Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
He sends a very attractive message in his latest offering. Feel free to look up the video for his song “Not Afraid” on youtube. Just be warned, its not edited and full of language some of you may find offensive. Watch at your own discretion.
Whether he genuinely intends to or not, Eminem is gonna reach out and give comfort to a lot of people through this song. Music has this magical way of speaking to a person’s heart. On top of that everyone wants to find someone they can look up to who has been through the storm, come out alive, and is willing to lead them through their own struggles. That’s exactly what Em offers as he declares in the chorus…
I'm not afraid to take a stand
Everybody come take my hand
We'll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just let you know that, you're not alone
Holla if you feel that you've been down the same road
As the song continues, Em raps about some of his recent personal struggles. He acknowledges that he is always under the fire of critics. He confesses that his last album was a failure (it sold plenty of copies, but critics trashed it, and even many of his loyal fans considered it to be awful.) To top it off he even discusses his recent battle with addiction and his efforts to clean himself up. His declaration is that he is overcoming his struggles and that you can too! Just follow him…
Your kids are going to cling to this. Honestly, many “grown ups” who are into the current hip hop/pop music scene will too. MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter updates are going to be littered with quotes from this song (they already are really.) Why? Because Em offers people a sense of comfort (superficial as it may be) and allows them to receive it as they are, without having to feel bad about the struggles in their life.
Reminds me of someone else…
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. -Jesus
Jesus offers us comfort (Psalm 119:49-50), peace (John 14:27), and freedom (John 8:36) as we are. But beyond that, he desires to transform us in a way that overtakes our struggles and pushes us beyond them. Eminem offers superficial companionship and has no solutions. Jesus offers real companionship plus a solution. You can listen to Em’s song, feel a little bit of camaraderie, have your heart touched for a few minutes, but then you have to go back and deal with whatever you are trying to escape. I understand the comfort music can provide at times (no matter what artists or genres you are into) but none of it fulfills like Jesus.
Jesus wants to transform you. Let him. He’s the only one that will truly walk with you through it all.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Everyone encounters people who go through hard times, struggles, conflicts, and tragedies. All of us experience them at one time or another as well. It is just part of the human experience, and while some of it can be avoided, all of it never can be. Sometimes we can see it coming a mile away, other times not so much.
A couple weeks ago a woman came into our church building in the middle of the day in hysteria. Tears were pouring down her face, her breathing was out of control, and she could hardly get a sentence out. She was at the end of her rope and anyone that spent more than a minute with her knew it. She came in to see Keith. Keith was out making hospital visits, so I stepped in and tried to help this woman get back on balance. Once I got her calmed down she said that she had just gotten on her bike, had no idea where she wanted to go, and somehow she end up at our church and wanted to talk and get help.
Many of us (myself included often) would be intimidated to have such a situation thrown in our lap. We don’t know how to view someone in the midst of struggle. Sometimes it is innocent; we are just ignorant and don’t know how to be helpful. Other times it is less than innocent; we make judgments of their character and assume we can’t help them because all their problems are results of their sins and bad decisions. Either way, we don’t feel the desire or the competency to help.
In his book Cross Talk: Where Life & Scripture Meet Michael Emlet provides a practical perspective on how to view the hurting people in your life. He says we must view them holistically as Saints, Sufferers, and Sinners in order to get a full picture of what is going on. So when you encounter the hurting, consider the following…
*What evidence of God’s grace can you see working in their life?
*In what ways can you see the person living out their identity in Jesus?
*How does the person show the character of Jesus in their words and deeds?
*What situational stressors is this person facing? (physical ailments, relationship problems, circumstances, social/cultural problems, etc.)
*What are the events in the person’s life that have shaped them the most?
*How has this person been sinned against?
*How do this person’s problems playing out in their life? What are the problems affecting? (home life, school or work performance, etc.)
*What desires, thoughts, emotions, and actions is this person experiencing that are not in line with the gospel?
*What themes and interpretations of life does this person accept that are contrary to the gospel?
If you can look at a person holistically from all these angles, you can begin to make sense of what is going on. Its not always easy, but I think this is an excellent approach as you begin to put the puzzle together.
