Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ketchup time!

Is it really half-way through July already??? I just realized the last time I made a post was June 1st!!! Sorry I've been behind with that, this summer has been a very busy one for me packed with a lot of cool ministry opportunities and little adventures. This weekend has been a good time for me to relax a bit and catch up on some things. Yesterday I was over in Grand Rapids playing some music for a block party style hip-hop festival, some friends of mine were putting it together and wanted my band to roll through even though I don't rap :) Someone there took this picture on their phone while we were sound checking and sent it to me.

When I made my last blog post; things were just getting started with training our summer staff at ROCK youth ministries for our 10 week day camp program with youth here around Holland, MI. We are now five weeks into the summer and it has already been a wild ride! I've had some really cool opportunities to continue building relationships with some of the kids in our program and to keep taking advantage of teachable moments that inevitably come up whenever you spend enough time hanging out with youth. This last week we had a youth group from out of town come and help us out with camp stuff. We've gotten to do a lot of cool things this summer with the kids and I regret not being more on top of sharing those with you. These are some random photos from the last few weeks of awesomeness

Somehow alongside of all the work I've been doing with the ROCK youth program, I've still been able to do a good amount of touring on weekends and keep my sanity! I've really been blessed with a lot of opportunities this summer to share my music; as well as leading worship, with a lot of people from all kinds of places. Some of these trips included a camp in Colorado, a weekend tour in Kansas where I played some music and spoke a little at an outreach event/basketball tournament just outside of Kansas City, and several visits to churches where my band got to lead some worship and I had the opportunity to share about ROCK youth ministries. If you are one of the many people I got to meet and talk with on one of these trips, it was awesome getting to hang out and do some Jesus business!

When on the Kansas trip with my band, we also had my good friend Beacon Light (Hip-hop artist) traveling with us and we stopped in a Chic-Fil-A resturant for the first time ever. It just happened to be "Dress Like a Cow" day; so naturally, we had to interview some people in cow suits. Check the video below :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hangin on the Edge and Rockin some Chicken Livers! :)

Man oh man, What a memorial day weekend! I love the feeling of getting to re-coop after a long weekend. I ended up sleeping-in till three this last Monday because I was so tired from all that went on Friday-Sunday! I had a couple events I was doing music at on Sunday, one at Kentwood Community Church and one in Lansing. I also got to talk with few individuals about what I'm doing at the mission with the youth program which was good. Saturday night I was out at the Edge Urban Fellowship (the hip-hop church in Grand Rapids I'm a part of) with one of the guys from the mission. That particular night of worship was a really special and encouraging blessing to me. I've actually been able to take a couple guys from the mission out there with me on Saturday nights. The Edge has a pretty unique environment compared to most churches you may have been to, there are a lot of really hardcore Jesus followers there, but yet it doesn't feel all "churchy" if you will, just some very raw and genuine people seeking to please God in their neighborhood and live out the Truth of Christ's love unashamedly without compromise. Its been a really cool way to build some relationships with the guys, spend some time in worship, hearing some solid truths form God's word, and getting a chance to talk some about life and God and what the connection between the two of them is looking like in our day to day lives. Below is a promo video for the Edge, check it out! This place has become both my church family and an outreach ministry that has been very cool to be a part of.

Monday night I did something I haven't done in a while, I went and picked up a fishing license and some chicken livers and tried my luck with some cat-fishing. I ended up having a really cool talk with this guy I met at Kollen Park. I told him I wanted to figure out how to fish lake Macatawa (thats a lake connected to Lake Michigan, it flows right into a couple blocks from downtown Holland) with some fairly consistent success because it would be a really cool thing to do with some of the young guys I'm mentoring. Fishing is a really good chance to talk about life, and who doesn't like the thrill of hauling a 10 lb plus catfish out of the water? After I told him I wanted to figure it out so I could take kids out fishing from the youth program, he totally went to town telling me about every little trick in the book about that lake, when and where to go, what kind of gear to get, what kind of gear not to get. It was really cool, and I'm excited to try some of it! hopefully he wasn't blowin' smoke, but he sure seemed like he knew what he was talking about! Time will tell... :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Philipians 4:6-7; Graduation, and a book by a guy named Head

Man, It has been a good last couple weeks of catching a breath after a wild couple months! My last blog post marked the end of a seven-week period of not only doing stuff with ROCK youth ministries at the mission during the week, but also being gone every weekend playing concerts, speaking, and leading worship. It has been good to stand still for a couple seconds and refocus. In this blog I will be sharing briefly about some of the things I've been up to the last few weeks, as well as share about something that God's been teaching me lately in His word about prayer.

