Friday, March 28, 2008

The Grass Is Greener. . .(again)

Speaking of grass, I'm about to plant some. I just got finished spraying down the back yard with round off to kill all the weeds and sand spurs. Tomorrow I'll be pulling those dead weeds and preparing the soil to plant grass.

You know, Jesus talked about this in Matthew 13:7 where seeds were choked by thorns. This is so true. If I didn't clear my weeds and sand spurs first they would kill my grass and I would be wasting my money on the seeds. I would also be wasting my effort on watering the seeds.

Wouldn't it be rather stupid to waste your time watering something that is doomed to perish?

When I look at what Jesus said in Matthew 13 I imagine stupid people trying to water seeds that are sitting on concrete or on a rock. It's rather absurd!

Sometimes we need to remember that some seeds just aren't going to grow. We can't prepare the heart of people; only the Holy Spirit can. Only the Holy Spirit can remove the thorns that choke the seeds. Only the Holy Spirit can take the seed off the wrong path and set it on good soil.

Also, we need to remember to stop wasting our time watering the seeds sitting on the concrete. Stop wasting our time with people who aren't on good soil. If we don't believe that then we must believe that we "save" people instead of Christ saving people.

I think Jesus was saying His message falls on all kinds of people, but those who really want it (the good soil), those are the ones who end up really following Jesus!

The Grass Is Greener. . .

To just about everyone, the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence, but those of us who know much about lawn care also know that the really vibrant grass growing in their yard is almost always sitting on a septic tank.

Sometimes things look nice and pretty from a distance but when you get really close you begin to smell something kind of smelly.

Some people church-hop. . .it keeps them looking nice and pretty from a distance but as people get closer they begin to smell the crap and then they're off to their next church.

Some people want things to be exciting and entertaining or they're going somewhere else where they will be entertained. . .but 20 years of exciting and entertaining as the primary drive will leave them a very shallow Christian, if they're a Christian at all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Youth Pastor Summit 2008, Day 2

Sarah and I are now home, and I'm really tired!

Today with the break-out sessions I was able to hear Dr. David Ferguson, Dr. Alvin Reed (head of evangelism at South Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary), Thom Rainer (Simple Church) and his son Sam, and Chris Hill (ex-student pastor to T.D. Jakes). After the break out sessions Francis Chan closed up the day.

I'm not going to get the highlights like I did yesterday, partly because I'm really tired. I have heard Alvin speak many times and he continues to speak truth and with incredible passion. Thom and Sam talked about principles their coming out soon book, Essential Church?, discusses: why those between the ages of 18-22 are leaving the church. The answer they suggest is because the church is no longer seen as something essential. Chris Hill unpacked stages in David's life and simply blew me away! He made it clear that many youth pastors need to keep their mouth shut, even if God has told them greatness is in their future, until after they've killed Goliath. Until then shut up, learn from the good, bad, and ugly, and keeping playing the harp!

Sarah didn't get to hear Dr. Alvin Reed because she went to hear Merritt Johnston talk about ministering to girls. I think that was her favorite part of the whole conferrence. On the way home she had a lot of powerful things to say. I love my wife!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Youth Pastor Summit 2008, Day 1

YPS is something that came from the mind of Dr. Jay Strack. I know very little about him (this is the first I've heard of him), but I've learned he's been in ministry (starting as an evangelist) for 35 years. I'm was inspired by his passion and commitment to train leaders (both youth pastors and students).

Here's some of the highlights from the 4 main speakers we heard today:

