Arron:

Okay, this is an old post (Sorry for the old picture, Sylas!) from July 8, 2008, but it still rings true for me today. I hope it blesses you on this special day.

Originally posted on My Lord and My Blog: A blog by Arron Chambers:

I sometimes take the freedom we have in the United States for granted.

I don’t mean to, but it’s just not something I think about very often.

Now, I know that the 4th of July was last week and that I’m a little late to the party, but I need to say something about freedom.

Freedom is so much a part of our lives here in the States that we don’t seem to be impressed with it anymore . . . at least I don’t.

I’m so grateful for the freedom we have, but–truth be told–I preach each week without the fear of being arrested, I share my faith with people without the fear of being turned in to the local authorities, and I pray with my family over our lunch at Ci Ci’s pizza and never once think that our public display of faith might get us into trouble…

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#Jesus&Social Media

June 30, 2014 — 1 Comment

The response to my message yesterday has been very encouraging–especially from young people. It light of the discussions and interest it generated, I’ve decided to post the text of my message here.

#Jesus&SocialMedia

Tweeting Jesus

Have you embraced technology?

Let me give you some historical perspective as we begin today by reminding you of some of the changes we’ve experienced just in the last decade.
Remember…
PDAs
Email Accounts you had to pay for
Dial-up
Getting film developed
Movie Rental Stores
Maps
Landlines
Long-Distance Charges
Public Pay Phones
Calling 411
Floppy disks
Paper

My wife has been a late adopted to a lot of technology. She still has—and loves—her flip-phone. She shared this French commercial with me.

Some people think…

“Technology is our Savior!”
Some of you think, when Jesus said, “Follow me,” he was talking about Twitter!

“Technology is from Satan!”
Well, I’m pretty sure that MySpace was a dream of Lucifer. :)

I think technology—and social media in particular—is a tool—and just like any tool, it can be used to build things or tear things down.

What is social media?

websites and applications that enable users to create and share content.

The world is changing rapidly.

There was a tipping point last year that has major implications for business and brands. It will impact publishing and marketing strategies and tactics in the future.

Beyonce, one of the worlds biggest music stars ignored the traditional mass media product launching process. She bypassed the “normal” mass media release of a radio campaign, multiple TV appearances and retail and consumer brand promotions. Instead she announced it on Instagram to her 8 million followers with the word “Surprise” and proceeded to launch the 14 songs and accompanying 17 videos on iTunes.

It was a success and it exceeded the album downloads of the previous album which had used the traditional marketing model. Its a trend that is not going away anytime soon.

(Read more at http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/17/20-social-media-facts-and-statistics-you-should-know-in-2014/#uKMFtcX7WOdUtGTE.99)

Here are some interesting stats about social media:

1. 72% of all internet users are now active on social media
2. 18-29 year olds have an 89% usage
3. The 30-49 bracket sits at 72%
4. 60 percent of 50 to 60 year olds are active on social media
5. In the 65 plus bracket, 43% are using social media
6. Time spent on Facebook per hour spent online by country. Here are the top three. USA citizens get the top gong at 16 min/hr followed by the Aussies at 14 min/hr and the Brits at 13 min/hr.
7. 71% of users access social media from a mobile device.

Speaking of mobile devices. We now have a Journey app. It will be available this week for free.

Let me pause and explain some terms and items that are important to understand technology:

App: An application, typically a small, specialized program downloaded onto mobile devices.

Blog: A site updated frequently by an individual or group to record opinions or information. I have a blog. You can find it at arronchambers.com

Hashtag: HubSpot defines a hashtag as a “word or string of characters that starts with a number sign.” Identical hashtags are then grouped into a search thread.

Tags: Keywords attached to a blog post, bookmark, photo or other item of content so you and others can find them easily through searches

Viral: Anything shared across social networks that get passed along rapidly. YouTube videos are a great example.

We’ve looked at most of these social issues through the paradigm of 2 questions:

Is it good for me?
Is it godly?

Is it good for me?
In a 2011 article, Jan H. Kietzmann, Kristopher Hermkens, Ian P. McCarthy and Bruno S. Silvestre: “present a framework that defines social media by using seven functional building blocks: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups.”

Identity: This block represents the extent to which users reveal their identities in a social media setting. This can include disclosing information such as name, age, gender, profession, location, and also information that portrays users in certain ways.

