Friday, February 24, 2012

Bulldog DJ

Here's a pretty awesome video! I'll see if I can get my Boston Bulldog to pull this off. I found this courtesy of The Youth Cartel.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent 101

Lent is a season of the Christian year when people are invited to simplify their lives to focus on their relationship with God in Christ.

Where does the concept of Lent come from?
At Jesus' baptism the sky split open, the Spirit of God, which looked like a dove, descended and landed on Jesus, and a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, My Beloved, with whom I am pleased." Afterward, as told in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus hiked into the wilderness where he spent forty days to fast and pray. While he was there, he was tempted by Satan and found the strength to resist sin.

How do Christians celebrate Lent?
It's different in different traditions. But generally it's a time to return to Christ by cutting out all that distracts us. For some people that means giving up something like candy, TV, soft drinks, or meat as a way to purify their bodies and lives. Others take something on and collect food for the needy, volunteer once a week to help children, or decide to be kind to someone they don't like. Whatever "stuff" is given up or taken on, the intent must be to draw us closer to Christ. Lent is a resolution to simplify our lives, and to return to the One who loves us -- Jesus.

When is Lent?
It's the forty days before Easter.

So the real beginning of Lent is Ash Wednesday?
Yes. Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras, usually begins with a service where we recognize our mortality, repent of our sins, and return to our Loving God. We recognize life as a precious gift from God, and re-turn our lives towards Jesus Christ. We may make resolutions and commit to change our lives over the next forty days so that we might be more like Christ. In an Ash Wednesday service, usually a minister or priest marks the sign of the cross on a person's forehead with ashes.

Why ashes?
In Jewish and Christian history, ashes are a sign of mortality and repentance. Mortality, because when we die, our bodies eventually decompose and we become dust/ dirt/ash/whatever. Repentance:, because long ago, when people felt remorse for something they did, they would put ashes on their head and wear "sackcloth" (scratchy clothing) to remind them that sin is pretty uncomfortable and leads to a sort of death of the spirit. This was their way of confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness.

Cool Things To Do for Lent
(1) Fast one day a week.
(2) Start a prayer "rhythm." Say a prayer every time you brush your teeth or check your facebook (the last one may have some of us praying a lot!).
(3) Read a chapter in the Bible a day (The Gospel of Mark is a good book to start with).
(4) Give up cokes or sweets. Give the money you save to a charity.
(5) Spend ten minutes a day in silence and begin every morning with prayer.
(6) Journal every day.
(7) Give up secular music and/or TV.
(8) Say one nice thing to someone each day and/or write an encouraging note to someone.
(9) Pray for others on your way to work or school. Take prayer walks once a day in God's creation.
(10) Commit to volunteering at the church or another service ministry.

Here's a good video that explains Ash Wednesday and Lent in under two minutes.

Friday, February 17, 2012

What is a Computer?

This video shows just how fast things are changing. The clip from Sesame Street is from 1984...a year after I was born. Now, the youth I work with everyday have never known a world without computers and high speed Internet. In fact, I'm sure they would have trouble imagining life without cell phones, Internet, or texting. What would you do all day?!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Why Share About Our Adoption?

I’ve struggled with how much I should share about our adoption journey. I realize that it can seem boastful to talk about yourself and what your family is doing. We aren’t supposed to publicize our good deeds…right? However, for several reasons I felt it was important to share our adventure with others? Here’s why:

1. When you have good news you want to share it! If we were pregnant we would surly tell everyone that we were expecting. Well, through adoption we are expecting…and we cannot wait to welcome our new child home! Adoption, for us, is not a good deed to brag about. It is a privilege and a blessing to rejoice about.

2. As we were sharing our news with close family and friends, we came to a stunning realization. Many people were puzzled about our decision. Why adopt? (Especially if you can have children of your own). Don’t get me wrong…people were not negative or upset about our decision. However, there reaction was subdued in comparison if we told them we were pregnant.

I’m not trying to be critical of certain individuals. I feel that these reactions are more of an indictment of the church. We have not taught enough about the Biblical imperative to care for the orphans and the widows…to help those who are most vulnerable in our society. Thus, I want to be a part of the solution in sharing about this amazing responsibility we have as Christians.

Do I think every family should adopt or be a foster family? No. However, I do think that every Christian family should consider it and pray about it. Adoption is in the very nature of our Heavenly Father. He not only calls us to care for orphans, but he demonstrated his own love for orphans by adopting us into his family! God is good!

“Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:4-5

Adoption Video

Click on the link below to see an awesome video about a regular family whose lives were transformed by Jesus and the calling to adopt.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Youth Trips!

Youth trips are exhausting! Little sleep and crowds of teenagers will wear you out. And yet, the trips are incredible blessings. Every year our group attends a retreat called Meltdown. And every year the trip is amazing. This year was no exception. I love seeing hundreds of teenagers worshipping together. I love the games and conversations in-between the services. I love having communion together and sharing with each other what we've learned. I love staying up late and sleeping on couch beds (ok, that one was a lie).

But one of the things I've learned in youth ministry is how important it is to provide positive memories for young people. So many of them feel lost. They don't have a positive view of themselves or their lives. Teens are constantly questioning their identity and their existence. Some of the best gifts we can give them during these difficult years are positive memories. 

Trips like Meltdown provide such memories. Trips like Meltdown can plant seeds of faith that will last a lifetime. I feel very privileged to be a part of teenager's live at such a critical time in their development. I feel blessed to be a part of such a great youth team and I feel even more blessed to be a part of this youth group. They never cease to amaze me!