Thursday, April 27, 2006

Purity - Joshua Harris

I think Joshua Harris' video on purity is absolutely fantastic. No matter what a person thinks of his books, this video is super. As a reminder - his 3 points are:

1. A Lifestyle of Purity respects the beauty and the sacredness of God’s plan for sex within marriage.
A Lifestyle of Purity must be motivated by an awareness of God’s holiness and hatred of sin.
A Lifestyle of Purity makes the purity of others a priority

A couple great thoughts he had:

Who do you want making out with your future spouse right now. When you "make out" with your date you are (probably) making out with someone else's future spouse. This is the idea that we are to guard our sister's hearts rather than be wolves and stealing them.

Homosexual sin is sin - just like heterosexual lust is sin. They are both disgusting to God.

Girls - Are you willing to give up certain things to be modest and pursue purity?

Rather than drawing a line (about what you will and won't do with your date), pursue purity. It's a totally different concept.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Worship With Our Whole Being

What is worship - especially as it relates to singing as a group? What is the place of raised hands? of dancing? of bowing? of tears?

One of my favorite definitions of worship is from Archbishop William Temple "Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, nourishment of mind by His truth, purifying of imagination by His beauty, opening of the heart to His love, and submission of will to His purpose. When all these aspects are gathered up in adoration, we have the greatest expression of which we are capable."

I've been pondering the place of the 5 senses in worship. I've been thinking about how worship should be full of passion - and yet how we in our typical European background are a bit afraid of showing emotion.

Any thoughts on using the senses in worship? Or anything else? Is half-hearted worship really worship?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Progressive Dinner and Christmas

My junior high students are a blast. A few of them helped me plan an event - we talked about purpose and had that drive our event. It worked out well. Thank you to you guys and gals who helped plan and also to those who provided food. Overall it was a success.

Here are the basics for those who weren't there. We went to five different houses for different parts of the meal. We rode in 3 different vehicles. We switched passengers (randomly) at each place so people had to get to know others better. After eating (should mention we aimed for formal dress) we went Christmas Caroling. It was a huge hit - so good that one girl peed her pants (the true sign of success by any youth pastor's measure). We ended with a white elephant gift exchange (and fortunately for that girl - someone got diapers).

Tell me what you thought of the event. What was your favorite part? What would you do differently?

Friday, April 21, 2006

CPR - Saving Lives

Why does Missions exist? - Because Worship doesn't. As you and I try to share our faith it's important to realize that there is more to sharing the good news than simply saying "turn or burn".

CPR - Cultivating Relationships, Planting Seeds of Truth, Reaping a harvest. This is one method of understanding parts of sharing the Gospel. One of the challenges is to be purposeful. We are to be purposeful in life and this is very clear in sharing the Gospel. I think it's helpful to think through key friends and where they are on the CPR path - and which part of it needs to purposefully be emphasized.

The motivation to share the Gospel should come out of white-hot enjoyment of God. We need to be focused on Knowing Him and letting that drive us to be consumed with him - unable to talk about anything else - just like Prom this weekend. It's pretty consuming for many. I'm not trying to make you feel guilty - that's God's job.

So how are you doing in your own personal CPR? How are we doing as a group? Where do we need the most work? Any thoughts?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Authentic Leadership

I just got back from part of 2 days at our annual youth pastor mentoring retreat (Held at Hidden Acres). Dan Webster was our speaker (head of authentic leadership, Inc) and previously the youth pastor at Willow Creek when it was its biggest.

I had a few reservations about him. I kind of expected a bunch of strategy stuff and how to be more like Willow Creek. Thankfully, he did not of that.

He simply talked about authentic leadership - and really focused on the importance of one's character. It was a bit brutal; very challenging; too much info; wow. I left more challenged than ever to be a man of character - to deal with issues that must be dealt with; to press on all the harder to reach the mark that we are aiming for.

He talked about how so much of leadership stuff today is about externals - competency - skills - what you are good at - rather on the heart stuff.

I don't have all the incredible thoughts on me. Wish I could challenge you with them here - maybe another time.

The other great thing about these two days was time with dear brothers in Christ. Thank God for those guys (you know who you are).

One simple leadership thought. Parable of the Seed and the Sower. 75% of the seed bore NO fruit. Wow. So hopefully 1 in 4 students might do well. Or something like that. I can't be overly depressed by lack of fruit.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Easter Thoughts - Grace

I was reading the Gospel of Mark's account of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Jesus told the disciples that they would all fall away. Peter responded passionately to this statement - 29 But "Even though all may fall away, yet I will not." 30 And Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times." 31 But Peter kept saying insistently, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And they all were saying the same thing also. Then Jesus says - not only will you deny me, but you will do it within hours (before the rooster crows 2 times).
Peter than went out and wept bitterly. Can you imagine how low he must have felt? He was the most passionate of the disciples. He was that special friend to Jesus - and he'd not only deserted him in his most desperate hour, but he'd denied him (shortly after saying he'd die for him). I can only imagine that on Sunday morning he was still incredibly depressed - feeling as low as a person could feel.
On Sunday morning, when the women visit, we read - Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. 6 And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 7 "But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'"
I don't know if you caught it, but the "young man" has a very personal message. Go tell His disciples AND PETER. [This is the only Gospel that includes that statement about Peter (Mark is writing this - but it is basically Peter's account)]. What a personal and most encouraging message to Peter from Jesus. Mary is told - tell the disciples, but especially let Peter know. What a personal Lord we have. What incredible grace. We have a God of second chances. Actually, we have a God of so many second chances. His grace is amazing.
Enjoy God’s grace this Easter.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

My Students Rock!!!!

I spent about 21 hours out of 31 hours in a row on the road (or something close to that) on Tuesday and Wednesday. I managed about 4 hours of sleep. I drove most of those hours. I was very tired when I got home. Why say that?

I really enjoyed youth group last night (and I always do). My students help make my week complete. It is a joy to spend time with them. Different students bring different wonderful things to my life. I was blessed by comments made, hugs given, prayers prayed, thoughts shared, and so much more.

As I prayed with my adult leaders last night, we commented on what a great bunch of students we have. We're all far from perfect, but God is at work in our midst - and it's awesome to see. Thank you all for your love and commitment to God and to youth group. You so encourage me.

QUESTION FOR YOU: How does youth group encourage you?

Here are some pics of just a few of my wonderful students.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Old Friends, Great Blessings, and Missions

We've had a super time this weekend with my former Pastor and his wife here. They spoke in Church and in Sunday school, and also got to share in a Home Bible Fellowship (unplanned - but went well). We've so enjoyed our time with them. We've caught up on many parts of life and talked about new ways God is working in us. I have been so blessed by God in the places he's taken me, the ministry opportunities I've had, and the people I've gotten to know. This weekend has been a small fortaste of heaven. I should mention that they have joined with "Friends Of Israel" and will be working in Phoenix. If you need someone to talk about loving the Jewish people, they are it.

We just wired money to get a mini-van. I can hardly believe all that transpired to make this work. 4 BIG financial things happened in the last 2 months to allow us to get this van - and we knew nothing of them 2 months ago. Crazy. On top of that, I think we paid less for the van than we expected. So we are amazed by His grace.

I really think that this time in our lives, where we have to rely on God for a minivan and other such things is really preparation for the mission field. Lori even said she's open to it. So this is all crazy.

How is God's grace blowing you away? What is HE doing in your life? Are you seeing HIS blessing?