Thursday, January 28, 2010

God's Guidance

God's Guidance- we all need it, we all should want it but many don't. We need God to guide us in every day situations, struggles, decisions (big and small), etc. We all need advice and guidance at some time or another and may seek it from many different places. We need to go to God to seek guidance, but I think that sometimes we make an attempt to not be completely honest with God. Maybe we do it without realizing, but I think sometimes we just don't truly tell Him what's going on with us and what we need. If we are sick and go to the doctor, we have to be honest and tell them our symptoms if we want the doctor to advise and guide us back to health. I believe its the same way with seeking God's guidance, we must first be honest with Him. You might ask "If God knows everything then why do I need to be honest and tell Him everything?" Well my answer to that is that because He knows everything and is such an awesome incredible God, then He deserves our honesty.

We watched the video "Revelation" by Third Day and the students filled in some blanks with some of the lyrics. The songs begins "My life has led me down the road that's so uncertain". The singer is being open and honest with God about mistakes that have been made and then seeks God's guidance as he sings "Give me a revelation, show me what to do". The chorus ends proclaiming his need for God saying "Give me a revelation, I've got nothing without You".

This song is a lament which is an expression of sorrow. Some laments in the Bible include Lamentations, Job, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, and some of the Psalms. We looked at verses in three Psalms where there writer was seeking guidance from God: Psalm 31:1-5; Psalm 51:1-4, 10-12; Psalm 73:1-2, 22-26.

After reading these scriptures, we took about 10 minutes for each student to be quiet with God and write out their own lament or psalm. They took a blank piece of paper and were honest and poured their heart out to God. If you have never done this then I encourage you to do so because it is an incredible exercise.

We closed the night with the following statement: "God's guidance isn't something that comes to you because you demand it or because you tell God what you think you should do. It comes from asking God what He wants you to do. You don't have to have everything figured out, you just need to be honest with Him and ask Him for guidance. You must also be willing to accept what He says in response, knowing that what you need may be different than what you want."

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Price Was Paid

Yesterday we met with some good friends to have dessert. I had a delicious apple cobbler with a side of vanilla ice cream. Not only was the dessert delicious, but there was a lot of it! It was huge to say the least. Not only did we have the honor of having good conversation with our friends, but they also paid for ours! It was definitely an incredible act of generosity that I was very grateful for. But as I was eating, and eating, and eating Belinda asked if I was going to finish it off to which I replied "Of course, the price has been paid". I wanted to take advantage of this gift because a friend had paid it for me. This made me think about the price that Jesus paid when He died for us. He paid the price, why wouldn't we want to take full advantage of living a life where we can freely approach Him and grow closer to Him each day. I know that when I examine my life there are plenty of times that I waste not taking advantage of the relationship I can have by making Jesus Lord of my life! I personally don't want to make waste anymore but to live in the fullness of God!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Believing in a Lie

If someone told you a lie, wouldn't you want to know it was a lie? Well of course unless there is something wrong with you! It always breaks my heart to see when people are convinced to believe in a lie, whether it is against someone or believing in a religious lie such as "any path will lead you to heaven". I remember when Saddam Hussein was captured and then eventually put to death by execution. I remember seeing the news reports saying that as they led him to be killed by hanging that he was shouting out chants to his god. He went to death believing in a lie. I remember discussing with my co-workers the following week about his execution. One friend asked me "Aren't you glad that he is dead?" It was a tough question because to be honest I was bothered by the whole thing. Of course I hate the terrible fear and death he brought on so many, but Jesus died for him just like He died for me. I told my friend that it broke my heart that he went to death believing in a lie.

I was reminded of this and how so many people are blinded when I read Matthew 27:25 which reads in the Message: "The crowd answered, "We'll take the blame, we and our children after us." These people who wanted to kill Jesus were so convinced that He wasn't what He claimed to be that they were willing to take the blame and put it on their children if they were wrong. That's a pretty harsh statement and would only be made if you truly knew you were right. That's what disturbs me today- they were wrong, Saddam Hussein was wrong, and many others are too. Now I know that I need to be very careful in this moment to not be stubborn and act like I have all the answers and know everything but I'm convinced by when Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me". I say all of this to challenge you today, take a look at the people you are surrounded by. Are they believing in a lie and if so what are you going to do about it. Prayerfully consider how to approach them and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to engage in conversation that will lead them to Christ.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reconnection

