Wednesday, May 29, 2013

To Woodbine Family With Love

I left Nashville one year ago last week to move to Dallas to be with my love Heidi, for the rest of our time here on earth.  It was hard leaving Woodbine Family Church, I love preaching at that church. Sometimes I think I can't preach anywhere else because it would never add up to Woodbine.  In the past year, marriage has been great and I would do it all over again, but I still miss Woodbine.  My next 3 blog posts counting this one is about what I have learned in a year since leaving preaching.  This post i just wanted to share my last sermon at Woodbine with you.  Before this letter, I read an overview of a proposal for funds we wrote for a church in Nashville 9 years earlier. That proposal contained a history and vision of Woodbine Family.  Then as best as I could with tears flowing out of my eyes and cracking in my voice I read this letter to Woodbine Family with LOVE!!!! 


May 2012


Dear Woodbine Family,


Nine years ago on a hot July afternoon, you were born. The AC was out that day. As I look back, a lot has changed. The name(we use to be McIver Church of Christ), some people have came and gone, I will have come, gone, come, gone, come and gone again. What a surprise! Some things have remained the same. James Eubank’s height, our close partnership with YES, and our mission to be Jesus to the people of Woodbine. From the outside looking in: Most people see this lady being crazy and trying to feed and take care of everybody. A Wednesday night church service that gives the minister gray hair and tons of character. I don’t know what most people think when they see Michael Patrick, Robert Sutton, Jovian Hudson in a V-neck with his bike, Pede and Turtle. Toby Keith’s song about a bar might be the best way to explain us: We’ve seen short skirts, high-techs, blue collar boys (Josh McKenzie) and rednecks (John Schmidt). But on the inside, you see heart, love, grace. You see people that pray every day for their own kids and their church kids to become more like Jesus. You’ll see sacrifice and you’ll see people who give and give, sometimes without return. I am amazed at my church family, proud to be a part of them. About 7 years ago, a kid (Shane Schutt) left a picture in my car of him and a volunteer. I look over and saw this girl who caught my eye. I said man! It took about 15 months to wear her down, but I finally did. Then it took her 5 ½ years to ask. Just kidding! I am kidding. I really did ask her. So I have to leave to go see about a girl and her dog. But I believe you are in more capable hands. I knew when Greg and Kim became available, we had to have them here at Woodbine Family, even if it meant firing Kevin. Just kidding! But with Greg, Kevin, and now B-nell on staff, you will be just fine. They have a heart like yours. B-nell is more than a replacement; he is a brother. I wouldn’t leave my kids to just anyone. 


In close, I have two things I want to remind you of: 1) Fight for your dreams. Since the beginning, you have been a part of a dream. The best dreams are those that you are a part of, even when they are way over your head. A dream like eight college students starting a church. If I could give every kid and college student something, I would give them dreams that matter. We dream at Woodbine Family of college degrees, of kids breaking cycles, but more than those things, we dream of you becoming the person God intended you to become. We dream of drug-free neighborhoods. We dream of a world where nightmares only come while people are asleep and not while they are awake. We dream that you fight for your dreams. Satan will try to rob, steal and destroy your dreams. Fight for them! When I was 15, at the Urban Ministry Conference in Dallas, we sung a song called “One More Time” and in it, you would fill in the blank with a word that you were thankful God let you do “one more time”. I chose the word “dream”. God allows dreams for a glimpse of a better world. Growing up, it is all I had sometimes, those thoughts to be someone who mattered. When you’re a 7-year-old boy, running around the projects pretending to be a football star or a basketball star, in order not to have to face the way things are, the demons are reminders of a fallen dark world. But on May 22nd, 1996, I began to understand dreams differently. Not through the lens of hoping for a way out, but hoping for the life and world God intended. That is what we at Woodbine Family fight for. If you would ask me what I’m thankful for, it would be to dream one more time for the world he intended to create. Woodbine Family continues to dream, dreams like Carpenter’s Square. Carpenter’s Square is a dream about dreams – dreams of turning our teens into productive young adults, dreams of college degrees and making the neighborhood a better place. 


