Category: faith


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I have been spending the past few days in my Proverbs journal for my devotions then I read a chapter from Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson.  I am challenged all around right now.  While Provers gives daily wisdom Wild Goose Chase is challenging my to step out of my cage and go after the God-given desires of my heart – because no one else can chase them for me….only I can chase them for myself.  It has really been a great book.  I am going to recommend it to a few people (probably loan it out)  when I get done with it.  It’s so good.  The ‘wild goose’ is the Holy Spirit which is the English translation of what the Celtic-Christians call the holy Spirit  ‘An Geadh-Glas’ which translates ‘the wild goose.’  I love Marks candor in the book.  Mark is the Pastor of the National Community Church in Washington, DC.  Once I am done with the book I will give a full review on it – but for now I don’t want to spoil the book other than to say it is good – really good.

The one thought I have really been challenged with was when Mark was talking about the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan.’  Here is what he said;

Hurry kills everything from compassion to creativity.  And when you’re in a hurry, you don’t have time to get out of your routine, do you?  No room for Spirit-led spontaneity.  No time for Wild Goose chases.  Here is the great irony: the priest and the Levite were probably on their way to the temple.  They were so busy loving God that they didn’t have time to love their neighbor.  And that is when our routines become counterproductive.  Let’s be honest.  We can get so busy doing “ministry” that we don’t have time for ministry.

This is so true.  I’ve seen it in my own life over the past 6 months.  I have been asked to do things and have become so busy doing “ministry” that I have forgotten to do ministry.  God has really been convicting me of that big time.  So I made a phone call and apologized for not being as proactive as I should have been in some things that I said I would do.  There is freedom in forgiveness and freedom in seeking forgiveness.  How have you gotten so busy doing “ministry” that you haven’t been able to do ministry or have become so STUCK in your routine and so GUARDED with your time that you have blocked things that God wants for you?  I know I have but I am trying hard to undo those things.

I am looking forward to journaling through Proverbs and finishing the Wild Goose Chase over the coming weeks.  There is something more satisfying than pursuing spiritual fitness than physical.  Without both we will die though – that’s something to think about.

I joined our gyms ‘Winter Meltdown’ this past week.  It’s a 12 week contest to lose weight and get in shape for summer.  The winner gets the entry fees from four different Anytime Fitness clubs in the area.  Honestly even if I don’t win I’m already a winner.  It will definitely help keep me motivated to drop the rest of the weight I want to lose by summer.  I’m down another 4lbs this week.  That’s pretty exciting for me.

What’s even more exciting is pursuing God the way He wants me to.

haiti: my response

When I heard the news of the earthquake in Haiti I couldn’t believe it.  An earthquake so severe that some are even calling it ‘apocalyptic’ of nature.  There is no doubt that it is bad.  Then this morning they were rocked with another earthquake of a 6.1 magnitude.  This little nation is just getting hammered – hard right now.  The pictures are just devastating.  So many people have lost their lives.  So many families impacted forever.  Missionaries have fled from Haiti because of fear.  Some are saying this is Haiti’s judgment from God for being a nation of voo doo and not worshiping God.   Others are getting mad at some who are vocally outspoken in saying that.  If we carefully read through the OT we know God judges nations who turn from him or who never acknowledge him.  In Romans we know God says he turns people over to their desires sometimes.  These are tough passages in times of devastation like what is going on in Haiti.

Here’s my thought: God has set the stage for His Gospel (a message of hope) to go in to Haiti to reach this little nation.  Lately I have been feeling a tug at my heart for Haiti – it’s devastation but also the brokenness of the people there.  I don’t know that God is calling me to do anything more than pray for Haiti.  I do know in the past couple of days I have had a few conversations of going to Haiti in the future to help with relief/ rebuilding.  Each of these were unprovoked by me.  I was approached.  I can’t say for sure God is calling me to go but the more I think about it the more I want to go.

Still I’m not sure it’s God saying, “Go.”  I do know this – I will continue to pray about it and ask some questions.  Maybe find a good ministry to volunteer through if God opens that door.  God calls some of us to give money and some of us to go and do physical labor and help to share the Gospel.  The thing is that whatever God calls us to is no more important than the other.  It’s about being a good steward of what He is calling you to do with your time and resources.

What is God calling you to do for Haiti or for your local church?  Maybe it’s pray.  Maybe it’s send money.  Maybe it’s go.  Whatever it is He is calling you to be a good steward of that.

one thing i love…

…is to help people.  Honestly I love giving of my time and helping someone if I can really help them.  I had a few opportunities over the past few weeks to help people who were in need.  I loved it.

