Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

Tuesday Afternoon:

Sitting: At our home computer in my made for me comfortable office chair

Waiting: For Home Depot to come install our new hot water heater

Glad: To be on a bit of a vacation

Needing: To work on getting healthy

Anticipating: Our NYE party with our friends

Reading: NOTHING! And after last semester I am taking a well deserved break and only reading Jackson books.

Avoiding: Dieting

Enjoyed: Spending the day yesterday with old friends

Preparing: For tonight's college homecoming feast

Drinking: Nothing at the moment

Snacking: Not right now

Trying: To stay awake as I wait

Ending: The year 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

Christmas Eve is upon us. We pray that you are blessed by family friends abd the promise of new life Jesus gave to us.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

It has been a bit of a slow week at work. Today two of our college kids came by to see me. It was good to see them. They are still trying to figure out their spiritual lives. Who among us isn't? One has come a long way from where he was last year. He took a spiritual nosedive last fall and I must admit that there are times I wondered where the path would lead him. Now he is steadily crawling back to Christ. I am praying his journey will continue and will be steady and strong.

The end of the year brings reflection. I want my students to grow. I want them to take root in their faith. I am trying to desperately seek the Lord in how to make this happen. We do all the "youth group" stuff; mid-week services, small groups, weekend retreats, camp, mission trip. Still I am not sure that students are taking root. As I anticipate the New Year, I pray that God will help me discover new ways to really instill a vital faith in our students.

I am weary of the programs without results. I know we have some amazing kids who are really in love with Christ. I know we are doing some things right. I pray that we will do even more.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

We found out today that one of my wife's cousins was killed when struck by an automobile this weekend. They were not close but many in our family are grieving at this time. Please remember them in prayer.

Tonight I am reflective and thankful. I am a blessed man with a beautiful wife and an extraordinarily cute son. God's grace is absolutely amazing. I love them so much. Tonight, in the shadow of loss, I am perhaps even a bit more grateful for them than I was when I woke this morning.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

How You Can Tell Mine Is The Youth Pastor's Office

This is the sight that made me first consider that my office was a bit different from everyone else's. Not every office comes equipped with a two litre of Mountain Dew, a Traffic cone, a fake velvet hat shaped like a football, a vat of ping pong balls and a plunger adorned with Madi Gras beads!

Our Senior Pastor has a beautiful picture of George Washington bowing in prayer on his wall. The Youth Pastor feels more in tune with a velvet Elvis! I mean come on, GW was just a President --- Elvis was THE KING!

Walk into our Minister of Education's office and his bookcases are crammed with books. The Youth Pastor finds room for his extensive Pez collection and some favorite stuffed animals.

I don't want people to get bored so I put up this Uth Stuph poster with every line I have ever used as a Youth Pastor immortalized thereon.

The Music Minister's office is full of stuff that makes music beautiful in our congregation. The Youth Pastor's office has a St. Louis Rams Dancing Bobblehead doll that sings the Monday Night Football song.

Our Children's Minister keeps a heater at her desk because she thinks the office is always cold. Me I have a fan at my desk. Mostly it is because there is a picture of my smoking hot wife next to it and we need to cool the room as a result! (And Yes that is a giant Bart Simpson Pez Dispenser guarding the beforementioned hot wife pic!)

I do have enough sense to hang my degrees so that students at least think I am smarter than they are! Yeah, that doesn't always work out like I wold like. :(

My license and ordination to ministry so that people can confirm that I am a "real pastor"!

I know Jesus didn't stay dead so I have this cool RIP MJ hat to remind me that everyone else does!

And on a more serious note ...

The Youth Pastor keeps pictures of his wife and kid on his desk so he remembers what is more important than office time.

The Youth Pastor has pictures of his parents, the most faithful Christian servants he has ever known, to remind him that when the going gets rough, God goes with you and that real life heroes do exist.

And finally, a reminder given to me by those parents on the day of my ordination. I am not the one in control, He is.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

So another Christmas party is in the history books. I am a little sad as I reflect on our night. We had fun. Lots of fun. Still, in the end I feel like the fun trumped the savior. I want our ministry to be about Christ. I want Him to always be the center of all we do. Tonight I felt a bit like He was tacked on at the end. I long to disciple REAL followers of Christ.

Sometimes I get frustrated with teens. I want them to get when the fun stops and the seriousness begins. I have to remind myself of two things. One, they are VERY young. Two, as the leader, I set the tone. Sometimes I am better reminding myself of the former than the latter.

We had fun. Still I am sitting here asking myself, "what if we had made tonight a worship service and not so much a party".

