down 8 and were still in the game. At halftime, I challenged our kids to leave everything on the field. It was their last half of football and they needed to be giving 100% on every play and leaving the field exhausted.
But disaster struck on the kickoff. A knuckle ball kick took a funny bounce and we couldn't get to it and Eudora recovered the kickoff. After a big play, they had a first-and-goal from the 8. But in the most exciting series of the game, our defense held them on downs. It was an awesome effort and I was screaming my head off. The kids and parents were so pumped!
We ended up having to punt it away, though, so Eudora got the ball back at about the 50. But on the first play of Eudora's drive, we stopped them at the line and as the play was ending a dad next to me said, "Jake took the ball, my boy stripped the ball." I didn't see it, but he was right.
So we had the ball at midfield at the end of the 3rd quarter, down by just a TD. Our boys were playing tough and we had the momentum. But just a couple plays later, we fumbled the center-QB exchange again.
Our boys still didn't give up, though, Eudora eventually had a first and goal but we pushed them back to forever and goal. After we ran them out of bounds on third and really long, it looked like we'd get the ball back with one more shot, but an 8th grade linebacker was called for a late hit out of bounds on that play rather than 4th and goal from the 30, they had it inside the 10 and ended up adding a final touchdown.
This was the hardest I'd taken any loss this year. I was really frustrated. I sat pretty quiet during the bus ride home. Our kids had played hard and deserved to win. If it hadn't been for a "tired" center, we probably would've won. I kept asking our center what was wrong, if he took some medication or stayed up all night, but he couldn't figure out why he was tired. I was disappointed that his being tired cost us a game.

The next day I bought them pop, pizza and brought some cookies my wife made and threw them an end of the year party. While we ate, we watched a DVD of two of our wins put together by a kids' dad. He let me keep the DVD and I enjoyed watching myself go crazy during some big plays.

During the party, our center wanted to take a picture of me to remember me by because he's going to be moving in about a week. He then told me that he thinks the reason he felt so bad on Monday was because he had just found out he'd be moving and it really upset him. That really upsets me, poor kid. I don't know the circumstances, but it seems that parents often make choices that they think are best for them without thinking about how it affects their kids.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Love Wins - Night 3

Our third night at the clubs wasn't quite as dramatic as last time, but Erin, Jaymie and Ashley did get to spend some time talking with the security at both clubs and they were able to drop off all the bags. Their was a different security gaurd at The End Zone, who wouldn't let them in this time. Erin thinks she could've gotten in but didn't want to push it. At Bonita Flats the security gaurds were glad to see them. Which is such a big change from the first time we went. It's been the same guy each night. Last month he joked "are you going to bring me anyting" so this month we brought two movie tickets left over from the first month. Erin got the impression that had she asked "mind if we go in and pass them out for you" she would've been allowed to do it, but she didn't ask. But she plans to take that step next month. Erin says it seems that Bonita Flats is a bit more intense (she got a glimpse inside) and it makes her nervous to go in there but she's growing in courage.

When we first started dropping off the bags, we wondered if the ladies really would get them, but we sure don't question that anymore. Last Thursday I got a call from a 785 number, from a Karen asking if she could drop off a gift basket for the ladies of our church. I figured it was a salesperson wanting us to buy some "women's ministry" stuff or something. So I almost gasped in amazement when she told me she was from Bonita Flats. So the next afternoon she met Erin and me at "the office" (our house) and dropped off a big basket of girly stuff (she said there was nothing in there I'd like) along with a note. When I read this note yesterday morning, the church was really pumped.

"The staff of Bonita Flats would like to thank you for the wonderful gift bags that you have brought to us. - The employees of Bonita Flats" Our church is wanting to love and serve Bonita Flats and now Bonita Flats is loving and serving our church! The love of Jesus is contagious!

Our intern from MNU, Mike Palmer has been helping with this ministry. Of course, as a guy, he doesn't go in the club, he stands guard with me outside the clubs. But here's a cool thing, his mom had been wanting to start a ministry like this at her church in St. Louis, but wasn't sure where to start. She wants to talk with us to see how to start it at her church!

