Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Holiday Tree

I don't know about everyone else, but I am sick of hearing about the "holiday" debate verses Christmas. I realize it is important to not leave Jesus out of the Christmas season. I truly believe that, but haven't we all said Holiday before as people? I find myself saying Happy Holidays. I said in the last week to a lot of people, "How was your holiday?" I wasn't trying to leave Thanksgiving out.

Now with that being said, I know that many are trying to be PC by saying Happy Holidays so they don't offend anyone. I think that is over the top. I will say Merry Christmas, or if I feel like it, I will say Happy Holidays. I am not going to "not shop" at a certain store or boycott what ever chain or restaurant or soap company or...

I have general rule I live by, "I boycott boycotts!"

So don't be offended if I say some Christmas phrase you are boycotting.

I do think it is just dumb sounding to say "Holiday Tree" when everyone knows it is a Christmas tree.

If you get a chance try to catch the Glenn Beck program on 98.3 FM between 10 and 1 weekdays if you are in the Des Moines area. He has a great non offensive holiday song. If you like satirical humor you will crack up.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Mark Batterson and National Community Church

If you read this blog ever, I am sure you have seen me reference Mark Batterson. He is the pastor at NCC in DC. Well Mark and Amy Main were able to meet him and be in service with them this weekend. They came back full of ideas and ready to share on how we can grow more as church.

Not fair though that they got to meet him and be in service with him before I did.

A New Word

Ever met someone who is a "Fun Sponge?" The just suck up all the fun around them. I heard the term last night and cracked up. So I thought I would share my new descriptive word.

I learned it from Amy Main by the way.

Blue Prints

Blue Prints
Our Vision 2 Timothy 1:1-1:10 We have a set of Blue Prints. It is our vision and scope of what we are right now, what we want to become and how we are going to do that.

The word vision means – sight, dream, revelation or enlightenment.

Vision is that elusive thing that dares to dream big dreams about the future. Vision has been called hope with a blueprint.

Vision is what an inventor has when he or she thinks outside the box to create something new.

Vision is what a mother has as she looks at her newborn baby and imagines all that child could grow up to become.Vision has a way of ignoring its critics and chasing its dream regardless of how many people say it can’t be done. Consider these famous predictions that underestimated the incredible power of vision.

***Thomas Watson, the chairman of IBM in 1943 said, "I think there is a market for maybe five computers in the world."
***Ken Olson, president and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation said in 1977, "There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home."
***Consider this Western Union memo from 1876: "The Telephone is has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication."
***Or consider the words of Decca Recording company, when why they turned down signing the Beatles in 1962: "We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out."
***Charles Duell, commissioner of the U.S. Office of Patents said in 1899, "Everything that can be invented has been invented."

Vision has a way of ignoring those who say it can’t be done and doing it anyway.

Yet we go through times when our vision fades. The flame of our vision begins to dim, it’s passion begins to ease, and it’s heat begins to cool. That’s what was happening to young Timothy, the apostle Paul’s young protégé. You see, the apostle Paul had sent Timothy to try to salvage a mess in the church in Ephesus. Yet when Timothy got there, he found himself in way over his head. The entire leadership team in the Ephesian church was older than he was, and didn’t respect his leadership.

To make matters worse, Timothy was shy and timid, so he had a tendency to avoid confrontation. The stress of his ministry assignment was effecting Timothy’s health, as he found himself sick with constant stomach ailments. In the meantime, his beloved mentor the apostle Paul had been arrested by the Roman government.Timothy’s vision had dissipated.

The excitement and enthusiasm he’d once felt when he joined Paul’s ministry team some years earlier was gone. Somewhere between his bad health, his discouragement about the church in Ephesus, and his fear for Paul’s life, Timothy’s vision had slipped away. Timothy needed his vision renewed, and that’s a big reason why Paul wrote him a second letter.

1 . Our Vision For Worship (2 Timothy 1:1-3)

This is what we see in vv. 1-3. We find an emphasis on worship in the word "serve" in v. 3. If you underline in your Bible, underline that word, because it’s a very important word. This is not the usual New Testament Greek word for "serve," but this is the Greek word latreuo. This word latreuo is used 20 other times in the New Testament, and it always refers to service offered to God as an act of worship. This kind of service is never directed toward other people, but it’s always directed toward God. This Greek word latreuo is where we get our English word liturgy from, which refers to the order and structure of a Christian worship service. In fact, we call our corporate worship a "worship service" because of this word.

As Paul looks back on his own life, he views his entire life since coming to faith in Christ as an act of worship directed to God. For Paul worship was a lifestyle of devotion to God, not just a Sunday morning church activity.Now let me share with you our church vision statement about worship. As a church, for us worship is first and foremost about celebrating Jesus Christ. It’s about celebrating Christ’s presence among us, realizing that he is here with us when we gather as a congregation for worship. We celebrate this reality each week.

"We dream of our church having the facilities to house multitudes who gather each week to praise, honor and celebrate Jesus Christ."

Our facilities are significant to our worship only because they give us a place to gather. This is why we meet in a movie theater. I couldn’t in good faith go borrow a million plus dollars to buy land and build a building, so we could worship together for a few hours on Sunday. I have plans for a building, but it isn’t about the building, it is about Jesus.

"We also dream of worship services that are culturally relevant to the unchurched but that does not compromise our commitment to the Bible."

We believe worship and outreach belong together. Because of this conviction, in our worship services we seek to speak the language of our culture. Our aim is to translate the timeless truths of the Christian faith into language and concepts that make sense to secularized people in our culture today. However, we do this with a uncompromising commitment to the absolute authority of the Bible. You see, we seek to be culturally relevant because we believe this is what the Bible commands us to do. Cultural relevance is a biblical imperative. And we find that when worship and outreach are joined together in a relevant way, that unchurched people discover a relationship with Jesus Christ in the midst of a worshipping church.