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

The Best Part

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

Tuesday Night:

Sitting: At our home computer in my made for me comfortable office chair

Waiting: For Kendra to come downstairs so we can spend a little time together

Glad: That there seems to be substance in my mentoring relationship with one of our guys

Needing: To get out of debt

Reading: NOTHING! I am on winter break from seminary and plan to enjoy it by reading something I pick out!

Avoiding: Someone I need to forgive who I am frustrated with for just playing church

Enjoyed: Playing with Jackson and telling him a Jackson story then tucking him in bed

Preparing: For tomorrow's youth group Christmas party

Drinking: Nothing at the moment

Snacking: Just ate Kendra's homemade peanut butter chocolate balls

Trying: To be the man of God He wants me to be

Ending: The seminary stress. That's good!
Jasper Speaks:

Christmas is my favorite holiday. It always has been. I love the music. I love the lights. I love the smell of my hot apple cider recipe going on the stove. I love to give gifts. I love to GET gifts. I love Christmas parties. Heck, I love to HOST Christmas parties. I just love it!

I know I don't stop to consider what all it means enough. Like many others I get caught up in the fun of the season. So, I am hoping that I can take some time this season and just read God's Word and reflect on His Amazing love. I pray that I can take some time and think about how He really and truly loved ME enough to come to earth and live a human life. I want to remember what that truly means. I hope you do too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

I sincerely dislike when I get too busy to write for pleasure. This has been a long semester of classes. I have written 14 papers/projects this semester. That sucks the fun right out of writing altogether. I want to learn. I just can't stand all the work that comes with it. At least I have a bit of a breather before my class starts for January term. I know God's plan worked perfectly but there is a part of me that wishes I would have finished seminary 15 years ago when I started. Being in full-time ministry hardly affords the time I need to work on class assignments. Watching 50 hours or so of online classes was exhilarating. Well, not really.

Ministry is treading water. I am not feeling like HUGE things are happening but I am noticing a slow and steady maturity in some of our students. Especially the boys. That is something our ministry has lacked ever since I have been here and for a long time before me. It is hard to understand why with such a godly church but the teen years for guys have been hard and they have lacked the zeal to lead. This group of guys we have that are sophomores and juniors now seem to take their Christianity seriously. It is exciting to watch them living out their faith.

This fall I was published in Group magazine. That was a privilege. I also will be published on the Simply Youth Ministry website again soon. It amazes me that God uses me this way.

Our personal drama website youthministerman.com has had a lot of hits over the past few months. That is encouraging. Kendra and I want to totally revamp it next year and make it a site for a lot of resources for youth pastors. It is a dream but we hope it can come to life.

Now for some random thoughts:

My kid is seriously the cutest kid on the planet. You may think yours is but trust me you are wrong.

I love that my wife can stay home. It strengthens our family. It helps our son.

I love that we got to eat out free tonight at one of our favorite restaurants all because I was in the right place at the right time. Go God!

I am so uncertain of what is "next" in my life. I am trying to trust the next five minutes to God before I sweat about the next five years.

Three of the coolest events of this fall have been: Michelle moving across the street; Allison's wedding and having lunch with Mike my dear friend from high school.

Christmas is going to be so much fun this year since the boy is now 3 1/2 and totally gets it!

Christmas always makes me miss my mom. That stinks.

I love that God provides. We were so worried about Christmas gifts when a rebate gift card came in the mail three weeks early!

I went to the doctor today. I don't like going to the doctor. It was much easier than I had thought it would be.

I want to get back on the eat healthy and exercise bandwagon. It can be really hard.

I think it is fun to call Aaron up and tell him how much the boy misses him. I think it is cool that the boy really does miss him a lot.

I cannot wait until seminary is behind me. I am having such a frustrating experience.

My sister rocks. She just does.

I love Glee and The Good Wife. I thought I would love Flash Forward but it tanked. I probably won't even watch it when it comes back on in March.

I don't think I care at all about American Idol anymore. I still LOVE The Amazing Race and get way too caught up in the last episode every time. Just ask Betsy about this year.

The Blindside was an AMAZING movie. I hope Hollywood recognizes it.

To Save A Life was also AMAZING. I hope the church can use it to spread truth and change student's lives. I pray that it will convict every student ministry in the USA.

God's grace is so beyond my comprehension. I don't deserve it. Still He gives it.

I love the song Clumsy by Chris Rice. It is way old school but God is using it in my life right now.

I wonder if I will ever REALLY be the man of God I know He wants me to be.

I am deeply in love in my wife. Let's talk about how she is God's grace personafide in my world every day.

I love being a Dad. Really, really love it.

I am hoping and praying I get a 4.0 this semester. It has been so frustrating but I have worked hard and it is going to be close. It would be a great gift if it could happen.

One of the COOLEST things EVER was when I got to Skype with my friend Ben in New Zealand last week. We had not seen each other face to face in over 17 years!

