Truth, Justice, Freedom and the American Jesus Way

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yesterday we were doing a little bit of joking about politics at band practice.

Truth be told, I hate politics. For the past 3 weeks now, we've heard nothing but this Anthony Weiner scandal and there are lots of other issues important to our country right now that are being completely ignored. But that's politics for you.

I remember vividly in my early years of faith being told that if you're a Christian, you're a republican. I bought this for many years and I practiced my politics that way as well. I thought you'd be crazy to vote anything but republican. Those democrat Christians? Blasphemous!

But as I've come to know more about Jesus, I've discovered something about more about politics: Jesus transcends republicans and democrats or any other political party. No one political body, country or ideal has the corner market on Jesus. Jesus is too big for that.

After all, it's God himself that ordains the governments of our world and we have to submit to them whether we like it or not.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. - Romans 13:1

Don't get so wrapped up in politics. Simply be faithful in what God has given you to do today. We may not like all of the things going on with our country, but Jesus has promised to take care of us.

Oh and remember that we are free in our country and free in Christ. That also gives us the freedom to be a democrat, republican or any other political party that we choose.

People of Little Faith

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I have to completely admit that I'm coming out of a spiritual black hole. For quite a long time now, I've had lots of questions about faith, and in particular my relationship to faith.

It wasn't that I doubted the existence of God or anything like that, but my faith was troubled and I had a hard time reconciling it. I'm very happy to say that I've come through that time and I'm a lot stronger because of it.

And I think that's the point that God was making in me.

I had a discussion with a student the other day that was struggling with an issue that one of his friends had approached him about on a matter of faith. We had a great discussion and I think, for the most part, we answered his question. On my drive home, I started to think about that conversation and the nagging question that bothered him and the relief that it brought when it was figured out. That's growth.

If you're comfortable in your faith and you never have a question about God or Jesus or anything like that, I don't think you're growing. If you read the Bible and never walk away with a doubt or a nagging question in your mind, you aren't going deep enough.

As human and finite beings, we should have questions about God. We should have doubts. Why are we so afraid of having a doubt. We're human, after all.

In Matthew 8, Jesus and the disciples were out on a boat. While Jesus was sleeping, a large storm came and ravaged the small boat. On a side note, I think it's kind of funny that Jesus slept through the whole thing. The disciples, having been with Jesus for some time now and seeing him work miracles and learn from his teaching still didn't seem to understand who Jesus was. He said to them: "You of little faith..." His disciples were amazed and understood a little more about who Jesus was.

We too are people of little faith.

Our moments of little faith lead us to bigger faith.

Youth Ministry On a Tight Budget

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So the financial committee chair person comes to you and says: "Good news! We've reworked your have $100 to spend for the year for each of your programs. If you could spend less that'd be great!"

Ouch. Double ouch if you're working with several different programs!

You have a couple of options:

  1. Start writing your own curriculum, which takes a lot more time or
  2. Find quality curriculum/teaching material at a discounted price.

When working with church funds, you obviously want to be the best steward that you can with the money that people have given for the work of God's Kingdom. But that doesn't mean you have to skimp on quality to get the most bang for your buck!

Let me give a couple of ideas on how to save money on buying quality teaching material.

First, check out sites like and Just a couple weeks ago I was looking for some material for our Jr. High class and someone recommended to me the Dares From Jesus series by Mark Oestricher. If you go online and buy this material, it's $15. But I bought it from a used book dealer through Amazon for $1.50. No, I'm not missing a zero. One dollar and fifty cents!

When I received it in the mail I was astonished that such a great tool was available at such a low price and in perfect condition!

Secondly, check out discount Christian bookstores. Here you can find books that are either out of print or from the previous year. I bought Nelson's Annual Youth Ministry Sourcebook which is a great resource for youth ministry talks for less than $5. I also picked up this great book for about $2. Incidently, that book is available through amazon for 44 cents.

So having a small budget is not a huge deal when it comes to buying teaching resources. You have to shop around a little bit, but you could easily fill your library with tons of teaching materials for under $100.

