Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Numbers of Hope + Football = Wow!

This commercial ran during the Broncos and Patriots NFL playoff game recently. I'm not so sure that God cares about football but I'm very sure He cares about letting people know that He loves them!

John 3:16...the numbers of hope. God LOVED, God GAVE, We BELIEVE, We LIVE - WOW!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Who am I?

Yesterday at church I began a six week series on the book of Genesis. We began at the beginning and tried to grasp what God was up to during the six days of creation.

Everything was crusing right along as we realized that He started by laying the infrastructure, the groundwork the schematic if you will.

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

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..."

Check out Genesis 1:16 for yourself, and notice what it says...
"16 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 showed 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!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tell it well

I've been thinking alot about the stories we all have and how God has so creatively
authored each and every one of them...Flat Stanley doesn't say much, but He helped me understand the power of all of us sharing our stories and telling them's a post I wrote a few years back that brings back alot of memories and I hope will encourage us to proclaim loud and clear what God has done in our lives...

This past year I did a whole lot of traveling, in fact at this writing I am currently at "Silver Elite" status with Northwest Airlines with almost 50,000 miles logged.

On every trip I've taken, I've gone with a purpose and a plan to see God do His work in the lives of the people I meet, and pray that they will take the ministry and impact the young people they work with. It's called training trainers in Youth Ministry, and is at the heart of what my ministry with YMI is all about.

I've also had a very special guest joining me on the trips this past year as well. No I didn't have to buy an extra ticket for him, and I didn't even have to pay for any food...he's small, quiet, skinny and actually rather flat. He fits in my Bible quite nicely. His name is Flat Stanley, and he was my daughter's project for her 2nd grade class last year.

The idea for the project was pretty simple actually. Each student was asked to take Flat Stanley (or Stan as I call him) different places and get photographs with him in various poses and various settings. Then each student was to compile their findings in a scrap book and tell the class the stories.

Well, as you can probably imagine my daughter had some cool pictures and fascinating stories to tell her class as she presented.

I had a lot of fun snapping shots and explaining the project to the people who were kind enough to hold Stan for a shot. It got me thinking though about how powerful stories are, especially first hand stories that we experienced. All the voice inflection, insightful tidbits, and background local color that I tried to impart to my daughter were good and helpful, but if Flat Stanley's story was going to be told most effectively, it would probably be best from his perspective, since he was there.

Now obviously he has no voice, so the next best thing would be for me to tell what I saw and experienced through the power of story.

If you think about it that's kind of how our personal testimonies work as well. We've all been given a story to tell, a story that needs to be told to others, especially those who don't know Jesus, and are dying to find out who He is and what He's done for us!

My prayer is that we wouldn't hesitate to tell our first hand experience with the creator of the universe and His saving power in our lives with others.

The 2nd graders in my daughter's class loved the stories, and had all kinds of questions for her. She did her best to answer them but in the end she was adding words to somebody else's stories...Flat Stanley's and mine.
Don't let others tell your story, step up and speak loud you've got a story that others are dying to hear...oh and don't forget to shine the spotlight on the Hero...Jesus!

If only Flat Stanley could talk...he would spin some serious yarns about his trip to Kenya...check it out...

Flat Stanley hanging out in Sylvester Onyango's office at the Center for Youth Ministry

Flat Stanley rubbing shoulders with Lincoln & Richie (Awesome Youth Leaders!)

Flat Stanley getting ready to play some soccer with the kids at the FOCUS Orphanage in Ruiru, Kenya (they let us win)

Flat Stanley eating Ugali with kids at the FOCUS Orphanage in Ruiru, Kenya

Flat Stanley straddling the border of Kenya and Tanzania on his safari trip to the Massai Mara

Flat Stanley chilling with a couple Massai Warriors, getting tips on the best places to spot the elusive Black Rhino

Flat Stanley and Richie sharing their stories...they were both very good, and both very moving...but no replacement for the one you have to tell!