Jesus has a pattern of blessing people who have faith. I've seen that over and over again just in the past few chapters. Jesus gives people what they want. But the stories all have several things in common.
1. They ask Jesus for it. They don't just wish that they had something, but they take the time to approach Jesus about it. Some are even carried to him, just so they can ask him.
2. They make their request specific. The blind didn't ask to be better, they wanted sight. The guy who couldn't walk asked to walk.
3. They believe that Jesus can do it. One guy believed that Jesus could heal his servant, even if Jesus wasn't present. One guy believed that Jesus could raise his daughter from the dead. Two guys believed that Jesus could give them sight.
God is not done granting requests. While I certainly don't believe in the "health and wealth" gospel, I do believe that God eagerly desires to give us things when they are in line with his will. So why not pray for 100 middle school students at my super bowl party? Why not pray for 200? Why not pray for as many as we can physically handle?
Why not pray that God can get hold of the hearts of people in my church and make them passionate disciples of Jesus? If I ask Jesus for it specifically, and believe that Jesus can do it, then why would he not desire to grant it if my motives are pure?
Now of course there are other reasons why God may choose to not say yes. But that's not what I'm getting at. God wants to bless us. We desire to be blessed. It's not God's fault when we are not blessed. JM
Man, how tough is that? Jesus is about to do something awesome, and everybody is just laughing at him for having such a stupid thought. Of course people can't come back from the dead. They're dead. To suggest that they can is ludicrous. It deserves laughter.
We all have dreams. Some of us even dare to do great things for God. Maybe even impossible things. These dreams often elicit laughter and ridicule. But if God has pushed it into our hearts, we dare not shrink away from it. I'd rather be laughed at by people so that I can hear God say "Well done." JM
A little background on my running. I've run off and on for about 10 years now. I've never taken it seriously for more than 6 months at a time. My PR's are pathetic. The closest I come to respectable is a 5k in 22:27. In the fall of 2003 I was running 40 miles a week and able to run 21:00 or so for 5k. I was training for a half marathon with a goal time of 1:40:00. Then I got patellar tendonitis, moved, had a kid, and got fat. So we'll see how I do this time around. Hopefully this will be a form of accountability for me.
Week - 1.93 - 20:00
Month - 1.93 - 20:00
Year - 1.93 - 20:00
Getting rid of a habit and resisting temptation is tough. It requires discipline. You have to replace a bad habit with something. If you're tempted to eat when you're bored, then when you're bored you should do a crossword puzzle. If you're tempted to view porn when you're alone, you should limit internet access to only when others are around. If you're tempted to procrastinate when you only have a final deadline, you should set up intermediary deadlines. JM
So I was watching some of the videos and ran across this one. It is especially interesting to me because the guy that is taking the "challenge" was raised in a Christian home. He embraced Christianity as a child. Somehow the church failed to connect him to a real sense of the spiritual and probably to spiritual disciplines as well. I think he was also burned because of the horrific example he had from within his church. He notes in his video that he was baptized by Joe Simpson, the father of Ashlee and Jessica Simpson. Joe Simpson used to be a youth pastor, but from viewing the Newlyweds show that used to be on MTV, he has pretty much abandoned any evidence of Christianity in his life.
It saddens me that the church is so ineffective at helping students deepen their faith. We're so dependent on programming to pacify students. Then once they leave for college, they don't have that programming, so they have no way of staying connected to Church and God.
On a related note, this powerpoint presentation cracks me up because it's so bad, but that's kind of the point. JM
Some of the highlights for me "What would I attempt if I knew I could not fail?" Man, that really hits at my fear of leading a church. I feel like God is really leading me in that direction, but I'm so scared of failing.
He also talked about how God will give us the What, How, and When. I know I have the what, but now I need to pursue the how and when. So I'm going to keep researching and praying so that I can discover those last two.
The last thing that really hit me was that "Faith is being willing to risk failure." This kind of goes along with what I read in Prayer of Jabez today as far as living with a dependence on God. It's easy for me to stay in my comfort zone. But stepping out of that to where I have to look beyond myself is difficult because I have to rely on God. It's sad that I so often fail to rely on him when I should look to him first.
