Friday, December 11, 2009


I wish I could do impressions of people. I think impressions are hilarious. When one human being can imitate another human being, that's reason to laugh. They can be so funny.

- Frank Caliendo can do a perfect John Madden impression.

- My old college roommate, Mike Archer, can do about a hundred dead-on impressions, including a you-think-its-really-him Ravi Zacharias.

- Even my brother Pete can do impressions (including an often-copied Ace impression and a rarely heard Spencer DeBurgh impression).

Me? I can't do one. I try, but they just don't sound good.

When I try to do impressions, I find that I can't. But, sometimes, I find myself inadvertently imitating people. When I hang out with certain people, I've noticed that I pick up on their mannerisms and make them my own. Little phrases people use, ways people talk, or even facial expressions all have been incorporated into my personality just from hanging out and spending time with others.

- I picked up using the word "buster" from hanging around Todd Kellner.

- I've noticed I've used the comeback "Believe it!" from being around Wayne Beilgard.

- I use the phrase "where the rubber meets the road" from spending time with Andrew Johnson.

I didn't try to impersonate these people. I wasn't trying to be like them. It just happened from being around them.

Francis Chan notes: "I have found that through spending time with those I respect, I become more like them than I would simply by trying to do what they do. "

This is true with me trying to do impressions and this is how it is in my relationship with God. Sometimes, I try to do what God does. I try to live like Christ lived. I try to love people like He did, walk in step with the Spirit like He did, and glorify God like He did. But (just like my failed attempts at impressions) I can't.

I can't, that is, unless I'm spending time with God. When I spend time with Him, when I have fellowship with Him, and when I commune with Him, I begin to look like Him. It's not about God saving me and sending me on my merry little way to try my hardest to be good. It's about God saving me and God continually working on me to make me look more like Jesus by producing the fruit of the Spirit in my life.

Look at Moses when he communed with God: "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him."--Exodus 34.29-30

Moses didn't try really hard to have his face shine; it was the result of him having been with God. Maybe one reason my spiritual life can be so shallow is that I am trying to obey God without God. Trying to live like Jesus without Jesus. Trying to live in accordance with the Spirit without the Spirit. Copy Him without communion with Him.

Thankfully, I don't have to try hard to be like God. He has provided a Way for me to always commune with Him to receive the grace I need. What is this Way?

"Therefore brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is His body, and since we have a great Priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." -- Hebrews 10.19-23

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book Log: November 2009

1. Ted Kluck. The Reason for Sports. 256 pages. Moody Press. I like sports. I like Kevin DeYoung (whom Kluck has co-authored two books with). So, I read this book. And I'm still not sure if I liked it. The book really isn't a theology of sports as much as it is a collection of sports/Christian articles. Some of Kluck's thoughts were refreshing, and at times, Kluck had good insights, but the book overall lacked final conclusions.

2. Robert Gundry.
Jesus the Word According to John the Sectarian. 156 pages. Eerdmans Press. Some of the book was a little over my head, but Gundry had some very practical (and profound) thoughts on what it means to "be in the world but not of the world."

3. Mark Allen Powell. Introduction to the Gospels. 160 pages. Fortress Press. This book was a little bit more left-of-center than I am, but Powell sees some really good themes that run through each gospel book. Good to skim through before studying one of the gospels.

4. Aubrey Malphurs and Keith Willhite. A Contemporary Handbook for Weddings and Funerals. 368 pages. Kregel Press. The book contains dozens of weddings messages and funeral messages. Its a helpful resource for getting some ideas for message preparation.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

God's Truth vs Our Experience

Have you ever felt that God's truth, revealed in the Bible, isn't true? Do you ever think that what you are experiencing contradicts God's Word? It can be relatively easy to find ourselves questioning God when things aren't rosy in our lives.

This was the situation Asaph found himself in. He found himself feeling like God's Word wasn't true, because of what he was experiencing. In Psalm 73, Asaph is struggling with what he perceives to be a lack of God's presence in his life. He sees people around him who don't give a rip about God, yet they are loving and enjoying life. They seem to be doing just fine. Asaph is trying to do what's right and its hard. Its a struggle. He doesn't experientially feel God's presence. He feels alone.

He starts off the Psalm, in v. 1, acknowledging the truth about God--that He is good. He knows God and knows what the Bible says about God.

But his feelings quickly come out. In v. 2-11, he expresses his perception that the wicked are getting hooked up by God, while he is living a holy life while being ignored. It seems to Asaph like the unbelievers are having a blast in their sin; they mock God and don't care. It seems like life is going great for them, while his life isn't.

Verse 12 sums up his feelings: that the wicked have peace and joy and happiness, yet he does not.

In v. 13-16, he gets really emotional. We see the inner struggle of what all Christians go through: Is holy living really worth it? Even when its hard? Even when its not fun? Even when it seems impossible?

In these verses, Asaph begins to wonder if the whole "following God/obeying God" thing he's been doing his whole life is really worth it. Has he been walking with God for nothing? The words drip of pain, bitterness, and hurt. Its not a momentary feeling, but its Asaph's constant experience.

He wants to be careful not to cause others to stumble or fall because of his fears and perceptions (v. 15), but he can't keep these emotions below the surface (v. 16).

So, what can He do? Is God unfair? Does God care? Where is God?

Asaph finds his answer by going to God. Even though it doesn't seem like God is there or that God doesn't care, Asaph goes to God. Asaph finds refuge in the only place that provides help: God.

Asaph finishes the Psalm (v. 17-28) retelling what God has taught him. He realizes how sinful he has acted toward God (v. 22). He is convicted (by the Holy Spirit) and repents of his sin to God (v. 21). Despite his unfaithfulness to Him, Asaph acknowledges God's presence (v. 23) and that God has always been there (v. 24). Asaph knows that this life will be marred with trial after trial, but he looks forward to the day when he will be with God in glory (v. 24).

Then come some of the most precious verses in the Bible:

"Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the Strength of my heart and my Portion forever."
--Psalm 73: 25-26

The psalmist acknowledges that nothing in this life will satisfy like God. He wants nothing but God. He is satisfied with God and God alone. Good or bad. Even if everything fails, God will not. God is his Strength and Portion. Forever.
Every Christian goes through times of spiritual dryness: times where we sing and don't feel the presence of God; times where we pray and don't feel the presence of God; times where we serve and don't feel the presence of God.

