Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hither and thither...

Wow, what a crazy past few weeks. I have been all over the place, from Camp Shamineau in northern Minnesota, to San Diego California! Wanted to write a few things to help clear my head and to evaluate the YS convention this year.

First things first...great junior high retreat at Shamineau. What made it great had nothing to do with the weekend program, because frankly, it sucked (in terms of a worship/teaching standpoint). But what made it great was the small-group discussions that our junior high boys had (wasn't privy to much of what the girls said, but heard it was good as well). They're smart buggers, I'll give them that :) When there were questions about doctrine or theological correctness, the kids were right on with what they said...surprising, I know! It was great to see that they had a fairly strong foundation laid. Somebody is doing their job right. Most of the small group time was productive and challenging, and the leaders/myself pushed the guys to think a little outside the box on some issues, specifically regarding their own desire for material advancement, IE, give me an iPod or I'll scream!!! We got the kids to admit that they are part of the problem, though they wanted to point the finger and blame their parents for just "giving them" everything...ha ha. Jr-high is amusing.

The National Youth Workers Convention was fantastic this year. Being in San Diego was of course, amazing, though it was hard to be in the midst of a natural disaster and feel so powerless to do anything to help...2 of the youth ministry teams that were down for the conference from northern California had their churches burn down in a matter of minutes. I can't imagine having our pastor call and tell us that the church burned down while we were having a good time at a convention. Definitely puts a dampner on things. Though, I think sometimes that it would be good for our church to burn down so people would start being the church instead of sitting in a building playing church. That's another topic all-together, and I'm sure someone will misquote me on it, ha.

While the seminars and activities were good at YS, the continual theme of the weekend was, "what's the condition of your heart?" Saturday specifically was a day designed for this by was so evident that there is some pride in youth ministry circles and He desires loving, pure hearts.

All in all, a fantastic weekend of renewal and reflection. Oh, and a little fun too :)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Shamineau, part 1

This weekend, I was up at Camp Shamineau with our junior high kids for a retreat. It was the weirdest youth group retreat I have ever been on in my life, mostly because of the way that God worked in our group throughout the weekend. The kids did not connect with our chapel speaker, who shall remain nameless. I'm not going to get into the specifics, but I was proud of our kids not for their excellent theological saavy (though they are pretty sharp), but for their ability to process some of their feelings of discomfort and frustration openly in a small group setting. This was the medium that God picked to show up the most to our kids, at least in my opinion. Great conversation, authentic transparency, and kids "owning" their own thoughts/opinions/sin, etc. (IE, using "I" language vs. the ubiquitous, colloquial 2nd person plural that doesn't even exist in the English language). Good stuff. I may post more on it later; I'm still processing a lot of the weekend...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Upper Room experience...

Last night, I went with some friends to the Upper Room Community at Christ Presbyterian Church. It was a pretty amazing experience, and one that I shall not be quick to forget, I hope.

THE CHURCH: The church itself was a beautiful expression of worship, and it was nice to be with people primarily my age again (there is a severe shortage of young adults in the church I work for and it's killing me). As soon as I walked in, I felt moderately comfortable and welcomed, though the greeters seemed more inclined to welcome the people they knew vs. the people they didn't (which is natural, I guess). The unfortunate part was that the "congregants" were most homogenous, being caucasion, middle-upper class kids. There were some other minorities there, but I guess that it reflects the community of Edina. The worship time was simple, but powerful. As always, if the people show up to worship, God is worshipped and it's easy for the worship leaders to bring them into God's presence. Sometimes I feel like I'm dragging people into the presence of God when I lead, and that definitely wasn't the case last night. Many "artsy" expressions; lots of media, candles, and a prayer booth borrowed straight from the Catholics. Interesting stuff; I would definitely go back.

THE EXPERIENCE: What made the service so amazing was the opportunity to respond to the sermon speaker (I'm assuming he was one of the pastors) who shared his feelings of frustration with himself this summer on a short-term missions trip to Calcutta, India. As he was working with the lepers there, he felt somewhat revolted by physical contact with them, at times more concerned that he would catch the disease, instead of being concerned with touching, helping, and bringing healing to these ravashed people. The text of the night was Jonah, and the premise being Jonah's negative attitude towards the people of Nineveh because of their wickedness. While he sat in judgment of the people, desiring that God destroy them, the Lord revealed to Jonah that his heart was prideful and his attitude incorrect. Thus, the response of the night for the Upper Room Community, was to go to a place in the city that was our "Nineveh", a place where we could interact with people that made us uncomfortable, just as the Ninevites made Jonah feel uncomfortable.

Being new to the city, I didn't want to go anywhere and get seriously lost, as this just ruins my whole day. So I went with friends to Midtown, Minneapolis, a place specifically known by the police to be an area of prosititution activity. I have never met a prostitute, to be honest. So I was a little hesitant to go, not afraid of meeting a prostitute, but more afraid of talking to someone and getting it construed as solitication, then getting thrown in jail (which would of course just ruin the whole experience, ha). We got to Lake and Chicago street, which is right by the midtown transit center (see above picture). There really wasn't a whole lot going on down there on a Sunday night, but we got out, walked around, and then went through a guided prayer experience prepared by upper room staff.