Everything I've been doing lately is really pointing me in the lead pastor direction. It's really exciting for me. JM
My greatest takeaway was the power of being convinced that God can do anything and asking him to perform miracles for his glory. "Because for the Christian, dependence is just another word for power." I love that line. The more I am dependent on God, the more I have to rely on his power as opposed to my own gifts and talents. That right there is enough reason to pray that God would overwhelm me. JM
Then, I was working on my income tax and it kept saying that I was going to owe $3600. That's a lot of money to owe. I started stressing. I fixed whatever the problem was and now we're getting a refund of $2700. That's a lot nicer. What's great is that this is all money that I had planned on. If it had all worked out exactly as I planned, I wouldn't have thought about God once. But because the situations got stressful, I'm thanking God for it now. JM
My greatest takeaway thought is "People who live in prayer mode see opportunities that other people don't even notice." That sentence and that whole section of the book really spoke to me since I'm really trying to organize my prayer life. Now I'm on to The Prayer Of Jabez. Not really a new book, but I've never read it, and I'm trying to focus on prayer. JM
I have a standard fear of meetings like this because they have a tendency to quickly devolve into "What's your favorite color?" or "What's on your ipod?" sort of discussions. This was not like that, thanks to Walker Maginnis for that. The other thing that tends to happen is that people say things just to hear themselves talk and so that the celebrity (Mark) will say something positive about them. We also, for the most part, avoided this as well.
It was a great time and it was awesome to hear his humility. He had some excellent thoughts on branding and marketing. My take-away from this morning is what he said about internal marketing. They try to produce all of their pieces with a commitment to quality and creativity as opposed to just producing external pieces with those traits.
Lately, I've been focusing on external pieces, but have neglected doing high quality internal marketing. I really enjoyed his insight on that. JM
Tonight, when I got home, Noah was playing with his cars. He doesn't play with them like normal kids do, though. He clears out all of the space he can in the living room. Then he lines all of the cars up and then he takes 4 of them out for a race.
Several things were cool about the event tonight. First, there were about 530 men there. That's a huge turnout for our church. Second, it wasn't just our church. There were tons of other churches represented as well as tons of guests. Third, everything from the meal, to the music, to the decorations, was done with excellence. I really felt like this was a high quality event and something we should be proud of.
It was really cool to have something like that at our church. It makes me proud to be a part of it, even though I had absolutely nothing to do with this event.
Hopefully we can carry some of that momentum over to our weekly programming and channel some of those people into it. JM
Then Jesus shows up and heals these men. In doing so, a herd of pigs dies. Not too bad of a deal. But the town reacts in a peculiar way. They come out and "they begged him to leave their area." Think about that. They see that this man is able to do amazing things. They see that what he does is positive. But they are so scared by this power that they send him away. They want nothing to do with him.
This happens a lot to Christians. People we encounter don't really understand what we're doing. We live by different motivations. Even though a lot of what we do (hopefully all) is positive, they still want nothing to do with us.
My neighbors don't like to hang out with me. One neighbor who I am friends with said it's because they feel guilty about their lives when they hang around me. I don't judge them. I don't say anything about it. I try to just hang out and joke around with them. But they still feel awkward. It's a tough situation, and I don't know how to overcome it. JM
I think the reason is because Jesus constantly met them on their level. He always seemed like just another guy to them. Yeah, they knew he was special, but they had trouble remembering that when they were all hanging out together.
What an awesome example for us. Instead of always trying to be so spiritual and pious, why can't we just hang out with people and let them know that we're just another guy like them. JM
Imagine the fallout if Bill Belichek won the game and in the post-game interview
said, "This was a great victory not just for our team but for the whole race of
white people." He'd be unemployed.
1. He was a Roman and he had to ask the help of a Jew. This had to be an extremely vulnerable position for him as the Jews did not appreciate the Romans taking over their land and ruling them.
2. The request was for his servant. Servants are supposed to be dispensible. For some reason he really valued this servant.
