Friday, July 30, 2004

Useless Fact For The Week of July 30-August 8

The Fact Speaks:

The Statue of Liberty measures 35 feet in diameter at the waist. The robe forms the outer shell of the statue, and there is no "torso" underneath.

Jasper Speaks:

Suddenly I don't feel quite as large anymore.

This one will have to hold you until I get back from Raleigh! Take care! Pray for us!
Outta Here For A Week

Jasper Speaks:

Please pray for us as we leave at 7:30 AM tomorrow for Raleigh, North Carolina to work with Mission Raleigh. We will be serving the kids of inner city Raleigh and Durham! It is a great trip. If you are a youth pastor, you should really look into this organization. Great people to work with and a very inexpensive trip! We have had great returns in the lives of our students.

Please pray for the weather. It is suppose to rain all week and our clubs are all outdoors. Pray that if it does thunderstorm it would be in between clubs! Please pray for safety in our travel and for changed lives! Peace out!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Quote For Today

John Piper Speaks:

"The climax of God's happiness is the delight He takes in the echoes of His excellence in the praises of His people."

Jasper Speaks:

I long for quality worship. I realize that worship is more than singing. I want my life to be a worship before the Lord. I want Him to take delight in what I offer Him with who I am. I am so tired of being an "ordinary" Christian. I want to live a life full of praise.

This can be such a struggle. I think we all let the day to day "stuff" grab us and control us. Truthfully, this world is not very conducive to worship. Satan is always throwing things in our way that move us from gazing on the goodness of God. Gazing on that goodness is true worship. I think musical praise is best when it comes from an overflow of praising God with all that you are. Worship is loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. That means giving God every inch every minute. That is so hard to do.

I want God to be delighted in my worship. I want to please Him. If I am to be a true worshiper I must not let myself be distracted by the everyday things that force my gaze away from the object of my affection. I must turn my heart, soul, mind and strength to stand face to face with Christ. It is there that I will be able to do nothing but worship Him in His holiness. I pray that for me, that gaze will begin today.

Jasper Speaks:

We leave for Raleigh on Saturday. A little frightening to think it is that close. I am mostly ready. I am at once both dreading and anticipating the trip. The weather is supposed to be rough during the week and I hope we can make due. I know God is in charge so that helps.

Please pray for my father. He went to the ER on Sunday morning at 2AM because his blood pressure was like 240/100 or something like that. It was nuts. They released him and he went to church and preached that day anyway. I guess that's where I get my need to always be at church no matter what. Anyway, he had a doctor's appointment today where they pretty much told him to take his medicine and exercise more. GREAT.

Well I am off to bed. I hope to get a lot of rest before the weekend hits!

Useless Fact For July 28

The Fact Speaks:
Prior to the adoption of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, the candidate who ran second in a presidential race automatically become vice president. Thomas Jefferson became John Adams' vice president in this way.
Jasper Speaks:
In light of recent events, wouldn't this make for interesting politics?

Monday, July 26, 2004

What Is Youth Ministry Really About?

Jasper Speaks:

I have asked myself that question so many times. Even several times in the last few days. There are some obvious answers. I know for me so much of why I am here today is that I have a call of God on my life to be here. I cannot achieve purpose without being in ministry. As I think about those days when I want to turn in my silly putty, smelly van and reasons to stay up all night, I simply cannot just walk away. So with that in mind I feel I need to figure out the answer to the question "what is Youth Ministry really about"?

1. It Is About Leading Teens To Christ

This seems like a no brainer but I think sometimes we get caught up in the activities of ministry and neglect this one. I offer a lot of stuff for my kids but I question how much of it really leads them to Christ. Of course I am speaking of evangelism but do my thoughts, actions and ministry lead even teens who are saved back to the feet of Christ on a regular basis? Does my example show them that Christianity is about a relationship? Am I displaying Christ in such a way that a non-Christian student will be drawn to know what makes me different?

2. It Is About Creating A Safe Place For Students

One of the joys of ministry for me is being with students. I love to hang out with them and mentor them. I also love to offer a place where students can be together in a positive, safe environment. I think a crucial reason Youth Ministry exists is to bring students together and help them walk side by side in the battle. Nothing warms my heart more than to see two students holding each other accountable and helping one another through hard times. That is one of the joys and one of the most important reasons youth ministry exists.

3. It Is About Helping Students Mature In Their Faith

I love teens. I am not such a fan of pre-teens. Why? I think it is because teenagers are just that small bit more mature than pre-teens. They are just a little more "grown-up". I am not under the illusion that they never regress back to their more immature ways but they are closer to be a "real person" than a younger kid. That being said I think that helping students mature in their faith is one of the seedbeds of youth ministry. Just as their physical and emotional life is growing, so must their spiritual life. It is the role of the youth leader to facilitate growing moments. I love the fact that God has put me in a situation where I can offer ways to make students "stretch". I love to see the light bulb go on over a kids head about spiritual issues. For me this happens so much on mission experiences. Students seem to grow and understand their faith as they serve. Of course in the area of spiritual growth we have to be leading by example as well. The spiritual stagnant will have a hard time leading growth.

