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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

No hurt wasted


The Phrase, “God doesn’t waste a hurt”, is a phrase I’ve used hundreds of times over the years.

I’ve used it in sermons, in lessons, in counseling sessions and articles. It’s a phrase that carries a huge impact if you think about it.

God is in control of all things, and He allows His children to go through the good and the bad, the easy and the hard, the understandable and the confusing.

The question then becomes “God, what do you want me to learn from this, and how do you want me to become more like you through this?

In processing this phrase, and in reading through some of my Master’s Degree work, I came across this series of questions and concepts that really helped me grasp and begin to understand the fact that God doesn’t waste a hurt.


This reflection and history process was a very encouraging process for me, as I realized that I have many things to be thankful for. Many times I have taken for granted the events and people that have helped shape me, and this process has helped me to grasp the importance of making the most of every opportunity that has been given to me.

I encourage you to prayerfully work through the questions and concepts as you reflect on who you are, and what has gone in to shaping you to this point in history, and realize anew that God knows you, loves you, forgives you and has a plan for you!

1. What events have had a significant influence on your life both positive and negative?
2. How have these events influenced your thoughts, decisions and actions up to this point?
3. Who are the people who have most significantly influenced your life? How did they influence you? What impact did they have on you?
4. How have you been hindered or discouraged from personal and professional growth and development?
5. Does it matter how other people perceive you? When? Why?
6. How much of your behavior is motivated by what others may be thinking?
7. How would you describe your risk tolerance? What may hold you back from taking risks that God may have for you?
8. Do you consider yourself more open or closed to feedback? Why?
9. What specialized training or experience do you possess? List 10 significant talents you possess, which are you consistently complimented or commended? Which talents are currently being utilized, and not being utilized?
10. How do you define success for your life? How does this definition influence your decisions?
11. If money were not an issue, what goal would you like to accomplish?
12. What would you like to be most known for at the conclusion of your life? Write an epitaph you would like on your tombstone.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Love God, Love People


Ever since 2004 the month of May has been a bitter sweet month for me. On the one hand May 2004 was the most amazing month I had ever seen in my Youth Ministry career and at the same time one of the most difficult as well.

May 2004 began a series of reflections for me as a Youth Pastor, that have continued on to this day, especially as I pause and contemplate the whole idea of leaving a legacy that will continue to draw people to a relationship with Jesus.

To fully grasp the events of the May 2004, you need to understand that as a Youth Pastor I was trained on various tools and techniques that work in the world of teenagers, and in many ways was viewed in the church context as the “resident professional” when it comes to reaching teens for Jesus.



Whether it’s a fair assumption or not the Youth Pastor is usually perceived as the “hired gun”, “top dog”, “answer guy” or whatever label you want to put on him. He’s the guy who gets “the big bucks”, so he must have it all together…Right?

Now I believe that Youth Pastors need to be trained to do the very best job they can in understanding and reaching out to youth culture with the truths of Jesus, but it has always bothered me that many times in church circles the volunteer youth leaders are often overlooked, and under-appreciated because after all they don’t have the piece of parchment from Bible College X hanging on their wall.

I’m only one guy with a small sphere of influence, if all the gifts, talents, abilities, resources and energies that are represented on the team are funneled in my direction to help me reach my sphere of influence, that’s a waste isn’t it?

So, all that to say, I’ve always been about doing ministry on a team that is passionate about who they are in Christ, and passionate about loving students in the name of Christ.

Insert a ministry we started at my former church called Hang Time.

 Hang Time was a ministry that began out of a seminar I did with our core students on spiritual gifts and personality styles. The seminar was all about turning the mirror on ourselves to discover how God had designed us, and then asking the question “how does God want me to use my design for Him?”

One of the students at the seminar named John came up to me at the end and basically said “Pastor Brent according to this seminar I learned a bunch of big terms and concepts, but to me the bottom line is I love to skate, I’m good at skating, I love my friends, and I want them to know Jesus, what should I do with that?”

It wasn’t long and the answer to John’s question became very obvious to us. Build a skate park that is led by a student who is a skater that also has a passion to reach his fellow skater friends for Jesus. So, that’s what we did. We basically opened up our facility and made our trash cans, orange cones, metal pipes and our broken pool table from the game room available to the skaters to come and do their stuff on…we had a skate park!

Hang Time was built on this motto, “No-one else wants you to skate…We do! You’re welcome here, it’s not much but all we have is yours…enjoy Hang Time!”

It didn’t take long and the small beginnings of a student who wanted to be obedient to God’s design for him started to see his friends coming out week after week to skate, hang out, laugh, listen to music, eat pizza and have meaningful conversations on a quarter pipe with volunteer youth leaders, and fellow student leaders who loved God and loved people. Hang Time was fulfilling its purpose.

Insert a volunteer youth leader named Larry.

 Larry was the guy on our team who was always behind the scenes, he loved doing things that enabled the “up front” leaders in our ministry to have the opportunity to share Jesus with the skaters. He did things like, set up and tear down skate ramps each week (Hang Time grew to the point where we invested in making some sweet ramps), stirring large coolers of lemonade, Cool-aid, and iced tea for the guests, ordering and picking up large quantities of pizza and snacks and basically doing everything and anything that needed to be done behind the scenes so that the skaters not only felt welcomed, but also knew their presence was vitally important to us!

Hang Time worked like this…skaters would show up and have the options of skating indoors or outdoors on our ramps, hanging out in our game room and listen to music, play video games, plug in their guitars and rock out or just sit with friends and talk. Then about halfway through the evening usually about 7pm we would take a break and everyone would gather around the “fun box” which was the best ramp we had, and was the center point of the ramp configuration.


At the fun box, I would gather everyone to do the one “spiritual” thing we did at Hang Time each week…ask God to bless the food, the FREE FOOD that we were about to devour (I’m serious one time there were like 300 skaters at Hang Time, and I personally witnessed 25 large pizzas disappear in like 3 minutes!). The whole food thing was based on this concept…it’s free, because God’s love for you is free!

As the weeks went on, I started asking if any of the skaters had any prayer requests that they wanted me to offer on their behalf before I thanked Him for the food. I would always say some thing like “ok, guys we’re going to talk to God for a second and thank Him for the food, does anyone want me to mention some stuff on your behalf, while I’m talking to him?”

