Thursday, October 27, 2011

"More is Caught Than Taught Ministry"

This line was shared with me early when I got into ministry: "More is Caught Than Taught".  For the last couple years I have thought about how true this statement is.  I have invested the last eight and a half years of my life into spreading the Gospel; mainly to students.  Over these years I have seen hundreds of students come and go through the doors of our church.  As I think back to my internship and the hundreds of students at Eastlake Church that we ministered to there is only one student I keep in contact with.

After Eastlake Church I helped out with a church plant just north is a cool city called Encinitas.  I have to say that I have loosely kept in contact with one family from that church.  Being at South Hills Church for the last, almost, seven years I have had a chance to share the truth of the Bible with lots of people.  I think about these last seven years and I have a hard time believing that any of them can remember more than ten messages that I have shared.  Ok, lets be honest, I think we would be hard pressed to find someone who remembers more than five of the messages I have preached here.  To be honest, I would be stoked if there were a handful of people that remember one of the messages I have preached at our church.

(Indoor Skydiving with Spencer, Travis and Nick)
If there are a few people that remember one of the messages that I have preached and have acted on that truth of God I would be very excited.  I would more excited to hear about students who have changed the direction of their life because we have spent time with them.  I really do think that preaching on Sunday is super important but I think that people are more prone to remember the things we do off the stage.  See I think that if you spoke with some of the students in our church they would share that they learned more from me on a road trip to snowboard or out on the lake.  They could probably tell you how I acted at Hume Lake when we played paintball or a conversation we had at the lunch table.

I guess what I am trying to say is our lives are an example for Christ and people are watching our every move.  I want to be known for how I lived my life off stage.  I want people to remember how I acted in tough situations because I chose the high road.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The "Almost Done" Letter

Earlier this month I spent a week in Redding, CA working on a week of seminary.  While I was up there I was handed this letter:

Now this letter isn't the easiest thing in the world to read but it says a key line in there:
"If you successfully complete the above courses as scheduled, you will finish the requirements for the Masters of Divinity program as listed above."
This is something that I have been working on for over five years now and to be handed this letter was crazy emotional.  There are a few things this letter means to me that some people may not understand:

1) Less Time Away From Home
I have spent a good deal of time away from my family over the last five years, six when I finish, and this letter means that I can have more time with my family after graduation.

2) Accomplishment
Many of you know that I dropped out of high school my junior year.  I ended up going back and finishing at a continuation school.  I didn't drop out because I was stupid I dropped out because I had a bunch going on in my family life and I was bored at school.  Studying the Bible is something that I love to do!

3) Education
I started this MDiv program because felt that God was calling me to but during the process He taught me that it is more about the education I have received than a piece of paper that will sit on my wall.

These are just a few things this letter means to my life.  It will always be a reminded to me of all the hard work I put in, studying the word of God, to help others know Christ.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Yellow Watch

Even since I was a wee little kid I have always wanted a Shark watch.  I know... some people want a Rolex but I want a watch with a rubber wristband.  So for my 30th birthday my amazing wife found me a Shark watch in my favorite color (see picture).  This is me wearing my watch the first day I got it as we are heading to watch a movie for my birthday.

This summer we went to Hume Lake and I was so stoked to wear my watch and actually have the time on my wrist!  On Tuesday some of the Senior guys invited me to go kayaking with them.  Once we were on the lake I realized that none of them have ever been to Hume before and told them that we have to head down to the cove to play on the log roll.

We rowed to the other side of the lake, parked the boats and swam over to the log roll.  Now the log roll is an amazing experience that I could not let these guys miss out on.  After playing for a while I knew it was getting late so I looked at my wrist but my watch was gone.  I was so bummed.  I was beyond bummed.

That night, back at camp, I started thinking of how to get my watch back.  I had a pair of googles but I would need help.  Then it hit me; my alarm is going off at 6:23am to wake me up and my watch is waterproof.  That night I asked around and was able to get five guys to help me and four more pairs of googles.  The next morning we woke up before 6am, borrowed a car, drove to the cove and did this:

My watch spent the night at the bottom of Hume Lake but today it sits back on my left wrist as I type this.  The craziest thing about this is something that wasn't caught on video.  Before I jumped into the lake I stopped to pray that God would help me find my watch and sure enough I did!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Financial Peace University Week Six

This Sunday we had our sixth week of Financial Peace University.  This class has been pretty cool, for me personally, and seems to be very helpful for our church also.  My last post on FPU was a brief overview of what we are learning and was just a scratch of the surface.