"We also dream of being a church that uses relevant Bible exposition, modern music, and the creative arts to connect both Christians and non-Christians with God and give them hope for their lives."

Bible exposition is simply systematic teaching from the Bible, explaining what the Bible means and how it applies to our lives. The creative arts refers to the use of drama, multimedia, and other artistic expressions to draw us closer to God in worship. My goal is for seekers to encounter God in our worship services long before they respond to Christ.

2. Our Vision For Prayer (2 Timothy 1:4-5)


Look at how Paul expresses his heart in vv. 4-5. In v. 3 Paul reported how he prayed day and night for Timothy. Here in vv. 4 and 5 we find the content of Paul’s prayer, that as he prayed he remembered Timothy’s tears and his longing to be reunited with his apprentice. As he prayed for Timothy he was reminded of how Timothy came to faith in Christ. It all started with Timothy’s grandmother Lois, and then his mother Eunice. Timothy was a third generation Christian, someone raised in a Christian home.What Paul does here is simply pour out his heart to God. We see lots of gimmicks about prayer these days.

But for Paul, renewing his vision for prayer simply came from pouring out his heart to God. Paul’s life was so directed that whatever was of concern in his heart automatically bubbled up in prayer to God. No technique, no seven easy steps, but simply expressing his heart to God.We sum up the prayer part of our vision statement as "pursuing God’s heart.""

We believe God wants our church to be a church were our passion for God and God’s purposes inspire us to believe him for the impossible."Ephesians 3:20. That verse says, "By his mighty power at work within us, God is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope" (NLT).

I believe that with all my heart, and that type of thinking has been part of this congregation’s vision from the very beginning. But it starts with pursuing his heart in prayer.

"We believe God wants our church to be filled each week with a constantly expanding multitude of growing Christians who are learning how to walk in daily intimacy with God."

That’s really the heart of prayer, daily intimacy with God where we share our heart with him and he shares his heart with us. This is what the Bible means by abiding in Christ, remaining in his love, being constantly aware of his presence.

"Finally, we dream of our church being a house of prayer, a place where prayer provides the foundation for every ministry we are involved in."

As it’s been said, "Prayer doesn’t prepare us for the battle; prayer is the battle." Our ministry needs to flow from our knees.

3. Our Vision for Service (2 Timothy 1:6-7)


Look at vv. 6-7. God had given Timothy all the equipment he needed to be effective as God’s servant. But the fire of God’s gift in Timothy’s life was going out. It had become like a fire in the fireplace when no new wood has been added for a while. The flame wasn’t burning anymore, but instead there was a glowing ember that’s gradually losing its heat.Paul encourages Timothy to "fan the flame" of his gift, so it would once again burns brightly and with intensity.

The way we fan the flame of our spiritual gifts is by using them. The flame loses its blaze through lack of use, and gradually our gifts become glowing embers. We fuel the fire when we use our gifts.We learn here that fear was holding Timothy back from using his gifts. The word "timidity" here means "a state of fear because of cowardice or lack of moral strength" (Louw and Nida Lexicon).

Paul tells Timothy that this timid fear doesn’t come from God. What comes from God is an attitude of power, love and self-discipline. Power is the capacity to face our fears and use our gifts, even when we’re shaking like a leaf. Love is the capacity to express God’s love through our gift when we do use it. Self-discipline is the courage to go forward even when we’re timid and fearful.

Do you need your vision for service renewed? Stepping out of our comfort zone and using your gifts will help you renew your vision for service. There’s no substitute for actually using our gifts, drawing on the Spirit of power, love and self-discipline God has given us to face our fear.

Our church vision about service is summed up in the phrase: Every member a minister.

We truly believe that every single follower of Jesus Christ is called and ordained by God as a minister of Jesus Christ. Ministry is not the exclusive property of pastors or elders, but it belongs to the people. Jordan Creek Family Church is a congregation with over 60 ministers, because over 60 people consider this their church home. Adult and children, men and women, new Christians and mature Christians…every single one is a minister of God.

"We dream of a church where our members truly see themselves as God’s ministers and are sacrificially investing their gifts, talents and resources to make God’s vision become a reality."

This is a huge paradigm shift for most Christians, to see themselves as ministers.

"We dream of our church becoming an incubator for fresh ministry ideas, continually launching new volunteer led ministries that make a real difference in the lives of both Christians and non-Christians."

I have a standing joke around the church here, that whenever a person comes up and says, "We really need to have a ministry to…." My response is usually, "You’re right and you’re it." We believe when God gives ministry vision to a person our job isn’t to get in the way, but it’s to help it happen. It may or may not succeed, but why not try to make it happen?

4. Our Vision for Outreach (2 Timothy 1:8a)


Look at the first half of v. 8. Christians are often tempted to be ashamed of Jesus Christ. We’re tempted to hide our witness about Jesus, to keep our faith in Christ hidden inside our hearts and our churches, rather than letting it flow into our words and our actions.Do you need your vision for outreach renewed? Notice again that this doesn’t come through a special evangelism seminar or a book.

It comes through facing our fears and testifying about Jesus. This means putting into words how Jesus has changed our lives. It means sharing with those around us the good news of Christ, about his life, death and resurrection. It means building relationships with unchurched people so we can shine as lights in their lives.The outreach part of our vision statement focuses on reaching out through relationships.

The longer you’re a Christian, the less non-Christians you’re likely to have as friends.

