Thursday, October 29, 2009

He Still Answers Prayer...

Last night at 180 I was bowled over by the number of praise reports I kept receiving.

It seemed like from the moment I entered the building there was this constant flow of young people telling me how God was working in their life and answering prayers we had prayed together...

Improved relations with parents.

Parents improving their relationship with God.

Parents improving their relationship with their children.

There were so many in fact that I think we will take some moments next week to let some of those people share the way God is working.

I know for me it is those tangible reminders that God is working, in both my life and others, that help my faith to grow. Too often we don't seem to expect God to work. We may say a token prayer, but we don't really think anything is going to happen about it.

Praise God that He is raising up young people right here in our community who pray with faith and are praising Him for His works. Last night one of the Scriptures we looked at was James 5:16:

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

May we continue to pray for one another and see healing in our lives and others!

God bless.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Duct Tape = Good?

The last few weeks a couple of events have sent me back to the nostalgia of my teenage years.

The first was the unwitting destruction of my wallet. Through a terrible accident at the go-cart track (ok, it wasn't that terrible, but I have to make this sound exciting to keep you reading. Right?) my wallet of twenty years was rendered completely unusable. Despair. Tragedy. What was I to do? Well, thanks to my wife's creativity and a hefty roll of pink duct tape, I now have a stylish and funtional new wallet.

The second event was the unravelling of the sole of my Chuck Taylor's. Which, after several other failed options, I decided to duct tape back together.Now, this is where we get to the nostalgia part.

Somehow, in the process of growing up, I arrived at about the age of 16 with the idea that duct tape makes things better. That when I had to use duct tape to continue to make a shoe or a vehicle or a t-shirt be functional, it actually increased my love for said item and a great sense of pride welled up in my heart.

For you mathematical analytics out there, that looks like this:


And this week, I have discovered that I still hold that equation to be true, as I felt that same increased love and bubbling pride with these new duct tape conquests.

Now this is where you come in. Do you agree with this? Do you find my equation to ring true in your own life? Do you think maybe I need psychological evaluation? Or all of the above?

Looking forward to your thoughts. God bless!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What's My Job?

My official title is Youth Pastor.

...but sometimes I'm called an Associate.

Truth is I wear many Name Badges and even some Hairnets.
On any given day I could be one or several of many roles.

Policeman or Punching Bag
Counselor or Custodian
Friend or Father-figure
to name a Few

But I'm finding that to be a Follower and Lover of the One who died for me is the only way to fill the job I was meant to be.

So what is your job?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I had a very pleasant surprise this weekend: I got to see Shane Claiborne speak!

I received a text in the middle of the week from a friend advising me Shane was going to be speaking at Drury University on Sunday. If you haven't heard of Shane, he is an author and a follower of Christ who is living out his faith in an intentional community in the poorest neighborhood in Philadelphia. His writings and lifestyle have served to challenge me in many ways over the past few years. You can learn more about Shane and his community here.

So I talked to my small group of young men about it and we decided we would go...but I guess the word got out because about twelve young people showed up to come to the event.

So we loaded up the bus and headed to Drury.

I'll share with you some of the words from Shane that really caught my attention in a moment, but first I want to talk about this group of young people who went with me.

First of all, it was exciting that they were interested enough to go sit through a service just to hear this guy speak. Secondly, they were very polite and considerate everywhere we went that day, even when others were not so. Also, they were excited enough about what was going on that they invited friends to join us. (There were like five or six people they got to meet us there!) And afterwards they wanted to have a discussion of what Shane said to try to apply it to their life.

These are high school students mind you.

I am encouraged to see a growing group of young people who are living differently from their peers. Let's pray that their culture of hunger for God's Truth in their lives and the desire to share that with others in a loving way would continue to spread.

Now, about Shane. Here are some of the things he said that stood out to me:

"Evangelism is spread best - not by force - but by fascination."

"Do people 'see and hear' Christ in my life?"

"People need to know we are Christians - not by our bumper stickers and t-shirts - but by our love."

"That was back when I thought church is what happened on Sunday. Back before I knew better."

"We may not have the answer - the silver bullet. But maybe we can be part of the silver buckshot."

(quoting an Iraqi Christian bishop speaking to Shane of the American church) "You didn't create Christianity in America. You only domesticated it."

Let me know your thoughts on Shane's thoughts. And may we, as the young people who went with me, wrestle through how God would have us respond. God bless & peace.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Mathematics of Life

I had a mathematical revelation last night.

...or maybe it was a relational epiphany.

...or could it be a relational mathematic discovery? Or a mathematical relationship correlation?

