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Archive for the category “youth ministry leadership”

Cut the Cord…

I recently watch a beats by Dre (oops by Apple) the other day. It was of a guy (sorry I don’t have a clue who he was) who was walking around, mowing his lawn, cutting flowers while wearing wireless head phones. Head phones that will charge in 20 minutes or less and it lasts for several hours…..

It was rather a cool commercial and I enjoyed watching it.. not enough to buy them but hey it is a cool commercial. But this whole commercial got me thinking about cutting the cords…

How often do we talk about cutting the cord….

  1. Headphones
  2. blu tooth everything
  3. wireless routers
  4. lap tops (not connected to the wall very often)
  5. even can walk around a hospital while wired to a machine
  6. remote keyless entry on the car, house etc
  7. we can even turn on the heater via our cell phone…

The cool factor is we are cutting cords. That hit me pretty square between the eyes and I quickly reflected on a season in my life where I decided to cut the cord with my church attendance, and Christian life. It isn’t a proud moment in my life journey but it is a very faith shaping and refocusing time. I get the emotion behind it totally. I would also admit it was a time in my life that I needed connection the most. Why do we run when we are really needing to be connected to the source and others.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 message version,  “By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”
We are far stronger when we are connected with other people. God is giving us some insight here. We are wired to be in community with others and God. Genesis speaks of this truth. But Satan would want us to be isolated, sitting alone so we can be tempted by him to doubt, think negatively and doubt even the littlest of things. I would encourage to do two things… well three

  1. Stay connected to your church community… that might be the church, a small group, etc..
  2. Recognize the fact Satan will tempt you to abandon your friends, your church and your faith.

I am one who is praying and focused on staying connected to Jesus, my friends and the church and would encourage and challenge you to do the same.
If you need a church to connect with please please search your area for one. we have a spot for you http://www.dhumc.com. I would encourage you to join or begin a small group.
You can get connected at school… check for your FCA, prayer or bible study meetings times…

Remember cutting your cord is something we can do but even the beats headphones require a charge inorder to function.

Working, playing and living with purpose

I have no clue what you do for a job, or even if you have a job.
I have no clue what you do for fun, or even if you have fun playing in life.

I have no clue what you do while living in between the two… life of purpose…

I am not referencing The Purpose Driven Life, or The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, etc… I do believe they are good writings and have a ton of application however I know you can buy one of these resources on Amazon or some other resource site.

I do want to focus a brief moment on what you do part.

What do you do for employment matters… It might be the very way God is sharing to his people through you… It might be the very way God is sharing His love for you.

What do you do for fun matters…. It might be the very way God is sharing His joy with others around you. It might be the very way God is sharing His joy with you.

I am a compartment person at times… I will admit it. I put my life and activities in nice little compartments. I have a compartment for fun, work, faith, family, food and even serving (though they all blend in together being a Youth Pastor). I often do this when I am in control.

Think about it for yourself?… When is this true for you? Do you feel compartmental when you are in control? Out of control or in the middle? Do you feel like you are a bomb waiting to happen? Or maybe simply going through life as it is.. Just life..?

God has given us a special uniqueness, a gift if you will, that I would like to refer to as YOU. You are a gift from God. You aren’t required to compare, compete or even judge yourself based on those around you, judge yourself based on your history. God will do just judging when He chooses.

I don’t think age has a factor… I know mature people making good and bad choices, who doubt who they are in this world. I know young people making good and bad choices, who doubt who they are in this world. I know people in the middle doing the same.

 

The challenge in my opinion is living life as you figure out who God created you to be based on His Word. The deal is spending time with God in His Word working on His version of you.

Live life with Purpose day to day!

What does your look communicate about you?

I was recently at a National Youth Pastor Event ( it has a name but I am trying to write this with some grace too….) while at the event several things became apparent to me….. maybe I am a bit off or sounding judgmental but it is where I land today.

Some of the participants had a typical hipster look to them:

  • Flip Flops
  • Tattoos
  • Flannel shirts
  • Skinny sweats or jeans
  • Ear rings and even man buns
  • Apple everything (phone, ipad, watch, mac book etc)
  • Straight billed hat ( I threw this in here since everyone knows you bend the bill… LOL)

Yet others looked more business

  • Collared shirts
  • Dress shoes
  • Ties….. ooh ties….
  • A Franklyn Timer folder
  • Hair nicely trimmed

Others looked confused

  • Dressed like everyone else
  • Jeans
  • Shoes
  • T-shirts
  • Some bald
  • Shorts
  • Skirts

While at the location (hotel) a flight crew was leaving to catch a flight… they had

  • Uniforms
  • Women had some sort of white scarf flowing
  • Polished shoes
  • Flight bags (all matching)
  • Walked a calculated distance from one another
  • professionalism
  • they exhibit a look of “Hey, I know you want to be me..” but with a grace and modesty.

