End of Fall Season 2016

2016-ornamentsGreetings, Stockade and Battalion families!  We’ve had a great season, punctuated with holidays and the typical “busy-ness” of autumn schedules (i.e. back to school, sports events, school and church events, gatherings for Thanksgiving, et.al.).

Still, when we look back, we’ve gotten a good bit accomplished and we’re well primed for the new season that lays ahead of us in 2017:

  • Stockaders built posterboard gliders, we explored the world of cars and trucks as a glider-close-up-2preliminary step towards building shape-n-race derby cars.  Preliminary car plans were drawn up by each boy and we have the wood blocks ready for cutting, sanding and painting in the new year.  At our last meeting, each boy created three craft projects (Christmas ornament, greeting card, snowflakes) and we saw a brief video and enjoyed some snacks, too.
  • Battalion has gone well on alternating Friday evenings and we’ve made progress through our video series titled “Stepping Up: A call to courageous manhood” by Family Life Ministries.  Tonight (12/9/2016) is our final Battalion meeting of the calendar year.

So what does our calendar look like for the new year?

  • gliders-lots-of-themJan 9 – first meeting of the new year.  We’ll revisit our derby car plans, and start working on the basic cuts and fabrication.  Boys will need to take turns and be patient for safety’s sake – – we’ll work in smaller teams that night.  More details to follow.
  • Jan 16 (MLK B-day, will NOT meet)
  • Jan 23
  • Jan 30
  • Feb 6
  • Feb 13
  • Feb 20 (President’s Day, OFF – NO MEETING)
  • Feb 27
  • Mar 6
  • Mar 13
  • Mar 20
  • Mar 27
  • Apr 3
  • Apr 10 (Spring Break for area schools – OFF – NO MEETING)
  • Apr 17 (TAX DAY)
  • Apr 24
  • May 1
  • May 8 (Gal’s Tea – likely to use the lower auditorium and boys be in the white house annex (board game night?))
  • May 15 (Final Club Night Picnic/BBQ in parking lot)

We’re still working on the Battalion schedule…more to come.

Thank you to all the families who’ve participated, we trust your sons have had a good time and are learning and growing through their involvement.

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Battalion Meeting Tonight!

Rangers, Junior Rangers and Boys in grades 7-12 are welcome to come to our kickoff meeting tonight.

From 7 PM to 7:30 PM we will conduct a planning and organization workshop for our Monday night Stockade ministry.  We will discuss what’s been going well, what we can do better, and we’ll be introducing our new workbook materials which have just arrived from CSB Ministries.

su20event20kitFrom 7:30 to 9 PM we will cover the first session in our study called “Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood” which is a DVD and workbook program produced by Family Life Ministries.  Workbooks are essential to the study, and we have a very limited supply of workbooks for the first session.  Workbooks cost $12 each so please bring cash or a check, or you can purchase your own online at any number of suppliers (Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, et.al.)

Generally, the video session runs about 35 minutes and the remainder of time is engaged in group discussion about the video topic and questions from the workbook.  In between group meeting sessions, there are workbook exercises for individuals to complete.

Hope to see you tonight.  Lower Auditorium.

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Meeting Recap (10/3/16)

jeep-under-construction-1We had a couple new faces in the crowd this week, and continued out theme of “cars and trucks” through our activities and devotional.

Following our opening ceremony, the Junior Rangers organized teams for games and led the fun while monitoring for good sportsmanship.

Our activities included several word searches and crossword puzzles on the cars and trucks theme.  Boys were encouraged to work as teams, taking turns finding key words or solving riddles for crossword clues.  Junior Rangers stood close by to offer assistance and individualized encouragement so that no one became frustrated or felt isolated during the exercise.

Ranger Stephen offered the devotional discussion on “ENGINES”:  he took time to present open ended questions to the group, and draw from them their creative and fun answers.  While they typically presented the most obvious response, he was able to encourage them to think about a broader context and discover new connections.  As part of his program, he handed out select bible verses and asked volunteers to read a short set aloud.  Following each reading, he would ask the group how that set of verses helps to clarify our thinking and understanding of our own roles as specially created individuals.

Ranger Stephen provided a concise recap of that discussion, below:

Tripod TrebuchetWe’ve been talking about cars and trucks as of late, and they are driven by engines, however, in the world we also have search engines like google, siege engines like catapults, and locomotives like steam engines besides.

So what is an engine? An engine is something built to accomplish a particular task, something made with a purpose in mind.

Thinking about that, we can say that God made the world with a purpose in mind, so that can be seen as a form of engine. It is worth noting that it is an engine we are responsible for, as pointed out in Psalms 8, God has made mankind rulers over the works of his hands, this is also seen in Genesis 1:26-28. Beyond even that, the task of general stewardship of the world given, God has special purposes in mind for each one of us, making us all engines of a sort!

