Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Online Bible Study

For those who are interested, I have started doing something a little different, for the next 11 days, Zach and I are going to read thru Revelations and discuss what we are reading and talking about. Each night we will read 2 chapters and then he will ask questions about things he might not have understood or have questions about and I will try my best to answer.

I am putting this on my blog to allow for more people to be involved and to get answers from a bigger pool of people. Join us in this online Bible Study. I will post a schedule (because of the holidays) here shortly.

Read Revelations here

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy Birthday Roy E. Probus Sr.

So yesterday was my father's birthday. He would have been 56 years old. I talked to my mom last night and she said it was hard, but that she saw a picture of him acting very goofy and it made her laugh and feel better. She seemed to be getting everything back in order. She has all her finances straightened out, so her life will start being normal now.

I on the other hand are having issues... Not with my fathers birthday or death or anything like that. Out of all the kids, I am probably doing the best. More so cause I didn't see him that much, so not seeing him isn't a big deal. I mean I hurt and I miss my father (alot) but I don't dwell on it and get emotional all the time. I still think about calling him or needing to talk to him. Mostly when I know that I have to get my car fixed or have a question about a noise it is making. I do miss my father.

I was watching house on Monday and the episode we saw had a son who was about to die and a father who was needing to talk to him before hand. Made me tear up. The biggest regret I have is not talking to my father more and not getting to see him "alive" before I saw him in the hospital. I hadn't seen him in almost a year before we drove down that weekend. But the only thing I can do know is remember him and help my children to remember him. My youngest brother, Michael, made a statement to me and my other brother about his kids not ever getting to know their grandfather. Kaitlyn has only seen her papaw once, while he was alive and then once in the hospital. She will never know him. Abigail and Timothy know him and miss him.

So Happy Birthday dad. I know you would have enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Renew me O' Lord

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

The last few months have been a whirlwind of events for me. Lots of things going on, some good, some bad, others just kind of annoying. During this time I have been feeling really down on myself. I am not sure why but do have some belief that I know. I know I am not perfect and mess up, but sometimes I am just too lazy to apply myself the way I should. I, like everyone else, tend to find other things to do rather than studying scriptures and reading my Bible. I have a family, a ministry, a job and kids to help me stay occupied but even those are not very good excuses of why I shouldn't be in the word as much.

As a youth pastor I have to read up for my lessons. Figure out the scripture and go from there. Helping to apply it to the lives of my students. But usually that is a very small piece of scripture and I don't use it as a time for me to learn but to learn how to tell my students. I am in the process of working out of this.

I am also very frustrated with my youth group. As much as I try to direct my students, very few of them seem to listen. I have tried all kinds of tactics to get them to understand, but many of them seem to want to socialize rather than learn about God. We have issues with talking and disruptions during the singing and lessons. I hear of the actions of some of them outside of the youth group and my so-called leaders doing things they know and have sworn they wouldn't do. The boyfriend/girlfriend craze is really moving and hurting our group. Guys like the girls and vice versa. We have students who don't feel their life is complete without having someone to call boyfriend or girlfriend.

I was a teenager and did the same thing, so I can understand. But I also remember the heart ache and problems that this caused in my life. Liking someone only to find out they don't like you. To see people who you like, go from person to person only to be hurt each time. I look at the girls in my group and see the hurt they have from families and not truly having father figures to look up to. Some of them wanting soo much to have a boyfriend because "dad" wasn't/isn't around to help them through their life, so they are looking for love in all the wrong places. I look at some of the guys and see them liking girls and going back forth, only to know that it isn't because they truly like that girl, but more because that girl will look good on their arm and impress their friends.

Another issue seems to be the competition we have among the students.. The fighting and backbiting that goes on because we want to make ourselves feel better or put us above everyone else because we are worried about what people might think or being labeled a failure. I have some great kids and most of them can be almost anything they want to be, but right now they seem so self involved that they can't see beyond themselves. My heart hurts for them, for their parents, for myself because I am not sure how to handle the situation or "force" someone to see that they need to change.

So right now I am resting in God's grace that He is in charge. Too many times I lean on my own strengths and "so called" greatness. I also become selfish and believe that I can do anything on my own, only to be knocked down like I feel right now. I am in the process of really evaluating what we do as a youth group, what I do as a person and seeing what needs to be changed.

