Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Joyful Worship

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; 
Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.
Psalm 98:4

One of the frustrations as a worship leader and worship band member is looking out and seeing people look miserable.  "Certainly I never look that way" I think to myself.  I am sure there are times that I look less than happy, but hopefully I am never perceived as miserable.  So why doesn't everyone worship joyfully?  I believe there are a number of reasons, but most are simply excuses.  

First of all, some would say they are that way simply because of song choice.  They do not like, or quite possibly, even agree with the nature of the song.  I think that excuse is, I guess for lack of better terms, sorry.  I, myself, do not like all musical styles or even think all lyrics are that great, but I can still worship.  I can still worship the One who has set me free.

Secondly, some might argue that they do not feel like it because of their circumstances. I can relate to that, as there have been times in my life when I did not feel like it because of a dark season of life we were enduring.  If we read the Psalms of David, we see that often he praised God while going through extreme dark seasons of life such as when he was running for his life.  That is definitely something I have never and hope to never experience.

I think though, it all comes down to this:  we do not worship joyfully corporately, because we are not experiencing joyful worship with Him ourselves on a daily basis.  If we do not spend time worshiping Him alone, how can we expect to worship Him with others.  Sometimes I look out and am discouraged by the looks on some peoples' faces, but then I am reminded of a couple of things.  First, they are the ones missing out on experiencing joyful worship.  Secondly, they are hurting God mostly.  It is not that we should have terrible goofy looks on our faces or worship in a way that is a complete distraction to others.  However, I think if we are worshiping on our own time daily, then when we come together with others we cannot help but worship joyfully.  Just a thought I had during my quiet time this morning that I wanted to share.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Younite 2013 Summary

This is my final post on this year's Younite.  If my schedule would have allowed I would have already posted all of this.  However I want to take one more moment to share a little bit of what God did during this year's camp.  

I first want to talk about the projects.  The first two days were to be spent at our local Tri-County Center, which helps serve the special needs community.  Their purpose is to provide jobs for those with special needs and to help them find jobs in the community.  Our task was to wash their 30+ vehicles that their staff simply does not have time to on a regular basis.  These vehicles are used to transport those to the center and back home.  Our students knocked all this out in less than one day!  Then they had the opportunity to be given a tour of the building, and was explained in more detail all that Tri-County Center does.  We were able to see that this is not only an organization or business, but in essence is a ministry in our community.  It is obvious that Pam, the director, has been placed there by God and this is her ministry.  It truly was an honor to serve there.

The next day our students went to some of the homes that some of these Tri-County workers live in and did some landscaping.  Trimming bushes and clearing out weeds was part of the day's task. Again they finished quickly and had some spare time.  For the rest of that day our students prepared our church's playground for mulch by pulling weeds.  On the final day we went to the Regional Park and simply took the time to prayer walk, praying for our city, and talking with those that were at the park.

Seeing our students serve is such a blessing to me.  Leading them to be servants has always been one of my top goals as their youth pastor.  They do this with such eagerness that it is a challenge to all that observe.  We received a thank-you note from Pam at Tri-County Center that had such great comments such as "they worked so hard, had great manners and behavior, and really seemed to care about their mission."  I do not say that to brag on us in anyway, but to brag on Jesus who is doing amazing things in our students.  I am humbled and blessed to be a part of it.  Their attitude and work ethic is amazing.  They never complain and always see the bigger picture of what they are doing.  While it may seem small and insignificant, they see that is a blessing to others.

Finally, I want to share how this year of Younite was truly unique.  I had several former students come back and serve.  I simply asked them to be there, help chaperone, and invest in the current students.  However, they went above and beyond my expectations.  They all took different leadership roles without being asked.  I cannot express how much joy in seeing these students serve was brought not only to myself, but also my wife.  We feel that this was some fruit that we were blessed to see as a result of our longevity in staying where we are.  Five years may not seem like a long time, but for a youth pastor to stay this long is not the norm.  I do think, though, that it is closer to what God intends.  Sadly, the truth is that youth pastors are burnt out after 2 years or less and leave not only the church, but the ministry altogether.  I am thankful to experience all we saw God do in this year's Younite.  It excites me for the future to see how God will continue to use us.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Younite '13 Bible Study - I Believe

The theme for this year's Younite was "I Believe" and based on Deuteronomy 31:8.  We used the song "I Believe" by Jason Castro as the backdrop.  We all face doubts and fears in life.  It does not take me long each day from the moment I wake up to begin listening to the fears in my head.  In Deuteronomy 31:8 we see where Moses, who is at the end of his life, is commissioning Joshua to take over as leader of the Israelites.  We see him command Joshua with boldness the not be afraid.  Moses knows that God is always there and always guiding us if we follow Him.  So how did Moses get to this point in life?  Over the four days of Younite we looked at the life of Moses and some of the moments that led him to boldly and confidently say that Joshua, and us, should not fear.

Day 1- Faith: Belief During Uncertain Times
We all face those moments where things don't look like we would have planned and the fear of uncertainty can overwhelm us. On this day we looked at the things that Moses dealt w/ as leader of the Israelites as they complained over and over.
Exodus 16:1-3
Exodus 32:7-9
Numbers 14:32-34
Numbers 11:10-15

Day 2- Confidence: Belief In Yourself
Sometimes one of our biggest struggles can be confidence in ourself to accomplish what God called us to do. In this lesson we focused on Moses' encounter with God at the burning bush and his excuses.
Exodus 3:10-22
Exodus 4:1-12
Hebrews 13:6
Psalm 139:13-14

Day 3- Assurance: Belief in God's Love
This day focused on God's love, especially when we sin and feel disqualified to receive his life. 40 years of Moses' life took place in the wilderness after he murdered the Egyptian and fled. It was possible that during this time he felt unqualified by his sin. It would not have been until he moved past it that he was in a position to be used by God. We too must move past our sin and understand that God's love for us is not based on our merit.
Exodus 2:15-3:1
Exodus 2:11-14
Romans 5:8
Romans 8:35-39

Day 4- Reverence: Belief In God
After focusing on eliminating fear, we ended with this lesson focusing on the one legitimate fear- the fear of God. We looked Moses' encounters w/ God: the burning bush, and when he asks for God to show him His glory.
Exodus 3:2-10
Exodus 33:18-20

Friday, August 2, 2013

Younite '13 Videos- Part 3

On Sunday we showed a video to the church showing a little of what took place during Younite.  This is an extended version of that video that I put together for the students and showed this past week at WNW.  It is hard to cram into a 4-7 minute video all that takes place over a 5-day camp but this gives you a glimpse.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Younite '13 Videos- Part 2

Today's set of videos is our silly morning videos called "Facing Your Fears With Joseph & Monkey".  Each day Joseph and Mitchell (dressed as a monkey, oh the things you find in a church attic) talk about different phobias since this year's theme dealt with fears.  Enjoy!