Now, there is something else that needs to be said about engines, engines require certain things (i.e. fuel, input of data, etc.) to run correctly:

  • a diesel engine needs diesel fuel, and
  • a basic calculator works with numbers,

However, if you were to substitute sugar-water for diesel fuel, the engine not only might not run, it might flat out destroy the diesel engine, and if you tried to use letters instead of numbers, the calculator wouldn’t understand the input and couldn’t provide it’s services to you.

So it is important that we learn to distinguish good fuel from bad, and proper operation from improper operation.

The bible on the whole is great for that, but Proverbs is a very dense collection of suggestions to work with:

  • Proverbs 3:5-8 reminds us first that we will not understand everything that happens in life, but God has his reasons if we will trust him. Further, his rules will, to stretch the analogy, keep the driveshaft aligned, and finally, even in less profound issues, we don’t know everything, but turning away from evil will be refreshment.
  • Proverbs 3:27-31 Suggests that we should not withhold good from others when we can give it, be it encouragement, service, or physical support. Moreover, this passage warns us against seeking conflict where none has been called for and to choose role models with care.
  • Proverbs 10:17 points out that instruction, from trustworthy sources, is meant for your good, and introduces the concept of a “reproof.” When a younger sibling reaches for a hot pot, you would warn them, you would tell them not to touch it, you would be reproving them. It’s not a very scary word or concept, it is simply to warn sternly.
  • Proverbs 12:25 introduces a simple example of both good and bad fuel directly, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” We probably won’t always resist anxiety, but it is something to remember.
  • Proverbs 12:26 notes that those who are righteous, those with good fuel, is a trustworthy guide to his neighbor, and then warns that the wicked, those with bad fuel, will lead them astray.
  • Proverbs 13:12 talks about a few issues we can’t always control, “hope deferred,” the forestalling of that desired, can weigh you down, and in some cases weigh heavily, and a longing fulfilled, a true longing, is almost never fulfilled purely on your own sole efforts, expectations can be adjusted slightly, but such adjustments will require a lot of time, and if care is not taken to have the right mind about things before such delays appear, they can be a weighty matter to deal with indeed.

Obviously, there is much more that can be said on the subject, but for now, this is what I have to provide based on what I was able to read in preparation for tonight’s discussion.

REMINDER – NO MEETING ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 10th DUE TO COLUMBUS DAY HOLIDAY.

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9/26/16 Meeting Recap

What a great opening night!  We had ten boys, four junior rangers, and three adult rangers participate.

Our focus for the fall is “Cars and Trucks” as we head into “Pinewood Derby” (or as CSB prefers to call it “Shape’N Race”) season following Christmas time.

Boys arrived from 6:45 until 7 PM and we played dodgeball with safety rules in place (no head shots and keep it fun for all).  We have Gatorskin, Soft-Balls to help keep the game fun, too – the balls are squishy, easy to grab and throw, but are softer than “Nerf-style” balls of similar size.

fig_049At 7 PM we called the meeting to order by forming the stockade — this is where the boys line up as though they’re the walls of a frontier fortress called a stockade.

Next, we selected two volunteers to hold our American Flag and CSB Stockade Flag while we recited the pledge of allegiance, the CSB motto (“Bright and Keen for Christ!“) and checked on our positive mental attitude (response from boys is to shout loudly “Boy, Am I Enthusiastic!“)  We covered announcements, and went over the schedule for the night’s events.  We went around the group and had everyone introduce themselves so that we’d begin to learn everyone’s names.

We dismissed the stockade and returned the flags to their closet.  The Junior Rangers are responsible to organize games for the first half hour of the program, and tonight we fhwa-classificationscontinued with variations on dodgeball as everyone was enjoying that game.  Sometimes we do team building events, and sometimes we organize board game nights, etc.

At 7:35 we took a break for icewater, and then got organized for the evening activity – a discussion of cars, trucks and buses — how many different designs there are and how to classify them and name them all. The boys were then given markers to color any of their favorite cars or trucks and this exercise was to help them work on fine motor control, art, and to learn what types of cars or trucks the boys would want to build for the upcoming derby program.

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At 7:55, we gathered the markers and started our devotional.  We noted that man has made many types of cars and trucks – each with a purpose or function in mind.  Some are suited 2012-6x6-truckfor hauling rock and gravel, while others are designed to race on special roads.  Some are designed to help fight fires, or transport special cargo and others move our families to the shopping center and back home again.