Conversations: This block represents the extent to which users communicate with other users in a social media setting. Many social media sites are designed primarily to facilitate conversations among individuals and groups. These conversations happen for all sorts of reasons. People tweet, blog, et cetera to meet new like-minded people, to find true love, to build their self-esteem, or to be on the cutting edge of new ideas or trending topics. Yet others see social media as a way of making their message heard and positively impacting humanitarian causes, environmental problems, economic issues, or political debates.

Sharing: This block represents the extent to which users exchange, distribute, and receive content. The term ‘social’ often implies that exchanges between people are crucial. In many cases, however, sociality is about the objects that mediate these ties between people—the reasons why they meet online and associate with each other.

Presence: This block represents the extent to which users can know if other users are accessible. It includes knowing where others are, in the virtual world and/or in the real world, and whether they are available.

Relationships: This block represents the extent to which users can be related to other users. By ‘relate,’ we mean that two or more users have some form of association that leads them to converse, share objects of sociality, meet up, or simply just list each other as a friend or fan.

Reputation: This block represents the extent to which users can identify the standing of others, including themselves, in a social media setting. Reputation can have different meanings on social media platforms. In most cases, reputation is a matter of trust, but since information technologies are not yet good at determining such highly qualitative criteria, social media sites rely on ‘mechanical Turks’: tools that automatically aggregate user-generated information to determine trustworthiness.

Groups: This block represents the extent to which users can form communities and sub communities. The more ‘social’ a network becomes, the bigger the group of friends, followers, and contacts.

(Source: H. Kietzmann, Jan; Kristopher Hermkens (2011). “Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media”. Business Horizons 54: 241–251.)

Yes, some good things can come from social media.

Take Facebook for example.

I’m on Facebook to connect with my friends, to reconnect with old friends, to network with readers of my books, and to minister.

Yes, I did say “to minister.”

I view a lot of what I do on Facebook as ministry.

I regularly post links to this blog and I’m regularly involved with ministry to friends through my Facebook email.

A few days ago, a good friend from High School wrote to me and described how she and her Facebook “community” had just suffered a tragic loss.  Knowing I’m a minister, she asked me to post some scriptures on her wall that might help her friends in their grief.

A few months ago—and over the course of a few weeks—through emails on Facebook, I counseled an acquaintance through a serious personal issue.

Last week, a friend and I exchanged correspondence on an important theological issue.

Recently, I had the opportunity to help a Christian teen-aged friend understand the importance of making pure choices.

And these are just a few of the many opportunities I’ve had to minister on and through my Facebook account.

Can Facebook be time consuming?  Yes!

Do I need to be careful about spending too much time “messing” with my Facebook account?  Definitely!

Do I have to be careful to avoid sinful temptations that come while on Facebook?  Of course.

Does Facebook provide an opportunity for me to minister to others?  It sure does,  and—for that—I’m :)

Is it godly?
Social media is a tool and—as I said earlier—it can be constructive or destructive.

And it’s a tool I believe Jesus would have used.

Remember the definition I shared for social media:

websites and applications that enable users to create and share content.

I think you can tweak that definition and reveal how Jesus shared the Gospel—and prove that He would have used social media:

messages, images, and events that enabled Him (Jesus) to create and share content.

I’d argue, because he wanted to connect with people and share content with them, he used the equivalents to social media.

He used miracles.
He used food.
He used kindness.
He used invites to play Candy Crush!

Please stop!!! I have a theory. In Hell, you’ll get an invite to play a stupid Facebook game every hour for eternity.

Matthew 15:29-38
29 Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.

32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.

Jesus performed miracles because he loved helping hurting people and because he wanted to prove that He was God.

He used food because people love food! I love food, too!

And He was kind!

There are some mean people on Facebook.

btw…there are also some stupid people!

A Minnesota man is in jail because he logged on to Facebook.

Police say 26-year-old Nicholas Wig checked his profile from a home he broke into, and then he didn’t log off. It happened June 19 in South St. Paul.

“World’s dumbest criminal,” the homeowner James Wood said. “I don’t know.”
Wood had come home to find his house ransacked. His credit cards, cash and watch were all gone.

In their place, the thief had left a pair of Nike tennis shoes, jeans and a belt, that were all wet.  Wood said it had been raining outside.

