It's just my junk

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

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.

New Strengths.. Soar not Settle

New Strength

I was doing, well honestly catching up since I am meeting to discuss them with a couple friends tomorrow, my devotion times and it was simply titled New Strength.

The title wasn’t the eye catcher but the scripture was…

Isaiah 40:31 “ But those who wait on the Lord, Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

If you are or have been inside a church building or waked through a Christian Store you have experienced this in word or picture… A beautiful bald eagle soring in the wind… looking majestic and awesome.

I assume you might even have experienced it more than once, only to glimpse at it with a been there done that attitude. It is okay to admit it. I have more than I would like to but it is true, I have become desensitized to the beauty and impact of the mighty bald eagle soaring image.

I am not sure this one will hit every audience but I grew up in Michigan and moved to Indiana (eventually toward the Indiana and Ohio border by the Ohio river). I have been privileged enough to see a real bald eagle soaring over the water or setting on an ice chunk in the lake. Simply breathe taking! It is a site I will always cherish and remember. In fact, I could drive you to the very place I sat to observe this amazing bird of prey.

My point is simply we settle way to often for the image of static bird in a photo or picture when God has a soaring image of power, grace, breathless motion and awe. We have a choice in life…

  1. Settle for the normal everyday existence or
  2. Strive for the greatness to come, for an experience and life that is remember able and awe-inspiring.

It is simple as that… we get the ability to choose and I encourage you (me too) to not settle for the everyday static but strive to soar with the Eagles.

God has so much more to offer and provide for us but we tend to get caught up in the “everyone is doing it” mentality.

SOAR MY FRIENDS! Be one who breaks out into the greatness of life and soar.

New Years Resolutions

How do you launch your New Years resolutions? How do you plan to succeed in accomplishing them? Well, I think you might be surprised to read this information but most start them planning and practice to late to win.

I have a chiropractor friend, who I will refer to as Dr. James (since it is his name) that teaches his clients to begin the resolution or any new habit a month in advance to accomplish it. The idea is simply starting to create the habit, routine and disciplines.

We shared some time thinking and digesting this idea recently at youth group. I would like to share some highlights from this experience.

  1. Identify five major stresses in your life.
  2. Identify which you can change (control) and those you cannot control.
  3. Change those you can, give to God to those you cannot.

Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us to not work about things but pray.

  1. Who do you represent?
  2. Your clothes? Mine say DYM, YW, Nike, DHSM, Michigan etc.
  3. Your friendships?
  4. Your future?

We can discover a lot about our attention or life.
Leviticus 19:4 reminds us not to trust in idols but God.

  1. Review time… please refer back to the previous 1,2&3 and check for similarities? Is God trying to reveal something through them?
  2. Repair relationships.
  3. Who do you have conflict with?
  4. How can you forgive them? Or make the relationship better?

Ephesians 4:31-32 reminds us to get rid of all bitterness etc.. forgive one another as Christ forgives you.

  1. Make time for Jesus. Seems simple but it has to be a priority in our day.

1 Timothy 4:13-14 reminds us to devote ourselves to reading bible, praising God and teaching others.

  1. Spend time praying
  2. Make a top five list of things, habits etc you want to continue doing… for example devotion time, exercise daily.
  3. Make a top five list of things, habits etc you want to stop doing… for example cheating on tests, lying, talking bad about yourself..

1 Thessalonians 5:17 reminds us to never stop praying.

  1. What is the best time of day, week for you to pray?
  2. What can you do to make that happen?
  3. Who can support you in this commitment?

 

I know it is a huge list and seems to be overwhelming but I would totally encourage you to take the next month to get a routine and healthy habits to accomplish some growth.
I enjoy watching sports and often think it would be cool to play in the NFL or whatever… but I am not willing to do the work to accomplish that… Often we think of people who are spiritual champions and want to be like them… but we aren’t willing to do the time to be like Jesus.
Friends it will take work to make it a priority and we are all able to make them… after all we do everyday…

Happy New Habits day to you.

 

Mile Markers in life

Mark this date, June 9,2017, during Indiana Annual Conference a movement was launched. A mile marker was set. I travel to annual conference from I74 from near Cincinnati to Indianapolis, each mile is marked along the way, the closer the journey the increase in signs and directions. I have always found mile makers interesting, partly due to boredom while traveling in Michigan (my home land) as a youth since electronics didn’t exist. I would use the markers to let me know how close to home I was. After all, you can only ask, are we there yet so many times before being yelled at.

During the above mentioned Indiana Annual Conference on June 8th a motion was presented to bring attention to the many teenagers of LGBT persuasion thinking about and/or committing suicide. I am a Youth Minister who is very thankful to be associated with a people group (UMC) who care about young lives. But something didn’t settle well within my heart. I was struggling with a people group who cared about a certain population of people being the LGBT group but not the countless others who live outside that spectrum such as, African American males, or Caucasian females or others who happened to be straight/heterosexual.

I was privileged to participate in the connectional part of the UMC denomination by sharing lunch with Samuel Padgett and his family at Chick-Fil-A. We shared small talk while walking to the restaurant, as we ordered, and well into our meal. The conversation took a right turn after the last waffle fry was consumed. Sam’s daughter, Leah, asked to share something she was working on. I am all about youth ministry and encouraged her to read it. I was left in awe. I wont get into the details but Leah felt a similar tension but for a different reason and was moved to make a difference. I began to think about 1 Timothy 4:12 ESV “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believer’s an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”

Leah patiently waited her turn in line to bring an amendment to the above mentions motion. She asked for it to be more inclusive of all teenagers struggling with suicidal thoughts. She respectfully asked to speak in favor of this and bravely shared her story as a PK (pastor kid) who struggled with thoughts of suicide and knowing many other teenagers who felt the same way. It was a brave moment that will forever stand in my mind. Leah, a class of 2017 high school graduate who listened to God, was moved and did something about it.

I know God used her in this tense moment to bring awareness to teenagers, in and outside the church, that struggle with suicidal thoughts and God used the moment to impact and empower a quiet, respectful, passionate young lady to trust in Him and follow with a passion and trust that will move mountains. Leah set an example for us in word, in conduct, in love and faith. She bridged a gap many adults would never do… she risked her story in order to help others stand in the gap for others who may never have the chance to due to suicide. She also had many who supported the original motion reach out to her in appreciation of what she did and said.
I am thankful that God is willing to use all people, including a recent high school graduate to impact a state in serving its people, all people. I am asking you to pray for Leah, teenagers who struggle with suicidal thoughts, the parents of teens who have experience the tragedy of a teen suicide, and our church as we grow in this much needed area.

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