(believe it or not it was the United Arab Emirates flight crew)

Each of these groups represent something or someone, some are a blend of other group.

How do the groups speak to me?

 

The hipster group comes across young, excited, naive, confused, passionate and even at times together and unified.

The Business group comes across as driven, unattached, cutthroat, and ready to add you to their agenda.

The confused group comes across as settling in, rhythm, paces yet in a hurry, but also willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

The flight crew… I will admit caught my attention and that of the others near me… they had a presence, professionalism, grace, and calm about them.

 

I know we are all pursuing a goal, some seasons I can dwell in the hipster mode (though I don’t own a flannel shirt nor do I plan to).

Some seasons in my ministry year I am functioning in the business mode and I am not just referring to board meetings.

Most of the time I am settled in the confused mode…. Not confused with what or how I am doing but within seasons.

The Group I really want to dwell in is the flight crew. I am not kidding you, they walked through as if to say (without words) I know you noticed me, I know you are wondering can I be that and finally I know your life has been marked (altered) due to this sighting… Notice I didn’t mention talking to them… I just watched them come down the escalator; walk towards and through the Hotel door…. I was struck and God began to use them to inspire me to pen this blog.

 

Think about who you are… How has God wired you, created you and formed you in His image? How are you set apart?

 

We all can easily fit into the hipster (fun loving, go with it naïve eyes), or the Business (all work no play at any cost) and the confused (doing what we can when we can with purpose to get it done) or we can strive to be like the Flight crew…. Graceful, aggressive, patent but calculated, happy but ready for action.

God has designed us uniquely, we can dwell in each category, move from one to another but I know for me… I want to be remembered for who I am in through Christ, through the actions and interactions with those outside and inside the church. I am striving to be an impact player for Jesus.

I will laugh at some of the hipster actions and looks, will feel intimidated, in awe with the business actions and looks, will feel comfortable in my confused dwelling (I reside here most of the time). But I long to be in that flight crew space and look.

 

Philippians 3:14 “Press on towards the goal to win the prize….”
We need to keep striving to be who we are in Christ.

Perspective… does it matter?

It has been a while since I have last blogged.. but maybe you aren’t aware of that tidbit. Well, until I mentioned it.

I have been very busy with life, work and COS (think college without credit). But the very topic is the topic of discussion today. Perspective!

Perspective… the dictionary.com refers to it as a mental view point,

I have to admit I function 70% of the time within my own perspective. That being said, I admit to focusing on what I see. The lenses I see through most of the time are based on the following criteria…. Do your own list too..

  • Parents had me later in life (parents in mid 40’s); most thought they were my grandparents.
  • My sister is 20 years older than me; most thought she was my mom.
  • I have an identical twin; we don’t dress or act alike. (twin day isn’t really twin day it is dress like your best friend day.. we wouldn’t dress alike on purpose)
  • I am married to Shelly; therefore one man and one woman-married matters to me.
  • I have been blessed with four kids; therefore saying you have a handful with your two kids doesn’t carry a ton of weight for me.. if you say 6 then I am praying for you.
  • I was born in Michigan, therefore I am a Michigan fan; most think this it true. Or they should lol.
  • I refer to Michigan as God’s country; most don’t get it until they visit West Michigan.. Then they believe or are just in denial.
  • I am a youth minister; most think I am holier than them, nope just saved through grace like we all are.
  • I have a full time job; most think I have the weekends off.. nope Monday is my day off
  • Since I am a pastor I am always working; the reality is I need down time too.
  • If I don’t write it down it will not happen; most who know me know this truth.. it is a fact!
  • I have 3 girls and a son; most think I wanted kids until a son is born; reality is God blessed us with 4 individually awesome unique kids..
  • Most think my kids are or should be perfect due to my employment; however they are still kids and I can’t assume your kids is a rocket scientist because you are can I? for argument I do know a rocket scientist and his kids aren’t rock scientists….

I think you get my point…

So how do we deal with perspective?

The news has been all over cop shootings, cops shooting people and black lives matter.

I have been taught to respect authority, to care for and respect all life and everyone matters. I have been struggling to watch videos and news footage of people killing people, then people retaliating on people (even though they are different people than the one they had issues with) and so forth. It is a vicious cycle.

One video I watched showed an older white male trying to walk down the street, through a demonstration of black lives matter (African American women) who wouldn’t let him pass… they were making a point that black lives matter but demonstrated our protest (example) matters more than you walking down the street.

