The Irresistible Revolution

I just finished reading The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. It is easily one of the most incredible books I have ever read. It is a modern day classic and a timeless treasure in the annals of modern church history. There is so much that I could say about this book – I was underlining like crazy. But suffice it to say, this book has totally rocked my world, and I highly recommend it! Be forewarned, however – you will never see the world in the same way. In fact, I am personally going on an extended fast to digest the powerful messages contained in the book and to discern what God wants me to do with the challenge that has been placed at my feet.

In the book, Shane talks about two tax collectors who had encounters with Jesus – Zaccheus and Matthew. One of them left his job to follow Jesus, the other redefined his job. This is the question I am confronted with. Not to leave my job right now – I know that the Lord brought us to our church for this season, and I am committed to fulfilling my commitment. But, down the line, does God want us to stay within the traditional church context and allow this transformation within me to redefine what I do – why I do what I do, and how I do it – and thus affect a Jesus revolution internally? Or would He lead us to start a new work that embraces these transformational values from the inception? May the Lord speak. May I have ears to hear.

Psalm 23 Paraphrase

During my quiet time this evening I was meditating on and studying Psalm 23. I am practicing an ancient form of Scripture reading called Lectio Divina which means “divine reading” using a book by our friend Duffy Robbins called Enjoy the Silence. I mentioned the book and talked about lectio divina in a blog a couple of days ago if you want more information. I highly recommend it to you. As I was meditating on the words of this passage, I decided to go to the original Hebrew text. As I studied I put together a paraphrase of Psalm 23 from the literal Hebrew words. It was a fresh and insightful for me to consider this great passage. May the Lord encourage you through it as well.

“The Lord is my leader and provider, I shall not be lacking; I shall not fail. He makes me rest in a pleasant place, He protects and sustains me as He guides me along peaceful and quiet waters, He cause my life to return to its proper rhythm. He guides me along the track of right and justice in order to honor Him by showing forth His character. Even when I walk weakly through the gorge with the shadow of death cast over me and calamity all around, I will not be frightened or overwhelmed with fear, for You are right there inside me; Your rod of authority, and your walking stick of guidance bring me great comfort and assurance. You arrange a table and prepare a meal, inviting me to eat in full view of those who want to cause trouble for and even kill me. You anoint my head with oil; I am filled to overflowing, and I am completely satisfied. Truly goodness and beauty and kindness will chase after me every day that I am alive, and I will abide and remain in the family of the Eternal God forever and ever and ever.” (Paraphrase by Rev. Kevin Mahaffy, Jr.)

Smithtown Has A What?

Several weeks ago I called our Town Hall seeking contact information for our congressman. No, I wasn’t trying to stir things up politically. I needed his help to get bailed out of jail. (Just joking!) As I was listening to the pre-recorded menu, the voice said, “For Youth Bureau press x.” Youth Bureau? Smithtown has a Youth Bureau? I quickly grabbed a pen and jotted down the extension. I couldn’t believe it!

This past Monday I finally made the call and set up an appointment to go and meet with the director of the Youth Bureau. Yesterday Adriana and I showed up to the office building on Main Street downtown. Even in our little town it was a little hard to find. Why? The sign for the Youth Bureau was not in front of the building, or even on the door. The sign was on the side street in front of the neighboring building. When we arrived we met the director, Patsy. I thanked her for carving out some time to meet with us. I explained to her that we had been working here for three years, and I was pleasantly surprised when I found out we had a department dedicated to the youth of our community. She said that my response was a common one due to the lack of visibility, even physical visibility, in the community. She shared about the history of the youth bureau – how it started, how it was run, the great opportunities the future holds, etc. I told her that I wanted to serve in any way that I could, and that I wanted to get the kids from my youth ministry more involved in the community. We also talked about networking for various things that are happening that would benefit teens and parents of teens. Before we ended our time she invited me to come to the next gathering of community leaders who are committed to young people. I left so excited about this new open door!

Our theme for this next year is REACH, and this is the opening of a door that will allow us to get outside of the four walls of the church and to start being the Church! May the Lord help us to see how we can be salt and light in our world.

Making Cookies with My Daughters!

