It's just my junk

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

Archive for the tag “youth ministry”

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.

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.

 

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 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.

 

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.

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

Post Navigation