Would I Do It All Over Again?

Posted by Larry in

This week I am beginning my recovery from three weeks of summer camp in which case I have joked and said that it will take me three months to recover. As I am typing my mind fades off into some far away place and then I snap back into reality. It feels like I have been up for months. On top of that, I have a huge amount of work that has gone undone. Thanks to modern technology however, I was able to keep up with some work via my BlackBerry.

 So… I am tired beyond measure, behind on my work, and I missed my wife’s birthday. Seems bleak huh. Well, before you get out the tissues I want to say that I would do it all over again. Below is a list of the top 10 reasons why:

  1.   My son was with me all three weeks and he told me it was the best summer he has ever had. 
  2. The separation helped me appreciate how much I love my wife.
  3. Living in community with kids and teenagers is more genuine because there was less pretense than there would have been if I was with just adults for the same three week period. The children and teenagers are always more open and honest about their lives.
  4. Two of my students expressed a call into full time ministry.
  5. It is rewarding for me to invest my life into the next generation.
  6. It gave me time to think while being free from the distractions of every day life.
  7. I was able to refresh friendships with other youth workers that I only see three or four times a year.
  8. I was able to develop new friendships with students and adults from around the state. 
  9. Rippling Waters Campground is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places for me. And it holds many special memories from years past.
  10. Dodgeball and Sharks & Minnows (you can review some of my more recent posts for a better understanding of these two).
Let me know what you have invested yourselves in this summer and what you have gained from the experience.

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Slow Dance

Posted by Larry in

I received a message through Myspace today from a young man that I have gotten to know just recently. It was a request asking to pass on a poem as a last wish from a young girl in a New York hospital dying of cancer. According to the message this precious child had/has 6 months or less to live. I cannot and have not tried to validate the young girls situation, but I want to share the poem with you as I believe it will be relevant to most of us.


Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?

Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down. Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short. The music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?

When you ask, “How are you?” Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in bed

With the chores running through your head?

You’d better slow down. Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short. The music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow

And in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die

Cause you never had time to call and say, “Hi.”

You’d better slow down. Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short. The music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day

It is like an unopened gift… Thrown away.

Life is not a race. Do take it slower.
Hear the music before the song is over.

Again, I cannot and have not tried to validate the condition of the young girl that is said to have penned this poem. I do not have a name or a contact to share with you. I shall voice a prayer for this family and trust that the information being circulated is accurate. But even if the story is a means to gain circulation of the poem it matters not, as there is great wisdom in these words. If you missed it, read it again, only slow down this time and pay attention.
If you are following this blog through a reader, please visit the site and let me know your thoughts. It may be validating and encouraging to someone else.

What are the things in life you need to slow down and appreciate?

What is getting in the way of that happening?

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Stream Christian Music When You Work And Travel

Posted by Larry in

With today's technology it is possible to stay connected with Christian music even when you work and travel. Here are four web-sites that will allow you to stream Christian music from your laptop, office computer, or possibly your smartphone.





Air1, KLove, and Pandora all have apps for the i-phone and Pandora also has an app for the BlackBerry, Palm Pre, and is currently available through Windows Mobile on the following handsets: HTC Mogul on Sprint, HTC XV6900 on Verizon, HTC Touch on Sprint, Motorola Q9C on Sprint & Verizon, and Samsung SCH-i760 on Verizon.

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What version of the Bible do you read most often?

Posted by Larry

Please look at the survey below and vote for "What version of the Bible you read most often."

If you are viewing this in a reader please visit the site to vote.

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Sharks & Minnows

Posted by Larry in

I arrived at the pool during free time on Thursday to be met with cheers of, "Larry's here, Larry's here." My friend Tom turned to me and said, "Man, you're a legend" as we walked along the sidewalk together. Wow! What a feeling.

We all want any group of people to make us feel welcome because it is no fun feeling like an outsider. When we are accepted we feel great.our defenses are down, we feel comfortable, and we feel like we can be ourselves. But I must admit that being welcome doesn't hold a candle to showing up somewhere and being met with cheers of joy. To know that there is a group of individuals that is excited that you have shown up and even had been hoping that you would is an overwhelming feeling. (It brings tears to my eyes as I type these words.)

