Friday, December 31, 2010

Things Learned in 2010

I find it hard to believe that 2010 is over and that a new year is set to begin.  To be honest though, I am glad and relieved to see 2010 end.  This year has been filled with many hard days, disappointing days, frustrating days, days of confusion and questions, days of struggles, days of heartache, and many days where I felt that I was underwater and struggling to get air.  2010 has been one of the most disappointing years in my life to say the least, and only once ever before have I been so glad to see a year end (2000 being the other).  I do not want anyone to read this to feel sorry for me, or to even feel like I am complaining.  I am simply stating how I feel without going into all the details.  However in the midst of the pain there is so much that I have to rejoice over and be thankful for.  I have such a wonderful God who loves me, a wife who loves me, and an incredible family.  Whenever we endure hard times, there are always things for us to learn, and I believe that there were many things I learned or was enlightened to this year.  There are also many things I have yet to discover and learn about this past year, but thought I would share with you what I have learned.

-There will always be unanswered questions in life.  There will always be things I wonder and question and may never have an answer for them on earth.  I am not sure why this is the case, but trust that it is all part of God's plan as He shapes me into who He wants me to be.
-After my relationship with God, my family comes as the most important priority in my life.  I have always known this, but this belief was ingrained in me further this year.
-Many people do not agree with the above statement about family being a priority, and therefore will not understand my belief.
-Some people will try to get you to compromise your beliefs thinking their cause is greater.  I however believe that there is no greater cause than standing on your own convictions that have been placed on you by the Holy Spirit.
-No matter what it is in life, the more you put into something, the more you get out of it.
-I take absolutely horrible care of myself in a health aspect.  I eat terribly, exercise none, and sleep nowhere near as much as I need to.
-Giving up Facebook as I mentioned before has been one of the greatest things I have ever done, and I continue to loathe the social media site.
-I am inadequate beyond comprehension when I try to do things on my own, but praise God I have Him to guide me along the way.

So what have you learned in 2010?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Not Missing What You Give Up

One thing that I have heard people say before is that if they give their lives to Jesus Christ then they will have to give up some of the "fun stuff" in their life.  As followers of Jesus Christ we are required to give up some stuff because it may contradict the nature of God, or it may be a distraction or idol in our lives.  I thought I would share a few things that I have given up over the years that I believe allowed my relationship with Jesus Christ to grow.

-Television- I know it sounds crazy, and especially with me being such a fan of The Office.  Last year we decided to cancel our satellite television service.  We still watch DVD's that we own or receive through Netflix.  My mom records a couple of shows on her DVR, but besides that, we do not watch television.  We realized that with all our ministry obligations that we are not home enough to justify the money we paid for the service.  We also realize that when we were home, there was hardly anything on worth watching.  Since canceling our television service it has allowed Belinda and I to spend more time talking, when we would have been channel surfing and finding nothing on.

-WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)- Yeah this sounds even more crazy that I ever watched it.  I never watched it growing up, but then started watching it in college to make fun of it, and eventually got hooked.  I realized after a few years though that it was trash.  It was ridiculous some of the stuff on there.  I also think it attributed to anger issues that I struggled with for a while.  I remember being convicted to stop watching, but continued to as I justified my reason was to watch a certain Christian wrestler profess his faith on television.  Well I eventually gave it up completely, and it was a great move in my life.

-Facebook- What?  A youth pastor who doesn't Facebook?  You're exactly right!  I was on Facebook for about a year and a half and that was more than enough time for me to see what a waste it is.  If you know me you know that I often say "Facebook is of the devil" and that's pretty much how I feel.  I know that it is a tool that can be used for good, but what I saw was that it was only used for bad.  Most everyone is negative on Facebook.  I know that sometimes I have to watch my own cynical comments on Twitter.  I just saw that Facebook was a platform for people to say things that they definitely would not say to someone's face, and used it to attempt to tear others down.  So I gave up Facebook, and it was one of the greatest decisions ever.

So what about you?  Is there anything that God wants you to give up in order to grow closer to Him?  Have you given up anything in the past to grow closer to God?  If so please share with us!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Joseph's Respect

Continuing our "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" series this week, we played another video of a house's Christmas lights synced to a song.  This week's song was "All I Want For Christmas Is You".  You know you like that song!  She talks about how she only wants one thing this year, and that is the person she "loves".  She does not want any presents or anything else.  Considering it is a love song (I guess), we took a brief look at one of the greatest love stories in the Bible, and one that I think it often overlooked.  That is the relationship between Joseph and Mary.

When we look at Matthew 1:18-25 I believe we see one of the greatest examples of love.  The reason is because we see Joseph show his love for Mary in his respect for her.  By law, he had the option to divorce her, which he was going to do so quietly to not disgrace her.  He did not want to disgrace her because she could have been stoned for being pregnant, but I believe that Joseph loved her in a way that he could not bare to see this happen.  However we also know that Joseph changed his mind after the angel appeared to him in a dream.  He then realized that this baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and that he was to take Mary as his wife.

I shared with the students that I believe the greatest way you can show love to someone is to show them respect.  It does not matter who the person is, a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, parent, child, family member, friend, teacher, acquaintance, or even someone you do not know, you should show them respect.  Even if they do not show you respect, the greatest way to show them the love of Jesus is to love them back and show them respect.  I challenged the students and I challenge you as well to make a point to show respect to everyone you come in contact.

The last thought I covered was thinking about how in the song she sings about how only one thing can fulfill her, and that is this person she is in "love" with.  I shared that when I was a teenager I dated a girl and we broke up a week before Christmas.  I remember hearing this song and kind of thinking the same thing.  However I realized that this girl could not fulfill me like Jesus.  He is the only one that can bring me the happiness and joy that I want.  Thankfully I met Belinda a couple years later, which is the person God prepared for me to marry.  While Belinda filled a void in my life, she still can not fulfill me the way Jesus does.  I do not say this to take away from Belinda, because she is incredible.  I say it though, it make much of who Jesus is in my life.  I hope you will do the same.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Favorite Christmas Songs

Well since I posted my least favorite Christmas songs yesterday I figured I would post my favorites.  I love Christmas music (except those I talked about yesterday) and there are so many that I know I will forget some, but here goes.