And one final thing, while waiting outside the club, Mike and I saw a minivan with the Christian fish on the back drive into the club. I have no idea who it was but I know that dude needs accountability, he really needs to be at our men's pancake breakfast on Saturday!

We confronted the Elephant

We not only confronted the elephant, but we kicked him out of our church. We really did. I wish we'd gotten a picture, but Philip dressed up in an elephant costume and spent the entire service in the front row. We wanted to create that tension of "there's an elephant in the service."
After Craig Gross' message and after sharing the ways that TF is going to help people kick the elephant out of their own lives, I brought Philip before the congregation and we physically sent him out of the sanctuary.

Now, if we're really going to get the elephant of pornography out of our lives, we must start living with accountability. The first step begins this Saturday morning from 7-9 at the Gardner Senior Citizen's center. map
Guys, BE THERE SATURDAY MORNING!!!! Let's do this, let's honor our wives or future wives, let's honor God and let's get accountable to each other.

Also, you can receive immediate help on the website Click on the "get help" menu option to find the counseling services and other help for overcoming porn.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Porn and Practice

On Wednesday, some of the kids were joking around about porn. I ignore a lot of the crazy stuff they joke around about but this caused me to stop practice for a moment and tell everyone that "porn is sick but sex with your wife is great!" Now, I don't know if I crossed any lines or was too preachy, but I really wanted to take the chance to show them a right view of sex that will fulfill them, not dehumanize them.

I think my comment embarrassed some guys, though and when they were joking about porn again last night after the game one kid announced, "coach says porn is sick but sex with your wife is great." I then told them that our church was having Porn Sunday because it's important to talk about porn. One kid was grossed out by the idea of a "porno church" and then told me about the pictures I could see on another kids' phone (which I politely declined).

But when a parent drove up a kid announced "coach's church is having porno Sunday." "Oh boy" then went through my mind. But the parent responded by saying, "I know, we got the mailer."

I'm convinced that we are following God by having Porn Sunday this weekend.


That was our motto the past week of practice as we prepared to play our new cross-town rival, the brand new Pioneer Ridge Middle School. We said that over and over during practice, before the 1st and 2nd half and after every time out, even when it was obvious we were going to win the game.

Our kids have a bit of a chip on their shoulder; they didn't get to be in the nice new school, some of their teachers left to go to the new school and Pioneer Ridge got more than their fare share of the bigger and faster kids. But as much as we wanted to beat them, my 7th grade JV team was the only one of WMS's four teams to beat Pioneer Ridge. But my kids don't care, all they care about is that they're the "Ridge Bowl" champions!

I was really fired up yesterday. I about hyperventilated when our receiver ran a reverse for about 60 yards down the sideline. I also threw my clipboard and maybe even scared some parents when a short punt bounced off a linebacker and gave PR a new set of downs. I was so FIRED UP!

We shut them down on their initial drive and got the ball at about the 35. We marched right down the field and scored a TD and the 2-point conversion. I told our other coach that we probably just won the game, from what I'd heard about their offense. Turns out I was right, their offense was terrible and we would've only needed one TD as we blanked PR 20-0. The game was so lopsided that I think they only got about 4 first downs and we never even punted.

After that big reverse that got us down to the 10, we tried a fullback trap that lost us 5 yards. We were eventually facing 4th and goal from about the 12 when one of the 8th graders behind me waiting for his upcoming game said "coach, why don't you run a fake reverse." We don't have that in our playbook (we only have about 7 plays) but I knew it would work. So I called a timeout and told the offense we were making up a new play on the fly.

So we ran it, the receiver started running back toward the tailback who faked the handoff while the coaches on the other sideline were yelling "reverse, reverse!" The whole defense keyed on the reverse and our tailback walked into the endzone to put us up 14-0.

During the second half we kept the ball almost the entire 4th quarter, ran some more fakes where the QB kept it and got us a big first down and our final TD. We stopped them on downs, lined up for our "victory formation" (QB taking a knee - and Coach Spencer reminded the team that only the QB takes a knee) and ran out the clock.

Before the game I had planned a victory celebration. After each kid shook hands, they sprinted down to the endzone where they were jumping up and down waiting for everyone to join them. I was the last one there and started moshing with them. Then we yelled "Mustangs!" several times and just whopped it up . As I kept asking on the busride back "who did we just beat?" the PIONEER RIDGE response was defeaning.