I got to spend a few days with my family on the first weekend of this month. It was the weekend of my college graduation ceremony, I finished up my classes in December, but I had to wait until now to walk and do all that fancy stuff you have to do when you graduate. So, my family figured it was a good excuse to come up from IL to celebrate with me! It was good to see them and be able to show them around Holland a bit. I got to give them a tour of the mission and show them a more first-hand glance at what my ministry work there looks like. That was really cool for me.

At the ROCK these last few weeks... we are excitedly awaiting/getting ready for summer camp! Last week we got all of our stuff moved from our youth building across town to Trinity church where we have our summer camp. Whenever we get to moving it all it really makes me realize: "Man, we have a lot of stuff!" We filled up our whole bus and a van with all of the gear we need for the summer, and thanks to an awesome volunteer group were able to unload it all too in one day! I've continued stopping in at the daycare to spend time with the little guys there and working on connecting with a couple of junior high boys that come to our program stuff. I'm actually planning on having one of them play drums for our song time that I lead in the mornings at camp this summer; so we'll be meeting once a week to practice for that.

A Book I've Been Reading:

This summer I will again be leading a small group of junior high guys at camp this summer. So, I've been praying and thinking through what that might look like this time around. I've been reading a book that I will probably be using some stories out of for most the times we talk. Its called "Save Me From Myself". The book is an auto-biography by Brian Welch, the former lead guitarist from the metal band Korn. In the book he shares honestly about his life story and the ups and many downs he encountered due to choices he made while looking for something to hold on to. Eventually, Brian discovered that he a life lived following Jesus' example was the only one worth living and has made some huge changes. He now continues to make music and has put out a solo album, but the focus is on sharing the message of Christs love. I'm still working on finishing up the book, but its been really good so far.

Something God's Been Teaching Me Lately:

One of the things that God has been teaching me lately has been the importance of keeping consistent conversation with Him as a part of my day-to-day life. I've been reading the Bible in Philippians, and in chapter 4:6-7 Paul writes: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." While these last couple weeks have still been busy, they have been much less schedule-packed than the month and a half before when I was traveling a lot along with working at the mission. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I had 'stopped praying' or anything like that during that time; but my moments of really being still and just chilling with Jesus were hard to find. The last few weeks I've been able to take some serious time aside to spend in prayer for the many things going on in my life, taking time to be in prayer for many of the kids in the youth program, as well as some of the guys around the mission that I've been getting to know.  I tend to do most of my ministry work in the afternoon into late evening; so I've had the luxury of starting to take a long chunk of my mornings to be able to wake up slowly, be still, and take any and all of the worries and burdens on my heart to God before I hit the day. It has been such a blessing to see what those verses in Philipians say ringing true: "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"

I challenge you to blow the whistle and call a time-out! We all have different schedules, maybe your best time is in the morning like myself, maybe its in the evening, maybe mid-day, but find some time that you can get alone and just be with God! Maybe that means you go to the park for an hour and walk along a path for no reason other than to reflect on things and share whats on your heart with God. Maybe its sittin on your back porch with a cup of coffee, maybe its in your room with a notebook where you write out what you have to say to God. If you've never tried just spending time with God like that before, it might seem a little weird at first, like "What do I pray about for an hour?" But I think if you go into it with an open mind, and just be honest with yourself and God, you'll be surprised at how awesome that time can become. I read a book a little over a year ago called "Sacred Spaces: Meditations for Common Places" by Matt Will. While I won't declare it as an end-all "hey this is how you have to pray" solution, the book really had some good thought provoking things to say; as well as some very cool ideas of practical ways to spend time being still to both share with, and listen, to our Almighty God.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Epic "steal the bacon" battles and April tour dates! video!

