Writing & Speaking

Today I have been working on two additional lessons for the Youth Specialties project I have been privileged to contribute to. I finished my 20 lessons last week, but since I was the first one done I offered to pick up a couple more to help out. Once these are done I am looking forward to a bit of a break and then taking on some new writing projects Lord willing. I have another book of 500 questions just about done that I put on the back burner in order to fully devote myself to this project. So, I’ll dust that one off, clean it up, and see if anyone wants to pick it up and publish it.

I am also beginning to receive a lot of invitations to speak. A few weeks ago I taught a class at NYACK college in Manhattan. Next weekend I will be upstate New York. The following weekend I will be speaking at a youth retreat in Michigan. I have also been asked to speak at a retreat in February, so I am hoping I can get the time off to do that as well.

I am excited for these opportunities of greater influence. Please keep me in your prayers. Thanks!

Friends Doing Youth Ministry

What do all of the following things have in common?

A grandma eating 4 spoonfuls of baby food. Uno. An Alpha-Bits Cereal spelling contest. A beautiful time of sharing and praying together. Hours of Spoons. Jenga. Waking up and looking out over the ocean from a balcony. Lunch at a place called Shagwong. A trip to the Montauk, NY lighthouse and bluffs. Four hours in a shuttle.

Answer: Our Adult Leaders’ Retreat 2008!

Last weekend our leadership team shared a fantastic weekend of relational connection and a bonding of our hearts together as friends. Youth ministry is not easy. Usually fun, often exciting, hectic, busy, sometimes frustrating, adventurous, tiring, but never easy. That’s why we need times to just get away and rest in the spirit of Jesus and His disciples.

In Mark 6:31, after some intense ministry adventures, Jesus said to
His disciples, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” It’s easy to forget the importance of rest and relaxation in the business of ministry. But if we want to avoid burnout and want to serve Jesus for the long haul, we need to give our minds and our bodies time to rest and recharge.

I love retreats, especially with my leaders, because more than a time of rest, they are also a time of relationship building. In John 15:15 Jesus said to His disciples, “No longer do I call you servants … I have called you friends.” Do you think Jesus said that simply because the disciples were in ministry with Him? I don’t think so. All of those conversations walking from place to place, the conversations in the evenings when they couldn’t fall asleep, the meals they shared together, the getaways—these were the times during which their friendships were built; times of BEING together. While very important, the other stuff was doing-oriented. I have come to the place that I am simply not interested in just working together to get a job done. I want to be able to say, “I served Jesus faithfully, reaching students for the kingdom, and I didn’t do it with hired guns. I did it with friends. We worked hard. We played hard. We laughed. We cried. We prayed. We struggled. We learned. And through it all, we were friends.”

Today let me leave you with a Scripture to live and a statement to ponder.

“Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2).

The following is a rather full statement that I came upon recently in a devotional. Read it through a few times slowly. Meditate on it. Wrestle with it. Digest it in your spirit.

“In all the ordinary forms of Christian life, service is apt to have more or less of bondage in it; that is, it is done purely as a matter of duty, and often as a trial and a cross. Certain things, which at first may have been a joy and a delight, become after a while weary tasks, performed faithfully, perhaps, but with much secret disinclination, and many confessed or unconfessed wishes that they need not be done at all, or at least that they need not be done so often. The soul finds itself saying, instead of the ‘May I?’ of love, the ‘Must I?’ of duty … I am ashamed to think that any Christian should ever put on a long face and shed tears over doing a thing for Christ which a worldly person would be only too glad to do for money.” – Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911) in The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life

For Those With a PhD

In promulgating your esoteric cogitations or articulating your superficial sentimentalities and amicable philosophical or psychological observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity.

Let your conversational communications possess a compacted conciseness, a clarified comprehensibility, a coalescent cogency and a concatenated consistency.

Eschew obfuscation and all conglomeration of flatulent garrulity, jejune babblement and asinine affectations.

Let your extemporaneous descants and unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility and voracious vivacity without rodomontade or thrasonical bombast.

Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity, pompous prolificacy and vain vapid verbosity.

If you are really interested to know, the above means: “Be brief and don’t use big words.”

YWAM Colorado Springs @ Youth Group 2Night

Tonight we had the privilege of having a team from the Colorado Springs Youth With A Mission (YWAM) with us. They ministered to us through dance, music, and preaching, really challenging us to be active in partnering with God to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). It was fantastic and many students responded with great interest in learning more about how they can serve the Lord. www.ywamemerge.org

National Youth Ministry Conference

The Early Bird Special Ends This Week! Save $40 when you enter promo code SYMPODCAST.

Animation vs. Animator 2

Dad just sent me this hilarious video. Follow the link and enjoy: http://www.funny-city.com/1766/

Talking to a College Football Team

Today I had the privilege of giving a pre-game talk on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) to the Charleston Southern University football team which was in town to play Stony Brook University. I spoke on the “7 Keeps to Success.” I was told by several of the coaches that my talk was really timely for the team. One of the coaches said he had taken notes and was going to steal my talk. lol

Being my first time in this setting, it was very interesting to see the team’s preparation mode on game day. My FCA friend Steve said that I would see their focus, but I had no idea it would be like it was. I was expecting to find a team having meetings and getting themselves pumped up. What I found instead was a very quiet group of about 100 men. Here are 5 things I observed:

  1. Intense Focus. There was no talking except for a few minutes when the assistant coaches were meeting with their respective teams around the tables. And even then the talking was never above a whisper. Some guys had iPods on, but other than that each person was simply sitting and apparently concentrating on and envisioning their job for the day.
  2. Tremendous Attention to Detail. Each group was talking through their different plays for the day, and there was no question that everyone understood exactly what was expected of them. I was sitting next to the head coach who was going over his plays for the day. At one point he whispered across the table to one of his coaches to make sure that the code word for a certain play was the right word. They were leaving nothing to chance.
  3. Order. Prior to my visit I was given a copy of the team’s schedule from Friday through Monday. It looked like an agenda from a youth retreat. Everything minute was accounted for and filled with a purpose. Being in the room with these guys on game day was like being in a military setting. Roll call was taken, each player standing when told to stand and sitting when told to sit. There was no talking; there were no questions asked. When it was time to eat, the only thing that was heard was: “Seniors,” “Juniors,” “Sophomores,” “Freshmen.” “Coaches & Staff.” It was quite a well oiled machine. They ran a tight ship.
  4. Leadership is an Honor. After roll call, one of the assistant coaches informed one of the players that he was the team captain for the day. He said that this player had earned the right to speak to his teammates as a leader. If he saw something he didn’t like, he had the right, privilege, and responsibility to speak to them.
  5. Servant Leadership. Finally, I noticed that while the players were eating, the coaches were running back and forth coordinating things with the caterers, serving drinks to the players, and making sure they had everything they needed. They made sure their players were taken care of before they even thought about sitting down to eat themselves.

It was a great experience, and I was glad I got to take one of my students, Tory, with me to share it. We had a good time together! I hope I have further opportunities along this line. The team also gave me tickets to the game, so I was able to take my family and Tory to the game. They lost by one point with just one minute remaining in the game. Bummer! Well, I guess my motivational talk got them within one point of victory. Not bad for my first try. Next time I ought to be able to motivate them to victory. Ha Ha!

The Shack … A Must Read!

Last night I finished reading the New York Times Best Selling Book The Shack by William P. Young. It was very well written, absolutely gripping, and some intriguing/interesting thoughts on the nature of God and His interaction with us. A must read for everyone – Christian or not. It will touch you to the core and challenge your perceptions!