The past couple of weeks have been busy but incredible to see God move. I am not a huge fan of preaching that makes you feel bad, plays on your emotions to fill the altars. I dont want to see teens kneel because they are scared of hell but kneel because they long for an incredible love relationship with God. Yet the last two weeks at The Gathering I have preached with more intensity over this idea of Pure Salvation and Pure Sanctification. As I look at the lives of teenagers in my ministry and that I come in contact with I see this desire to get out of Hell but not to be changed by God in a very radical way. So I presented this series called Pure and really pushed my kids to experience REAL purity in their lives.
In the last couple of weeks we have had two teens accept Christ for the first time. Two teens who were lost and are now found. I have seen several other teens see the need for something more than just existing in their walk with God and it excites me! Then last night I played hide and seek with my daughter for the first time. Either my wife and daughter would hide together and I would try and find them. Or my daughter and I would hide and Amy would come look for us. Ally was so excited about hiding but there was this incredible desire to be found! She would see one of us get close and take off the blanket, or peek out from her very obvious hiding spot if we didnt look at her soon enough. It was almost as if she saw this person seeking for her so intently that she wanted to be found.
As I have been thinking and praying for my youth ministry, I realized that the teens that I am ministering to are wanting the same thing. They are lost or hiding, whether it be in sin or in complacency in their walks but they are waiting to be found. There is this expectancy to be found and when they see someone looking intently they cant help but peek out from their hiding place and hope that they will be seen. They are longing to be found so that they can get out of where they are into something new but they need to know they matter enough to be found.
As I was thinking last night and this morning about hide and seek, I wondered how often do we go "seeking" teens and we get close to where they are and they see us so they peek out, and we dont "find" them. How often do we miss them because we think they are somewhere else or we think that they will want found enough that they will come find us? I want to keep looking, not get caught up in this event or that search that I miss seeing where they are hiding.
I am Outie 5000,
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Last night I couldn't sleep. Not earth shattering news or even remotely exciting but it was my night. I tried everything I could think of. I turned the tv on. I turned the tv off. I had a headache so I took a pain reliever with sleep aid. I turned the tv back on to some of the most boring television possible, nothing seemed to work. There would be moments where I would drift off and just as I started to get into a deeper sleep my mind would kick it into high gear and I would wake up and sleep would be just a memory. It came down to the fact that I could not turn off my brain. It was racing with ideas, wishes, thoughts, concerns, dreams. It was all over the place but mainly regarding ministry and my personal faith journey.
In just over a week we launch a new format of ministry. I am excited!! I dont know what is going to happen or whose lives will be impacted but I am excited about the potential. I want to see lives changed and people experiencing the life altering love of God. I want to see teens get passionate about God in a way that they have never been before. I look at these blogs and tweets from men and women in ministry that I respect and I see God doing amazing things and I long for God to move like that in MY LIFE!
Ok so I have to confess that this whole non-sleeping thing is not a new thing. It happens a lot. And by a lot I mean at least once a week if not 2-3 times a week. And regardless of what I am thinking about it all comes back to one thing. Am I allowing God to use me to the fullest that HE wants? I want to be the best youth pastor I can be to my kids. I want to be the best follower of Christ that I can be and I want God to be pleased with what He sees in me. Can He trust me with the smallest things? Yea I want to be trusted with the big things but can He trust me with the smallest of things? I dream big. I just do. I have big dreams and thoughts. I want to do more for Christ. But am I letting Him use me to the fullest? What do I need to change? What steps do I need to take so that He can trust me with the smallest things right now? Am I available to be used to the absolute greatest? If not what do I need to change? And am I willing to do that?
Thats all for now.