So we need to be reminded that relationships are the primary mechanism for sharing our faith in Jesus."We dream of our church being attended by hundreds of unchurched people each week who are in the process of discovering a dynamic relationship with Jesus." Did you know that half of all people who are in church on any given weekend in our nation don’t yet have a relationship with Jesus? I find that to be extremely exciting. Most people who discover a relationship with Jesus Christ start by attending one of our worship services. They attend for anywhere from a month to a year as seekers, investigating the faith, asking questions, building relationships, observing. Somewhere along the way, the good news of Christ starts making sense and they make a commitment to Jesus Christ, either on their own, with a friend.

"Our passion is to be a church that strives to remove every barrier that keeps unchurched people from understanding and responding to the good news of Christ."

We realize that there’s a huge culture gap between most Christians and most non-Christians. We live in different worlds even though we live in the same neighborhoods. So we think it’s our job to try to bridge that gap, to remove the barriers that might keep a person from truly understanding what it means to become a follower of Jesus.

"Our dream is to be a church that works in partnership with members: each member reaching out with Christ’s love to unchurched friends and neighbors and our church providing worship services to bring these people to that are culturally relevant."

It really is a partnership, and it only works if both sides of the partnership are working. I believe we really need our vision renewed in this area, because I fear that many of us are becoming so busy and distracted by life that we’re no longer living out this partnership.

"We also dream of being a church that sends a tithe of our members and money cross-culturally to bring Christ to the nations."

Taking a missions trip to Bolivia in February, we are now supporting 11 or so missionaries around the globe, from Bolivia to Siberia to the Philippines.

5. Our Vision for Care (1 Timothy 1:8b-10)


Look at vv. 8-10. The good news of Christ--the gospel--is the means by which we are brought into a relationship with God. This change by grace, because there’s nothing we can do to contribute to our salvation.

All we contribute to our salvation is our sin; everything else comes as a free gift, by grace.

But with the gospel also comes a call to live a holy life, a life of spiritual depth and growth. This is what we mean by nurture, being nurtured in the life God calls us to. Although we do not contribute anything to our salvation, once God saves us, he calls us to live differently. He calls us to a life of transformation, a life where we grow and mature. He calls us to put down deep spiritual roots that are nourished by the truth of God. He calls us to nurture a holy life.The nurture part of our vision statement focuses on growing into spiritual maturity.

"We dream of our church providing a constantly expanding network of care groups, where Christians are growing into wholeness and non-Christians are discovering Christ."

It’s our experience that most accelerated spiritual growth occurs in small groups, clusters of Christians who meet together to pray together, study the Bible together, serve together and so forth. Our congregation will only be as healthy as our care groups are expanding. We believe this is a vitally important part of being nurtured into spiritual maturity.

"We dream of equipping hundreds of volunteer care pastors whose love and concern for people makes us feel smaller as we grow larger."

There is always tension between our vision and the way things are. This is because if vision only described the status quo, it wouldn’t be vision. So the disparity between vision and the status quo creates tension, like a rubber band that’s been stretched. Often we’re tempted to let this tension pull the vision down to the status quo, to soften the vision and make it more palatable to the way things are. Instead, we should let the tension pull the way things are closer to the vision, creating the necessary changes in our lives needed to pull us toward what God has for us.

About 350 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway? Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision. With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without it, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries.

God calls us to let the tension between this vision and the way things are to stretch us, to pull us, to excite us, to fan the flame so we once again burn bright. Notice we learned today that vision isn’t renewed by just hearing a sermon or reading a book. Our vision for worship is renewed by actually worshipping; our vision for prayer is renewed by actually praying; our vision for service is renewed by actually using our gifts to serve; our vision for outreach is renewed by actually testifying about Jesus; and our vision for care is renewed by actually responding to God’s call to a holy life.

There is no substituted for action, for doing what God has called us to do.

Sunday News

Just to bring everyone up to speed, this weekend we had 62 in service. Which personally I felt was awesome since it was a holiday weekend. I am definitely not just about counting heads, but it is great to have some quotient to measure growth. It was nice to have some family in service with us, as well as a few new holiday guests.

I love to meet new people! There were several new guests this weekend who came becuase they found out about the church either by the commercial or seeing the truck as a moving billboard. Cool.

I look forward to meeting up with them to get to know them better as time goes forward.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Just a funny thought to set the mood for the weekend

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You might have to play it twice to get it run smooth. Sorry

Post Thanks Giving Meltdown

Well, I tried to stay at home and get some work done while the rest of my family tackled the shopping extravaganza. Awnna and David (Pawpaw) went one way and did their shopping date. Meanwhile Dara and Lorraine headed to do some pottery together.

Well by 4:15 or so I get a call from David, and he says that Awnna is ready to come home. She was done shopping. Well I spoke to her and convinced her to just hang in there, because they only had a few more stops to make and then we were going to all meet up and eat our favorite Mexican joint in town, El Azteca. After a few minutes of conversation she had her composure again and was ready to go.

Tomorrow is Saturday and I will be in the office early to get a few more things nailed down before Sunday morning.

We start a new series this week called Blue Prints. I really feel it is going to be great opportunity for everyone to see where the church is going!

Thursday, November 24, 2005


It is a family tradition to hunt thanksgiving morning for our family. At least it was when I was a kid. I have a lot of fond memories when I was just a boy hunting with my dad. Often times I didn't pay as much attention to the woods and the animals as I should have. I was too busy trying to step in exactly the same places we had stepped. I was determined not to make a sound. I also was trying my best to take as long a stride as my father. Little did I know, that just wasn't possible, becuase my legs were too short.

I often missed the enjoyment of the hunt because I was so engrossed in the details and living years ahead in my brain when I could lead, and take big steps.

Today as a church planter I have to rememeber those times. It is too easy to think in a year from now. In five years we can... I want to live in the moment right now. Savor every positive thing that happens. Laugh at the mistakes. Reveal in watching people'ds live be changed. Not be bogged down so much on why we cant pull this or that off like a church that has been doing media for 10 years.