This was a pretty amazing time for me, as I live in the suburbs and am very sheltered from city life, completely oblivious to some of the things that go on in the city. I didn't feel a specific revulsion for prostitutes, but I did feel uncomfortable being in the city at night, with it's many sounds and sights unfamiliar to me. However, it was an excellent reminder of the mission I have in following Christ, to follow Him to areas like this that are uncomfortable and maybe even revolting to me.

God in Heaven, remind me that I am to follow You, period. Also remind me that though I may carry my cross into "dens of the wicked", I will blend in just fine.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I just picked up this CD. It is A-mazing. Very prayerful, centering, and powerful. "The Prayer Cycle" by Jonathan Elias.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Spiritual memories...

This is a simple song by Third Day that takes me to a fond place of spiritual memory in my life...It's crazy how songs can remind us of places we've been in life, physical, emotional, and/or spiritual...this one takes me to Epworth Forest on a retreat with a bunch of high school kids who met at summer camp. Nothing fancy, but kids loving Jesus and pursuing Him in a sacred place...

Though the treasures of
This life may fade
Your love endures forever
They will pass away Things that man has made
But your love endures forever

Now I can't explain, or even understand
Why you gave your life, to save sinful man
But I know it's true, I've seen it myself
Your love endures forever

Though the seasons change With the passing time
Your love endures forever
And the sun will fade If just for the night
Your love endures forever

Though our pains and joys Will come and go
Your love endures forever
Even in my fears I will always know
That your love endures forever...


It's been a rough weekend; I'm not gonna lie. If I could wrap it up in a few phrases, it would be "God shows up in unexpected places, especially through complicated circumstances." I was with my Mom's family this weekend, and it was really amazing. I haven't always gotten along with them as well as I would have liked, but the older I get the more I realize that they're still my family and I love them. To be honest, I saw God more in my family this weekend (who are not necessarily believers in the God I know) than I have in my church for a long time. I get glimpses of eternity when I feel their acceptance as "one of them" and the identification with something internally mysterious that takes place when we're together. I know that God wired it that way, but it's so unique to see it pan out, that even when I'm angry and sad, he soothes my spirit through their presence. I can show up with out pretense, be present and alive without fear of judgment or how my behavior might affect my reputation at church. It's just a fantastic feeling, and I want more please.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


After a fantastic meeting with my warrior brothes this week, I was enlightened by some wisdom regarding how we desire things from each other in inter-personal relationships...I was asking what I thought to be a good question, IE, "what does respect look like for you" when I was shown that this kind of question forces a kind of "template" upon the way that one desires love, respect, admiration, etc.

Now, growing up in the shadow of Gary Chapman's "The 5 Love Languages", these kinds of questions seem legitimate, considering that I do buy into humanity all being wired in a unique way by a Creative Designer. Thus, it would make sense that we all love and want to be loved in different ways. But what if this view is incomplete? The idea of templates would seem to point that direction...Asking a question of oneself, "what does being loved" look like for me places an expectation and standard upon all those who try to love me, and thus I don't receive the love they have to offer. Though it seems like I am getting in touch with how I'm wired, it also allows me to get into my selfishness and expect others to love me on my terms. Am I saying that there should not be boundaries? Not in the least. But what I am saying is that by expecting others to come to me on my terms, through love, respect, admiration, etc, I am missing out on the blessing I could be receiving from them.

Food for thought.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


So I'm new to this whole blog thing m'self, but I'm intrigued by the idea...This summer, I led worship at a weeklong camp called "Summer of Service" in Mishawaka, IN. As the week unfolded, it became more clear to me and my brother (electric guitar extraordinare) that our week was not panning out as we had hoped...technological failures marked our every turn and frustrations got the best of me. At one point, while I was debating packing up my guitar and hopping a plane back to Minneapolis, my brother looked at me and said in his best scottish accent, "dunna worry, for we are worth many sparrows".

It occurred to me then, that I was not remembering the truth that I was proclaiming to the students who trusted me to minister to them.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (Matthew 6:27)

In the midst of trying to serve God, I had forgotten about God entirely. I forgot that I was worth the death and resurrection of a son, to a God I had lost in the midst of electronic malfunctions. But what my brother had reminded of, even in jest, sustained me through the rest of the week, and I was able to follow the Spirit more closely.

Thus, the title and picture of my fledgling blog, "Many Sparrows" arose. The question of worth is a valuable measure of our we believe that of all the other things God could pre-occupy Himself with, God chooses us? Do we really believe that when we have no faith in ourselves, that God believes in us?

Let us remember that our image is hidden in the mysterious image of an invisible God, and that we are worth many sparrows.

Plotting Peace,


Monday, July 2, 2007