Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Glimpse

As a youth pastor, I spend a lot of time with teenagers. And some people find this hard to believe, but I actually like spending time with them. Often, I actually find that I can communicate better with them than some adults. Teenagers have all this energy and passion. They like to have fun. They are real with you - most of the time. It's crazy too because you can be having this crazy time and fighting with lightsabers in the front yard and suddenly they start talking about their relationship with their parents and how hard it is and you get into this really deep discussion.

One of the things I love the most (although it can often be heartbreaking) is when I get a glimpse into what is really going on in a person's life. Last night as a part of our Wednesday night service, I had everyone write down their greatest fear and then put it on an altar as an act of faith - trusting that Jesus would keep them afloat through their fears. This morning I looked through the slips of paper laying on our altar. It was amazing. Nearly a third of them put down something about losing a loved one - whether it was a parent or a boyfriend or someone else. Several put down fears about failing. There were a number of slips that stated fears about dying.

Often a person on the outside can look in and see a bunch of crazy kids jumping on each other and laughing and breaking things, but when you get a glimpse on the inside, you begin to see a bunch of precious creations of God who are dying and broken. Each week I get a glimpse into someone's life and teenagers - just like everyone - are desperately in need of relationships and acceptance and love. All things that we as followers of Christ are called to share with the world.

I love my job, but I realize that it is not to fix everyone's problems. My job is to point people to the love and forgiveness and change that God offers through a relationship with Jesus Christ, and then I need to help those people point others to the same thing. So how can you get a glimpse into someone's life this week? How can you start looking at the people around you as precious creations of God desperately in need of His love and acceptance and renewal? How can you love the people around you, even if they seem crazy? That is our challenge.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Walk Down a Different Lane

I love this song. We used it a few years ago as the audio on a video for our Fall Kickoff. (I tried posting the actual video, but had problems. Argh!)

I'm posting it today because I'm feeling a little nostalgic.

Last night after service, James Koliwaske (who is the main character in that video we made) and I were going through old Youth Ministry pictures, picking out ones with him in it for a project he's working on. I noticed a lot of things about these photos. First of all, James and I both look a lot different. We both are a little older (and hopefully a little wiser:) And we saw a lot of other people who have changed. And we also saw a lot of people that we don't see anymore. Some of these have went on to do some really neat things in other places. But sadly some of these faces we no longer see, not because they've moved away, but because they've chosen to step out of fellowship with us.

I actually thought about this video today because for some reason I chose to put Acceptance's album in this morning that has this song - DIFFERENT - on it. And as I listened to it, it reminded me that those missing faces aren't just statistics, but people who I've spent time with. People who I laughed with. People who I've cried with. And honestly, it made me a little sad. I wish things were different sometimes.

This morning I visited Max Trader in the hospital. He's Jacque Trader's dad and he had a heart attack yesterday. As we talked this morning, I found out he actually died three times yesterday, but they revived him and today he is doing better. He will probably be out of ICU by tomorrow. Amazing. And we talked about how he has a second chance at life. And you had better believe he is going to look at that life differently now.

I just wonder how many of us live every day realizing the second chance God gives us. I wonder how different our lives would be if we saw that clearly. I am inspired this morning to remember how important relationships are. Who is it that you need to reconnect with today? Who is it you need to forgive today? Who is it that you need to call and just tell them that you love them and God loves them.

Our lives are very fragile. We don't know what a day will hold. But for me, I long for things to be different - better - today.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Check this out! Here is the first - of what I hope to be MANY - video blogs from students sharing what God is doing in their lives.

How exciting it is, Savanna, that you are learning to trust God more. One of our main goals at 180 is to be an instrument in raising up a generation of disciples of Christ. One of the issues that God has led us to lately in that process is to focus on becoming participants rather than spectators. We need to see that we are not to come and "consume" what the pastor and song leader have prepared for us and then critique the delivery, quality and relevance on the way out. Rather, we are to come expecting God to teach us and then use us to lift up His name - whether that's through singing or sharing or praying or giving someone a hug.

I am really excited to say that over the past couple months, I am really seeing many students capture this vision. I am seeing teenagers getting excited about the Bible and sharing it with others. I am seeing students willing to sacrifice their time and use their talents to communicate the message of Christ to more and more people. I am watching as students naturally start discipling each other! It is a wonderful process. So keep getting involved. Keep taking those opportunities to share what God is doing in your life. Keep making this YOUR ministry!!