The second thing I would tell you is to follow Jesus. My life changed when I met Jesus. I knew of Him. I’d been to VBSs and maybe a couple of church services. But when I met Jesus, my life changed. In following Jesus, there are a lot of perks…forgiveness, which I need every day, is my favorite perk. Another perk is that it really is the best way to live. But when you follow and try to be like Jesus, that is when you are really living. But following Jesus is like a roller coaster ride. It is messy, because sin is messy. But it is nothing to fear. You actually look forward to your days. I know I fail miserably, but I try to follow Jesus. I believe Woodbine Family tries to follow Jesus, where love and grace are the rules, not the exceptions. I was really struggling with life at 21. My grandmother just died. I was heart-broken. I met up with someone and they told me if I wanted to succeed in life, you have to make everything about Jesus and make every day about a better relationship with Jesus. And on my best days, I do that. On my worst days, I do not. If you remember anything about my three stints here, I hope that my love and grace flows out of a love for Jesus and his people. My prayer for you is that you realize Jesus is closer to you than the blood in your veins. 



To Woodbine Family with love.


Michael Peters

Monday, May 13, 2013

Noodles Aren't The Real Problem




You want to see something sad?... Go at the end of the month to your local supermarket and look on the aisle where they sell Ramen Noodles.  Chances are the shelves will be empty.  One might think, "Man, these items are popular!"  But when you look deeper into this issue, you will see that the cause is a little more worrisome.  People buy this because that is all they can afford at this time of the month. At the end of the month food stamps are low. If you get a monthly check, it is running out.  So for 39 cents you can satisfy your hunger.  The bad part is that Ramen Noodles are not healthy. Don't get me wrong! They are not like eating pure lard or anything. But in no way are they good for you.  They are high sodium and low in nutrients.  I am happy that people with low funds have a choice to eat.  Really what I am trying to say in this post is that the church and God's people need to be aware of things like this. Here are a couple of things that will help you serve your community.


1) Check the shelves in your community for one whole month to see if you can see when the greatest needs for food drives are.  Some states release food stamps all at once.  Some states issues food stamps based on the letter of your last name on a certain day of the month.  See if you are in tune with your community flow.  What if your church knew that from the 25th until the end of the month is when the hardest times for the people of the community. Won't that change things for you? Then instead of having a pantry full of processed food, you could have a food drive with fresh fruit and veggies for those days only. The rest of the month, you can give away the usual stuff.


2) The goverment has spent a lot of time to determine how much each family needs. So if families are running out then there is a problem.  The problem is usually mismanagement of funds or abuse of funds.  While there is not a whole lot you can do about the latter,  you can equip people regarding the first one.  Most people in my expereince who get food stamps will go to the store when they get their food stamps and try to buy all the food they need for that month all at once.  Some do this because that is the way their parents did it.  Generational poverty has a way of passing down those little habits.  Some buy once a month due to lack of transportation.  They don't know the next time they will get a ride.  If they could be taught to budget weekly and had a means of transportation, this would go a long way.  Families who seem to shop once a month will blow the leftover thinking they surely got everything they need.  They don't take into account for a visitor at dinner time, growing kids or food going bad.


3) Open your eyes - I wrote a couple of years ago about Jesus being a noticer. (http://mikep23.blogspot.com/2009/11/noticer.html)   Many times, caring for those less fortunate is all about caring enough to open your eyes and walk in their shoes. Recently, I attended a luncheon of an organization and during the lunch I heard all of the bad things that will happen to the people they are serving, if this organization does not help. Meanwhile, there are two tables of people that they serve hearing the outcome of their future, hearing the words of hopelessness that are coming across as pity, and hearing that the people they serve are a step below them.  If someone who had the power would have opened their eyes and noticed that even if this stuff is true, it might not be best for them to hear this.  Just have them outside for this part.  That's all it would take.  Step in their shoes. Don't prostitute the people you serve and the good you do just for a buck.


