Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Heaven According to Chesney, Camp, Paisley, and God

Yesterday - stuck in the Ville/River traffic - I just had the radio on flipping through my pre-set buttons. Got to the Kenny Chesney song "Everybody wants to go to heaven" - flipped it to the Jeremy Camp song "There Will Be A Day" - listened to the rest of that. Then flipped it back to Chesney - ended - commercial - the very next song was Paisley/Parton "When I Get Where I'm Going". What was this - heaven minute on the radio?
But...this is what I was thinking. This is also when I wish I could get blogger to go in 3 columns. Alas - I'm not that talented:
Here are some of the Kenny Chesney lyrics (also used by my pastor in a sermon a few months back):
Don’t you wanna hear him call your name
When you’re standin’ at the pearly gates?
I told the preacher, “Yes I do”
But I hope they don’t call today I ain’t ready
Everybody wants to go to heaven
Have a mansion high above the clouds
Everybody want to go to heaven
But nobody want to go now
Said preacher maybe you didn’t see me
Throw an extra twenty in the plate
There’s one for everything I did last night
And one to get me through today
Here’s a ten to help you remember
Next time you got the good Lord’s ear
Say I’m comin’ but there ain’t no hurry
I’m havin’ fun down here

Here are the lyrics from Jeremy Camp's "There Will Be a Day":
I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that trys to grab
The many trials that seem to never end,
His word declares this truth, that we will enter in this rest with wonders anew
But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering
There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face
I can’t wait until that day where the very one I’ve lived for always
will wipe away the sorrow that I’ve faced
To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery this is why this is why I sing….

Then, the Paisley/Partin (or Moore/Nockels) song "When I Get Where I'm Going":
So much pain and so much darkness,in this world we stumble through.
All these questions, I can't answer,so much work to do.
But when I get where I'm going,and I see my Maker's face.
I'll stand forever in the light,of His amazing grace.
Yeah when I get where I'm going,Yeah when I get where I'm going,
there'll be only happy tears.
Hallelujah!I will love and have no fear.When I get where I'm going.

All of these are just tiny glimpses, some true, some not true obviously...but I do know something that is true - that is worth so much more when I think about not knowing much about heaven:
Revelation 21.4
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Hebrews 8.1
Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.
2 Peter 3.13
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Rev 12:10
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
Rev 19.1
After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.
Rev 21.2
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev 15.3
And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations.
1 Cor 13.12
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
Rev 5.9
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.

When I fear heaven - it is based on the unknown and my works. But, when I rejoice about heaven - it is based on the finished work of Jesus on the cross on my behalf for His glory - and that is what heaven is all about - Him being worshipped.
Not about me riding a drop of rain, or delaying my going so I can party more down here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chicago and Spring Snow

I left work early on Friday to head to Chicago to hang out with a friend of mine, Janel. She just moved to the city this month and its closer than going to CH to visit her.
Traffic was a mess. Getting out of the ville, heading into Indy (because of the Sweet 16 games), then about 40 miles still inside Indiana there was construction that backed us up for 8 miles (and I so had to go to the bathroom) - good thing there was a rest area right when the traffic cleared. I had good sermons to listen to - Daniel Montgomery from Sojourn. Here are the two points I wrote down while I was either driving or stuck in traffic:
1. My functionality flows out of who I am. I am not what I do. I am who God has made me to be - and He paid my ransom - I am free.
2. The spies going into the land of Canaan (in Numbers) were not going in there to see if they could take the land...they were going in there to give a report. God had already promised the land to them. We need to hear every report in light of the promises of God.
So - I finally got to Chicago with the help of my Dad on the phone helping me find where I was going - then there was no parking, so Janel hopped in the car and we ended up at Charlie's to watch the game.
Saturday - we went to Wheaton - enjoyed the CS Lewis museum - totally convicting me that I need to read more of this great man's imagination (and Chesterton and Tolkien). Then the Wheaton Bookstore where I got The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges for 7$. Then we went to the popcorn store and then to Mai Tai Cafe for lunch. Trader Joe's proved also beneficial for us.
Schaumburg taught me a lesson in looking at prices and weight before buying something that is non-returnable and we went shopping and to Caribou for some hot chocolate (skim with whipped cream) - so good since it was very windy and rainy and cold up there.
Drove back and stopped by Whole Foods to get some coho salmon for dinner. We had dinner in while watching bball and then capped the night off with some Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility - such a great movie. I like it better each time I watch it.
Sunday morning woke up to about 4 inches of snow. Walked around the corner to John's Place for some breakfast - then I headed out and Janel went to church.
It was a great wknd - good food, good shopping, great talking with one of my girls.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thoughtful Thursdays: Elyse Fitzpatrick

"Other forms of obedience simply don't measure up, because love for God isn't the motive. And if love isn't the motive, your obedience will always be motivated by love for yourself. There's only one Person whose opinion really matters, and all the rest of our guilt is just our desire to approve of ourselves and make ourselves happy."