I know several police officers who are very good people. They care about their community, and being a safe person for those in need. They will do their job to the best of their ability within the law. They love their kids, they wives and work hard to keep us safe. They would never just shoot someone… in fact the ones I know have never drawn a gun on someone. They would rather avoid conflict than create it. Plus one said it is a lot of paperwork and who likes paperwork.

 

I have four kids (mentioned before) and they are all uniquely different. I am figuring out something finally. They are all wired differently and I need to adjust to their perspective if I am going to be used by God to help shape them into the people He has created them to be. I admit…. Most of the time I fail at this because I am concerned about my perspective not theirs.
I have done some poor perspectives when it comes to helping them grow, being a safe place for them to turn. It is a two way street but I always need to be the one looking at their perspective and determining the best communications possible to connect with them. Again.. I fail often here.. if you would ask them I would guess they would say fail more than not but it is perspective.

 

When someone sees me in the community, they assume I am working and bring up a work need or situation. However they wouldn’t think of being asked a question about their employment when they aren’t at work.. see the perspective changes how we respond to people. I admit again, times I fail at remembering their perspective and helping them learn mine.

 

As I mentioned before, I am in COS and our class is based on several books, bible books and writings. One of the objectives was to take strength finders assessment. This assessment helps you know your strengths with the hope you will focus to grow them more than you try to grow your weaknesses. The book (resources) believes it is better to grow your strengths and help others grow theirs as we align with others who have different strengths than we do to accomplish certain tasks. I felt this was a great way of looking at things but realize.. it is also perspective.

 

I am closing out this portion of the blog (which should be multiple posts but isn’t) with a thought.

How much better would our life be, our world be if we would take a deep breathe and look at it from others perspectives.. This might help us understand we all have needs, wants, opinions and perspectives. No one’s perspective is wrong to them, it is just that a perspective.

We can change the world by changing ourselves and looking to view things through others perspectives not assuming they all know ours….

 

 

 

Looking at the man in the mirror

I’m going to make a change
For once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference, gonna make it right…

The above is the beginning to Michael Jackson’s song called Man in the mirror.

I was flipping through the music stations as I drove back form dropping my daughter off to school. Then it hits me, a flash back from the past…
Michael Jackson singing man in the mirror… wow but reality brought me back.

I was listening to the song in a different light since the early 1990’s when I first heard the song as a middle/high school song. I confess back then it was another Michael Jackson song… bring out the blinged glove and some smooth moon walking… For you young readers… look up moon walking … I would rather not relive those moments…

Today is just another day of the week but for some odd reason, maybe it was due to driving in the fog of the morning, maybe it is the reality of being tired at 9AM with a to do list a mile long (who came up with that analogy anyways) and not enough time to get it all done….. when Michael says:

“ I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer. If you wanna make the world a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change….”

Those words carry more weight today…
Maybe it is due to the difference in life then and now…

Then…. I looked out for me. I went to school, played sports, played video games, went out with my friends or on a date. I spent time with family and some summer work.

Now… I look our for me and my family, team at work, friends and others, I go to school to teach or visit students (worry about them surviving the day). I don’t play as many video games, do less sports (more due to being old), and worry about the today, tomorrow and the next.. for all I know and work alongside.

What is the common core… Me… I am in both situations, my life is still full of the same 24 hours in a day that I had back in the day. I am in control of the ability to look in the mirror and change me..
Our world tells us to make excuses for our actions, to fill our schedules with stuff to do, baseball games, movies, vacations, work etc.. , to spend spend spend and enjoy today.

I get the privilege of sharing time with Students … today we discussed spending time with God. Through out the New Testament Jesus withdrawals often in the morning to a quiet place… in the beginning God created everything in 6 days and the 7th he rested..

What this guy realizes when I look at the man in the mirror is way to much and personal for this blog but a simple observation is this…

I need to rest…. Here are a few areas in my life I need rest in:
Sleep.. I require a solid amount of sleep. I need to have down time from work, from noise, from being around people.
One of my strengths is being an extreme extrovert and when I am feeling the need to avoid people.. I know I need to look at the man in the mirror and say make a change… I know people need you … I know you are the man but the reality is I need a break..
I would encourage you today to look at the person in the mirror… look often and don’t fall to the sin of nitpicking what you look like.. that isn’t healthy… but looking at who you are and what you need is…

I close with this wisdom….”I am starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer…” make the time to make the change

I AM A BELIEVER! What about you?

I am a believer!

What do you believe?
Do you believe it will be ok?
Do you believe you will succeed in life?
Do you believe you can do great things?
Do you believe in yourself?
Do you believe God is creator?
Do you believe Jesus will save you?
Do you believe Jesus is preparing a place for you in heaven?

