Monday, March 23, 2009

Sing Like You've Never Sung

I recently purchased a new cd called CompassionArt which is a project by various artists organized by Martin Smith and all proceeds go to help fight poverty.  There is one song on the album that has stood out to me and it is called "There is Always a Song" and is sung by Martin Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, and the Watoto Children's Choir.  It's a beautiful piano driven song but there is one part that always grabs my attention.  This part of the song says "Sing like you've never sung".  As I was driving down I-75 to the early morning FCA meeting this past Friday I was listening to this song and just became overwhelmed when I heard this.  I felt like God was speaking to me about worship and how that each time I sing whether it be alone in the car, at home, when leading worship at youth, or in corporate worship that I need to be singing like I've never sung and with the excitement like when I was first saved.  This can be tough many times because I can let my circumstances direct my worship, while instead I need to let my Savior direct my worship.  We must realize that it's not about the song and whether we like it or not, and not about what's going on around us, but that we are to sing with the intent to put a smile on God's face.

Then I felt God stirring my heart more and saying to me that it's not only about the worship I sing, but also my lifestyle of worship.  I need to be constantly worshiping God in everything I do and giving Him my all.  I challenge you as I have been challenged to constantly worship God will all your heart, just as if it's the first time you've ever worshiped the very God who created you and loves you with all His heart.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's been too long...

I can't believe I have let it go over a week since my last post.  It's crazy b/c I've had several thoughts that I wanted to talk about but I haven't had the time to post.  Anyway I want to catch anyone up on some of the past week.  The Wednesday before last (3/11/09) we wrapped up our "Sweet Relationships" series.  I took a moment to recap a few things and then our very own Malee Johnson gave her testimony.  She spoke about how God has called her to not date right now.  Something that most teenagers would either refuse to accept if they thought God was leading them to, or maybe laugh it off.  I believe however that most people will take Malee's testimony differently because of the sincerity behind it.  She shared how God called her out to seek His love and a closer relationship with Him before seeking that with a guy.  This is huge!  This is such a rare thing.  This is walking the opposite way from what the world tells us to.  I love it!  These are the moments that make being a youth pastor so worth while!  I love to hear the students sharing about what God is doing in their life and living it out as well.  I wrapped up the night by saying that God may not necessarily be leading everyone to date but that I encourage them to look at their relationships and see if God is the center.  If not then it needs to end!

Belinda and I took the next few days off and went to Asheville.  While there we caught up with some good friends, went to the Biltmore, and ate some awesome crab legs!  I promise to post more over the next few days, especially about our WNW service last night (3/18/09) and what God is up to in our youth ministry.  I'll leave you with these pictures from the Biltmore.  I wanted to have Belinda take a picture of me acting like I was wrestling one of these lions but everyone seemed too serious and I was afraid we would get kicked out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Good vs Great

We started some girls and guys Bible studies yesterday and I am very excited about it.  The guys are going to be going through the book of 1 Timothy and the girls will be doing a study on Leah.  This is going to be a great time to connect in small groups and dive deeper into the Bible.

When I met with the guys yesterday I talked with them briefly about being good vs being great.  I believe that many times as Christians we settle with being good.  I equate good with lukewarm, mediocre, stagnant, etc.  I believe that God is calling us to greatness.  We read about some of the great people in the Bible (Moses, David, Paul, the disciples, etc.) and sometimes think we could never do some of the things they did.  The truth is we will probably never part the Red Sea or do some of the things that we read about.  However we must remember that the things that God calls us to do today are just as great.  Anything that God calls us to do is HUGE.  It may not seem like a huge deal, or even be a difficult task, but if it is a calling from God then it is very important.  We need to realize that we can do great things just as the people we read about in the Bible did.  So just as I challenged the guys yesterday and I challenge you, strive to do great things.  Don't settle with going through life being mediocre and just going through the motions.  Strive to be great instead of good!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Summer Camp

One of the things that God started stirring in my heart before I was even voted on at Clearwater is our summer camp options.  I knew that we were about to go to M-Fuge for the 5 year in a row and for some reason felt that God was leading us to change.  I don't know about you but I LOVE change and have even told the students that the word "tradition" is a cuss word.  I don't just love any change, but when God leads us to do something differently in order to bring Him glory.  Well along with my conviction of going to a different camp, I also felt the need to bring it home.  I used the scripture in Acts 1:8 to announce that along with the change of us going to Centrifuge this summer, we will also do a mission based camp here in Athens.  I believe that as Christians we need to have a global vision of reaching the world, but I want the students to also learn that we have to focus on our Jerusalem which is Athens.