Boy do I not like being sick! been down with a nasty cold/throat thing the last couple days, but I think I'm actually coming out of it now! Yes! Its been an exciting last couple of weeks. Last night we had our final tutoring night for the semester at ROCK youth ministries. Its always a bit of bummer when we have to end for the semester, but there is a lot of preparation for the summer camp program to be done over the next few weeks. We ended the last night with an epic game of "steal the bacon" with our elementary students. It is always a riot! The last two weekends have been packed full with gigs and speaking events, and I'm heading out to Grace Adventures Camp this weekend to lead worship for a youth retreat! After that, I will be trying to slow down a little bit for the next couple weeks until our ten-week day camp starts at the ROCK. I wanted to share with you guys some of the highlights from these last two weeks. Enjoy! :)

The weekend of the 16th and 17th I got to play my first couple concerts with the new band members. A friend of mine from Honduras, Alvin, has recently started drumming with me at events I get to do music at. He is a great guy and a great drummer, so its really fun to have him along for the ride! I've also got two different guys that will be swapping off on bass for me now, again both very good guys and talented. If you get a chance to come see us play soon you'll have to come say hi! On the 16th Alvin and I went to a youth group in Newaygo to play some tunes, and it was a blast! I think that was the first time I ever had a group do a kickline while I was playing a concert... You guys were awesome! The next day we picked up my buddy Beacon Light and we went up north to Boyne Mt. Resort to play a show with Mizz Reality for a big youth event that was being held there. Alvin was a little bummed we didn't have time to mess around in the waterpark, but we had a great time doing some ministry with the kids there. I made a video below with some clips from our road trip includeing some of the crazy/funny things that happen when you stick us in the car for too long...

The next weekend we ended up playing a show at Grace Bible College for their expedition at grace event they do every year. Its basically a weekend for prospective students to come and check out the school and have some fun for the weekend. Being that myself and Beacon both graduated from there, it almost had a bit of a "hometown performance" feel to it. Seeing some old friends, and reminiscing a bit was good.

During the week in between all of this I actually got to head down to IL to spend a few days with my family.  My older sister, her husband, and my three little nephews were in town at my parents house for a couple weeks. My brother in law is in the army and they are all stationed at a base in Germany right now so its been a good year or so since I got to see them all! It was good to get to hang out with them and get in some wrestling/tickle fights with the little nephews. I gotta establish that uncle Joe dominance when I can, ya know!?

This last Sunday I got the privilege of speaking at Trinity Reformed Church about ROCK youth ministries (the youth program at the Holland rescue mission). In the evening I went and visited their youth group and gave them a tour around the mission. It was cool to be able to share the vision of what we do with this church. They actually help host our summer day camp program by letting us operate out of their church during the summer; which is a huge blessing seeing that they have tons of space for us and a big yard where we can do all kinds of outdoor stuff with the kids. The youth building we have for our tutoring program during the school year is right downtown; so it would hard to do camp there and keep the kids cooped up inside all day!

Thanks for checking in on what I've been up to the last few weeks! If you would like more info on any of the ministries I'm involved in please email me at: or look me up on facebook! Also, If you appreciate the content and ministries you hear about on this blog, please help spread the word by sharing with your friends and family!

Joe Guerra's Music website:

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Mexico, Sheep, KickBall and Tutoring!

Hey, Sorry to have missed a week of blogging! With all of the traveling I've been doing this last month I've had to play some catch-up this week with some different things. Since arriving back from Guatemala (see my last blog entry) I was back in Holland at the rescue mission for three packed days before heading off to New Mexico! The short time back was good and much needed, I spent a good chunk of the time getting together with some of the kids from my youth program, one of the days me and one of the younger guys at the mission got lunch and spent the afternoon at the park feeding ducks popcorn and throwing a football around. It was so fun chasin' those ducks all over the place!

New Mexico was crazy! I was there for a week leading worship and helping out for another missions trip project with Adventures in Missions. This time the group of kids we had were from California, and there was also a family from... Pennsylvania??? I hope I'm not wrong... :) We spent the week at Broken Arrow Bible Ranch doing a lot of work projects for the camp. Broken Arrow is a Christian camp for kids who live on Indian Reservations. They get around 1,000 kids every summer from all over New Mexico who get a chance to come to camp, have some fun, learn some things, and hear about the love of Jesus. We came to find out that most of the kids coming to this camp come from home backgrounds that are surrounded by a lot of poverty; as well as drug, alcohol, and physical abuse. To many of these kids, camp is able to be a safe place for a week out of their summer where they can see some hope for the future through a life built on the principles of Christ's love. Given the type of camp that they are, most of their bigger building and maintenance projects are funded by donors and volunteers coming in to do the work. So that is what we spent most of the week doing. Everything from clearing out old dead trees, to painting cabins, to moving huge piles of tires for a go-cart track, to fixing backstops for their rifle and archery ranges, and all kinds of other tasks.