So tonight as I think about Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the 4 believers that were baptized last Friday. Thankful for the beautiful baby that was dedicated to God on Sunday. And honored that God would allow me to be in the place that I am right now.

I love what I do. I was created for this very moment.

Thank you God.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Engagement Announced Kempers-Swihart

Just wanted to let everyone in on an "open secret." Nate Kempers proposed to Shanna Swihart Sunday morning via the Des Moines Register Milestones Page. There is a whole story why he chose the paper and what it means to them. I would encourage you to talk with them this weekend and share in the joy with them.

Good job Nate! And congrats to both of you. I am excited to know you guys are a part of the church and our First Enagaged Couple!

Blue Prints

This sunday we are starting a new series called "Blue Prints." It will take us through the Christmas Holiday as we discuss several aspects of what it takes to become a healthy, thriving New Testament church. We will be discussing everything from vision to redeeming technology to why we worship the way we do and the importance we place on chilren's ministry.

I am excited to be able to speak on such an awesome topic. God is going to use this time not just for us to learn about healthy churches, but how to become a healthy Christ follower as we unlock some treasures from God's word together.

If any one is interested in helping with any projects, or you are looking to connect in a ministry leave a comment. We will make it happen.

It is all about relationships!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sunday Update

Just thought I would give the update for week 13 of the new church. We had 80 people in service and it was awesome! We celebrated the baptism of four Christ Followers. (I didnt get the video loaded quite right, so it takes a minute. It is from a couple posts ago) Joel Asmus, Mark Main, Joan Reis, and Randy Reis.

We also took some time to explain why we baptize and why we do "baby dedications." Jon and Jen Mumm dedicated their baby girl Kaitlyn Elizabeth. She did awesome and a beautiful baby as well. I will post the video on Friday as the Friday Feature.

In two weeks Sophia Toscano will be dedicating her children to God. I can't wait!

Sunday Transcripts

Baby Dedication

The question would be,
Have you ever really recognized your children are a precious gift from the Lord, and they belong ultimately and always to God first—not to you?

There are many examples of parents in the Bible who brought their children to God and gave them back to Him:

1. There is the classic example of Hannah bringing her son Samuel (the son for whom she had prayed), and presenting him to God, and handing young Samuel over to Eli the priest. (I Sam. 1:27-28).

2. Of course, you remember Joseph and Mary brought the infant child Jesus to the temple following his circumcision at 8 days. They brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (Lk. 2:22).But the ultimate example of a parent surrendering his child to God is that of Abraham offering Isaac on Mt. Moriah.

TEXT GENESIS 22:1-13Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.
2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
8 Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.
12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram [a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

Abraham literally, totally, irrevocably gave Isaac back to God. Abraham loved Isaac. V.2 God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, and sacrifice him ...”

Isaac had been a MIRACLE baby. He was born when Sarah was 90 and Abraham was 100 years of age.Do you know—the best thing Abraham ever did for Isaac was to tie him to that altar and to surrender him back to God?

Because Abraham obeyed and gave Isaac back to God, Isaac received the fullness of God’s best plan and promise for his life:· Isaac became a wealthy man.· Isaac became the forefather of God’s own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.· Isaac’s life is still having an impact on and blessing millions of people worldwide through his offspring—Jesus Christ.

And when we entrust our children back to God—we secure for them the covenant of God’s best purpose and plan for their lives.


What does it mean? It means 3 things:

1) Giving your child to God is a CONFIRMATION of your love for God.· The first thing you are saying when you give that child back to the Lord is simply this...that you love God even more than you love that child. (Your child is a most prized possession…but don’t allow them to take the place of God!)

· This is exactly what Abraham proved by his willingness to offer Isaac. He was demonstrating that his love and fear of God were supreme in his life above all else.· Abraham loved God above the most prized treasure of his life...his son Isaac.Matthew 10:37-38Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Not only a Confirmation…
2) Giving your children to God is a CLARIFICATION of ownership.
--When you give your child back to God, you are openly declaring that:· This child is a gift from God.· This child does not really belong to you.· This child belongs to God.(You have the privilege to love and train this child.But this child is not yours—but God’s!)·

Was this not what had to be on Abraham’s mind when he lay Isaac on the altar? Was he not saying, “Lord, this young man belongs to you—not me?” He was saying, “You do with him as you please. He’s yours!”· Hey listen! That little boy or girl does not really belong to you—they belong to God! They are a precious gift from God, on loan to you.Becareful how you treat them.
Ps. 127:3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.

Not only a Confirmation, Clarification…
3) Giving Your Children To God Is A COMMITMENT to Raise Your Children God’s Way!

Eph. 6:4 says we are to bring our children up “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
· LISTEN...To give your child to God is not just a CEREMONY...It is a COMMITMENT. It is a commitment that you are going to:·

Be a Godly parent. (Parent dedication…requires getting right w/ God)·
Teach this child of Christ. (they will need to be saved)·
Keep this child in church.
Love this child. (even if loving them means disciplining them/letting God discipline you!)
Pray for this child.
Make your home a holy place.·

I think some people see baby dedication as a magical ceremony. Let me tell you—this little ceremony means nothing—zero—if you are not making a sincere, life-long commitment to raise this child God’s way!

I like what Joshua told the children of Israel as they settled into their new home, the Promised Land.

Joshua 24:14-15Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
Man, that’s the kind of commitment God is looking for in parents today!Confirmation of your love for God,

Clarification of Gods ownership of the child,
Commitment to raising them God’s Way

Pr 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I believe that with all my heart.

  1. Baptism.
Jesus Did it.

The act of water baptism (being immersed in water in response to receiving salvation) is a very important first step in the Christian life. In Matthew 3:13-17, we see the Lord Jesus Himself coming to His cousin John to be baptized, in order to "fulfill all righteousness." He then went on to establish baptism as an eternal ordinance for His church, calling every believer to follow in His example.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19.)