Pray for me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

And the Angels Rejoiced

10In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:10

There are moments as a youth pastor that you just don't forget. The first time you walk into a new youth group. The first event that you host. That ski retreat where you twist your ankle and spend 2 days sitting on the couch. And the time when some of your students realize they truly need God and give their life to Him. Last night was one such moment for me.

Let me introduce you to Alex. Alex started coming to my youth group a few months back. She is a nice girl, who is fun to get along with and seemed to enjoy our group. Over the next couple of weeks I got to know Alex and the things going on in her life. She was a typical teen with a typical life. About two months ago, I did a lesson about Joshua and his call to the Israelites to serve God and no one us. We ended the service by having those who wanted that choice to come forward and we would band together. Alex didn't come forward. I spoke to her later about it and she told me that she didn't think she was ready and did not want "lie" to God by going down there just because most of the group had. I told her that I was fully behind her and supported her in her decision and would be praying for her.

Long story short, Alex texted me last night and told me that she was ready to be saved and by the time I got a chance to call her, she had already done it. She told me that she just felt like that was what she needed to do and that she was ready to do it. I was excited beyond belief. She told me of her telling her mother, and friends about her new found salvation. I was amazed that she had already started telling people. I couldn't have been happier. These are the moments that we live for as youth pastors.

Events will come and go, but the salvation of our students is the sole-purpose behind what we do. I have told Alex that I am there to help her and will work with her as she begins her Christian journey and grows closer to God. Isn't God good...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wow...

I can't believe it has been over a month since my father passed away. I still make the mistake of thinking that I can call him and ask him for advice... :(

Next week I will drive down and spend Thanksgiving with my family. This will be our first holiday without my father. I know it has been tough on my mom. I am constantly talking to her and actually sent Beth and Kaitlyn to Florida to help her start the cleanup process. I love my mom and hope for nothing but the best for her.

I miss my dad and know that I will see him again. He left a legacy behind in his 5 kids and 12+ grandkids that i never realized until after he passed away. I hope that when my time is up, good things will be said about me, like they were about him.

Well, I do want to welcome all the visitors to my blog. I know you are out there. People from all across the country are reading up on me and seeing how much life is going. Right now, God is good. My life is going pretty well and God gets all the credit. I am just a passenger on this plane. Since my fathers death, God has really been working in my life to show me exactly what I should be doing and what things I am doing wrong. Mostly I just need to sit down and focus on the tasks at hand and make my relationship with Him a greater priority in my life.

Friday, October 20, 2006

RIP Roy Elmer Probus Sr.

Regretfully, I write this blog the day after I buried my father. On Friday the 13th, we got the call that he had a stroke and that he was in the ICU ward. Beth and I were on our way to a camping trip with our students when we got the call. We rush to get them back to a students house and we bolted to Florida. We made it to my parents house in 16 hours and got straight to the hospital. It was hard walking into his hospital room. His eyes were closed, he had tubes going into him, he hands had mittens on them to keep him from grabbing the wire, and he was flinching. I cried. Actually, I balled. It was one of those moments where you hear other people describe it but you never think it will happen to you.

Well, it did. As the day progressed, he slipped farther and farther into a coma. By 10pm or so, he was pretty much gone, we just didn't know it. At 11:30, Beth and I left the hospital and figured we would go home and sleep. About an hour later, we got a call saying that he had less than 24 hours to live. So Beth and I, on 3 hours sleep, headed back to the hospital. He wasn't moving, not even a reflex. The whole family busted out into tears. My mother, my two older sisters, my two younger brothers and my adopted sister, all had our breakdowns.

At about 2:30am, we met to discuss whether we wanted to remove the oxygen that was keeping him alive. The Dr's told us that there was no recovery but they couldn't give us a time frame either. His brain was swelling and his body would eventually collapse. After much debate we decided to make the decision in the morning, but it was leaning more toward yes. Around 6:30am, we told the nurse and doctor that we wanted the ventilator removed and wanted him to fight on his own.

