Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Most Amazing Woman

So I went out today with the most amazing woman in the world. We looked at bedsets for the apartment (for after we're married) and have a pretty good idea about the style and color of what we want.

Lindsay is the only person who has ever made me realize that I could live a normal life with little dysfunction. I grew up in a messed up home - not to blame anyone - and I often wondered if I could have a normal relationship, much less a normal marraige or family.

I love Lindsay more than any person in this world and I cannot wait until September 15, 2007!

Friday, May 4, 2007

So manny questions

I am in my 3rd month of youth ministry - still in school and only 3 years of volunteer experience behind me and man do I have so many questions.

I sat down to lunch with my high school youth pastor and talked for over an hour about ministry, life and God (in no particular order). We talked about legalism and grace and the terrible logistics of the ministries we have been called to. Both of our churches are very traditional and although that is not bad in and of itself, they both border on legalism in quite a few areas.

I belong to a demoniation that places holiness as a cornerstone of our doctrine. As Paul reminds us that we are to be holy as Christ is holy, sometimes I believe that we misunderstand this call to holiness. Paul is not telling us that we are to be bound by rules and regulations; quite the contrary. In Romans, Paul discusses the struggle between grace and legalism; between laws and the gift of salvation, whether we are saved by grace through faith or by works.

One of the cornerstones of Christ's ministry on earth consisted not of going throughout Rome with a checklist, making sure that everyone is following it; if that were his purpose, the Pharisees would have received accomondations for their works rather than criticism from Jesus. No, Jesus looked far beyond the actions and deeds of people--beyond their circumstances, to the very core of who they were. Christ looked where no man could-into the heart.

I am often afraid that in our effort to teach both holiness for one demonation and grace in another, that we have polarized these two Biblical ideas and have made the other one seem as though it were void of purpose. I would much rather let down the demoniational walls that seperate us in an effort to preach Scripture in its entirety as opposed to sectioning off doctrines in order to set ourselves apart from other Christians.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wedding Update

The wedding is in about 4 months and things are coming together. We have discovered that the engagement process is not exactly the easiest, most relaxing time to say the least; we have had disagreements and arguments and still want to go through with it.

We are looking forward to tying the knot on September 15th back in Michigan - the wedding ceremony is open to all but the reception is by invitation only - just to save $$$.

More to come!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Success in Youth Ministry...How to Know it When You See it

I got a great resource from my friend Tim over on his blog ( about judging success in youth ministry. I am just starting out in youth ministry and as a type - "a" personality, I like to know how I am doing all the time.

Defining success in youth ministry

2 04 2007

Colossians 4:5, “Make the most of every opportunity.”

There’s been a lot of buzz spinning around the blogosphere lately about defining success in youth ministry. What is successful youth ministry? What does it look like and how can we know if we ever get there?

I certainly do not have all the answers to this loaded question, but I tend to agree with Mark Batterson’s book, In a pit with a lion on a snowy day, when he says this:

Success is doing the best you can with what you have where you are. In a sense, success is relative. Success is as unique as your fingerprint. It looks different for different people depending on your circumstances and gifts. But there is one common denominator that I see in all successful people. They can spot an opportunity a mile away. And they seize the opportunity with both hands…. And that is what opportunity stewardship is all about. (page 131)

Mark Batterson points out that scripture doesn’t say how many opportunities there will be or how large or small they may be. Scripture simply tells us to make the most of every opportunity. We need to train ourselves to notice these opportunities as the Lord brings them our way and then be good stewards with what He provides.

This may look 10 different ways for 10 for different ministries, but, as I posted last year, I pray it characterizes my ministry in at least three ways:

  • Students who are growing in depth and insight of God’s Word.
  • Students who genuinely worship God both publicly and privately.
  • Students who have a burden for lost souls around them.

Underage Alchoholic Advertising?

Anheuser-Busch has a new alcoholic beverage for sale called Spykes and according to the brewing company the target consumers are young adults.

But critics and some parents are complaining that the slick on-line marketing techniques are really designed to go after underage drinkers.

Some are spicy. Others hot. Both have parents like Cassie Johnson upset.

"When I went on the Web site the first thing was the loud music. It was flash..bright and green. It was definitely a fun kids place."

