Kids Camp Prayer Week

We are another week closer to Kids Camp 2013!  Thanks for all who are praying with me for the kids, staff and speakers.  Here is the prayer focus for this week:

1.Pray for our Activity, Décor, and Chapel time coordinator; Pastor Harvey Walls

2.Pray for our Prayer Coordinator; Pastor Isaiah McGarry

3.Pray for fun, organized, and safe activities for all

4.Pray for all of our prayer partners

5.Pray for operation of all equipment to be flawless

6.Pray for consistent prayer among all our prayer partners

7.Pray for kids with difficult home situations

Thanks for praying!
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Excited for my friends Bryan and Kristin Thompson

In early 2009, I met my friends Bryan and Kristin Thompson for the first time.  I was the children’s pastor at a church in the Portland, Oregon area, and Bryan was interviewing to be the worship pastor.  At the time they had two kids, Grace and Hope.  There was all kinds of business for them to attend to on our first meeting.  They met the lead pastor, other staff members, toured the church, school and neighborhood, look for housing, lead services, interview with the board, and have about a million other meetings.  Not long after, they accepted the position and moved to the Portland area.

Over the course of the year that we worked together, I got to know Bryan and Kristin very well.  We watched their kids from time to time, including a couple of nights while Kristin gave birth to their third child, Noel.  There are a couple of noteworthy things about their family that I found out during our time together.  First of all, they have very well-behaved children.  That says a lot about who they are as a couple and as parents.  Second, Bryan is one of the most amazing musicians that I have the pleasure of also calling friend.  Third, Bryan is a brilliant leader, and is passionate about reaching people for Jesus.

As long as I’ve known Bryan, he’s always had the church planting bug.  He dreams big, often bigger than himself (which is a good thing.  It allows God to take over), and he also has God-given ideas about to achieve the dream that he has.  So a couple of weeks ago, he called to tell me that he is finally planting a church.  I’m really excited for him to get working on his dream and to see what God does.

All this to ask of a couple of things of my readers: 1) Would you do the greatest thing you can do for my friend and pray for him, his family and his dream to reach the St. Louis area for Jesus?  2) Would you also pray about supporting a new church that can change the world monetarily? 3) If you live the St. Louis area, would you consider taking Bryan and/or his family out to lunch and hear their heart?

If you want to “like” Urban Church on Facebook and keep up with the happenings, you can do so by clicking here.  Check out the video below to hear about it in their own words.  Thanks for reading!

Heartbreak of Children’s Ministry

I could never imagine what it would be like to minister in a community that experienced tragedy like what happened recently in Newtown, CT.  It is truly unspeakable. My heart goes out to the survivors, families, and pastors, especially children’s pastors who have to live with the tragedy everyday for the rest of their lives.  While I wondered how far I should go to talk to my kids about it, my fellow children’s pastors in CT where wondering how to even deal with it.

I am not trying to compare what is like day-to-day in “normal” children’s ministry to such a great tragedy, I can’t help but to think about some of the difficult situation Children’s Pastors have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.  Please understand that I love children’s ministry.  There are many great rewards to it, like seeing kids that I’ve ministered to grow up serving God continuously through Jr. High, High School, College and into adulthood.  It’s awesome to see kids worshiping God with their whole hearts, praying with kids to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, watching praying with one another, getting baptized and…. I could go on and on.

There is hard side to it though.  Of course, it is hard to see kids stop attending your church because their parents take issue with some adult matter.  But, we hope and pray that the Lord leads them to a church where God will continue to do great things in their life.  Its hard when a child wants to go to an event, but because of decisions the adult made, they are unable to (late registration, other plans, or not asking about scholarship opportunities).  It’s hard to see a families that look so great on the outside, but their kids end up so messed up.

For me the most difficult thing in Children’s Ministry, is taking prayer requests.  About 90% of the time, I get prayer requests that I pray for only out of obligation.  Plus, I figure if it is important enough for the kids to ask, it is important enough to take to the Lord.  After all, He cares about all the big and little things in our lives.  It’s that last 10% though that is really difficult for me, and I imagine almost every other children’s pastor out there.

The last 10% of prayer requests are the ones that kids think are so simple, but adults see the complexities in.  Like the foster child who asks to pray that they can go back to their “real” parents; when they probably do not understand that their “real” parents are drug addict, who neglected them as an infant and rightfully had their parental rights permanently terminated, but now they have the blessing (that they don’t understand) of living with a wonderful new family who loves them and takes care of them above and beyond what the state requires.

Or the child who prays that their parents get back together, not knowing that their mom has had more affairs than she can count, and dad deserves better than that.  Or the child who prays for their dad to come home, because they forgot how dad beat them when he was around.  Or the other child who prays the same thing, either not realizing or not caring that their dad is in prison for murder.  Or the child who believes that God is going to heal their terminally ill brother, even up to the brother’s death.

