Monday, July 31, 2006
Thankfully, I've got Julie. She prays. It's wonderful. I have so much to learn from her. The other day they were out at lunch and an ambulance came to pick up a lady. Julie grabbed the boys close and said, "Lets pray for that lady." They prayed. I know they prayed because when I got home Noah didn't tell me about the toy he got at lunch he talked about the ambulance and how they prayed for the lady who went off in it.
It's interesting to note that other than the opening prayer this past Sunday I didn't stop and give the students time to pray. I talked a lot about it. We didn't do it. I was reminded this past Sunday that I needed to model what I was teaching. Sure teaching on it is fine, but how much more would our students received from God's Spirit had they been given time to just commune with Him?
Friday, July 28, 2006
If all things going according to plan you're looking at the graduating classes of 2020, 2022, 2024. It seems so far away. It's funny because when you talk to the parents of seniors in the hallway of the church or in the welcome center they can remember their senior being this age just like it was yesterday.
We are excited for another year of life and we'll wait until they all are in elementary school before we start thinking about the commencement ceremony!
Thursday, July 27, 2006
What are you doing in your community, city and world?
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I got the chance yesterday to say “Thanks” to Al yesterday for being a part of my story as a developing pastor of students. There are so many people who have made deposits in my life that have had huge returns. It reminded me that we must be willing to have those who have gone before us making deposits in our lives. It reminded me that one of the passions of youth ministry should be getting leaders motivated to make deposits in lives of students. Our leaders must be depositing a love for God and a love for others.
I can’t wait to see who God will bring through the balance of this year to make a deposit in my life!
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
“…NEWSWEEK honors top schools that help regular kids succeed in college.”
I love this! The focus is on them succeeding in college, not succeeding in high school! I wonder how many people are doing high school youth ministry this way? A successful youth ministry is preparing students to be spiritually ready for college.
If our focus is on their next step in college it’s going to change how we walk through high school with them. For example, what’s the one thing they are going to take from their spiritual journey in high school with them into college? Not their parents. Not their youth pastor. Not their small group leader. Not the programs they attended.
Therefore we must make all that we do in youth ministry point to this BOOK that the writer of Proverbs in 7:2 says to keep as the “apple of your eye.” Keeping this as the apple of their eyes in college is going to help them make it spiritually! Part of our plan for our students being spiritually ready for college means our ministries must be saturated with the Word of God because the Bible they are studying with us on Sundays is going to be the Bible by their bed in their dorm room one Tuesday morning in college! Making things fun isn't going to help them succeed.
Part of students being spiritually ready for college is youth pastors being ready to make God’s Word the focus of their ministries. Paul told Timothy to guard the deposit (Word of God) entrusted to him! I want to be able to say this to every senior graduating!
Monday, July 24, 2006
For me, I woke up this morning with this dialogue between Lois and Superman on my mind:
Lois Lane: The world doesn't need a Savior...
Clark Kent: Listen...
Lois Lane: I don't hear anything.
Clark Kent: I do. I hear everything. You wrote that the world doesn't need a Savior, but every day I hear people crying for one.
Many things are going through my mind as it relates to this dialogue, but as I head into my week I am reminding myself that I need to listen and hear everything that’s going on in our students lives because they are crying for a Savior. Behind the “I am cool, life is great” attitude that they display on the outside there is a loud cry on the inside that can only be stopped by the amazing love of God. Every time we meet as a community of students someone’s crying. The question for our leaders and myself is, “Do we hear them?” Once we hear their cry, we have nothing more to offer than the Gospel which when responded to, will change their tears of fear into tears of joy!
Saturday, July 22, 2006
- Alice Cooper
"We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God."
- A.W. Tozer
I came across these quotes this week as I was preparing my message for Sunday out of Luke 10:38-42. I've been thinking all week about Jesus' words in part of verse 42,
"...but only one thing is needed."
I've been looking this week at the "What it takes to be a disciple list" I've created over the years and it's just that...A LIST! And everything is out of order.
