It's just my junk

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

Rock Painting, Football and a Fire

Rocks, paints, brushes, footballs, can jam, little Debbie snacks, marshmallows, chocolate bars, grand crackers, chickens, wood, newspapers and fire, it is a great combination especially when you throw in some soda (pop), water and a group of senior high students and caring adults.

The scene was set 3 summers ago, when a couple who are friends and awesome people felt led to purchase (save) their families farm. A farm (with an outhouse) that has a hundred year history of being in the same family! The patriarch of the family passed away and it appeared to be slipping out of their family hands. The purchase was made successfully, over the next few years the little farmhouse began to take on a new look. The couple added to their house, resided the entire house, moved the outhouse. Yeah moment of silence the outhouse was later struck by a falling tree limb and became future fire wood a sad sad day for me. The fire pit was put in place along with some chickens (and coop). The family was ready to begin hosting youth, family and other events at the farm. I am sure grandpa would be excited and proud.

Fast forward to the event…. Students arrived with excitement, leaders arrived with excitement…. the fire was stoked, the tables had coverings (it was the wife’s choice to use them to cover the mess) and games set up to be played.
A simple announcement and brief history lesson was given and the night was in full action. Students played, laughed and painted, while the adults intermingled with them and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

The night came to and end. Students were picked up, some drove home and others helped clean up. Everyone in attendance left with a full stomach, painted rock (if they chose to paint one) and memories of fun, fellowship and Jesus moments.

We (the home owners, my daughter and I) cleaned up the paint, stowed the left over goodies and reflected on the night. It was a simply but powerful night. The homeowners hosted an awesome night. The students enjoyed some good old fashion hang time. The adults (all who are leaders in the Student Ministries) were able to relax and connect with students. It was an amazing night for sure.

As I review the night a couple lessons peculated to the surface….

1. Communication is so important… people need to be invited, directions of travel, supplies purchased.
2. Fellowship is important. People are so busy planning a variety of activities and hang time so everyone can enjoy.
3. Follow up is vital… Make sure you thank people for attending, helping, serving and providing for an awesome event.
4. Look to grow… make a few notes that will enable you to host and run a better more effective event in the future
5. Pray often… sometimes we forget to pray in the planning moments, or after the event. But prayer is important before, during and after… Give God the praise he deserves.
6. Allow room for students to be students, they like to laugh and play, also allow your student leaders the chance to just be students. Don’t assign them jobs or tasks.

I am so thankful for a community and people who are willing to open up their farm and lives to share Jesus Love through their gifts and lives.

Who is your Boss?

“And they were astonished at His (Jesus) teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Mark 1:22

Two things about this scripture jump out at me:

  1. Jesus wasn’t the only one teaching information; in this case the scriptures in the world.
  2. He was the only one teaching with authority.

 

So, do you agree or disagree? Have you experienced this in your life; someone teaching with authority and others not?

I immediately think of several situations where I have experienced this situation:

  1. Professional baseball… the pitching coach goes to the mound to help, encourage, and correct the pitcher. He does not do anymore than that. But the head coach is the one who speaks authority. He is the one who goes to the mound and removes the pitcher from mound and game. You, see the head coach has the Authority to move or change things in a game.
  2. College.. Many of us had Associate professors who would teach but they conducted themselves through the authority of the Professor. The professor as ultimate authority in the classroom but grants some authority to his assistants.

 

What does this mean to the average person? We are always lobbing and checking out whose authority we are under. We live in a world where someone is in charge, maybe your teacher who has a boss, the principal, who has a boss, the super-intendant, who has a boss the School board, who has a boss, the voters who elect him or her. No matter what situation we find ourselves under, we have some authority over us. This is both good and challenging, since we are required to figure it out and balance the tension within it.

Romans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authority.”

We have a president who is elected official. One the people (not 100% of the people) elected. Some have been vocal for and against this elected official.