While we may have a preference for sports cars, we can recognize that they all have important roles to play and that without trucks, we’d be in the dark (utility trucks to fix the electric wires) and without much to do (trucks deliver all our furniture and food to stores from factories and farms).

jeep-under-construction-1Just like each type of car and truck has a purpose in the way it is designed, God had purposes and plans in mind when He created each of us.  Even if some of us function differently than others, each role is important and we’d all suffer without the diversity and range of purposes and activities in our lives.

  • We are created to glorify God.  Our very existence is also a purpose or role that we occupy.  We are, as created beings, a testimony to God’s greatness….Isaiah 43:7 – “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory….”
  • We were created with specific plans in mind when God created us – good plans for our welfare….Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil to give you a hope and a future….”
  • We have had duties (revere God and obey his commands) communicated to us — things that we can do out of gratitude to God for His love and care for us….Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man….”
  • We have specific jobs to do, good works to perform on a daily basis….”Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them….”

Following the devotional time, we cleaned the room and gathered in a circle to solicit prayer requests from the boys – we learned of an upcoming quiz at school and the celebration of a birthday.  We prayed and thanked God for a great night of fun, that students would be calm and ready for their quizzes or tests and that birthday celebrations would be well remembered.

We conclude our meetings with a benediction;

Lord, our Savior, Guide and Captain,

Be a stalwart wall around us;

Make of us Stockaders valiant;

Keep us in the name of Jesus, Amen!

It was great to meet many moms after the meeting, and we appreciate your prayer support for the program – that God will keep us safe, help us to have fun, and reach the boys with strong lessons from His Word to help them grow into strong, faith-filled men.

Upcoming Meeting Schedule:

Oct.  3 – Club Meeting

Oct.  10 – Holiday: Columbus Day (NO club meeting)

Oct. 17 – Club Meeting

Oct. 24 – Club Meeting

Oct. 31 – (NO club meeting)

Nov.  7 – Club Meeting (Need extra CSB Adults – Ranger Leslie Lin will be available)

Nov. 14  –  Club Meeting (need extra CSB Adults)

Nov. 21 – No Club Meeting – Week of Thanksgiving

Nov. 28 – Club Meeting

Dec. 5 – Club Meeting (CSB in White House/Sunday School Annex — across the parking lot that night so Pioneer Girls can have their Tea in the main building.)

Dec.  12 – NO Club meeting, off until January restart (to be announced)

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Planning Resources for Day Outings

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Bish Bash Falls

Magazine article – http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/new-jersey/nj-10-best-hikes/ – offering places for day hikes for folks with varied ability (some strenuous, some flat – – all picturesque)

Not from NJ?  That’s OK – check out this link for info on activities closer to where ever you live – http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/

1. High Point Monument – High Point State Park has a variety of trails, ranging from .5 – 4.3 miles (near the Northern Tip of NJ – the tri-state area of NY, PA, NJ) – also the highest point (elevation-wise) in the State of NJ.  Has camping available.

2. Buttermilk Falls – “While you don’t need to hike to see the falls (there’s a parking lot and viewing area), it’s a great starting point for several other trips.” Located in NW New Jersey along the Delaware Water Gap. (http://www.njhiking.com/best-hikes-in-nj-buttermilk-falls/)

3. Manasquan Reservoir – “You’ll find four designated trails at this reservoir, ranging from just .2 miles to a more challenging 5.1 miles.”

4. imgp7163Pochuck Boardwalk – A section of the Appalachian Trail in Norther NJ that features an extensive boardwalk system (1.5 miles end to end) over a protected marsh area with stunning wild flowers in summer, and a nifty suspension bridge.

5. Pyramid Mountain – located in Morris County, the park offers a range of trails with interesting views and scenery.

6. South Mountain Fairy Trail – “This whimsical, family-friendly hike can be found along the Rahway Trail (white blazes) of the South Mountain Reservation. It is dotted with charming fairy abodes, made of all natural materials.”

7. Island Beach State Park – Offers eight trails, beach hiking and wildlife observation.

8. Batsto Lake Trail – Based in the Wharton State Forest, this trail is an easy 4.2-mile loop around the lake. May want to schedule time to visit the historic Batso villiage, too.

9. Belleplain State Forest – part of the Pinelands region of the State, this trail system is in the southern reaches of the State featuring bogs, lakes, wetlands and forests.

10. Delaware & Raritan Canal Towpath – “Offering 70 miles of flat, level terrain, this scenic towpath is ideal for hiking and biking. It is wheelchair and stroller accessible in most areas and takes you through towns from Trenton to Lambertville. Be sure to stop at Washington Crossing State Park.”

These are the hikes recommended by the magazine, but represent only the tip of the iceberg — there are so many great places for day hikes in NJ and the surrounding area.  A careful study of the NJ State Parks web site as well as the NY/NJ Trail Conference (http://www.nynjtc.org/) web portal will help you identify great hikes and camping locations.

