Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I just want to be like....

Over the past week I have been traveling the midwest with our high school minister Phil Heller interviewing college students for next years intern spots. Beyond the fun of traveling central Kentucky and the joy of the people we met at the truck stop, I love this week. I love sitting across the table from kids about to graduate and about to enter in the ministry - It never fails that they say, I just want to be like .............. (my youth minister, my Sunday school teacher, my d-group leader, or my dad)! I just want to love kids the way they loved me. This is a week where I see how we as a community of youth workers have succeeded. I hope the kids in my ministry feel that love from me, and from our volunteers, and I hope 10 years from now to sit across from a kid in our junior high ministry now who say I just want to be like you, or like the volunteer you trained. I also hope one day my son says I just want to be like my dad................

And all along the way all we are trying to do is just be like Jesus!

Monday, January 30, 2006

My Biggest Addiction = Morality

Ok some guys are addicted to alcohol, some sex, some crack cocaine, some tobacco, but for me I am addicted to morality. I'm so proud of my morality, so pleased to be able to show it to others, so happy to call upon it and compare myself to others. Could it be that the greatest addiction we find in the church is the addiction to morality. We have all become so concerned with looking good, saying the right thing, living the "right" way that we have forgotten that Jesus did none of this. People called Jesus a glutton and a drunk , a friend to sinners. He constantly had his hands on something that would make my morality addiction shake go into convulsions and need a few weeks of repentnce to deal with. He had his hands on a glass of wine, he had his hands on the shoulder of the prostitute or on the eyes of a blind man. He had no regard for what people thought of him and he simply loved. I hold onto my morality as if it is the crowning achievement of my life. My greatest achievement will never be the people, or things that I chose not to touch but it will be the people that I chose to touch. With no regard to what others think or believe and with no worries about how I appear. Jesus = freedom - not the freedom to sin but the freedom from addiction even the freedom for those of you like me who are addicted to our morality.

My Adventures in Missing the Point

So this week I am the MOC at my church, "minister on call". I only do it once a year and to be honest I'm not very good at it. I never know what to say to a family facing crisis and I don't really understand the world of many of these people. Today I went to the hospital and visited this woman who was their with her dieing mother. She was suffering on so many levels, angry at God, serious mental disorders and she didn't even know why she called me. So I stumbled through a poor theological explanation for suffering and this broken world we live in. I told I would pray and I am following up later this week. Then I met a family at a hotel who had been evicted from their apartment and hadn't eaten in a few days. I took them groceries and gave them a gift card to the gas station next door to their hotel. I prayed with them and challenged the father to figure out a way to take care of his families financial needs. I got them some financial counseling and am trying to get them into a shelter. So here is my question? - Why am I so bad at dealing with situations like these? Why is this so foreign to me? Why do I feel guilty that only one week a year I am the voice for the lost and deserted of our society?

My dad runs a school for at risk students - He deals everyday with the broken, the poor, the forgotten of our society and he hangs onto the idea that if he could bring one kid out of the ghetto and into a relationship with God and a healthy "normal" life than he has made a difference.

My sister works at a hospital, she now works with rape victims and crack babies. She holds them and prays for them, she counsels the families, she comforts the broken, and speaks hope and love to people in the worst moment of their life.

I sit in a cushy office, I go to lunch at nice places, I worry about whether my message has enough humor this week and I feel like sometimes I miss the point. Sure we have kids in our group who are "at risk" - I know we help the broken but most of the students I work with are more concerned about what video game they will play tomorrow than what they will eat.

I'm thankful to work at a church that has ministries to the broken of society and I'm a little ashamed that my sister and dad who aren't ministers do more for the poor, rejected and "least of these" in our world than I do.

Maybe I should............................................... (wow a million thoughts come to mind)

For tonight - I'll just pray that the Lord will give me opportunity to reach the least of these. Maybe one day this week I won't answer the call from the parent who is worried about her daughters grades as they sit in their million dollar home and maybe I will take one of the people I met today out to lunch!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

This Nickels Mine!

The other day I was walking through the church putting up tables when I stumbled upon a nickel. Childhood songs came to mind as I looked at the nickel all nice and shiny. Unfortunately, a nickel won't buy you much these days unlike the song which says, "I'm going to buy me all kinds of candy." A nickel isn't really worth all that much to be honest. Most candy machines don't even take nickels or pennys like they did when I was a kid. Even though this nickel isn't a lot of money there was a sense of guilt for putting this nickel in my pocket.

When I was a kid I would find money at church on many occasions. There was this huge dilemma. What do I do with the money I just found? Do I put it in my pocket or do I put it in the offering plate? There were many times I would reveal my findings to the Sunday school teacher who would encourage me to put the money in the offering followed by, "You found it in the Lord's house, which means it belongs to Him." This makes perfect sense. After all, it could have fallen out of the offering plate and somehow made it to the floor in the bathroom. So to take this money I found in the Lord's house would be stealing from the Lord. It would be the same as taking money right out of the plate as it passed by. I don't typically go over to any of my buddies homes, find money or any valuable object on the floor and say, "finders keepers." It's their home and most likely their valuable. However there are a few things I would like to take from a few of my friends homes...like Ben's TV.

Maybe you understand my dilemma. This struggle was so great for me that I would pass up money on the floor if I couldn't put it in an offering plate for fear the Lord would see me steal from His very own house. I would hate for Him to not invite me over again.

Crazy isn't it? Yet this gives me a better understanding of what those peole in scripture were going through. The religious leaders and pharisees interpreting the laws, then making laws based on the interpretations of the laws. It's no wonder so many people became frustrated trying to live a righteous life. It was impossible and nothing you do was good enough.

Reading through Galatians you see the church struggling with the same issues. Making rules and regulations based on past traditions or interpretations of interpretations of the law of God, which can only be explained by twisting scripture and principles. We come up with our own crazy rules like no running in church, you must wear a tie on Sunday, no tattoos, hymns only, or finding money at church. What an unneccessary heavy burden we place on ourselves at times. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I still feal a little guilty about putting the nickel in my pocket. But in this case the old saying is true, "A penny found is a penny earned."