This does not show spiritual immaturity or a distrust in God. Its the result of His redeemed people living on a cursed earth--people who long to feel his presence but are marred with sin.

So, in these times, though God may seem distant, cling to God.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Five Reasons I Love Christmas

5 Cranberry Splash Sierra Mist

4 Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha

3 The Muppet Christmas Carol

2 Captain Crunch Christmas Crunch

1 Uncle Andy's Holiday Bacon Cheese

Friday, November 27, 2009

Overdosing on the Temporary Benefits of the Gospel

This week, Kevin DeYoung blogged about the "New Gospel." This new gospel is really a false gospel, an attempt to soften the message of Jesus. It has appeal because it takes away the offensiveness of the gospel and is likable for non-believers.

There are delicate tensions in the Christian life. Go to one extreme (or the other) and you've got problems (sometimes, big ones). There is a tension between being sons of God and slaves of God. There is a tension between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. There is a tension between Jesus being fully God and fully Man.

There is also a tension between being in the world (evangelize the lost, not living in a remote monastery, etc) while not being like the world (not living like the Christ-less culture around us).

This balance can be difficult and we can fall on either side. On the one hand, it is wrong to withdraw from culture, never share your faith, or even look at an unbeliever in the name of "holiness." On the other hand, it is wrong to be so liked by the world, to be just like the world in everything you do, and so relevant to the world in the name of "evangelism."

How can this wrongly play out in my life? In an effort to be solidly committed to the Gospel and reach out to the culture around me, I can too often focus on the temporary/earthly benefits of the gospel to such an extent that the real benefits of the Gospel are minimized.

What do I mean? Sometimes I (wrongly) think of Jesus as a Fix-It Superhero--in my life to fix all my little, shallow, temporary problems. Rather than being the Lord of eternity who must be worshipped and obeyed, I can view Him as a friendly older mentor who can help me with my present existence. Rather than being consumed with eternal issues (heaven, hell, storing up treasures, setting mind on things above, etc) I can be consumed with how Jesus will help me feel better now.

What is so wrong with this kind of thinking?

1 Worldliness--It may not be obvious initially, but as I begin to think about Jesus less and less as Lord and more and more like a friend, my fear of God diminishes and my flesh thrives. If Jesus is God, who calls us to live distinctly from the world--that's a real mandate from GOD. But, if Jesus is more like a friend with good advice--that's something I can more or less blow off depending on how I feel.

2. Eternity is Real--This life is a prelude for the next. This life isn't all there is. When I think about Jesus as my fix-it Man, guess will dominate my thoughts/worries/cares? Present, immediate, temporary issues. Like: romance, dating, love, sex, marriage, parenting, divorce, remarriage, finances, diet, physical beauty, health, emotional health, self-development, self-esteem, success, failure, burnout, leadership, friendship, conflict-resolution, etc. Now, these are all good things, important things even. But what don't you find in the list? Discipleship, obedience, love, faith, hope, zeal to rescue the lost, holiness. Too often I would rather have my discomforts in this life fixed, rather than discipline myself so as to not be disqualified.

Yes, only through Jesus can I find true joy, peace, and rest in this life. But, He hasn't called me to experience heaven while I'm on earth. I'm here to suffer and, when I die, experience glory. My relationships in this life are going to be painful and hard, as I struggle for holiness. But the Gospel doesn't say that my 80 (or 50 or 25 or 105) years on this life will be awesome. The gospel does promise that eternity will be amazing.

So, here's to...
-ignoring therapeutic suggestions for a better life now, but for hearing an authoritative Word from God
- not being so concerned with friendships, self-help, and happiness, but evangelism, discipleship, and holiness
- the temporariness of our sufferings and pain and to the everlasting-ness of glory in heaven

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Christmas Mix '09

I have some standards. Standards (or boundaries) are set up beforehand, before an event/issue/area, to protect one's self (and sometimes others) from making foolish choices in the heat of the moment. God has given us emotions and these emotions, when guided by God's Word, are fantastic. When operating under the control of the flesh, they can deceive and mislead us.

With that in mind, I have standards about Christmas music. The standard is to not play Christmas music unless one of the following two conditions is met: 1) it is after Thanksgiving Day or 2) snow has fallen.

Last night, snow fell in Racine, Wisconsin. I was prepared for this. I was excited about this. Without the aforementioned standards, my emotions would have caved in. I did not cave in. It was worth the wait.

Despite this strict standard, my taste in music is horrible. I can fairly easily like a song. Maybe it was in a movie, maybe a roommate played it enough that I liked it, maybe it is so over-the-top sappy that I like. With this in mind, I thought I would post 10 of my favorite Christmas songs. I tried to avoid "classic" songs or songs that get overplayed. Embarrassing? Yes. Helpful? No. Funny? Maybe.

Quick Serious Note: If I could recommend an album, it would be Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Becoming Man. Made by Sovereign Grace, Christ-centered, with 'the Reason for the season' in mind. Most of the songs below have lyrics that are shallow, weak, and/or misplaced.

Anyways, ten of my favorite Christmas-only songs:

10 This Baby (Steven Curtis Chapman)
Reason: Because many people whom I love sang this song last year at Christmas time.

9 Better Days (Goo Goo Dolls)
Reason: My roommate in college played it. It makes me think (though this wasn't the original intent) of the better days we have to look forward to in eternity.

8 Little Drummer Boy (Audio Adrenaline)
Reason: Kinda-cool rock revision of the classic song.

7 Sleigh Ride (Jump5)
Reason: Pop music at its finest.

6 Christmas Time is Here (Sixpence None the Richer)
Reason: Soft, slow, relaxing.

5 Carol of the Bells (Straight No Chaser)
Reason: A cappella group. Cool song.

4 Where Are You Christmas (Faith Hill)
Reason: Its from the Grinch movie.

3 I Hate Christmas Parties (Relient K)
Reason: Roommate played it and it quickly became a favorite.

2 Christmas, Baby, Please Come Home (Death Cab)
Reason: Its really catchy and when a friend was playing it, it stuck.

1 My Only Wish (Britney Spears)
Reason: Quite possibly the single worst Christmas song of all-time. It is terrible. Terrible words, terrible tune, terrible everything. And, because of this, its a holiday classic.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

H2: You Would Not Believe It

What can we do when in despair? When situations seem too much to handle, when life seems too hard, when problems seem like they are only going to get worse, when people hurt us, offend us, and don't treat us like they should, what can we do?