I remember one day one of the skaters mentioned that his friend was in a serious car accident, and another mentioned that a friend was sick, and before you knew it, not only were we thanking God for food we were bringing requests to Him.

It was so cool because it gave me an opportunity to tell them “you know guys, I’m more than happy to talk to God on your behalf, but you know what, you don’t really need me to do it, you can do it on your own.” The early seeds of God’s desire for relationship were being planted in the minds of our skaters.

Week after week we would do this, then once a quarter we would bring in some bands, do a competition, do demos or whatever we could think of to take Hang Time to another level with the skaters. We would always promote in advance that at the event someone was going to share their life change story. We did this so they didn’t view Hang Time as a “bait & switch” deal.

It was at one of these quarterly events where we brought in some Christian pro-skaters who were in our city doing a show at the civic center that week. They had heard about Hang Time and asked if they could come and do some stuff and skate with the kids. It was at that demo where the events of May 2004 became bitter sweet for me.

The pro-skaters did their thing, the tricks and jumps were amazing, and they definitely had the attention of the Hang Time crowd. Then the leader of the skate troop asked everyone to gather around the fun box and have seat on their boards for a minute.

I looked around the building and there were skaters everywhere sitting down and listening to this guy who had grabbed their attention with his abilities. He then went on to tell his story of faith, and how he had accepted Jesus’ free gift of salvation. It was incredible to watch him be so honest and open with guys who totally related to him. At the end of his talk he said, “So if any of you would like to know this Jesus I just told you about, and would like to invite him into your life, just get on your board and ride to the middle!”

 It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen in ministry, there were about 350 skaters there that night and our best count was that 60 of them rode to the middle and responded to the invitation to receive Christ!

Larry and I were in the back of the gym in tears! This is what it was all about; this is why we worked so hard at providing a place for John’s friends. It was a great moment for our team.

That was May 3rd, 2004. On May 8th we rented a bus and took a bunch of the skaters to the civic center to see the demo and 10 more skaters accepted the invitation that was given that night as well. We were on a major high in our ministry.

At this point you’re probably thinking that is all sweet, I thought you said May 2004 was bitter as well.

Insert Larry’s legacy.

What I didn’t mention was the fact that Larry not only had kidney problems where he needed to go for dialysis treatment each week, but also had been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Larry was dying, in fact the Hang Time on May 3rd was his last Hang Time, he was admitted to the hospital a couple days later and wasn’t given long to live.

I went to visit Larry, and man what a great time of praising God we had, I mean we had just seen over 70 skaters accept Jesus in a week! Talk about a miracle!

We spent a long time together reminiscing about all the missions trips, pizza parties, all nighters and Bible studies, but then Larry said to me “Brent, this week at Hang Time, I want you to share my story with the skaters, tell them what I was like before Jesus and what I was like after…make sure you tell them that I love them, and want nothing more than to have them know Jesus like I do…tell them that I know where I’m going when I die, and want them to know for sure as well…tell them my story!”

Talk about a heavy load. I hugged him, and told him I loved him, and was so thankful that I had the honor of serving the Lord with him, we prayed together, and I left his room…for the last time.

On May 15th, 2004 Larry went home to be with the Lord, and in doing so left a legacy that was as simple and yet complex as Larry himself. In my mind Larry’s legacy was Love God, Love people!

On May 17th, 2004 the skaters showed up for Hang Time just like they had done every week for the last 4 years, and on this night we welcomed about 70 new followers of Jesus, and at halftime I asked everyone to gather around the “fun box” and for the next period of time I shared the news about Larry, and told his story. 

The place was silent; you could’ve heard a pin drop. I saw hardened and streetwise skaters openly crying because they loved Larry so much, and were sad to see him go. At the end of the talk I closed with a simple invitation to anyone who would like to know the assurance of faith in Jesus that Larry knew to come talk to any of the leaders. That night we saw about 20 more skaters put their faith in Christ!

What a month, 90 skaters put their faith in Jesus Christ…90...SKATERS!

So, as I think about May 2004 it is with mixed emotion, but it is also with the reality that God isn’t just looking for the “American Idol” youth leader. You know what I mean, cute, fun, popular, good singer, excellent communicator. No He’s looking for Larry’s who live a legacy of Love God, Love People, and he’s looking for students like John who say, I’m good at ___________ and I love my friends, what can God do with that?

He’s looking for us to know who we are in Christ, embrace it, and then passionately and authentically Love God and Love People.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Unreachable?


His name was Todd, and he was one of those students that I had been trying to connect with for several months in my new ministry.

I had started my ministry as Student Ministries Pastor at the church in the Fall and had begun building some good relationships with students with whom I had common interests…mostly the jocks… because, until I reached 30 and realized I wasn’t cool anymore (trading my sweet red pickup truck for a mini-van was the final straw).

I used to think of myself as an avid sportsman who could talk a good game with the best of them…notice I said “talk”.

Well anyway, the relationship building was going well, the students were excited to have a Youth Pastor and I was equally as excited to minister to them, and had big plans for how we were going to change the world for Jesus through our ministry.



As I was connecting with the students and praying about how God was going to use us, for some reason I kept noticing that Todd wasn’t really joining in. He was there but he was kind of disconnected, almost like he was in his own little world. He wasn’t into the fun stuff we were doing, the dodge ball, basketball, volleyball, and weight lifting just wasn’t his thing. He would show up and just take a back seat and observe.

He intrigued me, as I kept thinking that even though the relationships with my fellow “wanna be” athletes was progressing, there was a dimension that we were missing by not engaging with who Todd was and where he was coming from.

I tried to strike up a conversation with him, and it went pretty much like I thought it would…no where. I did find out though that he was into video games, and punk music…hmmm, there’s a starting point I thought to myself.

Now you need to understand something, I like video games as well, but my vast experience with the gaming industry began to slow down when Nintendo 64 hit the scene. Those intense graphics in Super Mario were making me nauseous, and when I thought of punk music I thought of guys in multi leveled red hats singing “Whip It”. I was out of my league for sure, but there was something about Todd that I wanted to get to know, as if God was saying, “engage him where he’s at, he’s got a lot of potential.

