Brief thought of the night (after a few months off).
Tonight I taught my teens about the persecuted church. First we looked at Acts and how the early Christians lived. Secondly, we discussed what that looked like.
Thirdly, we watched some videos, such as the one included below:
My wife then posed an amazing question (which is why I married her, because she’s stinkin’ awesome.).
We watched about 6-8 videos of persecuted Christians. We were touched emotionally and encouraged by their faith. Her question was this:
How would the persecuted church react if they were to sit down and watch a video of our lives and testimony in one of their services?
Irony strikes after my last post. Some people come to the table when you say something about Glee and they’ll defend it to their deathbed. That’s fine.
I struggle with this issue of Christian Liberty, because that’s a hard line to draw.
I love war movies. I can watch war movies all day long. I can tolerate the reality of death and language. But I struggle with Christians watching Glee or other shows of the like.
I still stand firm claiming that shows which glorify sexual sin, the way that Glee does should be avoided. I’m looking at it from a logical standpoint that sex is probably the sin most people struggle with in the United States. I don’t have stats, but I have examples of people in ministry who have lost their jobs due to sexual sin. Not only that, just open your local newspaper and you’ll see people who fall apart from it. Does Glee lead to sexual sin? Not always. I don’t know, this post isn’t about Christian Liberty anyways.
This post is actually about me further proving a point about Glee of its agenda.
Last week, two of the girls posed on the cover of GQ magazine. You might have seen the pictures, you might not have, but they’re very suggestive. (And by suggestive, I clearly mean the girls are dressed like sluts and are trying to turn men on. If you deny this, you already lose.) You can click here to see those photos, but I’ll just suggest that your teenager not be around to see them.
Now, not all 14 photos on that page are sexually suggestive. The dude is playing drums in one of them.
But, let’s think for a second. The image that was burned into my mind whenever I first saw the photos on CNN (and even their commentators suggested that they were over the top) is the one of the girl sitting on a locker room bench, legs spread open in her underwear, holding a lollipop. In fact, this is the direct quote from a FoxNews article on the issue:
“Glee” stars Dianna Agron and Lea Michele got down and dirty for a GQ magazine spread released last week, set in high school, sucking lollipops, with their legs wide open.
Let’s not be naive, she’s selling sex.
And there are parents who support their kids watching this show week in and week out.
Maybe you haven’t let your kids watch it yet, but here’s yet another post on a “ultra-conservative, legalistic rant” that is suggesting you refrain from partaking in a show. Call me uber conservative and a Pharisee, but I will never support people who claim to be following Christ and fleeing from sin to watch Glee, as all Glee has done is promote sexual freedom.
It’s a show that your youth are watching. I guarantee it. It has absolutely taken over the nation. Check Twitter on Wednesday morning and you’re going to see where people are posting all about Glee, or as the phrase has been coined, they are “Gleeked out.” (Or something like that.)
Anyways, this show is a phenomenon for youth. In my very youth group I’ve had students talking about the show. So, one night I sat down, saw it on, and I had to see what it was all about. In my head, I was thinking “High School Musical.” I was half-right.
The first episode that was ever on my tv was turned off within about 15 minutes. Two girls came up to one of the guys in the Glee club after class and propositioned him to make out with both of them. Whether this was the extent of their hope is unknown, but they were very forward in their attempts, to the point where in my opinion it suggested they would do more than make out. It was very sex-filled.
The second episode was a couple of weeks later as we were passing through the channels late on a Tuesday. My wife stopped on Fox as Glee was on to hear one of the songs while I was on the computer. At the conclusion of the song, one of the girls from the show, who is nothing more than the popular girl who is popular with all the boys, comes up to one of the guys everyone thought was gay but found out he wasn’t. She said something to the effect of, “I’ve made out with all the guys in our class but you because I thought you were gay, but since you weren’t, I’d like to add you to the list.”
It turned off shortly after that.
Since that point, I’ve had many a conversation about the show with people. For the most part, those who are in ministerial leadership look at the show with disgust, and rightfully so might I add. But, when mentioning it to youth and others, you run into the problem of not being able to filter out the trash that comes with the show. I’m not pretending that I have it all together, but I do recognize that there are some shows and themes of shows that absolutely should NOT be permitted into our minds. The two examples above seemed to solidify that form of thinking in my mind.
Last night, the Glee episode was trending on Twitter this morning. The title: Grilled Cheesus caught my eye, so I began to do some research. I read through the plot and figured what better way to spend my morning than watching the episode from last night on Fox.com. Who doesn’t need a few teaching points.