If you will indulge me just a moment maybe you can appreciate the context of what I felt as I showed up...

There are a few of us at summer camp that have ventured into the water year after year to play the game Sharks & Minnows with the students during free time. The game begins by designating one person to be the shark and by default all of the other players become minnows. All minnows go to one side of the pool and the shark goes to the middle. When the shark yells go, all minnows must brave the treacherous water and try and make it the length of the pool without being dunked by the shark. Each minnow that is dunked becomes a shark and all surviving minnows attempt another round and this is continued until there are no more minnows. The last minnow surviving becomes the shark and a new game is started.

It seems simple and somewhat trivial to be writing about a game played in the pool but the students crave this time of interaction with several of the counselors. i don't know why they are individually excited about this water game, but I imagine that we are meeting some need in their lives by making ourselves available to have our arms, legs, and necks twisted up like pretzels.  As we each show up one by one and are greeted with cheers and excitement it warms our hearts in a way that is truly unexplainable. All I know is that I would rather be nowhere else.

It is a great feeling to be celebrated for sure. If you are like me, I know that you would rather be celebrated rather than tolerated. So I leave you with these two questions:

1) What reason do you give others to celebrate your presence?

2) What reason do you have to celebrate someone's presence?

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Posted by Larry in

I returned earlier this afternoon from summer camp after having spent the last four days with about 200 3rd-5th grade students. It was absolutely fantastic, but I must say that I am ready to sleep in my own bed tonight.

I have attended this particular camp for four years, and it seems that each year we seem to work in a healthy morale building game of dodgeball. Each year myself and my good friend Jeremy look forward to this single evening of competition. We get a small bit (no that's not true, it's a great bit) of demented pleasure from pulverizing our competition. The evening usually starts by pairing one camp team against another until there is a winner and then the teams are mixed up a little. It might be 3rd & 4th grade vs. 5th grade, boys vs. girls, or the winning camp team vs. everyone else. But what we long to hear the game moderator say is, "it's time for kids vs. counselors." Jeremy and I give each other a look as if we have just been asked to play in the Olympics. Suddenly it is time to show our stuff and put the "smack down" on these "smack talkin" kids. It usually ends badly for the kids and we are accused of being a little rough by some of the female counselors.

So... We showed up for camp again this year and as soon as I saw Jeremy we began discussing whether or not dodgeball would be on the menu again this year. Much to our delight when they gave the instructions for the evening, we indeed would be mixing it up on the dodgeball court. Things flowed a little differently this year. We began the action with a boys vs. girls game and then the moderator asked the students how they would like the teams paired. Almost in unison the majority of the students began shouting "kids vs. counselors, kids vs. counselors!" Ahhh... It was music to my ears.

On the other side of our evening competition I could not quit thinking about the eagerness of these young ones to square off against their adult chaperones. As I reflected on the moment the question was asked, it was the boys that were most eager to try and dish out some embarrassment for the counselors. And then as I always do, I asked, "Why?"

Here are my thought on why I believe these children, in particularly the boys, were so passionate about a kids vs. counselors match.

1) Boys love the spirit of competition. These boys wanted nothing more or less than to beat the socks off the adults. Losing was not an option. They began letting us know immediately that they intended to win. Which makes me wonder why we organize games in such a way that there are no winners and losers? For most boys, this eliminates any reason for competing.

2) Boys are conquerors. It wasn't enough that they just wanted to win. This group chose a team that they knew they were not supposed to beat. It was great that these boys had just beaten the girls in the boys vs. girls match and solidified for themselves that they were physically superior to the their female counterparts, but now they wanted something more. There was another group on the horizon that challenged their superiority and it was time to settle this matter.
How many times have you told the boy in your home, "you are not able to do that" or "you are not old enough for that?" Only to be met with "oh yes I am, just let me try" or "give me a chance and I'll show you." Boys were created by God to push the boundaries, to dream the impossible, and to do what others say cannot be done. So I suspect that next year some of these same boys will be looking to redeem themselves from this years loss and anticipate an opportunity to take what is rightfully theirs. Victory.

