Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Another Camp in the Books!

Last week our youth group attended Camp Cale in Hertford, NC.  Cale's staff strives to put on a quality camp experience for the campers.  They have it all, skeet, 22 rifle range, archery, rock wall, high and low ropes courses, kayaks, swimming, fun games, recreation area, snack shop and great food in the outdoor pavillion dining area, huge air conditioned conference/worship center.  If your church is within a few hours drive from Cale you should seriously consider attending their camp or renting the facility for your own event.  Check em out!  They can house around 80 campers at this time.  (plans are in the works for nice new cabins to be built soon)  All of this along the shoreline of the Perquimins River, such a great location to have a get-a-way.

The theme this summer was Mission Controlled.  It was all about living life on mission for God.  The highlight of our group's week was when three of our middle school guys put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.  We look forward to baptizing them at youth group on the beach in a couple of weeks.

 Low Ropes

 Swimming in the River

 Rock Wall

 More swimming

 Who is that guy?

 Skeet shooting

 NC's best GaGa ball pit

 Did I mention swimming?


Here is the scope of the messages I preached at camp:
PM messages -
To Be On Mission:
Monday - 1st You must be a believer - salvation/gospel message
Tuesday - 2nd You must be a follower - Example that Jesus Christ left us

Wednesday - 3rd You must be obedient - calling of the first disciples  Mt. 4
Thursday - 4th You must be ready to share - Phillip and the ethopian eunich

AM messages - Gonna follow missionary Paul
Monday - Paul’s Conversion - God can use you know matter your past - Acts 6
Tuesday - Paul’s encounter with Bar-Jesus - You will battle the enemy - Acts 13

Wednesday - Paul’s message in Antioch - Share the TRUTH - Acts 13
Thursday - Paul heals the cripple - Be used by meeting needs - Acts 14
Friday - Paul’s hardships - On mission isn’t for sissies.  2 Corinthians 11:23-33

Thursday, July 10, 2014

You Just Never Know

In a conversation with a volunteer (which I didn’t respond hardly at all other than a few head nods, but listened to what this volunteer was saying so I could chew on it and think about it a while) the volunteer expressed the frustration of watching current students and past students and the decisions they are making.  Students who have just dropped out because they have decided that something else in life is more important than their faith walk and their relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you are in youth ministry for any length of time you know this frustration.  This frustration can take seed in our lives and then lead us to the question what we are doing and is it worth it.

So I’ve been thinking a few days.  No genius thought here.  Jesus probably got frustrated with the disciples.  Matthew 17:17 comes to mind.  I’m sure there would be a sense of frustration with me because I don’t always make the best decisions or behave in a manner that reflects Christ.

The example who came to my mind was Peter, some scholars say that Peter was the oldest of the disciples and the others were much younger and in their teen years.  Peter who often spoke before he thought or even acted without thinking, the one who strikes me as a person driven by emotions at times, Peter is the one who denied Christ 3 times.

Peter walked with Jesus, Peter ate meals with Jesus, Peter was there to hear Jesus’ teaching and to witness people be healed.  Peter lived a few years with Jesus, twenty-four seven.  Peter blew it.  If I was Peter’s youth pastor I would have been truly frustrated.

Peter later stood before thousands and preached the good news of Jesus Christ.  Thousands put their faith in Jesus!  If I was Peter’s youth pastor I would have been scratching my head and wondering what has happened in Peter’s life?

The answer, Peter had an encounter with the living Lord.  His life was changed.

We don’t know what will become of a student.  The teen who we would have held up as the example of a godly youth group kid may down the road of life be running far from God or even denying Christ in his or her own life.  The teen who we watched struggle and make poor choices may one day down the road bring others to Jesus Christ.
We don’t know when it will “click” and they meet with the living Lord as Peter did.  So what do I do?

I invest in my own spiritual life.  I need to set the example.

I remain faithful to my calling.  God has called me to serve so that’s what I must do no matter what I see as the “outcome”.  No matter how discouraging it might be at times.

I trust God’s sovereignty.  I have no clue what the future will hold for me or for the students I ministers to.  God does.

I lean on the Holy Spirit in my life to give me the energy to stick with it.
I focus on the successes rather than on the failures.  It’s easy to get bogged down and think, “I’ve failed as a minister” when looking at the life of a student who has made poor decisions and is wandering away from Christ.  All we can do is minister to them, give them opportunities to grow their faith.  The student has to become responsible for their own spiritual growth and own their faith.  It’s like putting out the buffet of food but the student has to fill his own plate and put his silverware to use, I can’t force feed him.

