Saturday, July 24, 2004

Mountain Climbing
Jasper Speaks:
Sin is something I hate very much. I get so annoyed with myself when I fail God. I just want to scream at myself sometimes. Will I ever, ever learn? I hate that there is this part of me that loves to hold onto the things in my life that I know disgust God. Still, I always return to those things, like a dog to his own vomit. I try to shed this carnal guy that lives with me and focus on spiritual things but often I fail.

This week has been a week of failures. I have fallen more frequently than I have in months. I am ashamed to approach the throne of God's grace because I have asked for forgiveness time and time again and still return to the sins that have haunted me for years.

It is like I am rock climbing. I start at rock bottom. Secure. My feet planted solidly. But I realize that there is a great treasure to be had at the top of the mountain. I know in my heart that if I reach the top, I will never again want for anything. I just have to get there.

So I start to climb. The climb is clumsy at first. I stumble some as I try to find a good foothold.  Still, I keep trying. Then I reach my stride. I am finding hand and footholds as I need them. I can see the treasure. I know it is right within my grasp. Just a little more and I can touch it. I feel like I am making great progress when --- BOOM! I lose my footing.

As I tumble to rock bottom again, I fight with myself. I call out, "stupid", "idiot", "when are you ever going to learn"? After a bit of wallowing in self pity, I convince myself that it is time to once more try to scale the mountain. Just when I reach my stride, down I fall again. This pattern repeats itself over and over. I want to taste the thrill victory but find myself ever choking on the agony of defeat. After awhile I once more wind up at rock bottom, frustrated and angry with myself.

There is a way out of this mess. I know there is. But in my pursuit for the prize I often neglect it. You see, I cannot climb the rock wall. It is way beyond my abilities. I keep trying but I can never succeed. It is a pretty hopeless place to be. Then I realize that standing beside me is the expert rock climber. He is eager for me to lay down my rock climbing tools. He wants me to toss my rope aside. He wants me to climb on His back and let him carry me to the top. He isn't interested in how many attempts I have made on my own. He has been watching all this time. He has studied my futility. He has witnessed every misstep. Sometimes, at rock bottom, I have asked for His advice but I ignore it every time. You see, He says, the rocks are too difficult for me to maneuver. I can never make it. Only the expert rock climber can successfully get to the top of the mountain. But every time, I continue to try and find a way to climb in my own strength. I have been tricked into believing that the climb is about me, that it is about my effort, when it is not.

You see, I keep trying to conquer sin on my own. That will never work. Sure, I spend time in the Word of God; I pray. Yet, in the midst of all that effort, I have to learn to turn the control back over to Jesus. I have to say, "Bible study and prayer are only a path to know you better. You have to climb the rocks for me, Jesus. I have to let go of my will and turn it over completely to you." I don't know about you, but I find those words very difficult to utter.
Perhaps, pride is the greatest sin of all. It is what continually keeps me from relinquishing control. I may not always be able to identify it but it is always there. The greatest understanding to be obtained is that Christ conquered sin on the cross. The battle is over. I just have to let Him take away the parts of me that don't reflect Him. I have to say, "Jesus, please let me climb on Your shoulders and let you carry me to the treasure that awaits at the top of the mountain". I pray that in the midst of my pride, I will find the strength to utter that simple prayer.

Useless Fact For July 25
The Fact Speaks:
Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine are the four states in the U.S. that do not allow billboards.
Jasper Speaks:
This is why when we go to North Carolina for mission trip every year, we have students taking multiple pictures of malt liquor billboards. Another reason why Maine is completely whack!

Usless Fact For July 24
The Fact Speaks:
A person who is lost in the woods and starving can obtain nourishment by chewing on his shoes. Leather has enough nutritional value to sustain life for a short time.
Jasper Speaks:
So I wonder --- first, do more expensive shoes have a higher nutritional value and second, are high top shoes low carb?

Friday, July 23, 2004

G's Qs 4 YM - Friday July 23, 2004
Jasper Speak:
1. What is one thing in the Fall you are doing?
Getting used to our new Youth Group. We have had a HUGE group of truly core students who graduated this year and are leaving a huge hole behind.
2. What is one thing you thought funny this week?
Linda Ronstadt getting booed off stage and this week's episode of THE BEST WEEK EVER on VH1.
3. What was the last movie you saw?
I-Robot in the theatre. Long Kiss Goodnight on TV.
4. What is one CD you would recommend for your students?
Anything by Passion. Can You Hear Us? By Dave Crowder. This by Lost and Found. (Oh that is more than one!)
5. What is one thing you have recently forgotten?
I forget.
6. Any recent themes or titles or lesson series that others of us might umm steal I mean borrow?
The last series I did for the school year was called IT AIN'T WHAT YOU KNOW IT'S WHO YOU KNOW. It was on First John and went pretty well.
7. Do you have a network? If so; how often do they meet? If not why not?
I like NBC. We meet a lot. Of course I don't have a network of Youth Ministry. I live in Maine. There are no Youth Pastors here.
Bonus:A. What is something you'd like others to pray for?
Our finances for Mission Trip this year.
B. Any praises?
Cabaret 2004 is over!!!
C. Besides this; what was the last thing you read?
YS Forum Boards

