Friday, December 19, 2008
Here's some lyrics by JT (James Taylor - not Justin Timberlake for all you young whipper snappers out there) that this reminded me of:
Something's wrong, that restless
feeling's been preying on your mind
Road maps in a well cracked ceiling the signs aren't hard to find
Now I'm not saying that you've been mistreated
No one's hurt you - nothing's wrong
A moment's rest was all you needed
So pack your things and kindly move along
Like dust in the wind you're gone forever
You're wind-blown leaves you're a change in the weather
Just a town like any other a second brand new start
A third or fourth hand wife or lover no, you won't break her heart
Take some bacon go on and leave your watch chain
She won't count on nothing more
Wrap your hands around that small change
and tiptoe barefoot out the door
Yes, something's wrong that restless
feeling's been preying on my mind
When things get bad I'm bound to pack my bags and just
Leave them all behind.
Not to say I agree with the whole "third or fourth hand wife or lover" thing but his thoughts are always provoking...
I ran across this today and thought it might be of some help to you during this busy time of year.
It was a very normal day until I realized that I was actively destroying my own soul.
The day began with my alarm jolting me awake. I immediately turned on my BlackBerry to hear it chime for each voicemail and email that had been left while I slept. I stepped into the shower where I listened to my waterproof radio. I then turned on the television to catch some news while I dressed. Driving to work I tuned in to some talk-radio banter. Throughout the day the chime on my laptop kept ringing as email arrived, and my cell phone continued to vibrate and ring on my hip. Before long, I needed a break, and I put on my iPod to go for a walk.
On the drive home, I again listened to the radio in an effort to drown out the blaring horns of frustrated fellow commuters. After eating dinner and tucking my five children into bed, I turned on the television to watch shows I had recorded on my Tivo. As I drifted off to sleep, it dawned on me that I had not had one minute of silence during my entire day. It was possible, I realized, that I could live the rest of my life without ever again experiencing silence.
In that moment, God deeply convicted me that I was addicted to the false trinity of our day, the gods known as Noise, Hurry, and Crowds. I remembered the words of missionary martyr Jim Elliot, who said, “I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds . . . Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”
I began to ponder what Jesus’ life might be like if He lived today. Would He be available to all of His followers twenty-four hours a day on His BlackBerry? Would He have left His phone on at the Last Supper and been continually interrupted by needless calls? Would He have failed to stop and speak to needy people because their weeping was not loud enough for Him to hear over His iPod as He hurried past them on His way to a meeting He was already late for?
In that moment I prayed, asking God for His wisdom and help to save me from myself. God answered my prayer and reminded me that Jesus often took periods of prayerful silence to hear from the Father and to ensure not that He was doing everything He could, but that He was doing only what was most important. For example, before beginning His public ministry, Jesus spent forty days fasting from food, people, and noise in an effort to prepare Himself to fully accomplish what God the Father had given Him to do on the earth.
Moreover, the Bible says in Luke 5:16 that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places.” Jesus spent considerable time alone in silence to pray, rest, and focus on what priorities He should be devoting His time and energy to. This helps to explain why, in just three short years of ministry, Jesus had a greater impact on history than anyone else who has ever lived.
The Bible also describes multiple benefits of purposeful silence, including:
- hearing from God (1 Kings 19:11–13)
- waiting patiently for the Lord to act (Lamentations 3:25–28)
- worshiping God (Habakkuk 2:20)
- knowing God better (Psalm 46:10)
- praying effectively (Luke 5:16)
Since God convicted me of my addiction to noise, I have sought to conform my life more to the pattern of Jesus’, which has proven quite helpful. I try to spend at least five minutes an hour in silence, at least thirty minutes in uninterrupted silence each day, and a full day in silence once a month. During those times I find myself going for silent prayer walks to listen to God, writing in my journal, and sometimes doing nothing at all, which for me has become an act of faith that God is at work even when I am not.
