Saturday, February 14, 2004

Just Ramblin'

Jasper Speaks:

Tonight was an unusual Valentine's celebration. Our friends Matt and Sarah invited us out to dinner with them and Sarah's mother Pat. Kendra and I accepted. It is nice to have spur of the moment friends. Plus we love Pat. She is a great encourager.

That brings me to the point of this particular ramble. As we were riding home tonight Pat was telling me about a conversation she had recently had with her husband Jim. Jim is on our elder board. He is a soft spoken man with a very dry sense of humor. He is at first intimidating but you realizre in time he is full of quiet strength. He can be the life of the party but most often keeps silent and observes. In the conversation Pat shared tonight, she told me that Jim had told her that one day recently he was observing me interacting with the students of our church. He told her he was so impressed by how much the student's love for me is very aparent. That along with a more frequent compliment of how well the youth group is growing under my guidance was all she shared.

That short conversation choked me up. Kendra will tell you that I live for the love of students. I don't know that I would go that far but I have to admit that I have struggled when I feel my relationships with the students God has entrusted to my care have been strained. I get depressed and am not better until I am certain I have resolved the conflict and we are all good. Unhealthy as that may be, I believe it is the way God wired me. It is one of the strongest things I bring to the table as a Youth Pastor. Whereas I am not athletic or musical or a great oratator, I am very good at buiding relationships. It is my strength.

This strength however, is not always easy to evaluate from the outside. There have been times in ministry where the group that I am serving is numerically stagnent. There are times when students are not displaying Jesus as I would like. Still it is at some of these moments that God is working deeply in our relationships with one another.

I sense God's pleasure over me as I talk with a kid and we laugh together. I sense His blessing as a student confides his troubles with me. I feel His inspiration as I encourage a student to be a better daughter. There are so many different ways that I realize that God is using my relational gifts to further the Kingdom. However, relationships do not always overwhelm people looking in on our ministries.

So, tonight I have to admit that my Youth Pastor heart smiled to hear that someone has seen God's pleasure, blessing and inspiration in my work. I stop short of pride and reflect on what a great Valentine's gift I was given by a dear friend. It was a gift I am sure she didn't realize she had even given me. But it is also the gift that will give flight to my wings and help me get through another week of late night talks, mid-afternoon tears and countless evenings of laughter that comes with a job I love.
The Youth Leader Blues

We had a great D-Now last weekend. A lot of fun. One
of the things we do is our leaders do a "creative
cheer" at the last large group session. I thought I
would share this year's cheer which we did as a blues
song. I think many of you can relate:

Well I love Jesus
And I love teenagers too
Most folks think I’m crazy
Doin’ the things I do

I spend time with students
I got no friends my own age
In a year I consume
More pizza than what I weigh

You ask me why I do this
I don’t know is all I can say
I just hope up in Heaven
Seventh graders shower everyday

I got the Youth Leader Blues
I got the Youth Leader Blues
Stayin’ up all night
Is just part of my life
I got the Youth Leader Blues


I’ve been working with students
For so many long years
I just guess I get a kick
Outta doing something most people fear

I drive all over creation
With screaming kids in a van
When they asked me to be a youth leader
Sometimes I wish I had ran

But I know I’ll be rewarded
In Heaven up above
Maybe I should get my head examined
‘ Cause this is what I love

We got the youth leader blues
We got the youth leader blues
I think Gorilla, Man, Gun
Is just loads of fun
We got the youth leader blues




Now I have had whipped cream
Get all up in my nose
When I’ve been asleep
Teenagers have painted my toes

I’ve done a thousand lock-ins
Listened to music that’s strange
I’ve worked hard for hours
Trying to remember your friend’s names

Now my back is aching
Both my knees are now shot
So I guess I’ll be a youth leader
Until I rot

We got the youth leader blues
We got the youth leader blues
It may cause me pain
So I’ll just walk with a cane
We got the youth leader blues


I like playing games
I could think up new ones all day
I can make any Bible story
Into a rockin’ relay

Sliding down a hill
Or eating weird stuff
I keep asking my Jesus
“When will it be enough?”

You see I drove my folks crazy
When I was a kid
So God makes work with teenagers
‘Cause of all the things I did

We got the youth leader blues
We got the youth leader blues
I gotta’ listen all day
To Reliant K
We got the youth leader blues

Some folks say I’m getting too old
To do the things that I do
Most people I know think
That I got some loose screws

But I just stand and tell them
Teenagers are great
Plus where else would nobody care
That I’m always late

You say turn up the radio
Before the parking lot we have left
I’ve listened to so much loud music
It’s not surprising that I’m going deaf

We got the youth leader blues
We got the youth leader blues
I am part of the in crowd
Cause I can belch real loud
We got the youth leader blues




Murphy’s Top 10 Laws of Youth Ministry

This list comes from my friend D. Warren Robison:

10. If it can spill, it will.
9. The van always break down at the worst location possible,
never near an exit or close to any town.
8. The most important printed announcement will no doubt
have an embarrassing typow.
7. The VCR will always work during a trial run, but never
operate correctly once "show time" occurs.
6. Any handout intended for parents will inevitably find
it's way back to your office.
5. 50% of your group will never hear the verbal
announcements, and they're the same ones who can't read.
Consequently, half the group never shows.
4. A group of girls who sit right in the middle will always
have to go to the bathroom just as you're starting to teach
from the Bible or give an invitation.
3. You'll return the latest from a trip when you work the
hardest to be back on time.
2. If the directions are right, they'll be unreadable,
misplaced, eaten, raptured…something unfortunate will
undoubtedly happen to ensure the driver loses his way.

And the number one Murphy’s Law of youth ministry is . . .

