Yesterday I watched my first TED Talk. It was from Peter Benson, a psychologist, talking about “Sparks: How Youth Thrive.” I really think that this is a good tool to think through and how we help our kids develop natural abilities and gifts as part of our spiritual acts of worship to God (Romans 12:1-2). We should also try to share that God has given us spiritual gifts as believers and to put students in places of service where they can grow and benefit from that by being mentored by other adults and transformed by God’s word. Please check the video out and tell me what you think.
Last night I went to the Faith and Culture Writer’s Connection and heard Don Jacobson, former publisher of Multnomah Press, and author of When God Makes Lemonade spoke about his experiences and ideas in his writing. I was inspired by his project to share other people’s stories instead of making up something or just talking about himself.
I was really glad to be able to hear about this story and his desire to show how God is working even in the midst of the hard reality of life. I am really looking forward to trying to get my hands on this book. What are some ways that God has worked in your life?
I think what I learned from listening last night was that,as youth workers we have to find time in our youth group or Sunday school sessions to allow students to share who God is making them and how he has worked in their lives. It is all about learning to “talk story” as a group in order to develop relationships and point each other to God’s work and praise him. I hope you feel free to share anything on this blog with me and if you need prayer let me know. You can send any requests, stories, or thoughts to email@example.com at any time.
Have a great weekend!
Last night I went and saw The Great Gatsby with some friends. I must admit, I have never read the book so this review will only take the movie into account. This movie left me feeling like the most unfulfilled life is the lonely one. Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), is a self-made man with riches, charm, and mystery that makes him popular and intriguing to many people in the upper class society of the 1920′s New York scene. His seeming success and popularity mean nothing to him, unless it helps him to acquire his romance interest, Daisy (Carey Mulligan).
The story of infidelity, greed, and lust for power is told from the perspective of Tobey Maguire’s Nick Carraway. It seems nothing will deter Gatsby from retrieving his lost love Daisy even though it would require her to leave her family and become a willing part of Gatsby’s alternative reality that he thinks he controls with his money, charm, and allure. The movie goes a little to far with the idea that all of the parties, excessive spending, and lavish living is “all for Daisy.” Gatsby is truly more in love with the idea of someone being in love with his man-made recreation of himself because he hates who he truly is, James Gatz. How can one give love when they do not even love themselves? Do Jesus’ words “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mark 12:31) share the opposite end of the saying that if one does not love or appreciate the person that they have been made by God to be, that they can have any part in loving another person? Not only do these questions need to be raised for Gatsby, but in our own lives.
The American dream is built off of success, wealth, and consumerism as the ultimate aims of the good life. Even though this might seem satisfying to pursue, where does it ultimately end? Betrayal, bitterness, loneliness, even death. All of these results have an impact on everyone in the community.
What I fear most in my own life is the accumulation of knowledge, things, and “success” at the sake of real relationships of intimacy where Christ is honored because he is the source of my identity and I can participate in fellowship with others to struggle through sanctification to love my neighbors as myself until that day “when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2) and all is made right with the world again. I am no escapist, but I do acknowledge my brokenness and inability to do well to confess my own need for God and to stop trying to build my kingdom, but to focus on his.
Director Baz Luhrmann did not truly excite me with his overdramatic flair and exhausting camera angles. I would watch this movie again, but probably when it comes out on Redbox.
Check out this article from Christianity Today:
This morning I started working on reading for my summer classes. I am taking World Religions and a Communication Skills in Ministry class. The first book I am tackling is Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths by Paul Louis Metzger, one of my teachers. It is a book on modeling a relational-incarnational approach to do apologetics in our postmodern and multi-faith society.
I’m only into the third chapter and I felt compelled to write a response that this approach of apologetics is valuable, especially for those of us in youth ministry. Modeling Christ-like relationships of love, self-sacrifice, and grace for those who are younger is a good way to show faith through our actions, speech, and habits. It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 3:3 when Paul wrote, ‘”You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
All the results of our ministry based not only in biblical exposition of Scriptures, but in being a transparent book to our students- who are desperately in need of good relationships with adults- are because of God’s work in our own lives. Stay close to the Father and be in relationship with your students so that Christ’s light will shine for them through your teaching and life.
Here is a prayer that I found written by Susan Kramer.
“Blessed be all mothers
Who have come into our lives
Whose kindness, care and loving
Remain with us to guide.
Your inspiration in us
Made us strive in every way
Especially to remember
Helping others makes our day.
Mothers, this little tribute
Flows directly from my heart
You are so loved and cherished
Invaluable, one and all, you are.
I am very thankful for my Mom and the women in my life who have been maternal figures. I hope you get to take time to show appreciation for your Mom today!
College graduations are always exciting to attend, especially when you know lots of people in the class and you can cheer for them. I have been in and around the Multnomah University undergraduate and seminary for the last five years and have not missed a graduation. I graduated in 2011 and am looking forward to doing it again next May.
The season of graduation is always filled with excitement, as well as sadness of transitions out to the “real world.”
