Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Messages planned for 2010

Today was productive. With the help of my sweetheart and my buddy Kyle, the next year of messages has been planned. We'll be talking about our core values: Celebrate, Grow, Serve and Multiply. There will be a three week series in the month of love called, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". Ten weeks will be spent teaching about our theological beliefs and will end with an opportunity for people to commit to Encounter for a year at a time. We will call it a Covenant Commitment. The details are on our website. We'll also spend some time in Nehemiah, Jonah, and James. In November we'll talk about our finances in a series titled, "Chasing the Almighty" and then finish off the year celebrating the "Advent" of our Savior.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A little winter weather fun at Leather Lips Park

Well we finally got some snow. Not much but enough to at least get the Spoelstra, Mielke and Kearney kids dressed, sans the moms and our twins, to go sledding. Here's the proof that we went.
The twins prayed for more snow tonight at bed time so they too might get the chance to go sledding with dad:-)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

It finally came and went. Another Christmas. For the Spoelstra's it was quite simple and quiet: no one coming into town and we didn't go out of town. It was nice not even leaving the house today.
We told the kids not to wake us up until 8:45am. They were allowed to hunt for their stockings before then though and Melissa and I giggled in bed when we heard their glee over the silly trinkets they found.
After making our morning cup of tea we began the relatively orderly process of present opening. The kids really got excited about their gifts and my sweetheart got a new laptop she was hoping for but didn't really think she'd get:-)
It was nice to talk to my parents and sister and basically laze around the house all day. Most of us stayed in our pj's all day.

BTW - I found out we has 196 at the Christmas Eve service.

Christmas Eve

Well we did it. We had our very first Christmas Eve service. Thankfully we were able to use our normal location, Eli Pinney Elementary School, so we didn't have to redirect people. The evening started with a video reading from Luke 2 in four different languages, then a short kids pageant followed by three Christmas carols sung by children. Then the adults sang "O Holy Night". I spoke for just over 10 mins. about Christ being before time-Creator, stepping into time-Savior and being above time-King of Kings. After a short time of reflection we lit candles while singing, "Silent Night". When the service ended many people stuck around to have a cookie and connect. I met about a dozen new families and still wasn't able to meet every visitor. I don't know yet how many we had but with the children in the room and all the visitors, we were getting chairs out of the library for people to sit on!
Once we got home it was time to open sibling presents. Ever year we let the kids open the gifts they got for each other and for Melissa and I. They're always so excited to see the reactions of everyone receiving their gifts.
Then after that we headed over to our good friends, Jeff & Lynette Woda, where we met up with about a dozen other families, none of whom attend Encounter. Some we've known for a decade and others we met that night. We had a great time reconnecting.
Once home we rushed the kids to bed so we could fill and hide the stockings and put all the gifts under the tree. After Melissa did most of that we sat down and watched "White Christmas" until 2:00am.
8:45am came early but I'll tell you about that in the next entry.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Home with the family over Christmas Break

Christmas break has begun and fun times with the kids too. Monday was a total family day. After the kids got their chores done we played a 3 1/2 hr. game RISK, they played outside in the snow, had lunch and supper together, watched a movie downstairs and made a ginger bread house. We even turned the phone off for most of the day:-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Small Group Service Project

Our small group wanted to serve during the Christmas season and heard about an opportunity to help out the Salvation Army. I know when serving every little thing helps, but we had so much fun I almost feel like it was a social event instead. About a dozen of us met downtown and counted the money from the red kettles collected from all over the city. It was literally dozens of bank bags filled with thousands of ones, dozens of fives, tens and twenties and a few fifties. I think there was only one hundred dollar bill. The lady beside me found a check written for $1,500.00 though. Crazy! As you can see in the pics. we had a fun time:-)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas lights, techno music and Amazing Grace

What says Merry Christmas more than listening to the age old classic hymn, "Amazing Grace", set to techno music, all the while being wowed by an electric light show of thousands of Christmas lights? Think I'm crazy...think again!
Follow this link and see:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Spoelstra Family Crossword Puzzle Answers

Here are the crossword puzzle answers to our annual Christmas letter. I hope you at least made an attempt at answering the puzzle questions before you get these answers:-)

Here they are...