Francis Chan
  1. Wifes are valuable! Chan said he don't like to be selfish with his prayers to God, but he's asked that his wife would outlive him because he needs her.
  2. Chan confessed to us about a mess up he committed 15 years ago. He was very transparent with us.
  3. Sometime we mess up and then come back to God much like the prodigal son thinking we can go back as a slave and work for him. But God doesn't take us back as slaves. He accepts us back as sons.
  4. Don't stress about all the important things you have to get done.
  5. Rejoicing is a command! It's the only command that says "do this and again I say do it".
  6. Don't rejoice in ministry. Rejoice in power! Rejoice that your name is listed in the book of life!
  7. If your ministry fails we begin to doubt that our name is in the book of life (our trust that we're "with" God).
  8. If we knew our name was in the book of life, if we were able to see it for ourself, we would be happy all day long!
  9. How many people would like you if you didn't worry for the next 10 years?
  10. Do you worry about the things you delegate?
  11. Do you ever not worry and trust?
  12. We worry because we don't trust that God will get it done.
  13. In the parable of the sower (Luke 8) the people didn't get it and Jesus did that on purpose. Many will not understand. Jesus was saying, "stop watering the seed on the sidewalk; stop watering the seed on the rocks; stop watering the seed on the thorns". Jesus wanted those who REALLY wanted it because he knew those who really wanted it would come to Him asking for more (just like his disciples did).
  14. Stop wasting time on the kids that aren't going to get it. Stop trying to water the seeds on the sidewalk, rocks, and thorns. If you waste your time on them then you cheapen God's message and you're telling people that it's okay to half-way follow Him, but that's not what Jesus taught.
Brent Crowe
  1. Spent some time honoring Jay Strack (was really cool information about what Dr. Strack stood for).
  2. Re-runs are ingrained into our culture, but it has no place in ministry.
  3. If it feels like a re-run (in ministry) then we have to some serious questions to ask.
  4. We MUST have ministry that is flexible to the changing and moving of God.
  5. Everyone wants their effort to mean something.
  6. Ministry is not a gig!
  7. Gigs are performance driven. Ministry is servant driven.
  8. A re-run ministry is a ministry in a box.
  9. When did it become the goal to do "good" things and think we are showing Christ to others.
  10. Increasing numbers is not up to you. The wind blows where it may.
  11. Don't blame yourself for the decrease or you'll give yourself credit for the increase.
  12. Strategy and events does not equal disciples.
  13. Every youth must be known personally!
  14. Are we producing activity junkies?
  15. Are college students falling away because they lack their youth calendar of events?
  16. Evangelism is not old and outdated! When did it become irrelevant to confront people about eternity?
  17. Student ministry is not a stepping stone to something else!
  18. Students are not lab rats.
  19. For this generation there is no tomorrow!
John Eldredge
  1. He looks like a hippie from the 60's that cleaned up, talks like a psychologist, and he began talking about hearing God. I was really expecting some really hokie, but he was really awesome (much like I remember his book "Wild at Heart")!
  2. The bible is not a book of exceptions. It is an example of what happens!
  3. Not asking and talking with God leads to doing a lot of wasted work (that might look good but still wasted).
  4. To hear God quiet yourself, start with simple questions, and surrender yourself (be ready for a "no").
  5. He illustrated these point over and over very clearly.
Ed Young
  1. Espresso will get you through ministry.
  2. Church is built on trust which is a great place for betrayers.
  3. Sometimes there are blessings in betrayal.
  4. Those who envy are about to betray someone.
  5. Those who betray others usually don't know they are betraying someone.
  6. Senior pastors are crazy people magnets.
  7. Betrayal happens from those closest to you.
  8. When you are pushed into the pit, Satan shows you his cards.
  9. Betrayers try to cover their trail with lies.
  10. When you're in the pit you can see other betrayers.
  11. God allows a break-down so we can have a break-through.
  12. (Psalm 40) God pulls us out of the pit and we sing songs. . .and others notice!
  13. There are three kinds of people: those who are "with you", those who are "for you", and those who are "against you".
  14. "With you" people are the ones who help you out of the pit.
  15. "For you" people will betray you.
  16. "For you" people will say "I've heard them say" or "they think", but when asked who they are you'll find out they are one or two people (a small handful). Don't listen to the "they" commits!
  17. Some people are unwilling to take church to the next level and they will leave.
I've been impact greatly, but I'm SO tired. Tomorrow is break out sessions (I get to pick who I'm listening to for four different sessions).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

7 Things

This idea was taken from Nate over at

Here are 7 Things You May or May Not Know About Me:

1. I can't stand shaving. I usually will shave once a week on Sunday morning. Recently my wife has gotten me to shave a second time a week, often falling on Wed. or Thurs. For this reason, I will always have facial hair. It means there's less to shave and it makes the unshaven areas a little less noticeable.

2. My dad is training to become a pastor. He's currently attending Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute He hasn't yet completed his first quarter yet but he's doing well. He told me he's having to study all day every day. It's got to be hard for him since he's never earned a 4 year degree before, but he's making A's and B's.

3. I've had quite a few surgeries. I've had my tonsils removed. I gained a nice phobia of needles thanks to the kind of hospital treatment I received. To this day my body reacts in ways I can't control when I'm about to be poked by a needle. It's really annoying!