Anyway...I came to the realization that Isaac, my one year old son, likes pretty much everything I do. He is like my biggest fan. I can just look at him and he laughs until he falls over. Of course he falls over a lot because he is still learning to walk, but you get the idea.

However, soon after this realization, it also became apparent to me that Ethan, my eight year old son, does not hold the same view of me. He probably only likes half of what I do and thinks the other half is lame/awful/tedious/dumb.

And so I went further down that path and thought about my second youngest child Hannah, who will be four tomorrow. She probably only likes about three-fourths of what I do.

...are you seeing it yet?

So I got out a pen and paper and worked out what I call the Parental Approval Theorem. It looks something like this:

If A = age of child
and if A < 18;
Then Parental Approval Percentage = 1 - ((A/4)* 0.25)

As you can see from this equation, our approval rating as parents significantly decreases, even dipping into the negative for a short time, until our children reach adulthood. By my hypothesis then Ethan will only like 25% of what I do by the time he is twelve and absolutely nothing by the time he is sixteen.

As with all great mathematically theorems, I know this must need revision. This is actually already the second generation of the theorem as a room full of teenagers helped me lower my threshold age from 20 down to 18. So let me know your thoughts and additions.

...or subtractions.

...or maybe even logorithms, as the case may be.

By the way, this is for fun. Please don't take me too seriously;)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Follow The Leader...

So I had a really interesting conversation this morning with man from our church about leadership. It seems like leadership is the topic of most of my conversations since returning from Catalyst. I think it is part of the process I'm going through to assimilate the experience I had last week.

So we were talking about whether success in leadership is based on personality or not. I truly know that it cannot be solely built on personality if you want to have any future. So my friend said an interesting thing: "I guess the real test is if you remove yourself and it still goes on."

And the reason this statement was so interesting to me is that while I was at Catalyst last Wednesday, THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED!

I was at a conference for "Next Generation Leaders" while the NEXT "Next Generation" of leaders was leading (by all reports to me) a powerful service here at Calvary Chapel! What a blessing!

Now for the really cool stuff!

So during that service it was decided by the young people that we would get involved in some projects this next few months leading to the holidays. They chose from an overwhelming amount of needs to focus on Rapha House (an organization spearheading counseling and training for girls being freed from the sex trade) and Heart 2 Heart Outreach Ministries (a local aid organization).

So I am very humbled and encouraged by the things God is doing through young people here at 180 Youth Ministries. I am also excited to see the outcome of these chosen projects. Please pray for us and, if you are one of the young people attending here, I would love for you to post your ideas on how to engage these needs we have chosen. Can't wait to hear from you. Peace.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Catalyst: Day 3

Well, Catalyst is over. We are on our way home and my head is full of thoughts and my heart is full of emotions. I know it will take some time for me to process – let alone begin implementing many of the things God has shared this week.

But enough of my philosophical pandering. Let me give you some of the highlights from the last day of Catalyst.

It was a day of touching moments.

Like the young man from Kenya whose life was transformed at the age of seven when he was able to join a Compassion International project and received a sponsor – a twenty year old Canadian named Mark who shared the gospel with him in a sponsor letter. This young man, who is now a Bible college student hoping to return to Kenya to share the gospel, stood on the stage and read this nineteen year old letter. Just moments later, the Catalyst team brought out his sponsor, an attendee of this Catalyst conference, to meet for the first time. As you can imagine – a very touching moment.

Or like the surprise guest of Mac Powell from Third Day as he shared about his family’s adoption of an African-American boy. It was wonderful to see the love as his wife and little Emmanuel joined him on stage. And then in a surprise for Mac, Catalyst brought out an African children’s choir and asked him to sing “Mighty To Save” with them. Very touching.

Then there was the lifetime achievement award for Charles Swindoll with a touching video message from his older sister. Or the Guinness World Record Breaking Event of Dr. Splash jumping over three stories into a foot of water. (He made it!) And of course touching for me, lots of U2 props – quoted by Louie Giglio and two covers played by the band!

But as with the first day, amid all of the varied speakers and events, there was a strong central message. You come to an event like this expecting to get all of these revolutionary thoughts and practical ideas to make your life so much better/greater/bigger/faster. And there were some of those things. But the resounding message yesterday was it is all about seeing and reflecting the face of Jesus. So I am challenged as I come home to remember it is about who I am leading people to much more than about how I lead.