These were Habakkuk's very complaints in Habakkuk 1. He looked at the nation of Judah and saw that sin was everywhere, that no one cared about God, and (it appeared to Habakkuk) that God didn't care. Habakkuk's prayers weren't answered, his advice wasn't taken, and he was ready to despair. But God came to Habakkuk with a message:

I am working even when you don't see it

God is working, even when we don't see Him working. He is working in ways we may not expect. He is working on a timetable that isn't always ours. God is working even when we don't see it.

I understand this on a human level. For instance, I am confident when I leave the house and hit "start" on the dishwasher that, when I come home, the dishes will be clean. The dishwasher works even when I don't see or hear it working.

I believe this about dishwashers, but why do I have such a tough time believing this about God?

One big part of the problem is that I live off of my emotions. What I feel is what I believe. I act out on my feelings. When situations or people cause me to despair, I can tend to live in my feelings instead of on the truth.

Example: Let's say I pray for an unsaved friend every day for a month. Let's say, then, that at the end of the month, he remains unsaved. My emotions begin to work--sadness, anxiety, maybe even despair. My emotions weigh down on me, telling me that it is hopeless and that it isn't worth it to pray anymore.

Rather than listening to my emotions, I need to read and believe the truth of God's Word. I need to believe that God is sovereign and in control. I need to believe that God wants us to pray--and pray faithfully and consistently. I need to believe that God loves me and is working out all things for His glory.

Habakkuk is at this point. He is ready to give in. He is ready to stop believing God and is ready to let his emotions call the shots. What does God tell him?

"Look at the nations and watch--and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." (Habakkuk 1:5)

Habakkuk is going to be utterly amazed by what God is going to do. So much so, that he wouldn't even be able to believe it.

God often uses times of hardship and despair to break us. That doesn't come off sounding very loving, but in fact, the reverse is true. It is very loving. As He breaks us, He causes us to become more dependent on Him. We recognize our need of Him.

Three reasons to be still and draw near to God (and not live by emotions) in times of despair:

1. Transformation--God will make you look more like Jesus through the time of despair. He will teach you new things about Himself. He will convict you of sin that allows your worship of Him to be deeper and purer. He will give you a new capacity for love, peace, and joy.

2. Intimacy--Isn't it times like this that draw us closer to God? Unfortunately, I have not gone to God in every trial in my life. Too often, I've just wallowed in my emotions. But when I do wait on the Lord and draw near to Him, there are unparalleled times of growth. He breaks you and makes you realize how much you need Him. How much you need Him for victory over sin, for faith, for hope, for deliverance, for life.

3. Testimony--When God lifts you out of the despair, whether the way you thought He would or not, you will have testimony/ministry to share with others of what God has done for you. You will be able to proclaim His glory.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

H1: In the Pit of Despair

I hope that life is hard for you. It should be. Life on earth, on this cursed earth, is hard. I don't wish ill on you, but I do hope you realize that there is more than the 80 or so years (or less) that God gives us on this planet.

Despair can be my response to a situation that is perceived as hopeless. Maybe its a relationship. Maybe its a life path. Maybe its a trial. Maybe its a personal struggle.

Here are four ways that life can be hard and that we can despair:

1. Your Prayers Go Unanswered--God can respond to prayer four different ways. He can say "yes" or "no" or "wait" or He can ignore you (Psalm 66:18). I understand God will most often say "no" to my requests for: a new Mercedes, my golf slice to be corrected, or a Chipotle restaurant to be built in my kitchen. I understand this. God is not a genie.

But there are times when I feel I have a very valid request. A very good request. A very godly request, even. It is in these times that I expect God's answer to be "yes." When God answers with a "no" or a "wait" this can cause me to despair.

When I want to see someone's heart changed and God doesn't change them, I can despair. When I ask for justice to be served and its not, I can despair. When I request a trial in my life to end and it doesn't, I can despair.

2. Your Counsel is Untaken--This goes hand-in-hand with the first one. I like to counsel God (Isaiah 40:13-14). I think I have some pretty good ideas on how things should be run. I explain to God how things can be solved and how He can fix the problems that I am in. When He does not take my advice, I can despair.

3. Sin Goes Unchecked--When I look around and see evil flourishing and I see wickedness running rampant, I can despair. To see evil in the world and to see evil happen to me and to others around me, I can wonder what God is doing. Strife and contention in personal relationships seems to be endless. Sin, it appears, has no limits.

4. When God Seems Uncaring--Sometimes, it seems like God doesn't care. It seems like God is paralyzed to stop the evil, to change the hearts, to bring people back/near to Himself. How could God let sin go seemingly unchecked? When I don't see God doing anything, I can despair.

What can I do when I face such despair?

The answer tomorrow. For a preview, check out Habakkuk 1:1-4 (where these four areas of despair come from) and check out the rest of the book for the answer.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Youth Leader: Luann

Name: Luann Purdy

Nickname: Epaphroditus (see Philippians 2.25-30 for why)

Years in RBC Youth Ministry: 1 year

Gifts: Baking, serving, cooking, leading choir, grilling, discipling, and she's good at making food

Evidences of Grace: It was harder for me to come up with cooking synonyms than with evidences of grace in Luann.

She serves and serves and serves. When Jesus talks about what discipleship is all about, He talks about denying yourself. He talks about not coming to be served, but to serve. He talks about following His example and counting others as more significant than yourself (see Phil. 2 again). These are things Luann knows, because she regularly puts these truths into practice.

When you see Luann at church (or maybe you don't see her, because while you are filling up your coffee and talking to your friends, she is serving), you see that she is denying herself and serving Jesus. You do not see her expecting to be served, waiting to be served, merely talking about serving, whining about other people who are not serving--no, you see her actually serving. You see her esteeming others as better than herself.