My appendix removed. It happen the night of the first day of soccer season and prevented me from playing my second season in college. It was the second most painful experience in my life. I remember being cringed up in the fetal position for about 4 hours trying not to move as I waited for my surgeon to complete a night of sleep (he had just pulled a long shift and needed rest before cutting me open).

I had all 4 wisdom teeth removed (two were horizontally impacted). This experience would have been nothing at all had my doctor sown me back up correctly. I bleed so much that I could not hold down the pain medication, so I went through recovery without any medicated assistance.

And lastly, and the most painful, I had rather extensive knee surgery. I suffered an injury that detached my ACL and MCL, turned 70% of my meniscus to putty, and put a hole in my femur about the size of a dime. It took me a little over a year to recover. This pretty much destroyed my ability to play soccer like I used to.

4. I didn't play sports much growing up. I remember being a kid and having some bad experiences. It wasn't until I was 15 that I was introduced to soccer. I was either playing or practicing every day (rarely missing a day) for the next 5 years of my life. I fell in love with this sport. Sadly, from my devotion to soccer, by the age of 17 I learned how naturally athletic I was. I was always the fastest runner (should have ran track and played football). I was fearless (I suffered SO MANY injuries because I put myself in harms way to stop a goal or to make a goal). Have you ever wished you could go back and do something different? I would love to go back and play sports, and have someone put certain childhood cruel coaches in their place.

5. I love playing music! So far I've learned how to play the flute (and forgot), the trumpet (forgot but I bet I could pick it back up), the drums, and guitar. Music is something that has been a major part of my life since I was 9 years old. Twice in my life I've sat it down because of bad things that happened. The first was a band instructor who frequently cursed us students out (and I was always 1st to 3rd seat, meaning I was among the best trumpet players in the group and we were ranked the 3rd best Middle School in North Carolina). I quit band because of that instructor when I was 12. The second time I'm going to keep to myself, but I'll say that I'm still having a hard time picking up the guitar and feeling the way I used to about it. My fondest memories of playing music surround memories with my dear friend Brian Henderson. We spent a lot of time writing music, goofing off, and just having time to praise God together. I will always remember and cherish those days!

6. I married a PK. Sarah is the daughter of Rick Lawrenson, who is the lead pastor of Nags Head Church on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Sarah's uncle Andy is a youth and children pastor, her brother Nathan is a worship leader, and her grandpa is a pastor.

7. Growing up I thought I was going to be a career artist. But it turned out to be something I enjoyed as a hobby but never something I wanted to have deadlines for (here's a previous post with some old drawings from my teenage years). So now I dabble in graphic design and such. I created from scratch and I'm in the process of designing the layout for a 6 week bible study for new believers (the content is based on a bible study I was introduced to when I first came to know Christ through the ministries of Campus Crusade for Christ).

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lilly & Frodo

I've had Lilly for nearly a year and a half, and recently we added a new puppy, Frodo. We've had Frodo for two days now and he's a cute little guy. Sarah's (my wife) first instinct was to name him Frodo, but she wasn't sure. So she posting a note on FaceBook getting tons of suggestions. Personally, I still like Nacho Habanero!

He's got a lot to learn over the next few weeks. We really, REALLY, don't want him to be one of those annoying chihuahuas that bark at everyone and are mean. I've received awesome advice and instruction from both experienced people and two experts, and Sarah is reading Chihuahuas for Dummies (which has been repeating things we've heard from the experts). I also grew up with two chihuahuas in the home (so I know how nasty they can get without discipline). Kristin's advice said it really well "this is a breed you have to take control over at a young age no matter how mean it seems, because you will be happy you did later on."

Here's a little video of Lilly and Frodo playing. Lilly is having to learn to be gentle. She's used to playing with her brother, Bennett, and they played very rough with each other. But even though it might seem like she's biting roughly, she's not. She's being really soft with her bites. Where's she rough is when they're running around the house. Lilly runs Frodo over a lot. Frodo needs to learn to dodge.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Can’t There Be More Than One Way To Heaven?

What about other religions? Can’t there be more than one way to heaven?

Religions of the east, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, teach that there are many paths of enlightenment that lead to heaven (they would call it Nirvana). Now when we take this into consideration and look at all the religions of the world and say to ourselves, “all of these religions are ways to heaven. You should try your way and I’ll try mine,” we run into a problem. Jesus repeatedly made it clear who would go to heaven and who would not, and He made it very clear that you must go through Him.

