Monday, June 27, 2011

Student Lead Worship

Student lead worship is something I am very passionate.  It could be a mixture of my training, my heart to empower students or just what I saw early in ministry but for the last six years I have had a heart to empower students to lead their peers in worship.

Now I know that some people will disagree with me on this point.  I also know that when we empower students to lead we can loose what some would call "quality".  Over the last eight years of student ministry I have come to the conclusion that I will always sacrifice quality to empower students to lead worship.  Let me share with you what has caused me to get the place where I am willing to empower students to sacrifice the quality of worship:

1) My Training
Early in ministry, when I was interning, I saw students lead worship well.  Was it the best worship experience that I have ever been involved in?  No not at all but it was worship.  I look at those students who were in the worship team over eight years ago and one of the guys went into full-time ministry and another went to college and still volunteers his time at the local church in the worship team.  I saw that when you empower students to lead it helps them use the gifts and talents that God has given them.

2) My Passion
I am very passionate about worship.  I love to worship God but if you sat in front of me at church you would be very thankful that I was not on stage.  I have actually had people, in front of me in church, ask me to sing softer.  I love to worship Jesus but you do not want me to lead.  This is a passion of mine to help students use their gifts to lead worship so that others will honor God.

3) Quality versus Involvement 
I know I've said this a few times but when students lead we are empowering students to use their gifts.  Paul told this to the church as Ephesus (Ephesians 4:11-12).  He talks about being the in ministry that our job as the pastoral leader is to train others up to do the work of the ministry.  When we empower students to lead it is empowering them to be involved in the local church.

I would love to hear your thoughts on students lead worship!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Renewed Passion

It is interesting how someone can change your perspective on things.  Just over two weeks ago I was ready to quick seminary.  Last week I spent a week in Redding working on seminary and it is amazing how being around the people in my seminary, the prof that I had and chatting with the dean for a few minutes can change my mind (I'm pretty sure the drive to school helped also because it allowed me time to just listen to God and chat with Him).

Here are some keys things that I think helped change my mind and turn me back around:

Great Professor
I am very thankful for the teaching at Tozer Seminary and this last week added to that thankfulness.  I had a prof who had a cool combination of training and that encouraged me.  Dr. George Haraksin II is a Lead Pastor at a church in So Cal.  He has training in Philosophy and is currently working on his Ph.D down in So Cal.  In class I learned a great deal from George by the way he communicated to our class.  He was extremely curious to the class and was constantly saying things like: "I want to press you on that, I am not trying to embarrass you but I want to see how you got there."  I learned just as much from George about how to communicate as I did from what he was teaching.

Give it Time
The old saying of just sleep on it held true for me in this case.  I already slept on it before I almost threw in the towel but I slept on it for a few weeks.  I knew that I was overloaded in life and was trying to balance too much.  Taking two courses in one semester is just too much for me.  I tried to push it but Charity and I talked about it and she is right.  When we didn't have children I could manage it but now that we have our little girls it is just too much.  If you are burned out on something give it some time before you throw in the towel.

Vision of the Seminary
While I was in Redding I grabbed Dr. Sarah Sumner and had a quick chat with her.  I thanked her for all she is doing within the seminary and how she is really training up the next generation of church leaders.  It was very encouraging to spend those few minutes with her and hear her heart and what she is doing.  I am thankful for a dean that loves Jesus, cares about the students and is bringing in quality professors to teach us.  If you are looking for a seminary I suggest checking out Tozer (I don't get royalties for saying that)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More than a Job

This week during class my prof shared something that has stuck out in my mind for the last couple days and I can't seem to shake it.  Let me build up to get there.

When children are young they have a desire to become something.  We live in a society that encourages children to go to college.  When I was young I heard it loud and clear in my home that college was a great option for my life.  I think that both of my parents encouraged me to attend college so I could receive an education.  When I graduated from high school I went to college but I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life (that would be a legal source of income).

I start that story out with society and then make it more personal.  See while I was in class this week my prof said something that I will hold as truth:
People no longer go to college to receive an education but to get a job
You said what!
You are kidding me!
You want to think that students are no longer going to college to get an education but to get a job?

Think about that for a minute.  Now think about it for another minute if it still doesn't register with you.  I have thought about it for four days and I think its true.

I talk to students about going to college and I always ask them what they want to do after college.  I want to change my question to something like this:
What do you hope to learn in college?   
How will that change the way you think?
How cool would it be if we started encouraging students to learn?  Now I can't do this on my own.  I need help from adult leaders in our ministry.  I need to be able to communicate with parents on how we can encourage education over vocation.

A road block to this is going to be google. I can't believe I just said that because I love google but the truth is because of google I do not have to retain knowledge in my mind because I know where knowledge can be found.  I would love to see the community I live in encourage students to do more than just hope to get a job in life but to get an education that teaches them to think.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Leah Joy is 15 months

I can't believe that on March 11th 2010 our little Leah was born.  Here are a few pics to celebrate my 15 month old little girl who is growing up!  I constantly tell Sophie that she is growing up right in front of my eyes and the other day she said to me: "Daddy, Leah is growing up right in front of our eyes".  It broke my heart because its true.