3. He had to beg. This must have been uncomfortable for a high-ranking military guy. He probably was used to just giving a command and something being done, but here he had to beg for it. But also in the military, you earn things. You don't beg for them.
Pretty amazing amount of vulnerability shown by this guy. JM
Now I love to save money and live comfortably, but the one area where I am extremely tempted to overspend is on our house. We had been looking and loved a house that started at $260,000 (or $60,000 more than we should spend). We were talking over dessert about what it would take for us to get it and my wife said that she wouldn't want to have to worry about making the house payment.
It's awesome when she says stuff like that. I would want to move in, eat rice, and have no furniture. We would have an amazing house, but we would have to set the heater on 60 degrees. So we decided to go back to our original plan and try to get a more reasonable house that we can actually afford. I love my wife. JM
I saw a job posting last night for Mid Rivers Baptist Chapel, which is a church just down the street from where I grew up. It might be interesting to apply to that, although they are probably looking for experience and seminary.
So now I need to create a DVD of me speaking and start looking into seminary. As far as the DVD goes, I looked around for some DVD authoring software and I discovered what kind of firewire cable I need for my laptop to communicate with our miniDV camcorder. JM
The other part that is cool is that Jesus wants the man to go through the regular process of restoring himself to society because "this will show the people what I have done." Jesus chose not to buck the system. So many people talk about how he dealt with the pharisees and what a rebel he was. I think that Jesus loved the law, but he hated the pharisees' religious devotion to it as opposed to passionate devotion. Incredible. JM
I think the difference was the passion. Jesus taught with a passion that we can only hope to grab. That's one of the things that I need to work on. Being passionate when I speak. I'm good at being funny and making points, but I don't make them passionately. I can't wait until I get to craft passionate messages every week to help people meet and love the God who created them. What an awesome privelege. JM
- They are hosting a men's event at my church on 01.25.07 where Mark Batterson will present his "lion chaser's" message.
- I need to find a book for this year's Crucible guy's rite of passage.
So that's what I've chosen. Hopefully it's good. Everybody else seems to think so.
- he is poor
- he is a new christian
- he had a "hard" life
Probably none of these are true. It's sad that I think they are, though. I mean, it's great that I didn't go "who let in the trash?", but my presumptions about this young man were still there. I hope one day I can get past all of my judging and just let people be who they are and let Jesus make the call.
I'm more disciplined, but what is the point of discipline without passion. That's just religion. That's not what I want to be about. I want to have passionate discipline. Man, how amazing would that be. Imagine what God could accomplish through passionate disciples. JM
Verse 33 "The thing you should want most is God's kingdom, and doing what God wants." I hope that I can truthfully say that is what I want most. I think it is, but I just have distractions like finances, pride, popularity. I wish I could minimize those distractions and just desire God's kingdom to grow. Change can only happen through prayer.
I think I'd like to work on my prayer life. I'm going to talk to a couple of people to see how I can better organize it and structure it. Not to make it stuffy, because I still want to have a sense of awe and mystery to it, but I want it to be effective. JM
My daughter is sick right now. I'm holding her as I type. It's sad because she's wicked tired, but she can't sleep because she hurts. She's way too young (10 months) to tell us what hurts, so all I can do is just hold her. Sometimes that's all we really need. JM
Being ill is horrendous. Glad it's over. Just trying to get my energy back now. JM
It's for a 2-week series we'll be doing in February. It hasn't been approved yet, or seen by anybody really, so it will probably get revised some. I'm still using Publisher because I don't know how to use InDesign yet, but hopefully my next one will be done with InDesign. JM
The two most recent are both 1/2 sheet postcard flyers. The first was an inviation to their Christmas eve service. On the front was a picture of "Santa", but he was bent over and the focus of the picture was on his butt with the caption "No ifs, ands, or butts". On the other side it explained what to expect at their service.
The other card was describing a series they are doing on sex. The front of the card had two sets of feet poking out from under a blanket with the words "pure sex" under it (a not so slight rip-off of the my lame sex life series at Granger Community Church).