I struggle with the extremes simply because he is a human being and has feelings. But as a Christian, struggle more from the teaching of Romans 13:1.. see above.. It says every person be subject to the governing authorities. It doesn’t say to the authorities you like or voted for or align with. I am not saying I agree with everything our presidents (most of them in my years of voting) but I do try to honor them as authority.
I am not tooting my own horn but challenging my fellow believers…how are you being subject to the authority? I know it might be more challenging for some than others but where do you sit… ? Where does it end? If we want our kids to follow under our authority shouldn’t we be setting the example and doing the same for those who are in authority of us? I would say yes. We need to practice what we preach.

Athletes exercise self-control in all things

I was struck between the eyes when I read this statement. I have read it probably a thousand times and it never really hit me this deeply. I first need to confess…. It is a bible verse. 1 Corinthians 9:25 “Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.” Paul is a stud for the church, his resume is rich… a Hebrew Check, a Pharisee (think religious leader who is way smarter than most) Check, a descendant of David (think big time lineage.. David’s name carries weight in the bible) Check.  Paul is also a noted to be the first missionary (establishing churches throughout modern-day Europe) Check, Paul was ship wrecked, thrown into prison etc. Check…

I was what I call an athlete in high school. I was a distance runner and accomplished some cool things. For example: 1986 set a school record for 4×800 relay that wasn’t touched till 2016. Ran Cross two years and went to state both years. My senior year in track I finished 1st in every dual meet in the 800 but I confess to not exercising self-control in all things.
For example, I practiced as I felt like it. I did not listen to the coach like I should have. I did not study as much as I should have. I can honestly say I never went to parties or drank etc. so that is good. But as you can see I was not interested in self-control completely.

What is Paul trying to get at with the comment? I feel as if he is prompting us to put our whole selves in to being who God created us to be. We need to fully exercise self-control in all areas of our life so we can be free of distraction or settling for less than the best.
So, if you are a student… focus on your education, give it all (be the best you can in the classroom), do not worry about relationship that really cause you to settle for less than your best, Do not fight the teacher but learn from them.
So, if you are an athlete… listen to your coach, give it all you can and practice patience in your exercise but give it to the full when you should, take care of your body.
So, if you are an employee… do the best you can do.. show up ready to work, be on time and grow to be the best employee you can. Someone will experience your product or presence that it should impact their life.

I think you get my point. It is important to be focussed on growing you and those around you. Help others as they help you. Be focussed and ready.

I know Paul lived a long time ago but we need to heed his warning and focus on self-control and step up to be a role model for someone. Please do not act like you aren’t one because everyone has someone looking up to you. Go for it and win in life.

Love in a coke bottle

“Love never gives up, never loses faith is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
“Love…. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

Love as mentioned above has no limits but what about our limits? Do we put limits on love? Limits to manipulate and gain something for ourselves? Limits to protect our hearts that have or may have been hurt or damaged?

Yes, we all have the ability to love without limits. The challenge is determining a couple things:

1. Do you have a healthy respect for myself?
2. Have I dealt with any past hurts or fears that might prohibit love without limits?
3. Have you risked love in a healthy way and found some success?
4. Do you find a longing to connect and be in love with someone, something?

The challenge isn’t finding love as much as it is discovering love that is pure, and a love that never gives up, never loses hope, always endures etc… That love only comes from God.

We are designed to be in relationship, that relationship is often connected with money, stuff, people or careers but God designed the relationship to be with Him.

A Youth Pastor friend of mine once told a story, illustration really, about people having a coke bottle shaped (we all know it isn’t a coke bottle but it worked for the example since he was holding one) container in our hearts. We will try our hardest to put things in it… for example.. sports, games, friends, drugs, alcohol, relationships. He went on further to say some of those things seem to fit for a season then we become discontent with them and then look to fill the bottle with something else and repeat… We never seem to fill that with something that lasts or holds long term.
Guess what? The reason isn’t because of the stuff we are putting into it are bad or unhealthy, it is due to the source. The source is supposed to be God.

The challenge isn’t fitting God into the bottle of our heart; it is allowing God to consume the space meant for him.

My friend went on to invite people to fill the coke shaped god bottle if you will with God. Some accepted, others waited and some didn’t respond at all which is ok.

