Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Avalanche Ranch - God is Strong!

News Flash...this just in from Bob and Karl...there are 338 kids registered now for Avalanche Ranch...12 more new registrations in the next two nights and these two crazy guys will be sleeping on the roof! Invite a friend to join you at the ranch -- everyone is welcome!
Howdy folks! Nikki Ford here after another wild night out at Avalanche Ranch!

This is always such an emotional week, and this year it has been even more! We have so much fun, but we only have 5 days! I’m always sad when it’s over! But enough of that!!

As part of the Sing and Play team I have the fun job of helping teach kids and crew leaders the actions to the songs! If that isn’t great enough, the real joy in that comes from seeing and hearing all those kids sing out to God. I get goose bumps every time I think about it! I can’t wait for Sunday when the kids get to sing in big church for the whole congregation!! Sometimes I just want to stop singing so I can hear all the kids! (sometimes I do!)

It’s just so amazing how we can all come together as one for worship and praise and each have a different experience. I know God is smiling down us, especially when we are “Jumpin’ in the House!!”

Yes we are goofy and silly sometimes, but that’s what I love so much about this week at VBS and Horizons, God loves us no matter what and when we can share that with others what a great gift! There are so many important messages we are learning about God this week, today we learned “God is Strong” WAH-HOO!

God loves us so much he doesn’t expect us to be strong….He is our Strength!!

I hope everyone is having a great week so far and looking forward to 2 more exciting days on the ranch! I know I am!!

It’s so cool to see everyone young and old come together for these 5 days to learn more about God. Our kids and volunteers are the best!!! Thank you!!

God is Real!
God is With Us!
God is Strong!
Tell all your friends!

To the Dutters….I’m trying not to think about it, but what a better way to send you off then 300+ kids fired up about God! So, I can’t send this blog without saying something…..VBS, DZ, and Horizons won’t be the same without you!! Don’t get me wrong, we will still have an awesome children’s ministry but I’ve seen what you’ve done in the lives of children all around Horizons and know what great friends you have been to me! As my HS science teacher always said “It’s a beautiful thing!” Good luck in Chicago, we are all praying for you!

YEE HAW!!! See y'all tomorrow at the Ranch!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Avalanche Ranch - God is with us!

This is crew leader Traci Schoen out at the ranch. By now, the Ranch Hands have put the Longhorns to pasture, the Eagles have set to flight and “Rowdy” has said good-night to Shadow and the rest of his Dog buddies, finishing out another great night of VBS at Horizons!

A night that reminded us of the assurance that “God is with us,” WOOHOO!!
More kiddos joined in on the fun of Day 2…Bob and Karl are getting nervous about that roof!

The night started with Bob and Karl hosting a Twinkie-eating contest won by the Longhorns (nice effort Mitchell, Landon and Brady!)

Sing & Play Stampede was made more meaningful and fun when songs were sung with actions and jumping. Singing at the top of your lungs is encouraged! We also learned actions to help us remember our Bible Verse for the day “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9) Fingers pointed to heaven and march, march, march.

Cowpoke Crafts’ gave us time to talk and create a physical reminder of God’s presence in our lives, while Horseplay Games gave us time to release some energy, enjoy the beautiful night and experience what it would feel like if we didn’t have “God (is) with us” WOOHOO!!

In Bible adventures, we heard the story of Joshua and the Israelites and how God separated the flooding waters of the Jordan River (Joshua 3-4) so that the Israelites could safely cross. As crews, we created our own “stone memorials,” citing a time when God was with each one of us….during a storm, after getting separated from our parents, when a “stranger” approached.

Chadder’s Wildwest Theater and snack-time are always a hit! Mmmmm, s'mores!!

The 5th & 6th graders spent some time collecting paper goods for Epworth Village from our generous neighbors. Good luck in “the boys vs. the girls” challenge to collect more…as a “girl” I have to say….”GO GIRLS!!!”

