sacrifice...

I was on facebook this morning and I came across a status update from Mark Batterson, Pastor of NCC in D.C. and a very good author. His status update said this, "i don't think anyone has ever sacrificed anything 4 God. Why? because u always get back more than u gave up."

McDonough First UMC is currently doing a study on "The Five Practices of a Fruitful Congregation". This book was written by Bishop Schansay. It tells us about 5 different ways we can grow as a congregation and of course be fruitful in what we do! Yesterday's sermon, which was on giving to the church, was awesome.

When we sacrifice things to God, it seems that God seems to bless us. I was really convicted yesterday. I give my 10% to the church, however, what else can I do beyond that? Dana, my pastor and CEO and boss, said that we can go the OT route of giving 10% or we can go the Jesus route as He said, "Sell everything and follow me". He then said the OT route sounds more acceptable now doesn't it?

What if we did give away all our possessions and follow Jesus? Why don't we get out of our complacent pews and do something about it? Why are we so scared to follow Jesus anymore? There is one thing I have learned while studying the Bible over the past 7 years, since I have become a Christian. It is that God blesses those who bless Him. I am not saying that give your church $100 and He will give you $1,000. Not at all. I believe that when we give our lives to Christ, we have a calling to follow Jesus whole heartedly.

I look back at the quote from Mark Batterson that was posted at the beginning of this blog post. "i don't think anyone has ever sacrificed anything 4 God. Why? because u always get back more than u gave up." These are words of conviction for me as well. Yesterday spoke miles into my brain and down into my soul. Why have I been so complacent with what I am doing in life? As a youth pastor, I have been complacent in my ministry. Sure things are going well, but there are times they aren't. I have a close friend who is struggling some right now, and we made some awesome plans for both of our groups today. Via facebook chat, we were able bring our minds together and summon the powers of the great doug fields and do something. We had a great idea. We are going to sacrifice our bodies for a new event called "War Games". That is all the info I can bring at this time, but God is going to bless it.

But what I am I doing to sacrifice my life to God? I must die to myself and follow Him by lifting up my cross daily. I will do as much as I can for the Kingdom of God. What will you do to sacrifice for God? What can you do to advance the Kingdom on the earth? And is God blessing you because you are blessing Him with your life?

just the bare necessities...

This week has already started off great! I had a wonderful weekend, things at youth couldn't be better, and God is truly evident in my life with all that is going on.
I was walking up the stairs to my office and I was thinking about the song, "The Bear Necessities" from the Disney movie The Jungle Book. I want to break it down for you a little here.
This song is a throw back for me. I watched this movie a lot when I was little. It was a great movie! I liked the music and the themes in the movie! But most of all, I like the song "The Bear Necessities".
I called this blog post the bare necessities. I want to get down to the bare things. Last night at the mid high group, we started the storying technique and it went off without a hitch. It was great! We talked about the creation story. Telling of the spirit of God flowing over the land, and creating a dark void into the earth. He then created Adam in a beautiful garden, making all things available to him. He then made Eve. It is fantastic. The students were really receptive to it.
This technique of storying, an oral Bible, really opened my eyes to where the students were in their spiritual knowledge of the Bible. They were asking questions that we just assume they already knew!
The bare necessities are simple. We need to break it down to the simplest form. We can't assume that people fully understand "church" talk. "Church" talk is described as words that we use in church that those who have never been to church or are new to being a believer, may not understand all the rhetoric we use in the church services. It is my goal to find a way to break down the Bible enough for those to understand it can. The oral Bible technique is an amazing and almost archaic way of telling the story of God.
Find out where the bare necessities are in your walk with Christ. Get down to the bareness of God and find out where He is in your life.

horizon....