Comforts from the Cross - p. 21

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Missionaries, Ministry, and Football

Today I have the incredible pleasure of listening to one of my heroes talk about his life after football. Yes, Danny Wuerffel, Heisman Trophy winner, record breaker, husband, father, National Champion...is here to speak about Desire Street Ministries - an inner city ministry founded in New Orleans.
He is one person that knows there is more to life than football. He played in the NFL, made tons of money, has many trophies - many records are still held by him at Florida - but God had put a higher mark on his head than just a football player with lots of money.
I saw him play quite a number of times when he played for Florida. Loved him then, love him now. He spoke at an FCA event at Florda after he graduated. Sat on the same row as him. I used to think this really mattered. But, it doesn't. There is more than his signature and a picture (although I will still try to get both today after lunch). He is more my hero because he lived out his faith (not perfectly, but faithfully) at Florida, in the NFL, in the locker rooms, and in his home.
A friend sat next to me today in chapel. She asked me if that was a missionary. I said, "No, its Danny Wuerffel." How wrong I was - yes, it is Danny Wuerffel - but yes, he is a missionary.
Speaking of other missionaries. My brother and sister in law were commissioned at their church in Central Florida this weekend. They leave the day after Easter to spend 6 months in Ghuana. I will miss them. They will be over in Africa or Switzerland (to learn French) for at least 4 years. I am so excited for them. They will be loving on Africans in the name of Jesus. Pray that the opportunity comes available for me to go to Switzerland to see them in 2010. That would be amazing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Easter Reading

Every year at Easter I read two books - this year I am adding to the reading and also am going to a 6 hour teaching on Good Friday by one of my favorite preachers - on the cross.
The Cross-Centered Life by CJ Mahaney.
50 Reasons - John Piper (on why Jesus had to die)

And this year:
Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges.
Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick (first finished one of the shelf at a book convention in TX - thanks Joneses!)

This year I have to focus on the gospel and how it changes my life. I look forward to these three books and Secret Church at Brookhills on Good Friday. May God radically change the next 3 weeks of my life and the rest of it - with the magnification of the gospel of Jesus.

Impressions of God's Mercy and Grace

The last 24 hours (and a few moments of the Connecting Church and Home Conference) have been some hard times for me - good, but hard. Here - let me try and explain.
At the beginning of 2009 I asked God for a very specific prayer request. Some of you reading this know what that is - and no, He hasn't answered it. However, He has thrown some stuff in my face to show me areas in my life that aren't quite up to His standards. Here is the last 24 hours (and some of Friday and Saturday)...
1. Steve Wright (friend and student pastor at Providence in Raleigh) said this to close out his main session talk on Saturday morning:
See the gospel as the greatest thing. That God gets bigger, when the work of the Spirit gets mightier, when grace is more, when sin is uglier, when gospel roots go down deeper, when eternity gets louder. Keep this in mind: never let the gospel get smaller in your hearts.
This does not resonate with me right now. I make the gospel so light - only lip service right now it seems.
2. I was in the presence of some humility this weekend at the conference. And when you see it - then know it is absent in your life - you see how much God has to work in your life. I also was around some very prideful people this wknd. And I didn't like it. And that is unfortunately what people see in my life and they don't like it either.
3. Before all this - I've been in sin conversations (what are mine, where do I sin constantly and how is God working His grace into that sin to make it change for His glory) with some community. What a blessing they have been - even though I leave those sessions very beat up - I so need it. Am thankful for them.
4. A friend that I have known since middle school spoke truth and the harsh wonderful reality of TOTAL DEPRAVITY and how I say I believe that - but what is coming out of my mouth is all about me. I think that I am better for the world in Christ. Maybe not deep down in my soul - but maybe so. At least what comes out of my mouth and in my actions.
5. I was around a woman this weekend that exudes kindness and graciousness. I don't. Do I want to - yes. I don't know how. I honestly don't. I'm at a loss.
6. The song All Because of Jesus by Steve Fee - Cornerstone of Knoxville put some more verses to it. One line said he is my all in all. Yes, I know, very trite. But, that is where the tears started for me. I don't technically live that out. God is not enough for me. I seem to be enough for me right now.
7. Chris Tomlin's Amazing Grace. We sing that often at Crossing. But, at Cornerstone - with 1000 people singing it like they mean it - man...good stuff. But, the lines...
That saved a wretch like me - see number 4. I know this, but this morning I was stunned with the reality of it.
The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures. I have to know the Word. This is where my security lies - in God - not in who I am, who I know, what I do, what I've done, etc.
And like a flood His mercy rains Unending love, Amazing grace. I just wanted to stand there and let mercy rain down on me. Knowing the closeness of God. The impression of God. The depth of my sin - and believe I don't know it half nearly as good as He knows it.
8. The sermon was on 1 Cor 3 - part of it was - believers need to be humble. Really God - are you trying to get my attention? I hadn't noticed. Oh, the grace and mercy of God - how good He is to me.
9. My friend (as mentioned above) kept saying the word kindness over and over again in our conversation in the wee hours of this morning. Every time she said it - I thought of
Romans 2.4 - do you know that the kindness of God has led you to repentance? Great verse, I love it, know it - but I don't live it.
10. On the way home today I heard the song Empty Me by Jeremy Camp. Great stuff. Again, God - are you trying to say something:
Holy Fire burn away,
my desire for anything that is not of you and is of me,
I want more of you and less of me,
Empty me,Empty me,
Fill, won't you fill me, with you,
11. God - I can NOT do this on my own. You have to continue to cut away. You have to put people in my life who will speak harshly into it. I need it. Thank you for the community of believers.

