Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sick :(

I will keep this short because I'm sick. Later tonight Holly and I are leaving for Austin, MN. Our plans are to enjoy Thanksgiving with her side of the family, however, as sick as I am, I may just sleep.
But I wanted to at least hop online and say Happy Thanksgiving. I know we all have many things to be thankful for and I pray that you might focus on what's important this Thanksgiving-family. Your family is important because without them you'd feel alone and maybe you do feel alone, but ask yourself this: are you isolating yourself?
If you find yourself calloused or even bruised due to how you feel you've been treated by family; remember Thanksgiving is a time of renewal and you should share your feelings with family.
As many on our Mission Trip would say...start fresh! Don't wait for the 'new year' to arrive, now is the time. Hate is a strong word, but love is even stronger. Perhaps it's time to give love another try this Thanksgiving.
If it gets tough this Thanksgiving know that you're not alone. There are many who don't get to see their family or even get a meal on Thanksgiving. So you should be thankful. Choose to focus on the good, not the bad-that's a ball and chain that gets you no where. Don't choose to feel filled. Go read 1 Corinthians 11:28-30
Stop going through the motions this Thanksgiving...

Monday, November 24, 2008

It hurts to sit...

While I sit in the Minneapolis Airport, the third airport stop for the day-I realize something. It hurts to sit too long! I don't want to get on the next flight because it hurts.
My pain got me often do people sit among us in worship on Sundays hearing the needs of the church but do nothing? How many sit there thinking that someone else will step up? The sad thing is, too many actually do that. The problem isn't that they're not capable, it's just that their commitment isn't to God. They're perfectly content with letting others step up and too often it's the same people who pick up the slack.
The danger here is forgetting baptismal vows, marriage vows, and our own baptism. As a body of Christ we said we would help this youth grow in the faith or help this young couple in their marriage. Now this isn't anything new really.
In James there are some passages I'd like to share: James 1:22 & James 4:17 GRAB YOUR BIBLE!
So you find that those verses talk about not 'merely listening to the word,' but 'do what it says.' And that 'anyone, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't...sins'.
Wow, really? Well what I think we as God children too often forget is that we come to worship our God on Sunday and the rest of the week we are to go and serve. Be the change and love we want to see in the world.
Francis Chan says that lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. That their love of others is focused on those who love them-like family and friends.
He also says that it's not that they don't to serve God or others, but that there are limits on how much time, money, or energy they will give to furthering His Kingdom.
So does it hurt when you sit too long? If you know this pain it's time to get up! Lets go beyond our comfort zone and step out in faith. I leave you with this-please go look it up: Matt. 13:44-46
Lets stop playing it safe-we need to take a risk for God!


I mentioned Francis Chan earlier in one of my posts, but I've been reading more of his latest book: Crazy Love. I mean what else am I going to do while I'm waiting in the Airport-aside from blogging? Well, he's got an awesome resource for everyone online. So if you're not too busy check out this awesome website:
You won't be sorry that you did, but I encourage you to keep an open mind because Francis Chan has a tendency to hit you in the face with things you never really thought about. So don't be offended, remain open.
Let me know your thoughts of the website...write a comment.

The 'Slow' Club

As I sit in the Nashville Airport waiting for my flight (another 1 1/2 hr left), I can't help but notice everyone that walks or runs by my gate. It reminded me of one of the speakers we had at the National Youth Workers Convention-Mark Yaconelli. He's the son of Mike Yaconelli who was the co-founder of Youth Specialties and author of a great many books. Mark told a story about his youngest son who's different from the rest of the family.
One day they were sitting at the table asking about everyone's day and his youngest son-whose name escapes me now, said 'I joined a club!' Somewhat shocked, they asked what club? To which he replied...'the slow club.' Confused, they asked how many were apart of this club...his response: 'well, I'm the President!'.
Now you need to know something about Mark's youngest...he takes his time when it comes to everything. Getting ready for bed, school, and even eating.
Well, one day his son asked Mark if he wanted a one day pass. Mark did what any dad would do in such a situation...he accepted his sons generous offer. Later that day when he picked up his son from school to walk him home his son reminded him to slow down-walk slower and take notice. So he did, his son would point out various things and he himself saw somethings he took for granted...something we all take for granted-God's creation all around us!
When was the last time you looked up to the stars in awe? When was the last time you watched the sun go down? When was the last time you slowed down to notice God's creations-including your spouse and children?
If it's been a while...then you've earned your FREE pass to the Slow Club. Take time for family and God...slow down and don't be quick to speak. Try silence for once.
I'll be sure to write something else on my next layover...until then, enjoy your free pass.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

