Friday, May 30, 2008


This Sunday is our senior recognition Sunday at Columbia. We've been working on a video of our seniors for church, and today I'm working on writing notes in each of the gifts for our seniors.

Writing these notes to me is an important thing each year. Its a brief note where I can encourage, share memories, think about the growth I've observed over the years with our seniors. Its an amazing yet sad time as I know pretty soon, the making of memories will for the most part end with this class as the go on to college and beyond... It is yet pretty cool as I know God will be doing some incredible things with these youth, as he has already...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


One of the books that I'm going through right now during my Quiet Times is Soul School by Jeanne Stevens.

The latest chapter I've read talks about Idols. The Israelites from time to time made idols and worshiped them. Other cultures had their idols and gods as well. When the Israelites did this, God usually let them know that they put something before Him. We sometimes think that idol worship was just an Old Testament issue. Yet, we have idols today in our lives. There is something or someone that we put ahead of our relationship with God, and God becomes secondary to our lives.

This has been such a great reminder for me, especially as a youth pastor. She talks about in youth ministry, some idols that we perhaps fall into from time to time:
External Success
The Past or the Future
Religious Activity
Youth Ministry

In my experience so far as a youth pastor, I'll admit I've had these idols from time to time, and they tend to rear their ugly head just as things within the ministry seem to be going well. Sometimes its a constant battle to keep our eyes focused on the one true God that deserves our worship. Logically it would seem that this should be easy seeing as he's the creator of the universe, provides our every need, loves us, has a purpose for us etc... yet sometimes our hearts are easily swayed by the allure of our own glory. I've found for me, that spending daily time focusing on God through reading, praying and worshiping seems to help keep the focus right, and when I don't do those things, its easy for the idols to creep back in.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Move

This week has been an interesting week of transition. Tuesday came and I had to quickly finish packing up my office and move it to another building. I had time enough to do a little purge of my 'stuff', but it still amazes me how much i've acquired in the 5 years here as youth pastor. Even still, today: Friday, I look around and see all the boxes yet to unpack and stuff to go through. These boxes contain everything from good and bad memories, books I've read that have helped, and others that made me go huh?. Many times things like office moves, and house moves give us the opportunity for either the freedom of a clean slate, or a feeling of being burdened by our stuff.

Interestingly Paul talks about this same idea in our relationship to Christ as in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

We all have 'stuff' in our lives that we carry around. Things we wish we could get a do-over, or wounds that someone gave us. Yet, when we live in Christ, we are a new creation, a clean slate. Two things come to mind though: That stuff many times is so deep that it carries with us, it can be hard to let go, or hard to heal from the wounds. Its a process, a daily taking up our cross and following Jesus. That's something that I have to remember day in and day out.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Vine

Each Sunday morning, one of the things I most look forward to is the Ignition Group that I teach. Right now this group is made up of 7 students, 3 HSers and 4 MSers, and we're going through John Foster's Celebration of Disciplines. Basically each week we are taking a look at a different spiritual discipline and figure out some of the mechanics to give each of our students a place to start practicing on their own. In the midst of this, a couple of them have asked for a weekly passage to think on. This week is John 15:1-17 about being part of the vine.

I got to thinking about this with regard to youth ministry. Everytime I read this passage, I'm reminded of how important it is to stay connected to God, especially as it relates to ministry. We say this over and over, yet we don't always do it. It seems like the busyness of the world caves in, and our own cares take over, instead of pushing these things aside, making our whole day center around our relationship with Jesus and taking on the cares of God. When this happens, you begin to feel more alive through every day experiences. When you are disconnected from God, you begin to really notice as well. I speak from experience on this one. I can look back over my life and see those times when I was disconnected from 'the Vine', and began to wither, even in the midst of ministry, and it can become painfully lonely when this happens. I also know of others currently in ministry that are facing this same pain. Most of the time, I tend to bounce somewhere in the middle. Somewhat connected to God, knowing that there is more that I need to give up to him. I must decrease so he can increase.