charity give Justice Life

Bail Me Out to Help Fight Muscular Dystrophy!

Family, Friends, and Readers!

I’m proud to tell you that I’m going “behind bars” to help in the fight against muscle disease. I’m joining other community leaders to help raise critical funds for the Muscular Dystrophy AssociationMDA, and I need your help to reach my bail! I’ll be raising funds for two children with Muscular Dystrophy to go to camp here in Idaho.

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Family Friends Life

My Birthday Wknd

This last week, I turned 29. I jokingly told someone at church that I’m about to end my freshman decade of living. I didn’t presume her age, but she laughed asked what does that mean for her?! Whoops. haha. Anyway, here’s some pics of what we did.

I love breakfast and brunch out. We haven't found our place in Idaho Falls yet, but yelp recommended Mitchell's. When we arrived, we found that it was a truck stop. Still, we loved it. Reminded me of Kwik Inn in Security, CO.
I love breakfast and brunch out. We haven’t found our place in Idaho Falls yet, but yelp recommended Mitchell’s. When we arrived, we found that it was a truck stop. Still, we loved it. Reminded me of Kwik Inn in Security, CO.
Here's my girls at Mitchell's! Clementine is getting so good at being out! She can now say, "Mama," "Dada," "Book," and "Gaga" which could mean dog, God, or Lady Gaga.
Here’s my girls at Mitchell’s! Clementine is getting so good at being out! She can now say, “Mama,” “Dada,” “Book,” and “Gaga” which could mean dog, God, or Lady Gaga.

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Fun Spiritual Practices

Atone for sins with the E-Scapegoat!

Hey, need to get something off your chest? Need to confess a sin and receive atonement, but you don’t have a priest or a goat? No problem! In preparation for Yom Kippur, tomorrow, you can lay your sins on the eScapegoat, and watch your sins leave the camp and head off into the wilderness (and off a cliff!) This is hilarious, and even a little educational. Enjoy!

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Devotional Thought Inspiration Music Spiritual Practices

Even the darkness will not be dark to You

Even the darkness will not be dark to you – psalm 139,12

I remember the first time I visited Carlsbad Caverns on a family vacation when I was a child. I remember going through a cave where we were going to experience absolute darkness, not a single photon to illuminate an uneven walkway or possible enemies lying in wait. We entered the sense altering cave. I clenched my dad’s jacket tighter. It was the only thing that I could be sure of in the darkness. Even though I was surrounded by people, holding on to my dad, I couldn’t help but feel worried. The darkness even made me feel — alone.

In Psalm 139, the writer is asking where can we go to get away from God. Where could we go that God’s presence wouldn’t be? If we went to heaven, God was there, if we went to the grave, God was there, if we fled across the sea to the corners of the earth, God’s hand would be there to hold us. Then the writer asks about the darkness. Even if the darkness is thrusted upon us, and we feel the dread and loneliness of the unknown, or even if we choose to hide in the darkness, hoping no one sees our pain or weakness, even then, God will be there. Even the darkness will not be dark to you – means that there is nowhere that God is unwilling to go for us. Even in the darkness, God sees the path out of the cave. Even there God sees us as we truly are, and God chooses to be with us. Know, today, that even when darkness closes in, God is with you, guiding you, loving you, and not afraid to go into the darkness for you.

Peace,

Ric Shewell

Below is a great song by Mike Crawford and His Secret Siblings. The song is Search Me, based on Psalm 139. Check it out and click the graphic to visit their site and listen to more music. Even the Darkness

Science and Theology Theology What I'm Reading

Did the universe have a beginning???

      Even though I jokingly trashed science journals and scientists in my sermon this past Sunday, I usually spend about an hour a day watching videos and reading blogs about biology, physics, and other cool things that scientists are doing. Here’s a video by MintuePhysics, where Henry gives an beautiful and succinct description (and critique) of the Big Bang Theory. Take a look.

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Christian Culture Church Leadership Devotional Thought Inspiration Spiritual Practices

Christian Living is Like Improv Acting

 Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 12.15.19 PMThe second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND… to me, YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.

(Tina Fey, Bossypants)

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   I love stories. I love hearing about heroes, conflict, growth, redemption, victory, and love. I especially love hearing true stories, stories of peoples’ origins, struggles, and family. Stories are how we understand ourselves. When we describe ourselves to new acquaintances, we don’t describe our dimensions! We tell stories. Stories are how we understand our world, each other, and even things beyond our understanding.

     As Christians, we are a people of a particular story. It has a beginning, middle, and end, filled with dynamic and round read more »

Christian Culture Music

Derek Webb’s “Heavy”

Derek Joanna and I
Joanna and I with Derek Webb in Kansas City in 2008?