Had a really fun evening with my daughters today. My wife had to go and speak at her gathering with the pastors’ wives, so I was home alone with the girls. They asked me yesterday if we could make cookies together, so we did. From scratch. My kind of scratch, though. That means I didn’t buy them made. We had to turn on the oven, open the Betty Crocker box, mix the ingredients, insert them into the oven, and exercise tremendous patience as we waited for them to bake. That’s scratch for me. lol We made brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Family Memory Makers!

Practicing Lectio Divina

I was talking with my beloved grandfather on the phone last week. We were talking about spiritual practices (or disciplines, as they are traditionally called) and he said, “Kev, I don’t read the Bible like I used to.” He then told me that he has begun a new practice that is actually an old practice which was started by the Desert Fathers and Mothers during the 3rd and 4th centuries called Lectio Divina which literally means divine reading. The key to this form of Scripture reading is listening – sitting in a portion of Scripture for an extended period of time and allowing God to bring the Scripture to life and speak to you through it.

I told my grandfather that I was aware of a fresh movement within youth ministry in this regard. A more familiar term for this stream is Contemplative Youth Ministry. People like Mark Yaconelli and Duffy and Maggie Robbins have been revisiting this ancient form of connection with God. After we spoke I decided to pull yet another Robbins book off of my shelf called Enjoy the Silence. (I know, I know, soon I will have read all of George’s books, and I’ll move on to books by Jerry and Elaine and Kramer.) The book is a 30 day experiment in listening to God. I have begun journeying through the 30 days, and after only a few days, I can say that the Lord has been speaking very deeply to my heart. Setting aside at least 30 minutes a day and just soaking in a passage could sound boring, but I assure you it is the furthest thing from it! It is extremely refreshing! I highly recommend it. If you would like an easy place to start, pick up this book.

Questions from my New Book Tested & Proven Effective

Just got home from the diner where I had brunch with my wife, her mom, and her sister. I decided to bring along the questions from the first draft of my new book and try them out. I have never had such a long, fun, and engaging time with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law. If they can help relations with in-laws, they can work with anyone. Ha Ha! But seriously, I am super excited about how well they worked, and even more excited about getting the book published and into the hands of people who can use it to deepen their connection with pne another and with God!

Another Book I Wish Someone Had Made Me Read During My First Two Years in Youth Ministry

A number of years ago, Doug Fields published his book Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry. It is a wonderful book, and the first one I recommend to anyone just starting out in the field. In fact, the book came out when I was in my third year of youth ministry, and I would recommend it to anyone in youth ministry, period.

Last year when I was at the National Youth Worker’s Convention I saw a book entitled The Ministry of Nurture by Duffy Robbins. Since Duffy was going to be our speaker at our winter retreat just a couple of months later, I decided to pick it up. However, it was not until recently that I had a chance to actually sit down and read the book. As I began to read, everything was so relevant to what God is teaching me about ministry during this season that I found myself nodding my head in agreement with so much of what he was saying.

When I happened upon the date the book was written, I discovered that Duffy had written it in 1990. I wondered how this book had slipped through the assigned reading for my youth ministry classes both in Bible college and in seminary. After reading it, I would re-title it Another Book I Wish Someone Had Made Me Read During My First Two Years in Youth Ministry and package it as a combo with Doug’s book.

It is a tremendous book that takes the youth ministry vehicle to the shop, puts it up on the lift and gives it a good inspection to ask whether we are really making fully-devoted, life-long disciples of Christ. It causes us to slow down, examine our programs, and really helps to focus us on the process of youth ministry.

Obviously, given it’s release date, some of the illustrations are dated. There are also some things that he suggested in terms of practical application for deepening our ministries that we have come a long way on and are actually much more conscious of, intentional about, and engaging in in many youth ministries across the country today. Finally, having read some of Duffy’s more recent works, there are a few things from this book that he has clarified and/or repackaged after another 17 years of learning. Nevertheless, these are inconsequential and do not negate the timeless principles and challenges the book contains.

Duffy is coming to be with us again next week, and I have asked him to bring me several copies that I can purchase for my core leaders so that we can walk through it together. It was that good! If you haven’t already read it, it’s not on your shelf, or you haven’t already gone to SYM or YS and ordered it, what are you waiting for? Get to it!