Below is video of me teaching about The Spotlight Myth. I kicked off a series through the Sermon on the Mount for this group. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPtbSUpqVFA?list=UUdLz82V0k8JPeWelvcm_gWg&w=560&h=315]
Today reading about the death of Elisha in 2 Kings 13 has given me a reflection for my heart at this very moment in my life. Just before he dies, the king over Elisha's people comes to him for a final blessing. In a moment involving bow and arrows and the prophecy behind it, king Joash does not react to the fullest potential he could have in regards to the future of the nation in accordance to what the King chose in that moment. In verse 19, Elisha is saddened by the King's response to pound the ground 3 times instead of 5 or 6 times because however many times he chose to pound the ground would be how many times his nation would overcome the attacks of their enemies later.
Here after my resignation as college pastor and going into the night of my goodbye reception I feel Elisha's sadness. One of the most troubling, dis honoring and truly heartbreaking things for me as your pastor of 7 years would be to hear and/or watch those I have taught and lead with all my heart go and not truly live out the things I have spent so much of myself to teach and invest in you.
I want to have the heart of Paul in some of his letters' openings to say to you months and years from now: "I praise God when I remember you. I am confident that HE (NOT I) who began a good work in you will perfect it. I have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for one another. It is right and good for me to feel this way."
I pray and really hope NOT to feel like Paul's opening to the Galatians when he says, " I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who CALLED YOU by the grace of Christ, for a distorted gospel."
My friends and my SOLAS FAM, if I have truly had such a strong impact on you (as many of you have said), I want to hear and see stories proving that in the future!
All my heart and love is FOR YOU. I've always been for you, and I will always be for you. Grace and Peace!
All is grace!
As a college pastor, there are a few very common conversations I have always had with several students like it was the first time. One of those conversations walks students through following God's intent for their lives to the chagrin and often in the face of their parents' intent for them.
Acts 21:10-14 shows Paul being clear of God's intent for his life in the face of people who love him. They are people who deeply care for Paul, and he knows that is the reason it breaks his heart so much when he sees their advice and strong intent going against what he KNOWS God has told him to do.
This stress of the tension between disappointing those who care for you in order to follow God's intent for you is one I hear all the time.
There has to be a challenge here for all of us to answer God's call while realizing it is not what our loved ones will aways want for us.
Have you been frustrated with the no good men pursuing you? Here is a thought for you today. [good] Men do not fight for anything of no value. Are you worth fighting for?
Now of course, I assure you that you ARE worth fighting for. The question is not as if you were not possibly worthy, but whether or not you act like you are worthy. Do you act like you are valuable enough to be fought for and pursued? Further, do you believe you are valuable?
If you give yourself out to whatever and whomever, you are not believing you are worthy or valuable enough to be really fought for and pursued. You give yourself to lesser boys and 'guys' who will never fight and are looking for easy pleasure. You will not be saved and taken care of if you are not valuable. You will only be used and thrown away.
But that is the game of boys and guys!
Men will fight for and pursue value and worth. You ARE valuable and worthy, BUT act like it and believe it.
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answershalf truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
*ancient franciscan benediction
A cluster of my students keep blogs where they share various reflections and expressions. The old adage goes that teachers often learn more from their students. This is certainly the case for me. More often than not, I feel like I'm just riding in their wake. You should check out the blogs of my students and learn something.
* these are listed in order of post frequency
Brian Regan has a bit about going to the doctor and being given a small handout about how to get the ailment for which he was going to the doctor.
"I know how to get it!"
He exaggerates it as though he were going into the doctor with a cannonball wound and getting a pamphlet describing how to get cannonball wounds.
"I have a cannonball wound! Do you have a tube of cannonball wound ointment?"
Am I the only one who feels like they are not super-sure of what to do in an area or ministry they were once knew exactly what to do?
Ministry has me in a place right now where I am saturated with information about the culture I am reaching, but all the information is heavy on the problem and light to lacking on the solution.
My heart is a bit weighed down with a sense of confusion and burden. It is as though my mind is full of the statistics about this generation, this culture, this demographic. I have an ear to ground, and I hear far more than the local church hears, yes, but I feel like I am without solutions to the ailments. I feel, in this, a lot of pressure built up in my heart as it fills with more and more insight to the problems and descriptions without the release of solutions and steps for change.