Yesterday I was extremely tired during the class but I was also excited to hear what Dave Ramsey was saying.  See I finally felt like yesterday was something that Charity and I were already doing; the previous five weeks were things that we needed to adjust in our finances and that can be tough to hear and more difficult to actually make happen!

Here is a quick overview of what I am taking away from yesterdays FPU course:

  1. Wait overnight before making a purchase
  2. Carefully consider your buying motives.  No amount of stuff equals contenment of fulfillment
  3. Never buying anything you do not understand.
  4. Consider the "opprotuinty cost" of your money
  5. Seeking the counsel of your spouse. 
I feel like Charity and I have done good with our money since being married but we want to do better as we move forward.  We are examining every aspect of what we have to make sure that we are using what God has given us to the best of our ability.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Financial Peace University Debt Load

Our church just finished week five of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and we are getting ready to start week six.  This course has been super cool, for me, to see how many people have jumped in to get involved.  We have almost 40% of our church involved in this course which tells me two things:

1) The Las Vegas Economy has hit harder than I thought
2) People want to find financial freedom

One of the steps in the class is for the people involved to anonymously write down their debt load.  To be honest I had no what to expect to see with this number when it came in.  Now we have three different sessions of the class that we are offering to our church and from those different sessions we came up with one debt load number.  I am not going to share that exact number but I want to let you know that it is over four million dollars.

I have been hesitant to put up that number because I think it can bring up emotions in peoples lives and to be honest I have a part of that number.  In yesterdays blog I shared my personal learnings and personal debt load that Charity and I are carrying.  The reason I chose to end up sharing that number is because I am excited to share with you in December the new number.  See FPU is designed to help people get back on their feet financially and take control of their finances.

If you are in our church and you are reading this I want you to know that I am praying for everyone in our church to find financial freedom.  I am praying for people to be able to take control of their finances and not let their finances take control of them.  I am praying for people to find new connections with people in our church that they may have never met because of this course.  I love my church and I am so proud of everyone taking the course and making the steps to get financial freedom!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Financial Peace University: Week Five

This week we hit week five in our Financial Peace University (FPU) Course that our church has been doing.  I am one of 260 people in our church that is taking the course in one of the three different times we are offering it.  Last night I started thinking about FPU and what this has done for our family already.

Charity and I moved about two months ago and well... to be honest, moving cost us more than we had bargained for.  We didn't have to rent a moving truck (thanks to a friend) and we didn't have to pay movers (thanks to many friends).  When we were planning the move we knew we would need some more furniture to help fill the new house; we went from 1050 square feet to over 1700 square feet.

Secondly we have used our credit card like a debt card for the last five years.  We would put all our family expenses on the card and then pay it off monthly.  Well with the addition of two children in the last three years expenses have increased and we found out that we owed our credit card $1500.  That may not be too huge a number for the average American family but we don't want to be the average American family.

Finally FPU has been great to share with the young adults at our church.  Charity really took this as her personal goal this summer to get as many college students in this course to help them make wise choices financially right away in life.  I love getting to spend time with the people at our table, on a weekly basis, and see how they are getting this lesson before they make the unwise choices.

These are some random thoughts from FPU at our church but I really think this course has changed the way I am thinking about money.  I want to make sure that I make the best choices with the resources that God has put in my possession.

Monday, October 03, 2011

A Major Accomplishment

The other day I was looking at my wall and noticed something super cool.  See when I arrived at South Hills almost seven years ago I made an agreement to work on my ordination as a pastor.  Within four months I had accomplished my licensing with the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  From there it was supposed to be a two year process to get my Ordination completed.  After two (and a half) years of working on my Ordination I finally took the flight to Sacramento to have my final Ordination interview.

The interview could cover over 280 questions and it was all oral.  I sat in a room with five men who most had been pastoring longer than I had been alive.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous sitting in that room with those men but I also had a confidence sitting there with them.  I knew that these men wanted me to succeed; they had been rooting for me the last couple years and now it was time to culminate all my work.

After a two hour interview I was asked to leave the room and allow the men deliberate from our time.  I was called back in about 15 minutes later.  The leader of the interview said some great things about our time together, complimented me on my understanding of Theology and there was a cool sense in the room that day.  There is one line that sticks out to me from that time when Doug (our district supervisior) said this: "Neal it is the recommendation of this board to approve your ordination with no reservation and nothing further to work on."

I'm not sure if you have ever had anyone say that to you but I was told later that basically I nailed it.  My life was in line, I was correct on scripture and that interview affirmed my calling into life-long pastoral ministry.  Now I don't share all of this to brag but to just share my excitement of call on my life from where I started my life to where God has brought me.

(This is Roy Price officiating my Ordination Service)

(A group of our pastors and elders praying for Charity and me)