Why I do what I do

Why I do what I do

As I sit here in my office I am about 30 minutes away from Marshal County High school. This morning there was a shooting there. A student of the school showed up with a gun and shot at his classmates killing 2 and injuring several others. In the past 6 months there have been several other shootings at schools including on in Italy, TX that happened yesterday, that I hadn’t even heard about until today.

Right now it is 2:02 and I, like so many other parents, am counting the minutes until school gets out so I can see my kids and give them a big hug simply because I still can. As I sit here one thought keeps coming into my head.

“This is why I do what I do.”

There are lots of reasons why I am a youth pastor. It is where my skills have lead me. It is a whole lot of fun. It’s easier than being a pastor. It is amazing to see students worshiping God, especially those doing it for the first time. But when it all comes down to it the reason I do what I do is because of days like today, because we are living in a messed up broken and dark world and there are millions of teenagers who need to see the hope Jesus offers and for some God only knows reason He has sent me to take the light to them.

This is why I do what I do.

I do it because I walked through dark times, through bullies, and parents dying, and my own stupid mistakes, and I know how dark life can feel at times. I do it because in all of those times I always knew that I had hope because I always knew that God was with me. I do it because while I always knew those things I also know that there are so many kids right now who don’t have Jesus walking with them, they don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, they don’t see the hope that God brings. I do what I do because these students need to know that while this world is broken and messed up ultimately this is not all there is. There is a God who loves and cares for them, and ultimately this broken world is not our home.

As I have gotten a chance this past year to spend some time in the middle school I have found students who are desperate for someone to see them, to care about them, to speak good things into their lives. My heart breaks each time I walk out of the building because I know that there are so many more of them than I could ever help. But the reason I do what I do is because God has put in me a deep desire to see teenagers find Jesus, to find hope, to find real life that only God can provide.

On a day like today I am reminded again.

This is why I do what I do.

God becomes Flesh and Dwells Among Us

God becomes Flesh and Dwells Among Us

I heard something really neat yesterday in church. The pastor said that we don’t come to celebrate Christmas because Jesus is born (as in he just came into being). We celebrate Jesus because the God who always was becomes incarnate. God becomes man and that is well worth celebrating.

As we come together at Christmas we remember that God becomes like us so that we can know him and so that he can provide the way for us to connect with God through the cross. Let’s celebrate the incarnation today!

A Slow Steady Process

A Slow Steady Process

It is always amazing to look at a canyon or a river bed and see how water running over time can even shape stone. A steady persistent drip of water can do more to reshape rock than a fast short torrent.

I am trying to remember this truth also applies to youth ministry.

Lately I have been working with a group of middle school students in an after school program. I am trying to use board games as a way to open up conversations with them and it is working, well sort of. What I think is working more than the games is the fact that I am there week after week. As I have been just simply hanging out with them I have been able to be there in the middle of all of the crazy stuff in their life. It has been a great reminder of how important it is just to be present with students.

As a youth pastor I have a tendency to get wrapped up in the lessons and the activities and all of the stuff that goes into just keeping thing going from week to week. What doing this group has reminded me that youth (especially the younger ones) are looking for adults to give be present in their lives. They need caring adults who are willing to listen and willing to speak truth to them. As youth pastors that is what we called to do as much as anything else. We are called to be present in the lives of students.

It doesn’t always produce immediate results, but it is a slow steady progress that can soften even the hardest heart of stone.

Eternal Lives Matter

Eternal Lives Matter

In the middle of this crazy political world I want to challenge you with these words. Eternal Lives Matter. If you are a Christian what should matter to you most is not who wins an argument or who is president or what laws are being passed or who is calling who what names. What should matter to you most is the fact that after this life there is an eternity and what matters most is telling people how they can have eternal life with Jesus. In Corinthians Paul says this:

Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law —to win those under the law. 21 To those who are without that law, like one without the law—not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law—to win those without the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. 23 Now I do all this because of the gospel, so I may become a partner in its benefits.

1 Cornithians 9:19-23

Paul became all things to all people so that by any possible means he might win some. Paul was willing to do whatever it took to tell people about Jesus.

As we walk through our online life it is important to remember that eternal lives matter. That the people who are sitting around you today are people who need to know Jesus and you are sitting where you are because God has a plan for you to share Jesus with them.

Romans 13 says that the night is nearly over and that the day (or Jesus’ return) is coming soon.

For you this means that the night is nearly over and you are going to see Jesus, but for your friends who don’t know him they night is nearly over and then judgement is coming.
So as you live your day today remember that eternal lives matter and so ask yourself if they actions you are doing and the choices you are making are pushing people away from God or drawing them closer to him.

Endurance for Unity

Endurance for Unity

Romans 15:1–6 (HCSB)

15 Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. 2 Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For even the Messiah did not please Himself. On the contrary, as it is written, The insults of those who insult You have fallen on Me. 4 For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures. 5 Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, 6 so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.

The God who gives endurance. Why do you need endurance? Because things are going to be rough as you try hard to not cause your brother to stumble. Paul says that each of us should be about pleasing our neighbor, but he knew that not everyone would do this so he prays that God would give endurance to those who try.

Unity isn’t easy. When we become Christians we don’t suddenly want to like everyone. We still want to have our way, to have our voice heard. We still want to be most important. Unity is work, hard work, so Paul prays for endurance.

As you are going through you day today remember that thousands of years ago Paul was praying for endurance for Christians and take comfort in that prayer. Also, maybe make that prayer part of your regular prayer for your group that God will give them the endurance to strive for unity.

 

 

 

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