Monday, January 31, 2011

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Well over the past month or so I haven't done a whole lot of blogging.  I have amped up my school load and anticipate graduating this spring!  With that means I have an increased amount of papers to write.  Last semester I believe I wrote around 17 papers and this semester I will definitely blow that number away.  So with that I guess I haven't had a whole lot of time to write on this blog.  Of course I always wonder outside of a few people if anyone actually reads it, but if you do check here often then I apologize for the lack of posts.

Crazy me signed up to take 15 hours of courses this semester!  Yeah I would take 15-18 hours a semester when I was a full-time student working on my undergrad degree, but 15 hours in seminary while being a full-time youth pastor!  I must be insane.  Well so far it's going pretty good.  I took another 3 hour course in one week on campus but now have been struggling to catch up in my current classes.  Every time Belinda and I talk about how tired of school I am and how I cannot wait until I am done, Belinda will say "I'm ok dealing with this for a little bit longer since your almost done".  I am not sure who will be more excited once I graduate, me or her.  I will be excited because I will feel like I sort of get a life back, and will be able to do some things that I have not done in forever like play Wii, exercise, read books that I actually want to, etc.  Belinda will actually get me back too!  But with all of that being said, I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  What seems like has been forever (2 1/2 years) is almost complete.  I ask that you pray for me, and Belinda during these strenuous months.  

So have you ever been in a situation, or working toward completion of something and you see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Maybe you're dealing with something and you are trying to find the strength to hold on a bit longer.  Maybe you are there now.  If you have been there before, please share with me and how you depended on God for strength.  If you are there now, let me know so I can pray for you.  You can even leave an anonymous comment if you want.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

24 Years

This year in Upward basketball instead of people presenting devotions at half-time, people are giving their personal testimonies.  This is relief since last year I gave eight half-time devotions in one day!  I like speaking but that was an incredibly long day.  Before the season began I signed up to speak on this Saturday, well actually my mom signed me up when she signed up to give her testimony also.  This was not a big deal for me to do this, part of what I do in my career is speaking in front of people.  However a few days ago I discovered something very interesting.  As I looked at the calendar I realized that I was not just speaking on any Saturday, but January 29th is my salvation birthday.  It was on this day as a 5 year old that I gave my life to Jesus Christ making Him my Lord and Savior.

I remember that night very clearly.  I had been going through a season of confusion and began to ask my parents questions about Jesus, heaven, and hell.  I was watching television that night when a man dreamed that he had died and went to hell.  I was scared and realized that night that if I died then I would go to hell because of the sin in my life.  I talked to my parents and that night in my bedroom I confessed to God that I was sinner and believed on Jesus Christ that He died for my sins and rose from the grave on the third day.  I committed my life to Him forever changing my life.  

I am so thankful for what Jesus has done for me.  As I shared at Upward today, one of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11 which states (my paraphrase) "For I know the plans I have you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, but to give you a future and a hope."  In the midst of my failures, and even in the midst of my own self-esteem issues, I can take joy in knowing that God has plans to use me.  

What a privilege and honor it was to share my testimony today 24 years after Jesus Christ saved me!

Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Youth Events

Yesterday I posted How to Be Successful in 2011, which is the message I gave to the students this past Wednesday Night Worship.  At the end of that message I challenged them with a few things that I wanted to see this year and went over the events that we are going to do to help them be successful and help them grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.  So here is a list of those events.

-Sunday Night Bible Study- beginning this Sunday night we will be doing a study called "Proverbs- Uncommon Sense"
-Super Bowl Party Outreach- February 6th- a time of food and fellowship but with an evangelistic half-time message.  A great time for students to invite friends who are lost and unchurched
-World Vision 30 Hour Famine- February 18-19- This a time where we will raise funds for World Vision and fast from food for 30 hours to gain a small understanding of what hunger is.
-Youth Evangelism Conference- March 11-12- Nashville, TN worship will be led by Addison Road and a messages by Derwin Gray and Afshin Ziafat
-Disciple Now- April - this is a great time for students to have a weekend of challenging disicpleship
-MFUGE- June 13-17 University of the Cumberlands, Williamsburg, KY
-Younite- July - This is the greatest time of ministry that we do as we grow as a group, grow closer to Jesus Christ, and serve the community.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to Be Successful in 2011

It was so nice to be back to having a regular Wednesday Night Worship this week after being out last week for snow, I was gone to school the week before that, and before that we did not meet during the Christmas break.  So this week I got to preach and give my message to kick off the year.  We hear about success from so many outlets and so many people have different views of success.  The word's view of success usually revolves around fame, fortune, and career achievements.  While there is no way to measure a biblical success, we can still determine what it means to be successful in God's eyes and strive toward that.

