Thursday, December 31, 2009

Everything Changes.

It's hard to believe that the year is almost over. In just a few short hours we will be ringing in not just a new year but a new decade. So much has happened in my journey the past few months and I have not taken the time to update but I am hoping to change that over this next year and I hope for anyone who actually reads this that God would speak to them some how. If it's just me writing then this will be a great place to put my thoughts and God can speak to me.

As the title suggests this next year everything changes. Because the past few months have been so challenging I am tired of just having a story that is there but I am ready to change my story and what happens in it. The first thing that is changing is what I am doing with my life. I am not leaving the ministry, I am not changing churches but I am going to be about something different. I am doing everything I can to bring attention to the issue of clean drinking water around the world and an organization I have joined called the Haiti Water Project. I just sent them a blog entry and it can be found at Haiti Water Project sometime in the future. Here is what I posted:

Why did I join the Haiti Water Project Cause on Facebook? And why have I been adamant about getting my teens and family to join as well? Those are a couple of questions that I have been asked by a few people close to me over the past couple of weeks and the answer is simple; God. In the past couple of months I felt God stirring me to do something more and to be part of something bigger than just my little world here in Carthage, MO. I had seen the stats in the past knew how much money it would take to provide clean drinking water to the world and it seemed to be a staggering number but one that we as Christians should and could do something about.

Right before the Advent season I was introduced to the Advent Conspiracy watched one of their videos and saw how much we will spend on Christmas this year and it literally hurt. I couldn't sleep or eat or get that number out of my head. At this time I was starting a series with my teens called "Storyline" and how to change their story. I was getting ready to talk about changing their plot and how if they would change their plot what they are about, what was happening it would change everything and in the message I was going to challenge them to discover a cause to get behind. I could not write the message. Here I was telling my teens that they needed to do something for the Kingdom of God to be a Christ follower who was not satisfied with just going to church and existing and I wasn't doing anything. As I began praying about what I should do, God brought back to mind water and the fact that more people die every day from lack of clean drinking water. How can they ever hear about the love of God if they die of lack of water before they ever get the chance? That did it. I decided that I was going to change at least one person's life in a very simple way and so I determined that I am going to make a very concentrated effort to raise as much money in 2010 for clean water.

So that evening I talked about changing their plot and then I shared with them what God had pressed on me to do and to hold myself accountable I told them my plan and invited them to join me. For the next year I am drinking water. That may not sound like much but instead of going out and spending money on soda, coffee, tea I am going to take that money and put it aside for clean water. When we go grocery shopping instead of buying cases of soda at $10 every couple of weeks I am putting that money in the bucket. If I order something other than water I have to put the exact same amount of money in the bucket. That might not sound like much but I truly believe that it will add up quickly and as I encourage my family and teens to join me I expect God to great things with what I am able to give.

I found Haiti Water Project through a very good pastor friend who had joined and donated his birthday to that cause in effort to raise money. I decided that this was the organization that I needed to partner with and give not just finances but my energy, time and attention to. I joined and then went about inviting my family, teens and volunteer staff to this cause. I am excited to see what happens in the lives of those that my money will go to help. I am excited to see how God challenges my teens to serve Him even more as they see their youth pastor sacrifice something so small and insignificant here so that someone can have something as simple as clean water to drink.

I plan on updating here how things are going and excited to see what I can do through the next year to help provide clean drinking water.

Some other things that I really want to do this next year are:

-Read at least one (1) book per week

Review and blog monthly what books I have read

-Blog at least once a week

-Lose 30 pounds

-Run a half marathon

-Draw closer to Christ and His plan for my life

-Raise as much money as possible for Haiti Water Project

-Expose my teens to the limitless love and power of God and see their lives transformed

-Minister better to the whole church

-Be a better husband and father as the spiritual leader in my home

Some of this has no real spiritual impact but I am excited about what this next year looks like. Besides I want some way of holding myself accountable, and hopefully this will be a great way to do that.

I am outie 5000,


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

We've Reached The End

Well, the craziness of summer has finally come to a conclusion as we finished up our Mission Trip this past weekend. It's hard to believe that 3 months worth of events and activities have come to an end. As much fun as it was, there is part of me that is relieved that it is done so that I can recoup and get ready for the fall. Doing something new this year and that is taking the entire month of August off for Wednesday evening services. While it might sound weird I am hoping that it does a few things. The first that it recharges those who put so much into it, the adult leaders. Second that it allows me to really prepare for a great kick-off in September. Third that we give the teens something to get excited about and looking forward to what is going to come.