“I started to panic,” he said. “But then I noticed he had pulled up his Facebook profile.”
Wood posted to Facebook using Wig’s profile, saying Wig had burglarized his home. He even shared his phone number to see if someone would call with information. Wig texted him later that day.

“I replied you left a few things at my house last night, how can I get them back to you,” Wood said.

Wig agreed to meet with Wood later that night. Wood believes Wig was under the impression he would give him back some of his clothes he had left at his home in exchange for a recycled cell phone Wig had stolen.

Wood, at his friend’s house, left for home. On his way back to his house he saw and recognized Wig, from his Facebook profile, walking on the street. He immediately called police.

“I’ve never seen this before,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said. “It’s a pretty unusual case, might even make the late night television shows in terms of not being too bright.”
Wig was wearing Wood’s watch when he found him. Police arrested him at the scene.
He could face up to 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines if convicted.

Yes, there are stupid people on social media, but there are also mean people.

And, in my experience, Christians can be some of the meanest.

As we use social media, we must not forget who we are and who we represent.

Is it Godly?

There are at least three filters we can use to maintain godliness while using social media:

Priority

Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Some people are seeking social media first.

Facebook is among one of the most addicting (and therefore concerning) social networks. Nearly a quarter of Facebook users check their accounts five times or more per day. Furthermore, in a study conducted by IDC for Facebook, 25 percent of smartphone owners ages 18-44 say they can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them.

Harvard University looked at why social media is addictive. A study found that sites like Facebook and Twitter not only stimulate pleasure but it provides a way for people to share information about themselves and others.

Dr. Armand Schachter offers this warning.

“People’s productivity at work will decrease where its going to be noticed. People can get fired from work for essentially spending too much time on their Facebook, or Instagram, any social media activity,” said Schachter.

As with any addiction, you must first recognize there is a problem and then find helpful ways to reduce usage. Professional help may also be necessary. (Source: http://www.abc3340.com/story/25822605/study-social-media-websites-are-addictive)

“If you can’t stop it at all, come see a psychologist or a psychiatrist…” said Schachter.

I read a sad story about a young girl who died trying to save her cell phone.

In March 2014, a 14-year-old girl was killed by a train after she tried to retrieve her cell phone which she dropped on the tracks.

Jenna Betti was hit by a freight train in Martinez, CA. According to the 14-year-old’s mother Dena Derenale Betti, Jenna had reportedly been sitting on the tracks with her boyfriend and jumped off when the train approached. However, realizing that she had dropped her phone, she ran back for it, but misjudged the distance of the freight train and was “sucked in by its vacuum.”

Larry Carlat used to be a married editor of a famous men’s magazine. Then he became obsessed with Twitter, lost his job, got divorced, and alienated loved ones.

The tweetoholic describes tweeting “every hour on the hour, day and night.” His tweets were a clear violation of the company’s social-media policy. He was given to choose choice: to delete the account or face termination. He chose Twitter. About a month later, he lost his wife after tweeting “I would’ve taken a bullet for my wife, but now I’d rather be the one pulling the trigger.” He claims to have reached his lowest point when his son threatened to stop following him on Twitter.

After Tweeting as much as 30 times a day, seven days a week for over 3 years and amassing over 25,000 followers, Larry decided to commit “Twittercide” and left the social platform.

The results of a new Microsoft survey (http://campus.ie/news/college-news/microsoft-students-technology-survey) reveal that students just can’t live without their gadgets.

For some students, their love for and dependence on technology would push them to sacrifice years of their life to stay connected. One in four (23%) would rather live to the age of 60 with access to the internet, than live to 80 without ever accessing it: indicating that students see internet access as a basic right alongside food, sleep or air.

Exodus 20:3
“You shall have no other gods before me.”

A “god” is what gets our time, attention, devotion, and physical/emotional/financial/spiritual devotion.

Propriety
When it comes to social media and our godliness, I think it’s important to speak about propriety.

I’ve seen Christians post words and pictures that make me scratch my head and wonder, “What in the world are you thinking?!?”

Let me give you some things that might help us “mind our manners” on social media.

I got this list from a member of Journey who writes a regular article for the Greeley Tribune, Melissa DeBusk.

You can read her blog here: Living in the Deep End.

Recently, she wrote an article entitled, Social Media Manners: Stay Classy Moms.

