Giving the Bible Away…

Posted: January 6, 2012 in Youth Ministry

I always look forward to the New Year, for the ability to start over on areas that maybe I didn’t excel at last year, to begin something new, but for the last 10 years or so I’ve started this little tradition to buy a new Bible shortly after the New Year.  I started it when I was in Bible College, and for some reason it’s become something I look forward to.

There’s something refreshing about being able to start new in my notes, to discover passages of scripture that maybe I’ve lost in between highlighting areas, and to discover parts of the Bible that I’ve read many times before but for some reason they leap out at me from the nice white crisp pages.

But honestly, here’s the real reason I love getting a new Bible, it’s because for the last 10 years of doing this I’ve been able to find someone who wants my old one.  I love being able to hand off my Bible from the previous year in hopes that they can benefit from the notes and underlinings that I’ve put into place.  That maybe the way that a certain passage struck me can be something the new owner of that Bible can relate to.

Who Looks Up To You?…

Posted: January 5, 2012 in Life

It’s a simple question, but one worth answering.  Who looks up to you?  Image

Now, maybe a not so easy question, what is one thing you would hate for that person to find out about you?

Wrong Message…

Posted: January 5, 2012 in Youth Ministry

so yesterday I was talking about God’s call, and lately I hear more and more people using it for their benefit, to get what they want, and honestly I’m wondering if its a nice little scape goat to help us get what we want.

here’s my most recent experience with hearing God’s call on my life:

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to attend a conference in South California, and it was at this conference I felt God was speaking to me, to leave my current position as a Youth Pastor to approach the more prestigious position of that of a Senior Pastor.

Here’s our current situation:  The church where I am has had the same pastor for 18 years, he’s done great things, but the church and the pastor know that the inevitable is going to be taking place in the near future, he’s going to retire.  The church is good, but there are definitely more than a few who have gotten comfortable.  With that being said, word started floating around about me becoming the next Sr.Pastor when the retirement took place.  It was at this conference in CA that I felt that God was calling me towards this.  I returned home, talked with a few people about it, and even began dressing more like a Sr.Pastor (okay maybe not completely, but atleast button-up shirts).

But then it happened.  As we began talking more and more about the retirement that was going to be taking place, I decided I needed to take some time away, to think, to pray and to listen.

It was during this time that I discovered that God wasn’t calling me to the better salary, the housing allowance, the pension plan.  God was calling me to stay put!

This was a hard realization for me.  It took a lot for me to hear what God was really saying, and not what myself and others were trying to convince me of.  It was in the silence, that I truly felt God calling me to do what I was already doing.

I definitely don’t doubt that God could call me to become a Senior Pastor, but he’s not doing it now.

I conveyed this message to the leaders at my church, and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in ministry.  In doing so, I was telling them no to more money, more stability, and also to my egotistical thinking that I could have do some great things for the church as their next Sr. Pastor.

God doesn’t always call people to the next biggest and better, He can also can you to suffer, to stay, to rely on Him.

(by the way, the week before I went to the church to tell them that I was going to be staying in just as the Youth Pastor, my wife lost her job.  Never before did a better salary and stability seem more tempting)

Don’t get the wrong message…

God’s Call…

Posted: January 4, 2012 in Youth Ministry

Ever wonder why God’s call always seems to be in the persons best interest receiving that call?  You know what I mean, the pastor just feels like God is calling him from this church to another church that just so happens to be offering him a better salary, better benefits and is simply way better…

I think we have gotten to this point where it’s easy to put the “God’s Call” stamp on anything that helps us make a decision.  “I felt God calling me to do this…”  Or “God’s really calling me to say this…”.

When was the last time you heard someone say that felt God calling them to something that was the best option at the time? I know that there are some who totally get this, but I feel there are too many of us that use this as an easy way out.

A friend who feels God calling them to do missions in a third world country – Good!

A friend who feels God saying he needs to leave his wife because he doesn’t love her anymore – Bad!

A friend who feels God calling him to sell everything and give to the poor – Good!

A friend who feels like God is calling them to leave a church that his gifts are needed, to go to another church that is bigger, newer, better, oh and they offer a house and BMW – BAD!

How do you discern God’s call?  Do we hear it? Do we allow ourselves to hear it?

(more tomorrow about my most recent calling from God)

New Years!!!