SO WHAT??????? Do we do with this!


Here are a couple of things:

Have people whose only role is to be a noticer. They walk the supermarkets. They walk streets. They walk the places that people in the neighborhood walk.  Their only job is to ask the question, "What would help people achieve heaven on this earth?  What can restore the kingdom of God to these people and this place?"

Be close enough to people that need budget classes that you can actually offer budget classes.  Be close enough to people that actually need a ride to the store in your community that you can hook them up with a person who could give them a ride.  Most churches/Christians would do these things in a minute  but the sad reality is that our churches are not in touch with these people.  This isn't a field of dreams where you can just program it and they will come.  You have to be in people's lives.

Train people to love and be with people not part of the church.  The church has attempted to be the police of the world's behavior instead of the light of the world.  We try to police people by our laws.  The Bible made it clear that we are foreigners in this world. Our kingdom's greatest laws are to love God and love people.  If the people of God would live by their own laws, our lights would shine brighter.  Which light will the people of God choose to be? Police lights flashing or a light house?  One goes a long way.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Carpenter Sqaure

I have been doing research on what it takes for a first generation urban college student to succeeded as an adult in college or trade school.  Would love to hear your thoughts........

The movation behind the research is for a non-profit I am trying to help get started called Carpenter Square.  It is a big dream but it takes something big to change the world.

 Here is our promotional video:

Carpenter's Sqaure Video




Here are some quotes from my research so far:


The greatest gains in retention rates will result from focusing not only on the selection
process, but also the student-environment interaction after college entry (Thayer,
2000).


Some Student Support Services programs are implementing “learning community”
type strategies. These learning communities help students form supportive peer
groups that extend beyond the classroom (Thayer, 2000).


Effective programs affirm and help students understand that academic success is not
attained through individual achievement alone, but through an axis of support (Gullatt
and Jan, 2003).


From interviews Richardson and Skinner (1992) found that first-generation students
who attended community colleges typically attended part-time and were more likely
than their classmates to have significant work and family responsibilities (Hsiao,
1992).



In terms of enrollment, beginning students who are first-generation students are more

likely than their non-first-generation counterparts to: attend part-time (30 percent vs.

13 percent), live off-campus or with family or relatives (84 percent vs. 60 percent),

not be in a bachelor’s degree program (88 percent vs. 43 percent), delay entering after

high school graduation (46 percent vs. 19 percent), receive aid (51 percent vs. 42
percent), or work full-time while enrolled (33 percent vs. 24 percent) (Nunez and
Cuccaro-Alamin, 1998).



First-generation minority students in one study expressed a need “to find places to
study, meet friends, or seek support … spaces that provided some measure of
‘comfortability’” on campus (Hsiao, 1992).







Monday, March 26, 2012

I AM A CHAMPION!!!!!



Best part of this?  It was for a JV championship game.  I bet you the high school coach said "Man we could have least used this for a 1st round varsity playoff game."

Get ready to want to fight hell with a water pistol!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Urban.


I was ask to write an essay on defining a word in my own tems. I picked the word urban; some of it because the word is close to my heart. As most of my life I have lived in placesm most people would call urban. Some of it was because most people would consider the kids I work with to be urban. Some of it is growning up in the setting I did, I learn to see words assoicate with the poor and the city a little different. to this day I dont see black and white as race but more of a mindset or a way of living. So this was a short essay; it had to be only 250 words on me trying to define what the word "urban" means in 2011.


URBAN

Over the last five years in the United States, there has been a shift in the meaning of the word “urban”. In the past, urban meant that you were from the city or a place where the population was high and near a city center. Now the word urban is more of a lifestyle. Urban in the last five years has turned into a term that has come to mean cutting edge.