National Youth Worker's Convention-Day 4

WARNING-it's a bit long.

Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans…

Originally, I was going to skip today’s workshops/seminars, but ended up in Mark Oestreicher’s ‘Developing Your Own Curriculum’. We got to a point where those in the crowd asked him for some books he suggested on the issue of helping parents understand their teenager. And it evolved into a discussion about a difference many don’t seem to see in the church today-it transcends youth groups and permeates into our older and wiser members too.

I wish to throw out some of the major talking points or issues…
-There’s a difference between childish faith and child-like faith.
-Does God want us to change or grow? And what’s the difference?

Needless to say we strayed from our original topic or purpose of the seminar/workshop but it did produce some great discussions-getting into the dirty and messy parts of ministry.
So lets get to the first major talking point I mentioned. In today’s culture the youth are so inundated with preconceptions about self and how parents are just bringing them down and that there are parents who are ‘cooler’ than their parents because Susie Q and Joe Cool’s mom and dad let them do this…
But we dug deeper…we talked about how there are youth who come to our youth group who are open to change of perspective. About how they have been they’ve been unknowingly trained by their parents to be the way they are. Parents often reinforce the idea that going to church isn’t that important and that this whole God thing is just for show. One of the major examples is when a parent(s) drop off their child for Sunday School and say it’s important that they go, but they themselves don’t stick around. There’s a tendency for parents to say, but not do when it comes to the things they ‘stress’ as important. You see, the parents put too much emphasis on how the church or the school is supposed to be responsible for this or that, but they are the ones that make the true difference. They are the ones that make or break the deal on those important things.

So it’s no wonder that youth-as they get older grow to be so pessimistic. However, we can not miss the opportunity to help them develop as Christians. When a youth asks a question more often than not, they are expressing their doubts. And an answer-a real answer, could help them in their development of a new perspective.

As a Christian, regardless of your age…do you think that God wants you to change or grow? And do you know the difference? If you were to ask me, I think God wants us to grow.
I think God calls us to grow, but it requires a change. We’re too caught up in ourselves-how right we are and how others are wrong-we’re too busy and we lose focus of what’s truly important: having an open heart and an open mind to what God’s trying to tell you.

Are you flexible? Are you willing to be molded by God or are you asking God to bless your plans? Do you have a childish faith that can be too selfish or self-absorbed? Are you growing and making changes that benefit the Kingdom?

If you’re a parent, don’t ignore your youth’s cries for help. Take some time to talk to them, don’t settled for the ‘how was your day honey?’ ‘it was okay.’ routine…dig deeper and really ask like you care. If you’re too busy-then it’s time to make the time (for God and for family). It’s never too late you know…do you remember the Prodigal Son? He squandered his opportunity, but ended up getting another chance…God offers you that chance. He stands at the door and is knocking, but do you hear Him? Are you ignoring Him?

If you’re married…how’s your relationship? Do you have a movie night or a date night? If not, you better clear your schedule for one. And if you want to really grow-find more time…cards and flowers are nice, but nothing means more than your time. *Don’t worry, it’s something I need to keep working on too.

