Friday, April 19, 2013

The Real Deal

     I totally forgot about this blog until I was sitting in a car dealership while my wife Heather's car was being worked on. I randomly remembered that this was out there. I was actually somewhat encouraged to go back and read some of the stuff from about three years ago that I posted. Its amazing how God was working in my life and how He has worked since then. He is good. And He is worth it all.
     I am a Pastor to students right now in Jacksonville, Florida. Of all places, I am actually serving in the  church I grew up in. Its a total blessing and something my wife and I would not trade for anything. April 1 of this year was my first full year on the job and I have been blown away by so many things. The students are amazing and team of adult volunteers truly are the best people I have ever had the blessing of serving. They are selfless and they are sharing their lives with students. I could not ask for more! Recently there are a few walk aways that I have been challenged with in student ministry and if you don't mind I would like to share them with you.

1. Invest heavy in your Middle School students
     I guess there is a statistic out there that says a youth pastor's average time spent at a church is somewhere between 18 - 24 months. So for a solid two years here is a guy who is a leader, mentor, pastor, goofball.....whatever, and then he is gone. I was hit with something this weekend that may have some weight to it.
     When a guy steps into a new position, generally he wants to gravitate toward the cooler core of the group. Generally, this lies within the juniors and sophomores. Please don't think this happens in every church setting and with every YP. That's not what I am saying.... but follow me. As you get close to these guys by spending time with them they will get close to you as well. They're your bros... your friends. Is there anything wrong with this? No. Follow me.....  After two years your bro's and the kids you got close with graduate.

And then what?
They're gone. And you feel weird. I guess.

Am I saying this is fact. Not for all of us. But maybe for some.
What am I saying? Invest in Middle School. Am I saying that your goal for the length of time you should be at a church should be 6 years? No. But what I am saying is it would be awesome to see a sixth grader work his way through student ministry and grow "to mature manhood (and womanhood), to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13)
     Have I got this plan on lockdown? By no means. But I love Middle School students. They bring so much life to the church. Even if they are annoying and may treat you like a human monkey bar set and try to steal the hat off of your head all the time. They are worth every second of our time. Lately they have been on my mind and heart. In the fall of last year we did a "Middle School Madness" event that was led by our High School leadership team. It was awesome! It was a Warfare theme and the kids loved it. This summer we are doing a Middle School VBX (Xtreme) and I cannot tell you how excited I am about it! I am finding that the growth is not necessarily in the event, but in the time you spend with them. I honestly cannot wait to see where God takes some of these students in their years to come.

2. Press into the ones that press into you.
     A mentor in my life told me this. You will have students that want to be around you to hang out and you will have students that want that time to be mentored and go further. Press into them. Mentoring is biblical. It requires time. And honestly, at times, it can become hard to do. If it is boring to you then I can assure you it will be boring to them. But know this, there is nothing better than seeing a student that you have been spending time with and pouring into to turn around and pour into someone else. I guess the biblical word for this would be discipleship.
     I have decided to fill my schedule with as many students that I can handle to mentor. Sometimes its lunch. Other students have breakfast with me. This is early! And other times we meet for 30 minutes in my office at the church in the afternoon. Whatever time you can give them, do it. And challenge your adult leaders to do the same. You want students to experience the real deal? The follow the biblical guideline of discipleship.
     There are no immediate results. Faith is believing and not seeing. Read Hebrews. Its full of people that believed without seeing. In student ministry, one thing I talk to our leaders about is that you probably will not see a student completely change their spiritual life because of the few months that they spent with you. It may be years later that they come to you and remind you of the impact that you made in their life. To rest in that is to have faith. Let the work that you do reflect the faith that you in Christ. Thanks for reading. I know this probably is not the normal quick blog post under a certain amount of words to catch and keep the attention of a reader. Im really not concerned about all that. But thanks for reading it through. Feel free to comment and discuss, or tell me where I have lost my mind.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I have a Question

For those who call themselves Christians, why is it important to read the Bible and pray? Is there a biblical answer as to why I should do this as a believer?

Friday, December 31, 2010

What's with all the Genealogies??

