Sunday, March 23, 2008

Voice from the Past

A few days ago, I was busy in my office when I received one of those phone calls I LOVE so much...

It was a young man who had been in my youth group and is now in college.

I have a few of those, and I LOVE EVERY PHONE CALL I GET FROM THEM. They are the young people who will be leaders in our churches in a few short years. They will be writing the books and preaching the sermons. They will be teaching my children in classrooms.
Right now they are in college, training in their chosen professions. They are getting ready to spring out into the world, eager to prove themselves and make their mark! They are full of hopes and huge dreams.
Right now they are going on mission trips. They are learning more in college than I could ever teach them in high school.

After those phone calls, I can only thank God for allowing me to walk with these young dynamos for a short time. I feel so unworthy that He would use me, and so happy that they have a heart to call their OLD youth minister just to chat!

P.S. Please pray for Alex McCumber's mom who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Easter Blessings

Happy Easter, everyone!

You know, Americans really know how to celebrate holidays...put sports on TV, and eat LOTS of food (especially sweets!)
I'm really glad for the "magic" of Christmas and Easter (especially for kids) but I'm wondering where the significance has gone in our celebration of those holidays? Am I the only one who gorges themselves on chocolate and then realizes (at the end of the day) that I only thought about the resurrection while I was in worship that morning? Should a celebration be more meaningful?
Let me give you an example:
One year, Tracy got the extremely kind-hearted idea to spend Valentine's Day taking cards and flowers to the widows and widowers of our church family. I thought that was a proper way to celebrate the holiday in a godly manner! Focused on others, not just ourselves or our own family.
Now, to be honest, Tracy's been on vacation the last two Valentine's Days, so we have not followed through on that one, but we need to develop good traditions for the other ones. So, here's the question:

How can you celebrate Easter in a godly manner, remembering/celebrating Christ's resurrection, and focusing on others and not just ourselves?

Does anyone else out there have traditions (or even ideas) for other holidays as well?

Hope you enjoy Easter. Celebrate the fact that Jesus DID walk out of that grave many years ago! Celebrate that one day YOU CAN DO THE SAME THING!

God sent His angels to roll away the tombstone at Christ's gravesite. I pray that God will send His angels to roll away our tombstones of:
And allow us to walk out of the "tombs" and into new life!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Every Youth Minister's Dream

It was one of those rare days today...the kind where you're not sure if you're dreaming or if you're awake.
Let me start with our class. I was sharing with the teens how 2 Corinthians seems to be Pauls' REAPPLICATION for the job of minister. Toward the end, I talked about how MY LIFE as a youth minister is lived in a "glass house," where everybody can see me and my open-book life, but I cannot see theirs.
Paul put it this way: "We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also." (2 Cor. 6:11-13)

Fast forward to our morning worship. I preached, I was running around like crazy because the PowerPoint "clicker" was missing...and as always, there is a line of people waiting to talk to you.
In the middle of all the craziness, one of the teens...stood waiting to talk. This person pulled me aside and spilled their heart, "I was really convicted by class this morning..."

I won't go into any more detail than that.

A few tears, and a few more hugs later, I stood beaming. Not because of anything I had done, but because this young person took a leap in their spiritual life today. And, yes, it's nice to be told by a teenager that they were convicted by a class that normally seems to go in one ear and out the other!

Fast forward to LTC (Leadership Training for Christ) practice.
I've been working with three young men in Sermon Delivery. This weekend, they will deliver their sermons in front of a live audience!
Imagine my pride as they stood there with their polished sermons, and gave it their all to deliver a message from God! These are the kids who will be preaching very soon in our churches!!
It's not so much about the delivery...
And content is great, but...
The best part is that they feel like they CAN do SOMETHING in the larger body of the church. They feel like they CAN preach in our little times together, and not feel overwhelming pressure.

So that's my day today. My dreamy day. It may not be huge results. But it kinda reminds me of something else Paul said, "You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. " (2 Cor. 3:3.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Is Youth Ministry Worth It?

