Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Right Question to Ask

This past Sunday our senior pastor preached a message that I will look back on in 10 years and say, "That sermon changed me." Out of this message I walked away with what I believe is the right question to ask ourselves everytime we meet with a student in our ministries.

What is God's loving interest in this person right now?

Oswald Chambers wrote that God tells us to "Identify ourselves with God's interest in other people, don't try to identify God with our interest (or disinterest) in other people."

And before we ask this question with our students we need to first ask this question when we are with our families and our friends.

Cutler is in the air

Everywhere I've been the past three days everyone is talking about Jay Cutler. This morning in Panera as I walked around every table in the place had the paper open to the sports section and talking about the change at quarterback. Grannies, pastors, high school name it!

You gotta love living in this town!

My predicition for Sunday - Broncos 27 Seahawks 24. Cutler will be 19-28, 214 yards, 2 touchdowns (one running, one throwing) and an interception.

I can't wait to go to the game!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

10 is the new 15?

Thanks to Alice for pointing me to this article. It's informing us that 10 year olds in our culture are the new 15 year old.

How is this happening?

Marketing! Tweens are becoming a primary target consumer for retailers.

"Advertisers have found that, increasingly, children and teens are influencing the buying decisions in their households - from cars to computers and family vacations. According to 360 Youth, an umbrella organization for various youth marketing groups, tweens represent $51 billion worth of annual spending power on their own from gifts and allowance, and also have a great deal of say about the additional $170 billion spent directly on them each year."

What are the implications, if any, on the church that has pumped millions of dollars into student ministry for 7-12th graders? Do we need Tween pastors in the middle of the Children's Pastor and the Middle School Pastor?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

God Helped Me Kill a MONSTER

This past week my boys and I have been reading selected stories in the Old Testament and they've all had one common element - KILLING! It hit me last night when I read a story out of 2 Chronicles and I asked them this question, "How has God helped you?" Here are the first things out of their mouths.

Noah's answer - "Dad, seriously, God helped me kill a monster. I picked up the gun and shot him in the face. He died."

Josiah's answer - "Dad, I am like David. I took my fruit roll-up (fruit by the foot), I swinged it like this and put a rock in it and killed Goliath. It was awesome."

I just sat there in stunned silence. Who are these violent children?

Where did these kids learn about killing? Who's been talking to them? What have they been watching on TV? Have they been playing a game on that's violent? Who are Noah's friends at school?

Then it hit me...there learning it from the Bible. The first story after sin entered the world is about a brother killing his brother. Up until last night I had never thought about developing a theology of death and having to teach my 3 year old and 5 year old about it, especially from the Bible.

Tuesdays get me ready

...for Sunday! I've found that spending Tuesday mornings in my second office (Panera) preparing for Sunday gives me enough of a start to know where I am heading for Sunday so I can live in my message. I'll read something, talk to someone, or watch something that prompts me to interact with the message in my own life before I put the final touches on the message Friday and early Sunday morning!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mondays make me ready

Mondays are great days in ministry for me. The office. Getting the week lined up. Most of the admin for the week done. Prayer email sent. Student email sent. Email cleaned up. Meetings set. Office interaction with staff. NO STRESS! NO PRESSURE!

I'm ready for the week. I learned last year that part of my hurried state of life was due in large part to the fact that I didn't have a set time to do admin during the week. Making it on Monday has allowed me to be "more present" the rest of the week.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A BIG Sunday in Denver

The Broncos aren't playing today but it's a HUGE day. The Denver Post is reporting that tomorrow morning the Cutler era will start. No pressure Jay, your first game in the NFL is on National television!

Now I can go buy my boys #6 jerseys!

Sunday night should be a wild ride!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Away from work

Yesterday was an amazing day. Why? Because I had the day off and the next day wasn't Sunday. I think the last time I had 2 straight days off at home was last August. I'm a idiot.

Yesterday made me realize that the pace and rhythm I set for this past year wasn't good enough. I need to spread my vacation out and give myself periods during the year where I am home for two straight days. Here's the big reason why...I can get projects done! The garage is clean. Why is getting projects done important? For some wierd reason it lowers my stress throughout the week. Getting the project done in some crazy way renews my energy.

All of this to say, I think there's a good reason to be away from work (at home) for more than just one day at a time in 2007.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Plummer vs. Cutler

It's so fun to live in a town with a quarterback controversy...especially in a town that once had John Elway as their quarterback. Here's my one cent on the controversy.

Either way were hosed! Jake's looking over his shoulder and knows he's not going to be the man next year. Jay's going to be like a deer in the headlights. He hasn't played competitive football (that counted) since November of last year!

