504 Java Profile

504 Java Profile
Two of my favorite things

Friday, April 29, 2011

On Spurgeon and Cloudy Days

Those of you who know me know that these have been challenging days for me personally and professionally. For those of you who do not know me, these have been challenging days for me personally and professionally. I imagine you can relate. I have talked to many friends who have suffered tremendously. Students who literally lost their hometowns to tornadoes (Kristin Wilkerson, my former assistant said, "at least you know a hurricane is coming") in the past few days, difficulties all over, families struggling with addiction, job loss--it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

When I open my Bible program on my PC, I see a devotional classic from Charles Spurgeon. Today's devotion caught my attention. I didn't paste all of it here, but between the truly sad situations of the people who are reeling from a week of storms and these lines from the devotion, I figured I needed to finish the cake, pass out the parting gifts and dismiss my pity party. Join me in praying that we allow God to speak grace, comfort and direction into our troubled lives. Pray especially for families, churches, and entire towns that need a ray of sunshine.

From Spurgeon's Daily Devotion

"Thou art my hope in the day of evil."

There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the earlier stages of their Christian career; they have walked along the "green pastures" by the side of the "still waters," but suddenly they find the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the Land of Goshen they have to tread the sandy desert; in the place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, "Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen." Oh! say not so, thou who art walking in darkness. The best of God's saints must drink the wormwood; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his harp from the willows. Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid. He tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God's full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Friends and Video Cameras

My good friend Mike Calhoun with Word of Life Ministries did an interview with me while we were at Metro Youth Ministers Conference in Florida. Notice lack of tan to indicate that I was working...

Check out his ministry to minister to the ministers. Click here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

On College and Advice

I submitted the following to be posted on the College Initiative section of the Center for Parent Youth Understanding (www.cpyu.org) website.

Click here for more college advice from other folks.

What students should do to make college count:

1. Learn to work hard. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s easy.

2. Wash regularly. Your clothes, your hair, yourself. You don’t want your only friends to be fungi.

3. Respect how much money other people (parents, grandparents, scholarship donors) are spending so you can get an education.

4. Don’t lose your ability to wonder about what God is up to.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

On Preaching a Revival


I am preaching my first “revival” ever, though I have preached hundreds of camps, conferences, and Disciple Now weekends. I have preached as a staff member, an interim pastor, and a seminary professor. Preaching opportunities number in the thousands, but I have never preached a “revival” (and in 2011, I have two of them on my calendar!).

I have never thought of myself as an evangelist. When asked or tested concerning spiritual gifts, I test as a teacher, an encourager, or a counselor. I have never even tested as a prophet (so I am a “non-prophet organization”). But now I am preaching a revival.

Assuming that my friend who invited me to his church–much trust involved there–was dialed into what God wanted him to do, I assume that God is growing me in this way. By the way, an enormous amount of prayer and preparation has gone into this revival. The church has large canvas-like frames in the sanctuary where for weeks, people have written prayer requests and statements of adoration as they have personally and corporately prepared their hearts for God’s Spirit to move in their church.

So I have to turn to the meaning of revival. Old school, it was a series of meetings designed to allow church members to do some evaluating as to their spiritual condition and to allow neighbors and friends to hear the Good News that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and Savior, Forgiver of Sins and Healer of Lives. Such a description seemed to me a good goal for me to think and pray towards.

I have chosen to look at four stories of lives that were changed as Jesus ministered publicly. In these four messages, I have tried to weave continuous narrative that would capture the essence of His mission as he moved toward the culmination of His earthly ministry--Passion Week. , For three years, He was intentionally and deliberately moving towards Jerusalem and Crucifixion (Palm Sunday) and in a plan that was completely and radically God’s–to Resurrection and Ascension, accompanied by the announcement of the Holy Spirit.

In John 15:26-27, Jesus said, "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

So revival is simply allowing the promised Counselor to penetrate our hearts with the message of the Gospel and the Christian life. It is a time out from schedules to include a focus on Jesus during what would ordinarily be a work week. It is an opportunity for preachers, teachers, deacons, committee folk, moms, dads, teenagers, college students, children, builder, baker, candlestick maker–to stop, breathe and allow God to speak into our lives.

With God’s help, maybe I can do that.

The Outline of the Messages is as follows
• Sunday morning: Zaccheus the Curious Convert (Luke 19)
• Sunday night: Matthew the “All In” Tax Collector (Luke 5)
• Monday: Four Friends and a Mobility Challenged Individual (Luke 5)
• Tuesday: What do You Want From Jesus? (Luke 18)

Pray for the good people in Carthage, Texas and what might happen here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

On Legacy in Youth Ministry

I appreciate my brothers and sisters in ministry that are part of the Metro Youth Ministers group. We are all somehow connected with churches that are some of the larger ones in our country. We are diverse--older guys, younger guys--we have had ladies as well and we are drawn together by a desire to make Jesus famous and better minister to students in the process. I was honored to be asked to speak for part of a session which I shared with my dear friend in ministry, Victor Flores.