In our modernized, "comfort zone Christianity," we do, sad to say, tend to take God’s commandments far too lightly.
As Chuck Colson points out: "Most Westerners take baptism for granted, but for many in the world the act requires immense courage. In countries like Nepal it once meant imprisonment. For Soviet or Chinese or Eastern bloc believers, it was like signing their own death warrant."¹

A wedding ring is an outward sign that a person is married. A military uniform is an outward sign that a person is involved in that particular branch of service. Similarly, water baptism is a symbol designed by God to identify a person as a disciple of Jesus Christ.When we are saved, we are spiritually baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27,) and into His Body , the church (1 Corinthians 12:13.)

Baptism in water is an outward representation of these inward realities.

In Biblical symbolism, water represents inner cleansing (Ephesians 5:26, Hebrews 10:22,) and spiritual rebirth (John 3:5,) both of which are central themes of baptism. Water baptism is, in essence, a funeral.

It is an act of faith in which we testify, both to God and to the world, that the person we were before is dead and buried, and we are raised as a new creation in Christ. This is beautifully illustrated by these Scriptures:

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
-Romans 6:4"

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."-Colossians 2:12

Baptism is a very special way of God communicating His love to us. When we receive God’s saving grace, it is no accident that He calls us to identify with Him in a way that makes it real to us. Are you struggling with guilt over your past? It may be because you haven’t yet given the person you once were a proper burial! Water baptism is a very powerful reminder of God’s wonderful grace. The person we were before is dead forever, and we are raised with Jesus as a totally new creation:"

Therefore, if any person is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!- (2 Corinthians 5:17 Amplified Bible)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Water Baptism

Jordan Creek Family Church First Baptism
Friday the 18th. Hope you enjoy.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Ready to be Baptized?

Well I am off to baptize 4 believers. I cant wait. It is truly one of my favorite things to do. We are speaking this weekend about baby dedications and baptism. Why we do them and what is the biblical significance. I love studying the Word of God to find out why we do something. I am thrilled when I find it isnt just some tradition that I have taken for granted, but it really is rooted in God's word.

The practice of baptism goes back even before Christianity. It simply symbolizes the fact you are aligning yourself with a certain teacher or school of thought. I am glad to say that I am Christ Follower and have been baptized into His church!


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Baptismal tank is warming up

I went and helped set up the baptismal tank this morning. It is filling up and warming right now! So everyone who can make it come out to Christian Life Assembly at South Fluer and HWY 5 Bypass at 6:30 for the baptising of believers.

We believe that baptism is the communication to every else of the commitment that has already taken place in your heart with Jesus. We read in the New Testament over and over that the disciples were baptized after they believed. Even Jesus was baptized after he was old enough to understand. It wasnt just as an infant, but it was after he had become fully aware of God's plan for him.

It is a beautiful picture of dying to your self and rising again up out of the water as a new creature in Christ. It is one of my favorite things to do.

Lets have a great evening and celebrate together!

Mark Batterson makes the news

you have got to check out this link about National Community Church in DC.

it is amazing


I love to dream. I always have. I have read and studied dreams. I dream when I sleep very vividly. I dream when I am awake as well. Sometimes I get carried away and it is Josh being crazy and other times I feel God is showing bits of reality in my dreams.

I dont think every dream is prophetic. We do see some examples of prophetic dreams in the text, but not every prophet dreamed dreams. At least they werent recorded.

My mom has this recurring nightmare about going down a steep hill in STL called Antire Hill (westbound on 44 between VAlley Park and Eureka). She is dreaming that here brakes go out and she cant make the turn at the bottom of the hill. She crashes and dies into the concrete dividers....

Being the researcher that I am, I used to see how fast I could go down the hill without touching my brakes before i lost control. I never lost control. I told my mom after several attempts that she wasnt going to die if her brakes go out on that spot.

Do you know what though, it didnt stop the dream. I proved it to her that she wasnt going to die, but she kept having that nightmare.

Why is it though, when we have a dream to do something great, and one negative person says you cant make it, you stop. They kill the dream. Why? Why do we let ourselves be crushed by something as stupid as one persons thought?

Again I love to dream. I have been dreaming about a person to do video editing, and just run with the media department at our church. I have dreams of a church that produces drama that rivals speilburg. I dream of sermons that are interactive. Even stages moving on either side of center stage with drama happening as I speak reinforcing the application I am driving home. Lights and sound that communicate the feeling of the story we are telling.

I have been dreaming of this for a long time. Yesterday I had lunch with a guy who is going to take us there. Joe is one of the newest guys on our team. He gets the vision and the ideas, and the concepts of who we are and where we want to go. He has passion and drive and i am ready for the journey that we are on!

Joe is already working on several projects for us and I am excited to see what unfolds.

Check back soon or check out Sunday services at Jordan Creek Mall.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A cold snowy day

Did you know on a snowy day of 20 degrees your car can overheat? Yeah i didnt know either until today. (i do understand the coolant cycle of an engine, and how all that works, but i never thought about it happening to me).

Well it can, and it does happen, and it did today on the way to take Awnna to preschool. It was "lovely" to say the least. But apparently my car is still having some coolant issues that caused me to question God, the weather, snow, purchasing a new car, driving this one off a cliff and filing an insurance claim...

But anyway I often try to ask myself what can I learn from a situation. (at this time I would like to go into some deep theological and very spiritual dissertation from the bible) Well, I can't figure anything out.

This much I do know. I know that God has aplan for our church, I know that God is allowing me to be shaped and molded for His glory. I know that I am hard wired for worship of God, as we all are. I know that even though it is cold out, God is constantly trying to get my attention and speak to me through every medium available.