I never thought I would have to make that decision. I have heard others talk about it and tell me about the experience, but it was something I never thought I would do. Once off the ventilator, he was breathing on his own. His breathes were short and deep but we was doing it. He still wasn't moving. At around 10am, a nurse came in and told us the end was near. She had been monitoring his oxygen levels and they were getting dangerously low. I was thankful. I didn't want this to be long and drawn out. My mother and sisters were freaking out already, so to wait longer would make it unbearable.

We were all gathered there. All except my sister who thought she would have time to take her car home and came back. We watched the screen, we watched his vitals, we cried, we knew it was almost over. As his oxygen levels drops from 90 to 30 in 30 minutes, he was slipping faster and faster. At 11:35, everything stopped. The end had come. What I never thought would happen, happened. We had lost my father. My family was devastated. My mother and oldest sister were hysterical. My brothers left the room. I stood there, amazed.

Amazed because the man I had know for 32 years was gone. A man who taught me more than anyone else was gone. My father, and friend, had left me. My father left a wife, 5 kids, 1 adopted daughter and 15 grandchildren. I never realized how much my father was until I walked into that hospital and watched as the visitors came and went. People from work, church and the neighborhood came to check on him.

To be continued...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

You never realize

that you will miss something until it almost leaves you. Right now I am sitting in a hospital room with my father (who doesn't know that I am here). You see, yesterday he had a major stroke and is in a medical coma. Basically, they have made it where he won't move because he doesn't like having tubes or anything in him.

This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I can't do anything for him. The entire 16 hour drive I struggled not to get emotional. I spent my time thinking about him and trying to figure out what I could do to help. It wasn't until I talked to my mom that I lost it. She told me that he would never work again... I was floored, the seriousness of the situation truly hit me. My father will never be the same person he was the last time I saw him (which sad to say was almost a year ago).

So, anyways. He is getting ready to be carted off to have an MRI done to find out exactly what happened. They believe he has a blood clot but will need to make sure. Please pray for my father and mother. Their life is changing rapidly.

I know God is in control and that nothing happens without Him knowing it. I know God can heal my father completely, or He can choose not. However He works in my fathers life, I know that His will will be done and He will be glorified.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Choose You This Day




This is our Crossword service from 10/04/2006. We talked about Joshua and his ultimatum to the Israelites about who they were going to server, God or someone else. The service went great, the teens seemed to listen (at least they were quiet) and we ended with an altar call for those who would except the challenge and serve God.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Works of Art...

How do you define what is art and what is not? Why can one person look at a painting and say, 'wow that is incredible!', but then someone else say, 'man, that looks like garbage'? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder they say, and each of us has different taste and likes & dislikes, so art can take man different forms.

I want to show you my board. This my be blogged in the future also as it changes. But my board sits in my cubicle at work and I have a friend Joey who comes once a week or a couple times a week and draws something on my board. It is any number of different cartoons, or other stuff. And once he is done with drawing it, my friend Michael and I take the time to tear it apart and make it really good. The image to the left was one such image. Joey drew 3 super hero characters and Mike and I turned them into what you see. Who they are can be your interpretation... I just thought we need to show this to the world...

But as I think about what to write, that reminds me that we are like my boards. We start out with a drawing of sorts. Our lives are a shell of what they can be. If we leave it to ourselves, we become stagnant. Never really changing but just sitting there waiting. Waiting for someone to come by and make us mean something. We turns to different "artist" but never find the right one. Then God comes along and takes what we are and turns it into the most beautiful painting. Something that we could never have dreamed we would become. A painting so rich in color, and exact in detail that anyone who sees it, sits in awe. But God doesn't change us because He wants to impress other people. No, God's only purpose for working through us is that we might praise Him even more, that we might fulfill the purpose for which we were created in the first place. To bring glory and honor to God our father.

He is our puprose, everything else is just paint on the brush. Only God can take our sour, cheap board, and turn it into a glorious piece of art, to be shown to everyone and to bring glor to the creator.

2 Corinthians 3:10-18 - For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Life stinks...

You know there are just times in your life when you want to curl up and sleep, or cry, or yell, or whatever makes you feel better. The past 5 days have been really hard and really busy for me. Life is tough, and I am experiencing that. It is funny that a couple weeks ago I spoke to my teens about questioning God when things happen in your life, yet here I am questioning God because I am lost in what to do.

