It's just my junk

We all have junk in our heads. This is mine.

Thanksgiving or Not?

Thanksgiving, holiday or not? Are you out of context when talking to others?

It is a national holiday, but I bring attention to national. I reside in several Youth Ministry Groups and dabble with comments on occasion. Someone posted the comment about what will you be doing for thanksgiving, or more specifically do you get holiday off or not?

I have several youth worker friends who do not reside in USA but is also cool to know. We live in a global connected world for sure. Some of the posts say… not getting a day off, not a holiday which puts us into a reality. A reality of proximity, how often do we (you) quickly jump to assume you know all the contexts of a conversation or situation?  If you are like me, you do it way too often, daily in fact.

I would like to grow in this area. I am planning on being more intentional in the pursuit of connecting, hearing and bringing value to the situation before I speak to the opinion of this. I am simply a work in progress which seems more practice than success.

I hope you will join me in this pursuit of listening more, reflecting more and then speaking to the opportunity, person or whatever it maybe. Maybe this is something we can begin doing now, to have a habit of doing so prior to New Years day resolutions take place.

Lord, first help me lean into your word without bias, or opinion but to be open to the Word you want me to hear and apply to my life in that moment. Second, help me seek you in all conversations to discern what you are having me learn and say. Third, that I might be open to a renewing of me each day. Finally, be with us all as we seek to grow in relationship with each other. Amen

The victory comes before the event

I am a big fan of the underdog in sports, and in life. I don’t know if it is as much about the little guy beating the giant as much as the preparation done prior to the challenge or event.

1 John 4:4 tells us, “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who, lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

Think about this verse a few minutes…
1. When you belong to God… having accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are no longer controlled by the world. The world can and will influence you, but it doesn’t control you.

  1. When you have victory over the world… having victory over the world is all about how you view and function in the world. We are to be in the world not of it. Simply put, we are to be in it, but it isn’t in us.
  2. When you see the details… you discover two different letters used in this verse… S is capitalized when it refers to a person and that person is the Holy Spirit. It also implies the s (spirit) of the world is less than that of God. This is a key point to remember… God wins.
  3. Preparation is vital… we must prepare for the victory or game etc.. When we practice to the focus of the win, we will be better equipped for the win. It is all about preparation and focus.

This is something our world misses…

We can be caught up in the touchdown celebration but totally overlook the plays that prepared for the touchdown.
We can celebrate the winning field goal without seeing the hours and hours of practice with the snap, hold and kick.
We can watch out friends get a promotion, find a great house or other things along this line but we often forget about the hard work put into earning, developing and earning the promotion, saving up for the house or vehicle etc.

We can see the parent with a great relationship with their children and overlook the hours and hours of time spent conversing, working on homework and doing life with them.

We can see the perfect couple who seems to have it all, the best communication, date nights etc… but we neglect to see the commit they have made to make it a priority or to see the time they invest in growing the relationship.

I could go on and on for pages of we can see but we don’t see. God has won the victory over death and the world through Jesus and we are no longer slaves to the world but servants to the One True God. So, what?

I would encourage you to take regular time out of you day, week, month :
to reflect on the victory God has done,
to put in the work to gain and earn things.

Dave Ramsay talks about living different now in a way that you can truly live land give different later. He speaks from a financial mindset but I would also encourage us to take the same attitude towards life… live now so you can enjoy living fully in Christ later… Devote yourself to the apostle teaching, spend time with God and continue to influence the world on His behalf.

Healthy People don’t need a Doctor – sick people do.

Healthy People don’t need a Doctor – sick people do.

I am all for health care. When someone begins a post with that comment, it might imply a distain for the health care system, or it simply implies I am all for health care.

I first begin with:

  • I appreciate my medical doctor. Dr Tibby is the best.
  • Daughter 2 is studying to work in the medical field.
  • I have friends who work/volunteer/run the Bright Fire Department.
  • I have a sister who taught most of her career (Ferris State U) in dental hygiene
  • I appreciate our school athletic trainers

So, I not to excited about shots or giving blood through a needle… next to snakes I am not a huge fan. If a snake had a needle in its possession I would be long gone.

But the above line “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, sick people do.”  Found in Luke 5:31 jumped out at me and I wasn’t working in that paragraph or section of the bible in preparing for some teaching coming up. I was drawn to it for a couple reasons:

  • We all need coaches in our lives and support people who will guide and care for us.
  • We all know someone who isn’t doing well
  • We all have gifts and abilities (both time, talents and funds) to help people

But we also make excuses:

  • Well I am not a coach… but seem to have no problem coaching from the sidelines or (the arm chair QB position).
  • Well I am hurting and struggling myself. Often helping others will also help yourself.
  • Well I am a busy person running kids around, working in my yard or at the office etc. But we share the same 24 hours in a day and can choose to help others in the midst of those things.