On Wednesday night we split up into several groups and went to help out at different youth programs that the full-time camp staff are involved in throughout the school year. This was also a really cool opportunity for us. One of the groups went to one of the boarding schools on the Navajo reservation, while another group went to a church on the Zuni reservation nearby.

Probably the most ridiculous and stretching thing for the kids throughout the week was the day we went to help a local Navajo shepherding family perform the yearly task of castrating their new lambs. Yes, I typed that correctly! While it was a bit on the edge for all of us, it is something totally normal for the Navajo, Sheep herding is a part of everyday life for many of them. The family that we helped is connected with the camp and has been in and out of the hospital lately, It would have taken them several days to take care of all their new lambs, but with us helping it only took a couple hours. After we were done they invited us in their home for some fried bread and we got to hear about their families story and learn a bit about Navajo culture. It was different... but all in all a good time. :)

This past week it has been good to be back in Holland as we were starting up tutoring again after spring break. It was really cool to see all my kids, I really started missing hanging out with them after a week or so. Since its starting to get warmer we played some kickball in the lot outside of our youth building yesterday. Earlier in the week and went over to our daycare and spent the afternoon helping out with some of the young boys there. We went over the bridge that supposedly has crocodiles living underneath and pretended to be spider-man at the park. It was so much fun!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trip to Guatemala

Hey there, do you ever find yourself saying "where did this last week go?" not because you didn't do anything but rather because you did so much and it all just flew by? Yah, that is kinda what this last week was like; and I enjoyed ever minute of it!

Two Fridays ago, the 19th, I headed out to Guatemala where I got to lead worship for a missions trip that a group of kids from Camden, Alabama were going on. I cannot possibly recount everything that happened, it would take a years worth of blogs, but I figured I would summarize the week and throw up some pics and video for you to check out.

The trip started with an early morning haul out to the Detroit airport thanks to my good friends Moses, Stefan, and Amanda. Oh, and I can't forget Nichole for letting us borrow her car! (In retrospect that is kinda funny, apparently it takes four GBC students to drive a car... hmm... lol) It was around 10:00 that night when I finally landed in Guatemala City where I met up with Gary, the project leader for the trip. the two of us crashed at a hotel in town and got up to meet the group of hicks from Alabama the next day. After picking up the group, we loaded everybody into a couple vans and drove through the mountains for a good four hours to Lake Atitlan. This a beautiful lake that is in a crater/valley between several volcanoes (one of which I got to see go off while we were there!) We stayed in one of the many towns on the edge of the lake, this one was called San Pedro.

The group from Alabama had come down to share the love of Jesus with some of the kids in Guatemala, but I think they would all agree with me in saying that we came back receiving just as much from the experience as we could dish out. Most of the days were filled with doing kids programs at schools, churches, and other random places in the towns surrounding the Lake. It was a blessing to watch the group from Alabama getting more and more involved and engaged with the kids as the week went by. You could just see that God was at work in their own lives. At one point during the week we split off and just spent a part of the morning on our own in prayer reflecting on the week and asking God what he wanted to do through us. It was neat to hear some of the kids responses like "I think I need to become more bold in my faith" and "I think I'm supposed to give away a bunch of my clothes to people here that need them." The events that followed were truly some moments of faith in action.

Aside from doing the kids programs throughout the week, we got to spend a little time just enjoying the culture of Guatemala. This brought on a lot of neat experiences, like whizzing around corners of mountain roads while standing in the back of a pickup, drinking some roasted-that-day coffee at a cafe in town, eating the best ice cream I've ever had, racing in "tut-tuts" (a taxi that is kind of more like a four-wheeler with a canopy on it), learning some Spanish, and a host of other things. I edited together the video below from a bunch of clips I recorded throughout the week. I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Movies with elemenatry kids, tight-rope walkers, and deep-fried goodness!

             Ahh... a relaxing Sunday evening at Lemonjello's... :) Its been a pretty good week, not too much to complain about! Right now I'm working on finding a ride to the Detroit airport this friday, I'm heading way down south to Guatemala for a missions trip I get to lead worship for and be a part of. I'm starting to get really excited for that! I actually met a guy at a church I visited today whose dad used to live right by the main area we will be at for a while. Pretty sweet stuff! I'll have to throw some pictures up when I get back.