Also, don’t forget about History Hikes (history scavenger hunts combined with day hikes) — https://traillife113.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/activity-profile-history-hikes/

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The “Lemon Squeezer”

Renewal within CSB

IMGP6811A lot has been happening in the background at CSB Ministries over the past two to three years:

  • a move of their headquarters location,
  • creation of new ministry curriculum, and
  • an increase in training opportunities for leaders to refresh and renew their local vision and passion for discipleship.
  • release of Valor – a magazine for the parents of the children enrolled in the program
  • release of a new logo to revitalize the marketing and promotion of the ministry

It is amazing to think about the origins of the ministry and how far it has come.  As you’ll see in the accompanying video, the program got its start with a college student in a church basement almost 80 years ago.  Now it’s a leading provider of men’s ministry to boys, young men and adult guides.

This fall, NVEFC will kick off it’s normal Monday evening program for grades 3-6 with boys in grades 7-12 providing leadership support as Junior Rangers, under the supervision of adult Rangers.

However, we are also planning to offer a twice per month Friday evening program for the older boys and the adult Rangers.  This is a chance to talk about what’s going well on Monday’s and plan meetings ahead of time.  Further, it will provide a time of ministry to the older boys and adult leaders focused on them.  A chance to refresh and renew the vision for discipleship.

We will likely rely on curriculum from either Manhood Journey or use the “Stepping Up” series from Family Life Ministries in this Friday program.  All teen boys and their dads at NVEFC, and all Junior Rangers and their dads (whether they regularly attend NVEFC or another local church) are welcome to attend.

A welcome letter with kick off details is being prepared, but if you can’t wait and are filling up your fall calendar – contact Paul Farrell via the church office and we’ll get you up to speed ASAP.

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Article on Christian Service Brigade

Occasionally, a news magazine or newsletter will offer a profile story on various youth development programs.  Recently, Christian Today offered an article on CSB.  To see the full article, click here.

While the article begins with a premise that leads to a question;

A 77-year-old Christian organisation is offering an alternative to scouting after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) decided to allow openly gay adult leaders and employees into its ranks.

The CSB Ministries, the parent organisation of Christian Service Brigade, said in a statement that with the BSA’s decision, “churches that host Boy Scout troops are faced with an important and difficult decision.”

“Do they keep their affiliation with the Scouts and support this change or find biblical alternatives for their boys and men?” it asked.

IMGP6935Many former scouters left BSA to join CSB (and, arguably, other youth development programs) for deeper reasons than the change in membership policy at BSA.  For many parents and volunteers, it was BSA’s steady movement towards promoting a pluralistic view of religion — that all religions are equally valid (or equally invalid) at fulfilling spiritual growth within individuals which runs contrary to John 14:6.  All may come to the Father by Jesus, His Son, but allowing BSA to teach my sons that God could be a rock, a babbling brook or the spirit of the East Wind ran counter to our efforts at religious instruction at home (if you are interested, see my article “Boy Scouts Compromise Happened Long Ago“)

The Christian Today article does provide a nice overview of the CSB program:

The Christian Service Brigade has been hosting programmes for boys and young men in local churches since 1938. The programmes it offers include scripture and leadership skills, focusing on the spiritual, physical, mental and social development of boys.

“Brigade empowers men in the local church to disciple and mentor boys and young men, through action-based programmes and resources,” said Scott Haima, president of CSB Ministries. “We encourage and equip strong Christian men to model and teach biblical manhood. We have refined our approach for 77 years, and we understand the needs and unique challenges that churches face.”

The article also provides a unique connection that should captivate youth pastors and senior pastors, alike:

A Barna Research revealed that 59 percent of Christians leave their church by age 30, thus draining the future leadership pool of churches.

The CSB Ministries said programs that teach leadership and service to Christ are a way of preventing this.

The inclusion of both service projects and ministry projects in many units (especially at the Battalion level of junior-senior high aged boys) helps build bonds between young and CSB imageold and show the need for young men to participate actively and consistently in their local church (as opposed to becoming a Sunday morning absentee).

In our church, we have a mix of boys from church member families, and boys from the community at large (either attending other churches or not attending other churches).  This provides opportunities for offering the gospel message during our story circle time, and to provide a positive role-model testimony to these boys.

We are beginning to plan our 2016-2017 season now.  It’s a good program that provides boys with helpful mentoring and that’s important.  As Rick Bundschuh, author of Passed Through Fire, has been quoted, 

The men of the church will have to get deeply involved in order for boys to become men through watching and emulating them. The imprinter of manhood that every boy seeks comes from one place only: other men.

To view a CSB Ministries comparison table, click here.