The show featured the main popular character making a grilled cheese and seeing the face of Jesus on it. He begins to pray to the grilled cheese for three things: 1.) That they win their football game, 2.) That he can touch his girlfriend’s breasts, and 3.) That he can be the new QB for the football team. Long story short, all three of them happen. He soon realizes that God did not allow those things to happen and does a stirring rendition of “Losing My Religion.”
If you just read through that paragraph and didn’t wince at the complete sacrilege of the plot of the show, then I don’t know what is wrong.
The other themes in the show go with a heart-wrenching battle as the gay character’s father has a heart attack and is in a coma. The many spiritual kids in Glee club want to pray for the father, but the gay character refuses to let them.
The mean, evil teacher battles over the students singing religiously themed/spiritually themed songs in Glee club and makes the claim that students are not allowed to do that on school ground.
In the end, I don’t know what the theme was besides loving everyone.
There are true points to what was on the show last night. They talk about how the church has done a poor job of loving the gay community – and that’s a true sentiment. You see that through the lives of the friends.
In the end though, I have to give a “Big Whoop” to that.
If you are a Christian and you watch Glee, I really don’t understand why. If you’re a parent who watches Glee, stop. If you’re a teen and you’re reading this blog, you surprise me and I want you to stop watching Glee. If you’re a parent who lets your teen watch Glee, then stop. I don’t understand the fascination within churches with Glee. There is nothing but pure justification for sin in watching the show.
The show is filthy. It is laced with anti-Biblical messages.
I am all for love. I am all for taking care of people no matter what sins they are involved in. But we have to say enough is enough with media. Christians absolutely should not partake in watching Glee. And Glee is just the beginning. What other shows should we stamp out?
Simply put – the themes and ideas that are presented within any show that you watch…does the Bible tell us to flee from them? If so – don’t begin to argue with me about why it’s okay to watch the show. We all (present company included) must flee from sin. We must not allow those themes in our lives. We must turn to Christ and be a new creature. No matter if it’s “House M.D.,” “Outsourced,” or “Glee” we must set the stage for our youth in showing them that we shouldn’t allow those things into our minds.
I’m not super compassionate…well, kinda.
I have to be honest, I get tired of reading articles and whatnot about people in America who are struggling financially. I mean, I know that is a real ordeal going on. God has been very good to my wife and I. As the recession was going on – we never felt it. We were very well taken care of. Even now, as my wife can’t find a job, we’re doing great.
But I have to be honest again, as I read about people who have thousands of dollars in student loan debt and they can’t pay it off, I don’t have much compassion. As I read about the spiked poverty levels recently in America, I had very little compassion and tolerance. Why? Because the Americanized culture is so materialistic.
As I read about people who have $90k in debt and they can’t find a job, it’s hard for me to look on them and go “Oh, you poor soul” because I question financial decisions leading them $90k into debt. It gets even worse whenever the interview talks about them having to make their car payments, which anyone who knows anything about cars knows that you should never finance a car because you pay much more on it than what it is ever worth.
But yet, I am compassionate. Most recently, as I was in Haiti, we were driving through the streets of Port-au-Prince, and I saw a little cafe. Now, don’t think Starbucks, or some other little local place like we have in America. Think of a block building with no one in it and it says “cafe” on the top. My assumption is that someone owns a small little restaurant there with no tables and people can come in and buy some food. I began to think – “How many of the Haitians that I have come to know over the past four years have ever sat down and said, ‘Let’s go out to eat tonight!'” It hit me of how there are SO many things in America that we have that the rest of the world doesn’t.
I struggle with this. I struggle with materialism.
I’ve heard people say, “It doesn’t mean we should deny ourselves a treat every now and then…” and in a lot of ways, I agree. But I have to ask myself occasionally – “What if I denied myself that $6 I spent at Sonic on ice cream each time and sent it to Haiti to feed a family?” Which is more beneficial?
Now, the other side of me has compassion for America. I know that there are people who are working hard and trying to get jobs and they are still not ever getting a leg up. I know this is a tough economy for the majority of people out there. I know that some people are really trying. There are exceptions to every rule, of course. But I argue that for most people, it can be looked at from their history that they never really tried. The decisions that are made usually lead people to where they are in America. I know plenty of people who make great decisions with their money. (READ: They don’t spend money that they don’t have.) Those are the people who haven’t felt a pinch from the hurt economy. I know one guy who lived that way. He lost his job last August. He didn’t have a job in June. And he wasn’t hurting at all! Why? Because he was smart with his money. Materialism was there, but it was still a distance away because he recognized that he couldn’t live like the rest of the world.
