Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Some Thoughts on My Interview Experience (Another Update)

As most of you know, I have been interviewing with Charles Town Baptist Church. Things have been going well and I hope to have some "official" news to share in the near future. What I would like to do is share some of the things that has stuck out to me the most as I have gone through this process.

  1. Pastor Brian and the team truly cares about me. One of the things that Pastor Brian has made clear is that, if I am called to join the ministry team, he wants me to be in ministry for the long haul. He has told me that he will be working closely with me to make sure that I am not burning out and that I am not growing tired of ministry. He said that he will mentor me and make sure that I am sustaining and taking care of myself.
  2. Pastor Brian and the team truly care about the health of my family. As we have been discussing things, one thing that keeps popping up over and over is to make sure that I am taking care of my family. With so many marriages in our society ending in divorce, it is clear that they do not want my marriage to become a casualty as well.
  3. Pastor Brian and I have a similar vision. Without a common vision, the team would be incompatible. We both have a desire to see people come to Christ and develop into true disciples. This means that we love them, even if they (horror of horrors) don't believe the same things we do. We will love them and treat them as family, praying for them, and sharing our faith in the hope that they will come to a knowledge of Christ. Someone can belong before they believe.

As I said, I am praying for the process and hope to have "official" news to share sometime in the future. Right now, I am encouraged and blessed by the folks that I have met and look forward to what the future will hold for me, my family, Charles Town Baptist, and the families of Jefferson County.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Music Wednesday - Last Resort by Papa Roach

I realize that is a terribly strange choice for Music Wednesday.

The other morning I was driving to church and this song came on the radio. "Last Resort" was a huge hit in 2000, reaching #1 on some charts. It still gets played all the time, even though it is 12 years old. As I listened to the lyrics, I was saddened by the fact that so many people resonate with the song because this is their reality. There are hurting and struggling individuals in our world, many of whom look different from us. Because they look different, we like to turn and walk away, refusing to see them for what they are: people made in the likeness and image of God. It is my prayer that this song will break your heart to the sad reality of so many lives and I urge to start praying for those broken lives you come in contact with every day.

P.S. I realize that I lost some of you with this song. Please understand that I am not condoning one style of music over another. My point is simply to point out that there are people in our world screaming and crying for help.

A Few More Things You Should Never Do in Youth Ministry

Here are a few more examples of things you should never do in youth ministry. For the record, I have never done any of these things.

1) Don't call attention to your slip-ups.

2) Don't ride your motorcycle in the sanctuary.

3) Don't dare the 6th grader to do a cannonball when being baptized.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Guest Post: 13 Things You Should Never Do in Youth Ministry

While looking for some youth ministry blogs to read and subscribe to, I came across this older post from a blog called In light of the fact that I am praying for a youth group of my own one day (hopefully soon), I thought this humorous look at some things not do in youth ministry would be appropriate. I must admit that I am guilty of breaking a few of them over the years that I have been a volunteer youth worker and teacher.

1) Never use college drinking games for icebreakers even though you use soda instead of alcohol (and no excuses just because you didn't know the game was based on a college drinking game!)

2) Never call off a lock-in (or similar event) because only a few teens sign up/show up unless you want to send a message that those few don't really matter.

3) Never suggest to the youth that the adult part of the church just isn't as cool as the youth ministry part (unless you want teens to run screaming from the Church when they turn 18).

4) Never ask a parent to be a youth ministry leader or chaperone without getting permission from their teen FIRST! (or else you may get the parent to show up at the event...but not their teen.)

5) Never allow teens unfettered access to the church building for a video/photography project unless you find out the subject matter first (which is preferable to finding it out after the images hit Facebook or YouTube and the senior pastor is giving you a call.)

6) Never say "I promise" to youth unless you really mean "I promise."

7) Never drive anywhere alone with one of your youth (unless you are trying to escape from the T Rex that has just flattened the church building and even then the teenager should ride in the back seat!)

8) Never assume you know the sexual orientation of your youth, their parents or family members.

9) Never call youth after 10:00 PM on a school night unless you want to incur the wrath of their parents (besides, this is the time when they are supposed to be in their rooms, pretending to study, while they talk to their friends on the cellphone.)

10) Never show a movie before previewing the whole thing (a mistake I should have learned from in my teens when my youth leaders showed us "An American Werewolf in London" -- sex scenes and all!)

11) Never assume that your youth group members are keeping their parents "in the loop" about what you are doing in your ministry.

12) Never forget that, once you add them to your "friends list" on Facebook, your youth can see everything you are posting (unless you can figure the ins-and-outs of how to block them from reading your politically charged rants or the photos of you from the high school glee club.)

13) Never buy into the lie that just because the other youth ministries in town have more teens that you must be doing wrong. Just keep loving your youth and modeling, as best you can, Christ's way of peace, justice, and grace.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Song That Has Become My Prayer

My family are (hopefully) on the verge of a new and exciting journey, one that we have been praying for for quite some time. However, this new journey is not like anything that we have been on before and one that will require a good deal of things that are not familiar to us. With that in mind, this song has become extremely important to me. I want to be a youth pastor, but I never want that to become more important than my family.