It may be fun, but a closer look reveals that it's no place for kids. ( Read More

Saturday, March 31, 2007

24: Season 5

I admit it - I am a 24 addict. But my addiction did not start until this current season (season 6) and so I am obviously missing some of the story line that exists in seasons 1-5. So, I decided about a month ago that I would go back and watch each of the 5 seasons before this one and get caught up on the entire series. Last night Lindsay and I sat down to watch the final episode of season 5 and I have to tell you, I would not have made it through that season week-by-week. In fact to give you an idea of how gripped I was by that season, I started watching last week and finished Friday, just 4 days after starting. I am so very glad that I had the opportunity to hop on over to the video store and rent each disc. I now understand much, much more about the series and am looking forward to watching seasons 1-4. You might ask why I watched season 5 before watching the others; the reason was that I wanted to go in order and the first disc of season 1 was checked out at the time and I didn't want to wait. So, season 4 here I come!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007

We're Off (Finally....I Think)

We have decided to go ahead and take a shot at leaving tomorrow morning (Friday) around 6:30-7a.m. Eastern Standard Time. I got the ION hooked onto the tow dolly and secured to the truck today so we are just waiting until morning. Hopefully everything goes ok and we will be Virginia - bound tomorrow morning. We should arrive around 4-5 p.m. EST in Leesburg.

We'd apreciate your prayers!

The Church Office: Episode 1

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Due to the inclimate weather across the entire northeastern United States, we have decided to wait until the roads clear up before we attempt to drive down to Virginia. Lindsay and were both looking forward to getting to Leesburg by tonight but that obviously isn't going to happen.

I got off of the phone a little earlier this evening with my senior pastor who said that the roads through the mountains in Maryland and West Virginia are horrible and that he doesn't think we should chance it.

More to come!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Getting Closer

I have one more full day as a Michigan citizen - I leave for Virginia on Wednesday. Lindsay is traveling down with me but will come back up to MI on Monday the 19th. It's going to be difficult to get through the next six months without her until we get married in September - she has been such a stronghold for me in my ministry. She is the best ministry partner I could ever imagine having and I can't wait to have her by my side every day.

I'd really appreciate your prayers as we travel Wednesday - it is supposed to be icy and snowy and we are driving a 17' truck with my Saturn ION dragging along behind us - through the mountains and everything.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Youth Ministry Ideas: Issue 1

I'm starting a brand new ministry next week as I move down to Virginia and I have spent a lot of time shooting emails back and forth between the current youth leader (volunteer who will stay on after I come on staff) and teens as well as parents.

I have decided that if I am ever going to lead an effective student ministry, I need to express my ideas and vision for ministry with everyone so I have come up with three steps in order to do this

1. Meet with the Adult/Student Leadership Team - These people have been in ministry at this location for longer than I have and they know what has worked and what hasn't. Because of my age (22) I will present my plan and vision first and then ask for their idea so that they can see that I possess the ideas and direction needed to lead this ministry but their input and ideas will greatly effect the way we do ministry together. I have not done a great job at communicating my vision and purpose with a leadership team of adults and students at my current church and that is something that needs to be done; if nobody knows my vision, we'll never reach our destination.

2. Meet with Parents - These are the people that I am prone to distance myself from because I may be insecure about my age and experience but they are going to be my greatest resource in ministry. Parents spend each and every day with their teenagers; I will only see each teen at the most, 2-3 times a week and that is not enough time for me to reach them unless I am working alongside parents. After going to the leadership team, we will address the parents with a unified vision and purpose for ministry, along with a plan to get us there. This will show parents that
(a) We care about their teenagers
(b) We care about their family
(c) We value their input
(d) We have a God-given plan for ministry

3. Meet with Students - I'm planning on taking 1-2 students out each week to get to know them and so that they can get to know me. I am a single guy in my 20's and even though I'll be married in September, there still exists the potential for problems when it comes to girls so I am adopting a rule that I have held at my current church - NEVER BE ALONE WITH A GIRL....EVER! If I need to meet 1-on-1 with a female student, I'll make sure that we are in an area that is easily seen by anyone and someone else will be around who knows what is going on. I'll probably talk more on this later on but I wanted to make sure that I clarified that I won't take a female student out alone.

