Monday, August 31, 2009

Student Ministry Picture of the Week!

Inspired by friend and photographer, Mandy Smith...I've been thinking a lot about pictures. I've been trying to imagine pictures of the day for my life. It really helps me consider how I spend my time, when I have to come up with a picture of the day each day. I don't carry a camera around and always photograph myself, as though I were my own paparazzi. But I've been trying to reflect on a mental picture each day--something that added to the quality of my life. It's also a good exercise in gratitude.

Anyway, this weekend I took an actual picture. I took a lot of pictures, actually, of students. You see this weekend held a lot of firsts for me. I went to my first Chillicothe Hornets Football game--along with half the city. I went to my first Chillicothe Hornets Boys Soccer game. And, I went to see Julie & Julia in the Chillicothe movie theater. I've can't believe I've lived here 9 months and just went to see my first movie. It was a good weekend. In fact, it was a great weekend.

So, back to the picture. When I'm on Facebook, as a lot of us older folks are these days, I read status updates from friends longing for the weekend..lamenting about the weekdays. And, I remember those feelings. I remember going to work because I had to pay bills. I still have bills to pay, but now going to work is not something I dread. I love what I do. When I look at this picture, I can't help but smile. I made it my wallpaper even. Working in Student Ministry isn't working at all for me. I love it. I get paid to have opportunities for moments like this...every day of the week:

Seriously, when was the last time you saw a student rockin' the bass in a band uniform while batons are twirling in the background. You can't make this stuff up. By the way, they were playing a Beatles medley, and his name is Daniel.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spending their lives in service to God’s people...

As I read my Bible in a Year this morning, I was once again amazed by the words I'd found there.

Job 22:2-3 says, "Can a person do anything to help God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him? Is it any advantage to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect?"

So, what do we mean when we say we are the hands and feet of God? Really? I mean it sounds good, but maybe that's the problem. It sounds too good...too good for us anyway! God is at work with or without me. God is. Almighty. If God is Almighty, what can I add to God? Nothing. God is.

Here's what I can do. I can do what the members of the household of Stephanas (the first converts in Achaia) did, they spent their lives in service to God's people. (1 Corinthians 16:15) Will it add to who God is? No. Will it make me the hands and feet of God? No. Will it humble me? Will it put hands and feet on my love for my Savior? Will it transform me into the person God created me to be? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rooted in Jesus

It's Sunday afternoon, and on a good week, this is the time that I'm taking a little snoozy.  I love a Sunday afternoon nap.  There is something so perfect about spending a morning in worship and an afternoon resting in God's arms.  It's refreshing, renewing, revitalizing.  Today, however, I can't sleep.  I can't turn my brain off.  I can't stop thinking about the truth is today's message.  I can't stop thinking about the words I'll share tonight at youth group.  I can't stop thinking about God's incredible, unfailing, perfect love.

This weekend, our church family was so blessed to have Wayne Kerr and his band from Katy, TX lead us in worship.  His music and message blessed my soul.  I knew that he would do a great job with our students.  I knew that his message would be powerful for them.  I knew students would have a new favorite singer for the next few weeks.  I arranged to have Wayne here for the kids.  I'd heard him before, and I knew our students would love him...and I prayed his message and music would play a big part in shaping our students and encouraging them in their walk with Jesus.  What I didn't know, is that his message would encourage me also.  I didn't know that his words would remind me of why I do this...of my purpose...of my calling.

Wayne spoke from his heart.  He used Psalm 1 as his text, and his recent trip to the Redwood forest as his illustration.  Then, as corny as it might seem, he made an acrostic from the word roots.  (I would share it with you now, but I can't remember it.  Man, it would be great if I could.)  Oh wait.  It's coming back...let me give it a shot:  Renew your relationship with God daily.  O...hmmm.  Obey God daily.  Till God's Word daily.  Surrender?  No...Serve.  Yes, Serve as the hands and feet of Jesus.  Okay, so I have all of them but the first O.  That wasn't really the most important part...or obviously the part that spoke mostly to me.  I was struck most by several things:

1)  Wayne spoke truth.  He spoke straight from his heart.  His honesty and humility allowed me to let my guard down.  It gave me permission to surrender to God's presence in the midst of my work place.  This, my friends, is no small thing. 

2)  Wayne asked us to write down the acrostic.  (I did, but I left it in my office, hence the reason that I can't recall it all now.)  But what I witnessed throughout the congregation were people looking around for pens and paper.  It reminded me that these people were my brothers and sisters.  My brothers and sisters who are hungry and searching for God's love, for direction, for peace.  Wayne reminded us that the church was not made up of perfect people who have it all together, but that the church is made up of people who know they don't, people who know they're imperfect--but who also know that they were created by a great and mighty God.

3)  Wayne reminded me that I am God's masterpiece, created for good works. Using Ephesians 2:10, he said that each of us are uniquely created for something that no one else on the planet is created to do.  As I looked at my hands...hands that are too often idle, too often used for self interests, too often more hurtful than healing...I was reminded that God created me for good.  

The world screams, lures and entices.  God whispers, loves and provides.  When life is the most full, the busiest, the most exciting, my time with God withers.  It's ironic that the gifts from God are so often what drives me to complacency.  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Serve and Forgive

As a professed follower of Jesus Christ, I believe my calling is to serve and forgive. Sometimes that is so much harder than others.  Every day, people give me opportunity to serve and forgive. And every day, I must be reminded of my calling. It is only by the grace of God that I can get past the profound disappointment I experience from other followers.  Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

God's providence still surprises...

I've only blogged twice in 2009. Today is August 4th--216 days have passed in 2009, 149 days until 2010--and only 2 posts. Yet, God still provides. Miracles never cease. God is present. 

August is like new years, when you serve in Student Ministry. The summer is filled with missions, special events, low attendance. When August rolls around, it's time to contemplate the previous year and plan for the next. And it's easy to forget your call and your purpose. It's easy to get caught up in all the doing. I guess that's why I was so surprised in my Scripture reading of 2 Chronicles (of all places) to be reminded of call and purpose and instruction and God's compassion. Here are some words from Chapter 30-36...

return to the Lord...submit yourselves to the Lord...the Lord your God is gracious and the same time God's hand was upon the them all one heart...the Lord listened to Hezekiah's prayer and healed the people...he required the people to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites, so they could devote themselves fully to the law of the Lord...spend your time serving the Lord your God and his the families assigned to you...prepare to help those who come...the Lord repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them, for he had compassion on his people and his temple...

God's compassion continues. And the scriptures are a constant source of joy and hope and encouragement. In 1 Corinthians 1:1-17, we find these words: have every Spiritual gift you need...He will keep you strong to the end...he has invited you into partnership with his in harmony with each other.  Let there be no divisions in the church.  Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose...Has Christ been divided into factions?

Great question. Last week, each person on the church staff was asked to consider his/her time. We were to divide our time into categories allotting an average amount of time spent each week on each task. It was a good exercise--in the sense that it got us considering our priorities and time management skills. But how true are the results? Ministry can't be measured in the same way that accounts can be reconciled. Life with people, life devoted to God, life in partnership with the Son can not be divided into factions. Yet, God's providence continues to surprise. The constant flow of tasks do get completed, but at what cost? Our devotion to the one true God? Divisions in the church? Harmonious living? I'm thankful to be reminded of God's call.