Luke 3:23-38. Go it

Today’s quiet time was the genealogy of Jesus from Joseph. Actually it was from Mary. To be honest, when I saw that this was what we were reading I was kind of bummed but God knows whats up. I initially wanted to just write down in the journaling portion of the qt book “Lord, help me to understand why this is beneficial and profitable for me.”....... and after reading the genealogy, I did. But God has His way of speaking to you. I am suppose to listen to Him when I read His Word. I started to read the commentary that came with todays reading. It began to show me the importance and meaning of this portion of scripture. Back in the day, Israel valued the genealogies or the Family Tree’s of people. One of the other gospel writers, Matthew, wrote his much differently. He focuses more on the significance of Jesus being the King of Israel, the Messiah. Luke was more centered on the humanity of Christ. He actually starts his trace from Mary instead of Joseph and goes all the way back to Adam, the son of God. When we read the portion that starts in verse 23 of Luke 3 that says “Joseph the son of Heli” Heli is actually Joseph’s father-in-law, Mary’s father, then in descends from his bloodline. I was pretty pumped to learn something new from the Bible today!

Secondly, some theological importance popped out like a sore thumb. In Genesis 3:15 God was speaking to an audience of three in the Garden: Adam, Eve, and the serpent. He made of reference to someone who will come and strike the head of the serpent and the serpent would bruise the heal of this one. This man would come from the seed of Adam and Eve. That someone was Jesus. Now let me ask a question. How important do you think this genealogy was for someone back in the day when Luke’s gospel was written, who knew these scriptures and knew the promise that God made to Adam and Eve and the serpent in Genesis? I could imagine the excitement of someone who was waiting on this promise and reading the gospel and knowing that Jesus was the one spoken of in Genesis 3. It may have been this genealogy that led some hard jewish leadership, those that knew the Torah in and out, to faith in Jesus Christ. That we will never know but its a cool thought.

I am glad I took some time this morning to read the Word. Even if it was a genealogy. God will teach you something if you are willing to stop, focus on Him, and open yourself to what it is He wants to tell you. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” Today, it most certainly was for me as I sat and read.

God is good. All the time. back to packing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thats Whats Up

