Orange Tour 2015

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Have you wanted to attend The Orange Conference but never could make it happen due to the cost, location, or timing? Would you like to get a crash-course of the top-tier stuff from the conference in a one-day event? The Orange Tour is here for you! (Wow, that sounds like a bad infomercial… Sorry about that!)

In all honesty, this is a great event that combines the best aspects of The Orange Conference into a one-day (two-days in Irvine, CA) event. If you are near one of the 14 locations, I highly recommend you go with your entire church leadership. Yes, you can get a lot from reading the books, but there is something different about sitting in the same room with Reggie Joiner, John Acuff, Kara Powell, Doug Fields, and other amazing leaders as they discuss ministry.

Registration for the 2015 tour opens this Friday, June 11. The theme will be the same as the 2015 conference – JUST A PHASE. And the cost is only $59 per person (much cheaper than the full conference rate) if you register that first day!

REGISTER AT ORANGETOUR.ORG

A Day at the Franklin Park Zoo

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I took a short trip down to Boston to visit the Franklin Park Zoo. We thought it would be packed with school field trips, but there were not many people there at all. This helped to make it even more relaxing. Unfortunately, though, we did not get to pet and feed the giraffe, like we thought we would get to do. Maybe next time. Here is a quick video of the animals we saw on our trip.

It’s always important to get away for a bit, especially when you are married. There are so many things in life that can be overwhelming and get you down. I am grateful to have a wife who craves time away. If I forget to schedule something for us to do, she will be asking. That holds me accountable.

So, for those who are married, when was the last time you got away to just be with your wife and enjoy life together? For those who are planning on marriage down the line, keep this in mind when you start your life together. Don’t forget to have fun as a couple!

Memorial Day Reflections

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Something many people do not know about me is that I was really close to signing up for the Navy when I was in high school. All the pressures of college were upon me, and I did not know what to do or how I was going to afford it. My electronics and computer networking teacher had us all take the ASVAB test, and apparently I did very well.

The next thing I know, a Navy recruiter was contacting me and telling me about the different programs. After talking to him while, I realized the officer program didn’t sound too bad. I could study computers, work behind the scenes, and go to school for free.

I then took the idea to my parents. And yes, it took a lot of convincing to get my mom to believe this wasn’t a bad idea. Even then, I wasn’t entirely convinced myself.

I kept thinking and praying about it. And over time, I realized the only reason I thought about going to the military was to go to college for free. I had no interest in putting my life on the line for my country. Sure, I wished I could. The idea of that sounded like something I should do, but that was not me. I did not feel I was called by God to do that with my life. So, my entering our country’s military would not be an act of sacrifice, but an act of getting what I wanted — a free education.

It was at that time that I decided the Navy was not for me.

I am very grateful to live in the United States. While it may not be perfect, most of the time, it is amazing.

Today, we celebrate Memorial Day in the US. It is a day when we stop to honor those who have given their lives for our freedom. While that was not me, I am incredibly grateful for those who did make that sacrifice. If they didn’t, I may not be able to live as I do in a relatively free country, able to worship God as I choose to do so, and allowed to share my faith with others without fear of government control.

In addition to all the freedoms of religions, speech, etc., it is a beautiful country. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience almost all of the different climates, cultures, and landscapes. From the plains of Illinois to the green mountains of New England and the Rockies of Colorado to the beaches of California and Florida, I am overwhelmed with the beauty of our country.

Now, imagine if we did not have the freedom to experience all that.

My love for my country comes in direct connection with my love for all the men and women who sacrifice on a regular basis for our country. As the saying goes, all gave some, but some gave all.

Today, take some time to consider the sacrifice.

Honor those who gave their lives.

If it wasn’t for their service, I might not even be able to write this blog!

Join Me at The Orange Conference 2015 Live Stream

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The Orange Conference 2015 is April 29 – May 1, 2015. It’s a great conference designed to help church leaders grow in their ministry to families. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend The Orange Conference this year, due to budget restraints. However, because the OC team is fantastic and knows others might be like me, they have put together a free live stream event to coincide with the conference. On top of all the cool info you’ll get on the live stream, they are also giving a ton of stuff away, so make sure you tune in!

Here’s all the info you need to join in live:

April 29–May 1, 2015
A Conference for Entire Family Ministry Teams

Questions? orangeconference@rethinkgroup.org
Visit www.TheOrangeConference.com for general event information.

To watch the Live Stream or see the schedule, visit live.theorangeconference.com.

For reminders and updates, please text “LIVE” to 404-445-2198. And we’ll be using #OC15Live on social media. And here’s our latest email to this group: http://bit.ly/1P3yOqG.

You don’t have to RSVP, but it helps. To do so, head to https://orangeconference.wufoo.com/forms/oc15-live-stream-rsvp.

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Hungry Hungry Hippos – Youth Group Game

A couple weeks ago, I began seeing people share videos of this youth group game. What was it? A real-life version of Hungry Hungry Hippos. After checking it out and evaluating the cost, I thought this is something we have to do with our students. This past Wednesday at The Middle, our middle school program, we played it, and it was a blast! We are going to try it this Sunday with our high schoolers.

What you need:

  • One skateboard, rope, small bucket, and a large bag per team.
  • A large number of plastic balls (the kind from ball pits).

