Sunday, January 31, 2010

2009 in Review: November-December

November 2009--Prayer. This was my highlight from November. We ended elder's meeting by breaking off with another person and praying. I was with Pete Haumersen and I had a great time in the presence of God with this godly man. Its hard to describe what makes a prayer time "powerful"--you just sort of know. Our prayer time was powerful. He is incredibly sincere, compassionate, and humble--good traits to have in the presence of an awesome God. I left feeling very encouraged and knowing God is near.

December 2009--I love youth events (like the one above). I love the students in youth ministry. They are just a blast. We had two Christmas parties in December--one for middle school and one for high school. Both were great. Both groups have leaders that just click together so well and who make everything run so smoothly. God has blessed RBC with great youth leaders who are so gifted and love Jesus so much. I am blessed to serve with them.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

2009 in Review: September-October

September 2009--The High School Youth Group and "Senior Saints" Sunday School Class got together one Sunday morning for Bible trivia and prayer. How cool is it to see folks who have walked with Jesus for 50 years spending time with students who have walked with Jesus for just a few? Obviously, Eric Vazquez and Lorraine Doperalski fist-pumping each other for right answers in Bible trivia was unforgettable, but knowing the older folks are still praying for the students is even better.

October 2009--The group pictured above went up to Fort for a service weekend. The students worked hard, real hard. One of the main tasks was serving a banquet to some of the camp donors. They wiped down tables, washed dishes, and mopped floors. And they were rewarded that night with a banquet of lobster, steak, and cornish hen for themselves after the donors were served (its biblical, see Luke 17.7-10). The students also spent time devouring Habakkuk, memorizing the last three verses of the book. Joy in the Lord, no matter what.

Friday, January 29, 2010

2009 in Review: July-August

July 2009--Eighteen of us from the youth group went down to New Orleans for a mission trip. We partnered with RBC's missionary, Sandy Lee, to minister to the needy of the projects in urban New Orleans. Many of our hearts were opened to the physical and spiritual needs of others. The highlight of the trip for me was the phenomenal devotion times that we had as a group. Everyone spent time with God on their own each morning, then we came together for an hour and talked about what God was teaching us. The students all shared really deep things about God and had fantastic insights into God's Word. I love Jesus more because of this trip and because of the fellowship I experienced.

August 2009--In just a couple of weeks, I saw much of the country. I was in Chicago, New Orleans, LA, and DC. In DC, I went to the Worship God '09 conference. It. Was. Great. Lowlight: Nearly puking out my guts after downing tons of coffee and three barnyards on the drive home (Barnyard: A McDonalds McChicken that is placed in between the two beef patties of a double cheeseburger). Highlight: The singing at the conference was over-the-top great and when I closed my eyes, I got a little taste of what heaven will be like.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

2009 in Review: May-June

May 2009--In May, we welcomed the new 8th graders up to high school and began to say good-bye to the senior class. This senior class was a special one. I came to RBC in May of 2006, when these young adults were just freshmen. Even more special is the commitment of many of them to walk with God and follow Him. They have encouraged me to love Jesus more and I miss have their leadership in the youth group. God has great things in store for the current freshman class and I'm excited about what I will (Lord-willing) get to see God do in their lives in the next 3.5 years.

June 2009--One of the blessings of the summer (I'll file it under "June") was the different sports I got to regularly play over the summer. Monday night was softball with the youth group. To hang out and have fun with these guys was special and it was cool to have many of the girls come and cheer us on. Tuesday night was golf night. Every week, Mike Brusko and I would play different guys from church. Mike is a good friend and I appreciated the fellowship and godly conversations that we had. Thursday night was another night of softball--this time with the adult men of the church. Many of them have vibrant, exciting walks with God and we would pray before and after each game. Our chance to be salt-n-light in the community was one of the highlights of the summer.

2009 in Review: March-April

March 2009--March was a good month for me spiritually. Because of some big projects in the month, I needed much time in prayer. I spoke at two men's retreats and preached my first sermon at RBC. These were weighty commitments and I felt very weak going into them. God was faithful and gave me grace to carry out these tasks. In one of the messages, I really struggled, but even this showed me my dependance on God.

April 2009--In April, we started a youth group study on Holiness and Purity. The guys and girls broke off separately--I taught the guys and Amy taught the girls. There was much fruit from this study: guys repenting of sin and girls making life changes to conform to God's Word. The study was personally valuable in teaching me about purity, what it takes to be husband/father, and how we can practically please God in a sex-soaked culture.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2009 in Review: January-February

To close out the month of January, I thought it would be helpful to review God's goodness in my life last year month-by-month. It is often helpful to review God's goodness in our lives to keep from discouragement or pride.

January 2009--In January, we had our annual Fort retreat. Wayne Beilgard was our speaker, powerfully convicting us of areas where we need to grow. Perhaps the message that God used the most in our lives was the vivid picture of Jesus dying for our sins from John 3. On the final night of the retreat, as I was driving Steve and Kelly to the hospital, the church van that I was driving flipped over and we ended up in a farmer's field. By the grace of God, everyone came out OK. I remember really struggling spiritually in the hours following the accident and God used several friends to encourage me and remind me of the truth of His love and grace. God used the accident in the youths' hearts, drawing many of them closer to Him.