But because of that lesson and because I spent the time researching and explaining that to my students, I was able to question God about what is going on and God answered by giving me the peace that I need to make it through the rest of the day. I sat in the cafeteria at work yesterday and almost cried or screamed because of my life, but God calmed me down and I spent time reading His word and really getting into what I was reading.

God has a plan and a purpose for all christians. He has called each of us to do something specific. Some are made to be teachers, preachers, workers, and helpers. The Mary and Martha's are needed in our life to help us sort through and see different views of our situation. I have several friends I talk to. Some are youth pastors, some are pastors and some are just people that have influenced my life. I am truly blessed to have this network of people that I can go to when I am struggling and when difficult decision have to be made in my life. They give me perspective and help me to slow down and focus on what God wants me to do in my life.

God's plan is out there, we just have to sit and listen to Him when He tries to tell us. No matter how much our life seems to be falling apart, God is there picking up the pieces of our life and putting them together. I love the song by Stephen Curtis Chapman called "Sometimes He comes in the Storm". He talks about sometime God brings down the thunder, but other times he speaks to us in a whisper. Can you hear Him?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Just another day in paradise.

If you don't understand the picture right here -> then you haven't ever heard me talk. This is in reference to a video game I play called WOW (World of Warcraft). My kids know about it because I use it as a reference all the time. It is a very addicting game if you start playing, like having an xbox or playstation...

I wanted to use today's post to give my readers some tools that I use to do what I do. Everything I do is either done for free or very cheap, you just have to know where to look and find it. So here goes...

Google Page Creator - Google offers a free web creator that can be used by anyone that has a google account (also free). The church site www.cfcnaz.com is done using this service. This is a great product to use for small business, group, personal sites or whatever else you want to get out there.

Google Video is what I use to post my video messages, as well as Pastor's video sermons. Google's service is free and offers unlimited space and unlimted time span. Their service is great because you can start watching a movie before it has completely downloaded and they give you the code to paste the video on your site.

Switchpod is what I use to host our Podcast. Switchpod offers a free service that makes it easy to list your podcast, as well as the ability to upgrade and get more space/features.

Picasaweb & Picasa are what I use for pictures. Picasa is a program you install on your desktop that allows you to edit, modify and upload your pictures, as well as being able to order prints through online services like Wal-mart, Walgreens, etc. Picasaweb is Google's photo storage place. You get 250mb of free space with the ability to upgrade to 6 gigs. Picasa can upload directly to Picasaweb at the push of a button.

Blospot is a free blogging software (which you are reading now). It is also owned by Google and gives you a great tool to get your voice, thoughts and dreams out there.

ITunes is a free audio player from Apple. It allows you to list all your music that you have on your pc, as well as the ability to browse their store and purchase songs for $.99 or $9.99 per album (mostly). This is a great/cheap way to get legal music...

Google also offers: GMail (email client), Google Calendar, Google Speadsheets, Writely, Google Maps and Personalized Homepage. These are great tools that use a single login (mostly) to get between them.

As you can tell, I use Google tools a lot. Their stuff is very well designed and works well together. Plus, IT'S ALL FREE to use and they are continually updating them.

Hope this helps. If you need a tool for something, let me know and I can help you figure out what you are looking for.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I had an Initiation this weekend....

I finally feel like a real youth pastor...
Early on Sunday morning my house got rolled by 3 girls within my group. As you can see from the picture, the whole event ending incredibly. I guess this is what I get for having 3 boys in the group over at my house. You can check out the pics here. View Pics

Anyways, the whole deal ending up using 30 rolls of toilet paper, one bottle ketchup, mustard, chocolate syrup, mayonaise, and a dozen eggs. I can say it was a blast. The kids had fun, I had fun and the parent driving the girls had fun. We did get a little visit from the cops because the kids decided to chase each other down the street at 2am that morning. I expected it, but the cop was cool and the kids had a good talk with them. They still haven't cleaned up the yard. :(

I had actually complained about not being rolled yet by anyone in the youth group. I have been the youth pastor at Covenant for almost 3 years and just now got rolled. I was depressed, but all that is over now. I have been initiated by my teens and I thank them. Those 3 girls and guys who helped make my night memorable will never be forgotten.