If you’re single take heart. God has plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11) and right now, you need to do all you can to make sure you stay connected and open to His words and direction for you. Perhaps now isn’t the time for you to be in a relationship, perhaps He needs you to do something else right now-like become a youth leader, maybe He wants you to pour your time and energy into furthering His Kingdom.

If you’re reading this…seek God and take a look around. God may be calling you to do something seriously ridiculous.

Go to Chris' Corner too

Also, go check out Chris Hansen's blog...he's had a lot of awesome things to write about too. Click the link below:

Seriously Ridiculous-DAY 3

Hebrews 11:1-3 says: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand...
This was truly an amazing day...I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and some books. Among them was a Mike Yaconelli book. Did you know that he was the co-founder of Youth Specialties?
Well one of yesterdays scripture basis was based upon the Prodigal Son and how the Father's love was beyond comprehension to the other son who was faithful. In case you didn't know, this years Y.S. theme is 'Seriously Ridiculous'. Now what we should find crazy here is the love and faith aspect of our relationship with Christ.
Depending on your translation of Hebrews 11, it describes faith as being 'sure' of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see...interestingly enough, are we really that sure or certain about anything in our lives. Like will we all see tomorrow and will we have a paycheck this week? Jesus told us that we need not worry-check out Matt. 8:20.
I think if Jesus were here today He would say to me and even to you 'Oh, you of little faith'. You and I need to work on the seriously ridiculous when it comes to God and his plans for us.
My challenge is to be ridiculous for God. It's time for change!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

National Youth Worker's Convention-Day 2

Francis Chan is the man! He had such an awesome message to share with us during our General Session. (It was kinda sad though-it was David Crowder's last performance with us.) But back to Chan...he convicted me. He has moved me beyond words and when I left that session I felt so bold I had a plan of attack for when I returned to Lincoln.
The only problem would probably cost me my job. I will share the details of his talk when I return, but I will say this...Lincoln, NE-look out! When I get back, things are going to be different. Not just with my life, but the lives of those around me. I promise to bring a copy of his talk on DVD for my youth leaders to enjoy-they too may find a fire lit within them beyond words. Since those who are reading this might be this for me-grab your BIBLE. Read ALL of Acts and then read Luke 8:4-15 & Luke 14:25-35
What you may find out is that the early church was unstoppable! What they did was radical in their day and it may surprise you that the church today isn't unstoppable. You find that we argue and bicker about the littlest things of little importance when it comes to the kingdom of God. I think we as the Body of Christ need to take a hard look at ourselves. Are we like the church of old-unstoppable and one fire for God or just worried and scared about tomorrow?
In the parable of the sower we learn that some of us have become like the seed that feel upon the rock, or the seed thrown among the thorny plants of this world-working too much, too busy for God or His people.
Have you read the blog about Chris Tomlin's newest CD and song? God Of This City-is He really and is He the God of His own church? Or have we tainted it with our own focus, or own agenda that has lost it's sight in relation to God's vision for His people?
I could write forever, but I will stop there. Day 2 was amazing and I can't wait for the end of Day 3. There's already been a lot happening-forgive me for missing Day 2, but it was really that amazing-there are no words. In fact, I stayed up until 2:30am this morning talking to my roommate about God's call for us...and for His people. We struggle and wrestle with God, but there needs to come a point where we see His side of the argument or issue. After all, he is bigger than our situation, political affiliation, or even our doubts about the future-especially when it comes to money. Have faith...
Blessings upon you in this dark time...listen to Him, He's speaking to you in this time of need and transition. It's time to refocus our efforts and hearts on not worldly things, but Godly thing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