-O Holy Night- definitely one of my favorite classics of all time.  I like many different versions, Phil Wickham's and Mercy Me's versions are both great.
-How Many Kings- Downhere- this definitely became one of my favorite modern songs last year.  I wish I could sing like Mark Martel of Downhere.  He has an incredible voice.  But the lyrics on this song are amazing about Jesus coming to earth.  Great song!
-Welcome to Our World- Chris Rice/Michael W. Smith- Another song written beautifully.  Chris Rice did an amazing job writing this one and his version as well as Michael W. Smith's are just incredible.
-Light of the World- Point of Grace- it's credited to Point of Grace because it was on one of there albums but is sang by Michael Tait, who I believe has probably the best and most versatile voice in Christian music.
-Emmanuel Overture- Michael W. Smith (this begins several by him)
-All is Well- Michael W.
-The Happiest Christmas- Michael W.
-Christmastime- Michael W.
-Christmas Day- Michael W.
-All I Want For Christmas is You- Classic song!  I just bought the Newsboys version on their Christmas EP and it's pretty incredible.
-Offering- Paul Baloche- great song
-Christmastime is Here from a Charlie Brown Christmas
-Any of the classics like Bing Crosby, etc.
-I just bought Phil Wickham's Christmas CD and it's great
-Many, many more

So what's your favorite Christmas songs?  Please share those with us.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Top 10 Least Favorite Christmas Songs

I mentioned on Friday that I had given the students my Top 10 all time least favorite Christmas songs ever list at WNW so I thought I would share them here as well.  Please don't be offended by my dislikes here.  It was all about fun.  I may have offended some students with naming some things that they liked, but it's just for fun and it's my opinion so here goes:

10.  Santa Baby by Madonna- the music is cool, but to be honest it's a little creepy her singing about Santa this way.

9.  I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas- Seriously?  Who wants a hippopotamus?  Plus it is sung very annoyingly.

8.  Any Casting Crowns Christmas Song- HAHA.  I seriously got daggers shot at me with the eyes of some students on this one.  It was seriously just a joke since I'm not a fan of the band.  I seriously don't even know any Christmas songs they sing.  It was a joke, but some acted like it was an act of terrorism.

7.  12 Day of Christmas Muppets Version- Hearing Miss Piggy sing about 5 golden rings is about more than I can take.

6.  Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCartney-  Something about the background noise in it is just odd.

5.  I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause- I said that if I saw my mommy kissing Santa Clause then I would have more questions now then I would have as a 5 year old.  Just joking, but I would seriously have to do some interrogation.

4.  Feliz Navidad- I'm not sure why, but this song has always been annoying to me.

3.  O Christmas Tree-  Belinda doesn't like this one, so therefore I don't like it.  Enough said.

2.  Little Drummer Boy- It's not that I don't like the song, but the line about "the ox and lamb kept time".  Seriously?  How do animals keep time with a drummer?  Not happening.

1.  Christmas Shoes by Newsong-  Another one that students acted like I had committed a major crime.  Come on now, you have to admit this one is annoying.  I get how it's supposed to be sappy and emotional, but it's annoying and you know it.

So what's your least favorite Christmas songs?  Please comment and share them with everyone!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

This week at Wednesday Night Worship we began a short series for the month called "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" where we are going to take a look at some Christmas songs, pull a line out, and see what the Bible says about that.  I began by talking about how I love Christmas music, but that there are many Christmas songs that I don't like as well.  I gave my Top 10 All-Time WORST Christmas song list, which I will post another day.  We watched a video of a house that was decorated in Christmas lights that played to the song "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree".

There is a line in the song that says "You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear voices singing 'let's be jolly, deck the halls with boughs of holly'".  We then looked at Luke 2:19 that says: "But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart".  Mary wasn't treasuring a song, or eggnog, or presents like we do at Christmas.  She was treasuring Jesus in her heart.  So I asked the students to sit quietly and ponder for a few minutes the question "What do you treasure in your heart?"  I also asked the students to think back to the day that they were saved.  Do you treasure in your heart the day you were saved?  Do you get a sentimental feeling when you think about Jesus saving you from your sins?  If not then I want you to consider why this may be.  If you have never been saved by Jesus Christ, then you need to get that settled.  I want to challenge you to treasure Jesus in your heart this Christmas season.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I can not believe that it is time for another Thanksgiving.  I enjoy getting together with my family on this day and having fellowship and good food.  I am different in the fact that I do not like turkey, but I eat a little anyway.  Probably my favorite food item is the cranberry sauce, which I eat as a dessert instead of with turkey.  I prefer the kind out of the can over the real kind.  Anyway I wanted to share a few things that I am thankful for:

-My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I am so thankful that He gave His life for me, taking on my sins, and then raising to life on the third day.  I am thankful that He saved me and now I have a personal relationship with Him.

-I am thankful for my wonderful wife Belinda.  I am in awe that God blessed me with such a wonderful, caring, and loving wife.  I am blown away by the fact that she loves me the way that she does, and I am thankful that I get to spend my life with her.

-My family.  I have a wonderful family that I am glad that I am close with.  I have wonderful parents, and a sister who is married with three children.  I love them all dearly and am thankful for them.

-I am thankful for God's calling on my life.  Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to do something else, but I am thankful that God called me to serve Him in ministry.  It's tough, many days are hard, but when I see someone take a step closer to God it is all worth it.

-I am thankful for my friends who care for me and support me in all that I do.  It is humbling to know that I have people who pray for me and that I can depend on.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Escape From Reality

A couple of months ago I attended a Sunday School training and was in the group designated to learn about teaching teenagers.  At one point a question was raised by a participant that really surprised me.  He said "I don't understand why teenagers have their earphones in so much of the time listening to their iPod's.  Why do they do that?"  At this point the teacher of this training said "I don't know either"  What?  Are you kidding me?  We're in a group of people who work with teenagers either for a living or on a voluntary basis and nobody knew the answer.  I know that I should have answered but I didn't because I was kind of blown away at that moment.  The first thing I said to Belinda when we left was "the reason teenagers keep their earphones in so much is because it is an escape from reality".  I can personally relate that when I've had a hard day or been enduring a stressful season, I put my earphones in to escape from reality as well.