Someone came by this blog the other day off a random search "Is youth ministry worth it?" I think I know how you're feeling, friend...
I remember days of questioning, times of doubt. There were days when the other church staff just seemed to have nothing but criticism. On other days, you catch someone on the Youth Leadership Team smoking behind the high school. The lessons you spent hours preparing are not making any impact whatsoever, and the deep, spiritual devotional you had planned for the Junior High teens was messed up by one joke and the ensuing laughter. Nothing seems to be working.
On top of that, your own spiritual walk feels weak. The only Bible study you do is for Sunday morning class. You've spent three straight weekends in a row with teenagers (forsaking your days off) and nobody seems to notice your extra effort. And besides that, only TWO kids showed up for those events!
And then it happens...
  • One of the teens who used to be in your youth ministry calls you just to chat and tells you how much you meant to him.
  • A parent sends you a kind email, overjoyed that her daughter spoke to her (with more than the typical "I dunno") about this morning's meaningful class.
  • The most apathetic, uninvolved teen calls your house and, in tears, tells you he wants to be saved and give his life to Christ.
  • You are laughing harder than ever with your teens at an unplanned youth event, and realize that it's one of your best youth ministry moments.
  • One teenager shows up to an event. Instead of your normal discouragement, you decide to have a great time with that individual. You talk about things you would never talk about in a huge group of people.

So, is youth ministry worth it? YES.

Even though you're in a difficult situation? YES.

If I had left youth ministry when those questions arose, I never would have learned the lessons I now cherish. Also, I would never have experienced youth ministry AFTER kids have left your youth group and grown up a little.

Sometimes the pay is awful. Sometimes you cannot see results. Sometimes you feel unappreciated. But you are fighting a battle that is WORTH IT! You are fighting for the souls of teens, some of which their parents have given up fighting for.

And the best of are on God's team!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Salute to Brett Favre

One of the best has officially resigned from the NFL. If you didn't catch his press conference, check it out here.
With tears in his eyes, Brett Favre told the press, "All good things must come to an end." He revealed no other reason than "I've got nothing left to give."
Now, please understand, I'm a Dallas Cowboy fan. And there was a time when the Packers were a major threat to the Cowboys every time they played each other.
But I must admit, Brett Favre was always fun to watch! In this same press conference, he says, "It was never about the money, or the fame..." and I believe him. This guy played his guts out because he LOVES THE GAME. Favre never gave up, many of his wins coming in the last moments of ball games. He always reminded me of a 12-year old kid when he would celebrate after a play. If only ALL professional footballers were THAT excited, and kept that kind of football would be much more popular among viewers.
Yes, I'm sad to see him go. Yes, I wonder if he still had another few good years in him. But his profession is not like mine. (It definitely pays better!) You need mental sharpness and physical ability and wellness to excel in football. I can see how it would wear on you after a while.

(Speaking of which, I noticed that a random person from the Web found my site using a search entitled, "Is youth ministry worth it?" Hang in there, I'll try to answer your question next blog...)

Mr. Favre, I salute you and what you've done for the game. I'll miss you bringing it to my Cowboys week by week. Enjoy your family. I'm sure you'll launch yourself into your next phase of life with the same eagerness you exhibit in football. And I hope you continue to excel. Keep remembering the blessings God has given you, and keep Him as your compass in life. God bless you, man.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Famine Results!!

Alright, so I know you're all on pins and needles wondering about my challenge to the youth group in raising money for hungry kids around the world. Since I blew them all away last year, I told them that if one of them could raise more than me, I would commit to running a 5K race. Well, the results are in...

I'm running a 5K race.

Tehia Goben raised $850 to my $745. She worked very hard for it, too! Many phone calls were made, and she thought outside of the box, asking friends, relatives, church members, and even her dad's clients.

But here's the great news:

We raised $3,320 this year, which is about $1,000 more than last year! Guess how many kids that feeds, clothes, educates and provides medical care for?


I pulled nine children up on stage to help us visualize this accomplishment. All we did was fast for 30 hours and make a few phone calls. I hope the teens realized on Sunday that they CAN make a difference in this world! Is fasting for 30 hours and asking for money worth it in order to save ONE LIFE? YOU BET!!

If you're ever down on yourself; if you ever believe that you cannot make a difference; if you think the problem is so big that you do nothing...just realize that Jesus asks us for SOMETHING. One meal, one kind word, one cup of water.

I don't have to change the world. God can do a GREAT job at that without my help. But I can help change the trajectory of one life. And I believe God smiles when His children start to believe that.
If you want to learn what 30 Hour Famine is all about, check out their website at: