Archive for June, 2010

As I write this I am at camp in Siloam with some pretty awesome young people. We’ve been eating, sleeping, laughing, playing, worshiping, studying the Bible, and sometimes just talking together since we got here. It’s been a great week so far but it’s also been a busy week so this is the first chance I’ve had at any down time and I find myself reminiscing a little.

You see, I’ve been bringing kids to camp for the last nine years. This Thursday will be mine and Brandi’s 15th wedding anniversary and once again we will be spending it at camp. That’s alright though because we both enjoy what we do. We actually like coming to camp. We like hanging out with our students. We love to see God at work in their lives. We like to see the look on their faces when they “get it”. We love seeing broken relationships healed. We love it when students and leaders are open and honest with each other and God. We love to hear students singing praises to God and praying for their friends and families. God just does some cool things at camp. I’ve been doing this for a while and I’ve seen God move in big and small ways. Sometimes He speaks as loud as thunder and sometimes He speaks in a still small voice but one thing is always true. When God moves or speaks it’s always powerful. I’m really glad to be here this week because I’m reminded of why I became a youth minister in the first place. I just want to see God move in the lives of young people. I want them to know the He loves them. I want them to know Him and be changed by the power of His grace. That’s always been my heart and prayer.

Here in a couple of hours I will be playing my guitar as my students represent our youth group (known this week as “The Holy Torch” based on Rev 4:5 and our theme for the week which is fire rescue) by performing a rap song we wrote together about trusting Jesus. That may seem silly to a lot of people but for me it just doesn’t get any better because I know they put their hearts into it and I know their hearts.

Thank You Lord for letting me see a glimpse of Your glory this week.

Critical Mass

Posted: June 24, 2010 in QT's
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You’ve probably heard the term “critical mass” before; maybe in an action or sci-fi movie or a physical science class. In nuclear physics it means that there is enough material present and ready to sustain a nuclear chain reaction. The term is accurately used to describe something  that’s ready to blow up, like a nuclear bomb (or sometimes a family reunion, lol). When nuclear material becomes critical it becomes dangerous. When an explosion of any kind happens it’s a messy thing because you can’t always calculate the destruction or damage it’ll cause.

It can be  the same way with people can’t it? When people are continually critical of others it will eventually reach a point of explosion. That’s when things get messy. The thing is, for some reason it’s just easy to be critical of others. It just comes natural to us. It’s easy to see other people’s faults and point out their mistakes but if you’re like me it takes a conscious effort to encourage others. In Hebrews 12:12 the writer says to,”strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” He’s making reference to Isaiah 35:3-8 which is a passage of encouragement and hope. He’s saying that Christians should encourage each other with the hope that we have in Christ. Sometimes we get tired and weary, our shoulders slump and we get weak in the knees. It happens to all of us. It’s those times that we are to lift each other up and bear one another’s burdens. It’s those times that we are to remind each other that we have a gracious God and a great Savior who hasn’t left us alone, that this present world that we live in isn’t all there is and that flawed though we are God loves us so much that he sent His Son to die for us so that we may live. Yeah, it’s easy to be critical, but it’s so much better to be an encourager. I want to make the effort to be more of an encourager. I hope you do too.

The Generous Mr. Lovewell

Posted: June 22, 2010 in Music
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I love music. It’s a very powerful thing. It can make us think, help us feel, show us beauty, and even draw us closer to God through worship. Every so often I’ll share my thoughts on a particular song or CD that I happen to be listening to. Feel free to respond with your own thoughts