I am looking forward to our annual New Year's Eve party. It is the one time a year I get to stay up late with ADULTS!

I need sleep. I am going to do that right now.

Blessings on you!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

Sitting: In my office.
Waiting: On lunch with JonnyB and then vacation next week.
Glad: That I finished this week's seminary assignment early.
Needing: Money.
Reading: Seminary assignment examples.
Enjoyed: Seeing that Jackson felt better this morning.
Preparing: The end of the semester and the beginning of next.
Remembering: That God knows what I will be doing in ten years so I don't have to fret about it.
Listening: My favorite iTunes genius mix - Oh Happy Day. I love it!
Drinking: Diet Pepsi
Snacking: On nothing becuase breakfast was more calories than I thought.
Trying: To get some work done. (Guess that is not going so well, huh?)
Ending: This survey for now.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

I must admit that I was pretty bummed when my supervisor told me that because of the shortfalls in giving, every ministry had to cut their budget by 10% for the upcoming year. My immediate thought was, “How can we continue to do all we do with 10% less money”. When the time came to present this to our leadership team at our annual planning retreat, I had no idea how God would use the cuts we were being forced to make in such a powerful way in our ministry.

When we sat down to discuss our new budget, we were all hesitant about where to make such significant decreases. We realized, however, as we began our discussion that in some ways the bad economic picture was a blessing to us. We were forced to do a hard and honest reevaluation of our student ministry. What was really important? How were we spending the money God’s people were faithfully giving to us?

We began to map out what we felt God would want a student from our ministry to look like when they were a sophomore in college. As we listed those characteristics, God also led us to evaluate our calendar from the previous year and highlight the areas where we were doing ministry that would lead students to the point we felt God would want them to be.

The result of that conversation was a much more focused student ministry purpose. We realized we had been cramming our calendar full, while mistakenly thinking we were driven by our purpose. We were able to take a hard look at our crazy, event filled summers and determine that less can be more. We discussed the value of our volunteer hours and how much more important mentoring and investing in a student is than staying up all night supervising them at a lock in.

We began to streamline our ministry into three areas: Connect, Grow and Go. We wanted to only pursue things that would connect our students to God and to each other, help them grow in those relationships and help them go live like Christ in their world. Programs that didn’t fit in those categories were removed (even some that were student ministry “sacred cows”) and we found a new passion for our purpose. Another surprising thing we found was that when we presented what God had shown us to our students, who joined us on the second day of the retreat to aid in planning, they understood it. They knew that our time had been overbooked and were completely on board with narrowing the scope of our ministry to focus on quality rather than quantity.

At the end of the retreat our team was able to bless our congregation by submitting a budget that was 14% lower than the previous year! We are confident that the choices we made will help us to better serve our students, our church and our world. It took a bad economy to help us to see that our ministry had lost its focus and to lead us back to the things that matter most.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

Thursday Night:

Sitting: In the recliner while Kendra watches the season premier of Grey's Anatomy

Waiting: To decide about mission trip and camp

Glad: For my whole life. Good job. Beautiful wife. Great kid. Lots of friends

Needing: To finish reading stuff for seminary

Reading: "Creative Bible Teaching" & "Beyond the First Visit" I only read for seminary anymore

Avoiding: Conflict

Enjoyed: Playing with Jackson and telling him a Jackson story then tucking him in bed

Preparing: For next's week's message on silence

Drinking: Nothing at the moment

Snacking: on nothing; just finished some popcorn popped on the stove

Trying: To reconcile with turning 40

Ending: A little bit reflective on my life right now

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

So my last post was just a quick note late at night. Now it is late again but I think I can express what God was telling me at the Lifeway conference better right now. First, let me say that the conference was especially great this year. Last year it seemed a little over the top in some parts and clunky in others. This year it was well thought out and intimate and just a great time to refresh. The only music we had was praise and worship. There were no concerts with recording artists you may or may not have heard of. It was just a few days of praising God and letting him work in you life.

As I mentioned before, Steven Curtis Chapman spoke and sung on Monday night. It was powerful. Not a dry eye remained in the house. The one ministry applicable thing for me that he said was, that the youth pastors who invested in him when he was younger, laid a groundwork that helped him get through this time. That isn't an exact quote but is a good paraphrase.

That got me thinking. He was saying that Youth Pastors had laid the foundation for his adult faith. It got me thinking that even the hard to reach kids may be absorbing things that will help them in crisis in the future. It was a great reminder that God is God and He will finish the work He has started in all of the students with whom I have influence.

This tied together with the quote from Jeff Platt on the last night that said, Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may be something you never see in your life. God is at work all the time. I don't have to see His results to encourage me to keep investing in the lives of students. God will finish the work.