16 - BACK


9 - POOL
10 - LUNGS
13 - HOME
14 - CATAN
15 - BIBLE
17 - PIANO

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas lights finally up

Each year in the Spoelstra house December rolls around just after Thanksgiving with the families expectation of Christmas lights being hung with care before the snow flies. What you may not know is that I have more than a healthy fear of heights...I'm afraid of them. Getting up on our roof, even though it has a low grade pitch, and leaning over the edge to attach icicle lights makes me cringe inside. So this year with the suggestion of a neighbor and the permission from the kids I hung them with care whilst standing on a chair:-)
It's nothing really fancy but it met with everyone's approval.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pics. of Melissa at the women's tea

Here are a few shots my brother-in-law got of Melissa at the women's tea. She spoke last night and will again today. Then after that she'll enjoy spending some time with her sister Marcie and the kids. She gets back into town late Monday night.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Melissa speaks at a women's tea

I dropped my sweetheart off at the airport today around 12:30pm She's heading to NJ to speak at a women's tea on Friday night and Saturday morning. Her sister Marcie asked her to come and be the speaker. This is the second time Melissa has had an opportunity like this. I believe she is a very gifted speaker and does an excellent job organizing her thoughts. I know b/c of how many times she's helped me with my messages over the years:-)
She gets back Monday night so this weekend I'm a bachelor, but with four active children. Thankfully Jeff Persall is preaching this Sunday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

At NewThing Info. Gathering w/ Adam & KJ

So last night my buddies Adam Koloff and KJ Davis arrived here in Knoxville to join about 50 other men and women today at an intro to NewThing gathering. They got to hear all about the mission and vision of NewThing from Dave Ferguson, lead pastor of Community Christian Church in Naperville, Ill. as well as from Eric Metcalf the director of NewThing. We were hosted by Crossings lead by Mark & Monica Nelson. They did a great job making us feel comfortable, fed and even arranged for us to go on an authentic paddle boat ride for supper Monday night. Their rented facility is literally in the heart of Knoxville's Market Square. Very cool. Today's time will be over around 2pm and then the three of us will drive back to Columbus.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

On my way to Tenn. for NewThing Lead Pastor Gathering

I'm sitting at my gate waiting to board a flight to Knoxville, TN to join the other lead pastors of NewThing Affiliate churches across the US. If you've been reading my blog over the last year you've likely heard me speak of this fine group of church planters who are sold out to multiplying churches. They are creating church planting networks in hopes of seeing a movement sweep across the nation and world of churches planting churches. These are the same folks who put on the largest church planting conference in the country called Exponential. Check out the link. We have five of us going this coming April so far with hopes of seeing a few more attend.
I'm really looking forward to reconnecting with these guys tonight, tomorrow and Tuesday. There's a lot I can glean from their experience.
On Tuesday I have two guys from Encounter joining me for an intro to NewThing time for those who haven't heard much about them. I'll tell you more about that later.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Multi-Cultural Christmas Party

How fun to see almost half of the people at this years party were not at last years. And then ad to that, there were eight Indians, two Syrians (I guess Ammar is technically American now), one China born guest and one Canadian:-)
Like I said two entries ago, the Grace Church basement was an ideal location for our party last year and this year was no exception.

Here is a link to view an album of pics. from last night.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Boy Turns 13 Today!

I just came from having lunch with my son Zach. I asked his teacher if I could have him be a little late and he was more than happy to let him miss the whole class period. We went to Max & Erma's right near our house and his school. It has been a restaurant he and I have eaten at on two other special occasions.
God has truly blessed Melissa & I by giving us Zach.

