A Suitable Time to Covet

If you have known me for any length of time you know that my hearing is lousy…at best. If you have known me for a really long time you know that I have a long history of issues with my ears- eight sets of tubes (I’m after a world record), chronic ear infections, non-functioning eustachian tubes, the list could go on for some time, and get super boring.

I’m hopeful that tomorrow marks a turnaround for all of my issues. Continue reading “A Suitable Time to Covet”

Unplugged: A Time of Sabbath Rest

6a00d83452d45869e20133f4f5db4a970b-800wi

This past Wednesday night I did something I haven’t done in a really long time (if ever). I went through my phone and turned off all of my notifications for Facebook, for Twitter, and even for my email. I shut them all off and didn’t look at any of it until this morning.

It. Was. Glorious.

Really. My 10 year anniversary was this past Friday so Brandi and I were actually able to skip town for a couple of days (thanks to a Dad with tons of Marriott points, a great Mother-in-law, and a fantastic college student). I took off of work Thursday and Monday to spend some extra time with my boys. I didn’t think about work (which was actually a struggle for me). I have tons of things that need to be done, plans to be made, meetings to schedule, conflicts to repair, lessons to prepare, and I literally didn’t think of anything over the end of last week.

Nothing.

This was not easy for me. My personality is such that I tend to think on issues quite a bit until they are solved. I don’t like to leave things hanging.

But rest is good.

Continue reading “Unplugged: A Time of Sabbath Rest”

A Prayer For Wisdom

God I want need your wisdom. I cannot function without it. I have no hope of success in my ministry apart from your wisdom. I have no hope of success in leading others without it. I have no hope of discipling others into fully devoted followers of you without your wisdom. I pray that I would see it as more valuable than gold or riches. I am not smart enough to lead without your wisdom.

I pray that it would be more valuable to me than any riches or positions that this world has to offer. I pray that I would be known as a person of wisdom for your glory and not my own. May I never receive any praise, but always point to you as the source of any wisdom that I have. You are the almighty King and I love you. May my life be lived to bring you praise and to point others to you.

Accept my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is better than jewels, and nothing desirable can compare with it. I, Wisdom, share a home with shrewdness and have knowledge and discretion. To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct, and perverse speech. I possess good advice and competence; I have understanding and strength. It is by me that kings reign and rulers enact just law; by me, princes lead, as do nobles and all righteous judges. I love those who love me, and those who search for me find me. My fruit is better than solid gold, and my harvest than pure silver. (Proverbs 8:10-17, 19 HCSB)

The Deeper Yes

The Crossroads staff has been going through some discipleship material and spending time talking about the topic of living a life of priority instead of pressure. This is a topic that really resonates with me as I see that so many of people today live by the pressure of society and not by setting priorities. In the reading there was a section that I thought was so great I wanted to share with you:

“I once heard a famous life management guru say, ‘It is easy to say no when there is a deeper yes burning within.’

I believe this statement is the very reason why so few Christians live as mature and multiplying disciples. A lot of Christians have the wrong “yes” burning within.

When I stay up late to watch television and cannot wake up early enough to have a quiet time with God, I have the wrong yes. When my schedule is so full of activities that I don’t have time for my lost neighbor, I’ve got the wrong yes. When I am so busy at work that I cannot serve in my local church, I’m saying yes to the wrong things. When I don’t make time to invest in a handful of disciples, I have the wrong yes. If I’m so in debt I cannot tithe, I have the wrong yes.

Jesus was able to manage His life for eternity because He has the right “yes” burning within.

I love it.

I want to live my life based on priorities that will matter for eternity, and not by the pressures of life…

There is definitely more of this line of thinking coming as I flesh out in my mind what this looks like in my life.

Your thoughts?

What is the deeper yes that is burning within you?

The Anonymous Letter (A Followup)

So yesterday I posted an article from Trevin Wax’s blog. It was a post that Trevin had written from the perspective of a youth pastor writing to parents. To be honest I liked the article, and even agreed with the point it made, but it didn’t go over well when I posted it. I’m not exactly sure why- could it be that I read it from a church leadership point of view while some others read it from the parent’s point of view? That’s definitely possible. To prevent any feelings of conflict I wanted to write the why I posted it, and the intent of the original post as I read it.