I picked up a copy of the new Mercy Me CD, The Generous Mr. Lovewell, a couple of weeks ago and it’s been spending a lot of time in my truck’s CD player. At first I was just trying to decide if I liked it or not. It’s kind of different. That’s not a bad thing it’s just not what I expected. I’ve decided that I do like it. It’s probably not my favorite from them but because it’s kind of different musically from what they’ve done before but it makes me listen, and each time I listen I hear something new. Songs like All Of Creation, and Only You Remain sound like the Mercy Me we’re all familiar with and are just good worship songs. This Life is a different kind of song for them but it’s catchy. Crazy Enough sounds like it could be a theme song for a James Bond movie, but I like it. My favorite though is the song Move, it jams pretty hard and if you know me you know that’s what I like. In the chorus Bart Millard goes into a falsetto with some harmony parts and it sounds pretty cool. The whole CD is kind of a theme album based on this character named Mr. Lovewell. Mr. Lovewell shows his love for God by loving people (1 John 4:10-11). The point is that all Christians should be Lovewells. All too often we are so caught up into ourselves that we forget the love and grace we’ve been shown and the need to show that same love and grace to others. It’s a good message. Of course it reminds of John Bunyan a 17th Century preacher who spent many years in prison for preaching the gospel. He wrote several books while he was in prison including Pilgrim’s Progress and The Holy War. In those books all of the characters have names like Obstinate, Hategood, Christian, Christiana… No doubt the Mercy Me guys were inspired by this. If you like to read I would encourage you to get copies of these books. You can even find them in modern English if you look. They’re different, kind of like the CD, but they’re full of truth, it’s good stuff.

Hand-Me-Downs

Posted: June 17, 2010 in QT's
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Have you ever had to wear hand-me-downs? I have two sisters, one older and one younger, so I never had to worry about wearing hand-me-downs (thank goodness, I would’ve looked awful silly in my sisters clothes). I have heard a lot of people complain about wearing hand-me-downs though. I have three kids and my youngest daughter gets to wear hand me downs sometimes. She’s only five so she doesn’t seem to mind. We’ll see how she reacts as she gets older. I really don’t understand why it would bother anybody. Maybe it’s an identity thing. It could be that younger children want to be who they are and don’t want to be identified as their older sibling. I don’t know, it’s just a thought. It could just be that people want new stuff. Sometimes we get stuff handed down to us that is really valuable though, whether monetarily or sentimentally. I have some things that belonged to my grandfather, some things that belonged to my father, and even some things that belonged to my father-in-law that mean a lot to me; things I will pass along to my children. Sometimes I’ll take those things out and show them to my kids and we talk about them and the people they belonged to. Some things are just worth handing down.

I’ve been reading through Hebrews 11 (the great faith chapter) this week in my quality time and something struck me about todays passage, vv. 17-29. This passage begins with an example of Abraham’s faith, then moves to an example of Isaac’s faith (Abraham’s son), then Jacob’s faith (Isaac’s son) then Joseph (Jacob’s son, I’m starting to see a pattern here), then it jumps to Moses’ parent’s and their faith and then finally gives several verses to Moses’ faith. It would seem that great faith is one of those things that can be passed along. As we live our faith before others, as we talk about it, as we act according to it, as we make sometimes difficult decisions based on it, others will see it and we can pass it along to them in that way; especially those closest to us like our own families. Don’t get me wrong, each person must come to a personal faith in Jesus and must learn how to live according to that faith. What I’m saying is that people will have a better chance of doing that if they have a good example to follow. We Christians have a responsibility to pass our faith along to others. It won’t happen by accident, we have to make it a point. People are watching. Pass your faith along to someone else today.

Summertime is here and in an effort to do things a little differently and keep things fun for the students in my youth group the leaders and I decided to hold our worship and Bible study on Wednesdays at the lake. We’re blessed to be within driving distance of Beaver Lake, a very beautiful lake here in the Ozarks, so why not? It takes a little extra work and a little more time but I definitely think it’ll be worth it. All of this got me to thinking about the church and how we tend to define it in post-modern America. For most people church is a place you go. Think about it. People ask “Where do you go to church?” and we answer, “I go to church at…” We also speak of the church building as being “God’s house”. I have to ask though, is that really a biblical concept of the church? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to have a place to meet and our church has very nice facilities. I’m grateful for that and I think we should certainly be respectful of those facilities. I’m just saying that if we read through the book of Acts and the epistles I think we’ll find that the biblical concept of the church is so much more than facilities or a place where we go. The church is described as a building (Eph 2:21-22) but only in the sense that a building has structure and purpose. The church is also described as a body (1Cor. 12:27) which means it has a design and a purpose and it’s described as the Bride of Christ (Eph 5:26-27) which teaches us of the deep love Christ has for the church. I’m pretty sure Jesus’ love is not for our buildings but for His people. You see the church is not a place we go to, it’s something we are. We are not defined or confined by our buildings. Jesus Himself said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” (Matt 18:20) and 1 Cor 6:19 teaches us that our bodies (not our buildings) are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We need to get outside the walls of our buildings and be the church, wherever we meet.