Well, I am dozing again. I better take off to sleep. I will post more about my week soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

I am at the Lifeway National Youth Workers Conference right now. I have to say I was a bit skeptical about coming. Last year, I got frustrated with the people I went with. They were a bunch of Youth Pastors who acted like seventh graders the whole time. When offered to come with them again I was hesitent but decided to do it because it was a good price and in spite of the goofiness last year, I did make some good networking relationships.

I am glad I came. yesterday was day one and God already is moving in my spirit. I am challenged in my thinking about parents. Also, Steven Curtis Chapman said something last night that really spoke to me in my frustrations with student ministry. He said that one of the reasons he got through his horrible year was because a Youth Pastor laid the groundwork for his faith.

I must remember it is a marathon not a sprint. Looking foreward to what god will show me today.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

This week I am all about getting stuff done for seminary. I might have bitten off more than I should. Not sure how some of my assignments are really going to help me. Today's assignment (that has to be mailed by Monday) has been especially annoying. It is costly and somewhat pointless. UG!

Right now I am watching (well listening) to a lecture. Kendra and her mom are going to the Braves game tonight. I will be alone with the boy. I love him. We will have fun. Maybe I will take him to McDonald's for dinner. I am cool like that.

Next week I will go to the Lifeway National Youth Worker's Convention. Last year I went and was a little annoyed with the busload of Youth Pastors I rode there with. It was kind of like riding with the junior high boys all the way there. I did however, get to know some of them and have created some surface relationships with some of them so this year should be better.

Still praying for a great discipleship movement in our student ministry. I think the Lord is moving but sometimes I just want to run ahead.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

We had a great time of fellowship and planning recent;y with the SMT (Student Ministry Team). For a while we have felt that God was calling us to move toward a more intentionally discipleship driven ministry. It has been a burden of our leadership team to create a ministry that helped student live out their faith with more consistency. We felt the need to move toward a clear process of ministry. We want our mission serving Jesus and make quality followers of Christ as He commanded us to do in the Great Commission to be clear.

With that in mind we have narrowed our purpose down to three words:


We know that one purpose of our group is to CONNECT students to God and each other. The open door to our ministry is our Wednesday night REALITY CHECK/REAL TIME event. Here junior and senior high students can come to a night of fellowship, worship and Bible study. We want to make this event one in which current students are challenged in their faith whilst feeling that they can invite their friends to a non-threatening place to hear about the love of Jesus. We also will continue with intentional fellowship events that will lead students to a greater level of accountability and friendship.

Next we want to encourage our students to GROW in their relationship with Jesus. This growth will be greatly fostered by our REAL LIFE SMALL GROUPS. In these groups students will have the chance to study the Bible while building accountability relationships with leaders and other students. We are excited at the many opportunities we have for small groups including: Sunday Morning Bible Study, Trek for junior highers, Journey for senior higher (both offered on Sunday evenings at 5:15PM) Real Time for junior highers on Wednesday nights, and our Senior High Girls Midweek Group meeting at the Ferguson home on Tuesdays at 6:30PM as well as our Senior High Guys Midweek Group meeting at the Behan home on Thursdays 6:30PM. We are praying that these groups will also each embrace a mission endeavor in which they will partner and serve together.

Finally, we want our students to GO. The mission endeavors for the small groups will be the ongoing mission emphasis of our group and we pray that along with full group mission events (like our summer mission trips) students will gain a greater burden to serve the world for Christ. We want, however, for our students to also GO into their own world every day and live for Christ. We want to encourage them to missional living where they are, sharing their love for Christ with those around them every day. We want them to be authentic in their faith and we pray that connecting and growing will lead to a natural going.

There is so much going on in our student ministry and I am excited to see what God has in store for us in the upcoming school year. It is amazing that He uses any of us and it is great to see that there is a simple, easy to understand process in place to help our students grow in their relationship with Christ.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

So, tonight I am starting a new series called, "One Month To Live" at Reality Check. As part of that series, I came up with a what I would do if I had one month to live list. I am asking my leaders and students to do the same. I thought I would post what I came up with here. Some are silly, most are serious. It was a rather sobering exercise. Those with an asterisk are what I labeled my "one month values" that I think I should be working on right now because they are that important.


