Off to Costa Rica!

Tomorrow … actually today, I am heading out on a missions trip to Costa Rica with a group of students. I am hoping to be able to post blogs, so keep checking & keep us in your prayers. I am doing this trip on crutches, so I need extra grace!

Congratulations Class of 2009!

This past week was graduation for what we have considered our core class during our first four years at our church. They are the group that rallied around us when we came and helped us get the foundation laid for a healthy youth ministry. It was a weekend of mixed emotions for Ady and me. We were proud of the students and their accomplishment, excited for them as they venture out on their own, sad to have our connection times lessened, and amazed at how fast the years have flown by. Grace and peace be with them!

Missing Running!

It’s been 7 weeks since I tore the syndesmosis ligament in my right ankle. That very morning I ran 8 miles and was feeling great. Tonight I sit here having had no physical exercise since that day, and it’s really bugging me. I have put on ten pounds and it really sucks! I know I can get the weight off quickly when I can get working out again, but I feel really grossed out. Pray that I’ll be able to discipline my eating habits to work within the framework I am having to live with this injury, and that this thing will heal quickly. I have noticed quite clearly the vital importance of physical exercise and its affect on life as a whole – mentally, emotionally, and spirituality.

In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership

About an hour ago I began reading Henri Nouwen’s little book In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. I just finished it. Nouwen uses the temptation of Christ in the desert to address the temptations of leadership (relevance, popularity, and power), shares reflections on the story of Peter’s call to be a shepherd, and discusses the disciplines necessary for Christ-centered, servant leadership. It was absolutely fantastic! I highly recommend it! He has quickly become one of my favorite authors!

Contemplative Prayer

I just finished reading Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton. It was an excellent little book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The intended audience is the monk, so one who is not a monk must make the necessary interpretations and adjustments to apply to their context. Here are just a few quotes to chew on:

“The practice of keeping the name of Jesus ever present in the ground of one’s being [is] … the secret of the ‘control of thoughts,’ and of victory over temptation.”
“Monastic prayer, meditative prayer and contemplative prayer, is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in Him whom we have found.”
“The climate of this prayer is … one of awareness, gratitude and a totally obedient love which seeks nothing but to please God.”
“I cannot discover my ‘meaning’ if I try to evade the dread which comes from first experiencing my meaninglessness!”
“Serious and humble prayer, united with mature love, will unconsciously and spontaneously manifest itself in a habitual spirit of sacrifice and concern for others that is unfailingly generous, though perhaps we may not be aware of the fact.”
“As soon as we try to verify the spiritual presence as an object of exact knowledge, God eludes us.”
“Contemplation is essentially a listening in silence, an expectancy. And yet in a certain sense, we must truly begin to hear God when we have ceased to listen. … paradox.”
“”We should let ourselves be brought naked and defenseless into the center of that dread where we stand alone before God in our nothingness without explanation, without theories, completely dependent upon his providential care, in dire need of the gift of his grace, his mercy, and the light of faith …”
“True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace. It can come to us only as a gift, and not as a result of our own clever use of spiritual techniques.”
“The purpose of the dark night, as St. John of the Cross shows, is not simply to punish and afflict the heart of man, but to liberate, to purify and to enlighten in perfect love.”
“Prayer does not blind us to the world, but it transforms our vision of the world, and makes us see it, all men, and all the history of mankind, in the light of God.”
“Religion always tends to lose its inner consistency and its supernatural truth when it lacks the fervor of contemplation.”

Grace and Governor Sanford: Spiritual Life in God

Here is an article written by my friend Adrian Schoonmaker on CBN’s website. Well said Adrian! Thanks!

Click the link below to read the full article:

Grace and Governor Sanford: Spiritual Life in God

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Elevating the Conversation Between the Church & The Gay Community

Excellent insight and challenge!

Thrive Summer 09

Here’s an article I wrote for our students in our youth ministry newsletter. I thought I would pass it along.

If you haven’t already started, it’s probably time to get working on your beach “bod”. I’ve been working on mine for 33 years, and I think I’m all set for this summer. When I was at the beach laying out the other day someone mistook me for a beached whale and threw a harpoon at me. When you’re my age, that’s what you’re going for. lol!

Summer for teenagers has long meant working on muscles and tans and trying to impress members of the opposite sex. While there is certainly nothing inherently wrong with being in shape (In fact, I highly recommend it!) or getting a good tan or even showing interest in the opposite sex, I think you need to ask yourself if that is what your summer should be all about. Is that all there is to it—especially for Christians?

As your pastor, I want to be one of those people in your lives (hopefully not the only person in your lives) to wave the flag and say loud and clear, “NO! That’s not all there is to life in the summer!” I see way too many people who live for nothing of God’s purposes or lasting significance during the summer months. They either “veg” out or work hard on things that have little value. Here are three things you can do to not just survive the summer months, but thrive.

1. Get rest, but don’t be lazy. Rest is a crucial dynamic of health. Summer is a great time to get some much needed rest, not just physically but also mentally, and emotionally after a long school year. The concept of shalom is something that God intends for us to embrace. It means peace, completeness, welfare in all areas of life. And rest is an important part of experiencing the shalom of God. Laziness is another thing altogether. Laziness means a lack of desire to expend effort. Rest, on the other hand, means relief, a quietness, enjoying recreation and peace. Laziness means you don’t do anything. Rest means you do things that will bring you refreshment. Do some things that will help restore your soul this summer.

2. Work hard on things that matter. Don’t let the only thing you improve this summer be your body. Invest in things of value. Find a way to serve your community. Share your faith with your friends. Help out with VBS. Volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club. Visit people in a nursing home. Go on a missions trip. Do something that matters this summer.

3. Stay connected to the right people. If you want to not only survive but thrive this summer you need to stay connected to people who will help you remain spiritually healthy and challenge you to grow in Jesus. Hebrews 3:12-14 tells us that staying connected is the key to avoiding the traps of sin (and we know that there are plenty of traps out there during the summer). It also says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). This summer, you need to be at youth group. You need to be checking up on your friends, and they need to be checking on you. You need to be asking one another how you’re doing, if you are exercising good judgment and discernment, and if you’re living your lives in ways that are pleasing to the Lord.

Ignatius … For All You Youth Workers Out There … AWESOME!

Ignatius from travis hawkins on Vimeo.

A satirical video produced by Student Life of an unhealthy “rock star” culture that has been growing inside Christendom, as well as an encouragement for the unheralded heroes on the front lines of ministry