Youth Ministry Again

With Pastor Tony leaving, I have officially made my return to Youth Ministry, 6 months after having left it Smile

We have a great group of High School kids here at Cool Church and a great youth staff that is coming right along and learning how to make disciples.  At the same time, it’s tough losing your Youth Pastor.  It’s tough for the kids, it’s tough for the staff and it’s tough for me.  We’ve got some great ideas about what the future of Youth Ministry might look like here at the church, but right now there are a lot of changes going on and change is hard.

As I was thinking about this transition and all of the changes that are happening around here right now, I was reminded of a video that I posted a few months ago as I was leaving Emmanuel Baptist Church.  It’s a conversation between my old Youth Pastor (Ed Kelley) and myself as we talked about his departure from Fruitvale Community Church and that time of transition.  If nothing else, this video is a walk down memory lane for me and perhaps it will be helpful for others who are struggling through a transition right now.

December 20 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on Youth Ministry Again

Would You Buy Your Son a Stack of Pornographic Magazines?

Would you buy your son a stack of pornographic magazines? from Randy Alcorn on Vimeo.

June 25 2010 | Blog | 1 Comment »

Turn Down the Noise…

Here’s the video from our High School winter retreat this year.

You can also find my latest lesson on Foundations of the Faith here and my latest lesson the The Edge here.

March 16 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on Turn Down the Noise…

Everything’s Broken

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The other day I took one of my Junior Highers out to get ice cream.  We looked intently at all of the flavors, made our choices, and sat down to enjoy ourselves.  This was the first time that I’d spent much time with this particular young man so I started asking lots of questions about what he liked to do, where he went to school, what his family was like, etc.  What followed was an hour long conversation that broke my heart in almost every way.  In the same matter of fact tone that you might tell someone about what you did yesterday he began to relay to me the broken details of his life.  Divorce, parental drug abuse, multiple siblings spread all over the state, CPS, and countless other tragedies made up the tapestry of this young man’s life.  The only consistent thing seemed to be the complete instability that characterized his day to day experience.

As we finished our ice cream and made our way outside I couldn’t help but think about how broken this young man’s life was, and he’s only 12.  Something inside of me wanted to cry out, “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be!  Children are meant to live with both of their parents, to be raised to know and fear the Lord, to have security knowing that mom and dad love them and love each other.”  The problem is that life is broken and so nothing is the way that it’s supposed to be, including this young man’s life.

Paul Tripp writes about this brokenness in his book, Broken Down House:

“The brokenness around you affects you in different ways at different times.  Sometimes you have to deal with personal hurt.  Sometimes you grow angry that things do not function as they were designed to.  Sometimes you are overwhelmed with feeling sad or lost in the face of this world’s pitiful condition.  Sometimes you get tired of the effort it takes to live in a broken-down house, and you just want to quit.  At every point and every moment, your life is messier and more complicated than it really ought to be because everything is so much more difficult in such a terribly broken world.”

How do we respond to life in this broken world?  Should we close our eyes to the suffering around us and try to insulate ourselves from the brokenness?  Should we allow our hearts to become numb or indifferent with apathy?  Should we just lay down and cry?  Here’s a summary of Tripp’s response:

  1. Determine to be honest about the world we live in.  In other words, don’t try to cover up the brokenness of the world we live in.
  2. Let yourself mourn.  This world is a broken place full of pain and it is appropriate for us to mourn over that.
  3. Fight to be dissatisfied.  Do not allow the day to day drone of this broken world lull you into being satisfied with it’s brokenness.
  4. Be glad.  While this world is broken, Emmanuel has come to restore that which has been lost.
  5. Live with anticipation. By an extraordinary act of God’s grace, all his blood-bought children are guaranteed to be part of a much better neighborhood.  Someday we will all live in the New Jerusalem on a street called Shalom, where brokenness will be no more.

February 08 2010 | Devotional | Comments Off on Everything’s Broken

“Get Outta My Face” Book Review

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I started reading Get Outta My Face by Rick Horne several months ago with the High School and Junior High Staff based on several recommendations from a few of the blogs that I read as well as a glowing recommendation from Paul Tripp.

The subtitle to Get Outta My Face is “How to reach angry, unmotivated teens with biblical counsel.”  The focus of this book is definitely on working with angry teens.  In other words, this is not a generic book on how to work with teenagers, rather it is an extremely focused book on how to work with teenagers who are seemingly “out of control” and furious with everyone and everything.  Through 171 pages Rick Horne takes you through a step by step process for working with angry teens.  Horne introduces the book in this way:

Here’s a fact.  Angry, unmotivated, and disinterested teens, whether Christian or not, are confused, insecure, and often blind to everything except what they want right now.  Their desires and actions have been corrupted and polluted by sin.  that’s why they have a problem.

Here’s another fact.  Angry, unmotivated, and disinterested teens, whether Christian or not, are made in the image of God.  This means that beneath their corrupted desires and actions the image of God remains.  that’s the key to solving their problem.

Far from dismissing or sugar-coating sin, this approach opens wide the door to evangelizing the unsaved teen and to helping the Christian teen grow in holiness and wisdom.  This book will teach you how to build a bridge to young adults on the basis of the ways in which their desires and actions reflect the image of God and the blessing of common grace.

One of the most important things to realize about this book is that it is extremely focused on one thing: the posture that adults take toward angry teens.  Horne goes to great lengths to emphasize the importance of approaching angry teens in a biblical fashion in order to get an opportunity to present biblical truth to them.  I suppose this is something of a weakness and a strength.  If you are dealing with an angry teen, this is going to be a very helpful book for starting a conversation with him/her.  On the other hand if you’re looking for general information on working with teens, you’ll probably find yourself wanting more than what Get Outta My Face offers.  In which case, I would highly recommend Paul Tripp’s book Age of Opportunity.

