Friday, February 22, 2008

Tricia Is Listed!

Tricia has been placed on the list for her double lung transplant and is ready for the surgery. This means that the moment lungs become available (that match her and there isn't someone of higher priority) she will be receiving the transplant.

Now, I don't know exactly how this works. She might have to be prepped for surgery the moment a pair of lungs become available or it might work some other way. I'm sure Nathan will be explaining things when he's able to, but you can follow what's going on (or if you're new to everything happening with Tricia and you would like to catch up on what you may have missed then click this link). . .

. . .please be in prayer.

Does God Exist?

This is a question that tries to tackle too many questions at the same time. It tries to look at every possible quality of God and puts each one on trial, but let’s simplify this by starting at the beginning, creation. “Is there a Creator?” If we can agree that there is a Creator then we have answered the question as to whether God exists or not.

If you look at a painting, how would you know there was a painter? If you look at a building, how would you know there was a builder? Stupid questions, right? The painting is the evidence that there was a painter and the building is the evidence that someone built the building. To look at creation and not acknowledge a Creator is absurd. We know there is a creator because we can see the creation. The complexity of the planets, alone, points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.

“By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” Hebrews 11:3 (NLT)

The complexity of the human body shows signs of a higher intelligence behind it. The human eye is far too complex to be the product of a random pool of ooze. Even Charles Darwin, the man responsible from the theory of evolution (macroevolution), when examining the human eye thought evolution was ridiculous:

“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” – Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (1859)

What about evolution? First, you need to know that there are two forms of evolution, micro and macro. Microevolution says that we adapt in little ways, like developing immunity to chickenpox or developing a resistance to something. Macroevolution is major changes to a living organism, like one species turning into another species.

Microevolution is very true, upheld by facts, and is scientific. Macroevolution is quite the opposite. It’s completely untrue, has no facts to support it, and it’s important to remember that it is the THEORY of evolution which means it’s completely hypothetical and lacks the support of scientific facts. As far as facts go, macroevolution is actually disproved by laws of science (things in science that have been proven to be factual and always true): the First and Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Law of Cause and Effect, and the Law of Biogenesis. Check them out and see how they completely disprove the notion of macroevolution.

“From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused.” Romans 1:20-21 (NLT)

It’s important that you know that you are not a random creation. You were designed by a Creator who not only designed your body but He also created you with a purpose in life. Discovering that purpose begins with discovering Jesus.

I'm trying to write short answers (around or less than 600 words) to tough questions. These will find their way to under the Questions & Objections section (a total of 22 Q&O). Any advice, suggestions, or corrections are very welcomed. I've been studying apologetics for about 8 years so I thought it was wise to use some of the knowledge to share with students and parents with question, without writing a complete thesis paper on the subject.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday Night Review

Some things happened tonight that are leaving me sleepless, some of which I can share and some that I can't. But just know that the things I can't share are awesome. I'm just not at liberty to share them.

Sarah and I both had a good night of seeing God at work.

It started around 3 hours before the youth gathering began when I couldn't find some of the resources I needed for my lesson. I spent a lot of time searching in my office and home for them, but they were nowhere to be found. Needless to say, I became rather grumpy. I was well prepared for a lesson I would not be able to do (I might have to ask Nathan to burn me another copy of some videos he edited for me; hopefully he still has it).

Sarah had a meeting with one of the youth at Starbucks so she dropped me off at church for me to spend the next hour and a half trying to put something together. From what I understand, Sarah and the youth had a good time getting to know each other and talking. And Sarah brought me a white chocolate mocha just in time for youth. *yummy!*

About 15 minutes before it was time to start I see youth that I don't know. I have to admit that my first instinct was that they had arrived at the wrong church. Up until this point, for 4 weeks, the youth gatherings had been with only 1 or 2 youth. But tonight I had 5 youth plus a mother and father who wanted to check things out.

The lesson was supposed to be about love, Thursday was Valentines and all, but that didn't happen. Instead I talked about a God who welcomes the unwelcomed. My 5 youth interacted with the discussion and it went really well. From some of the things they said and the way their eyes and face reacted to parts I can tell they were catching the meaning of the lesson (hopefully they caught the application too). It is now obvious that this was the lesson I was supposed to teach tonight.

Afterward we started up a pool tournament (which will continue over the next few weeks; I have a feeling Harry is going to win unless the rest of us put some practice in) and spent some time talking. I heard two of the new youth commenting that they have a friend they want to bring next time week.