The Annual Encounter Christmas Party

Who-hoo! Tonight is gonna be fun!
We're having it in our mother church's very nice basement. It has three sections: a game area, a cafe w/ tables & chairs and a stage & seating area. We will end up using all of it. People are bringing desserts or appetizers and the church budget is paying for the cups, plates, hot and cold drinks, etc. We'll leave a bunch of time at the beginning for people to arrive and connect and then we have Luke & Beth Fields giving a testimony about how the Lord has worked in their lives this past year. After that there is a very fun large group game my wife Melissa has helped put together. My hope is that people can relax and enjoy each others company, laugh a lot, and be encouraged to trust in God more.
I'll be sure to post some party pics. tonight or tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The beginning of a new month

With today being December 1st I thought it'd be good to challenge you to try something: consider reading through the book of Proverbs on each of the 31 days (there are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs). At Encounter we just finished a six week series called, "Making Life Work", where each week we looked at how the Proverbs can teach us how to make the wise choice. Knowledge is a good thing I told our people, but "wisdom is knowledge applied". Give reading a Proverb a day a try. I've been doing it off and on for years. There's plenty of very practical principles you can apply to your life.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Family fun starts early

I told you a few entries ago how I was looking forward to Melissa's sister and our brother-in-law Michael coming over with their three kids. Well they ended up coming a day early arriving on Monday night. We've already got three games of Catan under our belts, a cherry pie is hot and on the counter as I write and most of the gang is watching "Biggest Loser" right now. Kinda ironic.
We plan to relax around the house, maybe catch a movie, watch some football, eat lots of treats-n-turkey, and praise God for all He has so generously provided. We are so blessed!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Zach's school project and band concert

Today was a neat day to be a parent, especially with regards to my 12 year old son Zach. He's been working on a science project that has to do with forensics and I got to see him interview a detective at the Dublin police headquarters. My friend Mike Epperson is Dublin's Chief of Police and he helped set the meeting up. When we arrived at the Justice Center we first met with Mike for about ten minutes and then he brought us to Detective Gilleland. After Zach asked him a half dozen questions we headed to the crime lab. We were shown some pretty cool stuff but Det. Gilleland went out of his way to say that what we see on TV is bunk when it comes to CSI stuff.
Right after the interview Zach and I headed home and ate a quick supper and then I dropped him off at Scioto HS where his middle school band was going to put on a concert. He's part of the percussion section and therefore gets to play a number of instruments. If you look closely on the left hand side of the pic. Zach is the third guy standing up. After the 7th and 8th grade bands played we got the treat of hearing the Scioto High School band. They were fast, loud and accurate with their moves and music. The girls really enjoyed watching it.
This is not meant to be a really mean slam...but it looks as though my son may choose to be a "band nerd" over a football star when he gets to Scioto HS. Oh well, it's his life and not mine.
Any thoughts from the three of you who read this blog?:-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Wedding Bells

This afternoon I had the fun opportunity to officiate the wedding of my friends Ammar & Lina Salameh. It was a very simple ceremony done in their living room with Melissa and the near by neighbor Fariba Kazemi as witnesses.
Afterwards we had some cake and champagne while looking at recent pictures of the happy couple.
You may recall back in April I attended the swearing in ceremony of my volleyball friend Ammar becoming a United States citizen. Well now he and his sweetheart Lina are married and starting a new life together here in Columbus.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Looking forward to Thanksgiving

Most of the 14 years Melissa & I have been married we've spent Thanksgiving with the Wallenmeyer's. Her sister Marcie married one of our classmates named Michael from Moody Bible Institute and voila...we're family. Last year the entire Holman crew got together in West Virginia at a huge cabin in the woods. That's their family pic. from the weekend.
I look forward to seeing them partly b/c we have so much history together and partly b/c Michael is so stink'n funny. His funny is the dry type of humor. The kind where he can tell a joke or say something really funny and not even crack a smile himself. I think to most people Michael comes off initially as a more serious and studious guy but he's a real cut up. Anyway, they're coming here in 12 days and I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Orphan Sunday follow-up and next week