Get Outta My Face is a great book for dealing with angry teenagers.  I would definitely recommend it.

January 18 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on “Get Outta My Face” Book Review

My Story (part 2) – A Servant’s Heart

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As I look back over the course of my life I am stunned by the sheer number of blessings that God has placed in my life.  A a child, the single greatest blessing was certainly being born into the family that I was born into and having the privilege of hearing the gospel from an early age.  As a teenager, I believe that one of the greatest blessings in my life was the church I was a part of and specifically, the youth ministry that I was involved in.

My years in youth ministry at Riverlakes were full of wonderful memories that I cherish to this day.  My Youth Pastors (Ed Kelley and later Brian Murphy) are both godly men who made significant investments in my life and are still dear friends today.  It was during this time and under the care of these men that God began to call me to the ministry as early as Junior High.

God was working in my life in many significant ways during this time: teaching me about the church, leading worship, friendships, mission trips, etc.  If I were to put a single banner over the lessons that I learned during these years it would be how to have a “servant’s heart”.  One of our theme verses was Mark 10:42-45 –

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  But it shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

Through mission trips to Mexico, to regular service projects, to student leadership teams and beyond God’s heavy emphasis upon servant-hood was impressed deeply upon my heart by godly men and women who loved me, often times in spite of myself.

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For me, my High School years were much more about the church than the High School I  attended.   I loved South High, but for me it was mainly a place that I had to go during the day to get an education.  My true love was fast becoming the church.  I suppose this is one of the reasons that I love Student Ministries so much, because it had such a profound impact on my life and my love for the church.

As I mentioned in my lat post, one of my hopes in this series is to draw attention to two great truths that I have clearly seen working themselves out in my life: 1) I am a great sinner, 2) Christ is a great Savior.  There is probably no better place in my life that I can testify to the truth of the first of these statements than my High School years.  The emotional turmoil of High School, the besetting sins of lust and pride that continually haunted me, along with the rampant  occupation with self are all clear testimonies to my own sinful heart.  In spite of all this my great Savior was quietly calling me closer and closer to himself and developing in me a heart that would be sensitive to Him.

December 14 2009 | My Story | Comments Off on My Story (part 2) – A Servant’s Heart

Reaching the Next Generation

Kevin DeYoung recently finished a series of blog posts on “Reaching the Next Generation” that are well worth reading.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“A couple generations ago 20 year olds were getting married, starting a family, working at a real job or off somewhere fighting Nazis.  Today 35 year olds are hanging out on Facebook, looking for direction, and trying to find themselves.  We have been coddled when we should have been challenged."

Here are a few more

“If nothing of spiritual significance is happening in your church, your Bible study, your small group, or your family it may be because nothing spiritually significant is happening in your life.”

“It’s not liberal professors that are driving our kids away.  It’s their hard hearts and our stale, compromised witness that opens the door for them to leave.”

"A lot of research in the sociology of religion suggests that the most important social influence in shaping young people’s religious lives in the religious life modeled and taught to them by their parents."

Here are the 4 posts:

Reaching the Next Generation: Win Them with Love

Reaching the Next Generation: Hold Them with Holiness

Reaching the Next Generation: Challenge Them with Truth

Reaching the Next Generation: Amaze Them with God

December 02 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on Reaching the Next Generation

If I Could Only be as Cool as this Youth Pastor…

Obviously, this is very tongue in cheek but man is it funny!!!

August 28 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on If I Could Only be as Cool as this Youth Pastor…

Youth miniStarZ

I’d like to think that my ministry has a little more substance than this, but nevertheless I almost died laughing when I saw this parody of Youth Ministers.

August 14 2009 | Blog | 5 Comments »

True Beauty

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I think that one of the saddest things I see as a Youth Pastor is the sheer number of girls who consider themselves to be plain looking or even ugly.  On trips or even regular youth group nights, it’s not uncommon to overhear small groups of girls bemoaning their imperfections, and wishing they were really beautiful.  The irony is how beautiful these girls really are, but how easily they become consumed with what they perceive to be their imperfections.

The following is an excerpt from a post I recently read on the desire to be beautiful.

What should we make of this obsessive desire of women to be beautiful? Is the pursuit of beauty wrong? I’m going to answer in a way that may surprise you: First, I would argue that the pursuit of beauty is good and right, and an integral part of our wiring, as women. It’s the way God made us. Second, I would contend that the problem is not that we pursue beauty too much, but that we don’t pursue it nearly enough.

When we consider the jaw-dropping picture painted by Scripture, it would seem that our Lord finds our desire for beauty not too strong, but too weak. We try to doll ourselves up with the earthly and the superficial and temporal, while the supernatural and eternal is offered us. “Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased!” (to cite a favorite C.S. Lewis analogy).

It reminds me of the story that Jesus told about the pearl of great price. When a man discovered it in a field, he sold everything he had to purchase that field. When the pearl of great price caught his eye, all his other treasures seemed worthless in comparison. He joyfully gave them up to get the treasure whose beauty and value surpassed them all. But here’s the thing. Had he not caught a glimpse of the surpassing beauty of the pearl, he wouldn’t have been willing to part with his meager possessions. He couldn’t give up what was lesser until he caught sight of the greater. The reason women are so obsessed with cosmetics, creams, diets and tummy tucks, is that their hearts haven’t been gripped by a more compelling, more beautiful vision.

You can find the rest of the post here.

July 15 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on True Beauty

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