Children’s ministry certainly has its difficulties, but at the end of the day, it is always worth it.  Even though the kids don’t understand the whole situation, we get to walk with them through it.  One day, they’ll look back and see how God was protecting them, teaching them or helping them through it.  Or maybe they won’t.  I still don’t know why God has allowed me to go through some of the hardships of my life, but I do know that He has walked with me every step through it.  That is the truth that I hope to impart to kids.

Promotion info and Summer Activities For Parents of PCC Kids

Hey Parents,

Summer is right around the corner, and before it officially gets here, I would like to take a moment to let you know about all the excitement that is coming up!

First of all, we have our promotions coming this Sunday!  If your child is a new Kindergarten, 5th or 6th grade student, they may go to their new classes beginning this Sunday in the 9:00 hour.  If they are not here for the 9:00, but are here for 10:15, new kindergarten students may come to the Trailhead, and 6th grade students may attend the adult service.  For 6th grade students, the middle school does have a section where they sit together (look for Pastor Aaron), or they may sit with their parents.  If at any time, anyone is unsure of where to go, you can ask myself, their previous teacher, any other pastor, usher or greeter where to go.

Summer activities:

We’ve got some amazing summer activities on tap this year!  First of all, Young Champions is coming up fast.  Mark your calendars for July 25-28.  Registration is online at www.PCCtoday.com or you can register on paper using the brochures that will be coming out soon.  Young Champions is an awesome track and field clinic where kids learn not only track and field skills but also how to be a true champion.  Cost is $20 per child with a maximum of $60 per family.  Invite a friend!

Royal Ranger Powwow

For so many boys, this is the highlight of their summer.  Activities include rock-climbing wall, zip line, bb guns, canoeing, batting cages, paintball and more!  They will also hear from a great speaker and come away changed by the power of God.  Powwow takes place at Camp Wildcat near Corvallis.  Boys going into grades 2-5 may attend without a male adult coming with them, younger kids must have a male adult chaperone (dad, uncle, grandfather etc) August 11-14, cost: $110 per boy.

Kids Camp

Kids going into grades 3rd -6th are invited to join us at Kids Camp August 15-19, at Kellogg Springs, in Sutherlin, Oregon.  At Kellogg Springs, the kids will be treated to amazing speakers (Jenni and Jeff Smith from Horizon Community Church in Tualatin), zip line, pool, archery, and much more.  For sign ups, see Pastor Brad.  Space is limited, so sign up soon.  Cost: $225 per child.

M’s Club Girls Camp

All girls between 1st-5th grade are invited to Girls Camp at Driftwood Creek Camp in Lincoln City.  Suzie Star will be our guest speaker and she will knock it out of the park!  This will be an amazing time for the girls to connect with other girls, worship God, and be challenged in their relationship with Him.  Cost $90 per girl.

Music Day Camps The 2011 Kids’ Summer Music Adventure Camp

August 8-12, 2011
Morning Only from 9:00 AM – Noon or
Full Day from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
For: Kids entering Kindergarten-4th Grade
Location: Portland Christian Center

Kids will have a blast during five fun-filled days packed with action and adventure as they explore music from the Appalachian Mountains all the way to the Islands of Hawaii!

Each day we’ll dive into a different style of music, have demonstrations of instruments, interactive music games, music instruction, get artsy with fun crafts, learn fun new songs and dances and snack on yummy treats! Optional afternoon activities will include outings to the Oregon Zoo, OMSI, Oaks Park Roller Rink, the pool, and more!

COST:
Morning Music Camp – $130 (Early Bird Rate of $115 if registered and paid by 7/25/11)
Full Day Camp – $245 (Early Bird Rate of $220 registered and paid by 7/25/11)

For more information email lhalling@pcctoday.com

If your child wants to participate in any of these activities, but cost is a factor, don’t fret! Scholarships are available.  I don’t ever want for a child to be hindered from doing something because of money.  For more information on any of these activities, email me at bshimomura@pcctoday.com.

Have an awesome summer, I hope to see everyone at at least one of these events!

Pastor Brad

Blowout

I got a flat tire on the way to church this week… I was driving down I-5 at 60 Miles per hour and pop, glug, glug, glug, flat tire! Not just flat, but blown out and shredded. To be honest, it could not have happened at a better time. No, I am not being sarcastic.

Being a Pastor has certain inflexabilities. Church wont wait for me to get ready, and to be ready, I have to get there. It so happens that this weekend, my parents were in town, and for the first time since Zane was born, Roberta decided to come to church with me. The only reason that was even possible is because my parents could stay home and take care of our baby boy.