I am outie 5000,
Friday, August 20, 2010
It's hard to believe a couple things the first being I haven't been on this in FOREVER!! The second thing is that school has begun. It was a great but incredibly busy summer but it was awesome to see what God did in our youth group and how He is working on the changes for the fall. For my teens all of them are now back at school cranking away at the next year. While I typically get the summer off from my Grad work I did not this summer and it was incredibly tricky getting things figured out. I took a seven week "internship" at my own job in the midst of traveling for ministry events, vacation, and just being crazy busy. Probably not the smartest thing I have done but it was now or next summer. So I am now enjoying a nice summer "break" of a few weeks. Classes start back up very soon and I am diving into the heart of the core classes of my M. Div. This is the section of classes that I have to use this software called Logos, which I have used some in other classes but I have a feeling I will be living in over the next 2 years. It doesn't bother me though, which is weird, because I am pumped about using the NEW Logos 4 for the MAC!!! So totally pumped. Got an email last night letting me know that the brand new Logos 4 for Mac was shipping and would be out of beta in October but it was going out now. So I upgraded my current PC software that kind of worked to the Platinum version of the Mac software. I am getting a massive amount of books. Started downloading last night about 10 PM and this morning was only at 85% of the 7+ gig that needs to be downloaded. That's ok because I will have a killer library of books to help me be the best youth pastor I can be. If this sounds a little funny that I am talking up a product so much that's because I am entering a contest with this blog and hoping to win some new Mac products. Even though I have some ulterior motives I am still pumped about using this new Logos product to the fullest.
I am outie 5000,
Friday, March 19, 2010
I was given an opportunity to read a book titled, "Steering Through Chaos" and to be honest I was unprepared for what I would encounter. Scott Wilson's book was quite possible one of the most challenging I have read in a long time. I was pushed and stretched in ways that I did not realize that I would be but it was good. At first I was curious how, as a youth pastor, this would help me in my position, but as I continued to read I came to understand that this transitional time that he discusses is something that affects me as well. There was a re-occuring theme that I picked up on and felt that I need to add to my life is the importance of a mentor or life coach that will help me both casting and reaching a vision. Definitely a book worth reading and rereading to get as much as you can out of it. Not only is this a great book for pastors and staff but for anyone who experiences chaos and transition in life.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Today officially begins Lent. I have to confess that usually I don't give anything up for Lent because in the past it became this thing that I would give something up but then not do anything with that time, money, focus, etc... Instead of spending the time that I usually spent watching TV I would kill that time some other way and so this idea of drawing closer to God never materialized and it became just an event in my life. This year because of my desire to tell a better story, thanks Donald Miller, I stopped spending money on soda, coffee, tea, etc... and I began to just drink water when I went out. What I discovered is that I spend a ton of money on those kinds of drinks. Since January 1 I have saved somewhere in the neighborhood of $75 to $100. Now on to what is happening right now. Starting today I am drinking nothing but water until Easter. I am not drinking milk, juice, coffee at home. Nope nothing but water for the next 47 days. I write this not to draw attention to me but to say I have challenged my youth group to the same thing and for them to collect all their loose change until Easter to give to a mission project of building a well. So welcome to the 40 Day Water Only Challenge. So far I have had 15 of my teens, of my adult staff, and the entire senior pastor's family sign up. That is the coolest thing ever. If each person fills one water bottle with loose change then we have the potential of collect several hundreds of dollars. Typically this is just a check that I cut out of my budget and give to the district but this year its different. This year we change the world and we quench two kinds of thirsts. The first is the literal thirst that people feel without water. The second thirst is deeper. This thirst is in the one who has no water and the one who does. This a thirst to truly connect with God in a life changing way. This thirst can not be quenched by drinking only water. It can only be quenched when we stop and allow God to fill us. To stop being so busy that we miss the smallest thing and we take for granted even the smallest and simplest things in our lives.
God has called us to a higher standard for our lives and as we begin to truly understand this I believe that it will change who we are and push us past the point of just existing. We wont be able to just settle any more because we have seen the fullness of God and nothing else will ever be able to satisfy.
Until the water and the Blood both run freely in all...
I am outie 5000,
Thursday, February 11, 2010
While I have been better at the other things I have wanted to do this next year this is one area that I have struggled with for a few reasons. The first being I am not sure how many people are going to read this and I wonder if it is worth my time. Second I want to make sure that this is more than just I did this today but something that causes me to risk and to put who I am as a real individual out there. The purpose of this blog is to show my journey with Christ and what He is showing me and how the journey is evolving and how I am evolving in my faith. I finally decided how to address those two issues. First, this is not so much about people but it is about me just sharing my heart and being open. This has to be about me being able to look back and see just what was happening in my life and to track my journey. The second issue I have not written for awhile not because God has done amazing things in my life but I just havent taken the time to share them. That is the plain and simple truth but today something happened that really spoke to me and to be honest I knew I needed to share so I can look back and remember this day.