Here's a couple things to note from this past Sunday's service:

*Sheila Persall spoke about God's heart for the orphan and updated us on the needs in Cruz Blanca, Guatemala for child sponsorship
*eight more children were chosen to be sponsored by Encounter Church people bringing our number 23
*Laurie Elsass let everyone know about our mission trip to Guatemala next July 20-27
*many people signed up for it

This coming Sunday we're back to our series in the book of Proverbs called, "Making Life Work". This week is titled, "Choose Friends Wisely".

We will also be commissioning our missionaries Mike & Emily McCaman to go to Mexico City. They are joining a team of people committed to planting churches in Mexico, and Central & South America.

These last few weeks have been quite exciting on Sunday mornings. Checkout the website for messages on loving people, being generous, and God's heart about orphans.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Orphan Sunday

Tomorrow is Orphan Sunday, a day to be challenged about what we as Christ followers are doing to defend and care for orphans.
During the service Sheila Persall is going to share about the children our people have already sponsored in the village of Cruz Blanca, Guatemala and others that still need sponsorship. Then Laurie Elsass is announcing the mission trip opportunity for next summer with VisionTrust. My good friend Matt Storer is the president of Vision Trust and preached at Encounter this past June. He sent a video greeting to our church this week while in Liberia. I'll be showing it and one or two other videos during the service.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Encounter Church gives

In yesterdays blog entry I said I'd tell you what our November 1st offering was b/c we're giving it all away to Grace Brethren International Missions (GBIM).
Before I tell you I wanted to let you know how the morning went. As I told you yesterday my friend Rob Comfort was going to co-preach with me. As it turns out when we connected this morning before the service I saw how much he had prepared and felt like I should just hand over most of the service to him. So I opened the morning up with some verses out of Proverbs and some general statements about being generous and then brought Rob up to interview him. After five questions I sat down and Rob spoke humbly from his heart about how essential biblical giving is. You did a great job Rob! If you'd like to hear the message CLICK HERE.
Now before I tell you this amount I'd like to preface it with this:

*I'm not telling you to brag about how great Encounter Church is
*I'm not telling you so you can figure out how much our new church is bringing in weekly
*I'm not telling you so other partnering churches can feel better or worse depending on what they gave

I am telling you so that you can celebrate what God is doing through His people at Encounter.

To God's glory we are sending a check for $5,863.00 to GBIM.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

OSU Football Baby!

Some one called me yesterday and generously offered me two tickets to the OSU vs. NMU game. Their suggestion was for me to take my son Zach and that's exactly what I did. We got to sit up in "C Deck" seven rows from the highest row in the stadium and loved it. It was a blowout game with OSU winning 45-0. Last night we had rain but not at all for the game. It was windy but we came prepared for that. I think they announced that there was 104,719 people in attendance. Zach and I got to the stadium in time to see the band enter and perform the famous "Script O-H-I-O", and see the huge flag raised while we sang the National Anthem.
Hanging with the boy was really fun.

Speaking of people doing generous things...tomorrow is the Day of Generosity for Encounter Church. I'm excited to co-preach with my friend Rob Comfort and see what God's people have decided to do in building HIS Kingdom in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America through their financial gifts.
I'll let you know tomorrow what the total offerings are.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Family fun with the Artrips

Well it's that time of year again...time when I send out my children to get me candy from the neighbors who for some reason are handing it out to anyone that comes to their door:-) The Artips came by to hang as well. Melissa and Kristin stayed in and chatted whilst Mark and I hit the road with Malachi and Rachel. For the first three homes Abby and Sara stayed with us but Artrip's kid was too much of an anchor and the twins cut us loose.
For all of you who know me well you know I make it my habit to pilfer through my children's candy bags when they are sleeping. I know, I know you'd never do a thing like that. But when I came into the house after connecting with my next door neighbors, my three girls had each donated some of their candy to me. They had left a small pile on the floor of my bedroom with a note that said, "Surprise, surprise daddy". So after I prayed with them I told them I wouldn't take any of their candy this year. Lesson learned.

