The Journey

Friday, January 27, 2006

I just had an awesome God moment.....

I was watching a DVD that was given to me by my brother-in-law last Sunday. It shows the worship band from a youth ministry at a church in Australia called Hillsong. I watched the worship set and thought the music was awesome. However, what really hit me tonight was the behind the scenes documentary on the DVD. It really showed these artists' heart for Jesus and their passion for really leading people into the throne room. They talked about how it takes a lot of practical logistics to pull off the service they were recording, but that ultimately their hearts must be in the right place when they lead worship. As I watched this, I was brought to my knees in tears and passionate prayer. The Spirit convicted me of a "cold heart." I have been learning things about God and about myself, working hard at ministry, and playing drums the best I know how, but I haven't been loving God. I haven't been allowing myself to grow closer to God with my heart. I was also convicted of a shallow prayer life and filled with a passion to cover my ministry, my church, and my community in prayer. Our church focuses on doing things excellently and that is good. Excellence is not the enemy. However, the enemy can use the idea of excellence to throw us off our path to a passionate relationship with our Lord. It is called Pride, which can be the evil step sister of excellence. I am determined to bring an atmosphere of prayer and passion to the forefront of our churches attempts to worship with excellence. Our hearts must be turned towards God and I think all pastors, churches, and Christians have a tendency to slide away from that position. I am not judging anyone at the Quarry or criticizing for that matter. We have an awesome church with awesome pastors and awesome people, but I do want all to hear the call of a loving God that wants to hear our hearts crying out for Him in love. Maybe I am the only one who needed that reminder at this time, but He filled my cup tonight and I want to share that with my community.

I really do love God...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Okay....I'm a Hypocrit!!!

I have been bugging some of my fellow bloggers about updating their blogs, while allowing my to lapse for a while. I'm Sorry! I have no excuses. I just haven't been about blogging as often lately. I think I just wait until I have something that is maybe a little deep (at least for me) before blogging lately.
Mesha and I are doing pretty good. We are still praying that she will have a job change soon that allows her to participate in our church community more. She really is missing that connection piece to God. She wants so badly to be able to attend church and small group regularily. She also feels more called then ever to minister to youth alongside me. God has blessed me so incredibly with a wife that wants to serve alongside me in ministry!!!
I know this is kind of random, but I guess it reflects my mind tonight. I have been thinking a lot tonight and have been very convicted spiritually and as a ministry leader. I set a vision for my youth that reflects the churches vision of reaching out beyond our community to bring people into the Kingdom. This fall we were so excited and passionate about our relationship with God, each other, and passionate about our call to reach out. However, my students and I have let ourselves be distracted by life, busyness, and selfish desires. I have felt convicted of getting back on track personally with my Lord and convicted of remind my students about our vision. Tonight we had small group and read through several passages in the Bible, but two really hit me between the eyes. First, was Colossians 3, which starts out by telling us "that you have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God's right side." Then it goes on to tell us what that is all about. It is a very challenging passage and pierced right through to my heart. I think if everyone was honest, this passage can pierce even the most pious Christian men and women. It sets the bar high, but at the same time that I am intimidated by it, I am excited to rise to the challenge. I know, of course, that on my own I cannot meet that standard. However, I am excited to invite the Spirit's work in my life and on my soul, so that I might come closer to that level of redemption. I want to be purified by His fire and shaped by His mighty hands. The second passage that caught my attention is much like the first. It is Romans 12, which also encourages us to live holy lives and explains to us what that really means. We had an evening that was not always comfortable, but was very uplifting. We experienced a piece of true community with uncomfortable honesty, motivating teaching, and caring compassionate prayer. We were challenged as a community to re-evaluate our definition of love and make changes to bring radical love into our community. In other words, we experienced church tonight!!! Real Church!!!!! It was pretty sweet.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Life is busy, busy, busy.... I am part time at my ministry right now, so whenever I am at work, I feel like I have a hundred million things to do in a short amount of time. I am not complaining, but just stating the facts. In fact, I actually feel really good about all that I am accomplishing this week. It really feels good to acomplish goals and feel like you have done a job well. What is it about self-worth that is tied to accomplishments. From what I have heard from or read about in the Bible, we are to find our self-worth in our indentity as God's people. He has chosen us and identifying ourselves with Him is what brings us worth as a human beings. What stinks is that it is so easy to buy into the idea of looking to our accomplishments to establish our self-worth, even in ministry settings. This is especially foolish in a ministry setting because changed lives, which is the goal of ministry, are only accomplished by the work of God through the Holy Spirit. We can't even take credit for sucess in ministry, so we can't define our self-worth by those accomplishments. What is left? Defining our worth by realizing that God has already declared us worthy not by our own merits, but by his grace and mercy.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I read this in an article about Barna's top five trends in an article by Rabbi Marc Gellman in Newsweek. Maybe there is hope for the evangelical church in America. Maybe people are listening to the cries of modern Prophets calling our people to reach out in love. Let's hope this trend continues!

