Saturday, September 11, 2004
Peter Marshall Speaks:
A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.
As we reflect on the third anniversary of 9-11, I am a little sad. There was so little said about it on television today. I kept searching for something but mostly it was just hurricanes and elections. I agree both of those are very newsworthy things but I pray that we are not growing cold toward what happen three years ago today. I pray that we are not growing indifferent to the lives lost and heroes made on that tragic day. May we never forget as we continue to change the world for good.
Friday, September 10, 2004
Victor Hugo Speaks:
"Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have finished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake."
I love Victor Hugo. His writings are excellent. Still, Jesus actually says this best (of course) in Matthew 6, when he said, "who of you can add a single hour to your life by worrying". We serve a God who is always "on the watch". We need not be concerned about the sorrow we experience in life. God is in control. I don't know about you, but for me, these words are usually more easily typed than lived.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
So we had our first TNT of the fall this evening. I have written earlier that we didn't quite know what to expect with all our seniors who graduated last year. There is definitely a different vibe this year. We had a smaller number than usual but we still had a good time.
One observation I had was in watching the students worship. Last year's senior class had really learned to love worshiping God through song. It was cool to see them grow over four years. Well in some ways we are back to square one. It is probably more like square three. We when came here they only occasionally had music on Thursday nights and when they did they just sang along with bands on CDs. We were able to find the talent and encourage students to form a worship band and have had quality worship for about three years now. So the returning kids do model good behavior during worship. That helps. I am just anxious to see God work in the lives of these younger kids and I think worship will be important for that.
My message was about taking a stand. We focused a lot on the story of Esther. The goal was to inspire kids about See You At The Pole. Most of our kids are pretty pumped about doing it. That is cool. The illustration that seemed to move the kids the most was when I talked about Rachel Scott who is a lesser known Christian victim of the Columbine attacks. They listened pretty intensely and I recommended that they all read the great book Rachel's Tears. Her story really inspired me as a youth pastor. I think she is a modern day example of someone who grabbed ahold of the moment with her life. That was really my challenge tonight. I talked a lot about seizing every opportunity to make a difference. It wasn't the best message I have ever delivered but I think it got the point across.
We will see how this year shapes up. It will be interesting to see what the Lord has in store as we rebuild after the great 14 student graduation. I see potential in some of these younger kids. God has great things still in store!
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Speaks:
"We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things? "
Such a deep quote from a man who gave his life for Christ. I hope this will help us all to remember to be thankful in all things.
The Fact Speaks:
PEZ Candy was first marketed as a compressed peppermint candy over 70 years ago in Vienna, Austria. The name PEZ was derived from the German word for peppermint...PfeffErminZ. Today, over 3 billion PEZ candies are consumed annually in the U.S.A. alone.
Being a Pez dispenser collector, I found this quite interesting. Now when people ask me where the name PEZ came from I know the answer. So maybe this fact isn't quite as useless as they normally are!
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Lidie H. Edmunds Speaks:
"My faith has found a resting place, not in device nor creed; I trust the ever-living One, his wounds for me shall plead. I need no other argument, I need no other plea, It is enough that Jesus died, and that he died for me. "
This is not the most well known hymn, but these words cut to the heart. I believe that even the strongest Christian can be fooled by the devil into believing that there is something we can do to earn entry into life eternal. However, God makes it perfectly clear that only by accepting His free gift of salvation can paradise be gained. Our pride often gets in the way of understanding that we can do nothing to earn such a great salvation. When we feel that we have done something great for God, He must immediately humble us so that we remember that it is by grace alone that we are successful at anything.
We need not list the wonderful things we have done for God. He is not impressed by those things. He actually loves us so much that he says, "Hush child, you don't have to convince me to love you. I loved you before you ever knew you wanted my love." There is no argument needed. All that is needed is for us to accept God's grace gift to us.
For a long time I struggled with God loving me in spite of my sin. I am not sure I ever even realized that I was not allowing myself to accept His love. I would fall and then rush to do so many right things to make up for the sins I had committed. I was picturing God holding a cosmic score sheet and though I knew better, I was trying to even the score of my deeds all the time. I was not only in bondage to my desires and pride but I was also in bondage to my lack of faith that grace was enough. I wanted to perform, to earn my place with God in eternity.
I had to step away from the behavior driven from my unbelief just as I had to step away from sins. I had to make a concious choice to let God's love and grace be sufficient for me. I had to come to the point where I lived a life driven by the fact that good deeds are not ways to earn my salvation but the means by which I am given the privilege of expressing my appreciation of that salvation. It was then, and only then, I began to understand that I would never fully fathom the awesome power of the grace of God.
"It is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me."
Monday, September 06, 2004
J. Oswald Saunders Speaks:
"We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be. True, there are times when we would like to know a deeper intimacy, but when it comes to the point, we are not prepared to pay the price involved ".
Ouch! How true that is. It is our choice to be near or far from our Lord. So often we say we want to be closer to Him but we hesitate because we realize there is a fee for closeness. Most of the time it will cost us our pride and desires. When we find it difficult to understand why God seems distant we need to search our own hearts for the reason why.