  1. Spend more time with my family*
  2. Write letters to the ones I love.
  3. See friends.*
  4. Skydive
  5. Quit working
  6. Eat lots of Ice Cream
  7. Go to Gianinos a lot
  8. Sing everyday*
  9. Tell some people I was sorry*
  10. See Mt. Rushmore
  11. Hold Kendra*
  12. Hold Jackson*
  13. Go to Vermont, North Dakota and Washington and Oregon
  14. Make as many people laugh everyday of that month that I could*
  15. Read the entire New Testament*
  16. Spend every morning with God*
  17. Go to sleep to praise music*
  18. Blog everyday*
  19. Make a video of my last month journey (mostly for Jackson to remember me by)
  20. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
  21. Never get a babysitter
  22. Eat a Trainwreck Philly Steak and Sweet potato fries three times a week
  23. Play the piano everyday
  24. Dance with Kendra again and again*
  25. Tell Jackson stories at least three times a day
  26. Write out several Jackson stories for Jackson to have forever
  27. Think about my mom
  28. Ponder Heaven three times a day at least
  29. Hold Kendra’s hand at every conceivable possibility*
  30. Stay up late a lot with people I love
  31. Let those I love know what they mean to me (esp. Kendra, Jackson, Darla, Dad and my nieces and nephews)*
  32. Write a skit a day
  33. Drop out of seminary without guilt
  34. Buy Kendra flowers every day
  35. Get Kendra’s ring fixed
  36. Give away my clothes
  37. Mark my things for Kendra to give to special people (who gets the toenail clippers?)
  38. Throw away the iPhone and get a cheap flip phone
  39. Stop texting
  40. Stop driving
  41. Write a few songs*
  42. Visit Maine
  43. Go to New Orleans
  44. Write Kendra a love poem for each day and leave it on her pillow when she wakes up
  45. Stop worrying*

What would yours be?

Jasper Speaks:

So, Aaron left yesterday signifying the official end of summer. Tonight is the first Reality Check of the fall. I am excited to get going. It was a long, sometimes hard summer and I am ready for the routine of the school year. God has reminded me of much and taught me many things over the past few months. I am so blessed to be in student ministry. I love it. Here are some pictures of summer highlights:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

A real summer recap is coming soon. But for now maybe this will make you feel old too:

The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2013

Most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1991.

1. For these students, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, The Dallas Times Herald, Gene Roddenberry, and Freddie Mercury have always been dead.

2. Dan Rostenkowski, Jack Kevorkian, and Mike Tyson have always been felons.

3. The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.

4. They have never used a card catalog to find a book.

5. Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister.

6. Salsa has always outsold ketchup.

7. Earvin "Magic" Johnson has always been HIV-positive.

8. Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.

9. They have been preparing for the arrival of HDTV all their lives.

10. Rap music has always been main stream.

11. Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor choice.

12. Someone has always been building something taller than the Willis (née Sears) Tower in Chicago.

13. The KGB has never officially existed.

14. Text has always been hyper.

15. They never saw the "Scud Stud" (but there have always been electromagnetic stud finders.)

16. Babies have always had a Social Security Number.

17. They have never had to "shake down" an oral thermometer.

18. Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.

19. They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P.

20. American students have always lived anxiously with high-stakes educational testing.

21. Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled.

22. State abbreviations in addresses have never had periods.

23. The European Union has always existed.

24. McDonald's has always been serving Happy Meals in China.

25. Condoms have always been advertised on television.

26. Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and vice versa.

27. Christopher Columbus has always been getting a bad rap.

28. The American health care system has always been in critical condition.

29. Bobby Cox has always managed the Atlanta Braves.

30. Desperate smokers have always been able to turn to Nicoderm skin patches.

31. There has always been a Cartoon Network.

32. The nation's key economic indicator has always been the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

33. Their folks could always reach for a Zoloft.

34. They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.

35. Women have always outnumbered men in college.

36. We have always watched wars, coups, and police arrests unfold on television in real time.

37. Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.

38. Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania, and Estonia have always been independent nations.

39. It's always been official: President Zachary Taylor did not die of arsenic poisoning.

40. Madonna's perspective on Sex has always been well documented.

41. Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball.

42. Ozzy Osbourne has always been coming back.

43. Kevin Costner has always been Dancing with Wolves, especially on cable.

44. There have always been flat screen televisions.

45. They have always eaten Berry Berry Kix.

46. Disney's Fantasia has always been available on video, and It's a Wonderful Life has always been on Moscow television.

47. Smokers have never been promoted as an economic force that deserves respect.

48. Elite American colleges have never been able to fix the price of tuition.

49. Nobody has been able to make a deposit in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

50. Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.

51. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.

52. They have never been Saved by the Bell

53. Someone has always been asking: "Was Iraq worth a war?"

54. Most communities have always had a mega-church.

55. Natalie Cole has always been singing with her father.

56. The status of gays in the military has always been a topic of political debate.

57. Elizabeth Taylor has always reeked of White Diamonds.

58. There has always been a Planet Hollywood.

59. For one reason or another, California's future has always been in doubt.

60. Agent Starling has always feared the Silence of the Lambs.

61. "Womyn" and "waitperson" have always been in the dictionary.

