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?