Friday, January 25, 2008
Okay. If ever i have had to eat my words and thoughts I am doing it now. I went to the Acts 1:8 "challenge" last night and was totally blown away by their concept. The first words out of Dr. Gravette's mouth were "This is not a program, this is a lifestyle!"
For the first fifteen minutes I was cynical, wisecracking and utterly turned off in my thoughts as I listened to Dr. Gravettes' introduction. Then something happened. God spoke to me!
Wow! Do you know how awesome it is to have the word of God enter your thoughts and tell you something? It gives me chills.
So you want to know what God told me? This is it; : "Shut up and pay attention, You need to hear what this man is saying!"
Now not only did this give me chills, it also left me red faced and embarrassed. I am so grateful no one else heard it. I went to this conference with a preconceived idea that this was going to be another "program" and in six months when it didn't pan out we would move on to the "next program".
Actually The two men there from the GBC were a bit sarcastic about the "programs" over the past few years. These men, Dr. Mike Gravette and John Tarrer, were there to encourage pastors to get off their bum and do what the Lord commanded them to do. " Go ye therefore into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth." He encouraged them to not only be concerned about their church but to actually be concerned about their neighbors, city, county, State, Country, Continent, and World. One statement that was said was "... as pastors what are you doing to bring others to Jesus Christ? Sitting in your office all week and visiting your members ain't doing it! You need to be out there reaching others for Christ no matter where you are." Wow what a concept!?!
All in all I was well pleased to eat my words. God opened my eyes and revealed my character as well as my heart. Through this conference God opened a door for me to do more through our association which is what I have been praying for. So whatdouyaknow , I guess this Acts 1:8 "challenge" really was a challenge to live your life according to what God has commanded.
Oh by the way, when my wife and I got in the van to head home, she said " See, I told you!"
AAAHHGGG! Thank you Lord!
Friday, January 18, 2008
Youth Ministry is dead. Kids are leaving the church in droves after graduation, never to darken the doors of the church again. Youth pastors are quitting in astonishing rates. Millions of Kids will grow up to become cynical, God hating citizens because the church has failed them. Where is God while this is happening? Whatever shall we do? ( I ask myself as I bite my nails.)
In my time this morning I was researching some book titles I had come across, deciding which one to invest in, I came across the book titled "reThink". I have not read the book nor do I plan on buying the book because the description from the publisher was pretty much like the above paragraph. The jest of the book is that the program hasn't been working so we're going to combat it with another type of program.( Man does this reek of the SBC or what. oops was that out loud?)
It goes to prove that everything can be solved by reading a book that has a "program" to battle the "program". The whole mentality that we will be different by - being just like everybody else.
I don't deny the fact that kids are leaving the church in droves, I don't deny the fact youth pastors are quitting at astonishing rates - I want to quit every week-, Neither do I disagree that kids are becoming cynical, God hating citizens because I have seen it happen.
So where is God while all of this is happening? Has he left the building? Uh Nope.
God is still on the throne, orchestrating every detail of our lives working all things according to His will.
Kids are leaving the church because they haven't been taught, they have been entertained. Youth pastors are leaving because it's fun for a while but real ministry doesn't happen on Sundays or Wednesdays, it happens on everyday.Kids become cynical and God hating because they see the hypocrisy going on in the church and in their parents lives. So what ever shall we do?
I know it's a foreign concept but, if you try it you'll see that it really works. Pray like your students life depends on it, cause it does. Don't entertain, let the word of God pull them in. God will draw them near to Him. He's faithful. Youth ministers, here's a concept. Do you want to have a successful ministry? It's not the program, It's the Kids. Invest your time in them. It's not easy and it takes all your time, but if God has called you to reach Kids, go after them not their attention span. As far as the Hypocrisy goes, wake up Parents and do you job it is not the job of the church to raise your kids, they see how you live and they model what is seen.
