Monday, June 25, 2007

Counselors Learning From Students

For those who regularly check in here, I apologize for my lack of consistency. My life as a youth pastor leads to a very strange, hectic, and jealousy-causing summer schedule. I just got back from a week at camp in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This was one of the best weeks I have had in a long time spending quality time with God in the mountains.

I don't know about all of you, but God never fails to speak to me and convict my heart during a week at camp. This week I really sensed God telling me to trust Him. This seems like it would be very natural for a youth pastor, but I struggle with this like crazy. I find myself constantly relying on my own talents and abilities rather than on God for support. God has blessed me in certain ways, as He has with all of us, but He has not done this so that we don't need Him. Hopefully His blessing will cause us to keep depending on Him rather than turning away from Him.

God desires to speak to us and lead and guide, but we must be willing to follow. How much more could we accomplish in ministry if we actually put our trust in the Creator? How much more could God do through us if we allowed Him to? I pray that God continues to use me mightily while I learn to put my trust in Him for all my needs.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Life Lessons from NBA Basketball

Call me a band-wagon jumper if you'd like, I don't care...I love watching LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. I have always been a pretty casual fan of NBA basketball, much more preferring the style of play seen at the college level, but this year I have found myself glued to the TV during the NBA playoffs, especially when LeBron and the Cavs are on.

Last night I found myself extremely impressed by the maturity level of LeBron James, a 22 year old NBA star. He was intentionally fouled on the last play of the game and should have had the chance to tie the game at the free throw line, but the whistle was not blown. In a world that always has an excuse for everything and is so quick to throw someone else under the bus, LeBron calmly said that the blatant foul was merely "incidental contact" and did not disrupt his shot. Most 22 year olds, or 40 year olds for that matter, would not have handled the situation with the kind of class that this young man did.

Now for those who could care less about basketball, I think there is still a lesson for all of us in this . We really do always have an excuse for everything. Nothing is ever our fault. We will blame anyone else as long as blame is shifted from ourselves. I am the same way. I don't want to be that guy though. I want to own up to my mistakes, admit I'm human, and ask for forgiveness. I don't need to argue my point when I am proven wrong. The courage of this young man reminds me all over again of this flaw in my character. May we all be people who own up to the situation and handle it with class and dignity.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Dangerous Times

For those who don't know, I have recently gotten really involved in the sport of rock climbing. Now usually this sport is merely recreational, but yesterday it became quite grueling. The area that I go with students and friends is Palisades State Park, a nice easy area to set up and climb in. Yesterday, however, my friend Joel and I tried out a new place in Luverne, MN called the Blue Mounds.

There are a lot of great places to rock climb at the Blue Mounds, we just failed to pick one of those spots. The area we chose to climb yesterday ended up being a terrible chunk of rock that would rip away from the wall when you would get a good hand hold. At one point I accidentally ripped what was probably a 20 pound piece of rock away from the wall and it shattered into bits as it hit the ground below.

While climbing has become one of my favorite things to do, you won't find me climbing that area of the Blue Mounds again anytime soon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I'm Back

For those of you who tune in here from time to time, I hope you enjoyed hearing from some of the students in my youth group. This past week I took a group of high school students to serve on an Indian Reservation in Mission, SD, located in the 5th poorest county in the entire U.S. This was the best mission trip I have been on so far, including last year's trip to Panama City, Panama. I was so proud of my students for all the work they accomplished in other's lives and in their own lives.

Visiting the reservation is always an eye-opening experience for me, despite growing up 45 minutes from 3 different reservations. We can become obsessed with doing missions somewhere else and totally avoid the blaring needs in our own backyard. We can become calloused to the poverty and oppression in the world around us. In the words of Rob Bell, "The tragedy is when we think that our world is the world." I think that is so true because we can get wrapped up in the everyday things of our own lives and forget that there is a whole other way of life out there that is in need.

May we, as Christians, see the Gospel not just as a way to get out of this world, but as the only way to redeem this world we find ourselves in.