Well as any good Youth Pastor worth his salt would do I invited Todd to go grab some salad & yogurt after school…Yeah right…It was more like “dude, wanna get some pizza after school?” to which he said “nah, I’m not really into pizza.”WHAT?!” I thought to myself, “you gotta be kidding me”, and just as I was about to say something that would’ve for sure blown any kind of opportunity with this kid (I mean, come on, you can disrespect subs, burgers, maybe even pasta – but not like pizza? I’m sorry - that’s an affront to every thing any self-respecting professional youth pastor believes to be an effective tool in his toolbox. Not like pizza? Give me a break!)

Sorry about that, anyway what he said next was even better than…(just double checking to make sure I really mean what I’m going to say next…) yeah it was, even better than pizza. He said “dude, how about stopping by the house and playing some video games sometime?” Ahah, now we’re getting somewhere. I said “sure, man when would be a good time?” He said “how about now?” God was working for sure. To get an open invitation on the spot like that is almost unheard of in this day and age of planning and scheduling…it was incredible.

Now, I know that some of you are thinking “what’s the big deal, you’re a Youth Pastor, you don’t do anything all day when the students are in school.” To which I would say my favorite line from that great scholar Doug Fields, when he’s been asked that same famous question over the years…”Dude, what do you do all day?” Doug says, (and I’ve adopted it into my repertoire as well) “I pray…for you… all day…and if you’d stop sinning, I’d get more work done!”

Anyway, it was a big deal for me to get that kind of invite. I dropped everything I was doing (proper pizza calculations for the youth event that night, taste testing soda to see if I should purchase styrofoam, paper or plastic cups…you know important Youth Pastor Stuff), to hightail it up to Todd’s house.

I got there in about 10 minutes and as I turned into his driveway, I realized that either I was at the wrong address or Todd was absolutely LOADED (with money, not anything else that connotation might also mean in some circles). The driveway seemed to go on forever, as off in the distance I saw one of the five houses that dotted the property (all 100 acres of it). The main house looked like an English Castle and blew me away. I drove carefully as I kept looking for a draw bridge and a moat.

I parked the…min-van, went up to the front door, which was this ginormous solid oak monstrosity that took 3 butlers to open…(kind of). We went in and he showed me around this palatial palace he called home. He was very gracious, almost embarrassed that he lived this way. I caught a glimpse of what I would come to really appreciate about Todd, he was truly humble.

Todd and I started playing some video games, listening to music, hanging out, and for the first time actually talking about stuff. It started when I asked Todd what he was doing on Saturday. You see, we had a missions trip lined up to go feed homeless people in the city that day. We had gathered donations to make lunches and hand them out to homeless people that we encountered as we visited various parks and neighborhoods in our city. I will never forget the look that Todd gave me after I invited him to be a part of that trip.

He looked at me as if to say, “Now why would I want to do anything like that? Look around, I’ve got it all.” To which I responded with a “well crafted” retort.” Man, I know you’re probably thinking, ‘why would I want to do that’. I just want you to ask yourself the question, ‘are you satisfied?’”

I know that was a risky thing to say, but I really sensed this guy was tired of all the stuff that the world points to as success. It was just a hunch I had, so I said it.

Todd called me the next day and said he’d be coming on the trip. I was ecstatic. God was working!

The day of the trip came, and we loaded into the church vans and headed to the big city to change the world for Jesus one lunch at a time. It was an awesome day, and as it went on, I noticed that Todd was really getting into it. Then came the moment of truth. the moment that I will always remember as one of my all time favorite memories of youth ministry.

Our guide on the city mission trip was a missionary who was well acquainted with our church and leads missions trips like ours all the time. He is very well known in the city, especially by the homeless community. He is kind of viewed as a modern day Robin Hood (except he doesn’t steal from the rich, he just organizes church groups to help the poor).

Well, he was talking with a homeless guy named Frankie, who was asking him all kinds of questions about Jesus’ love for him. He was very open to everything the missionary was saying. A nice sized group of us had begun to gather around the missionary, and it was so cool to watch him engage this man who had nothing (from the world’s perspective).

The time came, and the missionary asked Frankie if he’d like to receive Christ as his savior, to which Frankie said “Yes I would. What do I have to do?” The missionary looked around the group that had now gathered and said to Todd, “Hey Todd, do you want to explain to Frankie what he needs to do to be saved, and lead him in a salvation prayer?”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I didn’t think Todd would do it. I knew he was a Christian, but this? Todd looked at me, and then at Frankie and said, “I’d love to!” He proceeded to the center of the circle and explained to Frankie what he needed to do to be saved, then he embraced him with a full hug and led him in prayer!

Think about it, rich kid who has it all, embraces a homeless guy who has nothing, and leads him into a relationship with Jesus, who gives him what really satisfies. The rest as they say, is history. By the way, at that time, Todd was a freshman in high school. He went on to be one of the driving forces behind many of the future ministry opportunities that we undertook.

Todd answered the question “are you satisfied?” with an honest NO, and went on to be an integral part of helping other students find what really satisfies, a relationship with Jesus. Todd was used by God to lead missions trips locally, regionally, nationally and internationally with a passion that was contagious. He used his connections, resources, abilities, skills, everything he had access to, in order to help students around the world find out about Jesus.

Todd was the kid that every youth ministry has, and every youth ministry needs to connect with, because God can change the world through kids like that!

My ministry definitely changed because of Todd. I realized that even though it was easy for me to relate with certain types of students, if my ministry was going to be effective and really expand for His glory, I needed to be willing to reach out to the “unreachable” with what really matters – satisfaction through Jesus!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An event for everyone




Luke 2 (The Message)

8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them.

They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Life and Light


Life and Light - An extended metaphor 

Life is like a light that can shine ever so bright.
The gleam, the glitter, the glow have the power to pierce the night.

For the light to be effective, its beams must protrude,
But what happens when the source is tapped and no power from it exudes?

Life and lights need a source; A cord, a switch and a bulb to really make them shine.
Of all the elements needed to make it do its job,
The switch is very crucial as it needs to be turned on.



Well worth praising!


Spending some time reading, reflecting, contemplating and trying to process how faithful and true God has been in my life not just this past year but every single moment of my life. 

I came across this Psalm of Thanks and as I was reading it the song "Oh Praise Him" by David Crowder kept coming into my thoughts as well.