Fun @ the Blue Jackets game

I haven't been to a Columbus Blue Jackets hockey game in years but last night four of us went and had a blast. Mike Arena's (the small dark handsome one) company has four season passes and the seats are great! We were seated right where the zamboni's enter to resurface the ice.
Last week I ran into one of my son's old classmates dad. His name is Greg Murray and he is the "voice of the Blue Jackets". He's announced every home game they've ever played minus the first two. That's over 300 games without being absent! Anyway, Greg said after the game we could come down to the ice and take few a pics. That's him in the gray jacket.
Also during the game a cameraman put Kyle and I on the big screens (I suspect Greg had something to do with that) and one of Dalan's firemen buddy's brought us each a hockey puck.
All in all it was a really fun night hanging out with some buds.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My administrative assistant Adam

Sometimes it's hard to find good help. God in His loving kindness has surrounded me and Encounter Church with some really, really sharp people.
One such individual is Adam Koloff. An engineer by trade (not the train driver) but the guy is totally ministry-minded. He also happens to be a detail guy which I like and he has initiative which I like even better. Oh and did I mention he also drives a Jeep Wrangler?:-)
I can only wonder what God may choose to do through this young man's life and the lives of many others at Encounter.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Daniel Wallace speaks @ Encounter

B/c of the leadership retreat this weekend I asked my good friend Daniel Wallace to speak this morning in the service. He is the director of Gull Lake Ministries, an excellent family camp in Hickory Corners, Michigan about four hours from Dublin.
Our family has enjoyed being there two different summers and will be going again July 10-16, 2010. (Week #4)
The winter before going to Gull Lake for the first time our family went to Disney for a week. After that first time at camp we asked our children where they would prefer to go they unanimously said, "Gull Lake!". It's that's good.
Anyway, this Sunday's message was given by Daniel and it was excellent. He is a fun, energetic speaker who is very authentic and persuasive. Through his explanation of God's Word you know he has studied it and has allowed it to first convict and change him.
Thank-you Daniel. I loved seeing you again bro. Until next summer.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Great discussion with Encounter Leaders @ Retreat

I've gotta say I just love spending time with the leadership of Encounter Church! It energizes me.
This past Friday night from 6-10pm and Saturday 10am-4pm was our first leadership retreat. Our Ministry Coaches and Apprentice Coaches as well as our Small Group Leaders and Apprentice Leaders were all together to discuss four main topics: 1) Membership and Assimilation 2) Appointing Elders 3) the 2010 preaching schedule and 4) the 2010 calendar.
Prayer was sprinkled throughout the days and we ate two meals together. There's plenty of follow-up action that needs to take place but our time together was both bonding and productive.
Thanks team for making ministry at Encounter a joy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time with other pastors

I've written in the past about going to the North Central Ohio (NCO) pastor's fellowship. It's approx. 25 other churches in the greater Columbus area that get together every other month. I love going b/c I've known some of these guys for over ten years and this is the only time I get to see them.
This morning I drove down with my friend and barber, Mark Artrip. He's the HS youth pastor at my mother church, Grace Church in Powell. He and I are both extroverts and think a lot alike. It's fun to listen to his crazy ideas when we talk ministry stuff.
This morning we heard from four of our area pastors that have recently been in the Central African Republic and the Cameroon, Africa teaching in a seminary connected to our fellowship of churches. The guy pictured below is Clancy Cruise. For a year he coached me in the ways of church planting. I really enjoy being around him. He got back from the CAR just a few weeks ago. He said it challenged the way he thinks about many things.