I will focus energy and time in investing in others this week. I might not have a medical degree or called to be a Doctor of Medicine, but I can be a doctor of hope, help or even encouragement. I can choose to (be smart about it) connect with those who need support without falling into the cycle they are in or even just simply pray for those who are hurting and in need of a doctor…

I hope and encourage and challenge you to take the challenge to seek out those who are in need. The very next verse says, “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”  Jesus is showing us the need to reach out to those who have no clue of their need for support and in turn or need to be supporters.

 

Chosen? Royal? Holy?

In my devotion time today, reading from Experiencing God day to day, I landed on the title Royal Priests.

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light.”

I bolded three key words. I had them underlined from a previous year of devotional time. I want to give or suggest some ideas alongside of each word.
1. Chosen.  We live in a  world that everyone wants to be picked… and not picked last. I remember standing in the line during recess hoping to be in the top five picked.. sometimes it happened but not often.
God has chosen you to be His child.. reread that… You are picked first…. Celebrate and remember that. The creator of the world picked you to be his child.

2. Royal. This is a word more designated and reserved for kings, queens, princes and princess of England or other countries. If you are like me, you are not in line for the throne of England or any country unless, like me, you are the king of your garage, room or vehicle. Yeah, sad but hey I am king of my vehicle most of the time.  God calls you into royalty… in fact a royal priest. I know it seems and sounds intimidating but should it? I know God is equipping each of us to be his instrument to a world that doesn’t know Him. I know but I am not smart or biblical awesome but when you opened the bible, listened to a sermon or podcast, attended FCA or a bible study or small group… you are equipped more than others who didn’t attend or do those things… Welcome to the priesthood friend.

3. Holy. Holy is something we do not see or recognize very often in our world or life. I believe it is partly due to living in a world of sinful nature but also due to our inability to seek it out and recognize it due to our limited desire to see it. It brings accountability and a standard of life that we often choose not to live up to or achieve. So, this is more of a challenge than anything… live holy, pursue holiness and seek out those who are doing so and learn from them.

I know we are all called into relationship with Jesus and that calling and acceptance will change our lives as we continue to pursue Jesus. The people in successful marriages often are due to their pursuing each other as a couple. They are no longer single and adjust their lives accordingly. They learn and grow in their relationship with their spouse. See, it is a work in progress that a single person does to become a successfully married person. A parent doesn’t know everything about raising kids, that too is a work in progress. We read books, watch Youtube videos, attend classes and occasionally make a guess

In closing, I want to remind you.. You are CHOSEN. You are a ROYAL priesthood. You are a HOLY nation.

Looking out for others

Ezekiel 22:30 says “SO I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but i found no one.”

Obviously, at first glance this is a tough read and can be taken out of context. God was looking for someone to do a tasks (well two: build the wall and stand in gap) but none could be found. I was reading this as a part of my devotional time and my mind went into a new direction….

God is looking for someone… a person or peoples to stand in the gap… In the gap for what? I feel He is looking for individuals and groups of people willing to stand in the gap for the following people groups:

  • homeless
  • widows
  • those in prison
  • those with disabilities or special needs
  • those who are hurting, physically, mentally, emotionally
  • those who are lost, trying to find identity in the world with no success
  • those who struggle with suicidal thoughts
  • those who just don’t feel like they fit into a social or friend group
  • those disconnected with and to the church
  • those simply lost in their selves.

I know it is an exhaustive list. I know it seems like a big task, or seems like it doesn’t connect to or concern me so why bother? I know we can make excuses but why?

Excuses come in a variety of means… but often are developed to keep fear in check or our lives comfortable and safe.

My prayer and challenge is to seek God and do our best to friend someone.. it will both help us and the person being friended.
My prayer is for our needs to be met while meeting other people’s needs in the process.

Take a risk for someone.. you never know.. someday you might need them to take a risk for you.

 

Eternal Perspective

I admit.. this is the second run on the whole perspective blog post. I started it a few days ago but didn’t quite finish it, simply due to it not being ready to be done.

Perspective a word I have clung to for two years. My wife challenged our small group of adults to find one word, check out myoneword.org for more details. I used perspective for two years in a row. It was something that God used to help me grow.

Perspective is a huge word; your views come from perspective. How you view other people has a lot to do with perspective. It is a key to learning to function and work with other people.

I was reading today’s (1/16/19) devotion in the book Experiencing God Day-by-Day. The title God’s Eternal Perspective. I kid you not. The base scripture is Genesis 12:2 “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be blessed.”

I view a lot of people in our world, nation and area that want to make themselves known, creating a great name for themselves and even blessing others but if we are honest this is only going to help the person not the world around them. It might benefit their family assuming they have one, or survive the mystery of it is all about me mentality.