I ask myself, do I look for opportunities to really invest in others as God is trying to invest in me? Am I really passionate about what he was layed out for me in my life? What am I doing to try to become a better person? What am I doing to try to be more like Christ? Do i live a perfect life? NO WAY. But does that cause God to stray from me? Just becuase something isnt right in my life, does God say that dumb josh, when is he going to get it?

Do I leave my kids on the corner when they misbehave? No, I discipline them, but love them, and encourage them to be everything they dream of becoming.

So when my car breaks down, do I stop driving cars? Should I just ride the bus or take my bike? No I fix the problem and move on.

Why is it in Christianity that when someone falls, or sins, or messes up whenwant to through them out? We say, "Look at that guy he did that 19 years ago, and he is trying to help with the offering. Can you believe that?"

Is the church here to condemn or encourage? I firmly believe that if we minister to the hurting we wil never lack an audience. Why you ask? Have you been hurt? Are you hurt? Do you deal with pain or just shelve it and hope it goes away?

Each of us, if we will truly be honest, has hurts that we need to adress. Jesus said he came to this world so that we can live more abudantly. He didnt say just deal with it. I believe that Jesus has a plan for a life for each of us that is more than we could ever ask or think of. It really comes down to if we want it or not.

Do you?

Monday, November 14, 2005

I don't like a lot of Christians

Here is the jist of what sunday moring was about. Let me know if youthin this is worthwhile or not.
This is the 4 sermon in 4 part series called "Confessions of a Pastor"

We have been talking about a lot of different confessions in the past 4 weeks. We have confessed to difficulty in prayer times, struggling with feeling inadequate, and sometimes even doubting God.

But today I am going to admit to something that really I don’t like to say. I wish it wasn’t the case actually, but there are a lot of Christians that I don’t really like.

Maybe you can relate to this guy who says I love Christ but it is his people who make me want to pull my hair out. Can any of you relate to that? Ever been there?

Sometimes Christians can be the most difficult and critical people out there.

Pastor Paul Yonggi Cho is the pastor of the largest church in the world. Some 850,000 members… Pastor Cho, was asked, “How much do you pray?” In broken English he said, “I pray about 6 hours a day.” The reporter was astonished. He then said, “Why do you pray so many hours a day?”
Pastor Cho says, “Well my church is very large and has some many people and I hate so many of them.”

He is saying that sometimes Christians can be the meanest ones out there.

I have three main reasons I get upset with Christians…
Why I Don't Like A Lot of Christians:
1. Christians can be judgmental.
2. Christians can be weird.
3. Christians can be hypocritical.

As I look over this crowd I am thinking of someone here who just really makes me crazy. Yes the one I don’t like the most is right here today…

The one is me. I hate it when I am less than what Christ wants me to be. I hate it when I do things inconsistent with what I know is true. I hate it when I simply don’t do the easy things I know to do. I hate it when as a leader I make decisions that hurt people, or when I know things and try to make the best decisions and people just don’t understand. I hate it when I offend people. I really struggle with not being who God calls me to be. It is difficult.

It is much easier though to point the finger at others than let God speak to me.

Why is it that I am less than what Christ wants me to be, I am convinced that

We easily get distracted, from what is God’s best truth…

We forget the main point…
do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. 1 Peter 1:14-15

hagios - sacred, pure, morally blameless, consecrated, set apart.

At some point instead of really examining others we need to just take a look at our selves. Am I really different?

Look at what Gods word says to us in Ephesians…

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking… Ephesians 5:3-4

Ask yourself, in the course of the last 7 days was there even a hint of an impure thought, a look in the wrong direction, a greedy moment, an off color joke. Any impurity at all?

But I will admit today, that I really want to be different and I try but some days I am just not. And it is easy for me to be the first to cast the stone at the other guy, like driving for example.

I am not going to pretend that I have never gotten a speeding ticket…

Ever been here before. I am cruising down the highway at 80 or so. Changing lanes like it is the autobahn in Europe, when I look behind me and see a guy right on my tail swerving to the left to look around me to pass… I think, “Who does he think he is driving like an idiot?”

We tend to accuse others.

We tend to excuse ourselves.

I am great at picking others apart. I often joke that I should be a consultant for business and images…

But I need to do less accusing and making excuses for me, and let God address some things in my heart.

What happens is I major on the minors, and tend to forget the main point.

We tend to forget the main point
It is not about us….

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Bible says to consider others, but I am good at looking out for Josh.

We judge rather than love.
“I can’t believe they would really act like that, bless god… if they really loved Jesus they’d be more like me.”
The truth is we don’t know anything about them and we judge them

We shoot our wounded.
A nuclear bomb of pain, divorce, some of you here have been divorced and you know that it is more pain than sometimes can be bare…
it isn’t Gods divine plan, and we don’t encourage divorce, we fight for families, but I know that sometimes it happens, and it is awful for everyone. It very well could be one of the most emotionally painful moments of your life.

But what is the role of the church? According to Gods word we are here to bring healing, not condemnation. But all too often the church comes out with a loaded gun and bang- one if not both end up leaving the church.

What do you think happens to people who are hurting and needing healing so often. Do they turn to the church who has condemned them, no the head straight for the bars. Why because all too often the people there are more loving and compassionate than the people in the church. Let that sink in…

We shoot our own wounded rather than applying the healing oil to their life.

We stop caring.
My wife Dara and I started this church not to be cool, but because we believe that if you reach out to hurting people and care for them God loves that. I believe that there are a lot of hurt people, some hurt from the church, others other things, but they need to experience God in a real way. To see him as a God that likes them and want sot be their friend.. Not some angry tyrant ready to throw lightining bolts and making random threats all the time.