Thursday, July 22, 2004

TNT Tonight
Jasper Speaks:
Well, Water Wars finally happened. Fun was had by most. This is not the favorite night of the year for the leaders but the kids really dig it. We played some fun games. I particularly liked, "Don't Drown My Mummy". The teams had to roll a teammate in toilet paper like a mummy and then the entire team had to carry the person (with every team member touching them somehow) through a path where the opposing team would try and destroy the tp with water balloons. There were some pretty ingenious strategies. It was fun to watch.
All in all in was a fun night. A little bitter sweet as it is the last TNT for our graduating seniors. The group is going to be so completely different without them. We still have the mission trip, then it is a whole new world for the ATTIC. It ought to be quite a journey.

Usless Fact For July 22
The Fact Speaks:

A survey revealed that 87 percent of snowmobilers in Maine are males. Snowmobiling added $226 million to the state’s economy in 1996.
Jasper Speaks:

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

How Funny!
The Press Speaks: 
This cracks me up!
Jasper Speaks:
Linda Ronstadt was booed off the stage because of her anti-Bush comments in Las Vegas! That cracks me up. I am so sick of celebrities using their "art" as a forum for their bad politics.
People keep believing the lies of Michael Moore. I don't like to be political on here very much but come on people. He is a movie hack. He splices together multiple speeches for his own gain. The man is a lunatic at best. It saddens me that people will follow after anything they are told. It also confirms to me that most of Hollywood is as dense as they seem.

Useless Fact For July 20
The Fact Speaks:
In 1986, a guard in an armored car was killed when $50,000 worth of quarters fell on him.

Jasper Speaks:

Monday, July 19, 2004

Useless Fact For July 19
The Fact Speaks:
A small or imperfect ear of corn is called a nubbin.
Jasper Speaks:
I never claimed the facts were anything but useless folks!

What A Crazy Week
Jasper Speaks:
Sorry if you have been checking out the blog over the past week and found nothing new. It was a crazy week last week. I ended up putting in about 92 hours in 7 days! It was CRAZY!
It started on Sunday with church, followed by decorating for Vacation Bible School followed by Mission Trip Training/Cabaret rehearsal. Monday brought very little respite (see previous post) as our elders meetings are unnecessarily LONG!
The rest of the week didn't slow down much at all. We had cabaret rehearsals three days after Bible School. Then on Friday afternoon I went with some students to see I, Robot. I was so wiped out that I fell asleep at the beginning of the movie but really liked it overall. Go Will Smith!  That evening we met Kendra for dinner and then headed back to church for a cabaret practice that went until 10PM. Then when I got home I still had to work until about 12:30AM getting some final things done for the next day.

Then it was back to church at noon on Saturday with rehearsals all day and ending with the cabaret. Then I got home at about 10PM again. Our friend Jess was in from Rhode Island (she is going as a leader on the mission trip) and spent the night with us. We were up until nearly two. One of our just graduated seniors had not called home and the mother called me looking for him. He got home about 2:00AM safe and sound.
Then it was back to church on Sunday morning. We had lunch with Jess and then sent her on her way back. Then we came home and wrote puppet sketches for the mission trip training last night. We also made some calls about places for us to stay on the way down to NC. We left for the meeting still not knowing where we would stay. The kids found out what teams they are on and who their prayer partners are for the trip and we all separated and prayed that God would provide us a place to stay.

When we got home last night he had done just that. The former elder of youth ministry at our church is now living in Maryland and even though he is going to be on vacation that week (returning the afternoon after we need the house) he and his wife are going to let us stay there. That just rocks!
If you think about it pray for me this week. I might have done something to jeopardize my relationship with our pastor. At the very least I think I will have to have some deep communication with him soon over some comments I made in what was supposed to be an anonymous survey. IT is lengthy and I won't bore you with details but I would appreciate you remembering me to the Father.

So we can only hope that I get some rest this week as we prepare to leave for the trip. The summer is flying by!