I Want Them All

I Want Them All

Luke 14:23 (NIV)

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.

An evangelist who came to our church when I was a youth would read this verse before he sent us out in cars to bring people to church. He would add a little to the end each time he would say “till my house is full and sloshing over.” It was a long time before I realized that wasn’t part of the actual verse, but the idea has stuck with me.

We are getting ready for Youth VBS. It starts on Sunday and runs through Thursday and it is a whirlwind of activity, singing, and Bible study. There are always a smattering of new people involved and every now and again someone shows up who hasn’t been around before and sticks around for the long haul.

This year I am praying for that and more. I don’t normally put my prayers out into the world. I don’t want to have to explain God if He doesn’t answer, but today I am praying for all of them. I am praying for every last student in our community who is lost. There are a whole bunch of them. If we bring in just a small portion of the people that don’t have a church home we will have to go outside and have our lesson, but I am still praying for all of them. I want the gospel to be presented to lost people. I believe that the gospel, the promise of Jesus, the love of God for us, all of us, is what people need to thrive in this world and to be with God in eternity, so why should I pray for anything less.

Lord, I want all of them.

That is my prayer today, so I am going to head out and get our portable sound system ready so we can move outside if we need to.

SHINE

SHINE

The power was out at my house for about 16 hours earlier this week. Sitting there in the dark I started think about how much being in the dark makes everything different. Sitting in the dark makes everything different. Probably the biggest thing for me is how much even small lights can make a room livable. You can go from so dark that you can’t see anything and are bumping your head on things to a room that is navigable with just the smallest amount of light.

We are supposed to be the light, we are supposed to glow where the light meets the dark. The problem is that we spend all of our time in the light and we forget that we are actually able to glow and light up dark places. We think that the light we have is not that big of a deal because we hang out with other lights all of the time, but we forget that there is a whole world of darkness out there that desperately needs the light of Jesus and we are hording it to ourselves.

-You are the light

-There are lots of lights

-Not out there there aren’t. Out there there is only darkness

-But then how will I see where I am going

-You are the light

-But I am only a small one

-Not out there you aren’t. Out there any light will drive back the darkness,

-Really?…I’ve lived in the light so long I have forgotten the dark

-That is why you must go. Here, that light is small,but out there the light you have will grow and grow and grow until it drives away yet another domain of darkness.

-What happens then?

-Then you will stand beside a youngling who feels like she has no light and tell her to go out and SHINE and one by one, person by person, we will push back against the darkness with the true light of the world.

Doing the Work Again

Doing the Work Again

So about a month ago I got a new computer and I had so much fun getting it up and running with all of my programs. There is something cool about having a new clean computer that you can add things to. It is an easy way to clean out things you don’t need and you it is almost therapeutic to organize all of the windows and menus just the way that you like them.

But when that same computer had a fatal crash yesterday and I had to reinstall windows I didn’t enjoy myself anywhere near as much. The work was the same, the steps the same, but something about the fact that I had already done it before made me not want to do it again. There is something fun about new work and something terrible about repeat work.

I think that is why sometimes it is hard being a youth pastor because it seems like you are continually doing the same work over and over again. For one things the work never stops. There will always be another Wednesday, another Sunday, another event, another party, camp, retreat, whatever. Add to that the constant turnover of students, who spend just a moment in your group and then graduate to other areas of ministry and it seems like every so often we are starting over again from scratch and have to go back and do all of the same things again.

I think that is one of the reasons why it so easy to get burned out as a youth pastor, or any pastor really because it seems like we are just tilling the same soil over and over again.

This is the part of one of these posts where I should say something that is uplifting and that will help you to deal when you walk through these times, but honestly, I have spent the day installing programs and setting preferences that I just set a few weeks ago and I am tired of doing the same work again and again.

 

Photo by Rayi Christian Wicaksono on Unsplash

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!

Standing in Darkness Seeing the Light

Standing in Darkness Seeing the Light

There is a “rails to trails” bike trail called Tunnel Hill Trail. It gets it name from a tunnel that runs through a bit of a hill along the trail. Once trains ran through the tunnel, but now it is a trail for bikes and hikers and such. As you can see from the picture above it doesn’t really look like much of a tunnel. 

The first time my wife and I went to ride through it we were both scoffing at it as we approached. We could see the light at the other end, so really how hard could it be. We had brought flashlights because we had read that it was dark on the inside, but looking at this tunnel and seeing the light at the end we couldn’t imagine we would need them. 

Then we started riding through the tunnel. 

There is a place in the middle where you can’t see where you are going. Well, let me rephrase that. You can see where you are going, and you can see where you came from, but you can’t see where you are. When you look back you can see the entrance when you look forward you see the light at the exit, but when you look down at front of you it is too dark to see the ground. 

Now, maybe if there wasn’t light at the front and the back your eyes could adjust and you could see more, but riding through the tunnel you hit this spot where suddenly you are in darkness. Let me tell you it is takes courage to keep riding when you can’t see what is in front of you. 

When I went through the tunnel yesterday with my boys I kept thinking about that small bit of darkness, where you can see in front of you and behind you, but you can’t really figure out where you are right then. 

I think I have found myself in those places in life before. I know I have found those places in ministry, where I knew there was hope coming, but right at that moment all I could see around me was darkness and uncertainty. You may have hit places like this too, you have lost your job, gotten sick, been dismissed or disrespected; you have chased after sin thinking it would just be for a moment and found yourself trapped by it. You have stepped away from God just to catch a glimpse of something shiny and now you feel like you can’t find your way back to him again. 

Whatever it is you find yourself standing in darkness. 

I know that I have felt this way more times than I want to admit, but here is what I had discovered. When you find yourself standing in darkness you have 2 choices. 1) Stay were you are and hope things get better or 2) start walking towards the light. 

It takes courage to start walking towards the light. There are lots of hidden dangers in the dark. There may be pain as you walk because you may have gotten way off the path, but you need to keep walking towards the light. Don’t stay in the darkness, don’t stay trapped by your pain, your guilt, or your insecurities. Walk to the light. 

God is the light and you can seek him out. Stop doing the things that keep you trapped in darkness and turn your eyes to Him. I have found when I set my eyes towards the light and start walking the darkness is just a moment and within just a few steps I am standing in His light again.