Thursday, June 11, 2009
Today I want to look at someone who did things the wrong way. Everyone knows the story of Jonah being swallowed by the whale and how God rescued him, and a few people know why he was in the whale in the first place. But do you know why he was running from God? You may have guessed from the title, but he was OFFENDED!!! God wanted him to go and preach in the one place that Jonah hated more than anything else. We don't understand slavery and oppression like he was going through, but we do understand what it's like to get picked on.
I think Jonah knew God, and knew that He would punish people who did evil. In fact, the only thing that was keeping Jonah going was knowing that God would punish the people of Ninevah for all of the horrible things they had done. I wonder if he often prayed for the destruction of that city. I bet he did. So imagine his surprise when one day God tells him to go to Ninevah and preach repentance. He didn't want them to repent, he wanted them to SUFFER!!! So instead of following God's plan, he decided to try and avoid God, and because of that He was swallowed by a whale.
The moral of todays story? Let go of your offenses and listen to God, or you might end up somewhere you don't want to be.
Monday, June 8, 2009
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
Often when we read this passage, we focus on the people and their intent to trick Jesus (otherwise, why didn't they bring the man? It takes two...). And it's true. The only reason they brought this woman was because they wanted to see what Jesus would do. But I want to look at this passage from a slightly different angle.
Leviticus 20:10 says this:
10 " 'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.These men had the law on their side. Forget the fact that they were probably waiting outside her house so they could capture her, they were in the right. The law clearly says she should die. And no one would have given Jesus a hard time for agreeing with the law. But instead Jesus says "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." And at that, the men dropped their stones and walked away.
We've all been in situations where someone has hurt us, and according to the law we have the right to get them back. We say things like: "It's okay for me to hate them, you don't know what they did to me." or we talk to our friends and say: "Just thought you'd like to know, so and so did this to me." And you take those rocks in your hands and begin to throw them at the person, because it's your right to do so.
But Jesus had a different take on this. Have you ever sinned? Have you ever cut someone off in the hallway at school? Have you ever gotten carried away and done something you regretted? If you have, and you've been offered forgiveness, it is your responsibility to do the same to others. When someone hurts you, you have a choice to make. I can take the stone in my hand and throw it at them, or I can drop it and walk away. But as you're thinking about your choice, remember that God took the rock that had your name on it, and instead he threw it at Jesus.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
If you're breathing, respect is probably a big deal for you. Last night in youth we talked about the how hurtful offense is, and how it gives the enemy a foothold in our lives. I'm convinced that this is one of the number one ways that he attacks us, because it makes us ineffective in the Kingdom of God. Ephesians 4 says this:
My uncle's dying wish was to have me sitting on his lap. He was in the electric chair.
I tell ya when I was a kid, all I knew was rejection. My yo-yo, it never came back!
My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.
When I played in the sandbox the cat kept covering me up.
26"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.When we allow ourselves to harbor bitterness, we give the devil a chance to attack us without even realizing. The problem with offense is that often times we have the "right" to be angry. If someone hurts us, we feel justified talking about them behind their back. But that's not what God wants for us.
I'll explore this more in later posts, but this one is getting too long.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I got to thinking about this as I was reading this post from Perry Noble. Here is an excerpt:
We see the immediate needs and how God provides for us, but what about the things we don't see? Because God is constantly working on our behalf.
She has no idea what I am capable of…or the things I do behind the scenes of her life that she benefits from…but remains unaware of.
- She wants a cup of milk…but I am making preparations for her to attend college one day.
- She wants to go outside…and I am working hard to buy toys that she can play with while she is out there.
- She wants to go to bed…and I do all that I can to make sure we have a safe house to live in so she can sleep.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
BTW, my blogger error code is: bX-gcjf62, if you're getting the same code, let me know and maybe we can talk through the problem together.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
As I stood there thinking about what she was doing, part of me wanted to walk away and see how well she could do on her own! But in that moment God spoke, "How often do you take credit for the things that I'm doing?" And it's so true, I'll spend time praying and fasting for a sermon, and then when it goes well I take the credit! Like I made those people get saved! Let's just say it was a humbling experience.
