Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prayer as a part of preparation

I wish someone would have told me to make prayer more a part of my preparation as I prepared messages every week for our students. Oh sure, I prayed, but often, due to the busyness of the week, my prayers sounded more like the high school student sitting in class waiting for the test, "Lord, please help me!" I spent a ton of time reading commentaries. I spent a ton of time reading the passage over and over in context. I spent a ton of time creating PowerPoint presentations to make my messages more visually appealing. I spent hours upon hours searching for just the right movie clip to hammer home my point. I spent hours on creating handouts to help our students engage the message. I spent hours creating entire teaching journals for our students to track each message in the series. I spent hours writing questions to help our students engage the message they heard during the week. I spent hours arranging the room to be just right when the walked in.

I didn't spend hours in prayer.

I wish someone would have reminded me of the disciples' words in Acts 6:4, "But we will devote ourselves to prayer..." Sure, spending hours doing all of the above wasn't wrong, in and of itself, but where where the hours spent in prayer? I wish someone would have told me that I needed to talk to God about the students before I talked to the students about God.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Biggest Hindrance to Prayer

I wish someone would have talked to me “straight up” about the hindrances I was going to experience to practicing prayer as the foundation for my ministry. I can remember people hinting that the “busyness” of ministry would get in the way of my prayer time. I needed to watch my calendar. I needed to schedule it. I needed to not schedule it at 11:00 p.m. at night or I wouldn’t be awake through my prayer time. There were several other thoughts here and there that well meaning people tried to point out.

But no one and I mean no one, pointed out what I believe the biggest hindrance to be…ME.

I wish someone would have had the guts to look me in the eye and say, “You can’t be alone, can you?” I wish someone who knew me the best would have challenged me to quit hiding behind the fact that I am an extrovert. I wish someone would have called my bluff when I told them that because I was an extrovert I always talked to God. I wish someone would have asked me, “When was the last time you were quiet and alone with God?” I wish I would have been told that one of my greatest strengths in ministry was one of my greatest hindrances to being with the One my ministry was for.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Make prayer THE foundation

I wish someone would have hammered it into me that prayer needed to be the first foundation I laid in my youth ministry.

As I started youth ministry prayer was something that started meetings and ended meetings. It was something that started a teaching time and ended a teaching time. It was something that started a small group and ended a small group. It was something that started a leaders meeting and ended a leaders meeting.

Prayer wasn't a part of my ministry plan. I had parents to contact. I had students to meet with. I had programs to run. I had trips to plan. I had to create a disciplemaking pathway. I had to prepare lessons. I had to find relevant movie clips. I had to create PowerPoint slide shows to make my messages more relevant. I had to fill out room set up requests. I had to answer email (well, not when I first started :)). I had to answer voice messages. I had to keep the parents informed. I had to report to my boss. I had to attend trainings in the city. I had train my volunteers. I had to build relationships with other paid staff members. I had to build a relationship with my administrative assistant. I had to make sure the lights were turned out when I left the building. I had to make sure all the doors were locked. I had to make sure every student got picked up. I had to make sure that the rooms were ready for the meeting the next morning.

And that's not even 1/20th of what I had to do.

Sure I had to do all that and more...but as I began to "do" my job I realized that there was a big...BIG difference between saying prayers as I did my ministry and making prayer part of my ministry.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Finishing Up

Well, it's been months since I've posted on this blog. Over the next couple of months I am going to be using this blog specifically to reflect on what I wished I would have learned in the classroom as a student before I stepped into being a student ministry pastor. For me, this is a way to evaluate the last 15 years of serving in one church and in one youth ministry. On May 31st this blog will go bye bye and a new one will appear on June 1st!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Make our hearts as the heart of a little child

We bless you, O most holy God, for the unfathomable love whereby you have ordained that spirit with spirit can meet and that we, weak and erring mortals, should have this ready access to the heart of Him who moves the stars.

With bitterness and true compunction of heart we acknowledge before you the gross and selfish thoughts that we so often allow to enter our minds and to influence our deeds.

We confess, O God –

That often we let our minds wander down unclean and forbidden ways;
That often we deceive ourselves as to where our plain duty lies;
That often, by concealing our real motives, we pretend to be better than we are;
That often our honesty is only a matter of policy;
That often our affection for our friends is only a refined form of caring for ourselves;
That often our sparing of our enemies is due to nothing more than cowardice;
That often we do good deeds only that they may be seen of men, and shun evil ones only because we fear they may be found out.

O holy One, let the fire of your love enter our hearts, and burn up all this coil of meanness and hypocrisy, and make our hearts as the heart of a little child.

John Baillie

Friday, May 28, 2010

TRUST in the life of David

“When I am most afraid, I put my trust in you, in God whose word I praise, in God I put my trust, fearing nothing; what can men do to me?” - Psalm 56:3-4

“My trust in God never wavers” - Psalm 26:1

“He rescued me, since he loves me” - Psalm 18:19

“But I for my part rely on your love, O Lord” - Psalm 13:5

“Put your trust in Yahweh, be strong, let your heart be bold, put your trust in Yahweh” - Psalm 27:14

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust” - Psalm 40:4

“I mean to thank you constantly for doing what you did, and put my trust in your name, that is so full of kindness, in the presence of those who love you” - Psalm 52:9

“I, for my part, like an olive tree growing in the house of God, put my trust in God’s love for ever and ever” - Psalm 52:8

Prayer of Trust

“Abba, into your hands I entrust my body, mind, and spirit and this entire day – morning, afternoon, evening, and night. Whatever you want of me, I want of me, falling into you and trusting in you in the midst of my life. Into your heart I trust my heart, feeble, distracted, insecure, uncertain. Abba, unto you I abandon myself in Jesus our Lord. Amen.” - Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning, pgs. 11-12

Friday, May 07, 2010

Every year you grow you'll find Me BIGGER

From Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis,

“Welcome, child,” he {Aslan} said
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “You’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

If He's not bigger, you're not growing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Greatest Saints

“The greatest saints are not those who need less grace but those who consume the most grace, who indeed are most in need of grace – those who are saturated by grace in every dimension of their being. Grace to them is like breath.” - Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, pg. 94

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Yeah HE will!

“The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally want or choose to do. The Spirit will lead you into the way of the cross, as He led Jesus to the cross, and that is definitely not a safe or pretty or comfortable place to be. The Holy Spirit of God will mold you into the person you were made to be…” - Francis Chan

Friday, March 26, 2010

Life is 10% of what happens to me

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.” - Chuck Swindoll