Archive for the ‘Students’ Category

Well.. today I am 35. My first reaction to that is .. I’m old! But it is no longer about a number to me anymore. I feel like I’m 25 and I’m loving life! Funny thing is that I feel like I’ve experienced the life experiences of someone in their 70’s with all that I’ve been through. Yet God continues to use me in ways I can’t explain. I’m so blessed for the friends and family he continues to bring into my life.
So what’s on the agenda? I hit one of my favorite places to eat yesterday.. Cornish Pasty. Love that place! It’s a hole, but the food is great. Hung with my mens’ group last night and then went to Kazimierz last night for some late night jazz with Shane. Hit the slots at AZ casino on the way home and then worked out. Today I’m having lunch with a friend followed by some fun with the kiddos. We might catch Clone Wars. The Mine starts tonight as well. Pastor Royce is covering the book of James. I am super stoked for that. One of my favorite books of the Bible. So a laid back relaxing day.
Last week I started volunteering for our 5th/6th grade program. I have eleven kids in my group. I can’t wait to plug into these kids. God is definitely going to stretch me this year as some of them are pretty wild. But I’m up for the challenge. I attended a youth ministry leadership conference on Saturday called Calibrate. It was very well put together and reaffirmed me that this is where God wants me as well as the mission board. God has been speaking to me a lot lately about maintaining a balance in my schedule. In fact, my Bible college class was canceled yesterday. I don’t know why the timing on this.. but I’m putting my faith and trust in God that he knows why he doesn’t want me in school right now.
Lastly, I’m excited for our new singles ministry for late 20’s/early 30’s at Cornerstone. Its called Rhythm (formally Generation 8). Our new singles pastor, James Patterson has a big vision for this group and I’m excited to be a part of it. But it will mean that I will have to leave Camber as it is going to Thursdays night. Camber was a huge part of my life. Especially after going though divorce. I love plugging into that age group. But it is time for me to move on. God always seems to bring new opportunities to learn and grow in my life. I love the people in Rhythm and I can’t wait fellowship with them.
Last, I heard a message from Pastor Justin about how churches need older people be there for the younger people of the church. Praxis’ average age is 23. I don’t my role at that church, but I know there is a reason I go there here and there. I made a lot of mistakes and age 23 and I love sharing my testimony to guys at that age. And at 35, I still feel I can hang with that age group. God has a plan and I need to obey if that is the path he wants me to take. I’m just excited to be a part of it!

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Wow.. I have lots on my mind. Very typical after Sunday. So I thought I’d tried and sort my scattered thought with this blog. Spent the whole week hanging with the kids. My youngest turned eight and I had a swim party for him today. It got over just in time for the rainstorm. I’m pretty fried form being outside so much this weekend.

I came across a blog I wrote awhile back on God moving events. I had gone to College Briefing, then Belize and Passion Atlanta all within a few months in ’06. I was on a pretty big spiritual high at the point of my life. Those events brought me closer to God. Then I signed up for three mission trips in ’07. All three of those fell through. I was disappointed and fell into a spiritual rut. In my blog, I wrote how I need to not rely on these trips to bring me closer to God. I wanted to get excited for God by just opening up my Bible. Well, today is not the case. I get pretty jazzed up from opening up the Word quite a bit now. But I also need those God moving trips as well. There is something about that alone time with God away from everyday life and also being around a community of believers. It really draws me closer to him and is a big part of my growth. Passion L.A., Tijuana and camp have all been huge for me this year.

Speaking of camp, one of the kids that was in my cabin came running up to me at Target. He was really excited to see me. I got to meet his parents. I really miss those guys from my cabin. I told him that I was leading a small group for 5th/6th grade starting in a month. He was really happy about that. That kid is amazing. He knows more about Revelations than I do.

Just want to write real quick about my friend Nathan. Amazing guy that was in my men’s group a year ago. Friday, his brother Tyrone was found dead from an apparent overdose. I can’t imagine how hard being in that situation has to be. At the same time, I just don’t get it. Life is too short and too precious. My heart goes out to Nathan and his family. He’s such an amazing guy. Even though his life has been super rough, he’s always kept close to God.