And in case you were wondering, I typed this whole blog while pushing her on the swing (she thought I was texting!).
Friday, May 1, 2009
1) Imagine being able to update your Facebook status via text message.
2) Imagine never missing a status update because they're sent to your phone via text message.
3) If everyone was on Twitter, we could send out announcement reminders to help you plan things easier.
4) If you own a blog, you can set it to update your status everytime you post something to it.
5) If you own a blog, you can set it to update your blog everytime you post something on Twitter.
6) Youth Pastors/Leaders can quickly update parents about changes to events, or let them in on things that are happening on a retreat or missions trip.
7) Twitter is an easy way to get pictures on the internet (check out Twitpic).
8) Twitter is a great way to stay up on current events (go to search.Twitter.com).
9) Twitter is great for networking. Maybe you'll never get a reply from @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher), but many interesting people in different fields use Twitter, and they're ready to talk.
10) Lastly, Twitter is fun when there are a lot of people on it. But do me a favor, post jokes or things you find interesting, not just what you're eating for lunch. Do that, and Twitter will be fun for everyone.
Hopefully I've convinced you, if you have questions about how to do any of the things listed above, leave me a comment.
Friday, April 10, 2009
But the reason for this post is to talk about something he said on his blog: I am Barabbas. You remember Barabbas as the man who was traded for Jesus. Click the link above to read Mark's thoughts, and remember that Jesus took our place.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
If my generation isn’t careful, we may fall into a Guitar Hero mentality toward ministry:
Everybody wants to be a rock star, but no one wants to learn the chords.
The rest is just as good, click over here to read it.
Monday, March 23, 2009
What's really great is this was put together back in October, well before the current round of AIG bonuses. Thanks to Ray Hansen and Pastor Rich Smith for sharing this with me!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
One of the problems I have constantly faced as follower of Jesus Christ is the mistake that believing that God owes me some sort of explanation every time He commands me to do something…
…which has caused me, many times, to expect God to explain Himself rather than me simply trusting Him enough to do exactly what He says.
BUT…I believe ONE of the reasons He doesn’t waste time with explanation is because it would lead to negotiation on our part…we would hear His plan and try to “improve” upon it because; after all, we are smarter than Him, right?
By the way…when we want an explanation and try to enter into negotiation…the result is always frustration.
We get in trouble when we expect God to do things our way. When He doesn't, then we balk at Him rather than trusting Him to know what's best for us.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
PAGING MARTIN LUTHER: The Roman Catholic Church is bringing back Plenary
Indulgences -- a sort-of Get Out of Hell Free card from a priest. "Why
are we bringing it back?" offered Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of
Brooklyn, N.Y., who supports indulgences. "Because there is sin in the
world." Indulgences were dropped by the church in the 1960s after the
Second Vatican Council. Church doctrine notes that even after a priest
offers absolution after confession, sinners still face punishment after
death. Indulgences supposedly cancel the punishment in purgatory. They
cannot be purchased -- the church outlawed that in 1567 -- but a
contribution greases the wheels. A parishioner must confess to get one,
and there is a limit of one per sinner per day. "It was always there,"
Bishop DiMarzio says. "We just want people to return to the ideas they
used to know." (New York Times) ...So parochial school nuns can get out
their rulers again.
If only AG churches would follow the same model... So here's a question, how much would you pay to get yourself or someone you love out of Purgatory? Obviously I don't believe in Purgatory (show me where it is in the Bible, then you'll get me interested), but if I believed for a second that I could shorten my stay there, I'd empty every dime out of my bank account to make sure that it happened. Anything less would indicate that I didn't really believe what I said I did.
So to flip that around, what are some things we believe in that we don't sell out for ?