I finished Cross Talk: Where Life & Scripture Meet this morning. It is a fairly short, easy read that takes a dab of hermeneutics and mixes it with one's counseling approach. The thrust of the book is to show those who work with hurting people how you can practically use the scriptures as a tool to help bring hope and healing. It’s a pretty good book if you are looking for a basic introduction to the topic. Check it out.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Its so crazy to me to think about all that has taken place. I feel completely unworthy and incapable of helping over here, but I know that the Lord is using us to plant seeds and do great things.
Over the weekend we taught a group of missionaries about spiritual disciplines. These are men and women who are living on the front line of the work of the gospel, and the thought that they could benefit from anything I teach them is beyond my comprehension, but they were into it. It was an honor.
Now we are on the campus of the Bible College in Indonesia and it is an equally humbling experience. The campus feels like a mix between Camp Rudolph and MACU. Its a fairly small campus, and is very outdoorsy compared to what we know in America. McCarthy and I have been teaching an intensive on ministering to youth in the local church. I am surprised at how similar youth culture at home and in Indonesia is. We do 4 hour morning sessions which are primarily teaching, then in the afternoon we do open question discussion sessions. Through this we let the students ask questions concerning the material we have taught or ask questions about ministry in general. We have gotten a lot of personal ministry situation questions and I am just amazed at how similar their concerns, struggles, and problems are to ours back home.
One of the coolest things I have noticed as we have been teaching is the way Indonesia Christians are completely enamored by Jesus. I mean, we read through scripture and when we finish they applaud and "ooh" and "aah" at who Jesus was and what he did. It makes me wonder if I am still truly captivated by Jesus. How many times have I read through the scriptures flippantly or rushed? How many times have I read through an account of Jesus and thought... "this again..." or "I know how this goes?" I am praying hard that I would fall back in love with Jesus. This is something I can probably expound on further in an entry of its own.
Anyways, all is well. We are working, teaching, learning, growing. Be home soon!
(Please forgive me if some of this doesn't make much sense. I am typing tired!)
Friday, May 14, 2010
Spent a lot of yesterday walking around Makassar both during the day and night and saw a lot of interesting things. We visited a huge mosque that has up to 30,000 people come out to it and pray on the holiest Islamic days. We also visited a shrine of the man who is given credit for bringing Islam to this area of Indonesia. At the shrine you can have Islamic holy men pray for you. One of the holy men was telling us that an American woman came over that couldn't have children, they prayed for her, and she got pregnant. I doubt it was true, but it seemed kinda like a story to impress us; since an American was granted a baby, we should to submit to Allah as well. Anyhow, they were all very friendly people.
In fact, everyone here has been friendly. In Indonesia, I am a celebrity (I was told it would be like that.) Kids and adults alike are happy to see us and speak with us. Granted, some of them want to get some money out of us, but others are just genuinely impressed to see an American. It's very weird to me; even though I have done mission trips in Mexico before, this is the first time I have ever felt like the weird foreigner because people stare... almost in awe. They want to talk to you, touch you, spend time with you. Of course, this is not necessarily something I want to embrace as the introvert that I am, then you add to it the language barrier and it gets a little bit awkward. However, God is good and I am seeing a whole other side (literally) of his creation. This experience with these people definitely goes against the grain of the stereotypes (which i never bought into much anyways.)
Some things will probably be discussed in blog series at this point are...
--48 hours on planes!
--McCarthy vs. Wild
--Living in a Muslim Home
--Sweating it out/Leaving Comfort
I don't know... I'm sure more will come as we get into the bulk of work tomorrow. We will be doing some English teaching and some spiritual discipline teaching tomorrow. Then it will be off to do some youth ministry/family ministry teaching next week.
Thanks for your prayers, keep praying for us. Especially for Jason and Chris Mc as they have wives and kids at home who miss them and all that jazz. It adds a different dynamic to the trip for them. Also, thank God that no one has gotten sick! Chris and I are experiencing a little bit of "medicine head" as he calls it from our Malaria meds, but nothing serious! And if you like, pray that as we begin teaching tomorrow that we could be helpful and useful in our work!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Indonesia is just around the corner! (Well technically it is completely on the other side of the world, but you know what I mean!)
We will be leaving Monday afternoon out of Norfolk, traveling for a very long time, and then getting to work.
