lifegroup should give you…

LIFE! Ours has found it’s rhythm over the past few weeks, and it’s an encouraging thing to behold.

We’ve recently added some new folks to the fold, and we started reading/discussing the New Testament portion of the LifeJournal Bible reading plan. It’s the most simple of structures for lifegroup. Each day we read and journal about the passage. When we get together on Tuesday we each share the verse(s) that stood out to us in our reading.

Last week I was called to another meeting, so I asked our newest Youth Min staffers to lead the group discussion. Ali Bruce and Jake Nold did such a good job that Kim couldn’t wait to brag on them to me.

Tonight’s discussion was supposed to center around Ephesians 5-6 and Philippians. We managed to cover 4 chapters of the reading, which led to so much good discussion that we hated to stop for the night. Some of our big takeaways for the night included

  • a renewal of our effort to pray more
  • an increase in intentionality/awareness of spiritual warfare
  • a call to live as missionaries in and to our present culture

I am loving what I see in our lifegroup, and can hardly wait to see what the Lord has for us in the weeks to come!

hard work pays off

I know that you’re wondering if it’s all going to be worth it in the end. Those long, tedious days plugging away…those evenings sacrificed, nose to the grindstone. Late night sessions pouring yourself into the process.

Believe me when I tell you that your hard work will bear fruit. The day will come when a harvest is produced. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatian church: And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

I see it every day, in every bit of life around me. Reminders that the end result is worth every drop of sweat, every moment of pain, every sacrifice.

Today I showed you Kim giving it all she had, ironing a shirt for Jase’s first photo shoot.
Kim ironing








Now I show you the fruit of her labor.
Jase puke
Charlie blocksJase blocks Jase 1Charlie standing





















Thanks to Amy Sliman (PAKS Photography) for her excellent camera work…and wipies.

Told you it would be worth it.

Hang in there, and don’t give up. Your season is coming.

best day of the week

Thursday is quickly becoming one of my favorite days of the week.

Around noon every Thursday a bunch of us youth worker types get together to pray, plan, eat, or work on our youth ministry skills. I love the community that I find there, and always come away feeling refreshed, renewed, and challenged to keep gettin’ after it. The conversations that flow are real, vulnerable, encouraging, and deep. And I’m blessed to call these crazy folks my friends.

Then to top the day off, I get to meet with a bunch of the leaders who work with Calvary’s teenagers. Most Thursdays it’s our lifegroup, which is mostly comprised of Team XStreamers. But once a month all of Team XStream gathers for prayer and planning, with a side of Kim’s mac ‘n cheese. Tonight was that night, and it was solid. These men and women are the real deal. They love Jesus, love teenagers, and are committed to leading teenagers to love Jesus.

Kevin and Brandon

Kevin and Brandon are twinsies in their new Team XStream shirts.

I’m amazed at the growth that I have seen in our team, and in the unity that is developing in our town. I have to believe that God is doing good things, and that the best is yet to come.

I almost got inked, and I lost to Charlie

I had a pretty interesting day.

I’m meeting regularly with the young men who lead our student ministry, doing a little coaching and encouraging. Today I visited one of the guys at his lab. AC works with squids–tiny little squidies. That job takes him to Hawaii several times a year. Yeah, it stinks to be him.

While I was meeting with AC, the snow doomed tonight’s XStream. Since we didn’t meet tonight, I gave the leaders the option of getting together to play some board games. I thought I’d get some practice in, playing a quick game of Candy Land with Charlie before supper.

He beat me. Totally serious. It wasn’t a “dad tanked the game” win, either. He just flat out whupped me.

Several folks from Team XStream got together tonight for a few hours. We ended up playing Apples to Apples and being silly for most of the night. I love this group of leaders. In addition to being goofy, they love Jesus and teenagers. I’m looking forward to seeing what God does in us this semester!

highlights of the day

Wow, so much goodness happened today. It’s hard to select a highlight, so here are a few:

Kim went out to breakfast with a friend who was in town for Leadership Advance. That meant I got to stay home and fix breakfast for Charlie. He and I ate omelets and played until Kim came home to take Jase to get some 6-month-baby shots.