(Don't ask the question.)

(Seriously, don't ask the question.)

(You still want to ask the question?)

(Fine, but you were warned...)

How does Luann serve?

(cue: the floodgates)

Serving week in and week out in the youth ministry, caring for girls, loving girls, talking to girls about how their week was, encouraging them with the love of Jesus. Being a caring wife to one and a caring mom to four (actually, like a dozen, because there are always a lot of random kids at their house). Leading and ministering to the kids in Vertical Devotion. Making meals for families in the church. Caring for other couples in their small group. Thoughtfully putting together meals suggestions and buying groceries for youth leaders whose blood pressure runs high. Giving up nights and weekends to rest (which she's earned) to spend time building relationships and building up the body of Jesus. A dozen other ways which I don't know about because Luann is humble and doesn't brag.

In Luann, God's grace shines through in her humility and service to her Lord.

Book Log: October 2009

I did not finish a non-school book all month. How sad. Here's what I did finish last month:

1. Mark Dever and Paul Alexander. The Deliberate Church. 221 pages. Crossway Press. The only redeeming book of the bunch. Basically a how-to book on how to build your church on the Gospel. There were a lot of good chapters in here that flush out the premise of how the Gospel impacts: selecting elders, church discipline, organizing the worship service, and introducing new members. A really good read.

2. B. J. Worth. Worth's Income Tax Guide for Ministers. 136 pages. Evangel Press. Perhaps the single most boring book I have ever read. Really. 136 pages felt like 3,000 pages. Page after page of over-my-head, difficult to understand, tedious tax laws. But, it is a necessary book. Like if you don't-want-to-go-to-jail-for-tax-violations necessary.

3. Philip Jenkins. Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way. 272 pages. Oxford Press. Not written by an evangelical (I think he's Anglican), but he defends why the four gospels in the New Testament (for those who also aren't evangelical, that's Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are the only gospels that should be in the Bible. There are all kinds of goofy "books," (read: edited books written by heretics several hundred years after the actual disciples recorded the actual gospel in the actual books we have in our actual Bible) that liberal (read: non-Christian) scholars (read: people smarter than me who will do whatever it takes to convince people Jesus is not God) think should be in the Bible. Jenkins handily disproves these scholarly theories.

4. Marvin Meyer. The Gospel of St. Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus. 144 pages. Harper Press. You've probably heard of it. Its a book written well after all the disciples (and their kids) were dead. And its heresy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Top Ten: Lame Quiet Times

Everybody is looking for ways to have lamer quiet times. That's a given. The problem is some people keep slipping into habits of: extended prayer times, changed lives, and (worst of all) communion with God. What can we do to prevent to this? Well, I am hopeful this post can help. So, here's ten ways to have ineffective and unproductive quiet times:

1. Skip It. This is the best and easiest way to keep from actually meeting with God. I mean, let's be honest, you're busy! I get sick of these Christians running around acting like I need to do one EVERY DAY! Between hitting the snooze button seven times, three solid hours of TV/Facebook/Gaming/Movies, and having fun with friends, there's not a whole lot of time for God.

2. Hate It. If you (for whatever reason) can't do #1, the rest of this list should help. First off, start by dreading/hating/whining about having to do one (even if its just in your own mind). I recommend making it feel like a burden around your neck. If you can get your emotions to this point, even if you accidentally have a quiet time, it will be worthless. You can even get to the point where you would rather: clean your room, do homework, spend time with your family, read the Pennysaver, climb a fence with barbed wire, or count your arm hair rather then spend time with God.

3. Don't Pray. Make sure you don't kick off your quiet time with prayer. This is a no-no. Prayer slows you down and makes you think you actually need God. Prayer may lead you to think that you need forgiveness, that you need grace, that you need His help, that you need faith, that you need deliverance, that you need patience, in short, that you need Him. Now, the problem with this line of thinking is that it may make you realize you need God and thus pray more. So nip this area of spiritual growth in the bud.

4. Rush Through It. If you've got to do one, keep it short. Your time is precious and you don't want to waste it on eternal thoughts--you've got a mist-like life to live! The briefer your time with God is, the less chance you have to be a deep Christian. Your mind can tend to wander towards eternal things, towards the gospel, and towards Jesus if you stay in the quiet time too long. Some suggested passages for a quick quiet time: John 11:35 and Job 3:2.

5. Don't Actually Commune With God. You want to treat your quiet time like an assignment from school. You want to get the checklist mentality going. One good method of applying this is to never confess sin. Hold on to your sin! Here's why: you start confessing sin, you realize that you are incomplete, falling short of God's glory, and totally depraved. Then, God's Word naturally points to the remedy: Jesus. When you look at Jesus, you'll see complete forgiveness, atonement, fellowship with God, and righteousness. Your affections may be stirred to love God, to praise Him, and to obey Him. Don't let this happen, remember you want lame quiet times!

6. No Meditation/Reflection. The Bible repeatedly commands us to meditate on God's Word. God wants people to not just read His Word, but to think about it, to consider how it applies to our lives, to consider how great God is, to be captivated with Jesus' love, and to mull it over in our minds all day. So, if we avoid reflection, we can trick ourselves into believing that God's Word is old, outdated, and isn't relevant for our lives.

7. Read Too Much. This can be taken the wrong way, but here's what I mean. Let's say you're in the habit of never spending time with God. All of a sudden--maybe after a stirring sermon or a convicting word from a friend--you want to start spending time with God. A good way to rid yourself of this attitude is to launch into an impossible reading plan. Commit to reading something like the Old Testament in one week. After you fall behind after one day, become easily discouraged and tell yourself you tried.

8. Avoid Christians Who Are "On-Fire". People like this can be annoying. They are always joyful, seeing victory over sin, encouraging others, and growing in the Lord. The worst part, they actually seem to enjoy spending time with God. A lot of time it spills over into wanting to see others share the joy that they have. They want others to have this joy of the Lord. They want to see others cast off sinful habits, grow in God's grace, and cherish Jesus. This leads them to ask penetrating spiritual questions like: Do you spend time with God? and How can I help you more closely walk with God? The sad thing is that they really love you--they really do care about you--and you don't want to break their hearts by telling them you are spiritually lame, so just avoid these kind of people. Warning: Avoid RBC Youth leaders, they are the worst!