We are starting a new college ministry at our church. We have so many people 18-22 and have not had a real program for them. It seems every Sunday a college kid is asking me what the church has to offer them. So out of that cry for a ministry we are starting 24/7. Our ministry to young adults. We are planning on having a monthly worship gathering, Sunday School, mid-week small groups and mission opportunities.
All summer I have been working on trying to establish a program for this age group. It has been very difficult to recruit leaders. I am the figurehead leader over this age group but with all my other responsibilities I cannot be the primary leader (though I would like to try!). So I have talked to some people about taking it on. It seems now however, that the most effective way to make this work is to turn it over to the college kids themselves. They are all anxious for something to happen and that makes me excited!
Where the prayer comes in is that we need to get this off the ground this month. Please pray that God will raise up leaders. We are planning our first worship service to be held on the last Saturday of September. I am determined to make that work even if I have to be a little more involved at the ground level than I wanted. Please pray that we would establish a program that really meets the needs of these young people. I want more than a social time and more than a program that just fizzles out after a little while. I am praying that God will bless this ministry and would appreciate if you would pray for it too!
Lately I have been bogged down and not really myself. I have moped a lot and had a couple of hum dinger pity parties. Then on Saturday afternoon, Kendra had to work so I took in a movie by myself. I sat alone in the back of the theater. I was still a little down as the movie began.
As odd as this may sound I think I had a spiritual revelation watching, WITHOUT A PADDLE. It was a mindless buddy movie but it did talk about how we need to appreciate life and live it to the fullest. It made me realize that I have a good job, good friends a loving family, a wonderful woman who loves me and so much more that I do not deserve. I need to be thankful for all of these things.
I laughed at the dumb humor but in the middle of it all I found God's message to me that day. It pulled me out of the dulldrums a bit and reminded me we only have one chance in life! There were even some scenes in the movie I have contemplated using in a message someday. As I left the theater I couldn't help but think, "Wow, God just used Seth Green in my life. How odd." It serves as a reminder that we need to be seeking what God has for us in everything we do. We never know when the next "a-ha" moment will happen.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
The Fact Speaks:
Frosted Flakes mascot "Tony the Tiger" has a wife, son (Tony Jr.) and daughter (Antoinette) that were used in early advertising commercials.
Wow! I didn't realize that fictious characters could have a family too. It just makes me feel ... Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!
John Stott Speaks:
"Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us."
Yesterday I bought the DVD The Passion Of The Christ as well as the CD of songs inspired by the movie. I saw the movie twice in the theater (once it was just Kendra and me and once with our small groups). I haven't watched it again yet but am planning to do so in the next week or so.
I bought the CD as a result of seeing Bart Millard, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Third Day on Jay Leno Thursday night. They sang a song from the CD called, I See Love. I like the song very much so I thought I would check out the whole CD. There are about four songs on the CD that really speak to me. One of those is the Kirk Franklin/Yolanda Adams tune, How Many Lashes. It is very convicting as it speaks to how many lashes our sin cost Christ. I think for most people the scourging scene is the most moving in the entire film. That scene made the suffering of Christ so much more real to me.
Then I came across this quote. Coupled with my recent quiet time and Bible study, God spoke to me. You see my time in God's Word lately has really been emphasizing my sin and the consequences. As I read this quote it reminded me that I am personally responsible for Christ's death on the cross. MY SIN put him there. Yet, God, in His unfathomable brilliance used the very spot where my sins were laid to provide my atonement. I caused Christ to die on the cross through my greed, pleasure seeking, pride and constant failures. God however, said on this cross you will find hope and the price forever paid for your sins.
I have discovered that I cannot look on the cross without seeing that it is there because I am a sinful man. Yet God has demonstrated His own love for me in this, that while I was still an unbelieving sinner, Christ died there and paid in full the penalty for my sin. The cross is both a symbol of my failure and God's triumph. His ways are higher than my own.
So It has been nearly a month since I have had a chance to blog. I reassure that I am still alive and kicking and apologize for my extended holiday from this blog. I have missed it and hope you will return for useless facts and Christian quotes as well as hearing what God is doing in my life and the ministry to which He has entrusted me. My mother-in-law's visit went very well and that took much of my time the first week of my absence. I have also been very busy getting things together for the upcoming year of youth meetings.
I can't believe that See You At The Pole is only ten days away. I love See You At The Pole! It is one of my favorite days every year. I love watching students take a stand for Christ on their campuses. I love encouraging students to do that.
TNT will start again this week. Our first night is always a pep rally of sorts to encourage students to participate in SYATP. I have a ton of t-shirts to give away and am excited about speaking on taking a stand this Thursday night.
Our youth group is really going to be different this year. With the exodus of our 14 seniors last spring, we are left with so many young students. We are expecting a very large Junior High group this fall. My senior highers are probably going to be outnumbered for the first time since we came here four years ago.
Tonight we spent time with some of those kids. Wow they are all pretty young. It is exciting though to think back to when our seniors were their age and then see all God did in their lives in four years. I love a challenge so this should be a great deal of fun.
Still, it will take an adjustment. God does have mighty plans for the lives of these young people. I am excited to be a part of their lives!