Now I can't sleep because I'm too excited and so I put some energy into the website ( Coding web pages for multiple browsers is a real pain (especially Internet Explorer)!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Top 5 Posts Of The First 4 Months

As of today I've been blogging for 4 months. In that time here are the top 5 posts according to hits they've received:
  1. Please Pray For The Life Of Tricia, Her Huband Nathan, And Their Unborn Baby (177 hits)
  2. Elders & Deacons (100 hits)
  3. The Golden Compass Review (81 hits)
  4. Skillet, Chris Tomlin, Toby Mac, KJ-52, Barlow Girl, Todd Agnew, and Lifehouse (68 hits)
  5. Sunday Review (61 hits)

Here are the tops 5 posts that a lot of time was spent reading them (which means people didn't just come across the page but they also stopped and took interest in what they read):
  1. The Preacher And The Teacher
  2. Do You Rescue Like Jesus Does?
  3. Resigning & Moving
  4. Discipleship: Using Our Resources Wisely
  5. Elders & Deacons

The gOD They Worship

The Creed of Moralistic Therapeutic Deist:
  1. A God exists who created and orders the world.
  2. God wants us to be good and fair.
  3. Central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life, except when needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.
"Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear. They will reject the truth and follow strange myths." 2 Timothy 4:2-4

A Few Thoughts On Today's Adolescence

"Our youth love luxury, they have bad manners; contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. . .Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. . . They no longer rise when elders enter the room. . .They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers. . ."
I would think the above quote defines how most of the older generations perceive the younger generations. Interestingly enough, this quote is older than Jesus' birth. It's from a Greek philosopher Socrates (470 -399 BC).

Today's adolescence:
  1. is a relationship oriented world.
  2. seek an illusion of independence from adults.
  3. are struggling to establish identity/self-worth.
  4. live in an information overload world.
  5. struggle with the tension between head and heart.
  6. are attracted to rebellion and rejection.
  7. seek an idealistic world.
  8. are attracted to risk – “Playing with matches syndrome”
  9. desire a world of fun.
  10. have a large appetite for a world of fair play.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Business Cards

This week I began spending my youth ministry funds. I first began thinking about a business card. Now, I really don't care for business cards. At my last church I ordered (if I remember correctly) around a thousand and I rarely gave them out. Those were pretty basic. They had my contact info and a nice little scripture verse on the back. I wasn't planning on doing it again, just because I didn't see the effectiveness of it. But two things happened since I've been here that have made me reconsider.
  1. I've been asked for a business cards somewhat frequently and when I go to give them my info (because I didn't have a card) I could see the frustration in their eyes. Something that would have taken just a second to pass to them has turned into them looking for a pen and paper.
  2. I went to Panera Bread with Sarah (their new Harvest Orchard Salad is unBELievABLE!!) and when I picked up our food I saw a little jar saying "leave your business card for a drawing for you and 4 others to eat free". But I had no business card so I and 4 of my friends potentially just missed out.
I still questioned the effectiveness of a business card in youth ministry. I mean, how many youth really will take a card and use it? But because of items #1 & #2 above I decided to put some real thinking into this. If I make business cards how can I make it as effective as a business card can possibly be. . .

. . .and this is what I came up with. I decided to place on one side a ton of questions (and they fit; and they're readable) that would invoke certain thoughts. I also tried to make it look visually attractive; not sure if I pulled that one off. It could be something that maybe even my youth can hand off to other youth. Even if they're not comfortable calling up or emailing some stranger (even if he is a pastor of students & parents) they could check out the website it advertises. So I spent some time designing and here's what I came up with:It's a lot clearer on the version I sent to the company printing these. That is just a link to the low resolution copy put online. If you click on the image it will bring up one that's a little clearer (the blog blurred it a bit).

Maybe it'll draw some attention and a few youth will come because they want some of these questions answered. Or maybe they'll check out the website. Or maybe it will be totally ineffective. . .I hope not.

OH NO! Now I have to build a website! Here's what I've got on that so far. It's really just a "look" at the moment (no buttons or anything yet).

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Youth Ministry Vision Casting, Part 3

Vision is like the cure for cancer in the church. But vision applied incorrectly can do an intense amount of damage. Much like applying the wrong amount of chemotherapy, the wrong type of chemotherapy, or applying the chemotherapy at the wrong time can nearly kill or kill a cancer patient, the same could be done to the church. A church that is already hurting could be hurt far worse. Or a healthy church could be made unhealthy.