I pray that the words of the Psalmist and the Words of David Crowder will encourage you as they did me today!

David’s Psalm of Thanks
1 Chronicles 16:7-36 (The Message)


That was the day that David inaugurated regular worship of praise to God, led by Asaph and his company.

Thank God! Call out his Name! Tell the whole world who he is and what he’s done! Sing to him! Play songs for him! Broadcast all his wonders! Revel in his holy Name, God-seekers, be jubilant! Study God and his strength, seek his presence day and night; Remember all the wonders he performed,  the miracles and judgments that came out of his mouth. 

Seed of Israel his servant! Children of Jacob, his first choice! He is Godour God; wherever you go you come on his judgments and decisions. He keeps his commitments across thousands of generations, the covenant he commanded, The same one he made with Abraham, the very one he swore to Isaac; He posted it in big block letters to Jacob,this eternal covenant with Israel:


“I give you the land of Canaan, this is your inheritance; Even though you’re not much to look at, a few straggling strangers.”

They wandered from country to country, camped out in one kingdom after another; But he didn’t let anyone push them around, he stood up for them against bully-kings: “Don’t you dare touch my anointed ones, don’t lay a hand on my prophets.”


Sing to God, everyone and everything! Get out his salvation news every day! Publish his glory among the godless nations, his wonders to all races and religions.


And why? Because God is great—well worth praising! No god or goddess comes close in honor. All the popular gods are stuff and nonsense, but God made the cosmos! Splendor and majesty flow out of him, strength and joy fill his place.


Shout Bravo! to God, families of the peoples, in awe of the Glory, in awe of the Strength: Bravo! Shout Bravo! to his famous Name, lift high an offering and enter his presence! Stand resplendent in his robes of holiness!

God is serious business, take him seriously; he’s put the earth in place and it’s not moving. So let Heaven rejoice, let Earth be jubilant, and pass the word among the nations, “God reigns!”

Let Ocean, all teeming with life, bellow, let Field and all its creatures shake the rafters;
Then the trees in the forest will add their applause to all who are pleased and present before God
    —he’s on his way to set things right!

Give thanks to God—he is good and his love never quits. Say, “Save us, Savior God, round us up and get us out of these godless places, So we can give thanks to your holy Name, and bask in your life of praise.” Blessed be God, the God of Israel,  from everlasting to everlasting.
Then everybody said, “Yes! Amen!” and “Praise God!”



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Waiting before Blessing


I remember a time several years ago when I came face to face with how God must feel when He has something cool to show us or give us but wants to "toy" with us a little bit first so we'll really appreciate it when His timing is just right.

Has that ever happened to you?

I wanted to take my kids out for a "special treat" (in our family a special treat can be anything from a dum-dum lollipop to a full blown all expenses paid vacation to the zoo) so whenever I drop the "Hey kids you better be good or you're not going to get your special treat" card it usually gets their attention, and they stop pulling each others hair for at least a second to find out what it is.

So, I said to my kids, "hop in the van we're going for a special treat", to which they said "what is it?" and I said "it's a surprise, just get in the van, and stop picking your nose." So they got in the van and kept asking what it was and if we were there yet and all kinds of annoying questions that made me want to not follow through on the special treat because I wanted it to be a surprise.



Now mind you, I'm not God...but I wonder if that's how God feels sometimes when we don't appreciate the waiting period before the blessing.

Anyway, it got to the point where I started messing with their little minds by saying things like "hey kids see that tree over there with the bird perched on the branch? That's your special treat, take it all in, don't waste the visual beauty that is before you...enjoy" To which they would say "No it's not, what is it really?"

This went on for several minutes and included such fake special treats as orange construction cones, potholes in the road, a big rock on the side of the road, a kid walking with crutches (the crutches were the special treat) etc. etc. until finally we got to the special treat place which was the movie theater.

We went to watch the movie Ratatouille which of course is all about appreciating the great gift of food (special treat) and not settling for the garbage that everyone else settles for (great spiritual message there).

I did find it ironic though that I was watching a movie about a rat who is an amazing connoisseur of great edible delicacies and I was sitting there munching on something that takes 45 seconds to make in my microwave, and as a side dish I held 3 of the most teeth rotting, dentist loathing, diabetic monitor spiking, sugar filled items known to mankind.

They were grateful that their special treat was actually fun and special, and it gave me a great opportunity to talk with them about how God has so many special treats prepared for us but we need to be patient and not settle for things that are less than His ideal for us.

It was a pretty cool conversation, but I'm not sure if they totally got it because a few days later as we were driving down a road right by a huge building that was recently imploded, I said "hey kids look at that huge pile of rubble" to which they both groaned in Unison..."Is that our special treat?"

God has only what's best for us in mind, and He wants us to be patient and trust Him that He knows what He's doing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Are you listening?


Several years ago for my ministry I was doing a lot of travelling in my car.

I recall being in cities and towns from New Hampshire down to North Carolina, and becoming very good at spotting the gas stations and fast food places that were right off the exit so I don’t have to venture too far off the beaten path.

Along with my Dunkin Donuts coffee, bagel with chive cream cheese, pile of folders and my blackberry, there was another very important passenger that was joining me on my journeys. It was none other than my GPS.

I found myself relying heavily on what the GPS had to say, and It had gotten to the point where I would just punch in the address and head out to wherever it told me to go.



I remember thinking "why do I put so much trust in the direction that the GPS says is the right direction? What if what it says to do is the wrong way, or not the best way? How do I know that what it says won’t lead me to some abandoned warehouse in a rough part of town?"

You know, I don’t really know the answers to those questions, I just input data and based on that data, the GPS relays to me what it thinks is the best way to get there.

Even though the GPS has a lot of power and influence over my decision making process as I travel, the reality is that it’s just sitting in my glove compartment doing nothing until I tell it what to do, then based on how I feel or some other scenario I choose whether or not I’m going to take its advice.

If I go against what it suggests, it’s the GPS's job to recalculate and re-calibrate to fit my liking…that’s just how I roll!

As I was stuck in traffic one day a few blocks from the Capitol Building in Washington DC, it hit me. Many times I treat my relationship with God like I treat my relationship with my GPS. I trust what it says, but only after I input my thoughts and insights.


That’s not only “not cool”, that is downright scary!