9. Compartmentalize It. What do you do, you ask, if you make it all the way through a quiet time? The answer: don't let it spill over into your "real" life. Leave it in that 10 minute (or less) block. Just being a hearer of God's Word keeps you lame, its the doing of it that's important (don't bother looking up James 1.22). Try as hard as you can not to put anything you read into practice. Don't talk about it. Act like you never did a quiet time in the first place.

10. Don't Repeat It. It can be dangerous to get into an actual habit of quiet times. Spiritual growth, affection for Jesus, and real transformation are not far behind. It is probably better to use the time you could use for quiet times and fill it with excuse making. Come up with good ones like: it doesn't make any difference; it's lame; i don't have time; I did a quiet time yesterday, that's probably good enough; I went to church on Sunday, what more do I need?; and my favorite, I don't know what to read (of course we know full well what to read, we are just being lame!)

Anyways, I hope this helps you to become ineffective and lame spiritually. You keep up this lifestyle for an extended period of time and you can even convince yourself that you're a Christian. Sure, those on-fire Christians may call you out--because, if you really were a Christian, everyone would see the fruit from your life--but hey, they just love you with the love Jesus has filled them with. Have fun wasting your life!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Top Ten: Project Serve, Fall 2009

10. Michelle and Shag--Michelle thought she spotted our host-leader, Bruce, through the trees. Turned out it was just a red stick.

9. The Students Impressed Me, Part 1: Hard Work--The students worked hard. We started off with little sleep going into Saturday and the students worked from 6:30am until 9:30pm. I didn't hear them complain, grumble, or whine. They didn't try to avoid work, skip out on work, or cut corners. They served in humility, unity, and holiness. I was impressed.

8. Don Francisco--Turns out 70s ballad singer Don Francisco has a bit of a cult following in our youth group. Most of the students already had all of his CDs, but they continued to marvel at his musical talent.

7. Bear Accident--I'm not sure exactly what he was looking for, but a wild bear climbed into our church van, shattering the back window. Luckily, no one was hurt.

6. Getting Reprimanded--So, we made our dinner stop as the second quarter of the Packers-Vikings game was going on. Naturally, I wanted to go inside McDonalds and watch the game. I went up to the TV in the restaurant and began to try to change the channel. As I was doing this, I got yelled at by a young worker, who told me not to "mess" with the TV. I told him that I was simply trying to change the channel. His reply? "Like I said, don't mess with the TV." (I didn't think pressing the "channel" button on the TV was equivalent to "messing" with the TV. I do have a TV at home I know how to use quite well. I thought this experience would qualify me to change the channel. Apparently, no exceptions could be made.)

5. Eating Lobster--TK, Sam, and I each took down several pounds of meat during dinner on Saturday night, including some really good lobster. That was one of the best meals I've had in a while and it tasted really good after working all day.

4. The Students Impressed Me, Part 2: Speed Fellowship--It is such a joy to talk with these students and hear what God is doing in their lives. They are sensitive to sin, desirous to grow, and eager to learn. They encourage me, big time.

3. Wood Splitting--I learned some things: what a wood splitter is, how hydraulics work, Sam can take out wood with an axe, and people don't like big logs being dropped on their feet...

2. The Students Impressed Me, Part 3: Shooting Shotguns--50 shots. 10 people. 2 had never shot before. Everyone hit a clay pigeon. Wow.

1. The Students Impressed Me, Part 4: Studying Habakkuk. I praise God for His Holy Spirit, who causes spiritual growth to happen in my heart and the students' hearts. They spent time in God's Word, they worked on memorizing verses from the book, they applied God's Word to their lives, and meditated on its implications for them. Very impressive.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jealousy, The Application

Some practical applications of my ongoing struggle with jealousy in regards to:

1. Confess a competitive spirit. While it is difficult to always know what our motives are, I need to be quick to repent when this motive rears its ugly head. When I get that little bitterness feeling when someone gets the laughs and I don't, when other people have what I don't, when other people are happy and I'm not, when other people can do things and I can't, I need to confess that. Repentance of this must be quick and regular.

2. Develop an appreciation for the gifts that God has given to you. If you are a Christian, God has gifted you. True, in your area of gifting, you will find others more gifted than you. For instance, if I think my gifting is music, I will find others more gifted than me in the area of music (see: Bob Kauflin, Andrew Papillon, Animal from the Muppets, and William Hung). But, that's not the point. The point isn't that God make us the greatest at music, sports, preaching, or whatever. The point isn't to be the greatest, but to serve the One who is the greatest. Our gifts are not to bring honor to ourselves, but to the One to whom honor is due. Jealousy takes root when we think that we should be God (see: the greatest worship leader who ever lived--Lucifer).

3. Pay attention to your own house. If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, then water your lawn. Meaning: Be content. If you are jealous of what you perceive are better parents in another family, stop. Cultivate godly relationships with your own folks. If you are jealous of Tim's abilities on piano, stop. Start practicing the piano. Don't mope. Don't sit on your duff. Don't whine. Work.

4. Glory in the success of others. Of course, live for the glory of God. But its OK to appreciate, build up, praise, encourage, help, show honor to, and glory in the success of others. When someone does a good job, give thanks to God and tell them they did a good job. When someone has fun, is brimming over with happiness, and wants that joy to spill over to you, you don't have to:
A: Be lame
B: Be critical
C: Be a killjoy
D: All of the above (Read: Be jealous)
Rejoice with those who rejoice.
The hardest time for me to praise someone else is when they are good at something that I'm good at.
Superficial example: If we are playing a game of football, at least in most crowds, I think I would make a pretty good quarterback. If someone else plays quarterback (and does well), it is hard for me to praise that person. I get jealous and I don't want to give him or (heaven forbid) her that praise, because I think it should go to me.
Slightly more serious example: When I hear other people teach, I (sometimes) get jealous. I want others to praise my teaching instead of someone else's. This is sin.