So then a month later Belinda and I were finally took our vacation.  It had seemed like an eternity since we had time off from work and were able to get away for just us.  We went to Disney World, which is always a blast, but we went this time because it was an escape from reality.  As I have mentioned before this has been one of the toughest years of our lives and this offered us a temporary escape from the realities of the pains and stresses that we deal with day in and day out.  We knew coming back that we would once again have to face the reality of these things in our lives, confront them, and move forward with God's guidance.  But what I have come to observe is that there are many people today who make major efforts to live in a permanent escape from reality.  I like to call that "living for ourself instead of living for God".  Jesus was very clear in Luke 9:23 when He said that we would have to deny ourselves in order to follow Him.  When we have self-righteous, self-centered desires in life then we are living for ourselves instead of living for God.

I'm not saying it's bad to have an escape from reality as long as it meets the following standards/requirements:  1) It does not violate Biblical standards; 2) It is not permanent causing us to be more self focused and less God focused; 3) Through the escape we are seeking God to restore us.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Prayer Stations

I have been wanting to take a Wednesday night for quiet a while to do prayer stations and finally felt that this was the opportune time to do it.  We began the night looking at Luke 5:16, which is just one of the many times that we read that Jesus would often get alone to pray.  This is the practice of the spiritual discipline of solitude.  I explained that it is not simply getting alone, but being alone with God, and that they have the opportunity this night to have solitude with God through the prayer stations.

The first part was to focus on their distractions.  I asked them to pray about any distractions that would keep them from having a conversation with God.  After a few minutes of examination I had them write down these distractions.  Then when they were ready they could come forward and put their paper in a box as a symbol of letting go of the distraction.

Next I asked them to spend some time asking God to reveal any sin in their life.  After a few minutes in prayer they were to write their sins down, but knowing that they will be destroying them in a minute.  Then when they were ready they went to our storage room and read the following information:  "You are sitting in our storage room.  There are some useful items, some not so useful.  Some items we want to hold onto, while others can be thrown away.  If you are not careful, you will store sin in your life, when you need to get rid of it.  Pray asking God to forgive you of your sins and read these verses as a prayer to God:  Psalm 51:9-12  Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all of my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain  me with a willing spirit."  Then the students destroyed their paper by running it through a paper shredder as a symbol of their sin being forgiven.

The next station focused on burdens and they read the following:  "Burdens, we all have them.  We usually carry them with us instead of laying them down at the cross for Jesus to take over.  Pray asking God to reveal any burdens in your life.  Then write them on sticky notes.  Your burdens can be anything: stress, family, fears, etc.  Take your time with this. Use as many sticky notes as you need.  When done, place them on the cross, leaving the burdens for Jesus to carry.  1 Peter 5:17 casting all you anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."  On the floor was a cross made out of duct tape and they placed their sticky notes on them.  The picture above is of this.

The next station focused on the world and our command in Acts 1:8.  There were pictures on the walls of maps of the world, North America, Tennessee, and McMinn County.  They read the following:  "'but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.'  In this verse we are commanded to reach the areas of the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  There are millions of lost people in the world that need to be saved and accept Jesus.  As you look at the maps on the wall, pray for these areas.  Pray for Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee, North America, and the world in general.  Pray for missionaries, pastors, missions organizations, etc. that are serving  around the world."

The next station was called reflections and each had a mirror to look at themselves as they read the following:  "Romans 8:38-39 'For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.'  Choose a mirror and gaze into it.  Examine the reflection that stares back at you.  Are you able to give God thanks for the amazing creation that is you?  As you consider your reflection, perhaps use this centering prayer, praying it over and over, meditation upon and sinking deeply into the meaning of the words: 'Thank you God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.'  Take one more look at the mirror.  Know that if you have been saved that God has plans for you and be excited that God wants to use you.  If you have never been saved, then get with an adult and get that settled tonight.  Jeremiah 29:11 'For I know the plans I have for you...'"

The final station was set up as a dinner table with seats for the students to sit at, except for the head chair which symbolized the seat that Jesus is sitting in.  Each plate had a sheet for them to read the following:  "As you sit at this table, it appears that you are having a dinner.  Don't be disappointed because there is no food, but instead there is something greater.  The chair at the head of the table is empty.  But imagine that Jesus is sitting here.  He actually is since God is everywhere.  Now consider this, God can be anywhere and do anything He wants because He is God, but He wants to fellowship with you!  He wants to dine with you!  Take a few minutes thanking God that you can have fellowship with Him anytime.  If there is anything that you want to say to God, now is the time."

When they were finished they went back to their original seat and spent time praying for everyone else there tonight.  What was awesome was that the students were so respectful of each other this night, and it was obvious that God was at work.  Another thing that I was excited to see was that several of them after they completed the stations, sit and read their Bibles!  Seeing a student read their Bible without being prompted to is a beautiful thing!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Real Thanksgiving

Last week at Wednesday Night Worship we focused on Thanksgiving.  We began the night by have the students write on a piece of paper their Needs, Wants, and What They're Thankful For.  After spending a little bit of time making these lists out I asked them which list they spend the most time focusing on every day.

We then took a look at the true first Thanksgiving with Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:3-7.  Cain brought fruit to offer God while Abel brought the best of his animals to offer.  God had regard for Abel but not Cain, meaning he welcomed Abel's gift.  Cain had not only given his best product to God, but he his heart behind the gift was sincere.  As we look at this and how it took place in Genesis, we also looked at this in modern terms.

I believe if Cain and Abel were celebrating a modern day Thanksgiving that this is how it would play out:
Cain:  Wakes up, mainly looking forward to completely gorging himself on food.  He is thankful to be out of school because he can be lazy.  When it is time to eat he wants to be served first.  When it is time for the blessing over the meal, his mind wanders off to the football game about to begin on tv, and what his friends are going to be doing later.  Later his family gets together to sit down and discuss what they are thankful for, which annoys Cain because he cannot believe his family is so cheesy about things.  Before going to bed Cain decides to say a quick prayer of thanksgiving- for all the cool stuff he has.