I mean, who am I to tell God anything? Who am I to give input to the Creator of all things? Who am I that He would love me, care for me, provide for me, and have a plan for me?

You know, as I was sitting in traffic in the shadow of one of the greatest symbols of human freedom in the world. I thought “no wonder my life gets confusing sometimes, no wonder our world doesn’t make sense, and no wonder many times the very leaders we look to for guidance inhabiting the halls of the Capitol building don’t have a clue.”

It’s as if we’re operating our lives and decisions like we operate our GPS. We input and based on how we feel we choose to follow or not…it’s up to us!

I don’t know about you but as I sat there and thought about the many subtle ways that I “thank God for His suggestion” and go on my own merry way, I began to get it that it’s not up to me the pick and choose. It’s up to me to be plugged in to Him and obey His directions, because He knows what’s best for me.

The direction He lays out may not be the smoothest, widest, highest legal speed limit, toll free super highway in the world, but I’m learning that if I trust His route He’ll take care of the rest.

As I think back on the last several years of my journey, I can clearly see the times when I took His input and chose otherwise, and I can also clearly see the times when I rode full speed ahead with Him at the wheel.

The times when I thought I had the best route picked out almost always ended in disaster, and even though sometimes it seemed like the road He wanted me to follow didn’t make sense and didn’t show up on my map, those were the times when I could clearly see that I was right where God wanted me.

As many of you know these past few years in my life have seemed like a combination of both of those scenarios at times, but now that I am beginning to get down the road a little further, I’m beginning to see why He had me take the route that He did.

He’s teaching me that I don’t have to have it all figured out, I need to trust Him that His direction for my life is perfect.

I didn’t say it would be the easiest way, but I’m learning that it truly is the best way.

The Christian journey is hard, bumpy, rocky and filled with pot holes, but I’m so glad that we have a Savior who knows the way, and is the Way.

Is He leading your way? Are you listening?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Choose wisely

When my daughter was younger she and I went to a corn maze one beautiful fall day. 

It was in response to an advertisement that I heard talking about how the corn maze was a fun and family centered activity that all ages would enjoy, (plus I knew they had the best cider and donuts around, so we went.)

When we got there it was an amazing fall day and at first glance the advertisement was right on, everywhere I looked I saw families having fun and enjoying themselves, and my daughter and I were joining right in (especially when my donuts arrived).

Everything was great that is until we entered the maze. This is where the fun stopped in a shrieking halt! I say shrieking because that's exactly what my 2 year old daughter and I heard around every corner of this HAUNTED CORN MAZE!

Yep, that was a little detail the advertisers apparently forgot to include, and it was a little detail that we picked up on pretty quickly especially when the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein and the headless horsemen went cruising by us!

Serena was freaked out and so was I...well actually I think I was more mad than I was scared because I felt duped and swindled and now my little girl is going to need therapy or something because of the fun "daddy date" that I brought on her on...nice!

Well, while we were in the maze we kept trying to get the attention of the "guide" who was sitting high above the maze supposedly looking out for lost and confused (and in our case terrified) maze goers so he could give instructions on which way to go to navigate through and hopefully OUT of the maze.

I saw the guide plain as day but the only problem was that the guide didn't see or hear or even pay any attention to me at all! Maybe it was because he was too high up, or the screams were too loud or maybe the wolf man costume he was wearing was too constricting or whatever, but the reality was that Serena and I were on our own and if we were going to make it out "alive" we needed to choose and choose wisely.

Well, much like many of the illustrations I've given over the years God used this one in a very vivid fashion to get me thinking about things like...what do I base my decisions on? and How do I deal with tough things in life when it seems like I'm on my own (knowing full well that I am never alone because unlike the wolf man "guide" in the maze Jesus is in plain view and ready and willing to step in and help me choose wisely.)

Choosing wisely between things like honesty and dishonesty, forgiveness and bitterness or kindness or cruelty are just a few of the areas that we all need to take time and make choices based on God's way.

By the way, we made it out of the maze, grabbed a couple more donuts and a jug of cider, prayed together and went to Chucky Cheese for the rest of our daddy date. It was a mad house as usual, and didn't have any donuts...so I began to wonder what I would do for future daddy dates if Chucky Cheese is one choice and a Haunted Corn maze is the other.

Hmm, I think that would be a tie!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Amsterdam


God has done so much in my life over the last several years, when I stop and just reflect on the places I've been, people I've met and lives that have been changed it's simply amazing what He has done.

I was going back over some previous blog posts and I came across this little update I wrote from Amsterdam on my way to Kenya which totally changed my perspective on everything.

I remember the fear, anxiety, nervousness, excitement and every other emotion imaginable as I couldn't wait to see what God was going to do in Kenya and at the same time I had no idea what to expect...well, as they say "the rest is history."

I'm thankful today for a really inspiring time of soul searching and faith stretching that took place about 3am in Amsterdam...



It's about 3am Eastern time and I'm sitting in an internet cafe' in Amsterdam drinking a cappuccino and waiting for my flight to Nairobi to take off. The flight to Amsterdam was pretty smooth, and fortunately I was able to get a little sleep on the way. Once the flight takes off I'll be in the air for another 8 hours, so I'm going to try to get some more sleep...hmm maybe that cappuccino wasn't such a good idea after all, oh well.

It was really cool on the plane, as I looked around and realized I was surrounded by a whole bunch of people who were from all over the world. The guy who sat next to me was returning home to Kuwait, the family ahead of me was from India, and a whole group of people near me were returning home to Zimbabwe. I couldn't help but think that even though we are so different God loves each of us the same and made the same sacrifice for each of us because He loves us. I also, thought how awesome it is that God understands each of the languages that were being spoken on that plane, and desires a relationship with each person.

It was hard to say good bye to my family this morning, but realizing that God loves every person from every nation, and He has given me an opportunity to be involved in training Youth Leaders around the world who will in turn be equipped to share His good news with young people in their culture, makes it all worth while...It's all about the Kingdom!

Well, I need to power down and get to my gate for the next flight to Nairobi...I'll try to find a place to plug in and keep you up to date with what God is doing in Kenya. Please continue to pray that God gives me strength and hearts are open to His word as I do a bunch of preaching and teaching.

