Hard Drive Crawl

This week we have a one off sort of break between series. We just finished our Gross, Weird, True thing and next week the 6th graders will be moving up into the group so we are doing our annual welcome party and explanation of the Catalyst name and our goals and such. After that we will be jumping into our summer theme.

But this week we had a hole to fill, so I went and looked back through some of older stuff searching for inspiration. I have been doing this youth ministry thing for about 13 years now (11 of them at this same church). That means that I have 4 years of stuff before even my seniors were in the youth group. As I was looking I was inspired. Sometimes I had to look a couple of times because I was sure that I didn’t write what I was seeing, and sometimes I would get a little later and see a note I had written to remind me that I actually got it from a book and hadn’t written it.

Anyway, so going back through my folders and folders of stuff I realized how safe I have been in worship lately. My group shifted two years ago into a very guy centered group of people so I sort of shifted what I was trying to do too. But now I see that I miss the worship that goes beyond just singing. So I plan on incorporating some of that this week. I will let you know how it goes.

Rewarding

When it comes right down to it teaching students is rewarding. It isn’t always rewarding to stand in front of them and tell them something, often you will get blank stares or distracted looks. But it is very rewarding to hear from a student who has been gone a while who calls to ask you a favor because you had made an impact. It is rewarding to be there for students when they are going through hard times and just be a pastor for them.

This job, this career, this calling is something that has lots of headaches, but the rewards far outweigh the hardships.

Being a Tank

Do you play WoW? If you don’t even know what those letters mean then this post may not work for you. I sort of pride myself in being able to explain things to people who aren’t interested in them, but honestly this may even be beyond my level of expertise, but I do have something sort of spiritual to tag onto the end so if you want to stick around you may get a short devotional thought for your effort. If you don’t I will understand.

The game World of Warcraft is wildly popular. That is really an understatement. Ten Million people pay $15 a month for the right to play this game with their friends. If you don’t play it is hard to describe what it is all about. There is a fantasy styled world with lots of computer controlled people, shops, cities, monsters, and dungeons all set up and waiting for you to interact with them. In addition to that there are hundreds of people just like you controlling 3D models of dwarves, elves, humans, orcs, and a variety of other races who are all running around in this world as well. As player you interact with other players and with the computerized world.

While you can play this game alone it is meant to be played with other people. The game really shines when you start finding other people to play with. There are lots of people who have dedicated nights when they log on to meet up with a group of friends (their “raiding party”) and play through content in the game.

To succeed in this social environment part of the game everyone has a role to play and they must play that role or the group will fail. Some people are there just to inflict damage on whatever enemies you face. Others are there to heal the rest of the group and some of the people are there to be the tank.

I recently started being a tank and I have to say that I love it. Now don’t start thinking about a real tank. This is still a fantasy world we are talking about. The tank has one major job. He wades out into the thick of the enemies and basically picks a fight with them. Then he has to stand his ground long enough for the rest of the people to kill the enemies. His job isn’t to inflict the most damage. His job is basically to keep the people from attacking the other people in his group. He even has special gear that makes enemies want to attack him more.

Now I like being the tank for two reasons 1) because I don’t do well hanging back in games and 2) because I feel like it is sort of noble in a weird video game sort of way. There isn’t much glory in being the tank, but the rest of the group can’t survive without you.

Now to the spiritual point. I think sometimes as pastors we are called to be the tank for people in our church. As a “professional” I feel like it is my job to do whatever I can to help the people who volunteer to succeed. If this means that sometimes I need to step in front of a cruel word and take the blame for something that may not have been my fault so be it. I am the tank.

Of course to do this you have to have the right sort of gear. It is important to be able to stand up and take criticism and that is never easy to do, but if we are willing to do that for others then we can sometimes turn the tide of a difficult situation long enough for a peaceful resolution.

Passionate Prayer Journal

This week I had a feeling that our group needed to have a special time of prayer. In the end only 4 people showed up, but I don’t think that made the event any less important. It was good for me if nothing else.

I didn’t want to go with the whole stations thing, but at the same time I have some students who will not do well with “pray for an hour” as instructions so I tried to come up with some middle ground. I made a booklet that I called the Passionate Prayer Journal. You can check out all of the text bellow and if you want you can check out the pdf of the journal. (The cover art comes from the gallery over at creativemyk)

Passionate Prayer Screen View Version

Passionate Prayer Print Versions
(print these front to back and then fold pages together and staple them in the middle to make a booklet.)

 

Here is the Text of the Journals

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

­—James 5:16

Tonight is about prayer. It is about an intimate retreat between you and God. Don’t get caught up in the stuff in this journal or what other people are doing. Don’t worry about what you may look like or whether or not you are doing things wrong. Spend the next hour focusing on God and spending time with Him through prayer.

