The Personal Weblog of Travis Kaiser

Training students to be God-Chasers.

22,995

That’s the number of days in 63 years. Today is the 63rd wedding anniversary of my wonderful grandparents, Joe and Edith Snoddy. In reality their time together has been more than 23,000 by the time you add in leap years and their years of dating but WOW what an achievement. Can you imagine spending over 23,000 days with someone? I’m sure it seems like an eternity since 1946 and in some ways like it was just yesterday.

When I talked to my grandpa yesterday he said when they got married that they were told since they were both hard-headed it wouldn’t last 6 months. Then he said, “it’s been a little longer than 6 months.” I couldn’t help but laugh. When I talked with them again this evening I asked, “so what did you all to today?” With laughter in his voice my grandpa said, “Well Trav when you’ve lived together as long as we have, you’ve done pretty much everything. We just hung out today.”

Well Grandma and Grandpa, here’s to your wonderful 63 years of marriage! Thank you for your amazing love for each other, for our family, and for the Savior. Thanks for showing this generation that two teenagers can get married and stay married for life!

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He’s got the whole world in His hands…

Even though the title above is words taken from a children’s song I find too many adults who don’t really believe it. The world is a vast mystery and even though people are saying that the world is getting “smaller” it doesn’t mean that we as Americans are learning more about cultures but rather that we are just connected with more people.

I just read a great post from The Art of Manliness website (if you are a man and haven’t seen this sight I highly encourage you to check it out!) on getting out and seeing the world. Christopher Hutchinson, the author, states that according to the U.S. State Department that only 27% of Americans owned a passport in 2007 and even fewer used them repeatedly. Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” Traveling the world gives you great insight not only concerning the country you are visiting but also about the United States. You will learn how other countries perceive the US, how much our country influences the world, and how we are affected by world events.

I’m convinced there is no better way to spice you life up then by going to another country. “I had just one more chance to be a boy, and I took it”, replied Theodore Roosevelt, in an answer to a friend who asked why he had literally risked his life on an expedition into an explored river in Brazil.

I think our American churches unknowingly miss out on what God has in store for us because we lose sight of His global agenda. I’ve seen people not go on missions trips for all kinds of reasons - lack of money, they can’t get off of work, or because they’re a picky eater. I think for many people those are all masks for fear and that they really don’t believe “He’s go the whole world in His hands”.

My friends at Student Leadership University have as their mantra, “You will be the same person ten years from now expect for the places you go, the people you meet, the books you read, and the Scripture you memorize.” Why would they say that? Because those are the things that shape how we think and who we are. They introduce us to another way of living.

I wonder what our churches, families, communities, and individuals would be like if we were to travel the world more frequently. Take this challenge from Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

And remember… He’s got the whole world in His hands!

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What are our kids doing?

I read some research today from HomeWord ministries. I wanted to share them with you so here they are:

  • The cell phone will be the greatest distributor of pornography for kids before the year 2011.
  • “Sexting” is the new craze reported CBS news last week. 1 out of 5 kids have received an unwanted text photo of someone naked on their cell phone.
  • 160,000 kids stayed home from school today (and everyday) because of bullying and they literally are afraid to go to class.
  • 12 million people in America participate in self-injury (mainly cutting) each year with most of them being young people.
  • Today there are at least 25 different Sexually Transmitted Diseases people can catch. Time magazine reported: of the young people who are sexually active, they will have 7 different partners by age 25. One out of five has a sexually transmitted disease. Do the math – it isn’t pretty!

It might sound gloomy but since Eden the people have God have always had the responsibility of sharing in the redemption process. It’s crucial that we help this generation grasp the calling to family life. As adults we need to apply more of the Bible into our life, read about parenting more, actually SPEND time with our kids and INVEST in them, and model family life to those students with a broken concept of the family. Let’s start TODAY!