Directions:

  1. Have each team of 3-4 players pick a side.
  2. Each team gets a skateboard, rope, small bucket, and large bag.
  3. One player will tie a rope around his/her waist and lie down on the skateboard.
  4. The other teammates will push and pull their teammate.
  5. The “Hippos” will use the bucket to chomp down on the plastic balls, and bring them back to their team.
  6. When the Hippos bring the balls back, their teammates will collect them in their team’s large bag.
  7. When all plastic balls are gone, the team with the most wins.

Important Notes:

  • The ropes need to be long enough to let each Hippo reach the middle of the room, but no further.
  • Instruct the Hippos to only collect plastic balls. Do not let them push themselves around. That is when fingers become exposed and get squished.

I hope you enjoy this game as much as we did!

Five Things I Did Not Expect from The Orange Conference

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I have been to several conferences over the years. To be honest, some are better than others. The Orange Conference is one of those better ones. Sure, there are great speakers and things to learn, but it is often the unexpected things that make OC so good. Today, I wanted to share five things that I did not expect to experience at The Orange Conference. (Note: These are in no particular order.)

1. Meeting people from other countries.
Last year, I was fortunate enough to stay in a house with a guy from New Zealand. Throughout the conference, though, I began meeting more and more people from other countries. It was such a great opportunity to connect with them and hear what family ministry is like where they live. It really helped to broaden my horizons.

2. Parody songs.
Each year at The OC, the band performs at least one (usually multiple) parody songs. These are usually in honor of specific family ministry people, and they are always both hilarious and excellent. For instance, last year, they did a parody of “Call Me Maybe” as “Change this Baby” for nursery volunteers. A couple years ago, they did “Don’t Fade Away,” a parody of “Come Sail Away” as a tribute to all volunteers.

3. Great food.
Honestly, I should have known about this, but each time I go to the southern states, I am overwhelmed with the amazing food they have. I ate so much barbecue, fried chicken, and mashed potatoes that it wasn’t funny. It is a good thing that I had to walk around to all my workshops, because I could have easily gained weight at The OC.

4. Relaxation.
Ministry is often an incredibly tough time, and many conferences claim you can come and relax for a week, but The OC is one of the only ones I feel like it happens. There are a number of workshops and main sessions to attend, but I never felt like I was still working. It is always a great time to kick back, shift my worries to the back of my brain, and focus on my relationship with God.

5. Lots of fun.
As I have said before, I have been to several conferences. Most of them were designed for youth or family ministry. Unfortunately, though, many of them forget that we really like to have fun. It is one of the reasons we do these jobs. When I came to The OC, though, it was completely different. There are games, comedians, rock bands, contest, silly videos, and more going on all the time.

Those are just five things I did not expect to experience when I first started going to The Orange Conference. I hope they help you understand a bit more about what it is all about. If you have not registered for this year’s conference, do so right away! Just head to theorangeconference.com, where you will find all the important information.


It’s “Orange Blogger Week” again, which means that the Orange Bloggers are out in full force, sharing about their experiences using Orange curriculum, going to the Orange Conference, and partnering with families in their local churches. Be sure to check them out! There are some really talented bloggers on our team (much better than me!).

Blizzard 2015 – Having Fun in Slow-Mo

On the night of January 26, 2015 (and continuing all day on January 27), the majority of the northeastern United States was hit with “Winter Storm Juno,” which brought over two feet of snow to our yard. What does one do with all this snow? My wife and I decided to have some fun in slow motion!

Reflections from 2014 and Resolutions for 2015

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Happy New Year! The funny thing about a new year is that there is theoretically nothing different from December 31 to January 1. It is just another passing from one day to the next, but people often view it as a chance to start over with a clean slate. It’s that time when many people will make promises they intend to keep throughout the next year. On the other hand, they also try to forget something that happened in the year before.

While 2014 contained some wonderful things, including our life-changing trip to Haiti, this year has definitely been a rough one for many people. This past couple months have been the hardest. This year, my wife and I each had a grandmother pass away. We also had a few deaths within our church, which does not happen very often, considering many of those who come to RCC are younger. It has been a year of struggle, sickness, loss, and pain for many of my family and friends. Much of these things, we would like to leave in 2014, but that is not as easy. The sickness does not go away as soon as it strikes midnight, and the pain of a lost loved one is not suddenly relieved when the ball drops in New York City.

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Connecting with People: Compassion in Haiti – Part 3

One of the coolest parts of our trip was seeing Compassion International at work in the country of Haiti. They have a ton of projects in Haiti, but we only had time to visit three of them. Days two through four were spent doing just that. Along the way, we learned that almost thirty years ago, Compassion moved from doing their own thing in the community to being based in the local church. So, each project we visited was attached to a church.

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Meeting our Child: Compassion in Haiti – Part 2

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It is hard to believe that a month ago, today, we were stepping off the airplane into a country that has been on my heart for many years. When I was a young boy, I remember meeting some missionaries from Haiti at church. I don’t remember much about their presentation or what exactly they were doing. All I remember is they were helping children and families, and God helped me to understand there was a huge need. Of course, I could not comprehend everything at a young age, but that was when God placed this country on my heart. My grandparents also began sponsoring children in Haiti, and I was always interested in how that worked. I would often ask my grandma about her child, and she often referred to him as her son, which I thought was great. So, as God began to prompt me to sponsor a child through Compassion International in January 2002, I immediately searched for a child from Haiti.

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