So what is a biblical view of success?  Well I believe we must first look at our purpose in life which is to glorify God- 1 Corinthians 10:31.  So everything we do in life, we are to do with an attitude and heart and effort that brings glory to God.  Well to break this down further we need to really understand what it means to "glory" or "glorify" God.  This means that we acknowledge God's greatness and give Him honor by praising and worshiping Him.  To worship means that we declare the worth or value of God in everything that we do.  Worship was often displayed in biblical times by bowing down and kissing the feet of the item of worship.  We may or may not physically bow down to worship God, but this is the attitude at heart we must have.

So now that we have defined biblical success, here are two actions we need to do to lead us to success:
1)  BE USABLE- Esther 4:13-14
I believe the book of Esther is incredible.  Esther who was of Jewish descent had become queen of Persia.  There was going to be a massacre of the Jews and so Esther's cousin Mordecai, who had also raised her, sent her the message in these verses.  He tells her that if she does not do something then not only will her family lose their lives but she will also die.  He tells her that maybe she has been placed there as queen "for such a time as this".  So Esther gains courage to approach the king knowing that she could be killed for it.  He allows her to approach him and she prepares a feast and banquet.  At the second banquet she reveals that she is of Jewish descent and the king has a new decree written that the Jews can defend themselves when the attack takes place, allowing Esther and her family to live.  Esther realized that God had placed her there to be used to save her people.  God has placed you where you are to be used for his glory.  The question is whether or not you will be usable by Him.

Any time you receive a gift you should be grateful, but take a look at this video of a kid who is extremely grateful for receiving an XBox 360.  While no XBox will save you, it is touching how grateful this kid is for receiving this gift.  But what if we were this grateful each and every day for Jesus taking on our sin and dying on the cross?  We need to be grateful and each day wake up and say "Jesus- you did this for me?  You died on the cross- for me?  It cost you a fortune!  THANK YOU!"

When we become grateful for Jesus and His death on the cross, we become usable by Him which in turn brings us godly success.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Setting Goals

Thus says the LORD, 
Who makes a way through the sea 
And a path through the mighty waters, 
Who brings forth the chariot and horse, 
The army and the mighty man
(They will lie down together and not rise again;
They have been quenched and extinguished like a wick):
"Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
"Behold I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
          Isaiah 43:16-19

As the beginning of a new year is here, you can not go a few minutes without hearing talk of New Year's Resolutions.  Several years ago I decided to stop making New Year's Resolutions but instead to set goals for the year.  You are probably thinking, "Nathan what's the difference?".  Well I think we can resolve at any point to start a good habit or stop a bad one and I believe that if you are convicted to do so then you should go ahead and do that instead of waiting until January 1.  Instead I believe in setting goals of things I want to accomplish in the year.  I remember one sleepless night one of the first few days of January 2010 writing out my list of goals for the year.  So how did I do?  Well, I honestly do not think I accomplished a single one of them.  I set goals such as read a book a month, and I even wrote out the list of books that I wanted to read.  Well with school taking more of a priority than I first expected, I did not read a single book on my list but read many other books, just ones that I probably would not have chosen on my own.  Another goal of mine was to write 8 complete songs.  That's not even a huge goal but I completed a big goose egg zero songs.  There are four or five melodies that I wrote without lyrics, and only one chorus, but that is as far as I got.  Guitar took a backseat priority this past year as well.

I mentioned the other day how 2010 was a disappointing year, and my lack of completing my goals honestly has nothing to do with that.  But as I begin 2011 it would be easy to look at that same list of goals and see it as unachievable, especially with me taking 15 hours this semester in order to graduate seminary, but I do not think that is the case.  I think I need to put in the past these "failures", reevaluate my goals, and set new ones for 2011, which is exactly what I plan to do.  I ask that you pray for me strength to accomplish the goals that I believe God has laid on my heart.  I hope that you will take time to set goals for yourself for this year.  If you have, please comment and share what goals you have set.