oh what a "knight"...

Let me tell you about my amazing life and my amazing day yesterday. It is days like yesterday that only further confirm my work as a youth minister.
Last night we had the competition between 3 different churches in a field. We called this WAR GAMES. What a blast we had. And let me tell you first and foremost, there are some things that sound good on paper, but when you put it into action, it doesn't always seem to turn out the way you pictured it. I call this the "sandcastle theory". This is where you picture this awesome sand castle in your mind and then you start to build it, and it looks nothing like the castle you imagined. However, that being said, WAR GAMES was a huge success.
Just take a look at some of the pictures and then I will get into the God part of all of this:

Looking back, the egg toss= not a good idea. Next time, it will be a little more organized and we will have more time. It's ok though! We had a blast just getting egged, having flour thrown at you, and feeling like a pancake would when being made. As Jamie put it best, "Operation Pancake" was a huge success. I would concur.
Now let's dive down a little deeper into this event we had. It was all about WAR. We had the egg war, the flour/water balloon war, and it was all in fun yet we didn't get to do a lesson due to running over the time limit.
However, I will tie this into the lesson that I was preparing to tell the students and that I got to tell the students at mid high group.
When I was little, I was fascinated with castles. I would love to read about them and just learn all I could about those times. I wanted to live back in those times just so I could live in a castle. Then as my knowledge progressed about castles, I learned more about how the castles were built, why they were built, and who lived in them and around them. Then I started to get into the whole medieval times. I loved to learn about the knights as well. One of my favorite books was King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (The great illustrated classics of course).
I was so into castles and knights that I got into legos and all I wanted was to build the lego castles. They would sit on display in my bedroom floor and no one could touch them but me. It was a great childhood.
I was also the weird kid. When I would go outside to play, I would put on a trash bag, grab the lid from the trash can, find the gardening shovel, and put on a helmet of some sorts and pretend to fight the knights of the air. They were the invisible army of bad knights who would attack my house or castle. I would defend it all over the yard and sometimes I would die and lay in the grass. People probably laughed at me and drove by thinking, "there goes that Ashby kid again...". In fact, I am pretty sure I get that now.
However, when I dressed up in my armor, nothing would hurt me. I was protected. My body armor (trashbag), my shield (trash can lid), my sword (gardening shovel), and my helmet (helmet) were what protected me from the bad knights.
However, and here is the kicker, we are also protected from Satan with the Armor of God. Paul talks about it in Ephesians 6:10-19.
The Armor of God
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

We can protect ourselves from God. And sometimes people will say things about us when we wear the armor of God. I will tell you one thing, when I am battling the spirits of Satan, I would not have any sharper sword than the word of God by my side.
Remember earlier how I mentioned the "sand castle" theory? Instead of building the sand castles of our lives to how we picture it, let's build the sand castle of our lives with God's help. It is then that He can build walls strong enough to protect you from the enemy. You will have a beautiful sandcastle ready and waiting for you, when it is built on the foundation of Christ.
Be a knight with the armor of God protecting you. Let your creative Creator build the sandcastle of your life. If He can make you and me, He can build something so beautiful to live in.
Thinking on last night...Oh what a "knight'!

Jesus spoke, faces fell....

Yesterday was an eye opening experience for me. I would like to share with all 12 people that read my blog about how God totally changed my life yesterday and how He is going to continue to help me grow in a way that is unimaginable. I had a wake up call yesterday that scared the mess out of me and just humbled me to the point that the god was worshiping was god of Mark and not the God of all creation. This is an amazing story.
WARNING: You may get chills and your face may or may not melt because of the sheer awesomeness of God and how He works in some ways I will never understand. The shirt to the left explains my feelings about God...