After hearing from all the guys we prayed at our tables. The last thing we heard about was an update on the Day of Generosity. The date is November 1st just two Sundays away. We were reminded how our resources will be used to help our brothers and sisters in Christ share His love in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. They have the people to do it but not always the finances.

With the great wealth God has given us to steward, we can bless these partners in the faith. Encounter Church has chosen to gift 100% of our morning tithes and offerings on November 1st to show our love and support.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Big Weekend Ahead

Once a year Encounter Church will have a Leadership Retreat to seek God for what the next year will hold and to discuss/wrestle with decisions that need to be made to better shepherd His flock. That weekend is two days away. This will be our first retreat together as leaders.
A year ago we were meeting weekly to discuss our core values, dream, pray and visit other churches to see what they were doing. Now we find ourselves with 38 Sunday morning services under our belts and new people coming every week.
The retreat will be at the home of Chuck & Deb Taylor's and includes Ministry Coaches and Apprentice Coaches as well as Small Group Leaders and Apprentice Leaders. The Finance team will also be there.
On Friday night we'll have supper together, hear from all the ministry Coaches and various other leaders and have a concert of prayer. Afterwards for those who desire to stay later there will be some fun games. On Saturday we'll have lunch together, have three times of prayer and the agenda items will include membership/assimilation, elders & deacons, the 2010-11 preaching schedule and calendar of events. It's a pretty full schedule to be sure. No matter what though we'll end by 4:00pm.
Pray that we will make wise decisions.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18th service and Communion

What a great day with the Body of Christ. I just love spending time with those at Encounter Church.
It was a neat Sunday morning service together and afterwards we had a lady ask to receive Christ! What a great privilege for Melissa and I. We went onto the stage behind the curtain and spoke for a bit and then Melissa lead the lady in a prayer. She had been invited by one of our newer members and had been attending for just over a month.
Minutes later she was sharing communion with us and at the end I told the group about her receiving Christ and she was warmly received.
Praise the Lord.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fall, Family and Fruit

Like I said in the last entry, we have family in town. B/c of their late through the night drive there was quite a bit of resting by some:-) My young nephews Caleb, Sam and Ben really like it that there Uncle Sean has a jeep. So I took them all off-roading under the section of 270 by Riverside Dr. and Emerald Pkwy. They giggled and my children screamed:-)
Last night was also an evening of playing Settlers of Catan. We got 3 games in before calling it quits right after midnight. We're prepping for a few more games once the kids are "settled".
This afternoon all 12 of us headed over to Lyn's Farms to apple pick. We got a bunch of Rome & Sun Crisp and my sweet wife already baked two apple pies. One is already gone:-)
I'm looking forward to our church service tomorrow. We're in week #3 of our 5 week series in the book of Proverbs. Following the service is communion. We do communion somewhat differently than many other churches. We actually have a threefold communion: a meal, footwashing, and the bread & cup. It takes about an hour and a half. For a full description with some pics. you can go to our church website and click on Beliefs.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The perfect season

Well they did it. The Davis MS 7th grade football team won every season game they played. Last night was the final, and coldest, game of the year. The final score was 12-0. We were at Grizzell MS right in the target area of our church plant. I saw a bunch of our own Encounter folks there. People like Matt & Chrissy Jacobs, Rob Comfort, Diana Biocchi. I also saw some friends I hadn't seen in a while like Kevin & Susan Smith and Jim Cline.
It was also fun to spend most of the game huddled under my umbrella with my new friend Chuck Confar. As you can see by the ridiculous pic. we were more concerned about keeping warm than our looks. It was rainy, windy and cold. We felt bad for the guys on the ground being tackled and the others standing on the sidelines.
Tomorrow my sister and brother-in-law come into town. They are bringing with them four of their six children. Caleb, Sam, Ben & baby Isaac. The two girls, Faith and Esther will be watched by my mom back in Hamilton, Ontario. I'm sure you'll see some pics. of our time together this weekend. Now I need to finish the message for Sunday before they get here.