Why post a controversial article?

Back in the day we used to have what we called “Pot Stirring Tuesdays.” I’m not sure exactly how all that got started other than I would repost articles from different people (Al Mohler, Dr. Moore, and others) and my wide variety of friends would comment and discuss it. I think that there was some value in those conversations because it initiated conversations that would not have otherwise taken place. It was also valuable because there would be people from all different points of views discussing it. A major downside was that it had the potential to create conflict…

I have strayed away from posting some things for the sake of controversy and conflict. Maybe it’s a maturity thing, maybe it’s something else. I do not want to create conflict. I do not want to create controversy. So I must say that I don’t post things for the sake of creating conflict. I literally hate conflict. Dealing with conflict is probably one of the most important aspects of my job, but one of the hardest things to deal with.

Our desire must not be to create conflict, but if we are true to teach the Gospel it will certainly create conflict. We cannot simply run from all conflict. So while I didn’t post the article to create conflict I did realize it had that potential. I made the decision to post it because I saw value in what the intent was. I had no ulterior motives, I was not trying to be passive aggressive and post something for someone to read- that’s not my style. I don’t post vague things on social media to try and get someone else. That’s unwise, and unbiblical. I’d rather talk to someone and work through any issues I might have. I am genuinely sorry if it appeared otherwise. I am careful of what I post because I realize the standard that I am called to, and I do not want to do anything to cause any issues with anyone.

The Intent as I saw it

When I read the post I immediately agreed with what it was saying, but not necessarily the tone. The tone of the letter would be completely unacceptable to write to a parent (or anyone else), and any Youth Pastor/Leader/Pastor should know better. Something that we as a staff have been talking about for some time is the issue of priority— what gets priority, what things do we say “Yes” to, and what things do we say “No” to.

When I read this I don’t even read it as a Youth Pastor. I read it as a leader in the church, with a desire for all Christians to have Kingdom living as their priority. When I read it I hear a frustrated leader that sees people saying that Kingdom living is their priority, but acting like other things are their priority. Actions indeed speak louder than words. The way that we live indicates how we truly believe— and this leader sees a disconnect between the two of the parent he is writing to.

Church vs. Sports/Jobs/Culture

This letter seemed to indicate that there is a competition between church and sports, and me posting could seem that I believed there is competition between church and sports, or that I thought a student must have 100% attendance to be a Christian. I don’t see that in our ministry. While I think it is super important to come to church, and to be a part of the different gatherings— you won’t see/hear/read me saying negative things about someone who misses. The main drummer for our student band will miss every Wednesday night this semester because he plays for the football team. One of my main male student leaders misses on occasion because of his job. Different students miss at times due to homework, sports, or family activities and I understand.

But we must be careful that our involvement in other activities does not become more of a priority than the things of God. Sports are great, but they are temporal. When we stand face to face it won’t matter which extra-curricular activities we were involved in growing up. All that matter is what we did for His Kingdom. And you know what? We can (and should) leverage our relationships in our sports, jobs, etc for the Kingdom. I am not advocating a separation from society. But Jesus must be our priority.

I love my church. I love my students. I love my parents. They are all the greatest. I desire that all of them become more fully devoted as a disciple of Jesus. That means that following Jesus and multiplying disciples must be our priority.

Hopefully this makes sense to you. If you have any concerns feel free to contact me— I don’t want any disunity amongst my family (and that includes all of you!)

I love you guys!

A Painful Reminder

It seems as though everywhere I turned yesterday— social media, blogs, conversations— the topic of death and sorrow was present. Some dear friends lost a grandfather yesterday, another friend lost an uncle, someone else had lost loved ones to cancer— it was seemingly everywhere. When this happens it brings to my mind how we are truly living in a fallen world, a world post Genesis 3. It’s a painful reminder, and it understandably brings us great sorrow. However that is not all that it brings to mind.

We Hurt Because They Hurt

I preached two weeks ago on the doctrine of unity and it is something that has been on my mind for a while now. When it comes to unity we often think of being on the same team, the same family even— but we sometimes miss the next step of what that means. Paul says that Christians are one body (Ephesians 4:4) and later in Chapter 4 talked about how the body promotes its growth  by building itself in love by the proper working of each part. (As an aside our church is currently going through a series in Ephesians so if you’re interested in hearing how all of this applies to your life come and join us at Crossroads!) So when it comes to thinking of unity this is how we often think— being on the same page, working together to build each other up— and that is the right way to think.

