Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Deny Yourself...another view point

Click here to go to a blog of Ed, one of my good friends, who bloged about this same meditation

Deny yourself...

This week's meditation verse is Luke 9:23:
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

It has really challenged me to think about what it means to follow Christ. Today, let's take the first part, "he must deny himself."

What does this mean? What does this look like? How can I live this?

I think that maybe this is about our will verse God's. In order to truly follow Christ we must put down our desires and follow God's desires for us. I believe that this part has become especially hard for my generation. With the iPod, iHome, MySpace, iPhone, My Sweet 16 TV show; everything has become about "ME." That is why this first part is so important, the only way to follow Christ is for us to stop worrying about ourselves, if we are going to have a better house or car or cell phone, and start finding out about God's heart. It is so crucially for us to do this first because without doing it first, the rest of the verse will not happen.

What do I need to change or do or stop doing to deny myself?

I think that for me maybe I need to stop trying to make everyone see from my point of view, I need to realize that even if my ideas are good they may not be the best. I need to realize that I am not the end all say all on anything, and God is on everything!
I need to deny my pride, humble myself to God that I might live the greatest life that He has for me!

What do I need to change or do or stop doing to deny myself?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Teach with your life!

One of the things that we have been focusing on in youth group is how can we live out the scriptures. So each week we take a verse and try to take it deeper and understand it more, and then live it out.

This weeks verse is 1Timothy 4:12 - as posted earlier.

Yesterday, we as a youth group we able to really live this verse out!
Across the parking lot of our church there is a hotel/motel, the Village Inn. This is a place where those who pretty much can't afford anywhere else, go. Of course there are those who you would think that live at a place like this, but there are also many families that live there as well...

One of our church members owns the Village Inn, and has given us a room there that we can renevate for a kids and youth room for those that live there. As you can imagine I was very excited, but we were instructed that a different group at the church was going to fix it up.

Three months had past, and nothing had happened, so I was given the go ahead to organize the youth to go over and paint it. So yesterday that is what we did! The room was a mess, but with a fresh coat of paint it looks a lot better. There is still so much to do, but every youth that helped I know got a new way of looking at this scripture.

We were able to set an example with our lives!
Click here is you would like to see some of the pictures of before and after

Another Post about this verse!

My fiancee, Joanna, is also a huge part of the youth group I work with. And she is also a great writer so here is one of her posts.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Teach with your life...Day 1

We are starting our second week with our new meditation.
If you would like to join us, please do, here is the like to the web page that will describe how to do it.

This weeks verse is 1 Timothy 4:12
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."

I believe that this verse along with many others is used all the time for youth and young adults in ministry, but I don't know if I have ever really studied what Paul was going for when he wrote it to young Timothy. When I have and hear this verse used, it is almost always by an older adult to a younger person, almost in a demeaning way. That by quoting it you make the youth feel the lesser because you are calling them young.

I, as a young adult in youth ministry in a church, would like to use it to encourage and challenge those who are called "young" where ever you are. Use this verse as a challenge to live out what Christ has lived out. Use this verse to be challenged to set an example with your life. Instead of trying to fight back verbally, or even fight back at all, why not live out what you believe to be what we are called to be as Christians? Why not feed the hungry? Why not clothe the naked? Why not visit the imprisoned? Why not help those that are oppressed? Why not speak up for those who have no voice? Why not step up and do something?

I believe that if we can take this challenge, we can actually literally change the world!

More on this later...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Love your neighbor . . Day 4-6

So I have to admit, when we started this new meditation about living out scripture and applying it to our lives, I really thought that I would have these great stories to share that would encourage and maybe even challenge. God had other ideas.

Within this week, I have posted a few times about stories for the day, but what God has really done this week is teach me more about what this love is that it talks about in our verse looks like.

This love has nothing to do with romantic feelings,
this love has nothing to do with making myself look better,
this love has nothing to do with being even or fair,
this love has nothing to do with what I want,
this love has nothing to do with what anyone wants,

This love has no motive save for love,
this love gives glory to God alone,
this love meets the deep and essential needs of everyone,
this love heals physically, spiritually, and mentally,
this love is one of self-sacrifice,
this love gives, not expecting anything in return,
this love gives hope,
this love is about responding to the love already shared with us in Christ,
this love is the only thing we are called to be and do and share!

So, how do I respond? What can I do? What if I fail? What if I fail over and over and over?
What if I misrepresent Christ?

I think that all these questions are what plague Christians and paralyze missions and change and the church. What if we are asking the wrong questions? Turn them insideout.

Maybe these should be our questions:
What if I don't respond? What if I don't do? What if I don't even try? What if I don't fail? What if I try do represent Christ the best I know how?

I don't know where these will take me, youth group, church, or everything else. But I can't wait to find out!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Love your neighbor . . Day 3

I'm back! And after my last post I have had a chance to ponder this love some more.

This love I talked about in the pervious post, this self-sacrificing love, was truly exemplified by Christ, when he laid down his life for ours. Of course most of us have heard this over and over, but have we really thought about it?