On a personal note it has been a very interesting summer as God has been speaking by not speaking if that makes sense. He caused a great deal of questioning, seeking and unsatisfaction in my life and then let me linger without providing direction or answers to what I was asking. While this could be seen as very frustrating, and at times it really was, it has created a greater reliance on Him as I continually seek His face and the answers have yet to come. What this has done more often has created an excitement of what God has in store for me, for my family and for the ministry that He has called me too. Not sure where He is guiding me but I know that it will be a great journey. I will make sure that for the very few who ever read this that I keep you updated on my journey as it continues to evolve. Until then...

I am outie 5000,


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I've Got Style

As I continue to read in Isaiah, it continues to amaze me. I have to be honest in saying that this is the first time in my life that I have spent this kind of time in one section of the Bible. Typically I would read and continue to move to the next chapter and I might spend a couple of days on the same passage but to spend over a month of just a few chapters has been an incredible thing. This past Saturday I added chapter 58 to my study and the timing of the subject matter could not have been better. Chapter 58 talks about fasting and the kind of fasting that the Lord desires. Recently I talked to the teens about really praying for the youth ministry and to look for those who were missing and let them know that they were missed, to invite their friends to church, to really look to change our group and to start with prayer. In staff meeting this same approach is being done in challenging our people to pray in June, connect in July and serve in August. So with all that being explain let's move on to what God shared with me on Saturday as I sat at a scenic overlook read my Bible and was amazed and worshipped in God's amazing creation of the beautiful Ozark mountains.

In chapter 58 Isaiah is sharing this message from God about the people fasting and praying and what was happening as they did. They were fasting and praying yet there was no change in how they were living their lives. They still took advantage of their workers and had this air of because I am fasting and praying I deserve God to hear me and give me what I seek. In fact 58:4b says, "You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high." WOW!! What an incredible statement. So that got me thinking. Fasting and prayer are acts of worship. It's giving up of self to see God glorified. Worship is something that we as humans and especially children of God were created to do. So often we get into these worship wars over style of worship. Traditional, contemporary, liturgical. Praise choruses, hymns, no music, lots of music, chanting, etc, etc, etc... As I read this chapter it began to dawn on me that there are two styles of worship but it is not what we think it is.

Style 1. It is worship where it's all about us. We are not truly worshipping God. We arent allowing the glory to go to Him. We aren't changing the world we live in through worship. We are doing it more out of habit or to put on a show. This style of worship is heartless, passionless, and selfish. The goal is to look good or be comfortable in what we do. We pray the same prayers, we sing the same songs, we go through the motions without ever stopping to consider what needs to be happening in and through our worship. That is style 1 and according to 58:4 we think God hears it and is moved by it?

Style 2. It is worship that is all about Him. We begin by truly putting the Lord of Lords before everything else and we lift up all glory to Him because it is truly due to Him and Him alone. When we worship the way He has instructed us to the world is changed. In 58:6-14 it goes on to explain what will happen when we truly fast and pray and worship. Change comes to the world. The chains of injustice are loosened. The oppressed are set free. The hungry eat. The poor are housed. The naked are clothed. The family is restored. And God hears our cries. This style is one that is defined by a heartfelt, passionate, selfless pursuit of the face of God. Not for what He can give to us but because we long to seek His face. Nothing else matters but the things of God and if something is bothering God it bothers us. Regardless of the song we sing or dont sing. Regardless of the type of music. This is a lifestyle that is comfortable worshipping because it is what we do daily. This is style number 2 and God is deserved of this and this alone.

So there is a style war going on in the church. But it is not over the type of music. If the war becomes about this then it has become style one and both "sides" are wrong. But if worship stays in style 2 where God is glorified the type of music wont matter. It doesnt matter what songs we sing. We could sing twinkle twinkle little star and because our heart is so consumed by the things of God we would become lost in worship. Certainly there are preferences and that is fine. I prefer one style of music over another. I prefer certain things. The problem is when our preferences become more important than who it is all about. When we prefer one thing over another and so because of that we "can't" worship. We should be able to worship in all things. We are called to be a people of worship and to live in a style of worship that transforms our lives as well as our world. Worship should no longer be focused on the song style but on the giver of the song. Scripture tells us that there is "nothing new under the sun." That means every song that we sing has been sung for eternity already. The angels have been rejoicing God with praise choruses, hymns, chants, etc... since they were created and so there is no "new" worship songs. This idea that one type of music has a "holier" meaning is lost. In now way is this meant to bash what some would call traditional or contemporary because there are those on both sides who think the same way. They think and spout off that their style is true worship and that the other is not. When really both are worship its the state of the heart that determines the style.