Pastor Steve’s Roundup included a final prayer, but not before reading his version of Joshua 3-4 with “Rowdy” and his rowdies acting it out. What version of the Bible was that with Joshua and the Israelites and swim practice?

What more could be said about a night already filled with so much going on?

The Kids: Watching them learn (and reaffirm) for themselves the love and presence of God!
The Parents: Who love their kids so much and trust HCC to help teach them of God’s love!
The Volunteers: So many giving of their time and talents for the kids (whether they have some here or not!) and getting to experience God in a different way for themselves as well!
The Lord: “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Ranch Stats Night 2:
Kids under 3: 14
Kids aged 3 thru 6th Grade: 277
Adult Volunteers: 127

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Avalanche Ranch - God is Real!

Hi y'all! Mr. Tony Dutter here from the Avalanche Ranch deep in the mountains of Horizons Community Church. I want to let y'all who weren't here tonight know that you missed an excellent adventure through God's word. The great thing about God is that He is Real. That was the bible point for tonight. Sometimes we think that God is just an imaginary friend that we talk to once in a while, but these kids learned tonight that "God is Real."
Bob and Karl, the extraordinary spirit-filled 20-somthings that get all of us pumped up for an adventure through God's word, taught us that shaving cream and water inside balloons really does make a mess...a "Real mess."
You know, I've been volunteering in children's ministry for some three, or four years and I never leave the church without sweating, laughing or learning. This sticky night in July was no exception to all my days in children's ministry. There was one difference though, the body of Christ was alive and in full effect. The pastor, worship leader, administrative assistant, sound guys, parents, even the pastor's wife was here tonight! Praise the Lord! Most of the body of this church came together tonight for the purpose of these children.

I leave you with one thought; What if the body of this church came together more often for the purposes of these little ones? Wow, is the only word we would be left with when these children grow up and begin leading this church. The power in the body flowing through these kids would be awesome. I want to do this for the rest of my life Lord, bring us more kids, bring us more leaders like the ones who were here tonight giving their hearts to kids and telling them that God is Real!

Ranch Stats Night 1:
Kids under 3 = 14
Kids aged 3 thru 6th Grade = 263
Adult volunteers = 153

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

In memory of Tracy DuPont

Tracy DuPont died early Sunday morning.

Many at Horizons had joined the fight to help raise money for Tracy's Angels, whether it was wearing the pink t-shirt or walking in last year's fundraiser. Read the story in this morning's Lincoln Journal Star.


Friday, July 13, 2007

When the Pope talks, I rarely listen...

One of my issues with organized religion is the "we have the only way to heaven" position of some churches or denominations or groups. Whatever. Pope Benedict XVI's announcement the other day that the Catholic church is the only true church and the only to offer salvation has really ticked me off.

Jesus came. Jesus died. He's my all-access pass to salvation. I can read it in my Bible, I don't need a religious man to tell me where I can get saved. I'm covered. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." He didn't say, no one gets in except through this church, or that good deed or by giving a certain amount of money or by going to church x amount of Sundays per year.

There are times when I think we make Jesus too complicated.

Monday, July 09, 2007

What's your excuse?

I haven't blogged in more than a month. I have some good excuses...

...I've got some personal things going on (excuse). Some things you blog about, other things are best saved for the weekly therapy session. I guess you can say I have issues.

...I spent last week in the hospital (excuse). I got bit by a mosquito at the Pinewood Bowl despite the efforts of hundreds of people bathing in DEET-laced sprays (whine) and me breathing the stuff for a few hours (issue).

...I'm in summer school at UNL (excuse). OK, it's sign language, not nuclear physics, but still I'm in school, I have a test every week and now I've missed an entire week taking my A+ down to an A- (issue + whine).

Right now, life is sort of smacking me in the face (whine) letting me know I'm human (excuse) and forcing me to look at myself critically (issue). It's good for me we have a God who doesn't expect perfection. Real good.