Jesus, Son of God, knew why he had to die. He knew it was to be the ultimate sacrifice, which sounds like it was and easy choice, but I don't think so.

Think about it:
Jesus knew that everyone he was dong this for could not ever live up to his example. Everyone he did this for he knew would not all thank him or even acknowledge that he did it. Everyone he did this for he knew would mess up over and over and over. Even though he knew this and knew that even you and I would struggle with loving others, he still did it. He knew that it was a love that he could share that no one else could. He knew that is was his calling for his life only. He knew that life was not about him and what he wanted and what he could do, but it was about what God wanted to do.

Jesus could have taken all of his gifts, and taken over the world, but he laid it all down for us! This love is what we are called to do! A love that no matter what the cost, live out God's calling! A love that gives, not expecting a "thank you" or even a return favor, but a love given because if the love that has already been shared with us.

What are we going to do, in response to this love?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Love your neighbor. . Day 2

First off, sorry it has been a couple days, but I am going to post reflecting on the last couple days.

During day two, I was kinda of bummed out because I had no great story of doing a love act, but through this struggle I realized that it is not about doing something everyday because then I fall into the trap of feeling guilty when all I really am called to do it love God with everything I've got and love my neighbor as myself.

Maybe sometimes it is not about doing but understanding. During my meditation, I realized that in order to really understand what this "love" looks like and how to live it out, we must understand God more fully.

Upon reflecting on this love, I really feel that love must involve sacrifice. So many times wee feel like we did a god deed when it was so easy for us to do, and probably didn't change our day or situation at all. This Love that God and Jesus are talking about is one of self-sacrifice. This means that you are willing to lay down your plans and time in order to help those who God puts in your life.

I think that when we, as Christians, really pick up on the fact that life is not about us, it is about laying down our life and picking up the cross of Christ. Luke 9:23

Monday, January 14, 2008

Love Your Neighbor - Day 1

So, today was the first day of my new adventure described in the previous post.

I actually felt like I failed this new meditation by day one because I felt I had not done anything out of the ordinary. And prayed for God to show me what to do, and He brought a name to my mind, Cassie.

She is a new friend who has also recently moved to this town of Crossville, TN. Well to make a short story long, Cassie has been overwhelmed at her work for this past week, and this week looked to be heading the same direction. All of this was found out about yesterday, but today God brought her name back to my attention.

Not that I have great problem solving skills, and I certainly cannot help her with her job seeing as she does something I don't know enough about, but I thought back to this verse Mark 12:30-31, and what does it look like to love your neighbor as yourself.

Immediately I thought well, maybe I can call and figure out her favorite comfort food and run it over to her. Come to find out we share a desire for Reese's Cups, and that she literally live about 30 seconds down the street! Needless to say, I ran the cups over and gave her a break from her work (Exactly what I would want someone to do for me.)

I don't know if she appreciated it, but I pray that even this small gesture showed God's love to her. She is a great girl and solid in her faith, and I know that it is very easy to feel that we are alone in this pursuit, so I wanted her to know she is not alone.

I hope that this post does not sound like bragging about "How good I am" because it is not about that at all, it is about taking my scripture to the week, and trying to live it out.

I must say I am excited and a little scared to see what God has in store for me tomorrow!

New Adventure....

Last night I posed to the Youth Group, which I am the youth minister of, the idea maybe the reason why we feel that Scripture is out of date, doesn't relate to us, and is boring and pretty much worthless is that we are doing it wring. I know this sounds weird, but maybe we can try to even look at Scripture from the inside out.

Maybe the reason we feel this way about scripture is because we are making choices in our lives and then trying to see how scripture fits within it. Maybe we can turn this inside out and take scripture and try to live our lives out of it.

Here is an example:
Say you read Mark 12:28-31
" 28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

This is commonly referred to as the "greatest commandment." My struggle is that I have read this way over 100 times, but I don't think I have ever really sat down and tried to live out what this would look like. How can I love my neighbor as myself? Does it mean literally $1 for $1? I spend a dollar on myself I spend a dollar on someone else. Does it mean that ever minute I spend trying to get a head on life, I spend one minute trying to help someone else get a head?

And what about the first part? How can I love God with well basically "everything I've got?"
I don't know what this looks like? Can I really do this?

I think that the church would benefit greatly from looking at scripture in this way. As Christians, and I include myself in this, we sometimes get so caught up in reading the most scripture or having the longest devotional time, but my new goal is to get caught up in the effectiveness of my devotion. Does it change my life? Does it change how I interact with others? Does it change how I rely on God? Does it change me, so that I might change the world?

Within all of these struggles, I found that maybe concentrating on a verse for a longer period of time would help me focus on what it would look like to live out a verse.
My fiancee (I can't remember if the guy or girl has two "e"s) and I sat down and worked out a meditation for an entire week based on a verse. This is posted on our youth website at http://www.crossvillefumc.net/This%20Week/ThisWeek.htm
Feel free to check it out and even join us in trying this new adventure, trying to live out scripture in our live today.

I will keep you updated on how this goes...