If Jesus Had a Youth Group

I saw this on another page and found it a little too real to life. As a teacher, this is my life every day.

What would it be like if Jesus had a been a youth pastor? Let's take a look:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek;
Blessed are they that mourn;
Blessed are the merciful;
Blessed are they that thirst for justice;
Blessed are you when persecuted;
Blessed are you when you suffer;
Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven."
Then Simon Peter said, "Are we supposed to know this?"
And Andrew said, "Do we have to write this down?"
And James said, "Will we have a test on this?"
And Philip said, "I don't have any paper."
And Bartholomew said, "Do we have to turn this in?"
And John said, "The other disciples didn't have to learn this."
And Matthew said, "Can I go to the bathroom?"
And Judas said, "What does this have to do with real life?"
And Jesus wept.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Purpose Driven Youth Ministry - Power of God

In preparation for what I hope will become the ministry we have been praying for, I am currently reading through Purpose-Driven® Youth Ministry by Doug Fields. In the book, Fields writes about the nine components that make up a healthy youth ministry.

The first component is that of the Power of God. It should be understood that nothing can be done for God without the power of God. After reading this, I got to thinking about how I tap into the power of God and keep my spiritual life vibrant. Here are some of the areas that I work on in my life in order to stay tapped into God's power.

  • Prayer. I am working to ensure that I have a stronger prayer life.
  • Bible Reading. I read a minimum of ten chapters a day. In addition I try to read through certain passages of the Bible several times each day.
  • Scripture memory. I begin each morning by reviewing my Scripture memory verses.
  • Preaching podcasts. I am working to build a preaching library and I use the preaching ministry of a number of different pastors to help keep me filled spiritually.
  • Good Christian books. I try to read as many commentaries and books to help keep refreshed.

What things do you do to keep yourself spiritually refreshed and tapped into God's power?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

FinishYear 2012 - Scripture Memory Facts

Some of my goals for the year was to memorize a great deal of Scripture. Well, it isn't going quite like I had hoped, but that doesn't mean that I am not learning Scripture. I use a program called to help me study and memorize the verses.

Here are a few facts about my memorization so far this year.

  • I have currently memorized 117 verses.
  • Of those 117 verses, 45 verses are from the Old Testament and 72 verses are from the New Testament.
  • I am currently working on memorizing 6 complete Psalms (Psalms 1, 23, 91, 100, 103, and 121).
  • I am also working on memorizing Romans 5 and 6, Philippians 1, 1 Corinthians 13, and 1 John 1 and 2.
  • There are 31,103 verses in the Bible. I have memorized 0.3% of the Bible.
  • There are 23,145 verses in the Old Testament. I have memorized 0.2% of the Old Testament.
  • There are 7,958 verses in the New Testament. I have memorized 1% of the New Testament.

Now, in full disclosure, the word "memorized" is a very loose term. I am working to be able to recall the verse if someone gives me the reference, but I am not quite there yet. I can, however, recall most of my memorized verses when provided with the first letter of each word in the verse. Some may call this cheating, but I am attempting to hide God's Word in my heart. That can't be said for a lot of other individuals.

I'll touch base in a few weeks or so and we'll see how much these percentages have changed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

FinishYear 2012 - Fun Facts About My Bible Reading

I have made it a goal to read over 3,000 chapters of the Bible this year. To do so requires that I read a minimum of 10 chapters a day. I do this by reading from various places throughout the Scripture. This prevents from getting bogged down in certain areas and losing the motivation to continue reading. As of this writing I have read 735 chapters (that number changes every day, of course).

Here are a few fun facts about what I have read this year so far.

  • There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. The Old Testament has 929 chapters and the New Testament has 260.
  • Of those 1,189 chapters, I have read 625 unique chapters. This equals 52% of the Bible.
  • I have read 387 chapters out of the Old Testament. This equals 41% of the Old Testament.
  • I have read 238 chapters out of the New Testament. This equals 91% of the New Testament.
  • So far, I have read at least one chapter from every book in the New Testament. I have also read Proverbs 2 1/3 times, Acts over 2 1/2 times, Job almost 1 1/2 times, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians twice. Other books will soon be added to that list.

It is is not my goal to brag about my accomplishments with these fun facts. I am simply sharing them because I found them interesting and I hope that it will provide some motivation to others who might want to begin a Bible reading plan. You can never go wrong by reading God's Word.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ministry Search Update (as of Monday, March 12)

As many of you may know, I have been searching for a position as a youth pastor for quite some time. One of the places that I had sent a resume to was Charles Town Baptist Church in Charles Town, West Virginia. It just so happens that I live in Charles Town, WV. In December 2011, I had an initial meeting with the pastor and we had a great time over coffee.