Dangit.. I’m frustrated. So a few months back I decided to try and open up a bit and let some new friends into my life. I’ve had this shell around me for some time and I’ve been praying about letting new people in. I’ve had some trust issues with people because I’ve been burned too many times… especially from those close to me. Yet I still continually get let down. Really don’t know how to handle this. I do have some close people in my life I trust, but I’m having a hard time letting others in. I feel myself climbing back into my shell and just staying away from people until I figure this out. Its hard because I love meeting and getting to know people. I just need to trust God about the people he brings into my life. Need to pray, pray, pray…

Had a great time taking a team of people down to Liberty House for Second Saturday yesterday. I really need to sit down and blog about how that ministry has changed my life these past couple of years. There were a few people from the Singles and others class that really wanted to help the organization and set up a thing with the Golden Spoon where they donated 75% of their profits to help fund some camps for kids. I was so excited to hear about that. Then Steve Lappen (the director and an amazing guy with a big heart for those kids) was invited to speak at church today. I’m so excited to see Cornerstone finally get involved with this ministry and helping these intercity kids stay off the streets.

Met the new singles Pastor, James Patterson today as well. Great guy and I’m very excited to see him here. God has good things in store for him here.

Some really cool stuff going on in my divorce group. I’m really bummed that I will be stepping away from it for awhile to counsel kids. But it will be good for me. Speaking of divorce, I was stopped by a girl tonight that said she was going through it . Someone had given her my name. I really felt for her because she is at the early stages of it. Really nice girl.. enjoyed my conversation with her. Divorce sucks. Yet God can do amazing things with people if you stay focused on him and trust him.

I’ve got such a super busy week this week. Going to spend the rest of my night preparing for it so I don’t get too caught up with it. Also want to make sure I make some alone time with God. Got some deep thinking to do. Then I head off to San Diego the following week for a little fun in the sun. God is good.

Love you guys (or whoever likes to read about my up and down life), TT

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I had a really good week this week. I feel very focused. I also feel really relaxed. I’m really grateful for the people and the things that God has brought into my life. As I continue to pray about his will in my life, he continues to use me in ways I can’t explain. The only way I can explain it to say that it was all God. He can use anyone.
I’ve been studying two things the past couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to better my understanding of the Holy Spirit and how he works and I’ve also been studying the concept of church and community. The Holy Spirit had always been a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve didn’t understand his role in the Godhead for some time. Yet I know the Spirit is in me. He guides me in my walk everyday. But at the same time I still forget to call upon the Spirit. I will be put in a position to be used by God and I wonder if I can do it. The thing is, I can’t. But God can. The Spirit gives us the power to do God’s will. Why is that so hard to remember?
I get convicted by the Spirit almost weekly. I don’t think we can call upon the Spirit without repentance. It’s the only way I can look at what has happened to me these past couple of years. I just try to be obedient and follow his will and the Spirit gives me the power to go about it.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.   Romans 8:9-11(NIV)

As I try and discover God’s will in my life, I do at times have my frustrations. I know he has called me to ministry. As scary as that sounds, I can’t say no to that. He has done too much and revealed to much for me to say no. I am also trusting that to him to decide what that is. At this point, I’m not sure what his will in my life is. I know my spiritual gifts and I see where he is leading me. But I gave up trying to pinpoint and define it. I want him to lead me there. I want to have the faith to believe he knows what he is doing. I had a lead pastor come up to me last night and ask me what my ministry was. I kinda laughed at this. I told him I don’t really have one. That I’m just learning the ropes and trying to find God’s will in my life. I’m not sure why he asked me or who he thought I was.
The thing is that I’m a late bloomer in this calling to ministry at my age. I just surrendered my life almost three years ago. I have no seminary or theological background. I read my Bible, listen to sermons and ask a lot of questions on a daily basis. I hang out at church 5 times a week. This is my way of learning ministry. Yet, what I really want is a mentor to help guide me and push me about the in’s and out’s of ministry. I want to know where to start my first steps. Is it schooling, interning, on the job training? I’m not sure..
I once had a guy offer to mentor me without me asking or getting to know me. I truly believe a person seeks a mentor, not vise versa. So I declined his offer. Ron Merrell has been the closest thing I had to a mentor. Now he just left. So I am now taking what I learned from him and applying it. But I feel I need a little direction. I feel I need someone to help me with those first steps of really learning ministry. I meet with a pastor from another church and a missionary on the side every few weeks for some spiritual advice, but it’s not enough. The frustrating thing that I’ve seen lately is that some people with a seminary background aren’t willing to help raise up new leaders. They’ll brag to me about their ‘church background’ and knowledge, but won’t apply it to others. I feel like it’s a members only club. I’m tired of seeing this. Is this really what God wanted for the church? I feel that if someone comes to you and sincerely wants to learn from you, you should feel honored to do that for them. That’s just how I feel.
Yet I know God will raise someone up. I do have an amazing opportunity that was presented to me to counsel 5th/6th graders. I’m still praying about that decision. I would have to step away from my divorce group. Yet I want that experience. I know it would be good for me. So I’m seeing some things going on as I write this. I just need to make sure that I don’t get overloaded like I did last year. So far, I’m doing well with balancing my life.
Well, I just had a lot on my mind. Life is good, God is good. I’m grateful to him for what he has done. I’m grateful for my life. I just need to continue to trust him. I’ve seen him use too many people in amazing ways to not trust him.