I am often filled with do you believe questions.. 

One Is usually, do I believe people will show up? Do I believe I am good enough? Do I believe I have what it takes to accomplish the task?

I assume you have your own set of “Do I believe” statements…. Maybe it would be good to take a minute to list them? That is totally up to you.

How much of the do I believes matter?

Don’t get me wrong but do they matter if we don’t do anything with the question..
We need to take action at some point to put it into practice, to begin working out the question into a statement… for example:

I believe it will be ok.
I believe I will succeed.
I believe I can do great things and be an impact person.
I believe in myself… not arrogantly but believe I have worth.
I believe God created all things
I believe Jesus saves me and prepares a place for me.

But there is a little gap between the question and the fact of belief. 

I truly know in my heart nobody makes it on belief alone… It takes time and work to work out one’s belief.

Here is a simple suggestion, surround yourself with people …

who will believe in you,…
who will keep you humble,…
who will encourage you,…
who will help you make a plan to accomplish your goals

I heard this is a recent sermon…. And it wrecked my world…

Believing in something is easy but having faith (living out that belief) isn’t easy.

Unity in me? In my team? In my world? YES!

Unity…. Webster says Unity is:

  1. the state of being one; oneness
  2. a whole or totality as combining all its parts into one.
  3. the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification.
  4. absence of diversity; unvaried or uniform character.”

What do you say unity is?
I define unity in two ways…

  1. being content within your own heart and self.
  2. getting along with a person or group of persons through a common source.

How we define unity is important. We need to have a common understanding on the definition and how it is played out within the group and each individual.

How your basketball team, swim team, music group defines and acts out unity is vital to the success, longevity and legacy of each group. We focus so much attention on me… we forget the importance of we. We focus so much attention on the now that we forget about the future.

Yeah, I know.. how can I possibly know the future we leave when I don’t know the me within the we now? I think this is the tension we all deal with throughout our careers, friendship and families. Smarter people than I have written books, taught classes and seminars etc. but I speak from my own heart…

John 17:21 That they might be ONE… There is value in being one, if there wasn’t God wouldn’t have mentioned it in the bible.

What can we gain from being one (unity)?

  1. We will have a better understanding of others. We will put others first.
  2. Our teams will not only look good but they will function and perform better…. Like state championship better. People will notice something is different with this team.
  3. The people who will follow us will be better prepared and will benefit from the hard work we have done to create, foster and encourage unity.

 

IF that isn’t enough… we will actually find some contentment within our own hearts and therefore better equipped to impact the world we live in.

Choose today to find unity within yourself…. Encourage within your team and display it for the world to see.

 

 

Team.. two ways to look at it

teamBuild a team….

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift his companion. But wow to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”

The Team…. Have you ever been a part of a team, maybe in sports, academic or work related? If you have I assume some of the teams were good and others less than enjoyable, what causes some to succeed and others not?

Well I have a couple theories and Ideas I would like to share, more for thought than anything.

  1. The team had a clear understanding:
  • Goals are clearly defined and accepted
  • Roles are clearly defined and accepted
  • Direction is clearly defined and accepted
  1. The team is equipped
  • Each team member has the right tools (equipment) to succeed.
  • Each team member feels inspired and encouraged to play the game.
  • Each team member is held accountable for their role and team’s success.

I could easily send the same ideas to what might be causing issues with the team

  1. The team has no clear understanding:
  • Individuals don’t really understand the team goals
  • Individuals don’t accept or own their personal role in the game.
  • Individuals lack personal direction and choose not to own the teams.
  1. The team is unprepared
  • Individuals haven’t developed their tools (equipment). They settle for average.
  • Individuals are left behind, forgotten about
  • Individuals have no personal or team accountability.

Which set of list best describes your team? Which set would you say is most common amongst your peers? And finally which set would you say represents you personally?

The challenges we deal with isn’t a team challenge as much as it is a personal challenge. That challenge simply is who are you? Are you a team player or a lone ranger (the person who needs no help)?

Tune in next time as we continue to look at Team vs Me

Prepared? Really does it matter?

That question really is a question of context… depending on the context being prepared does matter.

Malachi 3:1 “ Look, I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.”

Check it out… Allow me to indulge a bit for you… allow me to offer some examples…

  • Ever take a trip to the bathroom, only to walk away with TP stuck on your foot?
  • Ever take a trip with a baby and figure out you left the diaper bag at home?
  • Ever take a group of teens to a retreat and forget one at the rest stop…. NO, that wouldn’t be good.. bad example.
  • Ever go to a concert, amusement park or movie only to remember you forgot the tickets?