My hope and prayer is that whoever reads this blog would be challenged to look beyond the type of music and to see which of the real style of worship they are about. This worship war over style has much more eternal implications than the "war" we tend to focus on in church. When we fight the traditional worship war over "styles" unfortunately both sides have already lost and Christ is not the focus the type of music becomes what is being worshipped. Great hymns become meaningless in God's ears. Great choruses fall flat and don't reach the altar of sacrifice. It's fine to have preferences. It's those differences that allow us to paint such an incredible tapestry of worship that is beautiful because of the differences. Just don't let those preferences become the object of worship. Well until next time,

I am outie 5000,


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summer, Summer, Summer Time

Well, the semester has ended and now I just await the final grades to be released and see how the class ended up. Although continually being online for class has kept me offline from blogging I have still been seeing God's hand move in and through my life. I recently did a series called "Untouchables" which was from Doug Fields out at Saddleback. I did some serious tweaking to make it applicable to my teens but what came out of it was some great discussion in small groups over topics like homosexuality, death, disabilities, and racism. Some tough topics that either dont get discussed or are not seen as popular to discuss. It has been very challenging for me as I have had to craft messages and questions and be honest with myself and my teens.
With in the past month I have read a book called the Kingdom Experiment that is available for purchase now and it was a very refreshing way to view the Beattitudes. I highly recommend picking up this book and reading it and make sure that you read with an open mind. Look for opportunities that will allow God to change your world. Make your faith an intentional one and enjoy the opportunity to be Jesus to someone.
Over the past few weeks I have found myself reading Isaiah 59, 60, and 61 over and over again. I have been amazed as God continues to reveal to me who I am in Him. What He has planned for me. Isaiah 60:1-2 states, "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you." Imagine that. The very thing that we are to give back to God, glory, He is shining on us. He is taking it and allowing it to shine in our lives. Not by our doing but by His. I think what struck me so profoundly is that in the church there are those who are looking to do something for recognition. They want to be thanked and publicly recognized for what they do and receive the glory. Yet we are told time and time again that all glory is the Lords. We must not keep any of it but give all praise and adoration back the one who it is truly due. Then here comes the crazy part...He shines it on us anyway. Not so that we can say look at me, look at me but so we can be a part of what He is doing and we can point others to Him so much easier. Here we are so concerned about making sure the right person gets credit for what they do when really if we would just stop and give the credit to God he will shine on us even more. I guess the difficult thing here is to make sure that we (1) give the glory to God, (2) don't do it with the mindset of if I do this then I will get God's glory, (3) give God the glory and when He chooses to shine it upon us we again turn around and praise and thank Him for using us.
I am excited. I am longing for more of God in my own life and in the lives of my teens. I have just recently looked into the spiritual disciplines again and in doing so discovered a longing for more of God in my life and so I have determined that this summer is going to be a summer unlike any I have ever had. Even if nothing comes of it but I read and pray and God tells me "I love you" that will be all I need but I am committing to some things that I have to be honest I have not done in quite awhile and I am ready to once again experience depth that I have to see. It should be quite a faith journey and one that should be quite eventful in the experiences of God. Until the next time...

I am outie 5000,


Monday, April 20, 2009


It has been awhile since I have been on this blog. At the "restart" I wanted to be on this on a fairly regular basis so that I could share what God has been doing in my life. However, school has taken quite a toll on my time this semester. While God is still moving and working I spend so much time writing and basing my thoughts around education that very rarely do I have the time or energy to write here. I have missed it though. I have missed the freedom of allowing my mind to wrestle with and to articulate what it is doing. Hopefully, I will once again be writing and expressing thoughts, concerns and opinions in a way that allows both me and whoever might read this blog a chance to grow in the grace and mercy that God wants to lavish upon us.

On a personal family note, Ally is growing like crazy and in on the verge of walking. So as I have finished school work I have spent a great deal of time watching in amazement the creative hand of God as my daughter matures in her development.

I am outie 5000,