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.