On a side note it was so painful to watch the Broncos double their loses in 96 hours this week!

I can't wait for the Seahawks on Sunday night, December 3rd.

The Buffs

It's been a brutal season. The Buffs ended one of their worst seasons in school history today getting trounced by the Huskers. 2-10 stinks. Next year there is hope. Our recruiting class for next year is in the top 20 in the nation. Cody Hawkins should give Jackson a fight for the starting quarterback. I love this team. I remember following them in middle school and high school passionately. One of my good friends from high school chose CU over Notre Dame in 1993 and played football as a Buff! My dad owned a business in Boulder for 27 years!

I can't wait for next season!

Go Buffs!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

2 Thanks


Psalm 106:1 "Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."

Second, the chance to live out goodness and enduring love in the lives of Noah, Josiah & Adah

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

It's what HE did for you

We can't forget to communicate to students that a relationship with God doesn't first start with creating a list of what your going to do for Him, but meditating on what He did for you. Students must be summoned to the great fact that God is crazy about them and longing for them walk by faith into a radical love relationship that will change their identity and give them a new home. He's so crazy about them that His Son was killed and raised from the dead on the 3rd day so they could be adopted into His family.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I am not an entertainer...

As a pastor of students I am not an entertainer of students. What’s more, I am not director of programs to entertain students. Our doors aren’t open to entertain.

As a pastor of students, along with those I serve with both paid an volunteer, we open our doors to be shepherds. We are spiritual guides and we take our cues from the Word of God. Specifically 1 Peter 5:2-4,

“2Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

12 inch talking Jesus

CNN reported on this “HUGE” story last week. 4,000 talking Jesus dolls made their way into a Toys for Tots. This Jesus scares me…he’s white!

This doll got me thinking though about the truth that when the Word goes out it doesn’t return void. Will God use this doll to draw someone to himself? I can hear it now in 20 years,

“Yeah, when I was growing up we didn’t have much. Toys for Tots hooked us up with some toys one Christmas. I remember getting three toys. A Woody, a Buzz Lightyear and a Talking Jesus. I’ll never forget one day when I was using all three of these toys to battle each other. The Talking Jesus destroyed Woody and Buzz Lightyear and it was at that moment I heard those words from Jesus’ mouth 'I am the WAY and the TRUTH and the LIFE and no one comes to the father except through me' and committed my life to Him.”

God can use anything!

Monday, November 20, 2006

My view of the game from the seats

I got last minute tickets to the game last night. Do you like my view from the seats? I went with my senior pastor, a guy from my wife's Sunday school class and his friend. Frustration is the only thing I feel this morning! AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

On the positive side I got to see the dad of one of our girls at the entrance of Club Level!

What a week this could be...the chance to be the second best team in the league to maybe being a wild card. AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

National Adoption Day

Today is a wonderful day, it's National Adoption Day! Today we celebrate the grace bestowed to us for the gift of our adopted son, Noah.

His eyes captured us the moment we walked into the room!

It moves us to tears, literally, to think that some of the over hundred thousand foster kids that don't have parents in this country today now have a mommy and daddy!

Cruise...Holmes & the Bible?

Today Tom Cruise is marrying Ms. Holmes. I was reading this article on msn detailing the event. We all know Mr. Cruise is a scientologist, but I found it interesting that the Bible made it into the ceremony! In this article made it a point to talk about something very specific to scientology ceremonies,

"Scientology ceremonies contain many elements of traditional weddings, including rings and vows. But they also include certain Scientology fundamentals, including vowing never to go to bed without communicating about any differences."

While it may be a unique vow in a scientology ceremony, it's not founded in scientology! The priniciple is found in the Bible.

Ephesians 4:26 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."

Thank you Paul.

Games - connecting on their turf

Last night we had the privilege to watch our own Jake Spitzlberger play in his final game as a Bear. He went down on the third play of the game with a knee injury. Unbelievably he came back to play the whole game and put up 487 yards and 5 touchdowns (one rushing). They lost the game. On a side-note, Mitch plays today at 2 and I can't make the game!

What stood out to me was the number of SGC people at the game. You can't underestimate the power of attending a game to build community. Sure there wasn't any deep conversations, but it was a chance to connect with families outside the context of the church facility. It was a chance to make a small deposit that communicated you don't always have to come to the church to connect. Our worship pastor and senior pastor showed up too. Games, name it, provide opportunities for us to connect on their turf! Basketball season is just around the corner.

Friday, November 17, 2006

1,990 lbs

The food drive that our high school students ran at our church to benefit Compa Food Ministries brought in 1,990 lbs of food!