National Youth Worker's Convention-Day 1

Day 1:
I flew from Lincoln to Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and once I got there, I found out we got a new plane. Thinking it was good news, I found out it was bad news. I was originally in 14-B, but got moved to 25-B (which was the back of the plane)! To top it off, there was a baby on board who had plans beyond my control...see, I had hoped to get some sleep-you know, take a nap...that didn't happen. Note to Holly: We are NOT taking a baby on a plane, the whole ear popping thing bothers them.
Anyway, I finally get to Nashville and thought the shuttled would be there waiting-I was wrong...again. I waited nearly 45 minutes before a shuttle showed up and took me to my place of rest. Once there, I checked in and decided to grab something to eat. I got myself a hamburger and enjoyed my moment of peace.
After my meal, Chris Hansen called to see when I was coming to the Convention Center. I told him I had to wait for a shuttle again. I went to the desk, asked when the next shuttle would be in...she told me 10-15 minutes-translation 30 minutes! I waited over 30 minutes before I got a ride.
I know, it sounds like I've done a lot of complaining, but once I got to the Convention Center I got some free t-shirts and got to play some Rock Band! So I had some fun tonight and I'm glad I got a chance to hang out with fellow youth leaders from around the US. Heck, there was even a guy who came from England!
Well, there's Day 1 in a nutshell...stay tuned for Day 2. Until then, God bless and be sure to pray for all of us here at the National Youth Worker's Convention.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

God Of This City

I love Chris Tomlin's newest song: 'God Of This City'. It's an amazing song that made me stop and think. There are truly greater things yet to come, greater things still to be done in this city. And you can take it a step further too-this nation.
While there's still debate about the 2008 Election, it doesn't matter who you voted for because we have a Lord of this Nation-who is greater than our situation, political affiliation, and anything we can possible imagine.
I urge you all to read 2 Kings 17:9. It talks about how the people lost sight of what was most important-their God. They lost sight of their affiliation to what is right and what is good for others and set up 'pagan shrines'. Much like we have now we focus too much on self in our culture and we have our gods- the gods of movies, internet, texting, facebook, and even sports. In the end...what do we have to show for it? Brokenness & frustration...because there isn't enough time in the day for THE GOD-our true God, the one who sent His son.
Go listen to Chris' song and ask yourself these questions: Is there more that I can do for myself, my friends, my family? How can I improve my relationship with God? How can I grow as a person, friend, son or daughter?
Here's the link:

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Price Is Right -or- Is It?

I just got back from the best concerts I've ever been too...and I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep the original title of this post/blog, but decided it actually fit nicely to what I felt God put on my heart this evening.
I'd like to start by asking a general question: In your brokenness, what price did you pay?
I wanted to start with such a question because I know today many are hurting. Many are in search of acceptance, love, and purpose. And sometimes in that pursuit we lose sight of a simple truth. 'Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out' (1st Cor. 13:6)
Love never asks the 'beloved' to do what he or she thinks is wrong. It never tears down convictions, quite the opposite. Which leads me to an illustration I'd like to share-it's one of my favorite author uses.
Max was tired...he checked into his hotel room and went straight to bed. When he woke up, he felt rejuvenated and decided to go for a jog. As he was leaving he waved to the desk clerk...knowing he was in a town he wasn't familiar with, he decided to stay close to the main road. So he weaved in and out of areas, always coming back to the main road-which he knew would lead him back to his hotel room.
Upon his return, he noticed something in the main lobby...breakfast! So he decided to have some toast and oatmeal. He even overheard a conversation and couldn't help but jump in. There he spent over two hours hanging out. When he was done, he decided to take a doughnut with him and some more coffee-chalking his hunger up to the long run. When he rounded the hallway he noticed a pool...he didn't remember there being a pool, but he kept walking and when he got to his room his key wouldn't work. After the third time he looked up and noticed it wasn't his room.
Confused, he went outside and looked up-it wasn't his hotel! He spent over two hours in the wrong hotel...but it felt so right. He was conversing with people, eating breakfast and was in the wrong place.
Confused? Well, sometimes feelings can confuse you. I mean look at our culture today. It encourages us to do whatever we feel is best for us-putting ourselves before others. And in relationships, often there are times when someone has tried or asked us to do something that was wrong and used 'love' to justify it. Stop me if you've heard this before: 'If you love me...'
Now, before this gets too long of a blog, know that it's nearly three days in the making and I felt that God was pulling on my heart strings to share this with you.
So ask yourself this you want to know what love is? If you do then be careful-take a good look around, are you in the right hotel? Be prayerful-it's never too late. Love is a fruit of the spirit. (Romans 5:5) Be grateful-for the love you do have from your family and friends-true friends. And remember 1st Cor. 13:6.
Thanks again for your time...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Missing It?

