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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jacob and Dad Trip

Here's a shot of my goggled Jacob making his way across an indoor water park's obstacle course at our hotel in Amana, Iowa:

Here he is at the zoo in Madison, WI

Under the watchful eye of his adored big brother Joel as we hiked through and up and over Devils Lake State Park in Wisconsin

Enjoying a boat ride to see the sites...including a giant eagles nest and a beaver lodge on the lake by the resort (Hemlock Haven, Winter, Wi) whose owners (quiz fanatics!) are allowing us to stay:

Another shot of Joe, Jacob, and buddy Sam Barrows as we say goodbye to Devils Lake

Incredible - Why Sing So Many Cross-Centered Songs????

This is well-worth your time...if you've not read "The Cross-Centered Life" by C J Mahanney you have ripped yourself this as he answers the question, "Why Sing So Many Cross Centered Songs?"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why Won't They Listen???

Trying to discuss important things with people...whether fellow-Christians or increasingly tough for a variety of reasons...but this was first published in August of 1963 so....

Friday, August 27, 2010

Every Picture Tells a Story

But I have no idea what the story is behind this one...Jacob is traveling with me in Wisconsin, leaving Jane and our lovely daughter Janelle home for special time...hmmm:

I have no words...

I am speechless:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tearjerker with a Purpose

Do what you can, when you can. Don't let dreams of the impossible prevent the possible. Don't know where these folks are spiritually, but there is a huge lesson in this...worth four minutes:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Do LIke Her Voice...and the Lyrics...

Does anyone know, as much as a human can, whether she is a disciple of Jesus?

Thoughts on Ministry

     I had a phone call from a guy who has been involved in youth ministry and Bible Quiz Fellowship-style quizzing ( for almost as long as I have (for me, since 1977; to include almost two decades of directing three leagues in New York). He was concerned about an individual trying to “fix” quizzing and virtually undermine years of work…

     In that discussion we approached many subjects from our vantage points of guys who had been hands-on-involved for such a long time.

     As I mediated after our conversation…several things surfaced:

·        It is possible (probable?) that quizzing as we know it is dying…primarily because of two factors. (1) the overall “busy-ness” of teens…a reflection of a culture that has, for the most part, said to our school system, “Take our kids, occupy them for at least twelve hours a day, so we can work our two jobs and provide for our family what we need/want; (2) the apathy and, well, laziness of Christian adults.

On this second point…it is so hard to find adults to invest the time, energy, and treasure into volunteering to help with Bible quizzing. It is such a tremendous ministry, but like most genuine ministry…it takes lots of time to do effectively.

So I pray the Lord would raise up adults who see Him as wondrous, serving Him as a combination of duty and pleasure, and students as worthy of investment.
Philosophies of Ministry

          We also discussed different philosophies of the various ministries involved
in Bible quizzing. Though we both love the National tournament, we both concur that, in our minds, Nationals should not be the focus of a local ministry. When I directed in New York I repeatedly told our staff, volunteers, and quizzers that we would not be focused on Nationals; but rather on the local leagues. Therefore, unlike many, we quizzed locally into March, and then put together our Nationals teams.

         There are some ministries that basically put their teams together at the start of the year, dividing material, etc. Others cease local quizzing shortly after New Years in order to focus on Nationals.

         This is not “wrong,” but not my friend’s and my perspective. It is more important, in our minds, to keep students in the Word for a longer period of time, rather than spending all the time focusing on the relatively small percentage of quizzers who want to compete at the National tournament.

          We laughed as we recognized that, at Nationals, some leaders seem to always take their students to an amusement-type place…miniature golf, go karts, etc. My philosophy was to take the students to something unique to the host city…whether a zoo, museum, one-of-a-kind dining experience, or whatever. Anything that was "different" from what they could do at home.
An Ugly Reality
We did not laugh as we reflected on accusations heard over the years about certain directors and coaches “cheating.” We knew of coaches who signaled students by hand motions in clear violation of the rules.