You can visit HomeWord ministries at www.homeword.com

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Why Trek-X

Trek-X, an elite journey for the next generation missionary was birthed out of Chris White’s Mobilizing Students. Rather than me trying to explain Trek-X I’ll give you Chris’ words: “If you’ve answered the call to missions and still want to pursue your education, then apply to join a select group of 60 college students from around the globe as they come together to begin an ELITE- 4-YEAR JOURNEY that will change their lives forever. You will pursue your COLLEGE degree at an online university/seminary of your choice, be intentionally DISCIPLED by our staff, and travel the world leading student MISSION teams.”

To learn more about Trek-X click HERE, otherwise check out why as a youth pastor I think Trek-X is a viable option for students!

  1. Trek-X uses a strategy that our culture is moving towards – the shift of colleges to provide off-campus degrees (See the link below about the Kaplan video). The church throughout history has always used the latest technology
  2. Financial freedom! Students going to college online will pay less and therefore making it more affordable to get their degree. Some colleges will even allow students to clep out of classes they already have knowledge about making a degree less expensive. The more people who are debt free the more money there is to go toward Kingdom work.
  3. Students will be on a directed path of discipleship. Sometimes it’s assumed that if a student interested in missions and goes to serve alongside a missionary that discipleship will just naturally occur. This is usually not the case due to the demand on the missionary’s time.
  4. Trek-X helps break the mold of the Twixters (the age group of post-college to early 30’s named by Time magazine - http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1018089,00.html ) to take responsibility rather than putting it off. Youth ministries are currently wrestling with how to help students continue in the faith through college and this provides an excellent bridge. This approach will quantum leap students beyond their peers.
  5. Trek-X lines up with our high school ministry philosophy to help students have challenging spiritual experiences, to serve the needs of others, to learn and practice the spiritual disciplines, to have significant relationships with role-model adults, and to develop a Christian worldview. We believe these will help students develop into a healthy Christian adult and sell-out to the causes of Christ.
  6. Trek-X calls students to a higher standard of living and to dream God-sized dreams as they see God at work here in the U.S. and around the world!
  7. Trek-X captures the passion of young people and immediately gives them the opportunity to simultaneously be trained and be mobilized. Too often young people’s dreams and passions are postponed because adult or cultural standards force them to jump through hoops. This generation is geared more towards volunteering and more apt to serve than any previous generation in history (see David Wraight’s book The Next Wave).
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“Higher” Education

There has been a myth flying on the internet since 2000 that Bill Gates left some insightful words to his high school alma mater, a list of ten items about real life education. According to Snopes.com the list I share below comes from Charles J. Sykes in the 1996 book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write, Or Add and is the skeleton for his 2007 book 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School: Real-World Antidotes to Feel-Good Education. This list has been printed in Ann Landers and recited by Paul Harvey but usually stops at number ten. However, the real list consists of 14 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School and what I like to call ”higher” education:

1. Life is not fair - get used to it. The average teenager uses the phrase “It’s not fair” 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.

2. The real world won’t care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain that it’s not fair. (See Rule No. 1)

3. Sorry, you won’t make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won’t be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a Gap label.

4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait ’til you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he’s not going to ask you how you feel about it.

5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping - they called it opportunity. They weren’t embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.

6. It’s not your parents’ fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of “It’s my life,” and “You’re not the boss of me,” and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it’s on your dime. Don’t whine about it, or you’ll sound like a baby boomer.

7. Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.

8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn’t. In some schools, they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone’s feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No 1, 2, and 4.)

9. Life is not divided into semesters, and you don’t get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day, for eight hours, and you don’t get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we’re at it, very few jobs are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization (See Rule No 1 and 2.)

10. Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.

11. Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

12. Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you’re out cruising, watch an 11 year old with a butt in his mouth. That’s what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for “expressing yourself” with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.

13. You are not immortal (See Rule 12). If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you’re wrong.

14. Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school’s a bother, and life is depressing, but someday you’ll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now. You’re welcome.

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Call of the Wild

                  

This last weekend we had our guys, or should I say manhood retreat. It was full of football, man talk, and eating. We even had a special man movie. For you guys who saw the first half of it you can finish it from the comforts of your own home. Go to you Youtube and do a search for “hunting chris ryan”. There are three episodes and the one we were watching at the retreat was episode one, the jungle. An easier route is to just click here http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hunting+chris+ryan&search_type=&aq=f.