February 2009--In February, a smaller group from within the youth group went back up to the Fort Wilderness camp to serve and wash dishes for the weekend. When we weren't working, we studied God's Word together--encouraging each other from Isaiah 40. We looked at the greatness of God and I was really built up by the students, who kept seeing different ways God was great within the chapter.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Youth Leader: Amy

Name: Amy DeBurgh

Nickname: Amy DeBlog, Dummie

Time in Youth Ministry: 18 months

Gifts: Discipleship, Wisdom, Joy, Exhortation, Making Slideshows, Making Christmas Party Signs

Evidences of Grace: Amy has recently left the youth ministry to serve more with this guy she likes in the church who preaches every Sunday. I know that God will bless her in her new ministry. How do I know? Because He greatly blessed us while she served in youth ministry.

Five quick evidences of God's grace in Amy:

1. Discipleship--From Day 1, she consistently challenged the girls to a deeper walk with God. She didn't beat girls over the head with her Bible (that I know of), but she loved the girls--showing them that God is greater, bigger, and more wonderful than they had thought before.

2. Investment--She jumped right into the ministry and became a valuable leader. Serving isn't something she does half-heartedly or as an afterthought to her "life." Caring for girls souls quickly became her life.

3. Example--She is a fantastic model of what it means to be a godly wife, a godly mother, and a godly woman. Her character is above reproach and her holy conduct is a perfect example for the young women to follow.

4. Joy--Amy is always joyful, because she recognizes where her joy comes from--her sins being forgiven and her name being written in the Lamb's book of life. Her joy is contagious and she excites others to follow God with joy.

5. Grace and Truth--John says that Jesus is full of grace and truth. Amy is too. She comes strong with God's Word, repentance of sin, and the need to be a disciple of Jesus. But, every step of the way, she encourages with grace. She loves people and oozes grace to them in every conversation. Because she also has received grace.

I'm blessed to be a friend of Amy and to have served with her. She came to girls who were freezing and she left them burning up. Thanks for serving, you will be missed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How Sweet and Awful

This is a song written by Isaac Watts called "How Sweet and Awful is the Place." I listened to it this morning and thought it paralleled what I had been thinking about in Isaiah 55. The gospel that calls us to come...

How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores.

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast
Each of us cry with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?”

“Why was I made to hear thy voice
and enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice
And rather starve than come?”

‘Twas the same love that spread the feast
that sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste
and perished in our sin

Pity the nations, O our God,
Constrain the earth to come;
Send thy victorious Word abroad
and bring the strangers home.

We long to see thy churches full,
that all the chosen race
may with one voice and heart and soul
sing thy redeeming grace.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Come and Listen

The David Crowder Band has a song called "Come and Listen." (I think you can listen to it here.) I like this song. I think that it is a perfect song for a wedding. Its a great song to lead into a sermon or teaching. The song tells the thirsty listener to come to God, for He is good.

The lyrics are based, at least in part, on verses from Isaiah 55:

"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and he who has no money, come and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourself in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live."

In v. 1-3, God addresses those who are needy--those who thirst. He invites them to come to the waters of Himself. He uses the metaphor of milk and wine and honey to describe the richness and delight of Himself. Rather than waste our lives toiling, sweating, living for what does not satisfy, for what is empty and vain, God calls us to enjoy what is real and satisfying. By following God, there is great delight.

The plea is for those who recognize that they are needy and thirsty. God pleads with those who see that they have no money and no means of obtaining satisfaction on their own. The plea calls for these thirsty to people to enjoy rich, satisfying food--a feast--at no cost.

In v. 4-5, God talks about Jesus, the One whom we must go to for our thirst.

In v. 6-7, He tells us how to enjoy this rich feast--how to enjoy God. God loves you and God has abundant mercy to forgive. But we must repent. We must bow the knee and take up our cross. We must admit that we are thirsty. That we don't deserve to eat this glorious feast. While we don't deserve this satisfaction, God's limitless compassion and grace make it possible. But God wants us broken.

In v. 8-9, we find that in repentance and obedience to God, we may not always understand why God does things or why certain things happen. Our natural response is often to doubt God, to wonder if He sees and cares, to think that we know better than God. But, God assures us that He knows best. That He is wiser than we are. Because He has given us the greatest of feasts--His Son, who fully satisfies our needy souls--we can fully trust Him, even when we don't understand.

v. 10-11, how can we be sure that God is telling the truth? Because, let's be honest, life gets hard. People fail us, prayers seemingly go unanswered, obedience is difficult, repentance can appear to make things worse, and living according to our sinful nature often looks a whole lot more fun. We can be sure, because God's Word is sure. Just like rain, which accomplishes its purpose of watering the plants and bringing life, so God's Word accomplishes its purpose of satisfying the thirsty soul.

v. 12-13, God closes the chapter giving us hope. He reminds of us of the gloriousness of His promise. He reminds of His goodness. He reminds us of the feast that He has prepared for us. We get two verses, but our minds are left to imagine life without hinderance, without sin, and without the curse. Life will be full of joy and peace. Great rejoicing and singing. Heaven is a place where we worship God and sing of His sovereign grace.