This past week we were getting ready for our worship service at EK Baker school and the sound from the electric drum kit kept going in and out. The wire had a short in it or one of the metal pieces was bent causing it to make a bad connection. After a little work was done on it, the connection was just like it was intended to be and the sound came out just right. Well to be honest, I think I've kind of been like this wire lately. For a couple weeks now, I just haven't been able to get in a rhythm with anything it seems. My schedule has been a bit crazy which always adds to that, along with me being sick but there was something else in me too. I had known this for days but I really came to understand it yesterday. How much application and effort am I making in my life? Am I applying myself with what I know about God's Word to further His kingdom, and too am I applying myself to grow closer to Him. I knew this was what I needed to grasp in order to get a kick in the rear to get going again. I believe after a couple of honest conversations yesterday and being honest with myself, I've made that reconnection that I have desperately needed. Do I mean that I have everything figured out? Definitely not! I just needed a fresh encounter with God and I think that's what I got. I do say this however to hopefully encourage you to pray for me to stay connected to God in the way that I need to, but that also you might identify in your own life what may be causing a disconnection. Search your heart today and ask yourself if you are honestly making the effort that is necessary.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Road Ahead...

Yesterday was an incredible day at Clearwater Baptist Church. We had one service with everyone together at EK Baker school. This is always a great time to get the entire body together to lift up the name of Jesus Christ. Our pastor Wayne also gave his state of the church address, laying out for us what he believes are the church's strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities. For a brief moment I felt like I was in my 8 am Business Policy class studying about s.w.o.t analysis, but this was a good thing. We were definitely challenged in the areas that we must grow in as a church. They weren't suggestions, if we desire to a Christ-led church then we must do as He leads us to. We also took a brief look at the year calendar. Last night we had a presentation from the architects laying out the plans for the upcoming multi-purpose building that will be built here at Clearwater. Exciting stuff for sure! It's always exciting when God is at work!

I wanted to lay out the major events that are coming up over the next several months in the youth ministry and ask for prayer. Pray first of all that these will not only be events or activities. If that is the case the students will not receive anything out of it, and I will only receive burn out. Secondly pray that God will lead me and the other leaders in planning and organizing. Finally pray that at each of these God will take control and there will be life change in these students. This is my desire- that the students of Clearwater, and the surrounding area will be changed by Jesus and will fall desperately in love with Him. So here is what will be going on in Opposite Way Ministries:

February 7 - Super Bowl Party
-Every year we have a big super bowl party, not only to have fun watching football, enjoy funny commercials, and eat pizza, but we also use this event as evangelism and outreach. This year as in years past we will watch a video at either half time or before that has a testimony from an NFL player about their relationship with Jesus and giving students the opportunity to respond to Christ. This year will feature Carson Palmer and Chad Pennington.

February 26 & 27 - World Vision 30 Hour Famine
-I posted information about this opportunity last week. The students will raise funds from sponsors for World Vision to try to fight the fact that over 25,000 children under the age of 5 die each day. This year is unique in the fact that we can designate a specific area to designate our funds. When I first learned this I thought that we would just allow God to designate the funds however. However after the devastating earthquake in Haiti last week, we have the option of designating our funds to the earthquake relief and so we have decided to do that.

March 5 & 6 - Youth Evangelism Conference (YEC)
-We will be going to Nashville for the Youth Evangelism Conference put on by the Tennessee Baptist Convention. This year will feature speaker Ed Newton, The Skit Guys, worship by Unhindered, and Joe Castillo the Sand Story Artist.

April ? - Disciple Now (dates TBD later this week)
-I always loved as a student participating in Disciple Now weekends and growing closer to God and now that I'm a youth pastor I love planning them. I can't announce many details about this just yet, but that we will be teaming up with other church(s) and that the curriculum we will be using is "Inhabit" produced by Student Life. This is going to be an incredible weekend!

June 7 - 12 - Centrifuge
-This year we will be going to South Greenville University in Greenville, SC. The worship leader will be Jeff Capps and the camp pastor Chad Poe. The theme this year is Kairos: Defining Moments and will be about building character. And also exciting is the fact that there will be a 3rd installment of the "Adventure Now" series will Walt and his friends!

July 22 - 24 - Younite
-Younite was in my opinion the most exciting and greatest opportunity for us to grow as Christians in the youth ministry in 2009. Some early site work and theme ideas are in progress and I can't wait! Really looking forward to this time as we get out in this community and share the love of Jesus with others, while the students learn that unity begins with "you".