I will admit I have walked out of a restroom with TP on my shoe.
I will admit I have left the diaper bag at home.

I will admit to forgetting a ticket to a theme park.. that was an expensive lesson.
I have never ever forgot a teen at a rest stop… but know someone who did. They turned around and got the teen.
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  • Ever go to the bathroom only to find out you are out of TP, or worse there is barely enough tp to use…

I know we all have to commit to this one…. We are all subject to this in two ways… we are the one who used the last of it up or we are the ones who discovered this issue.

But is this what Malachi from the bible is talking about? Not really… He is talking about someone coming in our behalf to help us find our way in the world, through the world and to a better place. He was a messenger.

Allow me to offer some additional indulgences?

  • How well do you prepare for things in your life?
    • Do you do your homework or cram to finish?
    • Do you slack when the boss or teachers is missing?
    • Do you prepare in practice to be the best during the game?
    • Do you find truth only to blow it off?
    • Do you find yourself compromising for the moment or an impulse instead of waiting? Simply put, do you regret the decision once you realize you chose it?

Maybe all of these are true, I know I fall prey to some and that doesn’t define me.. I have chosen to allow those examples to shape me, to train me to use my time of preparing as a tool, that when it is go time I will preform to my ability.

John Wooden (Great college basketball coach at UCLA) said,  “How you run the race – your planning, preparation, practice and performance—counts for everything. Winning or losing is a by-product, an aftereffect, or that effort.”
Such truth to this statement.. please read it again before you move on.

 

I hope you can find healing, hope and a challenge in how you prepare. I hope you to can and will stop the cycle of compromise and begin a fresh.. prepare well to perform well in life. It is up to you to choose.

Go Team prepared.

Warning 7 of 8….Trouble… Trouble… Trouble

Part 7 of 8: Trouble Makers

I will first admit I am a twin (identical twin) with that being said, we (my brother and I) caused a lot of trouble for each other. I think it was a game to see who could get the other in more trouble, or maybe just to avoid splitting fire wood in the cold Michigan winter… whatever the reason we had little trouble with causing trouble. I also have watched other siblings try their best to get another in trouble.. maybe for the same reason, maybe for a totally different reason. But the truth of the matter it isn’t a good thing.

This is the point in the blog where you the reader says something to the extent of “I am not a twin, so I am good to go” or “ I am a single child, so I am good to go.” NOT SO FAST Slick…. It does not work that way…. Do you work in a setting that requires a team or group of people to do tasks that allow a product to get completed? Do you play a sport that requires you to function with others on a field of play? (I know our local school football team went to state and while being interviewed they referred to the team as a FAMILY..

Step back for a minute…. What does family mean? It might mean some pretty ugly things for some but for the majority it means parents, siblings and even some animals. It means spending time together on vacations, yard work and even around the dinner table… to me it means a wife, 4 kids, 4 cats, 2 dogs, too many rabbits to count and some chickens. It takes a group to make a family… No one goes to a restaurant and asks for a table for one… the family table that would be crazy.

So what is the point to all this family talk? Great question! It is the very topic that God detests…. Check it out for yourself

Proverbs 6:19b “ a person who sows discord in a family.” The Message translation says it like this: “ A trouble maker in the family.”  This verse goes along with the warning series I have been blogging about. I know God cares for his people and warns us because He cares. So, what can we gain from this verse…

We are a part of a family…

In your house

In your class room

In your sports or academic teams

In your colleges

In your work place

We are a family and God says being a trouble maker is bad . Why is it so bad? Well it creates disharmony, it creates a poor atmosphere, it creates tension that isn’t healthy or a great witness to others. Why would anyone want to be on a team with people who always cause trouble? Why would anyone want to work for a place full of troublemakers?
We would admit, NO ONE in the right mind would want to be associated to that type of negativity or be connected to it.
I think it might be a good warning from God to take a couple minutes each day and ask ourselves… and I part of the problem or solution? I am not referring to Do I think I am right or wrong… it isn’t about that…. It is about connecting with a group (family) and working through the challenges we all bring to that family in order to make a better place for others in the world.. God will work in and through us but His Word is clearly telling us

DON’T BE A TROUBLE MAKER…

Find ways to set triggers for yourself… ways that will warn you prior to being one of those people… ways to not regret an action or comment… ways to help others see Jesus through every action we make…. Even when no one is around us to see it.
This isn’t an easy task or thing to do… no, it isn’t for the weak or the easy quitter.. it is for the brave, the free and those who want to live a life that is much larger than anything they could ever imagine..
Be a world changer in your family first!

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