Both cards had their slogan/catchphrase "We're a church for anyone, but not for everyone."
Now I know that all marketing is, or at least should be done, with a specific market in mind. But I always wondered how people outside of that market would respond. I just found a little bit of insight into this.
I was looking for something on the middle school hall at our church. This hall is shared by middle school at one hour an senior adults during the second hour. On one of the bulletin boards were both of these postcards taped with a copy of a letter from one of our members to the pastor of the postcard church. The letter basically said "I am so offended." It also said that our member would be praying that the pastor would get right with the Lord and that she would never set foot in their church. It also noted that she had kept the card and looked at it occasionally with disgust, which is pretty funny.
Obviously the cards need to come down and have the reason why explained to our member. But I hope that the pastor of the other church wasn't discouraged by the letter from our member. Marketing and churches are for specific markets. While I don't think we should necessarily try to offend other markets, I think it is important we shoot for our market unapologetically. If we don't, then we're unremarkable, and that's not the kind of Christian that I desire to be. JM
The thing is, I can remember the first time that I ever prayed for the person that hurt me. All I could get out was "God, help Bill". It felt good to be able to say that. I'm still don't think that I've forgiven this person (their name isn't Bill), but I'm getting closer. Perhaps that's why God wants us to pray for those who hurt us. Maybe it's all part of the process of forgiveness. JM
I just installed Windows Vista and am struggling to use it. It's frustrating. I'm also about to install Office 2007 and InDesign CS2. So lots of frustrations in the near forecast. JM
People + Christ = Justification
Justification + Teaching + Encouraging = Transformation = God's desire for the church.
So I started to think about what that might look like in a tangible phrase and I came up with:
Trust God, Follow God, Serve God
Here's how it matches up. To trust God is to have salvation, or justification. Once you have that then you need to follow God, which you do with teaching and encouraging to learn the disciplines of the Christian faith and then live that out in your daily life. Lastly comes serving God where you contribute to helping others trust God.
So if I were to assign programs to them it would be
Trust God - Worship Experience
Follow God - Small Groups
Serve God - Ministry Position
I debated different wordings on all of the phrases:
Trust God - Love God, Know God
Follow God - Love God, Obey God
Serve God - Love God, Live For God, Serve The World
I really like what I came up with, though. We're supposed to talk about it some more tomorrow during staff meeting, so we'll see how that goes. JM
Guys are just so visually driven that we can't help but notice it. I want to try to conquer that. JM
Kind of fun to think about. Thank you Jesus. JM
Jesus was trying to point back to himself. I've done something more than the pharisees because I've placed my faith in Jesus alone and not in my religious devotion to rules. My devotion to rules flows out of my love for Jesus, and that's a key difference.
Jesus always had a cool way of putting things. He always made you think. Made things real and impacting. I wish I could adopt some of that style into my speaking. There's so much about Jesus that is amazing. JM
My wife and I went to two different parties. When we left the first one she said to me that she wished that we could stay at that party because I get along with those guys better. My wife gets along with everybody. She just likes to be around people. I'm a bit more difficult because I'm not much of a man's man kind of guy. I'm not overly effeminate, but just not your prototypical alpha-male.
So wives are willing to sacrifice so that their husbands are connecting with other males.
I don't think that separating men's ministry out is the way to achieve reaching males. They need to enjoy and appreciate every aspect of the ministry that our church is doing.
I think this even carries down to students. I try to tailor my middle school ministry to what would be appealing to boys. If I have lots of boys, I remain fairly confident that the girls will come, even if it's just to look at all of the boys. JM
2. Do no programming simply to do programming - I try not to do time-killer babbysitting programming, but I still do some. I ended a program this fall that I felt was basically babysitting. What I'll have to watch out for is the programs that tend to pop up either to accomodate church-wide programs or to fill in "slow" times.
3. Have over 75 students and 25 visitors at our Super Bowl party - This is one of the biggest things we do all spring. Last year we had 72 students and 16 visitors there. I'm hoping we can increase both of those a little bit.