In February, I contacted the pastor just to see what the status of the search was. He explained to me that they were currently talking with a candidate and if he did not work out, they would be in contact with me. Two days later, I received an email from the Search Committee letting me know that they were interested in talking with me. Attached to the email was a written interview. I completed the questions and returned the information to the Search Committee. About a week later, I was contacted again and asked to come in for an interview. This interview took place on March 6. A few days after the interview, I was contacted and informed that the search committee would like to meet my wife, so we are going out to dinner with them this week.

I want to thank everyone for their prayers and words of encouragement. It has been an incredibly process and we are not quite there yet. However, it has been great to see God's hand in all that has taken place so far. I would ask that you continue to pray and hope that good news is on the way.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Music Wednesday - Beautiful by Plankeye

Update: I have no idea who the people in this video are. I really like the song and it was the only video I could find. Sorry for the confusion.

This song reminds me of my wife.

Reflections on My Interview

After months of prayer, I was finally called for an interview at a church. During my interview, I met with three members of the search committee and the pastor. It was a bit grueling, but somewhat enjoyable. Here are some of my reflections based on my experience.

  1. You can never know what to expect. I asked a number of people what kinds of questions I could expect to be asked. Guess what? None of those questions got asked. I got asked all kinds of questions, but none that I truly expected.
  2. No matter how prepared you might be, you will freeze under the pressure. When you are in the spotlight, your brain will freeze up. Questions that should be easy to answer are suddenly difficult. The only thing you can do is trust that God is providing you with the correct answers.
  3. The people interviewing are great people. Even though they may not smile a lot and ask you some really tough questions, those interviewing you have your best interest and the interest of the church in mind. They truly desire God's will for the church and for you.

Those are my experiences from the interview that I participated in. I am trusting that God will see this through to the end. But whether I am hired or not, I am grateful for the opportunity to have gone through this process.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Three Reasons I Love My Kindle

I have had a Kindle for about a year and a few months ago my wife bought me a Kindle Fire. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, a Kindle is a portable e-book reading device. They have become hugely popular since they were first introduced on the market and many think they will eventually replace physical books, even if there is some push-back to that thinking.

Here are three reasons why I love my Kindle.

  1. The Kindle allows me to carry a large library with me anywhere I go. I am a book guy (much to the chagrin of my wife). I love to read and try to read and learn as much as possible. One of the big problems about books, though, is that they take up a lot of space. Carrying two or three books can be quite a problem, especially if the books are fairly large. The Kindle reduces the size and allows me to carry my whole library in my pocket.
  2. The Kindle allows me to highlight and take notes in the book - without damaging the book. I struggle with the idea of writing in a book. It is so...permanent. I have highlighted and written in books before, only to go back years later and have no idea why I did so. The Kindle allows me to highlight passages for later use and I can simply un-highlight later on if the passage is no longer relevant.
  3. I do a lot more reading on my Kindle. This may be because I skim a little more. It may also be that I carry my Kindle nearly everywhere I go. My Kindle Fire functions like a tablet, so I can get email, connect to Evernote, and even check Facebook (if it is available). By constantly having it with me, I can get a lot of reading done in a short period of time, even if it is just a paragraph or two at the copy machine or red light.

There are a lot of other reasons I love my Kindle, but those should be enough for now. Do you have a Kindle? Why do you love your Kindle?

Friday, March 2, 2012

How Being a Teacher is Helping Me Prepare for Ministry

I felt the call to preach/be a pastor when I was in high school. I initially went to college with the intention of studying Bible. It turns out that God had other plans. I changed my major and ended up studying and graduating as an Elementary Education major. I am currently employed as a 3rd grade teacher in Loudoun County, Virginia.

As the years have gone by, I have often wondered why God would have me become a teacher when I clearly have the desire to be a minister. Here are some reasons I've come up with.

  • God wanted me to mature. Youth pastors have a reputation for doing impulsive, stupid things. To be honest, I have done my share of impulsive, stupid things. One time, I let a student eat a live cicada in the middle of class. Needless to say, had I become a pastor right out of college, I probably would not have lasted very long.
  • Being a teacher has helped me to get organized. My wife and colleagues are reading this statement and laughing. I am a very disorganized individual. I have stacks of papers everywhere. However, if I need to find something, I usually can find where it is in a short period of time. As the years have gone by, I have actually gotten better. I'm not perfect, but things are looking up.
  • I needed to improve my communication skills. Being a teacher requires me to talk...a lot. I have to choose my words and phrases very carefully because time of the essence and I need to make sure that the students get the main idea quickly. When I first began teaching, I was nervous and awkward in front of crowds. I now feel very comfortable.
  • My students have taught me about unconditional love. Every year I get a new group of kids. Some years are great. Some years are dreadful and I'm counting down the days until the end of the year...on the first day of school. But here's the thing: even when the class is awful, I find that I still love the students. I love them when they are doing what they are supposed to do. I love them when they are driving me up the wall. I love them when I am so angry I have to sit down at my desk and not speak for a few minutes. I don't get to choose my students, but I always get to love them.

If you are a teacher, you know exactly what I am referring to with the list above. God has used my experiences as a teacher as a preparation for the ministry. I am excited about the future and am praying that these times, the good and the bad, will help me to bring others to Him.