There I go getting all philosophical again. So let me stop there and share with you the words that grabbed me yesterday so you can share your own responses:

When God interrupts our life and gives us direction, will we go?” –Priscilla Shirer

We need to stop praying safe prayers all the time.” –Priscilla Shirer

Looking ahead and celebrating something I haven’t earned is greed.” –Dave Ramsey

Pour intensity into things that really matter.” –Dave Ramsey

When God wants to do an impossible task, He takes an impossible person and crushes them!” – Chuck Swindoll quoting Alan Redpath

Dude! To us you’re the Godfather!” –Chuck Swindoll quoting the Catalyst team member who called him and asked him to speak

“Everything in life is about Jesus.” –Louie Giglio

We don’t have enough people walking around with the beauty of the Son of God on their face.” –Louie Giglio

The enemy already cut the head off the church, killed it and hung it on a tree. That didn’t stop the church. What else can the enemy do?” –Louie Giglio

Friends know your flaws but love you anyway – believing the best.” –Andy Stanley

Can’t wait to see you all soon! God bless.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Catalyst: Day 2

It has been a very full and rewarding day here at Catalyst.

We just finished a full day of new ideas, challenging concepts, Biblical exegesis and much more with an intimate time of worship and communion. There are so many things to share and say and discuss and process, I almost don't know where to begin. But in light of our time of remembering the cross, I would say overall the day has been a refreshment and a renewal of focus on Christ. It's not about what I am building or what I am planning or the strategies I need to work on - it is about falling in love with Christ and pointing people to Him!

I have also really been touched with the focus and emphasis on family this week. We have been challenged over and over from the stage to lead and minister to and fight for our families. As Catalyst is training us as "next generation leaders", it has reminded me that Shannon and I are raising up the NEXT "next generation leaders" in our children. What a blessing and a responsibility!

Anyway, more later. Here are a few of the statements today that have grabbed me. Give me your thoughts and what has grabbed you today:

"It is about whose side you are on; not who is on your side!" -Andy Stanley

"Living to make my mark is too small a thing to give my life to." -Andy Stanley
"We don't need leaders who make daring, bold decisions; we need leaders who are humble." -Malcolm Gladwell

"What if the gospel is a living thing & not a lifeless artifact?" - Shane Hipps

"Our children pick up on what really matters to us without us saying a word." -Rob Bell

"You have organizations ranking Christians and church bodies who follow a Savior who said, 'The first shall be last.'" - Rob Bell

"Put the crackpipe down!" - Rob Bell

"When you die, God will not ask why you weren't more like Moses; He will ask why you weren't more like you." - Rob Bell

"When you obey God, you won't want anybody else's life." -Rob Bell

"There is a generation of sons and daughters who need to know they are worth fighting for." -Reggie Joiner

Some thoughts to chew on. More tomorrow. God bless & peace.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Catalyst: Day 1

So I felt a little like I was in two places at once tonight.

I sat in a conference room in Atlanta for the first session of Catalyst at the exact same time my Creative Worship Team was leading our Wednesday night services in Buffalo, MO. I found myself looking at my watch and praying for what I knew must be going on at that exact moment at 180.

The opening thoughts about Identity...

The sharing of needs around the world...

The singing of worship at probably the exact same time we were singing our closing worship in Atlanta...

And maybe most significantly for me, the prayer for the Holy Spirit to move in this place. And it occurred to me that while I was not literally in two places at once, the Holy Spirit very much was and is! How remarkable that God was moving powerfully in the hearts of leaders in Atlanta at the exact same time He was also moving in the hearts of young people in Buffalo, MO!

So over the next couple days while I'm at Catalyst, I'm going to be posting some of the things that are moving in my heart. I also want you to respond with the things God is doing in your heart. So I'll start by sharing some of the statements spoken by Matt Chandler tonight at Catalyst that reached out to me. In return you must share (especially if you were at the 180 services tonight!!!) what has reached out to you today.

Here we go:

"We can't assume the gospel."

"Hundreds have grown up in church and haven't heard the gospel."

"Have we preached 'be good!'"

"Paul constantly said, 'Don't forget the gospel!'"

"Reclaim the arts, Be creative, Love the poor, Engage culture, Lead well...but make sure you lead people to the gospel!"

"Children are sick, wicked little things."

So I can't wait to hear from you. God bless & good night!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

So I read some verses this morning that really reminded/reflected what we have been talking about in our IDENTITY series:

Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes. (Psalm 108:12-13 ESV)

As we wrapped up this series last night, I was really moved by the thought that we cannot be who we were formed to be out of our strength/ideas/efforts. We must allow our selves to be broken so that God can be the driving force of our life. As the Psalmist points out, any salvation we try to make of ourselves is vain; it is only when we give up and trust God that we can be made victorious!

I pray that this series impacted many of you. We really want to hear your testimonies and thoughts and feedback. Please post those here. I'll be waiting...