So there I was in my office, ready for another Wednesday. I was actually just ready for the day to be over. I was bored, really just ready to go home. It was about 11:30ish and I was running through my emails, trying to figure out some things and who I should email.
Every day, I get a daily e-votional from Ed Young Jr. He is an amazing pastor out of Texas and if you know me, I talk about him a lot. Well usually I will glance at his posts, but for some reason I just felt like actually reading through it. (This is a good reason I could be in a slump, in fact it IS the reason I am in a slump). It was about building our foundation on the rock and not on the sand. After reading it, I thought to myself, you know this is true. We should build our house on the rock. Then I had my Bible next to me and I decided to go through and look for some underlines of the scripture, which is something that meant a lot to me at one time.

I opened up my Bible to 2 Peter chapter 2. There was one part in there that was highlighted but I decided to read a pretty big portion of the chapter instead. It really scared me! It started talking about building up your ministry around yourself and not on the foundation of Christ. I was thrown back in my chair. I started to get chills. God was speaking to me! Literally! It was one of the coolest things that have happened to me in a long time!

So then I went on over to 1 Peter to see what he was talking about and why he wrote what he did. I was in awe of what God said to me here. Look at this:1 peter 1:22-25
22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24For,
"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25but the word of the Lord stands forever. And this is the word that was preached to you.

wow. That is all I can say when I read that. I will have many flowers in the field of my life, yet they will all fall because God remains forever! Victory in the end.

So I went to my youth and decided to share with them. God spoke right through me, and I really hope they understood it. After I read these verses I went home and I prayed loud, hard, and angry. I prayed a violent prayer. The prayer was shame at myself for letting me get this way. For letting me build an altar around me and not God. My foundation was around myself and Peter says that those will crumble and fall. It is amazing that we talk about foundations and rocks because Jesus called Peter the rock. He would set the foundation for Christianity as we know it. Let's look further into 1 Peter chapter 2 and see what he says about Christ being the foundation and the rock.

1 Peter 2:4-8

4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame. 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
"The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,8and,
"A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

WOW again! Look at this. Jesus is the capstone. The stone the builder's rejected, would become the capstone. I had to look up what a capstone is and the capstone is the final choice; the finishing touch; the crowning achievement. I'll wait for the goosebumps to subside. Did anyone else just get chills?

Christ spoke to me. Though not audibly, I felt like He was sitting right in front of me and was yelling through a bull horn at me!
The Bible study last night, well let's just say that it was pretty amazing. God really spoke through me. I explained that today is day 1. Right now God has laid aside this time as a divine intervention with Him. We were all going to meet Him there and lay Him as the capstone and build our foundation upon His word and upon Him. I must be built up in Christ in order to teach Christ to others. How awesome is out God that He speaks directly to us when we need it the most. I needed this boost and this galactic slap in the face.

Is Christ your foundation? After all is said and done, is Christ going to be the capstone of your life? Is He the crowning achievement? My foundation is laid in Christ. I fell off the path, but baby I am back and ready for action. As should you be! I pray for those that read this blog post today get fired up in Christ and can feel the passion of Christ just through the words typed on this website.

Abba, may the capstone of our lives, be nothing less than you! May you bring the fire of passion in our lives and open our hearts and minds eyes to see what you see. Help us see the needy, the sick, the poor and help us have compassion upon those around us. Let us not miss an opportunity to build up more of our foundation upon you. We thank you for the life we can breathe today and how we can feel you all around us! Oh happiness that your grace is enough for us and the entire human race!

Now pick your face up off the ground since it was just melted off by the power of Christ and go out and share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who need Him most!

pov (point of view)...

As I sit here in my office and I look around, I see floral pattern couches, floral pattern things hanging from the windows, orange cones, and 4 windows with the view of outside the church. This is great! I have an awesome office, that is messy beyond all belief and if someone came in here right now to have a meeting, I would be embarrassed to say the least.

I am the only person who can see through my eyes. You're probably reading this post and saying wow Mark, how obvious. My question to you is, how do we see through God's eyes? How do we have the vision that God has, so that we can see the un-loved, the untouched, the depressed, the lonely, the needy? How do we get on an HNL ('hole notha level) and get God's POV, or point of view.

