Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Thrill of Power Tools

I am working on projects in Rochester, NY this week at my in-laws new house. We are attentive to renovate their basement. I really do not know much about the art of remodeling. I do know that I love power tools -- especially that compound miter saw that I borrowed. I should get one myself.

There is no cologne so sweet as the smell of fresh pine sawdust!

Still able to count to ten on my fingers,

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Rev. Mike & Mrs. Sue Paris @ Niagara Falls Posted by Hello

What are you doing to me?

Ministry is not without its twists in the road. You know the feeling? Driving along the perfectly planned road of youth work and then you see the sign. The one with the S-curves on S-curves! The one that looks like there might be some serious slowing down to be done ahead.

I don't like slow downs. They frustrate me! I am a top-down-Porsche-911 (black with camel colored leather interior and real wood dashboard and accessories)-open-'er-up-and-let-'er-rip kind of guy. And youth ministry is no different.
Yet it is exactly those curves, those speed bumps, those traffic lights that God wants there. If left up to us, we would blast through the neighborhood at 100 mph on our way to the next big event or conference or vacation spot. So God slows us down with a speed zone in a quaint little town or even in the inner city to make us wait and watch and be on the look-out for people that need ministry.

Last night we kicked off our first of 4 training sesssion prior to going on our summer missions trip. I had envisioned a great group of teens excited about ministry and about God's Word who were on fire and waiting to be infectious fervent zealots for the cause of Christ. What I got was two pair of siblings, a gog-goo eyed couple, half of the 6 teen team signed up for summer soccer on the evenings reserved for training, young, inexperienced underclassmen who didn't bring Bibles or persmission/consent forms to the first meeting. God what are you doing to me? I asked for zealots and you gave me these teens! Are you sure I need a slow down? ARe you sure about these s-curves? Couldn't you straighten them out a bit?

And then it hit me... God is giving me the next generation. I get to lead them into zeal. I get to light their fuses. I get to see them explode into fervor. But I don't want to wait -- remember the Porsche, God?? (By the way, I'll take red if that's what you have planned). What do you mean 1st gear? okay. okay. I'm slowed down now.

Help me Lord to see the needs of these teens clearer than I ever have before. Help me to give them little sips of refreshment from the fountain not turn the firehose on them. I want so much to give them all of the joys (the end) first, but help me now to train them to serve. So that they will outrun me later and be spiritual giants in the future. Help me to be patient with them. Help me see the flaws that need work in me too. Help them to be patient with me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

To plan or not to plan

That is the question. Whenever I delegate, I seem to be anxious to retrieve the balls that I have passed off. There is a aprehension that comes with waiting for someone else to come through in the clutch. I rush too quickly to the rescue.

Delegation is not my strong suit. It is an area that I do need to get better at. The ability to say "would you help here" is as powewrful as the ability to say "no". Oh that I would expand my leadership vocabulary to include these phrases and give them a "frequently used" status.

I found another ministry partner today who feels the same way. Her response is to cover the bases that someone might have dropped. But inconfirmed drops and leadership covers make the students and the learners never learn. The person who has a task delegated and then who never is held accountable or who is chronically rescued may never learn the art of completion.

I cannot plan for everything. I must plan for most things. I must be flexible enough to roll with the contingencies, but be ready enough to minimize them. If you build it (the master plan), they (the contingencies) will come!

So what do I get from all of this open musing?

God is in control of my ministry and I must relax in His ability to take even an imperfect job done by me and make it minister. I must prepare and present my best to God in each day of ministry. But I cannot see all of the turns in the raod. God can and he has ordained them for my growth today. His grace is indeed sufficient for this hour!

The Angst of Youth

I am reading the book of Job for my personal quiet time in the mornings. I read chapter 32 today which introduces the character Elihu. Elihu is a young man with a mission -- to correct the wrongs of his elders. That sounds like a lot some teens in youth ministries that I have led! The adult is guilty of gross incompetence until proven innocent! The teen's commentary usually goes something like this, "you don't understand us". They want to see something else happen and they're upset that they haven't gotten their way in the matter.