62. Members of Congress have always had to keep their checkbooks balanced since the closing of the House Bank.

63. There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.

64. CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging.

65. Avon has always been "calling" in a catalog.

66. NATO has always been looking for a role.

67. Two Koreas have always been members of the UN.

68. Official racial classifications in South Africa have always been outlawed.

69. The NBC Today Show has always been seen on weekends.

70. Vice presidents of the United States have always had real power.

71. Conflict in Northern Ireland has always been slowly winding down.

72. Migration of once independent media like radio, TV, videos and compact discs to the computer has never amazed them.

73. Nobody has ever responded to "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up."

74. Congress could never give itself a mid-term raise.

75. There has always been blue Jell-O.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

I had the pleasure of filling in for our Pastor when he was sick a couple of weeks ago by preaching at a Senior Adult Prayer Breakfast AND on Sunday morning for "big church" in the same week. I used to have an aversion to preaching to the whole congregation. I struggled with it for years. But God has worked on my heart and now I truly enjoy breaking His Word to adults as well as teens. Here is a video of the Sunday morning message I was able to share with our congregation:

Jasper Speaks:

I have been overwhelmed with a question lately. Am I creating a group of spiritually growing disciples of Christ in our student ministry or am I creating a group of spiritually co-dependent teenagers who cannot function with me as a guide? I know that sounds self serving but things have happened lately that have caused me to wonder. I am burdened by students living a life of duality. I ache when I realize that more of the students I have been entrusted with are living one way with me and another way all other times. Even times when they are with other Christian students in our group.

I am sure I am not the only Youth Pastor who struggles in this area. There are some students who get it and run with their faith and grow. I am blessed by those kids. There are some who never even pretend to embrace the faith. I can respect that. Then there are students who seem to not be able to make it on their own. Some of them talk a good talk but they are fully dependent on others to hold their hands in their faith. They can play the game when they are at church but the reality of their lack of depth plays out everywhere else. These students are the ones who are jealous of your time with your family. They are the students who do not speak redemptively when they are not with the Youth Pastor. They are the students who are jealous of past youth groups when you speak of them. They are the ones who lie, curse and compromise and everyone but the Youth Pastor is privy to this knowledge about their duality.

Don't get me wrong. I understand my place in the life of students. I am supposed to be there to cheer them on and point them to Christ. My fear is what if I am pointing them more to me than to Him? There is nothing I consciously do that brings this on and it is a small number of the students I have encountered in ministry. Still, I struggle with how to keep this from happening. I want to see students live lives of genuine commitment based on their passion and love for Jesus. I want to be raising a generation that own their faith. I want them to be able to survive on their own. I don't want them to be dependent on anyone else for their faith.

Tonight I had dinner with a former student that I haven't seen in five years. She holds a special place in my heart. At that dinner was a student who I still have frequent contact with but who I haven't had "official" spiritual authority over in those five years either. I know she loves the Lord and is living for Him independent of me. That is my goal. I pray that the students in my current ministry will see through me to the Father and will begin to live a faith that is their own. Many already do, I pray for those who don't.

I can sit here and readily think of so many students in our group that get it. I think of the student who first set these thoughts in motion in my mind when he came to me burdened for his friends in our group. I think of the confident young lady who hasn't been around as much as I would like but even without our programs and meetings, has maintained a strong walk with the Lord despite a hectic schedule. I think about the girl who is always eager to thank God in a genuine way for what He is doing in her life. She is always quick to give Him credit. I think of the young lady who has a soft spirit but is committed firmly to her faith and asks for my advice when telling her friends about Christ. She comes to me in the midst of sharing her faith not before for encouragement to do so. These students remind me that many are taking their faith out on their own. Still, those who aren't can be discouraging for me.

I am searching for the best way to keep this from happening. I am struggling with how to point these few students who live in this co-dependent spiritual world toward a more intimate walk with the Lord. I want them to take their faith in their hearts and make it their own. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

Not dead. Just summer. Dealing with this kind of person this week:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

I have never been good at conflict. I hate it actually. I find it hard to approach. I think it is because I am a people pleaser. I want people to like me and conflict means someone is not happy with me. It is an area in ministry that I have been trying to work on for years. Kendra has helped and I think I understand that conflict is best resolved sooner rather than later.

With that in mind, I have a meeting today with a set of parents. One of their children graduated last year, one is in the youth group and two more are on their way. The oldest kid and I have had some issues this first year he has been out of the group. It has hurt me on some levels and saddened me on most.

I have not had opportunity to discuss this with the parents and it has been an issue since the beginning of the school year. I am praying for grace and wisdom in this situation. I am praying that my words would be kind and loving and restorative. I just hate conflict.