It has been forever since I posted on this deal. I plan to stay more consistent with it as soon as i get into the grove of things around Fort Mountain.
Right now I am sitting atop Fort Mountain in my new office at Global Youth Ministry. It is approximately 15 degrees according to the thermometer in my car and the wind doesn't really help with the chill factor. I am wearing layers and hate wearing layers. Whatever.. It is beautiful here, though.
I miss my wife. She is not with me right now. She had to finish some school things at home and she graduates on friday. I am very proud of her. She is graduating at the top of her class! She hasn't made a B since the 6th grade and I just could not be more jealous or proud of her right now! I go back home to her and the rest of my friends and family tomorrow. Im looking forward to being with her again. I know its only been a few days but I am a newly-wed. I love being with her.
We are getting ready to move up here together the first week in January. Im not going to lie, this is a completely different feeling then I expected coming up here. It is a feeling of excitement for sure, but I am a bit more nervous than I thought I would be. This is all new. There is so much to be done here at Global. I have been given the title of Program Associate of Camps and Conferences. This just means I am overseeing camp and momentum activities. The responsibility is great and I am looking forward to the challenge. I am praying that I will be used by the Lord to put together some exciting things that the Lord sees that He can use for his kingdom. Please pray with Heather and I as we start this exciting new adventure in our lives together.
I just left a job that was a tremendous blessing to me. I worked at ARA West Jacksonville as a dialysis technician. This door was opened to me almost 2 years ago before I got married. Since then I have learned to stick people with needles and draw blood and clean blood and work machines that I never imagined I would be working. I was pretty much a doctor.... not really though. There was something awesome about helping those people in need though. I got to develop some pretty awesome relationships with people. The staff that I worked with was amazing. They were encouraging and like family to be around and I will miss every one of them very much. The patients were awesome as well. You saw the same people every time you went into work so began to know them like they were family. I got to share my faith with a few of them and got to hear them share their struggles in life with me. Looking back at some interaction I had with people I am regretful that I did not share more of my Savior Jesus with them. God has a plan for their lives though and I am continuing to pray for them. With that said, ARA was an important chapter in my life. I understood responsibility in a different aspect. I literally could have messed up some peoples lives if I did not perform my job as I was supposed to. I also began to understand that this was where a majority of my income came from for Heather and I. I had to be wise with my money. I am thankful for the experience and I know it has prepared for the things ahead in my life.
I am also living my church that I have grown up in. Westside Baptist Church has been an extreme blessing to my family and I over the years. I love that place and will miss it immensely. I have been privileged to be able to serve the people of this church as a worship leader or a youth intern and I would not trade this experience for anything. The leadership I have had from this place has been tremendous. Guys such as Adam Peterson when I was in middle school, to Ken Whitton who was my youth pastor through my junior year, to Sean Vickers who became my youth pastor my senior year and began to develop leadership skills and a love for Jesus that will forever impact my life, to Jody Phillips who has been an outstanding teacher of the Bible since I was in middle school and remains my Bible study teacher to this day. He is an example of what it means to be faithful and this is something I will carry everywhere I go. Kelly Johnson is now the youth pastor at wbcjax. He has become a brother to me and an encouragement in ministry and life. His office has become the place to hang and talk through youth ministry over the past six months and I will miss that next year. His wife Amber is someone who will be greatly missed next year also. She has developed an awesome relationship with my wife through encouragement and accountability and friendship and I know that it has impacted Heather's life. Anthony Poole who is the worship pastor at wbc has ministered and led me through the past two years of my life as a worship leader. He has such a great skill and passion for music and it is awesome that he uses it to minister to our church. I will miss being in his office next year and gaining his knowledge and insight on the task of leading a congregation in worship. Ryan Frontz has been the best friend a person could have over the years and has been a leader through some great times of my life. My pastor, Keith Russell, has been an incredible blessing. He stands every week and preaches boldly in an expository manner from the Word of God. I am praying that one day I can be given the gift of effective communication as he has. I am continuing to pray for his leadership over the church. It is an incredibly high calling to be the pastor of a church, especially today. It is as if he has to be a mediator sometimes between the old and the new and both ends are tugging against each other and yet he is gripping firmly to both ends and trying to bring them together. I feel as though our pastor has done a wonderful job at being that man. In a church full of life and running in the right direction I believe, under his leadership, there are great things to come at Westside Baptist Church.
It is not like I am saying "goodbye" to anything. As you read this I hope you are not gaining that impression. I am simply thinking through what has gone on recently to bring me to where I am today. I feel like I am starting a new chapter in my life. I love to sit and reflect on things like I just did. It brings an extreme appreciation to the things and places and people that have surrounded me in my life through ministry. I hope I did not bore you today this was just on my mind this morning and i wanted to share. Thanks for stopping by. Love you guys!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Acts Church

I am going through the book of Acts right now. I love it. I encourage all of you to take a serious read through it. This is just an exert from my journal that I wanted to share with you guys. Hope hope it is profitable for you. Enjoy

Acts 10: 34-48

The Expansion of His Church

This could be the most gracious moment in church history. The disciples and other certain countrymen understood what it meant to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit but here you see that totally change. The change that took place would forever change the church of Jesus Christ. If you read prior to the passage listed above you can see the set-up. How God did this was through Peter and a man named Cornelius. They both had these visions that would bring them to each other and each man had something the other needed. Its pretty much something you could see in a modern television series. Pretty cool. They come together and explained to one another what was up It was like they already knew each other. Have you ever experienced that? When you get to meet other believers in Christ that you have never met before and its like there is an immediate connection. Like you already knew each other. Thats the power of God. Thats the Holy Spirit making that connection between yourself and the other believers that you meet that have that same Jesus dwelling inside of them. When Peter met Cornelius there was a connection. When Peter began to put all of this together with all of those surrounding Cornelius he began to tell the story of Christ. That changed everything.

The name of Jesus Christ has power. I hope you know and understand that. More so, I hope you will believe that today. When Peter started talking about Jesus as the righteous judge over all that God the Father had sent to us, and that men had killed him and three days later he rose from the dead and was seen by Peter and several other hundred people, the Holy Spirit of God fell on those Gentile men just as it did all the Jewish men on the day of Pentecost. It was their gift. It was their gospel. We are those people! It wasn’t held within a people group! It was made available to all people! That common food that Peter saw in his vision that God told him to partake in was the rest of the world. The Lord’s response to Peter in Acts 10:15 as he refused to eat the common food was “ do not call common what I have made clean.” Awesome!