In case you missed the opening few minutes describing who Chris Ryan is, here is a link to a little of his biographical information. He is one bad man! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Ryan

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A Great Hero

Usually heroes are heard about through a television clip, radio blurb, or news article. Not true for this hero. This is a guy who had humble beginnings - few know the street he grew up on, few understand the kind of work he has always done, or the hobbies that occupy his extra time. Yet, in spite of being “normal”, this hero is quite popular.

 

Who is this caped crusader? It’s my dad – Jerry Kaiser! He grew up in what is known as the Germantown area of Louisville and has been in production management for almost 40 years in the food industry. His hobbies include gardening (not that rare) and raising/showing pigeons (that’s different).

 

So why write about him now? Well, it’s not because my dad just became my hero recently, but the past few weeks have served to remind me why my dad is one of my heroes. You see – trying times show the character of a person much like squeezing a toothpaste tube shows you what is really inside the tube…toothpaste! A few weeks ago my parents were able to go on vacation with my family. We had a wonderful time and made a lot of memories but the day after we returned my dad found out he lost his job. As a man in his late 50’s losing your job doesn’t exactly launch you into retirement anytime soon. Rather, it raises questions, brings up fears, and pushes you to the limit. Oh… unless you’re my dad. I’m not saying it’s not hard but just let me share with you some of the events that took place on the last day he walked into work.

 

            - One of his bosses in customer service said “If the chance lends itself, I want to work for you someday!”

            - One particularly “rough around the edges” guy cried, hugged my dad twice and said “This company is losing a REAL man.” He pointed at my dad and in front of other men complimenting my dad saying “He is the most influential person in my life besides my pastor and my wife.”

            - The lady who worked in the human resources office and has been in an office setting for decades commented, “Jerry, you are the most influential person I have ever seen in a company”. She then asked if she could just hug my dad as a way to say goodbye.

            - The Vice President shook my dad’s hand and told him “Of all the decisions to make, the hardest was deciding to let you go.”

            - One guy recently told him, “You’re the kind of dad everybody needs” while another man told some co-workers “I’ve had more conversations about being a dad with Jerry than anyone else.”

 

WOW! Those are the statements made about a hero! Those statements only explain part of the tears people shed on that last day. They don’t share that my dad has carried around a piece of folded paper in his pocket along with a pen so he can write down anyone’s prayer request and then seriously pray for it. Those statements don’t share that he’s been to see countless people in the hospital. They don’t share that even in his last full week of work before we went on vacation he shared the gospel with a guy at work. They don’t share that at a reunion held by the last company he worked for, with several bosses and company owners present, a faint cheer became a roar shouting “best boss, best boss, best boss” – all for my dad!

 

Now you see why he’s one of my heroes? While even doing his job as a production manager and being known as a great employee he is better known as a great man. One who is characterized as being a great witness for the Lord and a caring family man. People seek his advice. People want to be around him. People love my dad and I do too! I think to myself: Would people notice if I left? Would people say similar things about me? Would people cry if I had to say ‘goodbye’? When the tough times of life come and I’m squeezed would I respond like my dad who sees this as another journey he gets to start with God? Whew… I’m not sure that would be the case. But it is for my dad! He’s a hero to me because he models what real men, real Christian men do. They love God and they love people – and that’s my dad!

 

 

 

 

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Defining a Man

Our culture has been on a manhood attack for decades. The war has been good except for someone/something standing up for what it means to be a man. If you are a male attending out church and not attending Men’s Fraternity - you’re missing out! I’m not talking about just missing a good time like I just invited you to a football game, I mean you’re really missing out on an opportunity to understand yourself better. It’s an opportunity to be honest with yourself and to see that men have Someone calling them to a higher standard. This week I ran across a poem by Rudyard Kipling that I thought was beneficial for men. Here it is….

