Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Books To Recommend

Have you seen these books? They are the first two of a series of seven written by Kurt Johnston and Mark Oestreicher. Both Kurt and MarkO are life-long junior high pastors/workers and their experience and expertise shows in these first two installments. Book number one is entitled “My Faith” while the second is called “My Family.” Each are formatted with dozens of two page chapters designed to be a quick reference for students as they make their way through the turbulent years of middle school. Both are great and I look forward to reading and recommending the other five as they are written. If you have not picked them up, you not only need to do so, you need to recommend them to the parents of your young teens.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Check Yourself:

Recently, I read this in a book called Practicing Passion by Kenda Creasy Dean. This is a heroin dealer talking to a youth worker.

“I’m going to explain to you Christians, who are such good preachers, why you are losing an entire generation. Listen, this is really all about being there.”

“What do you mean?”

“When Johnny goes to school in the morning, I’m there, you’re not. When Johnny comes home from school in the afternoon, I’m there, you’re not. When Johnny goes out for a load of bread for grandma for dinner, I’m there, you’re not. I win, you lose.”

WOW! It’s about “being there.” Are we really “there” for the students we work with? Now, another voice needs to be heard here as well. We can run ourselves raged trying to “be there” for every student in every situation. The bottom line here is that we must keep our focus. Remember why we are here? We are here to point students to Christ, the one who is always “here.” Often we think that we can be there all the time and we cannot. But, when we think we have to be we make our work about us, not about Jesus. That’s a mistake.

Kenda Dean, later says this: “Young people are so thirsty for God that they absorb every ounce of prayer, love, and energy we have to offer, thinking that our fidelity can suffice for God’s.”

Go after it – go after students – be there for them – but be there as a lighthouse – a beacon for Christ – a “voice crying in the wilderness, make straight the way for the Lord.” Be there for students, but remember, it’s not about you, it’s about Jesus.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No Stings Attached?

What is the value in being a blessing to someone if they don’t know you are a Christian? This was a discussion a little while ago and one worth having. If, because I have Christ in my life, I am a bit kinder, more patient, and less rude with people in general (okay, I know just because I’m a Christian does not mean I am not a jerk, but when I’m living the way God wants me to…), is it beneficial to the Kingdom of God for one to show love and grace to another when the other person has no idea why you would do this or who gives you the ability to be so different?

Monday, December 04, 2006

What a Break...

What a great couple of weeks. I don’t know about you, but a restful time started a few weeks ago at the National Youth Workers Convention. Okay, so staying up late and getting up early is not that restful, but what a great rest for my soul as I had time with friends and time to sharpen my mind and ministry. Upon arriving back at home, it was a day or two in the office and then thanksgiving. We had decided to not have middle school programming on thanksgiving weekend as our church was doing more of a family service in the main sanctuary. So, without programming to prepare for, I had a great five day break from the office. It was blissful. Time at home with the family is awesome.

Then, this past week, after two days in the office, Kansas City was hit by its first major winter storm of the year (okay, I’m from Green Bay, so this was NOT major, but there was a good amount of freezing rain followed by 8-12” of snow). It happened that this storm hit the city on Wednesday afternoon, so it caused us to cancel our mid-week programming. Then, school was out on Thursday and Friday. Another long weekend! I know we’ll be sad in the spring when school is still in session because of this, but it was great fun. A lot of time with the family and a great rest for the soul – all taken in with great thanksgiving.