However there is something more to being one body. Because we are one body we understand the teaching of Romans 12:15:

“Weep with those who weep”

So today, we weep. We weep because our family, our body is hurting. We gather around them and support them in their time of need. We beg God for comfort for their grief. We are hurting, because they are hurting.

We Hope Because He is Our Hope

While we are hurting, we cannot miss the hope that is present. We cannot miss the hope that we have in Jesus. We must be reminded of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.

There is hope in this time of hurting. Not in us, but because of what Jesus has done for us. As a Christian we grieve and hurt when we lose our loved ones— because it hurts. However, we don’t grieve like others because we have a hope, and He is Jesus.

Today we hurt, because our body is hurting.

Today we hope, because Jesus is our hope.

It is the Hope of the Gospel, and that is enough for me.

 

Explicit Content (But not what you would expect)

996584_643762578969489_879519611_nIn our student ministry (Forge Students– at Crossroads Walton) we are studying through the Sermon on the Mount. It is not the easiest thing to teach through- and the tension level gets high at times as we are going through the teachings of Jesus in this pivotal sermon, but it has also been a lot of fun as we look at what it means to be a Citizen of the Kingdom, and imagine what it was like to hear these words as a disciple of Jesus.

A few weeks ago I actually had a friend of mine come and teach the lesson for the week. This is not something that I typically do as I am very careful about letting just anyone teach my students. I love them dearly so I want to make sure they are being taught properly— especially since we’re talking about things of eternity, and not temporal things. This friend of mine, John Winstanley was a perfect fit for the lesson of the night— you see we were set to focus on the passage found in Matthew 5:27-30 where Jesus equates lust to adultery. 

John was a perfect fit for this night because he has actually walked away from life in the corporate world to launch a speaking and mentoring ministry focusing on pornography. If you know anything about the use of pornography amongst teens (and adults) you know that the statistics are staggering. This is an incredibly relevant topic for our times, and I am so grateful for John coming and speaking on it. Talking about lust and pornography to a group of students from 6th-12th grade with a mixture of guys and gals is not an easy assignment, but John excelled in teaching the passage and making it real to my students. He was able to keep their attention throughout the time and drive the point home about how serious this issue is. He provided ample scientific facts, but he was never dry in his presentation. He provided real life (even personal) stories, but never was too graphic for the audience. After the night I had numerous people come up to me to tell me how great of a job that John did and how much they enjoyed it!

If you lead a group of students, or men, I would highly recommend you get in touch with John to have him come and talk to them about this topic. You definitely will not regret it! You can connect with John through his website (www.ExplicitContentUnleashed.com) or his Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/ExpContent).

To the Thief

Apparently someone decided they needed a backpack from my Suburban worse than I did. Someone entered by Suburban last night and stole it. What makes it worse is that it had a MacBook that belonged to the Kid’s Ministry at our church. It’s an older laptop, it’s from 2007 and we use it to run the projector for our large group time. 

Not cool…

I’d like it back. If you happen to read this, drop it off on my front porch. No fuss, no troubles, no police…just return it. 

That would make me happy.

The Picture of a Servant

After a week of incredible service with our student ministry I have a solid eye of what a servant looks like. However, what comes to mind is someone who wasn’t even able to partake in much of our week, my wife Brandi.

Brandi didn’t get to participate much this week because she had to take care of our four boys. Not only was I gone all week, but one of the boys got sick, Karson cried and fussed much of the week, and the house flooded every time it rained.

Being a Youth Pastor’s wife is not an easy task, in fact it’s easily as hard as actually being the Youth Pastor. She doesn’t get to participate in everything that she wants to because of having to watch the boys. It’s a tough role, but she does an amazing job at it. She never complains about having to stay behind. She’s the model servant when you think about it. While her service wasn’t with us this week it was no less important. She served me by taking care of our beautiful kids, and doing it with excellence.

A wife with a servant’s heart. I’ve got one. She’s the best.

I love you Brandi!

20130712-094807.jpg