I am wondering how I got here? Who gave me this list? Why do I have it? Who told me the order? How many things need to be on the list? How did things get out of order? And what scares me the most, if I am honest, if this list was in order of what I think is important (based on what I actually do), what Jesus praises Mary for is way down on the list,
"Mary...who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said."
This ONE THING, which should be at the top of the list, is the everlasting tough call of life.
Friday, July 21, 2006
I can’t even imagine what message this would have sent to Noah on Monday. I should have had United drop a plane on the street! This article highlights the reality that our kids are growing up in a culture where money gets you what you want at any age. Can you believe what some of these kids weddings are going to look like?
What if our kids marry a girl whose grown up having BIG MONEY birthdays and she gets to our rehearsal dinner at the church with better than average lasagna, pink lemonade out of a five gallon jug and Klondike bars for dessert? She’s going to flip!!!!! I can see her fidgeting thinking that she dropped 6K on the dress and all she’s getting is a Klondike bar! Hey, I’ll buy the Reese Peanut Butter Cup ones!!
I agree with this quote in the article, “Social psychologist Susan Newman, author of "Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day," believes parents of young children are doing more of these extravagant parties as a way to impress their friends and validate their own self-worth.”
Thursday, July 20, 2006
The thing that sticks out most to me today about this book as I think back on it is the simple fact that we need to celebrate the aggressive natures God has placed in our boys! We need to embrace the purposes of their natures and enjoy them! Ultimately, we need to thank God for the way Josiah can make a gun out of a hanger and kill the bad guys, and for the way Noah thinks he can swing on everything to escape death!
But with all this comes the challenge of shaping it and molding it more into the image of Jesus. There's no doubt about it, the next 15 years are going to be pure excitement! There's no doubt about this either, its going to have to start with prayer.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
It was Pirates of the Caribbean, a coke and a large tub of popcorn that induced labor three years ago and what a gift we were given. We like to say this about Josiah, “When you meet him you don’t just get to know him, you experience him!” He’s bright, funny, has a million facial expressions, loves babies and absolutely loves and cares about people.
Just the other day he saw his Grandpa Dave for the first time in three weeks and the first thing he asked him about was the condition of his back. “How’s your back grandpa?” He knew Grandpa had surgery a while ago and he just was checking up on him! We didn’t teach him that, it’s just who he is! And we like what we see!
It’s a very insightful look into the bands faith in Jesus Christ, who they are as a band and why they write their songs. It’s a must read! One short section captured my heart and it’s what I want all of our high school students to say about their profession when they are living in this world as Christ-following adults using who they were made to be for God’s glory. I think the lead singer captures the essence of who our professional lives should point to.
Here is a short take from this article,
Slade says he used to "write all Christian lyrics" until he had an epiphany while working a shift at Starbucks: "None of my friends outside the church understood any of my songs; we had a different set of vocabulary," he says. "So I went home and threw away all those songs." He adds, "If I handed somebody a double grande mocha latte and told them, 'Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,' they might throw it back on me.” Slade likens his job to any other. "If you're a painter, paint, but you don't have to have Jesus in every picture. Paint well, and if you paint well enough, they might ask you why you do that."
Colossians 4:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
“Whatever YOU DO…” I think The Fray gets it!
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
“Repentance and Faith are twin graces, both implicitly contained in the gift of the new heart; and they cannot but co-exist…Repentance feels the disease, faith embraces the remedy.” Robert Dabney
I realized I have been living a lot without feeling the disease and only embracing the remedy.
I really loved this book and it challenged me again to remember that more than I want to admit my work cheats on family time and my marriage and children lose because of it. I think the book is biblical, practical and extremely convicting. It will be one I recommend every youth pastor read in our district this up and coming year. In fact, I will probably go through it every summer to remind me of the point! This book is a must read, plus it's short fellas!
Here’s my big take home. After I read the book I realized that I couldn’t be the one to answer the subtitle. Rather, when the question is asked I need to think about how my wife would answer it and then ask her!
Monday, July 17, 2006
Hebrews 12:2 “2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
His fifth year of life was huge. He started pre-school. Really started nailing his memory verses. He's riding his bike without training wheels. He's swimming without floaties in the pool. God gave him a little sister. He's helping around the house with chores. He knows all of his letters. Obviously, there's more!