And when I get too busy, I don’t get to care for people like I need to.
Sometimes we get so agenda and task driven that a need isn’t seen as a divine appointment, and we miss God

Jesus said don’t ever forget the main point about others…

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31

What do these words all have in common?
Vote, majority rule, ballot, Roberts rules of order
You cant find them in the bible

They are not in there, yet those very word are the words that drive a lot of churches.

If in my role as pastor you can vote me in and out. Then my job is to please you. So I have to ask all the time, what are the money people going to think, or the power people going to think. Then I would having to play the game. My job would be to please you not God.

Why is the church ineffective today?
Because too many pastors have been backed into a corner pleasing people not god. The church doesn’t belong to us it is Christ church, and when we start living and believing that why it changes everything.

The church exists to please God, not us.

Jesus says this…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:18

How does missing the main thing with the church affect us?

The church loses touch with the world.
Don’t play that secular music, or where that type of clothing, to do this or that… and the church takes on its own subculture and language that no one else understands…

You got to be blood bought, sanctified, walking right and living tight, and filled with a mighty burning fire… just think about that for a minute. I am not trying to offend you, but here is a person who is not ever hardly been to church and we want them to be blood bought, that’s gross, sanctified, what?

We are so accustomed to our terms that we think everyone gets it.
And then we aren’t really willing to explain even what the bible says.
And if you don’t get it, sorry. And if you don’t worship like us, look like us we don’t have time for you.

Why is the church ineffective? Because we have spent so much time with only other Christians that we have lost touch with the world.

Some Christians think they can make it without church.
Thousands and thousands… “I don’t want to go to church with hypocrites”

Gods word say no to forget the gathering of his people together for worship.
There is something awesome when Christ followers gather to worship God all together. Something amazing when one believer lays hands on another believer and asks God to do something inhumanly possible and God does it.

There is something almost magical when the body of Christ functions as the body of Christ. You can’t recreate that by yourself. We are trying to use the internet as a tool to minister to people and I want you to use it, but it can never replace what can happen in a corporate setting when we worship together.

Is the church imperfect yes, but it is Gods tool, the thing he has chosen to tell the world about Him… Lets make sure we are functioning as the church of Christ

We don’t go to church, we are the church 7 days a week.

The people start thinking the church is here for us.

What would happen is we really lived like the new testament church..

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Acts 2:44-45

What if our thoughts were let’s help. Let me not just say Jesus loves you, but let me show you he loves you by meeting your need.

Or instead of hearing about someone’s struggle and “helping them” by praying for them in a group. Gossip, we really do try to help them or maybe really pray for them.

Maybe God is calling me to be different. Maybe God is calling you to be different.

Sunday Overview

Well sunday was great. Just to bring everyone up to speed, we had a great service with 59 people attending. The band did great as always! Our children's ministry called Creek Kid's is growing every week. The kids love it!

We concluded our sermon series called "Confessions of Pastor" this weekend. I know I was challenged. (since i made the confessions) but over all it went well.

We also did our Food Court Fellowship yesterday and it was very successful! A lot of people really stayed and connected well.

I dont know about you, but I am having the time of my life.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Monday transcripts

My new goal is to try to post an edited version of sundays message as every monday. Just in case you missed it, fell asleep, or would like a friend to read about what was said on sunday.

I will work hard to make this happen, again we want the internet to be a tool and a resource for all os us in any way possible.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Baptism, big ideas, and buildings

well as I am getting ready to crash for the evening, I am thinking about the week I am about to face. This time next Friday we will have completed our first baptismal service. We have at least 4 people who are ready to go ahead a get wet. I love baptism, partially because Jesus did it and partially because I love how Romans talks about being "buried in baptism." It speaks of the symbolism of dying to yourself and emerging again new and refreshed and ready to follow God in everything He has for the believer. It is absolutely my favorite "church" thing to do. I have visions of baptisms every week. So many that we have to rethink even how we are going to handle the "traffic"of getting everyone baptized.

Another reason I love baptism is because the last thing Jesus says to do is to go and make disciples. The church today is "good" at counting decisions for Christ (of which I am guilty). But the command of Jesus wasn't to simply help people make decisions for Christ, but it was to help them become a disciple or Christ follower. Anyone can raise there hand during a service and be caught up in the emotion of the moment. But it takes someone who has really thought things through to say I want to be baptized in water to show everyone my new commitment.

I am passionate about baptism, so much I was baptized twice. Once when I was 8 and really at that time felt like I was a Christ follower. The the teen years came around and I strayed form any faith I once had. So after I got real with Jesus shortly before I turned 18, I decided to have it done again. My dad and my grandfather baptized me in water in the fall of 1995. Wonderful!

Big Ideas....

I have been checking in regularly with Mark Batterson and tracking what they do and how they have been effective. One of the things they do, is make sure every service has one big idea. From the front to the back every where they can they try to make sure that one thing they are trying to communicate is presented in 6, 8 maybe 10 different ways. I like that. Too often we try to do and say too much.

I heard a comment once that people only retain 5-7% of what they hear. So why do we try to say a 1000 things... I am not sure. Woudnt it be better to just say one great thing over and over in different ways so people leave with something they can apply to their life that very day.

Well we are going to work to that very thing. Less is more, and planning is key, followed by communication.


I have had a couple phone calls or emails from girls wanting to use our church for their wedding. They are pretty quick to get off the phone when they find out we meet in theater. Interesting though. What are we going to do when someone wants to be married? That is going to be a great problem.

Really I am not tired of packing and unpacking yet at the theater, because we have a good system. Granted a rotating team is ideal, and we are far from that but it is coming. But I must admit there are times I lay awake at night designing a building to accommodate everything we want to do. Building an off site coffee shop that roasts its own brand of beans, which we use of course on Sundays. A stage that actually moves so we can have dramas that interact with the service during teaching times, a media presentation that is like none other, live internet stations in the foyer, wireless capabilities to download the sermon onto your palm during the service, podcasts that feed regularly and video casts of our services that sync to the new color Ipod, I need to stop, because you get the idea...