That is just some of what God has broken and He will mend. God is a good and gracious out-pouring God. I was very thankful for friends this weekend, a chance to get out of Louisville, and Cornerstone of Knoxville. A church - that I believe - understands what it is like to live out the gospel, call sin sin, hold their members accountable, and proclaim the gospel in exuberant worship and expository preaching.

Connecting Church and Home: Mike Glenn

Mike Glenn is the Lead Pastor of Brentwood - he was gracious enough to allow us to use his church this weekend and leads a strong ministry team here. He closed out the conference with a story about "little dude".
There is a transition going on. We think that we have to do what we are doing HARDER. It doesn’t matter what we are doing – as long as we do it harder. We aren’t asking the question, “Are we doing the right thing?” There is a shaking going on in the churches of North America. God cares more about the lost then our comfort.
You have to have that moment when you can’t turn back. We found out things weren’t working. When 70% of your people tell you they don’t know enough to share their testimony with a lost person…something is wrong.
Little Dude: every Tuesday night. Here is what we find out:
They bring in a ton of anger. They are angry at Dad, Mom, the church.
They are confused. Little Dudes and dudettes don’t know who they are. So, they listen to the world. Oprah. The church has let them down and has not told “Little Dudes” how to be - so they will listen to the people who are speaking.
They are victims. The world constantly tells them that.
We show them hope.
Hope gives us our identity. We show the hope we have in Christ. Hope is the assurance. God does not wear a watch. He is not limited by time or space. God is in your past – He is still in your past. He can heal that past. He is walking with you now. He is walking in your future. With Jesus – there is only now. That is the faith and hope we talk about. In this hope – Little Dudes find their identity. You are the created work, the Imago Dei, of the Creator – God of the Universe. You don’t have a value. You bear the signature of God!
Hope in their destiny. For this reason – you were created. We can help answer this question because we have the Hope. In Christ, through the cross and the goodness of God – you overcome. You have purpose. The world tells you that you are a victim, the gospel assures you that you are not.
The church: what are we to do?
We are on mission. We are not a Christian nation. Our culture does not support our children’s growth in Christ and in the knowledge of God. We are a people in exile.
We have to listen to our culture. We have to know movies we may not want to know, we have to read books we may not want to read, we have to twitter, text, etc.
We have to interpret the gospel in ways that they get. That is why the movie Fireproof and Facing the Giants worked. Good movies with good stories. They have a good message and it gave people something to think about.
We have to pray. All the false gods have been exposed. There has never been a better time to proclaim Christ.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Connecting Church and Home: Randy Stinson

I love working for this man. He lives this out. But, here is my question. Where are the single men who live this out in their daily lives and are over the age of 22. I have yet to meet many of them.
“An Army of None”
1 Kings 2

