Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We're Moving!

I'm condensing down all of my Google stuff under one address, and so I've moved this blog as part of that. For the three of you who read this (thanks mom for being faithful) you can find it pretty easy. Same name, address is almost identical. its Thanks.

Silver Birch Ranch

too long.
could it be?

Age Isn't All Bad

Last night, I had the opportunity to help out a couple of our middle school boys. It didn't look or feel like that is what happened, but I know it is. We have a couple of guys in 6th grade who want to be cool. I don't know these guys well, they are in the group lead by Mike, our other youth pastor. But I know them well enough. They are scared, hurt, and uncertain little guys, afraid of life. They choose to deal with it by being "tough", at least as tough as you can be when you're 12, 5'4", and 83 pounds. They roll in with attitudes that would make an NBA player proud. But they're broken.

They push everyone away. They argue with you, no matter what you say. They have no problem arguing both sides of a discussion, at the same time, and telling you how wrong you are. Needless to say, they can get under your skin.

We've loved on them all year. We've tried to help them. We've taken about 30 different steps to show them a positive way, a healthy way to act. They don't care. So, last night, they laid out their attitudes, and we sent them home early.

Man, the threats out of those two little mouths. The accusations. The feigned hurt. They are impressive, I have to admit.

Here is where my age is an asset. None of that matters. I know that if I don't speak truth and hold a line which requires respect, they will never get Jesus. They just won't. I 'm not mean to them at all. I won't argue with them. But I'm calling them to step up to a base level. I used to think if I did this, I'd lose them forever. Then I went through a long phase of "I'll sacrifice a few for the good of the whole" idea. But now, now I know better. I know that God works beyond and outside of my ministry. I've seen it. Over and over, firsthand. Emails and letters from former students, now in their 20's and 30's, telling me how 10 years after they left our group for the last time, God has gotten hold of them. They tell of His grace and forgiveness, and the power to change.

It's not that I think discipline and being "firm" changed them. I just believe in God. In His relentless love AND power. It is His to work in someones life. It is just mine to be faithful.

So, I don't know if my latest pair of tough guys will be back. If they are, they'll have to agree to live in community at a base level. If they don't come back, I know that God has wonderful plans for them, and that this is all part of His plan.

Age isn't all bad.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Couple of Recommendations

Okay, I have a couple of sermons that I think everyone ought to listen to. It's a guy named Steev Inge from Mystery Church in Joplin, MO. You can get them from iTunes, or from the church's website. I recommend the Life Lived Before the Throne messages, and the One Thing message. If you listen to them, drop me a line and give me your thoughts. They are all working on me hard right now.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Oops, I Did it Again...

I don't like Brittany's song (publicly), but it fits right now. It's one of those times where I made a mistake, thought I could fix it, and now it's worse than ever. I set up a youth trip, didn't think through the dates well enough, and now, I have to cancel it. No big deal, except I've got my whole leadership team on board with the trip, promoted it to parents, posted the dates, and set the whole thing up. Now it's gotta change. I have to admit I'm wrong, ask for a lot of forgiveness, and move forward.

I do not like it when this kind of stuff happens because of my stupidity. I really don't. I like it when someone else does it, and I can be gracious about it. I like it when I plan so well, that I gain tons of trust from everyone around me. But I don't like it when I blow it.

Something I notice though. I am much more penitent and sad about disappointing the people around me, than I am when I disappoint God. If I sin and blow it, I ask for forgiveness. But I don't stress it the way I stress situations like this. Why is that? Why is God's opinion of me so much easier to blow off? I think I assume too much about God's grace. I know He forgives me, He already has. I know He will never leave me. I don't need to earn His love. But I don't take seriously enough my need to live in such a way to make Him proud of me. I don't own the Job factor, where He lived in such a way that Satan couldn't take it anymore. I can't imagine Satan needing to go to heaven and complain to God about me because of how I live. If he did, I can't imagine God trusting me enough to let Satan loose in my life like that.

So, I want to spend more time focusing on what God sees in me, and what He knows about me, and what He feels about me. I want God to be proud of me. I want to be more concerned about what He thinks of me when I mess up, and when I obey.

Just some random stuff rattling around inside of me. What about you?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's Finally Back!

On my micro iPod screen, today I found happiness. The Relevant Podcast is back after three months of desert dryness! I'm so happy it's back! I just miss Lloyd.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cheap Grace is No Grace

I continue to work through these questions about salvation and what I/we are calling our students to. Last night, I met with our senior high leadership team, and we spent some time discussing who we are calling our kids to follow. I've got a growing uneasiness that we may have made Jesus more buddy, or uber-patient father, than we have Lord. I'm still not sure, but it won't go away. The more I pray about it and think about it, the stronger the feeling gets. I can't believe I would have ever fallen into the cheap grace side of things, but I think I have. I've felt this way for well over a year, but it's really coming to a head now.

I mean, we still teach Christ and Him crucified. But I think I may have painted a picture of Jesus that is not strong enough. It seems that our kids hold onto Jesus for as long as He "works", then when something "better" comes along, they bail. Usually it is sex somewhere in the system that ruins them.

I don't think more teaching on sex and abstinence is the answer though. I really think we need, I need, to present a much clearer, stronger picture of Jesus as King, Lord, Redeemer, Lover, and Creator. Sigh...

God, please give me the truth and direction I need to speak to these kids.

Pray for me, for us, in this.