          We both had heard of directors who “stacked” the local competition in favor of their own children or perceived “favorites,”  arranging it so “their” teams would compete against lesser teams in an unbalanced way compared to other teams. I was accused of this once in New York so, as much as I dislike “committees,” I formed a small group of volunteers to assist me in putting together schedules and so forth to ensure I wasn’t playing favorites with my own children.

The Bigger Picture

          Since we are both, ah, advanced in years; we also wondered what the future of our types of ministry would be. I hate the term “parachurch,” but that is what we are labeled.

          A great thing seen over the years is that (finally) churches and schools started treating youth ministry as a “real” ministry; not a stepping-stone to a genuine ministry. Many concur that youth ministry could be a life-time calling.

          A sad thing observed is, like the rest of the Body in the United States, the gospel is sometimes rarely seen, heard, or modeled among youth ministries. It is all about numbers, decisions, activities, programs, personalities…but little growth and little awareness of the demands of discipleship.

Gloom and Doom?

          Second Timothy 3.1-5 apply. But the light always shines the brightest against a dark background. Gratefully there are people working across America to impact young lives with the gospel. “Parachurch” ministries are plodding along seeking to assist local churches in reaching out to, encouraging, edifying, and building disciples rather than Christian groupies.

          Yet the reality is that we need volunteers to come alongside and assist in a wide variety of ministry venues. We need funds (in all the ministries with which I work the staff have the privilege of trusting God as they raise their own support as home missionaries). Of course we need prayer.
          And we need full-time staff…adults young and not-so-young who are called to pour their lives into youth.

          Maybe that’s you?

I Love Linus!

This caused much health to me...since laughter is good for the soul...I know we need (I?) to be careful with sarcasm, but, you know, the Spirit of God records God has being pretty sarcastic several times in the Word:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thought Provoking...

Easy to get caught up in this, a shot of the road our home sits beside, shot by my daughter Janelle...

Artist Forgot a Hearse!

Thanks to my buddy Jamie Prince (who I served with in Vietnam) for sharing this...the big omission: the artist forgot to put in a hearse...Need to live life in view of checking out....and without a relationship with Jesus that's a horrific thought:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

TODAY is the Day

Thanks to my buddy Kent Ottot for sharing this...musical reminder that the devils' favorite word is "tomorrow" or "someday," while the Word says "today is the day of salvation":

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In Memory of Sandi Kluth

One of the inherent hazards of being on-the-road with limited time for communication is that important things slip through the cracks...only just learned that my friend Sandi Kluth stepped into His presence on August 11. She is married to BRIAN KLUTH
and I have known them for decades. Brian posted this video of her singing...and though we grieve, we grieve not as the world does, and she is singing in His presence even now:

I'm Proud of My Photographer Daughter Janelle!

Janelle took this shot of a double from our front yard last week: (See more of her work HERE

Man, I Like Her!

Put Down Your Bible!

The one, more common extreme, is the majority of Christians who never read their Bible. The other end of the spectrum are those who spend too much time studying the Scripture. "What?" you say? "How can that be?" Remember...blessed are those who hear the Word of God and do it. It is a joy being in His presence in the light of His Word in the fellowship of the Spirit...but we are not to stay there.

That's the thoughts that meandered through my brain as I read the following cartoon...Maybe I'm just ill?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Snaps from Penn York

A sampling from the week just ended; Corning (NY) Area Bible Club meeting at Penn York Camp in Ulysses, PA:

Due to weather had only one outdoor meeting (other than obligatory campfire), but it was great:
Taylor is Ron Snavely's daughter...when I first moved to Family Life in 1987 Ron was on staff...and she had yet to be born...