Sociologists have called this generation of 20-somethings “Generation Me”.
They have a great sense of entitlement. They feel like an explanation is owed to them. This is one of the most self-absorbed generations in American History. This generation thinks that God owes them an explanation for everything that goes on in your life.
This is a therapeutic generation.
This generation has promoted the feminization of the Church. “I want my life to be a love song to you, Jesus.” It is a romanticized view of a relationship with Jesus. No wonder there are no men in the church. Let’s talk about the biblical church. We have an anti-boy culture. We are eliminating things like physical education and rough play. They are being told that being masculine is a condition.
Our culture is pushing for a broad feminization of men. Men aren’t being encouraged to lead, protect, and provide. They are being encouraged to be prettier, softer. This does not help them take on their biblical role of leadership. It is important for a man to know how to put on a tie. We are in a culture that wants men to go in the exact opposite direction from where God wants them go. They are pushing them to be completely self-centered. It encourages a self-preoccupation. Men are called to be self-sacrificial, not to lead for the good of themselves. Biblical leadership is good for the ones being led. Men are called to be protectors. It is for the good of another. Men are called to be providers. It is for the welfare of others, not at the expense of others. This is a battle. God declared this battle in Genesis 3.15.
My concern is that we are going to have a “top to toe” man, but they are unable to fulfill God given mandates of leadership to the point of self-neglect. My fear is that we are going to have an army of none. If you are going to reach families you have to reach the men. God’s call for men is to be leaders, protectors, and providers. This is different then the biblical mandate for women. Men and women are equally called to obey God – but the context is different, they are going to do it in two totally different ways.
There is also a Christ-likeness that we should be reminded of in this passage. You read the failings of Solomon and have to be drawn to the perfectness of our King. Jesus didn’t fail. He had the balance of provision and masculine, righteous, anger in the cleansing of the Temple.
One of the problems of men having a biblical understanding of manhood – they have a wrong picture of who Jesus is. They have feminized pictures of Jesus – a Precious Moments Jesus, soft flowing hair, smooth skin, etc. Revelations gives a different picture of Jesus: a sword coming from his mouth, flames…so the nations will know that I am God.
If we want a revolution – we must have a compelling vision of manhood. Hold it up, model it in your own lives. You were made for battle. Let’s reclaim the spiritual warfare language. If we remind men they are in a battle maybe they will start acting like soldiers.
Biblical manhood is taught in the Bible, but it can also be cultivated. God will bring things into your life to help you lead, provide, and protect. David was ready for battle as a shepherd. He killed a lion and a bear with his own hands. And he played a harp. God brings challenges into our lives to make us more masculine. We have elbow pads, helmets, we baby them through everything. Then they turn 18 – and they are going to say “wait, I might get hurt”.
God might use these things to help encourage the men in your church:
1. Do the hard task first. Passivity is a killer of masculinity. Reject passivity.
2. Make the hardest phone call first. Fear of man. Don’t cultivate fear of man in your life.
3. Run to the battle. What I am trying to cultivate in my sons is the first step is forward. Not to run away from the battle.
4. Do your work now instead of later. God has called us to exercise dominion. Don’t procrastinate.
5. Keep your domain in order. Your home, dorm room, office, trunk of your car.
6. Kill a bear or a lion. Don’t run from the bear or the lion in your life. Some of you have people in your life who don’t know Jesus…share with them. Don’t be scared. A fast-beating heart does not mean you aren’t supposed to do something. Go deal with it. See number 1.
These things don’t make you a man. These do help cultivate manhood. If we don’t have ways to help men understand what manhood is – then we will have an army of none. But, if you will go back to your churches and hold up the banner of biblical manhood – call them into battle – remind them that they were made for battle. They will be the ones to lead the charge. They will be criticizes and challenged. They will be called to think of others more than themselves. But, don’t sit around waiting for an endorsement from the world. Be strong and prove yourself a man.