God has been working in amazing ways through my life in the last six months. I have been placed in ministry situations that I never in a million years (or 27 years, I'm not a million years old yet despite what those West Park kids might think!) would have expected to be in. We are talking about working with people and in places that I never would have thought I could be useful in. God has stretched me for sure, and I really wonder what role this Indonesia trip is going to play in all of this. Gosh, I know that is all vague, but I am not about to throw up a bunch of personal details on the internet. My whole point is that when God gets a hold of you and you let him take you where he wants you to go, he really does do incredible things and lets you experience it all! I've been teaching people that for the last 5 years of my professional life, and even years before that, but I am really only now starting to understand it. I will probably say the same thing in five more years! It seems the more you think you understand, the less you truly do!
I hope I will be able to update a few times while I am in Indonesia. I don't know what our internet situation will be like, and quite frankly its not THAT important. The tech nerd in me will have to suffer through!
Keep us in your prayers! Thank you guys so much for all your support, be in prayer, through funds, or in encouragement.
Monday, April 5, 2010
In the last couple of months Jason, McCarthy (people named Chris always refer to each other by last name), and I have been getting things in order and preparing. As it stands now this, the work I will be involved in is...
Youth Ministry Training: McCarthy and I will be doing and intensive course covering some of the theological and relational foundations of youth ministry. I still feel like a rookie at youth ministry, but my prayer is that God will use me to communicate effectively. My material will be focused on mentoring, teaching, and counseling youth.
Spiritual Disciplines Retreat: The three of us will be doing a retreat for local leaders teaching them and challenging in the area of spiritual discipline. I wonder if I am even qualified to teach any of this material, haha, but of course, as my experience is with teaching/preaching in general, you almost always teach yourself as much, if not more, than you teach your audience.
Youth Rally: We are planning a youth even for the area. McCarthy has a treasure chest of ideas in his brain, so all is well here. Think of it as maybe a small scale Impact. It won't be as long, and won't have the bells and whistles, but it will be an evening where we hope to engage teens in worship, have fun, and challenge them to honor God with their lives. We are building on a theme of "Paradox." The idea that Jesus tells us to live we must die, to gain we must lose, etc.
So that is what is going on. Jason will also be doing some preaching while we are there. We leave soon. I hope I can blog a time or two while we are over there, but I don't know what will be available to us.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support! You are a very real part of this ministry.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
In May I will be joining my friends Chris McCarthy (Associate Minister @ Northampton Church of Christ) and Jason Thornton (Minister @ Seaford Church of Christ) on a mission trip to Indonesia. We will be working alongside Lynda Joyner and others to train kingdom workers in theology and youth ministry. We will do this formally by teaching an intensive course at the local Bible College and informally through workshops hosted by local churches for those who are not students at the college. Our plan is to leave May 10 and return on May 25.
I ask you to prayerfully consider supporting me in this effort. Expenses for this trip come out to about $2,500. I am hoping that I can get 100 supporters who are willing to contribute $25 to this mission. Of course any support, be it more or less than $25, will be of great help. Whether or not you are able to support this mission financially, I would ask that you be in prayer for our team. Aside from the work that will take place during those two weeks, there is a lot of preparation work to be done as well.
If you want to support me financially please write your check out to “West Park Church of Christ” and note “Indonesia Mission” in the memo line. If the check is written out to me or has my name anywhere on it (i.e. the memo line) I will still be able to use it, but you will not be able to claim it as a write off on your taxes. Please send checks to…
926 Cherokee Road
Portsmouth, VA 23701
Any funds raised that go beyond the $2500 goal will be given to the Bible College and/or local churches to help them as they continue to train workers for the kingdom.
This is an amazing opportunity for me to share the gifts God has given me with our brothers in Indonesia. I thank you for considering partnering with me. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. You can do so in the comments section of the blog, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to call me, just email and ask for my phone number and I would be happy to chat with you.
Thank you guys so much! :)
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
We have all been touched in the last couple of weeks by the tragic earthquake and resulting chaos in Haiti. I’ve read accounts of all sorts of people serving and helping the relief effort. It has ranged from senior citizens in nursing homes giving their last dimes to support the effort, to ministers and pastors going over to pray for and encourage the Christians in Haiti, to medical teams going over to help the hurting, to our own military going over to help regulate and provide needs for those suffering. Humanitarians, politicians, preachers, musicians, movie stars and everyone in between have challenged us to make an impact.
Marc Driscoll @ Mars Hill Church has put together an amazing, eye opening look at what the situation is like over there. I would encourage you to take the 90 minutes and listen his sermon/presentation on the matter. You can check it out here.