The devotion tells the reader, God will provide assignments based on our character, and in reflection of the proportion of the character we have. Character is something we don’t see to much in our world of media and popularity. We can easily name key people in our world whose character cost them something, a job, a career, a family, an influence. It is a sad thing but something that doesn’t discriminate against. Character will guide us to perspective and hopefully you will join me in seeking God’s prospective for our lives, families and community.

What if God is offering you an opportunity to seek his perspective and impact the world? What if you are the next world changer?

The only way to discover it is to seek God’s perspective in life and be a person of impact no matter where you go or what you are doing.

Perspective! It matters!

 

 

Exceedingly Abundantly

I started my day with a devotion from the Experiencing God Day by Day Devotional book. A few guys from the community meet monthly to discuss the topics within or discovered in our daily God time through the book. It is a hit or miss for me but so far I am 8 for 8…. Yeah, thankful for a New Year launching point.

The topic today was/is Exceedingly Abundantly…
Exceedingly is defined as ..to an unusual degree; very; extremely

Abundantly is defined as ..present in great quantity; more than adequate; over sufficient, or well supplied with something; abounding

One of the lines was.. God sees the big picture… It was an awesome but yet scary and loaded statement heading into the New Year. It hit me this year (this is year 3 of me doing this resource) in a unique different way. I am in a season and continue to plan and look ahead for the second half of our ministry year, adapting and encouraged by a new (well he isn’t new but you know what I mean) senior minister who is excited about the future. I have been planning and looking to implement some new or at least different ministry opportunities. But… But… But. How much of this planning is Jon planning or incorporating God into the plans? After all, HE is exceedingly, abundantly seeing the big picture. He sees it all and I know is willing to bring me and others along for the ride and adventure.
This Is a friendly reminder to seek God first and allow Him to direct your path and guide the way into the New Year and coming days. It is a journey and a future of question, excitement and in some ways fear.

Walk with Jesus on the journey not alone. We aren’t designed to do life alone. God wants to be involved, wants us to be in community with others and reaching out to those who don’t know Him yet.

God Bless and Good Luck this 2019 year.

Smack in the face time

Smack in the face time

While preparing for my weekly Junior High Sunday School the main scripture is Hebrews 5:11-14…. Have you read it? If you have you are twitching right now but in case, you haven’t I will share it with you first:

Hebrews 5:11-14 “There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”

Talk about smack in the face… WOW… ok so some of the readers might say… I am not a church person or even a church goer this doesn’t apply to me but does it?

How many applications can we apply this too…?

  1. .. you are working and doing the same job… when you don’t learn it you screw it up and things go bad when you should be doing it right due to your length of training and time at the company you should be able to do it right and train others to do it correctly and efficiently.
  2. Teaching … yes in the school system… we are smart enough to be degreed and learned how to teach, engage and grow students as they learn the lessons each week… but what type of message and training do we give when we don’t follow the school procedures… for example with cell phone use. If the school says no use of cells in class and you let them do it… how does that work? It is ok to follow the rules but break them in my class but when the student doesn’t turn in a paper on time or pay attention you come down on them and discipline them for it… is this the same or not?
  3. Home… how many times do we get to train up our kids or spouses but instead we blow it off due to time and expense? We just do it ourselves. it is easier or faster or whatever, but what are they learning and how are we connecting with them?

We aren’t helping them grow and still have to do it.  Another example is doing dishes. if we continue to rescue them and then complain they don’t do it… isn’t this counterproductive.?

Mind you, I am not point fingers at anyone or any certain people group but using these as examples how the verses written long ago in a Christian setting can be applied to the world regardless of spiritual affiliation or faith at all.

Why would the writer be so direct with the audience about this subject teaching others to grow and learn? Because it is important. We as a group of people cannot afford or neglect our responsibilities simply because we need to grow and share

Market what is worth marketing

I have learned from the corporate world, your image and marketing is vital in being known and your reputation based on that image (brand) carries as much weight if not more than the actual brand.

For example,  the big three (Chevy, Ford and Dodge) had been invincible in the automotive industry for ever but a couple Foreign companies, Toyota and Honda began to make their mark. But the big impact was when the foreign market invaded the USA with quality product just the time the US companies had a major issue with their vehicles. The decline wasn’t due to one or the other but both. Their brand was damaged in a major way, while a new brand was introduced to be more reliable at the time. It wasn’t a big deal but has come to change the USA.. Nascar now has Toyota in the series and they win regularly.

There are two forms of branding that occurs in a brand..

  1. the individual who wears or shares the brand
  2. the brand itself and product it represents

The company or product rests heavily on the two above mentioned forms. Simply put if your individual makes a poor choice (for example Tiger Woods) in his or her personal life it will impact your brand (product). This happens in the world through governments, it happens in the business world and in the church too.

We have to be realistic and remember people are people who make mistakes and product is product that (like the automotive mentioned above) breakdown. But the balance between the two is so very important to both successes.

