Tuesday, February 24, 2009

God says "I AM Better"

(This is a blog that was originally in a monthly newsletter I send out to my kids and then on my blog on my myspace. I am working on a blog that ties into this blog so i figured I would make this one more easily accesible to you who may not be in my myspace friends. And I am guessing at some point I will delete my myspace, anyhow. Here it is enjoy.)

God is better
That is the thought of the month, and maybe even the thought for the year!! This week God has really pressed in on my heart the idea that HE is better! So many times I am so caught up in worldly pleasures that I forget to acknowledge how good God really is and how much better God is than any worldly pleasure! Many times we look and say of course God is better that bad things like drugs or alcohol or gossip and rumors. But how many times do we look at the things of the world we enjoy most in life and say "This is good, but God is Better!"? I look back at the excitement of the gifts I received at Christmas and although the gifts I received were amazing gifts, I hear God saying "I AM Better"! It's not that God doesn't desire us to have good things, its just that God desires for us to know that no matter how good or wonderful we think something is, He is still ultimately greater! I think of the disciples when Jesus called them. They each were very much involved and in the midst of their life's journey. I believe many of us would try and reason with Him saying but God you have placed me in this great situation, i am living out my dreams! But the disciples with their action of leaving everything behind and following Christ they were saying "God where i am at is good, but LORD You Are Better!" I then look at the rich young man, who came searching for Christ but when he heard in not so many words, that he had many things but God is better. The Bible says that the rich young man went away saddened because he had many possessions. I think about how many times I hear God telling me, "Scott what you have or what you are wanting is good, but I AM so much better!!" Many times I hear that, and like the rich young man I go away saddened because I think for some reason this thing I am wanting; this thing that I have will bring me happiness. Even though I know and have heard many times that God is better I choose to forget that He truly is better! I choose to run after those things that only offer temporary happiness, only temporary joy. God truly desires for us to see just how good He really is. In the spirit of one of the trashiest movies of all time, like Ron Burgundy on Anchor Man, I can hear God saying "Hey everyone come see how good I AM!! I mean I really AM Good!!" As Jesus said in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, "No one is good-except God alone."

remember to breathe,


Not our will but His!