This morning I woke up and I felt great. There are some things going on in my life that may not be at it's best right now, but I woke up refreshed and energized. God has really been good to me lately.
Last night, we were blessed with 15 students at youth! That was 15 divine appointments with God and the students. I love to sit back and look at what God is doing and today, I had the chance to do that. As I look back at "the mix" last night, I see potential. I also see a new horizon ahead. From youth pastors past, we see successful ministries during their time with the students at McDonough First UMC, however, I also noticed a lingering on to youth pastors past. It is not my intention to flatten what any other youth pastor has done up to this point, for they were doing what God told them to do at the time, and it was great during their time. The new horizon that I see is the possibility of huge growth spiritually and numerically.
Numbers will no longer disappoint me. We had 15 total students last night and that was good enough for me and definitely pleasing in the sight of God. With the huge potential of growth, we will grow together as a family. We will depend on one another and focus on the growth between the students and God and the growth of the other students around us. I asked them the question last night, How can they communicate God better to those around them? If they were sending someone a text message about God, and only one, what would they say?
I know that the way we communicate to others is huge. The way that we communicate ourselves to God and God to others is even bigger. We must find that common ground and build a foundation upon that.
Here is the Cliff Notes version of lesson last night: TXT MSSG RLIGN

Open with slides of different text messages and have the students guess what they mean:
1. 2moro- tomorrow
2. 2nite- tonight
3. LOL- Laugh Out Loud
4. TTYL- Talk To You Later
5. ABITHIWTITB- A Bird In the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush
6. GLYASDI- God Loves You And So Do I
7. PWND- PWND

The way we communicate is always changing. We used to use AOL IM. Now we have facebook, twitter, email and text messaging. What is the most common way you communicate?

Read John 3:1-13
Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus is an educated Jewish leader and does not understand what Jesus is talking about when He says one must be reborn. Jesus then explains what it means to be born again by the water and the spirit. Nicodemus is like what the heck is the spirit? Jesus explains it as the wind. You can feel it, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going but it is always there.
Jesus, the ultimate text message communicator was great at explaining things. We see here that Jesus breaks it down into simple terms for Nicodemus to understand. We should take this model and use it in our daily communication as well.

Ed Young Jr. is the Senior Pastor at Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas. This church reaches thousands each weekend. Ed states that when he brought one of his friends from the basketball team at FSU to church, the guy didn't know what was going on or what the preacher was saying. He had a look of confusion on his face. There were church terms the man didn't know. Ed then realized he needed to find a way to reach those around him by communicating the Word of God in a better way. A way that anyone can understand.
To me, this is the motivation for my student ministry. How can I communicate Christ better to the students so even they understand? Jesus tweeted to Nicodemus what the Kingdom of Heaven was and how to be born again.
How will you communicate God to your friends? How can you help them to make them understand Christ better and in a personal way as you do?

Close in Prayer

bring it on...

Things, for me, have been wonderful as of recent. God has really been doing good things in my life. However, when I look at my friends and those closest to me, I see a lot of hurt going on right now. God is stirring up the pot right now. When the Kingdom of God is being advanced, the enemy comes at you full strength to stop it. He sends army after army after army to bring you down. My God is bigger than that.

When speaking with a friend, she told me the 3 words that her and her fellow staff members are doing. They are saying the words Bring It On! Wow. Let the chills settle. When I heard of the whole staff saying this, because this staff is opening up prayer and the battle is about to begin. Bring It On!

God is using me in a fantastic way. However, my faith feels like I am in the shallow end right now. I have my floaties on because I don't want to be pushed into the deep end. My friend is ready to be pushed. Her and her fellow staff are ready for the warfare that has come and is coming. We need a faith like that.

I am fired up because of some more news I hear of. It makes my heart hurt when I hear that a local house of worship is being clouded by our own agenda and trying to prevent the Kingdom from being moved. God is ready to do something big. I know that God is HUGE and bigger than we can ever imagine or fathom.

I want to call upon all those who read this blog or who may be reading it for the first time. I want ask you to open up violent prayer with God in the next few moments, the next few days, weeks, months or even years. When I use the term violent prayer, I don't mean anger. I mean prayer that is ready to wage war against the enemy. Let's take off the floaties of our shallow faith, let's jump into the deep end of God and prepare for what is ahead. I am really fired up today. God has many great things going on and I want all people to be ready for God.

