A Little Bit About Me...

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I have many hats that I wear. I am a husband and father. I am pastor/teacher at my church. I am part of a team working on a large project at work. I am a friend. I am a budding visionary. I am a writer, an actor, and a director. I am an artist. I am a student of the Bible. I have a brain that comes up with some pretty crazy and interesting ideas, and I have a personality to match. I try to treat all people how I would like to be treated. I strive to be steadfast, immovable in my faith. I seek after the TRUTH, and I believe that it can be found, not just 'from my perspective', but for all people.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Just a concept I want to apply to my own life...

As quoted from The Unshakable TRUTH by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell.

Accepting others as Christ accepts us means we must take the time to be with people.

The pressure was on. The book deadline was fast approaching, and I (Josh) needed to focus on writing and editing. Although the memory of this experience takes me back more than 30 years, I recall if vividly. I was right in the middle of editing a chapter when two-year-old Sean wandered in.

“Want to play, Daddy?” he chirped expectantly.

As an experienced parent (we had already been through the two-year-old stage with Kelly), I should have realized that Sean really wanted only a hug, a pat, and a minute or two to show me the new ball he was carrying. But I was working on an “important” chapter and felt I just didn’t have even two minutes to spare.

“Son, how about playing a little later?” I replied. “I’m right in the middle of a chapter.”

Sean didn’t know what a chapter was, but he got the message. Daddy was too busy, and he’d have to leave now. He trotted off without complaining, and I returned to my manuscript. But my relief was short-lived. Dottie soon came in and sat down for a “little chat.”

She began, “Honey, Sean just told me you were too busy to play with him. I know that this book is important, but I’d like to point something out.”

“What is that?” I asked rather impatiently, because now my wife was keeping me from my all-important project.

“Honey, I think that you have to realize that you are always going to have writing to do, and you are always going to have deadlines. Your whole life will be researching and doing similar projects. But you’re not always going to have a two-year-old son who wants to sit on your lap and ask you questions and show you his new ball.”

“I hear what you’re saying,” I said, “and you make a lot of sense as usual. But right now I’ve got to finish this chapter.”

“All right, Josh,” she said, “But please think about it. You know, if you spend time with our kids now, they will spend time with us later.”

I did think about it, and the more I thought, Dottie’s gentle words were like a knife slicing me to the core. She was right. I would always have deadlines to meet, contracts to fulfill, phone calls to answer, people to see, and trips to take. But my children would only be children for a short time. Soon the years would sweep by. Would I have any more time for them next year than I did this year?

I knew what the answer would be if I didn’t change my ways. Quietly, without any big speeches of fanfare, I made a decision. I took Sean out in the yard and tossed the ball with him for a while. Ever since, I have tried to place my children ahead of my contracts, deadlines, and the clamor of a world that wants me to get back to them ASAP. And it has paid off.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

As 2010 closes and 2011 prepares to start….

For the past few years, as we have come to the end of the year, I have tried to speak into the lives of those I interact with. This year my focus is on parents…. Those that God has entrusted to raise the next generation.

If I could say one thing to you as we come to the cusp of 2011 it would be this:

Do not underestimate what your kids are capable of accomplishing.

One of the ways that Leigh-Anne and I pour into the young people of Infuzion is to try to give them a bit more responsibility than most would allow them. Some young people have looked at us stunned that we would let them try. Others have thrived because of it. Others have not quite been ready for the responsibility that we have put upon them.

I just wanted to share a few examples of young people in the Bible who accomplished some great things. God loves to use young people!

King Josiah was 8 years old when he was made king of Judah. He did some great things to bring God’s people back into proper relationship with God. You can find his story in 2 Kings 22 and 23, and 1 Chronicles 34 and 35.

King David is probably best known for his battle with Goliath, but when you look at the story it is interesting to note that he was anointed as the next king of Israel and THEN he goes to feed his brothers at the battle where he hears about the challenge from Goliath. The current king was letting this giant threaten and mock the people of God, while David, seeing what God saw, was able to accept the challenge and win the battle. Many scholars believe David to be in his mid teens when this battle happened. You can find his story in 1 Samuel 16 and 17.