Abel:  Wakes up, thankful for even the breath he breathes knowing that it is a gift from God.  Since he has time off from school, he decides to devote that time and energy to God.  He is glad to spend time with his family and thankful that he has them in his life.  After the meal he is quick to help cleanup.  Afterward he makes a list of all the things that he is thankful for and thanks God for each one of them.

I think then if we take it even a step further and think about how they might worship in a modern church service it would go like this:
Cain:  Only glad to come to church to socialize.  He has trouble staying awake and thinks its very boring.  He cannot wait for the preacher to get done.  He does thank God- for saving him from hell.

Abel:  Glad to come to church so that he can worship with other believers.  He enjoys fellowship with other church members, but his main focus is to fellowship with God.

In each of these examples:  Genesis, my modern Thanksgiving, and worship service is that in each Abel is experiencing true worship of God.  Abel can do this because he is practicing personal worship.  You cannot worship in a corporate setting if you are not having private worship of God.  One aspect of this means focusing on your "thankful" list more than your "needs" or "wants".  

So the question is, are you worshiping God?  Are you truly thankful for Him and what He has done for you, or are you more concerned with the things you need or want in life.  Are you giving God your best worship?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Waving A Glow Stick

A few weeks ago we were able to finally take a vacation and had the chance to go to Disney World.  There are a couple of posts I will write about experiences learned from the trip, but this one in particular is about a touching moment I saw from a child.  One night we were standing in the back of the show Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios as the show was about to start.  A mom and her young boy walked in front of us.  It was dark and they were looking for a seat.  The boy said to his mom "What about daddy?".  The mom replied that the dad would find them.  As they walked on, the boy who was holding his mom's hand turned around and waved his glow stick, as if leaving a trail for his dad to find them.  The boy did not want to be separated from his dad and wanted to make sure that he would be able to find them.  

Well I was immediately touched by this young boy's act, and how he did not want to be separated from his dad.  I thought about how this applies to our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  Do we go about our life making sure that we are staying close to Him?  Or do we go about life on our own, doing our own thing?  I know that we do not have to wave a glow stick for God to find us, because He is everywhere and as Psalm 139:17 says "where can I flee from Your presence?"  The truth is we can not hide from Him, we cannot get away from Him.  But do you live your life like you are trying to hide or get away from Him?  As I sit in the coffee shop, I know that God is here and imagine Him sitting in every seat as I look around.  The awesome thing though, is that I also know that He is sitting in the empty seat beside me because He wants to.  This kid that I observed wanted to be sure that he was able to sit beside his daddy.  Your daddy, Abba Father, is sitting beside you.  The question is, do you want to sit beside Him?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Still You Love Me

Music is such an important part of my life.  I tend to be picky at times on the music I like to listen to.  Many times what may be a popular song I do not care for, for whatever reason.  There have been a couple of new albums that have I have bought recently that have been incredible and I will hopefully review them soon.  There is one song that has just captivated me in the past week.  It is called "Still You Love Me" and it is on Chris Sligh's new album "The Anatomy of Broken".  I wanted to post these lyrics.  If you go to Chris website and scroll through the songs you can listen to it.  You won't be disappointed.

You found me in my weakness
You, the epitome of strength
You found me in the darkness
You, the protector of the weak
You’re standing right here with me
On the edge of letting go….
I’m emptied out, with nothing to offer
Still you love me
My hands held out, with nothing to offer
Still you love me
Oh, still you love me
You found me in my fear
You, the One who will not break
You found me in my doubting
Yeah, faithful You remain
You’re standing right here with me
On the edge of all You’ve dreamed for me…
I’m emptied out, with nothing to offer
Still you love me
My hands held out, with nothing to offer
Still you love me
Oh, still you love me
I can do nothing
I can do nothing
Without You

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Leaving a Legacy

I wrapped up the Courageous Leadership series out of the book of Joshua last night.  As we look at the different areas in life where we need to be strong in leaders, we must definitely consider the type of legacy that we are leaving for those who follow us.  We watched a clip from the classic movie Sandlot where Benny has a dream that Babe Ruth pays him a visit.  Babe tells him that everyone has one chance in life to something great, and that most people sit back and do nothing.  He goes on to tell him that heroes are remembered, but legends never die.  As the movie goes on, Benny seizes the moment and leaves a legacy that he would not let fear paralyze him, and he rescues the baseball that they had been trying to get back.  

When we look in Joshua we see that both Caleb and Joshua leave legacies that are pretty remarkable.  In Joshua 14:6-14 we read about Caleb asking for the land that he had been promised 45 years earlier.  He makes the statement in verse 11 that he is as strong as an 85 year old man that he was when he was 40.  How is this possible?  I believe that it is because he lived his life in complete surrender to God, giving Him everything he had.  Through this I believe that God gave Caleb a strength that could only come from God.  Caleb sets the example and leaves us with a legacy that challenges us to live our lives the same exact way.  We should live our lives fully for God that He will empower us even when we are older.

As we take a look at the end of Joshua's life in Joshua 24:29-31 we see the legacy that he left.  Israel followed God because of the life that Joshua lived, even beyond Joshua's life on earth.  Joshua lived the life of a godly leader, leading others to live their life for God.

So the question to ask yourself is this: "What kind of legacy are you leaving?"  Thinking back to Joshua 1 where Joshua had to realize that he was a leader before he could actually thrive as one.  We too must realize that we are a leader.  In addition we must realize that we are leaving a legacy.  The question is what kind.  It should be the desire of every Christian to live a life that makes God known for generations just as it says in Psalm 45:17.  Examine your heart today and discover what type of legacy you are leaving.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Joy of a Child

One of the top questions I get asked in life is "When are you and Belinda going to have children?"  Well I don't have the answer to that and while I know that most people who ask it have no ill intentions, sometimes it does get old.  I usually just smile and say that it's in God's hands and that we have the teenagers we're working with and that's enough for the moment.  It's not that I do not like to be around children, because to be honest children make me smile.  I have shared before about the soft warm heart that my nephew Noah has in posts like this.  Even just yesterday he got excited when he was with Belinda because he thought he heard my voice.  To hear that melted my heart because I honestly wonder sometimes if anyone other than a couple of people would be excited to see me.