So anyways, that night was great, it made for a long day on Sunday since I didn't get to bed until 3 and slept late until 8:30. It made me kind of grumpy Sunday morning but the afternoon was much better. The afternoon was good and instructional. I spoke to the kids twice about some issues that are going on within our group. We seem to be having a few growing pains and some relationship problems that are occuring. I think it will take some time to work through and some students to grow up, but we will come out on top.

The main theme this weekend was that we need to work on our relationship with God before we can worry about our relationships with friends and boyfriend/girlfriend. Once we get the relationship with God working and submit to him, then with the right type of relationship mindset, we can start to pursue the relationships around us. Teenagers get so caught up in having to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. I have seen it in the last week as it has elevated within our group. I told them last night if they had focused that same amount of time on their relationship with God, they would be scores above where they are now.

Teenagers aren't the only ones guilty of not focusing on God. Even we adults tend to focus on other parts of our life rather than focus on our relationship with God. I know I am guilty of it. I get wrapped up in church and youth ministry and tend to forget about working on my own personal relationship with God. God has really impressed upon my heart that I need to continue working on that and to make a focused effort to spend time with him. I have challenged my OTC group to spend 5 minutes a day with God, whether it be in praying or reading the Bible or meditaing, but to focus on God for 5 minutes a day. This would get the ball rolling to help them to eventually yearn to spend more time with him. Can you spare 5 minutes?

Matthew 6:33 - But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Friday, September 08, 2006

How to have a Successful Crisis?




Here is the video for our service on 9/6. We talked about the response from God to Habakkuk. I gave the teens 3 things to remember when dealing with a Crisis, the #1 being that God is in control and that He is there with us when we have problems in our life.
Let me know what you think and what things could be improved upon. Beth and I already talked about some of the things that we think, but I want to hear your opinion.
Grace and Peace, Pastor Roy

View my notes

PS Check out our website at www.leaddontfollow.org, lots of great pics of the group plus some new upcoming stuff.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Better late than never....

Sorry to all my bloggers that I haven't blogged anything lately. Things can be hectic, or I can be lazy, not sure which this is. Either way, here we go.

So I have been doing this whole evaluating thing with my youth group and my speaking, and I am very happy about it. The comments have been great. I have found out that I have to remember that people will have opinions of you but not all of them are right. I need to remember that I am working for God and no one else. If I am not doing what he wants, then I don't need to be doing it.

Over the last couple weeks I have spoken about Habakkuk and his struggles. He questioned God about the state of the people of Judah, and God responded but not in the way that Habakkuk wanted. I love the whole dialogue between God and Habakkuk because I think it really puts our relationship into prospective. I know that it helps me to view God as someone real who wants input into my life. No, I won't always like it, but I have to trust Him enough to know that he is going to help me. That my relationship with Him isn't just a one way street but a flow of communication back and forth. I know that some people think that God doesn't work like He did in the Old Testament, but I believe we just don't listen like they did back then.

I think we get caught up in our own lives. I know that I struggle with putting my priorities right, not because I don't know any better but because life seems to come at you all the time. We tend to go from one event to another event and then repeat that everyday. We rarely take the time to slow down and just listen to God and see where He wants us to be. In our OTC groups I have encouraged them to find just 1 minute a day to read and talk to God. If we can get started on just one minute the fire will start to catch on and we will crave more and more of God as we begin to spend more and more time with Him.

I have seen this change in my life. I have seen that the more I get into His word, the more I want to learn about His word and what it says and how I can apply it to my life. My last lesson on Habakkuk was probably one of the most researched because I wanted to know as much as I could about the situation, not just about what I thought it meant but what others before me thought. I looked at the culture and times when Habakkuk was alive, locations and settings for the cities and the nations around them. I was amazed and awed. And even as I started this blog, I was thinking that the book of Habakkuk could lead to another series of lessons about a relationship with God.

I love the Bible for that reason, while we may think a certain verse, chapter or book says just one thing. The more you read it, the more sides you see and the more ways you can apply those verses. The written word of God is amazing and mysterious. Better than any book out there for reading purposes. Our habits need to change in order for us to fully know what God is wanting in us. We must make purposeful advances to take the time to listen and read about what God wants.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Finding that perfect....