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
It's funny going back and rereading some of my old posts. I've been blogging for two years now, and a lot has changed in my life since then. My first post was right after a lock in, and includes the prophetic statement "I think Myspace is outliving it's usefulness anyway." That's right, I called it two years ago! Back then I was concerned about the ads that were so prevalent (and still are), now I'm concerned (not really) that no one uses it.
I posted three times in the first 8 days, then took a three month break because it was getting to be too much (really I was just lazy and didn't think I had anything interesting to say (I still don't)). I hit my blogging stride though shortly after that as I posted 10 items during our missions trip. I haven't done that since, but I really need to because it was a great way to decompress and to let parents know what was happening in the ministry.
The blog took on a new direction for a little while as I tried to apply the Bible to current events, which was a noble goal but I didn't have the time to search out new information. In December 2007 our house was flooded, so there are several posts relating to that.
During that same time period our senior pastor left, and I was the interim pastor at our church. This was the one time when I could seriously say I was too busy to blog, it was all I could do to keep my head above water.
Sometime in 2008 I decided that my writing needed to be focused more towards youth pastors, as one of the things God has called me to do is to help resource the next gen of youth pastors out there. So I started a few different series, and each time they ended up being too much work to keep up with. Tools I use in ministry and What Should I do after I get Saved flowed from this line of thinking, and each one took months to complete.
In June we stepped down in Oakville, and for a while this blog became a way for me to get my name out there. When we moved to Lake Stevens, the blog became more a way for me to connect with our Youth Leadership, and to start a discussion about Youth Ministry.
So that's where we've come from, as far as where we're heading, maybe the next 100 will make that clear.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I thought it would be good to post a few different resources so you guys can get a little variety. Here's what I use:
1) Bibleyear.com. if you've ever wanted to read the Bible thru in a year, this is the place for you. What I did was selected the plan I liked (chronological, New Living Translation) set the start date for the closest date, and then I bookmarked the page that came up. I also printed a copy to stick in my Bible. Then when I sat down at my computer in the am, I'd click the bookmark and click the date and voila! All my daily reading is right there on the screen. I have loved it for the last year or so. Next time I'll do a plan where you read both the OT and NT at the same time (the reading got a little lean at times in the OT, and now I'm reading whole books of the NT in one day.)
2) Youversion.com. I downloaded their blackberry app and it's the best free Bible reading program that I've found for my phone. As cool as that is though, their webpage takes Bible reading to a whole new level by making it community oriented. Users can post comments, audio or video about certain scriptures. It's nice to be able to read what others are thinking. It's a great concept and it's easy to get lost for a long time reading the Bible and what others have to say about it.
3) Reality Student Ministries Online Devotions. We're trying out something new in our ministry, online devotions. It's like God's word for today, but written by me and our youth staff. We've had fun with it in the first week, and I'm excited to see where it goes from here.
So those are a few ideas. What plan do you use?
Monday, March 9, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
How to correct someone:
1) Get God's wisdom
- Hebrew 12:10-11
- If we get God's wisdom, it will always lead back to His grace.
2) Select the right moment.
- Praise in public and correct in private. - The right moment is not when you're angry. If you're angry, walk away. Get someone else to talk with them first if you need to.
- The wrong moment can make the right correction wrong.
- The goal isn't to be right, it's growth.
3) Be genuinely concerned.
A) listen to them, let them talk
B) watch their reactions
C) help them grow
4) Let them teach themselves
A) ask general questions
B) ask specific questions
C) ask forseeing questions
D) ask loving questions
5) Address the issue directly
- If we beat around the bush, they may leave the meeting without a clear picture of what they did wrong and how to fix the problem.
- don't talk in code, and don't avoid the main question because you're afraid to say the words
6) Go to the root of the problem
7) Challenge them throughout the meeting
- Let them know the mistake they made will not haunt them the rest of their lives.
Friday, March 6, 2009
I case you're curious, here are the things we talked about:
1) More small group involvement by our students.
2) Visitation. This is a pretty big one, and the closest we got to a great answer. We need a plan to follow up with our visitors.
3) Connecting more with students on Wednesday nights.
Well, it's off to bed for me, good night.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I don't want to give them busy work, because I know that they're far too talented and busy with their lives to be doing menial tasks that I could easily accomplish during the week (or give to our equally amazing student leaders). These tasks are above and beyond their main job of loving students and pouring into their lives. So I'm looking for tasks that are essential to keeping the youth ministry running smoothly, and here's what I've come up with so far:
1) Security. Every few weeks we need one of them to be in charge of walking the building and getting stragglers back into service. Also we need them to be watching the students who leave the sanctuary, and we need them to watch the sound booth to ensure there are only two students at a time up there.
2) Prayer time. It would be nice to have one of them in position at 6:30 to get the prayer time started and running smoothly. Tiffanney and I usually get caught talking, so it would be nice to not have that worry.
3) Visitation Ministry. I need someone whose organized and would want to either come in for an hour on Thursdays or work from home but who would put together the youth database for me.
4) Online Presence. I need someone who will start and facilitate discussions online, make the youth group myspace look cool, and other things like that.
5) Setup/Teardown. This is already happening, but I want to mention it because I value it so much. Every week we put up these moving walls in the sanctuary to make the space feel more intimate, and these things are a pain. It involves taking them out of the closet they're stored in, handing them to someone on the main floor by passing them over the edge of the balcony, and then getting them in their correct spots. And then we reverse the process at the end.
6) JR High event planning. As we grow bigger, I'd like to see us do some events that are targeted more at different age groups. It would be really cool to have someone step up and start doing Jr High only events, as well as HS only.
7) Small Group Leaders. Is there a dumber name to call small groups than small groups? Yet that's what we're doing right now 'cause I'm too lazy to switch them over to Cadres or something cool like that. Anyway, we will need leaders as the groups get bigger. John is doing a great job with the Sunday School class, and I'd include that under small groups (not saying we need a leader, I'm brainstorming all of the jobs that are needed in the youth ministry).
Those are just a few ideas. If you're one of my leaders and you're reading this, leave a comment telling me what you'd like to do, or suggesting something else I haven't already thought of. Also, come ready on Sunday to talk about where you'd like to get involved.
Am I missing anything? Leave me a comment and let me know.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
God has been doing some amazing things in our ministry this last month and a half. I really feel like we're being positioned to do something incredible. God has really birthed in our students a passion for prayer, and we're seeing them shedding weight in their lives so they can move faster and climb higher in God. And God is honoring their dedication to Him. They have really started to learn what it means to wait in the presence of God, and how God blesses when we cry out to Him.
We're in a season of blessing right now and it feels like everything we touch turns to gold. It shows in the way God is answering prayers so quickly. Last Monday we found out our renter was moving out (last time it took us several months to get a new renter) and we have someone moving in already! It just blows my mind that God is moving so quickly. So what am I asking God for right now? You'll have to wait and see. Actually, I gotta go pray, see you tonight!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Or some other form of greeting. I do this because the hardest part of writing is getting that first sentence done, and that's usually how I start my sermons anyway. So, my advice for anyone suffering from writers block is just to start writing. Even if it's dumb, you can go back and erase it anyway. What did people do before Word Processors?
Because of this emphasis on youth ministry, I tried to get my posts together into series (like a preacher would), and I tried to make them applicable to one set of people (youth pastors). What's funny about that is as hard as I try, I never put together sermon series (again, not for lack of effort). Consequently, I never posted. Rather than this blog being the overflow of what God was doing in me and in the ministry, it became a chore.
God has been doing some spectacular things this last month and a half, but it didn't fit into a series so I didn't blog it (except for Bryant's testimony). That's going to change. Who knows, I may even post a survey about myself up here for all to read, if that's what I feel like doing for the day. So all that to say, look out blogosphere, I'M BACK!!!