Proverbs 22:9 "A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor. "

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A youth ministry is grieving

A local youth ministry was without their youth pastor last night. They met and they were grieving a horrific truth - their youth pastor was having sex with a student. A buddy of mine from Denver Seminary served alongside this high school pastor and I have yet to contact him. I couldn't sleep this morning and turned on the news to help me get back to sleep at 5:30 a.m.

This was the first story.

My heart is grieving. I'm going home and hugging my wife. Hugging my kids. I'm going to ruthlessly inspect my policies that I have given to my leaders about contacting the opposite sex. I'm getting on my knees for this community and praying for healing. I'm going to check my heart and see if there is any offensive way in me. I don't want to be the lead story at 5:30 a.m.

I don't want to wake up in prison.

Students collecting food

Last night was our Compa food collection night at the church! Al, from Compa, drove the big truck to the church and we loaded all this food that we were collecting in our high school room the past six weeks! Our students did a great job running this food drive and getting the whole church behind it! One of the highlights of the night was hearing two of our juniors say in unison, "Just wait til next year, we're going to collect more!"

There's nothing like getting the most passionate poeple in the church excited about looking beyond themselves to serve the community. I can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Catch them doing something right...the skies the limit

I learned early on in youth ministry to catch students doing something right and tell them about it! Too often we're telling them to be quiet, sit down, pay attention, confronting sin, etc... This isn't bad, but if it's all we're doing in ministry the life is going to get sucked right out of us and the students we are serving!

Catch students doing something right this week...especially those that you view as a problem. They aren't a problem, they are an opportunity to bless!

I have been thinking about this as it relates to my 3 and 5 I can find plenty to correct, but I am now looking for more ways to bless! And the way I see it, the skies the limit with them and out students in our ministries! It's so fun to see their faces light up when I stop, get down on their level, look them eye 2 eye and say, "Way to go!"

STOP looking for clues...we have IT!

Time published this article a couple of weeks ago, "How to Get Teens Excited About God - Youth ministers are seeking clues in the results of a new survey of teens and the church, which shows a spiritual longing that is often not fulfilled"

I can't remember the last time I saw the words "youth minister" in Time so I had to read this article. It goes through Barna's recent "poll" about what students want when they come to church. The overwhelming data shows that students want to make a connection with God - that's a no-brianer.

What got me thinking was what are youth ministers excited about in youth ministry and why are they looking for clues? I am not looking for clues! We need to stop looking for clues! To me, it's obvious what we need to be excited about for students to connect with God. Whatever we are excited about they will be excited about! So I'd like to offer the number one, TOP thing for youth pastors to be excited about, so their students can connect with God and the clue finding can stop.

THE BIBLE! Youth ministries need to first be staturated in the Word of God for students to connect with Him! Sundays filled with God's Holy Word! Small groups wrestling with God's timeless Truth!

I want what captures the hearts of my students to be the thing that keeps them in my ministry and when they go to college.

The psalmist exquisitely details in Psalm 119 this number one desire! Here's what verses 9-16 say about the Word! I want students to be excited about this:

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to our word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 12 Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. 13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. 14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. 15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. 16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

When they come to church to connect with God I want it first to be through His Word! Now that's exciting and we can stop looking for clues because we have IT!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fresh eyes and hearts

Yesterday we had five new students in our midst that you could tell wanted to be there as we started our new series on "The Lost Experience." You could see it in their eyes. They sat up straight. They didn’t talk to their friend who sat next to them. They were nodding, looking up the verses, participating in the discussion. They wanted to be there. There thoughts during the discussion about what it means to be "Lost and Afraid" in high school showed their hearts were engaged.

Sunday hasn’t been something they’ve done their whole life. It was something new. They had fresh eyes and fresh hearts. There was a gleam in their eyes. There was sensitivity in their hearts. They heard about the limitless love of God, the sacrifice of Jesus and the promise that perfect love casts out fear.

Our youth ministry needs new life. It’s so exciting to see our students, for whom our community is their spiritual home, reaching out to bring their friends on Sunday mornings! I can't wait to see what will happen on November 19th!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Team Airforce at the Cornmaze

Julie took the kids to our local cornmaze and just as they were about to enter the cornmaze she looked up to see Team Airforce from Treasure Hunters! Needless to say Julie and the kids lost as they raced toward the treasure at the end! Mommy Airforce was getting ready to have their third kid. Julie was happy to find out they were waiting until the birth to find out whether or not it was a boy or a girl! It's the only way to roll!

Living together forever

Today I met with a local youth pastor in our community. There church has grown from 400 to almost 2800 in attendance in the last three years! This guy has a heart for Jesus and longs to see students meet the KING!

What should be my response? Our church has been declining the past 5 years.