And so, here’s the problem. If what Jesus said is true then all of the other religions are false and we must go through Jesus in order to see heaven. But let’s look at the person who believes that’s Jesus’ claim to be the only way to heaven is false. If Jesus is a liar then all of Christianity is a lie, but this also means the belief that all ways to heaven are acceptable is false because we’ve said Jesus is a liar. This leaves us with no other conclusion than there is a right way to heaven and a wrong way to heaven. All ways do NOT lead to God.

Whether you believe Jesus is the only way to heaven or not, logic shows us that following whatever “feels right for us” is not the path to heaven.

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6

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.

Monday, March 3, 2008

What? Vision-Casting, Part 1

What? A vision begins with asking the question what? You need to know:
  1. What is my purpose?
  2. What is the church's (and/or ministry's) purpose?
You will not know what to do until you know what your purpose is!

Rick Warren, in his book The Purpose Driven Church, said "We believe a great commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment will build and grow a great church" (I'm quoting that from memory so hopefully I quoted him accurately or close enough) and when I look over scripture I can not disagree.

Great Commandment
"Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

Great Commission
(Jesus said) “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

From these two we can gather that the answers to "what is my purpose?" and "what is the purpose of the church/ministry?":
  1. "Go and make disciples”
  2. “Baptize them”
  3. “Teach them to obey”
  4. “Love your neighbor as yourself”
  5. “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind"
Also see:
Youth Ministry Vision-Casting, Part 1
Youth Ministry Vision-Casting, Part 2
Youth Ministry Vision-Casting, Part 3

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Start Of The Youth Ministry Team (Sunday Review)

For the past 3 Sunday evenings I had been teaching about what was dubbed "Introduction to Youth Ministry" although it was more of a "What Every Church Member Should Know". When I look back over the material I see some rather basic things, but many of these things most church members probably don't know or don't put into practice. I think the thing I stressed the most was commitment, but I'm sure everyone got something a little different out of it. A lot of ground was covered in the past three weeks and now we move forward.

After the meeting I asked for those who have been praying about being on the Youth Ministry Team I'm going to be forming to come forward and talk with me for a few minutes. Five, not including my wife and myself, came forward and we briefly talked. I can't wait to work with them!

We're going to meet briefly before Youth on Wednesday night where I'll be handing them an information packet and volunteer application (many of the questions are in there because of the culture we live in; including a background check and references).

Please be in pray for this team and me.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Won’t I Be Allowed Into Heaven?

I’m not a bad person. Won’t I be allowed into heaven?

How “good” of a person are you really? Let’s give ourselves a little self-test:
  1. Have you ever told a lie? Even the smallest of lie counts.
  2. Have you ever stolen something? This is pretty much anything you took without permission and never returned.
  3. Have you ever hated someone?
If you have done one of these then you’re not as “good” of a person as you might think. As people we tend to determine whether we’re “good” or “bad” by comparing ourselves to the most hurtful and harmful people we can think of and by that standard we look pretty good. But God’s standard is perfection.

You may say “but that’s not fair, no one is perfect” or “if God is a loving God then He’ll forgive me of the little things I’ve done”. Imagine that you’re watching a court trial. The defendant has been asked to stand. The case has been made, the evidence is clear, and the verdict is about to be given. It’s obvious the defendant is guilty of his crime. Now let me ask you a question: would the judge be a good judge if he simply let the defendant go? Of course not! In fact, the judge would most likely loose his job because everyone knows that a price must be paid for every crime. A good judge does what is right. Everyone must pay the price. God is a good judge. He can’t just let us go.

But God is merciful and loving! Because of His great love He sent His Son to pay the price. It was as if the defendant received the verdict and at that time a man, who the defendant did not know, walked into the courtroom and said, “Judge, I love this man and I want to pay the price for his crime.” The judge then looks to the defendant to see if he will accept this man’s gift and awaits his response. God sent His gift for you to pay the price for everything you’ve ever did wrong; the Bible calls those wrongs “sin”. But you have to accept this gift.

Our “goodness” the Bible calls “filthy rags”, another words what we think is good is really our feeble attempt to look good compared to other people. Realizing that we’re not good and we are in serious need of Jesus to pay our price is among the first steps to becoming a follower of 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.