Friday, February 20, 2009
Here's the story as he posted it on his myspace blog:
I'm pretty excited about this for a few reasons, not the least of which being that he is a good friend. But I also love that we've got a group of students who are sold out for God, and while I was the one praying into the microphone, they were gathered around laying hands on him and seeing the power of God move through them. It's not about me, I believe God moved through those students that night to bring this healing to pass.
"Three days ago I had acute myeloid leukemia.
That was three days ago.
days ago I found out I had a severe bone marrow issue causing my body
to not absorb iron near at all. Three days ago I wanted to give up, I
wanted to curse God for letting this happen to me after all the things
I had surrendered to follow him the way he wanted me to; I wanted to
explode, I wanted to run.
Three days ago I said NO. I wouldn't
let some petty bodily excuse keep me from pressing into the kingdom of
God and surrendering myself again to him.
Three days ago I had
a protein scan performed on my blood that pretty well signed my death
warrant. So they redid the tests of course.
Three days ago a group of students on fire with the passion of God prayed over me.
my body was clean. There was no sign of the proteins that were there
for "some time now." All that was left was an entirely and easily
treatable disorder in which my body just cant absorb iron well and
where I have too small of red blood cells. So they have me megadosing
iron pills. If this works, great, if not all it'll take is bi-yearly
transfusions to keep it in check.
God is Amazing.
So the full story for those who care to read on.
those who read my blogs know what brought me to three days ago. If not
read it, I don't feel like recapping as trying to do this via
blackberry takes a bit.
I was woken on Thursday morning by a
phone call from a friend who works at the clinic I went to, saying that
the provider I saw wants me to go to a PCP so I can figure out where I
wanted to go from my new set of test results. The doc wouldn't state
what those were, I had to come in. Bad sign as we all know. I had told
the doc the night before that I didn't care what the results showed,
God is bigger than that. They kinda laughed it off, of course.
So I went in at 11am that morning.
doctor sat down with me and said that the second retest had just come
in and started going over the previous results. My blood was full of
the proteins linked to myeloid leukemia. Apparently they had been there
for "some time now." My heart sank. This was a death warrant. But the
doctor read the second set of results from the retest. As he read his
eyes kept getting bigger as he flipped back and forth through them, and
kept saying "theres got to be a mistake." He looked at me with wide
eyes and said "Theres nothing there except the original bone marrow
disorder." I just started laughing and told him "I told you God was
bigger than this." Needless to say they had to redo the tests, which
last night I got a call saying that I was still clean.
still trying to wrap me little brain around all this. I cant comprehend
it all, nor can I even begin to put into words what I have experienced.
I know this was a trial of my faith. As if God said "Ok, Bryant, you've
been making huge steps, there IS something wrong, but how wrong it is
is up to you." I fully believe that if I had stepped out in my flesh as
my normal reaction to this would have been, to go home, crack open a
fifth and drink myself into oblivion, to curse God for letting this
happen; that I would still be sitting here conemplating life with
leukemia. It was as if God was saying "ok, now take that extra step,
here is a chance for you to learn to fully give yourself away into my
For those curious, I'm having my full test results from
all the phases mailed to me so that I can post them on my wall, and in
case anyone in my life doubts God's power in this, I can give them hard
evidence of it. Now I know I still have a health problem. So what. I'm
ok with pooping bricks for the rest of my life from the iron pills, or
having to be hooked up to a blood bag every six months, for me every
time I take my pills, or if it comes to it every time I have to get
blood, it'll serve for me as a reminder of God's power and promises for
my life. I can live with this. And who knows, maybe if I keep at it,
God will heal me from this too! I'll keep praying that be true, but if
not, it'll be something that will daily smack me in the face and remind
me to give thanks for what he has done, and to daily surrender myself