What about the 99?

What about the 99?

What I am having trouble with right now is how do you neglect the 99 while you go and look for the 1. What about the 99 who also need to be fed and protected and watched? 

I know that Jesus teaches that it is important to leave the 99 and go looking for the 1 lost sheep. I get that we need to remember not to just minister to our own flock, but we must break free and go and searching for those who are on the outside, those who are not like us,

Do I just cater everything in our lesson to these disruptive students or do I expect them to toe the line or leave? I am sure that the balance is somewhere in the middle, but right now I am having a hard time finding it. 

So right now in our ministry there are some kids who are coming that are being super disruptive. With how little the pay attention you would question why they are even there, except that I can tell that they are desperate for positive adult interaction and they really need a place to belong, even though they show this by acting out and making the lessons unbearable for everyone. 

So what I am trying to figure out is where is the line between reaching these kids who are desperate for the gospel and love, but who make it impossible for everyone else in the room to learn and those people who are there to learn and worship? 

Back to Camp

Back to Camp

Summer is such an interesting time when it comes to being in ministry. On the one hand it is amazing. You get to spend days and days with students learning about their lives, building relationships, teaching about Jesus. On the other hand it is an exhausting slog that sucks at your soul and makes you surly.
Case in point: Tomorrow we are heading to children’s camp. We will come home from that on Friday and then the next Monday head out to Holiday World with the youth followed by the Sunday after that for our VBS kickoff. It is a crazy, crazy month and I am tired just looking at it.
With all that said, it is a fun time, just lots of things that have to be happening in my brain all at once. While I am at an event I am already looking forward to the next thing. On top of that the Sunday and Wednesday nights don’t stop so I am still teaching kids, still writing lessons, and still trying to get all of the other church stuff done I normally do.
Like I said, it hasn’t even started yet and I am already tired.

But once this little bit of crazy happens I think I am going to write a new complete series for Nailscars.com. So here are my options. Let me know in the comments which you would rather see.
Kim Possible (4 lessons from the old cartoon)
Finding Purpose (4 Lessons based on the old Phineas and Ferb cartoons)
Come Alive (4 Bible lessons from The Greatest Showman)
Beauty: Who you are as a Child of God (5 lessons from Disney Princess movies)

Talking to Students about the News

Talking to Students about the News

I have discovered that I need to continually remind myself to not talk to students about what is happening on the news. Not that I never want to talk about them, but I don’t want to over talk about it.

You see in a world of twitter and facebook where it feels like everyone is just shouting past everyone else it is a pretty heady thing to have a captive audience who wants to listen to you and wants to give believe what you say. So it is so easy to talk about what you have been trying to get traction with on twitter all week.

But I keep reminding myself that this is not my mission. This is not my goal. My goal is to tell them about Jesus and learn more about Him. True, sometimes that means that I talk about thinks that are in the news, but most of the time that means just keeping my mouth shut.

This is Scary (Religious Freedom is in Trouble)

This is Scary (Religious Freedom is in Trouble)

One of the most troubling things about religious liberty that I have seen lately is this story coming out of France

David Lisnard [the mayor of Cannes, France] recently issued a decree about what people ought to wear on the beach. His target: the burkini, a head-to-foot swimming costume popular among a small, devout population of Muslim women. This costume, Mr Lisnard declared, “ostentatiously displays religious affiliation”, could “disrupt public order”, and might even, in the words of one official, demonstrate “an allegiance to terrorist movements”. (Juliet Samuel) 

Apparently the full body bathing suits are banned on the beach. That is a problem for many reasons. Probably the main reason is that it is regulating practice of religion for something that isn’t hurting anyone and that isn’t disturbing society. So because the government thinks that the practice is wrong it becomes illegal, no matter what the women wearing the “burkinis” believe. 