So here I am on a Sunday/Monday morning. Watching the perfect man while one of my teens is sleeping on my couch and the other one is jabbering away on myspace. Just finished a pretty refreshing day at church. We had special speakers today since Pastor was out of town. I thought they were both excellent. I will be posting their videos tomorrow on our church site, www.cfcnaz.com.

Anyways, today went pretty well. Hardly anyone was at church, but that seems to happen when the pastor isn't there, and it is a holiday weekend. I only had about 7 teens there today, kind of depressing but undestandable. On with the rest of the story.

I have gotten some great comments on my lesson from last Wednesday. I got good feedback from my friends, parents and some teens. Some of it I had already thought about, others were knew and useful. I keep getting comments about putting myself out there to be evaluated like that and how brave it is. I am the type of person who needs to know something is wrong so i can fix it. I hate it when people hide things behind your back, only to spring it on you later. I want to be better at what i do, but I can't be better when I don't know that things are wrong. Most of try our whole lives to prove that we are something we are not, or put on a mask so that people can't see the real us. I don't believe in that philosophy. Most people know that I am not perfect (as sad as that makes me), and that I have to work to better myself.

There is a children's song that I used to sing, saying "He's still working on me, to make me what I ought to be." God tells us that he is shaping us like the potter shapes the clay. Our christian lives are about being more like God and less like ourselves. Some people in the world will tell you that it is about you, but it is not. I am nothing without God. No matter how much I drink or earn, or party, or have sex, or anything else this world has to offer. So much of our life is spent worrying about what others think, rather than what God thinks. Part of that is the out of sight, out of mind concept. God doesn't sit and judge us like our friends, family and co-workers do.

God loves us the way we are. He sees me for what I am going to become rather than what I am currently. My goal is to reach my students and show them what God has for them and help them to realize that without him their life is nothing...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

How to See Stars During the Day




Enjoy one of our Youth Services. This was taken on August 30th. The lesson looked at Habakkuk and focused on our ability & need to question God. Sometimes our lives come with questions and God is big enough to hear and answer them.
Please leave me a comment about what you think of the lesson, good, bad or indifferent.

FYI, there is a black space during part of the video, the audio still works and the problem is short, so just let it play...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Why is is called Fast Food, when it isn't...

The image to the right is something I might normally eat for lunch. A burger, a taco, french fries, Chinese, or any other fast-food/restaurant that is around my work. Today I didn't, and hopefully that will start a trend. You see last night Pastor Don asked us if we would fast for revival to come to our church. He didn't ask anyone to raise their hands or anything but just wanted to know if anyone would. Well, I thought about it briefly and then kind of dismissed it and let it go.

I have tried to fast in the past, but have always given in. Most of my day is spent sitting at a computer, so if I am hungry I know it and can dwell on it all day long. So when he mentioned it, I just pushed it aside and let other people worry about it. I mean, I want revival to come to our church, and I would love for it to happen within our youth group, but not eating all day is hard work. Well, I know now that God wasn't going to let me off that easy. By the time I went to bed last night, I had decided that I will fast today, no matter what. From breakfast to lunch to dinner.

I don't want to sound arrogant or egotistical for blogging about something like this, but I want it to be a witness to my teens and those that read my blog. God has been working in my life over the last several years. I know that sounds weird because any Christian will tell you that God is working in their life, but for me the work is very pointed and direct. There are areas in my life that God has focused on and help me to change or to overcome what I was doing. He has guided me, shaped me and helped me to be more direct and focused when I study his word, or pray or even worship because for years I had been playing church and going through the motions of Christianity. It has taken years for God to work
through and help me to stop doing that.

Yesterday at a Bible study, I taught my students about spending time with God and some things that happen when we do, and that continues through today. I was tempted to go ahead and order lunch today, knowing that no one would know that I didn't fast, but then I thought "what if Jesus decided not to get up on that cross". Now I know that is a pretty bold comparison, but it works. We are too comfortable in our dealings with God and each other. Most of our lives are spent just doing what is easy and feels right. We don't want to stress too much, because we really don't have to. If it is too hot outside, we just wait until it cools off and enjoy the air conditioning. If the work might be too hard and we aren't getting paid a lot, well we just tend to let the job go.