I think she offers a lot of wisdom that can help all of us to be more proper on social media.

Think Before You Type: Whether it be a ranting status update or an angry comment, give yourself some time to cool off before you type something you’ll regret. Everything on Facebook is stored in their servers indefinitely, so make sure your words don’t come back to haunt you one day. Have a trusted friend or a spouse weigh in before you reply to help you gain some perspective.

Be Polite: If you are tempted to type something which you wouldn’t say to someone in person, this is a great sign that you shouldn’t put the nasty words on social media. It is incredibly rude to hide behind a computer screen or an iPhone and say something ugly to someone which you would never say to his or her face. Your friends and family are reading your typed words, and just because they aren’t spoken doesn’t make them any less hurtful, offensive or real.

Ask First: Before you tag an unflattering picture of your junior high bestie, a cute photo of a friend’s new baby or a snapshot from a wild party, get permission. Someone may not want the picture broadcast to their entire friends list or their employer, especially if it shows them in an unprofessional setting. Sometimes new parents want to be the first ones to share a picture of their baby or would rather you not post a picture of their child, so always ask permission to be on the safe side.

Skip the Drama: If you have a big blow out with a close friend, resist the urge to blast them on social media. Even a vague status update such as, “I really can’t believe some people,” can lead friends and family to question what happened and may lead to the involved parties feeling betrayed. Everyone has fights and arguments, but it will be much harder to make amends if you publicly shared your unhappiness. The same goes for your spouse. Keep your arguments and dirty laundry private.

You Can’t Reason with Crazy: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is to leave “crazy” alone. If someone is passionately responding to something which you’ve shared or typed, it’s ok to let it be. Your friends will see the situation for what it is without you getting into a back and forth reply situation which could likely have no ending. There are people in this world who insist on having the last word no matter how hard you try to remedy the situation or find a solution, and it’s not worth your energy to continue to argue with them. Choose the high road, and accept that you cannot reason with crazy.

When in Doubt, Think About Your Kids: A great filter to use in social media is to think about how you would want your child to respond in the same situation. If your daughter was in your shoes and had a tacky comment written on her status update, how would you suggest she handle it? In all actuality, we are setting an example of manners and appropriate online behavior for our children, so it’s a great way to teach or prepare to teach our kids.

Sympathize: Remember you are not alone in the Facebook world by a long shot, and that anonymous photo which you snap to express your disgust or shock (like the one of the mom breast feeding) are not as anonymous as you might think. The same goes for the author of an article or blog post which you simply hate. Everyone is someone’s child, and all of your interactions on social media need to keep this in mind.

Keep it PG: This may make me sound old-fashioned, but I’d rather not see my newsfeed filled with obscene language and dirty jokes. If you must share something inappropriate, use messenger, email or the “share only with” setting. This also protects you in the long run with potential employers and others who you will interact with in a professional setting.

Have Grace: We are all going to make social media blunders, and having grace and forgiveness with others is the only way to expect them to have grace and forgiveness towards us one day. We are learning, human and imperfect, and we live in an imperfect world. Social media is simply a reflection of that.

Let me add a few more:

Could a pastor discuss this at his Sunday service?
While your posts need not be medicinal and dry, consider the potential eyes on your profile. Would you be comfortable if your boss, client, spouse, pastor or children’s teacher read and shared your views?
Is that a picture your pastor needs to see?



Take your complaints, griping, and sniping offline.
Especially when it’s so vague that everyone who knows you and reads it thinks it’s about them.
Something like this, “Thanks for destroying my life. You monster!”


It’s not all about you!
Think about other people when you post. Don’t always make everything always about you.

It’s not all about politics!
Next week I’m preaching on Jesus&Politics.
Posting about politics is the quickest way to start a fight.
I have very strong political views, but I just don’t feel like social media is the place to hash that out and I know that I’m delusional if I think 140 characters is going to change anyone’s political views.

Every time I read a political post that has exploded, I’m reminded of Matthew 7:6.

Matthew 7:6
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”

It’s not all about cat videos!
But, if it was, it would be this video:

Let me make an important point here.

I’m not suggesting we don’t ever stand for anything on social media. Absolutely not!

Yes, Jesus wanted to connect with as many people as possible. Yet, when the crowds got too large, he’d say something unpopular to thin crowd out.