I reflected on the legacy that we leave. 2 Timothy is in my mind Paul's "legacy" letter and in the third chapter, he reminds his young protege,

2 Tim 3:14-17
14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (NASB)

What a reminder! Continue on! You have learned some things, experienced some things, you have breathed Scripture. Now pass them on to the faithful men and others of 2:2. Leave a legacy, a clearly marked trail for others to follow. These Metro guys are leaving legacies. They are thinking strategically about reaching and discipling students, but also in creating environments where students are challenged and sent to do significant things (as Victor said, "as arrows, shot from a bow drawn back with prayer").

I shared with them some lists. I just finished reading, Brown Like Coffee by the list guy, a great read for a college student or someone who works with college students. I am going to mail it to my Florida State Seminole daughter tomorrow. In the spirit of thinking about lists, I had a few to share with the Metro guys. Please share your comments on these--add, subtract, reflect...

Five Not So Good Youth Ministry Ideas
  1. Magician's flash paper as an illustration. I lost my eyebrows, but it seemed like a good idea at the time
  2. The game, "Needle in the Haystack" from Ideas #1. With apologies to Wayne Rice and Mike Yaconelli, the time has passed when we encourage students to dig through a pile of hay to "discover" sharp objects.
  3. The Hot Seat (also from Ideas). Mild electric shock from a 6-volt battery through a Model T Coil and a wooden stool (or better yet a 12-volt and a metal stool)--maybe not so much.
  4. A snafu in communication that led a church secretary to publicize the "Discipline Now" weekend. Big turnout to get in trouble...
  5. Big Wheel Races on the tile hall that makes rectangle around the large group rooms in the education building. Small group room doors (hollow core) which are on the perimeter of the building were vulnerable to the NASCAR "three across" strategy.
Five Great Youth Ministry Ideas
  1. A constant missions mentality. Every small group, always thinking about the current missions project.
  2. Fashion show. I heard that the girls ministry at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, Tx. did a fashion show to model how girls can dress modestly, attractively, and affordably.
  3. Scripture memory as an ongoing value in youth ministry. The Word does not return void.
  4. Discipleship that is intentional in building a partnership between students, parents, friends, and youth workers.
  5. Youth Sunday. Oldie but goodie. Students take responsibility for every adult position in the church (except ministry to really little humans), on one Sunday of the year. Opportunity for responsibility and building intergenerational relationships.
Seven Important Books (Hall of Fame list)
  1. Working the Angles, Eugene Peterson
  2. The Lost Art of Disciplemaking, LeRoy Eims
  3. Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley
  4. Christian Counterculture, John Stott. His commentary on the Sermon on the Mount
  5. April 1865, David McCullough
  6. Love is a Decision, Gary Smalley and John Trent
  7. I Once Was Lost, Don Everts and Doug Schaupp
Five Current Books I Have Read Recently
  1. Our Iceberg is Melting, John Kotter
  2. The Reason for God, Tim Keller
  3. Generation IY, Tim Elmore
  4. Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You've Been Told, Bradley Wright
  5. The Baseball Codes, Jason Turbow
Six Important Youth Ministry Books
  1. Your First Two Years, Doug Fields
  2. Youth Culture 101, Walt Mueller
  3. Youth Ministry Management Tools, Ginny Olsen and Mike Work
  4. TEACH, Allen Jackson
  5. rethink, Steven Wright
  6. Youth Ministry and the Supremacy of Christ, Richard Ross
Five Great Scripture Passages
  1. Jeremiah 29:10-11 (God is talking about patience, not prosperity)
  2. Deuteronomy 6 and following. Also Joshua 3 and following ("when your son asks, tell him")
  3. Philippians 2:1-11 (the Christ Hymn)
  4. Psalm 24 ("Are we ready for worship? Who is this King of Glory?")
  5. Matthew 5, "you have heard it said" (Jesus is changing all the priorities)
Seven Words of Advice for Youth Ministers
  1. Never quit reading and studying.
  2. Preach and get good at it.
  3. Have adventures with your spouse and children.
  4. Believe in your call.
  5. Make friends among youth ministers. Network.
  6. This too shall pass.
  7. There are no guarantees when raising your own children, even if you can check all the boxes saying that you tried to do it right. Children choose.