On the other hand, today is my 10th wedding anniversary. That kind of blows my mind. I don't feel old enough to have been married ten years. Still, I look at all we have weathered and how much we have grown and I am amazed at God's wisdom. There is no doubt that Kendra is the woman God created for me. I grabbed her up at the age of 21 and took her away to Maine at 22. When I think about how young that is now, it blows my mind. She was beautiful on the day I married her and has only gotten more beautiful every day. My mom used to say that Kendra got prettier every time she saw her. I agree.

I trust her with my life and love. She is an amazing mommy. She has made great sacrifices for the well being of our family. She has taught me so much about life and relationships. I am a better man because of her encouragement (and yes) sometimes even her prodding. I never understood the two becoming one concept until I married this incredible woman. Now I know that we are one person. God made us to live this life together. I am exceedingly blessed that such a beautiful, kind, stable woman was made for me.

Ten years have flown by. I love being married. I love spending my life with someone. I love coming home to her every day. Sure marriage is hard but God has resided in the center of ours and I don't look back at these ten years as all that difficult. I love her and cherish her. I could never really deserve her. But that is the great thing about God's grace, all too often we get what we don't deserve. In this case I get to keep it for the rest of my life. I am so undeserving of her love. And His.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

I had such a relaxing weekend. I got to spend a lot of time with my family which is always great. I also just got to relax some. A much needed resting period before our crazy summer schedule starts. I went to The Magic House (a children's museum here in St. Louis) on Friday with Kendra and Jackson. On Saturday we slept in, took a walk and then went to a graduation party (my "work" for the weekend) and went shopping. When we got back we went to Jackson's best friend's house and had kettle corn and watched the kids play. On Sunday we worshiped together, took a short nap, played hard at the church picnic, and then I went with a few friends and saw the new Star Trek movie (which was AMAZING by the way).

I wonder why we aren't more intentional about a Sabbath? Why are we always running to and fro? Is it the expectations the church has for us in ministry? Is it our own expectations? Is it a lack of believing that God does not need us to accomplish his purpose? I am not sure what it is but I know that I need to be more willing to take some time to breathe. The nature of the beast in student ministry is that we go and go. Still, I am here at the office on a Monday morning, refreshed and ready for the week because I stopped this weekend and just rested and enjoyed life. I have to remember how important that is to do. I have been burned out in ministry before, I know I don't want that again.

Below is the outline I used this week at Reality Check. It is a conglomeration of Doug Fields, Kurt Johnston and me. If you would like to see my whole transcript so you can see how I tried to tackle this, em comment here or email me. Again, some kids were miffed and I think that is great. The truth should ruffle feathers.


Week 1 – Tough Questions --- God’s Answers

During this series, we’d love for you to . . .

1. Realize the power of GOD’S LOVE

Long before he laid down earth's foundations, God had us in mind and settled on us as the focus of his love (Ephesians 1:4).

2. Make a commitment to CARE AND TO THINK

. . . our bodies were not made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:13).

God’s Word on Homosexuality

That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved (Romans 1:26-27).

Homosexuality is SIN.

All sin SEPARATES us from God.

But there is a problem—your sins have cut you off from God . . . (Isaiah 59:2).

What Happened?

Our world has made RIGHT what God says is WRONG.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:21-25)

You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in— first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn't sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it. (Romans 5: 12-14)

What Do I Do?

Aim to be a person of CONVICTION, COURAGE and COMPASSION.

  • Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. James 4:17

  • But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 1 Peter 3:14-16

  • Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:14-15

We also included this parent's box to keep the discussion going at home (Very much inspired from the SYM Best Sex Ever curriculum):

Parent Box: Take it Home:
Parents: I realize it’s very tough to sit down with your son/daughter and talk about sex. Feel free to yes these questions, skip to #, or read through their worship guide and come up with your own questions to facilitate an open discussion with your child.. Don’t be too discouraged if your child doesn’t want to talk—they may not, but don’t interpret their lack of interest as not having questions—there’s great confusion out there. I hope this helps…from week 1:

  1. What does the Bible say about sex outside of marriage?
  2. How should God’s love affect your sexual choices?
  3. Read Romans 1 together. How has the world exchanged the Truth for a lie when it comes to sex?
  4. How does Romans 7 speak to the Truth that even if a person could be born homosexual, acting on that lifestyle should still be avoided?
  5. What responsibilities do Christians have to live a life of conviction, courage and compassion? How can you do these things in practical ways?
  6. Why is it important to speak the truth to people in love?
  7. What is one thing you learned from Jasper’s talk?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

So last night I did my best to share God's Truth about Homosexuality with the group. It was a very difficult message for me. In the end I offended (or should I say GOD offended) a few students and I had several thank me for helping them with things to engage people in conversation about the topic. Kendra said as I started it was like I didn't even want to say the word then once I put it out there, I gained strength and started really being unapologetic.