Matthew 15:24-28
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[g] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Now, some people seem to be negative because it’s all they know how to be.

As my Grandpa would say, “They’re again’ everything!”

Let’s speak the truth, but speak the truth in love. And, let’s be godly as we do it.

I think the Apostle Paul gives us a great paradigm for how to use social media.

I Corinthians 10:23, 24, 31
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor…
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Purity

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

A friend of mine is a very capable counselor who has worked with church leaders for decades. He recently told me, “Facebook is keeping my calendar filled. Over the past year just about every church leader I have seen who has had an affair told me it started on Facebook.”

Wow!

This is a wake-up call to any Christian who is on Facebook.  Men AND women.  I know of way too many women who have left their husbands to connect with someone they reconnected with on Facebook.  We must be careful.

Here are some practical things we can do to be faithful on Facebook:

Don’t accept a friend request from someone you don’t know who is dressed provocatively in their profile picture.
And–especially is she’s especially “hot”–don’t justify accepting the friend request because you “thought she was a young member of our church who might have some questions about the church that she needs answered before she can commit to becoming a member.”

Enter into an accountability relationship with another Christian man or woman who will ask you regularly about your interactions with other women or men on Facebook. 
Tell your accountability partner to ask you questions like, “Are you indulging in anything that feels inappropriate to you?”, “Has a female friend on Facebook shared anything with you that you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with your wife?”  “Have you shared anything with another ‘friend’ on Facebook that your wife would find inappropriate?”  “Are you looking at pictures on Facebook that are causing you to lust?”

Share an account with your spouse.

Give your Facebook password to your spouse or accountability partner and ask them to check your account every week. 
Tell them to ask you, “Have you deleted anything that we might consider inappropriate.”

Agree that you and your spouse will only go on Facebook in a public area of your home with the screen in full view of one another.

Un-friend anyone who tempts you in any way to do, say, look at, or do anything that is inappropriate for a follower of Jesus.

Get off Facebook if it’s causing you to sin regularly. 
As Jesus would say, “If you Facebook account is causing you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one social networking opportunity than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

Put a picture of your spouse and kids next to your computer monitor.
I do this with my laptop on road-trips.  It’s a powerful deterrent to sin.

Use a picture of your spouse and kids as your screen saver.

Don’t hide your faith on Facebook.
If you regularly put scriptures, sermon quotes, Christian statements, etc. on Facebook, it may help to keep you–and any one who may want to reconnect with you in sinful ways–honest.

If you are married, don’t search for old girlfriends or boyfriends on Facebook. 
It may be innocent curiosity at first, but there’s nothing holy to be gained.  And don’t give me that garbage about “only wanting to reconnect with them so you can share your faith with them.”

If you are looking at something or writing something on Facebook that you’d be embarrassed for your 10-year-old son or daughter to see, then you are doing something inappropriate that needs to stop.

Don’t get on Facebook after your spouse goes to sleep unless you have his/her permission and the agreement that they can review your Facebook history in the morning. 

And, at this point, let me say something to people who aren’t technically savvy.   People, you need to know how to check the history feature on your computer.  Check it often and if the history on your computer is always empty after your wife/husband uses the computer you need to start asking some serious questions because he/she is hiding something.

Pray for purity before you log onto Facebook.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

©2014 Arron Chambers

 

 

My daughter is getting married this Saturday to a fantastic young man, CJ Jenkins.

CJ & Ashton

CJ & Ashton

When he asked me for her hand in marriage, this was my response.

12/18/13

CJ,

Today you’re asking me for something that is not mine to give.

Ashton has always belonged to God.  We raised her to be what He wants her to be and to do what He wants for her to do. His will for her life has ultimately been our only desire for her.

Since her birth, her mother and I have prayed for her with love.
Since her birth, her mother and I have prayed for you–with anticipation of her love for you and your love for her.

We didn’t know your name, yet we prayed for you–knowing that God knew your name and that your name would become our daughter’s name.

Soon you’ll give her what is only yours to give.

Your word.
Give Ashton your word and find the joy of keeping it.

Express your love through words.
Hold fast to your vows.
Be trustworthy.
Speak truth in love.
Speak grace.
Guard your character.
Foster intimacy through conversation.
Speak kindly because you like her.
Share the deepest desires of your heart only with her and with no other woman.
Lead her spiritually with your words.
Lead her.
Be the man Ashton deserves.
Pray for her.
Remember who you are.
Lead her from the cross.
Be.
Love Jesus.