A bunch of the folks from Team XStream loaded the van and headed to Millheim. We drank coffee and ate sammies at the Inglebean before walking over to visit Brandon’s cats (Carl and Carl Jr.) I love hanging out with the folks who are shaping the lives of Calvary’s teens. Our team is growing, and it’s good.
Team XStream at Inglebean

Tonight was Lilly’s winter concert at State High. This concert featured the Cecilian Singers (11-12th grade ladies), OMA (Only Men Aloud 11-12th grade men) and the Chamber Singers. As expected, the music was phenomenal, and Mr Drafall once again selected a number of pieces that find the origin in Scripture. I love listening to his choirs perform. It’s almost like going to worship!

After the concert, we hung out in the lobby with a few families that we’ve grown to know and love over the years of shared theatre/choir experiences. It was fun to laugh and catch up with them. Two of the other parents were celebrating birthdays today, and Kim’s birthday is tomorrow. I think we missed an opportunity to go out and celebrate, but I don’t know that the day could have handled much more excitement…

not a bad day at all

As we wolfed down our dinner tonight Josie was in a particularly good mood. Turns out that it was contagious, and Team Sublett is going to bed feeling pretty swell.

Josie’s rugby season is over, but the team got together today for a practice–just for fun! It didn’t hurt that the coach offered to take them all to Dairy Queen after practice!

Lilly’s dear friend Avery is in town for the first time in 3 years, so they’re having a sleepover, which means they’ll likely be up all night.

Levi’s all jacked up excited because tomorrow is his last official day of high school. Of course, he’s working feverishly on some Spanish homework tonight. His teacher is going to make him go to class next week if he doesn’t get it done and turned in tomorrow!

Tomorrow is Sadie’s 13th birthday, so she spent some time baking cupcakes for her classmates! She’s pretty excited to turn 13, because that means she can officially get a gmail account, which will allow her to change the background on her Chromebook and download apps! What a goober!

The middle school kids performed their Cabaret for the middle school today, and Isaac was one of the featured singers. He got asked to do an encore performance of MaNaMaNa! He’s a hoot, and his schoolmates love him. Sadie got to sing as well, and Annabelle was part of the tech crew.

Kim started off the day with a bang, meeting 11 high school girls for her weekly breakfast at Waffle Shop! She also made lasagna for 2 moms with new babies (I love me some babies!)

The highlight of my day was spending about an hour with 3 of my leadership guys talking about what God was teaching us as we read through the first 7 Psalms. We’re going to be studying the Psalms all summer with our youth group, so we decided to read 7 a week as part of our lifegroup/leadership team.

All in all, that’s a win for Team Sublett. How was your day?IMG_0898 IMG_0900 IMG_1096 IMG_1308

birthday blessed

As my birthday comes to a close, I’m a pretty content man.  The day was filled with lots of reminders of the good things in my life, and the year has been one of some great/difficult/wonderful moments.

Over the past 9 months I’ve moved back into youth ministry.  The change has been filled with lots of opportunities for me to grow, to learn some valuable leadership lessons, and to put into practice some of the things I’ve gleaned over the past 24 years in ministry.  The transition has been more difficult than I imagined.  Slower, filled with more conflict and leadership snags…but at the same time it’s been a year of getting back to what I believe I’m called to do, re-kindling a fire and passion for ministry, building a team, finding people who want to do life together, rediscovering what our call truly looks like in this town at this time.  One of my new/good friends took me out for lunch today and reminded me that we’re in this for the long haul, and that we’re headed in the right direction.  Our youth team/lifegroup time tonight affirmed that.  Difficult but good.

And my family loved on me today.  It was a normal chaotic day that included a 2+ hour trip to the eye doctor with Sadie and Annabelle.  I got my eyes checked for the first time in about 10 years (no glasses yet!) while the girls got contacts.  Naturally, Sadie lost one of the contacts way up inside her eyeball tonight!  We had to double-team her to squiggle it out.  But along the way today there were lots of good 1 on 1 conversations, plenty of hugs, and lots of love.  I’m not ready to reveal what they’re giving me for my birthday just yet!