I am brand new to full-time paid ministry and I expect that there will be several roadblocks that will come up but I am optimistic that God will provide leadership and guidance and He will work in and through me and the entire ministry.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Youth Ministry.....Unbiblical?

I went to a blog I check out daily and on it, there is a post about the argument on whether or not youth ministry is biblical. Check it out!


Yesterday I received word that two families I know of had lost a loved one. One of these families attends my church and the other is a friend from high school who lost her dad.

Why is it that we hate posting about death? I sat down for about 5 minutes just thinking about whether or not to actually write a post about this. I think that it's because it scares me to think about death because there are so many people in my life right now that I cannot imagine losing. Maybe on a subconscious level (I don't enter Freud land too often so humor me, please) I worry that if I type it and think it, that it may in fact happen; which is totally unsound and has not a single shred of merit in any way, shape or form.

This is a part of ministry that I know I will have to face at some point but I do not look forward to it because I remember how difficult it is to lose someone and I am at a loss to convey God's grace through death to people.

If you have had experience with this - either in ministry or life in general, I'd greatly appreciate your ideas and experience stories!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Kung Fu Youth Pastor

Thoughts about Parents from Doug Fields

10 Ways to Validate Parents

1. Learn parents' names and who their children are
2. While attending students' events (recitals, games), visit with parents
3. Compliment parents on their parenting. Recognize the strengths in their children and give parents the credit. ("You've sure done something right, Mrs. Jones. You son's a servant. That sure is rare among teenagers")
4. Send parents a note following a conversation with them ("It was great taling to you at John's game yesterday. I sure appreciate your family.")
5. Listen to parents. Consider their input regarding the youth ministry. You don't have to respond to every suggestion, but assure them that you care about their ideas.
6. Express your feelings about the importance of the family. Let parents know you value their family and respect them. make your youth calendar family-friendly. Don't ask kids to be out more than two nights a week.
7. Acknowledge that parents love, care for, and do more for their children that you will ever do. Your role in their lives may be significant, but you'll never take the place of a parent.
8. Organize a parent appreciation dinner once a year.
9. Encourage kids to sit with their parents during the church service.
10. Respect parents' time. Return from your events by the time you promised. (We expect parents to be on time to pick up their kids, right?)

"Your First two Years in Youth Ministry" is available at This was a direct quote from the book and was not my own words.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Wedding Frustrations

I'm new to planning a wedding and frankly, I don't have to do a whole lot. But my fiancee does and I know that she has been getting quite stressed out lately because of family issues and everything else that is going on. Sometimes I think it may be easier to simply elope but then we would have to put up with people being upset at us the rest of our lives - plus, we both want to have a wedding ceremony.

I leave February 14th for Virginia and will be there until the wedding in September - I can't wait until this whole thing is behind us and we can have our wedding and honeymoon and begin our life together as a family. My family was so messed up that I can't wait to have the chance to begin a family on the right foot and to have a Christian home built on God and scripture.

There will be more updates as the next six months go along and I suspect that the frustration level will only get worse but with the help of God, we will make it through this and prayerfully, our two families will draw closer to God through this entire experience.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Windows Vista

Microsoft just released the latest edition to its family of operating systems yesterday and called it "Vista". I'm usually someone who gets pretty exited about updates and new things in the world of technology, so it came as no surprise to my fiance when I wouldn't stop talking about how great I thought this new OS would be.

Well, yesterday Lindsay and I were at Costco getting her glasses fixed and I took a look at their computers to see if any of them had Vista and a few actually did. So, I began to fool around and see what this new system looked like and over all, it's pretty much the same old Microsoft system trying to copy the advancements of other companies like YAHOO! with their gadgets and widgets on the desktop such as a clock and calendar, and of course, Apple was being copied yet again with the way that Microsoft designed its program file list and the way you can access your documents.

Over all, I am a bit more reserved and relaxed about my laptop loaded with XP and I have no plans to 'upgrade' in the near future.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More thoughts on James 1

This morning I spent some time going back over the book of James and really looking into it. What really got to me this time was when I found out that the word for ‘trials’ that is used is the same in Greek as the word used for an obsticle that stands in your way.