Your heart.
Give Ashton your heart and find the joy of sharing it.

Express your love through actions.
Hold fast to her heart.
Be trusting.
Speak love in truth.
Show grace.
Guard her heart.
Foster intimacy through connection.
Be kind because you love her.
Lead her spiritually through your actions.
Love her.
Be the man Ashton needs.
Pray with her.
Remember who she is.
Love her from the cross.
Do.
Love Ashton.

CJ, you are kind-hearted. You are a hard-worker. You are a good man. You are godly.

Rhonda and I trust you and know that you will take care of Ashton.  We also love you and are excited to welcome you into our family.

Today, you’re asking me for something that is not mine to give, so I will simply say, “Care for Ashton on behalf of her true Father.” She belongs to Him. We both love her with everything we have. Love her appropriately.

Today, you’re asking me for something that is not mine to hold on to. We raised her for God and for you, so—with great joy—we release her into your loving care.

Today, I give you my blessing to marry my daughter realizing that—in doing so—we will receive the blessing of gaining you as a son.

Today, I give you my blessing to marry Ashton because that IS mine to give.

©2014 Arron Chambers

Yesterday, my family and the City of Greeley officially launched the fund-raising phase of a project that began almost two years ago as my children’s prayerful response to this question: “What great work do you want to do for our community?”

Two years ago we were studying the book of Nehemiah at Journey Christian Church. During this series I challenged the people of the church to ask God to give them a great work they could do for our “Jerusalem”: Greeley. As a congregation we responded by painting a local public school in only four days–after we covered every wall in the hallways with scripture.

We wrote scripture on the walls of John Evans Middle School before repainting them in only 4 days

We wrote scripture on the walls of John Evans Middle School before repainting them in only 4 days

My kids responded by asking if we could build a playground for kids in Greeley who don’t have one. I’ve never built anything– let alone a playground–so I contacted the Mayor of Greeley and he sent me to the City Manager who sent me to Andy McRoberts, the Director of Culture, Parks, and Recreation for Greeley.

Andy and I met several times and began planning to build a universally accessible playground. We joined forces with Shane’s Inspiration–a not-for-profit group who fosters a bias-free world for children with disabilities by creating social inclusion for children with disabilities through the vehicle of inclusive playgrounds and programs.

Let me share a video with you to help you to understand what Shane’s Inspiration does and why we’re building an inclusive playground for all children in our community.

 

My family’s partnership with the City of Greeley launched a series of discussions in the summer of 2012 and a long series of planning meetings. Individuals and organizations from Greeley’s special needs community along with a diverse group of young Greeley residents attended multiple meetings with us to assess specific needs and to secure ideas for the theme and design of the playground.

The Mondy family–a family from Journey–attended one of the first meetings. Ethan and Brandy Mondy have a healthy son, Isis, and a daughter, Aven, who was born with special needs. Aven (pronounced like “avenue”) was a premature baby and diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was two months old.

Aven Mondy

Aven Mondy

Aven’s personality delights and captures the hearts of those who meet her, and my family loves her dearly, so we suggested that the new playground be named in her honor. As early advocates of the new playground, the Mondy family was delighted that the universally accessible playground would be named Aven’s Village.

Plans for Aven's Village @ Island Grove Regional Park

Plans for Aven’s Village @ Island Grove Regional Park

Here’s a document with a lot more information on Aven’s Village: Aven’s Village Informational Packet

Aven’s Village will be located in Greeley’s Island Grove Regional Park, which has been used for recreation and community events since 1870. It will expand and replace the well-used but dated equipment currently located here. Century-old cottonwoods and other trees, spacious lawns, exhibition buildings, a large arena and covered grandstands, and Centennial Village Museum have earned Island Grove Park a reputation as one of the most picturesque and versatile event complexes in the nation. As a venue for local, state, and national activities and events, Aven’s Village will undoubtedly become another attraction for the park’s visitors (600,000 annually). Historically, the park borders the Cache la Poudre River and was a camping and burial place for the Cheyenne and Arapaho prior to the 1870s. In the 1860s, stage coach drivers for Ben Holaday’s Overland Stage stopped here to water their horses. Island Grove was one of two parks established in 1870 when the Union Colony of Colorado platted the town of Greeley. Aven’s Village will exemplify the care and compassion Greeley citizens share in support of this community’s youth.