The first was for Pastor Jay.  Deb called me and wanted to know if I could install a CD player in his car since his didn’t work.  The trick was he wasn’t to know about it and we were talking about it on Tuesday.  I was going to try to put it in on Friday.  I was hoping to have gotten his car from him while mine was in the shop but there was no chance in that happening.  I jut got the vibe that I wasn’t going to be able to convince him to let me drive it for the day.  Wednesday Deb and the kids went to Wal-Mart and picked up the CD player and install kit.  The amazing thing was that the kids KNEW and still kept it a secret.  So two weeks ago on a Friday night they went to eat at a family from church’s house.   So while they were gone I got into the car and installed the CD player.  Jay and the boys were leaving at 4am Saturday morning to go to the Iowa game against Minnesota.  Once they got home he needed to go and fill his car up with gas and when he did – BAM! – there was the new CD player.  He called me and I was already on my way to the gas station to get some mile.  Once I got up there  it was funny to hear his reaction and see the total surprise on his face.

The second was for my parents.  This past week while I was home they wanted me to lead worship, speak and break some things for their youth group.  It was great.  I talked from Ephesians 4 and how we need to leave our old sinful self behind but also how we need to begin a relationship with Christ.  My dad was pretty thankful for me being there.  The night overall was good even though I botched the songs and the message wasn’t that great.  The kids were surprised when I started breaking stuff.  Below is a picture of the stuff I broke.

The third was yesterday.  I went over to Pastor Jay’s and installed an HDTV for him that he bought for their family.  Although the install was simple I enjoyed being able to help them out with it.  I love doing audio visual installs whether they are big or small.

I do love helping people.  I love being an encourager and helping to cheer people on too.

note takers bible

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This past weekend I decided to break down and buy another Bible.  It’s not that I don’t have one – I do.  In fact I have about 12 of them.  Maybe more…probably more.  This past Friday I bought a Bible that I’ve been wanting for a while now.  It’s the NIV Noteworthy Bible.  So far I love it.  One page is full of text and the opposite page is blank for taking notes/ journaling.  I’m looking forward to read through and making notes/ journaling.  I traveled with a guy to Poland and he was explaining to me how he marks in the margins and takes about 2 years to get through a Bible – then he wraps it and gives to to one of his kids for graduation.  I thought that was a pretty cool idea.

So although I’m not married and I don’t have kids – I’m starting now.  It’s a great idea.

Just saw this news story from @YMTV on Twitter about how women can no longer distribute Bibles in North Korea.  This really saddens me and it is a reminder of the world in which we live in.  Here’s a clip of the article;

North Korea publicly executed a Christian woman last month for distributing the Bible, which is banned in the communist nation, South Korean activists said Friday.

Ri Hyon Ok, 33, was also accused of spying for South Korea and the United States and organizing dissidents. She was executed in the northwestern city of Ryongchon near the border with China on June 16, according to a report from an alliance of several dozen anti-North Korea groups.

Ri’s parents, husband and three children were sent to a political prison camp in the northeastern city of Hoeryong the following day, the report said, citing unidentified documents it says were obtained from North Korea. It showed a copy of Ri’s North Korean government-issued photo ID. It is virtually impossible to verify such reports about secretive North Korea, where the government tightly controls the lives of its citizens and does not allow dissent.

The question that comes to m mind is, “How far off are we until this happens here in the US?”  Will we ever get to this point?

I saw this post on Twitter this morning form Nick Carnes.  Honestly this shouldn’t be much of a shocker to us.  Still as I read it I’m blown away.  IF this goes through and they charge this couple this has MAJOR implications on us as believers.  I have always thought a good dose of persecution would do America some good – and right now we’re seeing signs of it.  Here’s a clip from the article;

Broyles said, “The county asked, ‘Do you have a regular meeting in your home?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say amen?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you pray?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say praise the Lord?’ ‘Yes.'”

The county employee notified the couple that the small bible study, with an average of 15 people attending, was in violation of county regulations, according to Broyles.Broyles said a few days later the couple received a written warning that listed “unlawful use of land” and told them to “stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit” — a process that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

This could have a really big impact on how American’s do ‘house churches’ or how we hold home Bible studies.  It could radically affect the way we do church.  Anytime the government steps in to tell us how to do church it’s not good.  Just look at China.  What are your thoughts?

I decided to get a part-time job this summer and make some more income.  Alright so that’s not entirely true.  I make a decent income  doing what I do here at Bethel.  I was asked to umpire behind the plate this summer for our little league games.  Last night was my third game behind the plate.  I’m actually having a lot of fun doing it.  It’s not too stressful and hey and extra couple hundred bucks at the end of the season is alright with me.  I’m thinking of using the extra money to get a new tattoo…maybe start a half sleeve.  Just kidding mom!

I have been reminded of some things about working alongside of parents over the past three games and I think they apply to student ministry as well.  So here there are;

Parents will rip you apart: Unfortunately this goes along with some church parents as well.  i can honestly say that in my first year here at Bethel this hasn’t happened to me yet – but I know it will.  In some ways I welcome it.  I’m not perfect and I make mistakes like everyone else.  Iw ill always be the first one to acknowledge that upfront.  I like constructive criticism.  When a parent comes to rip you apart remember that there is something valid in what they are saying.  Sure maybe not everything is factual or correct but dig through what they said and see where the truth in it is.  I have found that everytime a parent comes to me there is at least 1 small thing to take away from the interaction.   Be loving and generous even in those difficult conversations…you may even win a new fan to your corner.