4. Create a time sheet for each week to budget time better - I'm hoping this can alleviate some of the stress between my wife and I. I'm pretty good about making sure that I don't always work, but it sure is tempting. This will also hopefully help me apportion the right amount of time to the right things.
5. Improve front-end portion of Crucible - The Crucible is our 8th-grade guys rite of passage event. It's a weekend event that has about 7 weeks of study on the front-end. I'd like to make this portion a bit more thought-provoking. This is the coolest thing I get to do all year. It's awesome.
6. Improve Chrysalis - This is the 8th-grade girls rite of passage event. It's a good idea, but it needs some attention, direction, and modification to make it life-impacting.
7. Have over 75 students attend D-Now - I can't remember how many we had last year, but I'm pretty sure we'll hit this number.
8. Have over 150 students and 75 visitors at Mission Impossible - This is the biggest outreach event we do all year. It's awesome. Last year we had 126 students and 68 visitors.
9. Spend at least 2 hours per week on UpRising opening - This is the opening for our Sunday morning small groups. Normally I spend about 20 minutes on it because it's a lower priority. With me doing less now, I can do more things with excellence. The opening is only about 20 minutes long, so 2 hours should be way more than enough time to bring in some creativity and excellence.
10. If UpRising small group attender misses 3 weeks in a row, they get a call and a card from both their leader and a peer - In our area, you can easily miss 2 weeks in a row, but 3 weeks in a row kind of shows some effort to not come. Currently they'll just get a call or an email from their leader. I'd like to increase that to a card and a call from both their leader and a friend.
11. Age and gender grade all A-Teams - Right now we would need to add 2 leaders in order to accomplish this, but I think it is probably our most pressing need. A-Teams our are small group discipleship classes, so I'd like to keep the topics relative and the sizes small (4-6 students).
12. Have crew teams have a gig at least once a week - Our crew teams (ministry teams) are currently under-utilized, so I think setting up expectations like this will help make sure they get the opportunities they need to minister.
13. Have all student ministers read "contemplative youth ministry" - This book is expressing ideas that I've had for the last couple of years. It's amazing. I haven't even finished it yet, and it's changing how I look at ministry to students.
14. Have at least 4 student ministers attend at least a portion of the NYWC - This is the National Youth Workers Convention, which will have a conference here in Atlanta this year. So I'd like to have several of my workers go to get some training. (I'm going to try to go to the whole thing.)
15. Develop a functional outreach program where students will attend consistently and be presented with the gospel - I've revised our outreach program at least 4 times in the 3 years that I've been here. I'm doing it again. This fall we created a program that was good for getting guests, but it didn't have consistent numbers (some weeks low 20's and some weeks mid 40's). I'm trying to create something that kids will enjoy so they will invite their friends and can hear an applicable Biblical-based message containing the gospel.
16. Have my title changed to remove associate and more accurately reflect what I do - Currently my title is Associate Youth Minister. Since I came, my position has fleshed out to be running the middle school ministry, the creative elements of the youth ministry, and creative development of overall church ministry. What my title should be, I can't say. Probably something like Minister of Middle School and Creative Elements. That's a horrible title, but at least it's more accurate.
So that's what I'd like to accomplish. We'll see how it goes. JM
The church is supposed to teach, encourage, and grow strong (I Corinthians 14:26,31). If all we are seeking is justification, that is growth, but not growing strong, teaching, or encouraging.
I think the end goal of the church is to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus doesn't stop at salvation, or even baptism, but he continues to say "teach them to obey everything that I have taught you."
People + Christ = Justification
Justification + Teaching + Encouraging = Transformation = God's desire for the church.
If this is true, then to design a process for church ministry would require avenues for introducing people to Jesus, teaching them the disciplines of the Christian faith, and encouraging them as they grow. As people are transformed, they would need to be provided opportunities to serve and lead both inside and outside our church.