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I found out 2 weeks before we left that I was going to Forest Home camp in California to help counsel kids in our 5th/6th grade program for 7 days. I was pretty stoked about this. I have a heart for two things – the nations and youth ministries. I had helped out on occasions with this program, but I really wanted to go to camp this year. We ended up bringing about 70 kids on two buses. The not-so-fun thing about that – very loud and Axe deordorant body spray. The boys poured it on on the way.

I had 6 kids in my room – KJ, Jake, Dylan, Brian, Tanner and Marcos. Most of them were skateboarders. We spent the first night going over rules and getting to know each other. They were up pretty late goofing off. But the mosquitos and spiders freaked them out…and the mouse running around the floor.

We spent the first full day at the lake. Water slides, kayaking and the big inflatable Blob were on the agenda for the day. I spent most of the day laying on the beach. Then I threw C.J. – one of our leaders into the lake. He would eventually get me back be dumping cold water all over me at lunch. Then the lead pastor Jeff took us counselors down to the zipline to have some fun while the kids had their freetime. Forest Home famous shakes followed that. The evening was war night as the kids dressed in camoflauge for a night game of crawling around. I brought face paint and colored most of the kid’s hair to make it fun.

I got teased most of the week about one of the staff members – Mango (her camp name).  She was pretty and all the boys liked her. The boys tried to set me up with her. I woke up in the middle of the night with my kids shinning a flashlight in my face trying to get me to admit that I like her. Then they told her that I like her. I had a lot of explaning to do.

We had a safari the next night. I had to do the hula contest.. and I lost. Later that night was deck connections. Each counselor spent 10 to 15 minutes with each kids and spent some time chatting with them. I really enjoyed this time with my kids.

The next day was at the lake again. We had a counselor vs kids water war. Then the counselors went to try out the blob. As I got ready to go on, we had a scary moment. The worship leader of the camp came walking up and was covered with blood. Then he passed out. He had hit his head pretty hard while diving in the water. So lake day got cancelled early while they attended to him. He ended up being fine. We played volleyball later and then had group deck connections. I talked to the kids about being a missionary and what that was all about. We then had night time free time with hot cocoa and cookies.

The showers were separate from our rooms. I got up early to take mine. As I headed back to my room, a bear stood in my way. He saw me and then ran. I was the only one awake, so no one else saw him. Pretty crazy. I got a care package and a letter from one of my kid’s mother at lunch time thanking me for watching her son. I thought that was really nice. Later that night we watched a movie under the stars in our sleeping bags.

By the way, the food was pretty good for camp food. I had no problem going for seconds. We did a long hike to the lost mine the last day. Then we baptized some of our kids later after that. Then the pranks rolled out that evening. I put a fake rat in Jeff’s sleeping bag. Then our cabin got Axe’d. So we retaliated with baby powder in thier sleeping bags. And of course.. the underwear hanging on the hook for all to see. Things got serious for the last camp meeting that evening. We challenged the kids to be a light in the world after camp. We then took time in our cabin to say nice things about each other.

I really enjoyed going on this trip. It was good to get away for a week from busy life. I had fun being a kid again. But I most enjoyed plugging into these kids and building some long lasting relationships with them.

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FoHo 2008.jpg

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So I’ve left the cool weather of Payson and I’m in town to enjoy the heat for a couple of days. Then I will be heading out to California to be a camp leader at Forest Home camp. I will be working with the 5th/6th grade program there. I’m pretty excited to be returning to Forest Home. I have good memories of going there with my young adult group a couple of years back. Cool thing is there is no cell phone reception and no internet access. I have conjured up some pratical jokes to play on the kids in my cabin/tent (whatever you call them). But at the same time I’m excited to be pouring into these kids lives for a week. My son Jake leaves for Hume San Diego for Jr. High camp the same week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how difficult this past 6 months have been for me. Even though once again God pulled me through those tough moments, it took more than just relying on him. I had to meet him halfway and tell him that I couldn’t on my own power handle what I was dealing with. I had to surrender what I was going through to him. I seriously love this passage.