The prophet Jeremiah even doubted God’s call on his life when God began to prepare him for ministering to the people of Israel. Read Jeremiah 1:1 – 10.

Consider Mary, the mother of Jesus. Tradition suggests that she was also in her early teens when she gave birth to Jesus, which would have been the norm for that time period. Luke 1:26-38 shows how she had to weigh out the massive request and responsibility that was being put on her. She was obedient to the Lord and birthed our Saviour.

Jesus, of course, is known for his ministry and the death and resurrection, but what about in his early life? We see very little written about that time period, but what we do see has a young man that is learned in the Scriptures and who sets himself as one (at 12) of being found in the church(temple). Luke 2:41 – 49.

So where does that put us for this coming year? Here are some points that I would like you to pray through:

1 – Do what you can to guard your children’s hearts from evil.

2 – Pray for your kids every day.

3 – Encourage them in all of their talents, and be their biggest cheerleader when they get discouraged.

4 – Do everything you can to move your family closer to God.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Creating a Church Where Teens WANT to Come

This is a repost from a blog by Ron Luce of Teen Mania.  I just thought it would be good for some self examination, and to encourage others who either have young people, or work with young people:

"Imagine a place where young people are on fire for God. They can’t wait to see their friends, hear the preacher, take notes and be challenged. They are not only absorbing, but they are also pouring what they learn into others.

Imagine a place where young people come together and worship passionately with all their heart instead of just standing there through the worship service. They are so excited to be there that they actually run to the front at the beginning of worship. They are lifting their hands and down on their knees singing with all their hearts.

Imagine a place where adults have rallied around students so that there is no “us and them” mentality. Young people are embraced by every adult, and teens are actually involved in church ministry, from the worship team to the prayer team.

What does it take to build this type of church? Here are a few keys that I think must be part of making a church that welcomes and inspires teens.

Examine Your Hearts

To create a church that teens love, we must first examine our hearts. Students know when they are loved and accepted. Students also know when they are being judged. They are used to being looked down upon and criticized by the adults in their life. In return, they avoid these adults and the places associated with them – like church.

Do you show teens unconditional love and acceptance? Does your church?

Make Services Relevant to Students

It’s important that young people don’t just “do time” when they come on Sunday morning. They should feel a connection to the pastors leading service and even embrace what the church stands for. So how does that happen?

Pastors can lead the way by incorporating students into their messages. When preparing messages, plan on engaging young people specifically with a few nuggets just for them to chew on. You can even ask for their input and perspective when planning your sermons. Let them know that they are a part of the church right now, not just an appendage!

Create a Subculture

Today every student is surrounded by a worldly culture that welcomes them and lures them away from God. Is church exciting, interesting, and a place they want to be? It can be when you create a subculture in your church to attract and pour into young people.

It is possible to create this type of subculture—just take a look at Hillsong Church in Australia. Amidst a very secular society, Hillsong has created a subculture for young people and adults now 30,000 strong. This type of culture inspires teens to do great things for God. It empowers them to take ownership and be in leadership roles. Most important, it clearly communicates to teens that you are committed to them in a very deep way.

To engage and disciple young people, we must create a culture in our churches that teens want to be a part of. Church as usual has to change, because church as usual is not reaching the next generation."

Here is the link in case you want to check out more from Ron Luce's blog:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Train Up a Child....

Ran into this in some reading lately.  Just thought I would share it here. 
(As quoted from The Unshakable Truth by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell)

"Yet each of us is an original.  No other person is designed just like us.  Just as no two snowflakes are ever alike, no two humans are ever created alike.  We have similarities, of course.  If you have a brother of sister, you can probably see the likeness that comes from being of the same family.  Yet you also know that each of you is different.  Parents can certainly attest that no two children are alike.  Each of us, as a human child and child of God, has an original identity.  You are a one-of-a-kind original.  You have been been given distinct and special qualities that make you relationally unique.  God has placed within you special gifts, talents, passions, and a distinct personality that make you uniquely you.