Volunteer adults make camp happen:


One evening at Korean Kamp we had "Viking Nite"...all tables removed, plastic placed, 1300 wings was rather fun:

The annual "Big War" featured hundreds of water balloons, dozens of cans of shaving cream, and "yuck"

But all that "stuff" is to set the stage and provide a venue for the Lord to work, such as pictured here:

Driscoll Comments on Twilight and More

Wanna think? Maybe raise your blood pressure? Give this ten minutes:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Man, I Love This Song!

I can't think of another contemporary song that has this crucial ingredient of the gospel..."and on the Cross where Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied..."

Lord, Help Me!

One of my favorite things to do as camp speaker (or a church that hosts me for a few days or even a week..yes, there are some that still do a week!) is to have a question box, and then to spend one session answering written questions...and/or meet with individual students or "cabins" of students for questions/answers.

I pray for wisdom, discernment, clarity...but I fear there are times they end up having the same reaction as Linus in the following:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Seems So Long Ago - Campsick

Even as I'm wrapping up my 7th week of camp of the season with Corning Area Bible Club (at Penn York camp in Ulysses, PA) I think of last week with my Korean/American friends near Quakertown, Pa (my 21st consecutive year with them!)...can you spot the white guy?

Response of Some to Whom You Witness

The final (re)action of Lucy mirrors that which you may receive...perhaps literally, more than likely figuratively, from many to whom you brag on Jesus and His gospel...Guess what, do it anyway!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Many a Truth is Said in Jest #3

Oh, how sad and true this is...the mission statement of the Gospel of John is evangelism! (John 20)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Favorite From Korea Kamp!

Each year a "serious" photo is taken of a cabin, followed by a "funny" photo. This years' photographer, a great guy named Satchel, snapped this one which is my personal is the "senior" cabin so most of these campers I've known for years and watched grow into men:

Many a Truth is Said in Jest #2

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Every Picture Tells a Story

Here's a shot when Jacob and I visited Janelle and Josiah at God's Mountain a couple weeks ago:

Here's a serious "cabin" shot from Korean Kamp:

And a somewhat less-than-serious:

And, last, for now...a shot taken Thursday night of me and Rev John Kim, founder of Pioneers for Christ...a hero of mine...and of so many others!

Many a Truth is Said in Jest #1

Friday, August 13, 2010

Oh, Yeah, I Resonate with Charlie

I doubt I'm the only one who shakes his head as I read this comic....I pray I am never guilty of offering "condolences" such as Lucy gives Charlie, but, Lord knows, I've been on the receiving end more than a few times. You?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Slow Down, You're Moving Too Fast...

Okay, so the title of this entry proves I'm so "advanced in years" that I don't listen to "oldies," I listen to "ancients," but slow down for about six minutes, turn on your speakers, and enjoy this:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How Beautiful the Blood Flow

Somehow had not heard this beautiful song until I came to Korean Kamp...marvelously gospel-saturated and Christ exhalting...Him focused, not me focused....

Guidelines for Modesty

Here are four rather simple, but not simplistic, "guidelines for modesty" for girls and women from Michael Hyatt of Thomas Nelson publishers. He wrote them for his daughters as they were growing up:

“Four Guidelines for Modesty”:
  1. If you have trouble getting into it or out of it, it is probably not modest.
  2. If you have to be careful when you sit down or bend over, it is probably not modest.
  3. If people look at any part of your body before looking at your face, it is probably not modest.
  4. If you can see your most private body parts or an outline of those parts under the fabric, it is probably not modest.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Forgiven to Forgive

I preach a message on the absolute totality of God's forgiveness, and our responsibility to pass it on. I utilize four passages from the Old Testament (which should be called the First Testament, so people don't think it is, well, old) and conclude with Ephesians 4.32.

Though I love to preach it in prison and jail, the Lord uses it in teen camps and many "free" Christians are locked up tightly in the chains of bitter unforgiveness.

A friend sent me it and stick with it to the quote at the end:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wanna Know the Theme of This Week's Camp???