I am not trying to make this a military call. I am not trying to make me look like I am holier than thou. All I am asking is that we have a check of our prayer lives. Are we just praying for our own needs? Are we praying for our own agenda? I look back to Tuesday night when my friend said these 3 words, Bring It On! Wow. I am ready to see what God has next. I got chills when she said that. The only times I normally get chills is when I hear of something God is doing, or I am SUPER cold. It was hot this night.

Ignite the fire of Christ back in our lives. Let's take 10 minutes to go to a quiet place and pray hard for what God is doing and what He will do. We all go through struggles. John 15:18-27 says it best:
18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.'[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'[c]
26"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

However, look at the verse right before these. John 15:17
17This is my command: Love each other.

Love each other. Pray for healing. Pray for the advancement of the Kingdom. Pray for love to be poured out through you to many, so that they may experience the love that you and I know. Pray for God to use you at work, school, home, on the streets or wherever you are. God is always around. Be prepared. Pray violently, but with a steady faith and a clear heart. Love each other. Know that when we go through things, Jesus has been through it first. We must have a heart of love towards others, even when hurt appears. We must edify one another and we must love on those hurting.

Where are you in your prayer life? Are you praying a violent prayer? Are you still in the shallow end of the pool just treading water for a shallow faith? I have been. I am now jumping in the deep end. Who wants to join?

overwhelming...

There is so much that goes on in our lives today. Some of us get so enthralled with the beat of every day life that we forget to take a second and rest. Even God rested. God's beat is a 6 and 1 beat.
I am no dummer. In fact, playing guitar, you would think would help my problems of keeping a beat. Sadly, no. My rhythm is about that of a child banging on pots and pans. absolutley none. And that is OK. I titled this blog overwhelming because of the feelings that I have right now. I feel overwhelmed. It could just be a case of the Monday's, but I just feel overwhelmed about a lot of things.
I am a people pleaser. I try to make everyone happy around me. In fact, when I took the Strength Finders 2.0 test, by Tom Rath, one of my top 5 strengths was Harmony. I like things to be equal around me and have a happy environment. Sometimes this is a bad strength to have. As I look at it, it is hard for me to say no to things. It is my biggest flaw. I try to be a servan to those around me and to God, but I don't leave any time for me.

Genesis 2:2 (New International Version)

2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested a]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[a] from all his work.

Even God rested. Why can't I? I have a lot to do today. My work load is pretty full. However, I know that what I am doing is for God. I need to rest. I need my rest. God needs me to rest. I am rejuvinated with the new lay out, the new plan of the youth group. I am excited to get upward basketball started soon. I am excited to be chairing the McDonough Tour of Homes this year. There is a lot going on in my life and over the next 6 months, I will be busier than I ever have been.

I need to find the beat of God. When I speak of finding the beat, I am reminded of the Atlanta Braves. Silly, I know. Their beat is the tomahawk chop. I am playing it in my head right now! However, this is not the beat of God. The beat of God is 6 and 1. My life is off rhythm right now. Today will be a busy day. I am busy for the purpose of God and for the advancement of the Kingdom. Find the beat of God in your life. Take 5 minutes today. Sit back, rest your eyes, clear your mind and resonate on the beat of God. Ponder on what God is doing and where God is in your life. Figure out the many apsects of God around you. It may take longer than five minutes. But go to a queit place and just sit with you and God for a while. Let Him hold you, nothing will be able to touch you.

I'll leave this blog with the words of Mercy Me's song "If I Could Sit with You a While":

When I cannot feel, when my wounds don't heal
Lord I humbly kneel, hidden in You
Lord, You are my life so I don't mind to die
Just as long as I am hidden in You

If I could just sit with You a while, if You could just hold me
Nothing could touch me though I'm wounded, though I die
If I could just sit with You a while, I need You to hold me
Moment by moment, 'till forever passes by

When I know I’ve sinned when I should have been
Crying out my God and hidden in you
Lord I need you now, more than I know how
So I humbly bow, hidden in you

If I could just sit with You a while, if You could just hold me
Nothing could touch me though I'm wounded, though I die
If I could just sit with You a while, I need You to hold me
Moment by moment, 'till forever passes by

If I could just sit with You a while, I need You to hold me
Moment by moment, 'till forever passes by

Moment by moment, 'till forever passes by

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