I'm sitting in the coffee shop about to do some school work when a young child probably about 3 years old came walking in with his grandparents.  His face lit up and he said "wow it sure smells good in here!", to which his grandfather said "it sure does".  I guess first of all I have an extreme of emotions running in me about this.  I honestly do not miss being a child at all, because I would not want to have to re-live some of the painful experiences in life that I have endured.  But I have really missed my granny recently who surprisingly passed away 2 1/2 years ago.  I guess seeing this child with his grandparents like this made me miss those moments with my grandparents when I was small (yes, I was small at one point in life).  Back to the point, the joy in this little boys face really triggered my emotions.  It then made me think of another child I saw earlier this year.

We were at the Dairy Barn (the local ice cream shop) earlier this year when a mom and her young son probably about 4 years old came to get ice cream.  I can't remember everything in detail but I do remember that when the little boy got his ice cream that there was something wrong with the order (size, flavor, or something).  The mom said "I'm sorry it's not what you wanted" to which he replied with a huge smile "It's ok".  The boy wasn't concerned that it wasn't exactly what he had ordered.  He wasn't concerned with the thought that they "owed" him and needed to fix the order.  He was overjoyed, thankful, and extremely content with what he did have.  Wow!  This really struck me I think because we live in a society that is filled with complaining and with expectations that people owe them.  

Anyway all of these thoughts on the soft, joyful hearts of some children made me think.  We hear it said many times about having the faith of child like it talks about in Matthew 18:3.  The first song I ever sang in church was even the song "Like a Child" by Jars of Clay. But what if we lived our lives with the joy of a child, specifically like these I have mentioned?  If we are children of God, then we should have the joy of one that comes from being in Jesus Christ.  I do not mean that we need to fall back and have the lack of responsibility like a child does.  But consider how much worry you have in life and how much stress.  Sure it's unavoidable.  I know because I have allowed my stress to develop in me a stomach ulcer.  As I grow in Christ, I want to truly lay my burdens down at the feet of Jesus, and not pick them back up.  I want to be overjoyed and content with everything that I have, even if it's not exactly like I pictured it.  I want have a heart that is full of the joy that only comes from being a child of God.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Integrity Check

Last Wednesday night we took at look at Joshua 9 and 10 and how Joshua showed his integrity by defending the Gibeonites.  Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.  In other words integrity is doing what you are supposed to do.

In Joshua 9, the Gibeonites realize that they do not want to suffer defeat from the Israelites just as Jericho and Ai did.  They decided it would be best to make a treaty with them, but they would have to deceive them into believing that they were from a far away land.  They put on old clothes and equipment, and when they met up with the Israelites they told them they were from far away.  Joshua 9:14 says that they agreed to a treaty without seeking God's counsel.  Joshua later discovered the truth that they were actually from close by, but because of the treaty he had made in God's name, he could not change his mind and defeat them.  The Gibeonites ended up becoming slaves for what they had done.

In Joshua 10, 5 kings come together to try to defeat Israel by first attacking Gibeon.  Joshua could have made the decision to just allow them to defeat Gibeon because it wouldn't be him that was doing it.  But he chose to do the right thing.  His integrity shone through as they went and defended Gibeon by defeating these 5 kingdoms.  A pretty incredible thing happens in Joshua 10:12-14.  As the Israelites are running out of sunlight for battle, Joshua asks God to make the sun stand still, and He does!  God causes the sun to stand still for about an entire day while the Israelites defeat their enemies.  Because Joshua honored God, God honored Joshua.

So looking at how Joshua maintained his integrity we looked at ways you can lose your integrity:
1)  When you do something you know you should not do.  It could be that you are doing something to spite someone.  Whatever the reason, if you know what you should not do but do it anyway, you lose integrity.  Same is true if you know what you are supposed to do and do not do it.
2)  Situational Dedication- this is when you go to church, act holy, but you only live that way in certain situations or you try to fool people.  Or you might just live that way when it is convenient for you.  

So how does your integrity stand up?  Are you following God at all times or only when you want to?  Make a commitment to honor God in all you do.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Encourage or Tear Down?

This past week we had the incredible opportunity to go to an Atlanta Braves game.  Some good friends invited us to go and we could not pass on the opportunity.  It is always funny because my wife not watching baseball much in her life always has some interesting questions, but one particular question really had my thoughts stirring.

I believe it was the 5th inning, Tim Hudson was pitching with two runners on.  The game was neck and neck so far and Hudson was trying to pitch out of a jam.  When Hudson had two outs and then two strikes on the next batter, the stadium erupted with cheer as Hudson delivered his next pitch.  Belinda asked why everyone was cheering.  I explained that he was in a jam at a critical point in the game, two runners on, close game, two outs and two strikes on the batter.  I told her that the fans were doing this to encourage Hudson, hopefully building him up so that he would get the batter out to end the inning.  And guess what, he ended up getting the batter out to end the inning!

Later in the game when it was still a close, Derek Lee who is a recent acquisition for the Braves came to bat.  He grounded out and a man not to far from us heckled him for a few minutes yelling things such as "Go back to Chicago Derek".  It was not only annoying, but discouraging as a fan at this game.  I do not understand how people can be so discouraging with their words, or why they would even want to.

