new year, new what...

Here we are on the last day of 2010. We have about 14 hours until lots of people start ringing in the new year. We see people on TV partying, we listen to performers sing on TV, we watch a ball (or peach) drop depending on your geographic location, and we have our own little parties at home with friends or family. Yet, we always make new years resolutions. We always plan to do things better this year than the last one. We always want to better ourselves. But why do we do it?

Are we really making resolutions to better ourselves? Are we just keeping up with the trend and tell people we are going to change ourselves? What if you had a fantastic prior year and you don't want to change anything? My feelings on this are simple, I had an incredible year. I had a lot of highs and a lot of lows. Through it all, God was and is still on the throne. Everything I went through, be it the lowest point of my life, or the greatest day when I married my best friend, God was with me all along the way. He never left my side.

I opened up a journal I had from last year. I started reading some of the things I said. Since today is New Years Eve, I focused mostly on the last few months of my 2009 journal. Here were one of the entry's I found:

December 29, 2009
The end of the year is almost up. It has been a good ride so far. I know next year I plan on reading my Bible more. I just feel like my relationship with God is scattered all over the place. I am doing more of what I want rather than what I feel God wants of me. 2010 is all about God and less about me.

See you in 2010!
MA


This is crazy. I tried to make the year more about God and less about me. When I look at the beginning of this year, I started off on the wrong foot. I was doing more of what I wanted, I let things get the best of me, and I ruined a lot of bridges and relationships I had established. This was all due to the sand that I built my house on. The one common denominator is that God never left me.

When I finally married my wife, I was at the highest point of my life. God was still there.

When I go through the days of this past year in my mind, I see a person who has grown. God matured me. God removed me from situations that were bad for me and has placed me in a situation where I could only and solely depend on Him. Once I got out of the hole I dug myself into, I see that God lifted me out of that hole.

When people ask why we go through bad things, my answer is simple. When we ask God to come into our lives, be lord of our life, and to save us from utter destruction, we ask a huge thing. Our life instantly changes. However, Jesus is not going to enter our hearts just so we feel the warm fuzzy feelings of being a Christian. He is going to come into our lives to help us, guide us, nurture us, care for us, love us and be with us. We will suffer at times as He did. We won't walk on clouds all day every day.

God loves each of us, anyone within the voice of this blog and beyond. For my new years resolution, I am not putting God first on my list. The reason...God is already first. He can't be anything else but first. Traveling through the pits and despair that I felt, I thought I had abandoned God. I was stripped of relationships, reputation, and every ounce of arrogance I had in me to the point where I had nothing left but to cry out to Jesus. As soon as I did, Jesus was there with me crying out in pain.

I have had an incredible year. Some people caught me at the lowest point of my life and they only got a small snap shot of my 25 years of living. Others have loved me and loved on me regardless. Jesus cried with me, laughed with me, and loved with and on me the whole year. Every day, every hour, every minute Jesus was there. In 2011, I have a feeling He will be there the same amount of time.

I am not making a new years resolution. I am going to do the things that are expected of me, I am going to be the best husband I can be (yet I know I will fail at times), I will be the best youth pastor God has called me to be (but I know I will let God down at times), I will be the best Mark Ashby I can be and God wants nothing less.

We are not all going to be famous, be millionaires, or be happy all the time. The reason for this post is to help you see one thing. God called you to be you, no one else. I am not called to be Doug Fields (as much as I would like to be) or my best friend Eric Hendrickson. God has called Mark Ashby to be Mark Ashby and expects nothing less. Jesus knows my strengths, my weakness, my likes and dislikes. Jesus knows ME personally. He knows you the same way.

So for 2011, don't put Jesus first. Don't make expectations of yourself that you don't think you can reach. Be the best YOU you can be. Be the one person Jesus made you into. We can always better ourselves, and we learn from mistakes and wins in our lives. We change and adapt but the one constant in my life is Jesus. He is the always constant and will always be.

So today, I am being the best Mark Ashby I know how to be. I will laugh, I might cry, I might get mad, but I will love Jesus and love anyone else I come in contact with. I will fail, but in the end, Jesus picks me up and helps me move forward. Tomorrow is the start of a new year, but today is all I am focused on.

Nativity Dance...

It has been a month since I have posted the last blog post. Since then, a lot has gone on and things have been going great in my life. However, I am not here to write about what is going on with me. Right now, I want to share something that I feel is just amazing.
We just passed through the Christmas season and we, as youth pastors, have read about the nativity story to our students. We usually try to make our version really cool and try to put a different spin on things, to make the students really think about Jesus stepping down from Heaven to join man.
However, a friend of mine, Eric Hendrickson (www.uscerock.com) did something above and beyond to make the nativity story stand out. Most of us who don't live under a rock and watch youtube from time to time, have seen the video of the wedding entrance where everyone is dancing to "Tonight" by Chris Brown. It is a really funny video. However, Eric took it to the next level with his students. He put together something called, "The Nativity Dance". It was inspired by Lars Rood (www.larsrood.com). Take a look at this video and see how youth ministry SHOULD be done...


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