It would seem enough pressure builds without release explosion is impending. (and I'm not even sure I know what that would look like either)
I am in the doctor's office with a wounded heart for a generation reading pamphlet after pamphlet about the generation my heart hurts for.
Something has to change, and I am always willing and ready for change, but...
what do you do when you simply do not know what changes need to be made?
On many levels, the American Church is moving to the way of the "house church", and it has a great momentum to reach many people. We are seeing many Christians learn what it might look like to be followers of Christ as they love and serve their neighborhoods. We are seeing more and more large churches OF small groups instead of churches WITH small groups. The outreach of the church is now being put in the hands of the church as opposed to the church leaders alone. Smaller groups and house churches are turning their eyes and hearts toward their neighborhoods in order to learn what the incarnational gospel might yield in comparison to the attraction gospel that has been the primary model utilized by the American Church to this point.
While this excites me to see where the American Church is moving the gospel, I fear it STILL misses the mark in reaching a college and young adult population. The move into neighborhoods will certainly serve to reach a postmodern, post-Christian society and culture, but let's not forget that post modernity and post-Christianity is NOT a generation.
This means while college students and young adults most often fall into the postmodern, post-Christian mindset, to reach a demographic I love and my heart breaks for, there is yet another reality to be mindful of.
College students and most young adults don't really have neighborhoods they live in for long. This is a pretty transient period of life where they live in different homes from month to month. This is a time of life lived in semesters as opposed to years. The rest of life is lived outside the house elsewhere. Home is where the couch is!
The sense of neighborhood is lost on the college student and young adult. So a house church mentality works well if your population has a house or spends any significant time in the house they have.
Now again, I love the house church model, and I think the American Church needs to continue moving in that direction for sure, bu my question, as a college pastor, is how do you move this model for a demographic without neighborhoods?
The answer lies in what college students and young adults DO have. Networks!
Thought the idea of a neighborhood may be lost, there is a strong sense of network in this demographic. We still frequent different areas such as coffee shops, bars, campuses, and clubs. These places have become different networks each person is connected to.
When you frequent those places, you become 'a regular'. Once I became a regular at Tupelo Coffee House, I started to recognize the other regulars. Once I began to recognize the other regulars, I began to notice them outside the coffee shop in other networks I am connected to. I recently recognized a Tupelo barista when I was walking around the monthly art walk downtown.
The whole interest of our networks is watching them overlap. "I didn't know you came here to this coffee shop!"
In order to begin really reaching the college and young adult population, we need to move from the neighborhoods to the networks. House churches need to be in coffee shops and bars and clubs and various other networks.
In a generation that has not yet settled down into neighborhoods, you have to be a neighbor in their networks.
I love my Google Reader. It is my preferred reader for all the blogs and sites I follow. Regardless of the reader you use, we all know you never really read every post by every person in your reader. For some of us, it would take days to do that. It's just information overload at some point. When your reader has nearly 30 new posts a day, it is necessary to skim. For me, here are the posts I NEVER skip. 1. Ragamuffin Soul - Carlos Whittaker's blog says he is "an artist, pastor, thinker, experience architect, and Web 2.0 junkie." I love his blog because it is creative, inspiring, and simple to read and interact with. 2.Michael Hyatt's Blog - Michael is the Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. His blog is a crisp and clean page with great insights for leaders, writers, and bloggers. 3. Heart of Campus Ministry - I do not include this just because I am a regular contributor. The guys at HOCM truly do exemplify their title, and their love and insights are evident for any whose heart beats for the people group we call "college students" 4. Refusing to Tiptoe - Sarah is a student, an artist, and a creative. She may even be nervous I am even including her in this blog, but more people should know about her writing and thoughts and heart. 5. Jesse Peterson's Blog - Jesse is a close friend of mine, and his blog may best be described as "misadventures of a young worship leader". Anyone involved in leading worship in any capacity would benefit from the insights he processes here.
What are the blogs you never skip? (this is your chance for shameless plugs)
why young adults are leaving YOUR church
information to culture is changing drastically...important question comes to mind