 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.            2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV)

I’m glad I’m weak. I live a pretty tough life. Yet it brings me close to God. I’m blessed with so many amazing friends and support. My life has become an open book and I love sharing it to people. I know our natural tendency is to run and hide. Its how we are wired. Adam and Eve hid after committing the first sin. Yet there is something about opening up about your struggles to others and sharing how God pulled you through. There is no such thing as perfect people.This world needs more transparent people. They need to hear about the love of Christ and know its ok to make mistakes. Its all about how you pick yourself up. And God is always there to help us up when we need him.

I want to give a shout out to my friend Jamin. Last night he shared his experiences in Sudan on stage at Camber. I love this guy. Just a real, down to earth guy who just loves Jesus. I met him over a year ago and had invited him to join my men’s group. He felt like he didn’t measure up to us ‘Godly men’ to join. In my head I laughed this off because I knew I no where near that. Then he struggled here and there through the summer with temptation. We had a class at Chandler Gilbert next to each other. We had some great conversations. He was so open to me about his past life with drugs, etc. It encouraged me so much.

Then Jamin left for Sudan to do missions work around Christmas. That’s also when my own personal life tanked it. Yet as far as he was, Jamin called me from Sudan on a monthly basis. I can’t tell you what those phone calls meant. He then came back a few weeks ago. I tell you.. what a changed man. I see someone who saw the love of Christ being shared in a tough country dominated by the Islamic culture. I see someone who has let Christ fully take control of his past life and is letting he mold the man he was meant to be. I’m grateful to God for blessing me with his friendship.

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A pretty God-filled week for me. God continues to reassure me in all I do. He blesses me so much with my Bible studies and the people he puts in my life. He continues to provide for me.
I had a fun week with the boys. Its been great having things back to normal with them. We saw Iron Man. I’m a huge sucker for summer action movies. Its fun when you have boys to go see them. They are wrapping up school and I’m now in the process of planning out my summer with them. We have lots of camping trips and California trips in the works.
We started to read Daniel in my men’s group. Its been great so far. I love reading about the faith that Daniel and his companions have in God. So encouraging. We have it made when it comes to persecution for our faith compared to back then. Pastor Royce gave a message on spiritual warefare the next night. It was an amazing message. I am sad that the Mine is ending for a break soon. I started a study on Discovering God’s Will in my Lifegroup. I’m very excited for it! Then I heard a message from Ron Habermas the following night. Probably one of the top Christian theologians of our time.
I did some volunteer work at Liberty House Saturday for our Second Saturday event. I love the heart of the people that come out for this. Crossroads Youth Intervention is such an amazing ministry. They take in intercity kids from the surrounding neighborhood (very dark and violent) and give them a safe place to hang out. They tutor them and share the love of Jesus at the same time. They even take them on camping trips over the summer as well. My good friend Mike Bhatti has been doing amaing stuff there as an intern.
I took my mom out for breakfast Sunday morning for mother’s day. My mom has been good to me. She lets me vent when I need to and helps me finanially during tough times when I need it. She has helped a lot in helping me raise my kids when I need a night off. She kept me in church as a child. It was that planted seed that brought me back to Christ recently. I appreciate her.
World Vision was at the church later that day. I’m a huge supporter of them. World Vision is making a difference in the world. I have been supporting their ministry in Uganda for some time. My heart goes out to the people who work for them and what God is doing in the world through them.
My very good friend Rob got baptized Sunday as well. Love that guy. A man who admits his struggles and just has a heart and passion for Christ. He got baptized with his sister. Just an all around encouraging moment for me.
I started a new group outside of church for some men at church that afternoon. Its just a purity group for men who have been through divorce. My hope is that some of these guys will take their situations and become better men of God through it. I had a good turn out for it and I look forward to meeting these guys every month.
That evening was my last Sunday teaching 4th grade Sunday school. I’ve been blessed to do that for 2 years now. It was the first ministry I signed up for after turning my life over to Christ. I will miss those kids. I am apppreciative of the staff for believing in me and allowing me to do that. It has given me the passion to share the word to others.
I capped off my long attending Praxis church that evening. I’m really loving that church. I leave spiritually filled everytime. Pastor Justin is so passionate about the word. We just finished a series on 1 John. A pretty straight forward message to Christians on the Christian walk. I’m considering taking them up on their leadership program this summer.
So that’s what is up with me right now. Counseling sessions with da ex and da boyz this week. Praying to God that was right decsion on my part. But for the most part just going to relax and enjoy my week some friends. Hit me up…

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My Pastor has always told me that I do ‘messy’ ministry. Basically he is referring to the fact that even though I don’t have a seminary education, I have a heart to serve and I love to minister to others from my heart. The fact that even though I’m not sent by the church to reach others, I do it regardless because I know God has called me to do this. I would love a seminary background someday, but that is not going to stop me from sharing what God has done in my life.