As soon as the panic settled, Roberta suggested that I call another pastor and see if he can pick me up. She stayed with my car and waited for my dad to come to try to put the spare on. The other pastor arrived, and I went to church only a couple minutes later than I normally arrive on a Sunday morning. Roberta got the car take care of thanks to roadside assistance our car insurance provides (good thing too, because we had none of the tools we need to even change a tire), and she met me at church about 30 minutes later.

Looking back, I clearly see the miracle of God in it all. Had it been any other day, that would have caused me to be massively late to church (work) and it would have ruined my day.  God had an incredible sense of timing.  The tire was going to blow, there is no doubt about it, but God allowed a bad situation to happen in the best imaginable circumstance.

A friend of mine occasionally challenges me to look for God in the “everyday” situations of life.  He says when you put on that mindset, you’ll be amazed at how much you notice God doing.  When I actually take him up on this challenge, I am never disappointed.

Psalm 1:6: “The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

When have you seen God in the “everyday” situations of life?

Where you end

I’m secure enough to admit it.  From time to time, I wonder why God choose to me to be a church leader, Children’s Pastor or to be a part of a decent sized church.  Some days I feel like I am ill-equipped, too young, not smart enough, not strong enough, or a million other things.  The truth of the matter is, that is a good thing.

God does not give us everything to be a perfect leader.  He gives us a certain set of gifts, passions, and even limitations so that you can be exactly the person that He created you to be.  People were not made to attain perfection.  If we were perfect, and had every spiritual gift that we needed and were perfect leaders, we would have no need for God.

We were created with limitations so that we can learn to rely on God.  I love the way John the Baptist puts it in John 3:30.  In John’s teachings of his disciples about Jesus, he made this amazing statement: “He must become greater and I must become less.”  As people we are broken, frayed, flawed and imperfect.  The more of us that shines through, the more the flaws shine through.  When we realize that, get out of God’s way and allow Him to work, He will really show up and do things beyond our imagination.

When you come to your end, God is just getting started.

Where I don’t want YOU to go…

It seems fitting in with my last post and current events that I should write a post about hell.  Apparently, a majority of Americans believe that Osama bin Ladin is in hell (despite not believing in God, Jesus, heaven or a definitive way to get to heaven).  I reserve judgement for God refuse to make definitive statements about a person being in hell.  But I thought it would be interesting to bring up the subject of hell, by listing what little knowledge I have on the matter.

1) There are no friends in hell.  Hell is eternal separation from God.  Since God is love (1 John 4:8), an absence of God means an absence of love.  Thus, there are no friends in hell.  I’ve heard people say such things like, “Hell is going to be one big party.”  The last time I checked, parties involve friends.

2) Hell is eternal.  Jesus made several statements about hell, while He walked on the earth.  In fact, he talked more about hell than heaven, or many other things.  Many of the times that He mentions hell, he puts it together with eternal suffering.  For example, Matthew 18:8, “If you hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.”  Some might argue because of the hyperbole in the first part of the statement, Jesus was also using hyperbole in the last two words.  Check out Matthew 25:41 and 46, Jesus clearly states the eternal nature of hell in the parable of the sheep and goats.  Jude 1:7 also makes mention of the eternal nature of hell.  God did not mince His words about hell, it is eternal.  There is no escape, no end to the punishment.

3) Hell is unpleasant (understatement of the year).  Here are some of the words I’ve found in the Bible used to describe hell: “eternal fire” (Matthew 21:41) “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46), “Fiery lake of burning sulfur…the second death” (Revelation 21:8), “fiery furnace… where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42) “…darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13), “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).  When I think of things that are pleasant, these are not words that come to my mind.

4) Hell can be avoided.  God laid a pretty clear plan of salvation: we have all done things that deserve punishment.  Jesus took that punishment upon Himself, on the cross.  All we have to do is accept these facts, believe it to be true, confess our sins and decide to follow Jesus, and we do not have to suffer the consequences of our sin.

5) I don’t want anyone to go there (neither does God).  Hell was not originally designed for people.  God created it for satan and his minions.  When sin entered the world and man’s hearts hell became the consequence for sin. Ezekiel 18:23 offers and interesting perspective on God’s views of wickedness and death: “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? . . .  For I do not pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” 2 Peter 3:9 also clearly states God’s desire for everyone to turn from their sins and be forgiven: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you not wanting anyone to suffer, but everyone to come to repentance.”

When you begin to imagine what eternity is like, and the pain, anguish and torture that will take place for all eternity, it is really hard for anyone to really wish that upon anyone, no matter what they have done do you.

I would like to close this blog by posting this video by Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller.  I may have shared it before, bit it is worth watching because I find it to be really powerful.  Thanks for reading, and please do check out the video: