chain breakers...

On my blog, about eight months ago, I published a series of posts about my father's and my relationship as I was growing up. Through out these posts, I was barraging truth and pain from my past, and left it open for the world to see. As I look back on it, these posts helped me reach people who had problems with their fathers, it helped me receive a book deal, and it opened myself up to A LOT of criticism from my family and friends. It would seem as though I didn't love my father and that I resented him my whole life. None of that is further from the truth.

For a while, I felt like there was a distance between my father and I, and that was before I turned into an adult, where I could see more into his life than as a child. Now, I also see his faults in life. Regardless, he is still my father.

I have been thinking a lot about ministry and my personal life. As a youth minister, I set boundaries in the ministry I have been blessed to look over. I do not spend all my free time with students. I build relationships on grounds that are appropriate and don't break any laws or rules that the church has set. I also try to separate my home life from my ministry, but being so enthralled into ministry, I find the separation VERY hard.

As I look at my life now, I can honestly say I still talk to my father. It hurts because I know his past. The hero fell from grace. Yet, I can look at my life and I can ask myself, "Do I want to continue this type of life? Do I want to break the chains of my past and start a family based on Biblical principles and morals?" I also ask myself the question that, if sin is heretical, am I in trouble? We pick up on things, even subconsciously through our parents. We may not realize it as children, but now I am the one responsible for the sin in my life. I make the choices.

When it comes to ministry, sometimes we claim to be as transparent as we can be. This is not always the case. As I continue to grow and mature in my relationship with Christ, my walk with Christ, my relationship with my wife and OUR family, my parents and siblings, I see a pattern. I see that I may think that I am right A LOT of times. I may think that I know best. I may think that no matter how much I try to NOT be like my father, I have inherited qualities, both good and bad from him and my mother.

Today, I am choosing to be a chain breaker. I can not blame my sin now, from my parents mistakes. I choose sin from time to time and I choose Christ from time to time. I have to have a relationship with my father in Heaven before ANYONE else even comes close.

As I look to grow in my walk with Christ and as I become a father, whenever that may happen, I want to see myself as a person that chose Christ over his job. I want to see myself as a person who put family first and ministry second. I may have boundaries in my ministry and my life, but I need to make sure that my priorities are set before ANYTHING else can fall into place.

movement...

It's tough to look at ourselves in the mirror sometimes. We can often look at our lives and make excuses for where we are, what we have done, or even what we will do; or we can look at ourselves and admit where we have fallen, give God glory for the times we have reached and climbed over peaks, and cry when we look at the sin in our lives.

There comes a time in every persons life, ministry, job etc where we have to look at ourselves. So often we are trying to make movement happen, but we are on a plateau in a stagnant pond that NOTHING is happening. Do you ever feel this way? Do yo feel as though you try so hard and nothing happens?

I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time in a while. I didn't like what I saw. At first glance I see a youth minister, a husband, a son, a grandson, and a brother. At closer inspection I see a liar, a cheater, a sinful man. At closer look, I see a person struggling to stay afloat when the waves are crashing around him. At an even CLOSER look, I see someone who barely knows how to swim jumping into the deep end off the high dive (knowing that I am afraid of heights and not in top physical condition to swim).

Ministry can be the same way. So often we want movement in the youth ministries we are serving that we will sometimes create the illusion that it is. Same thing with our lives, we will so often want movement that appears good on the outside but on the inside it is stagnant. We need to reverse the mirror this morning and instead of placing blame on parents, lack of workers, size of the group, geograhpic location of the church, funds from the church or anything else, we need to take deep looks at ourselves.

My question to you, the husband/wife, the son/daughter/, the brother/sister, the grandchild, the youth worker, the desk jockey, the unemployed person, the real you is this; if you told the mountain to move, RIGHT NOW, could you do it? More than likely, if you're in my position the answer will be a resounding HECK NO!

I cannot increase my faith. I believe I have faith 100% of the time. It is the question of where I place my faith. Is my faith in myself, my surroundings, my possessions, etc or is my faith in the God who placed those mountains there and if He wanted to could turn them into an ant hill in the flick of His finger? Our faith is HUGE on who we are as people and who we are as servants in this world.

I tell my students all the time that we need to be a sign post for Jesus, pointing people towards Him and not away from Him. We need to point people towards Heaven and not towards earth. I can't say I do this all the time. Sometimes I preach from behind the mirror so the students or those around me can only see themselves and not me. The mirror has been reversed, now. I have looked at myself, my ministry, my life and I am turning towards Christ, because I don't like what I see.