"The energizing of the evangelicals. Although only 7 percent of adults are evangelicals, their voice is the loudest and their energy, charity, Bible study, and prayer life is the greatest. They give away more than three times as much money as other Americans. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it was the evangelical volunteers who came in the greatest numbers and stayed for the longest time. I hope that even people who are suspicious of their motives for America can admire the power of their good works when America needed good works the most. Even if they wanted to evangelize the storm-tossed remnants after giving them food, shelter and clothing—who cares? They were there, and most other religious groups were not there in anything like their numbers or sacrificial kindness. People who cannot appreciate the energy of evangelicals for good after the experience of their posthurricane mobilization have eyes, but they do not see. Most pious people flee from the culture and its needs. Evangelicals are engaging the culture and producing the most constant and cogent critique of cultural crud that we are seeing from any religious group in our time."

Let me know what you think about this...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I feel really satisfied with my life today. I have been reminded of the incredible blessings that surround me in my life. I have parents that care deeply about my wife and I and really want to see us succeed. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work at an incredible church with incredible people who, like me, are just trying to be more like Jesus. I have also been blessed with the opportunity to attend a great seminary and learn more and more about the one I follow. (I know, it was hard for me to say that going to school is a blessing, but when I dug deep I had to feel blessed!) I was also reminded this morning that I married up! I was blessed with an incredibly loving, talented, and beautiful wife. Yet, at the same time today I feel an insaciable urgency about the world. I have been having some discussions lately with two friends about theological issues and both have pointed out the radical love that Jesus showed his world. As I have thought and study since this discussion, I have been more and more convicted about just how radical that Jesus' love was and is. I have also become more and more convicted about how Christians are called to live that life the best we can now. Images of starving, Aids ravaged Africans have been plaguing my mind. Thoughts of environmental damage and efforts to clean up our world have been keeping me awake at night. The fact that countless "outcasts" have been rejected, boycotted, excommunicated and hated by Christians has been bringing much pain lately. I can't say that I have all the practical answers to fix all these problems. I am not standing in judgment of others or pointing fingers at others from a self-righteous position. I am feel the regret and remorse of my own inadequacy in these areas and realizing that I need to love. Jesus laid down his life for me in love! I follow him and wish to be like him! How am I laying down my life for others with the love He showed me? I think we need to focus more on that question as a community of Christ followers.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I haven't done this here before, but I know that some of those who love my wife and I read this, so I am going to ask for prayer. Mesha (my wife) is struggling quite a bit right now with work. She is a new nurse and like most new nurses she has a tough schedule. Mesha is tough and would normally push through, but there is more to this problem that complicates it. See, she feels called to be an involved Youth Pastor's wife and feels that her current position as a nurse is getting in the way of that calling. She only has the opportunity to be in church or at ministry every other Sunday. This is driving her crazy and when you combine that with other complications at work and a long commute, she is ready to leave. Please pray that we seek God's wisdom in this situation and that he would give her strength for perseverence while she still works for this job. Please pray that if it be his will, she finds a job soon that would allow more participation in community (especially our church). Thanks!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Glad that's over!

Man, this holiday season has done me in. My wife and I have been running to and fro to the point of exhaustion. If it wasn't for God's grace in teaching us both significant lessons this past month, I am not sure we could say anything good came out of this past month. However, as I think more about that last statement, I realize that isn't completely true either. We have had the opportunity to spend time with family, which is more that many others in the world can say. We also had a few good hours of quality time between us that we can file away as memories. I think it was just hard this Christmas because Mesha had to work over Christmas. It didn't really feel like Christmas because my wife was missing. I was thankful my family came to the church I serve to be with me on Christmas eve, but it couldn't be the same because Meesh wasn't with me. She expressed that she felt the same about being at work on Christmas. We celebrated the same with family, just on different days, but it still made Christmas different. I never thought I would be this affected by my wife's absence at something, but she really means a lot to me. She does not take the place of God in my life, but instead she builds into my the relationship with God. It is almost like we have a co-relationship with God. I wonder if that is what is meant by "two becoming one?"
Well, I am glad to be back in the regular routine of life and ministry! I hope you all have had a blessed started to the New Year. I know that Mesha and I believe this new year holds many hopes in both the good and bad times we will face in 2006. However, that hope only comes from a faith that is bolstered by our relationship with the Creator and Redeemer of our lives.