Here I am at my21st consecutive summer of speaking at "my" Korean/American camp near Quakertown, PA. Here is a video their staff put together explaining and proclaiming the theme for the week...very well done, worth your time (and, yeah, I'm proud of them!)
10 Theme - He Covers Me from Pioneers For Christ on Vimeo.

Make the Time - Please

Thanks to my buddy Don Sunshine for bringing this to my attention....Hopefully you are familiar with the story; but you've never seen it so powerfully demonstrate the sacrificial love of a (human) father, the joy of someone being carried by a (human) father; and the obvious parallels:

Sober Sentences

"My work with teenagers has convinced me that one of the main reasons teenagers are not excited by the gospel is that they do not think they need it.  Many parents have successfully raised self-righteous little Pharisees.  When they look at themselves, they do not see a sinner in desperate need, so they are not grateful for a Savior.  Sadly, the same is true of many of their parents."
Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp, How People Change

Sunday, August 8, 2010

And Now for Something Different:

worth a couple minutes of your time...promise!

Memories of Being a Boy of Fall

Heard this for the first time while driving from Mo to Pa...loved the song, almost got teary-eyed remembering back several decades (again begging the question, "What is such a young guy like me doing in such an old body?")...I only played for two years before alcohol/partying became more important to me than football (a lasting regret, by the way)...But this song and video spoke volumes to me...and perhaps thee?

"Inception" Observations

Andree Seu of World Magazine is a careful thinker and a phenomenal writer. She is worth the price of the magazine...but you can read her online and save money if you are that cheap (seriously, if you are not subscribing to "World" you are missing a lot).

Anyway, here is her take on the movie "Inception" and, as always, she stretches my mind...I did see the movie, and want to see it again to observe more closely and think more accurately:

It’s a good thing I’m a Christian because the movie Inception was too close to the bone. I still have a tendency to struggle with the question “What is real?” The main things in life are resolved (God is real; I am God’s), but old tendencies manifest at 3 in the afternoon as I type a post on a sunny summer day and wonder if it is consequential in any ultimate way, or if working in the garden would be more real. Of course, if I were out in the garden, I would doubt that too.

There have always been movies asking about reality, meaning, perception, and time, but Inception is The Matrix on LSD.

We have not one dream to contend with but three levels, plus layers of memory and flashback and psychological games—in other words, it’s a lot like your own life. In the indeterminate future (or is it the present?) Dom Cobb is a skilled “extractor” who invades other people’s dreams to steal secrets. He wants out, but for that he needs to do one last job, a mission of planting rather than purloining, something perhaps impossible.

My brother used to say, in our Buddhist days (about two weeks long): “If I dream that I am a butterfly, how do I know when I wake up that I am not a butterfly dreaming I’m a man?” After that we both became Christians, and not a moment too soon. Without the Scripture for a touchstone, we were ooze falling through ooze.
But Satan is the man of a thousand faces and reincarnations and turns up as an “extractor” and dream-planter in my renewed life. He has myriad ways, and you can read about some of them in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Beware of distractions, contented worldliness, slippages from prayer, busyness, forays into nostalgia or regret, love of money, fear of man, Walter Mitty-fantasizing, materialism, bandwagons and noble causes, the long-term erosion of very small sins, theologies that induce complacency, addictions to food, addictions to sex, addictions to anything.

Like the great lion said to Jill:
“Remember, remember, remember the signs. Say then to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. . . . I give you a warning. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters. . . .”
There is a “totem” in Inception that the characters can consult when they are so turned around that they are hopelessly lost without a reliable plumb line of truth. I read the Scriptures more now than ever in my Christian life. It isn’t because I got more religious; it’s just because something tends to come over me around 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

When You Gonna Get a Real Job?

As I've stated a few times, my goal is to be the oldest youth worker in America...and I'm well on my way. A good thing observed over the last few decades is that youth ministry is sometimes seen as a valued and perhaps life time calling.

Yet this from the "Stuff Christians Like" guy is still, sadly, too true:

“Do you ever think you’ll be a real minister someday?”

