Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hey Youthworker - Be Encouraged

It's a bitter sweet time of year for those of us who work with students.  

There's excitement and anticipation for the fall with all the students who are back in town but also sadness for those who have been with us who are leaving for college or the next phase of their lives.

I wanted to share this with all of you who work with students.  These notes are on our high school Facebook page.  Just take out "IBC" and put the name of your church in it's place.  Students feel this about your ministry even if you aren't hearing it.

"Time has come for me to depart from here. I want to thank every single one of guys for being in my life. This ministry is something special, and i know god is really doing some great things. To the leaders, thank you for everything y'all have done. And to my peers, thank you for being really awesome friends. And to all of y'all, thanks for putting up with me! I love y'all and god bless."

Hey IBC! Tomorrow morning I'm leaving for college and I just wanted to say one last goodbye! I'm headed down to Texas A&M to study Physical Education, and see what God has for me next according to His plan! I love you all so much, and you I am so blessed to have had you in my life. IBC changed my life and brought me so close to our amazing God! I hope and pray that God blesses me with another church community like y'all. I will be praying for all of you, and I can't wait to see where God takes this ministry next! He is so alive in you, and He has even bigger and better things coming! So, goodbye for now! God bless you all! And if any of you are ever near A&M, come visit me! Love you! :)

Hey guys!,
Along with all the other seniors I am heading out tomorrow morning, and I wanna ask you for your prayers. If y'all don't know already I am terrible when it comes to change or saying bye. It has been really hard these past couple days, and I know it will only get harder when I am actually gone. I really need God to give me strength and peace when I leave and move on. I wanna say I have gone to IBC my entire life and there is no church that compares. I have loved this passed year getting to lead y'all the best I could as a Senior, and I know God has HUGE plans with IBC youth ministry. Thanks for being amazing and don't stop living for him everyday! I love each and everyone of you! Anytime you are in San Marcos or the Austin area and don't have a place to crash call me and/or Rachael Tanner up and we will be glad to have you as a visitor, or you know we can go get some froyo or something:) God bless IBC youth ministry! LOVE YALL!♥

Hey everybody. I never dreamed of the day that I wouldn't belong to IBC High School, but unfortunately that day draws near.If you don't already know, I am leaving for the great state of North Carolina tomorrow morning to begin passionately studying and doing what I love which is filmmaking. I get to go off to school to do what I love, how cool is that?
Anyways, I'll keep this short. I want to thank you guys for the gift of friendship you all have given me over the last four years, some of you even longer. The tight-knit community that this family holds together is paralleled by none. You guys are the coolest kids on the block, and I'm glad to watch you guys flourish into what God always intended us to be: in community with one another.

Hello friends, I am heading to Oklahoma tomorrow and will be moving in on Thursday. I'm too wired to sleep and I feel kind of sick to my stomach and would really appreciate prayers for my nerves, emotions, safety, and smooth sailing for the transition as a whole as I go through rush and start classes and all that good stuff. I love you guys and am so blessed to have been a part of such a special group all these years. I will miss you all and can't wait to visit when I'm home! Please keep in touch :)

Be encouraged.  God is using you to make an impact even if you don't hear it very often.  Hang in there!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gay and Kicked Out

I ran into a college aged friend the other day.

Over the years I discovered she's one of the smartest people I know.  She's thoughtful, honest and passionate.  Every time I'm with her I learn something about God, life and myself.  She also happens to be lesbian.

We hadn't spoken to each other in a long time and in an attempt to casually catch up I simply asked her how her summer was going.  I should have known better.  She's not the kind of person who keeps things "casual".  Of course she got right to the point.  That's one of the many reasons I love her and always enjoy spending time with her.

"Summer has been tough.  I was kicked out of my church because I couldn't say I was a heterosexual woman."  As she told me what had happened there was very little emotion in her voice but I could tell from her eyes she felt incredibly misunderstood, unloved and rejected.

My heart hurt for her.

Ok, I know there are at least 2 sides to every story.  Perhaps someone is totally justified in asking her not to come back to church.  I should give her former church the benefit of a doubt.  But really?  Kicked out of church?