Now we see starting point of the expansion of the church. It was something magnificent. Something I wish I could have been a part of. From verse 45 until the end of the chapter is one of my favorite parts. You know the part in a movie where something crazy is happening around one guy or a small group of guys and all they do is just stand there looking at it either in awe or in fear or in confusion? Recently I watched the Book of Eli, twice. Its an awesome movie. However, I do not recommend it for younger viewers. In the end of the movie there is a scene where there are a bunch of men tearing up and bar. I mean just ransacking the place. But in the midst of it all there is this one guy just standing there looking around in awe of what is happening. I think in these verses, as Peter and his men sees what is going on, there is a similar effect. The Holy Spirit has been dropped on the Gentiles right in front of their eyes and they cannot believe it. All he says, either to himself or to the crowd (i like to think to himself), “What can stop these men from being baptized who all have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” Then he commanded them all to be baptized in the name of Jesus.

The application and challenge today is not difficult. Its worship. Call on Jesus where you are and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Live your life with the abundance of joy and obedience that you have been given as a believer in Christ. Walk with God as Noah and Moses and Peter and other followers did. Let their stories teach you what you will learn. Lastly, seek to know Him more.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ephesians 2

Read: Ephesians 2

Have you ever felt like the odd one out? Or were you ever the kid on the playground that never got picked to play in any of the games? I have been that kid. I can remember growing up and feeling left out in many areas. I can remember this one instance in particular growing up. We were on a family vacation in North Carolina. I loved going up there. Mountains are some of God’s greatest creation to look at. Anyways, I remember playing basketball with my cousin that we vacationed with. Let me be honest, basketball is not my sport. I enjoy shooting the basketball, but playing competitively was never my specialty. But I was playing basketball with my cousin and we joined a pick up game with some kids that were in the park where we were. My cousin was awesome at the sport, he actually scored every point. Me on the other hand, I was a joke. I would get the ball and either hand it right back or, wherever I was, I was the kid that took the ridiculous shot that was impossible to make. I was horrible. After the game was over the kids that were playing with us told my cousin he was awesome, were giving him high fives, bowing and worshipping, you get the picture. They then looked at me. No high fives. No “good game.” They basically told me I was a funny looking loser. I remember going to where my dad was sitting and feeling so bad. I wanted to strangle those kids. I told my dad what had happened and I cried like a little girl. I felt like I had no part in the friendship that my cousin and those kids had formed. I was an outsider.

Did you know that at a time, we were outsiders to the heirs of God? We had no part in His Kingdom. You see, the Jews were God’s chosen people that He had selected from the earth. Abraham found favor in God’s eyes and from that favor the Jewish nation was born. I was left out. But God, being full of grace, through His Son Jesus Christ, made a way for all of us! This brings joy to my heart like none other! Think about that for a minute! We are those Gentiles mentioned. By the blood of Jesus Christ we were bought into the family of God! This is why we worship and live for Him! I know that this goes far beyond the illustration mentioned above, but centering in on verse 19 really brings the thought home. “We are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, the members of God’s household.” We belong to our God! We fit in, perfectly! We don’t have to feel bad and cry to our dad’s for being left out! Be encouraged today by this thought and live like you have been given a seat at the table of the King.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