We can’t wait for his sixth year of life!
It was a good reminder to me that when I am waiting for something it's an opportunity for me to catch up on some reading or an opportunity to talk to the person next to me and hear their story.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Can you figure out what the common factor is in all of Hodges kid's names?
By the way, Tim is a Denver Firefighter!
Saturday, July 15, 2006
It’s also reminded me that as I approach a new season of ministry this fall I need to pay more attention to detail. I need to pay attention to the little things no one sees. It’s tempting to just pay attention to just the big things, but I must be persistent about inspecting the little things well. In the words of Mr. Knapp, “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect!”
Friday, July 14, 2006
I want to be a part of a ministry that's always measuring and always looking at where we can improve. I don't want to put "the blinders on" to avoid feeling the pain of failure. I know in my ministry this Spring I have been doing a lot of measuring and I've found out I'm not as good as I thought I was and I am grateful for it!
I think this principle is invaluable in ministry, especially when leading a group of leaders. We need to be able to look at where we've failed and view it as an opportunity to grow into something better and not get discouraged. There's a lot of good stuff going on, but we can't just keep measuring what we're good at.
One of things we are doing in our ministry this year is taking a hard look at what a faithful follower of Jesus looks like and using it as our measuring stick. After about 100 glances in the last three months, I, and the rest of my team have a long way to go!
And you know what, that's not a problem!
And it’s not just the lives in Eastern Europe that are impacted; it’s the lives of the families and churches of the students who attend. Literally, 10’s of thousands of lives are being impacted by these camps for the purpose of shining a light on Jesus Christ and His redemptive work!
I consider it a privilege to be a part of this unstoppable movement and my goal this fall is to recruit to new youth ministries from Colorado to join me in this mission!
Thursday, July 13, 2006
It’s hard to explain what this does inside of me. All I know is that for fifteen days I have the best seat in the house!
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
It makes a difference here! Trust me! Our leaders and students know she owns the trip. Our students and leaders know that it’s tough for Julie to be without me, but they know that Julie is behind what we are doing 100%. She’s not at home complaining about the mission trip taking her husband away. She’s at home being a cheerleader, prayer warrior and GREAT MOM!!!!!!!
No doubt about it…My wife owns this trip!
Here’s the deal! Krakow is becoming the new Prague! I wonder what it will be like in the next five years.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
I remember when we first started dating and I would lay on my bed anxiously waiting to call her while she was at UNC and I was at CCU. Just hearing her voice back then did something in me; it created this sense of companionship and love that I can’t explain.
We talked about everything all night. Now, it’s not like we don’t talk, accept about working, raising kids, etc… This trip has helped me realize that I don’t take the necessary time away when I am home to hear my wife’s voice. I don’t take the time for just the two of us, with no kids, talking the night away and talking about everything. On this trip I can’t wait to hear her voice!
I am looking forward to walking up the escalator and getting a hug from her, hearing the words, “Welcome home babe!” Then, I am looking forward to getting away in the next week as Tierra, from our Poland team, is going to watch our kids!
I think Julie might call tonight! It’s kind of like she’s at UNC all over again!
You've gotta love getting a little tast of home here in Katowice, Poland.
If you don't have there album download it NOW!
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Brian, I saw a dude wearing a Brett Favre jersey and all I could do is picturing you throwing your Princessa Bar up in the air, grabbing the guy, hugging him and screaming at me to take a picture of you and him. I am guessing when you got home it would be the first picture in your photo album that you would show all your friends as you talked about the trip. Finally, all I can picture us talking about the trip at the Greek restaurant we used to frequent and hearing you sum up the whole Brett Favre jersey experience with one word, “Classic!”
By the way, I spent the rest of the day looking for John! Everywhere I went I was looking for Elway’s jersey! Now that would have been EPIC!
