Shopping Trip

17 11 2011

Our youth went grocery shopping on Tuesday night to get ready for our Thanksgiving service project.  Among other things, we bought 79 cans of fruit, 15 bags of potatoes, 34 jars of peanut butter, 19 frozen pies, and 48 boxes of macaroni and cheese.  We filled up 5 grocery carts with enough food to feed nearly 80 people!

I can’t wait for Sunday night, when we get to deliver all this food all over the city!!!

Speak Truth in Love!

17 11 2011

This month, I’m encouraging our youth (and adults!) to stop gossipping, stop complaining, and stop talking negatively about other people.  Instead, we have challenged ourselves to speak truth in love, and be the salt and light of our schools and communities by refusing to participate in the drama that surrounds us.

On the first night of youth group this month, we evaluated ourselves based on the criteria given in 1 Corinthians 13, asking ourselves whether we really speak patiently, kindly, selflessly, etc. (Click here to download the evaluation worksheet we used).  And then at the end of the night, I texted them all the above image (which I got from Doulos Clothing) and asked them to set this picture as their phone’s background for the rest of the month, as a reminder of our commitment to speak truth in love.

So far….it seems to be working well.  Several youth who were not at the original meeting asked if I would send them the picture so they could participate.  And one of my youth yesterday said, “This is a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I didn’t realize how much I think negative thoughts and say negative things!”

MORF: Working with a Serial Killer

8 11 2011

MORF Magazine just did an interview with [Christian] screenwriter Scott Reynolds, who writes for the Showtime series Dexter.   He has a great perspective on what it means to live out your Christian faith in Hollywood:

“Colossians 3:17 says, “…whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…”  It’s about doing a good job. I have found that I can talk to people about God —even Jesus —because I try to excel at everything that I do, stay later than everybody else and work harder than most people. I have worked with a lot of Christians that are known as whiners and complainers, who say terrible things about people. It gives a bad name to Christianity…”

“In every job I’ve had — and I’ve had a lot — someone has said, “I can’t believe you are a Christian. If I were to become a Christian, I would want to be like you.” Is that good or bad? I don’t know. It’s a step closer, but it’s not so much in the writing. It’s more in the character that you build, the good that you do, that the difference is made. It’s in trying to be a real, authentic human being. It’s not trying to hide my scars and hide my darkness. He called us to be real live human beings.”

I feel really conflicted about the show Dexter; on the one hand, I think it’s one of the best shows (with some of the best writing) on television today, and on the other hand, it creeps me out to spend that much time thinking like a serial killer.  But I’m loving where the writers are going with the current season…there are definitely spiritual overtones, as Dexter explores his own darkness and light.  And the show gives us good examples of faithful people, and bad examples of faithful people….just like in real life.

And I’ll confess…part of the reason I keep watching the show is because I want it to explore the theme of redemption.  After every episode so far this season, I have told Jordan, “Oh, wouldn’t it be great if Dexter got to know Jesus?  And maybe he could give up killing!”  I know that makes me a huge dork, and the very idea defeats the purpose of the show…but I can still hope, right??

The Walking Dead: Youth Bible Study

8 11 2011

We just finished up a four-week, Halloween-themed Bible study with our youth, entitled “The Walking Dead.”  Each week, we looked at a different spooky story from the Bible:

Week 1. “Dry Bones” (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
Week 2. “Bewitched” (1 Samuel 28:3-25)
Week 3. “The Mummy” (John 11:1-44)
Week 4. “Coming Alive” (Matthew 27:45-54)

I’m attaching the lesson plans for you, in case you might ever want to use them.  They’re not anything polished…just my notes.  But, I had the hardest time finding good youth resources about the Witch of Endor, so I thought this might come in handy for someone else!

Download here: The Walking Dead Bible Study

Coca-Cola and Prayer: This Year’s FCA Devotional

2 11 2011

Every year, our church hosts a breakfast for the local FCA club.  And, for the second year in a row, I got to give the devotional.  I thought I’d share it here…enjoy!

Have you ever wondered if we have a tendency to treat God like a vending machine?  We come to him with quarters in hand, and we expect something very specific in return.

My drink of choice is either Coke Zero or Mountain Dew, depending on whether it’s a Coke machine or a Pepsi machine.  But sometimes when I go to the vending machine and put in my money, it flashes back the message, “Out of stock.”  And I have to decide whether I’m thirsty enough settle for a Sprite, or if I’m just going to ask for my money back.  Or even worse, I ask for Coke Zero and I get a Grape Fanta instead.  No offense to you Grape Fanta fans, but that’s disappointing!  And by then, I’m usually out of money, and I can’t even try again.

Of course, we do this with God, too.   Only, we’re not generally asking him for Mountain Dew…usually we’re asking for healing, or for guidance, or maybe to make a good grade on a test.  And when God doesn’t deliver exactly how we expect…when our prayers aren’t answered exactly the way we would like…we are disappointed.  We feel like the machine has failed us.

But God’s not a vending machine. He’s our Father in heaven, and he loves us deeply.  He wants us to have the best.  In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus asks, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will you give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how much we limit God by the way we pray.  Like before a meal, when we bless our food, we get into a rut of praying the same way every time, and it becomes routine. So much so that we forget God is actually listening.  Or when someone’s sick, we’re scared to ask God for what we really want, and so we pray for small things, manageable prayers, like that the doctors will do their job well, or that we would be comforted.  And don’t get me wrong, those are great things to pray for, and God does work in those ways.  But sometimes when we pray small, we never have to leave room for God to really work.
But how much more will our Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!  Maybe instead of the Coke we’re asking for, we’ll get a bouquet of flowers, or a 6-foot sub, instead.  Sometimes God’s blessings are immediately apparent, and we know right away that He has surpassed our wildest expectations.  But sometimes, we have to wait, and we think that our prayers have been ignored, or that God doesn’t care.  But if we could see the bigger picture, we would know that God is working in the midst of all circumstances, in the midst of every detail in our lives, and working it into something good, for his glory.

So today I challenge you guys to pray boldly, and to really leave room for God to work however He sees fit.  It’s a scary prayer, because it means we no longer are in control…but then again, we never were to begin with.

God of this City

2 11 2011

Love this song, and love this video created by students at a local high school.  As a youth worker, it’s a great inspiration to see juxtaposition of these “ordinary” images (as seen through a student’s eyes) with the lyrics “Greater things are yet to be done here….”