I’ve been a fan of Derek Webb for, well, most of my life. I learned to play guitar listening to Caedmon’s Call’s 40 Acres, and wooing the girls at church camp with Table for Two and Somewhere North of Here (we were pretty sure the women were wooed). He just released a new album, I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry & I Love You, available for digital download right now (hard copies in a month) here. I do make a guest appearance on Everything Will Change, so, you know, I’m kind of a big deal (actually, Derek called for some fans to join an ‘internet choir’ for one of his songs, awesome idea).

     As I’ve been reading some reviews, I’ve noticed that a lot of people are saying Derek is back, as if he’s apologizing for the things he’s been saying that has challenged so many Christians and so much of what we think is Christian.  Some people think this album is an apology to fans that he’s alienated. I couldn’t disagree more. I think this album is more personal and

Look! There I am, thanked and everything!
Look! There I am, thanked and everything!

less activisty, but I think it’s clear in the title track, that what he is saying now is what he’s always been trying to say.

     So, below is a video he just put out of one of his more personal read more »

Church Leadership Churches Uncategorized United Methodists

Being a Pastor: My First Month

I can’t believe how people take such chances with me. I wonder if they know what they’re doing. Still, I thank God for all the people that have taken chances with me, believing in me, and seeing things that I don’t see. Thanks y’all.

      So, my situation is a little unique. I’m a young pastor in a denomination with some pretty stringent hoops to jump through to obtain that victorious stole of ordination. I haven’t completed all the requirements, but some people took a chance on me and appointed me to pastor a church as a Local Licensed Pastor (in the UMC, that means I can do all the pastory stuff within the ministry of one specific local church). Also, in the UMC, pastors are appointed to churches by an overseer of pastors, a Bishop, with help from District Superintendents. So, this church didn’t ask for me… they got me. There’s pros and cons, but in any case, I think these good people were surprised (to say the least) that they would be receiving a 28 yr old local licensed pastor, instead of whatever comes into your mind when you think of “pastor.” I know that the change has been difficult for many of them, but I have been absolutely blown away by their love, hospitality, and passion to “get to work” as we seek God’s will for our church and our city. Thanks y’all.

photo-7In My First Month

     Our first Sunday was tremendous. I remember talking to someone on the phone before I arrived. The plan was to have only one service because it was the weekend after the 4th of July and we anticipated many families being gone for the weekend. I said, “Are you sure?” Someone said, “We’ll have the room. It would be a miracle if we packed the place out.” Miracle? No problem. We packed the place out. The service was great before it began. I’m sure people were just curious about the new pastor, but it still felt good. I moved a few things in the order of worship, no one seemed bothered by it. Easy peasy.

     The biggest change that I’ve done so far, I haven’t done well. I always knew I would be encouraging the congregation to eventually receive communion weekly in the services. The read more »

advent Spiritual Practices Youth Ministry

God of the Present Tense

Every now and then, when I’m teaching at youth group, a teenager will roll his or her eyes at me and say something like, “We’ve already learned this, ugh! We already know this!” Most of the time, I resist throwing whatever is in my hand at the teen that makes the comment (most of the time), but it always gets me thinking about what I’m teaching, “Have they heard this all before? Am I boring? Am I making God’s Word boring (which is a sin if you didn’t know)? If they know all this, what am I suppose to teach them?” Then there comes a moment of thankfulness, because I remember that God often speaks through the complaints of teenagers whether they know it or not, and this complaint reveals something that I’ve forgotten—the thing that’s really important in youth ministry…scratch that, all ministry.

We are coming up on the Christmas Season in the church. I’m willing to bet that we are going to hear familiar stories, see familiar colors, and hear familiar songs. I really doubt anyone will say, “Boring! Heard it! I know all this stuff already!” When I think about the repetition of this story, year in and year out, I’m reminded that ministry, worship, and community (the things that make us who we are) are much more than simply the transfer of knowledge. We already know the story, but when we hear it again, we are reminded that God’s love is present, right here and right now. Ministry, worship, and community help us experience God’s love right now, in our very present.

I’m guilty of trying to make my ministry primarily about teaching teens things that they’ve never heard. Some times I forget that ministry is about letting teens experience God in the present, after all, the present, this present moment is the only place that we can experience God. It’s the only place that we are. We already know so many truths—God is love, God loves us, there is nothing more that we can do to be any more loved than we are right now. The trick is remembering it in this very moment.

There are so many things in our pasts and in our futures that tempt us to regret or worry, when the truth is that God is present to you right now, loving you more than you can imagine. So rest in that love, right now. And right now. And right now. It’s always exciting to hear a new idea or new knowledge, but sometimes we just need to remember the things we know, and be present to God in the moment. Merry Christmas!

advent Fun Uncategorized Youth Ministry

Free Advent Bingo!

Hey everyone, I spent way too much time making this Advent Bingo set to not share it in the world! Throw in some M&M’s and prizes, this thing was a hit with teens and children. There’s 60 unique Advent Bingo Cards with only 34 different icons (so the games don’t last forever). I also made a little list for calling out the icons. I liked this better than some of the things you could pay for out there. Have fun!

Here’s the 60 game boards!

Here’s the call list!