I am a man most blessed.  And grateful.  And changed.

full house

We had a full house tonight on a couple of different levels.

Kim and I kicked off a new lifegroup a few weeks ago, just in time for the wrath of that chick from Frozen to land squarely on Happy Valley!  We’ve been hit or miss with attendance, but tonight was a great night of laughing, getting to know each other, and sharing our stories.  12 of us gathered in our living room, talking about the person (or persons) who have been influential in our lives.  The common denominator in all of our stories–TIME.  The folks who have shaped our lives have taken the time to build trust, to develop a relationship, earned the right to be heard, listened to our stories.  Each one of us has the opportunity to pass this gift on to the next generation.  It’s my hope, my prayer that someday, in some small group meeting in someone’s living room, some young man is going to mention my name (and your name!) when asked about the influential people in his life.

That is the privilege we have as we invest in our communities teenagers.

Meanwhile, some of my very own teenagers were having their very own Full House experience.  I walked downstairs to find them thoroughly engrossed in the antics of the Tanner house.  I’m not sure that early 90’s tv is the way I want my Chinese kids to learn English.  If you catch them wearing ponytails off the tops of their heads, jean overalls, or slap bracelets, you’ll know why.

When Experiencing God isn’t comfy

Our church has been working through Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God.  Pastor Dan’s been preaching up a storm and our lifegroups have been using the workbook to dig deeper, to dive in, to apply it to our lives.

That sounds great on the surface, and usually works for me until Wednesday.

Wednesday is the 3rd day of each unit (as I do them) and that’s generally the day that Blackaby takes off the gloves and applies truth to my head with all the finesse of a 2×4.  That’s the day that he drops things on me like this:

If you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem.

If you have difficulty hearing God speak then you are in danger at the root of your relationship with God.

And this week’s gem: What you do after God speaks tells more about what you believe about God than what you believe about yourself.

We got into some good discussion tonight around the fact that I see tons of good/God stuff happening at Calvary, yet there aren’t many people making initial decisions to follow Jesus.  There could be a lot of reasons behind that:
*maybe most of the people in town are already believers, followers of Jesus who are looking to be discipled.
*perhaps we’re sharing the gospel with people and they aren’t responding in faith.
*it could be that we aren’t (read that I’m not) doing a good job of telling the best news in the world to people in my town who definitely need to know.

What I do after God speaks tells what I believe about God.  If God has placed me in this town to be a leader, a spiritual influence, a bringer of good news, then why am I not more actively telling folks I meet about the God who loves them.

I can hear my friends back in GA…that ain’t right, y’all.

Something’s gotta change.  I’m pretty sure it’s me.

start & end well

6:15 comes early.  (I was going to write something about the time change, but I’ll just throw it out there–I’m not a fan of 6:15.  At least not the one that comes first in the day.  The second one is fine, because I’m usually putting food in my face around that time of day.)

But every Wednesday at 6:15 I get to jump start my day and feed my soul.  A few of us men gather (coffee in hand) to dig into a study aimed at helping us re-discover what it means to be Godly men.  Today we talked about the biblical definition of manhood:
Godly men reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously, and expect God’s reward.

The content is lights out, and we usually have someone present the material live (rather than dvd), but what really does the trick for me is the conversation that takes place after the content.  The guys around the table (now pretty close to fully caffeinated) talk about what stood out to us, what hit home, and how we can apply what we’re learning to our lives.  This is only valuable if the guys can be honest and vulnerable…which we are.

Top that off with an evening of discussing the Experiencing God study that our lifegroup is working through and you’ve got yourself a whale of a day.  Tonight the conversation went deep and long as we talked about the fact that God speaks to us so that we can know what he’s doing, so that we can join him.  I LOVE the way God is moving in our lifegroup.

I believe that every man–young and old(er)–ought to get involved with Men’s Fraternity.  Every follower of Jesus would benefit from the Experiencing God study.

I know that those are pretty adamant statements.  It’s possible that it could be the groups that I’m in.  So maybe I should encourage everyone to join us Wednesday mornings and evenings.