We are right on track to being a great church. Invite your friends and neighbors. Lets encounter God together.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why do I blog

I really think blogging is important and it pushes me in a lot of areas. I am determined to make blogging more than just me muttering through my thoughts, but a real way for everyone to get to know me in a more personal way. I copied part of Mark Battersons blog from days gone by. It is in reference to his style of blogging in an interview with a man named Willbanks.

"For what it's worth, Wilbanks asked why I'm so passionate about the importance of blogging. It feels a little wierd quoting yourself :) But here is an excerpt. I guess I don't need to use "quote" marks :)The larger your church gets, the more important it is to blog. It allows the entire congregation to be part of my world, to feel like they really know their pastor. It allows the congregation to feel like you are touchable and approachable.I think the day will come when it will be hard to imagine a pastor not having a blog and using it as a way of communicating with the congregation at large."

I really feel like this is a part of who we are at JCFC. So invite your friends and others to check us out regurlay.

I am back

Well, here I am again after som time away from the blogosphere.

It seems like a lot can happen in just a few days, though doesn't it. We had our weekly life group last night and it is interesting to watch people grow and change as time goes by. It is amazing to me the growth that we have seen in not just the size of the group (we had 28 last night), but at how people are really starting to catch on to this New Testament style church. We had some people last night commenting on how they have really seen how God has answered prayer in the last few weeks, from deathly ill family members who miraclously got better, to tragic accidents that could have and should have been fatal or at the very least crippling for life. Yet after people have sincerely prayed both situations drastically improved and left the hospital even more quickly than the doctors could have guessed.

It is amazing to me how sometimes we go through a season of doubt, and even question God. Sometimes who he is or what his agenda really is. Sometimes the more I really think about God, heaven, and what he wants, or even knowing what he wants, really messes me up. It makes my brain hurt. But I love the questions, I love to dialogue with people who are intelligent and who have sincere questions are examining God from an intellectual standpoint. As americans we often just react emotionally and then have to pay the consequences later, only to find out we jumped to soon and look like a fool. But I really enjoy the struggle of finding out what we really believe. I have struggled and prayed and thought and focused through everything I believe today. It hasnt been easy, and sometimes it left me doubting everything I have thought or believed, but today I am stronger for it. I know what I believe and I am able to discuss it with anyone with out "coping out"by saying well it is just my religion.

I sometimes feel that struggle is something God allows us to go through just to know him better as we know ourselves better. I firmly believe that if we have doubt it is ok. The disciples had doubt all the time. After the ressurection when the 10 of them (minus judas and thomas) stood before him they were terrified and didnt really believe. Here they were right in the presence of a living Jesus, but they couldnt really capture who he was. The wanted to believe but they just werent all the way there. Ever been there before? You might have some faith, and you want to beleive with your heart, yet your mind just wont let you get there?

Read the story about the man with the demonized son in Mark 9:21-24. read here (copy the text and paste it in the box). Listen especially to what the man says. It is a beautiful statement of imperfect faith mingled with doubt. He really wanted to believe but he just couldnt get his mind wrapped around it....

We all have been there, but I love the verse in John 20:29
"Jesus said, "So, you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing."

That is us today... beleiving with out seeing. What a concept.

Friday, November 04, 2005

wedding tonight

well, one of my good friends from panama is getting married to a beautiful young lady at 7 PM. we are traveling to Ames to be with them and will be out of the loop so to speak from the blogosphere for a while.

The Question what is the ideal church as you see it, biblically and also what you would want from the church.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

a new day has dawned

well, first let me say sorry for that last post with the picasa thing. i am learning all about blog, and vlog, and url photo, but i dont really have a handle on all of it yet. So that last post was my attempt to get a pic up on my blog. I am looking for a way to design my blog to be as sharp as if you havent been there check it out.

We as a team have been going over all this technology apsect of ministry and are doing our best to be on the cutting edge so to speak. I fully realize that what we say needs to be the same. I beleive with all my heart that Christ died so that we can live with him, his shed blood is the saving grace of our lives. Some would say that some of the medium we use to communicate that truth is shallow or not important, but remember this if we are not culturally relevant we are dead. The church has made it as an entity today globally becuase it has been open to changing communication styles and venues down through the ages. I beleiev that one of Americas faults in continuing the amazing spread of the gospel like in the rest of the world is its lack of relevance to society today. amny i speak with simply say the church has nothing to offer them today. They dont see the need, nor the relevance. It is simply viewed as a starchy place full of rules.

Think about this though, If it wasn't paramount that Jesus new the language, lived the customs and understood the ins and outs of society. He could have just came as a man and said this is what you have to do to follow me. But he didnt he grew and learned and coexisted with society so that they had a connection point with him. He spoke in the langauge that immediately got their attention and held it with life application parables and stories that they understood.

Interesting to me that a vast majority of churches want to speak so that others dont get it on sunday mornings....
what about looking to Jesus as the example for the ultimate communicator...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Good Coaching

I have been reading Andy Stanleys book The Next Generation Leader. It is truly amazing. I have been trying to put into practice some of the coaching principles he is promoting. He references King Solomon and hoe even though he was the wisest man to ever live still surrounded himself with men who could give godly counsel. Then as his son Reheboam took over and had the opportunity to really lead with courage and greatness, but instead of asking godly men questions he only asked the yes men in his life and because of such a dumb error the whole kingdom was divided.

It really is a shame when power goes to a man's head. I am trying my best to surround myself with great people so that i can learn from them. I have been talkng regularly now with a couple different church planters who have really given me some great counsel. I m trying to imement the solomon priniple of listening to wise men. Check out and both sites are very cool and doing great things.