I was thinking about this while getting ready this morning and Ephesians 4:29 came to mind.  Then while I was driving to work the radio station I was listening to read it for their verse of the day.  I like how the Message translation puts it: Watch the watch you talk.  Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.  Say only what helps, each word is a gift.  We are to encourage or build one another up.  I know I have blogged and preached about this before, but it is something that I truly believe in.  I guess I feel this way because it seems that we are hurt by words on a daily basis, and you may have experienced it as well.  Our flesh will want us to retaliate with words, but that is not the answer.  I love how this verse says "Say only what helps".  I find that many times people want to complain, whine, or say hurtful words thinking that they are "helping" but in actuality they are tearing you down.  I do not understand this.  I do not understand it at all.  However it sets the example to me in how I should NOT be.  So be careful with the words you use today.  Make it a priority to only build others up and never tear them down.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Morning Thoughts

I just wanted to share my random thoughts this Friday morning:

-The music in the coffee shop is a little odd today.  Usually it's entertaining or just fun to listen to, but today it's a little odd.  Not exactly sure how to describe it.
-Was a little disappointed that they were out of my usual blueberry muffin today in the coffee shop forcing me to get a mixed berry muffin.  It's good but nowhere near as good as blueberry.
-It's October- 1) can't believe it's already October.  Seems like yesterday it was June but the past few months have been a fog too.  2) We get a vacation this month!  It feels like it's been 5 years since we had one, but it's only been 13 months.
-Michael W. Smith's new album "Wonder" came out this week and it is incredible.  It's amazing how God has gifted this man and I'm truly thankful for that.
-We will be going to see Michael W. Smith in concert with Jason Gray, Third Day, Max Lucado, and Toby Mac.  Really looking forward to seeing my two favorite artists in one night: Michael W. Smith and Jason Gray.
-I am trying my best to not want an iPhone enough that I would switch to AT&T.
-One of these days I want to take an entire day to do nothing but sit and play guitar, worshiping God and doing some writing.  
-I'm probably going to add another class this semester for the 2nd half.  Yeah I know I must be crazy, but if everything will line up I may be able to cram everything in and graduate in the Spring.  Not sure if it will work out but definitely am ready to be done with school!
-We actually get to hang out tonight with some of our best friends that we only get to see every few months.  I don't want to name drop or anything but he plays in my favorite band They Came Running.
-I feel like my vocal issues are getting worse.  This morning I felt like I had to scream to be loud enough for Belinda to hear me.  But then again her ears could be clogged up lol
-I realize a little more each day how Belinda and I do not fit any possible cookie cutter mode for a family.  I think that's awesome in some ways because it makes us unique.  But hard in the sense that I don't feel like many people get us and what our purpose in life is.
-I really hope the Braves pull the Wild Card out.  It would be incredible for them to actually win the World Series with it being Bobby Cox's last year.
-There is a couple probably in their late 60's early 70's having breakfast here in the coffee shop.  That will definitely be Belinda and I when we are that age.  I hope to still be rocking my earrings then too!
-I had a brief conversation with an old co-worker yesterday.  Let me know that I don't stay in touch with past co-workers and old friends like I should.
-As I was reading earlier in Psalm 45:17 it says- I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever.  I want to be that person who makes God known for generations to come.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Domino Effect

This week we continued the Courageous Leadership series by taking a look at Joshua 7 and the sin of Achan.  The week I was gone to National Youth Worker's Conference I had Sam Olsen fill in he spoke about the walls of Jericho coming down and the faith that was involved in that.  After the walls came down God commands them what to do in their conquest.  In Joshua 6:19 God commands them to collect the gold, silver, iron, and bronze for the treasury of the Lord.  In other words they are to not keep any of this for themselves, it is the Lord's.  But in Joshua 7:1 we see that Achan goes against this and keeps some for himself.  

In verses 2-5 Joshua sends spies in the Ai.  They come back with the report that they should be able to defeat Ai with about 3000 soldiers, so this is the amount that Joshua sends.  Well things did not turn out the best and the Israelites are defeated.  Thirty-six of their men are killed during this battle.  

We see in verses 6-9 that Joshua is extremely upset with the defeat and is mourning.  He cries out to God asking Him why this has happened and what he is supposed to do.  God tells Joshua in verses 10-15 that it is the sin that has caused their defeat.  God tells him that as long as the sin is still there that they will not win.  He then has Joshua gather the people so that he can find out who has sinned.

Verses 16-21 we see Achan admits that he has stolen items and buried them in his tent.  One thing we have to note is that Achan does not lie nor pass the blame.  He admits to what he has done.  However we see that there are consequences to sin and in verses 22-26 not only does he die, but his entire family dies.

This is a prime example of how our sin does not only effect us.  First of all the sin in Achan's life not only caused Israel's army to be defeated, but 36 men died.  The fact that these 36 men died did not end there.  How do you think their families were effected?  They were effected greatly!  Some people lost their fathers, some lost their best friends, some lost their brother.  These families had to deal with the loss of their loved one, and it was because of someone else's sin.

Not only did Achan's sin lead to his death, but also to his entire family's death.  The truth is our sin never only effects us.  It always effects other someway.  We may think hiding it or if it is something small then it will not effect anyone else but this is untrue.  Our sin is like a domino effect.  When you set up dominos and then tip the first one over it causes the entire line to fall down.  The domino at the end had nothing to do with the fall, but fell anyway.  You probably have been effected by someone else's sin at some point in your life.  I want to encourage you today to realize the seriousness of sin and to commit to not sin knowing that it will effect others.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Foggy Morning

Today has been a foggy morning in more ways that one.  Of course I didn't get enough sleep last night so it was tough to get going this morning.  But as we drove to the coffee shop to meet with students for some early morning prayer, it was a very foggy drive.  It makes it hard to see the road and what is ahead and as a driver can make you scared, nervous, and even possibly frustrated.  But one thing that I noticed was that for whatever reason every once in a while all of the sudden the fog lifted and the view became completely clear.  This made me think about the trials we face in life.  Not only have we been facing trials in our own lives, but it seems like a reoccurring theme in Bible study as of late.  On Sunday nights we are in the book of James and twice in the first chapter he talks about facing various trials in life.  Jesus even said himself in John 16:33 "In the world you will have tribulation".  The fact is we are all going to face trying times.  To be honest though when you are going through a hard time, the last thing you usually want to hear is a message on how God is going to use your trial to shape you.  This is the definite truth, and we should not ignore the fact, but I think sometimes we need to not only look at the object lesson at hand.  Is God teaching us something, of course.  But I also think we should focus on the fact that as the fog clears, God is revealing Himself.  He is making it known that He has been with you all along the journey.  1 Peter 4:12-13 talks about this saying that we should not be surprised at the "fiery ordeal" we are facing, but that also when the fog clears and God has revealed Himself it will lead to worship.  Not only will we worship but it says that we "may rejoice in exultation".  Think about the phrase "rejoice in exultation".  These are not common words we use.  But how exciting it is to know that the fog will clear, and we will have reason to celebrate!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Reveal- See You At the Pole

This past Wednesday was National See You at the Pole Day.  I began the day having the opportunity to speak at the first ever See You at the Pole event at Niota Elementary School. It is great to see students gathering together to lift up the name of Jesus Christ and to pray for their school, community, and nation.