my music and my worship

I have never actually sat down and thought about why I lead in worship, why worship music is a part of my life, and why I want to write it. This is my random, yet collective thought on the subject.
I started out just leading a small youth band on wednesday nights in my youth group. I think i was in the tenth grade. It was awesome. Everyone wanted to be in a band. Looking back I remember listening to bands like Jimmy Eat World, RelientK, Switchfoot, Jimmy Eat World, The Juliana Theory, some Jimmy Eat World. They were, and still are, on the top of my list. (side note: jimmy eat world is coming out with a new album very soon and I am stoked about it!) Also, when punk was alive, I remember a certain band, Inspection 12, coming out with an album my 10th grade year: Get Rad. I listened that album to death. Occasionally i will still jam it. I used to be more into punk rock than I am now. I actually went to the Warped Tour one year with my friend Douglas Couey. I thought I would be cool and join the mosh-pit at the mxpx show (they were the cat's meow if you know what I'm screamin). I remember seeing a guy get punched in the back really hard by someone who was slam dancing her way through the crowd. Thats right, I said her! The guy fell to the ground, got up and left the area. Thats when I knew I was idiot and i never wanted to be that guy. But I. Love. Music. Its always been my thing. The music itself can speak volumes and with added words and melodies you have a message that can be moving and thought provoking. Why not direct that toward the God of the universe? Even in the tenth grade I wanted so bad to do that somehow.
When I got my first guitar I think i may have been in the eighth grade. The Ibanez Performance Acoustic! Oh Yeah! I learned on my own. Taught myself the simple chords with simple progressions and my friend Doug, the one I went to the show with when I saw that dude get punched by that girl, would learn them with me. It wasnt too long and I really had the hang of it. I could be wrong on this date but I think it was my ninth grade summer. We went to Cocoa Beach Florida for youth camp. It was awesome! The Hilton Hotel, on the beach, with all my friends. Worshipping God was a part of it but I was still pretty immature back then. Still am I guess. We had so much fun. On one of the final nights there, there was a talent show. So, myself and all my talented friends got up and did a rendition of "Chick Magnet" by mxpx and called it "cool spirit." Doug wrote it and sang it. It was SICK! I believe we got a standing ovation. Tyler Sowers played the electric guitar, Marcus McLeod played the bass, Adam Shaw played the drums, Doug sang and danced I guess, and me, well I just kind of stood there and shook a shaker. Bring on the shaker! We were called "Cross-Eyed Salmon." What a name! We went back and actually thought we would be a worship band. It was short lived with Doug. But myself, Sowers, Adam, and a new guy named Scott Mihalik, playing the bass, stayed with it. I started to sing and I bought a cheap Ibanez electric starter guitar from a guy who went to school with Sowers. To complete my setup I bought a Line 6 Spider II 75 watt amp. I was ballin! We jammed out! I remember going to Scott's house right after school and playing until we werent aloud to play anymore. He had this pretty sweet barn in his backyard where we played. It was a really nice place to play now that I think about it.
I began to grow in my relationship with God. I started diving into the Word like it was meant to be soaked in. I loved people. I loved church. I loved going to our wednesday night services. I especially loved playing music. Worship music was all I really played. I remember very specifically practicing for something we were going to play. I think we were called Next to James now. Both Sowers and I were playing electric. He had just gotten a new Gibson Hawk, an amazing guitar. He was better than me so he played lead and sang back up and I played rhythm and sang lead. We were in the barn, blaring our amps, thats the only true way to do it, and singing Tomlin's version of "Wonderful Cross." I remember being so caught up in the words and message of that song. I can remember looking at the rest of the band and experiencing an amazing worship moment there. I dont know about the rest of them, but I was struck by the power of the cross...during practice! It was an awesome time. I dont want to say that was my starting point, but it was a very clear moment in my mind when I knew that I wanted other people to experience the grace of God in a song while singing and worshipping Him.
There is more than one way to worship. Music is not the main or only end. Use your life, what you love, what you think, what you do and direct it towards our God. God has truly blessed me with a talent to play music. He knew during the phases of my musical development what I would be doing during this chapter in my life- leading worship at westside baptist church. So be it, Lord. I am truly thankful for the privilege and blessing of serving there. Will it be what I do forever? probably not, but I am growing where I am planted. However, my hope is to never base my worship on a status or position in a church. May it always be to and for Him alone. Being lead by the power of the Spirit is the aim of any movement that may happen. This may happen in a worship service or in your everyday life, but know that the power that raised Christ from the dead is in us. Its longing for us and directing us to the One who is worthy of our praise. Our God is jealous. Why? Because He Loves! And wants no other god, whatever it may be, to capture you. Why? Because those gods can give nothing back! God, Jesus, The Word, Hosanna, Messiah, Yeshua, Yahweh is the only one that will give and love and redeem and restore and make clean! That is why I worship! That is why I lead worship! I want others to know about my God and His worth-ness. Music is how I minister. The band, orchestra, soloist, whoever, presents the message clearly, often not so clear, and your response is not toward them, but toward Him. The music used should be the music of today and the music of yesterday. I say that generally speaking. Old and new. And as music develops into something else, something new, I believe God will want that directed toward Him as well. He made music. He created everything and he holds it all together. Its our heart pointed as we play and sing that makes Him dance over us. It in Jesus' name I play. Amen