I don’t know why I never thought of that before; maybe it’s just the way my brain works but this really got to me because in about a month, I will be stepping into the position of an assistant pastor and youth pastor for a church in Virginia, a quarter of the way across the country from my home in Michigan (where I have lived all of my life). I didn’t consider this a trial of any kind because all throughout the process of interviewing with the church, I have felt an enormous amount of peace. But when I woke up this morning in the middle of the night, I came to the realization that I have never given a sermon for a church before and have very little experience leading a church, which would come in handy in an assistant pastor position.

But when I went to my Bible and began to read, God made me keenly aware that

1. He is in control and it is not MY ministry but HIS; just as He gave Moses the words to say to Pharoah, He will give me the words to say and the wisdom (wisdom is also talked about in James - mainly in regards to asking God for it and that also was of great help to me this morning).

2. I should rejoice in the fact that I don’t know exactly what I am doing because it will bring all the more glory to HIM when He does a work in me and through me.

Praise God that He has created us for a relationship with Him and called us for His purpose. Praise God that He has given us the rules to live by and then gave us His Son in death so that we could be saved in spite of our inability to earn salvation (which is impossible). Praise God that He has called us to do a work for Him - that He has given us the opportunity to do HIS life-changing work in people’s lives and that He has promised to give us Wisdom when we ask for it.

I praise God today because of answered prayers and for moving and doing a work in me and in my life when I was not aware of what exactly was going on. God has called me to this new endeavor and I will follow because I have said all along, ‘here I am, Lord, send me’.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Thoughts on James 1

"If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. but ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord." - James 1: 5-8

Last Sunday Lindsay and I went down to interview for a staff position at a church in Virginia. I sat in the pew and began to pray silently, asking God to reveal to me whether or not this church was the one that He would have us be at.

I am the type of person who gets anxious easily; all throughout this interview process I believed in my heart that God was orchestrating this entire thing out and that this was where He wanted us. But my unbelief, coupled with my financial fears and wondering how everything was going to work out if I did not get this position, caused me to question what I believed God was telling me.

I kept coming back to the idea that even though I felt called to this place and even though I felt God was calling me, I still questioned whether or not it was Him. The long and short of it is that God challenged me to place my faith in Him - that I would get this position because He wanted me there and so I accepted God's challenge and believed with my heart that this would happen.

But what happened to the whole 'doubting' phrase of James' words in verse 8? Was I doubting God, or was I merely doubting whether or not it was God who was speaking to me.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Weekend Service

Lesson Topic: Basics of the Bible (Week 1 of 6)
Length of Lesson: Longer than Average
Quality of Lesson: Above Average
Attendance: Above Average

This week we started a new series from Doug Field's "Rooted" book. This book actually goes through some great theological and basic Biblical aspects that every first year ministry student should be reviewing, but it puts it in terms that a high school student could understand, or even a mature middle school student.

The problem I am having with this type of curriculum is that my teens seem bored out of their minds; they want fun all the time. I'm the type of person who likes structure - actually, I'm a bonefied Obsessive Compulsive maniac - but I realize the need for balance between fun activities and structured instruction time. The students in my ministry want to have a personal lesson that is delivered with just them in mind - they don't want to be taught like they are during the school day. My problem with this is that we in the church tend to diminish the importance of what we teach when we make the assumption that students shouldn't have to sit through a lesson about the Bible. These teens sit for about 30 hours a week in class listening to teachers teach them about everything from history to math but somehow the information we have to teach them in church is of lesser importance because we should not expect them to actually listen.

Now that I've stepped off of my soapbox, I think that this series is going to go well. I have come to the realization that I simply cannot please everyone and I should focus on those students who want to learn and they are my mission - they are who God is calling me to teach.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ezekiel 13

How many of us like to listen to lies? Now be honest with yourself. Would you rather listen to a sermon that tells you everything will be fine when you know in your heart that it will not be? Too many Christians and even church leaders and pastors coddle people to the point that they bend the Word of God to make people feel good.

Don't get me wrong; I want to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, but not at the expense of following God's leading.