Over the past two weeks my friend Chris Hansen and I have been going to various High Schools (Southwest & East) to touch base with our youth outside of the church walls. Our goal is to meet them in their element and we haven't been disappointed. In fact, at both schools we've been overlooked, walked by, and forgotten about in the span of an hour and a half.
It was interesting to see how many of our respective youth walked by us or near us with our full acknowledgment of their existence but none given to ours. I wonder...are we missing something? Could it be that Chris and I might be missing out or that our youth are missing it?
Confused, well don't be. Let me Revelation 3:20 it says: 'Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends'. Interestingly enough that's the goal that Chris and I have have lunch with our youth. To catch up and touch base on how things have been since we last met-whether it be at Youth Group or Bible Study.
I had a lot of resources and analogies I wanted to use on this particular blog, but I decided to save a couple for later. So I give you this story instead...
A rich man took a group of friends to Paris following World War I. He showed them all the sights, they had never seen such things. But nothing impressed these men more than the faucet in their hotels. They turned it on and off, on and off, amazed that with a twist of the wrist they could have all the water they wanted.
When it was time to leave Paris and return home, the rich man found his friends in the bathrooms trying to disconnect the spout saying 'we NEED faucets! If we have them, we will have all the water we want.'
You see, they didn't understand the role of the faucet. The spouts carry water, but don't produce it. Spigots are the tool, not the source-the valve directs fluid, but generate it? We know this right???
Or do we? God pours out his love into our lives and we miss it. God gives us family, but we miss it. He gives us friends, but we sometimes miss it. God's gifts come in many packages...but are we missing it? The blessings in our lives?
If you think you're missing it...there's an invitation just for you-John 7:37 'If anyone is thirsty, let him/her come to me, not my prophets (pastors, teachers) or people and drink. Did you catch that...come to HIM thirsty for love, knowledge, and forgiveness.
While Chris and I are here for our youth...we know that we're here for God's mission and purpose and we want to help you find the well you seek.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Estes Park Reflections...

As many of you may or may not know. Good Shepherd Presbyterian and First Presbyterian of Lincoln joined forces some 14 months ago to plan a Mission Trip to Estes Park over LPS' Fall Break.
Many of First Presbyterians youth were non-committal; but upon hearing of the experiences that the youth reported (who had gone) greatly changed their philosophy. In fact, many have already said they're ready for the next one and the total has already doubled the number that were originally represented in the first trip to Estes Park.
Now, I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited...because I am. Not because I get to work with such an awesome friend and fellow youth worker, but because it would seem God has blessed our mission to return to Estes Park. While it's unofficial at this time, we're hoping to return later this upcoming summer in June.
As I took some time today to read some of the 'The Calling' Trip Journal, I began to see a pattern. That the youth who came were on fire! They found a support system and a family on this trip and they know that they're not alone.
However, they do know that their 'mountain top' experience will eventually bring them back to reality-school, family & whatever else might be on their plate and that there will be some hard decisions to make concerning friends, family, and God. All have mentioned they plan to make good on bettering their relationships-especially with God, but know it won't be easy.
I pray that they don't forget the above mentioned, what each said they found-support. And I hope that they never forget that they're not alone. I'm glad that they've taken that first step though...realizing they need to get serious and that it won't be easy. Again, I pray for them and you should to!
Thanks for listening to me blab...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Heart Full Of Hurts

What you're about to read is the basic outline from tonight's message from Max Lucado's book: A Love Worth Giving. You'll get the gist of the message/lesson, but you miss out on the interactive portions of the lesson. There's always questions I throw in at certain points.
If you decide to follow along, you'll need your Bible. There's scripture here and nothing here is made up. As I've learned at Youth Specialty events...'the Bible is the only resource one needs to teach from.' *Check out Marko's page on Youth Specialties.
This lesson is to be shared because I think it speaks to so many regardless of age or where they're at in their faith journey. That's why my blog spot is called 'spiritual junkfood'. This is all food for thought...

