Those who know Ryan Feltman, know just how much of an open book he is. Few, including Ryan ever thought his life would ever get printed into a real book.  It’s within these pages that Ryan lays it out for all to see.

Throughout his life, Ryan never really had it together and still is far from perfect, but maybe that’s why his story is receiving much attention.  Ryan shares stories of failure, of struggles and God’s great grace in the midst of it all.  From fighting through depression, to relationships that failed, and the one that has flourished when others never gave it much hope.

Its this relationship that has given Ryan a platform to reach others in a similar situation. Ryan, a Youth Ministry veteran, suffered a moral failure at an early age, one that led to the pregnancy of a young woman in the community he was serving in. Through the struggle of what life would bring, what path to take, and the fear of how God would use them now, Ryan discovers a grace that he was familiar teaching, but a grace that few rarely fully experience.  Its this grace and hope that Ryan speaks, and through these pages that Ryan not only tells his story, but also where he hopes others will find grace, redemption, and a way to protect others from similar temptations.

Came across this post over at Carlos Whittaker’s page (ragamuffinsoul.com).  Great teaching from Nelson Mandela.  Here’s a few Carlos put:

No. 1
Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it

No. 4
Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport

No. 5
Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer

No. 7
Nothing is black or white

 

Read more HERE!

a lack or lapse of integrity

Posted: July 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

…this is something that I’ve had to face in the last couple of months, and honestly something that I’m still dealing with today.

It was a Monday night, the next morning my oldest son and I would be leaving for a camping trip in the Blackhills.  The only thing between me and that trip, was a final paper that needed to be turned in within the next hour.  The majority of the paper was coming together, but somehow I felt the nudging to do more.   I could have simply submitted what I had, called it good, took whatever grade even a failing grade and still would have passed the class for the semester.  I did something that changed a lot.  I googled.  I found a few lines, from a few different articles, and placed them within my paper.  I didn’t cite them, I didn’t give credit where credit was due.  I submit my paper.

That Friday afternoon I received an email from the professor.  The opening line read:

Ryan, in grading your final exam I found multiple instances of plagiarism.

Immediately I knew the trouble I was in, and I knew in part what this was going to cost me.

My immediate response was to pick up my phone, call the seminary, and get on the phone with my professor.  As soon as he picked up, I simply apologized for what I did, I told him I didn’t have an excuse for what I did, and then I just sat.  His words were very clear, definitely not sugar-coated, and begin to reveal more of the trouble I would be facing.  He stated that the situation had been turned over to the dean of students, and that he would be contacting me as well.

The next phone call I made was to my denominational mentor.  I don’t know why I called him, but I did.  The conversation was similar. I messed up, not excuse for doing so, and then silence.  What came next was something that begin a huge spiral of what seems to me even today, chaos.  He instructed me to keep that Thursday afternoon open, and that I would need to come to a meeting with the rest of a discipleship committee that would determine my consequences.

The next few days were filled with other conversations, other struggles of my own that were rattling around in my own head.  I talked with my elders in my church to inform them, I talked with others that I felt could help me brace myself for what was to come.  I prepared myself for the worst, and on that Thursday faced it.

I met with the Discipleship committee for my denomination, the “verdict” was handed down that I would be suspended for a year from the denomination (meaning no financial assistance and such).  And then it happened…the word Integrity got brought up. It was difficult for me to swallow, and I would assume that for anyone, whenever that is brought into question, is difficult to deal with when it’s being questioned.

I sat there stunned.  A group of my peers, people who I met with once a year, were questioning my integrity based on what I did.

The following Sunday I gathered with the Elders and Deacons of my church.  As I began to explain to them the situation I found myself in. The word got brought up again. One of my Deacons, simply brought it up saying that in the corporate world, this would easily be something that might make them question someones integrity. “But we know you”, he said.

Those words were like a breath of fresh air.  They knew me.  It’s not that because of what I had done, it somehow changed who I was to them.  No, it was that they knew me, they knew my track record in the church, they knew me because I had walked alongside them for the last 4+ years, that they could simply sit there and say, “we know you. We don’t question if you lack integrity, it’s that you had a moment of weakness and there was a lapse of integrity.”

The last few months have been a rollercoaster.  I stood before my congregation on Father’s Day and explained to them what I did, not in a “look at me, look at me” kind of way. But in a “I messed up, I’m taking responsibility, and I’m trying to move forward.” I’ve had to explain to my oldest son what I’ve done, and the steps I’m taking to own up to it.

I’m not perfect, I hope I never claim to be.  There are things we do, and there’s always a lesson to be learned.  Some of our mistakes can be costly (money, character, or other) but the importance is how we move forward (with our Integrity intact).

START

Posted: July 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

…so a few weeks ago, I get this random email from an author, speaker, and straight out crazy Jon Acuff.  The email is simple, if you’re interested in joining some crazy experiment, reply.  So I did.

The experiment is simple, of the 170,000 plus followers of Jon’s on twitter, a little over 2000 of us to the challenge.  And the challenge is simply this, to live in community with random strangers from around the world, and to risk something over the next 24 days.  That’s as much as I know about it, and to be honest, I’m okay with that.

My risk is simple, to fearlessly put my words on paper (or on screen), my lessons learned and my hopes and dreams.

So here I am, back once again…this has happened far too often where I begin to write, and then simply let the blog or let my words become mute.  Not this time.  I’m ready to START!

Here’s my steps to making this happen.

1.) Resurrect this blog that has sat untouched for over a year.