Scripture recognizes our originality.  One subtle but powerful indication of this is found in the familiar words penned by King Solomon: 'Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it' (Proverbs 22:6 NASB).

Unfortunately, this verse is often misunderstood, and misapplied, by those who are responsible for the training of young people.  Some think it means, 'Have family devotions, make sure kids attend church and youth groups and a Christian school, and then when they are all grown up they will not depart from the faith.'

The real emphasis of this verse, however, centers on the phrase 'the way he [or she] should go.'  The writer is referring to the child's way, his or her learning or bent.  The root meanings of these words suggest guiding each child according to his or her own uniqueness, abilities, interests and talents--and then draw out and develop that uniqueness.  Train the child to be the unique person God relationally created him or her to be.

The same Hebrew word that is used in Proverbs 22 is translated 'bend' in two Psalms and refers to the bending of the archer's bow (See Psalm 11:2; 64:3).  Today, with precision manufacturing, almost anyone can pick up a bow with a 45-pound draw weight and do a fair job of hitting the target..  But in biblical days, nothing was standardized.  All archers made their own bows, and each archer had to know the unique characteristics of his own bow if he hoped to hit anything with it.

God's Word is telling us that you have an inborn uniqueness that your parents and caregivers are to identify and train accordingly.  In the Ryrie Study Bible, a note for Proverbs 22:6 explains that ''the way he should go' really means 'according to his way; that is, the child's habits and interests.'  The instruction must take into account his individuality and inclinations, his personality, the unique way God created him, and must be in keeping with his physical and mental development.'

My (Sean's) parents understood this truth and guided me to understand my 'bent'--those talents, gifts, inclinations, passions, and the distinctiveness that made me, me.  My dad saw that I had an inclination toward playing basketball.  I'm not a tlal person; neither is my father.  But as a young person Josh excelled at basketball, and he sensed I had the same talent.  He encouraged me to pursue it, coaching me as I learned the game.  And I eventually fulfilled my dream of being a point guard for Biola University.

My parents also picked up on my inquisitiveness.  I wanted to know things; I enjoyed figuring out why this was true or why that was true.  And I enjoyed sharing what I was learning with others.  Because they cultivated my natural inclinations in these directions, I ended up majoring in philosophy and theology and becoming an educator and speaker.  All this resulted in my understanding who I am--the unique person God created in his own relational image."

Parents, find those things about your kids that make them unique and nurture them and move them forward towards what God has for them....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Coming down to the end of another year.....

I was out to breakfast with a friend and he noted that I had not updated my blog in quite some time. I looked and my last post was about vision in 2010. And now that we are coming down to the end of 2010, I thought I would look at my own life and measure it agains the two focuses of the Infuzion ministry.

I have spent a LOT of time over the past few years studying the idea of Calling, as in being called by God. What does it mean? How does it work? Why do so many people run from it? How does God prepare you for the things that he wants you to do? Are there things that all people are called to? I really got into this and I came to a point where I realized that it was settled in my spirit, and I didn't have to dig further. I'm hoping at some point to be able to articulate the thoughts and feelings in my life and help others as they search out their own calling.

Now, I feel that I am supposed move onto something else.... a different area of study.

I have gotten some other ideas for direction to go with Infuzion. It is a slow process, but we do see the impact that working with these young people has on them. I know that part of the Infuzion ministry is also to be there for parents as well...

I have so many ideas, and keep trying to advance them. I committed that if I was going to teach young people to go after God, and to use all of their talents, that I was going to do the same.

I will still strive for that in the new year!

Take a look at your year. What have you done with your time? Have you wasted? Have you nurtured your gifts? Have you gotten closer to God this year? What areas are you weak in? What gifts have you neglected?

I'll try to be a bit more on the ball with writing here in the new year.