God bless,
Brent

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Unleash

Recently we finished a series at my church on the book of Malachi. At the beginning of the series I told the congregation that this was going to be a very tough series, as Malachi doesn't "pull any punches", "candy coat", or in any way shape or form, "water down" his message to the people.

The bottom line for Malachi was that the people of God had blown it, and God was NOT HAPPY about it!

In chapter one they were bringing garbage for sacrifices when they should have been bringing their best. In chapter two the leaders weren't leading like God had ordained them to lead, in fact they were leading the people away from relationship with God.



Again, God is not happy, and He confronts them with the fact that if they don't shape up soon, He's going to take the dung from the lame, blind and utterly pathetic offerings that they are making and smear it on their faces and cast them out...yikes!

The whole book is a severe reminder that God wants our best and He desires so much more for our lives than we often even realize. Even though the message is harsh, the underlying proclamation is always there for the people then and is still available for us today. That underlying message is found in chapter three and is an awesome reminder of what God wants to do. He says, in verse 10...

Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

I love those words "throw open", as they have the idea of lavishly unleashing heaven itself on us even though we deserve the absolute opposite of that.

It was a good series, but it was also a very eye opening series as we realize that many times we settle for second best if not lower when all along God has a wonderful plan just ready to unleash on us. He wants to unleash it so He can unleash us to share the good news with people who so desperately need it!

I showed this video clip at the beginning of the series to encourage us that God has a great plan. It's actually a modern day rendition of the message that God had for the people of Israel after they rejected the "minority report" of Joshua and Caleb and thus missed out on the promised land and had to wander.

Are you wandering today? God wants to unleash everything on you and for you so you can be blessed and in turn be a blessing. My prayer is that we would all totally submit to our God who is just waiting to throw open the floodgates and unleash on us!

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

G.O.S.P.E.L

A friend of mine sent me this video clip that breaks down the gospel like never before...it's only 4 minutes but it could be the best 4 minutes you ever spend!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Reflecting on the call


Those that know me well, know that these last several years have been very challenging and stretching times for me.

There were times that I wondered what God was doing, and there were times when I had no idea why He allowed certain things to take place, but through it all deep down I knew that He was in control and working His plan as only He can do.

During the ups and downs of the last several years of ministry, God continually brought the most formidable times in my life back to my mind time and time again affirming over and over loud and clear that He had called me to ministry...no doubt about it!

So, I thought I would share some more of the story of how God worked in my teen years to confirm in my life that He had a plan and I was a part of it...as best as I can remember (I'm getting older ya know)...Here is how I know God called me to ministry.

My Call to Ministry

When I began my teen years, I was just like any other teenager, struggling with needs for acceptance, love, peer pressure and all the other things that make the teenage years a difficult period. One thing that I was so blessed with during this time though, was a dynamic youth ministry led by our brand new Youth Pastor.

We began attending the church right about the time I accepted Christ as my savior and from the moment I met him, I just knew there was something different about him. He was young, energetic, fun loving, and passionate about God’s word. He was a good listener, great teacher and every time I had a question about anything, he had a way of helping me understand from a Biblical perspective. God used him in my life at the exact time that I needed a Godly mentor to help me begin to grow in my new found faith in Christ.

So, for the next few years, I plugged in to the youth ministry whole heartedly! I was in attendance every week at church and Bible studies, I went on mission’s trips, I served at camps, I went to nursing homes, spent one on one time with God through Bible study and prayer. In short I was growing in my faith, and it was incredible.

I remember watching my Youth Pastor, and observing how much fun he was having serving God and ministering directly to young people. I began to think about what it would take to be a Youth Pastor like him, but I wasn’t sure if I could do it, or if God even wanted me to go that direction. So I just kept quiet and kept plugging in to what the Youth Ministry was doing.

Then, one night at Bible study, my Youth Pastor asked a question that God used to get my attention, He said “where does God fit in the equation of your life?”

He was doing a study on priorities, and challenging us to take a good hard look at who is the first place in our lives. He went on to say, that He believed that God wanted to raise up and really use some of our group to impact people for Him literally around the world, but not until we make Him our number 1 priority.

The whole time he was talking I was thinking about what I had been reading and learning about in my quiet times, and realizing that God was trying to get my attention with this truth that He wanted to use me to impact people through ministry.

Well, with the question “where does God fit in the equation of your life?” still ringing in my head I got in my old beat up car, and drove home from church. I was 16 years old, I was beginning to wonder what God wanted me to do with my life, I had a burden to see my friends come to Christ, I loved working with and mentoring younger teens, I respected and admired my youth Pastor, and now I was struggling to answer a question that was ripping at my heart.

It was ripping at my heart because deep down I knew that I had placed other things in the top spot from time to time, and I knew that God wanted 1st place. I struggled and prayed with that question almost all the way home that night. Then as I was about a mile away from my home, out in the middle of nowhere, my car died!

This was before the days of cell phones, so I had nothing except a lot of time to sit quietly and talk to God. I actually broke down and began to cry as I really sensed that God wanted to do business with me, and He knew that a quiet and remote place was the best way to work in my life.

For the next several hours I prayed, and processed what I had been learning about God and His will for our lives. I knew I wanted to serve Him but I wasn’t sure how. Then at the end of an incredible time of prayer and listening, I prayed to dedicate my life to God, whatever He wanted me to do for Him. "If it means being a Pastor, I’ll do it, if it’s a missionary, I’ll do it, a teacher, I’ll do it, a ditch digger, I’ll do it."  I remember telling God, from this point forward, with your help, you are going to have top spot in my life!

The car finally started, and I drove home. The next day I went to see my youth Pastor and told him the whole story. He was elated! I said, “I don’t know where, or what but I do know that God wants me in ministry, will you help me figure it out?”

So, for the next 2 years he gave me all kinds of leadership, hands on and behind the scenes opportunities in our ministry. He was personally showing me what a Youth Pastor does, and he was encouraging and affirming me all along the way.

When it was time to go to college, I asked him what college he went to that taught him how to be a Pastor, he told me where He went, and I applied to and attended the same school.

In 1986 as a college freshman Youth Ministries Major I began my formal education to learn how to understand young people, understand God’s word and effectively deliver it to them in a way that makes sense and connects with them, because God desires restoration in His relationship with us!