“If”

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

–Rudyard Kipling

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Let’s Welcome Shane Sisk to the Long Hollow Family

                                

Shane Sisk joins us as the new 9th and 10th grade pastor! As soon as he can find a house he’ll bring his sweet wife Kristen and his two children here from Dallas. He has had some great training and experience in student ministry. Shane and I have already had some great conversations and I’m looking to great days ahead in doing high school ministry with him. (We won’t hold him down for the fact that Jeff was his youth pastor during his senior year. Just proof that God can overcome anything.)

 Oh - and if you weren’t at the lip syncing contest, he can do a killer Chris Farley impersonation!

You can find him on Facebook by clicking here - http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505076551&ref=ts

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Knowing God’s Will - Part 2

With camp, taking a group of students to Orlando, and two international trips behind me finally here is part 2 of how to know God’s will. Instead of making the first post a super long one, this will serve as only side notes of the framework given in Part 1. And yet… we are in September and I am still being asked this question – How Can I Know God’s Will?

 

Much of what I have to say revolves around the final point that God uses our personal preferences and desires in order to fulfill His purposes throughout the world. Have you ever met those people who couldn’t make up their mind because they were still “praying for God’s will”? Now before you get your engines revving too much I am NOT advocating we act ignorantly or without the input of the Holy Spirit. I’m thinking more of the people who put off this hyper spiritual aroma that they are in “no man’s land” for long periods of time discerning what God wants. Trust me – I’m convinced there are some items we should pray months for, even years, but that does not apply to the majority of life’s decisions. You know the kind of people I’m talking about…

 

I truly think this mode of thinking traces back to the idea that if anything “comes” from us that it is not of God. So people try really hard to pray away that it be their decision but God’s decision. The problem is at the end of the day… you do make a decision. You have to! We don’t get emails, or voicemails, or even snail mail from God, yet many times as I have prayed for knowing God’s will I have actually been asking Him to do the hard work. A dear friend and mentor to me, Jim Henderson, really helped to morph my thinking on this topic. He said, “by asking God to make the decision and just inform us steals away our opportunity for spiritual growth because we’re asking God to do the hard work.”

Two things are at play – While you’re stagnated in indecisiveness the Kingdom is not moving forward (at least in the particular area of your life). Simultaneously, a fear of decision making delays the opportunity for spiritual growth to occur.

And finally, just one more note. The “I’ve got a peace about it” syndrome is alive and growing. Too often I’ve heard that phrase as if it’s the Christian version of Staple’s “Easy Button”. It’s like if we make that comment to someone else at church they can’t help but agree with whatever I just said. Here recently God has stretched my thinking on this familiar saying.

Three examples come to mind. First, think of the entire book of Job. It wasn’t fun. He lost everything of value to him. His closest friends ridiculed him and questioned his purity. How much “peace” did he have? Second, think of the suffering the apostle Paul described in 2 Corinthians 22-33. His sufferings include being beaten with a cat of nine tails 5 times, beaten 3 times with a rod, stoned once, shipwrecked three times, lost at sea, and the list goes on and on. His life was faced with regular hardship and how much “peace” did he have? Finally, think of Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane He wanted his friends to pray with Him and as they slept He was sweating drops of blood. I’ve heard nurses and doctors describe this event and it is true that when a person comes under a great amount of stress the capillaries closest to the surface of the skin can begin to burst. That moment in time doesn’t sound very peaceful to me and yet, He is the God-man. So how is it that these men were certainly walking in God’s will yet there was chaos?

It must be that God’s peace is different from what the world says peace is.  It is not the absence of conflict, it is the assurance that God is in control.  Our problem is that we (the church) assume God’s in it as long as I can sleep all night, not have my stomach in knots, or don’t break out in a cold sweat. Surely we have to discern God’s will better than just an emotional feeling. Peace comes from knowing that those who call on His name have eternal hope and life in Him. We do not need to let fear or sin or anxiety or doubt restrain us from living a life with a peaceful heart. With God’s promise, we can be courageous even when inevitable troubles come our way.

So… how are you doing following God’s will for you life?

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