Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Fist Full of Quarters

About 10 days ago I was able to be a part of something amazing...

My buddy Jason Sowell leads a super cool non-profit organization called Current.  Part of what he does is something called the Laundry Love Project.  Now he has been doing these for years and has even taken it so far as to come to Vegas for the last three years and wash people's laundry for them.  Now I have to be honest that when he first told me about it I was a bit skeptical.  I really thought: "You are going to do laundry for people?"  It didn't register to me.

He finally got me to come and check it out (and help) for the last laundry project that he led in Vegas and I was in awe at what he does.  I think that Jason is meeting a social need for people.  It never hit me that there are people in the world, in my own city, that cannot afford to wash their clothes.  I have taken that fact for granted for the last 32 years of my life.  It was great to see the expressions on the face of the people when we told them that we would pay to do their laundry.

Now it wasn't free.  Jason raised a bunch of money to make it happen.  Jason took time to find money to bring it Vegas so that he could pay to do someone's laundry who he has never met.  Think about that real quick.  I saw it with my own eyes.  I was able to grab a fist full of quarters, put them in my pocket and sock them away in laundry machines so people could have clean clothes.

Jason plans on returning to Vegas in May and I told him that I would get a team of 15 people together to go down to the Laundry Mat and help out.  We only had six people while I was there and that wasn't enough people to help out.  We need your help to help out others for something it is needed!  Before you write it off, just watch some of the videos listed on his site.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

one more scar

About five months ago I went to my dermatologist to get a final check up on my skin.  As she examined my skin I really thought I was out of the woods with her.  See in the last five years she has removed two moles that precancerous from my back.  At this appointment I thought I was done until she asked me to turn around and look at the back of my legs.  She pulled out her pen and circled a spot on my leg... I was bummed.

That day she cut the mole off and I was out.  I got a call back and just assumed that the mole was fine just like the rest but this time I was wrong.  I was called again to get an appointment to get in as soon as I could so she could cut the mole off a little deeper because she didn't get the entire precancerous matter out.  I went in early on a Wednesday morning and got prepped to get the mole removed.  It was extremely weird being awake as she was cutting my leg open.  She informed me that she would need to cut out the mole and then cut my leg in a diamond shape so that she could stitch it up properly for healing.  This is a picture of my leg after 24 hours of it being removed.  I saw my leg after the first day and I was pretty nervous that it would be jacked up but I knew that I would rather have a nasty scar on my leg then no leg.

Well it has been almost three weeks now since the surgery and my leg is looking much better.  I am thankful to share that my doctor is amazing and was able to remove everything that precancerous.  I have a great doctor who did a great job on my leg and it is looking so much better!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In 12 Days

About two weeks I received and email from an amazing lady named Suzanne.  Suzanne has a really cool story that prompted her to start her company called In 12 Days.  The connection happened because of the guys on our staff wanted to propose to his girlfriend.  In 12 Days wanted to help him out by blessing him with an amazing way to propose and hook up a free engagement ring from a local jeweler that was announced on the local Christian Radio Station.

The more and more I think about what Suzanne does and the impact she is having on Las Vegas I just help but think what a special lady she is.  I think about the time that she has taken to help bless these families in our community.  I think about the time she has taken to think about creative ways to bless people.  I think about the hours she has invested in getting people to help her out to bless others.  I start thinking that this lady is really fulfilling her purpose in life by being a blessing to others.  Then I finally think: "What if everyone acted the way she does?"

Check out the video of Evan asking Amy to be his bride

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Broken Heart

This morning I received an email from Africa talking about a country that broke my heart five years ago.  Five years ago I was able to go to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, with a team of twelve people.  I was fortunate enough to go with my wife on this trip which made the mission trip so much more beneficial for me (The picture of us on the alligator is the best one I have of just us and I can't find one of the team).

I don't want this blog post today to turn into a discussion about alligator riding but to focus on the need of Burkina now.  See ever since we went to Burkina our heart has broken for the country.  I actually tried to lead another trip there about a year later with some students but it didn't pan out (it was a good thing we didn't go).  Our church has since sent two more teams to Burkina and every time they leave I wish I was going with them.

The children in Burkina broke my heart.  They were so much fun to play with, hang out with, laugh with and joke with.  I would love to bring my little girls over there (soon) to experience the country and the people.  See the main reason I wanted to blog about Burkina today is due to the email that I received this morning talking about clean water.  I am not a fan of watching videos longer than 2-3 minutes but this six minute video is well worth the time.  Watch the video here and start to think about what you could do to help people who do not have clean water!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sherlock Holmes- A Game of Shadows

On Saturday Charity and I went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie; A Game of Shadows.  We both totally loved the first one so when the second one came out there was no question if we would see it or not.  Now I am not a movie review kind of person but I did want to share some thoughts about the movie with you.   I am not going to give anything away about the plot of the movie so don't worry about protecting your eyes as you read this.

First of all I love the movie!  I love the action in the movie.  It is a movie that keeps you thinking.  If you saw the first Sherlock Holmes then you know what I am talking about.  Every little detail in the movie seems to come back and play into the whole of the movie later on.  I love how creative the writers of the movie are (I am not sure who they are but the did good on this one).  The attention to detail in these movies has always impressed me as someone who likes to think about what is going to happen next.

Now I have to admit there are some behaviors in the movie that I would consider questionable.  Doctor Watson is portrayed as a drunk who can barely stand on the way to his wedding and he also has a pretty intense gambling problem.  There is one point where Sherlock Holmes disguises himself as a female to help save his friend.  I didn't sense there was a drag theme at all but that Sherlock was considering the best way to help his friend out.