You can be urban these days and still have a 15-25 minute drive to work. Urban is no longer about location but style. Urban is about clothes, types, and being up-to-date. A term that just a few years ago was tied to mostly inner city poor seems to have emerged overnight to mean a young person who owns something made by Apple. I have a friend who does urban missions, which brings to mind pictures of ghettos, poor people and crime. Now the group of people he works with are predominantly white and middle class. Being urban is being “in the know”. It is how Starbucks is out of style because a couple of rad dudes opened up a bar down the street where you can surf, chill and choose between coffee or beer, as long as they both are fair traded.


Now with the world at our fingertips, urban will continue to be about products, fashions and style. I think we live in a world that is evolving. As that happens, stereotypes and words that conjure up certain images will change. The word urban is changing, but it is changing for the better. It means new, united, and fresh. It is a word that draws up images of black, white, brown, and Apple.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Duke Way

Sorry for the ones who read this earlier: I copied and pasted the un-edited essay to my blog. This one should read much better!


So I love my class, I get to write about things that I love. This essay's assignment was to write an evaluation essay. So I pick why Duke's men's basketball team has been the best college basketball programs over the last 20 years. It was written before Coach K 903rd win. Now I have even more to support my case. But then again we all know Duke Basketball speaks for itself.





The Duke Way!




On November 15th, basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will attempt to break the NCAA record for most wins by a Division I coach by getting his 903 wins, 73 wins came at Army. Coach Krzyzewski said in an interview on ESPN this week that a record like this is not a coach thing but a program thing. Duke Men’s Basketball has become the premier program in the NCAA over the last 20 years. Due to Coach K’s leadership, the program is committedto recruiting good players who are good students, and to upholding their unwavering standards to do things the right way have set the program apart from their competition.

In 1980, Duke Basketball hired a little known coach from West Point University with a funny-looking last name - Krzyzewski. For 31 years now, Coach K has been the head of Duke Basketball. Coach K has won 4 NCAA Championships, been to 11 Final Fours and 25 ACC Conference Championships (conference and regular season). Coach K has done it his way. Coach K’s offense and defense styles are great but they are nothing special. It has been Coach K’s leadership that has lifted Duke to the top of the basketball world. Coach K has an uncanny ability to motivate his players to be their best every day. For example, one year during Midnight Madness, the program announced that they were going to take a team picture. In order to let Duke's student body (known as the Cameron Crazies) know how much he appreciates them, Coach K came over the PA system and said, "That's right, and you guys are a part of this team." He invited the whole student body to be in the picture, and Duke's team picture that year was an overhead shot of a couple thousand "teammates". Coach K’s leadership also has gotten a lot of attention in recent years because of his work with the US Olympic team. Coach K had a tough job ahead of him trying to make all the NBA superstar egos become a one unit. Coach K did a beautiful job of having those players buy into the team concept. Now Coach K is a gold medal winner. Coach K’s leadership resume is a testament to the level of Duke’s basketball.

“Duke’s basketball players” over the last 20 years reads like a who’s who list. Duke players are some of the most notable names in college basketball; they are known on a one-name basis. If you say names like Laettner, Hurley, Hill, Battier, Williams, Redick, and Wojo; people won’t say “Who are they? People would know you are talking about Duke basketball players. Duke rosters are filled with All-Americans but those rosters are also filled with academic All-Americans. Duke has more players in the NBA than any other college currently. Many of Duke's players have chosen to graduate early so that they could pursue their NBA dreams. But they did not quit before receiving their college degree because it was important to them. When a GM boss met a 17-year-old Shane Battie,r he came home that night and told his wife he met a future president of the United States today. Coach K is quoted as saying he only recruits players who he would want his daughters to marry but who were smart enough to know that he would kill them if they would tried. Duke players who don’t go on to the NBA have been very successful in life. Duke does not lower their expectations for student athletes. Duke tries to put them in a position to succeed. According to a U.S. News and World report “College Sports”, “Duke Succeeds by first admitting students who stand a decent chance of graduating and then providing them the academic support they need”.(U.S. News and World Report March 2002) On and off the court, Duke puts their players in position to succeed in basketball and in life.