5. Ask God to help you see yourself realistically. This is a great gift. To know how God has made you and to live within this. Let's keep with the football illustration (it is Pack vs Vikings week after all). If I am playing 5-on-5 football and I see that 8 of the other guys are better than me, I know some things: 1) I am going to request that I guard that 10th guy, 2) I am going to be the worst player on my team, 3) I shouldn't whine that I am not getting the ball every play--there are other players who are better and who should get it more.
This can go all kinds of directions, but the point is that we see ourselves realistically. I am not the body of Christ. I am part of the body of Christ. There are (a lot of) others who can do (a lot of) things better than me. A little humility will save us from (a lot of) sin.

God has endowed me with certain gifts--I don't need to be proud.

God has endowed others with certain gifts--I don't need to be jealous.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Rock That Is Higher Than I

O sometimes the shadows are deep
And rough seems the path to the goal
And sorrows, sometimes how they sweep
Like tempests down over the soul

O then to the Rock let me fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I
O then to the Rock let my fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I!

O sometimes how long seems the day
And sometimes how weary my feet;
But toiling in life's dusty way,
The Rock's blessed shadow, how sweet!

O then to the Rock let me fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I
O then to the Rock let my fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I!

O near to the Rock let me keep,
If blessings or sorrows prevail;
Or climbing the mountain way steep,
Or walking the shadowy vale.

O then to the Rock let me fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I
O then to the Rock let my fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Without the Goodness of God

Without the goodness of God….

The best this life could offer would be hollow

Life would be total despair

Fear would never be banished

The presence of God would be great dread

I would never know the riches of Christ

Sin would wreck its treacherous havoc in my life

Grief would know no end

I would never know the fullness of joy

I would have no support in the day of trouble

God is good.

Psalm 73:25-26—Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 107:1—Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.

Psalm 119:68—You are good, and what You do is good; teach my Your decrees

Romans 11:33-36--Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay Him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Signs I'm Blessed

I lived a blessed life.

Over the last week, I've had so many fantastic opportunities to pray with people:

- I prayed with the pastoral staff at church Tuesday morning
- I prayed with a small group of guys during a study at my house Tuesday night
- I prayed with a group of leaders before youth group on Wednesday night
- I prayed with a group of friends before I went to bed (and before they played more ping-pong) on Thursday night
- I prayed with the elders of RBC on Friday night
- I prayed with the students who serve in Character Kids Sunday night
- I prayed with the church board Monday night

I know that prayer is important. I know that God answers prayer. I know that I am supposed to pray. Yet, I don't pray like its important, I don't pray like God hears, I don't pray like I am supposed to.

And, let's be honest. Sometimes prayer can be boring. Sometimes, in group prayer, your mind gets distracted (and by sometimes, I mean, a lot). Sometimes, you would rather just have fun with your friends then pray with them.

But, especially this last week, God has taught me some great things through group prayer.

Here's four:
1. God's Presence. I really sense God's presence. I know God hears. I know God is with us.

2. Answers. I get to see God answer prayer. This is really cool, because it confirms that God hears and that God cares.

3. Spiritual Growth. I love God more. I trust God more. I hate sin more. I love others more. I am lifted from the temporary to the eternal. My view of God is expanded.

4. Joy. I'm serious. I really have been blessed with incredible joy this last week as I've prayed with people. This joy has been very noticeable and very real.

I am blessed to be surrounded with so many great Christians who love Jesus more than me and are encourage me to pray more. I am blessed to have friends in my life who want to pray. I am blessed to have a job where prayer is central on the daily "to-do" list.

Most of all, I am blessed to be able to pray. To have access to God's throne. To petition my heavenly Father and be with Him. I am blessed because my works are not enough to earn me this privilege. My best deeds done with my best motives in my best moments are still filthy rags. I am blessed because my sinless Savior took the punishment for my sin upon Himself. I am blessed because my sin has now been atoned for. I am blessed because now I am clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. And because of this, I can pray with my brothers and sisters.

And because of that, I am blessed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Booze, Worry, and Eternity

I'm a drunk. At least, comparatively I am. In Luke 21:34, Jesus equates drunkenness and worry. They are the same. How? They pull our focus from what is real.

When someone is drunk, they are intoxicated with alcohol. Alcohol has control over them and they do not act according to reality. People do all kinds of stupid (and harmful) things when drunk, because they are not thinking clearly about reality.

When someone worries, they are intoxicated with the cares of this life. The cares of this life have control over them and they do not live according to eternity. People do all kinds of stupid (and sinful) things when they worry, because they are not thinking clearly about eternity.

By the grace of God, I have never been drunk. Fortunately, my perspective of reality has never been blurred by drunkenness.

By the grace of God, I am putting to death the sin of worry. Unfortunately, my perspective of eternity has been blurred by worry.

I worry about what people think of me. I worry about not finding a wife. I worry about not being good enough at my job. I worry about finishing school. I worry about the students in the youth group, if they will grow or if Satan will snatch away the seed.

The problem? Worry takes my perspective off of eternity and places it on me in the temporary.

I live to please God, not people. God will supply all my needs. It is God who works in me to will and to act according to His good purpose. It is God who knows the beginning and the end. It is God who is faithful to complete the work He started.

The verse implies that worry starts in our heart. Our hearts get weighed down and we worry. Our hearts care about this life. Our hearts seek the hand of God rather than the face of God. Our hearts are wicked and can't see eternity.

To Do List:
1 Guard my heart
2 Watch what I care about
3 Foster an affection for Jesus
4 Repent of an affection for yourself

What am I going to do with all the time I used to spend worrying?

Jesus tells us what to do instead of worrying: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Youth Leader: Ace

Name: Ace

Nickname: David Westcomb

Years in RBC Youth Ministry: 13 years

Role: High School Guys Leader

Gifts: Encouraging, Listening, Leading, Cooking, Dancing, has a really good impression of a southern accent

Evidences of Grace: There's a lot. Trust me. Here are a few...

Experience: Even in his 60s, he is serving the Lord, with a joyful heart. While many folks in their 60s are looking to retire and move to Florida to collect sea shells, Ace isn’t. His focus is on eternity. He is being used by God to make a difference in student’s lives. He isn’t living for himself, but for his Creator.

Love: He loves the students. He gets involved with their life. He genuinely loves people, maybe more than anyone I know. He deeply cares about each student and where they are at with the Lord.

