Reflection

I’ve had the opportunity to do a good deal of reflecting and remembering these past two months, as I prepare to transition from my role as youth pastor into… well, whatever God has in store for me next. It’s a bit ridiculous, truth be told, how much “stuff” I’ve collected hoarded over the years.

In cleaning out my desk, I came across a folder that was stuffed full of pictures and cards and various other oddities, that at some point in my ministry and life, held a certain amount of significance. Tucked into the folder was a note from one of my former students, given to me on my 30th birthday. It’s a rare joy when a youth pastor gets to learn of  the impact they’ve made on a student’s life.

30 Things I've Learned

The Beauty of Common Needs

The middle. The space of something generally reserved for the “good part”. The point in which you begin to believe again that you can make it to the end. The middle. Today is the middle of the 15 day writing challenge. Today is an ugly day as far as the challenge goes. Ugly in the sense that without first being ugly, beauty is hard to come by. The imagery here is quite profound and simple at the same time. If you never begin and run the risk of that “thing” you’re venturing into coming out ugly, you will never arrive at the transformation from ugly to beautiful.

Today’s challenge joins up nicely with the conversations being had tonight in our small group meeting. Presently, I’m helping to lead a group of young people through the tool, the Barefoot Church Primer. It’s an eight week, daily study on how to learn to live a life that is directed toward helping your “neighbor” and serving in the gap of need. Tonight’s gathering marked the first week of study. The primary point being made around the circle in our discussion was that unless we prayerfully ask to see the most simple of need around us, we’ll likely never notice it in the first place, altogether missing out on great opportunity.

Truthfully speaking, failing to see everyday need is too common a habit. Personally, I often want to strive for the home run when it comes to meeting need. I want to accomplish that thing that makes the biggest bang and is most obvious. Unfortunately, in my search for great, I overlook and take no notice of good; therefore failing to do no good along the way. Missing an opportunity to serve because of such a glaring oversight is, you might say ugly. If I fail to meet the most common, simple of needs I remain ugly. But if I begin to meet those sorts of need, eventually the build up of end results amounts to something of sheer beauty.

My prayer is I would see the most common of need, and begin there, in whatever way I can to meet those needs, painting a picture of beauty along the way.

King of the Mountain

It’s just after 4:30 in the morning, and I’m awake for no other reason than I’ve opted in to the adventure that is the 15 Day Challenge put out there by writer Jeff Goins. I’m up and writing simply because this was the challenge from yesterday, day 2. We were to take our second day into the challenge and deeply meditate on the truth that I Am A Writer; then today wake two hours earlier than normal and write. So here I am… writing.

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Remember when you were younger, how almost any playground opportunity was immediately an opportunity for great adventure? It was in those moments we believed we really could fly. It was there we saw ourselves as king of the mountain. It was on the playground, lost in those moments, that the world seemed quite small and ourselves quite large. When did we loose that idealistic innocence about ourselves? When did life creep back into our reality and shake us so that we stopped living with unashamed abandon? How is it that the pure innocence of the playground rules of living are somewhere along the way replaced with the weight of this is how it’s supposed to be, now back in line?

Quite often it seems the Church is pinned down with this sort of hum drum thinking. Thinking, which leads to believing that to live in the heartland of the ideal sort of existence isn’t the way Jesus ever intended. Have we so quickly forgotten Jesus’ words in John 10? Instead the Church quietly accepts it’s pseudo-fate into mundane mediocre living. Assuming nothing is being missed outside the walls of the Sunday morning gathering. All the while there is a world waiting; desperate for the Church to wake up and exit the building and enter the world with the same vigor that once had us claim ourselves king of the mountain!

For a good number of years, I found myself adding to this narrative of this is how church is. I go, I sit, I listen, I leave, I repeat. Like a robot; a machine going through the motions week in and week out with little thought to whether or not there could be more. By the sheer grace of God I came to discover there was more. That Jesus never intended for his bride to simply go through the motions week after week. Jesus intended his Church to cause mass motion throughout the world, day in and day out, as we engage the culture all around us with the good new of the gospel.

Fast forward the story a bit and I’ve come to discover other like-minded, like-hearted followers of Jesus who have also come to the gripping reality that we were designed for something more, for something great. That we’ve been created to live on mission with God to bring hope and healing to our individual corners of the world, who are broken and in need of such things. It’s such a liberating feeling when you step into the room and realize there are others standing among you who are equal parts crazy to you.

This summer, for eight weeks, I’m joining together with a group of fellow crazies to move through the book, the Barefoot Church Primer by Brandon Hatmaker. This journey will daily guide us through the learning and doing process of shifting our lives to better live on mission for God. I’m excited to think what a room full of teenagers and adults, all pointed in the same direction, will be able to accomplish for the Kingdom this summer. While there is a part of me that would like to see where this may all go; it’s a rather small part of me. More than anything I’m excited for the journey and for the group of playground misfits that have opted in along side of me.

Changing my small corner of the world won’t be easy, but then again, anything worth doing rarely is.

30 Hours To Change A Life

You may have heard, I’m embarking on a journey of sorts. Here in about six weeks, I’ll be leading our youth group through World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine. In a nut shell, the 30 Hour Famine is about fasting from food for 30 hours in an effort to experience first hand what it feels like to be hungry and also to raise funds that will go to help provide food and hope to the millions of children and families around the world that know this feeling all too well.

Every $1 given feeds a hungry child for a day!I’ve participated and lead teams of teenagers through the famine before. And while it has generally been a positive experience, I’ve felt something was lacking. This time around, I discovered what it was that was lacking. As the leader I’d done everything I’d ever asked the youth to do, except one. I’d never really made an effort to raise funds. I had always justified this by assuming that my obligation toward the famine was in planning, arranging and leading it. I didn’t have the time to raise money; or so I thought.

This year, we held a 30 Hour Famine preview night of sorts, so the youth could get a glimpse of what the famine will be like. It was during this time that something in me began to stir. As I left the church that night, the stirring grew stronger and I knew very quickly that I couldn’t participate again this year without being intentional to also raise funds along side the youth.

So I’ve followed my own advice, I’ve set up my online donation page, created a Facebook event, and I am actively seeking a team of supporters; both in financial support and prayer support.

Will you join me? $1 will feed a hungry child for a day. Can you spare $1?

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Get a glimpse of the 30 Hour Famine for yourself.