One of Multnomah’s beloved professor’s Garry Friesen, Dr. G, is giving the commencement address, as he is retiring at the end of this school year. It is sad to see him go, but I also am very excited to hear about his new opportunity to go teach the Bible in Rwanda.
Dr. G is a superb teacher, author, and mentor to many people. I made my decision to go to Multnomah based off of a lecture that he gave about the priestly robes in Leviticus in November 2007. Though I was never able to have a class with him in my undergraduate days, he was a big encouragement in my life during the loss of my wife when he opened his home to me to stay in for the summer of 2012.
I enjoyed living at “The How”, Dr. G’s house that is Narnia-themed because of his love for all things C.S. Lewis. The dinners, discussions, relationships, and prayers that were invested in one another gave me a unique environment to grieve and process. I think what I most enjoy about Dr. G and will miss when he leaves, is hearing his stories and responses that usually result in some good laughs or reflection. He is one of the most humble people I have had the chance to learn from by watching him striving to live for Christ and loving others.
If you haven’t ever read any of his books you should. I have especially enjoyed his new book “Lion Sightings In the Rose City.” Dr. G will be greatly missed by all students and staff at Multnomah because of his dedication to teach and share Christ with excellence.
I just need to post this for two reasons- First, to give God glory for what he is doing in my life, and secondly to point others to the hope, love, and grace that the Father has lavished upon us as his children.
There are moments in my day, which particularly come right before I’m planning on going to bed, where I sometimes get an overwhelming painful feeling from the bottom of my heart to the pit of my stomach mostly because of my own fears, doubts, and loneliness. I always strive to give those moments to God because I have learned that he is more than capable to handle any emotion or feeling that I have. It hurts to hurt, but I don’t feel shame or guilt about having these moments like I used to. I think that somewhere in between this last year of taking a local GriefShare program and a Spiritual Warfare class at Multnomah that taught me that God wants to heal and let us experience the emotions that come as a part of grieving and processing without any condemnation. The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin, but not in a way that makes us full of self-hate or animosity, but of peace and his comfort that we can confess and repent of any type of attitude or actions that we have participated in.
Last night I was not feeling the greatest because I spent time thinking about how much I miss Jennica, I just found out that I was not selected for a job I interviewed for a few weeks ago, and just how I long for the embrace of God in my life so much more in the moments that I feel hurt. After locking up the church I spent time reading the letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3 and the entire chapter of Luke 15. I think that what I took away from that is the need to continually look forward and remember that Jesus is coming and that God is excited about having relationships with his children.
In Luke 15 Jesus shares the parables of the lost sheep, the woman who lost her coin, and the prodigal son. I think my favorite parable is the prodigal son because it reminds me of God’s continual love and joy over the lives of his children. It also forces me to ask myself, “How often do I resemble the sons that Jesus talks about?” Sometimes I’m sinful, other times I’m self-righteous; sometimes I do my will instead of God’s, other times I over-analyze God’s will and still miss it; sometimes I am simply looking for mercy, other times I want others to be punished. Though, mostly where I find myself whether I am resembling the younger or the older son at the moment, I want the embrace of the Father. Though, not only do I want the embrace- I want all of the other things: for him to be looking for me, to see me in the distance, and to run after me with arms open wide! Luke 15:20 says it best:
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
This embrace, captured by Rembrandt in his painting, is very well known and serves as kind of a visual that I have enjoyed in the past.
Generally, I feel that in my life, God’s presence is in the gentle touch of the Spirit in my heart in times of contemplation, silence, prayer, going on a walk, seeing creation, singing worship songs, studying my Bible, and many other ways.
I hope that you can know today how deep the Father truly loves you. If you have never received Christ, please click here to learn how you can do that.
How are you reminded of God’s presence in your life during hard times?
Please go and check out my first article in Shared Justice on educational reform. http://www.sharedjustice.org/
I’m going to be posting and promoting this article most of the day. Have a blessed day!
“Teaching With Poverty in Mind: what being poor does to kids’ brains and what schools can do about It” by Eric Jensen was one of my favorite books that I read for the after-school ministry project I lead this past semester because of its comprehensive analysis on neurological science for the common person, and the application for each set of issues that Jensen presented.
Eric Jensen is a former school teacher and current Ph. D. candidate in human development. Jensen is a leader in the brain-based movement for human learning and author of 26 books and 10 journal articles. In Teaching With Poverty In Mind (ASCD. Alexandria, VA. 2009.), Jensen supplies readers with an understanding of the nature of poverty, how it affects student behaviors and academic performance, what can and has been done to be successful in teaching and improving the educational process and future of students in poverty, and hope that student’s habits and brains can be changed for the better. The effects of poverty on a child’s brain can be detrimental, but reading this book gave me a better understanding of some of the ways to better interact with students who have lots of fear of losing or being lost in large groups at school, church, and sports. The amount of pages that were spent highlighting the factors of successful teachers and methods for positive brain growth and development were slightly overwhelming, but very helpful in making the point that schools should make the best staff choices possible. In my own context, I want to do good at picking staff that will relate, interact, and care for the students who attend our program so that they will grow as well-rounded people academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.