I was hesitant to write this blog because I’m about to reveal a ministry that I’m involved with that I really don’t discuss. It’s something I do because I have a heart for this age group of people and i like to keep it to myself. This involves campus ministries.

A couple of years ago I received a call out of the blue from a guy named Aaron. I don’t how he got my number, but he mentioned someone told him about me and my heart to serve. He wanted to meet me. So I met him at Chipotle and we talked. He was starting a ministry called Athletes in Action. He was a former football player at U of A and was looking to minister to the athletes at ASU. He wanted my help. At the time I was still going through the tough part of my divorce and really felt I didn’t have much to offer. So we parted and I told him I would pray for his ministry.

I attend Camber at Cornerstone. It’s a young adult program that services a lot of students. One of the things I like about going is that I can meet students and share my life with them. I feel the late teens/early 20’s age group is such a huge age for decision-making. The decisions made at that age will affect the rest of your life. Believe me I know, I still feel the effects of some of my poor decisions I made back in those days. I love meeting some of the people at Camber for coffee on the side and telling them my life story.

I was at a ASU football game last year and walked by the student section. I once had season tickets there. I know what goes on there. Believe me, I snuck in my fair share of alcohol. I was observing the behavior of the students. Hundreds upon hundreds of drunk students acting inappropriately. I asked myself the question .. ‘God, how do we reach these people?’ This started making me want to expand more out my own church and into the college campuses.

I love the Passion movement. It’s a movement that reaches college students and teaches them to think globally. It’s a huge movement that has done some amazing things. It has always been an inspiration to me.

I started to plug into worship groups on the various campuses. But I felt I could do more. Then I ran into Aaron at church one day. I hadn’t seen him in some time. I asked him about his ministry and told him about my passion for students. He invited me to attend a leadership meeting that brings leaders from almost every college ministry on campus. Anywhere from Young Life to Campus Crusade to international students were there. I represented Cornerstone with Pastor Ron’s approval. I was able to connect with several ministries there. I was able to be a voice in those meetings and be a part of what God is doing at ASU. My meeting with Aaron two years ago was no accident.

I was also attending Chandler-Gilbert community college last year. I had always wondered if there was a faith-based group that met on that campus. It is a small campus and different from a big university. On my last day of class, I saw a flier on the wall that said ‘Christians meet every Wednesday night!’ So I contacted Christians in Action and attended one of their worship nights recently. It was led by a couple really cool young guys that attended the college. They were doing amazing things there. I met with about 25 amazing students that were doing awesome stuff for the Kingdom on that campus. I was able to stay late that night and talk individually with many of the people there and share my own faith with them. It was so encouraging to listen to the hearts of most of these young 18- 22 year olds. I encouraged them to keep doing what they were doing.

I at times attend Praxis church. Many of the congregation there are ASU students. I really enjoy Pastor Justin’s speaking and have gotten to know him recently. I have just started to meet with his staff on the side. Not sure what God is stirring up with that, but I am listening to him.

Today I was at my campus meeting. I stay late to talk with Ben Sanders.. the guys who leads the meetings. I was able to share my story with him. He called me a connector. He mentioned I’m someone who is not afraid to go in groups outside my own church and share the good news about Jesus. He told me he needed more people to connect many of these ministries together and promote unity in the body of Christ. Because I had already plugged in with so many of the college ministries, I offered to help in the best way I could. He gave me a great book called ‘The Externally Focused Church’. Basically a book about helping your own church confront and cooperate with the surrounding community agencies. It’s a book for people open to building new relationships. I am very excited to read it.

I love outreach. God gave me an amazing gift to connect with others. I feel so blessed he can use me in this way. It makes me understand why I went through so many painful trials early in my life. God is good.

So how can we reach those students? One at a time. And only God can make that possible.

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My son Jake was able to go to summer camp at Forest Home this summer.

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