I am honored in the way God has used me. For the last week or two teens from West Park have donated shoes and clothing to ship over. Yesterday, I was able to take these donations to Forefront Church where, with many friends, we were able to bundle up and prepare them for shipment. The estimate is that we have about 4,000-5,000 pairs of shoes, not to mention a ton of clothes, tents, duffle bags, backpacks and other necessities. Check out this short video to get a glimpse at what took place.
Now we will be heading down to Alabama Wednesday night to drop these off at the soles4souls shipping warehouse so they can get over to Haiti and help those who are suffering. Please pray for us.
Thanks again to everyone who donated, prayed, and helped pack up. It is amazing to see God work through his people. All glory to Him!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Use newspaper/internet articles, news clips, youtube clips or other media to provoke discussion.
Q: What are some of the things you have seen or heard about the earthquake in Haiti?
Q: How does it make you feel? (most kids probably wont speak up, so ask specifically if you need to, i.e. “how does it make you feel Adam?”
Q: What are people saying at your school about this?
Q: Where is God in all of this? (students may not answer this, so rephrase it “if someone from your school asked where God is during this, what would you tell them?” and if someone says “I don’t know” reassure them that is an acceptable answer.)
READ PSALM 60 (it almost reads like something a Haitian Christian may have written)
Q: What parts of this Psalm relate to current events?
Q: What emotions and feelings are being expressed in this Psalm (remind students that Psalms are songs/poems written in honesty, without sugarcoating feelings)
Q: How does the author feel about God? Do his feelings change?
READ JEREMIAH 29:11-14
This verse is ALWAYS used to encourage people and remind them that God has a plan for them and that he works things out for people. However, the context of the passage is almost always neglected. While its true that he has plans for us, look at the situation His people are in when they receive this word. They are exiled, prisoners (if needed, explain to kids in a little more detail what being exiled means.) God gives them this encouragement through a time of hardship and disaster.
Q: Has anything good ever come from a hard time or struggle in your life?
Q: What are some good things God can bring from this disaster in Haiti? (be prepared to give some answers)
In Our Culture:
Q: Do you know who Pat Robertson is? (odds are someone will know, if not, explain.)
Q: What did he say about this incident? (again, be ready to explain. he basically said Haiti had this coming because they made a pact to the devil in the 1800s to deliver them from the French.)
Q: How do statements like that make you feel? Do you agree or disagree with it?
Q: How does that make Christians look to other people?
Q: How should Christians respond to something like this?
A Christian Response:
READ MATTHEW 25:21-46
Q: What does Jesus look for in his people?
Q: How does this relate to Haiti?
Q: What makes living like this difficult for us?
READ ACTS 4:32-36
Q: How did these Christians take care of each other?
The idea is not that they automatically gave everything away, but that when there was a need, they did what it took to meet it even when it meant selling their possessions. Their priority was on each other and not on their things. We may not need to sell our stuff to help (thought we very well could), but we may need to give of time, money, and encouragement.
(note, this is a plan specific for West Park, be prepared with your own ways to get students involved. feel free to use these ideas/strategies and implement what will work)
We are partnering with Forefront Church who are working with www.soles4souls.com. We are collecting the following.
---New/Slightly Used Shoes
---Duffle Bags/Back Packs
PLEASE make sure you don’t give junk, if you wouldn’t want to receive it, don’t give it.
HOW Can we accomplish this?
---Get your parents involved. Let them know what you are doing so they can support you with it and help out!
---Rally your classmates/friends. Maybe a pair of shoes is too expensive for you, but three of you can team up and buy a pair!
---Be creative! You could sell Blowpops at school and give the money to Haiti. Do chores/babysit around the neighborhood and give the money to Haiti
---Check the sales. A lot of shoe stores and clothing stores have out of season or out of style shoes and clothes for sale cheaper.
---ASK STUDENTS FOR OTHER IDEAS.
Take Index cards and have students write down “www.soles4souls.com” so they can remember to look there for guidance. Also have them write down Matthew 25:31-46, Acts 4:32-36 and Jeremiah 29:11-14 to have as a reference to read and encourage them to serve Haiti. Then have them write down the items they can donate and ideas to accomplish it that you have discussed. If you want, you can have these premade, but if they take the time to write it down, it will stick in their brain a little better.
Close by reading Psalm 27 and praying for Haiti.