My prayer is that those reading this who, like me, are guilty of noise addiction can also experience the regular gift of silence because that is often where God is waiting for us. There was silence before God spoke the world into existence, and silence for forty days before Jesus began His public ministry, which may indicate that silence is what allows us to speak as God intends.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I thought I would pass along some info that would be helpful to us all. Apparently this is a standard procedure all paramedics follow at the scene of an accident when they come across your cell phone.
ICE - 'In Case of Emergency'
We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its memory but nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our closest family or friends. If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our mobile phone but
wouldn't know who to call. Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? Hence this 'ICE' (In Case of Emergency) Campaign. The concept of 'ICE' is catching on quickly. It is a method of contact during emergency situations. As cell(mobile) phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name 'ICE' ( In Case Of Emergency).
The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn't know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose. In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as 'ICE.' For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc. A great idea that will make a difference! It really could save your life, or put a loved one's mind at rest. ICE will speak for you when you are not able to.
I wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas while we are all traveling abroad.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
We live in a very wooded area and the only thing we hear out here is the snow falling and an occasional squirl. Tonight while cleaning up the garage I heard a very loud siren. I was in the mood to chase and found Santa on top waving to all the neighbors. Ahh there's a first time for everything I guess..
Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Please take heart what we discussed in our meeting this Sunday and last week’s email about making your group time more effective.
As we discussed in our meeting on Sunday (some kids are not present on Wednesday’s because of a lack of depth of study) it would not appear that I am responding to that need immediately. I will say this in response that as the pastor of student ministries I feel as of right now our students need consistency over depth. We might lose out on a couple of disappointed kids but I feel as long as we are providing a space for them to be KNOWN, LOVED, and CARED FOR then all will be well. I am willing to take a risk to establish a culture in our ministry that is responsive as opposed to being reactive. The moment we give in to being reactive to urgency is the moment that instability will be said of our leadership style. “Walking slowly through the crowd” “Walking slowly through the crowd” “Walking slowly through the crowd” “Walking slowly through the crowd” “Walking slowly through the crowd”……. ……. Get it?
Here are the 4 w’s of a group meeting: in order
1. Welcome (relationship building)
a. An example of this would be to have some form of an ice breaker
i. A couple of funny or thought provoking questions for tomorrow might be:
1. Have you ever accidentally killed an animal? Where? When? What happened? How did you feel?
2. Have you ever broken a bone in your body? Which one? How did it happen?
These are just a few examples. Try to play it as more inspired than just something I wrote down for you to recite.
2. Worship (entering into the presence of God)
a. Prayer here is more than appropriate. Singing is good if you have willing and able musicians but not necessary at this point in the game.
3. Word (applying God’s word to our lives)
a. Questions provided below
4. Works (reaching out to others)
a. A good example of this would be praying for non-Christians, preparing for a social project (or talking about one the church is sponsoring – i.e. the 410 bridge Here is some info about it - http://www.graceincranberry.org/outreach/gyff/index.cfm
b. A possible dialogue about evangelism might look like this:
i. Leader: “Brad, who will you invite next week?”
ii. Brad: “I’m going to invite my neighbor.”
iii. Leader: “Great, let’s pray in a moment that Brad’s neighbor comes with him next week.”
Make sure to discuss the importance of inviting others before asking these questions or you will run the risk of not being understood or presumptuous.
I will provide more resources as the time goes on and I hope that this is not too much for you at this moment. Use what you can and know that I acknowledge the process of us buying into the same vision. It just takes time. These are basically “Battle’s small enough to win, but BIG enough to matter” which I think are doable at this point.
I just wanted to say thank you for making an environment for our students to be known, genuinely loved, and visibly cared for. I value our reaLife Groups more than you probably know. I personally feel that real Life change happens in the context of a smaller group.
Let me unpack my three desires for this environment.
1. KNOWN – It is literally impossible for me to know each and every name of our students but I feel very strongly that someone should. As our group grows (it’s kind of the idea – HA!) it will be imperative that we put leaders into place that will know the names of the students whom are connected to groups. Not that I don’t as if we should know the names of those only attending larger gatherings but we have no excuse not knowing them in a smaller setting.
