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."
=======================================
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.