My response is one of PRAISE! Not jealousy. My philosophy of networking in youth ministry is that we are all going to live together forever so we might as well get used to it here on earth! I rejoiced with my brother today. We were celebrating what God is doing in our community. I am not competing for market share. Jesus is building the church.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Celebrating small "wins"

This week I’ve been reminded that I don’t celebrate the small “wins” in my ministry enough. One of our i2i groups reached out to a new gal who just moved into our community. One of my leaders is already thinking about the sixth graders being freshmen. I finally met with a student that I’ve wanted to the whole semester. My student ministry team at the church is doing great! Our volunteer leaders in both high school and junior high are amazing. I had an unexpected conversation in our welcome center that touched my heart and soul. The video screens in our room work!

I could go on and on…and I think I should and we should! Sure there is so much that is wrong, that can be tweaked, reworked, better said, more thought out, and better planned, but I’ve been missing the little things that are going on around me that keep my feet planted in ministry here in this community! I want to start celebrating more!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Teens aren't wired for sound judgment

This article is a must read - "Scans of Brain Suggest Teens are not yet Wired for Sound Judgment" for youth workers, parents, teachers, volunteer leaders, senior pastors...everyone!

Here's a quote that gets the article rolling, " brain imaging research indicates that teens sometimes act the way they do - making bad choices, failing to see consequences and acting impulsively, because their brains are simply not finished growing. It may not be that the devil made them do it, but maybe that their frontal lobes and white matter did "

This article got me thinking about how necessary it is for youth workers to be continually challenging our students toward developing critical thinking skills in their minds. What's more, our greater challenge is to get them thinking critically from a biblical perspective. So how are we doing? Sundays orWednesdayss...whenever we are meeting, is there a clear call to our students that is grounded in the Word of God and forcing them to look at this world critically. Are we sharpening their minds? With what? Are we taking real life examples in the world from the news and teaching them how to look at the world through the lens of Scripture?

Student ministry can't be about behavior modification. We can't force them to "look the part" anymore! We've got to start with the head and heart and work from the inside out!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Thanks Jon

This weekend I was away with a group of buddies up in Winter Park and Jon stepped in to teach our students on Sunday morning. Thanks for standing in the gap Jon so I could get away. I do realize that my vacation time put a burden on your time and created something extra for you to do last week while I was relaxing. I think in the past I’ve been to “lax” when it comes to understanding and realizing that my time away creates more of a burden in the lives of my leaders who step in to teach and lead. This morning I am grateful for your sacrifice this week brother and your faithfulness to the task gives me great motivation to serve you greater this week…plus I’ll buy you lunch! :)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The mindset of a senior

I was reading list that Beloit College produces which depicts the mindset of the graduating class of 2007. It's fascinating to look at what they know and what they don't know. Here are a couple that caught my attention.

- Computers have always fit in their backpacks.

- Peeps are not a candy, they are your friends.

I am finding more and more that I graduated along time ago...not really, but 1993 seems like an eternity ago, especially when I look at what they know and don't know. This list reminds me that I must be a student of their culture. This list reminds me that I need younger leaders in in our high school ministry who are going to be able to connect with this group of students. This list reminds me that I am going to say "goodbye" in May to another class that I have loved. Seniors do RULE!

When a family leaves the church

This morning I met with one of our parents about their decision to leave our church. It was a great time! That's right! While my heart breaks that I won't be seeing them on a consistent basis I am glad that I could have such a meaningful time connecting and talking through why they made the decision to leave. It was great to sit across from each other and talk about our personal lives, kids, ministry, job, etc...and know that the break in their attending the church didn't mean a complete relational break. I am not a big fan of not following up on families leaving...I think we can learn a lot about what we do and who we are when we go the extra mile to listen.

I am grateful for these situations where there is no animosity and the desire on both of our parts to stay connected at some level! We'll be playing golf this spring!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Seeing the WORD sink in

Tonight I saw a picture in youth ministry that would be classified as a Rembrandt! A young lady who came to our community on October 4th for the first time was carrying a Bible to her i2i group and has been reading the book of Luke the past two weeks. Her face was electric as she spoke about the WORD sinking into her soul...renewing her life and giving her life meaning.

One month ago...she didn't have any of this. One month ago...she didn't have a Bible. One month ago...she wasn't reading Luke. One month ago...she wasn't part of a Christ-following community. One month ago...she wasn't being challenged by a spiritually mature adult to consider that Chrst will never leave her. One month ago...she had no clue how new life is sustained by letting the WORD sink into your heart, soul and mind.

Oh how a life and change in a month and what a privilege it is to get a front row seat - seeing the difference the WORD makes in the life of a student.