Today, I got to teach in the Chapel service for our Academy. I got to teach to the K-2 kids and they are awesome! They are full of energy and life and love and it really brings me joy to see their faces. Today I shared a story of a rubber duck and how this person loved the rubber duck his parents gave him. In fact, it was his first gift from his parents. He had that duck seven years and then his dog got a hold of it. The duck was destroyed and the kid found the remainder of the pieces of put them in a box and buried the box out back. He loved that duck with all his heart, but it was time to let go.

1 John 3:1 says, 1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him."

John writes here that the Father has lavished us, loved us, so much that we can be called Children of God! And that is what we are! I get excited thinking about our creative creator who loves me that much. He lavishes on me.

To see the pov of God, we must first accept Christ to become a believer. We must then walk a life that is worthy of our calling to God and it is then that we will see what God sees. We will have God eyes. We can easily get wrapped up in gifts and the rubber ducks of this world, and when we do we tend to lose focus because the focus is on horizontal and not vertical. Have a vertical view of life, between you and God and let God use you. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.

Having the God POV helps us show the world that we are children of God and that God wants to lavish on them as well!

who is my Jesus....

So it is Monday again, and everyone knows that Monday's are generally slow. We sit on the edge of our seats while we watch the minutes pass by and just can't wait for that lunch break, or even to just get home and be with the families. Here is my schedule for the day:

1. Staff Meeting @ 3:30
2. Work on Ski Retreat Materials
3. Return phone calls and emails from last week
4. Finish Wednesday Night Bible Study
5. Get Praise Band music together for Thursday Practice

and a few other small and insignificant things. It is also quiet around our neck of the woods today because our Academy for students is out due to the fall break. We had a small youth group last night as well, but God definitely showed up as we had one of my best friend's, Jeffrey Samplaski, come in and speak to my students about making Jesus real in their lives. He spoke on how Jesus can make us feel from a nobody to a somebody, just because of His approach and because of His love. Jeffrey also spoke on the path that Jesus took. He took the unusual path, not the path that most would take. He said that we should all tread this path with three things: Worship, Prayer, and Scripture.

It was a very eye opening experience for me to listen to him speak. He is a very dynamic speaker and his love for God really shined last night. It was great to see him and Clint come up for a few hours. I was really dared last night and not challenged (you had to be there).

Yet, I woke up this morning really thinking about my youth group. I missed a lot of them last night, and I know a ton of them are out of town for one thing or another due to the fall break, but I really missed them. I was, however, excited about the ones that DID show up! It was so much fun! When I woke up, I turned on the TV to watch some of the Today Show and I also opened up the facebook application on my phone, since I don't have Internet at my apartment. I was looking at the status updates of a lot of people, and they all said something about Kanye West. I was intrigued by this because I had no clue what they were talking about.

I found out that Kanye West got on stage, during the acceptance speech of Taylor Swift for Best Female Video of the Year at the VMA's. He stole the Microphone from her and said that Beyonce' had the best video ever. Beyonce' of course was embarrassed, however, when she won for Video of the Year, she showed her true class and let Taylor come back and finish her acceptance speech.

Yet, when I looked at the video on youtube and I looked back on facebook and saw all the status updates, I wondered where every one's priorities are in life. I am even a walking example of this as I woke up and turned on the TV to watch the news.

It is crazy how two events that have nothing in common with each other can really share one common ground for a great message: who is YOUR Jesus? What are we doing in this world to advance the Kingdom of God? Just because I am a Youth Pastor, does that give me a get out of jail free card? NO!

Jeffrey spoke last night at youth and it really spoke to me. He shared some deep insight into his life and how one day he just felt like he was nothing. He found a different spin on the story of the woman at the well too. Jeffrey told us of how Jesus went out of His way to make this woman feel like someone when she felt like a nobody. I am not saying that I feel like a nobody, but there are times I just feel bad about myself because of the lack of work I am doing for the Kingdom and the more work I am doing for myself.

The things I do for me are trying to make a name for myself, trying to leave my mark in youth ministry somewhere, and trying to do the best I can at a career I love! Yet, where is God in the mix of all this? Has my work become my Jesus? At times, I feel as though just because I work at a church, I have this aura about me. This is far from the truth. I was really humbled by this.

It is funny when you think about it. I can say that God spoke to me in some funny ways this morning. He spoke to me through facebook and Kanye West. WOW! What an amazing God that loves me! He reaches out in the oddest ways, off the regular path, to reach me and make me feel like a somebody.

This is not a blog post to make you feel bad about yourself. In fact, it is the exact opposite. The title of my blog, sometimes it takes a shipwreck, is from a book by Mark Batterson called Wild Goose Chase. And for those who have read my blog from the beginning know I have mentioned this book many times before. "sometimes it takes a shipwreck" is a chapter in the book that speaks about the finding the chase of the Holy Spirit in your life, and sometimes it takes a shipwreck to get your attention. This morning The Today Show, facebook, and Kanye West were my shipwreck! I learned an old saying in my Sunday School class yesterday morning. Amy May said that we can not put of things for tomorrow because tomorrow does not exist. We will always put it off on tomorrow. It is my PLEA that no one puts off God until tomorrow. Let God show you His amazing love and how, even through a crazy turn of events that happen, He can speak to you and show you He loves you. My Jesus is not Kanye West, facebook, or even TV. MY Jesus is a man who created the whole world and even though I sin constantly against Him, He loves ME enough to die for ME to bring ME new life and to show ME that He cares and loves ME anyway.

Now, my dare to the readers of this blog are simple. In the last sentence of the paragraph above, take out the ME and insert YOU in the blanks.

WAR GAMES (an overlook)...

Here is an event, that maybe you and your ministry can do, with other churches, to boost some attendance and to just have some down right messy fun. Because let's be honest, getting messy and being able to throw stuff at your kids for fun is really 92% of youth ministry!

Here are the rules of WAR GAMES
1. Each team provides it's own ammo for each of the three wars. When one team runs out, that team is out until the next round.
2. There will be 3 wars. The first war is the Flour war. You can buy a nice big bag of flour from any Sam's Club or Bj's or whatever wholesale store you have for cheap. By several of these bags and give it to the students. The point of this war is to simply run around and throw flour at the other people. We will be giving an "Antique Award" for this. This means the person with the most flour on them, they look like an antique picture.
3.The second war is the Egg War. You can pretty much figure this out, but each team will have a target. The purpose is to protect your target (which should be a tarp with a bullseye painted on). Each team will throw eggs at the other teams target. The team with the most eggs on the bullseye wins. However, each team must also defend their target. If a person is hit with an egg, they are out until the next round. Again, the eggs can be purchased at your local wholesale store.
4.The third war is a classic waterballoon fight, with a twist. Of course you will have hundreds and thousands of water balloons ready for action, but some will be mixed with food coloring. These waterballoons are special. The most special will be the red food coloring balloons. The person who has the most red on them will get the "redman award".
5. After all of this, your church and the other churches will come together for a gutter icecream sundae. No need to worry about germs here! If you don't know what a gutter sundae is...let me show you the beauty of this:

Isn't that pretty? Put all different types of ice cream in a gutter, and all the toppings on the side, give the students a spoon and tell them to dig in!

While the students are chowing down on their sundae and having fun, share a talk about spiritual war fare. This can tie into the WAR GAMES theme. You can also make shirts with an awesome design. Tell the new kids or the guests to wear all white, while everyone else has on camo or black. This way you can spot them a lot easier.

At the end of all of this, if you are feeling really daring, you can watch the terrible movie called War Games starring Matthew Brodrick. He starts a war with computers. I DON'T reccomend you do this, but again it is for the really brave!