So, I wrote a blog a little over a year ago about some stuff God was speaking to me. It was based on the idea of a Nooma video I had watched called Kickball, where Rob Bell says that God's idea of better is better. I expanded on that and talked a little bit about how it is easy for us to look at the bad things in our lives and easily say, God's idea of better is better, but how it can sometimes be very hard for us to look at the good things in our lives and say God's idea of better is better. I posted the blog onto this blog so you might have already read it, but if you haven't, check out the blog, God is Better. Anyhow, God has been putting this idea in the forefront of my mind and heart here recently as well, but kind of in a different light. God's idea of better for our lives, is definitely better than any idea we might have for our lives. I think the only true way we can live out this in our lives is to be like Christ in His prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane. Here is how that unfolds in the book of Matthew in chapter 26:39-44 "Going a little farther, he threw himself down with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet not what I will, but what You will. Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, "So , couldn't you stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away a second time and prayed. "My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will must be done." He came again and found them sleeping; they could not keep their eyes open. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same thing once more." Not many of us find ourselves facing certain death like Christ was facing here in this story. But many of us find ourselves in a place where a difficult decision must be made or a place where God is calling us to something we might not exactly want to do. Many of times I feel my prayer being something more like this, "God I know what you are calling me to, but I am going to try my way, then, if that doesn't work, I will try your way." I ultimately say "Not Your will, but mine." What drives us to blatantly choose a path or life that is completely apart from God? Why, after time and time again, of our plans for our lives failing, do we continue to live in that same way? I think part of it is we forget the call of Christ. In the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke in the New Testament Christ offers a similar call to those who desire to follow Him. He says "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." I often forget that he has called me to deny my own desires, that I must die to the wants of my life so that I might have Him place the desires of His heart into mine. (the previous part was written about 3 weeks ago, so if any of these next thoughts seem disjointed from the others its cause the might sorta be disjointed, but this is a work in progress just as my thoughts and life are) Dying to myself? I'm not sure I even know what that means. I'm not real sure that I know what that looks like. I mean, the picture Christ gave of this very thing was an amazing act of love. An act of love that should truly blow my mind, but sometimes I'm not so sure I live a life that is blown away Christ's act of love. I think my life might look different if I really lived a life that is blown away by what Christ did for me. In fact I know that in many parts of my life if I were to live a life that said, "Lord not my will, but Yours" things would look much different! A life lived like that would be a noticeably different looking life! So pretty much a short summary to a long blog is this. I desire to live a life where I say "Lord not my will, but Yours". But the truth of it all is simply this, I struggle big time trying to live a life that says that. I desire to die to myself, but yet I struggle doing that as well. I'm not sure if others feel the same way or have the same struggles?? If this isn't something you struggle with, the pray for those of us that do. But if you do struggle with this, can we as a community of believers be honest about this? I hope that we can. I pray that we live lives that not only say, but scream "God not my will, but Yours!". I pray that we can live lives that die to the desires of our flesh and have those desires replaced with a Holy desire for our Heavenly Father's work. I think thats about all I have to say about that. But one final thing before I close. (Pretty much this is me writing myself a note and a reminder) To hear or read something and say oh that was good or powerful or whatever (not saying that this was, like I said this is a note to myself that yall get to read) is not where it should end. If I am moved by something, I should truly be moved to action not just spiritually or emotionally moved. The words to the Lifehouse song Everthing come to mind "How can I stand here with You, and not be moved by You?" So, in the midst of a Holy God that is calling us to His will and to lay our lives down for His glory may we be moved to action, to change in our lives!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Some pics I thought I'd share with you all.

Just a few pictures I have taken with my new camera. I need to figure out how to edit them to look a little bit better but I suppose this will do for now. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It isnt something we do, it is something we are.

So, this is a post that I have been thinking about posting since Monday or so and have decided that I should go ahead and post it. As I have said in a previous post I usually don't like upsetting the apple cart, so I am hesitant to post but at the same time I hope that in writing this there will be some good dialogue to help me work through this in my heart and also in my head. So as most of you know I am a youth minister and if you didn't, well now ya do. I look at the ministry God has blessed me with and I wonder if it is a ministry that is truly teaching students how to live a Christian life. I look at students that have gone through youth group and start college and for some reason the Christian life they lived in high school goes out the window, much like mine did when I got to college, and it make me sad because I know first hand that a life apart from God is not a life at all. I have recently shared with my parents a lot of what went on while I was in college and in telling them I know that it broke their hearts that I wasn't living the way they had raised me to live. My mom asked me "Scott, what could have we done differently?" I really didn't have much of an answer for her. My parents were great! They brought all of us kids up in a strong Christian home. We were in Church whenever we could be, we did all of the things that Christian families do and I did all the things that Christian teens do and my brother and I took two completely different roads heading into college. So for me, there is no way in the world that I could blame any of it on my parents, I willing participated in things that I knew were wrong. I did many things late in high school and into college that early on in high school I said I would never do. I sold out. I gave into the idea of, you are young do what you want, have fun and worry about growing up later. (This wasn't my whole college life though. For the majority of college I lived a good moral life and didn't do anything too bad. This falling away was mainly in my senior year of college.) So I did what I wanted to and I also did church on Sundays and most of the time I was good. I would feel bad for my prior weeks partying sometimes and think about changing but no real change happened until around May of my senior year. (That is a whole dif story for another time) But what was it that I had learned growing up that fostered these misguided thoughts?