So many thoughts rushed to my mind.

Was this particular church kicking men and woman addicted to porn out of the church?

Are they kicking unrepentant gossips out of the church?

Are they kicking people out of the church who are addicted to their own pride and not willing to deal with it?

Are they kicking people out of the church who are greedy and not generous with their possessions?

Are they kicking people out of the church who are consistently hypocritical?

Perhaps someone patiently and lovingly pointed her to truth.  Maybe there are people walking through life with her and encouraging her.  She could have misunderstood what was said to her.

And so, I come back to the fact that I don't know the whole story but it made me wonder about me and my church.  How are we doing loving people where they are?

The church has been called by God to love every person where they are and patiently help them move towards the heart of God.  The church should be a place where people can come just as they are and freely engage with truth in an environment of love and acceptance.

As I try to believe the best about my friend's church my interaction with her drives me to pray for and hopefully influence my church to love people who enter our doors...just the way they are.  We must be a place where the any person can come to find hope and healing.

Jesus said it best...

And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick."  

That's the way Jesus loves each of us and if there's anyone who needs healing it's me.  I need the great physician.

May our church and churches everywhere learn to accept people where they are.  It's not always nice and antiseptic but it's what Jesus longs for his church to be.

Chime in if you would...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What Should Young Leaders Do?

I need your help.

I have the privilege of speaking on the topic of "leadership and student ministry" with some college students who will most likely be youth pastors.

We'll be covering topics like...
* Leading Your Own Soul
* Leading Parents
* Recruiting, Training and Shepherding Adult Leaders
* Student Leadership - Helping Students Discover, Develop and Utilize Their Giftedness

Part of the day we will discuss general leadership, sharing 5 things all young leaders should do.  My desire would be to challenge and inspire them to think through practical leadership habits most in their early 20's wouldn't think about.  I hope these leadership principles will be radically practical.

This is where you come in, if you're involved in leadership, especially ministry leadership, could you share your top 5?  Perhaps thinking about what you wish you knew about basic leadership when you were younger?  Or, if you work with younger leaders, what do you wish they would know and do?

Here are a couple examples.

Leaders should communicate clearly to a variety of audiences.  Example, when planning a mission trip, what should be communicated to which audiences.

Leaders should follow through.  You have to finish what you start.

Thanks for your help.  You may or may not receive a huge prize if I use one of your leadership principles.  It's cool to tap in to your vast wisdom and experience!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Repulsed and Repulsive

I've been in Honduras since last Saturday and today spent my last day in Comayagua.

I came across a man that was absolutely grotesque.  To be honest it was difficult to even look at him.  He had one arm and half his face seemed to be missing.  His whole body from head to toe was deformed beyond what I’ve ever seen.  He was obviously dirty and very poor which is common for beggars in Comayagua.

I’m not sure what he said but I’m assuming he needed money.  I’m so ashamed of my response.  Instead of loving him and giving him enough for a meal I was repulsed. 

I don’t give to every beggar who asks but typically there’s a reason.  This was different.  I didn’t give to him because I didn’t want to deal with what was standing before me.  It was difficult for me to face him and interact with him on any level.  So I simply said, “I’m sorry” in my broken Spanish and turned away.

After and hour or so I began to feel convicted, not in an unhealthy way but in a gentle loving Holy Spirit kind of way.  It’s as if I knew I missed an opportunity to love and serve the way Jesus would. 

Jesus said if you do it to the least of these you have done it unto me.  If there ever was a "least" this man was it.  I really missed an opportunity to humbly serve Jesus.  For that I am so sorry.

One more thing, I’m so thankful Jesus loved and loves me enough to look at me even with my grotesque sin.  He doesn’t simply say, “I’m sorry” and turn away, he always gives what is needed when we ask no matter how we look or act.

Here’s my prayer, may we be a people who love the unlovely no matter what they have done or what they look like.  And not just in Honduras but where we live most everyday.  May we see the way Jesus sees, serve the way Jesus serves and love the way Jesus loves.  Amen