Come and listen,
Come to water's edge,
Come, all who are thirsty,

Come and listen to what He has done,
What He has done for me,
What He has done for you,
What He has done for us...


Monday, January 18, 2010

Book Log: December 2009

1. Francis Chan. The Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. 208 pages. David C. Cook Press. This was a helpful book in encouraging me to trust and walk in step with the Holy Spirit. Chan takes several breaks in his book and tells the reader to spend time in God's Word or in prayer--important steps as we take in truth about God. For a fresh reminder of what God the Holy Spirit can do--read this book.

2. C.S. Lewis. The Magician's Nephew. 208 pages. HarperCollins Press. Alright, I cheated. I listened to the first two books of the Narnia series. This one is the sixth book in series, but chronologically is first. Two kids use magic rings to get to Narnia--and see how it all began.

3. C.S. Lewis. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. 176 pages. HarperCollins Press. The first book in the series. There are a number of great illustrations for our spiritual lives: the crucifixion of Jesus, the rebellion of the sinner, and the victory of Christ.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Top Ten: Fort Wilderness Retreat 2010

Fort 2010 rocked. I had a blast. I learned a lot. Some of the things I will most remember from the retreat:

10. Worship through Singing--I really believe that we have the best worship group in the world in the youth group. The best part of the group isn't talent (which they have), its not the song choices (though they're good), or their need to rob glory during singing (which they don't do). They love God and they love to worship God. Their worship is an overflow of their life, not an emotional pep rally for the rest of us to enjoy. Worshipping God, while being led by brothers and sisters who love the gospel and live the gospel, is an incredible joy.

9. Chad, Part 1--Chad Rich. Missionary. Jack of all trades. He helped me in so many little ways over the weekend, taking care of detail after detail. I love how each time I see him, he challenges me to think about God's Word in a new way. A good brother.

8. Encouragement Papers--Every students gets a sheet of paper with their picture on it--and other students can write kind notes to them on that paper. There are some people who are really gifted at writing notes and they give up a lot of free time to encourage others. I know I am built up after reading what others said to me.

7. The Boys of Fox--I love these guys. Chad A, Ace, Christian, Erik, Colton, Codey, Justice, and Evan. These guys were a blast to room with. These guys really grew in their love for God and I got excited thinking about how God will grow them over the next 12 months until the next Fort.

6. Michelle's Farewell Speech--Despite spending most of the weekend devoted to trying to cause me serious bodily harm on the broomball court, Michelle's words during open mic time on the final morning were a great blessing. When I started working at RBC, she was in middle school, now she's a senior who, by God's grace, has grown greatly. I remember her sharing (in July '09) that she wanted to really grow this year. This prayer has been answered (Jan '10).

5. Paul--A great brother. Paul Henschel is a genuine Christian, who lives a humble, holy, and godly life. He opened up God's Word and taught the students from it. He's a friend who has given his life to serving the body of Christ. This last weekend, he built up the small part of the body that I love the most.

4. Hullabaloo--Hilarious. Too many funny things to mention. Cool Jerk. The youth mini-stars was sweet and funny. Very humorous. The Never Ending Story was well-done. And, Rob Druktenis, baring midriff--more sick then funny.

3. Chad (and Cortney), Part 2--Chad and Cortney Andersen. They've recently started helping with youth group and I loved having them there. I got to room with Chad--who loves students and wants to see them all grow. He kicked off the weekend serving: we were in a big-time bind and needed a vehicle and he gave up his for the weekend to help us out. Cortney is just as great: loves girls and loves seeing them grow in Christ. I'm pumped about serving with these two.

2. Testimonies--Um, wow! Tony is a good friend, who encourages me to grow weekly. To hear how God's grace saved him and how God is working in his life was a blessing for us all. Amy's humble testimony grandly displayed the greatness and grace of God. Bryn's challenged us to appreciate God's grace in a new way. I could listen to those testimonies every day and be encouraged.

1. Students and Leaders--I love the students. I love the leaders. I love spending time with them. I love talking with them about Jesus. I love singing to God with them. I love them.

New Post and Old Truth

After about a month's break, I'm back to blogging. This last month was busy, hard, and fun. With that, here is an interesting note on prayer from Paul Miller (no relation) in his book A Praying Life--which, by the way, was named by Kevin DeYoung as his favorite book of 2009.

"If God is sovereign, then He is in control of all the details of my life. If He is loving, then He is going to be shaping the details of my life for my good. If He is all-wise, then He's not going to do everything I want because I don't know what I need. If He is patient, then He is going to take time to do all this. When we put all these things together--God's sovereignty, love, wisdom, and patience--we have a divine story."

--Paul Miller, A Praying Life, p. 22