Friday, May 22, 2009

A Day at the K

Yesterday was a great day to be at The K, other than watching the Royals bullpen give away the game. It was beautiful weather, I was sitting with two of my best friends; Joe Kumor and Michael DeBoef, the best picture in baseball was on the mound and we had free tickets 9 rows from the field.
I was covered in sunscreen but Joe wasn't, so I wonder how his dome is feeling today.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Behind the Scenes

Tonight was our first rehearsal for GCT's production of Bye, Bye, Birdie; it was the read-through. I found out that I have one speaking line and sing baritone in a quartet that backs up the lead in one song. I might be a part of the adult chorus in another song, but I'm not sure. This show's a lot different than The Music Man, it doesn't have the huge chorus numbers. My involvement in this show is a lot different than playing Harold Hill last summer. Being the lead last year allowed me to get to know most of the cast, since Harold interacted with just about everyone. Being in the background this year will give me some relaxed time to hang out with the cast members whom I got to know so well last summer.
My sweet and wise wife challenged me to slow down, look around the room and ask God to show me who I can minister to this summer. I've been praying that God would give me his ears to hear and his eyes to see who is hurting and/ or aware of God working in their lives.
It was obvious why we were in the show last year, the people we were able to serve and minster to. But who is it this year? I've actually got an idea as to who it might be, but I'm waiting for God to create the opportunities.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Salvation on the Strip

Check out this article from Craig Gross of xxxchurch, Salvation on the Strip. The way xxxchurch does ministry has really impacted me and has obviously been a huge impact on how we do our Love Wins ministry. XXXchurch is all about taking Jesus to people who would never step inside a church; being the church in culture rather than asking the culture to come to church. I love how Craig is referred to as a "chaplain to the porn industry" and how he's good friends with a guy who is basically a hall-of-famer in the adult film industry.

I also love how xxxchurch isn't afraid to talk about the junk we struggle with, pornography or any other addiction. They're honest unlike a lot of churches. I've been thinking about how we could minister to people struggling with addiction, so I was intrigued by their new ministry Heart Support.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Peeps

Last night was a great night, it was tryouts for GCT's summer production of Bye, Bye Birdie. The tryouts themselves were pretty intense, a lot of talented people vying for just a few parts. What made the night fun, was having the whole crew of guys from last year's The Music Man all back together again. It was as if we just picked up where we left off last summer; still having that sense of community that comes from all the time and effort we put into last summer's show. We were even able to talk a few guys into auditioning who weren't originally planning on doing so because it wouldn't have been the same without them.

And I gave all the guys something else to rally around. While reading a part, I got a little to carried away and made a finger gesture that, in my mind, meant one thing but the guys watching me took another way and the joke was on. By the end of the night, the entire audience was making that gesture, even the director. At one point, I laughed so hard I almost cried.

It's going to be a great six weeks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Get a Plan

On Sunday, I told my congregation that I was preaching one of the most important messages of the entire year and based upon the feedback I've been getting, that's turning out to be true.

My summary statement that I repeated over and over and over was Until you get a plan for your money, you're going to spend your life wondering where it all went. I sincerely believe that to be true.

I finished the message by playing my Debt Free Scream from The Dave Ramsey Show, which got a round of applause. And Heather Tinker's tips on cutting expenses was great. You could hear the gasps throughout the congregation as she said that her family of 4 only spends $35 a week on groceries.

To listen to the message, click here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dawson's tryout video

Tomorrow starts auditions for GCT's summer musical, Bye, Bye, Birdie. After months of going back and forth, I've decided to audition. But I'm not alone, Dawson decided he wants to audition as well. He can't make it to tryouts, though so he's sending in an audition video. He wants to go for the role of the member of Conrad's fan club sad Conrad's going into the army, to whom Albert sings "Put on a Happy Face."

Here's his audition video

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Real Man

Saturday night, Erin and I spoke at the annual fundraising banquet for LifeCare, the crisis pregnancy center that supported Dawson's birth mom. As much as I didn't want to, several times I did exactly what I knew I'd do while talking, I broke down in tears. Afterwards, a lady came up and told me "it takes a real man to do what you did."

The night was a collection of skits illustrating all the ways in which LifeCare serves those facing a difficult pregnancy. The final skit was about our adoption. It was a little weird to see myself portrayed on stage and "Donnie" even had a small mullet. At the end of this reenactment of Dawson's adoption, Dawson's birth mom, Brianna was introduced to the crowd. Of course, she cried pretty hard while explaining how hard it was/ is but that she knew she made the right choice. Brianna got TWO standing ovations, when she was first introduced and when she was finished talking.