Now in America we have a different assumption of religious freedom than France has, and that country can choose to do what it likes about its laws and freedoms. What scared me the most about this story was the people who I found sharing it on Facebook were Christians who were agreeing with the ban. These Christians were so excited that someone was taking down Islam in some way that they didn’t stop to think about the implications of such a ban. 

If we allow one persons liberties to be infringed it won’t be long before our liberties are infringed. If this sort of law became the norm in the United States then what would stop there being a law against Holiness families from making their daughters wear skirts or from Christian families to ask their daughters to wear a one piece bathing suit for that matter. 

Because I believe in my own religious liberty, and because I want the right to practice my religion as I see fit I will fight for the right for everyone else to do the same. I believe we must stand up for the rights of people who believe the exact opposite of us, not because we affirm their beliefs, but because we affirm their right to believe them, and because we want to have the same rights and considerations given to us. 

I feel that it will be a law like this one, some law that Christians get excited about such as a law outlawing sharia law that will be then turned around and used against Christians to be worshiping God illegal. We must fight these fights now, so that we will be protected later. 

The Politics of Hate, Fear, and Exclusion-ism

The Politics of Hate, Fear, and Exclusion-ism

Ok, with a headline like that you know that I am not going to be wading in to the topic of politics softly. Like most people I have been watching the meteoric rise and fall of presidential candidates lately with something of a shocked expression. Candidates who seemed to be destined to be elected are no longer heard of and those thought of as a joke are now in the lead. This idea has been bubbling up in my head for a while now, but I had to finally spend a moment and write it down.

If 40% of Republicans are for Donald Trump then our country has a very, very big problem.

I think what makes me saddest about this whole election cycle is the people who say “Trump is just saying what other people are thinking.” Can that really be true? Can 40% of republicans really think that we need to keep out all Muslim people? I understand that it sounds good in a sound bite, but can 40% of republicans really think that calling immigrants (illegal or not) thieves and rapists is a good way to reach them with the truth of the gospel? Because remember, Christians, our ultimate goal is not to “make America great again.” Our ultimate goal is the ministry of reconciliation that is given to us. Our goal is to introduce people to Jesus and how can we do that if we are constantly living in fear of the very same people that we should be trying to reach?

Listen, the problem isn’t that Trump may one day be president. On a daily life scale the persons elected in my state and home town have a bigger influence on my life than the president. On top of that the checks and balances of our country when they are working correctly keep things from running too far in any weird direction.

The problem is that what Trump represents and what sort of fear and pain he is tapping into to gain support. People are afraid. They are afraid of loss of jobs. They are afraid of terrorists. They are afraid of a country in which their values are no longer the dominate values. I understand this. These are fears that I share.

BUT

But we cannot violate those same values just because we are afraid.

I think it is telling that The Walking Dead is such a popular TV show. Ultimately it isn’t popular because of the zombies. What makes that show compelling is people in desperate times struggling to survive while they try to carve out some new sense of morality. People who are following Trump have that feel to me. They are afraid and want their way of life to survive so they are trying to create a morality that can support someone who promises to help.

But, Christians, Americans, please, we cannot go down this path. Down the path of hate is destruction. Christians we cannot fight our way out of this crisis we are in. We cannot push others down or grasp for power. The only way that we can ever get off of this path is to pray and live like Jesus. That is what our country needs, not walls or bigotry, but honest prayer and lives that point people to a savior.

 

One a side note:

Of all of the Trump ideas the one that scares me the most is the banning of Muslims. The reason it scares me is that it won’t be very long before someone new comes to power, someone who doesn’t like Christians very much, and if Christians don’t wake up and start living like Jesus more than living like combatants, that same person could start deporting Christians or limiting the freedoms of Christians and use rules put in place by Trump to do it.

I believe that religious freedom is the most important freedom for all peoples. If you are scared, declare war on a country and ban people from that country, but banning Muslims is banning people who what they believe. Once we start legislating people’s beliefs we are on a quick slope towards all beliefs being banned.