Be ready to help a student out: While calling balls and strikes behind the plate I am able to help ‘coach’ (in a limited capacity) the kids from both teams whether they are at bat or playing a position on the field.  I am working with 1st-6th graders so I am reminded that i have to be gentle with them and do my best to help make them better students of baseball – it’s a huge learning process.  The same is true in student ministry.  We are here to help our students along and soemtimes even call balls (close calls) and strikes (pointing out times when they are blatantly not following Christ).  It gets ugly but we need to do so lovingly.  It’s our job to come alongside of the parents and help them coach their students through their faith.  Just like, as the umpire, it’s not my job to coach the kids on my own but to help the coaches help their teams abide by the rules in the book – so it goes with us as youth pastor’s/ leaders.

Humble pie: I have made some questionable calls in my first 3 games – there is no doubt about it.  Some of the coaches and parents have let me know as well.  I have ate some humble pie over a few of my calls – but I let the call stand.  When is the last time you had to eat a good ‘ole piece of humble pie in ministry?  I bet it was pretty bitter and hard to swallow wasn’t it?  As youth pastor’s/ leaders it is essential for us to recognize times when we need to take a huge bite out of the pie of humility – sometimes even when we know we are right.  Sometimes we have to lay aside our pride and save the relationship as long as it doesn’t hurt or tarnish our integrity.  How are you at being humble?  When is the last time you apologized to a parent or student?

We’re on the same team: As an umpire I want to help both teams play to their best ability by enabling the rules in a fair way for both sides.   As youth pastor’s/ leaders we are on the same team as the parents in our churches.  Do we act like it?  Do we interact with them and let them know that we are wanting to help them coach their student along in their faith journey?  Even as I write this I know there are parents I know I need to interact with better so this is a good reminder for myself as well.  How are you doing with your parents?  Maybe it’s time to eat some humble pie and restore that relationship with those you may not get along the best with.

I think these are 4 principles that can help us in youth ministry.  Sometimes ministry isn’t easy or glamorous – but then again if you’re looking for ease and glamor in ministry maybe you aren’t in the right calling.

I am getting excited as fall is really not that far away.  We are making a big change within our student ministry here at Bethel.  All 22 of our 8th graders will be freshman next year leaving us with 1 7th grader going into the 8th grade and maybe 3-4 sixth graders going into the 7th grade.  So we have made the decision to combine the middle school and high school ministries next year.  This really was a team effort from the leadership team of BSM (Bethel Student Ministries).

I know there are some questions and some logistical things to consider and talk about and those will be addressed in the coming months.  Here are some reason we are making the change:

Outreach: One of the MAJOR reasons we are making this move is so we can be more outreach focused with CHAOS (high school ministry).  Wednesday nights are still considered ‘church’ night in our area and sports practices are out early so kids can go to church.  This really opens up our potential base for students coming in over Sunday nights where we compete with open gym at the high school.

Sunday nights: We miss 50% of the Sunday nights through the year becuase of different church functions where we can’t have youth group becuase of an event or meeting going on.  We will move our discipleship groups to Sunday nights.  Hopefully some of our groups will make the choice to meet on other nights or even possibly in the morning before school.

Leadership: We want our juniors and seniors to be able to step up and have leadership opportunities over our middle school students.  We want our middle school students to see that you can be sold out for Christ, make a difference and still be cool while doing it.  This is where our older students can step up and have a bigger impact on the lives of younger students.

Overall we feel this change is vitally important to the health of BSM.   As leaders we are excited about this change.  We are even already planning a back to school bash for this next fall.  A concert of sorts and already have one confirmed band to come and play.  It’s going to be a great night for our students to bring their friends to to not only have fun but also hear the Gospel from someone much cooler than me.

I came across a post on Joel Rosenberg’s blog that caught my attention.  I have heard that President Obama is trying to persuade Israel to divide Jerusalem.  I can’t help but think that we have every right to be scared of what President Obama is trying to do.  Joel Rosenberg has put in a lot of research to the middle east and the end times and he hits this one right on I think.  Here’s a piece of his post;

While I am not surprised by where the President is headed, I am horrified nonetheless. Right at the moment when the U.S. and Israel need to be working with Arab states in unity against the Iranian nuclear threat, this White House is systematically turning against Israel. Despite all the smiles and boilerplate rhetoric from senior administration officials over the last few days that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been in town — promising to stand with Israel and maintain her security — what the administration is actually advancing in terms of policy is dangerous and destabilizing. They are playing with fire, and they must be publicly and peaceably challenged and resisted.

It seems asthough we are seeing some things ussured in that should scare us – but also confirm that prophecy is still coming true today.

Go here and check it out.  It’s worth reading.