Wow, coaching is just as much of a rush as playing.

I could write more, but our final practice of the year starts in a few minutes.

Adoption Hurdles

I met with a counselor yesterday to talk through some of the hurdles I'm facing as we try to decide what to do about the potential adoption. I'll list the big 3 and the counselor's response. And this counselor has an adopted son.

1) Grieving the loss of having a biological child I've known intellectually that this is likely a reality, but other than the first few days I found out, I hadn't really faced it. But the reality of an adoption is causing me to finally face and grieve the loss of having a boy who could grow into a linebacker or a girl with blue eyes as pretty as Erin's. The counselor affirmed these feelings of grief, told me that no matter what people my say, adoption is not like having your own child. Adoption is full of loss. He basically affirmed what I was feeling.

2) If we do get pregnant, can I love both kids the same? I'd like to think I can, but what if we do end up having a biological child? My counselor didn't spend much time on this, "Donnie, you can, I know you can." And he said that when you get the newborn in your arms, the bond is instant.

3) What about medical concerns? There are a few potential health risks with this pregnancy. Both my counselor and our adoption social worker said that if we discover major health problems or potential birth defects, it's okay not to adopt the baby. That not everyone is called to adopt a baby with medical problems and if we're not called to do it it's okay because there are lots of families that are. This is one major difference between adopting and giving birth.
We need to do some more research and Erin is going to go to some doctor appointments. We'll never eliminate all risk but we can still gather some more info.

Please be praying for us.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Confronting the Elephant

It's on like Donkey Kong. This Sunday we're facing the elephant head-on. Please be praying for this Sunday!

If you'd like to see TFC listed with all the other churches also confronting the elephant, click here.
Notice we're listed right above my alma matter, MidAmerica Nazarene University.

Super Servant - Alicia Brush

As I shared with you on Sunday, God has been blessing our obedience in addressing the problem of pornography this Sunday. We sensed God leading us to get the info about Porn Sunday to the community, but I was a bit worried about the cost of it all. But we did it because we knew it was the right thing to do.

Well, to sum it all up - the entire marketing campaign is going to end up costing us about $100! We've had enough donations to conver all the printing, all the mailing and over half the newspaper ad!

One big reason was the work of Alicia Brush. Alicia designed the mailer and the newspaper ad. She also designed the Love and Logic flyers and newspaper ad. Alicia's job is a graphic designer, so she's a pro and you can tell by looking at the stuff she designs.

Thank you Alicia for serving your church and community and donating your expertise to Kingdom work.

My body is killing me

I decided on Monday (the 1st) that October would be my month to get back into running. So far I've run every morning, the last two morning's I've gone with my sister-in-law who is here from Maryland to support my other sister-in-law. When I was running with Megan it was more of a run/walk/run/walk than a pure run. But after last nights' leg workout, I'm glad we didn't run the full 3 miles this morning.

I was feeling great during my squat work-out last night and on the last set, Jason had me go for a new single-rep max. I didn't know what the weight was but I knew as soon as I lifted if off the rack that I was in trouble. I tried to go down, but as soon as my but hit the bench I just sat down completely. I had no strength left and Jason had to lift up up almost all by himself (I never could've done that for him). So I totally bombed it.

I found out later the weight was 365, but I had done 330 for 5 reps last week. My body just isn't used to that high of weight yet. I should get there soon. Jason tells me I can be squatting 4 plates by Christmas. We'll see.

Why God called me to coach

I sat outside the locker room on the curb, waiting for a few parents to pick up some players. As I waited, I talked with one of my JV players. To be honest, this kid is kind of annoying and he puts in minimal effort on the practice field, but it was good to have a conversation with him away from the football environment. In fact, the conversation was heart=breaking.

He was waiting for his grandma to pick him up and he eventually (with some indirect questioning on my part) began to explain why he lives with his grandparents. I'll spare all the sick details, but his parents are those on the "just because you can have sex doesn't mean you're qualified to be a parent" list.