I enjoy most of my life in a comfortable air conditioned cubicle. Being outside is too much, it is too hot, or too muggy. Well, today instead of eating I walked around a little track we have outside our office and talked with God. Asking questions, giving him praise and just trying to be still and let him talk to me. I am still hungry, and will be until tomorrow morning. I have made a sacrifice today, but it is in no comparison to the sacrifice that God made for me and no matter how hard I try, I will never get to that point. God wants to be glorified in our lives today, and hopefully you will see Him in me.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Man, I am sooo tired.

When was the last time you stayed up for more than 24 hours? At the age of 32? Last night we had an event called Hens & Rosters (pronounced Roosters) that was supposed to separate my youth group into boys and girls, but it didn't end up that way. We ended up just having a lock-in of unique design for us.

First, we went and watched the Wilson Central vs Mt Juliet High game. (Central won 28-10), then we headed back to the church for pizza, movies and Paintball... Now the paintball was part of the uniqueness because we played in the dark with very little light to see anything, much less enough to hit something.

Needless to say, the teens had a blast. Almost all of them participated in paintball and got shot one way or the other (even if it was from the sidelines). It was interesting because we really didn't have an "official" paintball field, we kind of threw one together with the church's open field and some playground equipment (man I am glad the paint is water-based). The kids did a great job in helping clean everything up, kudos to them...

I have spoken with a few youth pastors who don't like doing all-nighters. Some of them are older than me, some younger, but they just really don't like doing it. The reasons vary from person to person. The question is, what will we do to minister to today's teenagers. Now, some people might not think that having an all-nighter where you play paintball and eat pizza is all that effective. Let me tell you it is. Now I am not saying we spend most of the night sitting around talking "god" talk, but we are building the relationships necessary to be able to minister to them. Spending 12 hours with someone gives you a great amount of time to get to know them, see them in action, and watch them interact with other students.

I am not saying this is the only way, but one way that I don't mind doing. I stayed up all night last night, and watch as the students starting falling asleep. When we started waking everyone up at 7 to start clean up, only about 3 of them had been up the whole time. Again, I want to give them kudos for helping clean up like they should.

Jesus tells us in Acts 1:8, that we are to be witnesses to everyone. This includes lock-ins, football games, paintball fields, movie theatres, concerts, McDonald's, Kroger and where ever we interact with other Christians. Our example and relationships to non-Christians are important in helping us to share the gospel of Christ with them. It opens the door to tell them about the good news that is our faith. Last night I met 4 new students, and the door has been opened to witness to them...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Stick's and Stones may break your bones...

While leading a tour of kindergarten students through our hospital, I overheard a conversation between one little girl and an x-ray technician.
"Have you ever broken a bone?" he asked.
"Yes," the girl replied.
"Did it hurt?"
"No."
"Really? Which bone did you break?"
"My sister's arm."
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I have never broken any bones, not mine anyways... I did break a guys foot one time. It was in the 8th grade. We were playing soccer at PE and we both kicked the ball at the same time, and his foot broke and mine kept going. I felt bad for weeks, especially seeing him come to school on crutches.

I felt bad yesterday. Not completely sure why. Might have been the fact that I haven't slept more than 6 hours a night for about a week. Might have been the fact that I spent so much time on my lesson for last night and thought it would go over really well, but it didn't seem to. But does it ever. As a youth pastor, I sometimes feel like my students just don't get it (and I know some of them read this). I feel like I am standing up there, giving the message that God has given me, and everyone else is thinking, man when will this be over. I know I am not the only one to think that. I can see it in our church.

I like to people watch, mostly at church. I run the sound system right now and get the opputunity to watch everyone in the congregation. Some of them, you would think were at a funeral. They are just sitting and staring at the stage. Moving their mouths when they are singing but showing almost no emotion. Then there are some who seem to want to be there, but are very cautious about how loud they sing, or if they clap or not. Others just don't care. They are at church to praise and learn about God, no matter what those around them think.