What happens if the leaders have vision but they lack strategy? Or if they have strategy but they lack vision? Or is they have both vision and strategy, but they're unable to clearly convey to others why they're doing what they're doing. There IS a right and wrong recipe to vision-casting. I strongly feel it includes the following elements and, for the most part, it needs to happen in this order:
  1. What? People need to know they are not a random act of God. When they were created they were given a purpose.
  2. Why? People need to understand why they're supposed to do this or that. They need to know that the plan is worth the effort and they need to know for themselves that what they're doing is important.
  3. Where? People need to have a compelling glimpse of the future.
  4. How? People need to know their part in how we accomplish the What, Why, and Where? They need to see the steps, maybe not perfectly, but clearly.
  5. Which? The right people need to be placed in the right jobs, not just according to experience and availability, but more so from where God has gifted them.
This is something that must begin in the minds and hearts of the leadership and then they must be effective communicators/motivators to present this vision casting to the partners/team (some people like to call them "members of the church", but I'm not fond of that term).

Next post. . .I'll begin to take each one of these (What, Why, Where, How, and Which) and break them down one by one.

Having A Hard Time Getting Back To The Blog

Since I've began this new position I've been hard at work with how to introduce the church to youth ministry. If you haven't caught it from previous posts, I've accepted a position as pastor of youth where I'm literally starting from scratch. This has been requiring a lot of me in the area of research and writing.

I've been working hard on what's turned into a 29 page document for adult leaders (finished the rough draft last week) and a 37 page document for introducing the church to youth ministry (complete with student and leader copies, each 37 pages, and PowerPoint with nearly 300 slides; finished the rough draft yesterday).

When I come home from the office the only thing I do with a computer is check Nathan's blog and play games. I also have been enjoying a few movies, recently Sarah (my wife) has got me working a puzzle, or playing with the dog.

But I after spending many, many hours stretching my brain on developing the foundation for youth ministry I find it hard to blog about it. Maybe I'm just not disciplined enough and I need to just make myself blog anyway, but I'm worried I'll only end up giving you babble and you'll never come back.

Anyway, give me some time and I'm sure I'll be back to blogging 3-5 times a week soon. Who knows, I might be blogging more about vision tomorrow!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Youth Ministry Vision Casting, Part 2

A vision is like staring off into the future and seeing where you're going. It's like getting into your car and knowing where you're planning to drive to. The problem, for many, is vision often requires you to imagine a place you've never been (real places, not science fiction). So it's sort of like trying to get to New York, NY from Houston,TX without the use of a map and without having been there before.

Okay. . .that's a vision to go and see places. What about a vision that will take people places in their walk with Christ? The kind of leadership and direction that really drives people toward the likeness of Christ. . .that's the kind of vision we're talking about.

I see it sort of like this. . .we were all once lost. We didn't know Christ. And then we were found and discovered something totally different. Many of us are in Christ but we're still lost. We have no direction and the Church hasn't given us any direction. I really think most Christians believe Christianity is about walking down an isle, getting dunked in water (or sprinkled for my Methodist friends), taking up space on a pew on Sunday morning, and listening to someone talk about living a "good" life. That's it! That's all the Church has to offer. Or at least that's about all its been offering for too long.

For too long the Church has chased after lofty goals and has proven to the un-Churched that the Church really doesn't know what it's doing and really doesn't have the answers. The Church may "know" the truth but it really doesn't have a clue of what to do with it or how to communicate it. Satan has his part in this, but I'm not about to give him the credit for the Church's great folly. We've messed it up and it's our fault.

More than anything I believe teenagers (adults too) struggle with vision in their life. They have very little direction and the wrong direction they end up following leaves them chasing after the things that will destroy them. Our young boys don't know how to become men, so they make up their own set of "rites of passage" to manhood, which often equates to manhood meaning (to them) going all the way with a girl. The Church may have tried to combat that, with it's "talks about living the 'good' life" but talking about it doesn't fix the problem. We need to take greater action and we need ever member of the Church to do the same but they need vision.

The church has failed to do the following:
  1. Show the world that they were created with a purpose so they know their part in God's plan.
  2. Give people a passion for the Church by showing them why we do what we do (showing them what we're for more than what we're against).
  3. Give them a glimpse of the future, letting them know what the future holds through sharing where we're going.
  4. Showing them how we're going to get there!
Over the next few blogs that's my topic! I'll be looking at what I strongly feel needs to be brought back into the Church, especially in how this applies to Youth Ministry. And just so you know, I'm not sitting up on a high pedestal looking down on the mistakes of everyone else (the Church). It's only over the past few year or so that I've began to see that change is needed, and I plan to implement what God is showing me in the ministry where I serve.

I firmly believe that vision is like the cure for cancer for the Church.