Then the three of us got onstage and shared our story. I did make it through, I just had to stop several times to regain my composure. I HATE showing emotion in public, being that vulnerable is very uncomfortable, but I just couldn't help it. It all started about 15 minutes before we were scheduled to get up and talk, when they put up a picture of an aborted baby with the quote from Dr. Suess, "a person's a person no matter how small." Everyone was quite surprised when we shared how God spoke through Horton the Elephant (Suess' character), telling us to adopt Dawson.

I had been trying to think of the right way to say "thank-you" to LifeCare. I'm so glad we were able to share our story. I have a feeling that our tearful stories moved people to giving more than they'd originally planned.

My little Horton is sleeping in the bouncy-seat setting on top of my desk as I write this. 2 1/2 months into this and I still get teary eyed with joy when thinking about the wonderful gift given by both God and Brianna.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Date Night

Last night was a wonderful night for Erin and me. We cashed in on Becky Benoon's offer to babysit Dawson and went downtown for dinner and First Friday's. I wanted to take Erin to a French restaurant and after some google searching, set up a reservation at a nice place in the Rivermarket district. It was a really nice place and even though I was dressed up by my standards, I was still a bit underdressed. When the waiter cracked some wine joke we didn't understand and then gave us that "cheap-skate" look when we ordered water, we started thinking we were in the wrong place. When we looked at the menu we saw that the prices were higher than the price range indicated on the review from The Pitch. For a few minutes, I was trying to figure out how we could split a meal and maybe an appetizer and still stay in our date budget but it was stressing me out. The combination of prices, that we wanted to enjoy our date, that we were right by the door, that we hadn't ordered anything and that our 10 second interaction with the waiter assured us he wasn't looking forward to waiting on us and Erin's insistence we do it, convinced me to lead the way and just walk out of the restaurant. We grabbed our stuff, walked out the door and booked it to the car. With a HUGE sense of relief and a bit of embarrassment, we peeled out of the parking lot.
15 minutes later, we walked into a place called the Kansas City Cafe at the corner of 16th and Grand because of their sign for 3 Tapas for $5. We both had a 3 course meal that was slightly more than an appetizer at the other place and thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. I'm not exaggerating when I say that meal was probably the best I'd ever had in a KC restaurant. I'm feeling the high that came with stooping to the low of leaving a restraurant that would've drained our wallet. It was embarassing for about 15 seconds but I'm so glad my wife made that suggestion.

We then walked through some art galleries and hung out with a friend who is planting a church in the heart of the downtown art district, Scott Johnson and Riverfront Church. It was really cool to hang out with Scott and hear his passion for the community he's leading. Riverfront is a great example of how "church" takes so many different forms.

We got home about 10:00, exhausted and missing our little boy. Well, since I'm with him all day while she works, Erin was missing him a little more than me. And on top of everything else, we walked into a spotless house thanks to Elizabeth Messamer's gift of housecleaning.

A Change in Communication

For almost a year now, I've felt like my preaching has been stuck in a rut. Not from the perspective of content or even effectiveness. I work hard at studying and delivery and feel that I'm effective as a communicator and I've seen God do some powerful work in people's lives in response to my preaching. But my delivery has been stuck in a rut.
I spend hours meticously (spell check couldn't help with this word) making the transition from writing the sermon to being able to preach it. If you've seen my notes, you know the crazy half-manuscript that I create. It takes WAY too much time to get that thing prepared. And while I don't look at my notes that often, I'm still too tied to my notes.
Breaking out of my rut then, means 1) finding a more efficient way to prepare to deliver the message and 2) being way less dependent upon my notes.
During my study leave, I visited Shane Ash's church and was impressed by how he preached with barely any notes. I figured he must be a super-genius or something but he said he simply follows the book by Andy Stanley, Communicating for a Change. He also told me he finalizes how everything fits together on Sunday morning. I'd like to have a message so "in me" that I don't have to work hard at creating an outline but can simply get up before my congregation and speak from the heart.
And after reading another of Andy Stanley's books, Choosing to Cheat, I realized that if I'm going to give enough time to other aspects of pastoral ministry beyond preaching and still have the time and energy to be a good dad to Dawson, I've got to streamline my sermon prep process.
I'm just finishing this book and am planning on following Andy's Me-We-God-You-We outline on May 10th. I'm going to prep my sermon exactly the way he prescribes knowing that as I get more comfortable with a different process and preaching with WAY less notes, I'll adapt what I've learned to fit my own styles.

I take my responsibility of preaching VERY seriously. Please pray for me as I try to grow as a preacher.