I really like writing, I promise. Life just sort of starts rolling and continues to pick up momentum.

Here are a couple of personal updates:

1. I really enjoy my job as an elementary music teacher. I never would’ve suspected that. I’m still torn, though, as to how I should use my time best (music teacher or youth pastor). Right now I’m doing both. I don’t know how long that can last.

2. I still have the headaches. We’re still trying to figure out what the root cause is. I have made some headway (no pun intended) but the headaches are still consistent (24/7). I can guarantee you that my life has been forever changed by the things we’ve learned.

There are so many thoughts running around in my head right now. I’m reading books and web sites on youth ministry, on music education, and on health. The more I learn the more questions I have. I’ll save the health and music stuff for another time but here are a few youth ministry and church questions I’ve been pondering…

These are from my journal a few days ago:

1. A youth pastor can’t make mature disciples.

2. Neither can a parent.

3. A person must cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives before any growth in discipleship can be made.

4. This does not diminish the role of the youth pastor or the parents (foremost) to commit to the responsibilities God has given them.

5. Does a youth ministry need consistency to achieve its purpose? If it does, how do we function in a society where everything competes for the attention of our youth?

6. How do you develop relationships and discipleship without consistency?

7. Schools demand consistency with attendance, grades, practices, rehearsals, etc. What does/can the church do?

I’m wrestling a lot with these questions. I’d love to hear your feedback.

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What are you all about?

In my last post I shared about four words that I recently used to encourage the youth group I serve with. They were people, prayer, preaching and purity.

I thought I would follow that up with a summary of a message I gave last summer during our annual “Youth Sunday.”

I preached primarily from Acts 2:42-47. As I’ve become acquainted with that passage four things stood out to me. Just as that passage was the heartbeat of the church’s beginning it is also the heartbeat for what I am committed to.

My personal passion for ministry could be summed up with four broad statements taken from this passage, Acts 2:42-47. The four statements may overlap some but each one has a distinct idea that I believe is addressed in the passage.

42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

First, we must have a passion that God’s Word be taught accurately.

Second, we must have a passion for authentic loving relationships.

Third, we must have a passion to see the lost and the found drawn to and transformed by Jesus.

Fourth, we must have a passion to reach out and impact our community and world.

These are the things I’m committed to in ministry.

Several days ago I shared about the youth ministry at, Grace Evangelical Church, where I serve as the part-time youth director.

In that post I shared that we were committed to being:
B.iblical
A.uthentic
R.elational
B.alanced

The things we are committed to provide a framework for evaluating whether or not what we are doing is on track.

The other night I attempted to recast the vision with our youth group using four other words:

People – Relationships matter to us. People are a priority, whoever they are and whatever they’ve done. We must love people where they are and for who they are.

Prayer – We have to depend on God through prayer. We must be committed to a relationship with God. We can’t accomplish things apart from relying on Him. The cause is too great and the time is too short to settle for less!

Preaching – We must be committed to the Word of God. We should be faithfully teaching and explaining it. We must be reading it, memorizing it, sharing it, and using it!!!

Purity – We have to be willing to confess sin and learn to walk in holiness. We have to learn to submit and become obedient to what God asks of us. We must have “clean hands” and “pure hearts.” We must be quick to forgive others and restore bridges that have been torn down.

The camping trips, road trips, ice cream nights, backyard barbecues, basketball games, the choir concerts, the wrestling meets, the outreach events, the fun games, you name it…

They all mean little if the heart of God is not formed in our youth. My heart is heavy with a burden for these things! Do we accomplish what we set out to do?

This is what I’m committed to.

From time to time I will talk to different people and we will discuss why we do what we do. It is in those conversations that I always begin to think about the youth ministry that I work with at Grace Evangelical Church.

Our youth ministry is named 3-D, after our philosophy.

We value the process of :
Drawing (outreach)
Discipling (growth)
Daring (influence)

In my mind this sums up what we are to be about. We should be reaching youth, training them, and equipping them to do the same.

One of the acronyms that we use is B.A.R.B. This is has a multi-pronged meaning (excuse the pun).

We are committed to being:

B.iblical
A.uthentic
R.elational
B.alanced

In addition to the acronym I see the picture of barbed wire. Its design accomplishes a specific purpose. It is a picture of protection and safety. It is sharp and cuts, just like the Word (Hebrews 4:12). It is also a picture of the crown of thorns that Jesus wore.

Sometimes it helps to have a bigger picture of what you are all about.

Personally, I am committed to four things. First, that God’s Word be taught accurately. Second, authentic loving relationships. Third, the lost and found drawn to and transformed by Jesus. Fourth and finally, a passion to reach out and impact our community and world.

What about you? Have you ever taken the time to think through that yourself?

What are you committed to? What are your non-negotiables?

As you are asking yourself these questions consider these verses.

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel (Ezra 7:10, ESV).

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments (Psalm 119:10, ESV)!

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27, ESV).”

How does God’s Word shape who you are?

I think these are good questions that we should all be asking.

Do you?

“Live Life”

These are the two words that I found on, of all things, my new stick of Degree deodorant. When I went to the wikipedia this morning I found out that Degree puts various phrases on most of their stick deodorants.

Why would someone want to put a phrase like that on a stick of deodorant? It is going to get wiped off eventually and no trace will be left behind.

There’s the rub(pun intended). No trace will be left behind except what is left in the mind.

I suppose that’s how subliminal advertising works. In the music class I teach we’ve been studying the effects of music and advertising. My hope in doing so is to make students aware of the powerful influence of advertising. One report says that advertising in America alone exceeds $144 billion.

Advertising is all over the place. It wouldn’t be advertising otherwise. What else can we fill our minds with though? Is there a way to influence our minds with something more powerful than media advertising?

I think so.

Psalm 119:9-11 (ESV) says this:

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. Whith my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Not only will the Word help guide you in keeping your heart pure, it will also help you “live life” to its fullest. It will help guide you when you are assaulted by the messages of the media. It will light your path and give you a sturdy path to follow.

Admittedly, “live life” will stick with me for some time (pun intended again). It has already influenced me enough to write about it. As I started this post I had no intentions of making it spiritual. However, the more I thought about it the more it made sense.

What should be our greatest influence? Deodorant slogans? Starbucks sayings? Or maybe God’s Word?

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12, ESV).”

That’s a decision each of us has to make.