In my mirror I see little movement. I see more than one sign, those pointing to me and smaller ones that point to Jesus. I am having a makeover, and it is where I only have two signs, my biggest sign will point to Jesus to cause that movement, my other sign is my life pointing at the bigger sign (still causing constant movement). I will live courageously as Jesus has called me to, I will have faith in Christ to move mountains, I will be able to do all things because it is Christ who will be my strength; and at the end of the day, it will be because of Christ that He has allowed all things (good or bad) to happen to me.

Where is the movement in your ministry or your personal life? Post a comment and share where you have made movements towards Christ in your youth ministry or your life, to cause less of you and more of Jesus.

myself...

Today, I woke up and I decided that I am ready to start blogging again. For those of you who used to keep up with me on my blog, as I tried to write a few a week, have probably noticed it has been as barren as a desert for the past few months. Let me give you an update on my life and where my renewed sense of life has been.

First off, I have been writing a book. I got a contract through a GREAT publishing company. The book is titled "Reverse Youth Ministry" and it is touching on the ideas that the way general youth ministry is done is not where we should be heading. I argue, in my book and practice in my own ministry, that in order to get bigger you need to get smaller first. This is through prayer, discernment, wisdom, crazy antics, and pure fellowship with Christ that your group should reduce in size, increase in discipleship, and from there possibly grow numerically, depending on where you and your church is located (geographically speaking).

Second, I have ALSO decided to start my Masters. This is crazy and through a series of events that ONLY Christ can put together, I will finish my Masters in six months. However, the work load is STILL heavy and I can't slack off or sleep through class. My classes are online. Thank you Lord for that.

Now I am at the point where I am today. Today, I feel that I am ready to blog. Today, I feel that Christ has put something on my heart that is worth writing about, aside from papers and book pages. Today, I feel that I am dead to myself and alive in Christ. This is a TRULY amazing feeling.

Over recent months I have passed a few mile stones in life and in my ministry. I have been at my church for over a year now and planning and scheduling could never be better. I feel that our church is pointing in the direction that Christ wants us to go in. We have started our "growth groups" or small groups, and that is an amazing feature that God has helped us connect with people, outside of my youth ministry, that are close to my age. My wife is enjoying this fellowship as well.

In our youth ministry, we have committed to going to Puerto Rico this summer. Only a handful of students are going, but I know God is going to bless us.

And through all of this, I have had several nay sayers (that I hear through other people) about my ministry and how I am not doing what used to be done or how I am not giving their children the experience prior children had. At first this bothered me. I don't like people not liking me or the job that I feel Christ is leading me to give. However, over prayer and time with wiser counsel, I have forgiven these people, even though I have not been confronted face to face with any accusations or problems, just through word of mouth. It is freeing to know that God is stirring waters because that means there is movement coming.

For a while though, I was doing this by myself. Taking on the time to do things myself and trying to lead the group myself. It was all about me. I had some good things come my way and so I felt good about myself. My pastor gave a sermon on Mark 9:14-27 this past Sunday and titled his sermon "Meager Faith". I was shocked to see similarities between me and the father of the demon possessed man and even between me and the disciples. Unbelief and faith in myself more than faith in God. I, and others in our small group, came to the conclusion that it is not how great our faith in God is, it is faith in our Great God.

This has sat with me through the night and this morning into my devotional reading. I am striving to be a better husband to my wife, a better spiritual leader for our family and future family when that time comes, a better youth pastor that follows God's will and direction (not my own), a better mentor to students who need love and care, a better friend to my friends, a better son to my father and mother, a better brother to my brothers, a better grandson to my grandparents, a better disciple and servant to Christ and other believers and non believers alike and the list can continue. It seems I needed improvement. My ministry needed improvement.

I want to encourage you today. I want you to see (or read in this case) that the world is built around us and our instant gratification, but without Christ we are nothing. We, as servants, need to be chain breakers. If sin exists in our families, break the chain. If sin exists in your life, break the chain. If pride, selfishness and greed live in your life, break the chain. If we are trying to live our goals through our children or students, break the chain. Live ONLY for Christ. That is where our source comes from. That is our eternal spring where we ONLY thirst for Him and His word. Break the chains of ourselves and live FREELY in Christ today! Start a legacy wherever you are to live for Christ, raise others towards Christ, and serve others as the hands and feet of Christ.
There was an error in this gadget

Total Pageviews

There was an error in this gadget

Followers