As I am reading, I want to reserve judgment about whether Elihu is right or not until I have heard his complete message. This conclusion is key to having a great rapport with teens, especially disgruntled teens. I have found that we often need to let them vent and get it off of their chest before we jump in and defend or explain our choices as leaders. There needs to be an avenue for teens to have ownership of the group. There needs to be an appropriate means by which they may appeal to their authority. Teens can learn about ministry decisions by asking good questions of leaders and observing solid decision making discussions. These are the good points of Elihu's conversation.

But there is a bad side too. Elihu is described as "angry" three times in the first five verses. Anger is a very volatile emotion. Righteous anger, or anger for the sake of purity, is endorsed by God -- He demonstrates it perfectly (Ex 4:14; 15:7; 32:10-11; Num 11:1,33; Hos 8:5; cp.Jn 2:13-17). There is a right way and a wrong way to "explode" and be "burning up". The emotion of anger can make us think, say and do things that are rash and impetuent -- things that we will regret when the dust settles. (Pr. 29:22, Ps. 4:4; Eph 4:26)

I believe that Elihu may have actually taken offense for God. He believed that the other friends had not spoken for God accurately. 32:2 narrates that the reaction of Elihu was because of a misunderstanding -- he thought that Job was justifying himself rather than God. If Job is guilty of this charge, then Elihu has some justification for his Popeye response (I cantz standz it no more -- :)).

>> Have I exhausted my listening time before becoming angry? Have I been swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath (James 1:20)?
>> Will my anger accomplish God's work? (James 1:21) Or is this anger to accomplish my own agenda?
>> Have I appealed to my authority or have I just blown up on him?
>> If someone is upset, have I worked through the cloak of anger and discovered the heart of the concern? Am I listening to the issues beyond reacting to the heated emotion?
>> Am I an angry man? Or are my friends angry men? (Pr 22:24-25)

Monday, June 21, 2004

Some of the guys working on polishing off those homemade pizzas Posted by Hello

Whenever the WyBC Youth Group gets together, the soda of choice has got to be Mt. Dew. Posted by Hello

My daughter, Lauren, enjoying her new blow-up dog at the yr-end pool party for the WyBC Youth Group Posted by Hello

1 Peter Sermon Series

I am concluding a series of messages on the book of 1 Peter. What an encouraging book, especially for those going through some oppressive times!

Peter wrote his book as a challenge to believers in the first century who were spread out all over the known countryside. They were called pilgrims and strangers because this world was not their home. They were simply visiting, passing through, and on their way to their home in heaven. They weren't in a rush to get there even though it would be so much better than where they were today.

Ever feel like you wanted to leave this life because of all of the junk going on in your life? Troubles getting along with a bullying father or an unfair boss? Hate the restrictions put on you as a citizen of the US? Want to know how to have a great fulfilling relationship with members of the opposite sex? It's all in 1 Peter!

Would you like outlines of my messages for all or a portion of these messages? E-mail me and I'll forward them along.

Your fellow journeyman,
Pastor Mike


To all who venture in here,

I hope that this little experiment works and that you all become frequent posters online at my blog. I look forward to making many new friends via this great medium called blogging.

I am an associate pastor in Western NY, in a rural village called Wyoming. I have ministry emphases in youth and worship. Both areas of emphasis require a lot of attention and energy -- but I love each equally! I really, in a lot of ways, have a dream job! :)

My journalling will of course then be centered on ministry and the Word of God. However, I am not above throwing in the occasional comment about golfing, juggling, family rearing, or baseball (go Phillies!). See, it's already begun! :)

I hope that you will bookmark this site and visit often sharing the joys of my life with me and even interacting about some of your own!

Here's to our joy in the journey together,
Pastor Mike