Aven’s Village is going to be a very special place for all kids in our community.

We love our community.

I believe you can tell a lot about a community by how it cares for its children, which is one of the reasons my family and I relocated to Greeley six years ago. The more we looked into whether or not Greeley would be a good place to raise our children, the more convinced we became that Greeley is a GREAT place to raise children!

And, it’s a great place for an inclusive playground, where all kids can play together.

This great work is going to cost about $1.2 million, which…for the record…is nothing for our God! We are applying for grants and appealing for local corporate donations and sponsorships, but we are going to need a significant amount of donations from people like you to help to make this playground a reality.

Please join me, my family, and the City of Greeley in our Great Work by helping us build a playground where kids of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities can play together—a playground that is truly for everyone. 

Will you please consider making a donation to help make Aven’s Village a reality?

Also, whether you can donate or not, will you share this blog post and help us spread the news about this exciting and important project?

Donate Online Here: Aven’s Village at Island Grove Park (All gifts to Shane’s Inspiration are tax deductible.)

Or, you can mail donations to: SI FPO Aven’s Village (Shane’s Inspiration For Purposes of Aven’s Village) and sent c/o Tom Welch ~ 501 N. 14th Avenue ~ Greeley, CO 80631.

 

Arron:

I was perusing Facebook and noticing all the pictures of little kids in their “graduation” regalia and decided it was time to share this blog post again. :)

Originally posted on My Lord and My Blog: A blog by Arron Chambers:

Back in my day there were only High School & College/University graduations…and we liked them because they were all we had.

Now there are graduations from Pre-School, Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle School, and from “I’m God’s Gift to this World Self-Esteem” classes.

Am I the only one who thinks this is completely silly and only an attempt to sell tiny caps & gowns, photo packages, and ample amounts of overpriced Hallmark merchandise to people who have allowed themselves to indulge a false-sense of accomplishment?

Not every completed task is a great accomplishment.

Graduating from HS or College is a great accomplishment and something of which to be very proud.  These graduates deserve a lot of credit and praise.

Me finishing Kindergarten was no great accomplishment. I pretty much ate, colored, napped, and monkey-barred my way through that year of glorified play-time.  No, I didn’t deserve to “graduate” from Kindergarten, to don…

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Arron:

I was saddened to hear of Coach Meyer’s passing early yesterday morning. In honor of his life and witness, I want to repost this blog from 2009. Well done Coach Meyer…enter into your rest.–Arron

Originally posted on My Lord and My Blog: A blog by Arron Chambers:

 

This week, I received a package from Coach Don Meyer of Northern State University.  Coach Meyer is the winningest coach in men’s collegiate basketball–with more wins than Bobby Knight.  Coach Meyer is also a devoted Christian.

donmeyer2

I’ve been able to connect with him and meet him because his in-laws are faithful members of Journey.

I have to admit, I was a little “star-struck” when he showed up at Journey last month.  I have a ton of respect for Coach Meyer.

I was so excited to open the package he sent me and find a ton of fliers, note cards, and pamphlets full of wisdom and motivational material that Coach Meyer has given his team over the years. 

I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite ones with you over the coming weeks, because this information is helpful beyond the basketball court.

Coaches and Players With Great Team Attitudes …

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Arron:

An emotional affair is when you are cheating on your spouse in a non-physical way. It is sin (Matthew 5:27,28). It kills trust. It ends marriages. And, it seems to be epidemic.

Originally posted on My Lord and My Blog: A blog by Arron Chambers:

I do marriage coaching.  A lot of marriage coaching.  I currently work with 2-4 couples a week and have worked with about 300 in the past 6 years.  This has been an amazing journey and has led me to start a book on family life so I can help even more couples.

As I was writing on that book this morning, I received an email from a woman who just found out her husband is having an emotional affair with a coworker.  Sadly, this is something I coach people through on an almost weekly basis.

This woman’s email has stirred some thoughts, so let me take a moment and give you some random wisdom.  This list is not exhaustive.

Men, if you’re having an emotional affair here’s what you need to do today:

-Stop!  Cut off all communication, contact, texting, emails, calls, and personal interaction with the other woman…

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