Respect: The students love Ace. Many of them see him as a second father. Some see him as the father they never had. Ace always has a listening ear, ready to hear and care. They wrestle with him, compare biceps with him, and enjoy being around him.

Teachability: He aspires to keep growing. He always wants to be a better teacher, a better leader, a better friend. He excels in many ways already, but wants to do better. He wants to keep growing. He won’t hide his struggles, but uses them to encourage and minister to others.

Service: He serves. He does audio ministry. He has been an elder. He goes to Tuesday Night Bible Study. He makes food in the Ripley Kitchen. He makes the small group hot dogs on his grill.

Humility: He is humble. Here's an example: Let's say its a random Saturday afternoon. You just got done with a long day of lawn work and just sat down inside to relax. Then, you get called out of your house and then hosed down by some punks. What would you do? Sinfully, I would either A) pull an angel of the Lord vs. the Assyrians (see Isaiah 37.36) or B) Go outside and weep bitterly (a la Peter in Matthew 26.75). Ace? He gets hosed down, then invites the guys in for food and a movie. (I won’t say who the punks are, but their names rhyme with Mandy, Mete, and Mars).

Wisdom: He is wise. I trust Ace. I trust his wisdom and his guidance. He assisted me big time with this summer’s mission trip to make the trip possible. He has helped me and steadied me as I’ve learned how to do youth ministry. He sees youth ministry from both sides—he has been through high school and has had kids go through high school—and is wiser for it.

I am grateful to have Ace as a youth leader. He is an asset. Even better (and maybe a little mushier), I am glad to have Ace as a friend. I love him (ok, it was a lot mushier, but its true).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Book Log: September 2009

1. Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. Why We Love the Church. 224 pages. Moody Press. I really enjoy these authors, especially DeYoung, and this book continued to impress. While it is kind of written against the emergent church, it has a lot of reasons to be grateful for your local church. Many people (including many young people) don't value church like they should. It isn't an add-on to your spiritual life and it isn't optional--Jesus died for the church. This book helped me to love the bride of Jesus more.

2 R. Kent Hughes. Disciplines of a Godly Man. 304 pages. Crossway Books. Drew and I went through this book together every Friday morning. I learned from the book, but learned more in talking with Drew about the book. The book goes through several areas men specifically need to grow in: relationships, soul, character, and ministry. Within these areas are several individual disciplines to study and develop. End result: I want to work on the disciplines of prayer, the mind, and the tongue.

3. Craig Blomberg. Jesus and the Gospels. 440 pages. B and H Academic. The next four books on the list I read for school. This was a fairly heady book, covering a broad scope of issues related to the gospel. Blomberg discusses five main areas: (1)a history of the inter-testamental period (between the OT and NT) (2) ways scholars study the gospels (3) an overview of each gospel (4) a summary of the life of Jesus and (5) a synthesis of the major issues surrounding Jesus. Well-written, but mainly a seminary-type book.

4. R. Kent Hughes. Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. 208 pages. Crossway Books. A helpful book about why its important to "do" ministry for God and not for people. It can be easy, when serving in the church, to become discouraged--especially if the number of people attending the church/youth group/Sunday School class is shrinking. Success in ministry, Hughes argues, can't be measured by numerical growth or increasing offering totals. Instead, it is found in faithfulness to God.

5. Jeanine Bozeman. Interpersonal Relationship Skills for Ministers. 253 pages. Pelican Publishing. This book covered multiple areas to help pastors better relate to the people in their congregations. There was a psychology/self-love/you-are-ok slant to the book that I disagreed with, but there were some redeeming moments. Much was covered--from how to be a better listener to proper table manners when eating at someone's house to how to handle difficult people. Some chapters I liked, some I didn't.

6. Richard Swenson. Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. 240 pages. NavPress. The title is so long I think it says it all. Basically, we are too busy and we need to have space (or margin) in our busyness. The book was ok, but missed the key to the Christian life: the gospel. Instead of talking about how the gospel allows us to live whole and complete lives, Swenson gave us tips on how to live life with less stress. Though more narrow in scope, Mahaney's Biblical Productivity series is much better.

So, if I were recommending a book, I'd recommend one of the first two. DeYoung is always good and Hughes is very practical.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Signs I'm Depraved

Last week, I went to Portillo's restaurant with David Papillon to get a Chicago specialty: chocolate cake shakes. They are shakes with bits of chocolate cake in them. It may not sound good, but they are actually mentioned in Revelation as food that we'll have in the new earth (not really). If they had these shakes in Racine, I would be 500 pounds right now (really).

I went to pay for the shakes and noticed that a $20 dollar bill had fallen out of my wallet onto the ground. I began to think how glad I was that I saw the $20, otherwise I would have lost it. I slowly realized that I did not have a $20 dollar bill in my wallet to begin with. Meaning...I JUST FOUND $20 BUCKS!!!

I celebrated with David for a few seconds before my sin nature reared its ugly head. I had the following two sinful thoughts:

Area of Repentance #1: I began to think about 'what could have been'. What if it wasn't a twenty that I had found? What if it was a fifty? Or a hundred? Or a roll of hundreds? Or a huge backpack filled with millions of dollars?

How sinful! How greedy do I need to be? Rather than be content and thankful to God, I quickly rushed to my natural state of greed.

Area of Repentance #2: The sin of the love of money. How come I was seemingly more excited about finding $20 bucks (to see how excited I was, note how the finding of the money was all in caps) then I was about spending time with God that day? Or hearing about how God was working in David's life? Or about how salvation makes it possible for me to live with freedom and peace in this life, such that I can enjoy cake shakes at all without fear of condemnation?

How sinful! Psalm 19:10 says that God's Word is more precious than gold, then much pure gold. I want that to be true in my life.

So, what can I do? I repented and now I rejoice in this: "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jealousy, The Solution

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart"
--Psalm 37:4

I want the desires of my heart to be fulfilled. For these to be fulfilled, I must find my delight in God.

Why should God be my delight? How can I enjoy Him? Why should His every name, His every word, His every attribute, His every act be cause for greater delight?