Friday, July 07, 2006
When I hung up with Julie God reminded me of something I can’t forget. With my third kid here I need to get excited about Adah screeching and everything else she does for the first time. I can’t miss all the little things she does because I have been there and done that with Noah and Josiah. I can’t overlook her turning over, or eating cereal, or sitting up, or rolling over, over starting to laugh, or learning to play, or whatever! We already have less video and fewer pictures of her, so my prayer is that she won’t feel like there’s less love. Words can’t express in my heart what this little girl is doing to me. I can’t wait to kiss her sweet, chubby little cheeks on Wednesday morning.
We closed our time looking at that attitude of our Abba, our Daddy, as he welcomed home his lost son. He welcomed him home not with a list of what he had done wrong, but welcomed him home with a hug and a banquet!!!!!! What a night!
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
One thing I can somewhat describe is that today was one of those moments when “the ministry” affected me. God used the picture of the husband and wife at the end of the video choosing to not be angry, choosing not to break like she was taught to, and hugging their little girl, to pierce my heart.
As I watched this video I began to weep over my sinfulness as a father. Who will my kids be “Because of Me?” What will the words be to their song about the home they grew up in? I know there are good things, but this song has caused me to stop and think again about my problem with anger and yelling. I don’t want my kids to grow up afraid because their dad lost it.
I lost it before I left with Noah when he threw Josiah into the couch and my heart is aching for what how I erupted. Being in Poland makes it all that more difficult because all I want to do is hug him and tell them I love him. I don’t feel guilt, I just know I need Jesus to heal my heart and make me more open to experiencing the unconditional love of my Abba. I’ll have other chances to not respond that way. I’ll hug him and cuddle with him on Wednesday, July 12th when he wakes up! I prayed for him tonight. I prayed for Josiah. I prayed for Adah. Then I just spent some time looking at the mountains reciting in my minds David’s 121st psalm.
At the end of the night I challenged our students in the midst of “doing” the ministry here to not miss what God wants to do in them personally.
I guess this is hitting me in a fresh way because I read Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley on the plane on our way from Chicago to Krakow. In some sense, I am cheating my family and the families of our church out of celebrating the fourth of July and that’s a big deal! We’ll see what happens next year.
Monday, July 03, 2006
These words that David penned in his journal have been going through my mind all day as I look at the mountains in Zakopane (I've tried to post a picture but the connection is to slow).
It is such a joy to watch our students and leaders serve here at camp. After a 9-hour bus ride and a short night of sleep our first day at the camp was great! Students and staff are building relationships with the Polish leaders and students and it’s a wonderful picture of relational ministry!
Today I got to go with Lee to the hospital. He broke his collarbone in two places. It looks like it hurts. He is doing great! The Doc got everything back in place and he has some good pain medication. What a privilege it was to walk alongside Lee today in a Polish hospital. I was grateful to have Kasia present to translate. Lee was great! Even the nurse commented on how brave he was! He is in great spirits and our team prayed for him tonight. Oh, did I mention, it’s Lee’s birthday?! Happy birthday buddy!
Between the mountains and Lee there couldn’t be a better word today than to remember that our help truly does come from God!
As the Internet is up and running in the kitchen I will post!
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Chicago seems like it was a week ago. The long flight, the long bus ride today to get to Zielona Gora and now I am preparing to prepare to preach...all of it reminds me that I won't be sleeping a lot in the next 9 days. I'll be up late and I'll be up early. It's one of the fascinating aspects of leading a trip. You stay up late to get the blogs done while the students are staying in polish homes. You stay up late to clean up. You stay up late having conversations with anyone who will listen because you want God to use every conversation for His glory. You stay up late thinking through not only what's going on at camp, but what's going on inside the hearts of the students and leaders that are with you. Even tonight I am scrolling through my mind how our students and leaders are doing.
You get up early. You have to or you'll just stay in bed all day! I get up and do some push-ups and sit-ups to get the blood running. Take a shower and head to the leaders meeting. I bought extra Nescafe today because I know by Friday I am going to need an IV of coffee just to walk to breakfast!
But none of this bothers me. It's what you sign up for when Dan Hash asks you to come to Poland. I wouldn't trade it for any other trip!
All of this loss of sleep reminds me what Jesus did on a busy day in his life. He got up early and went to be alone with God. I don't want to miss this lesson this year. I don't want to miss Him in my life personally on this trip. I am excited for the next week.