Connecting Church and Home: Brian Haynes

This man is humble and effective in ministry - at Kingsland in Katy, TX.
Brian Haynes
What are you getting yourself into?
You get yourself into God’s story. We are just moving, making a sihft, from what is right in our eyes to what was God’s plan from the beginning. We go to Deut 6 and see the Shema. We go to Psalm 78 – the story for the coming generations. Proverbs: “my son, train a child”. Eph 4.6 – “Fathers, train up your children”. Matthew 28, 22. There is a clear bridge from the Shema to the Great Commission. Home and church. Home doesn’t go away because the NT church is established. Everyone is asking the same question. How do we link the church and the home? Most are missing the link in the family. God is getting ready to do something for our culture that could be epic. It’s not going to be tent revivals or the mega church. Its going to happen around the family table. The family table is central to worship.
You get yourself into a spiritual battle. The enemy will attack you. YM is a claimed ground. You’ll have parents who don’t buy in to the idea. You’ll have workers leave. Satan will attack your family. You’ll think – is this right? Thank goodness for the Word of God. Praise the Risen Jesus Christ that He has defeated Satan. Satan will try to mess with you, distract you – all because you are trying to get on board with what God is doing. You are protected by the Almighty God. If this is just another model or book – than that is all it is. If you see it as God sees it – then it is historic. There is a battle.
You get yourself into the possibility of an extremely biblical church. I love the church. But, sometimes church is good. Sometimes, the church moves away from the Scripture. How can I link Deut 6 and the Great Commission – how do I put that into practice? If you do – you run the risk of an extremely biblical church and God will bless that. When you build the bridge, Church doesn’t become perfect, it does become extremely biblical. You get yourself into biblical community. You get yourself into partnership and accountability.
You get yourself into the hope of generational impact. My heart is that one day in our culture will come a day when people use a biblical worldview as their filter for everything. Cultural redesign – a culture who gets so far away from the Lord and comes running back to the Lord. I think about my children – what is life going to be like for them when they are 35. I think of grass root movements who equip their people to do the Family Table well. At our church, we talk much about legacy. Some have started to walk down this road a little bit. There is nothing more precious than passing down Christ to the next generation in the context of the home. When you empower people to do that, you are giving them a gift. So, here’s my dream. My prayer is that one day I will walk around Katy and Kingsland and see people living out the discipleship of parents to their children. That is how the culture is going to be redesigned.
2 King 17-18
These are dark days in Israel. Israel was exiled because of sin. They were sinning and a stiff-necked people. They forsook God and worshipped idols. They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire.
The Lord was angry and removed them from His presence. The Israelites persisted in their sins.
Compare the days of Israel to today. We need a cultural redesign. I do not want to be the culture who is removed from the presence of the Lord.
Hezekiah – he did what was right in the sight of the Lord. His Mother is mentioned. His mother trained him. He trusted in the Lord. There was none like him among all the kings of Israel. He kept the commands of the Lord. The Lord was with him. Such a contrast. It takes one generation to make a difference.

Connecting Church and Home: Jay Strother

Met this guy a few weeks ago at Southern. His church is amazing by the world's standards - but they are doing ministry by God's standards...
Jay Strother
Emerging Generations Pastor – Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, TN
“The Next Step”
Ruth 2.2-3, 20
In this moment for Ruth, a strange land, all she knew was to take the next step and going to work. When she put her good intentions into action, God was directing those steps. Her steps took her into the land of Boaz.
“Community full of the rich young ruler.” If “things” won’t attract teens, what will? The clip art books and bags of tricks will not work. Seek Me. Seek my direction. One step at a time recovering God’s heart for this next generation. What the next generation is longing for is authentic relationships.
On the church side, we were doing well at discipleship. Hundreds of teenagers a week in small group. There was still something missing.
This is not a formula or a program. These are just some key things:

1. Stop. Look. Listen.
We had to slow down. There is a biblical mandate for a Sabbath. If we never recharge and spend quality time with our families, then we are missing it. Book recommendation: The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. I don’t need to go out and work, work, work for God. I need to find out where God is and go there. We need to listen to God through the Scriptures and what He is telling us through other people.
2. Reclaim the family as a biblical priority.
You know this. That’s why you are here. How well do your people know it? Every parent is to apply to timeless truths of Proverbs 22.6 to their children – unique creations of God. They need to apply this truth to the child’s “bent”.
3. We need to present a clear and consistent vision in every area of church life. You need to state it simply and celebrate your vision. There are different venues in the life of your church where you can proclaim your vision.
4. Enlist church leadership. To change the culture of a church, you have to get this vision to your church leadership. Don’t bore them with details – share your vision that you are so passionate about.
5. Build a team – find the champion. Get the right people – and together as a team – drive the bus. It is not all about you. You can’t reach them all yourself! Eph 4 tells us that we are to equip the saint to do ministry. Give it away to your leaders. Give it away to your parents – equip them to lead and disciple their children. We have to release our desire to the star of the show.
6. Develop a clear strategy:
Three major buckets:
a. Catalyst: relationships. The number one catalyst should be the parents. What do we do with parents? Deut 6.7. Godly leaders are another catalyst in this area of relationships
b. Content: Biblical Literacy
c. Context: Environment of ministry (programs, events)
7. You have to be willing to adjust and learn. Be in love with what we are trying to do. Only like your methods. We have to learn and grow and adjust. Stay focused on the vision.
Parenting 6.7 Ministry Plan (Brentwood Baptist Church)
1. Love God as a way of life. (Romans 12.1-2)
2. Love others as a way of life. (Mark 10.45)
3. Love the church and understand their roles in the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4.4-7)
4. Love the Bible and can handle it properly as the authority and foundation for life. (2 Tim 3.15-17)
5. Love to tell others about Christ (the gospel) and share their stories. (Romans 10.14-15)
6. Love to grow closer to God through personal spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible study. (1 Tim 4.7-12)
Seven Ministry Strategies that we will partner with parents to impress these six characteristics: (Brentwood Baptist Church)
1. Synchronize our ministry efforts around this master plan to build faith and character in our sons and daughters.
2. Communicate this expectation and plan clearly to parents.
3. Develop a resource guide that suggests to parents recommended resources for family devotions and specific family issues.
4. Connect our teaching ministries to the home.
5. Provide catalyst venues that introduce parents to Parenting 6.7
6. Partner with the missions ministry in 2009 to provide family-friendly mission opportunities. This is what the students will remember 10-15-20 years down the road.
7. Partner with the music and worship ministry to focus on intergenerational and family worship gatherings.
You have to be willing to adjust and learn. Be in love with what we are trying to do. Only like your methods. We have to learn and grow and adjust. Stay focused on the vision.

Connecting Church and Home: Steve Wright

Steve Wright - Raleigh, NC
Psalm 78.4-6
1. My Journey
A college teammate led me to Christ. Didn’t have a clue what youth ministry was when I accepted my first job. A Youth Specialties clip art book helped determine his schedule. It was very activity driven. I began to do ministry in my own strength, with a great deal of pride. In this process, a question came to mind: “Are all these activities working – and are they biblical?”
Five troubling indicators regarding the next generation:
1. Retention- why are we losing teenagers between the ages of 18 and 21
2. Career – why are all those called to youth ministry not lasting?
a. 33% were leaving annually
b. If we aren’t staying to task for a long length of time, something’s not right.
c. High stress, low status, low pay, staff relations poor, high turnover
d. Not for faint of heart.
3. Evangelism
Alvin Reid: “Over the preceding twenty years, the number of full-time youth pastors has grown dramatically…meanwhile, during that same time span, the numbers of young people won to Christ dropped at about as fast a rate.”
4. Biblical Literacy
Soul Searching: “Scholars who have looked at young Christians say their spiritual drift is in part the result of a lack of knowledge about their faith. Therefore, they really don’t know what they believe.” – Christian Smith
5. My Personal Struggle
What about the next generation of Wrights? Will my kids continue with Christ, treasure Christ above all else?
2. Turning Point
One of the things I became convinced of: God had given parents the primary role of discipling their children. It is hard to compel kids to treasure Christ above all else, when many of their parents treasured all else above Christ. I was building a ministry model that allowed parents to abdicate their role.

3. Where Should I Start?
I had no plan of action for discipleship in my own family. Truth was: I was teaching my children to value recreation, sports, games, all other kinds of treasures above Christ. That is what I was modeling for my kids. Asked his kids: “What are we treasuring and what should we treasure?” Humility. My kids were hungry for this. Other students are hungry for this. Parents are hearing this and getting inspired.
a. It needs to look a lot like it did for Nehemiah. He saw the city in ruins. He had compassion – he prayed and fasted. As leaders, we have to have the same burden. We need a passion for our families. They need Christ.
b. We need to look to biblical theology. How is God’s Word leading us? If we aren’t turning to Scripture – where else are we going to turn? Corporate models? Disney? More spinning plates? Secular books? The treasure is beautiful. We do not need to glamorize it or have big drums to support it.
c. Start in your home.
John Angell James: “Here fix your center, here direct your aim, here concentrate your efforts, your energies and your prayers. Remember their religious education is your business. Whatever aids you call in from ministers or teachers, you never must, you never can, you never should delegate this work. God will hold you responsible for the religion of your children – so far as means go.”
See the gospel as the greatest thing. That God gets bigger, when the work of the Spirit gets mightier, when grace is more, when sin is uglier, when gospel roots go down deeper, when eternity gets louder. Keep this in mind: never let the gospel get smaller in your hearts.