Please pray for the details of this camp that will take place July 30, 31, and August 1.  Pray that God will grant me wisdom in details as I plan and that we will see lives changed.  Pray for me today as I will spend the majority of my day alone in solitude to seek God's will and make some decisions about the camp.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Developing Significant Relationships

We continued our Sweet Relationships series this week as we talked about developing significant relationships.  A significant relationship is one that goes beneath the surface.  I know over the years I've had plenty of friendships that went no deeper than talking about common things, but a significant relationship goes deeper and stands the test of time.  Of course going along with the whole Napoleon Dynamite theme we talked about the friendship of Napoleon and Pedro.  But the biblical example we studied was that of Paul and Barnabas.  Most people know the whole story of Saul's conversion to Paul in Acts 9 but lets look at his initial relationship afterward.  We read in Acts 9:26-28 Paul wanted to join the church but the disciples were afraid to say the least and so Barnabas takes him.  As we look at their relationship there are 4 rules of significant relationships to observe.
1)  If you want to have a friend then you must be a friend
      -Be the kind of friend you want to be
    -Take the first step to develop a friendship, don't wait on them, but don't 
       smother them
2)  Act Thoughtfully
    -Acts 11:25-26- Barnabas goes out of his way for Paul
    -Who would go out of their way for you?  If you ran out of gas on the side 
       of the road who would you call because you know they would be there 
       for you?
    -Now who would call you in a similar situation?  Who thinks highly of you 
       enough to call you when they are in need and can depend on you to help 
3)  Friends rejoice with one another
    -In Acts 13 this duo goes from being listed as "Barnabas and Paul" to "Paul 
       and Barnabas" which leads us to believe that maybe Paul has stepped up 
       as a leader and is successful
    -We never read anything to lead us to believe that Barnabas gets jealous
    -How are you when a friend receives something whether material or in an 
       achievement?  Are you happy for them or are you jealous?
4)  Friends resolve conflict
    -On Paul and Barnabas' 1st missionary journey they take Barnabas' cousin 
       John Mark to assist them but in Acts 13:13 we read that he abandons 
    -When they go on their 2nd missionary journey Barnabas wants to give 
       John Mark a 2nd chance but Paul disagrees strongly and so they go their 
       separate ways- Acts 15:36-40
    -Its not the conflict that is always bad because it is usually inevitable.  Its 
       how you handle conflict that matters the most.  Do you reflect Jesus in 
       how you handle the conflict?
    -James 1:19-20 tells us how to handle conflict
    -As far as we know Paul and Barnabas never re-connect, but about 
       20 years later when Paul is in prison he tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 
       4:11 to bring John Mark because he will be helpful.  It looks like Paul has 
       gotten past the conflict and set that aside in order to continue the work 
       of God

In closing we looked at Romans 5:10-11 and about how we were enemies of God, but Jesus come to make peace between us.  We must get to the point where we realize that our relationships are not all about us and our happiness, but that we must bring glory to God through it.

I also want to give credit to Vine Resources for the pics and themes behind these messages.  I know this has been a long post but I did not want to merely summarize the sermon and miss a point.  We'll have either 1 or 2 more weeks of this Sweet Relationship series according to what God leads us to.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What is Sin?

Unless you're hiding under a rock then you know that sin is rampant in our world.  Also unless you are living in denial then you know that we are not perfect and fail daily.  We can rejoice that we can be forgiven of sin.  However the point I want to write about today is what the world's view of sin is.  It breaks my heart that some people do not view some sins as actual sins.  I'm not even sure if that statement makes sense but what I mean is that there are some things that are obviously sins, but the world has convinced people that they are ok.  Either that or they find ways to justify sin.  I tell the youth constantly that anyone can find a way to justify almost any sin, and that seems to be the case with many today.

T.V., media, peers, etc. all teach us that certain things are ok when they do not line up with the Bible.  Sometimes people even find ways to justify disobedience to authority.  We learn in 1 Peter 2:13-14 and in other scriptures that disobedience to authority is a sin.  I think my mom always said it best to me when she said "Break man's laws and you are also breaking God's laws".  This doesn't mean that we disobey God to obey earthly authority, but we still must respect their laws/rules.  I say all of this to challenge everyone to think about everything you do each day.  Think about if you would still do that if Jesus was physically right beside you.