At Wednesday Night Worship we took a look at this year's theme "Reveal" and about prayer in general.  This year's theme is taken from the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:7-13 and specifically from the Message translation where it says "Our Father in Heaven, Reveal who You are."  God reveals Himself to us in many ways- through the Bible, through sermons and lessons, through worship songs, etc.  But I think the main way that He reveals Himself is through prayer.  In order to get to know someone better you must spend time with them talking to them.  This is definitely true in our relationship with God, we must talk to Him.  Our prayers can not simply be us asking for stuff, but be about getting to know about God and conversing with Him.

We were challenged with these 2 points regarding prayer:

1)  What if we took prayer seriously?
If we made prayer a priority and not just something we do then I believe it will be life changing.  We can not neglect spending time with God for something else.  Just the other day my precious nephew Noah wanted to leave a message on his dry erase board for his dad saying "Dad, I'm sorry about today."  When his mom asked what he meant he explained that when his dad had come to visit him at lunch that day at school, that after a while Noah asked if he could go sit and talk with his friends.  His dad said to wait another minute or so because he wanted to talk to him and spend time with him.  After another minute Noah asked again if he could go with is friends and so his dad said yes that is fine. Noah said that later he felt bad for choosing his friends over his dad and had cried about it.  Noah is only six years old and has such a precious heart.  His dad later explained to him that it's ok for him to go talk to his friends and that he understood.  That story moved me to tears when I heard it.  It made me wonder how often we pass an opportunity to spend time talking with our Father in heaven to do something else.  And if we do, do we realize we made a poor choice and are moved to seek forgiveness from our heavenly Father?

2)  What if you prayed for the impossible?
What if you prayed for things that are completely impossible unless God intervenes.  I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Jeff Iorg who is the president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.  He shared that he was listening to a preacher about 30 years ago who asked what was a prayer that they really needed answered that seemed impossible, and to write it down.  He said that he was young and needed financial help so he wrote down that he wanted God to bless him with $500 and that he felt good about what he wrote down.  He said that after a while the preacher said "You know what I'm praying for- I'm praying that cancer will be cured in my lifetime!"  Dr. Iorg said he felt that his request was nothing compared to what he had just heard.  He went on to say that several years ago he was diagnosed with throat cancer and best case scenario was that he was not supposed to be able to talk anymore.  God cured him and he is cancer free and is still speaking and preaching!  God answered that preacher's prayer in Dr. Iorg's life!

We closed the night breaking into small groups to spend time in prayer, praying over specific areas.  I believe that God is calling His people to be disciplined in prayer like never before!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I am sure that it is pretty obvious by my lack of posts recently and the extent of what I have been posting that my family has been living in tough times. I hate to whine but I feel like I have done a lot of that lately. I will be honest, the past ten years have been hard on so many levels, but we are facing extremely difficult times emotionally as of late. We are physically and emotionally exhausted at a state that I did not even know was possible. We are mourning in a way that I would have never dreamed in my worst nightmares. But as always my head will not quit spinning as my mind works its way through processing so many things. As I laid in bed the other night listening to my iPod my mind was scrambling through many questions. When I was younger I felt like it was a sin to question God on why something had happened or why I was going through a certain situation but I do not believe that to be true now. I think it is ok because as we endure trials, God is shaping us and so we need to converse with Him and learn how is changing us and what He wants us to learn. So for whatever reason I felt like writing out these questions that have been running through my head. I do not have all the answers, and may never. I know that while God is right here through it all we may not get clarity on everything for a while, if ever.

-Why are we experiencing such pain?
-Why am I (and we) so physically and mentally exhausted that most of the time I feel like I am about to pass out?
-Why can't I fall asleep right away even though I am so exhausted?
-Why did losing my greatest hobby in life years ago not only cause me great physical pain that I endure everyday, but mental pain as well?
-Why do people only care about your business, but do not care at all about what you are going through?
-Why is there such a lack of compassion and empathy?
-Why are people so self-consumed that have forgotten or do not care about the mourning that we are going through?
-Why was I was self-consumed in the past that I did not care about the pain others were sometimes enduring.
-Why am I required to spend the most time on the things I care the least about but only get to spend a fraction of time on the things that I want to?
-Why do I feel like I have to be a people pleaser all of the time?
-Why will my vocal chords not heal from where I strained them a year and a half ago?

Ok many of these may seem like selfish or cynical questions and maybe they are. I just wanted to be honest today with a small glimpse of what is going on inside my head. There are many other questions in my head too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Morning Thoughts

I'm sitting in the lobby of a hotel sipping coffee while I write this as Belinda and I are fortunate to be in Nashville for Lifeway's National Youth Workers Conference. We are both very excited to soak up information, but also be refreshed and refueled as this getaway could not come at a better time.

After what had been a very emotionally draining week, we were able to come to Nashville early enough to attend the Sunday night worship service at Cross Point Church. Wow what an experience! It was great to be a part of a worship service like this. I love being youth pastor and having the opportunity to play in our worship band, but it was a great opportunity to just sit back and be ministered to.

First of all the worship was incredible. Now I don't want this to sound bad but the first thing I said to Belinda when we got in the car was "We don't know how to worship". It's definitely not about incredible music, but that part was great. The sound quality was amazing and loud just like I like it. But it wasn't the sound quality or anything that made it come together. The fact was that the whole congregation was engaged in worshiping at the throne of God! It was really amazing to be a part of it.