Thursday, January 14, 2010

30 Hour Famine Kickoff


This week we kicked off the World Vision 30 Hour Famine that we will be participating in for the second year in a row. Every day over 25,000 under the age of 5 die from starvation and hunger related diseases that are preventable. World Vision is working to put an end to this. With funds received through the famine and through child sponsorship, World Vision is able to go into villages, give the residents education, help clean up their area, give them clean drinking water, teach them a trade, and most importantly share the gospel of Jesus. Only $1 will feed 1 child for 1 day. The cup of coffee I bought yesterday cost more than that! We read in James 2:20 that faith without works is useless or dead. If we are truly saved by the blood of Jesus and are seeking a relationship with Him, then we can't help but do good works to share the love of Jesus with others. Bono has made the following quote: "God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them." The band Leeland has a song based on this quote and James 2:20 called Follow You. God is everywhere, but if we want to be closer to God then we need to follow Him to where there are hurting people.

February 26-27, we will fast for 30 hours to gain a little understanding of what hunger is. Students will get sponsors to raise funds for the famine. Last year we raised $1447 which fed over 4 children for an entire year. Our goal is to nearly double that this year and raise $2800, which is very feasible. Please pray for the students as they raise funds and as God prepares us for this weekend. I know that God is going to do a great work in this ministry.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Examine Yourself

I'm sure by now everyone is tired of hearing about fresh starts, resolutions, and better "you" this year. However I think it is something that we must look at, not only in the same sense as the world does but how the Bible leads us. We spent some extra time in prayer last night at our first Wednesday Night Worship of the year. We looked at the ending of probably my favorite Psalm in chapter 139 and verses 23 and 24. These verses are bold in asking God to examine our hearts. This can be very scary because when we allow God to examine our heart and life, everything is revealed- good, bad, and ugly. Not only will He reveal our heart, He may also require something of us. I love how the Message words it "Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me". This isn't our normal prayer, but one we must pray when we decide to get serious about our faith. I challenged the students with the same questions I asked them this time last year, and Lord willing will probably ask them again this time next year and I encourage you to consider also. As you look over the past year, are you the same person you were this time last year? Of course you have the same name and stuff, but are you spiritually the same person? I hope not! I hope that you've grown as a Christian and grown closer to God. However I know this isn't the case for everyone. So examine your heart today, and every day asking God to show you where you need to grow, what you're doing right, and what you need to give up. Don't just try to be better this year at whatever, but allow God to transform you and make an effort to grow closer to Him.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Are You Waiting on an Angel?

Last night I couldn't sleep so I decided to get up and do some reading. I guess the fact that I had slept 11 hours the previous night (to catch up from only 3 hours the night before that) made my body think I didn't need as much sleep. Its a vicious cycle that takes place in my life. Now to my point, I was reading in Acts 12:6-19, which is a pretty incredible read. We see an awesome moment where Peter is led out of prison by an angel, an act that could only come from God's provision. As I read it this time it made me think to why I have never experienced something this awesome. Now of course the most awesome and incredible moment in my life was when Jesus saved me, and that outweighs this instance. But I've never experienced anything else remotely close to this. Then I thought, I've also never been in prison for preaching the gospel. As I thought about all this I had to ask myself a question, do I even live my life in a way that is worthy of such blessings. I want to serve Jesus boldly like the apostles did, but I'm not sharing Jesus without fear like them. I'm not taking all the steps necessary to put myself in that type of position. This led me to another question: Do I even want to be that close to God? I think we (and I include myself) don't desire to be that close to God where we might have an encounter like this. Probably because we are afraid of the cost. The cost of serving God. So how about you? Are you serving God whole-heartedly or are you waiting on an experience with an angel to jump start you? If you are waiting on that, then I'm afraid you are going to let too many opportunities pass you by.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ordination

I've been meaning to post about this and am just now getting to it. On December 27th I was ordained as a minister of the gospel. Or as one of my students put it yesterday I was "ordinated" which sounds so much cooler than "ordained". However it was an incredible day that I will forever cherish in my heart. It was tough answering some of the questions asked but was it was a good challenge. In the service I was able to select two songs for us to sing. I chose "Son of God" by Lincoln Brewster and "You Gave Your Life Away" by Paul Baloche. I actually played with the band on Son of God so that was fun. My good friend and Associate Pastor gave the charge in the service. He really encouraged me and challenged me in my walk with God and in my ministry. It was such an honor to have him do this. My brother in law Jamie gave the ordination prayer and had some sweet things to say about me. Then the ordained men laid hands on me and prayed, which was such a humbling experience. These men had some of the sweetest and encouraging words for me. I could write on and on about the awesome experience this day was for me and will truly forever cherish this day of my life.