1. Directions from anybody to anywhere will always be wrong.
Period!



What Is Your "Dream" Church

I have been thinking about this a lot lately and I
think that of course there are no perfect churches
because we are all imperfect but I would love to serve
at a church that:

-Had an Elder rule leadership with congrgational
accountability

-The teaching was relevent to life issues that meet
the need for answers to life's questions from God's
Word for each person who seeks it.

-Had exegentical, expository preaching that challenges
and breaks me reguarlly.

- Had a worship that blended seemlessly, contemparary
(as in recent) music with time tried theology filled
hymns and choruses and doesn't make the fact that they
had one or the other a big deal. Where there is
relevent drama reguarlly. Where the offering is more
than just an opportunity to raise money to pay the
bills but also a call to offer ourselves to God. Where
the format of worship changes reguarly to keep us from
getting into a rut of just going through the motions.
Where people come broken to the altar reguarly and
others come to pray with and for them.

-One word for you --- multimedia.

-A place where Jesus is not only preached, but visibly
lived out in the lives of the leadership and
congregation in such a way that people are drawn to
become a part.

-A place where lost people are being saved and then
discipled in a quality way immediately.

-A place that serves the community for both a full
spirit and a full stomach.

-A place where you can come dressed as you would to go
out with your friends and no one think that you are
overdoing or underdoing it.

- A place where the youth ministry is constantly
seeing lives transformed by Jesus through the efforts
of quality, committed, adult and student leaders.
Students broken and hurting for their lost friends and
dragging them along with them because they are so
confident that the gospel is presented in a real way
in their youth ministry. A gifted, talented, in love
with Jesus youth praise and drama team. Supportive
parents who are willing to be an active part of the
ministry. Volunteers who feel called specifically to
youth ministry and see themselves as "ministers of
youth" even if they don't get paid. Volunteers who are
there for the long haul.

Okay, okay, I could go on but I will stop. There are
some of my ideas (some of which surprisingly enough
exist in my home church). What's YOUR dream?

Email me and let me know!

Friday, February 13, 2004

Back In The Saddle Again
Okay after a long period of illness (my back is a joke) I am back to my Blog. It has been awhile so I will fill you in on my life. It has been a busy little while. After my MAJORLY expensive muscle relaxers cured the muscular part of my problem, I was able to finally walk upright. Oh just like those crazy evolution pictures! You know the ones that show the monkey evolving into a hunchbacked man to an upright man. That is how I felt. I am still in some pain but I can move and I will not be taking that for granted anytime soon.



Anyway, this past weekend was our Disciple Now. It was a great weekend. I am so glad we got together with Lakeside Community Church. Our kids bonded and it was a great thing. Jeff Wells from Parkway Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri spoke. He was great and I would recommend him highly. The whole weekend was on family relationships. He was great! Email me if you want his number.

It was hard to judge commitments because it was such a different topic but many of the kids really seemed to confront some family stuff and that was great! We used the Student Discipleship Ministries materials called The True Test. It is good but a little dated. I wish SDM would truly update their stuff instead of just updating the clip art. But their Toatally Consumed material that we used last year is brand new and if you are doing anything concerning worship I would completely recommend it.

For Valentines Day Kendra and I are going to spend the weekend alone watching movies. It may not be the grandest of things to do but after the hectic little while we have had it should be nice.

That is a quick update. I plan to keep on blogging as the weekend goes on! So check back!
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!!

As this article proves again, purity has people running scared!

Teens Nationwide Promote Abstinence

By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. - Melissa Millis feels bombarded by everyday messages of sexual promiscuity, whether it's Janet Jackson's bare breast during the Super Bowl or her classmates' casual sex talk.

So Millis, a high school senior in Michigan, and thousands of other students across the nation plan to wear white T-shirts to school Friday, the day before Valentine's Day (news - web sites), to publicly show their commitment to not having sex outside marriage. They're calling their effort the "Day of Purity," and they will distribute pro-abstinence pamphlets to their peers.


"The way sex is talked about, it's so casual, like it's an everyday thing, like going to McDonald's," said Millis, 17.


The grass-roots effort is supported by Christian groups nationwide and organized by Liberty Counsel, a conservative religious rights group based in Orlando. It comes as President Bush is pushing in his budget proposal to double federal funding for sexual abstinence programs.


But the Day of Purity is being watched with a wary eye by groups that promote sexual tolerance, such as the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. The Day of Purity Web site accuses those groups of "a concerted effort in the schools and media to turn our youth away from traditional values."


"The word 'purity' in this context is morally self-righteous," said Alice Leeds, a spokeswoman for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. "It's redefining it in their context to conform to their frankly bigoted agenda."


Eliza Byard, deputy executive director for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, said in an e-mail that her group applauded any effort to promote healthy sexual choices by young people.


"Unfortunately, this program seems to have a limited idea of what that means and doesn't appear designed to provide the kind of information students really need," she said.


Day of Purity touches on a controversial social issue — how to teach sex education in schools, said Bill Barker, a spokesman for Advocates for Youth, a Washington-based group that helps youth make responsible decisions about sex.


"You're walking into one of the fiercest debates out there," Barker said.


Participants said having the Day of Purity right before Valentine's Day is especially appropriate since teenagers often feel pressure to have sex with their girlfriends or boyfriends on the holiday.


"A lot of girls feel that in order to keep their relationship, they have to have sex," said Kelly Cruse, 16, who plans to pass out sexual abstinence literature at her high school in Illinois. "I think this need for acceptance is very destructive to a girl."


___


On the Net:


Day of Purity: www.dayofpurity.com


Advocates for Youth: www.advocatesforyouth.com