Two major issues for NCAA basketball are graduation rates and coaches breaking NCAA rules in order to get the better players. Duke refuses to let these issues describe their programs. During the NCAA tournament in 2010, while much of the NCAA basketball was being rack over the coals for their graduation rate, but not Duke during last year NCAA basketball tournament. Arne Duncan wrote in his “The Blind Side of March Madness” article points out when talking the graduation rates from school to school. “Discrepancies that large have to have a connecection to a program’s practices and an institution’s priorities. In last year sweet 16, Butler, Duke, Xavier and Cornell all graduate more than 80 percent of their men’s players.” (U.S. Department of Education news March 2010). Duke has never had a major NCAA violation during Coach K tenure. Duke’s commitment to doing things the right way is a solid rock to the foundation that has built Duke into a major force in college basketball.

When Coach K was asked where the ball would go when he wins game 903, he said it would go in a Duke Basketball room at the University where it belongs. He credits the players, the fans and the school's commitment for winning those games. Coach K turned down 40 million dollars to coach the L.A. Lakers to last summer. Coach K said that when you work for a place that stands for the same standards that you want to live by in your personal life, you don’t leave places like that. When you’re the best, why would you leave?








Friday, November 11, 2011

My Inner Teenage Girl

So I had to write an short evaluation essay for class about a song, singer or band. So I choose Natasha Bedingfield's song "Strip Me". It was a moment of weakness, I felt rushed and figured most of the music I listen to like all my manly music would not cut it. So I found my inner teenage girl and wrote this essay about the song. DONT YOU JUDGE ME!!!


Strip Me


Natasha Bedingfield’s song “Strip Me” is written for the female audience mostly, I would assume. From the “La,la,la,la,la” opening line, to the girly undertones, You see that the song is written for females. Even the title “Strip Me” after hearing the song brings to mind a woman who is stripped of her self-worth due to the fact that she is taken likely for being a pretty women. This is a problem from Mrs. Bedingfield’s own perspective as she is easy on the eyes. I have no reason to like the song. I am not a girl, in fact, some would call me a man’s man. I have been voted most likely to not shower or shave for days at a time because I was too busy doing manly things like watching T.V., playing sports, grilling meat and burping. But I love this song because of the redeeming message of self-worth and the anthem that cries out for you to never give up.

The line in the song that says ”and if you strip me, Strip it all away what you would find? If you strip me, Strip it all away, I’ll be alright.” is a great line. If you take everything that we hang our self-worth on and remove it, we are still someone. We are still ok. The song proclaims that we are worth more than our titles. This is a message for me, a 30 year old male, whose ego is fluffed up by salary figures, flirting girls, and three-pointers just as much as it is for a struggling teenage girl who has self-image and daddy issues. It is a beautiful reminder that even through our flaws we have redeeming qualities.

You could get caught up in the fact that the song lyrics could get old in a hurry from the repeating of words, the repeating of lines. But I think this isn’t a song sung for the lyrical hall of fame. It is a song to remind people to keep going, even when you don’t feel important. The lines are made to be catchy like a creed or anthem. It is made to give hope for those dreaded steps that some of us have to take daily. The lines are easy so you can march to the beat of “I’m only one voice in a million but you ain’t taking that from me”.

I understand the song may be too girly and some guys just can’t get by the voice of a girl. Some guys can’t get by the image of “Strip Me”. It might ask some guys to be too emotional, or get in touch with their feelings. But if you strip all that away, you will find more than a catchy feel-good song. You will find power in the words. The power to know that when pink slips comes, bad days happen and your feeling like a nobody, there is hope. Rob Bell says “Sometimes we speak to change the world, and sometimes we keep speaking so the world does not change us.”