Well all of that was preface to the meat of this blog. Sorry this might be a long one! Here are my thoughts on what might have occured and I would like to know what all of you think. For the majority of my life and I could imagine for some Christian teens today when asked what their Christian faith is about their answer and my answer then would be something like this. "Well I go to church on Sundays and sometimes Wednesdays as often as I can. Then we go on a ski trip in the winter and then in the summer we go to Church Camp and it is so awesome!! I get on such a spiritual high from Church Camp. Etc etc etc........" Some of you might be thinking, yeah that sounds about right. Kids are busy and that really is all they can commit to do. Church a few times a week and then a couple of trips with the youth group. Isnt this what we desire for our kids?? Being a youth minister I do desire to have kids come on Sunday nights, I do want them to come to Wednesdays, and the trips we take, and the retreats we go on, the mission trips we attend. I think all of these are very valuable experiences that help mold and shape them. It is very encouraging to me to see a big group on a Sunday or Wednesday night! It feels great for me to be able to tell the Church that I am taking over 30 kids on mission trips this summer. But if that is all their Christian walks are about I am one stinking huge failure! If I view my job and lively hood as only focusing on getting kids to come to Sunday and Wednesday nights and trips I am completely misguided and am ultimately setting kids up for failure putting a stumbling block between them and the true God and the Bible talks about that and I dont wanna be that guy. Will they encounter God on retreats, mission trips, camps, Sunday and Wednesday nights? Yes, but if I am not teaching them to seek to encounter Him on a daily basis I have failed. If I am simply teaching them that their Christian faith is solely about what they do and don't do I have failed. If I am teaching them that the only places you encounter God is when you come to youth group or when you go on trips or when you do this or that, then, I think you know what I am gonna say. I HAVE FAILED!

Lets look at it this way. I grew up in Texas, and as most people know most Texans are proud of where they are from. Being a Texan doesn't mean that you do certain things or talk a certain way ,although you do do certain things and most likely talk a lil bit different those things are not what make you a Texan. Being a Texan means u were born there! (Although there are some who have moved their and since claimed Texas, that is fine too.) A Texan doesnt wake up in the morning and say, I think Im gonna be a Texan today. NO! They wake up knowing they are one and even though they may do many things throughout the day it doesnt change the fact of who they are. In the same way this is how we should live out our Christian lives. It should be something we wake up knowing and something we are well aware of throughout the day and then be something we go to sleep trusting. Being a Christian means you were spiritually re-born through the saving work of Christ on the cross and accepting that salvation. Although, we are Christians we may do things differently than the world, those things that we do or don't do are not what define us. Our identity is in Christ and Christ alone, it is in the saving work He did on the cross. So here are a few thoughts and this might be where some of you disagree with me but thats ok, we can talk about it and both gain valuable insight. (And let me preface this by saying I am very much preaching to my self in this whole area Im just trying to figure this out in community which I think God is calling us to do) Often I get my feelings hurt when a kid chooses something else over Church. I often ,and even hear some colleagues, question a student's priorities when they do choose something else over something we are doing at Church or some big trip we are taking. I do desire them to go and be apart of these things. But how arrogant is it of me to think that the only place they will encounter God is when they come to youth or go on a trip? The thing is, we have taught them this. We have taught them that those are the only places to trully connect with God. We tell them about how Christ desires to come and dwell in their hearts but yet when they choose something over us we question if He truly is in their hearts. This is where I think I have the biggest conflict in my heart. We tell kids to prioritize their lives in this order. God first, others second, and themselves third. But when we say God do we really mean God or do we mean our Churches or youth groups?? The bottom line of it all is this. There are people not just kids, continually walking away from the Church because we have created a culture where we have these great spiritual highs and teach them to simply live from one high to the next and forget to teach them how to live a day to day walk of faith. How do we change this whole way of thinking?? How do we being to teach our congregations as a whole that Christianity isn't merely something we do? How do we teach them it is something we are, it is who we are, it is who's we are? (yeah that was corny i know) I know that was a ton to read, and I thank you if you actually did read it all and please comment let me know what ya think. Anyhow I will put this extremely long rambling of a blog to its end.