So the next time you get frustrated remember to invest, remain, trust and lean. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vision Casting

Good, helpful, quick read over at LeaderTreks.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mission Monday

Today was our first Mission Monday of the summer.  It was a great success!  The students shopped, made and delivered lunches to our local lifeguards on the beach.

There are two purposes to this event:
#1 is to share the love of Jesus Christ with each lifeguard in a practical way.  Inside the lunch bag was a note card from our youth group that read, "Lunch is on us!  We appreciate what you do."  We also included John 3:16 on the card.

#2 I wanted to use this event to start getting some of our students prepared for our 2015 mission trip.  I want students with leadership abilities to step up to the plate.  What better way to figure out who has those abilities than to give them a task and let them figure out how to accomplish the task.

We went to the grocery store.  I told the students how many we were feeding.  I also let them know what should be included in the bag.  I divided them into teams and let each team get something different for the lunch.  Including figuring up how many pounds of lunch meat to purchase at the deli.  They did a great job shopping.

Next we went back to the church and put all the groceries on the counter and I said, "figure out how you want to work together to assemble the sandwiches, bag them and pack the bags."  I then walked out and left them to do the job without checking on them or telling them what to do.  I could hear the leaders stepping up.

Next we loaded the sack lunches and drinks into the church van and headed out to hit each beach access that had lifeguards.  The students took turns in teams delivering the lunches and letting the lifeguards know who we were and to enjoy their free lunch.

Each lunch had either a ham or turkey sandwich, a salty chip type snack, a cookie snack, a Gatorade and bottle of ice water.  The lifeguards were very happy to have lunch delivered to them.  The students did a great job.  We wrapped it up by eating our lunch on the beach and swimming for a couple of hours.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Coach's Frustration

I can imagine that there are times that an athletic coach gets frustrated with a player.  Not the player who is really not that good but the player who has tremendous potential but would rather be lazy and sit the bench, drop the team or not even show up to the game.  I’m not an athletic coach but I know it would drive me nuts if say I had a player with the ability of the Michael Jordan but really didn’t care about the team or the game.

As ministry leaders we run into this scenario as well.  Someone on our ministry team who has the ability, the skills, to be a phenomenal minister yet they approach serving others and serving our Lord with a lackadaisical attitude.  The potential is there and perhaps at one time they were hitting home runs in serving but now they are about as exciting and active as a bowl of cottage cheese.  Perhaps they got burnt, burned out, overused, misused, abused, or maybe, which is often the case, they have allowed the busyness of life to become their priority rather than serving and making an impact on the lives of other believers.

Frustrating!  What can we do?  After all, they are volunteers.  If you let this frustration remain you will soon finding it consuming your thoughts and zapping the joy out of your ministry.

Keeping this in mind (and from experience of the frustration) I have a few thoughts:

Communicate.  Approach the team member, one on one, maybe over coffee and have the conversation.  Express your frustration.  Share your view of their incredible potential.  Allow them to share their heart as well.

Call for a time out.  Let the team member have a break, a sabbatical if you will, from the team.  Give them a set amount of time, pick a date to get back together and find out where their passion has gone and if they are ready to fully commit to the team.

Change your focus.  If you have communicated and made efforts to get the person more involved and encouraged them to serve the Lord with all their heart, mind and strength then it time to focus elsewhere.  Take the time and energy and focus it on the team members who are working hard and striving to give God their best in ministry.

Create space.  Make sure you are building into your daily schedule time to spend praying for the team members and their needs.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

25th Wedding Anniversary

When I look back at my wedding picture I always think to myself, or say out loud, "Man, we were just kids."

I'm so thankful to God that 25 years ago today that Misha said, "I do".  God has taught me much in those 25 years.  We, like everyone, have had ups and downs, times of joy and times of sorrow, times of happiness and times of grieving.  The awesome part of all of that, even the bad times, is that I didn't go through life alone.  

God has blessed me with a godly wife.  She is an example to me.  Daily I see her study her Bible and spend time with God.  She loves to serve Christ and his church as she leads a ladies Connection group and serves at our check in kiosk on Sunday mornings.  Even as a busy mom and homeschooling our kids she is actively involved in ministry.  She doesn't use the busyness of life as an excuse.  I find that very attractive.

Not only is Misha and awesome wife but she is an incredible mom.  She loves our children.  You can see it as she interacts with them.  It's a beautiful thing to witness.

On top of that I married way above my league.  Misha is a beautiful woman not just on the outside but also on the inside.  And I like it!  I like it a lot!!

 So we celebrate this week with a little trip, some fun time together.  No kids on this trip, just the two of us.  No blog posts (except this one), no email, no phone, no work, just me and my beautiful bride of 25 years.  Now on to the next 25!!