This is essentially a big ramble, but my hopes are that people who read this do a little self-examination. Are you really a good steward? Would I have compassion on you? (Probably not. I’m a jerk. And you’re probably not Haitian.) I have to work on my compassion for sure. It’s a weakness.
If I cannot love my neighbor in America, then I have no business loving my neighbor elsewhere with someone beside me hurting.
What mission fields do I miss in America?
It’s that thing that every kid loves to do: missions trips. At least in my brief experience with youth ministry, everyone wants to do a missions trip. Everyone wants to be involved in going somewhere else to work. In fact, I love missions trips.
My first was in 1996 at the age of 10, when my dead led the youth group to Mexico. I still remember those experiences. Seeing kids stricken with poverty. Praying for a Hispanic lady from our church who was having border issues every time we went in. The size of the roaches in our dorms. The lack of communication and the frustration I felt.
In 2000, I was able to go to Puerto Rico, experience things I would have never imagined experiencing, and again, being left in awe at poverty. In fact, while I was there, we canvassed an 18 story apartment building that was essentially the projects. While there, I saw three drug deals and a teenager waving a pistol around. I was 14 years old at the time, and the only adult in our group of 14, 17, 17 year old boys, was a 75 year old former missionary to Uruguay. Safety was of concern.
In 2001, I went to St. Croix, Virgin Islands and fell in love with the place. Yes, the tropical paradise was sweet, but the people – they impacted me. I felt touched by their desire to know us. I can remember returning after the trip, looking up at planes, and wishing I was a passenger headed back to the V.I. because it was such a great trip.
Then I entered college in 2004, and things were different. Not in a bad way, but instead, I was just busy. I was working full time my junior and senior year. I was poor, because I was a college student. From 2001 til 2007, I was uninvolved in missions. Not that I didn’t take notice or lack the desire to go, but I just didn’t have the finances or opportunity.
Then, in 2007, my life changed as I entered the country of Haiti for the first time. The love for the people quickly grew. In 28 days, I’ll go back for the 4th time, and now as the director of our children’s home for Mountain Faith Mission.
Needless to say, missions has played a big part of my life. Even in 2009, I was able to visit some FWB home missionaries to just outside of Pittsburgh, PA, and be greatly impacted by their service, dedication, and the excitement of new converts.
I have been fortunate.
But now that I am in the role of planning and executing trips, I have to question: are we always doing things right?
There are multiple articles out there that suggest maybe some things should change. What is the lasting impact on the students who attend missions trips? How does it increase giving? How many students who attend missions trips end up being missionaries? How many students who attend missions trips pay attention to missions the rest of their lives?
Now, this might be overthinking, but my wife and I are fortunate to know quite a few people on the mission field. When I look at them, I have to ask: Are groups really of great benefit to them?
I asked one friend if they had been having groups come up. He said yes. Then I asked if any ever came up and just didn’t do anything. He quickly said yes again. It broke my heart at that point. Have we lost the vision of missions even within our own church? What do missionaries think of groups that come in to “help?” What percentage of groups leave the missionaries with a sense of accomplishment? What percentage of groups leave missionaries with a sigh of relief when that church van goes over the horizon?
How should we go about planning trips? Should we go about it focused on how it will impact our students? Or should we go about it on how it will impact the missionaries and their work? Should we always have a trip planned, even when in the end, the money it costs to go will outweigh the lasting impact? Or is that even able to be quantified?
There are a lot of questions running through my mind, but the one thing I feel that I have going for me, is that maybe a lot of youth ministries go about it the wrong way.
Praise God when students go on missions trips and maybe a specific student is so impacted that he/she answers the call to full-time ministry. That’s awesome! But honestly, should we always be focused on what will impact our students? Because this is the way that it seems a lot of ministries focus on their missions trips. The focus and result is placed upon the student. How will it change them? How will it impact them? Whereas, I feel the better questions will be “How will we impact the world we are visiting with the message of Christ?” Now, I know that’s cliche and every youth group thinks that is what they are doing – but honestly, are we?
Thoughts? Suggestions? Input?
Almost two months ago, my wife and I left our first ministry in Indiana and drove five hours west, just outside of St. Louis to pursue our second ministry. You can read back through this blog to read about that adventure and to see how God had coordinated numerous steps for us to be able to make the journey here to pursue His will. I am still in awe at how obvious His hand has been throughout this entire ordeal.