Here is another picture that I asked Charity to send me today.  Basically Leah doing her favorite thing to do: eat!  Now the lament of a dad who has been so busy in school that for the last 15 months he has basically watched his little girl grow up on his camera.  Things will change Leah.  We will go on more dates.  We will laugh more.  We will take more time with each other as I chase you around the pool and we will cuddle more.  I love you my little Leah!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Developing a Christian Mind: Day One

This week I am taking a one-week intensive course at Tozer Seminary in Redding CA.  The course is titled "Developing a Christian Mind" and the prof is Dr. George Haraksin.

Initially I was curious about the title of the course and how this would play into my role in seminary and leadership in the local church.  The books that we read prior to the week long intensive were extremely good at helping me understand what we were going to be diving into this week.

Once I got into class I was stoked to see that a handful of my friends were in the class and as we got into the subject matter I began to see how much I was going to be thinking in this course and how much it would challenge my thinking.

Here are things from day one that really stuck out to me and have me thinking

As we think about thinking like a Christian the problem becomes how do Christians interact with the culture at hand.  Here are three ways we looked at to encounter the culture from a guy named Machen who lived about a hundred years ago;

Option #1- Culture is Captain; Christianity becomes subordinate to culture
If you allow this to happen you begin to think that religion and Christianity are just a product that help us live life while culture drives everything else.

Option #2- Throw Culture Overboard; Christianity seeks to destroy culture.
You can’t get rid of culture because everything we do defines culture.

Option #3- Consecrate the Ship; Christianity seeks to consecrate culture.
If Christianity is going to find success in consecrating culture then we must make sure that the soil is prepared to accept that. 

I'll leave you with that to think about.  Think about some obstacles that could arise from these points or what would happen if the reverse happened?  Hopefully this makes some sense because I am still learning.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Vegas to Truckee

This was my third summer driving up to Redding for summer school.  The first summer it was Charity, Sophie and I.  Once we had Leah we decided that it was too much for all four of us to make the drive and stay in the dorms.  The last two years the drive has been good and bad for me to do.  Last summer I got a speeding ticket on the way up and made the trek to Redding in one day; twelve hours is too much to drive! This year I decided to break up the drive into two parts.

Friday I headed out of Vegas and went north to visit my friend Peanut in Truckee.  If you have never made the trek from Vegas to Reno here is basically what most of the landscape looks like.  Those are dead bugs on the windshield and a little hill in the distance.  Its a two lane road that is perfect to drive when you want to talk to God.  That is why I made the drive.  It gives me time to just be still, shut off my phone and talk to God.  This time I did a bunch of talking and followed that with a good deal of listening.

I contemplated putting this picture in.  One reason to leave it out is that I am a pastor.  Another to put it in is that I am a pastor.  See the saddening thing, that you may not know, is that there are still brothels in Southern Nevada.  You can see that I am driving while I took the picture but if you enlarge it you will see the name of the establishment (if you can call it that).  It breaks my heart to see this.  I want to pray for the ladies who work here to leave the business and find hope in Christ.

Someone I want to ask as I wrap this up:
Are you taking intentional time to connect with God?  This drive made some time for me to connect with God but I know its not the best time for me.  I want to be more focused when I am connecting with God and be able to write things down.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Without the Church

Yesterday was a stark reminder of why I love the church so much!  Yesterday I started the yearly trek to Redding for seminary.  As I was starting the ascent from Reno to Truckee I got the call that no husband wants to get.  Charity called me crying and I could barely understand what she was saying.  I finally understood that she was in a car accident.  I was over eight and a half hours away from my home and I had no clue what to do.  I felt helpless.

Right after I got off the phone I found out one of my friends was already on the scene (Stephen and his wife).  He was leaving Costco at the same time as Charity and the girls.  He stayed with Charity while I was trying to make some calls.  I'm not sure how long it took but I would say in less than five minutes there were two more friends down on the scene.  One was Charity's accountability partner, Kristen, and the other was our executive pastor Brandon Gallup.

I don't know what people do without the church in their life.  
  • Who do you call when your wife gets in an accident?
  • Who will help you?
  • Who will call your wife (multiple times) to make sure she is ok?
  • Who will give your kids a bath?
  • Who will take your groceries home for you so they don't melt (think Vegas heat)?
  • Who takes your car to their house till the insurance comes?
  • Who is praying for your family?
  • Who checks up on your family?
Last night reminded me how thankful I am for my church and how I just don't know how people live without the church!  Now I understand that I am a pastor and that could play into the love but I am so thankful for the church.  I am thankful for friends that came over and helped out.  I am thankful that students are praying for my family while I am gone.  I am sure I am missing someone like the Mansfield's who totally helped out last night!