He eventually told me, "I don't think my mom even cares if I exist, she doesn't want me around." He had tears in his eyes and I about started crying myself. Even as I write it now, it still really hurts. Now I see why he doesn't have much motivation on the football field and why he's struggling so much in the classroom. Man, if I could just fix this kids' problems, he hurts so badly.

All I could do was try to reassure him that his mom has made bad choices, that it's not about him, his mom would've made these bad choices no matter who her son was. That the bad choices of his mom are no reflection on his value as a person. But you know what, I'm sure there's no way he believes what I just told him.

Sermon on the Mount

Jesus really was radical and counter-cultural. He said enough stuff that got the establishment mad enough to kill him.

I'm still feeling pretty down emotionally becuase yesterday I saw one of the worst things I've ever seen. Erin's sister and husband have 3 kids and he's just filed for divorce. It hurt so much to see the two of them sitting across the courtroom from each other. The actual distance was about 10 yards but the emotional and legal distance seemed a million miles. I kept thinking of the wedding picture on their dresser.

My brother-in-law was making some legal moves that (to put it midly) didn't seem right to us. The big group of family members starting to get really worked up while sitting in the gallery, eventually the judged told them to be quiet or he'd remove us. I could understand their emotion, I was so mad I wanted to go up and strangle my brother-in-law.

But in the midst of these feelings the thought "sermon on the mount" entered my mind and it wouldn't go away. Jesus was really radical when he told us to "love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you." The normal or socially acceptable way to respond to what was happening was violent anger (and I saw it happening) but the counter-cultural "sermon on the mount" way of responding is with love and compassion. And as "sermon on the mount" continuned in my mind, the hate and anger was replaced with love and compassion. I'm now feeling hurt, rather than anger, for what my brother-in-law is doing. May God get ahold of his heart and change his mind.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sunday's Miracle

In response to this email, I just sent this email out to the church.

Dear Church,

After everyone was gone and the trailer was loaded back up on Sunday, I took a seat on the steps of the stage in the empty cafeteria and just sat there for a few minutes, reflecting with amazement and thanking God for what had just happened. The best way to describe Sunday was miraculous. As great as it was to announce the offering total before all of you on Sunday, more money came in later, bringing Sunday’s total to $5,424.25!!!!

Wow, church….wow.

Praise God for the miracle and thank you for your obedience.

We’ve also brought in $345 for the Porn Sunday mailer. As I shared on Sunday, I was very surprised to find that we have a $900 credit at the post office, which is more than we needed for the postage. The $345 you gave will be almost the exact amount needed to pay for the two newspaper ads. Wow, God provides! I’d also like to inform you of a church-wide prayer meeting this Saturday morning, 8:00, at my house. We’re going to be praying for the next day’s Porn Sunday. Taking such a direct approach to a serious force of evil necessitates some serious prayer. Let’s be in prayer for Porn Sunday. I think that yesterday is a great example of what happens when our church combines prayer and obedience. God bless,

Donnie Miller

I've been almost giddy for the last two days. I'm almost in shock about what God did. My wife asked if maybe my faith was too small and I'll admit that it was too small. But thankfully, God doesn't ask that our faith be complete but that our obedience be complete. I did what God had told me to do not sure of the resuts.

I can't tell you how tempted I was to pull out from the beginning of my message the appeal for obedience that I made to the congregation. And when I stepped out of the sanctuary to get the count from Irene, I had a huge knot in my stomach. But that not quickly turned to tears of joy when I saw the number and was able to announce it to the congregation.

Every once in awhile I need to "man-up" as a leader and also to be reminded that TFC doesn't belong to me but to God.

Inspirational Superman

I've decided that October 1st was a good day to get back into the habit of running, so I slowly jogged 3 miles on Monday. It didn't feel bad, but I knew that the next day would be harder and it was. My muscles were really sore this morning. The older I get, the more pains I feel after I work out. Not only were my legs sore, but my back, neck and arms were sore, too.

So about 2 miles in, I was feeling like crap. But then John Williams' Superman Theme came up on my ipod and I got some energy. Soundsy cheesy, but that music (you can all hear it in your head right now) really got me going.

The next set of songs were by The Killers, not quite as motivational but it got me home (slowly).