             This last Friday I got to hang out with a bunch of kids from the tutoring program to just have some fun! We usually do an activity night once a month as a "good behavior reward night" for the kids who have been doing their homework and staying out of trouble. So, this time around we had a movie night. There isn't much quite like lumping together twenty-something elementary and jr. high kids with a ton of popcorn and a couple animated flicks. We watched "Space Chimps" and "Cloudy, With a Chance of Meatballs" (If you are thinking about checking out either of them, I would definitely go for the meatballs...) Other than the fact that I think we will be picking popcorn out of the couch cushions for a month or so, it was a blast!

              Last night I was out at my church, the Edge Urban Fellowship, I had a couple guys from the mission come along with me. Pastor Troy was talking about dealing with doubt. It was a great reminder of God's faithfulness and how we need to just step out and move when God is calling us to do something, even if we cant see Him moving at the present moment. Sometimes we let our 'thinking' get in the way of what God wants to do with us. 
              I heard an analogy recently on that subject that really struck home with me. It was about a tight-rope walker who set his rope up in the middle of town and did a bunch of awesome tricks as he walked back and forth; striking awe into everyone's eyes as they watched the death-defying miraculous feats he was able to perform. As the tight rope walker continued, his crowd of followers grew. Eventually, the tight-roper looked out over the crowd and asked: "How many of you believe I can walk across this tight rope while pushing a wheelbarrow?" the crowd of people excitedly cheered and yelled "We believe you can do it!" After the roaring crowd quieted down, the man then asked, "Since you all believe I can do it, then I need one of you to volunteer to get in the wheelbarrow" As you can probably imagine, no one volunteered...

The question to be asked is how often do we see this happen in our own lives? We hear stories of awesome things that God has done. We read about them in the Bible, send them in email forwards; we even sing songs at the top of our lungs about how great God is and how he can do the impossible. But; when it comes time for us to take some risk and get in the wheelbarrow, we don't tend to be so excited... I challenge you to think of what areas in your life God may be asking you to hop in His wheelbarrow... He's promised to take care and push us across; all we need to do is hop in for the ride. Will you step out in faith and embrace the awesome potential of what might lie ahead? or will you quietly dissipate and shroud away in the backdrop of the crowd?
              On the way back from the Edge we found this sweet little convenience store/deep fried joint and got some spicy garlic perch! That place was awesome, they had just about everything you would want to fry sitting out in a deli window, all battered up, just waiting for someone to come along and eat it! Fortunately, last night that someone was me :) I'm a little bummed I'm gonna have to miss the next five Saturday nights of church, my weekend schedule is pretty packed with music stuff for the next month, which IS a good thing :) it just means I will be missing all my people at the Edge for a bit :(

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ridiculous weekend of music and speaking dates; topped off by a dodgeball tournament!

What a relaxing Monday!!! And it has been much needed after a BUSY weekend! I had a total of six events I had scheduled in the three short days of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! It all started Friday morning when I was at Grace Bible College to lead worship for their chapel, then that night I was playing Guitars for my boy Beacon Light (Christian Rap artist out of Grand Rapids, MI). We were opening up for D-Maub, Everyday Process, and R-swift on the "Hand Of God Tour" at the Edge Urban Fellowship in Grand Rapids (The hip-hop church I attend on Sat. nights) After the show, I didn't get back to my room at the mission till about 2:00 in the morning, and I had an engagement at one of the supporting churches of my youth ministry at 8:00 am... So I went and hung out with some of the good people at Parkside Bible Church and when that was done it was back to the Edge to play guitar for our weekly Sat. night "session" (or church service). The next morning, Sunday, It was back to Parkside again where I got the awesome priveledge to share with their high school and jr. high Sunday school classes, as well as speak in their morning service about Rock Youth Ministries. After things wrapped up at Parkside; I drove out to Grand Rapids to pick up Beacon Light and our drummer Alvin so we could head out to Lansing, MI where we again did a set as part of the "Hand Of God Tour" I got back in the wee hours of the morning and collapsed thankfully on my bed.... oh what an amazing feeling that was!

I slept in this morning for a bit before heading over to my office and getting caught up on some things, and then this evening I got to hang out with one of the fith graders from my youth program. They were having a big town-wide dodgeball tournament at Holland High School! They put together teams from the different elementary schools, and threw down! It was quite epic to watch two herds of elementary school students swarm at each other like a stampeding herd and the chaos that soon erupted as a result! Afterwards, I went and got some Mickey D's with the student I had brought with me and got a chance to catch up with him a bit.

But now my coffee shop I get internet from is closing and they are about to kick me out... So, until next time, keep it real!