I labored, prayed and eve shed a few tears over this one. It breaks my heart that kids have exchanged the Truth of God for a lie. I tried to tell them that the world looks into a mirror and says the reflection is reality. However, in a mirror image what is right is left and what is left is right. It is a distorted view of reality. I think that is very true. It burdens me that our kids have to survive in that climate.

In the end I did my best to sprinkle compassion with Truth. I have a lot of gay friends who God has brought into and out of my life. I love them all. I want them to see the Truth. I know I have kids struggling with this issue as well. I want them to see compassion from me and love and grace from God. I hope last night started to build a bridge to conversation about all of this.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

It is good to know God knows all things because I get confused pretty easy. I need to confront a controversial subject in our group soon. Thought I had a couple of weeks and then looked at teh church calendar and realized it has to be done tomorrow night. I have been preparing but don't feel over confident at this time. Please pray that it will all come out to God's glory! This is VERY important. Sin complicates everything!

Do you ever find yourself saying, "Ministry would be easy if it wasn't for the people?"

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Jasper Speaks:

This weekend our group attended FM419. This is the student version of The Billy Graham Christian Life and Witness Course. The Afters led worship. Three guys led us in the Bible study time. It taught us about sharing our faith and I think it was a great substitute for Dare 2 Share and they weren't nearly as annoying about us coming.

I wish we would have taken a larger group. We had 13 students. A small turnout since we run between 45-60 on Wednesday nights. But I do believe, as always, God had whom He wanted there. That included me.

I have been a Youth Pastor for nineteen years now. You get a little jaded about events like this. I am finding out more and more that I feel even a little awkward being the "old guy" in the place. Still, I love students and they at least pretend to love me. I have no ideas of wondering off into another area of service anytime soon. It is just as I get older I feel a little more disconnected from things. But it amazes me that God still speaks to me at times like this. And this weekend he did.

Most of the time I was going through the motions. I had been through the adult version of this course in 1999 when Billy Graham came to St. Louis. So, the information wasn't new to me. I enjoyed the worship. Most of the time that is the part of events like this that I like the best anymore.

But God spoke to me at the final worship set in a real way tonight. I have been so worried and burdened by the junk going on in our group lately. It has hurt my heart and it has worried me. I use the word worry because concern would be a copout. I really feel like I have crossed the line into ungodly territory in worry. I haven't let go of these situations. I have let them burden me way beyond how I should.

So, today, we were singing GOD OF THIS CITY (which has already been chosen as the theme for our mission trip) and as I belted out the line, "greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city", I felt the spirit wash over me in a way I haven't in quite awhile. I turned and saw one of our sophomore guys really worshiping. He was singing out and had his hands raised and eyes closed singing to the Lord. Maybe that doesn't sound so impressive but this is a kid who was a 7th grader when I got here. He has nipped at the heels of the "cool kids" in the group since he got here. He has always been a kid who I wasn't real sure where he stood with God. Was he someone who got it or was he living this life for his parents.

Over the past six weeks or so I have seen such a different side of this kid. He is very much as close to the center of the issues in our group as anyone could be without being directly involved. He has reached out for my guidance twice in this time. During our conversations I have seen a whole new side to him. It as if a light came on and he woke up one morning and said, "This is my faith and I really do believe these things. I need to live them out". He has taken some major stands when he has felt convicted. He has confronted sin and shown grace beyond his age. He has impressed me.

He has never been one to sing. Never. Generally he stands with his arms crossed and is motionless during worship in song. He always strikes the "guy pose". I am sure many of you know exactly what I mean. But today was different. He was positively glowing with the love of God and singing his heart out. We talked a lot about adversity creating Christian character this weekend. I am sure that is what has happened to him.

As I watched him, my throat tightened and my eyes got moist. I sang those lines from the song even louder as I felt the Spirit say, "the things going on right now are not as bad as you think. I am still in control. I still love you. The attacks of the enemy will come but this round is because he is scared beyond belief at the greater things that are still to be done. Just like that boy over there has had to take awhile to discover my plan, other students will come in time. Greater things are still to be done in my ministry that I have entrusted to you".

Suddenly, things felt right. A weight was lifted. I felt the love of my savior holding me and saying, "It's alright, son. I have everything under control". I worshiped from there with reckless abandon. How great is our God.

I know we are far from out of the woods in the areas where there are issues in our group right now. Still, today, God gave me a reminder that He has it all under control. My job is to be faithful to His leading and His Word. He will take care of the rest. I think that is a pretty awesome message to hear.