Monday Weigh-In #2

Monday, August 18, 2008

As of 5:05am this morning I weighed in at 196 pounds - I met my 2 pound goal for the week!

Surprisingly! I was not as careful with my food as I should of been last week. Saturday I ate over 2600 calories (Cheeseburger in Paradise is my personal weakness!) Not at all what I had hoped for but still managed to pull off the loss.

As I think about it, I'm not sure I'll make the goal to 175. Not because of lack of willpower, but because of weight gain from muscle. I started weight lifting, and when you put on muscle, you gain weight (the good kind). This is why you often see on the Biggest Loser some people either lose very little or actually gain a little weight.

But the good news is that muscle burns up to 15 times more calories than fat alone. So that's great news!

Monday Weigh-In

Monday, August 11, 2008

Today is CRAZY busy so I'll make this short.

The past 3 months I've taken a short hiatus for my weight loss. Between summer camps, CIY and crazy schedules, it was nearly impossible to lose and keep a schedule of exercise.

So today I officially start again and plan on coming on here each Monday morning to give an update on my weigh in. This helps keep me accountable.

The Goal: 175 Pounds
Target Ideal Weight Loss a week: 2 pounds
Today's weigh in: 198 pounds
Estimated Date of Goal: November 3rd (12 weeks)

I appreciate your prayers and encouragement through this journey. It's been difficult and no way I could accomplish these goals without your support. Thank you so much!

Weekly Cuteness

Sunday, August 03, 2008

To Be Hungry...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The purpose of this post isn't to show that I'm a "Super Christian" because I'm not in any way. Nor am I trying to show off what I do. I just want to be able to share the way God has been blessing me through one on one times with him. With that being said...

This morning I had an amazing quiet time. I think I've finally found the groove that connects me to God in my quiet time. Someone once said "If you're bored during your quiet time, God probably is too." That made sense to me, and I decided there had to be some changes in our quiet time together.

There was a time when I was against having a quiet time with God, and I know some of you will gasp and wonder what I'm talking about but let me explain. I had a professor in Bible college that related our relationship with God to hunger. When we get hungry, we eat. When we hunger for God, we should eat. To me, that made sense. And then I learned about how each person connects to God in a different way. Some connect through singing. Some through prayer. Nature. Fasting. Silence. Solitude. Giving. I started to put things together that you don't necessarily have to have a quiet time every day where you read your Bible, but maybe taking one of those elements and doing it when you felt "hungry".

The problem is, our stomachs are naturally designed to tell us when we're hungry. We haven't really trained ourselves to listen to when our souls are hungry. I found that I was actually starving my soul AND I wasn't giving it a normal diet of different foods.

Scripture HAS to be part of our connecting with God otherwise we're having one way conversations. We do all the talking and we refuse to allow God to talk to us. Scripture is the way God connects to us on a one on one basis and shows us what we need to do and what we need our attitude to be. Thankfully, I figured this out a couple of years ago and it's been my life line to God in ministry. Now I'm going to just give a model of how I connect to God, feel free to end your reading now if you don't really care so much, I understand ;)

Here is how I connect:

  1. First thing I do when I get into my office is open my Bible and either a) read where I feel God guiding me to read. b) Continuing on with a book. I read through the Gospels last year and now I'm reading through some Psalms.
  2. I sometimes have a book that I'm reading and I'll read a chapter. Currently I'm reading this book and it's been amazing!
  3. I have a journal that I keep regular entries in. I have a hard time praying out loud/in my head. My mind goes every where. So when I am able to sit down and write out my prayers, not only do I have a record that I can go back to and see how God answered my prayer, but I can focus on what I'm praying about. Gives me a little more concentration.
  4. Sometimes I'll go up to our local forestry and take a lunch, a book, my bible and my journal and hike up to the tallest point in the county. I just have a quiet time and read and pray and it's just a wonderful time to spend with God. I call it a day of refreshment.
Spending personal time with God is essential in any believers daily life. He refreshes us. He corrects us. He encourages us. He disciplines us. He loves us through his words. Take time to be in his word.