Posted: January 3, 2012 in Life

Okay, it’s been a while but I’m back, and as I’ve created my New Years resolutions, one of them is simply being able to stay on top of this blog, and writing in general…

so to get it rollin, here’s the list of my resolutions:

  • Write More, both here and hopefully working towards a book
  • Read 20 books this year (outside of the books I read for my Seminary courses)
  • Run 3 races (5k, 10k, and a half-marathon) (I’ve never run a race, let alone 3)
  • Create an Adventure Journal with my boys, recording all the fun activities we will do this year)
  • Take my wife on a 2nd Honeymoon
  • get below 240lbs and stay there (that would be 70lbs lost since my heaviest in December of 2009)

There’s my list, what’s yours?

family is your #1 ministry…

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Family, Youth Ministry

if this statement is true, which i believe it is, what are ways that you make the effort to keep this the focus in your life?

i’m asking because i struggle often with this, making sure that i spend quality time with my wife and boys… so what do you do?

here’s some of mine….

wrestle play read run dates eat talk surprise drive rest communicate renew football swinging parks walks trips laughter church …

the sudden explosion…

Posted: September 7, 2011 in Youth Ministry

we’ve been up and running with our regular weekly youth gatherings for about 3 weeks now and to see what God is doing is simply astonishing…

over the last 3 weeks we’ve seen students gathering to the point of overflowing our meeting space, and not only are there great numbers showing up they are also seeking out and striving to understand this God that I’m trying to introduce them to…

i can not think of anything that i’m doing outside of what i’ve always done, it’s simply that God has brought about this change, this movement that has students excited to enter into this space on Wednesday nights, eager to learn and grow.

i’m praying that God continues to move, and I don’t get in the way of the great things He is already doing in and through the students He has put in my care…

back in early July I had the opportunity to take 7 of my students out to LA for a week to experience the Student Leadership Conference at Azusa Pacific University.

as we boarded the plane in Sioux Falls four half-way cross country flight, anticipation was high, mainly for the couple that had never flown before, who by the way were the only ones to get pulled aside for separate screening at security.  a few hours later, arriving in SoCal my students were amazed by the sights and sounds, mostly because their first experience of Huntington Beach was some dude in a g-string rollerblading by.  the rest of the first day was filled with lots of sun and sea as we soaked up the 4th of July on the beach.  little did I know that those that are locals don’t even go to HB for the 4th because of how out of control it gets.

with the first day getting us rolling right, the conference got kicked off Tuesday night and we were amazed, inspired and challenged for the next 4 days.  listening to speakers from Dough Feilds, to Jim Burns, to UFC fighter Mark Munoz and so many more.  we walked away that Friday with students who had received a glimpse of God they had never seen before, being challenged to be the student leaders that they had never thought possible.

the rest of the trip was filled with times to debrief, to relax, and to continue to experience much of God’s love and grace.  we took in Saddleback Church’s HSM with Josh Griffin on that Saturday night, and left that Sunday night to return home to SD.

since then, our students have continued to be challenged, being thrown back into their world and fighting to make what they learned a reality.

i can’t wait to see what God has in store for them in the coming year.

last week was the end of my major travels for the summer, completing just under 5000 miles for the month of July alone.  this may not seem like a lot, but for me this was enough, from bus to plane, and this didn’t include any miles from driving my own car.

returning home last week was great, but at the same time a bit bittersweet.  this summer has been full of great experiences for me and for my students.  in early july we spent a week in southern california with Doug Fields and crew at the Student Leadership Conference at Azusa Pacific, and then last week we returned from a week in Estes Park CO with our denominational youth gathering at the Y of the Rockies.

what has become quite clear to me is that for my students to want to make a difference they must be the difference.  i know, totally sounds cliche, but it’s true.  they must choose first and foremost to change themselves before they can even dream of seeing a change around them.

more to come on this and the great experiences that have taken place this summer…

ran across this just at the right time… I can’t believe how often God places something in front of you right when you need to read it…

Here’s an excerpt.

Being ‘liked’ has gotten a whole new dimension since Facebook introduced the concept of ‘liking’ something (or someone for that matter). But for youth leaders the issue of wanting to be liked has always been a tough one. I think we’ve all been at the point where we want students to like us and where we want to feel accepted by them. We rationalize it, saying we can’t really be effective in youth ministry if the students don’t like us. If we want students to trust us, to confide in us, we need to be liked. Or do we?

go here if you want to read more….   http://www.dougfields.com/