3) All kids are looking to earn the respect of the adults in their lives, especially boys, and what better way for a young one to earn the respect of the elders than to challenge them and beat them? Today I am a little more sensitive to the other ways in which my son and daughter are looking to earn my respect. I pray that I am wise enough to recognize those moments.

I am looking forward to two more weeks of camps. I anticipate God has more to teach me. Stay tuned to see what's next.

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Keys To A Man's Heart

Posted by Larry in

Here is an article that I read today about marriage. Ladies please don't send me nasty e-mails. I know it is written for women about men. I assure you that there will be information for the men to come.

I hope all that read this, whether you are married or contemplating marriage, will pursue educating yourself about your mate for as long as you both shall live. After 10 years of marriage, I am reminded sometimes that I still don't know my wife as well as I should.

So men, if you are reading this and saying, "True dat!" I want you to realize that there are some things that your wife wants you to know as well. You can surf the FamilyLife site for a lot of relevant material. Also, Focus on the Family @ http://focusonthefamily.com/ is an excellent resource for your marriage.


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Times Are Changing

Posted by Larry in

I recently began meeting on a weekly basis with a group of ministers in cooperation with the Dunbar Ministerial Association. The group is a composed of the ministerial staff from the various churches in the city of Dunbar. Our meetings have come about in a response to many of us asking the question, "Can we do more together than alone?"

As we came together to discuss what we could do in the way of cooperative ministry we felt as if we needed to prepare ourselves with a season of prayer and searching. Thus, we decided to begin meeting at the McDonald's in town for about 45 minutes to discuss an agreed upon book and then go from their to the United Methodist Church just a few blocks away to join in prayer for another 30-45 minutes, and I must say that this is proving to be one of the most refreshing times of my weekly schedule.

However, for as much as I rejoice in this time I also realize that what we are creating will be very fragile at first and will require much care and cultivation to eventually blossom into something beautiful. I am reminded of this each time I talk with someone who has been around church life for any length of time. Many have expressed that this type of sharing and coming together would have never happened 20 or 30 years ago. I cannot personally speak to that as I am only a very young 34 years of age, but I can say that I have been witness to a competitive attitude among churches and heated rivalries across denominational lines even though this behavior is contrary to Christ's prayer that Christians should be united in love as a witness to all of those that have not yet received God's love.

With all of that said, I do believe that times are changing. I and many that I talk to in Christian circles consistently express a discontent for spiritual apathy in church life. It seems that people are more prepared today to cast aside the dogma of denominationalism and embrace a more inclusive brand of community, or at least that is what I am feeling and experiencing in my personal faith journey.

I want to conclude by recommending the book The World Is Flat (3.0) by Thomas L. Friedman. This book is written to be a brief history of the 21st century in terms of our marketplace relationships on a global scale. After just one chapter I have become more aware that I as an individual can create and leverage global influence. Now that is a powerful notion! Pick up a copy and let me know what you think.

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Observations From My Vacation Planning

Posted by Larry in

Here are a few observations I made as my wife Tonya and I spent much of the day planning and making reservations for our family vacation to Walt Disney World.

1) The key to good customer service is customer satisfaction not problem resolution. If your church/organization will plan and focus on delivering what the consumer needs it will spend less time trying to repair the disappointment of unmet expectations.
2) A web-site can be utilized to answer any question that a consumer might have about a product or service. A discussion board built into your web-site can be beneficial in allowing the customer to ask questions concerning things that you may not have anticipated.
3) I will pay large sums of money for excellent products and services and chances are you will as well. What does that mean for you if you are serving in a church? It means that individuals and families in your community will invest their God given resources in ministries and resources that are planned and executed well.
4) We have not made our vacation choice around our children's preferences. We have made our selection based on our ability to interact with our children in an environment that is fun and exciting for them. It is likely that families would visit and possibly even join your church community if your church was intentional about creating environments where adults and children could interact together while being mutually satisfied. Fore example, my wife and I have chosen to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day because we require food to nourish our bodies, but we have chosen restaurants that provide character dining so we can have a story book experience with our children.
These are just a few minor observations that I made today. It seems to me that our churches and non-profit organizations could learn a lot by studying those that are thriving in the marketplace. I'm just sayin...

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