In 1989, as part of my Youth Ministry degree program, I did an internship with my Youth Pastor, where I really knew that Pastoral Ministry was the direction that God wanted me to go. I was affirmed in the areas that I loved to do, and saw God at work. The three main areas that I saw God’s hand at work were Preaching, Teaching and Leadership Development.

I graduated from college in 1990 and began my full time ministry journey which has literally taken me around the world, preaching, teaching and developing leaders for the Lord.

I love ministry, I was called to ministry, I have gifts from God for ministry, and I’m so thankful that He has placed me in ministry, whether it be to teens, college students, parents or older adults, it doesn’t matter. I want to serve God according to my gifts, abilities, personality, and experiences. He has been at work in my life, and I want to pass it on!

Emmanuel

So, we're in the second week of Advent at our church, and for me it's always been a great time of preparation for the coming celebration of the birth of Jesus.

I love the symbolism and deep meaning of each of the elements of advent...the wreath is circular and evergreen reminding us us of the unending always alive nature of God. The purple candles remind us of the need for penitence and introspection which will ultimately lead to humility and repentance, but they also remind us of the royalty that our God is comprised of.



The rose colored candle that we light on week three is a great reminder that joy and celebration are coming, and really help to get us in the festive mood because the days of darkness are almost over with the coming of our King.

I love all of that symbolism because it helps me focus and gives me perspective, but this morning as I was getting ready to lead our advent moment at church I was reminded all over again of not just a symbol or reminder of a great Christmas insight, but of an incredible truth that has always boggled my mind.

The name Emmanuel is what it was said that He would be called...Emmanuel, God with us!

That really hit me again this morning as I thought about that power packed meaning.

God - Holy, Perfect, Loving, Just, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Infinite, Indescribable!

With - Alive, Active, Powering, Interested, Empathizing, Involved, Earth, Continent, Country, State, City, Town, Neighborhood, House, Life!

Us - Sinful, selfish, flawed, finite, rebellious, prone to wander, Human!

Wow, that's amazing to me when I stop and realize what Emmanuel really means...God sent His Son to be with us! I'm praising Him for that truth today.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who am I?


Recently a tiny little phrase caught my attention, and helped me to realize all over again the simple truth that God is HUGE and I'm not even blip on the radar screen yet He desires a relationship with me.

Who am I that He would create me, save me, have a plan for me, bless me, not destroy me? I don't get it, I never have and I never will, that's what makes God and His plan so _______________...I can't think of a word to insert here, because "amazing", "awesome", "incredible", "super fantastic" and any other describing words just seem to fall way short, and I'm left with this shrinking question in my mind..."Who am I?"

The Psalmist actually added some depth to the question as well when He said "When I consider the works of your hands, the sun, the moon, the stars. What is man that you are mindful of him?"



Well, the phrase that caught my attention is actually found after He created the Seas and Sky and Sun and Moon and one of the reasons I love it is the way it's listed in the sequence of events and I love the way it almost reads as an "oh by the way" or "oh yeah...almost forgot...He also did this..."

Genesis 1:16 says...

God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars."

He also made the stars...I love this video clip by Louie Giglio that really helps us realize how huge this "oh by the way..." kind of statement really is. My prayer is that you will be as blown away with the enormity of our God as I am at this moment, and you along with me would ask the same question as the Psalmist..."Who am I?"

I think that's where we need to begin, then God can use us to accomplish the plans He has for us, plans to prosper not to harm, plans to give us a future and a hope!



So, who am I? Well, according to the Creator of all things, I'm not just Brent the Pastor, Brent the Husband, Brent the Dad, Brent the former halfway decent athlete (in his own mind), Brent the scholar or any other temporal identity attachment phrase I could add.

I'm Brent, the blip on the radar screen who just so happened to be created in the image of God! That's where my idenity lies, that's who I am, and now because of what Jesus did I'm also known as "Brent, the child of God"

I don't know about you right now, but I'm totally (insert another totally overused cliche') BLOWN AWAY!

Please be encouraged by this today...You're not randomly placed here to take up space, God has a plan, and a purpose and it involves us!

Thank you God, that the answer to the question of identity is answered in YOU!

The Majesty of the Manger

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23)

Suppose you could give a gift to Christ, what would it be? How could you possibly select a gift for the One who not only has everything, but who made everything?

The Wise Men did. They can be an example to us. In addition to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they gave the Savior some gifts we can give him today: their hope, their time, and their worship.



The wandering wise men gave Jesus their hope. When everyone else saw a night sky, this small band of men saw the light. The sight of the star sparked a desire in their hearts that send them packing. They went, seeking Jesus.

When night comes to your world, what do you see? The darkness or the stars? Hopelessness or hopefulness? Sometimes, just as he did so long ago, God uses the darkness to reveal his stars—“The light shines in the darkness” (John 1:5). Give God your hope for Christmas.

While you’re giving, give God your time. The wise men did. Before they gave God their presents, they gave their presence. It’s likely that these men traveled as long as two years before locating the prince of heaven.

Before that one incredible moment when they knelt before Jesus, the wise men spent many moments, months, perhaps years searching, in anticipation of that meeting. Just as the wise men devoted themselves to seeking the Savior, so can you: “You will seek him and find him when you seek him with all your heart” (Duet. 4:29).

And when they did find him, the wise men gave Jesus another gift: their worship. Men of wealth, influence, and intellect: what did they do when they saw Jesus? “…they fell down and worshiped him” (Matt. 2:11)

Worship. It’s a gift that extends to the giver as well. Through worship, we come to see God more clearly. God invites us, through worship, to see his face so he can change ours. In worship, we simply stand before God with a prepared and willing heart and let God do his work. And he does. He wipes away the tears. He mops away the perspiration. He softens our furrowed brows. He touches our cheeks. He changes our faces as we worship. The wise men sought the child of God, just as God seeks his children. “The Father is actively seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23).

The gifts of hope, time, and worship. Three gifts the wise still give.

From One Incredible Moment: Celebrating the Majesty of the Manger © (J Countryman, 2006) Max Lucado Used by permission.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grand Slam question


We're getting ready for Christmas at the Carl household and I was reminded of this "blast from the past" from my son...Good times, Good times...

Last night my family and I splurged and went to Denny's for dinner.
I had been whining about wanting pancakes all week, my wife had worship team practice, and kids eat free on Tuesdays.