Personally, we spend too much of our lives worrying about what other people think. Teenagers are especially good at this. Making sure to hang out with the right people, wear the right clothes, talk the right way and do what others think is cool. But that isn't what God expects from us. Could you imagine if the disciples at Pentecost worried about what others would have thought of them after their experience in the upper room.

What if Jesus himself would have been worried about those darn old pharisees, and what they thought of his healing on the Sabbath day... In fact, Jesus did worry about it. So much so that he told them it was none of their business what he did and to get a job. (my paraphrase). I know in life its hard to stand up for what you believe. People ask the question about whether or not you would die for your faith. I say yes, but I truly believe that dying for your faith is much easier than talking to someone during 2nd lunch about your faith. God is our rock and His Spirit will give us what we need when we need it, we just need to remember to ask for it.

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3 (NRSV) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Welcome to My New Home

For those who have come from my old blog at http://soulshaper54.blogspot.com, I welcome you. I am happy to have the name Soulshaper for my blogs and hopefully will have no problems letting people know about it.
Please leave me comments or questions about anything. I love have people respond.

Monday, August 21, 2006

You Can Please Some of the People....

...some of the time, all of the people none of the time. This is something that is painful from some people to grasp. I know lots of people that try to be everything to everyone. I see it at work, in my family and in my friends. In ministry it is equally hard. As a youth pastor, I have to deal with pastors, boards, students, parents and the congregation. You have tons of different opinions of what you should do and how you should do it. For the most part, I haven't had a tons of problems with people and I am usually good at dealing with it.

But in life we all have to deal with people we don't like. The boss that is too bossy, the friend who is too needy, the child who is too bratty, our life is made up of dealing with people. And how we deal with them truly effects the way our lives go. If we don't deal with people correctly, then we will end up having to deal with no one because people won't want to be around us. While you can't please everyone, we need to be able to handle them the way Jesus would. The verbage, WWJD, has been overused more than anything I can imagine. I have seen people use that for almost anything and everything, whether they were Christian or not. Pastor Don talked a couple weeks about the way we handle people. He told a story about finding a roach in his General Tso's chicken and dealing with the restaurant owner in a polite Godly manner, and that as a minister, everything he does is a witness.

This something hard for me becuase I am usually pretty straightforward when it comes to telling people how I feel. I am not a beat around the bush kind of person. I try not to be mean, but I am usually pretty pushy in my opinions. But since Pastor Don talked about that, I have tried my best to deal with people in the way that reflects the God I hold so deal. To make What Would Jesus Do my motto. I am not perfect and I am sure I will mess up, but like that Bible tells us, "He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it."
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Some days your the dog, some your the hydrant.

A nursery school teacher was delivering a van full of kids home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties.

"They use him to keep crowds back," said one youngster.

"No," said another, "he's just for good luck."

A third child brought the argument to a close: "They use the dogs," she said firmly, "to find the fire hydrant." (brought to you by http://www.mikeysFunnies.com)

Don't you wish that all answers were that simple. I love how children kept things in prospective and don't get bogged down with specifics or attitudes or other opinions. They are pretty straight forward. I love sitting and watching my kids play, or read, or surf the web. All of it is so innocent and plain. They aren't worried about the latest fade or what the world has to say.

We as adults need to think about the simple things in life. Some people would look at my life and call me boring. I enjoy sitting at home spending time with my family. I enjoy just relaxing after a hard days work (when I work...). I enjoy snuggling up to my wife and watching one of the few shoes we watch on TV. I enjoy sitting at the computer and having my youngest daughter beg to climb in my lap to watch the screen. But my life is hectic. I have a full-time job, full-time family and full-time youth ministry, but I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.

I love reading the books of the Bible written by Paul. We talked on Sunday night about this in our youth group. Paul is so open and honest about his downfalls and struggles that it should be encouraging to us as Christians. Especially in a world that says we have to be 100% perfect all the time, Paul gives us the reality side of life. In Romans 7:18-20 he lays out his main struggle, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."

We need to remember that we are not called to be perfect. We are all going to struggle, we are all going to fail at some point. Our humanity dictates that we will, especially if we try living life on our own. Gods power and grace, something Paul pursued his entire life, is what can make us perfect. We must continue to lean on God, I must continue to lean on God, especially more in times of struggle and fatigue. His Grace is sufficient for me.