We are entering a stage of life with Ally where she just loves to talk. Her vocabulary is growing all the time and there are times that I swear she is saying phrases or words that fit the situation but I dont think it is really clicking for her yet what it means. Typically in the mornings I drive her to her sitters house and drop her off. Our sitter doesn't live far from us so it's not that much time but there is something about that time that I cherish. In fact I long for that time with Ally. It's just me and her. Sometimes we have the radio on and if a fast song is playing we are dancing and I am singing the words and she is just talking her baby gibberish but it's our time. Other times we just sit and silence and I just look at her and I am amazed how much she has changed in the 19 months that we have had her. Then I think about how much I must have changed in the 19 months since she has been here. This time together is so sweet. It was during this drive time yesterday that God spoke to me but it was more like a realization than Him telling me something but it was powerful and life changing none the less.
It was one of those days with Ally where she was in a really silly mood. She had picked out the clothes that she wanted to wear, the coat that we typically have her wear to church she wanted to wear to Patty's. Instead of her tennis shoes she wanted her Elmo slippers. She was just being too cute. As we were driving, the radio was on but it was a fast song that we could dance and laugh too but it was just providing background noise and Ally was just talking away. She was having a full blown conversation with me that I had no clue what it was about but she did and it was so important that she share with me what she knew and had to say. As I sat there and just listened and smiled and longed to hear more from her it hit me that this is what God wants from us. He longs to just hear from us. He wants to hear our voices telling Him things and it might not come out in a way that makes sense but He still wants to hear. He looks forward to the times where we just jabber away and He can sit there and smile and laugh and look on His child with all the love that He has for them. It hit me that when I dont take Ally to the sitters, I miss that. I miss that time and my day just isn't complete without that. It's not like we drive for 30 minutes or an hour and its a forced time to get Ally to share. Its this time that she just shares with me what is going on. Her words make no sense but I love to hear her voice. God wants that from us and too often and I think He really misses it when we don't spend that time. Now I realize that we don't control God but I think because of His infinite amount of love for us, He wants to hear our voices. He wants to spend time with us and sit there and laugh at what say and do. Not in a mean spirited way but in a way that allows us to see Him delighting in us. I hate when I miss that will Ally how much more does God hate when He misses that time with us? We are His children. He wants to share in our day. He wants to turn on the radio and dance and be silly with us and to laugh as we smile and don't care if we look silly.
I realized that I am keeping from God the very thing that I hate to miss in my daughters life. I realized that not only is God missing that kind of time with me but I am missing the time that a father is able to just express His love over His child. Ally knows that I love her so much during that time. She hears it from me and I cant wait to share with those whom I am close with what happened during that morning drive or the night before at home. It's this time together although I don't fully understand her it still is exciting for me to spend the time. God wants to spend this time with us as well. He isn't going to force us into it. He isn't going to strap us into a seat and then make us talk to Him about anything and everything but He wants to hear from us. He wants to hear our voice and our words and even if what we are saying or how we are saying we don't think makes sense He wants that from us. He is not looking for us to be very proper in how we talk, He just wants us to talk. He wants to hear about the day. He wants to know how we are feeling. He wants to enjoy just hearing the sound of our voices. He is not looking for a forced conversation. In fact I wonder if He would rather have no words than words that are not spoken in a freedom of love and excitement.
How often have I stolen from Him moments that we could have shared because I didnt think He would care or I have just been lazy and not shared? How many times have I kept from Him the joy of just allowing Him to laugh at me as I am being silly in His presence because I think the time would be better spent being serious? Instead of being this beautiful thing that just flows because of relationship, I fear I have caused it to become this time of forced, uncomfortable conversation that He hears and responds to because He has promised He will be there but it could be so much more. Simply two voices sharing in a conversation with laughter and excitement and joy that the other is just there.
I am outie 5000,