It was a perfect storm situation that had "Grand Slam" written all over it.

So we loaded up the Carl family cruiser (aka 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan, with a newly replaced windshield, after the Western NY snow load cracked the old one), and headed to Denny's for some food, and fellowship as a family.



Everything was going great, the kids were coloring, Bonnie and I were gazing into each other’s eyes (at Denny's...hmmm) and the waitress had just taken our order. It was shaping up to be a pretty awesome night.

Pretty awesome until my son, slid his placemat to me to read a freshly written question, complete with a YES or NO response section that demanded an answer...an answer right NOW.

If you can read first grade penmanship, take a look at the picture and you can tell exactly what he was asking his "always truthful, always trustworthy, Never deceitful...DADDY."

For those who are a little penmanship challenged...my boy asked me point blank, "IS SANTA REAL? YES or NO."

It was tough because I was just about to dig in to my grand slam when he wrote that question on the placemat and slid it over to me.

Of course there were kids everywhere because it was Kids eat free night.

So, I told him it was a cool story, and lots of fun, and then I started to eat my full stack.

He wouldn't let it go...He kept saying "daddy, is he real or not?" So finally I said, (in a low voice so as not to tip off the surrounding kids, and tick off the surrounding parents) "Christmas is about Jesus, buddy...Santa is just a small part of the story, and he's made up...Jesus is real though!"

He looked a little surprised at that (santa being made up, not the Jesus is real part), and then 2 seconds later was like "huh, ok...oooh Mozzarella sticks!"

When we got out of the danger zone, we explained a little more in depth, and told him that it's ok to play along with your other friends that believe in Santa...don't ruin it for them...that's their parents job...ha ha.

I told Bonnie later, that I felt bad for him...I remember when I found out the truth...that's one of the reasons why 8th grade was the worst year of my life.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

This is Christmas

I'm deep into my annual reflection and pondering of what Christmas is all about, why we celebrate it each year and basically what difference it makes...and as usual I'm reminded all over again that without Christmas there would be no Easter, and without Easter there would be no salvation!

I love Christmas, that goes without saying but I also love the fact that this season is really the pre-season for what would come next in the life of Jesus on earth and what that would mean for every person for the rest of eternity...including me!

So, as I continue to prepare my heart and mind for another incredible Christmas Season, it's with an eye towards the celebration of the fact that my Savior not only lived 2000 years ago, but is alive and well in my life today!



This song by Kutless is a great encouragement to me and asks an awesome question that I'm thinking about this season..."What is Christmas without Christ?"

God's Great Gifts


Thanks be to God for his gift that is too wonderful for words. 2 Cor. 9:15

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and all the other reminders that it's gift giving season reminded me of a great little nugget of truth found in these words by Max Lucado and a catchy little tune by the Newsboys called "Adoration"...

Why did he do it? A shack would have sufficed, but he gave us a mansion. Did he have to give the birds a song and the mountains a peak? Was he required to put stripes on the zebra and the hump on the camel?... Why wrap creation in such splendor? Why go to such trouble to give such gifts?
Why do you? You do the same. I've seen you searching for a gift. I've seen you stalking the malls and walking the aisles. I'm not talking about the obligatory gifts. . . .


I'm talking about that extra-special person and that extra-special gift. . . . Why do you do it?... You do it so the heart will stop. You do it so the jaw will drop. You do it to hear those words of disbelief, "You did this for me?"


That's why you do it. And that is why God did it. Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing and listen as heaven whispers, "Do you like it? I did it just for you."
 


I don't about you but I continue to be in awe of who God is, and that He would want anything to do with me...He left heaven to come live among us...Come let us adore Him!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Reverse thinking


We started a new series today at my church on the book of James. I've always loved how James doesn't mess around with religiously pious platitudes or over the top "christianese"...no not James (most likely the brother of Jesus by the way). 

He just nails it head on for the reader with stuff like, "consider it pure joy (not if, not perhaps, not quite possibly sometime in the far off distance) WHEN you face trials of many kinds."

That's James for you right there telling like it is. You and I will face trials of many kinds, it's inevitable so get ready to realize that God allows tough stuff to come our way for a reason but while we're facing it down remember that God is in control and right there with us as we go through it.


James is filled with "reverse thinking" types of scenarios that I'm really excited to walk through with the crew at my church because we're going to learn and apply so much together.

We played this video clip today to kick off our series on the book of James and I think it really sums up what  the book is all about and it helps us realize that our perspective needs to be God's perspective, which as we all know is counter-cultural and definitely reverse thinking.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lead me

With all the craziness that is going on in our world these days, it's easy for us to get overwhelmed isn't it?

I don't know about you, but as I weigh the responsibility of leading my family, and leading in my ministry I'm always feeling the tug to "be all things to all people." In reality though, I can't do any of it alone!

Over the last 22 years of full time ministry that I've been blessed to be a part of I haven't always kept the balance like I should, and many times when my life has been out of balance it has tipped toward ministry and my family gets shorted.

As I'm processing, evaluating and reflecting on who I am, and what God wants me to become, I'm realizing even more how important it is for me to be led so that I can lead!



My wife shared this song with me, and it stopped me dead in my tracks, as I listened to the words. The band Sanctus Real nailed it. In a less than four minute song they captured the essence of what I've been feeling for years, especially as I'm always seeking to lead in a balanced way.

My prayer today is that the words of this song will speak to you like they did to me, and more than ever you'll realize along with me how important it is for us to be led so we can lead.

I can't do this alone, and neither can you!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Inward appearance


This "consultant's" report on Jesus' Disciples is a great reminder that "man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." I'm so thankful for that!

Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter’s Carpenter Shop, Nazareth 25433

Dear Sir:
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the 12 men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant. The profiles of all the tests are included and you will want to study each of them carefully.



As part of our service and for your guidance, we make some general statements: this is given as a result of staff consultation and comes without any additional fee. It is the staff’s opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education, and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and is given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by greater Jerusalem business bureau. James, the son of Aphaeus, and Thaddaeus, definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates however shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right hand man. All of the other profiles are self explanatory.

We wish you success in your new venture.

Sincerely yours,
Jordan Management


1 Samuel 16:7 - But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”