On one hand we need to be intentional about who we support and how we support them. We can’t simply buy into a product because someone uses it.. Even if it is Jordan (mental note. I am wearing them as I type) when we don’t like or use the product as it is intended. We simply can’t use a product without realizing what it is intended to market.

(Now I am all for freedom of speech but to be honest I will not be boycotting companies because someone on Facebook or a celebrity tells me to without doing the homework. If we fall to everyone’s opinion we will be switching and boycotting everything including church but I will and encourage you to use to use wisdom in who and what you support or do not support.)

Our brand will say a lot about who or what we are. It is a style for some. Remember when Shaun White was known for his long red hair… yeah he cut it or when McDonalds was more than a golden Arch or Nike was more than just a swoosh. I also could share some that do not carry as much joy… but will not here.

Our buying into other companies brands reflects on who we are. I wear Nike but does that mean I am good, bad, rich or poor? I call myself a christian does that mean I am good, bad, rude or forgiving? I work for a church (Youth Pastor) does that mean I am sheltered, ignorant or something else? We homeschool so does that mean we are afraid of the world, our kids are freaks and can’t deal with real life? Does it imply we have moved so often for work the online public school format fit our lives better? It is hard from the outside to know…. think about it!

Unfortunately, we are a byproduct of those around us, our heritage (even if we don’t know our biological history) and our environment. I am fooling myself to think I am not being influenced and influencing others at the same time by my dress attire, my attitude and what I wear, eat or even read.

We live in a world that is all about image and using that image to influence (often in a negative way) others to be aware or more tolerant of our personal cause or bias. It is happening today, and it happened in the past. We can assume it will continue into the future too. So, how do we manage and deal with it?

I think this is easier said than done…. so here goes

  1. Use discernment who and what you buy into. For example.. just don’t buy it because everyone else is.
  2. Use discernment in who or what you allow to influence you. For example a trusted wiser mature friend
  3. Be sure to be ground into some truth that is larger than you or your moment. For example the Bible.
  4. You might even take time before deciding on it. I met someone recently who waits 6 to 9 months before making a big decision to ensure it isn’t impulsive or dumb.

We have been gifted with the ability to think, reason and choose… so we should put those gifts to work in doing so.

We should pursue a brand that is worth supporting and attracting people too. Choose wisely.

Friends doing what Friends do

FRIENDS DOING WHAT FRIENDS DO!

I have a couple friends (D & J)out west… Yeah, they live in California where it is always 80 degrees and sunny (he reminds me often since two of us are from the Michigan area). Well, by the Instagram, Facebook and twitter post it always looks like shorts weather. When you are from the Midwest, this is a big deal… It is April and snowing outside this week.

Well these friends are pretty big hitters in the world of Youth Ministry but that isn’t the point in this blog post. The point is they do life together.

A few years ago, they had a dream… (well to be honest it probably started prior to that… One of them hired or strongly influenced the other to do Youth Ministry at his church
So, needless to say they go way back over ten years of building into this post example.

They started a ministry called Download Youth Ministry, a completely online store, tool to use. It isn’t a new idea but for the youth ministry world it was a fresh approach when it seems like everyone in the business was spinning tires to find traction.

These guys have a solid friendship and working relationship, which is the point to this post. People will assume they are successful due to a combined 50 years of Youth Ministry and countless books written, maybe some divine support from Fadi or simply luck but I think it begins with two things:

  1. Faithful friendship based on God and serving Him
  2. The ability to be friends and enjoy the time together.

In the beginning days at the developing stages they would meet after work (which means close to 10 to 11PM) at a local taco joint to do life, laugh and dream…. that dream became a reality in 2011 with their first domain purchase and it is now serving

The simple idea, God has blessed and Fadi has backed is now making impacts through:

  1. They host some amazing podcasters
  2. Downloadable material that is the core of the ministry / business
  3. A training (Discipleship) platform for both leaders and people.
  4. A community online through Facebook
  5. A special event only for 100 youth workers to attend and be breathed into and loved on.
  6. A video show… well It is more roundtable type but feels like you are sitting at the table alongside them talking ministry and life.
  7. Did I mention… purchasing YS… ? Yes, the organization that runs National Youth Worker Convention… that is the crazy thing in my mind. (both guys have been speaking at YS for years).

The core of what God did and does with this awesome business/ ministry is based on friendships and laughter and dreaming. We need to be intentional about building friendships (discipleship) and doing life together. The key is investing in each other as you grow together. The bible has a verse that says as “Iron sharpens Iron, so does one person sharpen another”. I think this is true for my friends (D & J). They are awesome as individuals but together as a team even more powerful for God.

I look forward to visiting, meeting with them when they come to the cold temps of the midwest and look forward to building into people in my influence. I enjoy laughing with them but I also will share time laughing with others in my community.

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