2. Genuinely LOVED – The love that some of these students get from us might be the only positive thing that they have heard all week. We need to be sensitive to this but also mindful that some come from a very positive environment. I am not calling us to drop a “Love Bomb” on them because can be viewed as inappropriate and too needy on our part to have students respond to us. We can show students we love them in appropriate and very practical ways but being loved is tantamount to the effectiveness of our ministry to them and to the family as a whole.
3. Visibly CARED FOR – It is not enough to have an environment where we know and love kids because it is way too easy for us to say we love kids without visibly showing them that we care. While we want to show the families that we are partners with them in the spiritual development of their kids we do not want to usurp authority of influence away from the parents. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!! There are ways to visibly care for students that will go farther than you know. There was a student there on Wednesday this week that I just asked if he was going to be there without formally inviting him. He said he did not usually come and I left it at that. This proves my point because he showed up. There was not one clue that he gave me to insure that I had influenced him but we know that people vote with their feet. They are on to you when you are trying to show them that you care. Believe it or not you don’t have to try that hard! John Maxwell calls this “walking slowly through the crowd”. Take your time while speaking with students letting them know you are listening but don’t be so engaged that you border on the ‘creepy’. Just so you know I am not making reference to any one thing I saw this week but is good for us to know as policy.
For the past 13 years in youth ministry I always thought that every youth dept needed wrestling time. It was always a common occurrence for one of our counselors to be getting jumped on tackled and so on. I don’t do it as much now because most of them would embarrass me by taking me down! Let me explain this…
*Jr. High boys need appropriate touch from a caring adult so it comes naturally to them to want to wrestle with an adult they are comfortable around. This also bleeds into our programming for Middle School that we make sure to use all the senses. You can still do cheesy games, drama, and half way good music with the Jr. High because excellence is not quite a factor yet for this age group as it is more for those in High School.
*Sr. High Students are there for the sole reason of relationships. Most 9-12 graders go to the mall to see others and to be seen. Although it may seem shallow – the majority of our students come for the same reason. I am not saying this needs to be addressed and challenged but used to our benefit. This should not be viewed as being shallow on our part as leaders but wise because we are keying into their thought process. Wrestling, pushing, and too much jesting can embarrass older students whether they seem to be responding or not. Being a spiritual leader goes far beyond knowing how to connect on a personal level. Connecting on a personal level is VERY IMPORTANT but to the extent that we still hold the position of a “Spiritual Leader”.
With all that said I am excited to see that you guys were already off to a great start before we got here and I am honored to come on board with you all in this ministry!
I got this from a friend of mine and thought that I would pass it along.
5 Ways to Create a Healthy Small Group Environment
1. Be the first to arrive. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but arriving late can throw off the whole night. Being there before everyone else allows you to set the tone for the night and make sure everything is in place. If you are scrambling around, it can lead to a messy night.
2. Communicate with host home family. (I am putting this in just in case we decide to make some of our groups to meet off site.) Spend some time getting to know the home you’ll be staying in. Maybe visit them ahead of time and talk about expectations. Be sure to be completely filled in on the “house rules” about animals, furniture, food and drinks.
3. Make sure meeting area is set-up and ready to go each night. Look for distractions that need to be eliminated. Make sure the room is available, relatively clean with the lights on. Turn off the TV/iPod/Computer and think about placing a basket at the door for cell phones to minimize distractions. You can’t go wrong with plenty of places to sit, too.
4. Sit at same level with students. While as a leader you do control the night, keep the style of the night conversational by sitting with them and not above them. Make sure you keep the environment attentive and help students not to lay down and laying all over each other.
5. Put the meeting area back. If the host home family was gone, our goal is that when they return home they have a conversation wondering if you even met or not. Make sure the students completely reset the room and clean up trash, throw away food and put furniture back if it was moved.
Please let me know if you plan on attending our meeting this Sunday at 4:30 pm. If I don’t talk to you before then have a great weekend and God bless!