If you would like some guidance to your prayer time this journal is for you. It will lead you to worship God, to pray about your own life, and to pray for your friends. There is no right or wrong way to use this journal. It was designed to take each prayer activity in turn, but feel free to pray as God inspires you to pray.

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The Holiness of God

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

—1 Chronicles 16:29

God is Holy. He is set apart and different from us. He is worthy of all of our praise and more. Prayer must begin with an acknowledgement that God is greater that we are. Prayer must begin with us setting aside our desires to be in control of our lives and accepting that God is bigger and more able than we are.

Take a moment and read through the following scriptures about the greatness of God. When you have finished write your own prayer of praise to God. Write who you know God to be as and specific things that God has done for you. Think about a friend who may not know about God and write everything you think that friend should know about Him.

 

You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

—Nehemiah 9:6

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

—Psalm 62:8

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

—Psalm 29:2

“There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—

—1 Samuel 2:2

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

—1 John 1:5

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

—Zephaniah 3:17

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

—1 John 4:16

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

—Psalm 46:1-3

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Picture Prayers

Think of your friends who don’t know God personally. Then think about friends that might have a need for God’s presence right now. Around the outside of the box write the names of those people.

Inside the box draw pictures of why God is worth following for you and for your friends. You may want to draw specific things that your friends may need from God. If you draw these things draw a line that connects the drawing and the name. Pray for your friends as you draw.

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Found Prayers

We can use the prayers of others as a guide for our own prayers. Read through the following prayers slowly. Then go back and say them as your own prayer.

Once you are finished, write a personal prayer to God. Ask God to make you passionate for the lost of our community. Ask God to give you a strong desire to tell your friends about Him.

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;

that where there is hatred, I may bring love;

that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;

that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;

that where there is error, I may bring truth;

that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;

that where there is despair, I may bring hope;

that where there are shadows, I may bring light;

that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;

to understand, than to be understood;

to love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.

It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.

It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

—St. Francis of Assisi

Dear Jesus,

Help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go, flood our souls with your Spirit and life.Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of yours.Shine through us and be so in us that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul.Let them look up and see no longer us but only Jesus.Stay with us and then we shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be light to others.The light, O Jesus, will be all from you.None of it will be ours.It will be your shining on others through us.Let us thus praise you in the way you love best by shining on those around us.

—Daily Prayer of Mother Teresa

Lord, take me where You want me to go;

Let me meet who You want me to meet;

Tell me what You want me to say; and

Keep me out of your way.

—Father Mychal Judge – FDNY – died 9/11/01

You are holy, wonderful, majestic God.

You are the one true God of the universe.

You are holy, and righteous, and altogether worthy.

You are God.

You are all that need and all that I could ever want.

You are satisfaction and hunger

You are righteousness and mercy

You are holiness and grace

You alone are worthy of praise.

Father, I want to praise you more.

I want to worship you more.

Lord, I want to see your face

and know you more.

—Shane

 

Disturb us, Lord, when

We are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true

Because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely

Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when

With the abundance of things we possess

We have lost our thirst

For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity

And in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision

Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

To venture on wider seas

Where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back

The horizons of our hopes;

And to push into the future

In strength, courage, hope, and love.

—sir francis drake -1577

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Image of God

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship

—Romans 12:1

When people who don’t know Jesus look for Him they look at you. You are the picture of God that most of your friends see. What sort of picture are you presenting to them? How are you representing Christ?

Take some time and pray asking for the courage to take an honest look at your life. Think about the things in your life that are distracting others from God. Then write or draw those things on the outline of Jesus.

When you are finished, pray and ask God to forgive you.

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Pray for Our Group

Kneel and pray for our group. You can come to the altar if you want. Pray that God will use us to minister to this community. Let God break your heart as you think about the people that we should be reaching who are still desperate to know about God.

Here are some things you can pray for:

Unity

A commitment to community

A passion for God and for worship

A deep desire to tell other people about Jesus

The integrity of the leaders and members of this group

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Your Prayers, Their Shield

I don’t understand everything about prayer, but I do know that God has commanded us to pray for each other. Most of us pray for our friends when they are in trouble, but we should be praying much more than that. We should be praying for their integrity, praying that God will use them, praying that God will protect them from bad choices. In short, we should think of our prayers as their shield.

Use the outline of the shield to journal a prayer for your friends. If they don’t know Jesus pray for the privilege to talk to them about following Him.

 

 

 


Let’s Get Cheesy

While some of my students are really into our story series there are others who are getting a little tired of it. You can just see it in their eyes. So I tried to come up with a way to spice up the story this week. I thought it would be funny to add a bunch of pictures as I told the story, but I couldn’t figure out how to cue my tech person on when to fire them. So instead I just recorded a video of me telling the story and stuck the pictures in.

It isn’t perfect, in fact it is pretty rough, but it worked. The spirit of the lesson improved greatly and more students seemed to be involved in the story and the discussion. Anyway, I thought it would be funny to stick it here for you to see.