Finally the best part about the movie was that I was able to see it with my wife on our date day.  We love to create a time, each week, where we just spend time with each other.  The movie is not the ideal place for this but this time we had to make it happen.  See Charity and I have committed to never stop dating each other and times like this allow me to hold my wife's hand, eat popcorn with her, laugh with her and talk about the movie afterward.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More is Caught then Taught

About four months ago I received a transition in our church.  I had served in our student ministry department for almost seven years and was asked to transition over to adult ministries.  My new role is completely different than my old role.  My new role is more daily organization, my phone calls and more different than I ever expected.

When change happens in our life we tend to examine things around us.  I began to examine my leadership in student ministry and really started thinking about how I would change if I had a change to do it again.  I also started to think about what I would do more of and take more time and energy to invest in.  One thing that keeps sticking out to me is that: "More is Caught then Taught" in ministry.  I say this because I constantly hear young adults in our church, that graduated from our high school ministry, say things like: "Neal I remember when you said this to me or took the time to talk to me about this."

Last night I was talking with one of these young men and he told me about a conversation that we had and how I was encouraging him in relationships.  Yesterday afternoon I spent some time with one of the guys who was in my small group and now is a junior in high school.  We have kids, students and people in our church that are watching what I do.  You have kids, students and adults in your church that are watching how you act.

I believe that more is caught in ministry than taught.  I believe that people forget most of the messages that we speak from stage but remember what they see us doing in our community, office, trucks, backyard and soccer field.  People are watching what we do and that is why this verse is so important as we live our lives.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)
I think that people are going to remember the time we invest into their lives more than our actions on a stage, or leadership position, the degrees on my wall and the things the world thinks are important.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Financial Peace University Wrap Up

For the last thirteen weeks I have been taking a class with about 250+ other people in our church called Financial Peace University.  After taking the class I wanted to share some thoughts that really stuck out to me about the class, the material and what I learned.  I think something very important to note about this class is that people in our church paid off almost 2 million dollars during the thirteen weeks of this course!

This class has provoked conversation in our church that probably would have never occurred without the class.  I wish I had counted how many couples told me this has improved their personal conversation.  There were people in our church that just never spoke about money and this class has helped people to talk about a topic that was such a taboo.  Its funny to hear about how a class that is so focused on money has helped save marriages in our church just by opening up conversation.

Before I took this class I really could have cared less about credit cards.  I thought they were actually really cool.  I could buy stuff that I wanted today and then pay for it later down the road.  Then I got this credit card that actually gave me free air flights for just spending money on it.  We were getting about four free flights a year with this card and that was pretty cool.  We would use this credit card like a debit card and then pay it off at the end of the month... so I thought.  When Charity and I really started examining our spending on this card we realized that we owed it about $1500.  We made a goal to pay that off and cut the card up.

Cash is pretty fun but when I spend it I get bummed sometimes.  See I learned, when we moved from credit to cash, that it actually makes me think more about the purchase when I use cash to buy it.  We have moved to a strictly cash based system in our family because of this course.  It may be a little more difficult then using a card but we know where our money is going and we are no longer in debt.

Though this course I have seen people get connected to our church.  I have spoken with families who are meeting people and doing life with them now on a weekly basis.  People in our church are getting connected to others in our church through this class.  We had people sit at tables and have discussion about the weekly lesson.  It has been fun seeing people get connected through this course.

If you are going to be in Vegas and want to take this course make sure to check out our next session that begins January 17th 2011

Thursday, December 08, 2011


I am desensitized.
You are desensitized.

The world we live in desensitizes us to the things around us that normally would bother us.  I remember when I first moved to Vegas and how awful I thought the billboards where.  I could not stand seeing the advertisements that were on the back of the taxi cabs here in town.  Now, seven years late, I realize how desensitized I am to that.

See over time we become desensitized to the things that once bothered us.  This can happen in your work place, your home life, your school, and in your Christianity.  I am sure there are things around you that once made your stomach turn (even if it was just a little).  There were once things in your life that you could not stand to watch but now when you see them you ignore it because you have seen it so much.

Think about some of the things that middle school and high school students are seeing on a daily basis; things that would have never been accessible to me when I was younger.  Think about the things that are shown in movies now days.  Things that would have never been allowed on the "big screen" are now a regular occurrence.  The saddest thing is that I just sit there and do nothing about it.  Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I turn away but for the most part I do nothing.

I am more and more perplexed, bothered, and frustrated by this as a dad then I have ever been before.  The issue I struggle with is how to appropriately engage culture to see life change...  I want to be a part of life change in the world and I really think the more we desensitize the world the more clear we need to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are looking for purity in a world full of sludge.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Mastering Church Management: Book Review

I am currently take a course for Tozer Seminary called: "Politics, Legalities and Money".  The class has really been super helpful and has impressed me as to the content we have studied for the course.  I just emailed my final paper to a great friend who will edit it, make it bleed, and then help me correct my grammar.
For this course I sought more external resources than I ever have for a final paper because of the nature of the class.  Thanks to a classmate I was able to get a handful of helpful books from the Simpson University Library.  One of them is Mastering Church Management.  Now I am sure that most of you will not run off to Amazon to get the book but I think you may want to reconsider that.  This book has a some great information contained within the interesting looking cover and was considerably more helpful then I had imagined it would be!
The book was helpful with information on maintaining staff moral, encouraging staff members, staff transition and lots of other areas of staff leadership.  I was thinking to myself today about how cool it is that the principles laid out in this book are still applicable some 25+ years later.  If you are thinking about becoming an executive pastor, lead pastor or church planter I am going to recommend this book to you.
Favorite Quote: "Devoting time to nurturing staff members' competence and interpersonal relationships says we value them, not just their ministry output." page 148