We transition through Valentine’s Day this week and watching so many people stand in line at the local store buying flowers. I am not talking one or two but a line about 10 people long. We want to give our loved ones gifts that they can see, taste, feel but we should be giving the gift of God. A relationship with Him that fills the void and gives so much we change and share it with others. A gift that shares grace, patience and peace.

I encourage you all to spend a little time enjoying the gifts, flowers eventually die, the chocolate with run out, gift cards will be used, the watch or other material thing will break or wear out, but also invest in the eternal gift.. a relationship with Jesus.

Hold your tongue…

Proverbs 5:1-2 “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise council. Then you will show discernment, and your lips will express what you’ve learned.”

Interesting thought?  If we pay attention to wisdom, listening carefully to wise council.. we will show discernment and we can express what we learned. One might think, how does this play out in the world of life as we know it.  Well, allow me some time to unpack it bit…
1. Do you listen to your athletic coach? Really, do you then practice what he or she is asking you to do?
2. Do you listen to your math, english, science teacher? Really, do you then practice what he or she is asking you to do?
3. Do you listen to your pastor? Really, do you then practice what he or she is asking you to do? Especially, when it is directly from the Bible?
4. Do you listen to your parents? Really, do you then practice what they are asking you to do?

I confess NO to each of the above questions throughout my teen years, and since then but I also confess to working on being a better listener and apply the lessons that I have before me.
I have since then am working on the idea of gaining discernment and that I can express the words to others but more importantly applying them to my life.

Things I know…
It will take submitting to authority.
It will take submitting to the process of learning and growing.
It will take submitting to a bigger picture then the one I currently see or even think I see.
It will take submitting to the idea of work, and more work and more work.. you get the picture. It will take work for me to listen… learn and apply…. work

I often find the most challenging moments happen when I want my way, my stuff or my agenda. I am working towards the future and it will take time but I will get there. I hope you will too.

Sow Seeds of Righteousness

Proverbs 11:18 “Evil people get richer the moment, but the reward of the godly will last.”

Righteousness is the quality or state of being righteous.. Righteous is characterized by uprightness or morality; Morally right or justifiable.

How do we sow seeds of Righteousness in a world that seems to lack both the quality and state of being upright and moral?

We need to keep working our our salvation as we pursue the godly rewards that will last, Contentment, peace, grace, eternal life.
We need to fend off instant gratification, one thing I admit to struggling with.. the latest gadget, the new computer, the vast amount of stuff we “need” to make ourselves feel content, peace, and full.

I want to challenge you and myself to begin focusing on both ends of the Proverbs 11:18 verse.. we need to beware that evil people (I will define them as not with God) seek and gain their riches in the present. But the reward we seek is that of God and of the future.

For some it is saving up the money to pay cash for those shoes, phones, etc..
For some it is leaving or not being friends with certain people, let me reframe this maybe it is not having the best friend but just keep them at a safe distance.
For some it is working hard in their present employment to get to their new and better job.
For some it is studying a little bit harder to pass the test that we normally blow off.
For some it is putting in a tougher practice when the rest of the team is comfortable with the current…. swim another set, shoot another 50 free throws, run another mile, do some extra reps in the weight room.. you know
For some it is putting down the iPhone, remote control or tv and pick up the bible or devotional.

I honestly do not know what you need but you do. Let’s be honest, you have always known what you need to be doing so lets begin fresh and get it going.

Today is a new day… a fresh start… a new beginning to a more rewarded future. Please consider starting today.

 

Reflections on a Journey

I have the privilege of investing in a variety of people in ministry. Some are adults, some are senior citizens, others are youth workers across the country, and yet many I am investing in without even realizing it, like Starbucks employees, the garbage man etc.

This post is about my boys… the small group guys that meet with Mr. Henson and I weekly. Some of the play soccer, others play tennis, some don’t play anything and one group of them play Football. Their positions aren’t important on this post so we will for go that formality.

