On Sunday we attended service at Love Joy Church, the church which hosted us for the night. After church we drove to the Rochester area and visited Elim Bible Institute where we had a tour and learned the almost 200 year history of a campus as a place that has been devoted to helping people discover God’s will for their lives, our theme for the day. We then went to the local classic Tom Wahl’s for dinner where I had arranged a special surprise for the team … Charles and Julia Chu, who recently moved from Long Island to the area, joined us. So fun reconnecting with them. We then went to New Testament Christian Church for the night and enjoyed hanging out with Pastors Jimmy and Laurie Bolton.
On Saturday we left Long Island and drove to Niagara Falls. Our theme for the day was Wonder and Niagara Falls certainly had us in awe and led to some great conversation building off of the Scriptures we were focusing on.
- Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning
- All In by Mark Batterson
- A New Kind of Leader by Reggie Joiner
- A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller
- Beer in America: The Early Years – 1587-1840 by Gregg Smith
- Better Together by Paul Fleischmann
- Help My Kids Are Hurting: A Survival Guide to Working with Students in Pain by Marv Penner
- Hudson Taylor by J. Hudson Taylor
- It Happens: True Tales from the Trenches of Youth Ministry by Will Penner
- John Pentland Mahaffy: Biography of an Anglo-Irishman by W.B. Stanford
- Linspired: The Remarkable Rise of Jeremy Lin by Mike Yorkey
- Lonely Planet Egypt
- Love Does by Bob Goff
- Make a Difference: 365World-Changing Devotions by Ken Castor
- Not Dead and Not For Sale by Scott Weiland
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz
- Raising Wise Children by Mark Matlock
- Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning
- Street God: The Explosive True Story of a Former Drug Boss on the Run from the Hood–and the Courageous Mission That Drove Him Back by Dimas Salaberrios
- Simple Solutions for Families in the Fast Lane by Timothy Smith
- Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
- The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two (The History of Middle-Earth, Vol. 2) by JRR Tolkien
- The Lyrics 1961-2012 by Bob Dylan
- The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping The 21st Century Volunteer by Jonathan McKee and Thomas W. McKee
- The State of Youth Ministry by Barna Group
- The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
- Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
- Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller
- When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
- Why I Left, Why I Stayed by Tony Campolo and Bart Campolo
- Worlds Apart by Chuck Bomar
Years ago author Bill Hybles wrote a book entitled Too Busy Not to Pray. He was onto something. As a leader and pastor of a huge church the demands upon him were great. Prayer is one of those things that can easily seem like a waste of time when you have so much work to do. But Bill understood that the busier he was, the more he needed to pray, because by praying he was admitting that he was completely dependent on God. In prayer he spoke with God about the burdens on his heart, the weight of his responsibilities, and asked God to show him what he should be putting his efforts into that day. He confessed his weaknesses and asked God for His strength to do the work God was asking him to do. He was simply too busy not to pray.
One of the common things I hear from both parents and students on a regular basis is that they are just too busy. “Megan has a big test to study for,” they say, or “Ryan has a lot of homework,” or “I have practice after school.” I don’t just hear these things from other students or parents; these realities are in my own home! I have teenagers, and our family is right there with you. The struggle is real!
And yet, I want to challenge all of us to have a paradigm shift. The truth is we are all busy! When I speak to students and parents, it is this reality that drives me to say, “Our busyness is precisely why we must make time to be together.” I wrote this down a few years ago: Our feet reveal our values. Where we choose to spend our time communicates what is most important to us. When, in the middle of our busy week, we take a time out — when we choose to stop for a couple of hours to take a breather, to be with other Christians who have also stepped out of the rat race to catch their breath — we are saying some important things.
We are testifying that we are followers of the way of Jesus not simply minions of our culture. We are getting together to hear what God says about how to live well.
We are humbly admitting our weakness as humans, and our need for rest and refreshment. We can’t just go, go, go all of the time. Even Jesus (God living as a human) needed time away from His busy schedule, and He told His disciples to disconnect from their busyness as well. (See Mark 1:35-37; 6:31)
We are confessing that our strength comes from the Lord, not simply from our efforts and will power.
We are reminding ourselves that we are not alone. We offer one another the gift of fellowship. We are supporting our fellow-strugglers by gathering together to share and listen and pray for one another.
And finally, we are obeying God’s Word which says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
My challenge to you is to not see youth group, small group, or church generally as just another thing you have to do — an item on a checklist. It is not extra credit; it is a core requirement of life. Taking a time out isn’t the most efficient use of time, but it is essential to your health.
Several months ago I asked my staff members to dream a God-sized dream. I asked them what they would like to do this year and said I wanted to get behind them to make their dream a reality. Peter Ladenheim came to me a few days later and said his dream was to run our own summer youth camp. Today was history in the making! Camp Dynamis Year 1, Day 1! I am so proud of him and excited for what God is going to do this week!
This morning Peter led our team in devotions during breakfast, then we headed out and caught the train over to The Legacy Center in Brooklyn. We helped sweep and clean the sidewalks around the building then worked in the warehouse sorting and organizing donations of school supplies. When we finished working, Diana, one of the LC staff members asked the students about their hopes and dreams, then shared about how the LC works to help people and how our contributions were helping them to be able to minister to their friends in the community. We then gathered around the LC staff and the students prayed over their ministry. We left at 2pm and took the train back to Living Waters. We had lunch, prepared 75 bag lunches, had a little downtime, then the team went to Manhattan and walked over the Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn where they had pizza at the famous Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. While the team had dinner I went to Manhattan where I had the joy of reuniting with my youth pastors from when I was growing up. They were in town from Florida, and we were able to have dinner together. It was the first time we had seen each other in some 23-24 years! What a privilege! They were a major influence on my life as a teenager, and a big reason why I went into youth ministry. It was so great being able to have dinner with them while two of my former students, Rebekah and Peter, now on staff with me, were leading my current students. They are an extension of the legacy that was passed on to me by Bill and Carla Clark. After dinner we all met back up at Living Waters. At 9pm we prayed over the 75 bag lunches we had prepared, and for the people who would be receiving them, then we headed down to the park and gave them out to people. Within about 30 minutes we had given them all away with a smile and in the name of Jesus. We came back to the church and had a good time of debriefing and sharing.