Pete Wilson who is the pastor of Cross Point had an amazing message. He began a series called "Empty Promises" about the idols in our lives. I will definitely be downloading each message he preaches during this series. It is so apparent that Pete is not just another pastor, or pastor of a mega-church. Instead he is transparent revealing that he has a true heart for God. In his message he stated that we are quick to say that we do not have idols and that God is #1 in our life. But the truth is we all struggle with idols. He defined idolatry as "anything you seek to give you what only God can give you". A couple of other statements he made: "A need for hurry plus a desire for control will often lead to idolatry" and "My greatest temptation is not to chase after what is ridiculously evil, my greatest temptation is that I'll chase after what is deceptively good".

Afterward we were able to meet Pete and talk with him for a couple of minutes. We were able to share how hard things have been recently and dealing with the loss of Belinda's dad and how it happened. He was so caring as he listened to us. Later that night I tweeted about it and he replied back to me letting me know that he is praying for us. I know that anybody can make these statements but it is obvious how true and pure his heart is and so we know that he will definitely pray for us.

Great start to our getaway. I'll be honest, even though it is work related and I will be doing school work while we are here, I am definitely glad to be away from Athens for a few days. Looking forward to what God has planned and speaks to us while we are here!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rahab- Grace

This week we continued the Courageous Leadership series looking at the story of Rahab and the subject of grace in Joshua 2. We see Rahab who had lived a life of prostitution and would have probably been on the outskirts of society. Joshua sent the 2 spies and she hid them and in their conversation in Joshua 2:8-14 we see that she comes to the realization that the God that they follow and that she had heard about is the only true God. At this point she makes a life change. Not only does she have a part in helping the Israelites conquer this land in the upcoming chapters, but she ends up in the ancestral line of Jesus! The change she made was that of living her life for God now instead of herself.

This is an example of God's grace and an illustration of the grace God provided by sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve. As the song I am listening to while typing this says "You (Jesus) lived to die..." Jesus came to earth to die for your sins, so that you could live a life with Him eternally in heaven someday. So the first question I ask you is the same one that I asked the students last night- Have you ever accepted the grace of God and given your life to Him? If not then please do not wait any longer to make that important decision.

Secondly, if you have already given your life to Jesus, and made that decision to make Him your Savior and Lord then I have this question for you- Are you living your life daily taking advantage of the relationship you have with Him? Do you even have a relationship with Him? Do you wake up each day with the thoughts of living your live only for God no matter what that means, no matter what He may require of you, and no matter where He may lead you?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Too Much Jesus

I was reading an article yesterday about how youth ministry has become weak over the years in the fact that weak theology is being taught (if even at all) and how there has to be a need to get back to biblical youth ministry. I have read similar books like Mark Oestreicher's Youth Ministry 3.0 that talks about this paradigm shift that must take place in youth ministry. There was one quote in this article yesterday that totally rocked me. One person being interviewed about how youth ministry culture must change stated "Most parents don't want their kid to end up too much like Jesus." Wow this broke my heart! The fact that it is true breaks my heart. The fact that any parent would not want their child to be more like Jesus breaks my heart.

So why is this the case? Well for one I believe that some people just want enough Jesus to keep them out of hell. I think that's just the truth. Some only want their fire insurance but never have any desire to grow in their relationship with Jesus, and instead stay apathetic and desiring only what pleases them. I also believe that standards have been lowered. I was just reading on a youth ministry website that if a student is unhappy with church then they should be allowed to take a break for a few weeks to discover why they are going to church in the first place. I'm sorry to be blunt but that's probably one of the stupidest statements I have ever read. I know that the Bible never states that we have to attend church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. But at the same time though it never says to take a break from the body of Christ when you are unhappy. I think this is proof of lowering the standards of expectations of "Christians"- people who claim to be followers of Christ.

I'm not posting this to rant but to say why is this happening? I'm heartbroken over this state of mind. The fact that people think they can have too much Jesus is beyond belief. I could never have enough of Him, and if I ever get to the position to say that I have enough, then I definitely have nowhere near enough of Him. I have been listening to a song lately that has the following lyrics:
...Lord, I give you my life
...Father of love You can have me
...I want to be where You are, I'm running into Your arms

I believe this is the lifestyle we must live. Not only sing a song but be willing to do and be whatever Jesus needs us to be. Don't be satisfied with where you are today. Let's continue to seek more Jesus. Also let's pray that the mindset of those that believe they have enough of Him will change to realize their need for Him is never ending.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Courageous Leadership- How Successors Succeed

We began this week with a new church year, new students who transitioned into the youth ministry, and a new series called Courageous Leadership. We are going to take a look at the book of Joshua and how he became a courageous leader, and how that pertains to us.

When we think of the words courageous/courage and leadership/leader many thoughts come to mind. We think of people who are bold, fearless, and sometimes full of charisma. Moses had been leading the Israelites for 40 years when he passed away and Joshua took over as leader. Following Moses' footsteps was definitely a huge task but Joshua was a successful successor. So how did Joshua do this and how can we all be a successful leader full of courage?

Well after examining Joshua 1:1-9 we looked at the following thoughts on becoming a successful leader:

1) Be Strong & Courageous- this phrase is said 4 times in this chaper. Three times God said it to Joshua and once by the Israelites as they affirm Joshua as their leader. So how do you become "strong and courageous". In verse 7 we learn that we are to obey God's Word. Verse 8 says to meditate on God's Word day and night. I'm pretty sure this means being in God's Word and spending time with Him more than just Sunday's and Wednesday's and maybe a 15 minute quiet time everyday. We need to be enriched in what God has provided for us through His written Word. Also we read in verses 5 and 9 that God is with us. So if we want to become strong and courageous we need to always have this understanding. Why would we ever fear when we know that God is with us.

2) Realize You Are a Leader- Moses has died and so Joshua has now been appointed the leader of the Israelites. Now you may not be the leader of 2-3 million people. But you are a leader wherever you are. It's easy to see this if you have younger siblings, cousins, nieces/nephews, etc. that want to follow and mimic you. There are people watching you always. You are leading people that you are around. The question is though what are you leading them to? Are you leading them toward God or are you leading them away?