If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to a youth minister I could probably train a worship eagle to hunt and kill the pigeon that pooped in the mouth of the Kings of Leon bass player, forcing them to cancel their St. Louis show this weekend after only three songs. (In pigeon society this event has already been labeled, “The greatest day ever.”)

Alas, no one pays me money when youth ministers get insulted. That’s a shame because it happens. We think youth ministers are goofballs. They’re good at kickball and pranks that involve whipped cream. And once a year we let them preach on youth Sunday.

But I think in a lot of ways, they’ve got the toughest job at a church. In fact, here are five reasons we should never consider our youth ministers silver medal ministers.

1. Liability forms
They should just call these, “Get out of jail free,” cards, because that’s what they are. When youth ministers plan a retreat, they’ve got to collect liability forms from each student. Why? Because someone is going home with a broken leg. That’s just going to happen. Someone will jump off a sand dune, throw an apple at someone’s head or get stitches. That never happens to senior pastors. Not once did my minister dad come home from an elder retreat and say, “Yeah, Hank Johnson tied a fake snake over the bathroom door and Mary Smith freaked out and broke her hand slamming the door shut.”

2. Relevance
Youth ministers have to be relevant across multiple generations. Senior pastors don’t to the same degree. When my dad mentioned Seinfeld in a sermon, he was mentioning something that as a 40 year old he liked. It’s different for youth ministers. They have to understand and communicate in their own generation and their student’s generation. What does that mean? Basically, you’re going to be forced to pick a team in the Twilight series. If you like jean shorts and sit ups, go Team Jacob. If you want to be an emo Robert Smith kind of vampire, go Team Edward.

3. Speaking
Youth groups are harder to speak to than the average Sunday congregation. I learned this recently while speaking to some students. After talking for about four minutes, I noticed that there was a kid asleep in the crowd. And not just a little asleep, he was sprawled out. Teens will fall asleep if you don’t bring it instantly. They also won’t fake laugh. Adults will give you “courtesy laughs.” Not teenagers. If it ain’t funny, they ain’t laughing. Teens, in a good way, make you work for it.

4. Dramas
I don’t know if it’s technically a rule, but poor youth ministers often end up being forced to perform cheestastical dramas on mission trips. Our youth group did a dance routine to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Maybe your youth group had puppets or handbells. You might have even had a mime troupe at your church. (I would name mine, “Gloves of Love.”) Regardless of the variation, chances are, your youth minister had to not only do his/her regular job but also be skilled at the performing arts.

5. Orange Drink & Pizza
I think youth ministers have a lifespan that is eight years shorter than the general population due to all the ghetto orange drink and pizza they are forced to consume. And it’s always the kind of pizza where you can’t tell if you’re eating a piece or have just started biting the box. The pizza is thin, covered with a sandpaper like layer of cheese, and crafted with crusts that could kill a man like an aborigine boomerang.

There are probably a billion reasons it’s difficult to be a youth minister, but one of the reasons that it’s not, is pretty simple:

This generation has more potential to spread the gospel than any other generation in the history of mankind.

It’s true, teenagers today will communicate more, share more and talk more than ever before. Twenty years ago, when a student heard a great sermon, they maybe told two friends at school. Now, they post a link to it on facebook. They tweet about it. They blog about it. Your sermon can go viral in about 12 seconds. The ability for this next generation to be salt and light is unbelievable.

I thank God for Kurt Andre my youth minister growing up.

If you had a youth minister you’re thankful for too, give them a shout out today. Forward them post and comment with this:
“I thank God for ________________.”

Friday, August 6, 2010

Maybe We (Sometimes) DESERVE to be Persecuted?

The Word promises, "All those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Not those who are (only), but those who desire!

That being said, some of the "persecution" Christians suffer is, well, rather deserved than, ah, earned.

Bragging about how we don't do this or do this may well spawn persecution...and probably should.