2.) Commit to writing 500 words a day (on here or paper. no real direction, just hoping the process of writing will spark creativity,)

3.) Be open and vulnerable with the people around me, knowing that’s what creates a better story.

Ready. Set. START!

This morning I had the opportunity to preach at my own church, and the passage of scripture was on Nehemiah 8.  Although I’ve often times found sermon prep and delivery to be challenging, I found that this morning was more convicting on me personally than most I’ve preached.
The idea today was rediscovering the Word. That in Nehemiah 8, the people stand and hear the Law of Moses and stay there for 6 hours, weeping and rejoicing. They have been so far displaced, that they forgot the importance of the Word.
I find myself there right now.
As a youth pastor, as a seminary student. I’ve found it easy to write off my personal time reading the Bible because I do it so much for school and work.
What area in your spiritual life do you find most difficult?
Prayer?
Giving?
Serving?
Reading?
Fellowship?
Worship?
Evangelism?

What’s within…

Posted: January 27, 2012 in Life, Youth Ministry

What if the information you contain, the wisdom you hold, the experiences you’ve had could truly help others? 
I’m struggling with this today and I have been for a while as I’ve dreamt of writing a book. I feel that I have a story to tell
, but in doing so I know that I would be putting myself out there, completely vulnerable to critics…but what if what’s within could make a difference for someone else? 

let’s hear it…What are you afraid of in life?

Video  —  Posted: January 24, 2012 in just for fun, Life

a new workout regimen…

Posted: January 17, 2012 in just for fun

As I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape, just like the other 6 million people that recently joined my gym, I’m delighted to have come across these great videos to help.  Gospel Aerobics

And of course I haven’t been able to stop watching this one by Tripp and Tyler.  Godz Bodz

Enjoy and get your sweat on!

finishing a night right…

Posted: January 12, 2012 in Youth Ministry

If you work in Youth Ministry, how do you finish off your busy night?  When the students have all gone home, when the youth space is somewhat cleared of all the chaos, what’s your process for wrapping things up?

We’ve all been there, the day goes bad, the lesson bombs, students are driving you crazy and all you want to do is scream or turn in your resignation letter, but honestly there has to be a better way of dealing with life in Youth Ministry.  Here’s my way of dealing with it, definitely not a perfect way, but a way to not let it drive you out of what God has called you into:

Let it out:  Every Wednesday night, (the night we do our Sr. High large group) I get in my car and drive the 25 minutes home.  This is a great time for me to be able to start to process the night, to unwind, but also my time to make sure that I’m letting out whatever went on that night, both good and bad.  Here are the couple of people that I call:

  • Jaimie, my wife.  She is the first one to hear from me, not just so I can let her know that I’m on my way home but also so she is involved in my ministry.  I’ve never expected my wife to be a constant presence in my ministry, and luckily my church doesn’t expect this either.  But I can be honest and say that she is the most important person to my ministry.  Her love, support and encouragement is necessary for me to be able to do ministry.  I call her, let her know I’m on my way and give her a brief summary of the night.
  • Aaron, my brother.  Aaron has worked in ministry, both as a Youth Pastor and currently at a church camp in Minnesota.  It’s great for me to be able to bounce off ideas to someone who has been there, to vent about the craziness the night was, or to shout out with excitement with God had done that night.
  • God.  Of course this is a given, but I take my time in my drive home to make sure that I call out to God for what had taken place that night.  Sometimes it’s a call out, other times its a crying out to God.  Either way, my time with God is vital to ending my Wednesday nights right.

Evaluate– I’m lucky to have a schedule that allows me to work from home on Thursdays, and this is the perfect time for me to evaluate how the previous nights gathering was.  I love to be able to sit down and go through all that took place, to follow up with those who helped, our I had conversations with that night, or followup with those who weren’t there.  It’s important to be able to evaluate while things are fresh.

Remind- This one has become more and more important to my life in ministry.  Lately we’ve seen a lot of great things happen in our group, and some changes that we’ve needed to address.  Our group has been growing like crazy, both numerically and spiritually.  It would be really easy for me to seek ways to continue this growth numerically, to amp up our draw, to seek ways to entertain more, but this is my time to remind myself of my calling.  It’s easy to lose sight of your calling in ministry when things are changing.  When a student is upset because they think you are showing favorites in the group, when the leadership continues to pressure so you continue to grow the numbers, when you dive in immediately to start planning for the next gathering instead of taking time to seek God, this is my time to remind me of my calling so that I can stay true to that.

How do you finish your night right?

when to say you’re done…

Posted: January 10, 2012 in Youth Ministry

i’m sitting here on this beautiful January day in South Dakota listening to newest and last release from the David Crowder Band, and as I hear the praise that rolls from their music I can’t help but be a little selfish in thinking that they can’t be done…I love their music too much.

i have a lot of respect for these guys, having followed their careers since early 2000’s when i saw them lead worship for a group of Youth Pastors at the Purpose Driven Youth Ministry conference at Saddleback Church, and i must say that although i’m not ready for them to be done, I respect the fact that they know they need to be done.

it’s crazy when you hear them speak, that although they know it’s time for them to call it quits after a decade of doing ministry together, they don’t know what they will be doing next.  they just know that they are done… how do we know when we’re done?

this is a question i’ve often asked myself…when am i no longer relevant to doing Youth Ministry?  When do i need to seek other ministry opportunities?  will I know when I’m done?

how do you know when to say you’re done?