Last night (November 18) the ballers played for Semi State football game against the number 1 ranked team in the division. For those who don’t know what I am referencing, simply put if they won they would head to Lucas Oil Stadium for the State Finals. I feel the winner of this game will be a state champion.
The game was one of the best played games of the boys lives, which is a statement since last year the team was state runner up for the championship, a feet not happening for over 10 plus years. Back to the game

We (as if I was on the field or doing anything important) had a game plan that was being executed to perfection. Ball control, limited mistakes and penalties, great communication on both sides of the ball. Leaving the field at half time our team was up by 7 points (remember the opponent is ranked #1). Coming out into the second half (excited since this season we play our best in the second half). Everyone was excited; a human tunnel was created for the boys to run through. Momentum on high for sure…. #12 goes by…#3 goes by…. #97 goes by…. #27 goes by. And finally #74… getting to see their smiles through their football war paint was priceless.

The second half was a battle… one that only allowed a total of 10 points for both teams. It was a war. The fans on both sides of the field supporting their teams with respect of the opponent and energy. The Band was playing some great tunes and the Trojan Stadium was electric with energy. The game came down to a young man who would eventually after 3 time outs to ice him (this is meant to make him nervous so he would miss) with less than 2 seconds left on the clock. Well he didn’t miss it and time ran out. The #1 ranked team won the semi-state trophy on our turf.

As one would expect, some of the fans complained about play calling, others cried for their sons and friends, some just sat in disbelief. The band formed a tunnel to honor the warriors as they exited the field. This to me bridged a major gap in social groups and was a true example of support, respect and grace. I compliment the band director big time.

What came next was truly a blessing for me… as usual I was waiting at the end of the tunnel for the boys (my boys) to walk through and congratulate them on the game. Well this was going to be interesting since they didn’t win.

I am not going into details but God showed up and He was honored through the hugs, prayers, smiles and tears shared in that moment in time. I was present for a senior who carried some weight of it all being over, and another who was dealing with a chapter ending to what might be next in his football career. I spent some time with a couple that are younger players who would be playing more football in their future. The emotions were raw, true and honest. I was just there to help them feel loved, accepted and appreciated, to be a shoulder to cry on (I am not implying that happened), to give some leadership perspective and to others just a smile and nothing more.

I drove home with mixed emotions:

What would the night been like if they won? Would it have been as special?

What would my seniors do and where is their identity now? How will they navigate and settle as a Christ-Follower?
What about the other boys… would they rebound? Did I push too much? Not say enough?

Eventually settling in my vehicle a thought came to mind…

When Jesus was on the shore preparing some breakfast for the disciples, he was waiting to have a conversation with his boys (the disciples) as I fast forward to the meeting; Peter swims ahead of the others to meet Jesus. What would Jesus say to a man who denied him (as Jesus told him he would) three times? What would Jesus do to help restore, support or kick him out?
What Jesus did was an example in some ways what transpired at the end of the tunnel for my boys and me….

  1. He spent time with Peter and his boys prior to the breakfast encounter.
  2. He knew them in a special way, a way that allowed God to speak through to touch them where they were with what they each needed. Peter needed to be reminded and restored, loved and accepted, renewed.
  3. He was present with them in a time of need.
  4. He spoke love and truth in each word, and action.

If you are a youth worker, coach or caring supporter, please never forget the importance of spending time with your boys (or ladies) regularly.

  • Please invest in who they are as they discover Whose’s they are!
  • Please remember God gives words and actions that might seem simple or insignificant to you but might be huge in impact to them.
  • Please keep things in perspective… it is a game…. It will fade into the memories of life and people will move onto the next sport, next event or next opportunity. But the time, the words, the love and support will last a lifetime. It will out live the moments of this season ending and another starting. It will out live seeing the boys hang up their helmets forever, the chapter of football ending. It will carry them into the future chapters of their lives. It will help shape them into who God is creating them to be. It will be something (maybe it was a 1 second high five or a 10 minute hug fest ending in you praying over them, or a grab their face mask and say you are a gift from God) that they will be able to store in their memory bank and eventually display and share with a peer, or as a coach and parent one day to their teenager or someone else.

God is so good to allow me the privilege of being present in my boy’s lives, having a team of adult leaders who are present and for parents willing to encourage, make at times and drive their students to be present with us.

In closing, when you are at the moment of victory or defeat please remember this blog post… be present and allow God to use you to shape a life for today and tomorrow.

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.

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