The 5 Essentials for Healthy Living...

At Bible study last night in the ER we had 11 students show up. What a blessing it was! We had a lot of Senior High and Mid Highs. We have been doing a Bible study on The 5 Essentials for Healthy Living. It is titled Chew On This.

Healthy Things grow. Whether it's trees, lawns, flowers, or people. If there is health, there is growth. However, just because someone is growing physically does not mean they are growing spiritually. This Bible study grows in to 5 ways we can grow in a more intimate and personal relationship with Him.

Week 1- The first essential for Healthy Living is: Reaching Out To The Lost. Each one can Reach one.
Week 2- Connecting with Other Believers- With others I am strong, Alone I am Shaky.
Week 3- Personal Growth- Just Because I am Getting Older Does Not Mean I am Growing Up.
Week 4- Discovering My Gifts- A gift is only good if it gets used!
Week 5- Honoring God with my life- Foes my lifestyle honor God or hurt Him?

Through reading over this amazing Bible study, written by my good and close personal friend Doug Fields, I have learned a lot about my life. I have not been living a healthy lifestyle that honors God.
I so often forget my daily quiet time with God. It nourishes me and brings me strength for the day. George Mathison, the Senior Pastor at Auburn First United Methodist Church, told me once that he wakes up every morning to his quiet time with God. Psychology tells us that the way we wake up in the first 15 minutes dictates our attitude for the rest of the day. For example, if we wake up mad, we have a tendency to have a bad day. If we wake up with God first, we may still have a bad day, but we have the hope and the faith to cling to God when we need Him.
Beth Moore states that when she was in depression she clung to God not every day, not every hour, but every minute of her life. She says that our daily walk with God is a minute by minute basis because we have no idea where we will be the next minute. This woman now reaches thousands of people through her Bible studies and helps many woman through a lot of hard times.
My story is nothing special. God changed me from where I was to where I am now. It is an amazing journey full of ups and downs and zig zags, turn aways, u turns, rededications, and much more. However, I know God has walked each step with me.
God will not favor you more because of me following these 5 essentials for healthy living. God already does favor me. These are, however, some basic things I can add to my life, as you can yours, that will make us healthier in our spiritual walk.

I hope this blog reaches someone. Even if I have one reader or 1000 readers, I know that God has blessed my life, and this is one way I can share the love of Christ to reach a lot of people or even just one.

b-e-a utiful (sweet and sour)...

My life has been fantastic as of lately. I have just been enjoying everything I can. I have been diving deeper into the word as well and God and I have really been expanding our horizons together. I believe that because of this, God has blessed me in a lot of facets of my life. Either that, or I am just now noticing the blessings.

I had to do chapel today for our academy. I talked about the healing power of God. But before I got to the chapel room, I had to walk across the street and walk outside. I slid on my sun glasses and I opened the door to walk out. WOW! That was all I could think. For about 13 seconds all I could do is look up in the sky. Today was simply beautiful. The temperature was just right, the sun was shining, the sky was blue. What an amazing day!

This only capped what an awesome weekend I had. I went to the Auburn game and watch our football team open a can on LA Tech. Then I went on a double date to the Braves game and watched Matthew West sing on Sunday. Monday, I went to the lake and relaxed. It was a very busy weekend for me, but I sit here today, in my office, and I reflect on the time I had this weekend. I didn't make a whole lot of time for God.

I went to church on Sunday, of course, and everything else but I limited my time with God. I did think about God at certain times, but it just wasn't the same. I missed my quiet place, my hiding place, where I can just sit with God and listen and read and pray about His will in my life.

God is beautiful. He reminds me in the subtleties of life like today. I was taken back by the beauty of the day. I am taken back in a lot of things that fall into my every day life. I pray that whoever reads this blog just takes time to see the beauty of the simplicity and to find God in their hiding place as well. God will bless you and I pray God will bless you when you spend time with Him and expand your horizons with God.
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