Here's some ideas:

As to a jealousy for people's attention:
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may life you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." --1 Peter 5.6-7

When I lose myself in serving others, putting others before myself, and living a life of humility before God, I can be assured that He will lift me up in due time. I don't need to posit myself as the greatest in front of a crowd. I don't need to win the attention of fickle people. I don't need to constantly press to be at the forefront of the minds of others. God (who is infinitely wiser than me) will take care of that.

Problem: What about me? Instantly, my mind is thinking, "Well, if I am so busy meeting others needs, putting others before myself, and not parading myself, but humbly serving in the background, how are my needs going to get met? What about me!?!"

Answer: v. 7--Cast all your cares on God. I need to specifically pray those specific worries to Him. He cares for me, He loves me, He is working everything out for good. Don't worry about yourself, God knows, God watches, God cares.

As to a jealousy for possessions:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has caused us to born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you." --1 Peter 1.3-4

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my Portion forever." --Psalm 73.26

God is my Portion. God has seen fit to give me what He has given me. Because of what He has done for me (see: mercy, new birth, Living Hope, resurrection), I have an inheritance. I have riches. I have all I could ever want. And guess what, unlike a 2010 Mustang, it won't rust (its imperishable), and unlike a new MacBook it won't break (its undefiled), and unlike an IPhone 3G S, it won't get outdated (its unfading).

As to a jealousy for happiness:
"Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." --1 Peter 1.8-9

"You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand." --Psalm 16.11

I have done some fun things in this life, but none of them has brought me inexpressible joy. A lot of joy? Yes. A lot of fun? Yes. A you-had-to-be-there kind of happiness? Yes. Inexpressible and filled with glory kind of joy? No. I thank God for happiness and I can enjoy things in this life only because of Him. But, true joy is found in the presence of God. True happiness is found in the gospel. As I delight in God, God promises inexpressible joy will be mine.

As to a jealousy for experiences:
"In this you rejoice, though now, for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." --1 Peter 1.6-7

I have a caring God. He brings me into situations where the Holy Spirit can refine me to look more like Christ. God, each and every day (and mostly through what I might consider to be the "mundane"), He is giving me experiences that cause me to be conformed to the image of Jesus. Too often I live as if 95% of my life is a boring hassle. I live life like a 'fun' junkie in search of my next fix, never satisfied until I get more and more 'fun'. I don't have to. Instead, I can delight in God and trust that every day the experiences and trials and highs and lows and fun and the mundane will result in the praise and honor and glory of Jesus one day.

As to a jealousy for abilities:
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." --1 Peter 4.10

I am blessed to be able to serve in a church and a youth group. I am blessed to have received gifts that I can use to serve the church and bring glory to the name of Jesus. I tend to ignore my gifts, take them for granted, and want other gifts. Rather than try to satiate the never-ending thirst for more and better (if I was gifted with a guitar, I would want to be gifted with drums, then piano, then every other instrument, then with creative song-writing abilities, then with a great voice, then with recording abilities, then with production skills, then with... see, its unappeasable), I need to use what God has given me and serve.

The reason is in v.11--that in everything God (not Dan), might be glorified. Its all His anyways...I'm just blessed to have been given a stewardship.

Stop comparing and follow Christ.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Youth Leader: Tim

Name: Tim Haumersen

Nickname: Timmy Hums

Years in RBC Youth Ministry: 3.5 years

Roles: 7th Grade Boys Leader

Gifts: Administration, Service, Organization, making microwavable popcorn, and, oh yeah, he's ok at piano

Evidences of Grace: He (has/is) (poured/is pouring) his life into serving Jesus. That's a pretty good evidence of grace, but it goes further. He will serve when

-he is counted on

-he is "supposed to"

-called on at the last minute

-its not fun

-he needs to use up almost all of his vacation days at work to help middle school and high school kids fall more in love with Jesus

- by giving up weekends to stay up late spending time with youths at fall retreats

- others dump issues on him and he has to listen and give counsel

-spending his free time making food for (mostly) thankless youths and their (mostly) thankless youth pastor

- by doing whatever it takes to help others grow

Tim is a good friend and RBC is blessed to have him. He doesn't collect a check from the church (even though he probably should) and may not even be recognized for the behind-the-scenes work he does. He daily spends time with the Lord and it shows. He is a model of discipline and it shows. He is humble and, so, Christ shows.

Jealousy, The Problem

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart"
--Psalm 37:4

I want the desires of my heart to be fulfilled. Sometimes, I think the desires of my heart are 2010 Ford Mustang convertible or a MacBook Pro or an IPhone 3G S. These are not the desires of my heart, these are objects (read: toys) that I could get in an attempt to meet the desires of my heart.

I have a desire to have people's attention on me. I want people to look at me, to notice me, to like me.

I have a desire to have things. I like having things and I like the security that comes from having things.

I have a desire for happiness. I don't like being unhappy. I like being happy--all the time.

I have a desire for good experiences. I don't like being sick. I don't like missing out on fun things when they happen. I like to say, "I've done that," "I've been there," and "I know that."

I have a desire for better abilities. I wish I has better skills. I was reminded recently that I wish I had some kind, any kind of musical skills.

What can I do?

1. Be Jealous. Wish I had all those desires met. Be envious of those who appear to have every desire met. Be bitter toward them. Covet what they have. Be frustrated (at myself, or other people, or even God) for not having my desires met.

2. Believe.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Youth Leader: TK

Name: Todd Kellner

Nickname: TK

Years in RBC Youth Ministry: 24 years

Roles: High School Guys Leader

Gifts: Teaching, Confrontation, Driving (on long trips), Driving (with his Ping G10)

Evidences of Grace: He is a youth leader whom I’ve have become good friends with. He loves the Lord and loves the youth group. He’s gone through a difficult last year being unemployed, but was a great model of what someone should do when they are unemployed. He gave himself to three things:

1. Looking for a job

2. His family (his folks—who have had significant health issues)

3. The local church

Todd has been my right hand man, giving constantly of time and effort to the youth group. He’s been on every trip we’ve done, served in the nursery and children’s ministry (with the youth who serve in those areas), and wrote a 15-week study on sin for the youths to grow from. As he endured unemployment, he kept looking to God for dependence.

God provided him a job last week.