Here's some wise words:

This week I've been relecting on Acts 5:41, where we read that after the apostles had the tar beaten out of them: Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.  
As Chrisitans, we should expect persecution for our faith.  For most of us in the West, that takes the form of being ostracized and rejected in fairly minor ways (compared to being beaten or killed or imprisoned). 
But I think sometimes the world rejects us not because we are like Jesus, but because we're jerks or weirdos.  If we go out of our way to remind people of our moral superiority, if we always insist that people who don't love God should be expected to act like they do... then we deserve whatever rejection we get.  They're really not rejecting Jesus, they are rejecting us.
So I sometimes talk to my church about the "ministry of being normal".  As believers, we are necessarilly going to have a lot of distance between us and those who don't follow Christ.  We live differently, love differntly, hope differntely.  We're citizens of a different country.
But it might be helpful if we limit the distance between us and the world in a lot of other ways.  We don't have to flaunt our lack of a TV and be weird and preachy about grinding your own grain.  That only serves to put unnecessary distance between us and the people we're trying to reach.  Instead, we should try to engage the world around us, know what our neighbors care about, and try to inhabit the same universe they do. 
If they are going to persecute us, let us at least be for things that really have something to do with being a Christian.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rock On!

Sure, I'm older than dirt...but I'm young on the inside! Attitude determines actions determines accomplishment! Besides, age is mind over matter...if you don't mind; it don't matter.

Know nothing about this guy...but, wow...wish I always enjoyed my "job" and "life" as much as he does his little d. j. thing:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Saved from What? or...better, Saved From Who?

Tremendous stuff from R. C. Sproul:

"What do we need to be saved from? We need to be saved from God—not from kidney stones, not from hurricanes, not from military defeats. What every human being needs to be saved from is God. The last thing in the world the impenitent sinner ever wants to meet on the other side of the grave is God. But the glory of the gospel is that the One from whom we need to be saved is the very One who saves us. God in saving us saves us from Himself."

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Billy Graham connection

Ask a lot of 30 or unders who Billy Graham is...and you'll get a blank stare. Really. Try it.

Here's a wondrous prayer penned by Scotty Smith about the man, his mission, and the Lord connecting the two for Scotty's good and heaven's glory:

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:7-8
     Dear Lord Jesus, you alone are Savior … you alone are changeless … you alone are worthy of our unfettered adoration, unabated affection, and unquestioned allegiance. There’s no one like you—no one so full of grace and truth… so merciful and mighty… resplendent with beauty and a wellspring of generosity.
     Speaking of your generosity…

I begin this day humbled and grateful for an afternoon spent with one of those to-be-remembered leaders who first spoke the word of God to me—the man who first told me about your death for me and your great love for me… Billy Graham. He was on the silver screen… I was sitting in a theatre seat. He was an impassioned 49 and I was a squirrely 18. Jesus. He extended your call to eternal life, and you gave me the faith to believe. That was 42 years ago… great is your faithfulness, great is your kindness, great is your gospel!

     To be in his welcoming home, to look into those magnificent eyes, to shake his aging hand and finally be able to “Thank you,” was one of the great joys of my life. And as fully expected, he simply deflected the praise to you.

     Consider the outcome of his way of life and imitate his faith? Grant me the grace and strength to do so, Jesus. As we prepared to leave, his words of encouragement were clarion clear. “Keep Jesus central to everything… see Jesus everywhere in the Bible… pray as much and as often as you can.” Indeed, grant me the grace and strength to do so, Jesus.

     I pray his desire to preach one more sermon will be realized. His text, printed in huge letters right beside his favorite chair? May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14). If he never mounts a pulpit again, he preached this text loud and clear in my heart yesterday afternoon…

     Jesus, thank you for saving me through the preaching of the gospel by your faithful servant. So very Amen, I pray, in your holy and loving name.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Still One of the Best

My son Joel, now 23, was able to mimic this perfectly. It remains one of the best scenes of all time from one of the best movies of all time!