The Heart Full Of Hurts

Love keeps no records of wrongs…

What do you think about this quote?

Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions.

Today’s jealousy is tomorrow’s temper tantrum.

Today’s bigotry is tomorrow’s hate crime.

Today’s anger is tomorrow’s abuse.

Today’s lust is tomorrow’s adultery.

Today’s greed is tomorrow’s embezzlement.

Today’s guilt is tomorrow’s fear.


The Pelicano is the most unwanted ship in all the world! Since 1986 she has been the ‘hobo’ of the high seas. No one wants her.

The problem isn’t the boat-it is a bit rusty, but what boat isn’t? She’s seaworthy!

The problem isn’t ownership-the owners have kept the license current and taxes paid. The problem isn’t the crew-they may feel unwanted, but they aren’t ineffective.

So what’s the problem you might ask? Simple…she’s full of trash! 15,000 tons of trash. Orange peels, bottles, newspapers, half-eaten hot dogs…it’s the trash from Philadelphia’s long summer of 1986 when all the municipal workers went on strike.

The Pelicano is proof that trash-filled have very few friends. I wonder…can we relate to The Pelicano? Do you feel unwanted at the docks of friends and family? Do you ever feel as though you’re drifting further and further away from friends and family?

Life has away of unloading her rubbish onto our docks-mom and dad work too much, don’t spend enough time with you, brothers or sisters complain too much. The result? TRASH! Load after load creates tension, anger, guilt, bitterness, pessimism, and impatience.

A days load affects us and it can contaminate our relationships. Look at Cain, he had hatred and anger in his heart before he had blood on his hands. And the Pharisees-the so called religious leaders from back in the day killed Christ in their hearts before they killed him on the cross. READ pg. 86

Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions. Do you think it was an accident that Paul wrote that love keeps no records of wrongs? Sometimes we don’t know we have an option-at least sometimes it feels like we have no options.

READ 2nd Corinthians 10:5

You get the impression we’re soldiers (and we are-check out Ephesians 6) and that our thoughts are the enemy. We’re supposed to protect ourselves and refuse the trashy talk and thoughts that can infect our ‘moods’. Listen carefully-CAPTURE EVERY THOUGHT, MAKE IT GIVE UP AND OBEY CHRIST.

The minute trash starts to walk down our docks we need to be pro-active; we should jump into action…’this heart belongs to God’. Selfishness, take a hike, envy, get lost!

This is serious business you know…here’s what Jesus had to say: READ Matt. 22-23

Jesus could’ve given up and gave in, but instead he decided to say ‘get away from me’.

READ Proverbs 4:23

You see, what we focus on is a choice. We could keep a list of our bad days, what was said to us and let it control our tomorrows…we could stand at the gangplank of self-pity. Or we can do something else. READ Romans 12:14


Anger at your parents is keeping you awake. You want to sleep, but you can’t; this afternoons conversation won’t let you. As always, all they did was criticize. No compliments, no applause, just nag, nag. When are you coming home? Is your homework done? Why haven't you cleaned your room?

Why must you deal with this?

The truth is, we all deal with stuff like that from friends and family…but I urge you like Paul does to remember love, remember Christ, and most of all, remember you’re not alone.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Guess what?

Well, it's offical! I am now up-to-date, in the main stream...I'm blogging!
This is where you'll get some neat little tid-bits, some food for thought. Don't be shy though, you can write me back and ask me questions.
Look for more later this week yet...until then, have a good one and God bless†