Connecting Church and Home: David Horner

This is an event going on in Brentwood, TN this weekend. Title of conference says it all.
David Horner opened the night:
Leading Churches with the Family in Mind…”We’ve Got to Get Better at This”
This is not a 6-step program.
1 Thessalonians 4.1
“We want to excel still more” We are doing well at ministry, but we want to excel still more. What do we need to think about and process to make the connection of family and ministry within the church? I don’t have any interest in just doing church for the sake of doing church. There has to be more to it.
Family ministry is not a new concept. This must be something that resonates at the core of who we are. This is a life-long process–relationally taking people deep into the Scriptures. We don’t have to juice it up or make it relevant. We have so diluted this and what it looks like over the years–we must come back to a simple way of communicating Christ to the next generation.
Scripture makes it simple yet so profound that it takes our whole lives to figure it out. “Live it out in front of somebody.” Give authenticity to it. Put words to it.
Once we get over the idea that the goal of youth ministry is not about the programs, rallies, cool names, events, people “getting there,” perhaps we can recognize that it’s about something more: the glory of Jesus. Our task is to show them the reality of Jesus. Our goal is not building programs. Our desire is Christlikeness (Col 1.28). We need to introduce them to Christ and help them grow in maturity in Christ. The goal for the church and the family is the same plan.
In the church and family, God’s plan converges:
1. The purpose is that God may be glorified.
2. The purpose is that the nations may be blessed (Gen 12, 15)
3. The purpose is that your joy may be full.
In church and family, God’s pattern is compelling:
1. Complementary, not conflicting roles
a. Family: involvement
b. Church: Integrity
i. The church needs to know that there needs to be time in the family’s schedule for discipleship and ministry to take place in the home. We want to build strong families. We don’t need to weigh them down with “stuff”.
c. Representative, not contradictory functions
i. Spiritual leadership: consistent character
Spiritual maturity: continuous consecration
ii. Spiritual priorities: common calling
1. The one-anothers of Scripture need to be played out both in the church and in the family
In church and family, God’s passion connects:
1. Psalm 145.3-5
2. 1 Thessalonians 4.1
An Enduring Partnership of Authenticity for Christ. This partnership emerges from :
a. An intentional culture. Numbers aren’t the only things that matter. We want to build up others in Christ.
b. An integration of principles instead of innovative gimmicks and imposed guilt. Not silos, but an intentional culture in the whole church – like redwoods– all rooted together – to present everyone built up in Christ.
c. The principle-based approach. Matthew 7.24. What is happening so our families aren’t reflecting our culture, but reflecting God’s love to the culture? Do we want poster-children for the book of Ecclesiastes – or solid followers of Christ? Ecclesiastes 2.10-11. 2 Peter 1.3-4
d. 2 Timothy 3.16-17. This is the foundation for the youth of our churches. 2 Peter 1.3
The partnership produces:
a. A contagious and dynamic relationship with Christ.
i. More caught than taught
ii. More attractive than arranged
iii. More authentic than juts words.
iv. More loving than demanding
b. A consistent and supportive relationship with each other.
i. Consistency at home (Dt. 6.5-9). Personalize this.
ii. Support at church (Acts 20.17-32).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Learning Obedience

I saw this on the Crossway blog this morning: it immediately hit me (not literally of course):

In the piece by John Owen in Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross Owen answers the question that stumps many a reader of the book of Hebrews when they read that Jesus “learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
“Here it says about the Lord Christ that he learned obedience, not that he learned to obey,” Owen writes. “The Lord Christ learned obedience when he experienced it in practice. One special kind of obedience is intended here, namely, a submission to great, hard, and terrible things, accompanied by patience and quiet endurance and faith for deliverance from them. This Christ could have not experience of, except by suffering the things he had to pass through, exercising God’s grace in them all. Thus, Christ learned obedience.”

I can learn to obey - an outward action of duty. But, when I learn obedience - I tend to think that has to do with the heart, the attitude being the action. As I've asked several ladies what they have learned during their marriage, some have said - submission is more than an action, its a heart - line. You can't just "submit" - you have to submit with your heart, actions, head, etc.