I'll probably develop my design based on this thought-process. JM
1. Bring middle school ministry process in line with overall church ministry process.
2. Do no programming simply to do programming.
3. Have over 75 students and over 25 visitors at our Super Bowl Party.
4. Create a time sheet for each work week to budget time better.
5. Improve front-end portion of Crucible.
6. Improve Chrysalis.
7. Have over 75 students attend D-Now.
8. Have over 150 students and over 75 visitors at Mission Impossible.
9. Spend at least 2 hours per week on Uprising opening.
10. If Uprising small group attender misses 3 weeks in a row, they get a card and a call from both their teacher and a peer.
11. Age grade all A-Teams.
12. Have crew teams have a gig at least once per quarter.
13. Have all student ministers read Contemplative Youth Ministry.
14. Have at least 4 middle school student ministers attend at least a portion of the NYWC.
15. Develop a functional outreach program where students will attend consistently and be presented with the gospel.
16. Have my title changed to remove associate and more accurately reflect what I do.
I'll break each of these out for individual posts to explain them in more detail later, but I wanted to get them all down first. JM
I act like I want to do right more than anything else. But deep down, I desire to do what's right for me.
As for mercy, I don't desire mercy, I desire accountability without mercy. Mercy is emotional. The only time I desire it is when I need it, which happens to be nearly constantly.
But the last one of these three is the worst. I am the least pure person I know. My motives are always impure for things. I feel like I secretly desire my own glory. It's tough to separate that out from the male desire to be a success in his profession.
But also the purity of my mind leaves something to be desired. It's a constant struggle for me. As I'm sure it is with most guys. Always good to have something to desire and to strain to achieve. If we're not improving ourselves, we're just dying. JM
Jesus probably felt used a lot. I just read Matthew 4:23 - 25 and it talks about how all the sick from all over Syria were coming to him to be healed. People weren't coming to worship him. They weren't coming to listen to his message. They were coming out of selfish motivations. I bet that was frustrating.
But the paragraph end with this: "Many people...followed him." I think Jesus knew something that the church is just now starting to grasp. In order to reach people, you have to fill a need of theirs. People don't naturally care about God. They care about themselves. Until you can show them that what you provide benefits them, they're not going to be interested in what you have to say. But filling a felt need is like an open door to showing them that the best way to be selfish and lead a meaningful life is by discipling yourself to Jesus standard. Interesting. JM
It's also cool to look at the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus. Jesus ministry didn't start until John was in prison. I wonder why? Maybe he didn't want to steal any of John's ministry. Who knows. Once Jesus started his ministry he preached the same message that John did: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.
By the way, John the Baptist is my favorit Biblical figure. JM
Noah had his first real sleepover friend the other night. Here are Noah and Millie getting ready to go to bed. Millie was transferred to her own bed shortly after the story finished to prevent any rumors floating around preschool. Well, and because they would have killed each other.
Later that night at like 4:00 am I found Millie downstairs crying for her daddy after she had changed back into her clothes and turned on all of the lights. Pretty funny. JM
First, verse 2 says "Jesus ate nothing for forty days and nights. After this, he was very hungry." What an understatement. Of course the guy was very hungry. Sure he was all God, but he was also all man. I wouldn't have made it past day one. I've never made a full day of fasting without a protein shake.
Second, in verse 3 Satan comes to tempt Jesus. He doesn't offer him food. Well, he does, but it's under the pretense of a dare. He challenges who Jesus is. Look at it: "The devil came to Jesus to tempt him, saying, 'If you are the Son of God, tell these rocks to become bread.'" I think Satan does this to us too. He waits until we're tired or distracted and then attacks our potential weakness. So he attacks our patience when we're tired. He attacks our pride when we're focusing on our patience. It's a smart tactic. It helped me to know how he works. After all, G.I. Joe says "Knowing is half the battle"! JM
My church is really bad about this, especially at the end of our worship hours. There are missed handoffs all over the place. As soon as the commitment song is over, someone is supposed to pray for the offering. But there is usually dead air. Then there is dead air afterwards as the host is unsure of what to do. The confusion makes everyone uncomfortable, right at the moment when you want to leave them feeling good.
The more you can communicate what is going to happen to people that will be on stage, the better things will go for you. It's always better to overcommunicate. JM
So tomorrow night they'll come down and be put away for 11 months. Exciting times. JM