*** Disclaimer - I am not against the SBC I just don't agree with all of our practices.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Last night was one of the most frustrating nights I've had on a Wednesday night class. I had worked for several days on a lesson that would explain and teach God's grace. By using the incident of the woman at the well I showed how regardless of what we've done or been involved with God still offers us His gift of forgiveness and grace. Now, I didn't expect the kids to fall all over themselves, and to hang on my every word, but I did expect them to at least acknowledge that they heard or understood what I was teaching. But did they.
One kid sat on a couch and tried to play "footsie" with some girl he hardly knows. Three other guys sat on a couch and made wisecracks and told inside jokes. Two other kids were texting on their phones. I had three individuals who were slumped down so far in their seat they could have been sleeping.
Now the classes I have taken on teaching tell me I shouldn't draw attention to misbehaving and shouldn't publicly correct them. Instead I should speak with them privately so not to damage their little self esteem. So I didn't yell at them but I didn't ignore them either. What I did do was give them the "look". Now when I was younger the "look" was just as deadly as a scolding. I would be terrified that someone was going to tell my father and it would be more than a look or scolding that I would get.
Did this tactic work? _ NOPE. So I have a solution. Next time its no holds barred, chairs are optional, it's time for a SMACKDOWN!
Just Kidding. But as I was thinking about it this morning I kept telling my self that they had missed a great lesson on grace. A lesson that they could use to explain to their friends what grace is. But instead as usual I got the lesson. I got a lesson in Mercy. See Mercy is not getting what we deserve, and by far I have been shown mercy.
So next week's lesson just may be on mercy and I'll continue to pray about how to keep control while giving a lesson.
Oh yea, there was this one girl who sat there the whole time and hung on every word I was saying. How about that God just taught me another lesson!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The forecast for Saturday was rain. Stormy, nasty, cloudy, depressing, I don't want to even get out of bed, rain. As I sat in my office early Saturday morning I noticed the Sun beginning to creep above the trees around 7:30. By 8:00 it was in its full glory. My wife who was sitting on the couch reading made the comment that it was supposed to be raining. SNAP. Did you hear that? It was an idea given to me, no doubt from God, that today was to be a special day! It was supposed to be raining. It was supposed to be dreary. But God, (AHH the beautiful buts of God) saw fit that we should not spend our day depressed and bound by the walls of our home. No we should do something together. Something that would make a memory and something that would last for eternity. Would we scale tall peaks? Maybe. Would we explore unknown worlds? We just might. Would we boldly go where no man has ever gone before? Probably not. But what we would do is go to the park. Yea you heard me, the park.
Now I know it doesn't sound like much but, you did not see the smile and glow come to my wife's face when I mentioned the plans I had for this very day. You did not see the twinkle in my son's eye or witness him do his little dance when he discovered that I would be taking him to the park and playing on the playground with him. No it doesn't sound like much, but a moment of imperfect clarity changed the outcome of an otherwise typical Saturday.
Thank you God for my family and thank you for the opportunity to take time to spend with them.
Friday, January 11, 2008
When Christ walked up to Peter and Andrew as they were casting their nets, He asked them to follow Him and they would catch so much more than fish.
Christ has done the same thing for us. He has asked us to follow Him and we would do well to follow Peter and Andrew's response.
Matthew 4: 20 says immediately they left their net and followed Him. No questions asked, no excuses. There was no hesitation. They knew in their"gut" that they needed to follow Him and they did.
We are constantly given opportunities to follow Christ and everyday we don't because we have a "net" that we're not willing to leave behind. That net is our security blanket. We know what the net will do for us and we put our trust in the net looking for it to provide us with the security and satisfaction that we are longing for. We all have a net and it does just what a net is meant to do. It traps us and ties us down.
Wednesday Night I appealed to my youth to leave their net at the altar. Give it up to God and follow His path and they would receive so much more than what they were holding on to.
God wants all of our very beings to follow Him. You can't follow Him and hold onto your net, it will keep dragging you down and restrain you from fully receiving what God has in store for you.
Got net? Give it to Jesus.