What are you just obeying and where do you need to learn the heart of obedience?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thoughts on Discipline

I tend to think about things that I struggle with. Most people do - I guess some sort of block it out so they don't have to think about ways they fail - but not me.
If I never think about it - I'll never get better at it. So...
Discipline is usually talked about in Scripture as a type of rebuke, exhortation, or reshaping by God in us for His glory. I've been experiencing some of that - but that is not what I am referring to.
As spring comes, things are new - flowers budding, dogwood trees in their white fluffiness - I want some things in my life to start taking shape as well. I'm not the best when it comes to home management and life management. So, I would love some thoughts from blog world:
1. Weekly home management (cleaning, money, menu, cooking)
2. Time schedule - on a weekly basis. I realize I waste too much time on a normal basis - everywhere.
3. Reading and time in the Word and the practicing of other Spiritual Disciplines
4. Practicing of hospitality
5. Being "in the world" in order to build relationships with non-Christians (because I happen to disagree with Brian McLaren when he says that we don't have to tell others there way of no Jesus is wrong). Anyway, I digress...
6. Exercising and eating right - yes, I do need help in this area to be more disciplined.

So, I would love thoughts. This is what the Body is for - right?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

5k and Hebrews 12

All those youth Bible studies or DNOW materials I have taught in the past on endurance, or races, or running - all came to light today.
Today was my first 5k - I did the Anthem 5k here in Louisville, which is the first leg of the Louisville Triple Crown. Sarah and I ran it together. We both wanted to beat our times - we both did.
I wanted to get under 40, and Sarah under 44 - we both stayed together the entire race, pushing each other to keep going (endurance, spurring each other on, encouragement, accountability) and we both made it under 39. They haven't posted the exact times yet - but they will be coming hopefully by the end of the night.
The last 3/4 of a mile or so was straight - but still we couldn't see the finish line. As soon as we did - we were like "we gotta finish strong" - just keep looking at the finish line and keep going.
My playlist was 39.56 or something like that. The last song was "Let the Worshippers Arise" - never would have thought it would have meant so much. Here are the words - I actually got to shut it off before it was finished...
Father I hear it growing louder
The song of your redeemed
As the saints of every nation
Are awakening to sing
From our hearts there comes an anthem
Oh, hear the heavens ring
This is our song, a song to our King!
[Chorus:] [3x]
Let the worshippers arise
Let the sons and the daughters sing
I surrender in my all
I surrender to the King

There were people, folks who came to cheer, runners who had already finished, press, sponsors, etc - all standing on the sideline cheering for those of us who were still running - crossing that finish line. The Scripture that popped into both of our heads (sarah and I talked while getting our bagels):

Heb 12.1-6 (really only the first 2, but then I loved the continuing verses, exactly what God is pressing in on me lately...)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,and chastises every son whom he receives.”

I am now definitely looking forward to the Half Derby I am doing on April 25. Racing can be addictive! I guarantee

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pay It Forward Giveaway

Pay It Forward. The first time I heard about this was when a pastor I served under gave me some much needed funds and said I couldn't repay it - just pay it forward. I had no clue he was talking about something specific. But, then a few years later I watched the movie. Great, tear jerker of a movie of course. Loved the movie - and it meant so much more to me that I wrote that pastor a letter and thanked him.
Today, I am following my friend, funny blogger, creative mom - in doing a Pay It Forward blog. I got a Pay It Forward surprise from her - can't wait to get some homemade knitted goodies in the mail.
So here it is. Pay It Forward - the way you pay it forward is by sending something to your blog winners that you have made - not something you buy. You use the talents or gifts that you have to make someone's day.
So, my gift or talent is baking - so the first 3 people who comment on my blog and say that will promise to pay it forward in some way (either on their own blog like this, or do something else for people) will get something yummy! And please say in your comment how to contact you (email, facebook, etc) and if you are allergic to anything, etc
Thanks! And Pay It Forward a lot in life - not just on a one time blog giveway

Monday, March 02, 2009

Reading and Discipline

Reading. Books.
How often do you read? I love to read.
Sometimes I do it more than others. There will be periods in my life when I read 1-2 books a week. I can sit and read for hours.
There are other times when I read a page of a really good book and want to put it down.
Its called Discipline. Right now I lack it in this particular area.
So...something much change. I gotta spend less time watching tv and more time reading.
Currently - I am reading Inklings by Melanie Jeschke before bed every night. This is probably my 4th time reading it.
I'm getting some new bookshelves so that is primarily what is prompting this. Also, I am cataloguing all of my boss's books - so that gives me eyes on books I haven't read yet.
So...here are some books that I will be reading here shortly:
Inklings and the rest of the Inklings series will be my bed time reading (light fiction with good stuff)
a Generous Orthodoxy - Brian McLaren
Esther - Chuck Swindoll
Marriage to a Difficult Man - about Sarah Edwards
A Fruitful Life - Jerry Bridges

That may be it for right now. Just gotta read more.
What are you reading right now?