Right now I just can't stop thinking about how I have no clue what I would do without the church.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Hungry for God

The line I use the most in our high school ministry sounds something like this:
"I wish that when I was your age someone would have invited me to something like this.  I'm not saying I would have come but I wish I would have just been invited."
Just over a month ago there was a tragic event that happened in our community and I was invited to the local high school to help on the grief counseling team.  While I was there I met a freshman girl who was pretty shaken up.  I saw her first period and then during second period I had a chance to chat with her and she was just in tears.  I found out that she had been to our high school ministry a few times but never really got connected.  She knew a bunch of the students that come on a regular basis and have been invited.

(this is why I do student ministry)
Through that tragedy a guy in my small group was able to invite her to Explode again and she came.  She started coming and then one day I got a text message that said this (see picture).  I was so ecstatic for this young lady!  She is such a sweet girl and it was so cool to see her reach out and say that.  Later that week she went out to lunch with Kristen McComb, our freshman girls small group leader, and Kristen was able to lead her to Jesus.  Now Jordyn has more than one student that cares for her.  She has a pastor in her life; and by that I mean Kristen.  Kristen took the time to reach out to her, pick her up, take her to lunch and answer some of her questions.

I'm so excited to serve in a ministry with leaders that Love God and like students so much (most of them love the students).  I feel honored to serve alongside a leader like Kristen who would take the time to help Jordyn find Christ and not just leave her after that. I know that Kristen is a Godly woman who loves the Lord.  She will pray for Jordyn, encourage her, call her out and help keep her feet pointed towards Jesus.  Thanks for letting serve with you Kristen! And Jordyn I am so excited about the life choice you made.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Little Hands: Part Two

The dream is coming together.  I know that sounds funny to say about a tattoo but its true for me!  I went back down to the shop this weekend and Jonny Five filled in a bunch of the framing around the girls hands.  Not sure if the picture does it justice but it looks super sweet!  If you click on the picture it will enlarge and you can begin to see the detail in the color.  It really looks gold the way Jonny colored it in with a bright orange and bright yellow.

Its been fun to see this tattoo turn into what it was.  My original idea was to just do the girls hand prints on my side and maybe throw their names under their handprint.  As I look at it now it has become a real piece of artwork!  I am super thankful for the ideas that Jonny has for this piece and how they are turning out. Hopefully one more session and it will be completed!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Encouragement in Discouragement

The last few blog post's I have written have been about seminary... and to be honest they have been me sharing my discouragement in seminary.  I know I said that I quit last week and in my heart I did; I am just very thankful that I didn't tell anyone I quit.  I have learned from that and the need for balance in my life.  I am thankful that this summer is my last semester of taking two courses at the same time.

This weekend I needed some encouragement as I was knee deep in my Old Testament paper.  This OT course I am taking is pretty cool and very informative.  Well I decided to take a little break from class and check up on my grade from the spring:

Its always good to find a fat A for a course that you have put hard work and effort into.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I quit seminary this weekend

This was a tough weekend for me.

I am currently enrolled in two courses in seminary and it just was proving to be too much to handle in my life.  I found myself stressing on school work.  I was being short with my wife.  I wasn't spending time with my kids and this was just the beginning of it!

  • Thursday night I was up till about 11:30pm reading a book that I thought didn't have to be read for another week.  
  • The next morning I was so tired I didn't spend anytime with Jesus (it shows in my attitude when that happens).  
  • All that day on Friday I was short with my wife and kids.
  • I was tired and exhausted from the long hours I had put into school that week.  
  • I knew that night I wasn't going to be able to spend anytime with Charity because I had to finish the book and start writing a 10 page paper.  
  • I was not excited.

I began to process how long I had been working on seminary and doing a cost to benefit ratio.
The cost is high!  Seminary takes a good deal of my time that I could spend with my wife, my kids and my friends.  The benefit will be high when the degree is complete but the immediate tells me that it is not finished.  I started thinking about have I been working on this degree since September 2004. Ya I took an eighteen month break to come serve at South Hills so I have been working on it straight since March 2006.  I have put countless hours into learning: Greek, Hebrew, New Testament, Theology, Practical Ministry Courses and thinking through Church Leadership.  That is when I realized that I am done and I did it.

Friday night I was living in the immediate and that is when I quit seminary.

I woke up Saturday morning and I was comfortable with my decision to quit seminary.  I know that I only have four courses left (two after I complete the ones for summer) but I decided it was time to quit.  I didn't tell anyone about the choice to quit.  I didn't do any homework all day on Saturday or Sunday.

Monday came around and I was feeling much better.  I spent some time reading in the morning, took a break to be with the family and finished my paper Monday night.  I was thankful that I didn't tell anyone I had quit seminary.  As much as I am frustrated with seminary I know that I only have four courses left and I would kick myself if I really quit.  So I am still on track to finish in Spring 2012 and I will have my Masters Degree!