4. It Is About Helping Students Find Their Place In The World

So often I find myself trying to de-stress my seniors. I try and tell them that unlike many adults they know, I don't expect them to know what they are going to do with their lives at 18. I expect them to be seeking out what God has for them and to take advantage of their youth and the opportunities that brings.I do however, feel that it is the responsibility of the youth ministry to help kids as they try and find what their spiritual place is in the world. I believe in the six years a student spends in our youth ministry, they should constantly be confronted with why they are on planet Earth. What would God have them accomplish in their lifetime? I think as youth leaders we need to be constantly trying to offer opportunities that will help them answer this question. We need to encourage them to take steps of faith and look toward what God has in store for them. I think we need to encourage them to shut out the theory that they are the future of the church and embrace their role in the church of today.

5. It Is About Helping Students Live Out Their Commitment To Christ

Sometimes youth ministry is just about being a cheerleader. I think one of the most important aspects of student ministry is being a listening ear. How many times have I had students who are hurting or rejoicing sitting on my couch and anxiously sharing their life with me? As youth leaders we need to be committed to taking advantage of every opportunity to point students to God's Word for the answers in their lives. We need to start our responses consistently with the phrase, "what would God have you do in this situation'.We have to instill in them the idea that the relationship they have with Christ is a daily thing. Something they need to come back and visit on a regular basis. They need to be desiring more than daily --- need I suggest moment by moment --- communication with Jesus. We need to encourage that and model it as well.

So as I ask myself what is youth ministry really about I see faces and lives that have been touched and changed over my 14 years of service. It is these reasons that keep me from dropping it all and working at Wal-Mart. It is the faces of lives changed and the shadows of the lives still to come, that encourage me to continue on in light of difficult times. You see, youth ministry is also really about me. It is about God working in my life. It is about God Changing me and using me to advance the Kingdom. He uses me in spite of my inadequacies. He uses me in spite of my sin. He uses me even though I am not worthy at all. He uses me because youth ministry is really about being obedient to His call. In the end, for me, youth ministry is really about the deepening love between the creator of the world and an average guy named Jasper.

A Tuesday Morning Ramble

Jasper Speaks:

I am very frustrated with someone close to me at the moment. Do you ever have one of those days when you want to just say, "okay do whatever stupid thing you want. I hope you get hurt. I hope it is very painful. You are making your own stupid decision. Stop trying to seek my approval because it ain't gonna' happen?"

Maybe you haven't wanted to express those exact words but that is what I am feeling after my last IM conversation. Some people can just be so shallow. I am so tired of people who make dumb choices for their lives. I get so frustrated with people who completely know what they are doing is self destructive but still do it.

There are areas in my life where I am not someone's pastor. Our relationship is either a close friendship or one bound by family ties. It is with these people that I get particularly frustrated. It just kills me that somehow these people want me to think that they value my opinion because they flaunt their bad choices in front of me. They sometimes even get redundant with their telling me over and over that this is their life and they have to do what they want. Of course it is their life. Do they think I want it? Do they think I want to control it? No thank you. But why do you continue to come back to me time and time again just to rub it in my face that you are making a decision contrary to my advice? Go ahead screw up your life. Just leave me alone about it.

Okay, so that is my rant for tonight. I just had to get it off my chest and Kendra is already asleep. I am so fed up with this current situation. I am trusting God to come in and take care of it but it does seem that I am going to have to help someone piece their life back together --- again! I won't reveal details but please pray for this person and for me that I would know how best to minister to them despite their stupid choices!

Useless Fact For July 27

The Fact Speaks:
In France, chocolate was initially met with skepticism and was considered a barbarous, noxious drug. The French court accepted chocolate after the Paris faculty of medicine gave its approval.
Jasper Speaks:
Like we needed another reason to prove the French aren't the sharpest tools in the shed.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Useless Fact For July 26

The Fact Speaks:

Before his 1957 West Side Story success, songwriter Steven Sondheim supported himself writing "Topper" TV scripts.

Jasper Speaks:
This useless fact is in honor of my good fortune on Friday. I won four baseball game tickets and a $25 gift certificate to the Portland Lobster Company from a local radio station. How,  you may ask? I knew that Stephen Sondheim was a decorated lyricist who had won both Oscars and Tonys. That was the first clue given. Secondly (and the clue that helped me win) was, I gave Gypsy her voice but may be best known for sending in the clowns.

I called in and immediately won! The dj asked me if I was a show tunes kind of guy. I quickly denied it and said I just knew the answer from the good second clue. I was so not going to reveal to all of Portland, Maine that one of my greatest vast trivia holes in the brain lies in Broadway shows through the late 1980s. Just makes me seem a little, happy if you catch my meaning. But I thought I would post this useless fact about Sondheim since he won me a free lunch!