Today, I find myself in the office, officially feeling like the new youth pastor at my church. Not that the past two months have NOT felt like me being the youth pastor, but things have just been so busy. For the first three weeks, there wasn’t a whole lot going on while I was here. I wasn’t teaching Wednesday night youth group, as they were preparing for VBS. Then, VBS week came, and Lindsey and I enjoyed the socks off of it. Then we were on vacation. Back home for a week and I taught on a Wednesday. Left for a convention. Came back home and slept a billion hours. Last week, we split between junior week at state youth camp and the teen missions trip to downtown St. Louis.
But the fact is, I’m loving it. I’m worn out. Today, I slept through my alarm, woke up 6 minutes before 8:00 am, and rushed to be in the office by 8:15 (the joys of living about 3 miles from the church…).
This is ministry. As I prepare here for Wednesday’s lesson, I am having the opportunity to minister.
On Sundays, my pastor has begun a new series out of Romans called:
As we were talking about this series he would be pursuing on Sunday mornings, I couldn’t help but think about youth group on Wednesday nights. We began to talk about how many times in youth group, or even adult classes, we are hit with numerous different sermonettes throughout the week. You get Sunday School where you get one little nugget. Then the morning worship service where you get another. If you have Sunday night service, you get another one. Then mid-week, you get another one. So I thought, “What if we were on the same page? What if I took Wednesday evenings with the youth group to still teach them and disciple them, but we’re on the same page as the Sunday morning worship?”
It’s going to stretch me. It’s going to fatigue me. But in the end, I think the payoff will be good. What are the benefits?
- Students will see one cohesive church, instead of numerous nuggets thrown at them every time they come to church. Why not? Why not show them that on Sunday morning, as my pastor is preaching Truth, it is directed at them, too! Why not bring consistency to give them a double dose of what the church is about?
- Make parents do work. Since the move, my attitude has become harsher. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a jerk. But I think I’m tired of playing the game of church and youth ministry. Deuteronomy 6 calls for parents to disciple their children. I want to empower the parents to disciple their kids through teaching the same things on Wednesday night. We won’t examine the same passages, but instead, we’ll take the theme or a point and look at it from a different aspect of Scripture. Then, I’ll be expecting my parents to take it home, talk about it, reiterate it, and use it for a teaching point. There’s been a movement of churches pushing parents into the light of their children’s lives, and I love it. But, I think we need to be bold enough to let parents know that God’s plan is for them to teach their students at home. If God commanded it, then when they don’t, that is called sin. Call it what it is.
Yeah, I’m worn out. Yes, I’ve slept more in other places during the month of July than I have in my own bed. Yes, I’ve travelled over 3,000 miles in the month of July in a car. But would I have it any other way?
No, because I’m right where God has called me. This is ministry. I am learning and growing in ministry and seeing God work in the lives of those who need it. I have a ministry that God has placed me in, where I recognize it is my job to teach youth and empower their parents to raise them at home in the Word.
So no matter how tired I get, I can always put a smile on my face.
There’s no other place I’d rather be. (Except maybe asleep….)
I’m pretty sure that summer is a time that all youth pastors love. Why? Because it brings about events. Tons of events. There’s always something to do. In fact, there’s usually too much to do.
For me, it seems that each of the past three summers I have been serving as a student pastor, August brings peace.
It has been a LONG time since I have posted anything here. Why? Because life has been so busy.
Lindsey and I made our big move on June 5 to Missouri in the St. Louis area. I am now the student pastor at Calvary Fellowship FWB Church in Fenton, Missouri. Everything has really fallen into place for our move. I ask that you continue to be praying for lindsey as she is seeking to find a job.
Since that time, we’ve had VBS, a family vacation, a National Convention for Free Will Baptists, and tomorrow begins half a week of camp and half a week with my new teens on their missions trip to downtown St. Louis.
Thus, I am longing for August. At August, life “slows down.” By slows down, I mean that I am no longer gone for weeks at a time. Until September 3, I am at home. At that point, I will be returning to Haiti for my 4th trip in, and the first trip following the January earthquake.
In the meantime, I have been appointed to take hold of the children’s home and become the director of support. Basically, my job has not changed within the mission – I just now have a title. Thus, in September, I will be heading in for VBS with the agenda to make sure I can have all of the correct information on our students.
In addition, I’m overjoyed because some of our close friends have finally made it to the mission field where they are planting a church in the Denver area. We prayed very hard about joining them, but for some reason God closed that door. We stand 100% behind them and cannot wait to partner with them in ministry in the future.
For now, I quit, because it’s an update and that’s it.
Within the next week, I’ll post a seminar that I led at my recent convention, as well as a study idea I have about missions and youth groups.