Thursday, June 30, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear...?

So our family is in the process of purchasing a small plot of land with a very old farmhouse on it just south of town.

It has been a crazy, whirlwind experience and a lesson in listening to God.

We've known for awhile that we might need a little more room than our little house on a small city lot would provide. But we've also known that it wasn't time yet.

But we've been watching. Looking at the real estate postings. Driving by properties. And through the process, we've come up with this list of what we're looking for.

Still close enough that I can ride my bike to church.

Enough square-footage for us and our five kids.

At least five-acres but not more than ten.

Layout so we can have an orchard and run some animals.

And less debt than we are in now.

I know. Sounds like a crazy list. And we knew it was fairly picky so we didn't expect it to happen any time soon.

Well, just a couple of weeks ago, via a family member and a search on craigslist, we found a property that meets every last checkpoint. So we prayed. We sought godly council. We had our builder friend look at the place. And at every turn it was a clear green light.

People who are normally cautious have given us great encouragement to move forward. The sellers were told by a friend from church to not worry because God had preserved this property for a certain family and it hadn't been time yet.

We were even blessed with an unexpected financial blessing on a day we were feeling particularly iffy in the process.

I really don't think it could be any clearer if he came down and told us face to face. He has clearly spoken.

But why is that? Because I've definitely had other times and decisions that I didn't feel I heard as clearly...if at all!

I was listening to a sermon by Matt Chandler the other day on Habakkuk, and he pointed out through Habakkuk's whinings and questions that God shows clearly that He hears and responds. It doesn't really matter who we are or what the situation. Hearing and answering are a part of who God is. It's just up to us to not miss the answer.

The very same day, I was reading Numbers 9 when the Israelites brought Moses a question about how unclean people were to deal with the Passover.

I think there is profound truth in Moses' answer:

"Wait, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you." (Numbers 9:8 ESV)

And maybe that's just the key. We don't wait enough. Or we lean too much or too quickly on our own understanding. Or maybe God answers and we miss it because we don't really believe He is going to answer.

I definitely don't have it all figured out. I am humbled that God has so clearly spoken to us in this recent decision. But I trust He has a purpose in it. I pray we can take encouragement today that God does hear and He does respond. Let's live in belief of that truth.

God bless.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Routine...

The words "Summer" & "Routine" may seem like polar opposites.

Summer is usually signified for young people with lazy days and late nights. But my experience is that the longer we are out of routine, the easier it is to fall into bad habits and attitudes. I know at my house, just a few days of an off schedule results in fighting, whining, and the occasional gnashing of teeth!

This summer we have been challenging the young people of 180 Youth Ministries to pursue a continued routine of seeking God through consistency and community. Our Wednesday night series CONSTANT has challenged us to grow in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, service and accountability as we've looked at Paul's two letters to the Thessalonian church.

Just last week we made a challenge for the next 30 days to read our Bible everyday and find an accountability partner to help us keep up that commitment.

I know it might seem cliche or over-simplified but I believe it is those simple habits that help us to continue our pursuit of our Lord. So, whether you are a regular at our group or a reader from afar, I encourage you to make a plan to build some of God's routines into your life this summer.

As a start to this process, answer this question: What are you doing this summer to maintain your relationship with God?

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Little Fun...

So I was online reading the news the other day and this picture caught my eye...

Upon further reading I found out this was photographer Paul Ripke's response to the latest viral hit sweeping the web: MANBABIES!

It's this site where dad's are encouraged to swap out heads with their child for a little family fun.

So I decided to try it...

Now I want to see yours. If you've got kids, swap heads with them. If not use your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, BFF, pet, whatever. Then post it somewhere on the internet and give us the link in the comments of this post. Looking forward to some creepy pics!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Programs! Programs! Programs!

When I felt the call to ministry after my sophomore year of college, I quickly knew the direction that ministry would be focused: teenagers.

I saw them as the group I knew the best, that could benefit the most from my experiences, and the most logical in which to invest.

They're the future of the church after all, right?

And most churches at that time held the same idea. If you want your church to grow and continue, GET THE KIDS!

And how do we get the kids?

GREAT YOUTH MINISTRIES, of course! Full of crazy games, all-nighters, and way too much pizza. (Here's one veteran youth minister's confessions on how some of those elements went awry for him;)

And so churches scrambled to get young ministers to expend lots of energy building these exciting programs to invest in the church of the future....

The problem is, those youth have rarely become part of the church.

That same veteran youth minister who confessed all his crazy & stupid experiences in the above link, has recently said this:

"Contrary to much of our current thinking about the importance of powerful youth ministries to the lifelong spiritual development of future adults, research proves otherwise: a teenager who attends a church's worship service on a regular basis and does not attend youth group is more likely to continue to attend church worship services as an adult than a teen who is active in youth group but doesn't attend worship services with other age groups." (Mark Oestreicher from The Emerging Church)

And after more than a decade of youth ministry at a single church, I can say that is generally true. Not in every case, but more often than not.

And as we face an increasingly diverse and distracted culture, that places us at an interesting crossroads.

For those of you just joining through the Missouri Free Will Baptists Facebook page, I want you to know that I want to create a space where we can discuss and wrestle with these issues of faith, purity and culture. I want this to be a place where we can voice our frustrations and discouragements (because I know there are plenty!) but also exhort and challenge and suggest ways to improve. I don't have many of the answers but I will be sharing some things we are doing as a ministry that are working (as well as share the things we try that definitely don't!)

But mostly I want this to be a forum for community and discussion as we do the good work of sharing Christ with the world (and that world includes more than 30 million teenagers!)

So I pray you will join us. Let's start with this question: Which category did/do you fall in? 1)went to church but not youth group as a kid. 2)went to youth group but not church as a kid. 3)went to church and youth group both as a kid.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

In Case You Weren't There....

In case you didn't make it to 180 Service last night, this video shows what you missed (sort of;)...

Oh yeah...and a look at I Thessalonians 1. Join us next Wednesday at 7pm as we talk about The American Idle. Come ready with your best singing voice. There will probably be prizes.

God bless.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Creating Your Space...

So my wife and I were having one of those nostalgic conversations about our childhood the other day and the topic of teen heart-throbs came up.

We recounted how when we were in those pre-teen to teen years, the big thing was to fall in love with some teenage movie/TV/music star, know everything there was to know about them and then plaster their face all over the walls of your room. So, in just about every teenager's personal space you would find posters of Ralph Macchio or Kirk Cameron looming over their bed.

I must admit I too made a foray into this practice. My choice was Alyssa Milano circa her "Who's the Boss?" era. But the whole idea didn't seem to fit me well. It was a tad embarrassing, so I quickly moved to posters of comic book heroes and my favorite bands.

But our conversation led me to a cultural question: Do teenagers still use posters?

Of course we have all those little Bieberites out there continuing the teen heart-throb mentality, but do they still use their bedroom walls to create their space or...

Has the pull of the virtual world become so great that teens use cellphones, Facebook pages and the like to create that picture of who they are and who they want to be.

I'd love to hear some feedback for the purpose of cultural research. Help me answer this question.