Wednesday, March 24, 2004

So Why Do I Keep Doing This???

Jasper Speaks:

I have to admit sometimes I feel like ministry just isn't worth it. The odd hours, the odd people, the lack of thanks are all reasons I can get simply depressed that this is my vocation. I mean, do people ever really change? Am I really making any difference in the lives of teenagers? Even if I am do they care?

That is the feeling that comes over me now and again. Then I have a week like this one. You see, on Sunday night I got a nasty email from a parent telling me how horrible a Youth Pastor I am. I admit, it hurt. It also made me angry. I tried to be reasonable and calm in my response and then went to bed. I woke up the next morning still angry and started my day cursing the woman and the audacity she had in sending the email in the first place.

Then came a bit of a surprise. A second email that could almost be interpreted as an apology. You see I had been brought into a family squabble and after she thought about it, she realized I had nothing to do with it. So she said she didn't mean to make it sound like it was my fault. In one fell swoop she made me feel better and guilty at the same time. I felt better because she had apologized and guilt for the bad names I had called her in the mean time.

Then that afternoon God gave me a chance to counsel her daughter. I helped her daughter to see that sometimes parents overreact not because they are horrible people who want to keep you down. Sometimes they are like that because they love you and are having a hard time accepting that you are growing up. I also reminded her that sometimes she may have to prove that she is actually growing up to gain their respect. A few hours later I got an IM telling me that our talk had really helped her put it all in perspective. She told me I had helped her.

Last night, my Senior High Guys Bible study met as we do every Tuesday. Three of the guys have been in this group since they were freshman and will be graduating High School in a couple of months. On Sunday the last of the three turned 18. As I sat and watched them interact last night, I found myself feeling like a father who has watched his boys grow into men. Sure they still have their rough edges and none of them are the poster boy for maturity, but I have seen God move in their lives and put them well on the road to becoming spiritually mature believers.

Also, a new guy came and stopped this morning to IM me and tell me how happy he was he came. He told me he got a lot out of the meeting and that he knew he struggled in some of the areas we were discussing and he is committed to doing better.

So, I guess these are the reasons I don't close up shop and begin to work at Wal-Mart. You see there are these moments (ever infrequent though they may be) when God punches a hole in the sky above us and sunshine rains down. He shows us that we are making a difference. He shows us that in spite of being wicked, useless, sinful people, He wants to use us to make a difference for him. I thank Him for the reminder this week. I pray that I will recall these moments the next time I am tempted to chuck it all for less stress and more glory.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


My Library Speaks:

1. Purpose Driven Youth Ministry By Doug Fields Publisher: Zondervan/Youth Specialties

Still, in my opinion the premier youth ministry book. Fields offers a practical model for your youth programs. This book has revolutionized my ministry and brought us from programs to purpose. My biggest pet peeve are YPs that hate on Doug!

2. The Seven Checkpoints For Youth Leaders By Andy Stanley and Stuart Hall Publisher: Howard Press

A great companion to PDYM. Where PDYM answers the how question, Seven Checkpoints answers the what question. This book explains the seven things every student should know by the time they graduate from a youth ministry. Easy read and direct to the point this book is a classic.

3. Your First Two Years In Youth Ministry By Doug Fields Publisher: Youth Specialties

Another classic by Doug Fields. Don't let the title fool you. There is a plethora of information in this book for both the novice and the veteran. Fields offers great insight into relationships with students, leaders, church staff, parents and congregations. The book is worth the price for Appendix B alone which answers ten ministry questions.

4. Play It! By Wayne Rice and Mike Yaconelli Publisher: Youth Specialties

The classic book of Youth Group games. The internet has almost completely replaced books for ideas for youth games but this book remains the number one resource on where to begin. It is well thought out and organized and a must have in case your internet connection goes out!

5. Don't Check Your Brains At The Door By Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler Publisher: Word Books

This is a great introduction to apologetics for teens. It offers easy to read chapters that dispels myths that the world argues against Christianity. Great for junior high or high school kids. An honorable mention goes out to the Josh McDowell book More Than A Carpenter as well.

6. Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks Volumes 1-4 By Wayne Rice Publisher: Youth Specialties

These now are available on CD Rom. What a great resource. I believe in using "real life" illustrations as much as you can but for those moments when you need an illustration to drive home an important point, these books are for you!

7. Student Ministry For The 21st Century By Bo Boshears Publisher: Zondervan/Willow Creek Resources

Not the book that Purpose Driven Youth Minsitry is but still offers great direction for building a dynamic youth ministry. Boshears offers practical ideas and well thought out encouragement in this volume.

8. Youth Ministry Management Tools By Olson, Elliot and Work Publisher: Youth Specialties

Great resource for organization. This book has helped me to bring a bit of organization to my ministry. Also has many helpful forms. Well worth the price.

9. So THAT'S Why I Keep Doing This By Glen Procopio Publisher: Youth Specialties

Procopio writes from a been there done that and God is good perspective. I find his devotions uplifting and very relatable to my ministry. This book stays on my desk for quick reference on hard days.

10. Finishing Strong By Steve Farrar Publisher: Multnomah Publishers Inc.

This book is much more about the youth pastor's spiritual life than how to do youth ministry. Using biblical characters as examples, Farrar offers a plan for a well lived life. He encourages men to stand up for what is right and reminds us that character isn't something you mandate, it's something you model.
On The Road Again
The Map Speaks:

create your own personalized map of the USA
or write about it on the open travel guide

Jasper Speaks:
Wow! I would like to thank my mom and dad for shoving my sister and I into a car and forcing us to go all over the country. I would like to thank Hollis Center Baptist Church for allowing me to come on staff so I could visit many places in New England. (I still need to get to Vermont).

It is cool to think that I have been to 40 of the 50 states! WOW! Life is good! This was a lot of fun. I think you should try it too!

Monday, March 22, 2004

Wagging The Dog

The Press Speaks:
White House Rebuts Ex-Bush Adviser Claim

By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The White House is disputing assertions by President Bush's former counterterrorism coordinator that the administration failed to recognize the risk of an attack by al-Qaida in the months leading up to Sept. 11, 2001.

National security deputies worked diligently between March and September 2001 to develop a strategy to attack the terror network, one that was completed and ready for Bush's approval a week before the suicide airliner hijackings, the White House said in a statement Sunday.

It said the president told national security adviser Condoleezza Rice early in his administration he was "'tired of swatting flies' and wanted to go on the offense against al-Qaida, rather than simply waiting to respond."

The point-by-point rebuttal confronts claims by Richard A. Clarke in a new book, "Against All Enemies," that is scathingly critical of administration actions.

Clarke wrote that Rice appeared never to have heard of al-Qaida until she was warned early in 2001 about the terrorist organization and that she "looked skeptical" about his warnings.

"Her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before," Clarke said in the book, going on sale Monday.

Clarke said Rice appeared not to recognize post-Cold War security issues and effectively demoted him within the National Security Council staff. He retired last year after 30 years in government.

Rice echoed the administration's rebuttal in a guest column in Monday's Washington Post and addressed Clarke's characterization of her obliquely.

Jasper Speaks:
This is so bad it is almost commical. This is such an election year smoke screen. Clark obviously is bitter about losing his job and expects America to buy into all this! How silly. Does he actually believe that we wouldn't know that Condaleezza Rice is one of the foremost minds on foreign policy in this country? How dim do you have to be to even begin to believe she had never heard of Al-Queda before he told her? That just cracks me up!

I find myself looking at this man and seeing a warped, frustrated old man who has spent his life in public "service" and not done sucha bang up job. Then he gets bitter when he is relieved of those duties. He was the Anti-Terrorism Czar through the embassy bombings of the 90's, the attack on the USS Cole, and 9/11. Hmmm ... where should we place balme here on a job not well done?

I think we better buckle ourselves in for quite a ride this election season. I am both looking forward to and dreading the fall. I believe that the political season will be fierce but I also know I easily get frustrated with both sides and their ads and platforms. We will see how it all comes out in the wash and it will be an interesting ride getting there I am sure. As for this latest "developement" I pray that the American people will be able to see right through this bitter old man.